Sunday, July 30, 2017

Multiplication Merry-Go-Round

This summer has been a wild ride and I'm starting to feel like I need a vacation. It would be nice to go somewhere for even a few days and shut down for a while.

I firmly believe God equips us with all the time and energy we need to do His if I can't keep up I'm either not abiding in Him and relying on His strength or I'm doing things He hasn't called me to do.  On the other hand, I know there are hard seasons that come when we're called to serve beyond normal capacity for a time.  Maybe this is one of those seasons.

Our packing party is 55 days away and God is meeting needs day by day.  We've been asking God to give us 1,000 stuffed animals each week.  Week before last He blessed us with 681 and last week with 563. We still need 9,000 by September 23rd.

Somehow we managed to cram our Operation Christmas Child schedule from July into the beginning of August. Since the beginning of the month we've crammed in a prayer team meeting, a packing party team meeting, our logistics training and team family picnic, two long packing party work days, and one project leader workshop.  Whew!  Next Sunday we're set for another project leader workshop followed two days later by a stuffed animal drive at Chick-fil-A.

Last Monday we were blessed to receive our prayed-for crayons and loaded and hauled 188 cartons of crayons to our storage container.  On Thursday we had 35 people at our work day who whipped out 7,344 bags of crayons and 2,250 packets of paper.  The paper is finished! Now we just have 20,000 more bags of crayons and about 6,000 jump ropes to finish before September so we can concentrate on folding boxes the week of the packing party.

The one-after-another OCC events, sandwiched with a few other major volunteer gigs, have felt a bit overwhelming.  This morning I griped on Facebook that most of the things I do these days seem to be things I don't really want to do and long to see in the rearview mirror.  My mother would say, "Don't wish your life away."  And she would be right.

In the midst of this hopefully not never-ending merry-go-round, we are praying for multiplication--for God to take these little events and make them monumental for His kingdom.

We're praying for 54,321 boxes this year in our area and today I reminded some project leaders that if each of our 200 participating churches and groups would prayerfully pack 20 more shoeboxes God would take us to that goal.

I don't know how the multiplication will happen, but we're trusting God to give us the victory as we pray.  We got four new prayer partners signed up today--and that's a win!

Multiplying--even on the merry-go-round.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Waiting For Small Things

This morning as I prayed I started thinking about waiting.  In actuality, we spend a lot of our lives waiting, and sometimes we don't even know what we're waiting for.

This picture was taken back in 2003.  We prayed to pack 1,200 boxes that year and God ended up giving us 1,234 (love that number.)  If you'd told me then that fourteen years later I'd be praying for 27,000 boxes I might have run away screaming.  I didn't know what I was waiting for; but God did.

For the past couple months I've been 'meeting' in a Bible study with younger women in Maryland. I'm the only one who attends remotely via FaceTime.  I hope some day I get to give each of them a hug, but I'm enjoying seeing them from afar and talking about women of the Bible.

Last night we talked about Sarah and how the biblical account of her life doesn't really begin until she's 65 years old.  She lived for 65 years doing her daily routines--serving her husband and never knowing that hundreds of years later a group of women would be studying her life and passing judgment on her decisions.  She spent years waiting on God's promise.  I can't begin to imagine her emotions when that baby moved inside her for the first time!

People I love are waiting and I was praying for some of them this morning: waiting to marry; waiting to hold a baby of their own; waiting to be healed.  Waiting for God to do big things in their lives that only He can do.  And I, too, am waiting with them.

But there's also the faithful waiting for the small things.  We have been praying week by week for stuffed animals for our packing party and, WOW, has God been blessing us.  Last week He brought us 941 and this week so far 681.  Now we're waiting for Him to provide more places to store all those blessings.

The past few days have brought more opportunities to wait.  My email isn't working properly, despite spending more than five hours on the phone with support technicians.  My oven hasn't worked for a few weeks now and the washer won't stop leaking.  You know the drill.

Then yesterday I got a text from the manager at Walmart who ordered 9,000 boxes of crayons for us three weeks ago.  He said the "home office" dropped the ball and never placed the order.  They have 2,800 boxes for us and are scrambling to find more. I start hitting all the stores around me to amass hundreds of boxes as I have in years past...or do I wait?

Father, we are waiting on You--in the big things and in the small things.  We wait for You to show Your glory.  We wait for You to refine and purify us in the waiting.  And we trust You for the blessing as we wait.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Night Watch

Okay, so...I can't seem to keep up with anything these days.  I feel kind of like this nondescript thing pictured here that came in a bag of donated stuffed animals.  Out of shape.  Out of sorts.  Out of synch.

Unable to sleep, I decided to check my blog and was stunned to find I haven't written in three weeks again.  I alternate between feeling overwhelmed and feeling foolish for feeling overwhelmed.

We've been praying week by week for stuffed animals and God keeps providing--maybe we're not seeing all we've prayed for but I believe God's providing them.  Last week we prayed for 1,000 and have 528 in hand.  Week before last, though, we got 1,451 in just one week!

This week we're praying for 1,000 again.  Today I spent 7 hours at yard sales and managed to snag 213.  I know I'll be picking up more at church tomorrow.  It'll be interesting to see where the total lies. We still need a total of 11,300 more before September 23rd.  

Meanwhile, we're finally having our first packing party planning meeting tomorrow.  I've never been a great planner, so I can't seem to get a firm agenda in line for tomorrow's meeting.  To make matters worse, I double booked tomorrow afternoon.  I scheduled the meeting for 3:00 and at 4:00 I'm supposed to be at a training for the day camp where I'll be volunteering this coming week.  I definitely need a firm agenda for this meeting, and I don't have one.  Oh, and I need to get the house cleaned before tomorrow afternoon, too.

And, I promised to get a plan for regional prayer calls set up and I haven't done that yet.  I did finally get my winter clothes put away this week, though.

On a high note, I can finally announce our exciting family news--we're going to be first-time grandparents right around Christmas time.  This is a true blessing after a few miscarriages over the past year and a half. To say we're full of anticipation is a gross understatement.

As I sit here and watch the full moon tonight I'm thanking God for His amazing answers to prayer.  I want to recognize them more often.  Today I talked with a woman at a yard sale who said she packed four boxes for Operation Christmas Child for the first time last year.  I asked her how she heard about the project and she said she saw it on someone's Facebook page.  As I walked back to my car I thanked God for using social media to bring gospel opportunities to more children.  You just never know how something simple like hitting the 'share' button on a Facebook post can be used by God to answer prayer--your prayers, my prayers, or the prayers of children on the other side of the world.

By the way, do you think any of them are praying for the thing in this picture?