An Open Letter to the Stranger in the Grocery Store

dear stranger the everyday good the sacred everyday

Walking through the produce section of the grocery store, I pass a stranger. Our eyes meet for a flicker of a moment, smiling, and then we move on. I wonder if this stranger has been in my house. If this was one of the dozens of anonymous people who came into my home while I was gone for three weeks and scrubbed my floors, cleaned my fridge, carried out old couches, swept and mopped, hammered nails, installed ceilings and heat and air, got down on their hands and knees as if praying to lay down a floor on my concrete slab. I wonder if this was someone who picked out new curtains or paintings or lamps to accent every room of my house. Who carried in new furniture arranged the room around it. Or if the stranger I just passed gathered up every scrap of laundry on my floor and washed, dried, and folded it. Maybe this was the person who planted flowers in my garden boxes and arranged potted plants on my back patio. Or connected my light fixtures. Or turned a scary closet into a beautiful bathroom. The person who cut windows into my walls to let in daylight. Who hooked up the water in my new sink. Who painted my old, scuffed up furniture to make everything coordinate with a color palette. The person who shopped for things they knew we would love. Who put new towels in every bathroom. Maybe this was the person who planned and designed a bedroom for my daughters. Who picked out the colors, the bedding, the desks and chairs, the rugs, the pillows. Who planned a surprise party for our homecoming with cupcakes and balloons. Who gave us a story that is almost too good to be believed.

As I move through every aisle, I see people I do not know. And I realize that any one of them could have been a part of the life-changing experience we are living through. We will never be the same. The short story is this: I have quietly, desperately prayed for years that God would either help us figure out a way to make life work for our family of nine (soon to be ten) in this little house or that He would help us find a bigger house that was more suited for our needs. I couldn’t even envision how we could stay here another year, through the birth of another baby. But I didn’t have to. Because in a dream (a literal, sleeping dream), God gave the vision of my need to a woman who woke up, felt a soul-nudge and followed through. Through her nonprofit organization, The Everyday Good, Heather Burke-Cody rallied an entire community to step into my life and change it forever. She showed up at my door and said she felt that The Everyday Good was supposed to do some work in our basement and would that be ok… I nodded and cried standing in the living room of my little house. After some meetings and planning sessions, she came back and asked me if we could trust her to make decisions that would stretch the budget and resources as far as possible, and she asked if we could leave our house for three weeks. We did both. And those three weeks were full of strangers–over sixty of them!–entering and exiting, cleaning, planning, designing, building, arranging, decorating, and completely changing the atmosphere of our home. When we came back, it was like coming into a new start on life. And God showed me, at that moment, the vision I could not picture for myself. And it was better than anything I could have hoped for.

I believe in prayer. In soul nudges. In the strength of community. In the kindness of strangers. In the absolute tenderness of God, who cares about our deepest needs and has resources that we can not begin to think or imagine.

Dear friends and kind strangers,

To all who contributed to this lavish outpouring of God’s grace on my life and the lives of my husband and children, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly do not have words enough to express the impact that we feel daily from the beautiful, inspiring space and the fresh start you have given us. Thank you for the selfless love you have shown my family, and for giving me a picture that I will never forget of the absolutely undeserved grace and mercy of God. I wish every person in the world could know this kind of kindness. I pray that God will meet your deepest needs. Thank you for impacting every moment of my life from here forward. For infusing it with love, beauty, and hope for a future. I am so humbled, so honored, and blessed by the way you have changed our lives.

With love and gratitude,

Mackenzie

If you want to know more details of this story, you can read about it in my blog post called The Story of a Miracle.

And if you want to learn more about how you can partner with this incredible nonprofit organization that is changing lives in our community, visit The Everyday Good.

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