89 Cents of Kindness

It was just 89 cents, that loaf of bread I plunked down on the counter at Kroger this morning.

I looked a hot mess, because like most at-home moms, I don’t get ready before driving Jonah to school. My morning routine consists of pants, ponytail, hoodie, keys–LET’S GO!

Some days, I even gamble and leave the house in my pajamas. If you could hear the engine in my ancient minivan, you’d know why that’s incredibly risky behavior. The poor ol’ thing sounds like a thousand Ritalin-addicted birds are trying to flap out from under the hood, and the radiator is leaking, and every time I sit behind the wheel, I wonder if I’ll make it back home that day in the van or in a tow truck.

But today, at least I was dressed. I didn’t have on a lick of makeup and “sloppy” is a far too generous word to describe the mop on top of my head, but I was up and at ’em.


I dropped off Jonah, then drove across town to the store that has the best price on IAMS, but forgot to get bread. So I swung by Kroger on the way home.

(You’re thinking, “Wow–your life, Kari! It’s so fascinating. And I say, YES, every single day is like this! Aren’t you jealous?)

So I’m standing in the express lane, with my store-brand loaf of bread, fishing through my purse to try to find my blasted Kroger card, when the lady in front of me says, “Ma’am?”

And I look up into the sweetest round smiling face. She was a petite, older angel dressed in white scrubs.

“May I buy your bread for you?”

I didn’t know what to say.

What I stammered out sounded a lot like Charlie Brown on the phone when Peppermint Patty tells him she’s coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Well, I, um, I mean…that’s very sweet of you, but that’s OK…I’ve got it.”

“No, really, I want to. Please let me buy that for you.”

So, what do you do then, except smile back and say, “Sure. OK. Thanks so much–that’s very kind of you.”

The cashier gave me the weirdest look, and for a moment I wondered if both of them thought I was destitute? I mean, I did look…shall we say…rather unrefined…and I had been digging vigorously through my purse, like someone looking for loose change.

The cashier handed me the loaf and the sweet lady who bought it stepped aside for me to pass. I lightly touched her shoulder, told her thanks again, and said that I hoped God returned her kindness back to her. She smiled and said, “I’ll receive that!”

When I climbed back into my old clunker, I had tears in my eyes. Because I’m kind of sappy and that was just a really sweet thing for a stranger to do.

I’ve heard of people paying for the person in line behind them at the drive-thru, but it’s never happened to me before. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done that for anyone, either.

But I really kinda want to now.

It was just a gift of 89 cents. But through that simple act of selflessness, God reminded me again that He sees me.

In this world where it seems that discord rules, it’s good to be reminded that even the smallest acts of grace carry a lot of power. We tend to think that if we can’t do something big, we shouldn’t do anything at all. Nonsense! I can tell you for a fact: a mere 89 cents can buy someone a surprisingly long-lasting smile…and the inspiration to pay it forward.