It was 1975 when my twin sister and I skipped into the Earth Shoe store on Main Street and plunked down our hard-earned babysitting money for our first pair of Birkenstocks. We were thirteen years old. The sales clerk wrote our names on each receipt and put the receipt in each shoe-box, then handed them over to us. We were so excited!
We happily left the store following our mother outside with three other siblings in tow. Our mother wanted to shop a little for herself a few minutes later, so she went into a store while we stayed on the sidewalk outside in the shade. There was a gum-ball machine on the sidewalk, and we were curious to see if we could coax out a stray, awkwardly perched sweet for free. I had set my shoe-box (with the Birkenstocks still inside) on the cement planter next to the gum-ball machine. We soon became bored because the gum-ball was more stubborn than we thought (it wanted us to be honest), so we walked into the store to stand next to Mom while she finished a purchase. Suddenly I jumped and shouted, "My Birkenstocks!" I realized I had left the shoe-box outside on the planter. I raced outside to get them, but they were gone. I was devastated.
Mom immediately parked the car next to the lady ~ a bus stop, no less ~ and she and I hopped out of the car and approached the lady. My mother, a fearless widow with five little children, said, "I believe you have my daughter's shoes in that brown bag." The woman denied it, of course, so my mother actually reached into the bag and pulled out the shoe box. She said, "What is your daughters name, Ma-am?" The lady stammered, "Nancy." My mother opened the shoe box and said, "Well, my daughters name is Gwen, and her name is on this receipt."
I'll never forget that moment where I realized several things in my life were certainties. One, how much my mother loved me. Two, that God literally hears and answers prayers. Three, the Holy Ghost inspires us when we have faith. Four, HOPE helps things happen. And, finally, approaching busses honk REALLY loud when you are illegally parked in their bus stop.