This time of year, I have a one track mind.
It’s all I talk about… mainly because it’s all I do for 10 days.
So… I honor of 12/12/12… here are 12 reasons why we do what we do.
1) JESUS. He IS the reason for the season. Giving toys bridges a gap and opens the door for conversation about the Babe in the manger who died on the cross.
2) GIVING. Our culture is obsessed with obtaining… getting the newest, the brightest, the biggest. This season, especially, our family’s senses are bombarded with getting more. Purposeful counter-culture does us good. It allows our senses to become in tune to those who have less and it teaches us to live with less.
3) LESS. Less is more. Seriously. By taking the toys, games, movies, puzzles, etc. that collect dust and allowing those very things to bring joy to someone else is much more satisfying than holding on to them. I promise.
4) SERVING. I serve my children every single day. I do it because I love them and I get joy from doing it (mostly…). I want them to experience that same joy. To work hard and fall into bed exhausted but with a full heart knowing that they are making a difference in someone else’s life.
5) COMMUNITY. Over the years Toy Time has grown exponentially. We now have a small army of volunteers who clean and price toys for the sale, who sort new toys by age and gender, and who serve together. Working together and working through misunderstandings builds community… that place where you know you belong.
6) FUN. Seriously. This is the most fun my family has all year. Just imagine the fun and laughter a building with over 10,000 toys brings. Good times, I tell you!
7) JOY. Joy is different than fun. Fun comes and goes. It is laughter in the moment as grown women gather round a hilarious story or toy. Joy is bone deep. It is that feeling that fills your heart until it feels like it might burst. Joy is the smile on my children’s dirty faces year after year.
8) LOVE. What greater way to show Christ’s love to the community than by serving them? Yes, there are those who take advantage of us year after year. I used to worry. Not so much anymore. I simply love them in the moment and pray for them. It’s between them and God, not me.
9) CHILDREN. Once upon a time, I heard a woman’s testimony… “As a child, I didn’t really know who Jesus was. I only knew that I could go to his church every Sunday and a woman there would hug me and give me a cookie. I went back week after week to get the only hug I ever received and that sweet cookie.” We have children who come back year after year with their parents. If all they know of Jesus right now is that little new toy they receive, I’m okay with that… because a new toy may whet their appetite for a life long relationship with Him.
10) MATH. Math?! Yes… God’s math. I love watching year after year as He takes our meager offering of dollars and toys and multiplies it so that every child who comes in leaves with something. Last year, we gave away the last toy as we were closing the building at 6 p.m. God’s math works like this… not too much + not too little = just right.
11) TRADITION. While this wasn’t why we first began doing this, it really does figure into it for my family. I realized this year how important Toy Time is to my kids. I thought the teens might be done with it. Instead, they hurry home from school and can’t wait to get to where the action is. Their answer… “it’s tradition!”
12) ME. Sounds selfish, huh? It’s true. I do this for me. Every single year, God stretches my faith in exceedingly more ways than I could ever think or imagine. He meets me there in that cinder block building at our local fairgrounds and challenges me, loves me, gifts me, and stretches me. He is ever faithful every year and I love every single minute of it!
… and, in case you want to know, here are the nuts and bolts of Toy Time 2012…
Sunday, Dec 9… move in day. We move into the building at the fairgrounds and set up tables and chairs to be ready on Monday morning to start receiving toys.
Monday, Dec 10- Friday Dec 14… we clean and price toys that are brought in for a 50%-50% consignment sale. This gives local families an opportunity to make a little Christmas cash. When the dust settles, we will have well over 10,000 toys for sale.
Friday, Dec 14- Sunday, Dec 16… Toy Sale. Friday night is a pre-sale for all who volunteered and brought in toys to sell. Saturday and Sunday the sale is open to the public.
Monday Dec 17… shopping day!! All proceeds earned from the sale will be spent down to the last nickel for brand new toys. In the evening the small army of volunteers will meet and sort toys by age and gender.
Tuesday, Dec 18-Wed, Dec 19… GIVE AWAY!! People will come to line up for toys. We give away the toys that didn’t sell as well as give a brand new toy to every child who is represented either by their parents, grandparents, or guardians. Every person receives a tract with the Gospel clearly written out and this year we have enough Bibles to give a Bible to every single person who wants one!!
Wednesday, Dec 19… we will close the doors when the last toy is gone, fold tables, stack chairs, and sweep the floor. The lights will be turned off, the door locked and we will look at one another with tears in our eyes and say, “Merry Christmas!”… more weary than we’ve been in a while and more full than we can remember.