Goodnight Camouflage Christmas.

It’s time for Camouflage Christmas to begin it’s hibernation. It’s time to pack up the left over cards for next year and take a rest. It has been a long campaign and rest is certainly in order. I joke that during each campaign, God and I go round and round, toe to toe. I yell at Him and He stands firm. “Carry on,” He says. I stomp my feet like a toddler. It’s an exhausting endeavor and sometimes I just don’t want to do it. There, I admit it.

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God’s right. Every single year, when the smoke clears at the end of each campaign, I am blown away. The reward DEFINITELY outweighs the cost.

Here’s 2013’s recap:

  • Katie B. forms a chapter in Houston, TX (1084 cards)*
  • Jennifer B. forms a chapter in Happy Valley, OR (99 cards)*
  • Abigail B. recruits her sorority in Bowling Green, OH.
  • Nicki N. recruits her friends and family in Florida and Michigan.
  • Erin Y. recruits her clients (formerly homeless) in Charlottesville, VA (76 cards)*
  • Card writing events were held at: Chick-fil-a (Houston & Mt. Pleasant), USPS, Moes, Wine & Design, The Woodlands Children’s Museum, Starbucks, multiple schools, and The Church of the Holy Cross.
  • My family did not put a Christmas tree this year.

*These cards were mailed from their respective locations; therefore, they were not included in Charleston’s count.

People reached out in so many ways asking to help – and they meant it. We had card writers, card donors, postage cost benefactors, event volunteers, recruiters and teachers. The official count is in. The grand total for 2013 7th Annual Camouflage Christmas is 4760 cards! Yes that’s right folks. No, wait. THAT’S WRONG!! I just double checked the numbers and the official count is actually:

4816

I can’t believe that I miscounted the first time. It’s a good thing I keep excel spreadsheets to help me with this. I should have referred to them when I posted the other count. GEESH!! The only thing we have to keep track of is how many cards we send out and I fumble at the 1 yd line. Oh well. Thanks for your grace.

So, another campaign is brought to a close. Thank you wonderful people for all that you did to make it a success. THANK YOU!!

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To All Heroes Serving Overseas This Christmas.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for giving up so much for our country. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Signing Off, Houston.

Cards are boxed up and on their journey to numerous global locations. The final count is in and our dining room is looking less like a poorly run post office. The few stragglers that were collected after the deadline are packed away neatly until next season.

As things slow down with Camouflage Christmas, I am able to take a deep breath and reflect on the 2013 campaign. We had amazing sponsors, fantastic families and wonderful children participate. I am so grateful. I am grateful for God’s blessing on this ministry and His hand in it, never letting go. I am grateful for the people that I have met throughout the process, and those who have inspired me to do more. I am grateful for what I have learned about others and about myself. I am grateful for the outpouring of support for our armed forces, which sadly seems to be dwindling in some circles. (see Santa, Fighter Jets, and Camouflage Christmas).  I am grateful for having the opportunity to see love in action; brothers and sisters helping each other. Lord help us to remember all of this as the craziness of life ensues.

Thank you to all who have helped. 1,034 Christmas cards have gone out with love from Houston.

And we have a great head start for next year. Our new friend, Christine already has new cards to donate for next year. Yay!

Signing off for now -Katie B. (Houston)

Santa, Fighter Jets & Camouflage Christmas.

Today is THE DAY for Camouflage Christmas – mailing day.  The unofficial count is 4585 Christmas cards that are being sent in this year’s campaign. WAHOOOOOO!! How exciting!! This means that since 2007, 21,007 Christmas cards have been/are being sent to military serving overseas. 21,007! Katie and I are busy working on several draft posts detailing the highlights from our adventure. On my end, the news is on in the background as I’m working on my post. Everything quickly comes to a screeching halt.

What was that?!? The news was reporting that “some child advocates” have taken issue with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker.  Apparently, NORAD (a multi-national, governmental agency) has added fighter jets to welcome and escort Santa as he traverses over North America.

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Apparently, some child advocates, who were NOT identified in the Boston Globe Article, think this is “out of line”.

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This is not a post debating whether or not Santa is real. My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed tracking Santa over the years. We also knew that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, so Santa was embraced as a fun part of our culture, but was not our focus.

I search Google for articles to learn more and quickly become outraged. First, who are these people that have an issue with this? Yes, one child & family psychologist that runs a PAC is quoted, but is he the voice of “some child advocates”?

The most disturbing line from the article to me is:

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“[S]ufficiently indoctrinated”? Huh? No, I am not a military brat, but my kids are. Of all the people I know that were/are in the military, they did not join because of indoctrination from the government. They joined because their father/mother served in the military, or they joined for the many opportunities serving affords. Mostly, the ones I know that joined the armed forces, joined because of the former. They wanted to be heroes – like their military parent.

Okay, so maybe this is indoctrination. Gosh, it’s such a horror to want to grow up to be a HERO like mommy or daddy and serve in the military.

Yes, being in the military is kind of joke after all. There’s no real sacrifice. Those serving in the armed forces aren’t facing a year or more away from family. Serving in the military is as easy as baking a cake. Civilians are the ones indoctrinated, or dare I say oblivious. Your commute to work isn’t mine-laden, so the typical service person in Afghanistan wouldn’t have to worry about that either.

Yeah, service men and women shouldn’t receive any recognition. No, let’s not share our appreciation or respect for these people. They’re delusional after all. They drank the militant kool-aid because they saw a few fighter jets in the sky along with Santa.

POPPYCOCK! I say!

The No. 1 question I get every single Camouflage Christmas is: WHAT DO I SAY/WRITE in the card? Here’s what I write:

dear.hero

Christmas Cards, AAA and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Today started like any other Camouflage Christmas Sunday. We arrive at church at the crack of dawn and set up the table from which folks can fill out Christmas cards. This Sunday is the Sunday following Thanksgiving. Historically, it’s Camouflage Christmas’ largest donation day. I speak with the priest beforehand to request permission to make a special announcement during the service, “PLEASE TURN IN YOUR CARDS TODAY. MAILING IS TUESDAY.”

As the service begins, I become distracted. I’m counting cards in my head, thinking of all that has to be done TODAY. Then, I hear the day’s bible passage. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). THIS IS IT! This is why Camouflage Christmas continues each year. We truly want to show God’s love/our love to the service men and women overseas. What sacrifices they must endure for the sake of our freedom!

Each campaign always brings it’s challenges. Maddie’s car has broken down 3x’s since October. Yes, three times! Just tonight, our toilet overflowed and I’m pretty sure a plumber will be coming tomorrow to replace the whole thing. Plus, a myriad of other commitments have appeared just since Camouflage Christmas was preparing for this year’s campaign.

Back to today . . . While still at church, the girls ask if we could go to lunch at Moe’s Southwest Grill afterwards. My mind begins calculating: 1 – found out last minute that I DON’T have to go to Georgetown (1 hour away) to pick up cards = gift of time; 2 – have to drive all over Charleston area to pick up cards from designated drop-sites. Eating lunch out is not such a bad idea; 3 – we have several hundred blank cards and I can harass Moe’s customers to fill them out. BONUS!; and 4 – I’m forgetting something, but oh well.

It must be God-ordained. We arrive at Moe’s right at 11:30 and end up hosting an impromptu Camouflage Christmas event. We walk in like normal customers but then speak with Angelisa, the manager. Angelisa (what an angel she is) is over the moon to allow us to set up our cards and solicit helpers to fill out Christmas cards. Sometimes when we’re recruiting partners, we are met with quite a bit of resistance. Not from Angelisa. She is so gracious. Her staff is so helpful and engaging! The customers are the best!

The moment we set up, it hits me, I have to call AAA. DARN IT ALL TO HECK! Maddie’s car (the one that broke down on the highway yesterday) has to be towed to the mechanic today. But wait, it is parked in the very next parking lot from the Moe’s in which we are setting up our event.  Oh thank you, God! This is what I forgot! Quite an important detail. Then God says, “Caroline, I got your back. Stop worrying!”

He’s right! We stay at Moe’s through their lunch rush and netted 117 cards.  WAHOOOOOO! That’s 117 more service men/women that get a card this year! From an impromptu, spur-of-the-moment decision. Even the bah-hum-buggers didn’t get to me today.

So, now it’s just past 8:00pm EST as I draft this post (T-minus one day to mailing). Over 2450 cards are counted and packed. There are still plenty of cards being sorted now. Since we’re down to one car and the teens had possession over it all afternoon, there was no time to go pick up cards from the donation drop-sites. Sure, I’ll probably make a run shortly to get what I can tonight, but the point is . . . more cards are coming!

Despite my disgruntlement and complaining, God always, ALWAYS amazes me through Camouflage Christmas. People are good. People want to help. People are thankful. We all want to be loved. And we all want to give love. Let us always be indebted to LOVE.

Much LOVE to you!
Caroline M. (Charleston, SC)

AFN PSA and Camouflage Christmas.

About ten years ago, while living overseas with the Navy, there were these AFN (Armed Forces Network) PSA commercials. Sometimes they were just downright weird. The one I recall is relevant to Camouflage Christmas. I promise.

This particular PSA featured the old, cliché story: The Starfish Thrower. A child is finding starfish on shore and throwing them back in one at a time. The grandmother (as in AFN PSA) says to him, rather condescendingly, “There are hundreds of starfish and miles of shore, you can’t make a difference.” He throws one in and says “I made a difference for that one.” Mind you, this PSA really, really annoyed to bejebus out of my family and me. Probably because of the condescending grandma or the really bad acting in general. Anyway, it was one of those things that was so very irritating, that it stuck. Maybe that was their goal at AFN.

I got to thinking about Camouflage Christmas this way. At the start of CC Houston, I was overwhelmed and not feeling up to task. I had to get how many cards? And I still do not have a large network here, nor many connections. Dragging my feet to get started, feeling discouraged, I pressed on. It wasn’t until God and I had a little talk that things looked up and my motivation was soaring. (Isn’t that how it always works?) I was reminded that this campaign is not about numbers. It is not about meeting some crazy expectation I have set for myself to send X number of cards. It is actually not even about Camouflage Christmas. Really? Really. This is about the service members that are away from home for the holidays. The military folks that are enduring various challenges on a daily basis that we do not even have to think twice about. This is about them. And God will take care of them, using Camouflage Christmas as HIS vehicle. He knows who needs that one uplifting card to get through the holiday season. He will deliver the cards to who He knows needs them. If only one card, just ONE, gets to His intended recipient, then we have done our job. “We made a difference to that one.”

And just remember, somewhere out there, right now, some service member or family member is enduring a cheesy, and annoying AFN PSA. Send your cards quick!

Katie B.
Camouflage Christmas Houston

Camouflage Initiation: Houston 2013

Was the first CC Houston event all I thought it would be and more? Well. No. Not really.

The big ROTC opening ceremony was sadly cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

And, I think all of 2 passersby wrote a card. (Lest I forget, AFN PSA and Camouflage Christmas)

Katie = Humbled. Thanks for the reminder that only You are running this show, God, not me. Me and my prideful self will step aside and take a back seat now.

Now, we can proceed.

Meet Christina (jeterfan2342@gmail.com), one of the ladies that I was out there with today. They are working to send care packages to a unit in Afghanistan. She has a passion for supporting our military and works endlessly to do so. These fine ladies even wrote cards with me while manning our “station”. They said that the troops always love getting their cards, and will hang every one of those cards in the common areas. Their feedback from the troops has been that this gives them a place of peace and a little bit of “home” during the holidays, even while they are among some of the worst violence and unrest they will ever experience. These cards not only boost morale, but give them a safe and comforting place of rest. Yes, every card counts. Always. Every time.

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Some of our Camouflage Christmas cards will be going directly to these troops in Afghanistan, and to this unit that Christina and her family are supporting. Some will go to other places around the world, being hung up in some common room for all the troops to enjoy some Christmas cheer. And while we continuously work to send some love to our military, they await that small bit of home from YOU and me.

I am thankful that today was not all that I had expected it to be. I was able to sit back and appreciate the dedication and determination of others to help out. We may not have gotten hundreds of cards, actually not even 10. No, we found something bigger than that. This is not all about me. It’s not all about you.  This is about community. About helping others. Loving your neighbor.

Katie B. (Houston)