Worry combined with hunger can be a recipe for despair. With two mouths to feed—three if the young mother counted her own, which she wouldn’t—and cupboards that were bare, the outlook was bleak.
“I had used up every possible thing we had in the fridge and in our very small pantry,” Patricia recalls of the desperation she felt that evening knowing her children would go to bed hungry.
Her depressing plight was in the early 1970’s—a time before food banks existed to welcome the “temporary” poor.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t manage our money,” Patricia remembers about the overwhelming expenses that led to what seemed to be a hopeless situation, “but my husband had ended up in the hospital.”
The young California couple took pride in stretching their dollars; paid cash or did without. Back then, a credit card for a family just starting out was hard to come by—and never was one granted for casual spending or to pay bills.
No cash advance, no ATM machine. Only blank checks for an empty account, their bank deposit still days away.
“I literally threw up my hands in despair,” the willowy mom reflects on her shout-out to heaven. “And that’s when I said, ‘Lord, please help me! You know we have nothing to eat.’”
New to this kind of faith, her spontaneous moment seemed to bring a touch of peace. Then, with the dinner hour approaching, she gathered her little boys close. How would she explain their unanswered hunger?
Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
Without close friends in their new neighborhood, Patricia carefully opened the front door, her kindergartener and toddler peeking from behind.
“You don’t know me,” the pleasant woman on the porch announced under scrutinizing eyes, “but I heard your husband is in the hospital.”
In her hands was a huge pot of homemade soup, enough to sustain the tiny family until payday came again.
“I’ve never forgotten what that meal meant to us,” says Patricia who now serves in a church food ministry for the “temporary” poor. “The unexpected kindness changed me and my perspective on hunger.”
No wonder. The “secret” ingredient was—and still is—love.