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It Happened in Walmart

January 24, 2016

www.thestylegathering.com

Laura DiFatta

All Images
Jennifer Hagler Photography

By Laura DiFatta


It was two weeks before Christmas and I woke up in a bad mood. I was grumpy, sullen and tired and felt overwhelmed by my “things to do” list. Part of my things to do included a visit to Walmart. I know, I know, we are blessed to have the mega one-stop-shopping opportunity. But that same blessing, turned upside down a long list combined with Walmart can feel overwhelming and daunting, at least to me. The upside to shopping at Walmart that day, I thought, was that it is the kind of place that a person can be “alone in a crowd.” That worked for me seeing as I really just wanted to be alone. So, as I was driving and brooding over having to go there, what I can describe only as a small voice from deep within me said, “Don’t you think I could be there, too? Don’t you think I can be useful in Walmart?” It was a nudge. An encouragement for me to look “up.” Hrrrmph. I silently (and somewhat reluctantly) prayed, “I guess so… God help me see as you see and be useful to you,” accompanied by a big sigh.

The first item on my list was makeup. This time, the makeup was not for me, but for a sweet teenage African-American for whom I was buying a Christmas gift. I knew she shares my appreciation for cosmetics, so I wanted to surprise her. But, I was out of my knowledge base because of her skin tone and her age. And the fact that I do not have a girl, so I don’t necessarily know what’s “in.” Fortunately, I happened upon a Walmart employee who was working on one of the makeup aisles. She had the same beautiful complexion of my young friend. I told her what I was looking for and she gave me some great suggestions. She then led me to a nearby display that had even more ideas for teenage girl gifts! She helped me so willingly and with such enthusiasm, that my mood began to thaw. She told me, “If there is anything else you need— no matter where you are in the store— you find me and I will help you.” I was amazed! She even thanked me and said how good I was to do this, and I said “I assure you, anything good in me is not me, but Christ in me.” She said excitedly, “I’m a believer, too!” We talked for several minutes about our faith, encouraging each other and we hugged before we parted ways. Before I left her, I said, “Are you an angel? Because you sure do seem like one.” She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. I walked away wondering, “Well, was she?”

My next stop was two aisles over in the toy section where I looked for an angel tree gift for a baby. The only other person on that aisle with me was an older African American woman. I spoke to her as I passed her with my cart and we exchanged pleasantries. Then we both returned to shopping. But in a couple of minutes, she said out loud, “I just don’t think I’m going to celebrate Christmas this year. I just don’t think I can!” I quickly looked around and, yes, I was still the only other person on the aisle with her and so I said, “I’m so sorry to hear that. Do you mind telling me what is wrong?” She began to cry and she said that just two weeks before, her beloved mother had passed away and she just could not bear the sorrow she felt. She was very low on hope and that feeling was intensified because of the holidays. I asked her if I could give her a hug and she said yes. And then I asked her if I could pray for her. She held onto me as I prayed for her hope and her strength and her comfort as she grieved the loss of her mother. And I prayed that God would remind her of His love and care for her and of His Presence with her and that Jesus is our Rescuer and that He empathizes with us even as He intercedes for us.

I am not exaggerating when I say, I opened my eyes from praying and–at the maximum–1 foot to my left was a young African American man looking intently at me. He said nothing and I immediately knew. He’d been drawn to the light. I said, “And you need this hope too don’t you?” He nodded. I said, “Because you’ve experienced pain. You know what it means to be hurt and you need hope.” He nodded. As I began to speak the Word of God, he closed his eyes, took hold of my left arm (my right arm was around Josephine’s shoulders) and I said, “OK.” And we went— the three of us: Josephine, Chris and me—to the throne of God in prayer. God had a message of redemption and hope and purpose for these two precious ones; A life and eternity changing message found only through His Son Jesus Christ. I do not know where they stood in regard to their relationship with Christ, but I do know that they needed and were accepting of True Hope. I literally felt like we were on holy ground. Chris said, “thank you,” and smiled and Josephine, exclaimed, “I’m leaving here and I’m getting outside in this bright day and raking my yard and praising God,” she turned around and walked right out of Walmart with a fresh perspective.

The rest of my Walmart experience felt like a dream. Yes, there is such a thing as a spiritual high. Around the men’s socks, I even had two women say, “Look at your face. You are glowing!” I assure you, I had not left my house “glowing” that morning. I had been in the Presence of God. In Walmart.

This week, God has been layering this verse to me: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) I am reminded that: 1) God is the treasure, it is by His grace that He gives us His Spirit by our faith in Christ’s redemption work on our behalf! I might be a jar of clay, but what I hold—what every believer holds is a treasure beyond compare! 2) His Spirit is at work and we get to be a part of it! 3) We really just need to be willing and confident in Him (mindful that I am, after all the clay,) not focused on our adequacy or inadequacy. 4) He has given believers in Christ an incomparable treasure that is meant to be shared! 5) His Word truly is active, alive and powerful. 6) People need hope and are literally drawn to the Light! (ex: Josephine and Chris.) 7) He writes the script. Case in point: That day, I had my day mapped out. He guided my steps to accomplish His Will.

The overarching point that I am trying to make is this: God is working all around and in and through us! He is drawing people to Himself. And He intends for us to be a part of sharing the treasure He is! Just think if every single person who professed faith in Christ, took sharing Him seriously, confident in His provision to do so?! Do you think this world would be different? I’m guessing Yes!

You don’t have to be super-spiritual or an extrovert to share Hope. He will take the offering of our efforts and multiply them more than we can ask or imagine. I do know this: the closer we get to God, the more we are willing to share Him with others and the more confident we are in doing so.

I don’t know what that time with Josephine and Chris did for them, but I hope and pray that when they lie down at night and reflect, or when they face challenges, or when they are given the opportunity to encourage someone else, they are reminded of what happened on that day near Christmas in Walmart and they will rejoice!

Gift Guide | The Well Maintained

and those of us that aspire to be

December 1, 2015

www.thestylegatheirng.com

By Buffy York


I was going to title this “Gift Guide for The High Maintenance” but that term is thrown around too loosely and there is a big difference between a “High Maintenance” woman and one who is “Well Maintained.”  I’m not saying that a well maintained woman cannot be high maintenance, certainly a person could be labeled each, but the term high maintenance has a negative vibe.  People that are high maintenance are physically demanding and emotionally exhausting.  A woman who is solely well maintained puts effort in to the way she looks but is self-sufficient and doesn’t wear the rest of us out in the process. Shouldn’t she be rewarded? This is the list of gift ideas for her.

Remington i Light Pro Plus Quartz Hair Removal System
I had the hair under my arms lasered off about 5 years ago and it was money well spent.  I have done some research and this seems to be the best at-home hair removal product I came across, making its way on to almost every list I found on blogs and beauty magazine websites.  Many factors go into successful hair removal, and while we have come a long way from Nair and Epilators, you probably need to do your own research before taking the plunge on this purchase. Here is a good article for starters.

Diamond Foot Buffer
This would make a great stocking stuffer and is perfect for smoothing feet in between pedicures and it also works great when you are sloughing off the dead skin after a BabyFoot Peel. (Read my post for my tips on getting the most out of your BabyFoot Peel) I have had my foot buffer for about 10 years and it is still going strong.

Foreo ISSA Toothbrush
I ran across this number when I was looking for at-home tooth whiteners and I think it looks super cool. It is a silicone bristled toothbrush with pulsating technology.  It gently removes plaque and stains from your teeth and since it is so gentle it helps to prevent gum recession. A dentist told me several years ago that nothing makes you look old like long teeth.  If you haven’t started thinking about your gums it may be time and this little tool may become your best friend.  You will only have to charge it twice a year and replace the head once a year.

Smart Skin Monthly Membership
Who doesn’t love a facial and what better gift than monthly facials for a year?  I know weekly facials would be fantastic but let’s be realistic. Smart Skin Med Spa in Birmingham has a membership program starting at $85 a month for monthly facials, which is a huge savings and is a great way to keep your skin in top condition as the seasons change. See membership details here and pricing details here.

FHI Velcro Hot Rollers
I’m from a small town and unlike Sir Mix-A-Lot and today’s youth, I like big hair, not big butts.  While I stopped getting Apple Pectin perms back in the 80’s I still like a little lift in my hair, and thankfully hot rollers have come a long way. My hairdresser introduced me to these and they are amazing. They are Velcro rollers that heat up in 8 seconds and actually get hotter once you have them in your hair. How genius is that? This is the starter kit but it comes with enough rollers to get the job done for me. If you have boatloads of hair or lots of girls in your house you can always order more of the rollers.

NuFace Facial Toning Device
Did you know that you lose 1% of your body’s collagen a year after age 29?  I’ve lost 15% and honestly it is starting to show, I mean my knees are even starting to look old.  The NuFace is the only FDA cleared at-home device for facial stimulation. This promotes collagen and elastin and brings “bounce” back to your skin. Beauty magazines and blogs are all over this product, referring to it as the 5-minute face-lift. It is number one on my Christmas list.  I might even test it out on my knees.

Foreo Luna
If you have yet to purchase a Clarisonic or if you are like me, and yours finally bit the dust, this needs to be your next purchase.  Like its relative the ISSA Toothbrush, the Luna also uses gentle pulsating technology, but clean your face.  It sweeps away dead skin cells, deep cleans pores and removes makeup residue.  There is a model for combination skin, normal/sensitive skin and ultra-sensitive skin.  Two huge bonuses of the Luna are 1) the low-frequency pulsating helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and 2) you never have to buy a replacement head.

 T3 Featherweight Luxe 21 Hairdryer
While spending a significant amount of money on a hair dryer may seem crazy to some, it isn’t insane at all to a woman who has lots of hair, wants a smooth blowout and doesn’t want to over develop her dominant arm’s bicep.  The T3 Featherweight won two Allure Beauty Awards for Best Blowdryer and Best Breakthrough. It dries hair fast and negative ions in the airflow cancel static and quickly seal the cuticle, which helps hair retain natural moisture, reduces frizz and enhances shine. What more could you want?

What are your best tips, tricks and gadgets for being well-maintained?  I would love to hear what your beauty secrets are.

 


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