Thursday, March 28, 2013

Aldi special this week: Grace.


I love Aldi.  No, take that back, I adore the place.  Our store is always neat, well-stocked, small enough to get in and out of quickly (a blessing with little ones), the selection is limited so I never feel overwhelmed by the options, and the prices are excellent (2 half-hams, 10# potatoes, produce like crazy, and everything for our Easter dinner for $40...crazy).

And then there's John.

Since Aldi keeps a small staff, John is almost always our cashier.  At Aldi, to keep their checkout process lightning-fast, you take everything from your cart and they put it in a new one after ringing it up.  But with a baby in a car seat and Pookie in the cart, this is a struggle for me.  So, John moves the transfer cart and always warns Claudia to back away so she doesn't get her toes crushed by the incoming groceries.  Love that.

After we had paid, I went off to start bagging our groceries and noticed the graham cracker pie crust I had purchased was nestled under the car seat, unpaid for.  Let me take a minute to explain that this has become a problem for us recently: I put things there and forget or Pookie grabs things and I find them once we're in the parking lot and have to make a mad dash back to apologize and return "stolen" goods.

I sighed and strolled back to the checkout and tried to hand it to John, explaining.  Do you know what he said?  "Oh no, you paid for it.  I put it there so it wouldn't get smushed."

Folks, this is a guy who gets life with littles and made my day that much easier.  Grace.

And the checker at our trip to Walgreens?  Who brought out a bag and said, "I think you forgot this"?  Grace.

Then we were off to the library downtown.  It was a one-minute-pick-up-a-book-on-hold trip that ended in frustration, an impossibly wedged stroller, and a baby melting down.  And out-of-the-blue rush hour behind my car that trapped us for several minutes, whining in the backseat, crying in the backseat, and kiddie music crushing my eardrums.

And we still had to make one more stop: the other library to drop off a DVD I had forgotten to put back in its case before returning said case (ever happen to you?).  The thought of getting both girls out of the car and into the library for such a small thing made me bone tired...just the thought of it.

So I started to think about the grace I had received thus far that day, the small helps that seemed infinitely big in those mama-weary moments.  And I prayed for more.  I said, "Lord, please let there be another mama in the library parking lot who will understand and take this DVD to the desk for me."

Now let me explain about something: I don't like to be on the receiving end of grace.  Somewhere along the way, the phrase "it is better to give than to receive" became "it's good to give and bad to receive" in my head.  I don't like to receive help, I don't like to admit that I can't do absolutely everything for myself.

But sometimes God uses Bambi II and screaming babies to whip our hearts into shape.

I prayed and prayed over the crying and the droning kiddie music and my heart soared when I watched a van pull into the library parking lot ahead of me.  They turned away from the door and I turned toward it, sighing because the van just seemed to be cutting through the parking lot.

But do you know who was crossing the lot in front of my car?

A mommy with a preschooler.

I slammed on my brakes and jumped from the car: "Excuse me!  Excuse me!"

And I did something I've always found difficult: I asked for help I hadn't earned (this woman didn't know me from Adam)--the very definition of grace.

I don't think I would have made it through that morning without these little (colossal) helps.  And with Resurrection Sunday looming large on the calendar and in my heart, I am reminded anew of my utter dependence on Christ and His love.

The help these people gave me was small: moving a shopping cart, taking care with a pie crust, handing a DVD to a librarian.  But it changed the trajectory of my entire day.

The help Jesus has given me can only be described as infinite: He sacrificed Himself for me, He modeled how to love and serve in this broken world, He defeated death, and He continues to love and serve a wretch like me before the throne of the Father, interceding where I am unworthy.

Oh, how He loves.

Happy Easter, wherever you are; know that you are loved by One who can love you like no other.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Link Love on a Saturday

I adore blogs; I read too many, too much.  I've backed off, but I've still run across a few things this week that I can't help but share.  I typed "Happy reading!" but then thought that much of this ain't all that happy...

After Steubenville: What Our Sons need to know about Manhood by Ann Voskamp reminds us of the need to raise sons who value women as people and not objects.

Victoria's Secret is coming for your Middle Schooler ...well-timed, VS, well-timed.  Because just as we have a national story and discussion about teens and drinking and who's to blame when these things go wrong--this is the perfect time to start peddling panties to preteens.

Raising Daughters in a World That Devalues Them: 7 Things We Must Tell Them is more applicable to me as a mother of girls than Ann Voskamp's piece (although maybe I'll have boys someday).  My girls are just babes, but they still need to hear these things--and I need to be practiced in saying them.

And this is a letter from a blogger to her daughter about mama bodies being beautiful.  Because they are.

Monday, March 4, 2013

If You Give a Michelle a Documentary

I posted this to my personal Facebook account and it was well-received; thought it was worth sharing here.  I'll be back with more information and my thoughts on Fair Trade chocolate soon, but in the meantime you can find more information and resources here.

If you give a Michelle a documentary, she will want to watch it.

When she watches it, she will learn of child trafficking (read: slavery) for the sake of chocolate.

When she next goes to the grocery store, she will scour the place for Fair Trade (read: non-slave labor) chocolate. She will find one brand, scoff at the price, but buy it anyway because the price is worth the integrity of the food.

When she sneaks a bit from the cupboard, her toddler will see. She will give the toddler a nip of chocolate.

When the toddler is still awake at 4AM, she will remember that high quality chocolate and this particular toddler don't do well together.

When the toddler is still crabby the next day and the baby won't stop crying, she will reach for the chocolate again.

Her husband will stop her and say, "Maybe the caffeine in the chocolate is making the baby fussy?"

There will then be weeping and gnashing of teeth from the Michelle of such ugly proportions, her husband will send her out of the house for some air.

When she goes out of the house, she will inevitably end up at the grocery store (she is a mother, after all).

When she is at the grocery store, she will look for a treat.

When she finds the Ben and Jerry's, she will notice for the first time that there is a Fair Trade seal on every. single. pint.

The Michelle will then do a happy dance around a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and bring it home.

When she gets home, she will want to eat her new found treat.

And chances are, when she has her treat, she will want to watch a documentary to go with it.

Buy integrity, buy Fair Trade!
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