Lucy's eighth birthday is December 1, 1954, the same day her mama dies leaving her an orphan. Lucy’s cruel uncle and aunt throw her out of the apartment in Bowling Green, Kentucky she had shared with her mama, and into the street.
That night, cold and alone, Lucy prays to the baby Jesus lying in the manger of the Nativity scene in front of the Methodist church. She cries out for His help, protection, and love. Later, she drifts into a restless sleep, huddled near the fountain in Fountain Square Park. In the night, Lucy awakens shivering, but a huge dog lies down beside her and keeps her warm.
The next morning, she meets an old man, and the dog and the old man help her in her search for someone to love her and keep her safe.
Lucy lay curled in a ball near the fountain in Fountain Square Park. The tears that had flowed so freely earlier that day were now just dirty streaks on her little face. She gingerly tugged on the threadbare coat to try to gain warmth. The coat was a hand-me-down from Hazel her older cousin, and for once Lucy was happy that the coat was too big for her. She could wrap it around her body like a blanket. However, the dress she wore was too small, and the hem was well above her knee. She wore Hazel's discarded boots, but no socks. Lucy left in such a hurry she forgot her hat, scarf, and gloves.
Before she entered Fountain Square Park, she stopped by the Methodist Church on State Street. There was a Nativity scene out front, lit with floodlights. She knelt by the manger that held the baby Jesus. On occasion her mama attended this church along with Lucy, and even more often since August. Lucy knew about the baby Jesus. Her Sunday school teacher Mrs. Scott told her class about this precious baby. Mrs. Scott explained that He could save her from her sins and would protect her. Lucy did not understand sin, but she did understand the need for protection.
Lucy stared into the manger and studied the rubber doll representing the baby Jesus. He was wrapped in a blanket, and the baby doll had a sweet smile on his face.
She bowed her head and prayed aloud softly. "Dear baby Jesus, I'm scared. Do You know my mama died this morning? Do You know today is my eighth birthday? Do You know that nobody cares about me? Do You know I'm all alone in the world? Do You know that I have no home? Will You help me, baby Jesus? Will You protect me? Is there somebody out there who will love me? I'm so cold." As she prayed, the tears streamed down her face. No one came by. Lucy was indeed all alone.
That prayer was a couple of hours ago. Lucy now lay shivering near the old fountain. She buried her head in her coat to seek as much warmth as possible. She resembled a turtle returning to the protection of its shell. She snuggled close to one of the shrubs around the fountain. The shrub provided some shelter, so at least she had a bit of protection from the cold damp air as she peered out from her coat and gazed up at the heavens. It was a clear evening, and she could see the stars. Her mama would tell her to count sheep in her head to go to sleep. Tonight she counted stars. With the leaves long gone from the park's trees, she had a wonderful view. By the time she counted approximately fifty stars, she was asleep.
In the middle of the night Lucy woke up shivering. In the shadows a dog walked toward her. Her heart beat faster in panic. She was too scared to run, so she pulled her coat back over her head. If she couldn't see the dog, maybe he couldn't see her either. She felt movement at her back. Cautiously she peeped out from her coat and saw the dog now lying down beside her, resting his head on her body. She tentatively reached out to pet him, and he licked her hand and laid his head back down on her. She felt safe with the dog, and within fifteen minutes Lucy had stopped shivering and was asleep.