September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75
cents in my pocket. Their father was gone.
The boys ranged
from three months to seven years; their sister was two.
Their Dad had
never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his
tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their
beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had
decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.
If there was a
welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew
nothing about it.
I scrubbed the
kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress,
loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The
seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.
The kids stayed
crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who
ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have
a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of
town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a
truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.An old lady named Granny owned the
place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.
She needed someone on the graveyard shift, eleven at night until seven in
the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.
I raced home
and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I
bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She
could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This
seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when
the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for
finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in
the mornings, I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of
my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks
went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the
old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to
fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could
go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and
found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing,
just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in
Indiana? I wondered.
I made a deal
with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires,
I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his
floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now
working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was
coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a
can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I
hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on
Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of
patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were
the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few
musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping
nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked
through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the
sun came up.
When it was
time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my
amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of
all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled
inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I
pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue
jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box, it was full of shirts to go
with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was
candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous
turkey for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and
Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry
supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one
beautiful little doll. I could not believe my eye's!
As I drove back
through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas
Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the
joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.
Yes, there were
angels in Indiana that long-ago December morning. And they all hung out at
the Big Wheel truck stop....
THE POWER OF PRAYER.
I believe that
God only gives three answers to prayer:
2. 'Not yet.'
3. 'I have something better in mind...'
God still sits
on the throne and the devil is a liar. You may be going through a tough time
right now, but God will bless you in a way that you cannot imagine. I am
living proof of that.
to pray for one another...
Father, I ask
You to bless my friends, relatives and internet friends reading this right
now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power. In Jesus' name I
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