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Thanks for shopping at Publix… {making the most of every moment}

Ever have one of those moments–where time stands still–and you just realized you were in the presence of someone REALLY amazing? Someone–who GETS it?

It happened to me today.

At Publix.

I ran in by myself (EXCITING, huh?!)! My parents are in town–and of course we needed to go to the grocery store so we could make something…edible–like sandwiches:). I ran through–picked up what I needed…frazzled a bit–and finally decided to actually buy the “extra thing” (marshmallows for Frank–despite the content of corn syrup). Grabbed the turkey, lettuce, a tomato, Stevia (I’m all natural sweetener baby!)…and marshmallows.

Aisle 2 was open. I piled up my things–realized I didn’t have quite enough cash (we’re on the envelope/cash system) so $5.67 was going on the card. STINK. Really going to mess up my budgeting. My brain was any where and every where BUT right where I was. And then…he got my attention.

Smiling the grandest smile you have ever seen, he packaged my groceries. Rocking back and forth while he packaged, we made eye contact and with that smile–I could help but STOP…sense his JOY…and immediately–my heart was fuller.

“Thank you for shopping at Publix. Thank you for shopping at Publix.”

His smile even bigger–as if that was even possible.

“This pen–it’s my Special Olympics pen. Margret put it on me this morning. SO much joy laughter spilled over in his words as he bagged those marshmallows.

He looked at me again and smiled to say again, “Thank you for shopping at Publix. Thank you for shopping at Publix.

It’s the ONE day the bagger didn’t ask me if I needed help to my car. And although I always decline, today would have been the one day that I said yes…simply to be in the presence of a soul full of such charisma and joy for a few more minutes of my day.

I imagined as I walked out what his day was like today. His getting dressed for work–so happy to put on his green vest…and how big he must have smiled when Margret…maybe his caregiver…put on his pen. He was so proud of his pen and sharing what it meant. SO happy to be at work and serve. So excited to tell each and every person that came his way…thank you.

I have a lot to learn…

And this job. Bagging groceries at Publix–I thought…I think this might be one of those high callings…yet we just don’t see it that way. To serve with JOY doing the simple–to think of the JOY so many must leave with. DO I HAVE THAT EFFECT ON PEOPLE?

I got in my van and a vivid picture of a scene came in my mind that occurred 7 years ago. I was a new mom–and Parker had colic. I had gone to the grocery for Mylicon drops in desperation to ease his crying. I hadn’t slept in weeks, and I felt really lonely. I remember having to CONCENTRATE to drive–I needed rest…a nap…a soothed baby. I was pulling out a Kroger (Krog–there’s your plug;) and it was one of those groceries that has a bit of a driveway so it had a traffic light. Behind me–was a business man in a SLICK Lexus. I was in a fog and totally didn’t go with the light turned green. He laid on his horn–rolled down his window and started screaming obscenities at me. And the tears…they came. He had NO idea what I was going through. He had no idea I was at breaking point. And I sat there and cried. He went around me–and I drove home with tears rolling down my cheeks.

And then…there’s the bagging boy.

Who was dropped off at work this morning. Not able to drive a car…much less a Lexus.

Maybe that mean old man was a fancy lawyer, slick businessman…or whatever. But that day–his character affected me. And today…my grocery bagger’s character affected me as well.

And I wondered, “Ya think there is a reason that grocery boy got the high calling of getting to see person after person after person EVERY day? What some may see as not the best job–I wonder how He, our Father in heaven, sees it? And I know He is pleased…”

Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


Character…produces HOPE.

I can’t help but think…that day of hardship as a new mom…how HOPELESS I felt when someone’s character affected me. And then today…how someone’s character…brought HOPE.

Character produces hope…

Character produces hope as WE preserver through hardship. Perseverance is produced through our suffering. So Paul says in Romans we should also GLORY in our sufferings.

As I drove away–I thought about Martin Luther King’s quote, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” And I thought about how even today some are judged by what they drive, what kind of job they have…and so on–but I think many of us might be missing it. And one day–our King of Kings will judge us…but not by what we have–but, indeed, but the content of our character.

And because 1 Corinthians 15:33 guides us, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” I think I need to shop at Publix more often:)

On a side note–I saw where that mean man pulled into his driveway on my way home that day. I went home, typed him a letter how he hurt my feelings–and I even included a letter to his wife…saying I would be praying for her because he ought not talk that way to young, new, fragile moms–and I sincerely hoped she was never talked to that way either. YOU THINK I’M KIDDING??? I’m totally not. Call me crazy if you want to–but if I was crazy I would’ve rolled his yard–trust me–I wrestled with it;). If someone hurts my feelings (or vice versa)–I have to work it out…even if it’s a stranger. I left my number if he wanted to call. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t. Something about his reaction that day told me he wasn’t the type–but I didn’t want to be judgmental and not give him the opportunity. I also just wanted to encourage him–to remind him how our words are powerful…more powerful than the job you have or the car you drive…character is everything–because it produces HOPE–and you just never know how your words will make a difference in someone’s life!

This mom is going to bed tonight smiling because of a grocery boy…that truly–made all the difference.

Elizabeth Smith - January 14, 2012 - 10:50 pm

I adore you in so many ways…. This whole post made me smile but the last little bit about the guy in the Lexus… LOVE! Good for you for calling him out on his bad behavior. Hugs!

Brittany - January 14, 2012 - 11:03 pm

This story touched my heart so much.

It’s so funny where we run into people that God uses to bless us, huh?

Also, good for you for writing that man a letter. Even though he never called, I bet he remembers it.

Staci - January 15, 2012 - 9:45 am

Beautiful post. I’m sure the joyful grocery bagger (and the jaded Lexus driver!) were positively influenced by your character as well…

Kim - January 15, 2012 - 10:27 am

Oh Andrea, I am smiling this morning, thinking about that letter you wrote. I LOVE that you wrote his wife, as well. I probably never would have had the courage to do that, but you may have influenced his life in ways you may never know!

kim - January 15, 2012 - 11:35 am

Oh, this post has me tearing up!!

Laura - January 15, 2012 - 1:49 pm

I love your story. My daughter works at our local grocery store and is friends with a bag boy there with “special needs” (don’t we all have special needs???). I love that he is so proud of his job and is very good at it. Beautiful post.

Callie - January 16, 2012 - 12:48 am

So true. Thanks for the challenge Andrea. I’m sure you’re super busy with planning for the retreat but thanks for posting anyways! Callie

Leah - January 17, 2012 - 2:29 pm

I love Eleanore Roosevelt’s quote that “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.” It’s too bad that people (like the guy in the Lexus) reacted badly, and perhaps he was going through something as well. I think it is important that we find ways not to let such people get to us. If I got upset everytime I experienced a rude stranger. . . well, I think I would be upset. A LOT.

Leah - January 17, 2012 - 2:32 pm

I love Eleanore Roosevelt’s quote that “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.” Although this man reacted badly, who knows what he was going through on that particular day. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, I just think that if we went around upset anytime a stranger was rude. . . well. . . we would all be upset quite a bit.