God works in mysterious ways. I am in awe of His power.
Grocery shopping day is not our favorite time in this family. I don't particularly enjoy shopping. I buy a lot of things online to save myself a trip to the store. My children have adopted my dislike for the experience.
After a particularly hard morning, we were loaded into the car on our way to the grocery store. My daughter was determined to butt heads with me the entire time. She wanted to stay home; I refused to let her. Hormones were raging and things were quickly deteriorating.
Most people cannot believe that my daughter has a dark side. Unless you've witnessed it for yourself, you probably are under the impression that she is always sunshine and blue skies. She is one of the most positive people you will meet, and she is kind to all... outside the family circle.
Raising a tween can be rather difficult, especially a strong willed one like my daughter. I have tried to be creative in my discipline, but this still can be challenging. I was at the end of my rope.
We drove to the store. The air was suffocating. She refused any form of discipline. I couldn't even get her to put her seat belt on. You might think I am a weak parent, and I'm not "doing" the right thing. But I have done and tried it all. I have taken away things and privileges, I have grounded, I have tried work therapy, and I have done time outs. I am consistent. I do what I say. I don't make idle threats. I follow through. If my daughter absolutely does not want to obey me, there is nothing I can physically do to get her. Her physical strength matches mine. I no longer can "make" her do something, and she has figured that out. I can certainly give her consequences, but as for forcing her to do something like keep a seat belt on while I'm driving, that's out of my hands.
All that is left is to pray. And pray I have done.
When we arrived at the store, I requested my daughter carry the bags. The store we were at does not provide sacks for free, so you must bring your own. My daughter refused. She tried to throw them in my shopping cart, and I kindly handed them back to her. The bags ended up on the ground with my daughter standing nearby folding her arms defiantly.
I went into the store with last instructions to feel free to pick up the bags and join us when she was ready.
The morning had been a roller coaster of emotions, but I was sticking to it. I sighed in frustration and exhaustion. Prayer was the only thing I had left. I don't know why it took me that long to remember. I took out my phone and sent a quick text to my mother. "Pray for Ariel and myself. She is acting up 10 times worse than before and we are shopping. She is standing outside the store."
I felt the tears start, and I didn't want to make a scene. I have tried my best with these children God blessed me with, but sometimes I feel like an utter failure. I lose my cool. My temper takes over. Or I just don't have a clue what to do. I feel helpless and out of control. My emotions were starting to take over. I had kept calm this entire morning, and I wasn't sure how much more I could take. When I am overwhelmed, my natural desire is to give up and throw in the towel. I quit and shut down my emotions. I can't do it.
As I pressed the send button on my phone, I uttered the words, "God, I don't know what to do. HELP." I turned back towards to the door hoping to catch a glimpse of my daughter. I worried about her being there, outside, alone. When I turned, I almost ran into someone. She was a foot away from my face. She had long dark hair, brown eyes, freckles and a golden brown tan. In her hand she held a shopping list and pen. No shopping cart.
"She's still there outside walking in circles. I thought about talking with her."
I didn't know what to say, "Oh yeah?"
Understanding showed on her face, and I had to try even harder to hold back my tears. This woman cared about me. I could see it in her eyes.
"I saw the whole thing. She needs to respect you. You are her mother and God wants us to respect our parents. Would it be okay with you if I went and talked to her? She has to know that you are in control and she needs to obey you. Do you think it would help if I talked to her?"
Baffled that this woman would care so much, I responded, "Yeah that would be nice. Thank you. I think she would listen to you."
When the woman walked out, I didn't know what to think. I kept back the tears, and felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Normally, I might feel a little put off by someone trying to intrude in my parenting. But this time I felt at peace with the woman. I only hesitated for a second wondering what her motive was. I trusted her. She looked me right in the eyes and I felt a supernatural calm.
I continued to shop, looking over my shoulder every few seconds, waiting for Ariel and the woman to come into the store. I had no idea what they could be talking about. After about 5 minutes, Ariel found me down at the end of the aisle. She had red eyes, and a look of compliance about her. I didn't question her immediately. I figured she would talk when she was ready.
We quietly made it through the store with no problems. I searched the store with my eyes to find the woman, but she was not there. The store is quite small, only having four aisles, so it's not very hard to locate a person. I wanted to catch a glimpse of the woman, and say "thanks." My daughter came in quite a different person. I wanted to know what happened; what words were said.
I noted that Ariel also was scanning the store looking for the woman. I thought she might be embarrassed at the confrontation. Maybe she wanted to prove that she was going to change and comply with me.
The longer we were in the store, the more desperately I searched for the woman. Where had she disappeared to? She had a long list and I met her right inside the front door. There is only one entrance and one exit. By the time we made it to the check out, I had gone over and over my conversation with the woman. I was convinced the woman was a messenger from God.
I don't see angels everywhere that I go. In fact, I would have told you that I had never seen an angel. But the closer I came to the exit, the more I began to believe that I had a supernatural encounter. I wanted to talk with my daughter about it more, but didn't want to bring it up in the middle of the grocery store.
As we were bagging our groceries, I began to think again about the woman. I had requested prayer from my mom, and then uttered a very desperate plea for God. "I don't know what to do."
You have to understand the background for this plea. I have struggled a lot over the past few months emotionally. I feel overwhelmed with my commitments, and I'm learning more and more how truly helpless I am. I used to think I could do everything myself. I like to be in control. But I am finding that the control I thought I had was an illusion. I have been broken these past few months. I'm still trying to put back the pieces. Some days I do really good asking God for help. And other days I experience that satisfaction that comes from thinking I did it. God has been stretching me. My perfect world has shown many cracks and weak spots. It has only been in my anguish that I found how little I was depending on God, and how much I was depending on myself.
God has done some pretty amazing things in me when I have been willing to cry out to Him, "I need help."
This was no exception. God answered my plea in a very personal way. He sent that woman to me. I am convinced she was an angel.
The groceries were loaded, and I was alone with Ariel to finally ask what happened. I began to question her. "What did the woman say to you?"
"She asked me, 'What's wrong'. I told her I had a fight with my mom."
My daughter was hesitant to say much more to me. I knew I had to share a little bit first, to get her to open up to me. I could see how the woman affected Ariel.
I wanted to share my thoughts with Ariel, but I couldn't quite get the words out of my mouth. "Ariel. I think. That lady that you talked to." I no longer cared to stop the tears. "I think that lady was." I couldn't get the word out. "I think she was an angel." I whispered the last word through a sob.
A light went on inside my daughter. She started sobbing. In between choking sobs, "I thought the same thing."
Neither one of us have ever made this claim before, but both of us came to the same conclusion each individually. We both tearfully agreed that this was no ordinary encounter. I explained to Ariel how I tried to find her in the store, but she was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to tell her thanks. Ariel agreed with me, "I wanted to tell her thank you too. I kept looking for her, but I couldn't find her again."
The woman told Ariel, "I can see that you have a really good mom who cares about you. God wants us to respect our parents. In the Bible it says we should honor them. When we respect our parents it's the same thing as respecting God. And respecting our parents makes us stronger." The woman gave Ariel a hug and said, "Let's go inside."
Ariel found me in the store just a few feet away, and when she turned back the woman was gone. Neither one of us ever saw her again.
I am convinced that woman was on a mission from God Himself. She had a message specifically for me and for my daughter at the exact moment we needed it. The woman came shopping with a list, but instead of buying she came straight to me. When my son overheard the conversation between me and my daughter, he speculated that her list was not of food, but names of those people she was sent to help.
I don't believe it was a coincidence that we ran into her. I believe we had a supernatural encounter, and I am changed because of it. I was encouraged. I am doing the best I can to raise these children of mine. And I believe that God is proud of me. He said I'm a good mom. What more can I strive for? I have affirmation from God Himself.
Ariel and I both came to the same conclusion. God must really love us to send an angel to be with us during our pain. He cares when we are hurting, and He does something about it.