Friday, January 6, 2012

Candy Cane Withdrawal

At this time last year this is what my dining area looked like as I prayed for and collected candy canes for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  This year, though, I'm in candy cane withdrawal.

Because the boxes we pack for our large Operation Christmas Child packing parties are going to countries where it can be tricky to get the boxes through customs, OCC asked us not to put candy in our boxes.

So this year, instead of loading my shopping carts and my car with cartons of candy canes, I've wandered the aisles of Christmas clearances items at the stores and only picked up a few small things (other than plastic cups, and I found fewer than 1500 of those this year).

It feels very strange to not be shuttling cartons of candy canes and working on taking them out of their packages.  In fact, I feel like I'm not doing very much of anything in the shoebox packing realm right now.  Well, I did wash a few loads of stuffed animals yesterday, but....

Actually, when I think back to 2008--the last intense year when I packed 7,272 boxes at my old church with just a handful of people to help--I don't know how I kept up that pace.  At that point I had to get all my own shoeboxes so I was making several trips a week to TJ Maxx and PayLess to haul home cartons of boxes and then wrap them and haul them back down to our church basement.

Then at least once a week and sometimes more, I'd go to church and pack a hundred boxes or so and haul them to a storage room and stack them.  It was a lot of work and I haven't worked as hard on shoeboxes since, even though, by God's grace, I've been able to see a lot more packed.

I was just thumbing through the book where I keep my old-school handwritten lists of items God's provided for each year.  It's amazing to see how He provides in different ways with unique items each year.

So I'm not buying candy canes.  Instead, I'm waiting to see what God will provide next.  Last year it was more than 17,000 paddleballs from Oriental Trading in February and 1000 water bottles from Celebrate Express in March.

Instead of unboxing candy canes, I'l just wait and pray for the next bargain that will come in His time and with His provision.

I'm feeling the withdrawal from eating the broken candy cane pieces but I'm not missing the sticky fingers.

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