I would have rather gone on a walk and taken the girls to the park, but I knew we HAD to get food so we could eat the rest of the week. And so, being the good, responsible mother that I am, we got in the car and headed to the store instead of the park.
We are just beginning our time in Aldi, about to round the first aisle, when from the other way Alicia Ewing and her 4 kids turn right next to us. I don't know if my face showed it or not, but my heart dropped to the floor and my tongue seemed to stick to my mouth. I didn't know what to say or do. The last time I saw or talked with Alicia was at Levi's funeral.
What was she doing out getting groceries, anyway?! Shouldn't she be at home crying her eyes out or something? How can she just go on with normal life, buying milk and eggs and peanut butter like regular people?
My first thought was to give her a hug and let her know that we are still praying for her and their family, that Coralyn still prays for Levi every night, thanking God for him.
But that didn't seem right. She was all smiles and doing what all other moms do in the grocery store -- trying to keep track of her kids and make sure she got everything on her list at the same time!
And so I thanked her for a bag of clothes she had given us awhile back and laughed how Coralyn had been wearing the Christmas dresses and shirts on a regular basis, especially one red dress with ruffles down the front (though she sometimes wears them in the back without a care in the world, not to mention with pink and purple polka-dotted tights). At that Alicia mentioned she had even more clothes ready to give us. Seriously, how can she be thinking of us at this point in her life? How can she be so concerned about making sure we get a bag of clothes her girls have outgrown when she just lost her little boy to cancer?!
I didn't ask any of those questions, though. Instead, I commented on how Sammy, her youngest daughter, had just celebrated a birthday -- 5 years old!
I tried to make our short conversation as normal as possible!
As we said our good-byes and went separate directions in the store, I couldn't help but realize how time doesn't stop, no matter what your situation or circumstance. Life must go on, no matter how you feel or what you are dealing with at the moment. That seems kind of cruel, in a way. And yet really comforting at the same time. We don't have to live in the sadness or wallow in the grief or drown in the pain. We can CHOOSE to keep on going, to enjoy the good that is happening all around us, to cherish the precious moments we have with our family and friends still with us. But it's a CHOICE.
Without her knowing it, Alicia Ewing taught me yet another lesson yesterday during our brief interaction at Aldi. Life must go on, so go with it. And while you're at it, put a smile on your face and be filled with the joy of the Lord. That's the only explanation for the true radiance that was just beaming forth from this woman who could have very well had bags under her eyes from sleepless nights of crying. Instead of gray circles, though, she had nothing but smiles.
That is the kind of woman I want to be. That is the kind of woman I want my daughters to grow up to be. And so I must teach them. I must show them. I must live life with them, even when it's hard. For life must go on, and we must go with it. And as we go, we need to take the light and love of Jesus with us.
Just like Alicia Ewing is doing.
Just like Grace Allen has been doing.
And countless other men and women who CHOOSE to keep their eyes on Jesus and run the race set before them, determined to win the prize and be the people God has called them to be.
I don't know where you are at in life. But I hope you will keep on going. Maybe you will find encouragement in these verses God brought to mind just now: