Illuminating Intervention

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Divine intervention aids a couple on a frozen Mississippi night.

Submitted: April 10, 2007

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Submitted: April 10, 2007



My husband, my baby daughter, and I used to live near Carmack, Mississippi, on Highway 35. Several years ago, an icestorm ravaged our area, leaving downed power lines and icicles in its wake.

Tom and I lived in a roomy old house, but it was not equipped with any kind of heating system. Since Tom and I were living on a minimal budget, our landlord helped us by putting in a woodburning stove. As long as we could find wood to burn, our heat would be efficient and virtually cost-free!

Sources of wood were relatively easy to find. The problem was that Mississippi is very spread out. It’s not unusual for a couple to drive twenty miles to run an errand. The gasoline was a major concern for us during that time, and so was the cold.

On the first day of the month following the ice storm, Tom and I had to pay bills. We preferred to pay them in person, as snail mail tends to be slow. The first usually meant that the whole day was used up driving and running errands. We were used to that, though. It had become part of our lifestyle.

That day, we wasted no time because we knew that there was an additional errand that HAD to be done. If we didn’t get it done in time, we knew that there would be dire consequences for us and our little daughter Ariana. Because of the bitter cold, we needed to stop at the picture frame factory in Carrollton, several miles from where we lived. Tom had permission from the manager to get scrap wood there so that we could use it in our woodburning stove at home. We HAD to pick up wood that night because we were completely out, and the temperature would drop below freezing that night.

We had a small electric heater. That night, however, it wouldn’t have done us any good. We had no electricity at home because the ice storm had damaged our power lines. Our pipes had frozen, so we didn’t have running water, either. Tom and I have never had monetary resources, so we had to be creative. We washed dishes with water from the pool in the backyard. I boiled it on our gas stove and then added cold poolwater to it until I had just the right temperature to add my dish liquid. I filled the other side of the sink with cold poolwater for rinsing dishes. It wasn’t safe for drinking, but we were still able to keep our dishes clean using the only source of available water we had.

Since we were trying to conserve our propane, we prepared many of our meals on the top of the woodburning stove. (A metal lid lifted up to reveal a cooking surface underneath. By putting thin disposable aluminum cake pans on top of it were able to fry food on it. We couldn’t do it without wood to light, though.)

After paying our bills, we ended up in Carrollton. We were able to pick up a good load of firewood, loading up the back of our little Datsun pickup. (My husband has always been a fan of small Datsun pickups. They get good gas mileage and they have a nice hauling capacity. One way or another, Tom and I have always ended up hauling SOMETHING.)

Dusk was just around the corner as we drove home. We were SCARED. We had bought the little Datsun recently, and Tom had paid a low price for it. The only catch was that THERE WAS AN ELECTRICAL SHORT IN THE HEADLIGHTS AND THEY DIDN’T WORK. We had needed a vehicle for daytime use, though, and it was the only thing we could afford at the time, so we had taken it. Now we were headed out of Carrollton on the way home. The temperature was dropping quickly, and night was beginning to creep onto the horizon. We had no headlights, and still had ten miles to drive before we reached home.

Our consciences were clear. We hadn’t wasted any time that day and we picked up the firewood that we needed, but driving without headlights for the last ten miiles would be DEADLY.

Tom stopped for gas at our friend Kent’s little convenience store. He was silent as he pumped the fuel, and I knew that he was thinking the same thing that I was: How were we going to get home safely with no lights? There was no way we could outrun the approaching darkness. Already, the sky was beginning to blacken.

He wordlessly pulled out onto Highway 35 toward home and said out loud, "I’ve done everything I can, Lord. It’s YOUR turn!" Hoping against hope, Tom pulled the headlight switch. Without hesitation, and despite the electrical short, the lights came on as bright as day! From that evening forward, they worked as though they were brand new.

We made it back to the house that night with good reason to celebrate! Thanks to divine intervention, the lights never flickered as we drove those last ten miles, and as we lit the woodburning stove that night with the lumber we had just picked up from Carrollton, the fire seemed just a LITTLE bit warmer than it had been the night before!


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