When I was a teenager, going to the grocery store with my dad was so painful!
Going with Mom was great. My mom was an excellent cook. We lived on a farm, raised all kinds of vegetables and fruits. Had our own chickens. Bought eggs from a neighbor. Now all that is cool, but then it was necessary. Still, we went to the grocery store for all the fill-ins. She taught me about different spices, oils, and the difference between baking soda and baking powder, while we went up and down the aisles at Hugo's, the local store. Best of all, Mom was a shy and reserved woman, not one to draw attention to herself... so shopping with her was just her and me.
Shopping with Dad was completely different. He was an impulse shopper, once buying a case of canned kale. Kale is, in my humble opinion, challenging in any form but should NEVER be canned. The hardest part of shopping with Dad, though, was that he was not reserved. He talked to everyone! He asked women with a child in their carts, "What aisle did you find that in?" while pointing to the little one. All the women smiled, some would answer quickly, "Aisle 3," and then smile! He talked to the butcher, even though we didn't often buy meat. He asked other shoppers for suggestions in the cereal aisle. He always visited with the checker and the bagger. I wanted to crawl under the hard tile linoleum, or tell everyone he had kidnapped me and I didn't really know this man. It was just so embarrassing.
Then I grew up.
Although I have more of my mom's reserved nature among people I don't know, I find myself channeling my dad in grocery stores. I remember how everyone smiled at him. I don't approach women with children, but I do try to smile, and I do greet the deli worker or butcher... I thank them for their work. My favorite is the checkout. Actually talking to the checker by name (they all wear name tags) usually surprises them, but they are invariably kind in responding. I imagine both they and the baggers stand there for hours each day, doing their job, but rarely acknowledged. Everyone likes to be seen. That's what my dad knew all along.
The other day I stopped for a deli lunch to eat in the car as I drove across North Dakota to another Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch campus. The checker was kind when I asked how their day was and how long till they got to rest. Then I turned to the bagger, Jackson. He looked so happy. I told him I didn't need a bag, and then noted that it looked like he was having a great day. He replied, "Ma'am, I am empowered and blessed and ready to share that with the world!" The ear-to-ear smile on my face did not even begin to face for at least the first 200 miles of my trip. Each time I thought back, I again saw the sparkle in his eyes as he spoke. He was just waiting to tell someone!
Here at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we ground our work in presence. We look each child in the eye. We stop everything when they speak and try to really listen. Many times, that is a new experience for the child. But sometimes, once they start to tell their truth, they have so much to say. They are just waiting to tell someone!
Your support helps us give the children at the Ranch the gift of presence each day. Please pray for our staff and kids.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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