December 25, 2011

A Wave of Gratefulness

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It hit me like a wave in the grocery store this week, a feeling over of overwhelming gratitude that brought tears to my eyes.  It began when the checker in the next lane over said to her customer, "Do you want to donate $1 to the Food Bank?"

My flashback began.

I remember well the first time that question really meant something to me, something more than my customary, thoughtless, "No thanks," as though I was turning down a favor for myself.  It was one year ago this week when I was asked that question in that very same grocery store.  For the first time in my life, I understood what it felt like to need food from the Food Bank.  I was shopping that day with Food Stamps.  Me, the girl who had never known poverty in her life, was shopping with Food Stamps.

I could tell you to the dollar how much food was in my cart.  I had to know.

You see, my husband had lost his job in January of that year (2010), and we had struggled all year to make ends meet on Unemployment wages. It was a year of high expenses and low income, and the savings account was getting frighteningly low with the bottom in sight.  Then I lost my at-home medical transcription account in October.  November was the first month we met the poverty line for Food Stamps.

During this time, I went shopping with my sister, and I remember telling her that I could really understand why many people feel desperate in life. The stores are filled with shiny, colorful, fun things, and many people do not have the money to buy them.  I felt desperate, too.  Everything I looked at, except the absolute necessities, was a no.  And sometimes even the absolute necessities were a no. Even the Goodwill and Value Village seemed very expensive from my new vantage point.

We were on Food Stamps for only two months.  We were very thankful for them while we needed them but are even more thankful to not need them.  My husband was offered a job in January 2011 after 49 weeks of unemployment.  I have not pursued work in the medical transcription field but spend the "extra" time that I have with my kids and quilting.

So this week as I shopped with a carefree attitude, tossing things in the cart ... five boxes of Breyer's ice cream, two large hams ... I was grateful to be stopped short at the register by those words again, "Do you want to donate $1 to the Food Bank?"

A resounding YES, with a compassionate, thankful heart, I would love to.  I would absolutely love to donate because I am grateful to the core of my being to have something to share because the Lord has richly blessed us and kept us.

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness ... Psalms 65:11

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