The Impact of a Shoebox

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Guys, it is officially collection week! That means this is the week to bring your packed boxes to the collection center in your area. But I not here to repeat myself, I am here to tell you a story.

What do you think of when I say – “The impact of a shoebox?”

I think most would answer they think of children receiving boxes and how it can impact their lives. This is beautiful because it is true ❤ There are so many stories of how a shoebox can impact a child and even more of how the discipleship program impacts their community.

But I want to focus on the other side –  the one that people may not realize. Not only can a shoe box impact the child who receives it, but it can also impact the packer.

I have been packing shoeboxes for kids since I was 2 years old. Every year, my sister and I packed a box for a child in our age range. It was a beautiful reminder to us that we were buying gifts for another person. It taught me the importance of giving.

Even when we “passed” the last age range, we still continued to pack shoeboxes. At one of our packing parties with our friends, we had a guest speaker. That day changed my perspective on packing shoe boxes. She told us that the age range that got the least amount of boxes was boys 10-14 and then girls 10-14.

This shocked me because I knew that in many cases, these were the kids taking care of their younger siblings, providing for their families, and taking on family responsibilities. To know that they were the ones getting fewer boxes, it just stabbed my heart. My sister and I made it our mission the next year to specifically create boxes for these children.

Our love for Operation Christmas Child continued to grow so much that eventually, we took over organizing the yearly packing party that we did with our homeschool group. There was no doubt about it, each year brought more excited kids to pack boxes. Some years we had fewer volunteers than in previous years, but the number of people helping didn’t change the fact that everyone there was excited to pack boxes; creating a joyful atmosphere.

While the party itself was always successful, I can’t tell you how many years we sorted through our donations the week before and thought we wouldn’t have enough gifts to even make 50 boxes. But every year, without fail, somehow our group has packed over 200 boxes filled with stuff. It is amazing. ❤

But the most impactful thing that happened during these parties was not packing 200 boxes, it was seeing kids and their families gathering around the box they packed to pray over it and the child who was going to receive it. Prayer is something we have always emphasized and to see kids and adults alike taking that seriously, brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.

Packing boxes all these years has changed me. It taught me to care deeply about the person receiving my gift. I now understand that it so much more than just throwing items in a box. Each item I choose is going to be given to a specific child with specific needs. And the child is not a fictional character living in another world, but rather a real child with desires and longings just like me. By packing a box, I get to impact a kid that could be my brother or sister and show them the love of Christ. Isn’t that beautiful?

I can confidently say that packing shoe boxes had impacted me in a positive way and I know that I am not the only one who would say this.

This is the truth: When you pack a shoebox, not only does it impact the child, but it also impacts you.

Even if you don’t pack a shoebox this Christmas season, I would encourage you to find ways to impact the families within your community. I believe you will find that it will bless you as well. ❤

Have a wonderful week friends!

Cat

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Letters from College #6

I know that I have mentioned it before, but I can’t seem to comprehend how fast time feels to be going. I looked at my calendar today, and I saw that this time next week it will be Thanksgiving! That means the semester is nearly done and my classes are coming to a close. I only have a couple more days until Thanksgiving break and only a couple weeks until I’m home for Christmas. My first semester on campus is almost complete!

Wow. I can’t believe I said that. 

I have been thinking about this and a realization hit me hard. Just like the semester is going fast, so is our life. James 4:13-14 says “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

It was so humbling to realize this because it helped me put life in the proper perspective again. I have always known this, but sometimes you just need another reminder to wake you up to reality. However, there is more to it than just knowing life is short – life is short in light of eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We have eternity in our hearts because we are made in His image and saved by his grace. 

I love John 3:16 because it is a great reminder of the eternal life we get to experience because of the death of Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This made me think of the “already but not yet” principle. We are going to have eternal life when we die – that is our future. However, we forget that this reality starts now because the Kingdom of God is here on Earth.

I have been convicted of not living in the light of eternity the last couple of months. I have been asking myself, why am I wasting hours doing idle things? Why do I choose to do things that will fade away at the end of this life rather than storing up treasure in heaven and getting to know my heavenly Father? This life is short and eternity is forever.

My answer? I am ashamed to say that I don’t really know. If I were honest, I think it is a combination of forgetfulness, selfishness, and apathy. The Lord has been working to create a new spirit within me these past couple weeks, one that has a desire to earnestly know Him in my everyday tasks. This is helping me keep a kingdom focus both in the here and in the future. 

I still have so many places to grow in, but I am grateful for where the Lord has brought me since the beginning of the semester. I pray that I continue to remind myself and others to live in light of eternity, to live knowing that life is fleeting so we must be intentional in our relationship with our sweet Father and the work he has prepared for us. ❤


“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

– C.S. Lewis

I am a Writer

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I will admit, sometimes writing is hard. I wish I could sit beside a crackling fireplace,  music thundering in the background, and always spin a captivating tale. I wish the right words would come naturally. I wish I didn’t have to revise as much as I do.

There are a lot of things I could wish for, but even if they came true, they are not the reason why I write. I am not a writer because it is easy. I am not a writer because someone else told me I’m a writer.

I am a writer because I choose to be a writer.

When I write, I wield immese power. Never is it more true that words have influence and to be a writer means you have control over this weapon. For better or for worse, the words you write can affect a person’s life. Even the most mundane writing tasks are influential for understanding and clarity.

This is why I love the challenge of crafting meaningful paragraphs from simple words. It may be hard and take hours, tears, and loads of revisions, but it is so rewarding to see the final version.

I cannot ignore the giver of this great possession – the Lord. He gave me this passion as a gift and now I can’t imagine life without it. ❤

 

National Collection Week

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Guess what is coming up guys? If the title of this post was of any help, the National Collection Week is coming up for Operation Christmas Child! This is my favorite time of the year. ❤

For those of you unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), this ministry packages shoeboxes filled with gifts and sends them all over the world to children ages 2 to 14. In addition to giving out gifts, they also teach the gospel in a 12-lesson course that shares the gospel message with the kids. When each participate graduates from the class, they receive the Bible in their own language!

I have been packing boxes since I was two, but knowing that the small box I am holding will impact a kid somewhere in the world gets me every time. It is such a great way to show the love of Christ in a tangible way. ❤

What do you need to do?

  • Go shopping and finish getting those special gifts for your little boy or girl.
  • Find a group to pack with because it is always fun to do it with friends.
  • Pray over your box when you finish packing it.
  • Drop your box off at a drop off location near you during collection week (Nov. 12th-19th)

Want to see what country your box lands?  You can buy a boy/girl label on the Operation Christmas Child website and you will be able to track where your box goes. Here is the link: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/follow-your-box/

Make the decision to bless another child’s life this holiday season ❤ You won’t regret it.

With love,

Cat

 

Coming Back

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I haven’t been to practice in two months. I haven’t even gotten my bow out of its case. But last week was Fall break! When I found out that I would be able to make it to Thursday practice I was so excited! However, if I were honest, as I drove I had this feeling of being out of place as if I didn’t belong with the team anymore since it had been so long.

I don’t know why I was worried. Everyone welcomed me back with open arms… and yes I did get hug ambushed by a couple people! It was so nice to see my coaches and catch up with my teammates. There were also a lot of new faces I didn’t recognize which means the team is growing. ❤

But the sweetest part of it all was actually shooting. Yes, my arms were a little sore at the weight of the bow, and yes, my arms quivered at pulling back 36 pounds but it felt so good to have my bow in my hand again.

You don’t realize how much you miss something until you come back two months later.

I am so grateful for fall break and the special time I was able to have that night ❤

Until next time,

Catherine

 

Perfect Aspect

Reading Hands Bible Open Bible Bible Study Book

I am continuing to be amazed by how grammar can help us in understanding the Bible. Just like knowing the Greek or Hebrew root form of words can help our understanding, so can recognizing the verb structure in our English translations.

Take a look at these verses:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3

The verb phrases that are bolded display the perfect aspect. The perfect aspect is something that has concluded but has implications for now. From the verses, we know that Christ loved us in the past but because of the verb phrases, we can understand that Christ still loves us today. ❤

Letters from College #5

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Discipleship group every Monday evening. Lunch with classmates. Conversations with my roommate. Dinner with a friend. The weekend. Seeing my siblings. Texting a childhood friend. Studying the book of Romans with my best friend.

It is the little things in life that are such a blessing.  ❤

I pray that I never take these things for granted. During a long week, these are like beams of sunshine in my life. Like little gifts from the Lord. With every conversation, every second, and every moment, I give thanks to the Lord for keeping my eyes open to the blessings around me. I don’t ever want to walk around blind to the beauty and the opportunities around me.

Thank you Jesus for another amazing week!

Archery as a Gospel Tool Pt. 1

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Archery has a special place in my heart since I have been involved with the sport for over five years. I started in a beginner class in 2014 and a couple months later I moved up the JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Division) program. It didn’t take long at all for archery to become my passion. I started participating in tournaments, teaching classes and volunteering at summer camps. Then this past November I had the opportunity to go with a team down to Mexico and help start an archery program.

Archery is more than just a great sport. What most people don’t know is that archery has strong ties with the Christian faith which can be used to share the gospel. This is why I am so passionate about it!

What to know more? It all starts with the history.

The History of Archery

The sport of archery goes way back to early civilization. The primary way that animals were caught was by either catching them by hand or by throwing spears. Obviously, it was very difficult to catch them by hand so spears were the main tool used. But this meant that they had to be close to the animal to make their mark. From spears came javelins (longer spears) that could be thrown from farther away and still maintain accuracy. However, even these longer spears had to have close range.

Most likely from experimentation came the first draft of a bow – the longbow. Basically, a long stick bent with twine from end to end. The flying missiles were “small” spears or now known as arrows. This new technology made it possible to kill animals from an even further distance.

As time went on, new stronger bows were developed that could shoot arrows faster, straighter, and from further away. This all increased the accuracy of their shot. The bow and arrow became a tool that provided people with food to eat.

Now imagine this –  two young boys are out playing with these tools. One of them makes a comment that he thinks he could hit the tree three yards away. His friend takes it as a challenge and makes the comment that not only could he hit the tree but land his arrow on the knot of the tree. And the competition began.

In the early days of the sport, a competition was shot in “ends”. They had two sets of targets on the field. Since they were such a far distance apart, the archers would shoot to one end, walk down, score their arrows, then turn and shoot back down the field. They shot end to end which is why we now use the term “end” in archery. During these games, if an arrow missed the bullseye of the target (the center of the bale), it was called a sin.

Do you see the connection yet? In life, if we miss the mark, it is called sin. So just like the arrows didn’t hit the middle, we can fail to do what honors God. Anything that doesn’t honor God is a sin.

This is just the first of many connections we will see with the sport of archery. In Pt. 2  of this series, we will begin looking at our bow and how that can determine where our arrow flies.

With love,

Catherine

 

God is Faithful

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Friends, He is so faithful. I am reminded of that every day. His love is unconditional. He loves us individually, and cares deeply for each one of us.

I smile just thinking about how interested He is in every detail of my life. And how He loves stepping into my life just to show how much he cares for me.

I was talking to my mom one evening when an emotion that I hadn’t even known I was holding inside of me burst out. My mom was able to encourage me which was so sweet. ❤ Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that I was longing for deep friendships – the friendships I had at home. This was even translating to having to eat lunch alone each day.

I didn’t think much about it after that conversation. However, that every next week I noticed something. I was walking back to my room when it hit me – I hadn’t eaten lunch by myself all week. I was shocked because the revelation came over me like a wave – the Lord had provided me with people to eat with so that I didn’t have to eat alone.

I know I never asked the Lord directly – “I want someone to eat with please.” I don’t think I was even thinking about it, honestly. But the Lord knew my deepest desire even if I was brushing it aside like it didn’t matter.

He was looking out for his little daughter. He gave me something that was really insignificant to show me how much he cares for me.

Thank you, daddy, for showing your love for me in such a tangible way ❤

Catherine

Letters from College #4

I AM.

I learned something very neat this past week in my grammar class. We were learning about the 10 sentence patterns that all sentences can be classified under. However, there is one sentence that can’t be explained by these patterns. Can you guess what it is?

I AM.

The name of God. It doesn’t fit into any of our sentence definitions. I just love this picture that our language can’t even hold the magnitude of God’s glorious name. It is the name above all names so it makes sense that we can’t fit it into what we understand.

This reminded me that I can learn about the Lord anywhere – even in grammar!

Have a great week friends! ❤

Catherine