Tuesday, October 28, 2014

birthdays

I’m feeling like waxing (a little) poetic tonight.  I’ll apologize in advance … but keep writing anyway.

The days are marching by faster and faster.  Sometimes, it seems that all I can do is think in clich├ęs about how fast kids grow up and how quickly time marches on.  I don’t think I can keep up with the changes in my children.  My sweet friend (and “secret twin”) Marie informed me that it has to do with my age … hmm, just what I wanted to hear. 

In the midst of all this fast moving time, I have missed several important events that should have warranted a blog post.  A good mommy-blogger would probably give each a separate post … oh well, judge me if you must, but I’ll just lump them together here.

Last month, my first-born child turned 15 years old.  This beautiful little girl has grown into a lovely young woman.  She has entered high-school and I have been pleasantly surprised that she is beginning to take initiative and pride in her schoolwork.  She still needs some encouragement, but that is okay ~ I am not quite ready for her to grow out of her need for me just yet.  I saw a quote the other day and I can’t help but look forward to the time when this is true for us … “Daughters are just little girls who grow up to be our best friends.”




Last week my “baby” turned 9 years old.  Somehow this one has been hard for me.  I am now one week into my last year with a child in single-digits.  Maybe this has something to do with how fast time seems to be flying.  This little wild-child of mine is changing faster than I can keep up.  He may still be the baby of the family, but he is finding his own way in the world, apart from his older siblings, and I am loving it and hating it at the same time.  At least he still loves to cuddle with his Mama and he’ll even still let me kiss him in public.  I know that these things won’t last forever, but I’ll enjoy it as long as he will let me.

There was another birthday last week, but this one brought only sadness instead of celebrating.  My Mama would have been 66 on Wednesday of last week.  It has been 18 months since Mama died and I really thought that it would be easier to deal with by now, but it isn’t and I really wonder if it ever will be.  I have made a couple attempts to write a post about just that, but so far I just can’t seem to get it done.  The words just won’t come.  Maybe someday.
 

I’ll end on a happier note … my middle child will be celebrating his 13th birthday in just under a month.  I think that milestone birthday should warrant a post all of its own.  I’ll try really hard to actually accomplish just that!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

a message in a box

Our family began packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child 10 or 11 years ago.  At that time, it was just a mission project suggested by a lady in our church.  I knew nothing of the ministry of Operation Christmas Child and very little about Samaritan’s Purse.  Over the last decade, I have learned to love this ministry ~ first by simply packing shoeboxes with my family, and later as the coordinator for a local relay center (drop-off location).

Each year, from January to October, our church collects items that will be used to fill our shoeboxes during a church-wide packing party.  This is one of my favorite events of the entire year.  I have seen church members from preschool age to senior adults (some in their late 80’s) coming together to pack shoeboxes for children we will likely never meet (this side of Heaven) in countries we will most likely never visit.  I love that Operation Christmas Child provides a mission field for the entire church to work together, but this is just a piece of the story. 


While I have a part in packing many boxes each year, I always pack one special box.  This box is one that I work on all year long ~ usually for an older girl.  While school supplies, hygiene items, and other basics go in every box I pack, I choose the items for this box carefully and it is important to me that it includes certain extra things.  I always include at least one thing that is handmade and since I crochet, that item is often a scarf or small bag.  I also include crayons and a coloring book.  Finally, I always include a carefully chosen stuffed animal ~ one that carries a special message of love to the little girl who will find it in her gift.

These extra items are meant to convey the simple message of this shoebox gift. Most important to me is the stuffed animal. Though she may not understand it, I choose the stuffed animal early in the year and use it to remind me to pray for the child who will receive this box and all the others that are packed in our church.  The most important message in my shoebox, or any other one, is that  "God loves you and sent His Son to redeem you.”  I want this young woman to know that she is being prayed for and that she is not forgotten. 

The true beauty of this message isn't only revealed in the faces of the children who will receive the gifts.  It is true that they will hear, perhaps for the first time in their lives, that there is a Savior who gave Himself for them.  They will have the opportunity to learn about the amazing love of Jesus and that is nothing short of a miracle.  But, they aren't the only ones who receive a gift through the packing of shoeboxes.  Each year, during collection week, I hear countless stories of how packing a "simple gift" has impacted the lives of individuals, families, and churches.  We have received boxes that were packed by abused women in a battered women's shelter and boxes packed by adults with special needs at a local center.  These boxes are placed alongside hundreds of others ~ some from individuals, some from families, and some packed by churches of all sizes.  Each box has a story, a reason it is packed, and each box is special.

The ultimate message is this ... God created and gifted each of us in a special way for His glory.  Whatever your part in the process, from the packing, to collecting, to processing, and even to receiving, God has a plan for your life.  I may never know how God plans to use the children who receive the shoeboxes that I have a part in packing, but that is okay.  I have no doubt that I can trust Him to accomplish His will and I am thankful for the opportunity to have a small part in it.