I gathered my shopping list and headed out the door for Publix. Only, on the way to Publix I felt like I should go to Fresh Market instead. Something was telling me that I needed to go to Fresh Market. So, I did. I try really hard to listen to that inner voice, because 99% of the time it’s God pointing me where he wants me to be.
I approached Fresh Market and was immediately captivated by the display of African Voilets. I’m a sucker for cute potted plants for my kitchen window. My mother-in-law has beautiful African Violets, and I so envy her ability to actually keep them alive. I have to buy mine often… and pretend that I’ve had them for years. I hung around the display for awhile, contemplating which color I should get for my sunshine-yellow kitchen.
As I was lost in my ‘better-homes and gardens’ daydream, an older woman approached, and started looking at the plants.
Then she started talking to the plants.
I kept contemplating color, and acted aloof, as if I was completely absorbed in my shopping…. part of me did not want her to feel embarrassed when she looked over and saw me standing there after she was having a chat with the violets.
When she finally did notice me, she looked over and said “Oh, I didn’t see you there, I’m sorry, you must think I’m crazy, talking to these silly plants… it’s just… Well, I’ve been really sick and this is the first time I’ve been out in awhile, and I’m just trying to feel better.”
“I completely understand,” I replied in my super cheerful voice. “Feel better,” I flashed her my big smile known as ‘the big cheese’ and I scooted along my way with my pink plant.
After about fifteen minutes of shopping, I was in the juice aisle… now contemplating juices for Ella, when I encountered the woman again. This time, she was talking with one of the Fresh Market employees. I couldn’t help but overhear her conversation.
In hushed tones she was saying; “I’m looking for juices and purees, I have cancer in my neck and I’m having to get radiation and chemo, and the radiation is literally eating through my throat, making it raw. I’ve tried everything, and I’m spending money that I don’t have on all of this stuff, and nothing is working.”
I was frozen in my tracks.
My heart started beating fast.
I was trying to get the courage up to go over to her and speak to her.
“You’ll probably cry,” I said to myself, “She’s going to think I’m crazy… Wait… she was the one that was just talking to the plants…. Ok, I can do this… I can do this….”
THIS IS GOD, I thought. I am SUPPOSED to meet her. This is WHY I felt like I was supposed to make it to Fresh Market that day.
“Ok, God, give me the words, and please don’t let me cry,” I thought.
So, I walked up to her… Introduced myself, and explained that I know EXACTLY what she’s going through. You see, my Dad just had that same exact type of RARE cancer last year. My mom really had a hard time finding things he could eat. In fact, I told this woman that my mom was sort of an expert on this and that I was going to call my mom that night and get a list of things that she could eat. I knew my mom would be on board with this.
“Bless you”, she said, through her tears “You are an angel from God, I’m all alone dealing with this and I am just ready to give up.”
I offered encouraging words, letting her know that my Dad is doing great now and even running six miles a day again. We exchanged phone numbers. I asked her if I could give her a hug. “I’m really sweaty and gross,” she replied. “I don’t mind”, I said. And I hugged her and she sobbed.
I immediately texted my mom and she started working on a list for my new friend, just like I knew she would. My mom is great about those kinds of things!
I arrived home from Fresh Market with armfulls of groceries, walked in the door with a tear soaked face, blubbering. My husband looked at me and immediately looked out of the front window to see if I had wrecked the car. (haha.)
“Uhhh, you ok?”, he asked, cautiously.
And I unloaded the story, as he unloaded the groceries, listening intently to my every syllable.
“You are supposed to help her, you know.” he said when I was finished.
I already knew that deep down in my heart. It was hard to know what to do when my Dad had cancer because our family lives nine hours away… I couldn’t do as much as I had wanted, and that bothered me. Even though my Dad is doing great now, it still bothers me that I was not able to do more during that season. I’ve prayed about it – asking God to continue to heal my Dad, strengthen my mom, and give me the wisdom to support them from nine hours away. I made a blanket, bought cookbooks, sent cards, but, still, I couldn’t be there. My Dad is healthy now and has had two cancer free scans! Praise God!!
This story… this is a true story of God’s Amazing Grace.
I not only had detailed information for this woman that my mom assembled for her in regards to what she could eat, but I also had a hopeful story to share with her about how my Dad beat the very disease she was facing.
Gretchen and I have been friends for four months now. I have sent her cards, dropped by to bring her groceries and pray with her, I’ve brought her cherry icees and helped her figure out how to work the Magic Bullet Blender that she bought off of the TV. I have listened to her and encouraged her.
She has been praying for me everyday, and was one of my prayer warriors while I was on mission in Nicaragua.
She is beating this disease, and has slowly began to regain her strength. I’m so excited for her.
If I had not listened … really listened… I might have ended up at Publix on that day.
Are you listening? Where is God leading you? Who is he telling YOU to love on, to care for, to pray for?
Be still. And listen. Let Him lead. All you have to do is follow.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’