Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Shoebox

Late last summer, right at back-to-school time,  I was stunned to learn of the sudden death of my blog friend's son.  Jack Donaldson went out to play one afternoon when there was a break in days and days of rain, slipped into what was usually a tiny creek but now was a swiftly flowing body of water and died.

I was debilitated by grief for my friend whom I only know via the internet.  I had read all sorts of stories about Jack and his sister Margaret on their mom's blog, and I had only just viewed the back-to-school photos she posted.

Beyond prayer, I felt like I had no comfort to offer her.  I needed to do something, but what?

In time, Anna asked for Jack to be remembered in gifts to Samaritan's Purse and especially to Jack's favorite charity, Operation Christmas Child.  My class had put together a few boxes the previous year, and then last year with Jack in our hearts we packed up more. I did my own box, a box for an older boy.  Anna guided me, when I asked, with ideas of things Jack would have liked himself or things he would have put in a box for a boy his age.  In the box I included a note about Jack along with a picture of him.

Also late last summer, at the same time, my friend Jenn began in earnest her fundraising to adopt a child from Haiti.  To say she has a heart for Haiti is an understatement.  She very much would like to be a mom, and I helped her a bit in some of her efforts.

Stay with me now, please stay with me.

Last night, my friend Dori sent me a link to a Samaritan's Purse website,  Opened this morning, it was a collection of pictures of children in Haiti receiving Operation Christmas Child boxes.  She told me to scroll down to the photo of a child holding a Snoopy wrapped box.  You see, at my Christmas in July party, I had covered our craft table with some blue Snoopy paper, and she thought she recognized it...

 The photo from Samaritan's Purse

She was correct.  It was the same paper from the party, leftover from the paper I used to wrap the box I thought of as from Jack to "my" boy.  It was the same size box (my son's sized shoes).  Could it be? 

I wept, I laughed, I shouted to call Brad into the office, I contacted Anna, I sent Jenn the link, I praised God!  I went to school and smiled all day at the thought of it all.

Jack + OCC + Haiti = God at work.  There is no other explanation.  

There are links throughout this post, but this one is from Anna's blog--it's her eulogy for Jack, her beloved son who firmly believed in Luke 1:37.
With God, all things are possible.

Blogger's note:  
     This post was recently linked to a post on Anna's blog promoting OCC.  I was touched by that, and I welcome all visitors.  However, one commenter pointed out that this box could not be Jack's box because of the age marked on the label.  I enlarged the photo to determine she was most likely correct.  Then I wrestled with what to do about this post.
     I have decided to keep it up.  I've decided that when I pack boxes this time around, I will think of Jack AND the boy/young man in this photo.  Both their smiles continue to warm my heart and are great examples of God's love.  We must continue to reach out to others, and I reach offering a shoebox in memory of Jack.
October 25, 2012


  1. That's so awesome, Ellen! I went and read Anna's eulogy and from that I do believe Jack would have gotten a thrill out of this. :) Strange to read that they'd been at Falling Water. It's less than an hour from me...I can guess within a couple of guesses which camp he was going to. It is a small, small world.

  2. Ellie, thank you for loving on us! Thank you for sharing these God connections with us! Xo

  3. I think God and Jack are smiling about your smile! Great story! Prayers for Jack's family too....
    Pam H

  4. Precious story. My heart is sad for the loss the family has gone through. How neat to have a splash of joy like this come up.

  5. Love how God works! He had blessed me with your friendship and I believe you were a blessing to your friend via the Internet too. Prayers are powerful but not always said with words. I believe God has purposely conspired to bless you because you have loved and blessed others. Such a cool story with connections only He can make :) thanks for posting! Love you bunches- Jenn

  6. Warm and tingly. Thank you for sharing!!! God is so awesome!

  7. All things working together...
    Praying for Jack's family, and your young man in Haiti!

  8. Very cool story! Reminds me of the quote "where coincidences converge, the will of God is near."

  9. I honestly have cold chills...

    if we only knew the way God connected ALL things, I think our minds would blow...

  10. Such an amazing story!

  11. I LOVE when things like that happen! It's like when God connected Tanzania, Kenya, Texas, North Dakota, and Georgia by bringing together Sr. Gaudiosa and me.

    I can just imagine how you felt when you saw the photo.

  12. That is an amazing story, Elle! Love it. Thanks for sharing it. :)

  13. God is SO good. And in this moment, especially, you are his loving instrument. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  14. I am smiling and crying. You've given me chills. What a wonderful blessing in so many ways!

  15. Such an incredible story.

  16. I just read about Jack's box on Anna's post and it brought me to tears. God is so amazing. I call those Godincidences because there are no coincidences when He is involved.

  17. God IS amazing, and I've heard miraculous stories about shoeboxes before. Just looking at this though -- and it appears that the "2-4" box is checked off. I'd be thrilled to be wrong.

  18. Dear Anonymous,

    My first impulse was to delete your comment, but I have replaced it. After reading your words, I inspected the photo, enlarged it, and it could be you're correct.

    Perhaps Jack's Box isn't the one featured in this photo. Perhaps Jack's Box didn't even wind up in Haiti.

    If it's not the box in this boy's hands I am certain it was delivered with God's guidance to another sweet boy. Really that's what matters.

    Regardless, I will keep this picture right next to my cherished picture of my friend Anna's son Jack. This post will stay right here on my little blog.

    I'm wondering though, why you felt the need to point out the possibility of an error.

  19. Really, Anonymous?
    Sadly, there are those who get so caught up in the minute details of day to day life that they miss the big picture of what's really important in the grand scheme of things.
    I love this story ~ and hearing every little bit of magic Jack continues to work in the lives of so many.

  20. I'm sorry everyone -- I don't want you to be upset. I guess it's because details ARE important to me, and because God is wonderful, no matter what. I get stressed out about our credibility as Christians sometimes. I was worried that if I didn't point it out, someone less well-meaning would. And as you've pointed out, even without the feedback, that box, lovingly packed in memory of Jack may have been used in far greater and more amazing ways than we'll know this side of heaven. That's why I pack one!

    Maybe as a conciliatory measure, I'll pass along this story I heard on the radio one time. A teenager was on a mission trip, and knocked on a door at the end of a long, tiring day. When a young girl inside heard she was American, she said "I have something from America". Shortly after, the girl returned with a shoebox... the VERY BOX that this teenager had packed. Wow.

  21. I was truly rankled by your comment, and I simply couldn't figure out why you needed to post it. I'm not at all arguing the point you made, I conceded after inspecting the label as best I could with the photo program I have. Your words didn't come off as well-meaning, and that is the risk taken in print. Commenting anonymously made it seem kind of, well, shady. It allowed for no true dialogue.

    The radio story you shared has no attribution, so it too could be picked apart as fiction, but that's okay to share--because you heard it? That's a contradiction.

  22. I received this email the other day, and I replied to it in kind, but I thought I should share it here.


    I am "Anonymous" of the annoying comment regarding the shoebox, and I wanted to write one last time to say I'm sorry. My comments were out of line, especially in light of the fact that I do not know you or regularly read your blog. It was an unintentionally mean and thoughtless statement to you and your readers in light of the emotion attached to the story. I would not be the least bit offended if both my comments were to be removed, though I recognize I have now put you in a difficult position. I hope the revelation will not have any lasting effect on your tender and faithful heart and that you'll keep looking for the hand of God in everything. It's disturbing how easily I have affected people I do not even know.

    I do tend to comment anonymously, not due to content, but due to general internet paranoia. Usually my comments are more encouraging, so this hasn't been such an issue. I am now rethinking what type of comments I will leave anywhere in the future, so as not to cause anyone else grief. Here I at least wanted to give you the courtesy of using my true first name.


  23. Two of my favorite bloggers in one place, sharing very poignant stories of God's hand… a lovely, lovely story.
    I am sorry that all of this has been clouded by an off-hand, ill-conceived comment. It's made me think about the things I say off-the-cuff and to mind my words carefully.
    Just to know that your box is being treasured someplace is a blessing indeed. I'm packing my own box too! While in the past I would always tend to "pack pink" I now "pack blue" and the blue has a much greater significance.
    I don't read as many blogs, nor am I writing. It's been a time of quiet for me, and I feel at peace about that.
    But I do miss you. Your thoughts are usually quite profound.


I'd like to be humble and say I only blog to record the doings of my life, but really, I blog for conversation, and I would love to hear from you. It's okay if you don't agree with me, that's what makes life interesting.