So this morning? Not a great morning.

It started out a little bumpy. And by 10:30, I was sitting in my physical therapist’s office trying to hold everything together. Finally I gave up. I just looked at her and bluntly said, “I’m going to cry now, okay?”

And I did.

Quite a bit.

(I think I freaked her out a little.)

I had a friend watching my children today for me so I could go to the appointment alone. And when I was done, I just couldn’t face life yet. So after checking in with her to make sure my kids were behaving themselves, I escaped to my happy place. The Target clearance racks.

(You think I’m kidding, don’t you?)

(Nope.)

30 cents of joy

As usual, Operation Christmas Child was on my brain. I knew that many Christmas items were going to be marked down. I grabbed a cart and beelines to the Dollar Spot. I didn’t see any signs up, but I found a few items that looked Christmas-ey. I took them to the price scanner and realized that they were 70% off. 30 cents each?? Let the good times roll!

As I have told you, shopping for Operation Christmas Child is one of my very favorite things to do. And for a beautiful hour, I forgot about my problems. I (mostly) forgot about my physical pain and my frustrations and my sadness. I focused on the children who would be opening these shoeboxes next year. I thought about their little faces and their excited voices. I imagined children who have never had a gift to open. I wondered which books these little ones might enjoy, which socks would be the right size, which stickers would be their favorites.

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Initially I was just going to grab a few things. But as I looked at these wonderful items, only 30 cents each, I realized something – I had lots of points saved up from Shopkick. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can read the post I wrote for my cousin’s website.) I pulled out my phone, and within seconds I had redeemed my points for a $25 Target gift card. Then … it was go time!

One lesson I have learned from packing shoeboxes in the past – it’s a lot more efficient to shop for shoebox items if you have a plan. Although the little Hello Kitty socks were adorable, and I initially grabbed handfuls, I realized that I only needed 8 pairs for my little girl boxes. I checked the sizes, bought what I needed, and left the rest for someone to find. Although I was tempted to buy more (only 30 cents!!) I knew I had grabbed what I needed, and I was excited to leave many on the shelf for someone else to discover.

So I happily shopped, carefully selecting what I knew I would use in this year’s shoeboxes. And people, as I walked up to the checkout counter and began to unload my treasures, I started thinking of my problems again.

Guess what?

They didn’t seem so bad.

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They really, truly didn’t.

When we serve, we are blessed. I believe that with my whole heart. When we focus on the needs of others, we are distracted from our own. And the perspective we gain from serving those who are less fortunate than we are – it can be just what we need to give us the courage to face life again.

So friends, if you’re having a tough day today, I understand. I really, really do. But here’s the thing: if you do something nice for someone else, you will feel better.

I sure do.

A Change of Perspective

2 Comments on A Change in Perspective … at the Clearance Rack

  1. I adore Operation Christmas Child! This (last, I suppose) year I was able to help in one of their processing centers and I really encourage it if you’re able – it really expands your view even more! I’m so thrilled to pack new and improved boxes in 2015!

    • Yay – always so fun to find another OCC fan! I had actually signed up to attend this year but was unable to (due to a funeral). I’m so thrilled to volunteer next year! If you have any packing tips for me, let me know!