From her car, LaVerne Otis saw a woman sprinting after a bus. The bus pulled away without even slowing down, and the woman collapsed in a sobbing heap on a bench. It was LaVerne’s first day of vacation, and she had plans for a leisurely day, but she saw “an intensity in [the woman’s] need” that made her stop. LaVerne wrote about how this chance encounter changed her family in her story “Bus Stop Blessing,” published in our book on counting our blessings.

LaVerne sat down next to the distraught woman and mentioned gently that another bus would be along in half an hour. This didn’t seem to calm her at all. Her baby was in the hospital with pneumonia. She had gone home for the night to get some sleep, but in the morning her car wouldn’t start. Now she was worried that her son would feel abandoned if he woke up and she wasn’t there. This wasn’t her only problem. Her baby’s illness had taken a financial toll on her, which she was bearing by herself since the boy’s father had left when he learned she was pregnant.

LaVerne immediately changed her plans for the day. “Please,” she said, “let me give you a ride to the hospital.” The woman, named Sarah, hesitated at first and then accepted.

LaVerne was moved by Sarah’s struggle and decided to help her however she could. That night she told her Bible study group about Sarah, and the members collected donations of money and baby clothes for her. LaVerne also sent her brother to help Sarah restart her car. This turned out to be the most consequential of LaVerne’s contributions to Sarah’s life.

As LaVerne wrote in her story, “not only did he get that battery to spark once again, sparks began flying between my brother and Sarah as well.” Later, Sarah became LaVerne’s sister-in-law and, of course, her baby son, Daniel, became LaVerne’s nephew. “You never know what blessings God has waiting for you if you just take the time to stop and try to meet someone’s need,” LaVerne wrote.


Judy Lee Green’s mother went to bed ill and woke up covered in red polka dots her children had painted on her skin in an attempt to heal her.

It is so easy to get frustrated with young children. They often act on harebrained ideas, creating messes that parents must sort out. But almost as often they have good intentions. The parents who manage to keep their sanity seem to be the ones who are able to quickly get past the horror of their children’s misadventures and see the humor. That’s what Judy’s mother did, as Judy explained in her story “The Magic of Mercurochrome,” published in our book about kooky family matters.

When Judy and her siblings were growing up, they thought Mercurochrome was a miraculous cure-all. When their mother put it on their cuts and scratches, they instantly felt better. It was surely a placebo, but they didn’t know that.

One day, their mother felt sick and lay down to rest. She told the kids to play while she was in bed. One of Judy’s brothers got a scratch, so the siblings went straight for the medicine cabinet to get the Mercurochrome. That’s when they got the bright idea that their mother could use some, too. She wasn’t feeling well, and Mercurochrome seemed to fix everything.

Judy and her siblings gathered around their sleeping mother and carefully covered every freckle, every blemish and even every toenail and fingernail with Mercurochrome. When they finished, reddish splotches covered every part of their mother’s body. Then they left her to continue sleeping.

“When Mama shrieked in horror, we knew that she was awake,” Judy wrote. The kids ran to her room and were perplexed to find her yelling; it didn’t appear she felt much better. But then, after a moment, she began laughing as she stood before a mirror, which reassured Judy and her siblings. Over the next several days, their mother laughed as she told the story of her children’s medical treatment over and over again, which Judy and her siblings took as further evidence of the magic of Mercurochrome.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at