Posted by: bellissimanh | September 23, 2007

Lost and Found

I’ve never before felt the anxiety that comes as a result of being robbed. The sense of violation. Until this weekend.

After a nice breakfast with my girlfriend, the kids and I headed to the grocery store to grab a few things. Joel had been at a men’s retreat and I wanted to make a special dinner for him his first night home.

I grabbed a cart and tossed my shopping list, wallet and phone into the front seat. This is my general habit when I shop. I’ve never been one to carry a pocketbook, so it couldn’t be slung over my shoulder.

“Mama, can I have two quarters for the machine?” I pinched fifty cents out of the change compartment of my purse and asked Jas to go with Noah out to the entryway to purchase his bouncy ball, stickers, or whatever little thing he just had to have. They bounced off to the vending machines and I started scanning the aisles.

There were two merchandise bins set up in the middle of the aisle. Leaving the cart on one side of the bins I headed over to grab a bag of tortilla chips and salsa from the display on the opposite side of the aisle. I turned around and deposited them in my cart, thinking how great those nachos were going to taste watching the Patriots beat up the Bills on Sunday.

My eyes scanned the shelves a final time and, deciding against the cheese nips and Arizona iced tea, I pushed the cart into the bakery section of the store. I looked down and noticed that ront seat of my cart looked strangely empty. Thinking I had grabbed the wrong cart by mistake I made a quick survey of the area, but didn’t see any other carts. It was then that I realized my shopping list was still in the cart… alone.

“That’s odd,” I thought. I retraced my steps, searching out the area to see if I had set my phone and wallet down somewhere, although I had no recollection of doing that. Just as I reached the front of the aisle, the kids came in.

“Did you take my wallet to get more change, Jas?” She shook her head “no”.

Ok. By this time I’m starting to get nervous. I made another — more thorough — search of the aisle, even checking the bakery again. No wallet. No phone.

Telling myself that someone must have seen the empty cart alone and thought I’d walked off and left it by mistake (not rational, I know), I took the kids and the cart and headed for the service desk to see if anyone had turned in a wallet and cell phone. For a second I felt relief. The kid came out of the office and asked, “What’s your name?”  Knowing that he would need to identify me as the owner of the wallet in custody I told him. When he shook his head “no” my heart jumped into my throat.

“I think someone stole my wallet.” I spoke the words with shock in my voice. I didn’t want to believe it, but I couldn’t make any other explanation seem plausible in my mind.

The kid kind of stared at me for a minute. I think he didn’t know if I believed what I had just said or not. He clearly didn’t know what to do. After a few very long seconds (doesn’t time seem to stand still in moments like these?), I followed him as he went to find the manager, who was bagging groceries.

Heads together, voice low, the two conferred. The manager immediately came over and began asking me questions about the incident.

“How long ago did this happen? What part of the store were you in? Did you notice anyone milling around?”

I answered his questions as the panic started to rise inside me. He told me that he would call the police to file a report and he headed off to check the security cameras to see if maybe they’d caught it on tape.

The kids and I made our way over to the bench sitting at the front of the store.

Jasmine: “Mama, did somebody really steal your wallet?”

Noah: “Hey! Are we gonna be on TV?”

I answered their questions and we decided to pray. Noah was elected to do the honor.  “Dear God, please let us be on TV and let them find Mama’s wallet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Short and sweet. And optimistic.  He smiled and considered the matter a done deal.

I wish I could say I shared his confidence, but anxiety was ruling my head as I processed my next steps: cancel the credit cards, put a freeze on the checking account, apply for a new driver’s license… I felt sick to my stomach.

Just then the manager came out of the office, flanked by the two assistant managers. Their eyes were narrowed, scanning the store, and there was a definite purpose in their steps. The manager came over and informed me that they knew who took my stuff and she was still in the store.

“We got a clear shot of her on the camera, lifting it right out of your cart…Caught her red-handed.”  Has a cliché ever sounded so good?

We waited, watching the drama, scanning the store to see if we could spot “her.” We saw nothing. Before I knew it, the manager was at my side – my purse and phone in tow – and was asking me to check and see if anything was missing. It wasn’t.

He leaned down and told me quietly, “The woman coming through register 3 is the one who –ahem- turned in your wallet. I don’t know if she got a guilty conscience or what.”

She was a short woman, graying, kind of heavyset with a slight hunch to her back. She wore glasses and her clothes were nondescript. There was nothing out of the ordinary about her… she was in every way typical.

With tears in my eyes and a catch in my voice I thanked the manager profusely. I mumbled about my stupidity in leaving the cart and he assured me not to be too hard on myself. “No. The tape is clear. You turned your back for a second and she grabbed it and took off. It happened so fast she could have done it right in front of you and you might have missed it.”

I thanked him again, still shaking my head in disbelief.

“You were very lucky, you know. Our cameras don’t shoot every area constantly. They flip from one to another and record snippets of time. The camera in that aisle just happened to be recording at the very moment of the theft.” Hmmm. Just happened? Not. J

The next thing the kids and I did was to stop and thank God for answering our prayer.

I learned later from the officer filing the report that this woman is a client of the Division of Human Health and Services and has “issues,” whatever that means. I’m assuming he meant some kind of mental challenges, but I’m not sure. He said he would issue a warrant; she would be arrested and given a court date. I could be subpoenaed, but it isn’t likely. Fine. I’m just happy to have my stuff back. I honestly am not concerned about whether she is prosecuted or not, although I’m almost certain she will be.

As the kid and I checked out, a cashier who had watched it all said, “I cannot believe you got that wallet back!” 

I gushed about how wonderful the management team was, but told her that really, it was Noah’s prayer.

“Well I guess so,” she said with a smile and a wink.

We KNOW so. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that your 7-year-old son has demonstrated more faith than you have. I believe that God can do anything, and yet I really had no hope of getting that wallet back anytime soon. Noah couldn’t understand my surprise when it was placed safely back in my hands. And I’m supposed to be teaching Him? Huh.

He asked me today, “Are we at least going to be in the newspaper?” I told him yes, that I was going to write a nice letter thanking the managers at the store for helping us, and see to it that it was published in the paper. He seems satisfied with that.

It bothers me that I didn’t anticipate God answering that prayer. At least not the way Noah expected Him too – immediately. When did I become so jaded? So skeptical? Somewhere along the way I have stopped considering miracles to be the norm. Having been the recipient of at least one very powerful miracle myself, you’d think I’d have a little more faith. Instead I find myself praying with the man of Mark 9… “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief!” 

Why am I amazed when God answers prayer? I shouldn’t be. It’s what He DOES. Sometimes it seems as though it’s easier to trust Him in the big things than in the mundane… and yet over time I’ve come to believe that God uses the little things to train us and prepare us for the more significant challenges. I think there’s fluidity to our walk with Christ. It’s not a steady uphill climb. There are peaks and valleys and all sorts of terrain in between. The point is to keep putting one foot in front of the other… to keep looking up… to keep experiencing His grace and providence and learning from it. He knows my struggles. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows my past, present and future, and He loves and leads me through it all. Now THAT’S a miracle. I was lost, but now I am so found. Thank You, Lord!

“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”  Mark 10:13-16

Give me childlike faith, Lord. Renew my sense of wonder. I love You.



  1. What an adventure!! Isn’t it just like God to use the faith of a child to knock our socks off?!? I’m so glad you got your stuff back.

  2. An adventure indeed! Im fightiing typing, “I cant believe you got your stuff back!” Lord, help all of our unbelief. Great blog! -S

  3. What a great testimony! I think we all are thankful for the humble reminders that come our way. I think it is amazing when God uses our children to bring His message home with us.

    I am really glad you got your wallet back. I felt the panic rising up in me as I read your words. You are a gifted writer.

  4. Wow… now that is pretty awesome. It’s such a horrible feeling knowing your stuff is gone. But what a great tool in God’s hand to let you know that He’s always mindful of where you are and what’s going on.

    This so struck me – “God uses the little things to train us and prepare us for the more significant challenges.” That is the solid truth! Everything we learn starts somewhere small and then builds into something greater that we can master. But He always starts with the little things… God help me to see the little things each day!

    Great testimony!

  5. Yay! Clapping for God and for your Noah’s faith! May he always be a Noah…and look to God. And may we be more like him. mmm, love that!

  6. I felt like I was there, with you as I read your story. It’s scary to think that someone could and did come up so fast and take your wallet. I used to leave my cart with purse in the cart but I don’t do that anymore because I know to many who have been robbed. I love how your son prayed. How like God to show up and show off for you. He is a God of Providence and had the camera where it needed to be. He is amazing. He grows our faith doesn’t he?!
    Have a blessed week!!

  7. Heather – two bandits in one week!!! A lot of excitement! (if you can call it that!) I’m glad you got your stuff back. I also love that you see God and what He has to teach you in both situations. I love seeing His faithfulness to us… thank you, Father. Have a great day! 🙂 I love you.

  8. I have lost my wallet before, but have never been the victim of a “robbery”. How horrible – I could feel the sinking feeling as I read the post. I loved you son’s prayer – such honesty and such faith. AMEN!

  9. Wow! My heart was racing as I read the story!
    Praise God, He is so good.

    I’m just thrilled that your kids got to see God at work also!!


  10. Great story. I find myself doing the same thing. Sometimes even when the prayer is answered, I wonder if it will stick. Me of little faith, I often say.

  11. I’m so glad it turned out the way it did, but I found myself asking myself another question… “if that had been me, and it had all turned out differently… if my wallet HAD been stolen for good, even after I prayed about it, how would I have reacted then?” God is still good, all the time, but it’s hard to explain that to a child who sees his mama scared, upset, and frustrated. I’m reminded through your post today to teach my children the sovereignty of God not only in words but by SHOWING them a constant security and faith in His goodness. Not easily done, to say the least. In fact, I find myself cringing, thinking, “it’ll never happen!” 🙂 Well, “nothing is impossible,” is it? And now’s as good a time to start practicing as any!

    Thanks for the very compelling story… I felt that acid in my stomach right along with ya! Like you’re chewing on aluminum or something… what a horrible feeling. I’m SO glad it had a happy ending. It makes everything a lot simpler! 🙂

  12. that must have been stressful. i usually just lose mine on my own…

  13. What a treat that Noah felt so comfortable that he would ask that he be on tv. We can get caught up in what is and isn’t okay to ask for too. His request was without limit. You are a good Mommy Heather!

  14. I kept wanting you to try calling your cell phone! I’ve heard that works! Makes me want to leave my phone set on LOUD all the time…oh, wait a minute, I do that already! HA!

    So grea that you got it back! Good lesson for your kids to see, too!

  15. Okay – so I am like WEEKS late in leaving a comment, though I have been reading for that long. You are the sweetest thing, and your thoughts to me on my own blog have lifted me up, so thank you for your kindness, Heather!

    Goodness – I’m so sorry that happened and so very glad that you got it back! You’re so right – our kids often teach us so much by just NOT THINKING about things. That’s one thing I’m guilty of — overthinking. I use my brain (what’s left of it) instead of using my heart and soul to pray and follow what I *know* to be true — that God is in control, not me.

  16. I loved Noah’s prayer. Short and sweet and trusting. How awesome that you had the presence of mind to think of praying in the midst of a stressful moment.


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