Packed with love - AND my first-ever give-away!

We've done it every year. Cancer or not. Encephalitis or not. Hospital or not. Miscarriage or not. Although I will admit that one year we missed the pick-up deadline for our region, and brought our shoeboxes to a local battered women's shelter. That was a great experience, and I would highly recommend finding a local charity you can partner with so that your children get actual, hands-on experience helping desperate people. We now visit that shelter twice a year with children's and women's clothing we are no longer using, and all the toys we have sorted out of our toy room. The kids are always like kids in a candy store when we show up with a couple of garbage bags of new toys!

But this - this is what we've done every year. My kids started out pretty uninvolved - the first year we packed was 2006, when Rosy was 9 months old and Katy just 2. But as the years flew by, they've taken over this task. It now requires at least a $100 earmark in our Christmas budget, as even at the dollar store, it adds up to pack four boxes with everything you wish a child could have.

We imagine their faces, and have this photograph from Operation Christmas Child permanently on our fridge - a picture of two little kids in the Middle East opening their boxes. Precious.

To learn more about where you can drop off a shoebox by November 22nd, click here. If you'd like to donate online, click here. And if you'd like to sign up to pray for this incredible mission, click here.

Operation Christmas Child was just one of the national organizations that had a big presence at the Relevant blogging conference I attended in October. The sponsor of the conference was Dayspring. I admit, when I heard "Dayspring" prior to the conference, I thought Christian greeting cards. Seeing more of their product line out on display at the conference was eye-opening for me - not to mention their desire to reach out with the Gospel, which is obvious in the quiet peace of their sales reps to their business plan and vision statement. At the conference, I won a contest on the very first night - any single item from their catalog that I wished to take home. I found the perfect thing for my parent's big Christmas gift.

Dayspring offered every blogger present at the conference the opportunity to give away a $20 coupon code, and I am taking them up on their offer. If you'd like $20 to spend on yourself or someone else for Christmas, just do the following:

  • Post a comment telling me which item you would purchase from Dayspring
  • Follow Dayspring on Twitter or on Facebook for an additional (1) entry
  • Follow this blog for an additional entry (either using a reader or e-mail)
  • Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for an additional (1) entry
The contest will close November 22nd, and the winner notified on Tuesday, November 23rd. Remember that you will be responsible for tax and shipping charges! Check out just a few of my favorite items for under $20: