Friday, November 27, 2009

Beyond Imagination

National Collection Week 2009 is over and so is Thanksgiving Day, but my thanksgiving for the harvest of shoeboxes God gave us is new every morning. The shine of God's amazing grace hasn't worn thin yet.

On Monday, November 16th, the Family Life Network did a live broadcast from the collection center at Church of the Covenant and by the end of the first day we had 1605 boxes already. Rose Dobson brought the 950 boxes from their small church of 35 members and they kept a crew of us busy cartonizing until nearly 6:00 pm.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had plenty to keep us busy and on Thursday Pat Carter brought her 1166 boxes from Federated and a few other groups over to fill the truck. The first truck left on Friday morning with over 3,700 boxes.

On Saturday morning I worked with Judy Hyde and again we were busy cartonizing all morning. In the afternoon I called around to see how all the relay centers and the Warren collection center were doing and from the tallies I was pretty sure we'd make the 18,000 goal.

That evening I went to Fellowship Baptist--a small church that's been faithfully filling boxes for OCC since 1994--and helped with their packing party. It was great to see another 133 boxes filled.

On Sunday after church I drove to Church of the Covenant and found four cars in line to drop off boxes. I was the only one there and it was pretty busy for a while as car after car pulled up into the line. The garage was full and thankfully a few other people came to help.

That night the relay centers brought their boxes -- 2626 from Meadville and 1178 from Seneca. My fingers flew over the calculator adding up boxes. Depending on the final totals in Warren, I thought we might go beyond 21,000 and was so excited I couldn't sleep that night.

On Monday the boxes were still rolling in and Seph had to keep extending the collection center hours. Kristin Hesch helped him in the morning. I was making phone calls from school in spare moments to check on Warren and get updates on their relay centers.

After school I went down to help Seph put the final boxes in cartons and got the FINAL TOTALS by 5:30 pm. Last year we had 15,015 boxes and our goal this year was 18,000, including the new collection center in Warren.

Well, God did it again. Just comparing our Erie collection center were were up to 19,768--a 32% increase--and adding in the Warren center our grand total for Northwestern PA was 22,331 (loved those repeating numbers again)--a 49% increase from last year.

God, I'll never get used to this--seeing You do what only You can do and watching You go beyond my imagination.

Now I'm praying about next year's goal. Whatever it is, I want it to be beyond imagination.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

National Collection Week Eve

Actually, it just passed midnight, so it's NOW officially National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. We area coordinator volunteers were having a Facebook discussion about how we felt on the eve of NCW. It's a butterflies-in-the-stomach blend of anticipation, excitement and apprehension. I liken it to the way I felt at the starting line of a marathon back when I did a lot of distance running. You've spent all those months training and preparing and you stand at the line and wonder how it will all work out. Then as soon as the starting gun sounds you take off running straight for the finish line.

So now we run.

Tonight I did my final speaking engagement for OCC. I went to the First Baptist Church in Meadville. It was a blessing that my husband drove since I forgot to take the church address and couldn't program the GPS. It's a good thing he loves me as he patiently waited for me to go into another Baptist Church's evening service and ask for directions. I'm so glad to be home.

The best news today, though, came from Linda Bennett, our Prayer Coordinator. Linda comes from a rural church that actually began OCC in Erie County back in 1995. Their small church doubled their shoebox numbers to 88 this year. This morning they had the children's Sunday school class pack 12 boxes. They showed the DVD and explained to the children that these boxes were being given to tell children about Jesus, and they also gave out those credit-card size Salvation Poems.

Linda said there were several children there who she sensed had never made a commitment of their lives to Jesus, so they shared the salvation message and gave an invitation. And THREE precious children trusted Christ today at a little church's OCC Packing Party. Linda says they are children who've had a tough life but now they know Christ. Just wanted to tell you that as an encouragement. Our boxes are ALREADY bringing little hearts to Jesus.

Will you pray with us for a great harvest of shoeboxes this week and an even greater harvest of souls?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today I'm trying to emulate the transparency that David displayed in the psalms he wrote. Today I'm feeling awfully Jonah-ish.
Today I don't want to do what it takes to obey God.

Today I don't want to be an Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.

Today I don't want to be anything that requires leadership.

Today I don't want to be a servant.

Today, like Jonah, I don't even care about all the children around the world who "don't know their right hand from their left" and don't know God loves them.

Today I don't want to 'translate the cause'--not even to myself.

Today I want to read a mystery novel or watch a mindless movie.

Today I want to eat things that aren't good for me to try to make me feel better.

Today I want to pull the covers over my head (or sit under my dead vine and whine).

But God, by His mercy, reminds me that

Today God's truth is always there to be heard.

Today God has a plan and will make a way.

Today God may move someone to pray.

Today is too precious to waste and

Today is not over yet.