It was the winter of 1991, and everything I owned was packed into my little car for the drive to Fort Worth, Texas. My seminary tuition was covered and I had a place to live, but that was it.
I soon found a part time job that paid $425 per month. However, my car payment was $144, my share of the rent was $118, and the cost of mandatory health insurance was $80 per month. That left $83 for everything else.
I lived on campus, so gassing up the car wasn’t a burden. But finding enough money for food was a challenge! I quickly learned to get creative with the meal budget. A bread store up the street sold off-date pastries for a steep discount. Breakfast covered. My mom agreed to put $50 a month into my account at the seminary cafeteria. Lunch covered. But what about supper?
A guy from the dormitory told me about this hole-in-the-wall barbeque place a few streets over. “Go to Carl’s,” he said. “Ask for the all-you-can-eat pancakes for $1.50.”
One Friday afternoon, near the end of the month, my rumbling stomach made me take my friend’s advice. I walked into the little restaurant with my head down. The air was thick with the smell of slow-smoked meat. “Pancakes at a barbeque joint? It’s gotta be a joke,” I thought.
But Carl’s son, who manned the grill, could spot a poor graduate student a mile away. “Hey preacher boy, want some pancakes?” I’m smiling now, head up, “Yes sir!”.
Kind reader, I had to stop typing for a moment–to wipe away the tears. I thank God for Carl Wilson, who served many a hungry seminarian all the pancakes they could eat– for $1.50.
I’ve tried to “pay it forward” ever since.
Thank you for reading. 🙏❤️ prayers and love.
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