It really started as a normal Friday..."Whew, it's Friday..oh double whew...it's Fiesta Friday, so Cirinia's cooking today". We eased through breakfast and starting slinging pots and pans in preparation for not only Friday's lunch, a delicious taco salad, but also, the beginnings of the enchiladas for Saturday night's concert.
Yes, we are still dreaming about the new kitchen...as this is all going on in what used to serve as a tanning bed room if that gives you any idea of the size of our kitchen. A sweet volunteer once said about our kitchen, "There isn't enough room to cuss a cat in here:)"
Anyway, right before the lunch crowd began rolling in, something interesting began to take place. A new customer...I'd seen her twice, came in. The first time, about a week ago, she didn't have enough money on her food stamp card to make the purchase she wanted of chicken salad or pimento cheese to go. I never thought I'd see her again but oh no. She came back on Friday and loaded up paying cash. She said I'm moving to Texas and wanted to take some with me. Her father had recently passed from this area so she was moving on and had a place waiting for her. Somehow the fact that my food became her care package for the trip blessed my heart.
THEN....a regular customer came in to pick up his call in sausage biscuit. Yes, we had moved into lunch but when you love someone you give them what they want if at all possible. I could tell when he showed up all anxious in the kitchen...or that closet..to find me he didn't want to wait. I ushered him back up front where his biscuit was waiting and then began the normal pleasantries, "HEY! How are you. You don't seem yourself. Is everything ok?" I have his phone number memorized, as he only lives a stone's throw from the store. And he usually exits with something along these lines, "If you need anything sis, you know my number." He proceeded to confide in me that he felt all 'nervousy' as he was about to depart for his daughter's home about an hour or so away. I reassured him of the blessing he would be and reminded him that our heavenly father was the "blessed controller of all circumstances." With that kind of controller we had no need to fret. I watched his anxious shoulders relax, a smile appeared, and it was at that moment I realized I was the SEND OFF PERSON FOR THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY! I wished him well and celebrated that my friend seemed to be leaving better than he came.
AND IT HAPPENED AGAIN AND AGAIN: Next, new customers, a party of three, let me know as they paid that they were headed to Ava Maria Grotto in Cullman. The man's mother in law was visiting and they were taking her to see the Grotto. I recommended they find there way into the chapel...as it's open to the public. So, I was sending off the three for a day trip to Cullman.
Following, I had the traditional mom and daughter duo who come in to enjoy lunch before taking off to their annual Rock the South weekend venture. Lord knows my prices beat the event's food prices. This made year number three for me to send the two off to enjoy some mother daughter time as well as some awesome country music.
For the first time ever, I was the meet up place for the local high school Brewer boys JV and Varsity basketball team as they headed to New Hope for a summer play date. A few of the guys ate lunch before taking off and three of the players returned late afternoon for a food fill up of fried bologna and grilled pimento cheese with jalapenos. I LOVE TO SEE BOYS EAT AND ENJOY THEIR FOOD!
After all the day's events, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I got to be the "SEND OFF STORE FOR MY PEOPLE".
In reality, this probably takes place alot of days as people are always going from one place to another. I think the reason it hit home this past Friday is because I'm sending off my oldest daughter this fall along with my son in law to Philadelphia as full time missionaries. Last night was our first of many fundraiser events this summer to raise funds for their work in Philadelphia. As we prepared on Friday for Saturday's concert, it all hit home that we were a "Send off Store". Last night was such a treat as new people came as well as faithful supporters of our business and family ventures. More than anything it was a time of gathering and celebrating what we all deemed most important: the call to live the Christ life in our individual lives.
There are not adequate words to share my heart of gratitude for the many who made the effort to attend, give, encourage, and celebrate the call on Lawren and Brandon's lives to give up their secular jobs here and go to be the hands and feet of Christ in areas of Philly where the gospel remains to be fully experienced.
It's been a full weekend and I have a full heart.
With heart felt thanks to a loving God who surprises me at every turn and faithful customers who are now friends, I am blessed that you let me be your sending agency. It is a privilege I don't take lightly.
All my best,