Packing Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

Ideas and Tips for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. Be sure to include clothes, accessories, toiletries, toys, school supplies, and other useful items. Find more ideas at

I'm a firm believer that God blesses his people so that we may in turn be a blessing to others. During a month when we typically spend a lot of time giving thanks for all our blessings, it's good to consider how we can pass those blessings on. As a family, we try to do this in many ways, but one of our favorite ways to bless others at this time of year is to pack Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

OCC is a branch of Samaritan's Purse. Each year they collect boxes filled with all sorts of goodies for children the world over. It's a tangible way to spread joy and share the Good News of Christ with those who may otherwise never hear it. OCC collects the boxes during the third week of November every year. If you want to pack a box, click here to look up a drop-off location near you, and get to packing!

Over the years, packing shoeboxes has been a powerful teaching tool for our girls about selfless giving, sharing the gospel, and being a blessing. I'm just going to be honest here and say that our kids sometimes get upset about giving away items that they like (there was a particularly epic battle over a light-up bouncy ball last year), but if we don't teach them how to be cheerful givers, then who will?

It's nearly impossible for my children to understand the depths of poverty in the world, but OCC helps connect them to the unfathomable and teaches them how to put others first. This year, both of our daughters chose to pack a box for a girl in their age group. They each helped choose the items in the boxes, and I thought it would be fun to show you what we packed. So, let's take a look, shall we?

There you have it! One of our OCC boxes for the year. What did you put in your boxes this year? Let's share tips and ideas below. 

Until next time, grace and peace.

Count Your (Spiritual) Blessings

Count Your (Spiritual) Blessings // by Leslie Ann Jones

Well, it's that time of year again. In just a couple of weeks, our social media feeds are going to blow up with people naming blessings—one for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. On one hand, I always enjoy these posts. I love seeing the people of God giving thanks for his good gifts. I also enjoy participating in the #Grateful movement. And yet, at the same time, I wonder if maybe we're missing the forest for the trees. 

I'm thankful for financial stability, food on the table, a loving husband, and my two sweet girls. I'll be the first to admit that I'm grateful for mocha lattes, crisp fall mornings, a few hours of quiet, and the roof over my head. When I count my blessings, these are some of the first things I name.

But I'm afraid that when we count our blessings, we sometimes stop too soon. We only name the things that are right in front of our faces, and we neglect to mention the things that matter most.

When we went through the Limitless study on Ephesians this summer, one of the first things that I noticed was the type of blessings that Paul named. I'm sure he was thankful for his friends and family, the people who supported his ministry, and for his good health. But those aren't the things that he names.

He names the spiritual blessings that each and every believer has in Christ. In his list, Paul says we have been blessed because we are chosen, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven. Through Christ, he goes on to say, we have received limitless grace, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and an inheritance that is incorruptible, unfading, and imperishable.

Here's the thing. Each and every one of the physical things that we're thankful for can be stripped away. You can lose your job. You can lose your livelihood. Your savings accounts can be emptied. You can find yourself not knowing where your next meal is coming from. You can be in a horrible car accident. You can get cancer. You can lose someone you love. 

When we count our blessings, the incorruptible, unfading, and imperishable gifts of God ought to be at the center of our thanksgiving. From "Count Your (Spiritual) Blessings" by Leslie Ann Jones.

It's good and right to be thankful for all kinds of blessings, but if the foundation of our thanksgiving lies only in earthly blessings, then our faith will be shaken by the first strong wind that blows our way. The incorruptible, unfading, and imperishable gifts of God ought to be at the center of our thanksgiving. These are the blessings that are the same now and in the future regardless of circumstances.

If we lose our jobs, we still have Christ. We still have salvation through him. We still have the peace that comes from him. We still have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. We still have grace in limitless abundance. And these are the things that Paul says we should cling to and hold onto because these are the things that never change. These are the things that never go away. These are the things that are true regardless of what's happening in the world around us.

God is good all the time. His goodness isn't dependent on the circumstances that surround us. Even when the future seems bleak, we maintain hope for something better. And the hope we have in Christ is guaranteed. We can depend on it because the God who has promised is faithful. He is who he says he is and he is able to do what he says he will do. When he says that he has blessed us, it means that we are blessed because we are his.

So this season, will you join me in changing things up? When we count our blessings, let's start with the spiritual ones. Let's count them out for all the world to see. Let's name them one by one and see what God has done. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Now and forever. Amen.

Until next time, grace and peace.