Today’s post comes from my dear friend, Shannon Taylor Vannatter. A talented writer with a heart for God, Shannon crafts beautiful stories of grace. Her post reiterated something God’s been showing me this month–it’s not about me–my gifts, talents, and abilities. It’s about God working in and through me, through us. Whether He’s setting us up for a divine appointment or using us to bring joy to children across the globe, all He asks us to do is surrender and obey. He takes care of the rest … perfectly.

The Result of Corporate Surrender by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

In 2010, our ladies prayer group at church set a goal of thirty shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Some of us had struggled financially that year. Some could only afford to fill one box, some no boxes, and some several boxes. We decided we would all buy however little or much we could, then bring our gifts to the church and fill the boxes together. We ended up with a closet full of donated toys, jewelry, crayons, coloring books, school supplies, and hygiene products.

Before everyone arrived to fill the boxes, we decided we didn’t have enough items for older kids. Some people had donated money, but the treasurer hadn’t arrived yet, so we didn’t know how much. On faith, a couple of us went shopping and ended up spending more than we thought we should. When the treasurer arrived, the donations amounted to almost exactly the money we’d spent.

By the time we ran out of boxes, another donation had come in to pay for more. Another shopping trip only brought in four more boxes. Apparently several of the churches in our town were participating in Operation Christmas Child. Once we found more boxes, we filled a total of fifty.

In 2011, we set a goal of fifty boxes. Again we didn’t make any plans on who would buy what, how many, for a boy or girl, or what age group, but it all worked out above and beyond our goal. We didn’t have to shop for more gifts and had plenty of items to fill boxes for every age group. Enough for seventy boxes. The only thing we had to shop for more of was boxes.

Our church is small and I know there are churches who send thousands of boxes to Operation Christmas Child each year, but I’m very proud of our giving congregation. Come October, we’ll be in the throws of the ministry once more and I have faith that we’ll achieve whatever goal we set. And then some.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child:
For more information about our church:

Shannon’s donated a copy of her novel, Rodeo Hero, to this month’s Reach Out to Live Out gift basket:
Kendra doesn’t need rescued.

Kendra Maddox isn’t thrilled when Stetson Wright steps in to help fend off her overanxious date at a wedding. A new Christian, she’s struggling with a promiscuous past, and Stetson’s firm belief that true love waits only makes his gallant attempt to defend her honor even more unwanted. Then her friends continually push her and Stetson together. . .but can’t they see she’ll never be good enough for him?

Stetson doesn’t need any distractions. And Kendra Maddox is definitely a distraction. From his job as the new youth director at church to moonlighting as a rodeo clown, Stetson has other things to think about. Finding the perfect wife will have to wait.

When Stetson saves a prominent bull rider, he makes headline news, and Kendra’s ad agency is hired to promote the rodeo hero. Attraction simmers, but will they be able to accept each other for who God sees?

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Her debut novel, White Roses won the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category. The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards named Vannatter 3rd Favorite New Author, and White Roses #1 and White Doves #8 in the contemporary category.
The first two books in her Texas rodeo series, Rodeo Dust and Rodeo Hero are currently available. Rodeo Ashes releases in August 2012. Find her books at,,, and All titles are in the process of becoming e-books as well. Learn more at and check out her real life romance blog at Connect at @stvauthor on Twitter and

Is there something God’s calling you to do today, something you feel ill-equipped for? Perhaps bills you don’t see how you can pay? A ministry without enough volunteers, a dream that seems out of reach? If so, I hope Shannon’s Reach Out story brought you comfort by reminding you God’s ways are not our ways. He can do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine. All He asks is that you surrender and obey.

I want to give a shout-out to our June donors:

Sandra Robbins with Dangerous Reunion, Elaine Marie Cooper with the Road to Deer Run and the Promise of Deer Run, Sherri Johnson with ebook To Dance Once More, Jerri Ledford with ebook Biloxi Sunrise, and Shannon Taylor Vannatter with Rodeo Hero.

Do you have a reach out story to share? Or something you’d like to donate to a future gift basket? Send me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.