Unexpected Angels

07May08

Today I took three children all under the age of 5 to Target. Some would call me crazy, some would call me a glutton for punishment and today I would have agreed with all of them. Target has this multi-kid shopping cart that is nothing short of a small, bright red tank with plastic bumpers and child restraints. Canaan and her best friend Moira climbed up on one side and I attempted, very unsuccessfully, to seat Will on the other.

You know those kids that you see in the supermarket that fling themselves to the floor kicking and screaming like you have just told them that Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy were all just blown up by the Taliban? You know how you either roll you eyes in annoyance or look pitifully at the pathetic parent who is unable to control the flailing monster that is rolling around in front of the cereal aisle? Today, that parent was me. I wanted to put a “Free To A Good Home” sign on Will and leave him at the corner in front of Starbucks. If you are offended by that statement, then either you have never been a parent to a toddler or you need to climb down off of your high horse and stop judging me. I believe that every SANE parent at some point has looked at the child that they love (more than life itself) and wanted to run screaming in the other direction. Today was that day.


Out of nowhere appeared this grandmotherly Hispanic woman. She came up very quietly with one finger poised over her lips and whispered to my hysterical son, “Shhh.” By the time the stranger approached the cart, he’d calmed himself to sputtering breaths between tears. He was no longer kicking or fighting me and I quickly fastened his safety belt. Some parents would probably be offended by this woman’s response, but I looked at her like a Godsend. A moment later, she reappeared with a cookie for each of the three kids instructing them that they could only have the cookie if they promised to be good children for the rest of Mommy’s shopping trip. If I were a hugger I would’ve crushed this saintly woman in an excruciating embrace of gratitude.


If you are touched by this experience then strap your emotional seatbelt on for the next one.


A couple of weeks ago my kids and I were on I-40 traveling through what is known as “The Gorge” between North Carolina and Tennessee. If you’ve ever been on this particular stretch of highway you know that it’s the kind of road that makes you pinch your seat cushion (if you know what I mean.) It’s curvy and hilly with a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other. It can be very scary. Without going into detail, we had a near death experience and ended up stranded on the side of the road in a very sharp turn. It was nearing dusk and semi-trucks were whizzing past us at ridiculous speeds.


In a little less than an hour a tow truck pulled to a stop in front of us. The man that got out reminded me of one of those old-school rocker dudes with curly gray hair, a beard and an earring. He pulled on his Iron Maiden jacket as he approached my window. I got out of the XTerra and he held up his hands to stop me. “First things first, little lady. I’m going to put you and your babies in my truck up there because this is not a safe place for you to be sitting. You grab one and I’ll grab the other,” he said pointing to Canaan and Will who were bug eyed in the front seat.


He tucked us safely in the cab of his tow truck where the kids and I said a little prayer thanking Jesus for keeping us safe. When he finished loading the XTerra, he climbed back into the driver’s seat and we headed up the interstate. Instinctively, because I am a mother bear, I tucked my kids under my arm and scanned the floor for weapons that this stranger might have in his possession. Other than a lighter next to his pack of Marlboro’s no dangerous objects were in sight so I started to relax.


He told me his opinion on the condition of my car and suspected that foul play might have been involved. Yes, I said foul play. You can imagine that my stomach was doing flips. He could tell that I was obviously shaken by this news of the potential that someone had intentionally tried to harm me and my children. He flashed me a spotted-tooth smile. “I’m going to make sure you’re safe tonight. We’ll take the truck back to the shop and leave it for the mechanics in the morning, then I’m going to put you and the kids up in a good hotel.”
We drove to the repair shop passing several roach-motels that I would’ve settled for because they looked affordable, but he found something wrong with each of them. “Now, I don’t want you to stay there because you would have to cross the highway with the children to get food and I don’t want you to stay at that one because I wouldn’t let a dog I didn’t like stay there.” He finally pulled out his cell phone and said simply, “I have a friend I can call.”


Thirty minutes later, we pulled to a stop in front of a very pleasant Motel 6 that looked almost new. He carried my suitcases inside and stayed until the desk clerk had us checked in at his friend’s “special guest” rate. His friend just so happened to own the hotel. It was conveniently located next door to Sagebrush and a Shoney’s. Before leaving he gave me his personal cell phone number saying that he lived right up the street if we needed anything at all and that he would be by the next day to pick us up when my truck was fixed. I offered to pay him whatever cash I had, but he refused with a smile and left.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13:2.

Sometimes, angels wear Iron Maiden jackets and bribe two year olds with cookies.

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