When you live in America, it can be easy to forget that there are children all over the world who have never heard the story of Jesus’ birth, or received a Christmas gift. As Americans, we tend to get pretty wrapped up  this time of year with Black Friday shopping, hanging lights on our houses, and standing in long lines to get our kids’ pictures taken with Santa.

But the reality is that there are millions of children all over the world who have never seen a Target ad, sat on Santa’s lap, or even heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s why for the past several years, Steve and I have gotten involved with Operation Christmas Child — a program started by an organization called Samaritan’s Purse, which has delivered more than 115 million boxes to children in 150 countries since 1993.

Getting involved is easy. All you do is find a shoebox or plastic container, decide if you’d like to pack it for a boy or a girl, and look for gifts for a specific age range. We figure that most people enjoy shopping for little kids because it’s so fun to buy toys and games, so we typically fill our boxes with things for the sometimes overlooked teenage boys. This year, our boxes included hygiene products (washcloths, soap, hair comb and a tooth brush), school supplies (notebook, pencil bags, pencils and sharpener, and pens) and few fun things like hacky sacks and playing cards.

We just packed the stuff in an Operation Christmas Child box, paid the $7 shipping charge online at the Samaritan’s Purse website,  and dropped it off at our church, which is serving as a collection site this year. I’m told that our boxes will be sent to children in Mexico this year.

It’s not a lot, but for some kids, a shoebox full of small gifts will mean the world this Christmas. It will provide a few things, give them hope, and prayerfully, the knowledge that they are loved by God and by us.

  • There is nothing quite like preparing a perfect dish in your own kitchen. Courtesy of @thechefandthedish, Ann prepared a traditional Spanish paella with Cyndi Kane, a.k.a. Ree Drummond's BFF Hyacinth. Sure, learning to make the dish was fun. Savoring the meal, and the friendship that went with it, was the best part of that great afternoon.
  • In the chilly, pre-dawn light of an early spring day on the Platte River in central Nebraska you can be sure of one thing: soon you'll witness one of nature's greatest spectacles, tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes taking to the air for a day of foraging for food. If you have never witnessed this incredible sight, you must make sure you @visitnebraska so you can experience this for yourself. @visitKearney
  • A good cocktail is an experience. Instead of just having a drink to throw back, we love savoring a well-crafted beverage. Something we love about @celebritycruise is that good cocktails are easy to find. We aren't huge drinkers. Instead, we are strong believers in quality over quantity.
  • Something that always impresses us is the sheer size of a cruise ship. The fact that something that large can move and float and provide great service never ceases to amaze. But one of our favorite views is when we're docked next to another ship, and walking down a pier suddenly feels like walking through a canyon.
  • Here's a bridal shower idea...we put bottles of flavored water, juices, and sparkling wine from @wholefoods and @traderjoes in a large drink bucket with ice. We then served the drinks in stemless flutes with a cute, colorful straw.
  • We've been to many different farms in our lives, but never to one quite like this. Our cruise ship excursion in Grand Cayman took us to an actual turtle farm. We had so much fun walking the grounds, looking at the various turtles and learning all about them. Have you ever been to a turtle farm?
  • We just love tea time on @celebritycruises. Every day there are new, delicious treats. Take this delectable morsel, for instance. One bite of pure deliciousness!
  • Who remembers begging your parents to buy you a bag of these when you were a kid? Well, at the Archway Monument in @visitkearney, you can buy them for yourself! We just love these smooth, colored rocks and all the great family travel memories seeing them brings back.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska