A Business Boost from a Heavenly Advisor

A single mom with limited prospects receives some advice from above.

Posted in , Jun 22, 2012

Marilyn Bush at the counter of her bakery

“Mommy, I’m hungry,” three-year-old Ashley said. She’d been a trooper all day, squirming in her car seat while I chased down job leads. I wished I had something to show for it. Now I had to get home to figure out dinner for her and the three boys.

What on earth am I going to feed them? I thought as I drove to our mobile home lot.

I’d come as a single mom to Canyon Lake, in the Texas Hill Country, where trailer parks offered affordable living. Problem was, I couldn’t find work.

I told myself to stay confident, to believe things would get better. But I was running out of hope as quickly as I was running out of money. My hand trembled as I turned on the radio, hoping some music would calm me. God, I have to hold things together for my kids.

The Train song “Calling All Angels” filled the car. One of our favorites. Ashley hummed in her car seat. “I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me.” Tears welled in my eyes as she sang along to the chorus. “And I’m calling all angels. I’m calling all you angels.”

It’s going to take more than a song to build up hope inside of me, I thought. Angels wouldn’t help me put dinner on the table. My sons were waiting when Ashley and I came in. “When’s dinner?” they said.

It was still late afternoon, but they were growing kids, always one step ahead of me as far as food was concerned. In the old days I baked pastries and pies just for the pleasure of it. I always had fresh baked goods for them for a snack.

Now my pantry was nearly empty. A bag of sugar, some flour and not much else.

A couple of overripe bananas sat on the counter. Just the way I used to like them for baking, I thought. I opened the fridge. Job hunting had so overwhelmed me, I didn’t even know how many eggs I’d find.

Hmm, I thought. Flour, sugar, these eggs… “I’m going to whip us up some banana muffins!” I called to the kids.

“Muffins for dinner!” the boys said. “Cool!”

Soon I was lost in my recipe, pouring the dry ingredients into measuring cups and mashing the bananas with a fork. As I scooped the mixture into the muffin tin I found myself singing, “I’m calling all angels. I’m calling all you angels.”

If only I could believe angels really were out there looking after us. These muffins would last a couple of days at most. Then what? I put the muffins in the oven and sat down with the help-wanted section.

I circled a couple of ads that looked good, but I was beyond hope. I wondered if I’d ever find work again.

Twenty minutes later the house was filled with the sweet smell of bananas. I pulled two dozen big muffins out of the oven to cool. As I flipped them out of the pan I suddenly thought: Wrap them up, put them in your wicker basket and sell them.

Sell them? I thought. To who? I pictured myself at an intersection with a basket full of muffins. Then I remembered seeing homemade cookies by the register at our convenience store.

I wrapped a dozen muffins individually in plastic and got my wicker basket down from the closet. At this point I was willing to try anything.

“I’ve got to run an errand, boys,” I said as I grabbed my car keys.

I got in the car, put Ashley in her car seat in the back and stared at the basket full of muffins on the seat next to me. “Okay, angels,” I said, “here goes.” I drove to a convenience store nearby. I gathered my courage in the parking lot and walked in with my muffins.

“Tasty,” the manager said, trying one. “I’ll take them all.” He opened his register and counted out some bills.

“Here’s my number,” I said, jotting it down on a napkin. “Call me if you want some more.”

I drove straight to the grocery store. With the money the manager gave me I bought more baking supplies and a whole chicken for the kids. If those muffins sell I can make more tomorrow, I thought. It was the first thing I’d dared to hope for in weeks.

I’d barely gotten dinner in the oven when the telephone rang. It was the manager of the convenience store. “Believe it or not, we’ve sold out of your muffins! Any chance of bringing another batch by tomorrow?”

“Yes, sir!” I said. Maybe the angels really were at work in my life!

I hung up the phone and turned to the kids. “Mommy got a job!”

For the next year I sold muffins to all the convenience stores in my area. Eventually my baking business outgrew my tiny trailer, and I rented a funky old fixer-upper where I could launch my new store. I expanded into pies, cakes and cookies, and called it Mrs. Bush’s Pie Company.

Now, 10 years since I sold that first banana muffin, people from all over drive to Canyon Lake to buy my homemade goodies. Life for the kids and me is sweeter than I ever could have hoped. The angels knew better.

Take a tour of Marilyn's bakery.

Try Marilyn's recipe for Banana Muffins and Cowboy Cookies.


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