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A Mother’s Prayer

By D.I. Telbat

Joy Hartman was halfway through vacuuming the carpet in the living room when she suddenly stopped and looked at the clock. It was a quarter to four in the afternoon, two days before Mother’s Day. Her two grade-schoolers, Jake and Leah, were usually already stomping into the house, tracking springtime mud, and begging for after-school snacks.

Sometimes, Buck the bus driver ran a little late, and Joy usually thought nothing of it. Buck doubled as the high school science teacher, and his interactive physics experiments with students occasionally ran past the final bell. Regardless of the normalcy of her children’s tardiness, Joy felt the overwhelming urge to pray, and to pray now!

Turning off the vacuum, she sat on the edge of the sofa and placed her face in her hands. Each morning, ever since the kids had been running off to school, she sat and prayed at the dining table. She prayed for her children’s physical safety, their spiritual growth, and God’s will in their family, even if God in His wisdom allowed hardship or discomfort to happen.

But this wasn’t her normal prayer. Instead, she sensed a deep need to cry out for God’s intervention. Something was happening. Joy couldn’t know what it was, or even physically intervene herself. But she was a loving mother, so she did what only a loving mother could do in a moment of concern and helplessness—she went to the throne of her sovereign and loving Father. God knew what was happening, even if she didn’t. She placed her concern in God’s able hands.

Twenty minutes later, the kids still hadn’t returned home. She heard a vehicle drive up to the house and park. Joy peeked through the curtains. It was Brad, back from the real estate office. He glanced up at the window, waved, and smiled.

“Where’s my little rascals?” he yelled and growled like a wild animal. The kids had grown out of the tickle monster phase, but they hadn’t grown out of their appreciation of having their father chase them through the house and tackle them like a ravenous beast.

Joy met him at the door.

“They’re still not back.” She took his briefcase from him as he stood in stunned silence. “What is it, Brad? What are you thinking?” she asked.

“I came home by the bridge road since I saw there was a bad wreck up on Willaby Drive by the duck pond.”

“That’s the way Buck brings the kids home.” She grabbed her sweater and phone. “No one called me about anything. You drive. I’ll pray.”

“Let’s just take it slow here.” Brad climbed into the driver’s seat. “We don’t know that anything bad has happened. It’s going to be all right.”
“I know.” Joy took a deep breath and buckled her seat belt. “Even if it’s the worst news, it’ll still be all right. God will help us.”

“Right.” Brad smiled to reassure her, but Joy could see worry on his face. “We’ll get through anything with His help.”

She prayed quietly as Brad drove. A mile up the road, he had to stop as both lanes were blocked by traffic.

“I see ambulances way up there.” Brad opened his door and stood on the runner. “I see a crane, and police cars, and at least three ambulances.”

“Pull over,” Joy urged. “We can walk the rest of the way.”

Brad pulled the car into Mr. Townsley’s empty field, and they walked across the ditch. Commuters farther from their homes waited impatiently in their cars, some even honking.

Joy couldn’t explain her sense of anticipation rather than dread. Whatever had happened, it had something to do with her urge to pray at exactly a quarter to four that afternoon. That meant that no matter what horror they might find, God had not been absent from directing or guiding or comforting or arranging . . . .

“Joy, don’t look!” Brad clutched her arm and turned her toward him.

But it was too late. Joy saw it all. Emergency personnel, in official uniforms and reflector vests, surrounded the mangled and crumpled metal of the orange and black bus.

One of the ambulances chirped its siren and sped away with no lights flashing. A tow truck driver was attaching chains to the chassis of a city plow truck, which was half-submerged in the duck pond across the intersection.

“What’s a plow truck doing out here?” Brad asked as they edged closer to the emergency crews around the bus. “It’s not even winter.”

A man wearing an orange vest and carrying a bullhorn turned around.

“They were relocating all the city trucks to the fairgrounds from behind the courthouse to service them for next winter.” The man shook his head. “The driver had a heart attack. Missed the stop sign and everything. Tore clean through the bus. Look at it. Every seat on that whole bus is wrapped up like a taco!”

Joy shuddered and turned away. Brad held up his hand to the worker.

“Thank you. That’s enough details for now.” Brad put his arm around Joy. “I think we should go back to the car. You have your phone. Someone will call us.”

Joy’s knees buckled, but Brad caught her and held her up. They didn’t speak. She simply clung to him. It was all too terrible, too unthinkable, too—
“Mom! Dad!”

The calls from both Jake and Leah were enough to take Joy’s breath away a second time. The two youngsters bounded across the pavement, weaved between emergency crews, and jumped into their parents’ arms. Joy was weeping for joy now, torn between searching her kids for injuries and squeezing them tightly.

But the bus driver wandered up to them, scratching his closely trimmed beard, obviously overwhelmed by the sight of his demolished bus a few yards away.

“I don’t get it.” Brad threw up his hands. “I’m looking at the bus, and I’m looking at you guys. How is this possible?”

“The paramedics don’t believe it, either,” Buck said. “I told them no one is even in the bus, but they’re insisting on searching it anyway. I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but I think I’m to blame.”

“No one’s blaming you for anything!” Joy laughed, her nerves still unsettled. “You brought our children home safely!”

“Well, I wasn’t supposed to let the kids get out of the bus. It’s against policy. Every day at this stop sign, we stop extra-long to watch the family of ducks in the pond. But today, your kids begged me to let them get off the bus to feed the ducks. I’ve never let them get off. Except today, I did.”

“You do this every day?” Brad asked. “You stop right there at the bottom of the hill?”

“There’s usually not much traffic. The kids love those ducks.”

“But on this day,” Joy could barely speak past her tears, “you let them off the bus.”

“Yeah, against my better judgement. We’d all be dead if they hadn’t talked me into it.” Buck ran his hand through his hair. “That plow truck roared down the hill behind us, out of control, and wiped out the whole bus, back to front. Well, you can see for yourself.”

“It would’ve been a quarter to four,” Joy said. “This all happened at a quarter to four.”

“Hey, that’s exactly what time it was!” Buck placed his hands on his hips. “How’d you know that? No one was even around this intersection except us.”

“God was here. That’s exactly what time it was when God told me to pray. I didn’t know why. I just had to.”

“And that’s not all.” Young Jake placed a hand on Buck’s arm. “Buck saved the driver.”

“What driver?” Brad raised his eyebrows. “The plow truck driver?”

“I performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.” Buck shrugged. “He’ll be okay.”
“So, this wasn’t just about our kids.” Brad took Joy’s hand in his own. “Our kids were saved, and then you saved the other driver from the heart attack. This is amazing! People need to know this is how our God works. Everyone will start praying more!”

“I was bringing home your Mother’s Day gift for Sunday,” Leah said to her mother, her whole face in a pout. “I made it myself. It was on the bus. Now it’s ruined!”

“Oh, sweetie! YOU are my Mother’s Day gift!” Joy laughed and gathered her two children in her arms.

“My two little ducklings are my Mother’s Day gifts!”

Thanks to author D.I. Telbat for allowing the use of this story. Other fine stories can be found on the Telbat’s Tablet website at

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