Magazine Article

Gone Without a Trace

Thieves took it, but providence brought it back.

Kathleen K. Dilley
Gone Without a Trace

My accordion was stolen in 1973 in Prineville, Oregon. My mother had given it to me when I graduated from high school.

At the time my husband and I were serving the Lord: helping people, going to church, and praying, things most Christians do. While we were at church one Sunday morning, everything of value was stolen from our house, including my accordion. The neighbor saw a blue Ford in our driveway. But we often had people at our house, so he was not concerned.

Sometime before that, we had taken a young man into our home. He had nowhere to live and needed a job. He wanted to work at the lumber mill, so we bought him some boots and let him stay with us. We had Bible studies, and he asked the Lord Jesus Christ into his life. He had stolen in the past, but we thought he had changed.

Another time a woman from the church stayed with us for a short time. She had marital problems and no place to go. Her teenage sons had had some brushes with the law.

When our things were stolen, we tried to figure out who took them. Of course, they were among those we suspected. We turned in a police report, but we saw no sign of our stolen goods, and resolved that we’d probably never see them again.

We turned in a police report, but we saw no sign of our stolen goods.


I started accordion lessons when I was about 9 or 10 years old to please my mother. Mother came from a large family, and she hadn’t been able to learn to play an instrument. But she loved accordion music.

I was a shy and self-conscious child, but with my mother’s encouragement I took lessons for several years. I played partly by ear and partly by reading notes. I played occasionally at church.

My mother had her dreams. She didn’t know much about accordions, but she bought me an instrument that was large and heavy. It was the top-of-the-line in white pearl, and cost more than $1,000. She had engraved on the front in silver letters “Kathy.”

When I was 18, I played for a small church group that had no piano. As I played, they sang. They seemed not to notice the notes I missed, and they enjoyed their singing.

That accordion went with me everywhere I went. I played for my children and for myself. My children pulled two keys off the keyboard. I didn’t have money to fix it, so I continued to play it that way.

What? Heavenly Music?

A few years later we moved to Portland. A neighbor had helped us move, and when her home was damaged by fire, she needed somewhere to stay for a few days. She stayed at our house.

She wanted to pay us when she left. We told her that we had done it for the Lord, and that we didn’t want to be paid. But while she stayed with us, I mentioned my missing accordion, and that I wanted to get another one someday. She said she had one in storage and might be willing to sell it if I wanted to take a look at it.

When I saw the accordion, I realized that it was the one that had once belonged to me. She said she had gotten it from someone who used it to pay for rent that was past due, a professional accordion player.

It was a miracle. Three years later, and 150 miles from where it was stolen, I found my accordion.

The psalmist wrote: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).

God gave me the desire of my heart when I found the accordion I thought I would never see again.

Kathleen K. Dilley writes from Cusick, Washington.

Kathleen K. Dilley