#TellHisStory: It’s Okay to Let Go

August 7, 2013 | 28 comments

My mother heard a voice, a weak and shaky voice, calling out to her in the parking lot.

Mom was walking out of the grocery store with two plastic bags of ice-cream treats. It was a summer day, and the sun puddled hot on that Minnesota parking lot, where the smell of spruce and asphalt mingled in the muggy air. And somewhere a small voice kept calling to my mom: Come here. Please? Could you come here?

The voice. It came from an old, white station wagon parked by the front door. The passenger window was rolled down, and the woman inside was old, frail — not more than 100 pounds. She was alone.

“Are you talking to me?” Mom paused a few feet away, looking around to see if someone else was being summoned. But no, it was my mother being called over. The woman, with a head crowned in silver strands, reached one small, bony hand out of the station-wagon window and motioned to my mother.

Obediently, Mom walked to the station wagon, then leaned her head inside, smiling.

“How can I help you?” Mom asked the stranger.

The woman sat hunched in the passenger seat. Her small frame bent into a curve, weighed down by the years and burdens of a life lived long on this planet. The old woman wanted just one thing of my mother: “Would you give me something to hold? I don’t have anything to hold and I want something that I can call my own.”

Mom’s mind raced. She wished she had a pocket stone or one of the Beanie Babies that she used to keep in the trunk of car — small, stuffed gifts for the grandchildren when they came to visit.

But she had nothing, except a half-gallon of vanilla and two boxes of ice-cream sandwiches. Mom stood stock-still by that station wagon, burdened by her inability to do one small thing for a woman with a simple need. Mom told the woman she had nothing for her, then apologized.

But before she could walk away, the woman replied: “Well, I could hold your hands.”

And don’t we all need something to hold onto? This life presses down hard. This world is a frazzled, harried, got-to-get-it-done world. In the rush, everything can feel like it’s slipping through our fingers. And because we’re afraid of what might melt, we can’t open our clenched fists and offer one small thing to someone in need. We curl our fists into tight, scared balls.

With hands cinched, we can do nothing … not even one small thing.

What might we risk if we empty our hands? 

Mom decided to find out.

She set down those bags of ice cream on the hot pavement of that grocery-store parking lot. She opened her fists and reached two empty hands into the car to find the two empty hands of a stranger, and this was one small act of emptying and refilling.

They held hands, and the woman smiled. For the next eight minutes, they stood that way – two human beings with their hands cupped together, while ice cream melted in grocery sacks.


So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

For details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here: https://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/. Be sure to find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

Your words matter to God. They matter to people. And they matter to me!


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a repost 



by | August 7, 2013 | 28 comments


  1. Nannette and the Sweetheart

    Goodness, tears here! How precious! How sweet of your mother to let that ice cream go ahead and melt…some things in life are more important. Some moments you can’t let slip away. Thank you for sharing. ♥

  2. Elizabeth Stewart

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours! Of course I’ve said that about quite a few of them, I’m sure!

  3. Barbie

    Wow, this is so touching! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jessica

    You’ve given ME a lot to think about this morning! It’s a reminder of kingdom purposes versus my own “very important” agenda, and is a beautiful image of Christ. Thank you for this, Jennifer. As always, you’ve touched my heart.

  5. Jean Wise

    What a thought provoking question: What might we risk if we empty our hands? I know I cling to too much and rush through life. I probably wouldn’t have even heard that lady calling me. Everyone has times they just need to be held. Great story.

    • dukeslee

      I’m afraid that I wouldn’t have heard either. I’ve been trying to live my life more aware, because I don’t want to miss these tiny moments, and tiny miracles, that really make up a life. But sometimes me thoughts are noisier than the people around me… Thanks for stopping by Jean.

  6. Sheila at Longings End

    What a sweet and touching story, Jennifer. God bless your mom for choosing the important thing, LOVE, and for being Jesus to that woman in those eight minutes. Lovely…

  7. Dea Moore

    I loved this story the first time and I loved it again. Hoping I can hold someone’s hand today.

  8. micey

    As soon as you wrote she had nothing for her to hold, I thought, what about your hands!? I was not disappointed to read on to find out she gave her her hands. This is beautiful.

    And I understand being so focused on my own tasks I walk by the people who might need something as small as holding my hand.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Micey! This is so typical of my mother. She finds herself in situations like this again and again, and has been such an example of what it means to reach out, and open her hands to others. We’re spending the week with my Mom and Dad, and yesterday, we celebrated her birthday. All day long, the phone and doorbell rang as people wanted to wish her a happy birthday. I know that’s because of the love she gives out to others, so selflessly, again and again.

  9. Lisa notes...

    Okay, so we have NO excuses now. We all can do that, regardless of whatever we think we have or don’t have. Beautiful, beautiful story, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing this. May we each put it into practice in some form today.

  10. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life

    Having a good cry here in Florida. Said a prayer for this woman and for all who are reaching out in need.

  11. Michelle DeRusha (@MichelleDeRusha)

    Wow, Jennifer, this story just breaks me heart. I want to know more – why was the woman sitting in the parking lot by herself? Why did she ask that particular question? Was she okay? Thank God for your mother, who was there to offer kindness, compassion and connection. What’s that verse, I think it’s in Hebrews, about angels in our midst? Your mom was an angel that day.

    • dukeslee

      I’m here with my mom right now, and I’ve asked her your questions. She said the woman was there, waiting in the vehicle, while the driver was inside getting groceries. Mom doesn’t know who the woman is, and hasn’t seen her since. Mom says the woman was someone who probably had dementia or Alzheimer’s. And she doesn’t know why she wanted something to hold. … All good questions, but many of them are unanswerable. Thanks for being here, Michelle.

  12. ro elliott

    Beautiful….this makes me think of the scripture….even a cup of cold water….these seemingly simple acts…and how this speaks of the power of human touch ….thanks for sharing this…blessings

  13. Being Woven

    WOW! Having been around the elderly for so many years caring for my Mama made me think about so many who just…JUST… need that touch, something to hold. This is beautiful and will ponder the moment with your mother. What if that had been me? To be Christ in the very moment when He calls us through that woman, or any other. Thanks so much for this precious story, for His Story!

  14. Linda

    I remember this story Jennifer. It’s beautifully. We are walking through a very difficult story just now so I haven’t visited in a while.

    • dukeslee

      Praying for you, Linda. We really need to catch up. xo

  15. floyd

    Awesome story. Some sacrifices mean just a little bit more… Glad to see the apple didn’t fall far from the tree…

  16. Sandra Heska King

    Oh girl. How you tell a story. I want to be like Mama D when I grow up.

  17. livingrealblog

    Oh my! You’ve brought me to tears. I’m so happy for your mother, and the older lady too. Jesus was truly smiling as they shared those moments. . . Thanks for sharing such a beautiful, inspiring story Jennifer. Wrapped with you in Him

  18. Dolly@Soulstops

    what a beautiful story of your mom giving what she did have…herself…her hands …inspiring…Thanks, Jennifer 🙂

  19. Alicia Bruxvoort

    Crying at the beauty here. You have a beautiful mom. Maybe that’s explains why she’s got a beautiful daughter.

  20. joy

    What a beautiful story. I work in a nursing home. One elderly who lives her just wanted to hold one’s hand everytime one passed by. So today, i held her hands and gave her a hug. She couldn’t speak, but gave me a smile. It melted my heart.

  21. Nancy Ruegg

    I have a feeling some of these small-moment sacrifices will reap the richest rewards in heaven. Not that your mother was looking for more stars for her crown that day! But it seems to me, in God’s view, humble deeds such as this are the ones that please him most. No audience. No reciprocity. Just pure loving kindness. Thank your mother for us, for being such a shining example.

  22. Mindy

    Offering her hands – like being God’s hands to the dear woman that day. Beautiful…

    (and thank you for your kind words to me!)

  23. Hazel Irene Moon

    That was worth the melted ice cream! JIust hold my hand! Often that is all it takes when we meet a frieind, or a nice hug.



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