I took the boys with me, a Mama and son date. Tia spent the weekend having her girly tank filled with her cousins. They did hair and played dolls and giggled and laughed. And so it was that I was alone with the boys for three days and errands were an unwanted necessity.

The kid’s school requires uniforms so I’ve been on a quest for the cheapest shirts possible however, the color shirt they’re required to wear is not very common, which lead us to the uniform shop in a rougher part of town to pick up several shirts specific to their school.

We rolled to a stop after exiting the highway and Sloan saw him first. He was standing back from the road a bit, his thin slice of carboard offering a two word plea.



Had I been alone, shamefully, I would have ignored him. I would have stared straight ahead so as not to make eye contact and avoid the awkward. I would have said no to the least of these.

But I wasn’t alone. I was in the car with a nine year old who is determined to change the world – a nine year old who just might do that someday if I don’t mess him up.

“Mom, give him some money! He needs help!” He said this as he rooted for loose change and reached for my purse. But I didn’t have any money. I never have cash on me. Cash means Starbucks to me so I rarely carry it to avoid the temptation.

“I don’t have money, babe,” I said, regret lacing my words.

“Yes you do,” he cried, holding up a handful of coins triumphantly. One quarter, one dime, one nickel and one penny. Every coin represented.

“Honey, that’s not really much money. It won’t help him. You can’t do anything with .41¢.”

“Well, he can save it, then, until he gets a little more,” Sloan replied and really, how could I say no? My child was asking me to do good. Like I said, here’s to hoping I don’t mess him up…

I rolled down the window and motioned the man near. He walked with a limp to the car window. “I’m sorry it’s not more,” I said, my face flushing a bit. Why was I embarrassed? Why do I still feel like I must do something big for it to hold any lasting impact? “It’s all we had and we wanted to help.”

The man took the four coins with dusty hands and his eyes filled with tears. “Ma’am,” he said as he separated the penny from the rest of the group and held it up in the sunlight. “If you had just given me this one penny, it would have been enough but you chose to give more. I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

I smiled and blinked back my own tears. The stoplight was soon to change, I knew this, so I turned quickly and pointed to my freckle-faced boy. “It was his big heart who wanted you to know that we see you and we love you and we will be praying for you.”

Sloan leaned forward so he could see out the window and the man looked at him deep. “You’re a good young man,” he said. “Listen to your Mama and stay in school, you hear me? And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, because you are.”

Sloan nodded and then spoke, his words filled with a grace beyond his years. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “I will be praying for you every day.”

The light turned green and we moved forward. The man stepped back from the road and as we made our left turn, I looked back to see his face buried in his hands, his shoulders heaving. In his clutched fist, he held tight to .41¢.

We pulled into the uniform store a few minutes later and Sloan looked at me with heavy eyes. “We should do more for him,” he said and I nodded. I felt it, too. “Like, can we buy him a house or something?” he asked. Just like his Mama, he thinks big.

I smiled and ruffled his thick hair. “We can’t buy him a house, but we could buy him a meal,” I said and he smiled. So that’s exactly what we did. After picking up shirts for the next school year, we swung through a local restaurant and ordered a meal and a bottle of water then rushed back around to the spot where we first met him.

He was gone.

Sloan’s face fell as he clutched the bag of fries and burgers. “Where did he go?” he asked, his face scanning left and right. “Oh I see him!” Landon screeched from the back seat, excited to be a part of this moment with his brother. Our friend sat under a bridge with another man. He was smoking and speaking animatedly.

“How are we going to get to him, Mom?” Sloan asked and just then the man stood up and started walking back toward our corner. We didn’t have long. I grabbed the food, jumped out of the car and waved at him, setting the food on the curb then rushing back to the car. He hurried over, his face registering shock.

“I was just telling my friend Peter about how much you blessed me and now this?” He looked genuinely surprised. The light turned green and I pulled forward. “God Bless you!” he called as we rounded the corner and he disappeared. A few minutes later, as we merged on the highway, Sloan spoke up again. “Will we see him again, Mom?” he asked.

“Probably not,” I said.

“Can I pray for him now?” Sloan asked and I nodded my head yes. And with eyes swimming, I drove us home while my nine year old demonstrated a faith that moves mountains. The faith of a child.

Did you know that .41¢ could change the world?

Yeah, I didn’t realize it either…


  1. Rosalie Fawkes says

    Thanks for sharing the heartwarming story. You don’t know me but I am an old family friend who became a christian through the ministry of Brother Jim Cooper (Nassau, Bahamas). I know that Brother Jim would be delighted to see how the legacy is continuing. He was one of the most influential persons that I ever met.

    God Bless!

    • Thank you, Rosalie, for your comment. I think I’ve heard your name before. 🙂 It is always the desire of my heart to honor the legacy left for me by the family that’s gone before. Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. Tears streaming down my face while I read this…if only we could always have child-like faith.

  3. These are moments never to be forgotten and that change the DNA of your family!

    • You’re right. When I told Lee the story, he replied, “He may never be an aggressive football player but if he has a heart like that, who really cares?”

      I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

      • We had a similar experience with one of our boys at about that age and it was literally the starting point for a HUGE direction shift for our family.

        • Though I will be quick to add that we are DEFINITELY still a work in progress! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the good cry!

  5. Emotional……Inspiring.

  6. I’m now officially sobbing! Oh, to have faith like that! Thank you for sharing, and please give Sloan a hug from me and tell him I am proud of him for having such a sweet faith and big heart for God!

    • Thank you so much. I just read your blog about your upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion. I’m so excited for you! It will change your life. 🙂

  7. You guys must be doing something right.

    • Every day I manage to do at least something right. Most days I do a lot wrong, too, but by God’s grace I pray the right will stick and the wrong will be burned away. 🙂

  8. I’m sniffling and crying at work again….that Sloan…He is destined for greatness!

  9. Melanie McCall says

    Oh, Kelli, I may be crying, but God is smiling…Sloan gets it – and so do his parents.

  10. Kelli, sometimes the general content or key phrase of someone’s blog entry will stay with me for a day or two – until something else I want to remember comes along… this time, it was your simple(but-oh-so-impactful) title. Yesterday as I was driving through an intersection I must go through at least 12 times a day, there was a man standing on the median next to the left-turn lane holding a small cardboard sign I could not read as I was going straight this time. I said to myself and God that if he was there again tomorrow (had never seen him there before) I would get him something to eat and drink (100 degrees yesterday, 98 today). Andrew had requested Chik-fil-a for lunch today after band practice, so we headed out about 12:30 (mind you, I had been through that spot four times already and no guy). However, there he was on our way back out for lunch… now I had to do the something I had said the day before. I am not retelling this to show what I did, but to share what happened when we came back around to see if he was still there and give him some sandwiches and ice water. We pulled up into the left turn lane (which had just turned red) and I pulled up behind another car already stopped at the light. I rolled down my window and gave him what we had brought, and noticed his sign said, “Vietnam Vet-AM HUNGRY-will work for food.” After he thanked us very humbly and I was rolling up my window, I looked forward and saw the guy in the car in front of us looking (okay, staring) back through his rear-view mirror at me. The next thing I know he is doing that movement in his seat that men do when they are trying to get their wallet out of their pocket and rolls his window down to hand him some money. No sooner does the money exchange hands and we get the arrow to turn. Sometimes I think we need to see (or read about) giving to be encouraged (and even convicted) to give of ourselves. I would like to think that Sloan has started a chain reaction with just 41 cents!

    • Wow. Kathy, thank you for sharing this story with me. What a sweet testimony and encouragement. Thank you so very much.