Shoebox Giving…

About a year ago, while grabbing some food at Chick-Fil-A, a group of staff members were putting together lots of red and green boxes.  Me, being the inquisitive one, decided to ask them what the boxes were for.  In this conversation, I learned of a program called Operation Christmas Child run by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.  In a nutshell, the program provides shoeboxes filled with gifts to children and adolescents in developing countries.  We, who live in a land of luxury and wealth, may consider the gifts useless, as they range from pencils and paper to toothpaste and toothbrushes, but to those who receive them, it provides a ray of hope.  Last year, I didn’t follow through with filling up my shoebox, but this year, I’m committed to bringing a bit of sunshine and God’s light into the life of someone who is truly less fortunate.

As I read and watched the stories of the children who received a shoebox, I felt both joy and sadness for many reasons.  It is wonderful to see children who are excited about receiving the basic things in life, school supplies…a teddy bear…a jump rope.  It’s amazing that the smallest gifts provide them with some of the greatest memories of their childhood.  Yet, while I look at the sparkle in these children’s eyes, I’m reminded of the world I live in…the world we’ve created, where we all MUST have the latest and greatest gadget, where money money talks, where we are judged by our appearance rather than our character, where my youngest family members are all too familiar with what a computer is, yet completely unaware of how to play games as simple as hide-and-seek.  While I too love many of the things that this world we live in has to offer, I question whether or not we have we forgotten what it means to live a good and simple life.  A life where we can be content reading a book, an actual book…not a Nook, Kindle, or iPad, but a book with real paper pages!  A life where we can sit down for a real meal…not pressed chicken from McDonald’s, but real food from a grocery store, produce stand, or farmer’s market that we’ve seasoned up and cooked for ourselves.  A life where villages once again raise our children…a life where families help one another rather than take on an “I got mine, you get yours” attitude.  A life where we give to our neighbor in need not because we have to, rather because we want to!

The world I live in surely isn’t all bad, but imagine how much better it would be if we could all simply be grateful for the smallest things!

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25: 34-40

October Photo-a-Day Challenge: Day 1-Where I Stood

 

Another month…another attempt at completing the photo-a-day challenge…we’ll see how it goes this time!  I think I may have figured out a plan though, so I’m dreaming big!

For today’s photo, the topic was “Where I Stood”.  I really wanted to post a pic of my family, but I didn’t have a picture that I took of them, so I thought it would be cheating a bit.  Nevertheless, if I don’t know anything else, I am very clear that I’ve made it this far in life because I literally stand on the shoulders of my family every single day!  They challenge me, they encourage me, they inspire me, they motivate me, and they push me through life even when I want to give up!

One of my life goals that has always remained consistent is to do better than my parents.  For me, that sets the bar pretty high because no matter how good or bad my parents have done in the eyes of others, I think they’re pretty amazing…not perfect, but my folks have always done whatever they’ve needed to do to give me the best life possible, and that alone is amazing in my book.  The beautiful thing is that my folks didn’t just give me material things, but they instilled morals and values in me…they taught me to respect my elders, they taught me the value of education, they showed me the value of good common sense, they showed me what a good work ethic looked like, they taught me the importance of having a relationship with Christ…they taught me so many wonderful things!

And so, in trying to reach my goal of doing better than my parents, there have been so many times that I’ve felt like an absolute failure, I’ve felt like I let my family down because I haven’t been at the place in life where I “thought” I should be.  But in those moments of defeat, my parents are always there to support me…to yank me out of my pity party!  So, while this pictures shows me standing on the sidewalk, because that’s literally where I stood when I took the picture, the reality is I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, I stand on the shoulders of my grandparents, I stand on the shoulders of my parents, I stand on the shoulders of my brother, and because I’ve stood on the shoulders of so many others…it’s now my responsibility to kneel down, lift the next generation up, and let them stand on my shoulders!

Until next time…peace and blessings!