Martha looked at the list on the counter and grabbed a pen.

“No this won’t do, I need a red pen. I have to make sure to pick up the dry cleaning.”


Martha ran to her office and with shaking fingers dug through the disorganized drawer.

“I drank too much coffee this morning. I have to watch that and this drawer has got to be organized.”


At last she found the red pen and scurried back to the kitchen. Under the last item on the to-do list, Martha wrote in red letters “PICK UP DRY CLEANING”. She started back to the office but decided to add “ORGANIZE DRAWER”.


Minutes later, Martha pulled into the Jewel parking lot and stopped the car. A sigh escaped her lips and she felt pressure in her chest. When would this crazy schedule end? The kids are grown, even the grandkids are older now … yet Martha constantly felt on a deadline and always just out of reach of being finished.


Breathing deeply, Martha glanced out the front windshield. A woman was pulling a screaming toddler while clutching two drooping grocery bags. Glancing to the side she saw a man with a furrowed brow intently packing his purchases into the back end of his car. A red-faced woman in another car stabbed her fingers wildly into the air while apparently shouting on her phone.


Martha turned off the engine and grabbed her grocery list. She had parked on the side of the lot that was ringed with trees and grass. As she got out of the car, she saw squirrels chasing each other and darting from tree to tree. One of them, particularly fat was clutching an acorn. Another raced up a tree chased by two other squirrels. The more she watched them dart around, the more they reminded her of her life.


Martha pursed her lips and with determined steps headed to the Jewel entrance. And then she stopped.


There on the curb toward the end of the building sat a man in a tattered coat with his head down. Sensing her presence, the man looked up.


“Spare some change lady. I’m out of work … just trying to get gas money to look for a job.”


Cynical yet feeling guilty, Martha opened her purse and gave the man two singles.


“God bless you ma’am.”


 She doubted the man had a car to put gas in or was looking for work. Martha hurried through shopping and tapped her foot impatiently in the line. Finally she was out the door.


Glancing down at the next thing on her list, Martha felt vaguely disquieted.

He was still there. She could see lines in his face. She could hear the squirrels chattering nearby. Martha drew nearer and his anxious eyes met hers.


Half an hour later, both Martha and “Ben” as she had come to know him rose to their feet and shook hands.


“Ben, I have to tell you. I gave you two dollars but I have a twenty in my purse. God was not pleased with me … so please accept this from Him.”


As the twenty-dollar bill was pressed into Ben’s hand, Martha hugged him, then turned and headed to her car.

Ben stood with tears streaming down his face.

Martha got into her car, picked up her list for today and tore it into pieces. She took out a fresh piece of paper from her purse and wrote “Prayer List” at the top then put “BEN” on the first line. Then Martha headed home.


And then … God smiled.