2.18.2016

More Than Giving Up

We hovered above our plates at the restaurant. Scott and I both shoveling in our food. Our window of well behaved children was a small one, and we both knew it. As I was forking in my veggie lasagna and Scott his shrimp pasta - because it was Friday, and Lent - we were both trying to keep the kids fed, entertained, and tantrum-free.

Throughout our whirlwind of an attempt at a family dinner I noticed two older gentleman at a table very near ours. They both occasionally would glance our way and give small nods of the head and knowing smiles. As if to say, "We've been there before, we understand." Thankfully, our kids hadn't (yet) thrown any food or shed any tears. But, somehow, these two older men seemed to know our situation. We were a family of four, just trying to have a civilized meal together, and trying to teach our kids how to behave in public (and mostly succeeding).

As I was nearing the end of my dish - still piping hot - I was bouncing Julia on my knee. She was getting fussy (even though I'd thrown the white flag and nursed her right there at our table - sorry not sorry). Her little whimpers were turning louder and more frantic. That peaceful window was about to slam shut. 

I took one last gulp of my sangria, knowing there wasn't any chance I'd actually get to finish it, and started packing Julia into the stroller. As I began to stand the two gentlemen were finishing up their meal. One of the men leaned close to us, flashed the sweetest smile and said, "You have a beautiful family." I couldn't help but beam. We'd avoided a scene in public and collected a compliment. 

Outside, Julia and I walked laps around a fountain, waiting for Scott and Marcus to finish their meals. It wasn't too much after I'd left the table that both my guys exited the restaurant. I was shocked at how quickly they had finished, and how fast they had paid the tab. 

Scott came closer, a look of disbelief on his face. He said, "You will never believe what just happened to us." My mind started to race, surely this wasn't going to be good. But he continued, "Those two men picked up our bill. The whole thing." And I couldn't believe it. I was shocked. Nothing like that had ever happened to us.

As we walked to the car we were both stunned. Scott turned to me and said, "We've been looking for something to do together during Lent this year. I think this is it. This was our sign. We're supposed to pay it forward. The next time we can, we should pay for a family's dinner. This is such a great start to Lent." 

I couldn't have agreed more. 

Now, I'm asking anyone who is reading this, have you challenged yourself this Lenten season?

What if... the next time you are in the Starbucks line you pick up the coffee of the frazzled mother behind you who is desperate for that cup of caffeine goodness to get her through the morning. 

What if... the next time you're out to eat, you see a family who is desperate for a family meal together - even if it means one parent has to walk laps around the restaurant to keep a baby from crying - you pick up their meal? 

What if one little gesture makes someone's day?

What if we all paid it forward this season?

22 comments:

  1. I have goosebumps. Because this is seriously the sweetest. And I'm obsessed with the pay it forward idea. OBSESSED.

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  2. I love this! God works in mysterious ways! Definitely pay it forward!

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  3. Wow!! What an amazing story! I love this! Great idea, I'm totally doing it next time we go out!

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  4. I have tears in my eyes! Such a sweet story!

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  5. Oh friend, I love this!! There are such good people in this world. If we go out to supper and Nate sees anyone that appears to be a Veteran he picks up their tab. I think next time I want to look for a family with young kids. We've all been there! I love the pay-it-forward movement!!

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  6. LOVE. What an AMAZING story! I've read about this with strangers but I've never known anyone that this has happened to. What an amazing, amazing thing those men did for you guys! SO sweet. I love the pay it forward idea!

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  7. So sweet! I love the sentiment of this! We don't do Lent, but that doesn't mean it isn't applicable to any season of life. Thanks for this, my dear <3

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  8. Wow, that is awesome! And I love this idea. I always forget to do something like this because it's not the norm, but this was a great post and a great reminder! Especially during Lent.

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  9. So I may have just teared up a bit reading this! How incredibly sweet is that!!! There are good people in the world with big hearts! This past Saturday I took Cam to grab some donuts for Valentine's Day morning. They were completely out, but Cam was determined to have donuts so we found a table at our favorite mom and pop donut shop and prepared to wait 15 to 20 minutes until more were ready. An older man at the table next to us had an oxygen tank and Cam was asking what it was for, so I was trying to explain it to him and the man looked over with a smile, said he never had kids and wanted to buy Cam a drink. He gave Cam $1.00 to pick whatever he wanted. He chose a milk and was so excited to pay for it himself. And the sweet owner of the shop gave Cam a donut as soon as they were ready to eat for free while we waited on the rest of our half dozen. My heart was so full as we left and made our way home. And Cam learned a great lesson that we do nice things for other people. I totally agree with you about paying it forward! We will be doing that this season for sure!

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  10. How cool!! What a great idea for Lent.

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  11. Wow, I love this! And now I'm inspired :)

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  12. It's so easy to only think of ourselves- such a great reminder to turn our thoughts to others instead!

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  13. Definitely teared up! I love this idea & how you have taken a good samartain's deed and turned it into inspiration for others as well!

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  14. Oh friend this was just what I needed to read today. Such a beautiful and encouraging post to challenge us too.

    You do have a beautiful family <3!

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  15. What a sweet, sweet story! Thanks for sharing! I just paid for the person behind me in line at Starbucks last week. We both pulled up at the same time and she let me go through the drive-thru first so it was the least I could do! It definitely made me feel good the rest of the day!

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  16. This is the sweetest story! Brought tears to eyes! How amazingly wonderful people can be. And youre such a deserving family!!!

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  17. That is such a great story!!! So awesome. We watch part of the movie Pay It Forward in my first semester class. It's such an important idea to make the world better.

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  18. Oh this makes me so happy! What a sweet gesture. Lent is the perfect season to pay that forward.

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