Six children. Two in the stroller. The other four bouncing around their mother. She bought one item at the Dollar Store, baby wipes for the two in diapers.
The children whined for candy, asking for other things, and their mother had to say “no” at every turn.
I recognized her, knowing I’d prayed with her before, when she was pregnant with the sixth child. Some time, last year.
She left the store before I did, and didn’t see me. But before I checked out with the shoes for a friend, I grabbed a box of Valentine’s candy—filled with cards and Skittles.
Then, I drove up the road and passed her little family as they walked up the hill. It was nearly lunch time, and my car took me through the line at McDonald’s to get seven cheeseburgers and seven fries.
Now the order took forever, it seemed, and I lost track of where the little family of seven went—so I started circling block after block.
Praying, I stopped at this one corner. “Lord, I have their lunch. Help me find them.” I glanced up and there they were, with the mom scolding her son for throwing a pecan at his sister. (Yes, my window was down.)
I called to L. “Hi, have you all had lunch?”
“No, I needed these wipes, and barely had enough to buy them, and the kids are hungry. We’re headed to the soup kitchen.”
I handed her the burgers and fries, and one of her little girls spoke. “You gave me a Popsicle last summer. I remember you.”
I handed her the bag with the Valentines and Skittles. “When you eat your lunch, ask your mom if you can have some candy.”
That’s when I got slammed with a group hug from all her children, well, from the four who were walking. One son asked, “Does my burger have cheese?”
I smiled. “Yes, it sure does.”
“Good, I love cheese.”
Now he was the one who had thrown the pecan, and he handed it to me. “I got in trouble for throwing this at my sister. You can have it. This way I’ll be good.”
“Thanks, I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble.”
“It won’t. It’s not really a bad pecan.”
And with that we laughed together in the street with the burgers and candy, and for a few minutes—the children weren’t whining, fighting, sad, or hungry.
It was like cheesy-hope wrapped around our hearts! Like God held this mom together, one-step at a time. One baby wipe at a time. One day at a time.
I can’t know how hard her days are, but I pray God takes her hard days and gives her sufficient grace—and enough love to guide her children in the days ahead. That she leans on the Savior to give her strength for the journey, too!