Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paddleball Blessings

Holiday Paddleball Games

I'm always looking for new fillers for our Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party. I found these cute paddleball games (click on the green print above to see the listing for these) on the Oriental Trading company website and ordered a few to see how they looked. At the time they were on sale for .99 per dozen, which I thought was a great price. They're listed as "less than perfect" because the rubber band can detach from the paddle but I found them to be as sturdy as the ones I used as a kid. Those rubber bands were notorious for coming off and then you just tied them onto the handle of the paddle.

So when I saw these paddleball games (look for them in the sale section and drop down to the 'less than perfect' section and look on page 4, I believe) with a further reduced price of only .59 per dozen I decided to order a bunch of them. And I do mean a bunch.

I was able to use a coupon code that gave me $10.00 off and free shipping on each order of $79.00 so by ordering in groups of 134 dozen I got the cost down to only 4.2 cents per game. As I kept placing orders I thought there was no way they'd actually have all these in stock, but lo and behold I got shipping confirmations that all my orders are on their way.

That's 48 cases containing more than 13,000 paddleballs.

I'm bouncing with joy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mundane Thursday

Sometimes the days seem so mundane with a legato pace. Today threatened to be one of those days, but then the weather took an unseasonable upturn. Running in 50 degree weather cheered me up this morning and having seen 6 robins in a tree the other day I'm getting a little spring fever.

It's not a mundane week for Operation Christmas Child. A large team comprised of Operation Christmas Child staff and year-round area coordinators are going to be doing shoebox distributions in Honduras from February 20-26. Please keep them in your prayers as they give out these 'gospel opportunities'. Just two years ago I was in the Dominican Republic for such a trip. You can see in this picture that the small churches are packed at these shoebox distibutions. What a life-changing experience.

Thanks to all who became ad-visors on the OCC shoebox visor issue. Your comments helped me decide to buy 2 more pallets of them. I was glad of that when I read an article in yesterday's paper saying that clothing prices may be rising because of higher prices on cotton and other materials. I'm so glad that our God is bigger than the economy. In the past few years when our US economy was in a downturn, the number of shoeboxes collected for Operation Christmas Child grew in amazing ways.

Tonight we have our Northwestern PA Area Team meeting. There are a number of people who can't be there but I'm praying God will lead us to use the time wisely and grow deeper into Him. We need to make plans for calling all the churches who contributed boxes to affirm them. I hate making phone calls (I call it phonophobia) but it needs to be done so we'll figure out how to do it.

Thank You, God, that You are always near, even on a mundane Thursday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


This afternoon I have a call with my Operation Christmas Child Regional Director to talk about my ministry plan for our Northwestern PA Operation Christmas Child area team for 2011. I'm a little hesitant about putting goals on paper when I don't know for sure they're what God has for us this year or whether we can complete them. I guess I prefer 'safe' goals.

I know our shoebox goal of 32011 in 2011 (an increase of 4567 boxes--I love that number) can only happen if God shows up. Our team still has a lot of growing to do but when I look back over the past four years I know we've made a lot of progress. It's hard not to compare our team to others in our region so I have to ask God for the grace to stop doing that.

Meanwhile, I've been praying and asking for advice on visors. I was able to buy a pallet of visors for this year's shoeboxes. When they arrived I found they were really good quality and the price is excellent. I feel like I should buy more. It's nice to have clothing items that are already in cartons and storage-ready instead of running around to stores all the time to get items piecemeal.

On the other hand, it's early in the year and I don't know what else God might want to lead us to. It's also nice to have a variety of items instead of all one thing.

On the other hand, visors are good for boys OR girls and a wide age group. There's no worry about whether they'll fit the children who receive them and we know they fit well in the boxes.

On the other hand (now starting to sound like Tevye in "Fiddler On The Roof"), does God want me to spend so much money all at one time so early in the year.

So I'm asking for prayer and looking for ad-visors. Feel free to chime in with your comments.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Just Walking

Last week I was struggling so much. I felt all alone in this business of leading a team to collect gift-filled shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and I listened to Satan's lies whispering, "You're all alone and this is just too hard." I gave in to discouragement.

I had airline tickets to fly to Baltimore for our Operation Christmas Child Mid-Atlantic Region's Area Coordinators' retreat and I didn't even want to go. I had a four-hour layover in the Cleveland airport on Friday morning and started a book I'd been meaning to read, The Hole In Our Gospel, by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns. I got caught up in the story of Richard's fight against God's calling to leave his job as CEO of Lenox and step into the job of leading World Vision. His words on page 49 hit me between the eyes and I felt like they were God's voice speaking to me.

"What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God? What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?"

I sat in the airport wiping my eyes and wondering--what if? What if I just give up on the goal of packing boxes and leading a team? What if? Will it make a difference? There's only one answer. Yes. God can certainly raise up others who will fill in the gaps and pack more boxes but it will make a difference in my life if I don't follow the call and "what if" it makes a difference for even one child somewhere?

So I arrived at the retreat with a new attitude and felt God's refreshment in the hours I spent with the OCC staff and my fellow area coordinators.

Still, Satan is doing hard work in my life this week. The battle continues and it makes me think of a story my daughter Julie told me. Julie decided to run the Chicago Marathon this year with only 5 weeks of training. Because of her limited training she set a goal of completing it in 5 hours and by staying at a slow, even pace she was able to do that.

Her friend, Zack, had trained for long days to run the race in 3 & 1/2 hours. When it was 92 degrees on race day he went out too fast for the conditions and ended up depleted and exhausted. It took him 4 & 1/2 hours to finish and he had to walk the last 6 miles.

In those last hard miles one of the enthusiastic spectators yelled to him, "RUN, you can DO it--just RUN!" Zack tried to take two running steps and his knees buckled. So the spectator yelled in alarm, "WALK! JUST WALK!"

That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm not running the race very well. But I'm not going to give in to Satan's attacks. I'm not going to quit. I'm going to slow down a little and keep...

Just walking.