The Gift of Meeting a Need (Part 1)

Proverbs 25:21 – 22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

We once lived in a South Florida neighborhood predominately filled with older couples. The housing was less expensive, and our children quickly adopted several sets of grandparents who seemed totally committed to spoiling them.

Most of our neighbors became friends — except for one couple who complained about everything.

Our dog barked too much.
Our kids were too loud.
Our garbage can was in the wrong place.

You name it … they didn’t like it.

As the Christmas holidays approached, my children and I stayed busy wrapping gifts, baking cookies, decorating the house, and making Christmas cards. We sent out a lot of the generic store-​bought cards, but reserved those made by my children for the “extra special” people in our lives.

It was unusual weather for Fort Lauderdale, a chilly day shrouded in dark clouds and a light mist. I sensed the children growing restless as the rain persisted and decided to head trouble off at the pass. “Let’s make Christmas cards for our neighbors,” I suggested. The kids jumped at the idea.

My job was to locate our collection of traditional Christmas carols, bake my famous “must have at all holidays” sugar cookies, and mix hot chocolate in our favorite Christmas mugs. Jered and Danna scampered away to invade the toy closet and the craft box, and gather the necessary supplies for our project.

It was a perfect day, a veritable Kodak moment filled day — until my son looked up from his brightly colored card to ask, “Mama, what kind of card are we going to make them?”

A small, unwelcome knot began to form in my stomach as dread curled around my heart.

I knew exactly who he was asking, but hoped with every fiber of my being that I was wrong.

“Who are you talking about, son?” I asked. “The Smiths, Mom. What kind of card are we going to make for the Smiths?” my sweet-​hearted and determined child asked.

Memories of terse phone calls and sarcastic notes left on the front door tumbled into my heart, pushing aside any semblance of the Christmas spirit. The scathing words poured from my angry heart, “Son, why would you want to make a Christmas card for the Smiths when they treat us so badly? The Smiths don’t like our dog or anyone in our family, as far as I can tell. They obviously want nothing to do with us. And besides, they don’t even celebrate Christmas.”

In that moment, the tables turned.

I was the pupil, and my young son became the teacher, patiently explaining the rules according to God.

“I don’t think they really mean all that stuff, Mom. I think they are just lonely. I never see any cars at their house. No kids live there. Do you know they don’t even have a cat or dog? Can you believe that, Mom? Maybe they are just sad. Don’t you think we should do something about it?”

Staring into the compassion-​filled eyes of my forgiving son, I knew what we had to do. We made two magnificent cards!

The oven timer buzzed, reminding me that the sugar cookies were done. Danna piped up with, “Cookies, Mama. Let’s take cookies!” I was obviously outnumbered.

Rummaging through the box of Christmas dishes waiting to be unpacked, I finally found a brightly colored Christmas tin. Holding it in the air, I watched my fresh-​from-​God children break out in applause and cheers. It was a winner!

When the cards were finished, the sticky glitter-​covered envelopes sealed, and the still warm sugar cookies carefully packed, I actually heard myself say words I never thought I would say, “It’s time to visit the Smiths.”

What in the world was I thinking?

Why hadn't I told our children to wait for their father to get home?

“Wait, Mom!” Jered shouted. After whispering something to Danna, both kids raced to their rooms, and came rushing out with two of their favorite books. I was clueless at this point. Seeing the confusion on my face, Jered explained, “Maybe they would like to read us a story, Mom.”


When pigs fly was my first thought. But at this point, I thought anything was worth a try. After all, we were already in over our heads. What did a few more feet matter?

I began praying, “Lord, please don’t let them be home!” How’s that for a godly pastor’s wife attitude?

You won’t believe the rest of this story!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Reflection point: In the meantime, examine your heart. Ask God to show you how to love those hard-​to-​love people in your life.

Application point: Make the choice now to do what God asks you to do.

About Mary Southerland

Mary Southerland is the Stress Buster — a leader at helping women manage stress and enjoy peace in their daily lives. Mary serves the local church as the women’s ministry motivator, inspiring thousands of women to participate in Bible studies, life groups, […]

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  1. So far, it's a very interesting story. I think I can guess what happens next, against all odds…:)

  2. Shairon Betterton Allen says:

    Can't wait to see what happens next!

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