Operation Christmas Child: Making a Difference for Less Than a Starbuck’s Latte.


For Christmas this year we decided that we did NOT need any more toys. NEWS FLASH. We already have one million and one, so instead of exchanging names or giving gifts to each other, my sister and I made an executive decision to get our kids together to make boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I mean, why not give to kids who actually “need” something this year, instead of hoarding more to ourselves and our children?

Ah, that feels so much better.

So last week we did just that.


First, I snagged these clear Rubbermaid totes at Walmart for $.94! 94 cents, you guys! Whaatttt??? I mean, that is less than 1/4 of my favorite chocolate bar at Whole Foods. And not even half of a Starbucks latte! (I venture to say it will probably make more of a difference than the wording on the side of their cups ever will, but that’s for another time.:))

Light bulb!

So we each went out and gathered tons of fun “stuff”, some from our toy boxes, some from the store- stickers, paper, toothbrushes, pencils, hats, crayons, band aids, socks, wind-up toys, balls, flip flops, soap, etc- and then got together at my house to fill the shoe boxes.

My mom had instigated the idea after she helped pack and ship boxes at OCC last year and was completely impressed and inspired by their heart and mission to help children and so, of course she came too!



We had a total blast, wrapping and filling our boxes and it was such a delight, watching our kids get into the spirit of giving! They loved picking out things that “they would want” and giving it to someone else instead.

In all it was a wonderful day, we packed eight boxes full to the brim, and we all learned again how much more blessed it is to GIVE than to receive. How fun it is to come willing and ready to bring what we have, than to long for that which we don’t!

What a joy and what a beautiful life lesson  for .94 cents! May it stay with us this holiday season and forever, and may it go deep in the hearts of my children, and all who receive it!

Thank you, Operation Christmas Child, for the opportunity to bless others through your ministry! Love and Merry Christmas to all! -The Hostetler’s

How about you? Do you have a non-profit you like to give to as a family? A favorite way to bless others over the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments, and let’s make it a Merry Christmas for everyone this year!


How to be a Princess in a Dying World.


“What does it mean to be a princess, anyway?”

I asked this question to a bunch of little girls a few weeks ago, at my daughter’s birthday tea party. It was a question that I had been thinking about and asking myself for a while before that, ever since I had had a conversation with my oldest about being a princess, and what that actually means.

I had recently encountered some attitudes in her, attitudes of entitlement, and thinking only of herself, and I was concerned that they were coming from a misunderstanding of this concept. I was afraid that somehow in all of our uninhibited princess play, we had promoted something far different, and something not quite so wonderful as just simply being a “daughter of the king,” so I sat her down one day and we had a heart-to-heart.

“Sweetheart,” I explained…”being a princess does not mean that you get to wave a magic wand around and just get anything you want, especially if what you want is only for yourself and you are not thinking of others. Being a princess means that you are a daughter of the King and you have access to everything that he has…”

And that’s when it came to me.

“You, my dear, get to distribute all of his good things to the world. You get to spread his kindness, and royalty and grace to everyone you meet,” I continued. “You get the awesome privilege of taking his wealth and riches, and making sure all his kids are fed, clothed, and loved.”

And then I ended with something like, “And, there’s plenty for everyone!”

I had barely said the words when I realized that the lesson was just as much for me as it was for her. You see, I too believe that I am a princess. But just like my daughter, I too, get confused about what that means, and sometimes I start thinking it’s about me. Sometimes I think all the blessings of the Kingdom are just for me to enjoy and I forget His heart. I forget that He wants ALL of his kids to have abundance. He wants all of them to experience His lavish goodness and abounding favor.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my plans and what I want, that I even forget that there are other kids!


I, too, need to be reminded of what it means to be a princess.

Because the truth is, I live in a dying world, and it needs me. It needs my resources, and my perspective, and most importantly, it needs me to get this. It can’t afford for me to make this about me. Kids in our cities are dying, because people like me, have made it about themselves. Destruction is happening, because politicians and police officers and people like me, have forgotten what they’re here for.

I am reminded that God’s kingdom was never meant for selfish gain or political power. It was never intended to promote my status or to build my own empire. No, in this kingdom, the “least of these” is actually the greatest, and we are called to serve the poor. I believe the Kingdom of Heaven was actually meant to heal the wound of this one. It was meant to layer itself over the gaping and the suffering of this earth, and that, my dear, is why I’m here.

In all reality, there are many King’s children who are suffering and need what I have. Some of them just don’t know the abundance that is theirs. Others don’t have it, because people like me, haven’t done their job, and haven’t actually clothed them. And fed them. And brought them in.

And so I ask the question.

“What does it mean to be a princess?”


This time to a circle of little girls, dressed in hats and bows, and sparkly skirts, who had come to celebrate my daughter. I must say I was pleasantly surprised, and yes, even enlightened by some of their answers:

“It means that you get to rule the world, and be kind to everyone.”

“You live in a palace where you need to be respectful.”

“It means that you get to wear a crown and help people.”


Even my own little princess seemed to get it, when she said:

“It means to give lots of good things to people and to be nice to everyone…”

So yeah.

Obviously, I was the one that needed a lesson on what it means to be a princess.:)

(Thank God for little girls’ tea parties, where we can learn these things, no matter how old or ‘big’ we are!)