Thursday, February 16, 2012

Miracle in the McDonald's Drive-Thru

Occasionally I eat lunch with my elementary kids at school. When I offhandedly made the comment that this would be a good day for me and Hyrum and Evie to come eat with someone, Micah jumped at the chance while Lily grew visibly uncomfortable.

"Mom, could you just bring me lunch from Subway but not stay and eat it with me?"

That's how I knew I'd entered the embarrassing mom stage for the fourth time. That's okay. I know she usually likes us, right?

Shocking no one, Micah placed his order for McDonald's (fries, Hi-C and a cheeseburger with no muckles--mustard and pickles), then he skipped merrily off to school. I got a few chores done, dressed the little kids and it was FINALLY time to get lunch.

Maueuvering a Suburban through certain drive-thru lanes takes some concentration, and our local McD's is one of those lanes. I managed to secure my place in line, then I did a mirror check of the kiddos--all was good.

That's when I saw them--a woman about my age and two young men, late teens--standing next to the building. The woman approached a cab parked next to me, knocked on the window and flashed some money. I thought it was strange that the cab driver didn't even register her efforts; he just kept staring ahead at the intriguing cinder block restaurant.

Rejected by the cab driver, the woman's eyes wandered in my direction. Now let it be said right here that I lived for three years in Chicago and I've encountered my share of panhandlers. Rarely do I give them any money, but on occasion I will give snacks or drinks. Judge me however you will.

This woman was somehow different. She motioned for me to roll down the window, and much to my own surprise, I complied. Her story tumbled from her lips, racing to express as much as she could before the window would be cruelly rolled back up.

"I'm not a bum, I swear. I'm escaping a very bad domestic violence situation. The cops put me up in that motel right over there last night, but I'm in a bad situation, and I just need some help."

Something in her tone of voice erased my instinct to look away and roll the window back up on my safe world inside the vehicle. Instead, I found myself saying, "What do you need?"

"Thank you." The emotion behind her voice was sincere and strong. "I have seven kids . . . " Tears welled in her face and I couldn't restrain my own story from escaping: "I have seven kids too. How can I help you?" It was as if I could see my own life playing out through her words--how my own life could have ended up if I somehow hadn't been blessed with the amazing husband and kids that God has given me.

"These are my sons," she said, with a speck of pride in her voice, "and Ramon was beaten so badly by his dad that he lost his eye. He has a prescription at Target that I need to pick up, and then if I could just get some money, I have my car and I can drive to my mom's in Winslow and be safe." Ramon removed his glasses, and I recognized his empty socket. My bestie, Karen, has one daughter, and that daughter lost her eye to cancer many years ago. This was more reality than I had expected when I had opened my window.

I opened my wallet and removed first one, then a second twenty-dollar bill, and handed them out the window. "I wish I could do something more to help you." I meant it. "My son is waiting for me, or I could do more."

Tears streamed down her face as she gratefully took the two bills and held them to her chest. Then, in an impulsive moment, she reached through the window and embraced me. I had to choke back a tear of my own as she said, "This will come back to you. God bless you. God BLESS you. Thank you. Bless you and your seven children."

And with that, it was my turn to place an order for three Happy Meals. How could my world be so different in just three minutes?

A few moments after placing the order, Ramon appeared on the passenger side of the Suburban. Admittedly, I was a little panicked, thinking, "I've been taken. And now I'm stuck here with no escape."

Instead, he motioned for the window to come down, and when it did, he quickly said, "My mother is over there in tears, so upset that she has to accept such charity. She's never been like this, and she wishes she could repay you."

A wave of surprise washed over me for the second time in that McDonald's drive-thru lane, and I muttered, "Really, it's fine. I wish I could do more."

Ramon removed his sunglasses a second time, looked me straight in the eye and said, "This will come back to you. God will not forget and He will reward you. It will come back to you, I promise."

Lunch in the school cafeteria was different that day. I had my three youngest kiddos chattering on about ketchup and chocolate milk while I was praying for this mother and her seven children, praying they could find safety and a drop of the joy that overflows in my life every single day.

Twice in one month strangers have changed my perspective and my days. This time, I hope I was the one that could make the difference.

Linking up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday


  1. They are angels. Teaching all of us. Through you. Thank you.

  2. I'll be thinking about this all day long Jen. Wish I could do something for her too. Wish we all could.

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  4. Just came across this. I have seven kids too!

  5. I was expecting something about McDonalds fare being miraculous, but this tore at my heart, instead. Thank for sharing these moments with us, Jenny.

  6. We are always the answer to someone's prayers. We are His hands. Today was your turn. Well done, Sister. Thank you for sharing and being an example. Ramon is right, you will be blessed.

  7. ::Tear:: It really is amazing how much suffering there is in this world. And we live in this bubbles of safety not recognizing often how much pain someone right next to us is in. What an amazing experience for you to have. I think there really is a "difference" when someones story is real and sincere, and you can feel it. Glad you could help in the way you could.

  8. I always amazes me how Heavenly Father puts the right people in the right places and gives them the opportunity to choose rightly!

    Good thing you chose McDonald!

  9. This made me cry. How lucky are you to be the one crossing her path! I hope they all get to safety, and are able to find some peace and safety. You not only saved this sweet woman today, you also showed her that tender mercies can still come her way. It will keep her hope and faith alive after so much ugliness. GAH - I can't stop crying!

  10. Wow! We have recently moved back to America and I have encountered so many homeless.. i am too fearful to roll down my window too far.. but this blesses me.. Thank you for loving.

    -Your newest follower

  11. Wow. What a story. I'm glad it ended up she wasn't scamming you. I hope she finds a safe haven

    Visiting fromAlpha-be-thursday

  12. Sometime I think we are put in these situations for a reason. I truly believe angels are everywhere. I have 5 kids and I know firsthand what I would do to protect them! God Bless you! I think sometime we know God is handling this and perhaps that is why you stepped into action. You will be rewarded for your kindness. I wish everyone acted this way. Have a beautiful weekend! I pray that lady and her kids made it to her moms house.

  13. I was reading wondering what I would have done in that situation. I am not sure.

    I think you did such a wonderful thing.

  14. This experience really moves me Jen, and I'm so glad you had the cash on hand to help her out. What a blessing!


  15. What a great story Most people would have looked away. It will come back to you

    btw I think your link is broken on alphabe thursday This post did not come up It said it did not exist

  16. Jen, we have so many panhandlers here in Tucson, but sometimes, sometimes it's just the right thing to do, and we know it.

  17. honest feedback, it is good to have kids tell you the truth.
    it is helpful in your relation.

  18. Well, after reading this, I'm not going to roll the window up quite so fast anymore. Thank you for reminding me that there are people right under my nose that need help NOW.

  19. i'm chocked up just reading this, jenny ... thank you for sharing, this story will stay with me - and gives me so much to think about ...

  20. I am so Misty-eyed after reading this...

    It truly is a Miracle that she was able to get out of that situation...

    And that you happened to be at that McDonald's at that Moment...

    You were Meant to cross each others paths and I am sure this encounter will remain in your Memories for Many years...

    Marvelous, absolutely Marvelous post for the letter "M"....

    Thanks for linking!


  21. What a great story and bless you for taking the time to listen and for giving that family a little loving care that day.... it's not something a lot of us would have done but we'd like to think we would:-)