Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It Was in the Sour Cream

I received an email from a dear friend and she told me about a recent, super-encouraging situation she experienced.  Below is her story.

“I have to tell you something that happened today - and after it happened, I was in my car tearing up at the generosity and thoughtfulness of what was done.

Yesterday, I went to Aldi to get some shopping done.  I needed to do major shopping as I hadn't done it for about two weeks, and I had a lot of pantry staples to purchase.

I was in the check out lane with a cartload of groceries, and as I picked up the carton of light sour cream to put it on the conveyor belt, I noticed there was some sour cream on the bottom of the carton.  I flipped the light sour cream carton over and saw that there was a crack across the bottom of the carton.  To make matters worse, some of the sour cream had gotten on the conveyor belt.  I put the light sour cream carton, flipped upside down, on the conveyor belt and put my other groceries around it.  As soon as the cashier was done with the person in front of me, I planned to ask her throw away the sour cream and then let me clean up the mess.

There was a guy in line behind me who appeared to be about 60 years old.  He smiled at me and made some crack about how "you're not supposed to open the food until you get home."  I smile and joked back, "Well, I WAS kinda hungry..."  When I get to the front of the line, I told the cashier what happened, and she just laughed and then cleaned up the conveyor belt for me.  (Even though I said I would!)  I then noticed that the person who had checked out just ahead of me happened to set aside a few items that she couldn't afford.  One of the items, the only refrigerated item, was a carton of sour cream.  I thought, "PERFECT! I'll save someone a trip from having to put that back in the refrigerated section and I’ll buy it!"  I told the cashier that I would take the unwanted sour cream and she said, "It's not light, but is that ok with you?"  At this point I really didn't care, and I wasn't going to hold up the line just to go get a light sour I figured this worked out well.

All of a sudden, the gentleman who had been standing behind me showed up (I did not realize that he had left the line), and he was holding a new carton of light sour cream.  He said, "I wanted to do something nice for you, and I just can't afford to buy your groceries.  But I thought I could at least so something to help and get you another carton of light sour cream."  And then he said (and I can't believe this), "I wanted to help because it looks like you're a woman trying to hold the world together."


I thanked him profusely, paid for my groceries and started to bag my order.  He only had a few items, and as he walked out, he told me to have a good day.  I got to the car, called my husband to tell him about what had happened and it made me cry!  I told my husband this guy was way too old to be hitting on me…it was purely an act of simple kindness.  This man knew exactly what I needed to hear to feel a sense of relief and worth.  The man didn't know this, but as I was standing in line, I was doing a lot of thinking and praying.  I was asking God yet again why He would allow my husband to lose his job and take new job opportunities away from him.  God sure does amazing things and uses people in some cool ways.

This little act of kindness made my ENTIRE day.  I thought of the purpose behind your blog, and I just had to share my story!”

Cool story, huh?  This was truly a “small thing” that this man did for my friend…and yet the affect was multiplied a hundred-fold!  This man understood that sometimes we WANT to do the big, super-meaningful things, like pay for someone’s groceries, but we can’t.  He then took the initiative to do what he could, and it meant the world to the recipient of his kind action and thoughtfulness.

Let’s all look for something we can do to show love, thoughtfulness, compassion, and care to someone else.  Our effort, no matter how small, can have a monumental positive affect and that should not be overlooked!

Look for ways to be thoughtful and give someone else a “sour cream” story!  I’d love to hear about it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Home Run That Wasn't

Today, we have a guest writer!  Over the weekend, there was a "situation" at our eldest son's baseball game. There were many different reactions to the situation, both health and unhealthy.  This situation prompted my husband to write the following post.  (And I just need to say how grateful I am for a good man who sees the "bigger picture" of our boy's involvement in sports!)  Enjoy!

In a recent baseball game, my son hit a ball far over the outfielder’s head.  Because there were no fences, once the ball hit the ground, it rolled for another couple hundred feet.  According to Google Earth, the approximate distance to where the fielder eventually picked up the ball was more than 500 feet!  After Alex and his teammate (who had been on first base) easily circled the bases, the celebration began as the game was now tied at 4.

When the other team threw the ball back in to the infield, the opposing manager instructed his team to appeal at third base, claiming that Alex had missed touching the base.  The sole umpire at the game ruled that Alex had touched the base and gave the safe sign.  “Try second base!” the manager yelled.  The umpire took a moment and then ruled that Alex had missed second base and called him out.

As you can imagine, this was met by a cheer for the other side and much yelling and screaming by coaches and parents on our side.  Despite protests, both civilized and uncivilized, the umpire’s ruling stood.  There was no 2-run homerun; just a single run was counted (for the runner who was on base when Alex was batting) and our team had another out counted against us.  This call took the wind out of the sails of our team and the game was eventually lost by a large margin.

I want my kids to participate in sports for many different reasons.  They learn to play on a team, they get a good amount of exercise and they learn to win and lose as “good sports” (I hope).  They also can learn other valuable life lessons which were played out in this home run situation.

1) Life is not fair.  Your accomplishments will not always be recognized and circumstances can actually change to put you in a bad light.  In Genesis, we see that Joseph made the morally correct choice in resisting the advances of Potiphar’s wife.  Surely, Joseph made the right choice.  But, was he rewarded for this?  No.  Joseph was made to look like the one who had acted unscrupulously and was thrown into prison.  As it turns out, God needed Joseph in prison to serve His purpose.  Not only was Alex not given a home run, it actually counted as an out.  While we may not see it right now, God always has a purpose and a plan.

2) Details matter.  Whether it is touching all the bases or knowing your responsibility as an umpire to watch whether or not all the bases were touched, details matter.  In Numbers 20, when the Israelites were in the desert and desperately needed water, God instructed Moses to speak to the rock and water would come forth.  Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff as he had done in a previous situation, and water came forth.  However, Moses was punished for not following exactly what God had instructed him to do.  There are times where God needs us to obey Him in a specific way.  “Love one another” is something God asks us to do, but He doesn’t always give us a specific way in which to obey that command.  When He does give us a specific charge, He means it!

3) There is always someone in authority over you.  In baseball, the umpire is in charge and sometimes you may not like what he or she decides, but the game will go on with their decision in place.  In life, we all have someone in authority over us.  Whether it is our boss, our teacher, our parent, our pastor or our government, there is an authority structure over us by which we are forced to live.  The good news is that God is the one Who determines our authority structure.  He accomplishes His purpose through the authority, even when we don’t like what they are deciding.  Except in cases of clear sin, we are to submit to our authority.

4) Complaining doesn’t help – it just makes things worse.  After so vehemently reacting to the umpire, whether it was fans or coaches, one can’t help but think that the benefit of the doubt was going to go to the other team.  The umpire had to warn fans and coaches about not continuing to argue or he would have them removed as he is entitled to do.

Romans 13:1 – 5:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. (NIV)

5) When we face adversity, we need to rise above it and keep on fighting.  Very often, this is seen in the world of sports.  A bad call.  A bad hop on a groundball.  An easy fly ball dropped because it was lost in the sun.  These are all factors beyond our control that can easily discourage us.  The truly successful teams do not let these things keep them down…they keep fighting.

This is also true in our Christian walk.  Satan will be there at every turn accusing us of wrong doing and driving us to discouragement.  We are to follow the example of the Apostle Paul who faced much adversity (imprisonment, shipwreck, etc.) and who was able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).

6) God has a purpose and a plan for our lives.  Our job is to do things His way and to let God bring about the consequences and results He desires.  The consequences are intended for our good and to work toward His ends.  Two key verses come to mind on this point for those who are following the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

God is always at work and we need to learn to see the things that happen to us through His eyes.  A long home run is a great memory, but life lessons that can be passed along to others are of even greater value.