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Bottle Return Blessings – Part I


“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track…” Proverbs 3:9-10 (The Message)

Like many Americans, our family is on a tight budget.  While it’s truly a blessing to have the money to buy groceries every month, I do what I can to find sales, use coupons and store programs like Mperks here in the Midwest to help cushion the budget. My husband got me started a few months ago thanking God ahead of time for the great deals He would provide and the blessings He would give instead of waiting until after the shopping is complete and seeing whether or not God came through. As a result, even on the days that I feel less optimistic because there aren’t as many coupons, not as many sales, or I haven’t any Mperks rewards to cash in, I try to remember to say, “Thank You for the successful trip” ahead of time.  The last week of September was one such week. Let me explain how God went over the top to show me He is the God of details…

I usually go shopping on Friday mornings after dropping off our youngest at school.  Wednesday I received in the mail a rebate I had forgotten about in the form of a VISA card, for $12.  I was happy because that was $12 I could add to help cushion my grocery bill two days later. Thursday night our youngest woke up from a sound sleep throwing up, which meant that he couldn’t go to school the following day.  Bill and I agreed to let him sleep in as long as possible Friday morning and while I still had to grocery shop despite him missing school (no other time to do it) we realized he was just going to have to go with me as long as he had stopped getting sick.  I took the time he slept in to work and by the time he got up and around, and was feeling slightly better, we left to go to the store. later than my usual time. On the way out the door, I had grabbed our bottles, thinking it would give me an $1.50 to add to my savings. We don’t drink a lot of pop, so that’s a great amount of bottle return money for our family.

We got to the store and went to the bottle return area first since it has an entrance separate from the main store. All the sections were filled with people who had overflowing carts of empty bottles, so I settled in to wait for a while. While playing peek-a-boo with a little one who was “helping” his mama insert bottles into the machine, I noticed a man next to her wearing earbuds taking care of his own returns.  He finished one bag and then turned to talk to me. I can’t always hear very well, so I thought he was asking me if I wanted to go ahead of him, having only 15 bottles to his two very full bags left.  However, when I moved closer, I realized he was offering me the rest of his bottles if I wanted to stand and take care of them, because “I’m done…now I remember why I don’t do this very often. If you want them, you can have them.” I was shocked…and thankful. I made sure he was really offering that and when he agreed once again, thanked him profusely.

While standing there inserting plastic bottles into the machine, God whispered to me, “I can provide for you in ways you never even thought of. You think in terms of coupons and Mperks rewards and items on sale, all things you do, but I think in terms of giving you bottles from a stranger.” He then whispered, “And I want you to pray for the man too.”  Guess how much I received from the returned bottles?  $14.10.  That was more than the VISA card I was so happy to have gotten in the mail earlier that week.

I knew right then that God was written all over this encounter.  He allowed our son to get sick in the middle of the night (with no lasting effects) but then to sleep through the night. He prompted me to let him sleep in the next day and to grab 15 bottles to return on the way out our door. He also allowed it so that we arrived at the store in time to have an encounter with this particular man.

Come back tomorrow to hear about the rest of the shopping trip and the other blessings God provided.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015



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