To The Woman Behind Me At Aldi’s

 

cinderella dress

By the time we made it to the check-out, our cart felt rather heavy. I had filled it full of party food for my daughter’s Cinderella birthday party–and all the relatives who would be joining us to celebrate her turning three.

In my joy, I hadn’t realized how expensive it was going to be. After all, we were shopping at Aldi’s! Everything is like $2. (Right?)

So we were getting everything we needed for fruit and veggie trays, and sandwiches, snacks, goodies, and best of all–the homeade buttercream “glass slipper” cake, that we were really looking forward to making together.

My almost 3-year-old was handing me the items that I had stashed around where she was sitting in the cart, and I was putting them on the checkout counter. But as I began to estimate the cost in my head–I had a panic moment.

Oh no..I’m spending too much,” I thought, “What can we do without?” 

I quickly grabbed as many “non-essential” items as I could from our cart and handed them to the cashier, “I’m really sorry, but we’re actually not going to get these today.” Among them were a few goodies, my flavored creamer, and Selah’s animal crackers. She smiled and took them from me with a nod.

“Mom, why can’t we buy the animal crackers?” Selah asked me.

“Sorry, honey, but Mommy found too many other things today. We’ll get them another time.”

As soon as the cashier checked us out, Selah exclaimed, “Mommy, I have to go potty!”

So, I pushed my cart off to the side where there were other customers bagging up their items, “the Aldi’s way.” Among them, an Amish family, who were all in the ladies’ bathroom (yes, men included) the first time I was going to take Selah potty at the beginning of our grocery shopping trip. And I also noticed a “shady” looking couple near my cart bagging up their groceries. As I abandoned my cart and whisked my daughter away to go potty, I actually had this thought, “I really hope no one steals anything from our cart.” 

So I could have never imagined what happened next.

In the Ladies’ Room, I kept telling Selah to hurry up–so we could get back to our stranded-already-been-paid-for-cart. I even told her we weren’t washing our hands today, and instead smeared some gingerbread scented Purell hand sanitizer on her–so I could get back to our cart. (You know, the one I imagined the riff-raff wildly looting while I was in the bathroom?)

But before I could make it to my cart, the cashier that checked us out stopped me. “Ma’am,” she said. “I wanted to let you know…” (Oh no, here it comes, I thought. Someone did steal something from my cart!)

“The woman behind you,” she started, “Paid for the groceries you told me to put back, and she put them in your cart for you.”

“What? Are you serious??” I asked her, looking around, wild-eyed, my hand finding my heart.

“She just left though, so you wouldn’t be able to thank her. I guess, it’s kind of like a pay it forward thing,” she said with a smile.

I looked in my cart, and sure enough there were the “non-essential” snacks, the flavored creamer, and Selah’s animal crackers.

Oh my heart. 

I wanted to cry–to sob. To weep openly for the kindness that had been done to me. I wanted to fall to my knees on that dirty Aldi’s floor.

I wanted to repent for all my judgement–the secret kind that lives in my head.

Because I imagined someone stealing from my cart–not putting more into it. 

I could barely keep it together. And as I began to bag up my groceries that day, “the Aldi’s way,” in my re-usable shopping bags, my eyes began to blur with tears–of thanks.

I wish I could have hugged her–not because we needed the groceries–but just because she was so kind. So…

 

Dear Woman Behind Me At Aldi’s,

If you should ever read this,

Whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you.

Thank you for your kindness to me.

We are not poor, and you didn’t need to buy those extra groceries for us, the “frivolities” that come with a three-year-old’s birthday party.

But you did.

And you showed me something powerful,

Love.

You showed me the power of being kind. And brave. And good.

And the world needs more people like you.

You reminded me that not all people are as bad as I think they are. Some are really, really good.

I had expected someone to steal something from my cart, but you did the opposite–you filled it with good things.

I expected a curse, and you gave me a blessing. 

You were the blessing.

And you reminded me of the power of goodness. And the love of God. Because somehow, through your kindness to fill my cart–I felt his love. And as I drove home that day with tears in my eyes, and a big lump in my throat, I felt Him holding me. I felt Him loving me.

Because I didn’t think He cared about animal crackers.

Or Cinderella parties.

But He does.

He cares about all His children. He cares that they feel His love.

And you make me want to let someone else feel His love, in the way you have let me feel it.

Because, I hadn’t realized the power of kindness–until today.

And, I’ve always been afraid to do what you have done for me today.

Because, I’m always afraid to offend someone.

But being on the other end of it, being the recipient of kindness–I feel no offense whatsover. Only deep gratitude.

And the extravagance of kindess.

And the depth of His love.

Through yours.

I’m a writer–and sometimes I only know how to love with my words. But you’ve reminded me–sometimes this world needs more than words. 

To feel His love.

To taste it.

Sometimes they need action. Sometimes they need something tangible.

Sometimes they need people who will be brave enough to act,  

to actually do something. 

To show them love.

Like you did for me. 

So thank you, for stepping out, in risk, and doing it.

You made a little girl’s Cinderella party a little more magical.

And her mom’s heart a little more tender, and soft.

Love,

Rebekah

P.S. Selah was very happy to see the Animal Crackers return to us.

aldi

How Fear Robs Me of the Life God Wants Me To Live

life

They said the lump is probably nothing. But I can’t know yet.

I have to wait. And my mind—it goes there every single day. I don’t mean for it to. It just…does.

What if I’m dying and I don’t know it? What if I don’t have much time left?

I am afraid to die. I am afraid of many things.

And it shifts. Sometimes it’s ISIS. Or mass shootings. And I wonder if some gunman will start unloading while we’re in the grocery store, or at Target. Or the movie theater. Or a restaurant. Or concert hall.

Because that’s what happened in Paris, right?

And is there any safe place?

Some nights I go to bed, and wonder if some foreign enemy will attack our lands over night? And every sunrise feels like a little miracle. That we are safe another day.

When I get in the car, I whisper a prayer over my daughter in her car seat. I strap her in tight. I kiss her face all over.

I ask the angels to watch over us.

And, I try to be so safe, you know? I try to be so vigilant. But I worry we’ll get in some horrible accident.

There are so many fears that haunt me. There are so many fears that shake my inner peace.

I don’t want to die—but look at me. Look at my fears:
I spend my days dying, more than living.

Fear has this way of choking out everything good in my life.

All the joy.

And this is one of those things—I don’t really want to talk about.

But I have to.

Because it’s real. It’s this reality that is living under the surface of my skin. All the time.

Tonight, after I gave my daughter her bath, and dried her hair, and zipped her into her fleece jammies, I started worrying about the “lump” again. The one they said is probably just a lypoma. But they can’t be 100% certain.

And as I began to get lost in the fear—that I could be dying—the Holy Spirit whispered something to my heart, He said,

“Will you choose life or death?”

He was confronting me, ever so gently. “Will you spend your life living? Or dying? Because if you spend the days I’ve given you as a slave to fear and death–then you will spend your days dying and missing all the good I have for you. But if you trust Me, you will live and spend your days alive in Me.”

I remember reading a Scripture about God telling His people to choose life or death. And I left the last few dishes in the sink, and I went to find it.

I searched in the back of my husband’s big study bible—and I found it. It’s in Deuteronomy 30.

Moses is at the end of his life and he is preaching to the people of Israel. He’s telling them to choose life or death. Obedience or rebellion. Blessings or curses.

He says,
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off…But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Deuteronomy 30:11 &14

It is not too hard for you.

It is not far off.

It is near you.

It is in your mouth and heart.

You can do it.

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping His commandments and his statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 30:15-18

He sets before you life and death.
Good and evil.

And if you want to possess the land—and the life—then obey His voice. And live.

But if your heart turns away from Him. If you stop listening for His voice. If you are drawn away to worship other gods. (Even the god of self-preservation. And the god of fear.) And if you serve those gods—

If you serve those gods, you will surely perish.

The god of fear makes you a slave–and it will make you spend your days dying, not living.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.” Deuteronomy 30:19

God says, we get to choose.

Life or death.

Will we follow the way of Life,
Or the way of Death?

Every day Death haunts me—threatens to steal my peace, my joy, my life.

But tonight Life is calling me.

He’s running toward me, and beckoning. He’s shouting loudly, “Live!”

Don’t spend your life fearing you will lose your life. Or you will lose it. Slowly. Every day.

If I keep living in fear, if I keep letting anxiety rule my life, if I keep letting dread dictate my steps, and my thoughts—I won’t be living anymore. I will be dying.

Dear brothers and sisters—I don’t want to constantly think about how I might die.

I want to start thinking about how I will live.

I don’t know how I will die–and I don’t need to know. I need to know how I will live. I need to know how I will every day and every hour throw off the shackles of fear, and burdens of doubt. I need to know how I will inhale and exhale the breath of God and eat His Word like it is my only food. I need to love well, and love hard, stop being so afraid to risk this life–because it’s not my own anyway. I was bought at a price.

And I hope when I come to the end–however near or far that may be–that I show up to heaven’s gates having lived. That I will have spent my life living–and not dying. I hope I show up with my heart riveted with scars, but bursting with joy, with wrinkles in my skin, and fire in my eyes, and my arms open, and my pockets empty. Before Him who is Jesus.

The One who called me. The faithful and true. The beginning and the end. Who first whispered my name, and who I will hear whisper it again–the moment my eyes flutter open to eternity. To see Him, with my own eyes.

“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life. (Choose Him over your fears.)

Love the Lord your God.

Obey His voice.

Hold fast to Him.

For He is your life.

And length of days.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Have life.

And have it more abundantly.

So stop thinking about how you will die,

And start thinking about how you will live.

In Him.

For He is your life, 

and length of days.