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Have you ever heard people say that the family who sits down to eat a meal together around the table sticks together through thick and thin? Too often we are so busy being busy with work, running to soccer practice, or dance, or baseball, or football, or another meeting, or shopping, or playing on the computer, or talking on the phone, or texting, or combing our hair, putting on makeup, or whatever, that we don’t take the time to sit down at the dinner table and reconnect with each other. There are many who never sit down together and break bread due to overwhelming schedules of life. It’s a pretty sad shame too, since there are many benefits to eating together as a family if you can fit it in your schedule. Now I’m not talking about sitting around the television in the living room with a television tray full of food. I am talking about honest to goodness “Pass me the potatoes please, and how was your day”? conversation.
There are so many benefits that result from being able to eat together and look one another in the eye and actually hear each other breathe. There was a study done by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth entitled “How American Children Spend Their Time,” which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family which found that having family time meals on a regular basis results in fewer behavioral problems. According to an article published in 2006 in “New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development”, family time dinners are even more important from a vocabulary standpoint than being read to. It was found that young children learn 1000 rare words at the dinner table in comparison to only about 145 words from parents who read books out loud to them. It only makes sense that there is more focus at the dinner table and obviously more comprehension. No television, no phones, no computers, no noisy noise for a few minutes…. Sounds too good to be true……..but something you might get used to… right?
Being able to sit down and eat together as a family gives you a sense of belonging, and reminds you that you don’t have to face this old world on your own. It’s important especially for young children to give them that sense of security as often as we can. So if you want to do something good for your family that will last and last, encourage everyone to try to sit down at the table at least for a few minutes, at least once or twice a week if you don’t already. It will make all the difference in the world. Children will remember those times for years to come, as they try to instill the same values, and quiet times in their own families that they were taught and can recall made a difference in their own lives and upbringing. Bind the family together and wrap them with the minutes of together moments forever. “So that’s what breathing sounds like?” Honest to goodness!
A few days ago I took a drive up to a local convenience store by my house to buy a soft drink and a bag of Doritos. I don’t know what it is, but every now and then I just have this craving for a Pepsi and a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos. There is just something about that combination that I really like. Maybe it’s all that salt, caffeine, and sugar that keeps me coming back. Why do they have to place all those Doritos bags on the end of the aisles where they are constantly whispering my name the second I walk in the door anyway? Just like they place all those toys for the Happy Meals at McDonald’s right at the kids eye level to try to entice them to scream at their parents until they get what they want. I usually sit in the car as soon as I make my purchase, eat the whole bag of Doritos and gulp down a 32 oz Pepsi. It is like a special treat since we usually don’t keep that type of so-called junk food around the Smith house.
This time I had my car parked up near the front of the store just outside a Red Box movie location when two guys walked up close to my car with scummy looking backpacks on. I didn’t think much of it at first until I happened to glance up after polishing off my last Dorito and I see a young man who looked to be about 16 years old waving to me with his left hand and trying to talk to me. I had the windows rolled up so I couldn’t hear what he was saying and to tell you the truth, I was really just trying to ignore him because I pretty much figured he was homeless and he was trying to ask me for some money. This kid looked pretty clean-cut but the older guy he was with looked real dirty, had a long stringy tangled up beard, and his clothes were pretty well disheveled and wrecked out just like the baseball cap on his head.
The young kid kept motioning to me and I pretended not to see him as I kept my head down, put my truck in reverse and pulled out of the parking lot. I am not sure why I pulled out so fast without even offering him a single dollar, but I did. Maybe I wasn’t sure of what he would do, or maybe I was not sure what the other guy with him might do but I left anyway and headed back to my house which was only about a block or so away. As I drove down the street to my house, the Holy Spirit started dealing with me, and asking me why I didn’t help those two guys when I had a chance. I only had ten dollars with me at the time, but I could have given them at least a few dollars. I stopped before I got home, turned my car around and went back to the Red Box location to see if the homeless guys were still there and they had already left.
Yesterday while I was on the way to an office store I pulled up to a red light just before the freeway on ramp and there she was. The sun was shining bright and I had the music turned up loud. All I wanted to do was to get to the store and get back home. I couldn’t avoid her though since I was at the front of the line and she was standing only about 15 feet from me. Her hair was long, grey, and a total mess as it blew haphazardly in the wind. Her clothes were dirty and crumpled all over. In her withered, rough hands she held a cardboard sign that read “Homeless and Hungry Please Help – GOD BLESS YOU”. She looked to be about sixty years old. My windows were rolled up again. I opened my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill, turned down the radio, rolled down the car window and motioned for her to come over with my hand hanging over the edge of the door.
She approached the car and we just stared at each other for a few seconds without saying anything as I gave her the five dollars. I broke the silence and asked her if she was okay. “What an ignorant question to ask someone who is homeless?” I thought after I had already blurted out my stupidity. She stared back at me deep into my eyes and with a mouth full of missing teeth said ” I don’t have a home now and I was beat up”. I grabbed her rough hand, held it in mine and said, “What’s your name?” “Donna”, she said. I replied – “Donna I’m sorry, I will pray for you.” “Thank you so much”, she said. And with that she walked back over to her position she was in where she was pleading with her sign for people to help her. I rolled up the window since the light was getting ready to change and she glanced over at me. Just then I could see her mouth say the words – “Thank you”, as I put my foot on the gas and pulled off.
I made it to the Staples Office store which was only a few blocks from where Donna was standing and pulled into the parking lot. With tear drops wetting my eyes I bowed my head down on the steering wheel and prayed for Donna. I realized in that moment that it could be me or anyone for that matter. We are all only just a few paychecks or sicknesses away from standing on a street corner just like Donna. I know I should have done more. So many times in the past I’ve driven on by the homeless and tried to ignore them as if they were invisible. Thank you LORD for making me see those I have made invisible with my own eyes and for giving me another opportunity to help those in need. All we have belongs to you anyway GOD and we are just managing what you give us.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also himself shall cry, and not be heard.
Proverbs 21:13 KJV
The smell of fresh baby powder
The smile of a newborn baby
Mom seeing her daughter for the first time in her wedding dress
A dad seeing his son graduate from high school
A red rose in full bloom
Lush fresh-cut green grass
A baby’s first steps
Bright orange sunrises and purple sunsets
Rainbows after a rain
Letter from a friend
Breakfast in bed
A cat playing with a shoestring
Playing my favorite songs on the radio and singing along in the car
Eating a full plate of spaghetti with my favorite homemade sauce
Cherry cheese cake
Popcorn and a movie at home
Talking to old friends on the phone about our days of childhood
Going barefoot in the summertime
Jumping in the pool on the first day of summer and making a big splash with a cannonball
Someone who says thank you
Raindrops on an umbrella
Cloudy days that make me stop and think
Tears that heal and cleanse after it rains in life
Chocolate chip cookies
Flying kites on a sunny and windy day
Mexican food with lots of hot peppers
A day at the beach and feeling the cold sand squish between my toes in the heat of the day with gulls flying high above
Colored water fountains at night dancing to music
The smell of hot dogs, mustard, and relish at a baseball game
Hearing the announcer at a pro baseball game say “Let’s Play Ball”
Birds singing in the morning to each other
Closing my eyes and feeling the gentle warm breeze brush against my face as I hear the leaves of the trees rubbing against each other nearby
Seeing the pinpoints of bright light against GOD’s black blanket on a clear night
Blowing soap bubbles with an entire bottle of liquid soap to see how big I can make the bubbles
Spending time with my best friend
Salsa and chips
Hope of heaven and what is yet to come
A glass of cold ice tea on a hot humid day as droplets of moisture run down all along the outside of the glass
Reading a good book I love
Making someone else happy
Building a snowman and making angels in the snow
Listening to the waves crash along the shoreline at the beach and then wait for them to return with reinforcements
Sound of silence after someone has stated something of profound truth
Being alone if I want to be and with people if I want to be
Those moments of calm after a storm and just before
The learning that results in the storms of life
Knowing GOD is with us always and will never leave us or forsake us
Knowing the answer to a question
Relaxing after a long week
I had just finished going to Walmart to pick up some orange juice and eggs for breakfast in my old red pick-up truck and there he stood on the corner at the light where I had to make a left turn to go home. His hair was disheveled just like his clothes and it looked like he hadn’t taken a bath in several weeks. His face was haggard looking with lines and creases everywhere from too much sun and too much of life. In his hands he held a small makeshift cardboard sign that had the words scribbled in black magic marker “ Help Me – I’m Hungry“.
As I pulled up to the corner next to him I tried not to make eye contact as I waited for the light to change but something inside pulled at me as I glanced at the change and a few dollar bills I had laying in an open ash tray. I thought ” I don’t wanna give this guy any money. All he is gonna do is go buy some drugs somewhere.” He did look kind of rough and I was sure he was on drugs of some sort. For whatever reason, I rolled down the window and he slowly lumbered to the car door. He smiled and looked me in the eyes. His eyes were piercing and looked as if there was some kind of light coming from inside of him. I grabbed the change and worn out dollar bills that amounted to about five dollars and placed it in his large rough hand. My wife Carol was always giving money to street corner guys that were homeless, but I had never even thought of doing it. Why am I doing this?
I smelled the stench as he drew even closer. He looked me square in the eyes and said ” Thank you Jerry.” I had never met this guy, but somehow he knew my name! He smiled at me over his shoulder as he walked away from the car but he didn’t go back to panhandling. He turned and simply walked down the highway in the opposite direction I was turning.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2 KJV Bible
Tomorrow, Monday May 25th is the last day you can get a free copy of my latest book on Amazon
“Papa’s Family Recipes.”
Make sure you get a copy to read if you have not already and have a great Memorial Day!
Click on the Link below to take you to the site.
With the upcoming Memorial Day Holidays I am making my latest book “Papa’s Family Recipes” available on Amazon from Thursday, May 21st – Monday, May 25th for a period of (5) days.
Papa’s Family Recipes is a true story about my late father-in law, Alberto Petrucci, the son of emigrant Italian parents from Detroit, Michigan. Alberto went on to become one of the largest contractors in the Midwest. Alberto, known to those in his family as “Papa”, had a passion for cooking and loving his family. Papa left behind a treasure trove of tasty Petrucci family recipes that you will love. Have you ever met someone you liked the very first time you met them? That is what people said about Papa.
Grab a free copy and have a great Memorial Day weekend! I appreciate any reviews if you have time to leave one!
Click Link below to take you to Papa’s Family Recipes
My new book “Papa’s Family Recipes” is now available on Amazon. Papa was written in honor of my late father-in law who became like a father to me. He was the son of emigrant Italian parents in the City of Detroit and went on to become one of the largest contractors in the Midwest. He was a great cook but an even greater father-in law who I truly miss. Stop by and check out Papa’s Family Recipes where you can find some great Italian recipes and learn about the man called “Papa”.
Click link below
I just finished my new book called “Papa’s Family Recipes” which was written in honor of my late father-in law Alberto Petrucci. Alberto was the son of emigrant parents from the city of Detroit and went on to become one of the largest contractors in the Midwest. He was a very kind, caring, and humble man who loved his family deeply.
Papa also had a passion for cooking and was quite good at it. He left behind a treasure trove of his favorite family recipes for everyone to try. His spaghetti sauce is unbelievable! This was a somewhat emotional book to write as I reflected upon the years we spent together before his illness and eventual death. Have you ever met someone you liked the very first time you met them? That was the man called “Papa”.
Papa will soon be available at Barnes and Noble and is now available as an e-book on Amazon for pre-order at the link below. Papa will be published on Friday, March 27th. I hope you enjoy reading Papa’s Family Recipes!