His Smile


Dani and I were Christmas shopping.  I was determined to get the last of it done yesterday, ten full days before Christmas.  I did most of my shopping on line this year, but there are always those few odds and ends and things that just aren’t practical to order through a web site.  We had several stops to make, but  I’d  made my list, checked it twice, and we had a fairly purposeful route planned out.  I would enjoy being a passenger while Dani drove.  Somewhere along the line I remembered that Copper had asked us to pick up communion cups for church.  Rats!  Another stop!

But God’s plans are not our plans. 

We were stopped at a signal at a busy intersection, on our way to pick up those communion cups, when I spotted him.  A man, carrying his possessions in a back  pack, with a bed roll across the top, his young dog leashed and walking by his side.  We noticed the taped together, partial bag of dog food tied to his pack.  Across the back pack was a hand lettered, cardboard sign, written in red ink.  The sign simply said, “Hungry”.  He wasn’t on the corner with his hand out.  He wasn’t standing behind his “hungry” sign watching for the windows of passing motorists to roll down and hand him some money.  He and his dog were just walking. 

My girl and I quickly tried to figure where we might best encounter this man.  Our light was still red and he was moving away from us but headed in the same direction we were. 

Maybe we could pull in and catch him at the bus turn out.  Our signal was still red, and he was already passing the turn out.  When the light clicked green, I pointed Dani toward a driveway that would take us behind the buildings of a shopping center, a driveway primarily used by delivery trucks.  We passed the walking man on our way by.  His head was down as he walked.

Dani keeps a supply of McDonald’s gift cards in the console of our car.  In my mad scramble to quickly grab one of those cards, my shopping list fell in the narrow gap between my seat and the console, I bruised the back of my hand on the hard plastic insert of the console, and I generally created havoc in the front seat of the car!  Yeah, that’s me.  Graceful.  McDonald’s card in hand, I got out of the car, walked to the sidewalk and said, “Hi” to the man.

He was so young!  Around Dani’s age, I’d guess.  I asked him, “Are you hungry?”.  His eyes met mine with a bit of caution.  I asked again, “Your sign says you’re hungry.  Are you?”  He nodded yes.  The dog strained at his leash toward me, and I stepped back.  “Is the dog okay?”.  “Yeah, he’s fine.  Friendly.” 

“Here’s a $5 McDonald’s gift card for you.  McDonald’s is back around the corner that way”, and I pointed.  He smiled!  “For sure”, he said, his smile widening, his face beaming, and then, “Thank you.”  His smile was genuine, and full of gratitude.  That smile made him look even younger.  I left him with a “God bless you” as we parted ways. 

By the time I was back in my car, he was headed back in the direction he’d come from, headed for that McDonald’s and a simple meal.  He held his head up now, and there was a bit of a spring in his step.  His back was again towards me, but I could still see that smile.

The Gingerbread Latte that Dani had bought for me earlier was still warm.  I sipped it all day.  The drink cost almost as much as the card I’d given that young man, that hungry young man, to buy a meal.

I’ve thought of that young man many times today.  His unassuming way.  His caution at being approached by a stranger.  But mostly I remember his smile, and the gift it was to me. 

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 

Matthew 25:34-40 NASB


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24 comments to His Smile

  • Welcome back.  It is not ours to figure out, just to love!

    Thanks for living this example and sharing it for me. I needed to read this today.Fletch

  • Bless you! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • How wonderful it was to “see” you on my Google Reader, my friend.

    These days, it is possible that young man is educated and without a job.  How you blessed him and perhaps God led you to him so you can daily pray for him for awhile.

    Sometimes it seems when we are called to do God’s work, that is when the enemy works against us and makes something go wrong, doesn’t it?  Miss you!

  • What a treat to hear from you via your blog today! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it out..  As always, you are a blessing.  I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas and that you are all well.  I have missed your blog, and Dani’s too, very much!

  • Hi Cheryl,

    It is wonderful to see you back. What a wonderful ideal. I never thought of having gift cards on me. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a Merry Christmas.


  • Wow!  I’ve got goosebumps after reading that.  Thanks for sharing.  What a reminder to us to do good where we can.

  • So Happy to see you posting. And what a wonderful post to begin with.

    So many people are out of work and money is pretty slim for them.I am sure he appreciated his warm meal.

  • What an encouraging heart-warming story.  Thank you for sharing it with us Cheryl.

  • ((((*hug*))))

    i’ve seen this young man and his dog lately and am thankful you stopped and blessed him. there’s a man with a burley trailer that spends time between the ‘discovery shop’ and ‘big lots.’ had a nice conversation with him one day – gave him a shirt and some cash. when i came out of the shop i saw that he was eating. touched my heart. one particular thing about this man is his eyes – the most clear blue i’ve seen in ages. tis a blessing to give …

  • It’s such a great thing to have those gift certificates with you.  I keep trying to remember to buy them.  We have given money and prayed that it’s used for food.  It’s always a blessing to help people less fortunate than us.  So wonderful to  see you posting..you were truly missed.  Blessings.

  • I type through the tears….oh how you blessed me.

  • I have so waited for you to come back, and this was a perfect post! 🙂 Thank you, and may God continue to use you in the Mighty way he already has!

  • I am so glad to see a post from you! It’s been forever.

    I think of you often and pray for you and your family…What a lovely thing to do~my Josh did the same for a vet he saw and the man was also very appreciative.This is the true meaning of Christmas ~giving to others because God gave so freely and generously to us…Merry Christmas Cheryl!Please post more, pretty please?!!

  • So good to see you again and bless you for giving to the young man.  Merry Christmas!

  • God Bless you!  I’ve missed you!  Have a wonderful Christmas! 

  • Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story!

  • Wow, having gift cards on hand is a wonderful idea! It is so good to “see” you again! Pray that all is well with you and yours and that you have a fantastic Christmas!

  • So nice to see you posting again!

    So kind of you to share with that young man. I hope he’ll be able to keep his dog in food too.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  • So glad you are blogging again.  Your blog has been a blessing to me during my early years as a mom and homemaker.  Because of you I use the phrase “hold our plans loosely” all the time!  You also inspired me to create a home library for my family and to become an organized homemaker.  It is also because of your blog and others that I am exploring homeschooling as a future option. 

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.  Angela

  • Excellent post Cheryl! I struggle with how to help. My husband doesn’t want to hand them money because we heard a father ask that people don’t give money to the homeless because his son is one of them and he uses the money for drugs. But.. there is still the issue of hunger and I think you addressed it beautifully. I think the gift certificates to McDonald’s is a perfect solution.

    Glad you are back! I missed your posts.

  • Welcome back!  It’s so nice to see you again.  Thanks for this wonderful post.  I never thought of having gift cards in my car but now I will be buying some to keep there.  What a blessing!

  • I’m so thrilled to see you back blogging and what a way to come back after an absence.   LOVE the idea of the gift cards and will have to look into their availability here.