Since I'm really starting to take this writing gig seriously nowadays, I have honed in even more on on of my favorite pass-times...people watching. If there is one thing that is evident during my Monday morning errands it's this---joy is missing everywhere. Nearly everyone looks miserable.
The Lord has made it clear to me that when I'm out and about, my face needs to be radiating the joy that He's given me. People everywhere need to see it, and be refreshed with something different.
Well, the true story is that this morning, as I started out with my to do list, I really didn't feel like radiating a whole bunch of joy. See, our already tight grocery budget was trimmed down even more this paycheck, our gas tank needed filling, and I had to pay a ridiculous fee at the pediatricians office to pick up a form for Lydia's school. I had already paid for the doctors appointment, yet I had to shell over MORE money just for them to take 3 minutes to check a couple boxes. Yeah, I was in a mood. Sometimes I hate sharing these bad attitudes with those of your who read my blog, but really, most of the time, my bad attitude is where God gets ahold of me...then He teaches me.
So, at my first appointment this morning, the office was running behind. I used that time to hone down my grocery list. I took the list of meals David had made as a wish list and figured out what ones would be the most affordable. When I finished that task, I realized that I really had a decent list that could actually be purchased with our very meager grocery budget this week. It made me smile. I thanked God for the ability I had to meal plan and how because of that gift our family would be just fine over the next several meals. As I was smiling, praising God, my gaze caught a woman who looked just miserable. Sad. Maybe even desperate. She looked into my eyes, and though she didn't smile back, I think I saw her face soften just a bit.
My day continued and I did each of my check list items. I found myself more joyful as the day went on. I could see how God was showing His care for me. I saw three different friends throughout my errands today. One of them gave me the biggest smile and a huge hug. How encouraging! My grocery budget provided everything we needed for the next two weeks, and even a special little treat of a cappuchino mix for when I'm writing. And, did I mention that I had found two left over gas cards in a wallet of mine. Yes, I had to make two stops to two different gas stations, but they were right next to one another, and it was just another reminder of God's provision. They didn't cover all of my gas, but they shaved $15.00 off my gas bill!
Even now, as I look ahead, I automatically switch to worry about the next paycheck. How the next tank of gas will be filled. How the cupboards will look in two weeks. I remind myself that we are faithfully climbing out of a debt pit that we dug ourselves. We are determined to learn to live better and enjoy what we have. My smile that was beaming by the end of the trip, was only from the Lord, His Spirit and His blessings. I'm thankful for humbling lessons that God shares, and how he proves time and time again, that if we just get over ourselves and submit to Him, he can use you, even if it's just for your smile.
I hate that my past decisions keep me from giving financially as much I would like to others. I would think of nothing I would rather do than walk up to a woman who looks forlorn and worried and hand her a hundred dollar bill. Sadly, because of the mistakes I made in my past, I can't right now. I look forward to doing that someday. But, for now, I don't have much of little of anything to financially to offer, but I can offer little glimpses of hope. The smile God stirs up in me. The one that comes straight from His joy. And I just pray as I made my nine stops today that the smile was enough.