It was one of those times that would have turned into a teachable moment for our children no matter what we had done. But I was not expecting what God would do to make this particular day so memorable. Teaching kids to share was the furthest thing from my mind that day, but God had other plans…
We were on a road trip with a time limit. With just a day and a half set aside to drive from Texas to Florida, there was no time to waste. I had everything ready to go. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for 2 days were all packed like TV dinners in our EasyLunchbox Containers so there would be no stopping and we could just drive.
We set out late one evening and drove as far into Louisiana as we could before having to stop for the night. We pulled into a random hotel just off the highway, checked in and took only the bare minimum into the room. We were only here to sleep and then get back on the road as early as we could the next morning.
That's when we discovered the toilet was broken. I called the front desk and they said they would send someone up to fix it immediately. That was good news because 6 of us in a hotel room with a broken toilet would have been a disaster waiting to happen!
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and the housekeeper came in to fix the toilet. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was something strange about her. Was she a little tipsy? High on drugs? I didn't know, but something was off. I finally asked her, “Are you ok?”
That's when her tragic story came out.
“I buried my 4 year old son 3 days ago,” she sobbed. “He was killed in a house fire and now my boss is letting me stay in one of the hotel rooms with all my other children. Maybe you saw our story on the news?”
BOOM. That'll put your problems into perspective.
I hadn't seen anything on the news, but I wasn't from the area. I looked at my children playing on the bed and thought about how unimaginable losing a child is. I knew I had to do something to help her, but what could I do? This woman needed her son resurrected. How could we possibly make this better?
Papa the Farmer and I had a quick mini-conference. Should we give her money? Something about the situation said “no.” What did we have that could bless her?
We had food. Granted, it was the meals I had packed for our family, but there would be a grocery store further down the road. We could always buy more food but we knew we wouldn't cross paths with this lady again.
So Papa the Farmer went down to our car and gave her all the food we had. Fruitcups and snacks, raw produce, canned fruit and vegetables… whatever they could use, we gave.
I'm a firm believer in giving in secret and not telling anyone what you have done. I'm only sharing this story because you will not believe what happened next!
The Truth Comes Out
The following morning as I was checking out of the hotel, I happened to mention our encounter with the housekeeper to the hotel manager.
“Oh, she's telling lies again,” he said. “It's been 3 or 4 years since that happened. You didn't give her any money, did you?”
My heart sank. We had given all our food to her in good faith and it turned out that we had been lied to. But that feeling only lasted a moment as the reality hit me: Here was a woman who had buried her tiny son, just not as recently as we had thought. That has got to damage a mother's heart forever. She clearly was still hurting. And whatever had or hadn't happened in her past, here she was living in a hotel room with several children. (Papa the Farmer met them.) Those children needed to eat, whatever the true story was.
The Most Amazing Part
We continued on our trip, hoping to find a convenient place to run in and quickly grab some groceries, but we didn't find anything. We crossed into Alabama. Lunch time approached and then passed and we still didn't know what we were going to eat. Around 1:00 we pulled into a fast food restaurant simply to use the bathrooms. We are vegan so we couldn't actually eat anything at a fast food restaurant, right? (I mean, **gasp** is there anything organic on the menu?) As we were leaving, a man stopped my husband in the parking lot and said something that blew me away.
“Sir, I've been watching your family and the Lord has impressed me to buy you lunch. Can I get each of the kids a kids' meal?”
Does God inspire people to buy other people fast food? Maybe He does, if He's trying to teach them a lesson.
Our children legitimately couldn't get a kids meal (due to allergies), but we did allow this man to buy each of the children an order of french fries. (Their first order of fast food french fries, ever!)
We could have paid for lunch ourselves, but this man was telling us that God inspired him to buy our family lunch. He had no way of knowing that we had given all our food away. He was just listening to a prompting from the Holy Spirit that said, “Hey… go surprise that family and feed them, ok?”
And to be honest, I was so surprised by this unexpected offer that met our exact need, that I forgot to tell him that we had just given away all our food. He drove away with his family never knowing the fullness of what he had just done.
And our children learned an important lesson. We can't out-give God. When we give what we have to help people, the Lord provides exactly what we need.
So, dear stranger on a rural Alabama highway… THANK YOU for being the hands and feet of Jesus to our family that day. You taught us an important lesson about sharing and my family will never forget your generosity.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Fun Tools For Teaching Kids To Share:
Teaching kids to share and think about others before themselves can be a constant challenge for parents. Here are some fun tools to make it easier!