Jenny Nichols cried as she prepared dinner for herself and her ten year old son, Mark-not that it would be much of a meal. She had two potatoes, some canned tomatoes, and two slices of bacon. That was all the food she had left. Not thinking, she took out a boiler much larger than needed for a small amount of stew.
Jenny had lost her job two months ago, and no one else wanted to hire her. She worked at the paper mill but was fired because her new boss, Larry Thomas, made advances toward her several times until she finally exploded and told him to take his scummy hands off of her, among other things. The reasons given for termination on her pink slip were “insubordination and substandard work.”
Jenny was an exemplary employee and had been promoted several times. She went to Tom Coates, her former manager, with the truth, but he just couldn’t believe her. He admonished for her behavior towards a superior.
As Jenny brought the potatoes and tomatoes to a boil, she admitted to herself she could have handled the situation better. Adding the bacon for flavor she thought, "What a fine stew I'm in!"
While she waited for the thin stew to cook, Jenny decided to pray once more. She had all but lost her faith in the past few weeks. This time, though, she asked for forgiveness. She was genuinely remorseful.
“Help me, Jesus. I‘m sorry for reacting that way; I should have been a better Christian. Now I am out of money, food, and hope. Just help me. Please, give me a sign that I‘m forgiven!”
As if on cue, the doorbell rang. It was the elderly Mr. Yancey from next door, who lived all alone and knew of Jenny’s troubles. He had an apple pie in his hands and was beaming.
“I picked the apples from my trees out back, and baked it myself!!”
“Please, stay for dinner, Mr. Yancey. We’re just having a stew I threw together, there’s not much in it, I’m afraid.”
Mr. Yancey looked at the stew simmering on her stove and made a face.
“It needs something else!” He said, and ran out the door. He was back a minute later with some corn and beef cubes and dropped them in the mix.
The doorbell rang again. It was Mrs. Cardinal, the widow across the street, holding a cloth covered pan. “I baked some bread for you!” Her blue eyes twinkled. She was a darling lady and very fond of Jenny and Mark.
“You must stay for dinner, Mrs. Cardinal. I’m afraid it’s not much, just a stew and Mr. Yancey‘s apple pie.”
Mrs. Cardinal smiled at the pie, but looked at the stew and grimaced.
“It needs something else!” She said, then scurried across the street and was back in flash with some green beans, carrots, and another can of tomatoes, all of which she added to the concoction.
As the stew simmered, Jenny and her guests talked and laughed about Mr. Yancey hanging Christmas ornaments on limbs to scare the birds away from his apple trees, and Mrs. Cardinal forgetting to put her teeth in before she went out to dinner one night. Mark came in from band practice, and they were all giggling when the door bell rang again.
It was none other than Tom Coates. He had a look of shame on his face. Jenny looked at him with surprise when he handed her an envelope and got right to his point.
“Jenny, come back to work, please! Larry has been fired. I know now why you lost your temper, and he tried the same thing with Lucy Johnson and some others. Just come back to work. This is your salary for the last two months.”
Jenny was overcome with gratitude. “Tom, would you like some neighborly stew, home baked bread, and apple pie?”
“I’m starving!” Tom laughed.
Five people sat down together, each one thanking the Lord for the heavenly meal. Then they all ate the sumptuous dinner that started out as two potatoes, some tomatoes and two pieces of bacon.
Jenny thanked everyone profusely. After she had seen the last of her answered prayers to the door, she went to her knees and thanked God for His forgiveness and miracles. Later, as she lay in bed, she smiled and thought, "What a fine stew I'm in!"
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