Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shoebox Sunday

Tomorrow is Shoebox Sunday again at our church. Filling and packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes has become a year-round activity in our home. But it certainly wasn't always that way!

Before we had children, hubby and I packed two shoeboxes each year --- one from each of us. After our daughter was born, we did three. When our son was born, we filled four that year. But as the children grew and as we started to teach them about being selfless, God started to tug at my own heart. I began to see that there is indeed a real need to impact the lives of children in these impoverished countries for God. What better way to do this than at Christmas time with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. And what better way to teach my own children a lesson in selflessness than to get them involved in this endeavour.

We started with a little chat involving the kids. We brainstormed ideas on how we can 'collect' as many items as possible throughout the year for the shoeboxes without breaking our budget too much. The goal is to fill as many shoeboxes as we can, not just our usual four! The kids came up with ideas such as giving up items they get in party lootbags, giving up toys they get in kids' meals or items they get as presents, making arts and crafts things throughout the year, and, buying stuff when we see them on sale.

We now have a 'shoebox bin' we keep in a closet where we accumulate items all year round. It all culminates around this time each year when we, as a family, go to the store to buy the essentials such as toothbrushes, socks, soaps and etc. and we come home to pack as many shoeboxes as our collected items allow.

For example, this year we were able to pack 20 shoeboxes. One particularly good year, we were able to pack 40! But really the important thing is not how many shoeboxes we end up with, but the heart in which the items came to be accumulated. You see, it wasn't all that easy for the children at first. When we first started this endeavour, more times than not there was reluctance when they were confronted with the choice of whether to keep an item for themselves or to put it in our 'shoebox bin'. This year, I am very proud to say that I did not witness an ounce of reluctance in either child at all. I think they have finally grasp the concept of being selfless --- pertaining to packing shoeboxes, that is!

Becoming selfless is indeed a lifelong lesson. We still have quite far to go! It surely isn't something that is achieved overnight although I would like to think that we are making some progress here, one day at a time! So, as another Shoebox Sunday comes tomorrow, our family start a whole new year of filling our 'shoebox bin' with items for next year's shoeboxes! :-)

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' "
---Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
---Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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