These days most of my shoebox shopping is done by buying large quantities of items online from various wholesale suppliers. There's usually not enough available in stores.
It's still fun, though, to track down those fantabulous after-season sales to get great deals. So Tuesday morning found me heading into our one local Target store. I'd heard some stores had reduced their Valentine's Day merchandise to 90% off on Monday, but our store was still at 70% when I checked. I scoped out the whole store and found only ONE stuffed animal--this sweet bear and a couple of baby bibs I wanted to buy at 90% off.
When I rushed into the store on Tuesday I was just coming from meeting with one friend and had just a half hour before I was scheduled to meet to pray with another. I breezed through the door right past the shopping carts since I was only buying one bear and a couple of bibs.
Imagine my amazement when I found the end cap in the Valentine aisle full of these cute bears--18 of them! I didn't want to chance leaving them to run all the way back to the front of the store for a shopping cart, so I hiked over a few aisles and found a small red shopping basket. I managed to stuff all 18 bears into it.
But...then I saw more stuffed toys and another end cap full of fuzzy slipper socks for .10 each. I ran to get another red basket and quickly filled that. Then I asked a store employee if I could have the cardboard box he'd just emptied.
I checked my phone for the time and knew I was going to be late for my prayer appointment if I didn't hurry. Just then my phone rang. A Samaritan's Purse staffer called just to encourage me. It was a blessing, but ill-timed. I don't know why it's so hard for me to just ask if I can call someone back. We chatted for a few minutes while I stuffed the last of those darling fuzzy socks into the box.
The call ended, I stashed my phone in my pocket and made a quick mental plan for how to get everything to the cash registers on the other end of the store. I put one basket on each wrist and then managed to get my hands on the top of the box to lift it. Praying step by step, I finally made it to the front with shaking arms. (no pictures of this available, but I'm sure they would have been amusing)
I praise God for the 84 pairs of fuzzy socks and 32 stuffed animals I got--along with the baby bibs and a few outfits.
The moral of the story is: Faith means I should ALWAYS take the cart and be ready to receive God's blessings.
PS--On Thursday I got 11 stuffed animals at Walmart and some pencil sharpeners at Walgreens. On Friday God blessed me with 31 stuffed animals 90% off at Kmart (.39 each) and 406 decorated pencils that were in Valentines.
These may not seem like much in the face of a large goal, but every one means one more child who will be blessed with a cuddly animal or pair of socks.
I'm learning, God, that You're always ready to bless. I'm learning to take the cart.