Ornaments, Candles, Tees and More! Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

Editor’s note: This story was written by Izabella McMillon. Izabella received an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox when she was a child—and it changed her life. This article is sponsored by Operation Christmas Child

As I watched my mom’s hands bleed, washing our clothes, I determined in my heart that if I had kids one day, they would have an easier life—somehow.

My mom never complained. She silently washed our clothes with tears streaming down her face. She worked in a factory most of her life, exactly where the government assigned her. She lived in a small government owned apartment with barely anything to call her own. She was never taught how to make decisions, as the government made them all for her.

The communist regime of Romania didn’t even allow the name of God to be said out-loud. Owning a Bible could easily cost one’s life. Spiritual darkness was raging, severe poverty was a big challenge, and our small, two-room apartment was our safe haven where Mom and Dad strategized daily on what food to put on the table or how to buy new shoes for us growing kids.

My older brother was in charge of looking after me while my parents tirelessly worked 14-hour days. My brother and I quickly became independent and spent a lot of our time standing in long lines for everything from bread to milk, or (rarely) meat and potatoes.

So, yes, I was determined that if I had kids one day, they would have an easier life.

When I was seven years old, God reached into our gloomy world and started shaping me in a very unique way.

My brother and I found a hidden Bible in the floorboard of our apartment, and that was the first time we ever heard the name of God.

The stories in the book captured our hearts and we became hungry to know more. A glimmer of hope surfaced. Despite the potential harm, we began to read the Bible and fell in love with its stories.

God started working on my heart and shaping me through this small book, and four years later I started attending a small underground church.

I still remember the first time I learned how to pray. I was 13 years old, and I wanted God to prove He existed by giving me snow to brighten the cold and dark winter days.

My prayers were simple, but expectant.

For three months, He didn’t answer. Just as I was ready to give up on Him, my answer came in an unexpected way: a colorful, wrapped shoebox gift.

Within this box, I found a snow globe that brought snow to life like never before. I understood through that little globe that God knows me and the desires of my heart.

He knew I was ready to give up on Him, but He was not ready to give up on me.

I learned that He is a God who answers prayers, even when His answers look differently than what I imagine. On that day, a simple silver and blue snow globe shaped my future, and for that I am grateful. Because it was on that day that I decided to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.

Looking back I see God’s hand all over my story. And today, I stand in a place where I have been entrusted with the awesome opportunity and responsibility of shaping the hearts and minds of my two children. My determined heart is full as I watch them live a life filled with joy and opportunities to give back to others.

I find myself on the other side of those gift-filled shoeboxes, packing them with my children, and I have learned that the joy of giving exceeds the joy I felt on the receiving end.

I treasure the sweet moments with my children as we pray for the ones receiving our gifts to feel loved and not forgotten—just as I did as a young girl on a gloomy winter day.

Sometimes behind faded smiles and silent tears hide lives that have been ravaged by brokenness, abuse, hardship, and poverty—yet they reflect Jesus well. I am thankful to serve a God who relentlessly pursues us, molds us, and shapes us. Who continues to ask each one of us the question: ‘Will you receive my love?’

Operation Christmas Child is a great service opportunity for your kids and family to share God’s love in a tangible way! By prayerfully packing a shoebox gift, you become a part of sending Good News and Great Joy to children in need around the world. For more information on shoebox packing and how to get involved, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.

 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at https://herviewfromhome.com/contact-us/write-for-her//

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

You’re Never Alone in the Trenches of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

This one goes out to all the mamas in the trenches. To the mamas in the kitchen stirring dinner with a baby on their hip. To the ones waking up an hour earlier than the rest of the house to pump after waking up countless times throughout the night to attend to both your toddler and baby. The ones who must take care of business from lobbies, bathroom floors, lunch breaks, and the carpool line. To the mamas who pass on their own birthday presents so their kid’s medical bills can be covered. RELATED: This is the Sacrifice of Motherhood...

Keep Reading

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

Praying For Your Kids is Holy Work of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mom hugging daughter by bed with open Bible

While excavating Mount Masada in Israel, archeologists discovered something extraordinary . . . a date palm seed. It might not seem like much (especially if you’re like me and totally expected it to be a new dinosaur or something), but this particular seed sat dormant in the dry desert soil for almost 2,000 years. Scientists ended up finding several more seeds like it throughout the Judean desert, and with a little TLC, they were able to sprout not just one but six of them. Six date palm trees, now bearing fruit that hasn’t been seen in two millennia. Incredible, right?...

Keep Reading

Choose to Be a Mother, Not a Martyr

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, black-and-white photo

There is a trend in motherhood right now . . . maybe it’s happened for a long time, but now since I am a mom, I am experiencing it: this idea that everything we do as moms makes us a martyr. And honestly, I am guilty here more times than I’m not. RELATED: You’re a Mother, Not a Martyr We have these inner, silent dialogues between us and our husbands, parents, in-laws, and friends. Things we say and think, but they never hear. They compound on each other in the hallways of our hearts before bitterness creeps in without us...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Reminds Me How Much I Need Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby in nursery, color photo

Parenting is not only about the work it takes to raise up a child, but it’s also about continuing the work of being raised in Christ. Stripping back our innermost layers of selfishness and laying our pride exposed. Seeing ourselves as the center of our own personal schedule is no longer an option. Feeling like we have power over anything quickly vanishes into thin air. Parenthood pushes us to surrender and accept God’s sovereign control. Parenting sanctifies us.  Parenting shows us our sinful attitudes. When plans are ruined, when another blowout spoils the perfect outfit you chose, when your toddler...

Keep Reading

When Did I Become Such an Angry Mom?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman with head in her hands

My oldest children and I had just navigated a tabletop board game. My son lost. My daughter won. I also lost. She’s four. For the record, I was trying my best. We were all putting the game away together when my son grabbed my daughter by the face and yelled, “IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY BECAUSE YOUR BREATH STINKS!” And then, Mount St. Meredith erupted. I (not so gently) removed him from the situation and (not so calmly) insisted that he . . . brush his own teeth. Yep. For the record, I was trying my best. RELATED: Mom Anger: Taming...

Keep Reading

Angel Babies are Heaven’s Gatekeepers

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Mother and baby silhouette

I never seemed to have the right words. I didn’t have the right words at four years old when my parents lost my 11-month-old brother, and I never seemed to have the right words as I watched family members and close friends lose both the new life growing within their wombs and the beautiful, precious life resting in their weary arms. So, I did what I thought would offer the most comfort. I simply tried to show up and be there the best I could. I shopped for their favorite treats. I dropped meals off on front porches and toys...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

So God Made a Farm Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Family walking on farm road at sunset

One day, God looked down at all the fields, barns, pastures, and farmers and knew He needed someone to take care of all the families on the land. He knew it had to be someone confident in herself to see that the farm doesn’t come first, even when it sometimes feels like it does. He knew the farm needed someone who understands her role is important, too—especially during the seasons of motherhood when she’s not out driving a tractor. Someone proud to stand by her farmer’s side.  So God made a farm mom. God knew farm kids would need someone...

Keep Reading