Throughout the month of November, I want to take time to share about people or things I am grateful for over the past year. Previous entries: Jeremy Bouman, Public Libraries, Fuel Saver, Eric Carpenter, WellCare/Medicaid.

This past August, Jana and I took our boys to Jimmy’s Egg for breakfast. We haven’t gone out to eat nearly as much this past year, but we wanted to bless our boys. The past few years they’ve been involved with the Omaha and Bennington Public Libraries summer reading programs. At the end of the summer, they receive prizes for reading books throughout the summer. One of the prizes was a free short stack of pancakes courtesy of Jimmy’s Egg.

On the way there, Jana and I plotted how we could maximize our breakfasts so the boys could eat whatever sides we ordered. That way, we would be paying less.

When we arrive at Jimmy’s Egg, the boys are excited. They like the food, the service is great, and kids usually get a free sucker in the end. The boys are off and running to the door, as Jana and I are tying to catch up and calm them down.

When we walk into a restaurant at this stage of our life, it’s an adventure. I am usually hyper aware of the employees and other patrons when we go out to eat. Jim Gaffigan has a comedic bit of how his family of seven walked into a restaurant and one of the servers just upped and quit upon seeing them. Yeah. Thankfully, the staff and other customers at Jimmy’s Egg are understanding. More than once, a Jimmy’s Egg customer has come over to our table, as the boys scribble on coloring pages and try to eat the jam out of the little packets, to say something nice about our family.

This day, it was borderline chaotic. I’m sure it was entertaining to some watching. We sit down, and Jana and I are going over our orders again so we can stretch the dollars we will be spending. As Jana and I are talking, the boys are asking for the packets of jam and creamer cups so they can have a “snack” before the food arrives. While that’s happening, our server comes to the table and asks if we’d like something to drink. Before we can say “water”, the boys excitedly share what kind of juice they’d like to drink. I did not want to spend money on juice, but decided to roll with it. Part of the reason I acquiesced? I thought saying no to juice would make a scene I didn’t want to deal with at the moment. So, we got the boys juice. I shrugged my shoulders and got a coffee. The meal was meant to celebrate the boys reading so many books, so let’s celebrate a bit…with orange juice.

It was one of those moments that has come up over the past year a lot. Thinking about how a little purchase I used to make without thinking was now something that weighed heavily on me. Just a kids juice. Maybe $2? Take it times four, and it adds up.

Jana and I went back to discussing what we would order so they boys could have ours sides and enjoy a full meal. We were ready, and made the order. Sitting there, I was thinking about our situation. Our financial reality had changed, but we were managing. God had provided so far. Why would He stop now? I don’t think us ordering juice, to celebrate the boys’ reading, was going to cause Him to say, “Okay, that’s it! No more provision for you!”

When our waitress brings us our meal, she leans over to tell us some “anonymous friend” has already paid for our meal.

I’m trying to take in this wonderful news. Jana starts crying, which gets me emotional. The boys are asking, “What’s going on? Why is mom crying? Are you okay mom?” So, I’m trying to talk to them, and comfort Jana, while processing the moment.

God, you are with us. You are smiling.

After Jana and I regained our composure, we were explaining to the boys what had just happened. In that moment it was so divine I told everyone before we ate, “This is a holy meal!”

During the meal, Jana asked if I tried to look around and see if we knew anyone there. I usually try to scan the room when entering, but hadn’t that time because of the boys’ excitement. After hearing our meal was paid for, I did a quick glance. Then, I went back to eating. The “friend” wanted to remain anonymous. They are still. That doesn’t mean I can’t publicly be grateful for their gift, our holy meal, and how God used it to minister to my family that day.

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