gratitude off the grocery store shelf

While doing our big monthly grocery outing I was asked by the sweetest little old lady to find her a pint of buttermilk. I don’t know exactly what it is about stores but with no exaggeration I am stopped to help someone almost each and every time I go in one. I like to think that I carry a certain look about me that shows others that I am always happy to help…You know…The old “servants smile” shining through…But more then likely I realize…they probably just see that I am a tall, long armed girl and simply seize the opportunity. Regardless…You can continue to find me scaling the tallest shelf retrieving what was out of reach…or trying to be of help in some other sort of precarious predicament. It has become my own little personal mission field.

Anyways…Back to the little old lady. After finding the pint of buttermilk we exchanged a “thank you kindly” and “you’re very welcome” and went our separate ways. Several minutes later we were reunited at the checkout stand. Upon her arrival I told her I was glad to see her again and nudged my daughter to give her a polite smile. She shot us back a smile and took a long look at our overflowing grocery cart. She then began to dig around in her “little old lady big old purse” and pulled out a piece of paper. As she placed it in my hand I saw that it was a 20 dollar off coupon. “Oh no”…I said…”This is so kind but you really should use this.” She buried the coupon deeper into my hand. “I am” she said taking another look at my load “Every little bit helps.”

“Every little bit helps.” Her parting words kept replaying in my mind as I loaded the groceries into the trunk of my car. After buckling up I looked back in my rear view mirror and saw my sweet little girl. She sat there completely unaware of the domino effect of thought that brief encounter had caused. A remembrance of several weeks worth of “every little bit of helpful somethings” like this crashed one into the other. I tried to remember if I had taken any time to just pause with my family to be grateful for each and every little bit..or even just a small little bit…of each and every one.

My thoughts then returned to my little girl…to my children. I have tried to train my children’s hearts for serving…but had I properly prepared them for receiving? Had the lesson of gratitude for the smallest of gestures from others been buried beneath all my many lessons of giving to others? I want my children to be able to recognize the true gift of giving when it is given to them…I want them to see and feel the joy of an exchange of simple selfless service. I want to plant…and bury deeply those small seeds…those small moments of gratitude into their fertile little hearts. I want to water, to tend, and to nurture their hearts as they grow…little bit…by little bit…into that of a servants….One that finds joy in humbly giving…and humbly receiving.

Mark 12:43-44 “Truly this widow has given a greater gift than any other contribution. All the others gave a little out of their great abundance, but this poor woman has given God everything she has.” Now I don’t know if this little old lady was rich or poor. I know nothing of her family…of her history…but I do know of her heart. From now on when I enter into that grocery store…”my little mission field”…I can remember that its shelves not only provide a way for me to serve as an example to my children and to glorify our Lord…but they also hold a great lesson of gratitude…Thanks to a woman who gave me a simple “repayment” of kindness…There could have been no greater gift given. Every “little bit” of it helped in so many ways. She will never know just what that did for my heart that day…It…along with my grocery cart…overflowed.

Phil 2:1-4 “Now if you have known anything of Christ’s encouragement and of his reassuring love; if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and of compassion and deep sympathy, do make my joy complete–live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people’s interests also.”


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