“But I don’t want Dad to go!” I cried as I watched him drive away with my brother. I sniffed and wiped the tears from my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt.
“Barbara, you know Dad doesn’t have a choice,” Mom said. “He’d stay here if he could. Now come help me unpack.”
We had just moved our mobile home from Yuba City, California, to Moses Lake, Washington. Unfortunately, my dad and teenage brother had to go back to California to work. After they earned some more money, they planned to move back with us and bring the rest of our belongings.
Dad had been gone only one minute, and I already missed him. It was going to be a long summer.
For the next two months my mom and sister and I lived in Washington, while my dad and brother lived in California. All of us looked forward to the day when the whole family could be back together again. But summer ended, and my sister and I started school, and Dad still wasn’t able to leave California.
Then one morning before school the phone rang. My sister and I raced to answer it, but Mom got there first. We all hoped it was Dad calling to say that he and my brother were on their way home. I wanted to talk to him and tell him how much I missed him.
Mom’s face broke out in a big smile when she heard Dad’s voice on the phone. But then her expression changed. She stopped smiling. Her hand started shaking, and her knuckles turned white as she gripped the receiver.
“Oh, no!” she said. “That’s terrible! Think hard; maybe you’ll remember where you hid it.”
After another minute or so, she hung up the phone. She didn’t even give me a chance to talk to Dad. Tears ran down her face as she turned to look at my sister and me. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and said, “I have bad news, girls. Dad isn’t coming home just yet.”
“But why?” I said. “He promised he’d be home as soon as he could!”
“He hid all his money, but believe it or not, now he can’t remember where he put it!” said Mom. “Now he’ll have to stay in California and keep working until he saves some more money.” She put her arms around us and said, “I think we should pray.”
We all knelt down. Mom prayed, “Dear Lord, please help Dad remember where he put that money so he won’t have to work in California any longer. Then he can come home. Amen.”
I couldn’t concentrate at school that day because I was thinking about Dad. Where could he have hidden all of his money? That evening before I climbed into bed, I prayed, “Please, dear Jesus, help Dad remember where he put that money.”
Dad and I had never been apart for so long before. I want him to come home! I thought. If he doesn’t find that money, it will be months before he gets here.
As I snuggled under my covers I prayed again and again, “Please, Lord, please help Dad find the money.” Finally I fell asleep.
That night I had a dream. I saw Dad pick up all his money, roll it up, and stuff it inside an old shoe. “But where can I hide it?” he said. He wandered all through his house searching for somewhere to put it. At last he carried the shoe into his bedroom and threw it under the bed.
The next morning during breakfast, I giggled as I told Mom about the dream. “It was pretty silly,” I said. “I saw Dad put all his money into one of his old shoes. Then he threw it under his bed!” My mother and sister joined me in laughing at my dream.
Then Mom said, “Run off to school now, or you’ll be late.”
When we came home after school, my sister and I could see Mom waiting for us at the front door. We raced toward her, sure something must be wrong.
“Mom!” I gasped when I reached her, panting and trying to catch my breath. “What’s up?”
“You’d best come in and sit down,” she announced. “I’ve got something to tell you.” My first thought was Something has happened to Dad!
We sat down and faced Mom. Tears filled her eyes as she spoke.
“Barbara, remember the dream you had last night? As silly as it seemed, I decided that since we’d prayed about the lost money, I should call Dad and tell him about it. I thought maybe the Lord had given you that dream to help him find the money.” She paused to wipe away a tear.
“When I called him and told him about your dream, he remembered! He had put it in an old shoe! He thought that if anyone broke into the house, they’d never look in an old shoe for money.” She started crying. “Now he can come home!”
My sister and I jumped up and down. We grabbed each other’s hands and shouted, “Dad’s coming home! Dad’s coming home!”
Within a week my dad and my brother were back home with us. That night after I’d kissed my dad good night and climbed into bed, I prayed a different prayer: “Dear Jesus, thank You for giving me back my dad! I love You!”
From that time on, I knew that the Lord really listened to me. The day God helped me to help my dad was the day God became truly real to me.
Based on a story by Nathalie Ladner-Bischoff.
Illustrated by Joel D. Springer