Erin had loved babies ever since she could remember. Holding and rocking and loving and caring for babies. She loved that grown-up feeling she got when some trusting mom would carefully place her little infant in Erin’s arms.
At the age of 12 she felt ready to baby-sit.
It became her burning desire, her passion.
At bedtime when her mom would sit on the edge of her bed to talk and hear her prayers, the conversation would invariably turn to Erin’s love of babies.
“Brook is so lucky,” Erin said one night. “Her mom is going to have another baby, and she’ll get to see it and hold it whenever she wants.
I can hardly wait from week to week to see the babies at church.”
“Don’t worry,” Mom said. “You’re almost old enough to baby-sit. Then you’ll have lots of babies to hold and love.” “And don’t forget, lots of messy diapers to change too,” she teased.
“Oh, Mom! I don’t mind a bit. I just want to take care of a baby.”
Erin’s desire to baby-sit was made loud and clear to the Lord, too, as she mentioned it in every prayer she prayed. After thanking God for her many blessings, Erin would not hesitate to add, “And please let me baby-sit for a little baby. Oh, please, God–You know how much I want to take care of babies.”
Erin never missed an opportunity to practice some of her baby-sitting skills. At a church potluck she’d approach the families with babies, smile, and ask the parents, “Would you like me to hold the baby while you go through the line?”
She became an acknowledged “mother’s helper” at church, but since she lived quite a distance away, it didn’t bring her any baby-sitting work.
After a time Erin became very discouraged, and her faith wavered.
“I’ll never get to baby-sit!” she said.
“Why do you say that?” Mom challenged.
Tears of frustration trickled down Erin’s cheeks. “I’ve been praying every night forever, and nothing has happened. I’m not sure if God even hears me.”
“Oh, Erin,” Mom said, “I’m certain that God does hear you. He always hears us when we pray. Not only that,” she said, “but He always answers.”
Erin wasn’t so sure.
“It’s true,” her mom continued. “Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ and sometimes it’s ‘no.’ At other times God’s answer may be ‘wait’ or a combination of all three, which really means, ‘I have a better plan,'” Mom concluded with a smile.
Then Mom thought of something. “Hey,” she said with new enthusiasm, “how long have you been praying for a baby-sitting job?”
“Forever!” Erin proclaimed.
“No, really. What do you think? Six months?”
“Longer,” Erin said.
“Well, you know it takes nine months from the time a baby is conceived to the time it’s born. I can just imagine that some woman in this neighborhood is pregnant right now with the baby you are going to baby-sit!”
“Do you really think so?” Erin suddenly felt new hope.
“I just feel sure that must be the case,” Mom said, and the two embraced.
It was almost a month later when the mid-Michigan area where Erin lives was hit by a blizzard. As “luck” would have it, the family’s telephone went out at the same time. Erin’s mom had to walk through the raging blizzard to a neighbor’s house to use their phone to cancel an engagement.
While she was there, the neighbor mentioned that she was praying that her friend down the road wouldn’t go into labor during the storm, since the woman’s baby was already a week overdue.
“This was a surprise pregnancy,” the neighbor explained, “and her husband had made it very clear he didn’t want any more kids. Now they’re in the middle of divorce proceedings before the baby is even born. It’s really very sad.”
Erin’s mom came bursting into the house with snow swirling around her. She was laughing and crying all at once.
“Praise the Lord! Erin, come and praise God with me!”
Erin thought perhaps her mom had hyperventilated out in all that wind, or maybe she’d tied her scarf a bit too tightly. She just stood there looking at her mom, not knowing what to think or do.
“Come on!” Mom pleaded. “Just say it.”
Finally Erin relented. “OK,” she said, shaking her head. “Praise the Lord.”
But after she’d heard the news, her praises were completely genuine.
That night the bedtime chat lasted longer than usual.
“Erin, this family is really going to need our help. The mom will be alone trying to raise three children, two of them in diapers. Maybe you’ll be able to be a mother’s helper for her.”
“Do you really think I could?” Erin beamed. “I don’t want to get paid. I just want to help.”
“I’m proud of you for saying that,” Mom said. “We need to respect the fact that she probably can’t afford to pay you right now.”
Within a week word came that the new baby had arrived. Erin’s family had never met this family, who lived about a half mile away. They bought a small gift to welcome the new arrival and then stopped by to introduce themselves.
The young mother welcomed them in and introduced her three children.
After a get-acquainted chat, Erin’s mom brought up the real reason they’d come.
“We have a proposition for you,” she began. “Or rather, Erin has.”
Erin suddenly felt shy, and all she could think of to say was “I’ll be your helper.”
Mom chimed in, “She’d like to come down from time to time to help you with the children. She’s very good with little ones.”
“I don’t want to get paid,” Erin assured her. “I just love being around babies.”
“I think that would be great!” the young mother said, smiling. “I’m going to need some help around here.”
Starting that very week, Erin went to be a mother’s helper about twice a week. Her tasks were often simple and seemed unimportant to her, such as playing with the two older children so the mom could give her baby his bath or take a nap when he did. Sometimes Erin stayed for supper so she could help cut food into small bites for the older children, or she’d feed the baby a bottle while the mom ate her meal.
As Erin proved her sense of responsibility, she was given more and more to do. Still, her very favorite thing was simply rocking little Tyler until he fell asleep in her arms.
When the mom had to return to work to support her family, whom do you think she called to baby-sit?
Word soon spread around the rural community, and three families began to call Erin regularly to help care for their children. That summer she earned enough money to help buy her school clothes and still put some in the bank for the future! What joy Erin felt in having her own money to tithe and honor God.
And when she says her prayers, Erin still feels overwhelmed with thankfulness. “God, You really do hear and answer every prayer!”
Written by Diane Meredith Vogel
Illustrated by Kevin McCain