Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
TITLE: Shopping In A 5-Gallon Jar
By Mariane Holbrook
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Running down from my upstairs bedroom, I feared she'd been burned, that the kitchen was on fire or worse yet, that she had been severely injured and was dying.
We gathered around her at the stove, relieved that she appeared to be okay.
"What happened, Mama?" our oldest sister demanded, her hand gripping Mama's arm tightly.
"The last burner on the stove just died. How am I supposed to cook supper with just an oven?"
Mama looked at the clock. Daddy would be home soon from his job and he'd know what to do. It was 1945 and there was barely enough money from Daddy's $2.12 an hour job at the Erie Railroad to buy food for our large family, let alone buy a new stove.
When Daddy arrived, he hugged Mama and told her God would provide but when pressed about "how," Daddy didn't have a clue.
The next day Mama went shopping. She had exactly $9.06 so she knew instinctively to avoid Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Ward or Knapp's Department Store. Instead, she walked down lower Broad Street to Goodwill Store where she often bought clothes or other necessities at prices she could afford.
Inside, the manager tried his best to sell Mama the only kitchen stove he had but only one burner worked. Mama told him, "Thanks but no thanks," and left.
Next, she tried the Salvation Army store where there were three stoves for sale. The first one was so covered with grease that it risked starting a fire when it was turned on. The oven in the second stove didn't work and the wiring on the third stove had to be replaced because it had burned out.
On the way out, she noticed a newspaper on the counter. She asked permission to check something and found in the classified ad section that there was only a black wood stove for sale. She nixed the idea of chopping wood and hauling out ashes, so she returned the paper and left.
Walking back up Broad Street, she found a bench in front of Alliance Appliance Store and sat down to rest. Mama knew it was useless to shop inside this store since a new stove was far beyond her financial reach. She prayed silently, "Lord, I don't know where else to go. I desperately need a stove that works and one I can afford. Please show me what to do."
She greeted several people who walked by the bench when one woman, a neighbor, stopped. "Have you been inside to enter the drawing for the new kitchen stove?"
Mama hadn't seen the notice in the store's front window about a drawing so she laughed it off and replied, "I've never won a thing in my life so I guess I'll pass."
"Oh, come on in with me," her neighbor prodded. "You don't have to buy anything. Just fill out a slip of paper and drop it in the jar. Come on!"
Mama shrugged and dutifully followed her neighbor into the store, completed the entry and dropped it into the 5-gallon, over-stuffed glass jar. Since the sign on the jar read, "Enter as many times as you wish," her neighbor filled out over a dozen more entries to increase her chances. Mama just stood by and watched, reasoning that if she couldn't win by one, her chances weren't that much better by stuffing the jar with many more entries.
Finished, Mama and her neighbor walked the two blocks home together. Mama was through shopping for the day and needed rest.
The next day Mama's phone rang. It was the manager of Alliance Appliance Store announcing that Mama had won the GE kitchen stove drawing. Mama was invited to the store to claim her prize, have her picture taken for the newspaper and be interviewed about her win.
She danced and sang and hollered and praised God all over the place.
Daddy was beaming. "I told you God would provide and not with a broken, greasy, old, second-hand stove, either. God gave Mama the Deluxe Model, the most expensive kitchen stove in the store. It's a classic case of 'God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.'" (Ephesians 3:20)
And with that, Daddy pulled us all into the tightest group hug in the history of hugs.
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