The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 5

16 01 2008

Chapter 5 We Almost Lost our Home

August came quickly. It was time to get each of you children ready to attend school. You and Maria , went to the private kindergarten at McElwain Baptist church. You attended three mornings a week. Maria attended each morning. Ben and Sandy started first grade at McElwain public school. I was so scared to send them out alone to the public school system. We had no money for school supplies. The nice lady who helped us financially with our news letters– slipped us a twenty dollar bill which paid for Ben and Sandy’s supplies.

Sandy had a Miss Davy for her first grade teacher. I can’t remember the name of Ben’s teacher . She was young, pretty and smart. Since we didn’t have a car, I had to walk up to the school each afternoon to get Ben and Sandy.. Dad found a used stroller that Maria could ride on the back of. You fit in the seat part even though you were three years old. Otherwise, I would not have been able to get Ben and Sandy home from school. It was a good mile to the school– so I had a two mile walk each day. When it rained, I asked a neighboring family to pick Ben and Sandy up.

You still were having a number of potty accidents when you started three year old kindergarten. I used to pack an extra pair of training pants for you to take to school. Soon your teacher sent a note home that if you couldn’t use the bathroom, you couldn’t attend school. You liked going to kindergarten , so that threat solved your wetting problem, pronto. No set back could keep you from smiling. You always had and still have more smiles than anyone I’ve ever known.

Our neighbor, Susan,, asked me if would take care of her children after school. So I had Robin, Robert and Matthew visit with us each school afternoon. Two evenings a week I still cared for Laura and Ricky. I can’t imagine how I had the energy to care for all of the extra children but I was only thirty years old. Youth was on my side.

By October, it was clear that we just were not going to get enough support for our writing ministry. We were behind on our mortgage . Only this time , we didn’t have anything to sell except that old station wagon that had been purchased with the selling of Mom’s sterling silver. Nevertheless, we put a for sale sign on the car and someone purchased it for two hundred dollars.

Dad’s old friend, Charles offered him a job at his dry cleaning supply business for five dollars an hour. He even agreed to take Dad to work each day. It was fourteen miles each way. Our dreams of a writing ministry were shattered , but we knew God wanted Jim back in the secular work force. We did continue writing our letters but knew a full time ministry was out of the question. God really very mercifully cared for our family during that six month period.

A few friends pulled together to help us keep our home. Christmas and winter were right around the corner. Dad ,earning only five dollars an hour meant that Christmas would be lean. However, Christmas turned out to be like a fairy book story. So many folks remembered that Dad had been without a steady job. Our friends, Dan and DeAnna, provided a great deal for each of you. Also the ladies of McElwain Baptist brought over many gifts and goodies. Last of all, the manager of Kmart found out about our family and sent two new outfits for each of you. He also provided toys and plenty of candy. It was a wonderful season for our family. One of the best gifts of all was attending your Christmas program at McElwain Baptist. I can still remember the little green velvet dress you wore..

The winter proved to be stressful with finances. Sickness always came our way. But we did get invited quite often to Robin and Robert’s home to watch movies with their family. They had a VCR , quite a luxury in l983. Another treat was DeAnna, taking our family and Matthew to the Ringling Brother’s Circus. Matthew just stayed a part of our family until we moved to Kentucky in l985.

Let us move on to May. We had been without a car for an entire year. Our doctor friend had a 1972 Toyota that he was willing to give us. However, he wanted to make sure we could afford some upkeep and the insurance. He did give us the car! We were so thrilled to have a car once again. We started driving out to East Lake Park to enjoy walking around the lake and feeding the ducks. We also enjoyed many trips to the library. We visited the many different library branches around Birmingham. Having gone without a car for so long, these ventures were precious to us.

Once again, it was school time. You stayed at McElwain Baptist Kindergarten. We decided to put Maria in the public five year old program. Maria, , was the first of you children to attend public school kindergarten. This gave you and I some special time together. We had lunch and the early afternoon together each week day. Since Charles still picked Dad up for work each day, I was able to drive our little Toyota up to the school to pick Ben, Sandy and Maria up. The fall was warm and beautiful. We had many afternoons of you playing in the backyard in the pine straw while I hung out the wash. But difficult times were ahead.

Sandy had a lump on her neck that had to be removed. We had no insurance. This required same day surgery. In December, each of you children developed a vomiting virus. It hit Maria very hard. She had to be hospitalized for 24 hours. In November, we didn’t make our house payment. December and January, we couldn’t make the payment either. Christmas was bleak. No goodies or gifts came in at all.

In February, the mortgage company told us we had just a few weeks to catch up on our payments or they would take our home. I cried and cried. Dad went to talk with a friend.. This friend presented our plight to his church. This church didn’t feel compelled to help in any way. We were not faithful to attend any church during this time– so we didn’t have a church family to know we were in need. During this time, my brother Phillip, came for a visit. He said that we just didn’t have enough faith. He chided us about this lack of faith all weekend. I was exhausted with crying. He left on Monday morning. There was an envelope on the table with enough money to catch our house payments up. He gave this to us as a gift. It was certainly the mercy of our Lord. For all of Phillip’s hard challenges–he showed some empathy. Believe me, I know Phillip well enough to say that nothing we could have said or done would have moved him. His gift was simply a merciful act.

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