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What I Learned from Working at a Grocery Store

When I first moved to my apartment I was on a doctor-ordered rest time and wasn’t allowed to work. But after 3 months of that and with seizures under control, she gave me permission to go back to work. Now believe it or not, I had done my homework before I moved to town because I knew that whenever I would need a job, I wouldn’t be able to drive yet so I would need something close by. And it actually play a small part in picking this apartment. It is close to my church and close to a grocery store that was hiring. So I just had to trust God that when I needed the job, one would be available. And it was.

This particular store is pretty unique. It’s not a Walmart, Kroger, or Aldi. It’s an IGA, which are franchise stores actually. So they can have their own personality to some degree. It’s family owned and in a small town. Everybody knows everybody.

A lot of people have asked what my job is. And I laugh. Because my job is made up of all sorts of crazy things! In any given day I can go from being a cashier, to slicing deli meat, to baking bread or cookies, to grinding hamburger, to filling the dairy case, and so many other things. I don’t know how other stores work, but here, you fill in where you are needed and know what to do. You don’t get bored. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is my last week working at the store. I’ve been there nine months and I would like to share with you some things I have learned along the way:

  1. Power Outages have a whole new meaning when you work in the food industry. I used to think the power going out was fun and exciting but when you have to pull food quickly into coolers and worry about temperatures it turns into something else. After an outage, cooler temps have to be regulated for quite a while to make sure they are doing okay and nothing dropped too low. Customers have to be checked out quickly so you can shut the registers down. And then you work with flashlights, waiting for it to come back. It makes life interesting, but not the kind of thing you want to do often.
  2. High schoolers are…ummm…fun? to work with. I remember when I was hired as a camp counselor telling my supervisor that I would work with any age group but I REALLY did not like working with teens. Bahahaha! Came back to bite me, didn’t it? Actually, I’ve learned a lot. Just like every other age group, you can’t write off all teens as dramatic and lazy (sorry!), you have to take each one individually. Some are just as hardworking (if not more) as adults I know.
  3. Bologna is still my least favorite meat to slice. While I feel much better about it, I’m still not a huge fan. However, I have learned that it is NOT the grossest meat in the deli like I thought. Souse takes first place there. *Shudder* (just look it up…)
  4. I think there is some misconception in the world as to what constitutes a “Real Job.”ย Most of the world believes that if your job is not your dream, then what are you doing with your life? And until you have a job with full benefits, a 401K, and life insurance, your aren’t an adult. And the sad thing is, believers have taken on the attitude as well. When I tell people I’m switching jobs, I have been getting several responses similar to, “Oh, it will be so nice to have like a real job and everything.” I’m a little confused. I worked 45 hours last week. Is that not a “real job?” Here is what I fully believe: If you have a job you enjoy and that pays your bills, you can glorify God through that. Your job doesn’t make you, it isn’t who you are. In fact, it may be that your job is something you go to in order to be ABLE to fulfill what you would rather be doing! For instance, you may want to be able to visit shut ins, but God has not given that as your “job.” Your job is what you do during the day to support yourself so that in your free time, you can share God’s Word with those in a nursing home! Does that make sense? So please, no more of this nonsense about real jobs and dream jobs. Because my dream job can be done no matter where I go for work during the day. It doesn’t mean I’m not doing my dream job. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Sorry, that probably should have been it’s own post.)
  5. Which leads into my next thing. Evangelism. I have learned SO much about evangelism from working at the store. How to make it practical, how to bring the Lord into everyday conversations with unbelievers. How to be patient and kind when I’m worn down and tired at 9pm and just want to go home. Things I never would have learned in the controlled environment of my last job or at church.

There are so many other things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for patient co-workers and supervisors when my head clouded up. I’m thankful for the small town that embraced me. Small towns seriously are the best! Most of all, I’m thankful for the Lord leading me to a job that helped grow my faith so much! Everything written here is because of Him!

 

(Except bologna, that’s straight from Satan. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in work

 

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When in a Funk

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a couple from my church and the husband told me that a mentor of his used to say to him, “Man, you are just in a funk today! You need to go out and talk to someone about Jesus.” And he would literally kick him out of the office (which is ironic because they worked in a ministry) and he would go find someone to share Christ with.

The whole story kind of stuck with me. He talked about how it didn’t really matter how he was feeling that day, somehow telling another person what Christ had done would change his mood and outlook on the day. So I’m here to tell you two personal stories about sharing Jesus “when in a funk” and how they turned out.

Last Saturday, one of my co-workers asked me if I would make her some monkey bread. For some people, this probably sounds like a bizarre request, but (not to brag) my monkey bread is actually pretty well-known and I get requests for it all the time. To be fair, it’s a family recipe and it’s pretty amazing. I was more than happy to make it for her and asked her when she wanted it. She asked if Sunday would work. Honestly, I sighed a little inside. If you know me or have read this post, you probably know that Sundays aren’t my best days. I usually come home after church and crash. But I knew that I really did have the time to make it that day so I told her that would be fine.

When she came to pick it up, she ended up staying and talking for a while. She’s young and goes to church without her family and wants to be baptized, so in the course of our conversation, she asked about my baptism. I’m pretty sure my whole face lit up. That was a really special day for me (maybe I’ll post about it sometime) and I loved getting to tell her about it. After she left, I realized how invigorated I felt, just from talking about Christ’s love for me.

And the words came back to me: When in a funk, talk about Jesus.

Fast forward to a few days later. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I had a lot of things weighing on my mind but was trying and trying to trust the Lord with them. But in reality, I was kind of grumpy. Having remembered the success from Sunday, I decided to find someone to talk to. I live just down the road from a nursing home, so I grabbed my Bible and went there. Come to find out they have a lot of entrances and I wasn’t really sure which one to go in which just further added to my frustrated feeling. Finally I just picked one and marched in like a soldier. I smiled sweetly at the secretary and asked if I was allowed to talk to some of the residents. She told me to feel free. Great.

I found an older lady sitting by herself in the dining hall and asked her if I could sit with her and pulled up a chair. We introduced ourselves and that’s when I discovered that she couldn’t hear very well. I CAN talk loud when I need to (people are usually really surprised ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but it’s hard for me to keep it up for a whole conversation so there was a lot of repeating. She told me about herself and her life and I read some verses to her. She was feeling kind of discouraged and frustrated though and wasn’t sure what purpose she could have in the nursing home. And I’m not really sure she heard me say anything. After about an hour, I prayed with her and went home to get ready for work.

And my thought was, “Well, that didn’t make me feel better at all!” Instantly, I was stung with conviction about my motivations. Ouch. I realized the difference in the two situations. The first time, I was focused on my friend and on the Lord- talking about him and what he had done in my life. The second time, I was only worried about myself- what would make ME feel better and help ME.ย  My heart was totally in the wrong place.

So I do believe the statement still stands: When in a funk, talk about Jesus. Just make sure you are focusing on him and his glory.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in witness

 

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What are you afraid of?

This is kind of a follow up to my last post so if you didn’t read that one yet, you might want to start there.

I shared before how it’s hard for me to find time to get a deep enough conversation going so that I can witness to my co-workers. BUT I do have one thing going for me. At my old job, we had these “Random questions of the Day” that we would ask each other in the office. It was super fun and they ranged from really shallow, (If you could only wear one set of clothes for the rest of your life, what outfit would you pick?) to fairly deep, (What is one passage of Scripture that you don’t understand or confuses you?)ย 

I found that it’s a really good way to get to know another person and to start conversations so on the very first day of my new job, I started asking “Random Questions of the Day.” It’s to the point now where some of my co-workers will very determinedly find me and ask ME what the question is if I don’t ask them first. It’s also pretty handy because it’s an intentional way to get to know another person without them really realizing it.

So, one day last week my question that I thought of just happened to be, “What is something you are afraid of?” I had gotten several answers such as spiders, the dark, etc. I was close to being done for the day and excited to leave because I had several places to be that evening and needed to leave right after work. I was hurriedly cleaning up some dishes in the meat department when one of my co-workers (who is probably the most persistent about the Question) came in to tell me his answer after thinking about it for a while.

“I have my answer.”

I looked up absent-mindedly. “Oh ok. What is something you are afraid of?”

“Dying.”

I can’t quite explain the feeling that came over me. It felt like someone had smacked me upside the head with a board but at the same time a door was flung open right in front of me. Considering all the other answers I had received (and that my answer was snakes), this was totally unexpected. I believe I whispered, “Oh, Jesus”ย in my head. Outwardly I was cool as a cucumber.

Feeling the weight of my words and knowing exactly where they would lead me, I asked, “Why are you afraid of dying?” He explained that he had done a lot of dumb stuff and could have died.

Me: “Do you know where you would go when you die? What do you think happens when you die?” I have already had conversations with this young man (he’s actually only 15) and knew that he was unsaved and didn’t know anything about the Lord.

Him: Well, with me it could go either way, I guess.

Me: …slowly…ย “What do you think is the determining factor as to where you go? What determines if you go to heaven or not?”

He did not have an answer. I inhaled slowly and shared the only way to get to heaven. Standing in the meat room, washing dishes, I told this young man about salvation and hope. I told him there was only one way to be rid of a fear of death.

And then he was called to the front and it was time for me to clock out. But I have been praying for him and for the other girl who was walking in and out of our conversation, listening the whole time. Praying for God to change their hearts.

Hmmm…how very simple it was and yet how very hard at the same time. I felt like my face was on fire and my brain was going to explode. In that moment, I truly did not see a person standing before me but an eternal and LOST soul! And I think the weight of that was a little overwhelming. But praise God for putting some words in my mouth for once! What an answer to prayer!

[Side note: As I was rushing quickly out of the store because I was then running late, one of the other girls asked me what the Question was. I quickly told her and she instantly replied that she was afraid of not being able to achieve greatness in life. I hesitated for a moment and I’m pretty sure my thought was, “Lord, I LITERALLY do not have time, strength, or energy to do this again today!” Fortunately these questions are also easy to come back to and I plan to follow up on that one too. What a difference one small, intentional, question can make!]

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in witness

 

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Done “Being an Example”

Have you ever felt paralyzed? Hmm…maybe that’s not quite the right word. Crippled? Maybe inadequate is the best word for it. Where you look into your toolbox and realize that you simply don’t have what is needed to get the job done? Like you need a flat head screwdriver but, doggone it, all you have is a Phillips. (Because we all know you can make do the other way around.)

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about evangelism recently. Yeah, I know, you’re waiting to find out how my brain got here. As you may know, I started this new job which is totally different from my previous job. It is fast-paced, you get moved around a lot within the store, and there isn’t a lot of time to talk with your co-workers or the customers. I went in, prayerfully, with one goal: to share Christ with others. Very simple in my mind.

But I have found myself floundering. I slowly realized, with dismay and distress, that I don’t recognize opportunities to share the gospel! At first I refused to believe it. I mean, seriously, I just worked at a Christian facility for over 4 years. And I shared the gospel daily with my campers when I was a counselor. But that is such a controlled environment where bringing up Christ came naturally and easily every day.

I’ve been thinking about how evangelism was taught to my generation. All growing up, I was pretty much taught that if you live like Christ, people will see your example and will want to follow him. It’s very simple. Example Evangelism is what I’m calling it. But the more I look at Scripture, the less I see of that! You have to use words! You can’t just give someone the gospel by your actions (although you need them for sure); words MUST be included! (Romans 10 talks about hearing the gospel.)ย I feel like I was never taught how to naturally bring Jesus into everyday conversations in order to witness to others. And I’m TIRED of living by example only. I get frustrated at work because I know I miss opportunities to share Christ simply because I don’t recognize them until later.

Now, that all being said, I’d like to make two disclaimers:

  1. I realize that you need actions AND words. Both are necessary parts of evangelism. I’ve been looking at Jesus and Paul and how they did ministry. I am aware that their whole lives were testimonies. Not only did they proclaim salvation with their lips but they also healed people, lived among them, gave of themselves. My point is that sometimes I think believers almost become humanitarians because we do wonderful and nice things but if we don’t openly share Christ right along with it, then the entire meaning is lost!
  2. I am NOT blaming my parents or the church for my inadequacies in this area. I know that each person should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in him. I take full and complete responsibility and I have people at church not only holding me accountable but also helping me learn and grow.

However, I don’t know when or where this whole “Example Evangelism” thing got started but can we lay it down now? You don’t convert people (Okay, we don’t convert people at all, but ya know what I mean) by being a good example. You know what’s going to happen? They are going to look at you and go, “Well, there goes a really nice person! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!” And they will go on with their lives.

Let’s learn and teach the new generation how to boldly and naturally share Christ in everyday conversations. Teach them to share the gospel by example AND with their words. You need both. Without one, you will frustrate yourself; without the other, you will become a hypocrite to all people.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in witness

 

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Using Opportunities

I was home sick from work with a 101.4 fever and nasty cough. Curled up on the couch, I was trying to get Netflix to work when my house-mate got home. “Have you heard the news?” Nope, I pretty much slept all afternoon. Apparently, there had been a terrible accident less than a mile from where we both work. She plopped down on the couch beside me and pulled up the news to show me pictures. A pickup truck driver had gone off the road a little ways, over corrected, and then his vehicle rolled several times until it stopped in a field. The truck no longer looked like one; it looked like a small car in the photos.

“Is the driver okay?” I asked.

“Uh, looks like they took him to the hospital. That’s all it says.” And right then, as we looked at the article, an update popped up to inform us that the driver had died. Oh, it was so sad! And as this young man’s story unfolded in the next couple days, a heavy burden was placed on our hearts for this family.

He was in the military and had gotten home from basic training just that morning. He was 19 years old, engaged to be married, and his fiance was pregnant with their child. His family lives right on that road where the accident was, about 2 houses farther down. We consider his family neighbors to the Farm where I work and he actually helped out at the farm a couple times. He made a mess in one of our barns with a few friends one time, but he went back later that day to clean it up. His name was David and he died on April 16, 2015.

As we all thought of ways we could bless the family, God dropped an opportunity right into our laps. The field where he crashed just happens to belong to the owner (We’ll call him Matt) of the Farm where I work. The day following the accident, a young man appeared in our office and asked to speak to the owner. I directed him to the correct place and didn’t think anything of it. The next day, he came back and asked me to let Matt know that he was borrowing the digging tools he had asked for but would return them later. I called Matt to let him know and he told me the back story.

The young man was a good friend of David’s. He was driving the car that was in front of David’s and he saw everything in his rear view mirror. He was the first on the scene and saw his friends body as it hung half out of the car. The image was burned in his mind. He and three other friends wanted to put up a memorial cross in the field and had come to ask Matt’s permission. He got it of course and as they talked, Matt asked the friend how he was going to make the cross. The young man didn’t have any ideas yet and it just so happens that Matt also does some wood working. He offered to help the four friends and they walked to the shop area on the farm. As they worked, Matt had the opportunity to ask them if they knew where they were going when they died and to share the Gospel with them. They made a beautiful, wooden cross and Matt even helped them burn David’s name, birth date, and the date of the accident on the front. He also helped them burn their own initials on the back of the cross. They borrowed the digging tools the next day and placed the cross at the accident site. By the time they had finished everything, they were so grateful to Matt and told him to call them if he ever needed anything.

I drive past this cross every day on my way to work. And I say a prayer for the family every time I see it.

Matt was given such a cool opportunity. I’m overjoyed that God used him to represent Christ to the family and friends of this young man, David. I think, when something like this happens, we tend to close up because it’s an uncomfortable topic. But God wants us to share each other’s burdens and point others to Christ. This is something I need to work on.

Please be in prayer for David’s friends and family.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in witness

 

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