…Fast forward 20 years: I am a young wife, with lots of kids, and my husband works for a corporate pay check part-time, and for himself part-time. Many months we had to “rob Peter to pay Paul” to make ends meet. Some months we had extra, some months we had nothing. I remember a low point the day before one payday in particular. We had accumulated extra expenses through the birth of our last baby. In the used refrigerator in our small kitchen there was a half-full jar of salsa. In the cabinet, there was a bag of chips and a can of refried beans. Other than that, our cupboard was bare. My husband would be home for dinner soon, and the paycheck would not be available in our bank account until the next morning. My neighbor came by just then and offered, for no apparent reason, to give me a package of cheese their family didn’t like, and a bag of produce that would rot before they used it up since they were headed out of town for the week. Thank you Lord!
“Thanks so much!” I said, as I was thinking what to do with it for dinner, and wondering if she knew how empty my pantry was. I made Refried Bean Pie, served with sliced citrus and a tossed salad. My husband and kids lapped it up. Early the next morning I hit the bank at 8am, bought groceries at 8:15, and had breakfast ready at 9am when the sleepy heads woke up. To this day I try to save pennies I find on the floor, and make a second meal “soup supper” out of a chicken carcass.
The story has a second half which continues that next afternoon. A homeschool friend of mine came over with her son, who was friends with my second-born son. She was a single mom I didn’t know very well. She seemed like a gypsy type with a past she didn’t want to discuss, and her family lived in a one room apartment not far from us, at the edge of a ‘low rent’ district. They were heading out of town to who knows where; I don’t think she even knew herself. She needed gas money. I gave her a spare $10 (that bought a lot of gas for an old beat-up VW bug back in the early 1990s). We hugged, wished each other luck with life, and she headed down the sidewalk toward her son, waiting in their dilapidated car. I figured it was going to be their “home” for a while. In an instant, I thought to send my son out to her with a grocery bag filled with fresh fruit, lunch meat, cheese, and bread— I had found some good sales at the grocery store early that morning and brought home more than I expected. The look on her face was ecstatic! She was not a Christian, and didn’t see how I had enough to share with her. I did, so I did. I never saw her again….