My kids and I crunched across the snow to our SUV after church. Lunchtime hunger pains were just setting in. We had a few minutes to kill while my husband rehearsed for Christmas at the church, so we went in search of food.
The minute we turned into the shopping center, my eyes locked onto a hooded figure holding some cardboard at the corner. I couldn’t read what was on it and didn’t want to if I’m being perfectly honest. It’s horrible of me, but in that moment, my son was crying, my stomach was rumbling, and all I wanted to do was keep my head down and avoid eye contact.
This is no excuse, but part of the reason was because I was alone in the car with my kids. I just don’t feel safe rolling up to homeless or stranded men when I’ve got them.
At the last moment, when my shame couldn’t take it any longer, I looked back to see the hooded figure.
It was a woman.
Standing in the 17-degree November air, gripping some curled up cardboard with gloveless fingers, was a shivering woman.
A new thought slammed into my chest: I need to buy this woman lunch. I need to shut down every excuse that has blocked me in the past and buy her lunch. It doesn’t matter if she’s really homeless or not, I should be willing to buy anyone standing out in the snow a free meal if it shows them God’s love.
This post is all about being real with you. I’m no saint. I felt the “tap” on my shoulder to give a man holding a sign some money recently, but I completely ignored it. Don’t ignore the nudge, you guys. Awesome things happen when you follow along.
The minute I rolled down my window, I finally noticed the words on the lady’s sign. It read: “Homeless and Pregnant.” My stomach twisted at the new revelation.
I asked her if she was hungry. Her sign and her shoulders drooped and she said, “Yes.”
“I’m headed to McDonald’s. Can I buy you lunch?”
“Great. So, um, what would you like?”
“OK. Um, maybe…a burger meal?”
“With something hot to drink, like a coffee?”
“OK. Do you take cream and sugar?”
“What kind of burger?”
I brought back a cheeseburger, fries and coffee and offered to take her some place warm (granted, McDonald’s isn’t the most wonderful choice for a pregnant woman, or the rest of us, but that’s where we ate.). She pointed to a dilapidated pickup truck that sat crooked on its axels and told me it broke down, but she’d eat in there.
I found out this woman’s name was Hillary. Right after handing her the food, I told her “God bless you” at nearly the exact same moment she said it back to me. We laughed a bit, waved goodbye, and I watched her stride toward the rusty, little truck. Whether she really was pregnant or not, things weren’t going great for her that day.
It’s humbling to have someone with less say “God bless you” when I have been so blessed already. As I drove away from that shopping center, I thanked God for helping me get out of my own way to help Hillary.
I thanked him for the warm house waiting for our return, a bed, clean clothes, gloves to warm my fingers, a vehicle that runs, for protecting my babies from the harsh conditions of severe poverty, and for a loving husband who would do whatever it took to keep us from standing in the snow holding cardboard signs.
I also thanked God for the lesson my daughter learned that day. After paying for our food, I told the kids that we were on our way to give the woman a meal because she didn’t have anything to eat.
My 2-year-old daughter replied, “Mommy, we are going to take care of her baby.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
What’s ONE thing you’re thankful for? Share in the comments below.