Dec 01 2013

Advent…Discovering Beauty in Imperfection

Discovering and focusing on the beauty of imperfection has never been easy for me. For so many years, I’ve tended to get myself all stressed out and completely frustrated in my quest to have everything go “just right”.

It has taken years for me to “get” the fact that life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect. And family is filled with imperfect people so our homeschooling days and special holiday celebrations will be far from the unrealistic goal of “perfection” that I had gotten in my head actually exists.

Intensity is something that I struggle to calm and God has used my late husband, and now my children, to help me “loosen up” a little more every year.

In the past, the only kind of family portrait I was OK with having would look like this one. You know the kind…the kind that takes more than half a dozen attempts before you get even close to “forcing” everyone to hold still, smile…all at the same time. Whew!

Know what?

I love this picture. I love the looks on the faces of my kids. I love the impish look on my youngest’s face…the giggles he is trying to suppress.

But I must admit, this year, I was actually the one who suggested that we have a relaxed silly family photo taken too!!! I thought my kids would fall over when I told them that if they held still for a nice smiling family photo the next one would be a goofy one!

They were thrilled! And their grins became more real. And so did mine!

Every day I struggle to remember that even though our homeschooling day are filled with “interruptions” and unexpected detours, the reality is my kids love learning. They love asking questions and when I stop and I am learning to breathe and find ways to encourage their curiosity more and stop being so intensely focused on what we “should” get done in one day. Some of our best learning days happen because Mommy is more focused on learning than on a check list. In reality, there is so much beauty in the imperfection of those days.

I struggle with this in areas outside of homeschooling too…

Today is the first day of Advent, one of my most favorite seasons of the year! I have to watch myself SO carefully though. I have a tendency to create a picture in my mind of what our Advent celebration “should” look like, so when things don’t go exactly as I had planned I get put out and get cranky with my boys…the complete opposite of the purpose of our celebrations and family traditions!

Today I found myself starting to do that again. After sending Michael off to time out for the second time this evening, I was finally able to see the error of MY ways. I had gone back to my intense habit of pursuing a perfect experience of our tradition instead of keeping my focus on the REASON we have these family traditions. I felt convicted as soon as that thought hit me. What am I pursuing and who I am teaching my boys to pursue? A life of love and grace or the idea that it isn’t a good experience unless everything is perfect!!! Ouch!

I had to back up and look at our evening through the eyes of grace.

I didn’t have a chance to finish making our Advent/Christmas count down calendar and have it neatly hanging on the wall before the boys woke up this morning. Instead, I got it started tonight while they watched a Christmas movie and Josh got involved and helped me with some of it.

I decided to accept the fact that I didn’t have time to finish all 25 tags tonight and move forward with our first Sunday of Advent family celebration…and watching my son, Josh’s face relax when I told him we would finish it tomorrow and move on from the work and start the celebration, his relaxed grin was the answer and reminder I needed. Seeing his face helped me to remember to discover the beauty in the imperfection of our First Sunday of Advent family celebration this year and stop kicking myself for what I “should” have been able to do.

With that changed mind-set the stress level started lowering in our house.

We sat on the floor in the living room and I shared the first stage of the amazing story of Mary conceiving our Messiah, Joseph’s disbelief until the angel appeared to him in his dream, their rough journey to Bethlehem while she was VERY pregnant and not finding a beautiful room at the end of their trip…their accommodations couldn’t have been more imperfect!! But there was so much beauty in the imperfection of their surroundings. God was present. He worked through their situation to help Mary to give birth to the only perfect gift!!! Jesus our Messiah! Our long-awaited Savior had come!

If the imperfect birth place of a manger bed in a stable was good enough for our Savior, why do we waste so much time trying to create “perfect surroundings” so that our memories will be perfect?

In fact, it was Michael attempting to follow my lead story telling and Josh helping me place the people/characters in our stable that hit my heart. He couldn’t find all the pieces to their Nativity (because they have played with it and leaving pieces all over the house). I couldn’t see how he would be able to use it and told him it wouldn’t work. But I am so grateful that he didn’t listen to me this time.

He found a few shepherds and angels, a lamb and a goat. He decided to use the lamb in place of Jesus and set it up like the photo above.

My heart almost stopped when I paused to really look at what he had done.

Jesus…the Lamb of God…placed in the manager.

He didn’t realize what he did at first. He was just trying to discover beauty in what he did have. When I told him that using the lamb was a great idea because Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for our sins and rose again, his grin was priceless. It was an amazing moment! It was a moment that would have been lost if I hadn’t stopped myself from stopping him from following my lead with the Nativity story because “he didn’t have all the right pieces”.

We continued our Advent celebration with the lighting of our first purple candle in our Advent wreath and our devotion for tonight that I printed off of the Adventures in Odyssey Advent Adventures Calendar for this year. It is free, easy and fun to use, and the boys love it! Our Advent wreath isn’t perfect either. We should have new candles each year, but this year I could only afford to replace the pink candle. I couldn’t find a pink one at the store so I I took a deep breath, prayed and told Michael, who was my shopping helper, that red would work just fine. Once more trying to focus on the beauty in imperfection.

Know what? I am the only one who noticed that we only have one new candle this year and they didn’t care that it wasn’t pink. They were just excited about getting to light our first candle and starting our Advent devotions with their favorite characters in Adventures in Odyssey. Josh read the scripture verse for today. I read the devotion. We all sang “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”, and Michael wiggled a lot. LOL

We ended with Josh getting to turn over the first of our Christmas/Advent Countdown tags and reading today’s instruction…reading from Luke. Josh excitedly found the passage and read it to all of us. We closed with sharing prayer requests and me leading our little family in prayer.

Over and over God taught me the lesson I need most during this time of year…getting my boys to focus on Jesus during the weeks of Advent and Christmas isn’t about creating “perfect memories” with everything in place and working perfectly smoothly. The pure joy and excitement of the story of our Savior isn’t taught through perfect lessons…it is caught through grace and joy filled experiences. When I relax and just allow myself to experience the awe of the season and do it with grace discovering beauty in the imperfection of our celebrations…I am teaching them so much more than the story of our Savior, I am passing on His grace and that is a lesson for a lifetime.

I hope you will join me through this Advent season as I share my journey of discovering beauty in each day, no matter what challenges I may face. Some days I will remember to slow down and discover the beauty in imperfection and other days I will need to be reminded. But this is a wonderful season to learn this lesson!

Advent is a time of slowing down and preparing our hearts and minds for Christmas by putting our focus on His love, His grace, His story by retelling it, sharing it, and serving others with grace. It is in remembering the incredible imperfections in the journey Mary and Joseph took as expectant parents that we rediscover the gift of our Messiah in our hearts and lives. And no Pinterest perfect activity or tradition can compare to that.

Will you join me on this imperfect journey to Christmas?

Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter!

Abiding in His Grace,

Mary Joy

**Special thanks to David Pershing, my wonderful brother-in-law and the photographer who took the family pictures in this blog post.


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Nov 28 2013

I have so much for which to be thankful: one year in retrospect

Message Stones

It was one year ago that Mary Joy asked me to join her in ministry here at Unwrapping His Grace.

It has been such a blessing in every way to partner with Mary Joy and grow in relationship with her as fellow sisters in the LORD.  I have been touched in so many different ways from her encouragement in my life over the last year.

She has spoken life into my very soul.

She has given me a safe place to share my heart.

She has allowed me to befriend some of her friends – Hi, Y’all!

She has helped me grow as a writer by encouraging me to share from my heart rather than writing only in third person all the time (like I can tend to do!).

In more ways than one, her discernment at critical times has steered me in the right direction, caused me to pause and reflect on something, and drawn me closer to the Lord.


They say that God always knows what He’s doing and has a plan for our lives; I know that being able to grow with Mary in these ways over the last year has come at a very critical time in my life.


One year ago at this time, I was worried that I was dying.




Yes, I literally thought that I was dying.  I was worried that this could be the last Thanksgiving I would have with my loved ones.  I wasn’t scared of going to Heaven and being with the LORD – - but I was starting to look at life as if it was going to be the last time to see certain things, do certain things, and enjoy life and special times with the ones I love the most…..

I was sickbut we didn’t know the names for what was “wrong” with me yet.  

Was it seizures?  

The beginning of MS?  


The “we-know-something-is-wrong-with-you-but-we-don’t-know-the-name-for-it” syndrome?

I felt like I was at the bottom of a staircase, looking up, and trying as hard as I could to see where the staircase was ending.

But it was still out of sight. 

And, on top of that, my world was in black and white.  Like I was living in a movie or nightmare – I was somewhere that felt foreign and unfamiliar to me.


I was afraid to know where that staircase was leadingand, yet, I followed Him… 

One step at a time, I followed God up each step,

footstep by footstep,

choosing in each moment to have faith

in Him and trust where He was leading me.



The end of last year was hard for me too –

As I packed away the Christmas decorations,  I remember labeling the boxes and telling Randy, my husband, to look for the ones with the big X’s on them when decorating for Christmas 2013; the boxes with the X’s were the ones with the most well-loved ornaments, the stockings, the most-needed-and-most-sparkly knicknacks.  

I was trying to plan for me not being here to have another Christmas with my husband and children.

I was packing away the decorations and, in many ways, packing away my future hopes and dreams.

Can you imagine the amount of sorrow, worry, fear, and confusion in my heart?  

I trusted God – but the pain of saying goodbye was always threatening to wash over me.

I wasn’t ready to leave for Heaven yet; I still had people who needed me here.


I am immensely grateful to say that I am still here one year later  - by the grace and love of God. 

I have lived through a long year of countless tests, doctor appointments, and  diagnoses; we have learned that my symptoms aren’t fatal, although I will always live with chronic illness.  (There are still some things we don’t know – but we know enough about things now and are thankful that God has been with me and my family through it all.)

Over time, my black and white world has taken on a vibrant color again; I am seeing the rainbow of God’s promises coming to life through the beauty of my life all around me.



There are so many ways that living through this last year has caused me to stop and consider just how much I am blessed.

I may not be in good health, but I am deeply loved and lack for nothing of real, genuine, lasting value.

I have learned that in everything, there is Grace and Hope to be found in the LORD.

I may have “lost” so many things due to failing health,

but my heart has grown stronger according to the work He is doing in me.

I know that no matter how dark the situation and how horrible the diagnosis that God is with me

-never to leave me - 

and that there is beauty to be found among the ashes of my dreams.


These “gifts” from this year - this year of great trials and growing deeper in my faith –  have enabled me to say that I am content and at peace in climbing up those steep steps of my life.

I can’t plan for what’s aheadbut I can hold even tighter to His hand as He gently leads me higher and higher into His love and care for me.

I still don’t see the top of the staircase, but I am stopping to look at the view on the way, and I am in awe of the beauty of my life because of the One who has given it to me.



This Thanksgiving, I am grateful and humbled

to know just how much I am loved

– how much I am cherished -

and that, although challenged,

I am given the grace day by day to continue to trust God

to bring me to healing in this world – or in the World to come.


I wish you a loving, grace-filled, blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Know how much I am thankful for you – and for the One who has given so much to us.

TO GOD be the GLORY – Always!

Gina Marie


Colossians 2:6-7 & 3:17


The Message (MSG)

6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter.

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Nov 17 2013

Deer Season from a five year old’s perspective…True Story!

Michael (age 5) at one of our favorite parks/playgrounds just last week!

Michael (age 5) at one of our favorite parks/playgrounds just last week!

This weekend kicked off the 2013 deer hunting season here in the Ozarks of Missouri! It is a really big deal where we live. Many of the school districts even schedule their Fall break around the start of deer season because they are missing SO many of the older children/teens from school during the first week of it. You see hunters all over town and special deals for them at restaurants as well as some churches that have special outreach breakfasts for them early on Saturday morning.

My dad (Grandpa Bill) and my brothers are hunters. I’ve never done it myself. So hearing about hunting isn’t something new to Michael.

This year, the start of Deer Season has spurred a lot of “interesting” questions in our family. I thought I would share a little fun with you tonight by sharing a real conversation I had with my Michael (age 5) this afternoon while he and I were driving through the hills around our town while Josh was at his Kids for Christ club meeting. With Michael, you never know what he will ask…his philosophy is if you keep asking questions you will keep getting answers. Sometimes it makes for quite a discussion. LOL

True story!!!

Michael: Mommy, they hunt deer during hunting season right?
Me: Yes, they sure do. Lots of families depend on the meat they get from hunting to feed their families for the whole year.
Michael: Well, don’t they hunt something else too?
Me: Like what?
Michael: Well, isn’t it chicken season too?
Me: Ummm no. Chicken season is every day. Grinning.
Michael: Wow. Poor chickens.
Me: Yep.

Michael: Well is there another thing like chickens that Grandpa Bill see running around in his yard and field (my dad and step mom live on a hobby farm) but can’t shoot them cause it isn’t the right season?
Me: (grinning) Yes! That would be turkey.
MIchael: So turkey’s have their own seasons have their own season but chickens don’t?
Me: yes. that’s right.
Michael: Hmmm.
Me: What’s wrong?
Michael: That just doesn’t seem fair.
Me: Fair to whom?
Michael: the chickens!
Me: Why?
Michael: They should get their own season too. Every day doesn’t count as a season.

Me: Well there is a duck season too.
Michael: See! What did I tell you. There should be a chicken season.
Me: OK, Michael. You tell the people in charge of the hunting laws OK?
MIchael: Yep. I’ll do it. Someone has to stick up for the chickens.

After listening to one of his favorite songs on our favorite Christian radio station while he sang along at the top of his little lungs…the questions continued…

Michael: Oh mom. I have one more question.
Me: sigh…OK. What is it?
Michael: Why don’t you hunt for deer and turkey and chicken for us?
Me: I do…I do mine just a little differently than Grandpa.
MIchael: Cool! How do you hunt?
Me: I hunt for the best prices on turkey and chicken at the grocery store and wait for deer meat from Grandpa and friends who share their deer meat.
Michael: Mom that isn’t hunting. That is shopping.
Me: All depends on how you look at it…I hunt for great prices!
MIchael: giggles and groans. Mommy you need to learn to hunt for REAL.
Me: I’ll take that into consideration. I think I will wait for you two to grow up and go hunting for me.
Michael: OK. You got a deal, MOM!

Gotta love his logic. LOL That’s my boy! ;)

Do your kids love to shower you with questions like this or am I alone here? Please! Tell me I am not alone! LOL  Please share YOUR kids’ questions in the comments below! I would love to hear them!


Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter!

So Thankful for His Grace,

Mary Joy


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Nov 16 2013

Learning the Unforced Rhythms of His Grace over the Holidays – His Rest Series


(Photo Source Unknown)


Just sharing something from my heart today as we start getting into the busiest and my most favorite season of the year: Thanksgiving to New Years Day!

As a woman with chronic illness, I find it hard to keep up with a lot of things these days.  I am grateful that I have a husband who works full-time and then helps me with things around the house and with the kids.  (I know that is a HUGE blessing – thank you Randy!)  


So, even in a quiet week, I know that I am not able to take on a lot or run around town all day and then be out all evening like I did before this year.  (Oh, how many things I took for granted then!)

Even so,  I am anticipating a busy and activity-packed holiday seasonaren’t you?  As much as I enjoy these special times during the holidays, I still find myself having a hard time seeing that what I can do is different from what I want to do to keep up with it all!


I had to pray today and ask God to help me know what HE wants me to do – and then, as hard as it is, to make the decision to ONLY do those things.  He promises that He will give us strength to complete the calling He has for us. Psalm 138:8

In the past, I have always been the person who says yes first and then tries to make sure it can happen; there were times I found myself double-booked on things (all good things, mind you) that 3 or more people would have had a hard time completing – - – and then I would wonder why I was so tired and unable to get all of my important things done!

I look back and realize that I had it backwards: I  needed to ask God for His priorities for me, make sure I made time to do those things, and then, as the LORD leads, commit to doing other things as time and energy allowed.

Wisdom comes with age and experience, they say.

Wisdom also comes from God –   :-)   James 3:13


This year, I am seeking God for wisdom in all of these areas.

 I am praying, daily, for Him to lead and guide me into His will for my life moment by moment.  

I have deep peace in knowing that I will be able to accomplish the tasks He has for me

and that I will experience His strength and joy this Holiday season,

as long as I keep listening to Him.


So, where the rubber meets the road – or where the decisions have to be made in the moment - these are the things God is impressing on my heart to make sure I am intentional about what I do this Season for Him and His Glory:

  • Say “No” more often than I say “Yes”

           This may seem so harsh at first and go against everything we feel is right about serving God and others.  I will have to be be honest in admitting to you how hard it is for me to say the word NO!   (My heart actually HURTS to say the word NO when it is something *I* really want to do.)  BUT – God has shown me (and is continuing to show me) that I can’t say yes to everything.  I have limited time and limited energy.  AND – in saying yes to one thing, I’m automatically saying no to something else, even if I don’t see it now.

           Saying yes to another commitment means I am saying no to something else as simple as resting and time at home with the family.  I am not saying that you should always say no: please don’t take this as license to shut yourself off to everything (even those things God has for you to do or participate in this season).  Just be mindful of His leading in thisand seek to only do those things He tells you to do.  Just this one thing will open up so much time and energy for you to enjoy your Holidays.


  • Ask for “Help”  from others

Oh, another hard one for me!!!!  Help is a four-letter word y’all!  No, seriously, this has been a humbling step for me to learn this year.  Just because I love doing it, have always done it, and want to keep doing it doesn’t mean it is WISE or KIND of me to selfishly keep it to myself.  I have three kids – they can help bake, clean (yes, clean!!!!), address cards, wrap gifts, and do all of the things that I used to “pride” myself in doing during the holidays.  (Did you catch the word pride?  OUCH!)

        I am praying to find ways that I can use wisdom in knowing where to ask for help and then how to accept it!  I love baking cookies – perhaps this year I can have a cookie baking get-together with my friends that I don’t see much anymore.  (That is a win-win!).  Perhaps God would have us go visit shut-ins as a family and deliver some hugs in person rather than just mail a card this year.  God isn’t impressed by our (MY) desire to make a beautiful Holiday experience for others to enjoy; He desires for me to enjoy Him this Season and to share His Gift with others.  Ask God to show you ways to enjoy Him by learning how to ask for help and then working as a team with someone else to give His Love as a gift in service to others.  He wants to help you too.  Just ask!  :-)


  •  Spend MORE time with Him in prayer and in reading His Word

This may seem simple but it is so important: we won’t be able to draw from our Source of Strength if we spend too much time away from the Power we need.  It seems to go against everything in us to slow down more and take more time to be quiet the more we have to do – - – but there is no better place to be than at the Feet of the LORD in worship, in prayer, and in quiet,  listening for His Word to us.  He is after all our Reason for Thanksgiving, our Priceless Gift at CHRISTmas, and our Blessed Hope in facing the New Year.

Be careful not to neglect your inner needs as you seek to meet the needs of others this Holiday Season.  As you reach out in thankfulness, with a gift of love to others, in celebration of new beginnings in Him, know just how much you are loved by your LORD.  My prayer for you is that you grow closer to Him through the Holidays this year.  


With love and thankfulness for His Love, always,

Gina Marie


Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter!



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Nov 13 2013

God took the little our family had and multiplied it!! (My Operation Christmas Child Testimony)

November is one of my favorite months of the year for many reasons. Our family loves to have special family traditions that we celebrate with each year. By setting them in place each year during the month of November. This is the beginning of such a special time of year!

There are so many opportunities to reach out and help others as well as great opportunities to reach out and thank the people in our communities and families for all they do throughout the year.

This is our second November since Will went home to heaven in July 2012. So much has changed in our lives since that tragic day. One thing hasn’t changed…we continue to have SO much to be grateful for in our lives.

More than anything, I am so, so grateful for our Savior and the incredible loving care He has for us, His children. He has and continues to take such amazing care of each of us. He is faithful through it all. He was with us in a very precious and incredibly powerful way through the trauma of the accident and I am so, so grateful for my relationship with Him. I am so grateful that during the most difficult days and nights of my life that I have Him to run to for comfort, wisdom, and that I know I can and do fully trust Him with our lives…and even more than that…that we each trust Him with our death from this world and new life in Him in the eternal life we enter upon leaving this earth!

I felt His presence in such a powerful way while I lay trapped under our car — knowing my husband had gone to heaven…not knowing whether or not our Michael (age 4 at the time) had joined him in heaven or if he remained here on earth with Josh and me.  I could hear Josh and I knew he was injured…I knew I was seriously injured…but at the time, more than any of that…I was aware of God’s presence in such a real way that filled me with a peace  that penetrated every fiber of my being. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt…that God was with us right there in the midst of the tragedy.

Every day I celebrate and thank God for His presence in our lives. I thank Him for His amazing gift of salvation and that it is a gift that is not just for after we die…it is a gift to hold us and sustain us…teach and and transform us throughout our lives.

Knowing this. Having experienced this. My desire and passion for sharing His good news of who He is as our Savior…our Creator…our heavenly Father and transforming Spirit has not dimmed. In fact, it continues to grow stronger every day!

I am always looking for opportunities for our family to reach out and share that amazing grace and love with people who need Him so badly in their lives.

This time of year, there are so many wonderful ministries ready to do just that!

Operation Christmas Child is one of our family’s favorites!

Josh and Michael packing our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox last November 2012.

Last year, the boys and I took that opportunity! We didn’t have a lot ourselves, but we knew how many amazing people had reached out to us with God’s love through prayer and so many practical ways that we were thrilled to have the opportunity to reach out and touch the life of a child who was out there…somewhere in this big world desperately needing His saving Grace and the hands and feet of our prayers through this little box. Knowing that we could do something like this and give some of the love that so many had offered us…we couldn’t wait to do it!

There are so many people in the world who are hurting…so many children as well as adults. We have been given the most amazing gift possible through our salvation in Jesus Christ!!! How can we not share it!?

So this year as Operation Christmas Child Shoebox packing season drew closer, my heart was hurting because we didn’t have the money to be able to gather everything we needed to pack a shoebox. I went to God with my disappointment. I knew how much we were all looking forward to doing it again this year. Knowing how important it is to spread His love in special ways like this, I left our hearts’ desire to serve Him in this way at His feet. I trusted Him to handle it.

And He did! Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov 10 2013

The Countdown Begins! It’s almost time for….

…. Operation Christmas Child Box Collection Week!!!!



Have you thought about joining us in our participation this year with Operation Christmas Child?

There is still time to pack a box and take it to the drop-off location in your area in time for the deadline!


If you haven’t had time to learn how to pack a box, I have a video to help you!!!!

Larry and Bob and the Veggie Tales Crew have joined

Operation Christmas Child

to help spread the Word

and encourage others

to share the true meaning of Christmas

in your neighborhood

and around the world!



Click here for a cute video showing you how to pack a box

starring Bob and Larry!


Be sure to also look here and here for more free ideas and resources

from Veggie Tales

and Operation Christmas Child

to use in your family!


What a blessing it will be this week for my family

to host a Movie Premiere of the newest Veggie Tales Movie,

“Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas”

and reach out to our neighborhood

with the Good News of Christmas


share the opportunity we have to bless others

through Operation Christmas Child!


(Stay tuned for pictures and an update about this special time in a blog post soon!!)


Even if you can’t fill a shoebox

online or in person this week -

there are two special ways that you can provide support

to Operation Christmas Child this month:


With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18, NASB)

From the website:  “Gift-filled shoeboxes are a powerful way to introduce children to God’s greatest gift, salvation through Jesus Christ. Your prayers are essential to the work of Operation Christmas Child, so please join us during National Collection Week Nov. 18-25. Our goal this year is to collect 9.8 million shoebox gifts from the United States and nine other countries. During the week, we will pray for the people packing the boxes, the volunteers who will be collecting, processing, and delivering the gifts, and for the children receiving them.”

To sign up to pray specifically for the ministry, go here!

Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

There are many ways that Operation Christmas Child welcomes your help!  Be sure to check out this link for more information!  Over this next week, there will be needs that we can help fill by being willing to be a part of the world-wide work of the ministry to help collect shoeboxes in your area!


I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about volunteering with Operation Christmas Child!

Do you plan to be a part of the ministry this year?

Have you participated in the ministry in the past?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about this ministry!  Share in the comments for your chance to win a copy of the book I mentioned in this post!

To God be the GLORY!

Gina Marie


Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter!


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Nov 02 2013

Announcing our Partnership with Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse)!

Operation Christmas Child


 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—

how can God’s love be in that person?

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;

let us show the truth by our actions.

1 John 3:17-18



Once the calendar moves over into November, my heart immediately starts looking forward with excitement to the Holiday season!

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve/Day all fall during my favorite season in Arizona:  the “cool” season!  (We have cool and hot for our seasons here!  *giggle*  )


Mary Joy and I are so excited that were contacted by Samaritan’s Purse to help them spread the word about their Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Drive this month!

I have been blessed to participate in a Shoebox Drive with my family for my church’s women’s group.  Mary Joy also has a special place in her heart for this ministry and has participated with her family in filling shoeboxes!

We look forward to taking part again this year –

and are excited to invite you to join us!


If you are not familiar with Samaritan’s Purse and their Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry, here are a few statistics:

  • Operation Christmas Child is celebrating their 20th birthday this year!
  • They have hand-delivered 100 million+ boxes to 130+ countries over these last two decades!
  • There are roughly 77,000 churches and church groups participating.
  • 5,500 community groups participated last year (2012)  - –   AND – -
  • They collected over 9 million shoeboxes last year in 2012!





Check out their Fact Sheet for more information!


Operation Christmas Child
Can you feel the excitement over being a part of this special event?

I hope you will join us and pray about how God would lead you to participate this year!





You will notice that OCC will be the recurring theme of my posts here n November -

and I pray that in learning more about this ministry, you will be blessed!


Be sure to stay tuned to the Blog (and subscribe for email updates)

so you don’t miss any of the posts!


I hope that you will comment on this blog post, sharing how you have been impacted by this ministry and/or by leaving a question to learn more about it!




Keep this in mind:



This book is worth around $25 and is a hardcover first edition sharing the special account of the miracles God has done through this ministry!

It will be a blessing to all who read it - and to learn more, please feel free to check out this page on their website, which includes a story and video about:  Finding Forgiveness in Rwanda:  One man’s journey of survival and redemption


(The drawing for the book will be on November 27th and the winner will be announced on the blog/Facebook page that evening at 8 p.m. MST  Open to US residents only, 18 years and older.)




Operation Christmas Child


May God bless you as you rejoice in being able to partner with us in ministry

to His Children around the world

through Operation Christmas Child

and Samaritan’s Purse!

Matthew 25:37-40

The Message (MSG)

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’


Matthew 19:13-15

The Message (MSG)

To Enter God’s Kingdom

13-15 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.


To God be the GLORY!

Gina Marie


Don’t miss a single post! Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community where you will find daily updates, Scripture, encouragement and opportunities to share prayer requests or follow us on Twitter.


Samaritan's Purse - Helping In Jesus' Name

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