Sunday, July 19, 2015

Breakfast: the most important meal


July 19, 2015 

 Page 6 B  


Breakfast: the most important meal


 By Peggy Toney Horton 
          After a lengthy divorce and vicious child-custody battle, Janet, a young mother with two small children was almost ready to throw in the towel. It had been a difficult two years and although the children were still with her, she didn’t have a job and things were tough. She hadn’t worked while she was married. Her husband made enough money to keep them and preferred she didn’t work. That was fine with Janet. She liked caring for her children and enjoyed experiencing their first words, first steps and other firsts herself instead of hearing about them from someone else.
But, with the divorce, things had changed. She needed a job. And with only a high school education, she was limited to minimum wage jobs. She applied everywhere, but nothing happened. Child support wasn’t enough to pay the bills and feed them and her pride wouldn’t allow her to ask for help. She fought against a feeling of desperation but never lost faith that God would take care of them, praying constantly.
It was the middle of winter. The children, Ethan, 8 and Emily, 4 asked to sleep with their mother so they could stay warm. She allowed it. Huddled together in the queen-size bed, they slept warm and cozy until about five a.m. Who knows what woke them, but they were suddenly all three awake. It was still dark outside.
Emily spoke first. “I’m hungry,” she said. “Me, too,” echoed her brother. Their mother put an arm around each of them and said, “I’m a little hungry myself,” but even as she spoke the words, her mind raced. She couldn’t think of a thing to feed her children. They’d eaten the last of the cereal yesterday morning and there were only a few slices of stale bread. The child support check that was supposed to come yesterday didn’t – so she wasn’t able to go to the grocery store. She prayed the check would be in the mailbox this morning!
“I want the two of you to stay in bed while I go see what I can find to eat,” she told her children.
“Okay,” they said.
In the kitchen, almost in tears, she thought – What will I do? My kids are hungry and I have nothing to feed them.
After looking through the cabinets and finding only canned milk, some spices and a few crackers, she opened the refrigerator. There was about a third of a gallon of milk and a half stick of margarine. At least they could have milk to drink! No eggs. No bacon. Tears began to well in her eyes as she opened the freezer door, expecting it to be bare, too. But, to her surprise, she saw a package of fish sticks and a plastic bag filled with corn on the cob.
She hurriedly placed the corn in a pan of water, threw in some salt and put it on the stove burner. She then put the fish sticks on a baking sheet and slipped it into the oven, turned it on and set the timer. Then she went to the bedroom to get her children.
“Get up and wash your hands,” she said. “We’ll be eating in a few minutes.”
“What’re we having?” asked Ethan.
“You’ll see,” she said. “It’s a surprise.”
In the kitchen, she told them to sit at the table. She placed napkins and forks in front of them and poured two glasses of milk.
The oven timer dinged and she pulled the tray of fish sticks out, divided them up on their plates and gave each of them an ear of corn slathered with margarine and sprinkled with salt. The food was steaming hot and smelled delicious!
While the three of them ate the unusual breakfast fare, they talked about a variety of things and giggled as kids and mothers often do. At that moment, nothing else mattered except enjoying a meal together that was filling their empty tummies – and they were happy!
But that’s not the end of the story. Spring came and the young mother found employment. Things began to look better, although, even with child support, a minimum wage job wasn’t enough to make ends meet. But Janet didn’t worry. She always had faith that God would take care of her and her children.
Yet, one afternoon, she found herself in nearly the same predicament as before. Dinnertime loomed. The cupboards were almost bare. The next day was payday but today, she had only a couple of dollars. But instead of worrying, she said to the children, “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s go for a walk.”
They stopped watching TV and ran to the door – always eager to take a walk with Mom. About halfway around the block, there was a beautiful church. Janet slowed down to read the marquee, which read: “Today’s To-Do List...Thank God!” Just then, something on the ground caught her attention. She picked it up and found in her hand a folded $20. bill. She couldn’t believe it. “It’s probably ‘play’ money,” she said. But it wasn’t! Unfolding it, she saw that it was not only one $20. bill, but there were two folded together! Forty dollars! Looking up to the sky, Janet obeyed the words on the marquee. “Thank you, God!” she said. “Once again, You have shown me Your loving mercy!”
As years passed, Janet and her children often reminisced about the walk that led them to a much-needed $40 right in front of God’s house. But even closer to their hearts was the memory of one cold, dark January morning when God provided frozen fish sticks and corn on the cob for their breakfast.
They would never forget it!

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro and can be reached at