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Three Caramel Apple Suckers

I don't usually post on Thursdays, but this is my blog so I'll do what I want.

This post is mostly for me. I had an amazing experience this morning and I want to write it down so I don't forget it. You're welcome to read, if you want.

Today I have been feeling stressed, grouchy, lonely, and sorry for myself. 

I've been stressing over a trip I'm going on this weekend with Lil Spits. I've been grouchy because my kids aren't perfect. I set unrealistic expectations for how they should act even though they're only 2 years and 9 months old, and they don't know any better. I've been feeling lonely because despite my efforts to reach out and plan fun things, people are busy or unresponsive. This leads me to make assumptions of how others view me, which is unfair to me and to them. I have been feeling sorry for myself for all of these reasons, plus I feel frumpy and I have a lot of pain in my lower back which makes it difficult to accomplish the tasks I set out for myself today.

I yelled at my girls this morning while trying to pack for the trip because they were roughhousing (I mean one of them was roughhousing with the other. I bet you can guess who) and I knew that the tension I was feeling would just keep building unless we got out of the house.

I took Tina and Lil Spits to the park. The weather was nice and the girls were happy. I tried to hobble around the playground with them for a little bit, and then I gave up. I sat down and took a picture of Lil Spits and me and put it on Instagram. I tried to be authentic in my caption by stating what was going on that morning, but I'll be honest, it was just a pathetic attempt to fish for compliments. 

When my friend met us at the park, she probably didn't realize that she'd be attending a party, let alone a pity party (sorry Shawnica). I talked about my hard life and I wasn't very fun to be around. After a while we left the park, we headed to Target for baking supplies, Halloween candy, and binkies for the trip (I forgot to buy the binkies). 

On the way home, I stopped at Kroger to get gasoline, pulling into the farthest stall on the right. While I filled up, I ate a caramel apple sucker and pulled faces at Tina and Lil Spits through the window. I peered over the top of my car, and I noticed a homeless man huddled in the shade of a big sign that listed the gas prices. 

There are a lot of homeless people in Houston, and it's hard to know who actually needs help and who's just looking for free handouts. Sometimes I give loose change, but more often I will just turn and look in another direction (now you're making me feel bad). This time was different. I couldn't stop staring at the man. 

I knew I had some money, but it was more than I wanted to give (now you're making me feel really bad). I thought of what else I had to offer, and I realized that I was eating one of the suckers from the giant stash of candy we had just purchased. After I filled up my tank, I grabbed three caramel apple suckers, locked my car, and walked over to him.

He was on his knees, holding onto a post. His eyes were bright blue. He had a long beard, short, matted brown hair, and his legs were rail thin. He had dirt worked deep into the creases of his hands and around his fingernails. His possessions were scattered around him.

"Do you like caramel apple suckers?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said, struggling to speak.

"Here you go."

He took the suckers.

I started to walk away, then I turned around and said, "What's your name?"

He struggled to speak again. "Jim." 

I stuck out my hand, "Nice to meet you, Jim. My name's Melissa."

He slowly put out his thin hand and shook mine.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Jim?"

"Nah... I'm good."

"Well, I hope you have a really good day, Jim. I'll see ya later."

He stood up with some difficulty and I walked back to my car. We waved at each other as I drove away. Then I started crying hard.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude! I have never had to go hungry! The only times I have slept outside on the ground were the times I'd chosen to go camping, and even then I'd had the cover of a tent and a warm sleeping bag! I don't have a model's body, but I have a strong body! I can take a shower whenever I want! I have a loving husband and two beautiful daughters who consistently show love and forgiveness to me when I mess up!

On top of all of this, I was filled with so much love and concern for Jim. I wanted to know where his family was! Did he have a family? What had happened to him that had brought him to living at the gas station? Did he live at the gas station? Was there somewhere safe that he could sleep? When was the last time somebody offered him some candy? Does he even like caramel apple suckers? Will I get to see Jim next time I fill up my tank or was this a one-time deal? Does Jim know that God loves him? Should I have told him that?

I also had other questions. What if I had gone to get gas before buying my Halloween candy? What if I would have just stayed at home and yelled at my kids all day? Why did he say, "nah... I'm good" when I asked him if he needed help? He clearly needed it, and as I looked into his eyes I realized that I really would have done just about anything for him. And I should have.

What I know is this: God is in the details of our lives and I met Jim because I needed to. This experience changed my attitude. Even if Jim doesn't like caramel apple suckers and I didn't do much for him, I feel like I was the one who was helped. I was able to feel God's love for him while simultaneously realizing how abundantly I have been blessed.

It's true that my morning wasn't so great. My back still hurts. Tina will probably still pick on Lil Spits for the rest of their lives. There are stressful things to come in the next few days. There will always be challenges. I just hope that instead of throwing a pity party for myself next time I have a tough day, I'll be quicker to say, "nah...I'm good."


  1. I had a similar breakdown crying reaction after I helped an old guy neighbor who lives alone with diabetes. I'm grateful I was put when and where I needed to be and had the wonderful blessing of school and knowledge to help in that situation. I was overwhelmed that God had set me up my whole life for that type of moment (I'm sure I'll have many He has set me up for) because he loves that man so so much. Thank you for sharing and making me cry and feel my experience again as well. You are a beautiful person and I love reading your blog.


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