Today I found grace in the most unlikely of places: an AT&T service call and Safeway. Specifically, I talked grace, marriage, love and psychology with a customer service representative and got to see my girl experience grace from a grocery store checker.
Our first day of Summer vacation started with fighting. A lot of fighting. Two big kids who are having a real hard time trying to negotiate spending all day together. Vying for attention. Selecting games to play and movies to watch. Choosing what to eat. By 10:30 this morning I was tired of getting involved in the minor skirmishes and ready to put everyone in a long time out.
So we packed up the car and headed to the park. The baby fell asleep in his carseat and I watched from the parked car as the kids ran to explore a new playground. I pulled out my AT&T bill, prepared myself for battle, and sighed as I started to dial the phone. "Lord help me," I exhaled, as I made a mental list of all the reasons I should be angry and justified in my frustrations.
And the Lord answered my prayer. My puny, self-centered, frustrated cry for help landed me on the phone with Amy, customer service rep at AT&T, and by far the nicest service person with whom I've ever had the pleasure of spending an hour and a half on the phone. Not only did she fix all the problems, but saved us money and waived a major installation fee ($99!) As I waited for everything to get cleared, we had the opportunity to talk about God's grace on my marriage and the Spirit's work in enabling Ben and I to be happily married fourteen years in. We talked about the importance of spending time with kids and God's grace in allowing me the time at home with my little monkeys. She complimented my patience and kind words with my kids who constantly interrupted the phone call. She shared her own hopes of putting her psychology degree to work one day, maybe even doing marriage counseling like Ben and I have the honor of walking through in this season of our lives with members of our church.
God took a potentially major frustration of my day and turned it right around into one of the highlights.
Then I had to take all three kids to the grocery store. Not exactly my idea of a good time. Maddie had brought along her own wallet, jammed full of change and dollar bills, and picked out a brightly colored stuffed bear from the floral department to purchase. We talked about the cost of the bear ($5) and the size of her savings, the fact she has several other stuffed animals, etc. (essentially trying to talk her out of spending her money). Her strong will and oral argument skills prevailed and I decided to let her spend her money.
At the checkout, the grocery store clerk asked us several questions about our day, shared about his own kids, and tried to talk Maddie out of buying the bear! "Do you really need another stuffed animal?" he asked. Maddie replied, "My mom is allowing me to spend my own money as I see fit." The bear didn't have a price and he tried multiple scans before calling over a manager for an override. The fee: $1. The sweet man purposely gave Maddie a considerable discount, making her promise to come back and tell him the name she had chosen for her bear.
Today God chose to extend grace in the most unlikely of places. It turned my frustrating day into a marvelous encounter with the divine. I'm so grateful for a God who shows up in the everyday, mundane tasks and shows me his everyday, marvelous love.