The apartment really wasn’t so bad for the two of us. At first. It was in an old brick building that many locals affectionately referred to as “the cow barns” – apparently a reference to its true historical use. But the rent was low, it had two bedrooms, the neighbors were quiet and practically never home, and it had a small back yard of sorts.
It had been hard being so needy and financially strapped that I had to live with my parents in my little brother’s old bedroom with my new daughter’s baby crib and changing table and packages of diapers crammed in the corner. So, the apartment – which to some would seem an impoverished, run-down place – was an answer to the desperate prayers of a single mom. It was at least a place of our own. It was our home, and we lived there quite comfortably for several years, making memories of potty training, first snowmen, and toddler Christmases.
But, sometimes, answers to our prayers lead to the necessity for other prayers. Things change, kids grow, and buildings fall apart. By the time my daughter was four years old and making her way through pre-school, the two of us began to realize that it was time to pray for bigger and better things.
The deteriorated plumbing made the shower drip a steady stream of rust-colored water that smelled like sulfur. The humid Ohio summer days proved increasingly intolerable for both of us (as they don’t exactly make air conditioners to fit old cow
barn-sized windows). The roof was so in need of complete repair that we had to put her old baby bathtub in the top of her closet to keep her clothes from getting drenched every time it rained. It was quite tiresome and expensive to take our
clothes to the local laundromat twice a week. And, since my little girl was beginning to discover the wonders of playing outdoors, the backyard consisting of broken concrete slabs and old shards of glass was not really a safe play yard.
What was a perfect answer to my desperate prayers three years earlier was a cause for more desperate prayers now.
My daughter, as young as she was, knew about prayer. She would have to having grown up in a single-parent household where a secretary’s meager salary had to pay all the bills and buy the groceries, clothes, and toys.
She knew that as single as I was, our little two-person family was never really alone. She knew God would take care of us. So, I asked Cissy to pray, too, for a new place to live. And she did.
Of course, her prayers were different than mine. While I prayed vague pleas of “a better place to live,” she gave God real instructions – blunt requests that made me giggle when I’d overhear her praying in her stuff, little, flooding, cow-barn bedroom.
She asked God for a pink room for her, a big blue room for mommy, a bathtub (since she was terrified of our PsychoÃ¢Â?Â¢-looking shower in the apartment), and a place where she could learn to ride a bike without getting glass in the tires.
As much as those prayers made me chuckle, God took them very seriously.
Through a series of life-bettering events, otherwise known as miracle blessings, He opened doors for us – literally, new front and back doors and garage doors and side doors and closet doors to a beautiful little storybook house.
He used a new job at a great Christian University to boost my income. He used my grandparents, who were kind-hearted, patient landlords and without a tenant.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen, and I’m sitting here today in that beautiful little house as I write this, enjoying the heat from the furnace and listening to our clothes spinning in the dryer, still amazed at how He has blessed an undeserving single mom and her little girl.
On the December day we moved in, the first thing Cissy did was run to the front yard.
“Mommy, there’s real grass!” she shouted.
Indoors, she made a bee line to the bathroom. “Mommy, there’s a real bathtub that doesn’t drip!” she exclaimed.
And, finally, she bolted upstairs and excitedly announced, “Mommy, God knows our favorite colors,” as she admired her room that just so happened to be pink and my big bedroom in every shade of blue.
While I know from experience that God answers the desperate prayers of mothers in need, I also know He hears and answers the prayers of our children, giving them their heart’s desires, too. And that is, perhaps, a mother’s biggest prayer of