Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is It Half Empty or Half Full?

I admit it.  I am generally a "glass half empty" or, in this case, "box half empty" kind of person.  I'm a people pleaser who also wants to get everything right.  Not that I do--it's just what I want.

Since Operation Christmas Child--both leading a team and packing lots of boxes--comprises a big part of my life, that philosophy spills over into the ministry also.

This week I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Charlotte, NC, attending some training sessions with chaplains who will serve at OCC Processing Centers around the country.  I will be working as the chaplain on first shift at the BWI PC in the Baltimore area.  I prayed extensively about whether to apply for the job and now, months later, I still don't feel a positive sense of calling.  Maybe part of that's because I'm not absolutely sure of much of anything.  What I do know, however, is that I am now hired and because I know Colossians 3:23 tells me, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men," I'm sure God wants me to prayerfully do the best job I can.

The training was held in the Charlotte Processing Center, and the smell of cardboard and joy was already in the air there.  During a break I wandered around the warehouse and found tall stacks of cartons.  A number of those stacks had labels on them that identified them as coming from our packing party.   Then I found cartons at the beginning of processing lines that were left open in the process of being inspected.  They contained our boxes!

I was excited and had to open three of them--two girl boxes and one boy box--to make sure they were ours and snap a few pictures.  

Sadly, though, each of these three boxes was, in my eyes, half empty.  Or maybe they were half full.  But, either way, half is not what I wanted to see.  

Realistically I know not all of our boxes were half empty.  We had a lot of good-sized stuffed animals that filled the boxes nicely.  But we didn't have enough large ones for every box.  I tried to pair the visors we put in many girls' boxes with larger stuffed animals.  Sadly, the supply dwindled near the end. 

The box I opened that was for a 5-9 year old boy also had a lot of space left in it.  It contained one of the large yellow water bottles we combined with a belt when we ran out of stuffed animals.

I've been thinking a lot about this since I saw those boxes.  First of all, why did God allow me to see our boxes at all?  And why did God allow me to see half empty ones?  Why did God allow me to see a boy in Colombia last May who was disappointed in the meager contents of his box?  

I'm wondering if God is sending me another message about the importance of quality in each box.  I feel our quality improved this year over other years, but we still need to improve.  We need to work to be sure we inspect every box more carefully.  We had leftover filler items this year.  We could have filled boxes better.  We should have.

God, I hope the rest of these stacks of cartons contain boxes that will better bless children in Your name.  Forgive our mistakes and help us learn to do better.  We continue to pray that every child who receives one of these boxes will be blessed by what they receive.  Show us Your will as we shop and plan for the future, also.

Because, Lord, we want the heart of each child to be not half empty nor half full but totally filled with joy, with love, and with Your precious truth.


  1. We have the opposite problem, people are stuffing our boxes so full that they bulge at the top. We use regular shoeboxes from the stores and this year we are doing 1100. I'd like to find a better way to do the packing, but lack of space is a problem for us. Thinking about backing the number of boxes down next year and concentrating on more quality stuff.

  2. As we finished filling our 96 boxes this year, we felt good, but with so many little hands and inexperienced checkers, we had to go back through. Too many are not full to the brim. They all have a good assortment of school supplies and hygiene, many have full size or string backpacks, all have a stuffed animal, even if it's tiny, but the toys, the fun, that's where we are lacking. I think for next year, we will focus more on 10-14 boxes (our girl scouts will be 9-11 then) and we will do our best to fill them with higher quality items. I anticipate packing considerably fewer boxes to stay in our budget, but God knows the deals he will put in front of us and the kids who will receive our boxes so we will shop on.

  3. where did you guys get those yellow shoe boxes? i am planing on doing 40-50 boxes next year and i am looking for a cheap easy small shoe box to use for them.