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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Counting my blessings

Charlie had cross country practice tonight. But before I could take him to that, I had to take him to Walgreen's to get a sports physical at their "Take Care Clinic." I wasn't sure how long that would take, so we left home at 4:30pm, with the ultimate goal of arriving at cross country practice at 6pm.

On the way down a very busy thoroughfare, I noticed a young woman walking down the median, toting a baby on each hip. It was hot and I immediately thought about how dangerous it was for her to be out in the middle of the street with those babies. So I pulled into the turn lane next to her and asked if she was going very far.

"Well, I'm trying to get to McDonald's," she said. "The girls are hungry and I have some Arch cards."

Despite what my mother taught me about not picking up hitchhikers (she wasn't hitchhiking -- she was just walking, minding her own business when I butted in) and not talking to strangers, I offered her a ride.

"The McDonald's is a little ways down there still," I said. "Do you want a ride?"

She turned to one of the girls, who it turned out wasn't a baby, but a small toddler, probably 2-1/2 years old. "Trinity, do you want a ride?"

Trinity said yes, all the while keeping her pink paci in her mouth, bobbing her head and bouncing her curly blonde ponytail. So the three of them got in the car -- no point in worrying about car seats. This had to be way safer than the human game of Frogger she had been playing.

I wondered what Charlie had to be thinking. I introduced myself by my first name only. She did the same and then introduced me to the girls, Trinity & Jada. She asked if the McDonald's was close, saying she wasn't from around here.

"So, where were you walking from?" I asked.

That's when she told me that she was homeless. That she'd called all over to find a spot in a shelter, but that they were all full. One of the shelters had given her the number to a local homeless initiative program that checked her into a hotel up the road and gave her the Arch cards.

"Do you have a stroller," I asked, thinking about how often she'd have to walk around with child in each arm.

"I don't have anything," she said. "The lady is bringing us some clothes tomorrow."

By this time we were at McDonald's. I told her that Charlie's appointment would be about 30 minutes and if she wanted, I could come back to pick her up and take her back to the hotel. She said that would be great. So that's what we did.

She said she didn't know anything about this side of town, that she'd grown up on the south side.

"Do you have any family there?" I asked. Yes. She had several relatives, but none of them had room for her. Now, let me tell you, if my daughter, sister, niece or cousin had two babies and no place to live, I wouldn't think twice about letting them stay with me, even if some folks had to sleep on the floor. But I didn't say anything.

She went on and told me how the girls didn't have their blankies for comfort, that she'd left everything with their dad. She didn't come right out and say it, and despite my most desperate curiousity to know how someone ends up in this situation, I didn't ask -- but I got the sense that she had left an abusive relationship.

"But the hotel is pretty nice" she went on to say. "It's a one bedroom room and the girls sleep with me. And the homeless initiative is gonna get me hooked up a place to stay and with TANF and food stamps and then things will be so much better," she said with genuine hope in her voice.

Now, if I was facing welfare and food stamps, I think I'd feel ashamed. But when you're facing the alternative of literally nothing, I guess those things would look pretty rosy. Dee (her name as I came find out) was homeless, but not hopeless.

We got to the hotel and she thanked me for the ride. I took Charlie to practice -- we arrived a few minutes before six. Now I knew the reason I'd been compelled to leave so early; I think God knew we'd be taking a detour.

When I tucked the kids into bed tonight, we said a prayer for Dee, Trinity and Jada and for all those people who are wondering tonight where their next meal might come from, where they might sleep tomorrow. Please keep them in your prayers too.


Nate's Mom said...

Wow Amy, what an experience for you, and for Charlie in humility and humanity. It's amazing the lessons that God gives when we think we are making plans. Have you talked with Charlie about them and what he thought? This is a great teaching moment about helping others and not being judgmental. Thanks fo sharing.

Sheri in CA

Eternal Lizdom said...

This is a beautiful experience, Amy. What a blessing indeed!

Did you get a way to contact her? I have things that could help her out- either now or, most likely, when she gets a place to live.

Annie said...

oh mom when you told me that i wanted to cry!

Sharon said...

Amy, bless your heart. This had me crying.
I'm sure they are so grateful for kind people like you. And I can't stop thinking about what an awesome example you were to Charlie. Good for you.
I think you were right about God having you take a detour. :)

Amy said...

Liz -- I sent you an e-mail.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I'm proud of you for listening to God and your heart...all too often I think we all think about helping people like this, but can't be bothered because we're going to be late...or it is going to be an inconveinece.

I'm sure Dee will always remember you.

Momza said...

Spencer W. Kimball once said,
"God does notice us and hears our prayers, but it usually through another person that he answers them."
You were on His errand in that moment.
May your children always have a warm bed to sleep in and food in their tummies no matter where they are.
Wonderful experience, Amy.

Annie said...

What an amazing thing you did for Dee and her girls, Amy! I will hold them in prayer. Thank you for taking the time to bless someone who obviously really needed a blessing at the time. You are amazing.

Joanne said...

Amy - you are beyond the best.

Amy's Mom said...

Amy,, no matter what we taught you about talking to strangers and giving rides to strangers, you listened to you heart and soul and to God. It was obviously the RIGHT thing to do. Not only are we proud of you, I thank you for helping remind us how much we have, not only material things, but a loving, prayerful family that helps us through the difficult times we all face at some point in life.

kimybeee said...

Blessings and detours indeed! I am sure Charlie only saw what a great thing his Mom did for someone who really needed help.

What were Charlies thoughts afterward?


Nancy said...

Amy, I have some things she can have as well, Liz knows how to contact me if you can get in touch with her.

Annie said...

mom thats bea-utiful and everything but can u pleeeeeeeeeeez post a new blog????

Marine Wife said...

Wow, that's heartbreaking! So glad you were driving by to see her and help her.

Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

Oh my gosh! You have made me cry! I bet you helping her out gave her a little extra help, too!