The weather had turned oddly cold for mid-September. Carolyn zipped her windbreaker up to her neck and shivered as she looked back at the house one more time. She had spent the last ten years caring for her mother as she slipped deeper into the grip of Alzheimer’s. Now, two months after her mother passed away, Carolyn found herself homeless and jobless with nothing more than a small, worn-out brown suitcase filled with her minimal possessions.
Carolyn’s future had looked so bright when her mother first received the diagnosis. She hadn’t complained once about moving back in with her mother; about being unable to hold down a job for more than a few months at a time as her mother’s health deteriorated. She held true to her Christian values.
But the estate was consumed by outstanding debts once Carolyn’s mother passed. Unpaid medical bills and credit cards forced a sale of the family home and left Carolyn out on the streets with only a few hundred dollars.
The cab Carolyn had called pulled up. “Burger King on 5th Street, please,” she said with a sad smile. The driver nodded and pulled away from the curb. A close friend had found an open assistant manager position at the local Burger King, so Carolyn had set up an interview. That would take care of the job part at least. Then it would just be a matter of finding a place to live.
The cab pulled up to the restaurant, and Carolyn handed over the fare and tip from her limited funds. The manager was busy when she got inside, so she sat anxiously at one of the open tables, flipping haphazardly through a newspaper someone had left. She noticed that one of the pages looked deliberately earmarked. That’s strange, she thought. If someone marked a page, wouldn’t they want to take the paper with them?
She turned to the page and noticed a small classified ad circled in the bottom left corner. “FLAT FOR RENT,” it read. No description; no price; no name. Just a phone number.
“Carolyn?” A pleasant voice broke through her thoughts. She looked up to see a middle-aged woman with a kind smile. “I’m Darla, the manager. Come on back to my office and we’ll get the interview started.”
Carolyn mindlessly folded the newspaper and tucked it beneath her arm. The interview went exceptionally well. Carolyn could start in the morning. She was about to leave the office, when she felt a sudden urge. “May I use your phone?” she asked. “Absolutely,” Darla responded with a puzzled look. “I have to get back out to the kitchen, but please take your time.”
Carolyn watched Darla leave the office and impulsively unfolded the newspaper under her arm. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the phone and dialed.
“Hello,” a sweet, elderly-sounding woman’s voice answered on the second ring.
“Hi. I’m inquiring about the flat listed for rent.”
“Oh, yes. Would you be interested?” There was a slight hint of southern drawl to the woman’s voice that instantly made Carolyn comfortable. “It’s just a modest flat, but it has a certain charm to it. And you’ll find the rent to be more than reasonable for the area.”
“Sounds perfect,” Carolyn answered without hesitation.
The woman provided an address and offered to meet Carolyn there. Excited and hopeful for the first time in many months, Carolyn walked the few blocks over to the flat and saw the landlord, a small elderly woman with a kind face and immaculate silver curls. After a quick tour of the small flat, Carolyn agreed to rent it. It was a modest flat, just as the woman had said, but it was clean, well-kept and seemed to be in good repair.
When the woman had left, Carolyn took her suitcase into the furnished bedroom and began unpacking her clothes. As she opened one of the dresser drawers, a small yellow slip of paper wafted to the ground. She picked it up and unfolded it carefully. On stationary printed with the saying “Home Sweet Home,” an elegantly hand-written note read, “Welcome home.”
Beneath the note was a hand-written verse, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. ~Matthew 6:33-34.” A sense of peace filled Carolyn for the first time in years. Home sweet home.
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