41: Coming Home

41: Coming Home

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Coming Home

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

~George Iles

Rushing out the door with backpack, kids’ bags, and a time clock ticking in my head left me too frazzled to notice another passenger quietly jumping into the back of our Dodge Ram.

Robby faithfully did his duty as the eldest. “Mom, everyone is buckled up. We can go now.” And off we went.

With a sigh of relief I crossed Interstate 59, relieved that I wouldn’t be late for my classes at USM. Finishing my degree while raising three kids got a little wild some days, but I knew that when I finished and started teaching it would be well worth the effort. I was happy that my husband Glen R. would be home Friday to give me some help.

Smiling contentedly as the kids laughed, I pulled into the babysitter’s yard and started to unload the crew.

Melinda let out a squeal. “Mama, Kitty Karen just jumped out of the back of the truck! Quick, go get her!”

“Sweetheart, don’t worry, she won’t go far! As soon as I get home this evening we’ll find her. Kitty Karen will be okay.” I comforted the kids, whose frightened big eyes looked to me for assurance.

Glancing at my watch, I quickly kissed my babies goodbye and hurried to pick up my carpoolers on the way to school. Although I enjoyed my classes, I was glad when the time came to scoop up the kids and head home. Little did I realize that the morning’s events would come back to haunt me.

“Mom, look at my picture! It’s all of us! Look, there is Daddy. See his beard.”

“That’s great, Robbo. Ryan, what did you make today? Jeri, thanks so much for letting them paint. They really love it. I guess we had better find Kitty Karen and head home. Did you guys see her when you were outside playing? No? Well let’s pack up. I’m sure she isn’t far.”

Melinda sat in the front and helped me scour the neighborhood. As we looked and looked with no sign of Kitty Karen, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Where in the world could she be? I prayed, “Lord, please help us find her. The kids will be sick if she’s lost.” I was really worried, but I didn’t want the kids to know.

We drove around the same streets over and over, but no beautiful fluffy white cat with jeweled eyes of blue and green came running. My heart sank lower and lower as I berated myself for rushing off to class instead of looking for her right when she got away.

I tried to keep everyone’s spirits up as the stars twinkled in the evening sky and we gave up looking for the day. “We’ll surely find her tomorrow, guys! It’s going to be okay. Don’t cry now. We’ll ask God to take care of her for us tonight.”

After dinner and bath time, our bedtime prayers were filled with pleas to keep Karen safe and help us find her the next day. Unfortunately, we said those same prayers the next night, and the next, and the next. Days turned to weeks. We searched and searched, but no Karen.

I started looking less and less. Finally, I faced the realization that our prayers would not be answered. I tried to keep the children busy with activities and distracted them when they wanted to talk about Karen and pray for her return. I didn’t want them to have to learn the hard lesson that prayers are not always answered in the way that we would like. They were too young for this harsh reality.

One day flowed into the next. With three kids, a husband, and a dog, it was never boring! Thankfully the kids prayed for Karen less and less. I dodged the bullet of having to explain to them why God didn’t hear their prayer and answer.

A year sped by and out of nowhere Melinda said, “Mama, let’s pray for Kitty Karen to come home.”

What in the world would I tell her after all this time?

“Melinda, let’s pray that Kitty Karen has found a good new home. We can pray that God will help us find a different cat that needs a home, too. How about that?”

“No, Mom,” Melinda declared with conviction. “I am going to pray that Karen comes home!”

“Okay, sweetie, but you know it has been a long time and Karen may have another home by now.”

Melinda looked at me with her big, brown eyes and said, “Mama, you know God can do anything!”

“Yes, honey, He sure can. Let’s pray.”

The next morning, around ten, I was washing dishes and heard a faint scratch on the front door. Almost afraid to hope, I called Melinda and we opened the door together. There stood our Kitty Karen. Her once beautiful white hair was matted with dirt and her paws were sore and bleeding, but she was home.

~Jan Penton Miller

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