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Seated for dinner, we bowed our heads and my husband, Loren, gave thanks for the meager can of beans divided between five plates.
"I want more," five-year-old Ben said.
"Me too," his younger brother, Joe, added.
"That's all there is," I said, a deep ache in my heart. "How about a story?" I whispered, attempting to distract them. "But I'm hungry," Joe whined.
I cringed at the thought of the gnawing in his stomach. Giving him a hug, I said, "You'll have to wait for breakfast sweetie."
We scrunched together on the couch near an electric heater and read stories until they grew sleepy and their eyes fluttered closed.
With the kids tucked into bed for the night, I said to Loren, "What are we going to do?"
His shoulders sagged under the weight of responsibility. Loren worked forty to fifty hours a week, and though his minimum wage job paid the bills there was little money left over to buy groceries. No matter how we scrimped, the checkbook always edged toward zero by the third week of the month.
He shook his head. "I don't know." Then he reached for my hand. "Let's pray." With our hands clutched together we prayed, "Lord, please help us. The cupboards are bare, and payday is a week away."
In the morning, we ate the last bit of oatmeal. We left for church worried about how we would feed our family until the next pay check. When we arrived home that afternoon, Ben pointed to the snow-covered stoop. "Look!"
Two large shopping bags sat on the back porch. The boys scrambled over each other to be the first out of the van. Ben and Joe waded through the foot-deep snow, while I carried nine-month-old Bethany. Loren lugged the bags into the kitchen and set them on the table.
"What is it?" Ben's eyes widened with excitement.
"Let's find out." I dug my hands into one of the bags.
We pawed through packages wrapped in white butcher paper marked moose, venison, and antelope. An anonymous note read: "We cleaned out our freezer and wanted to share."
"There's enough meat here to last us for at least two months or more," I said.
Relief washed over Loren's face. "Maybe I'll get a raise by then."
Huddled in the cold kitchen with our children, Loren prayed, "Lord, thank you for this food. Thank you that you know our every need and hear our prayers."
When he finished praying, I said, "I'm grateful for the food, but I'm not sure how to prepare wild game. I guess it can't be much different than meat bought from the store."
"Well, it's what God provided, so I'm sure you'll figure it out," Loren said smiling.
The strange array of meat forced me to get creative. Tasty antelope, young and tender, cooked into rich gravy, turned out to be our favorite. We ate venison steaks for dinner. But what does one do with moose?
The ground moose tasted gamey and was tough like the wild Wyoming prairie we called home. I made burgers flavored with herbs, and I tried not to complain for it filled our children's growly stomachs.
The Lord carried us through those lean times. That experience taught our family a lesson about being content and to offer true thanks to God for His provision, even if it means moose burgers for breakfast.
**Note: "Moose Burgers for Breakfast" appears in the October 2013 issue of LIVE, a Gospel Publishing House publication.
© 2012 Kathleen Kohler