A few years ago I was in a downtown area when a man approached me begging for money. He told me that his wife was pregnant and that he was stranded. He said he needed money to put some gas in his car to get back to her. Having recently had a pregnant wife, I felt sorry for him and I reached down into my pockets and gave him all the cash I had. I then went about my day feeling like I had done something good.
Two weeks later I had business back downtown and found myself in the same area as the previous encounter. I was startled when the same man came up to me and offered the same story begging for money. To say the least, I was rattled. I had been duped.
After that, it was hard for me to trust people who were begging for money, but all that changed one Friday. I had run by a fast-food joint for a quick lunch and was on my way out of the drive-through when I noticed a man in a wheelchair by the exit. He was holding a ragged cardboard box and a small sign. I stopped and rolled down my window. He asked me if I’d like to buy some peanuts. He said he was selling roasted and boiled. And while I love both kinds, I knew I had several pounds of peanuts at home leftover from a birthday party.
At first I was tempted to offer him my usual “no, thanks” and drive away, but something was different about this guy. In addition to being wheelchair bound, he was wearing tattered clothes and had an expression that I will never be able to erase from my memory. He was tired. Not just from doing his best to maneuver his wheelchair around what was a scorching hot parking lot, but tired from life. He had the look of someone who had spent his entire life trying, but never succeeding. The wrinkles on his face were evidence of time—a time that had not been kind to him. I grabbed a $5 bill—it was all I had, I never carry cash with me—and handed it to him through the window. He tried his best to get me to take some peanuts, but I refused. I told him he could take those and sell them to someone else. He insisted again, but I told him no . . . that I didn’t even like peanuts. He looked me in the eyes and told me thank you, and as I turned back to pull away, he called to me and said, “God bless you, sir.”
Those simple words penetrated me like few words ever have—all the way to my soul. I realized at that very second that it isn’t my job to judge why someone is begging for money or question their plan for it. It was heavy on my heart that day to give him what I had. So I did. The truth is, he could have wheeled his rear down the street and gotten in a brand-new car. I’ll never know. But what I do know is that doing that made me feel good. He wasn’t out there just begging; he was trying his best to sell those peanuts and do what he could to make a living for himself. I respect that. And he made me realize that people like him are put in my path for a reason. They aren’t there to be judged or second-guessed.
While it certainly does my heart good to be able to help someone like him, it’s not really about that either. Sometimes people like him are put into our paths to make us realize how fortunate we each are. While that $5 might have helped to feed his family that night, that $5 fed my soul. You can’t put a price on that. We get so caught up in life that we fuss and complain when we see a sink piled high with dirty dishes, but we should be thankful because those dirty dishes mean we were able to feed our families. There are so many out there who would give everything to have a sink piled high with dirty dinner dishes. Think about that . . .
- 1 (16.5-ounce) boxed spice cake mix
- 1 (15-ounce) can plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup water
- 3 eggs
- 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cups chopped pecans
- ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly spray a 9X13 baking dish (or pan) with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the cake mix, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice.
- Stir until mixed, adding more lemon juice if necessary to get the mixture smooth and just pourable.
- Pour half of the cake batter into the baking pan and then drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top.
- Gently spread the cream cheese mixture as much as possible, but don't stress over getting it perfect.
- Top with the remaining cake batter and spread evenly.
- Mix the chopped pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in another bowl and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is set.
- Cool before slicing.
A hint of fall is in the air and I just about can’t wait. I am so ready for all that autumn brings, especially the cooler weather. It’s also time to return to those hearty cooler-weather soups, stews, and chili and the arrival of everything pumpkin. Now, I’ll admit that all that pumpkin can be a bit much for me, but this easy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crunch Cake it just about perfection. The crunchy pecan topping is what really puts it over the top. Even my non-pumpkin-liking family members loved this one. I just know you will, too!