“I’m hungry.”

This is perhaps the most common phrase you’ll hear in my home. I’m completely serious. I’ve got five children, all between the ages of 10 and 15.  Each of them loves to eat. In fact, they enjoying eating so much, that this is how a typical morning in my house might go: 6:30 am Julia:  Momma … I’m awake. Can I have some breakfast? I’m hungry. 7:00 am Joel: I’m hungry, Mom. Are you planning on feeding me breakfast anytime soon? 7:10 am Nathan: Mom, can I make myself a couple of fried eggs? Please?!? I’m soooo hungry! 8:00 am Maddie: GiGi, I’m hungry. I ate a peach for breakfast, but I need something else to fill my stomach. 8:10 am Megan: GiGi, I know we already ate breakfast, but I’m still hungry. Can I eat something else? 8:30 am Joel: Mom … I checked, and, seriously, there is nothing to eat in this house. What are you going to do cause I’m hungry?!

9:13 am Julia: Hey, mom … how much longer until lunch? I’m hungry! 9:25 am Nathan: Mom, I just realized it’s over 2 hours until lunch, but I’m hungry. Can I have a little snack to hold me off? 9:47 am Maddie: I hope lunch is soon, GiGi! All this schoolwork has made me hungry! 9:58 am Joel: mom … Mom … MoM … MOM … MOMMA … I’m hungry. When’s lunch? 10:04 am Megan: GiGi… did you hear that? My stomach is growling!! 10:28 am Maddie: GiGi … I’m so hungry I think I might faint.  10:32 am

Julia: Momma, isn’t it lunch time yet? I’m hungry. Megan’s hungry. Nathan is hungry. Everyone is hungry. 10:46 am Joel: I gotta lay down. I am so hungry that all I can think about is my stomach. Seriously, Mom … I need food. You can’t expect me to go on much longer. 10:58 am Megan: GiGi, I’ve noticed it is practically lunch time. Do you need me to help you make lunch or can you handle it by yourself? 11:03 am Nathan: Yay! Mom’s in the kitchen, everyone! It’s lunchtime! Maddie: Great! I thought I was going to starve to death! Joel: I hope it’s not peanut butter sandwiches again. I’m too hungry to just eat peanut butter again. Julia: Thank you, Momma! I was beginning to think you were never going to feed me! 11:15 am Mom: Lunch is served! 12:14 pm Megan: GiGi … what’s for afternoon snack? I’m feeling a little hungry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration … but not all that much!

There are seven people and two dogs in our home.  It takes LARGE amounts of food to keep everyone feeling full and happy. Not only do we eat a lot of food, we spend enormous amounts of time thinking about food, talking about food and shopping for food. A significant portion of my day is spent in my kitchen cooking and creating delicious meals. Even with all of the focus on food, it seems that we are never full.  We constantly are looking for the next opportunity to fill our stomachs and ease the hunger pains. But the question racing through my mind is this:

How can we possibly be hungry? And exactly what are we hungering for?

letterH

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Hey, Ma’am … can you help me?”

I turned around from my task of carefully arranging $300 worth of groceries in the back of my minivan.  A tall, lanky boy, not much older than Joel, approached me. Blond-headed, blue-eyed, burned from the summer sun, the acne on his face told a tale … this boy was far older than his years, and I knew it wasn’t in a good way. I gave him a smile. “I don’t know if I can help you, but I’ll be glad to listen and see if I can. What’s going on?” He stuck out his hand to shake mine, and said, “Thanks. I just need some money so my sister and I can catch the bus home. Maybe if you have some change or a couple of spare dollars … just enough for two bus tickets. Can you help me?” I looked him in the eye, searching for signs of dishonesty. There was no sister to be seen. And yet, something told me that this child needed real help. I just wasn’t sure of exactly what sort of help. “Well,” I said thoughtfully,  “I don’t ever carry much cash, but I probably have some change. Let me look and see what’s in my purse. While I’m looking, why don’t you tell me where your sister is at and how it came to be that you are here without enough money for a bus ride home.”

He looked me right in the eye for several seconds, as if he were deciding how much truth to share. Finally he said, “My sister … she’s in the store trying to get us some food. We came over here today to get food for our family to eat. There’s nothing at the house. I got kicked out of the store for stealing. And about the bus money … well, I guess we didn’t think much about the getting back home part.” “Oh. I see. So you are hungry.” “Yes, ma’am, I am hungry. My whole family is hungry.” “I see. Do you have parents? Do they work?” “Yes, ma’am …  I got parents. They mostly work temp jobs. Lately, there haven’t been any temp jobs. No jobs means no money. No money, no food.” He shuffled his feet on the pavement, looking uncomfortable now that he had answered my questions. Making a display of digging around in my purse for change, I silently pleaded with God for wisdom to help me figure out what I should do in this situation. “I’m sorry,” I said.  “That’s got to be very hard on your parents. Listen, I found $1.07 in change, but that seems to be all I’ve got. However, I do have a car full of groceries and I would be happy to share some of what I have with you.” “Oh, no! No, ma’am. You can’t do that. I can see them kids in your car. You got mouths to feed.  Besides, I’ve got no way to get any groceries home … you know, without it all going bad.” “I thought you said that you came here to steal groceries. Besides, I can give you a few things that don’t have to be kept cold. Let’s see …  I’ve got some granola bars and apples, things like that.”
“No ma’am. I won’t take your food.” His chin jutted out in a proud sort of manner. “Besides,” he continued,  “I done got kicked out of the store for stealing. If they see me out here in the parking lot with a bag of food, they might call the cops, thinking I stole something from a customer. Nope. I won’t take no food. But thank you, anyway.” “Well, I wish you would, but I understand your concerns.” I handed him the change.  “By the way, do you know about the shelters in town? They serve hot meals for free to the hungry. I can get you information and maybe even a ride to one of them.” “Oh, I know about ‘em. It’s just real hard to get there for meal times cause we got to take a bus … and besides that sort of thing isn’t for my family.” “Well, you know … stealing shouldn’t be for you either. In fact, I’d rather know you were going to a shelter for a meal than stealing from a store. Today you got caught and kicked out of the store. Next time you get caught,  it could be worse.” Once again, he looked down and shuffled his feet in embarrassment. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll think about that …but you know even in a jail they feed you meals.” He paused, looking up at me. Then as he turned around to walk off, he said, “Thank you again for the money, ma’am.” I watched him walk off for several seconds before I called out one last time, “No problem … I just wish I could do something more for you today.” My young friend stopped, slowly turned back to me and then said, “Maybe there is one more thing you could do … well, if you didn’t mind, that is …. I guess, what I want is … I mean, would you just give me a hug?”

The biggest grin broke out on my face. “That is one thing I’d be happy to do.” A second later, I felt him sort of melt into my arms the way my own boys do.  Deep down, I knew that this young man was hungry for something far greater than food. A meal would certainly appease his growling stomach, but the longing for love was much deeper and more intense than the hunger pains he felt. “God bless you!” I whispered in his ear. With those words, he quickly turned and jogged off, leaving me standing there to watch him depart. As I turned back to my minivan with its backend filled with bags and bags of groceries, my eyes filled up with tears and my heart overflowed with prayers.

As I started the car, the child sitting in the front seat turned to look at me and said,

“Mom, I’m hungry.”

H is for a world Hungry for more than food. 

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.  ~Psalm 107:9

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3 thoughts on “H is for …

  1. I myself am a very hungry person most the time. I know exactly what you mean, cause I do the same thing to my mom. hehe

  2. Oh my goodness. My heart is breaking for the boy and his family. What a sad story but so good for you for asking more questions and being as supportive as you could. I think I would have had an emotional breakdown after.

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