The day I turned 37 my husband was deployed to Guam. Three weeks prior to my birthday, I had packed up my household along with my three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son and relocated to Texas.
It was a desperation move, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Only a few months prior, on August 29, 2005, our little family had huddled together with strangers, glued to the television in a hotel lobby in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We watched in horror, as Hurricane Katrina made landfall, bringing a 30-foot storm surge to coastal Mississippi, just west of my husband’s duty station, not far from our home. Southern Louisiana was devastated as well, especially New Orleans where most of our family lived.
Katrina displaced us for a few weeks.
So we drove to Miami, Florida to stay with my Aunt Peggy, then my military husband returned to Mississippi to help with relief efforts. Finally, after a few weeks, the water was safe to drink, the gas stations had gasoline, and there was a pediatrician in town, so I came back with the kids.
When we returned, people were shell-shocked, some were homeless, and many lived in partially destroyed homes. Small businesses stood vacant. There were long lines at gas stations. Grocery shelves were often empty. It was often a two-hour wait to check out.
Just weeks after the storm, my husband was deployed with his unit, and I was left there alone with my little ones.
The Lord had been gracious, and we’d had minimal damage, which was repaired quickly, so it was easy to sell the house. We spent the holidays at my sister’s house and set out to Texas from there. We moved to San Antonio, our next duty station, and waited for my husband to return from overseas.
We got along pretty well, but some difficulties took me by surprise.
Not long after we arrived, I was completely undone by my birthday. That day, a kind UPS man brought me a brightly striped tin box, full of cookies, from my husband. When I took the lid off and saw the cookies, a recording of happy birthday played. I burst into tears as my little ones snuggled up to me and tried to kiss me, while I sobbed.
Money was tight, but I splurged on a pizza from the local Papa John’s. I was so terribly lonely that the friendliness of the cashier over the phone was like oxygen. The delivery man was so kind and friendly that when he left, I burst into tears again. So I called the manager of the store and thanked him. I said, “You never know who is on the other end of the phone line, who is answering the door . . . what they are going through.”
It was just pizza, but their kindness nourished my heart.
These days, I don’t cry when I order pizza or receive birthday presents, but I have never forgotten the unexpected encouragement that day. It’s good to remember that the man sitting in traffic next to me, the single woman singing near me in church, or the elderly lady I meet in the aisle at Safeway might need the same simple kindness from me.
My heart is forever softened toward people who feel isolated and alone.
We never know when we are sent as God’s grace to someone else.
Related: Celebrate the beauty of simple kindness and share some dessert with your loved ones with this lovely set of four dessert plates.Leave a Comment
Lynda Smith says
You are so right Britta!
I, too, have been undone by the kindness of a smile or a “how are you today?”. And I try to remember that my smile may be the only one that person sees today.
Sometimes, smile are like the rain, wearing away the hardness of someone else’s heart, until, one day, they smile back.
Yes! Sometimes kindness surprises us on those hard days. I am thankful that the Lord follows us throughout our days and brings that rain when we need it. 🙂
Amazing how simple acts of kindness can meet the biggest of needs. And what a very difficult time you went through. Thankful to God for holding you through it and for blessing us all with this reminder that He sees us and calls us to see what He does.
Thank you, Anna. It is good to look back and see good purpose in that difficult time. I know that He grew me in humility, as I was so utterly dependent upon Him. And that is always a good thing!
keely@a time to eat says
This is beautiful and convicting and true.
It reminds me of the Chick-fil-A training video, “Everyone has a story.” Have you seen that? Definitely worth checking out on YouTube. 🙂
Thank you for sharing, Britta!
Thank you! I will check it out 🙂 thankful that God is the Author!
Growing up as an Air Force brat, I am forever grateful for the ones who stepped out of their comfort-zones…to include a “new kid…” who might only be there a few months or a year…into their lives. That was a long, LONG time ago, but each time someone reached out to me, it made an impact. I tend to gravitate to the “new kids” that come into my life, bc BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. Such a great reminder that an act of kindness is never forgotten!
Marty – I gravitate to the “new kids” too! Military life has changed me forever. I will always be aware that we are always sojourners…praise God. 🙂
Britta, I can totally relate to this. My young husband passed away from cancer last summer. I have no family. Many times I wanted to die myself. But there was a light and it came from a cashier at my local drugstore. A few days after my husband passed, I was at the drugstore and the cashier and another customer held my hands and prayed out loud over me right there in the store! It was the most wonderful and comforting experience. Each week when I would stop in the store, this cashier who is a Christian and loves our Lord very much, would encourage me and sometimes hug me. It all helped me get through another week.
I am so sorry for your loss, Therese. It is wonderful knowing that the Lord sent along a kind heart to embrace your broken one! Thank you for sharing your story. Dear Lord, please continue make your presence known in your precious daughter’s life and bring her peace.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for the loss of your beloved! I pray God continues to send people to be there for you as you grieve. Lord please send people to Therese to encourage her and help her make it through another day/week/ even hour. Shower her with love peace and contentment! Help her as she walks this world alone!
I just moved to a new city where I don’t know anyone and honestly have been feeling pretty lonely. But this week I visited a church and the people were really a blessing. It was the little things, sitting beside me when I was sitting alone, introducing themselves to me, giving their phone numbers but it meant a lot to me and has caused me to feel more hopeful about this transition.
Natasha that is so encouraging! The last time we moved I told my daughter (who is very shy) that this first part of connecting is just about staying. You go and you stay, even when it is hard. You persist. You hang on. The Lord will send you the people He knows you need to know. What kindness from Him to send so many, so soon!
Beth Williams says
Thank you for sharing that heartwarming story! Everywhere I go I do my best to have a smile and say thank you. I want to encourage each and everyone in the world!! Three times a week I visit my dad in the assisted living (he’s on hospice) & smile at the patients. I try to say hello or something encouraging and always tell the workers they are doing a good job! You never know what kind of day they are having or what they are going through!
Blessings to everyone:)