a God who cares about shoes

I’m in the van with my 12 year old son, driving past a pair of thrift stores whose proximity to each other always lures me in.  I remember that my 8 year old daughter needs shoes.  Her play shoes literally have holes in them.  I’ll buy new if I need to, but I always check thrift stores first.  When I mention the shoes to my son, he shows me a hole in his shoe as well.

“Dear Lord,” I say, “Please help us find good shoes at the thrift store.  Amen.”

“That’s a weird prayer, ” says my son, quirking an eyebrow at me.

I shoot him a grin as I pull into the parking lot at the first thrift store.  “You think God doesn’t care about your shoes?”

“Ummm…I guess he does…?”  His voice betrays his doubt.

I remember sleeping with my babies sometimes when they were sick.  They were so emotionally fragile, so clingy, that it wasn’t enough to be snuggled next to my side as usual.  They wanted to drape their little bodies across my chest, to be wrapped in both my arms, head tucked under my chin.  And still the little feet scrambled, restless to scoot higher, closer, deeper, into my arms. I was right there.   But they wanted more.  They seemed to want to crawl under my skin.

I get like that with God sometimes.  I want to see Him, to feel His arms around me.  He’s there all along, of course, whether or not I feel the weight of his arms.  But in my human fragility, I want that clear sense of His guidance, His presence.  His caring.

Today that longing is not for myself.  It is for my son.  As we get out of the van, I pray again, silently this time, hoping that today my son will be allowed to see the Arms everlastingly wrapped around him…will get to glimpse the Providence I’ve seen so often in my life.  It doesn’t always come overtly, but I hope for it today, for him.

We walk into the first store and I’m first drawn toward the dishes.  I’d like to find a white water pitcher to add to my collection…or maybe a tea pot.   No luck with those hunts, but right next to the dishes are the shoes.  My son walks along the racks, on the hunt ahead of me.  Baby shoes and high heels and men’s Sunday shoes.  Hmm….  Then I spot a pair of pink crocs, just the right size for my 8 year old daughter.  She’ll love these.  No shoes for my son, but part of the prayer has been answered.

The finding of the first pair of shoes has made my son hopeful.  “Let’s check at the other thrift store,” he says.  ” Maybe they’re there.”

In the other store I find a lovely white tea pot, tall and elegant, for $6.  I almost feel arms around me, arms of the One who knows my heart and delights in showering me with small blessings liked $6 teapots.

And shoes.


And more shoes.

Cute brown and pink tennis shoes for my 5 year old daughter who is constantly losing hers.  $2.50.  Good-looking pink and white Nikes for my 8 year old– $2.75 but blue-tagged and half off today.   I’ve literally never bought new Nikes for my kids, but God has provided this barely-used pair for my daughter for the princely sum of $1.38.

And then, shoes for my son.  Grey-blue and tan, reasonably stylish, and tiny bit big, perfect for a 12-year-old who’s growing fast.  $5.75 and he loves them.  Later I google the brand and discover I’d have paid $60 for those shoes, new. We walk out of the store, both of us smiling, carrying a teapot and a bag bulging with shoes.  Four pairs of shoes for $15.

And more important, a remembrance stone for my son to pull out of his pocket on a day where God’s providence is quieter, less obvious.

It’s not about getting closer to God.  He’s always there.  It’s about opening our eyes, and seeing Him all around us.  Sometimes he shows up in tangible answers to prayer.  Other times He quietly inhabits the air around us, allowing us to breathe in, breathe out, allowing us to seek and wonder and reach and long to be closer.

He’s always there.


Related links:

JohnMark McMillan: Closer (youtube) | (lyrics)

Shaun Groves: Push Button Faith


    Thank you for this. It’s the “Simple” (note the top shoes) things that God cares about and chooses to bless us with. I am loving your white dishes collection too!

  2. I love it when that happens… such a lesson for your son too!!! god knew exactly what was needed and provided.

  3. That’s the best thing you’ve ever written! I know exactly how you felt and love the “baby” imagery. Thanks for reading my heart tonight.

  4. Thank you Mary!!! Wonderful post that warmed my heart so much.

  5. I LOVE when things like this happen! Miracles are exciting, but I think it’s when “the little things” are so clearly provided that God truly “shows off”. Like you said, those times are memory blocks to help us remember to trust when other occasions seem so daunting.

  6. I am always inspired by your blog, but never more so than today! Thank you for sharing this wonderful illustration!

  7. 😀 Big smiles for you Mary! I love to see God working in others lives 🙂 What an inspirational thought. I shall savor that one!

  8. What a great shopping day. It’s nice when you get a helping hand.

  9. Lovely reminder. And I love the teapot!

  10. what a testament to God’s provision–and in the form of a thrift store! we don’t have kids yet (i just turned 26), but it is so encouraging to see parents helping their children learn that “new” to the world isn’t the same as “new” to us all–a perfect reflection of the newness we find in Christ AND the ‘new’ shoes at the thrift store. thanks for sharing your life here on this blog–your children are lucky to have you!

  11. YES! I have had that happen to me so many times… I shop at thrift stores often. I collect cookbooks and every now and then, God blesses me with a cookbook that I’ve been wanting for well over a year and never hoped to find at a thrift. Or the coolest candle holder. Or a Le Creuset small dutch oven ($3.60!!). Total God Thing!!

    Thanks for sharing Mary! Hope your children loved their new shoes.
    I could use some myself for the summer….and I just happen to be going thrift shopping this weekend….

  12. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been in such a fog the past two years, and I hate that I don’t pray nearly as much as I need to, especially prayers for things like shoes. This was an encouragement to me today. Thanks again.

  13. Love this post! Will be praying today for God to make my heart more sensitive to all of those ‘little’ places where He dwells…”little”, but really quite big.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing…your words touched my heart and were exactly what I needed to hear today.

  15. I have prayed so many times over things like that! When money or time are short–to find a new Sunday skirt for this girl, or a modest swim suit for that girl (that doesn’t cost $60). He wants to give us the righteous desires of our hearts!

  16. Our budget has been tight enough over the years to where even going to a thrift store would be too expensive. The kids would need bathing suits, shoes, underwear, socks . . . And friends would come with clothes by the bagful. “My child has outgrown these, could you use anything?” SURE! My kids and I go through these things together, and there are the items that we need. We stop and thank God for the blessings. We are so rich.

  17. A lovely post, and a lovely reminder. Thank you, Mary.

  18. Thank you for this post. It made me cry and reminded me again that sometimes the big things really aren’t that important. I am a student and it is paper time. I feel overwhelmed and needed the reminder that God is here, even in the things like shoes.
    I love your blog and need to check back more often!

  19. And this post is one of the reasons why I LOVE your blog! Thank you for reminding us all that God cares about the details. I hope this helps your son in his growing faith in our delightful Lord!

  20. Thank you, Mary! He’s such a good Dad…providing for and loving His children, in ways big and small!

  21. Great post. I almost always pray before garage sale-ing or thrifting. We usually find what we need, too! I went to a thrift store today and had a great time with my 12 year old daughter. She really needed a white shirt to finish off a skirt/dress she sewed. We went in hoping for that. We left with several shirts and a Hawaiian dress for her, a shirt and two pairs of capris for her sister, a pair of shorts for me, a pair of Heely’s (name brand skate shoes for $1!!) for her brother, and a big bag of books, all for $22. God cares for our wants and needs so well! Her upcoming birthday party will be Hawaii themed, so this worked out perfectly!

  22. This is awesome – it is always so neat when God provides those confirmations! God has provided the EXACT things I’ve needed from thrift stores or free clothing swaps SO many times, it is awesome! Always a great reminder of His provision, for sure! 🙂 Thank you for sharing! 🙂