45: Unexpected Blessings

45: Unexpected Blessings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

  
Unexpected Blessings

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.
~Author Unknown

A few nights after Thanksgiving, my husband and I began planning the Christmas presents we would buy for our three boys. Money was tight, but thanks to careful budgeting we were in good shape. We couldn’t wait for Christmas.

At 10:00 P.M., my husband answered a knock at the front door. There, standing in pajamas, were two neighborhood children, ten-year-old Andy and his seven-year-old sister, Beth. Tears streamed down their cheeks as they held a few wrapped Christmas gifts, an overstuffed pillowcase of dirty clothes resting on the cement beside them.

“M … Miss Kelley …” Andy said. “Can we stay with you?”

“What happened?”

“My dad and my aunt got into a fight and she kicked us out,” Andy managed between sobs.

I looked into the darkness for their father. “Where’s your dad?”

“He left. He told us to come here.”

“Of course you can stay,” I said, moving aside to let them in. It was late and they had school the next day. They could spend the night, go to school with my boys, and then I could figure out what was happening.

I woke my son and told him to go sleep in his brother’s extra bunk bed. Then I put Andy and Beth into his bunk beds.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Tomorrow I’ll find out what’s going on.”

The next morning, after the kids left for the bus, a knock sounded at the front door. It was Mr. Brown.

“Miss Kelley, I hate to trouble you, but can I come in and talk?” he asked politely.

“Please do.” I moved aside for him to enter.

“I appreciate you letting Andy and Beth spend the night,” he began. “My sister-in-law kicked us out. I didn’t know where else to send the kids.”

“How did you know they spent the night?” I asked, remembering that I saw no one last night.

“I was hiding in the bushes. I need to ask you another favor,” he continued. “Can Andy and Beth stay here until I get on my feet?”

“How long are we talking about?” I was dumbfounded.

“A couple of months at most.”

So many thoughts raced through my head. Christmas was in a few weeks. Money was already tight. We could barely afford the food and bills now. More kids meant more food, more water, more laundry soap, more bathing soap, more shampoo and toothpaste.

“I know it’s a lot to ask,” he said. “I don’t know anyone here. Please let them stay. I don’t want them to suffer because of my mistakes.”

“Okay,” I finally said. “The kids can stay. But ONLY the kids. You will need to stay at a shelter or something. But you can visit them. And this is just until you get on your feet.”

“Thank you,” he said. “You don’t know how much I appreciate this.” He promised to find a job quickly and work hard to get them a place to stay. “They have more clothes, but they’re dirty.”

I opened my garage, where the washer and dryer were and let him bring in the loaded pillowcases.

After he was gone, I cleared a dresser for them and placed their presents under the tree.

I wondered about Christmas. Was this all they had? I assumed it was, especially since Mr. Brown had no job. How could Santa visit my kids and not these two? He couldn’t. I silently prayed that we would be able to afford a nice Christmas for everyone this year.

The phone rang. It was the school. Andy and Beth had talked with the guidance counselor and she wanted to know what was happening with the children. I told her what Mr. Brown had told me, and that the kids would be staying with me for a few months.

When the kids arrived home, I sat them all down in the living room to talk. Then I told Andy and Beth about our daily routine. “Directly after school, we always grab a snack and sit at the kitchen table to do our homework.”

The new kids easily settled into our routine. Somehow we managed with food and daily supplies. But the bills hadn’t come in yet. I was worried about how much more we would be paying. And with the extra money we spent on snacks and supplies like toilet paper and laundry soap, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to pay them without taking money from our Christmas fund.

Two weeks later, the school called again. The counselor asked what we were doing for Christmas.

“Good question,” I said, laughing a little anxiously. “I’m not sure yet.”

“Do Andy and Beth have Christmas presents?”

“They brought a few with them, but that’s all they have,” I said. “We don’t have a lot of money, but Santa will come. I guess Christmas will just be smaller this year.”

“We adopt families at Christmas,” she said. “We would like to adopt Andy and Beth if that would be okay with you.”

Silence.

“We already have people standing by to bring the gifts to your house. We have two bicycles and toys and clothes. You could put them away until Christmas.”

“Okay.” Inside I was silently thanking God. My boys wanted new bikes for Christmas too, but if we had to buy presents for Andy and Beth, we couldn’t get them. We couldn’t afford five bikes and we wanted everyone to have an equal Christmas.

Within a half hour, four cars pulled up and eight people began carrying in bags and boxes filled with gifts and food.

The phone rang again. It was another group that wanted to bring food. Just as the first group was leaving, the next group drove up with bags filled with food. My cupboards had never been so full.

After taking inventory, I hid the presents for Andy and Beth. That evening, my husband and I went shopping for our boys. We were able to get them everything they wanted and all the kids would be having a comparable Christmas. Our excitement returned.

But then the bills began arriving. I opened the water bill first. It was much lower than it had ever been. I stared at the paper thinking it must be some mistake, but silently thanked God for the blessing.

I opened the electric bill next. It was lower too. Even though we had used more, our bills reflected less. I knew that our holiday would be extra special this year.

It was. The kids awoke to a tree piled high with presents. We ate turkey and ham, potatoes and gravy, all sorts of vegetables, rolls, and deserts. Mr. Brown spent the day. And no one talked of anything sad. We played. We ate. And we thanked God for the blessings he bestowed on our two families.

Andy and Beth remained for two more months. And God continued to bless our home. We gave in our need and got more than we’d ever had before. We received love from a family that needed our help, we received joy from helping others, and we received faith that came from a shower of unexpected blessings.

~Kelley Hunsicker

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