Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's officially Christmas!

4:22 p.m. Today's project was to fill up a shoebox for Operation Christmas child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse that our family has participated in since it began. I remember Franklin Graham himself coming to Harvest to dedicate the collected boxes, an incredible edifice of bright red, green and white boxes stacked on the stage of the huge sanctuary.
Our children would help us shop at nearby KMart for the many small toys, Christian books, school supplies, candy and needful clothing items to fill their boxes. One year, we had selected a "13 -year-old Boy" as one of our recipients, and managed to fit a pair of new sneakers into a box! Respecting the OCC guidelines of safety, no liquids, warlike toys or meltable chocolate, our box contents were limited only by our prayerful imaginations. A small donation, a picture of our family and a handwritten note would complete our box. The kids were so excited to take thir gifts to church!
In later years, Operation Christmas Child became a charity supported by community groups too, such as Arlington High School in Riverside. The distribution center in Orange County is only one of many around the country. And the videos showing impoverished children joyfully opening, treasuring, and sharing their gifts would melt the hardest heart.
My dad has been an enthusiastic donor the last several years, so he brought over his items today; happily, our fences were mended! Steve wrapped the box and lid in nice gold wrap, and we'll take it today to Chick-Fil-A. Not only do they serve the best chicken, but this Christian restaurant chain is closed on Sundays so people can worship! This year's shoebox deadline in November 23rd, so hurry!
Today began a whirlwind of activity that I look forward to each year. I just love all of the housecleaning, decorating and cooking for Thanksgiving, which we always have here in our home. We're down to just one child at home, and even Heidi is ministering in Mexico until Tuesday, but she's good for an apple pie and scalloped potatoes. Desserts are coming with my sister's family, my daughter Heather and daughter-in-law Marisela. I do hope to return to making whole wheat rolls now that I'm at home full time once more, and definitely am trying a new pumpkin pie recipe. I have found one that uses sweetened condensed milk instead of thin, runny evaporated milk, so maybe the center will firm up faster! We'll see- I'm open to any ideas from great bakers out there!
My first, immediate Christmas project is to decorate two plain stockings, in time to put up the week after Thanksgiving: one for son-in-law Nick, and one for new daughter-in-law Marisela. I was sharing with Kriss that our five children have the original small stockings I made for them, and they won't be updated, ever, but the new additions to the family get fancy big ones! (Kriss and Marisela will also be receiving the traditional "1st Christmas together" bauble with their names on it!) "A wedding a year," that's my saying these days!!
Steve's and my circumstances may be reduced this year, but our love of family gatherings and Christmas spirit is stronger than ever, as we treasure our time remaining!
I just love what the Lord said in Job 42:12a: "Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than at his beginning..." Yes, God HAS blessed, He DOES bless, and He WILL bless!
Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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