Friday, November 26, 2010

Attention Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Makers

After spending another day and another season at the processing center in Charlotte, NC - I have decided to write a blog to help you make a better shoebox, and make it much easier on those that are processing your boxes. Some of these items below will just be tips to make the box process easier and some are new items/or clarification on items that previously were not allowed in the box. Please read this list carefully and you will be my new favorite as I check your box and can let it go through without having to do anything specifically.

First a huge thank you to all that have packed shoeboxes! You rock!! And lives are being changed because of your gift!!!

Things to know as you pack your box.....

1. Please put any box donation directly on the top of your items inside your box. Please try not to bury it in on the bottom. Another great solution is the new EZ give program online that allows you to follow your box and see where it goes.
2. Please do not put any money in a purse or a note - although this is a really nice gesture it can cause danger for the child that receives the box. Don't get me wrong - please put in notes and purses if you want - just be sure there is not currency in it - thanks!
3. Please be sure to use official OCC labels - if they are printed with a label that is not Samaritan's Purse we have to re-label all those boxes.
4. Please put your label on the top of the box but at one of the ends. We try to tape them once and the tape goes through the middle of the box so if your label is in the middle we often have to relabel them so you can see the age group.
5. Please be sure to double bag your soap - ps please don't use Irish Spring!!! It makes the candy and everything else smell and taste like soap.
6. Please put your candy in a baggie - that will help in the processing center as we inspect the boxes.
7. Please be sure not to wrap the entire box as one piece, you need to wrap the lid and the box separately. Also be sure to not wrap any of the items inside the box - they all have to be unwrapped during inspection.

Now to what is new this year....

1. Tootsie Rolls can now go!!!!! No joke - put any flavor in a box and they will get to stay (boy does that save a lot of time on the line!)
2. Snakes can now go!!!!
3. M & Ms are now able to go - although no other chocolate can go!!!!
4. Guns - if they are water guns or ball guns - anything that looks like a toy and not a real gun or a camo gun can go!
5. Pink Camo can go! Camo flip flops can go - however no other camo items are allowed!!!!
6. Gummy Bears can go - but NO fruit snacks or perishable items.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rockin' the Church Van

Who new my Mennonite husband could dance so well.... He is dancing and grooving to the 80s music from Rock me Amadeus to We built this City by Starship. Then Ghostbusters I can only imagine what will be next .... All I know is that our kids in this van are going to have some great stories and possibly some videos as well. It is hard to capture in photo so you will just have to use your imagination. Let's just say it is hard to type while he is jammin out!!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reasons to Break the Rules

So every year I battle the crazy lines, the frustrated people, my busy schedule, and my chronic fatigue that seems to always rear its ugly head while I am shopping and decorating and baking and wrapping and listening to Christmas music and all the other things that come with the holiday season. So this year I decided to break all my steadfast rules about the above mentioned items and started early.

As I was breaking all of my holiday rules such as you can't decorate for Christmas before thanksgiving, and listening to Christmas music before and you can shop for all your Christmas gifts in December and so forth and so on - I started to know - breaking all my rules is not only fun, but it is necessary at times! And to be quite frank - I think I may just have a good thing going on, here's why

1. More time to enjoy the holiday - it seems as though the holidays are so filled with "TO DO" lists that it is hard to make time for fun and fellowship. Well the reality is that we make the time, but we are so stressed out fulfilling all those obligations as well as our to do lists that we don't have the full capacity to enjoy the holiday.

2. Less Stress - If I know for a fact that I get frustrated easily with crowded stores, long lines and crazy shoppers, then why on earth would I intentionally put myself in that position ever - much less over the holidays! If something is a stumbling block to you - you are to avoid it - this is a stumbling block - so guess what - my shopping for Christmas is done! I am going to be a much nicer person to be around.

3. Take Advantage of the nice weather. Why do I have to wait until it is 10 degrees to hang my Christmas lights - that just seems silly. So my solution - hang them when it is warm, and just don't turn them on until the appropriate time. Hey after all the whole town is decorated in preparation for Christmas in the park - since most people drive by my house on the way to the park then it seems that I should decorate as well.

4. Practical when leaving for the week of Thanksgiving - Hey we leave tomorrow for a week away and then come back to a crazy schedule so my thought is - if I have the time now - let's do it!

5. Love the music and the message - Jesus birth is what changed my life, so why do I have to just celebrate that for one month a year. If you like the music listen to it - if it brings joy to your heart sing it and if it brings peace to your soul play it!

6. It brings great Joy to Celebrate - I love celebrations! The bigger the better (hence our crazy large wedding) I am under the school of thought that life is a celebration of the fact that daily we get a second chance, and Christmas is a beautiful reminder of that - so decorate, play that music, light that tree - especially if it will help reduce your stress and allow you to love the holidays instead of dreading them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

This past Sunday at church we played this video! As usual I was holding back the tears.... to think Christmas time is just around the corner and it is once again time to send off another batch of shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child. It is amazing to think that a simple shoebox and literally save a child's life.... it won't take away their hunger, it won't bring back their parents that died of AIDS - but what it does do is show the saving love of Jesus Christ to children around the world.

I love this project because everyone can do it! A small child can pack a box as well as an elderly couple, it is a lifetime service opportunity open to all people that want to share Jesus' love with the world around them. If you haven't packed a shoebox - it is not too late - you have until Monday Nov. 22nd to get them to a collection center near you. Check out for more information.

Take a moment and watch this video! You may need a tissue or a two but it is well worth your time!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Love in every language

Last weekend I had the privilege of spending the weekend with a group of awesome ladies from the Christ Community United Methodist church of Selinsgrove at their fall retreat. It was a great weekend of challenging each in the word to find joy in Unexpected ways. We looked at several different biblical examples of people who walked through trials but came through learning powerful lessons about themselves, others, and most importantly God.

Throughout the weekend I was also able to share my story, the losses, the challenges and the celebrations. One thing we talked about specifically was how our plan and our timing doesn't always match up with God's plan and his timing. I was sharing a bit of my heart ache about our miscarriage this spring. Though I know that God's timing is perfect as is His plan for my life, it does not take away the hurt of losing the baby, but it does give me hope to know that God has something in store for us, because he promises that he will give me a hope and future (jeremiah 29:11)

After sharing my story with these women just before our last session together, they asked to pray for me. As they began to pray, tears came down my face, knowing that God is God and I am not.... several women took turns praying passionate for me, and Joel that God would bless us with a child if he so chooses. Then this woman named No Sue began to pray in Korean - wow - I had been prayed for before, but this was a first, I wish I knew what she prayed for that morning, but it really wasn't important for me to know, but God knew every word she spoke and I was touched by her love and passion (not to mention that she may be one of the funniest ladies I have ever met)

Isn't it cool that we don't need a translator when it comes to God - he hears, speaks, and loves in every language!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Lazy Morning

I love lazy mornings! In fact - maybe we need to declare them a necessity in the craziness of our lives. This is the first weekend this month that I have been home, and it has been wonderful to just lay on the couch, catch up on some paperwork and relax.

For a moment I felt a bit guilty that I wasn't up doing something productive like cleaning or baking something for the meal tomorrow, but then I reminded myself - I need to relax sometimes and do nothing of substance if I want to stay healthy and maintain good mental health as well.

I am reminded of what I often remind others - you need time to be still and do nothing! Not checking things off my list, but instead being happy to just be instead of do!

When was the last time you took time to just relax and do nothing? I think it is something we need to teach our kids as well, because they are constantly on the go from one activity to another and they haven't learned the art of relaxing and being still! How will you spend your day?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Above Average - should be good, right?

Today I am working really hard at excepting above average....but as a people pleaser, that just doesn't seem to cut it. Why do I have such a sad feeling when I find out that I am not at the level of excellence that I worked so hard to achieve. It's just that you work so hard, and you give every bit of energy you have for people or a program, and you feel like you have really connected, but when it comes time to go over your evaluations it just feels like a pit in your stomach when they say you did pretty good; but you think you have done a great job, people have commended you on a great job, and even given you compliments saying, that was our best camp, you are one of our favorites, etc.

The raw ugly truth is that I want to be the best at what I am doing, not to beat out others, because it isn't a competition between me and others, it is a competition with myself. How does this look from a spiritual perspective? Great question, I know what needs to be the most important thing is that students heard about the love of Jesus, that they saw that in my life, and maybe it was good that they weren't caught up in my greatness anyway - because the reality is that they need to be looking to God, not to me. I just need to be a faithful mouthpiece! So with that I must suck up my pride, be thankful that God uses me despite me, and instead of giving up and walking away from something when I am not satisfied with myself, I must get up, quit my pouting, and get back in the race, because it doesn't matter what place I come in, what matters is that I finished the race.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Patience is not a virtue, it's a thorn in my flesh!

Patience is something that just does not come naturally for me. I, if fact, am horrible at it! I am realizing that more and more each day that our addition just sits there with no changes. As much as I am excited about our new addition, it may be bringing out the worst in me. This is hard for me to admit because it is one of those traits that I possess that I am not very proud of.

Another struggle that I am learning that I have is being unflexible. Okay I am not just learning that is an issue - it has always been an issue - it is just surfacing often during this construction phase. We were told that we could have stairs to basement in this one location, which in my mind was perfect placement, well then there was nothing under our chimney so they had to build a retaining wall - so now our stairs won't fit! A basement should probably have stairs so you don't have to walk all the way around the house. We still have no idea how this problem will be solved (I am assuming our contractor is hunting or something since I haven't seen him in two weeks.) Oh the joys of living in Central PA.

So now what? Good question! I am just trying to override my impatience and trying to be more flexible. It is kinda how life works at times, we are constantly thrown for a loop and we are asked to respond - how will you respond? Today I must choose to respond in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.....sound familiar - I am going to start over now, asking God to help me to chose to react in a God reflecting way.

Check out this video