For a number of reasons (the least of which was convenience, as it was late and we were just finishing up running a bunch of errands), I decided to take the children to a local sit-down restaurant last Friday night. This is not really our style…we’re more of a McDonald’s “dollar menu” family on those rare occasions when we do eat out.

Between Wal-Mart and the restaurant, I wrestled with myself on making the decision. We had gone shopping for my father-in-law’s birthday and decided to get him a new pair of slippers, which led to all of the children asking for slippers. And I figured slippers would be a good investment and keep the feet warm, given that we don’t set the heat higher than 64* on most days. I had stopped getting slippers because we had a dog who constantly picked them up and carried them around (both inside and outside the house), resulting in very few actual PAIRS of slippers by winter’s end, so I had put a temporary ban on any “new” slippers last year. However, that dog is unfortunately no longer with us and so I re-thought my decision and figured $6 each for slippers really wasn’t a bad price. Until I put 7 pairs in the cart and did the math. And adding in the electric Shark sweeper I picked up to replace the one that had broken six months ago (and which I loved!), I was spending a pretty much un-budgeted $85.00. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of money.

Sooo…you can see why I wasn’t sure about stopping at a sit-down restaurant, because it would cost me easily twice as much as going through the drive-through at McDonalds. However, I knew the kids would enjoy it…they always do when we take them to a “real” restaurant…and they could have pancakes for supper, a bonus! But…in spite of my financial misgivings I really just wanted to bless my children with something out-of-the-ordinary. And I was happy that THEY were obviously thankful and happy to see where we were going to have dinner, as we pulled into the parking lot.

As usual, we drew lots of attention at the restaurant (“Are they all yours?,” etc.) but the children enjoyed doing the coloring and puzzles on their kids’ menus and we talked to some of the folks sitting at the table next to us. The couple on the other side of us were obviously watching the children and enjoying them, and I could see that the gentlemen wanted to speak with us but I got distracted by a woman on the other side of me and we chatted about Jubilee (the “serious baby”) for several minutes. In not too long, the couple had left and I was a bit disappointed not to have engaged them in conversation.

Imagine my surprise when our server came with our meals and announced that the couple sitting next to us had taken care of the bill! They left a sweet note about “paying it forward” and wishing a Merry Christmas to a wonderful Mom and her beautiful children, which blessed me a great deal.

For the remainder of our meal…and all the way home…we all remained in awe of God and how He is such a good Father to bless us in so many ways. On the way home, I pondered this Scripture:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

I had wanted to do something special to bless my children, and God turned it into an even better blessing for all of us!

Let us consider how we can encourage and uplift one another, particularly as members of the family of believers, and also prayerfully bless those outside of the church so that they will be drawn to Christ.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.” (Proverbs 16:18)

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