Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teaching Moments

I had a few events in my life collide in the past couple weeks that have made me stop and ponder. The kind of events that need to happen on a more frequent basis to constantly remind me.

The week before Thanksgiving, my youngest son, Eliot, and I delivered complete Thanksgiving dinners to a couple families in the Cincinnati suburbs who were in need. The families we visited were struggling to make ends meet, pay bills, take care of kids, and find jobs. One had just taken in a foster baby and were planning on eating cold cuts for Thanksgiving without the assistance.

On the way home from making these deliveries, we saw a young woman pull over on the side of the road. Moments earlier, a tire blew out and she barely escaped a major accident and bodily injury. In her words, she thought she was going to die. She already had her spare tire on her car on another wheel so she was stuck and in need. I offered to drive her somewhere so she could get help from friends or family. She asked if we could take her to her work, where a friend would let her borrow a spare tire until she was able to buy a tire. While talking with her, I learned that she just bought the tire that blew out a couple weeks earlier...for only $20 (probably an old retread for that price). It was all she had and she needed to get back and forth to work. When I got her to her workplace, I asked if she needed any money to help in getting a new tire since she wasn't going to get paid for awhile. She immediately said, "No, I could never ask you for money. You have already helped me a lot". I could see she needed the money but was too respectful to ask. I reached into my pocket, not knowing how much I had on me, and gave her the $30 that was there. She couldn't believe it, started to cry, and reached across the center console in the car to give me a hug. She was speechless. She said that she couldn't understand how a total stranger could stop and help her in such a way. She was deeply touched. I told her that God apparently had His eye on her, and to not forget that.

The whole time (in fact, the whole day), my son is watching this all play out. A great teaching moment!

Last weekend, I went to a AA hockey game here in Cincinnati (The Cyclones) with Eliot and a friend. It was a first for Eliot and me. Eliot is a huge sports fan and was actually more interested in seeing fights on the ice than seeing a Cyclone's win (and he was rewarded). The Cyclones have this sweet deal - if they score in the first period and keep the other team scoreless, everyone in attendance gets a free chili from Wendy's. Well...the Cyclones came through and we were the recipients of free chili (actually a coupon for the free chili).

As with every sporting event in Cincinnati, since the stadiums and arena are located downtown, you are hit head-on with the homeless in the city whenever you leave an event. They are sitting at all the exits with their signs asking for money.

Last weekend was no different. As we left to make our way to the parking garage, there they were. We passed one man asking for money. It was extremely cold this night and I could not imagine living on the street on a night like this, and wondering where my next meal would come from. We all saw him. The three of us knew what he was asking for. And then the my son blows me away.

Eliot, who had his free chili coupon in his hand, asked if he could run back and give the homeless man his free chili. And he did just that. My son just fed the needy. He just helped a man he didn't know, but knew of his circumstances. He loved a stranger. He shared his food with the hungry.

He made me very proud. What a great teaching moment from my son.

And then my friend and pastor, Joe Boyd, teaches on a non-traditional Christmas story ( The fact that Christ came to not only save the lost, but to meet the needs of the poor. I encourage you to watch this. It's powerful. Thanks, Joe, for the teaching moment!

I am reminded again this season of just how much I have. There is nothing I need. I do not go without anything. If there is something I need, I get it. I know I frustrate my family when I tell them to not get anything for me for Christmas, but it's true. There are so many others who have legit needs - food, clothing, help with rent or a car repair, or a medical bill, etc. I encourage us all to give to those with the greatest needs more than those who already have an abundance. And then let's not limit it to this time of year, but work to make it a lifestyle. We can change the world!

"Small things done with great love will change the world" - Mother Theresa

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