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What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? James 2:14

The memory of her huddling with her two young kids had haunted me for days. I kept putting the scene out of my head, but try as I might, it kept coming back. Finally catching on that I wasn’t in charge of this, I gave up, and let the memory play out:

The day had started out like a typical Sunday at our house.

“Do you think that maybe once this year we could get to church on time!?” I yelled up the stairs to my daughter, who was taking forever getting ready that morning.  “I can’t decide what to wear!” was the response. Turning, I tripped on the pile of shoes and socks left by my son in the living room. I swore they multiplied overnight.

“I’ll put them away!” he quickly responded to my glare, and gathered them up.

Remembering at the last minute we were supposed to bring donations for the food collection, I reached for something from the pantry cabinet.  The pile of cans on the upper shelf fell over and several rolled out, crashing noisily onto the kitchen floor. More grumbling as I packed some cans into a bag to take with us.

Finally, everyone was ready. Grabbing for my coat in the closet, I pulled out the one I was saving for when I lost weight. I put skinny coat back, next to the others that for some reason or other were stored in the closet, and finally found the one that fit.

After church, we went with the Youth Group on an Outreach trip to a local sandwich kitchen where we would help serve patrons sandwiches the had kids made earlier.

When the patrons standing on the line went down, I looked out over the room from behind the serving table. A woman caught my eye. She sat hunched at the end of a table, her two small children sitting close to her. Her eyes were what struck me most – haunted and hungry. Her coat was threadbare, worn over a couple of layers of clothes. The kids were dressed the same, and eagerly ate their ham sandwiches. The Mom slowly ate half of hers, then carefully wrapped the other half in a napkin and put it in her coat pocket. When the kids were done eating, she quietly took them by the hands and led them back up the stairs, her sock showing through the hole in her right shoe.

As the memory of the Mom and her two kids played out in my head, I recalled that the lunch sandwich kitchen was the only place open on a Sunday; the other local kitchens were closed.  What people ate at the sandwich kitchen was the only food some would have that day.

The Mom had saved the other half of her sandwich for the kids to eat for supper 

I was ashamed to realize what I had missed that day. I was blessed with such an abundance of food at home that it spilled out of the pantry. Food I donated was from that abundance, given as an afterthought. We had enough shoes to trip over, clothes to choose from and a closet full of coats for someday.

The poor woman, who didn’t have money for food or clothes, was sharing her sandwich.

I now saw God in the mom, and finally heard the message He had been trying to get into my stubborn brain.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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