#GreatChristmas2013 – That’s a wrap!

‘Twas the month of December and all across the land,
there were dozens of bloggers with presents in hand.
Down the mail shoots and into the bags
went the gifts, covered in bows and tags.

Where each would end up, only one knew
a secret Santa surprise
a special gift out of the blue.

And upon its arrival there was much joy and glee,
each one opened their box, anxious to see
the gifts that were wrapped with such meticulous care.
Their long awaited surprise was finally there.

-An ode to #GreatChristmas2013

Well, my friends, The Great Christmas Exchange has come and gone and I’m already ready for it to come again! This was so much fun! Beth and Samantha did a great job of organizing and facilitating this wonderful secret gift exchange.

In case you missed my previous posts about this exchange (you can find them here and here), I’ll explain briefly. Everyone who signed up to participate in the exchange was emailed a secret partner about a month before Christmas. We received their blog and social links and a few details about their favorite things.

Then we went shopping! And crafting! And post office mailing (yep, that phrase just happened)!

I was thrilled to find out that I received the lovely Meg of Rivers and Roads as my partner. I knew of Meg from reading Beth’s blog, Oak + Oats. Turns out they’re besties! How awesome is that? It’s a small world.

So I semi-stalked Meg and learned about her life, what she enjoys, how she spends her free time, etc., etc., etc. And I wrote it all down in a notebook that I read every day. Just kidding. I’m not a real stalker. Promise. 🙂

Finding gifts that I thought Meg would like was fairly easy. It was wrapping them up and making them look cute that was hard. You see, I’m a terrible gift wrapper. Always have been and most likely always will be. (I apologize to my future children now. Mommy’s going to put all your presents in gift bags and cover them with tissue paper.) But after a few hours of meticulous measuring, cutting and taping, I managed to get Meg’s box to look like this!


All ready to meet a new friend!

I gave Meg some blank notecards because she loves snail mail, some pink Essie nail polish because every girl needs a bottle of that stuff and a soft green infinity scarf because she said she liked them and because it was Christmas and green is oh so festive.

I mailed Meg’s package then traveled to Texas and Kansas to spend Christmas with my family. I knew my gift would be waiting for me when I returned so I rushed to the mailbox first thing once I got home.

And I found a package from the UK! That’s right. My gifts came all the way from across the pond! That made me even more excited.

I opened my package to find a fun snowman card, some amazingly delicious Cadbury chocolate, a sweet bracelet made up of tiny hearts, a cute cupcake bath bomb and a yummy winter scented candle. All of them were perfect!


Across the pond and through the woods, right to my mailbox came this wonderful package from my secret Santa!

And who was my secret Santa? She is none other than the lovely Becky Brown! After getting to know more about Becky, it turns out that we’re a lot alike. She lives in a small village and describes herself as a country girl throughout. I grew up in a small town, too, and as far as I’m concerned you can never take the country out of the girl.

Thank you again, Becky, for my gifts! it was so wonderful to meet you!


To wrap it all up (see what I did there?):
Like I said earlier, I loved participating in #GreatChristmas2013 and I can’t wait to do it again. In the meantime, I might just mail more gifts and notes throughout the year. I think I’m hooked!

Operation Christmas Child

Do remember what it was like as a kid to wake up on Christmas morning and run to the Christmas tree to find piles of gifts and presents stacked around it?

Do you remember what it was like to tear the wrapping paper off a gift, so excited to find out what was inside that you felt like you just couldn’t unwrap fast enough?

Do you remember the smile that came to your face and the joy that filled your eyes when you found out that you’d been given exactly what you wanted?

I’m sure most of us have happy memories similar to those. But for many kids around the world, Christmas morning is just another day. No tree. No gifts. No wrapping paper. Many of them have never received a Christmas present in their entire life.

One organization is working to change that.

Operation Christmas Child, founded in 1993 as a ministry project of Samaritan’s Purse, sends shoeboxes full of gifts all around the world to give to children on Christmas Day. Not only are children presented with shoeboxes full toys, clothes, school and hygiene supplies, but they are also presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, either through a live presentation or a booklet written specifically for them that tells the Gospel story in their native language.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has distributed over 100 million shoeboxes to boys and girls in more than 130 countries. That’s a lot of joyful Christmas mornings!

I love this organization and the work that they do. I love to imagine the face of the child that receives the shoebox I packed for them.

I imagine which toy they’ll pick up first.

I wonder if they’ll share with their friends and siblings.

I imagine which part of the gift they’ll like best.

But most of all I love that I’m helping to spread God’s Word and love to people around the world.

If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, now is the perfect time! Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week is November 18 – 25. You can find out more information on their website like how to pack a shoebox and where to drop your shoebox off. You can even watch Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty pack his own shoebox!

While Operation Christmas Child has a ton of great gift ideas on their website, today I’m going to show you what I put in my shoebox.

First choose whether you want your gift to go to a boy or girl, age range 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. I chose a 5- to 9-year-old boy. Next, purchase your gifts, then you’re ready to pack.

I packed my gifts in a plastic container about the size of a shoebox because I figured the kid can use the plastic container, too, and it won’t deteriorate as quickly as a cardboard shoebox. Either choice is fine, though. You can also wrap your box/container, but I’m the world’s worst gift wrapper, so I opted out. I don’t want my kid receiving an ugly box!

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 1 – Get ready to pack your gifts. I used an empty plastic container similar in size to a shoebox for mine.

Then I gathered all my gifts and laid them out, trying to create a mental picture of how they would best fit in the container.

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 2 – I lay out the gifts I’ll pack in the shoebox. I included a ball, coloring book and crayons, two shirts and Hot Wheels cars.

All packed!

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 3 – After packing, unpacking and repacking several times, I got everything to fit in the box!

Once your box is packed, you’ll need to attach a label to it, noting the gender and age of the child it should be delivered to (you can get your labels here). I didn’t get a photo of this because I printed and attached my label in a hurry one morning before church. Sorry for the fail!

You can also make a shipping donation to print a special label that will let you track your box. I think this is a great idea! I can’t wait to see where my box ends up!

So there you have it! Such a small effort on your part can make such a huge difference in the life of a child.

Will you pack a shoebox this year?

(And in case you think you’re too busy, you can build a shoebox online! No excuses. 🙂 )

Life recently

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ve neglected this blog. I’m sorry.

I know y’all wait with bated breath (pet peeve cliché right there) to read about the super exciting details of my life and y’all’s worlds cave in when I don’t post an update every day…

Okay, maybe not.

I’m pretty sure I only have three readers anyway, so sorry to you three. Let’s move on.

Life recently has consisted of…

–Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of all time. It’s ten times better than Christmas in my opinion. No gifts. (I’m so not a gifts person.) Just quality time with friends and family, (I’m all about the quality time) and lots and lots of food. I’m all about the food too. I love to fill my plate with everything: turkey, mashed taters, sweet taters, green bean casserole, stuffing, and then cover my entire plate in gravy. Yes please, amen, thank you Jesus. Gravy is all that is right and holy in this world.

–Basketball. I’m still totally into football (even though my Chiefs are quickly playing their way to a last place standing in the AFC West) but basketball is my favorite sport and the college basketball season is gearing up. Several weeks ago my little Arkansas college made national headlines after our first home game of the season.

That is the Yahoo homepage. We’re famous for earning basketball’s best technical foul. And it’s a doozy. If you dont’ know what I’m talking about, you should do a Google search for, “JBU TP game.” It’ll change your life.

ESPN tweeted about us!

ESPN even aired footage of the game and gave commentary on our crazy tradition during its show, “Around the Horn.” We were on national television! It was a pretty big deal for our little bitty school.

And for one last bit of importnat life info, (that is probably not all that important to most people, but I’ll tell y’all anyway because that’s the kind of person I am…)

–I am turning into an old person. I just had a birthday earlier this week and now I go to bed at like 11:00 every night. Considering that I am a night owl and I am also a college student, this early bedtime business is kind of ridiculous. But I’m also not complaining. Sleeping is wonderful. I just haven’t done a whole lot of it the past three years of my life. It’s like I’m rediscovering my affections for an old friend.

That wording was weird. It’s past 11:30. I’m not thinking clearly. It’s past my bedtime. I’m going to bed.

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