Ketchup and Mustard, Please

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I stretched my hair net over my curls, washed my hands, and put on gloves. As I walked to the serving station, my eyes scanned the room. Raining and storming outside. A couple hundred people inside. People.

  • Young.
  • Old.
  • Black.
  • White.
  • Down on their luck.
  • Homeless.
  • A booming voice emerged out of the crowd, “Let us pray.” I bowed my head and listened. In my heart, I prayed, “Lord, please multiply this food.”

    And so it began.

  • Burgers.
  • Fries.
  • Bread.
  • Lettuce.
  • Tea.
  • And ice cream.
  • I had the lettuce. It’s the last on the food line, so I get to hand the plate to each person. I love it! It gives me an opportunity to ask how each person is doing, smile, look them in the eyes, and joke with them about getting their veggies.

    I see familiar faces every time I go to the homeless shelter, and they recognize me. I’m always humbled and moved when I see years of pain, bruises, and tattered clothes on God’s beautiful children.

    Someone on my team set out the condiments. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and all the burger fixings.

    A middle-aged woman–not more than 5-feet tall–picked up her plate, turned around toward the tables, and stopped. “Ketchup and mustard?!? That’s rich people stuff.”

    She rushed over and piled the condiments onto her plate like a child unattended in a candy store.

    Rich people stuff. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the wealthy, I don’t think of condiments. I see fancy cars, a huge home, and other luxuries.

    That middle-aged woman sees it differently. I have a car and a home. I have ketchup, and I have mustard. Indeed, I am wealthy.

    I may not be where I want to be in life. I may be facing many hardships.

  • Addictions.
  • Hurts.
  • Illness.
  • Family conflicts.
  • Financial troubles.
  • But God has promised never to leave me or to forsake me–whatever my circumstance (Hebrews 13:5). I can take comfort not in the riches of this world, but in the riches of faith, family, friends, food, and yes, ketchup and mustard.

    Daphne Tarango is a freelance writer and speaker who comforts others with the comfort she herself has received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). She lives in the Southeastern U.S., where she is a leader in a Bible-based recovery program. Contact Daphne at


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