new tradition

helping with operation shoe box at the samaritan's purse headquarters was on our bucket list! after a "best day ever," it is now on our annual to do list because christmas wouldn't be complete without it! 
mrs. reeder signed us up, goldie and mary claire played hookie from school, and i took a much needed day off of work.
 from the minute you walk into the warehouse, you can feel the efficiency of a well oiled machine. everyone was so kind, things were so organized and you could feel christian energy at every turn. after prayer and a short training video, we were assigned a work area.

where to begin? we have heard stories about the "amazing journey of a shoebox." we have folded boxes, packed boxes, help pack boxes, i even witnessed the other end of the box's journey while in ecuador... this was another leg of the journey.
this mammoth  warehouse processes several million boxes a year. it was easier to imagine what a million boxes look like when they told us that a if we stacked a million boxes side by side - all the way  to the ceiling that they would not all fit into this massive space.
every.single.box.is.inspected.
the jobs at our staton ranged from unpacking, inspecting, adding items, taping, scanning, repacking and sending the boxes on their way.
jeff was curious about the "inappropriate items."  we learned the reasoning behind the rules and now they make so much sense. boxes travel in large storage containers across oceans, through various temperatures, through international customs... chocolate melts, liquids spill and anything marked "fruit" can hold up an entire shipment in customs. 



personal letters are just the best. we enjoyed reading a few.
samaritan's purse focuses so much energy on prayer!


every couple of hours the entire warehouse stopped, placed a hand on a box and prayed. each box is an opportunity too evangelism and discipleship. 

what an honor to play even a small part in this massive mission.









we learned a few things about packing boxes too. 
if you can use the boxes provided by samaritan's purse.. do so.  they fit neatly in the shipping boxes and save money.
random sizes usually leave a lot of wiggle room.  
 i understand why you are asked to close the boxes with a rubber band. the volunteers had to unwrap and cut apart so many.

the most boxes collected are for ages 5-9. older boys and girls need boxes! we decided form now on to only pack boxes for older kids.
we saw so many good boxes! a variety of items, a handwritten letter, fun things to functional.
pack quality items. good toys. fresh things. 
this may be all some children receive.
some people. really. a coach shoebox with the price tag of $200 still attached... had 15% of what was needed to be a christmas present to a child. we came across so so many boxes like this. 
the hand crafted art works was the perfect finishing touch.

read the rules. if you break a rule and your item is taken out, the item still goes to homeless shelters.
we agreed to be on the lookout all year for toys or items on sale. bins and bins of donated totes filled the warehouse.







santa

"mom. no way!" "girls. yes way."

a picture with santa is not to much to ask. considering we cloth you, feed you, care for you and love you... and santa just happens to be at the sports banquet and i just happen to be taking pictures.. 

"we knew you would make us do this." 

the real fun happens when the smoak family arrives. evie is notorious for her pictures with santa. one year she wore clogs. that was not a good year for santa. 
a year older and we suspected she would finally smile (or atlas sit) on santa's lap.  which would be so disappointing having this hilarious tradition come to an end. 


nope. 
girlfriend did not disappoint. 
this is a picture we will need to recreate when she is an adult.
and then there's this little heart throb!

merry christmas! 


break!

i took a break. the break from my blog has been unintentional. it's truly a time thing. the break jeff and i just took was totally intentional. after a whirlwind october and november, checking out and slowing down felt more like a necessity than a luxury.


jeff had a meeting on a a little island on the south carolina coast, so i tagged along. it wasn't much of a break for him, he worked a good bit.  after we threw the "we miss the children so much" pity party... we had the best time!


i was looking forward to sleeping until 7am, drinking coffee, binge watching the news and lounging around all day!

i was able to accomplish all of the above... all while editing wedding pictures, returning emails, making phone calls, ordering christmas cards... i was still working. 

office work with a fabulous view and the best company i could ever ask for was a three day gift.  



hello beautiful christmas decorations!




 i had high hopes of catching up on my own pictures and blog posts. this is as far as i got :) we  i will soon be returning to the real world. 



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