We are entering the time of feasting, thankfulness, Christmas joy and giving. Our bellies will be full and our hearts thankful. As the doors open to the months' celebrations, it is a time I get to hear about and participate in sharing out of what we have been so graciously given.
Sharing and contributing, giving and participating are filling these months edged by hope and packed with promise. People always surprise me with their genuine generosity.
Toys for Tots, Salvation Army bell ringers, countless organizations and individuals seem to throw life in high gear as they prepare to be a blessing to thousands and thousands and, in the case of Operation Christmas Child, millions.
I first heard of Operation Christmas Child and filling shoeboxes for children around the world when I worked at WAOY Radio. People and churches would come from all over the listening area and drop their boxes off. Some days all you could see were our eyes peering over the stacks that would be packed into vans and taken to delivery hubs.
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After Debbie Eubanks took over our area as coordinator, we have seen the communities respond in full force. The stories of how these individual boxes bless others are amazing, but today is for the days leading up to the heart-stopping joy children, who have relatively nothing, display receiving their own personal box. Today is the story of one beautiful young lady with a heart as big as all outdoors.
Some birthdays are milestones, for Julie Smith represented a day she wanted to do more than receive. In her own words:
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." -- Ephesians 3:20
"I wanted a special way to mark my recent 40th birthday and the Lord impressed upon my heart to prepare 40 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Not really sure how to go about it, I asked friends to join me in this endeavor. I was excited until so many unforeseen conflicts arose that gave me every reason to scrap the whole idea.
"Until that still, small voice said, 'Is your faith in people and circumstances you can control or is it in Me?' And so, I carried on and He showed up and showed out. I felt like I have seen the parable of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish come to life in the form of shoeboxes. And although 40 was my number, it wasn't His. He had SIXTY in mind ... and I weep.
"Thank you to friends and family who donated items and shipping expenses, those who packaged boxes and those who prayed for me. My soul wells up with hallelujahs."
That'll preach, y'all. 'Tis the season to say, "Thank you, Father, for the abundance we have, whether materially, in kind words, in a card or with creativity like Julie; gratefulness oozes graciousness. Thank you for being you."
Kandi Farris, a freelance correspondent, also is a speaker on matters of faith and values.