Sunday, March 9, 2014
We were discussing the concept that as a leader you should do "what only you can do." This is hard for me. I fully admit my leadership weaknesses. The things I am gifted at don't really seem to have much to do with leadership.
One of the other area coordinators (someone I didn't know) said that he and his wife only pack two shoe boxes each year--one for a boy and one for a girl--because they are too busy leading their team to run around shopping for sale items to fill boxes.
Suddenly this wave of emotions kind of hit me and I felt like I spend my time doing all the wrong things. I started feeling so emotional that I ended up leaving and just going to my room to crawl under the covers and cry for awhile. Silly and selfish and kind of juvenile. But it passed and I returned to the discussion that had moved on to spiritual warfare--ahem.
At 6:00 am on Sunday morning (yeah--really 5:00 on the old time schedule) I hit the hotel treadmill. I am not a good treadmill runner. When I run outside I can vary my pace and don't feel the need to quit.
Running on the treadmill helped me see how slow I have gotten during my outdoor slogs through the snow. So when I set the pace for a SLOW 9:50 minute mile and still was struggling I wanted to quit.
But I made myself just slow down the pace for awhile until I could catch my breath and then inched it back up again. I had to do this two other times in order to finish my 30 minutes but I did finish.
I think maybe this applies to OCC leadership, too. Sometimes when all I can think about is quitting maybe I just need to slow down and take a little break.
Something to consider while I'm treading the mill.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 7:45 PM
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Last year's conference was so huge and amazing but this year's will be totally different as it's geared especially for OCC Area Coordinators from around the country.
Now that I'm nearly ready I'm getting excited about getting there. I have to admit, though, that I'm always a little apprehensive about these conferences. I'm not a great traveler and I often don't sleep well which makes me easy prey for getting overwhelmed and discouraged at training conferences.
On the other hand, I don't think I'd still be serving as a volunteer if it were not for the 2011 Connect Conference. I arrived there on the brink of defeat and God really spoke to me. You can read my post about that conference here.
So as I've been anticipating this year's conference I have a team praying for me and the other area coordinators who will be attending. We'd love to have you join in praying, too.
I'm praying especially for those who are coming to this conference feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and ready to quit. I'm asking God to speak to them in these days as He did to me in 2011 and to affirm their calling.
I'm also asking God to use me to encourage someone this week. I figure if I focus on that maybe I won't be tempted to fall to defeat myself.
And what makes me so prone to discouragement at these conferences anyway? I've thought a lot about this today and I really feel my signature sin of pride is at the heart of it--along with a good dose of fear. The pride makes me shrink back when I'm not achieving (notice that 'me' and 'I' in there?) Comparing myself to others instead of rejoicing in how God works in my team always causes trouble. And the fear? Well 'dis'couragement comes when my faith falters and I lose courage.
Okay...well, the dryer just finished so it's time to iron the last items and get packed. I'll let you know all about how God connects me to Him and to other OCC volunteers in just a few days.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 5:57 PM
Sunday, February 23, 2014
God granted us success! Thanks for all the prayers...because we were able to open the lock on the first try and get the first van full of cartons put into that forlorn empty container. Right now it's mostly inhabited by empty boxes and a few as-yet-uninventoried leftovers. There are even six sad looking half-filled mylar balloons left from last year's packing party.
As a bonus the weather was nice enough today to take a second load with us to church. Here's a picture of the ten bags with 1000 stuffed animals God has blessed us with so far.
Almost 200 of those stuffed animals were donated in the past few days. A guest came to our Wednesday OCC Area Team meeting to bring us 140 Webkins that she bought for us with a grant from Thrivent Financial, and on Thursday a friend brought me a bag of 56 beanie babies.
Still, I was a little concerned about having only 1000 stuffed animals until I looked back at my records for 2013 and saw that I had just 1200 at this time last year.
It makes me gulp a little to think of needing 22,000 more stuffed animals in the next seven months but God did it in 2013 and He will do it again by His grace.
Looking backward makes me look forward.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 3:53 PM
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Okay, I admit it. Every two years I put a lot of life on hold to focus on the Olympics. I love everything about watching those athletes compete for the chance to win a medal.
So today I was wondering what it would be like if Operation Christmas Child shoe box packing had some sort of Olympic competition.
There would be competitors in various events like Combined Bargain Shopping, Super Team Recruitment, Powerful Praying, Giant Box Stacking, Carton Lifting, etc.
Truthfully, most OCC volunteers are competing in multiple events like this on a weekly basis.
Then there are our counterparts in the receiving countries who excel at Strategic Customs Exoneration, Creative Carton Transportation, Super Storage, Team Distribution--well, you get the idea.
Thousands of OCC staff, volunteers, and shoe box donors around the world are all competing on the team to get millions of boxes to children in the name of Jesus.
We aren't in it for something as trivial as a gold medal. The stakes are much higher than that.
I've been struggling in recent months to motivate myself to focus on the job of Operation Christmas Child so I needed a reminder from Paul today.
In 2 Corinthians 9:24-26 Paul says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games executes self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box (or pack boxes) in such a way, as not beating the air."
It's time to get back into training, huddle up my team, develop a ministry plan, and run straight to the goal in His power.
Because this race matters for eternity.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 6:43 PM
Thursday, February 13, 2014
My reading this morning was Exodus 12--God gave an explicit step-by-step procedure for memorializing His deliverance when this deliverance had not yet occurred.
The people were still in bondage in Egypt but God was instructing them on celebrating their victorious release.
God has given me thousands of promises and this morning He reminded me that He wants me to live as though His victory is complete in my life--because every one of those promises is "yes" in Christ.
So I'm thinking about my nearly empty storage container.
But I'm also thinking about the fact that in the five annual Operation Christmas child community-wide packing parties from 2009-2012 God has allowed us to pack a total of just under 78,000 boxes. If God grants us 22,012 boxes this year it would put us over 100,000 boxes.
I've been thinking about that 100,000. I've been praying.
And now, by God's grace, I want to expect it!
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 4:15 PM
Friday, February 7, 2014
Every Thursday after school I've been making the trip to Gabe's--a local discount store--looking for shoes on sale for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. But every week they remained too pricey for me and I began to despair that they would ever reduce their prices as they had in previous years.
Yesterday He answered my prayers and I was thrilled to load my cart with 37 pairs of nice sturdy shoes for $1.00 a pair.
Getting 37 pairs of shoes doesn't seem like much when I look at our goal of 23,000 boxes to be packed on October 4th.
But they mean that 37 children with 74 feet will be blessed.
Thank You, Lord, for these and for the other 22,963 blessings that are on the way.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 3:32 AM
Monday, February 3, 2014
I just realized it's been too many days since I posted here. Sometimes days run into one another and that's how it's been lately. My Operation Christmas Child journey creeps on but I don't always think about it much.
We had one day off from school this past week and one late start because of sub-zero wind chill temperatures. So I've had time to think about OCC but in many ways I feel like I'm running into the wind--the way I felt when I ran last Monday. I was running forward with all my strength but it felt like the strong wind was pushing me backwards.
The weather has kept me from getting into my outdoor storage container to inventory, organize, and store anything. I need the boxes that are in there in order to stash the items I've been purchasing. Not that I've found much to purchase yet.
There were the cute hats at Children's Place and the pencils we found at K-Mart (packs of 10 pencils for .25 each) and the 77 stuffed animals I got at the thrift store last Saturday when the weather broke and the temps climbed into the 20s.
But overall--my 2014 shoe box stash is pathetic.
Our church is involved in a Bible-reading series called E-100 and we are reading and studying together the essential 100 stories of the Bible over 20 weeks.
I've been blessed over the past two weeks as I've read again about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. God had a plan for each of them. Sometimes, as in the case of Noah's ark, the plans were very specific. Sometimes, as in the case of Abraham, God kept His people waiting for years and wondering when His plan would unfold.
No matter what, though--God had (and still has) a plan.
And I know He has a plan for these 2014 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes here in Northwestern PA.
And just what IS that plan?
I don't know...but I know the ONE who does and next year at this time I'll tell you all about it.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 3:50 PM