"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'" Jeremiah 29:11-13

Saturday I attended a wonderful women's retreat, The Journey, at the Aledo United Methodist Church. This year's theme was, The Seasons of a Woman's Heart. God touched me in so many ways through the talks, music, and skits. I left feeling at peace and as though God had planted several treasures in my heart to dig through later. Now you all know what happened next, right?

I needed to stop at Dollar General so I could take advantage of their $5/$25 coupon and my husband needed a break from both kiddos, so I took our oldest, our 2.5 year old daughter, with me. Now, I should have known it was going to be an interesting trip when she kept refusing to get out of the van with Daddy and come with me. But, I convinced her that I was going to be looking for Dora flip flops for her, so she reluctantly came with me.

Holy Cow! I don't know what happened to my sweet child, but she went nuts in the store. She wanted to walk...but couldn't quit touching everything, so I had to put her in the cart. My coupon binder was in the front seat of the cart, so I had to put her in the basket part (yeah, bad idea). She then proceeded to keep standing up in the cart, which I repeatedly (in a calm tone that only came from a day spent with the Lord) that she had to sit down or she was going to fall out onto her head. Of course, she didn't care and kept standing up and wanting to turn the pages of my coupon binder. Before obeying and sitting down on her buns, she proceeded to give me a loud lecture about telling her what to do. I just kept repeating in my head, "Give me patience Lord. I don't know what to do with this mouthy child!"

She kept herself entertained for a while making a "couch" out of the toilet paper packs I put in the cart. Hey, she was sitting down, so who cares about smooshed TP rolls. A few isles later she decided it would be fun to throw things out of the cart. Now for this she did get her hand swatted (at least three times) before quitting this annoying little game.

Then, as I'm unloading the cart at the checkout, I realize I was missing two items that I needed for  my coupons. I immediately ask Natalie if she had thrown them out of the cart. Her repeated response was "throw them out of the cart?" The sad part is, I thought I had put the items in the cart, but I honestly couldn't remember for sure. So her and I made a mad dash to grab the two items while a kind women waited behind me in line.

Now my fellow extreme couponers know that checkout is the critical time of your shopping trip to make sure everything rings up correctly and coupons scan the way they should. I unfortunately couldn't pay any attention to what the cashier was doing because Natalie just kept whining about wanting to put on her new flip flops. We had obviously flustered the cashier, which I totally don't blame her because I was flustered too, because before we left she told me to check my receipts when I got home and let her know if anything was wrong.

By this time we are 45-minutes late to pick up our carry-out pizza. When we got to Casey's, I ran into a friend from high school and stood outside chatting with her for a while. When I finally got the pizza, the guy behind the counter says, "yeah, I was wondering what happened to you." I thought buddy, you don't want to know. When we left, I was trying to hurry and ended up leaving my keys in my car door, which provided a good laugh for both my friend and I. Her perfect response was, "I can't wait for motherhood." :-)

We FINALLY get home and for some silly reason I don't want to have to make multiple trips in the house with grocery bags and such; so I load myself down like a mule and tried to carry all the bags, including the bag with my huge coupon binder in it, and the pizza to the back door. I of course drop the package of paper towels, which Natalie snatches up and lugs to the back the door. The sight of us trying to get the doors open probably would have won us $25,000 on America's Funniest Videos. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to wet my pants (any of you moms know that after two kids that was a real possibility.)

Now, only God could help me see the humor in the situation and not unleash a fury of criticisms. The lessons from the day kept rolling over in head and my heart: "He knows the plans He has for me" Jeremiah 29:11, "It is the Lord Jesus Christ that I am serving" Colossians 3:24, "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1, "He will instruct me and teach me in the way that I should go. He will counsel me and watch over me." Psalm 32:8.

I praise God for His love and for His mercy. I praise God for this beautiful, chaotic, unpredictable season of life. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:33

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