An excerpt from a talk I gave at church:
We are getting a Chick-Fil-A! It's the most exciting news, isn't it? Finally, one will be opening up within a mile from my house. We won't have to fight LA traffic to get to our favorite restaurant.
In case you haven’t heard of Chick-Fil-A, it is a made to order Fast Food restaurant, that doesn’t serve beef and serves a variety of chicken dishes. It’s delicious and it is a favorite of our family, but there aren’t any locations close by that make it convenient to go for dinner. (Curse you LA Traffic!)
Today, my entire talk is about Chick-Fil-A. Bear with me I have a point.
About three years ago, my son started getting regular treatments at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA Medical Center and has been facing some difficult health challenges. Those appointments are no fun and our anxiety level is often really high. I read in a book that when an activity is filled with dread, you should pair it with something fun. I can’t remember if it was our first appointment or second appointment that we noticed that there was a Chick-Fil-A right by Hospital, within walking distance. So we started a tradition of going there after every appointment or going there for lunch in the middle of our day at UCLA. It’s a treat that we look forward to. No matter what the day brings us at the hospital, at least we can look forward to going for a short walk outside of the hospital and eating at one of our favorite places. We often find that we can bribe even the most strict nurse with the promise of Lemonade or Sweet Tea!
I noticed on our first visit that the cashier glanced at my son’s telltale laboratory band aid and there was a milkshake on our tray that we had not ordered, and there was a note of “Feel Better” on our receipt. I think it probably becomes very obvious to the workers at this particular Chick Fil A, who is a UCLA student and who is a patient at the neighboring medical center. I’ve gotten very good at identifying who are the other parents of these warrior children who fight childhood illnesses. I could pick out the mom of a sick child out of a police lineup. It’s one of my talents that I would gladly trade for the ability to sing on key.
A few months into our new routine of receiving treatment and visiting Chick Fil A, I got an email asking if I wanted to be on the Chick-Fil-A's Mom's Panel. I have never written about Chick-Fil-A on my blog and I have no idea why Chick-Fil-A picked me. How did they know I had an undying love of Chick-Fil-A?
Every so often I would receive an envelope with gift cards to eat at Chick-Fil-A. From that point forward, our meals at Chick-Fil-A became more affordable.
About a year into our treatments, we were eating lunch at Chick-Fil-A and noticed they were running a contest. So on a whim, we entered and we won! We won 250 free milkshake coupons. As someone who never wins, I couldn’t believe it. We were presented with a giant stack of coupons.
So over the next two years, everybody we met with during our visits to UCLA, from the person at the check in desk, the nurses, the lab tech, all received coupons for Chick-Fil-A milkshakes.
Then during our lunchtime visits to Chick-Fil-A, we would pick out one or two people who looked like they could use an act of kindness and give them a free milkshake coupon. For me, it is the highlight of what was usually a challenging day.
Why would I devote most of my talk to talking about Chick-Fil-A? Because Chick-Fil-A has been an unexpected blessing in my life during a really hard trial. It is an example of God’s love for me and a testament of God’s tender mercies. Chick-Fil-A is my tender mercy and I know that God knows me and has provided this blessing in my life.
My experience with Chick Fil A has blessed me in the following ways:
-A cheap lunch that helps me feel better about the outrageous parking fee and the stack of medical bills that accompany each appointment.
-The ability to brighten those that help us during our visits. I love hearing the staff whisper “Here comes Miss Chick-Fil-A” when we walk in to check in. People are eager to help us.
-It’s been so fun to scan the restaurant to see all those faces of the other customers to find the person who we should give a random act of kindness to.
-Chick-Fil-A has brought me relief from the trial we are facing and has been a bright spot that has helped me cope.
I like to think Tender Mercies are kind of like little love notes from God. Kind of like when you find a love note in your lunch. They are reminders that he is there and no matter how tough the challenge, he loves us. Could we all look back on a challenging time and recognize the tender mercies God blessed us with during the trial?
When my son was first starting to have health challenges, we were told from the beginning that this would be a long trial. I sought out a distant cousin who was facing a similar trial and she told me, “It’s hard, the appointments get overwhelming, but keep your eye out for the tender mercies and blessings you will receive. It doesn’t make the trial worth it, but it helps to realize, you aren’t alone, God is aware of your trials.” I took her words to heart, and God decided to show his love to me via a restaurant named Chick-Fil-A.