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.