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Making ends meet on a new teacher’s salary isn’t easy–especially not when you’re the single mom of a two-year-old. Looking over my budget at the kitchen table, I could see things were about to get worse as Christmas approached.
Zackary’s day care usually provided his breakfast and lunch, but we’d both be eating at home during winter break. “Looks like we’re going to have to get very creative with our meals,” I told Zackary in his high chair beside me. He popped another Cheerio into his mouth.
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I went to the cupboard to take stock before making a smart grocery list. Well, that was quick, I thought. Besides the absolute basics, one lone can of cherry pie filling gathered dust in the corner.
Cherry pie was my favorite, but it wouldn’t get us very far. My son and I needed nutritional foods we could stretch. Dessert just wasn’t in the budget for now. My mouth watered as I took the can down from the shelf. I knew what I’d do with it. “Okay, Zack,” I said. “Let’s make that list.”
I felt good the next day as I placed my can among the piles of donations at the church food drive. It wasn’t much, but it was something. “No matter how tough things seem,” I explained to Zack, “somebody’s always got it worse.”
He didn’t yet understand what I was talking about, but I smiled thinking that another mom out there would soon fill her kitchen with the sweet smell of a fresh-baked cherry pie. Zackary and I went on to do our shopping.
My list got us through several days before I realized that we wouldn’t make it on our own. I stared into the cupboard, almost as empty as when it held that lone can of pie filling. Lord, who am I kidding? I can’t stretch nothing into something.
A knock at the door made me jump up. Zackary clapped playfully. He had no idea what a dire situation we were in. I only hoped I wouldn’t find more bad news at my door.
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Instead I opened up to find one of the guys from church. “Hey, Vicki,” he said. He held a big box in his arms. “We decided this year’s food donations would go to our single moms, and this is for you.”
I was speechless. I ushered him inside and he plopped the overstuffed box on my countertop. “Merry Christmas!” He gave my son a high five before heading out the door.
Zackary giggled. I felt like laughing too as I sorted through canned goods, pasta, jars of sauces and condiments. Enough hearty meals to last way past Christmas. Then I got to the bottom of the box.
Tucked into the corner was a can I knew well. My can of cherry pie filling! The Lord had stretched my faith with a sweet reminder of his love. Dessert was definitely in our budget tonight.
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