The last time the Holy Spirit nudged me in Target, I froze.

But not tonight. Tonight, I listened…

It was supposed to be a quick trip, in and out to grab two items: bubble wrap and a cardboard box. I promised Brett I would pick up frozen yogurt on my way home. Going to Target by myself is a special treat, and one that typically entails trying on colored skinny jeans and perusing the clearance shoe aisle. But not tonight. Tonight I was good. I walked straight to the shipping supply aisle, and straight out the door.

That’s when I saw them.

A woman, holding a cardboard sign, with a little girl in a stroller next to her.

God Bless

Without hesitation, I walked right up to her and asked if I could buy her something to eat. Her eyes widened as she eagerly nodded. We walked into Target together with Miranda, her four-year-old daughter. I grabbed a basket, and shifted my roll of bubble wrap and cardboard box under one arm.

“How much….I get?” she asked. She spoke very little English.

“You can fill up this whole basket and I’ll pay for it.”

“God bless you. Thank you.”

I looked down at Miranda and noticed that her clothes were dirty. It didn’t seem to bother her. She held a toy in her hand and smiled at me more than once.

“Do you have more children?” I asked the woman.

“Yes. Boy. He is seven.”

I told her about Everett and she seemed shocked that I had a baby of my own at home. We walked to the meat and produce section of Target, where she began to carefully study the selections in front of her. She slowly reached for a whole chicken, looking back at me.

“It’s okay?”

“Yes, it’s okay. Just put it in the basket.”

She reached for some pork, looked at the price, and put it back.

“Do you want that?” I asked her.

“It’s too much. It’s ten dollars!”

“It’s okay,” I reassured her, “I will pay for everything you can fit into this basket.”

She looked at me, looked at the pork, looked at me again, and finally put it in the basket. We kept walking as she threw things into the basket I was carrying. More chicken. Tomatoes. Eggs. Yogurt. Sliced turkey. Milk. Strawberries. Peppers. A couple of lunchables for Miranda.

“I need oil and bread….that’s all,” she said.

The basket was getting too heavy for me to carry with one arm, as I awkwardly tried to readjust my bubble wrap and cardboard box.

“I take it,” she said. “You push Miranda.”

So I did. I pushed Miranda, while she looked back at me and said something in a language I didn’t understand. Her eyes were beautiful, dark mocha brown, with long curly eyelashes. She had two little clips in her hair.

We picked up oil and bread, both generic, the cheapest of options, the stuff I never buy, and headed toward the cashiers.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “I need laundry soap!”

“Okay, let’s get some.”

I know Target like the back of my hand, including where the laundry detergent is located. I pushed Miranda down the laundry aisle and grabbed a big jug of Tide.

“Oh, no no. Please. Too big. Too much.”

“It’s okay. They’re all this big. It will last you a long time. This is the kind that I use, I know it’s good.”

“No, no. It’s too much.”

“Just put it in the basket. It’s okay.”

She thanked me the whole way to the register. I asked if she had a place to live and she said yes. She told me that both her and her husband lost their jobs this year. Now she cleaned houses and her husband cleaned motels but they did not have enough money to buy food. My heart ached for her, but it ached more for Miranda.

I paid for the food and laundry detergent. The total came to $49.99. She put the bags on the handles of the umbrella stroller and said thank you again, telling me it was too much and that $50 was a lot of money. I told her that it was okay and that it wasn’t too much.

We walked out of Target together.

“God bless you,” she said to me.

“God bless YOU,” I said back to her. My eyes were stinging with tears.

Then she went right, and I went left.

I picked up the frozen yogurt I had promised Brett, and prayed for her the whole way home.

I didn’t do much. I probably could have done more. I probably should have done more. I didn’t talk to her about Jesus or give her money or offer her anything more than a few days worth of food and a few months worth of clean laundry.

But, I did something. And last time, I did nothing. Last time I froze.

I still think about that old lady in the frozen food aisle. Just like I know I’ll always remember the woman from tonight. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and it appears that in my life, He mostly speaks to me at Target. Who am I to question?

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45 Responses to unfrozen.

  1. Jo says:

    Isn’t it amazing when the Spirit gently (or forcefully ­čśë ) nudges us?! I think there was no need for you to tell her about Jesus. You acted like He would. You showed her His light and His love and He will use that to speak to her. Beautifully written, Ashlee.

  2. Elly says:

    Oh <3. That was a lovely thing you did, and you make me want to lift my game. Previously I thought giving restaurant left overs, or a small token of something I had on me for lunch was a lovely thing. It's not a lovely thing, it's a lazy, convenient for me thing. Thank you for sharing, hey, and showing that it's okay to step it up.
    Elly┬┤s last blog post ..Mamma Mia!

  3. Becky says:

    Ashlee I’m sitting at my desk at work in tears. Thank you so much for sharing this, and even more for doing something. You are incredible.
    Becky┬┤s last blog post ..Right now

  4. Jasmine says:

    Ashlee! You have tears running down my face! That was so sweet of you to do and reading this made my day!

  5. Kelly says:

    I, like Becky, am sitting at my work desk in tears and my lower lip is quivering. Loved this story. Thanks, friend.

  6. Lottie says:

    i think what you did was amazing and i bet she will never forget your kindness ­čÖé
    Lottie┬┤s last blog post ..Bath: part one

  7. Marie says:

    Another person who is tearing up at work. This is really beautiful.

  8. Chelsea says:

    Teared up so much that half of my eyeliner came off! Now I’ll spend the rest of my workday with half eyeliner lol.

    Beautiful story – you did an amazing thing for that family. Bless you!

  9. Angeline says:

    I love this, and I love you. ­čÖé
    Angeline┬┤s last blog post ..It’s in the (work) bag

  10. Brittany says:

    Apparently I should go to work earlier, because I am tearing up on the bus instead of at my desk. I’m going to pay it forward today just because of reading this. Thanks for sharing and doing that, Ashlee.

  11. Christine says:

    Yup, I’m crying at my desk, too. Love this SO MUCH, Ashlee. I keep forgetting just how much I have to give: I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a chance to pay it forward today. xoxo
    Christine┬┤s last blog post ..Stepping out of my comfort zone and into New York City

  12. kelsey says:

    Bless your heart, Ashlee! This is really amazing. Thanks for sharing!
    kelsey┬┤s last blog post ..Rooney Blabbers

  13. Tiana says:

    This is amazing. Thank you SO much for sharing this.
    I hope God blesses your day today. And that you are given strength to continue to bless others.

  14. Jackie says:

    I hope I can be more like you and all of the wonderful people who do these sweet things more often. You made that woman’s week, I’m sure.
    Jackie┬┤s last blog post ..little love letters

  15. Victoria says:

    Beautiful! Thank you!

  16. Michelle says:

    You truly are an amazing woman, Ashlee. There are not many people who would do what you did. But I can tell you this: You have inspired everyone who has read this blog. Inspired them to make a difference in someone’s life. Inspired them to know they are truly blessed. Inspired them to live a life in Christ.

    Proverbs 22:9
    He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

    Stay blessed! xxx
    Michelle┬┤s last blog post ..Relationships In A Nutshell via Pinterest

  17. Danielle White says:

    I got so caught up in the movement of your story that Lem reminded me that my oatmeal was burning on the stove! That is a real picture of how God wants to make things right on earth through people/us. To do away with hunger, and even worse, the mindset of scarcity. Thank you for sharing it with me.

  18. Wow…such a beautiful story. You give me courage to do the same thing…hopefully I’ll get to pass along the same act of kindness one day.
    natasha {schue love}┬┤s last blog post ..Butternut Squash Tostada with Goat Cheese & Black Beans

  19. Hannah says:

    I’m not a religious person. An organized religion person. This though, this is beautiful. Like your first time, I freeze. I grew up very poor and I’ve always kind of clung to every penny I’ve had. As I get older though, I have made choices and have had luck to build a better future. This is a good reminder that I can help now, not be helpless.


  20. lacey says:

    you have such a big heart ashlee. you inspire me on a daily basis. c:
    lacey┬┤s last blog post ..A RAINY WEEKEND.

  21. Ashley says:

    I know you didn’t write this for the pats on the shoulder, but seriously you are amazing! You could have just handed her some cash, but what you did meant so much more. This really inspired me, and made me cry like a baby of course, so thank you for writing it.

    But seriously, you need to stop making me cry- between your blog and your stories while we walk around the park, this is getting to be a problem!

  22. Stephany says:

    You can add me to the list of people crying at work. This is beautiful. Your spirit is beautiful. All too often I walked past them as quickly as I can, eyes averted, head down, trying to stem a flood of guilt that rushes through my system, thinking, “What if that was me? My mom? My aunt? My friend?”

    This inspires me to start ACTING more like Jesus on an everyday basis, not just talking about Him but actually putting my words into actions.
    Stephany┬┤s last blog post ..On Therapy

  23. San says:

    You have a good heart, Ashlee. Sometimes it’s so easy to do the right thing!
    San┬┤s last blog post ..An “almost-fall” weekend

  24. caprice says:

    You are an angel! Thank you for sharing this story and being a positive voice in a world that seems so negative lately. And thank you for the reminder to take notice when there are others in need. What a gift and a beautiful experience that you shared with that little girl. I am sure she was thinking about you all night and for some time too!

  25. Brett says:

    Love this post. When you told me the story after you got home i kept asking myself “Would I have done that?” I get the feeling that fear would have won and I would have walked right past them. Ev is a lucky boy to have a mom that cares so much for others. Love you.

  26. Holly says:

    The world needs more people like you, Ashlee. This story is such an inspiration for us all to do something nice for someone that needs it. Thank you!
    Holly┬┤s last blog post ..Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection

  27. Allie says:

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for being inspiring. ­čÖé
    Allie┬┤s last blog post ..A Fall Day

  28. Ruth says:

    tearing up right now. this is so beautiful. thank you for the reminder that love is an action.
    Ruth┬┤s last blog post ..Shanghai, lately.

  29. Sig says:

    Loved this – kindness goes a long way and it made my heart smile today ­čÖé
    Sig┬┤s last blog post ..Pregnancy Diaries ÔÇô Week 13

  30. Suz says:

    Ashlee! I love that post. Jesus calls us to love him and love people, and you do both of those well. It’s a beautiful thing to see selflessness in this world!

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  32. Arianna says:

    This is so wonderful, I have tears in my eyes! It makes you think twice about the simple things we are able to have every day. You have a beautiful soul!
    Arianna┬┤s last blog post ..October Love

  33. kate says:

    what an amazing thing you did! i am tearing up at work, this is beautiful!
    kate┬┤s last blog post ..a day at the park..

  34. This is so beautiful Ashlee. This really encouraged me to get outside of my box. Thanks for that.
    jennifer blair┬┤s last blog post ..FAQ: Branding for beginners

  35. brittany says:

    bless her heart. and sweet little miranda! it’s so touching, what you did for them. i’m sure she won’t ever forget you.
    brittany┬┤s last blog post ..this is my happy fall to-do list!

  36. Kiki says:

    What an inspiring, humbling, and just plain sweet post. That story left me speechless. Your story definitely makes me want to do more to help others. When I was younger, I remember when my dad stopped and helped a woman who was holding a similar sign as Miranda’s mother. At the time (and as awful as this sounds), I was embarrassed. But looking back, I wouldn’t trade that moment for any other. Stories like yours push me to love harder, love more, and put my heartache into action. ­čÖé

    Thank you for sharing and reminding me to share God’s love with EVERYONE everyday.
    Kiki┬┤s last blog post ..old slides.

  37. Pingback: What to Ask Yourself Before You Say Yes, Overthinking Coffee Dates, and Spoken Word about the Word | 4word women

  38. Laura says:

    Such an absolutely heartwarming story. I felt like I was walking beside you. What a feeling, for you and for her!
    Laura┬┤s last blog post ..Fab Friday

  39. thank you for sharing this. it’s a beautiful story. i’m so thankful that god puts us in these kind of situations. again, thank you, thank you, thank you. you have such a kind heart.

  40. Tiana says:

    I came over from Arianna’s blog after she had mentioned this post. She was right.
    What an amazing heart you have. A heart for Jesus and a heart to serve. We are all on this planet,
    simply trying to survive and sometimes people just need a little help — someone to say ‘Everything’s going to be alright’. Thank you for being a light for God’s love and for sharing this with us.

    I know that it is a story that will stay in my heart forever.
    tiana of <a href="http://lesthetiqueblog.blogspot.com

  41. Alison says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I try to live my life in a way that I think would be pleasing to God, and I know that I fall short of that, but reading this reassures me that if I answer the impressions I feel in a similar way it can be enough.

  42. Kris S. says:

    Thank you for sharing Ashlee.
    I was also in tears at work. This is a beautiful story and I have turned my head in the past, but I want to do a good dead like this for someone soon.
    I try and do one nice thing a day for strangers…and I would like to pay it forward in this way someday.

  43. Kate says:

    That was very nice what you did for her, Ashlee. In regards to your statement about not telling her about Jesus – You WERE Jesus to her. “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

  44. Molly says:

    Oh, TEARS! This is beautiful. We should all be this generous. This woman will remember you for the rest of her life. You may not have talked to her about Jesus, but you showed her that Jesus is alive and well.

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