Monday, October 28, 2013

A Manger and A Shoebox

I don't remember my first shoebox. I don't recall the exact moment when those little boxes started meaning so much to me that just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes.

But I know that every year, I pack them with my children. Every year I cry as I pray over those boxes. I read the stories of impacted lives and my heart soars. They cross my mind when I see toys on clearance after Christmas, when the crayons are 25 cents a box each August.

If you don't know about Operation Christmas Child and the shoeboxes, you can find out a lot at the website. The basic idea is to take a shoebox and pack it full of things like school supplies, hygiene products, and toys. Send that shoebox to a child in a less fortunate area of the world. Along with the wonderful goodies in the box, each child gets the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ.

I've done other Christmas charities in the past - Angel tree, adopt-a-family, Toys for Tots. They're great and worthy programs and people's lives are enriched through them, but for me it's ultimately the shoeboxes.

[caption id="attachment_327" align="aligncenter" width="949"]Sstacks of shoeboxes at the church altar The shoeboxes being dedicated at church this past Sunday.[/caption]

Look at those boxes. Each one represents a child. A child that probably won't get anything else for Christmas this year or even for their birthday.

The best part of each of those boxes is the amount of love crammed in amongst the pencils and candy. It fills every crevice and space, settling between the crayons and toy cars, filling the balls, and resting between the soap and the toothpaste. I know in my house, the packing of the boxes is an epic event, done with the greatest care and loving intentions.

Operation Christmas Child
A small bundle, a tiny container, sent with love and the hope that the receiver will accept God's ultimate gift of salvation.

I think that's why I like the shoeboxes. They help us remember that Christmas is about a very small gift given with the largest of intentions and the biggest love of all.  A baby in a manger, so small, so seemingly insignificant when compared to the stacks of Christmas presents I and most of my friends are used to having.

A manger, like a shoebox, was designed to hold something basic. But God used a manger, like He uses a shoebox, to deliver a gift so precious. That's the beautiful thing about love - it's condenses so easily into tiny packages.

So many times it's the little things that have the greatest impact.

I know it's October and even mentioning the word Christmas makes a lot of people scream, but the collection date for shoeboxes is coming up soon. Not only is it an easy way to potentially change a child's life, it's a great reminder before hitting to size and busyness of the holiday season.

For me, it sometimes becomes so easy to get caught up in giving more and more to those you love because you want them to feel that love. But when I pack a shoebox, I have to pack with such care and intention because the space is limited.

I want my days to be like that. Because a day is limited. A day is small.

Pack today with love.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This week in media: The Faith in Humanity Edition

What have you been up to this week? Here's a few things that caught my eye this week:

1. Things that reminded me people are awesome:

  • This tweet from Josh Taylor (Blimey Cow):

Josh Taylor: Perks of dating me: You are Keener Taylor which means you're super hot.

  • These pictures (Drawn by Isaiah Stephens and seen on a tumblr post by Ashley Clements). Lots of people are drawing pictures these days and I often see them posted around tumblr. A popular subject is fictional female characters drawn with ridiculously curvy bodies and tight, scanty clothing. What makes this set different is that these really well drawn pictures manage to utilize those aspects without creating overly sexualized images. Bravo, Isaiah Stephens.

2. Things that made me go Hmmmm...

C. S. Lewis Daily Twitter: Satan sends error into the world in (opposite) pairs.. His hope is that you will get so upset about one that you'll react into the opposite.

This one is from Facebook, so I left the person's name out.

The person who denies the Trinity will lose his soul; the person who tries to explain the Trinity will lose his mind!

3. Things that made me go hehehe

This was retweeted by someone... don't remember who. I don't actually know this person, but I applaud his idea!

Michael Golamco: Flash mob today: Everyone spontaneously gather and clean my house

Who doesn't love a grammar joke?

Will Screamton (Wheaton): This is going to be useful for at least one person right this moment: *you're

4. Things that made me go YEA!!!

5. Speaking of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Stuff...

  • Okay, yes, this is actually something I posted, but still... hilarious and awesome! Walking through the mall and this is the mannequin in Express. Very little doubt who influenced that fashion selection.



  • Finally this image released to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. It just looks cool.


[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="461"] This image from Doctor Who's Official Tumblr[/caption]


What was your favorite thing this week?

Monday, October 21, 2013

How a Bottle of Sand Changed My Perspective

I have a sand bottle on my bookshelf. There's even a few shells in it. Every morning I see this bottle, and it focuses and inspires me. Occasionally when I get frustrated with my writing, my husband looks at me and says "You have a bottle of sand." Instantly, my determination is back.

Where is this awesome, magical sand from?

sandbottleOriginally, it's from the fictional Unpubbed Island of Seekerville fame. If you don't know, Seekerville is an awesome blog for writers, particularly those who are not yet published. The idea is that aspiring writers reside on Unpubbed Island, trying to sail off into the sea of published novels. If you're a writer you should check it out.

More importantly though, the sand came from a friend of mine. She's been a friend of the Seekerville crew for a long time. They blessed her with a bottle of sand while she was struggling to get published. It wasn't long before she sold her first book.

A few months ago, my friend gave me her Unpubbed Island sand. She told me she believed in me and my writing, asked to be my mentor, and prayed for me.

That tangible reminder that someone who is in the business and knows what they're doing believes in me and what I'm trying to do is a powerful motivator when things get tough.

Never underestimate the power of a mentor. Don't be afraid to look to those ahead of you on your journey - they've been there, done that, and learned a few things along the way. And don't be too busy to look behind, either. There's a lot of benefit in offering a helping hand.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Emma Approved, Doctor Who, and New Books ~ This Week on the Internet

Memorable Media Moments ~ Week of October 12

Some of my favorite Social Media shares of the past week:

1. Emma Approved

This actually started last week, but I wasn't doing roundups last week, so here it is! The long-awaited next book adaptation from Bernie Su and Hank Green (and a lot of other people, I'm not really sure who all is in on production.)

2. Doctor Who 50th Awesomeness

As November 23rd draws nearer, the Whovians are celebrating. Some of my fave moments this week:

~ The Day of the Doctor stills. Yes I got excited about pictures. John Hurt at the TARDIS controls = awesome anticipation.


~ This post about Martha. I actually liked Martha as a companion. I thought this was a good write-up about why she was awesome during her time.



3. The Things That Made Me Giggle

Hank Green: The radio is playing in this restaurant. It played an advert for this restaurant. I'm kinda surprised that's never happened to me before.

Jim Gaffigan: Researchers have discovered eating bacon lowers sperm count and that researchers waste time & money instead of finding a cure for cancer.

Response to Jim Gaffigan: Don't you have like 2 hours of material on bacon and 6 kids?

4. Things that Make Me Go Hmmm...

James Emery White: Of course Christians proselytize. If we really believe in heaven and hell, how could we not?

~ Also this: the most awesome customer service exchange on a live chat application ever. This is definitely a win. What if we all handled our problems with this kind of attitude?

5. Celebrations

~ Prologue and First Chapter of Julia Quinn's new book! I think this has actually been up for a while, but I just discovered it this week, so yea! Book comes out in a couple of weeks. That will be exciting as well.

~ Laurie Alice Eakes' new Regency released this week and we're partying over at Regency Reflections! Loving that the Inspiration Regency market is growing.

A Reluctant Courtship Contest at Regency Reflections