I’m posting this blog late that’s why there is a Trick or Treat picture above. We left October behind and are now a week into November and I am reminded how quickly times passes. Good intentions can so easily go by the wayside especially as we get involved with planning and prepping for the holidays. Before those good intentions are left behind, I want to mention a giving opportunity that my family takes part in every year. It’s called Operation Christmas Child and is an outreach of Samaritan’s Purse. Shoebox size boxes are shipped around the world with gifts for disadvantaged children. Along with the gift, the kids also receive the simple gospel message of Jesus’ love for them. It’s a tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these young lives. These gifts are simple, but bring much joy and hope to the kids who receive them. Many who received gifts as a child have shared how those gifts impacted their lives.
I love the simplicity and the mission of these shoebox gifts. I love the impact that these gifts have on the lives of the children who receive them, but I also love the impact that participating in this ministry has with children and families in my church and also in my own life. Filling a shoebox is simple enough for a preschooler to do with a little help of course. When you and your child fill a box together, your child can participate in helping someone else. Instead of focusing on all the amazing, fun stuff that they want for Christmas, this gives your kids the opportunity to think beyond themselves for a moment. They learn the joy of giving rather than just receiving. Perhaps, you may find that giving a shoebox will help them also develop their gratitude muscles. It’s a great way of shining and sharing God’s love.
So how do you fill a shoebox anyway? You can go online to Operation Christmas Child for more details. It’s as simple as picking up a box at a church who is participating or you can do it totally online if you prefer. (For preschoolers, I like going to the store picking out items with my child and then filling a shoebox at home because I think that way is a little more tangible for them.)
Fill your box with small gifts such as a toothbrush, comb or brush, hair accessories for girls, deflated balls and a air pump, stickers, school supplies, small stuffed animal and so on …. Check online for a complete list. When your box is finished bring it back to a dropbox location which is usually to a participating church. Do donate $9 a box for shipping and other project costs – again this can be done online or by mailing a check. There are very good instructions online. This is the giving, sharing season. Let your light shine by giving.
More Information on Operation Christmas Child can be found at: samaritanspurse.org
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
You are a generous God. You have been so faithful and so generous to me, giving me what I need when I need and helping me in so many stressful situations. I have so much to be thankful for. Thank you, God for giving to me abundantly. Thank you for opportunities to give back to you and others this holiday season. Opportunities abound for giving and sometimes I wonder what to say yes to and what to say no to as I know I can’t give to everything. Lord, show me the ways you want me to give as opportunities arise. May I bless others with a grateful heart, because you have blessed me. I want to honor you. I pray for the kids that will receive the shoebox gifts that I and others prepare around the world. Oh may it change their lives. May it give them hope and may they know that they are deeply loved by a God who sees them and knows them. I pray also for the kids I minister to at my church, may they catch the idea of giving with a thankful heart. Open their eyes to see the needs of others and to get involved. May putting a shoebox together be a delight to them and may they too know, that you are a generous God who has BIG plans for each one of them. Thank you God! Amen
- When you give to Operation Christmas Child, be sure to pray over your box. Pray that the child who receives it will be blessed and will know that God loves him or her.
- Drop off food at your local food bank or homeless shelter – involve your child in picking out some kid friendly food items.
- This is a year round way to give – Sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International. Your child can even get involved by writing a note or drawing a picture to send to the child.
- Collect socks for the homeless and drop them off at your local homeless shelter.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen as family.
- Help a neighbor or a friend going through a hard time.
- Are you going through a hard time yourself? It doesn’t hurt to ask for help, but while you’re asking, how about offering to do something for someone else instead of giving. We all have something to offer. Perhaps a smile!
SHARE A STORY: Jesus Friends Shine & Share – Acts 4:32-37
Jesus friends had God’s love shining in their hearts. They were so happy because Jesus was alive! They wanted others to know how much God loved and helped them so they shared.
They shared everything with each other and they told everyone about their friend, Jesus. They shared because they wanted to and because they loved God. (Give self a hug.) They shared food and clothes with people who needed food to eat or clothes to wear.
One of the friends who shared was named Barnabas. Barnabas loved sharing, shining God’s love and helping others. He sold his field and gave the money to share with those who needed it. You can shine God’s love and share with others just like Barnabas did.
You can share your toys or a snack with a friend. Ask your dad or mom what you can shine and share to help others. God loves you and gives you good things to share. Best of all, you can shine God’s love because He loves and helps you. (Give self a hug.)
MEMORIZE: 2 Corinthians 4:6 – (Hold hands open like holding a book.)
God made His light shine – (Close hands, open quickly like twinkling.)
In our hearts – (Hands on heart.)
Dear God, Thank you for loving me. You give me good things that I can share. Help me share my toys this week. I know you will because you are my helper. I love you. Amen
KNOW: The early church shared God’s love.
TALK ABOUT: How can I shine & share?
ASK: Who loves you? God loves me.
AND DO: Ask God to help us shine & share His love.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK:
* Share the book, “The Pumpkin Patch Parable” by Liz Curtiss Higgins with your child. (Sorry, this should have been for last week, but I think it’s still worth sharing.)
* Share toys. Share snacks.
* Share the work and praise your child when he/she helps with something – even if it takes longer to let them help.
* Share good news – take a rest from bad news this week.
* Share food or something with someone in need.
* Love because God loves.