The Hundred-Dollar Angel

IMG_4116I don’t know his name; he declined to tell me when I asked. But last Tuesday, this special man helped me remember the true meaning of Christmas.

As you all know, I’m a part-time crossing guard. Every school-day morning and afternoon, I make sure that walking middle- and elementary-school students get safely across busy intersections. When one of  the kids or a passerby thanks me for doing what I do, I’m always humbled and grateful.

This man, however, thanked me in a way I’ll never forget.

While I was standing on the sidewalk, he pulled his car to the side of the road and rolled down the window. I thought he needed directions (Yes, in this age of GPS, people still ask me for directions.), so I peered at him through the passenger-side window and said hello.

He stuffed something into my hand and said, “For standing outside in the weather every day.”

I looked down and saw a tightly-folded bill—I  suspect he’d hoped to be gone before I had a chance to unfold it and see the denomination. But the fold loosened in my grip, revealing a “100” in the corner. My eyes widened and I leaned through the window. “I can’t take this; it’s too much!”

But with an embarrassed smile, he insisted.

I stared at him. “Who are you?”

I think the directness of my question caught him off guard, because he mumbled something about that not being important, waved good-bye, and sped away.

Back on the sidewalk, I wiped away tears. As I stood there, reflecting upon what this kind man had given me, I realized that although he’d handed me one gift—albeit a big one—he’d blessed me with so many more. He’d noticed little old me crossing kids every day and had sacrificed his time and treasure to make me feel appreciated. And amidst the frenzy of Christmas preparations, he reminded me to encourage the people who touch my own life—whether I’m acquainted with them or not.

My hundred-dollar angel inspired me to follow his example and let people know that I see them and care about them. Like our big God showed us, through Jesus.

 After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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To you, my dear readers, may the wonder of our Savior’s birth fill your hearts with joy.

Merry Christmas!



It’s a Chili Thanksgiving

IMG_4111 (3)For Thanksgiving this year, we’re having chili. Venison chili. A little weird, I know, but at least the turkey’s happy. For now…

Like many families with adult children, it’s a juggling act to get everyone together for a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, my son and his girlfriend showed up five minutes before I put the turkey on the table, and then an hour later they were off to her house for her family gathering. Ditto for my daughter and her fiancé. They didn’t even have time for dessert.

So this year, when my daughter announced that she and her husband were going to the Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving Day—a family tradition on her husband’s side—I could already envision Thanksgiving dinner. My husband, youngest son, and father-in-law would help me carry bowls and platters from the kitchen, all filled with traditional Thanksgiving fare. I’d frown at the four empty chairs around the table and then start when my son and his girlfriend plowed through the door. And because they couldn’t stay long, we’d wolf down our meal while he and his girlfriend picked at theirs (since they had to tackle Thanksgiving Dinner #2 in a few hours). Again, they’d decline dessert, kiss us goodbye, and flit back out the door.

I love my husband and youngest son and father-in-law, but Thanksgiving should be a time when loved ones gather together. A time to talk and laugh and bask in the warmth of family. A time to thank God for His faithful provision and care. A time to stuff yourself silly, and when you can’t eat another bite, top it off with dessert.  A time to clean up the kitchen together, take a post-feast snooze on the couch, and then spend the rest of the afternoon in contented family tranquility. And when the shadows of dusk finally darken the windows, only then will everyone yawn and stretch and begin a lazy search for coats. They all leave with smiles, containers of leftovers, and the comfort of a full stomach and a day well spent.

Now that’s Thanksgiving.

So this year, I announced that we’d have our family Thanksgiving on November 29. A Friday Thanksgiving, when we could all be together without rushing or stressing or driving hither and yon.chili-con-carne-378952_1920

And on November 28, instead of sitting around the table and eating turkey, I, my husband, son, and father-in-law will sit around the TV, watching the Lions football game and eating chili. I won’t mind one bit waiting an extra day to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And I’m sure the turkey won’t mind waiting, either.

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of you, my dear, dear readers. May our big God bless you with a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving!