Because the construction business isn’t a hustle-bustle of activity these days, my husband has been thinking of other projects that he can do to stimulate our household economy. His talents run deep, and there’s really not much he can’t do. He recently completed a project for his sister Jenny, placing a roof over the deck on the back of her house. The hot Georgia summers rendered the western-facing deck virtually unusable, and the exposed bank of windows in her family room overlooking the deck drew in so much heat that it was nearly impossible to keep the room cool. Now that the roof is in place, the deck has become a cozy, shaded outdoor living space, and a ceiling fan keeps it nice and cool. When she was ready to decorate her new space, Jenny asked Steve to design and build custom-fit flower boxes. In no time at all, the boxes were carefully installed, filled with flowers, adding a further touch of ambience to the outdoor room.
Earlier this week, while mulling over potential income opportunities, he hit upon the idea that perhaps other people would enjoy having superior-quality handcrafted flower boxes of their own, and decided to whip up an inventory and see if there would be a market for them. He and his son spent an entire day measuring, sawing, drilling, and nailing the cuts of wood, and like pieces of a puzzle, they fit together perfectly, creating a finished product anyone would be proud to own. Steve’s creative mind started buzzing with other home-enhancing products he’d like to build, and the concept of Hillbilly Chic was conceived!! (Watch for him and his unique products at upcoming festivals!)
Jason was headed to Atlanta, so they decided to check out different places in the area where they might be able to set up a little booth and give folks the opportunity to purchase the boxes. Staging is an important part of marketing, so it was agreed that filling the boxes with brightly colored flowers would be a good move. The guys had their eyes on my own personal collection of wave petunias. My own personal collection of wave petunias that I have been feeding and tending, and that have exploded with growth and blooms.
Not willing to sacrifice my own gorgeous flowers, I decided I’d run up to Lowe’s and pick up a few plants to use in the staging process. Strolling through the garden section at a nursery or home-improvement store is such a pleasure for me. My own green thumb is pretty much limited to what a can of Miracle Grow can do for my wave petunias. I do so love looking at the intricate designs of the blooms, the varying colors and textures of the plants, and fantasize about the gardens I would love to design and maintain. Then a wave of reality hits me, and I remember that I have neither the time nor the financial resources required for an HGTV-worthy back yard. Not to mention a severe lack of talent to grow anything other than dandelions and briers, (and the occasional wave petunia.)
As I chose the blooms for the project at hand and made my way to the register, I must have still been in a fantasy-induced fog. Or maybe it was that the sun was shining directly on the little card-swiper thingie. At any rate, I inadvertently touched the “cash-back” button, and found myself holding not only my store receipt, but a fresh, crisp 20.00 bill. Having cash in hand is truly rare for me, as I pretty much use my debit card everywhere I go, and depend on change from the sofa or the abyss of my purse for the occasional pack of gum or postage stamp. So, enjoying the feeling of a little cash in my purse, I left the store to load the flowers into my car. As I was stepping into the car, I noticed my receipt had fallen onto the pavement. Normally, I would pick up my litter, but I had spent far too long fantasizing, and needed to hurry on home. Besides, my car always seems to be a rolling litter receptacle as it is, so one less receipt in the floorboard would be okay. Right?
Bad decision. You’ve seen the signs that say $300.00 fine for littering? Well, I didn’t get charged $300.00 for littering, but the next day, I realized my decision to not pick up my receipt did indeed bear a cost. I remembered that I had neatly folded my 20.00 bill inside the receipt. I searched through my purse, all the pockets, the nooks and crannies, all the slots and compartments of my wallet, just hoping that maybe it wasn’t my receipt on the pavement, and maybe I really did stash it securely in my purse. Phooey! It wasn’t in my purse. I remembered exactly where I had parked, and exactly where I saw the receipt on the pavement. Could it be possible that it was still there? I seriously doubted it. Someone had a lucky day and found 20 bucks in the Lowe’s parking lot. But then again… the bill was folded tightly, so perhaps nobody would even notice it. And since few people stop to pick up trash in the parking lot, I thought there may indeed be a slight chance that I could find it blown up against the curb. Since we had to stop there anyway, I decided to chance it, and took a short walk around the perimeter of that section of the parking lot. I found an empty beer bottle, a dirty napkin, a Styrofoam cup, and several other crumpled receipts, but not mine.
As I walked through the parking lot, it suddenly gave me great joy to think that someone found an unexpected blessing. I said a little prayer for the person who found it, and hoped that the person really needed the $20.00, and that it would truly make a difference in their day. Maybe they had to go to Lowe’s because a little something had broken and they didn’t really have the money to fix it. Maybe it was a young mom who needed a box of diapers… but had to have a part for her broken washing machine. Maybe someone had to leave the store without the item they needed, because they didn’t have enough money to pay for it. By the time I got in the car with Steve to come home, I was confident and even rather excited, that the $20.00 I had lost would be a blessing to the person who found it.
Now, I can be very thrifty. Sometimes even cheap, if you will. I love coupons. I will argue with the cashier at Belk about my 10% discount (much to the embarrassment of my husband!) So for me to lose $20.00 like that – basically just walking off and leaving it, since I saw the receipt on the pavement – would usually really tick me off. But for a reason I was at a loss to explain, it made me happy. I tried to put myself in that person’s shoes, knowing how happy I would be if I found $20.00 with nobody around that it could possibly belong to. So, once again, I said a little prayer for the person, and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Imagine my surprise and delight the next morning, two days after losing it, that I noticed a tightly-folded receipt on my desk. A tightly-folded receipt from Lowe’s. When I opened up the tightly-folded receipt, tucked safely inside, was a fresh, crisp 20.00 bill!!!
My prayer was answered… just not the way I thought. You see… I really didn’t have an extra $20.00 to be losing in a parking lot. (A 20.00 bill that came to me quite accidentally in the first place, when I pressed the wrong button.) So, in essence, it was a twofold blessing. I experienced true joy over the idea of someone being blessed by finding the money that I really couldn’t afford to lose. I prayed for the person to be blessed, and then I my ownself experienced the joy and blessing of finding it!! I had never lost it to start with!! Who would have thought that the beautiful flower boxes would set into motion such a sweet event! Sometimes what we see as a not-so-good thing can turn into a good thing, and can remind us to remember to be thankful in all things.
Lessons learned – secure my change immediately, always pick up my trash, and if I ever find money that someone else has lost, say a prayer for the person who lost it. Times are hard, and sometimes losing money can really hurt.
Yes, it was wonderful to find the money. But the most astounding thing was the joy I felt even when I thought it was lost. An unexpected blessing, indeed.