Mom was my best friend, mentor, and spiritual advisor. I still miss her greatly. No one ever doubted that she had a personal relationship with Jesus.
Loving all kids, Mom taught Sunday School and drove a school bus. One day, a little girl slumped up the steps, tears streaming down her face. Mom wrapped her arms around her. ďWhatís wrong?Ē
The little one swallowed her sobs and between gasps melted Momís heart. ďMy tooth fell out today. I was gonna put it under my pillow for the tooth fairy, but now itís gone.Ē She flung her head on Momís shoulder.
The noise of the kids on the bus buzzed in Momís ears. The natives were getting restless. Nonetheless, that didnít stop Mom from digging around for a scrap of paper. She penned a note for the little girl. Dear Tooth Fairy, Annieís very first tooth fell out today. She was excited to put it under her pillow for you. However, you, of all people, know how small teeth are. Somehow the tooth lost its way. Please take this note as collateral until the fore-mentioned tooth is accounted for. Sincerely, Mrs. Bus-Driver
The next morning, the little girl skipped up the bus steps with a huge smile on her face and some money in her fist. Mom hugged her tightly, relieved that the tooth fairy accepted the letter. She had hundreds of stories like that. Most may not think of driving a school bus as a way to serve God, but not Mom. She took her ministry seriously.
It wasnít all hugs and cuddles. She took quite a bit of guff for being the first female driver in the district. Tiny in stature, she held her head high when she walked into the bus garage full of men. ďIt's a manís job. No way can a little lady handle such a big bus. Go back to the kitchen where you belong.Ē Those types of scoffs just made her work harder.
Finally, she proved herself worthy one morning by she stepping off the bus to separate a fight between two teen boys. Somehow she ended up with a broken ankle in the scuffle. It didnít stop her though -- that afternoon she was back in the seat, cast, crutches, and a smile. Itís not easy to double-clutch and shift in a cast, but somehow Mom managed it. The guys didnít taunt her much after that day.
When Mom died prematurely at 57, the entire town turned out for her funeral. I had selected one of my favorite hymns, Here I Am, Lord by Dan Schutte. In the verses, God, disappointed that His people arenít behaving properly, seeks someone to minister to His children. During the chorus, the singer proclaims to do Godís bidding as long as He leads the way.
When we finished singing, the minister tossed his arms in the air. ďI could stop now because that song eulogizes Elaine. No matter where God called her, she answered with a hearty, ĎHere I am, Lord.í She carried Jesusí love to everyone she met, the kids on the bus, her family, or the people she fed when she started the Bread Program. It wasnít easy to talk the local stores to donate their day-old baked goods, but Elaine refused to relent until they agreed. God asked her to feed the hungry and she answered, ĎI will, Lord, if you show me the way.'Ē
Recently, I was appointed editor of my Church's newsletter. Overwhelmed, I quickly turned it into a chore instead of a blessing. Stressing over deadlines and fussing with the font so everything would fit, I literally became ill. I thought of the power of politicians and celebrities, then wondered why God couldnít assign me one of those positions. Grumbling, I lifted my eyes upward. ďIsnít there something more important you want me to do, God?Ē
While wiping tears from my face, I clearly heard God asking, "If not you, then who?"
Trembling, I pictured the toothless, little girl to whom Mom tended. If my mother wasnít above ministering on a dirty school bus, who was I to question Godís calling.
Summoning all of my courage, I answered, ďHere I am, Jesus, use me."
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