Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Corner Bakery and Hugo

It was her birthday. But this time was different, better sprinkles on an already sweet ice cream cone.

We've been doing this every year since our girls were born. We would go to the mall, push strollers, stop to nurse, window shop, change diapers. Walk. Walk. Walk. Oh! And of course the talking...which I would always seem to do the most of. She told me recently that she loves to hear my stories. They make her laugh :)

Over the years, the stroller pushing would come to a stop to watch our girls take their first steps together and changing diapers would evolve into multiple potty breaks. Then time took our girls to school and left us with open schedules to busily fill with other things. However, we've never missed having time together for our respective birthdays.

I love my Gail. I will admit she may not seem like mine. After all, she does have a very busy schedule, a husband and two beautiful girls...but she is mine. So of course when the opportunity presented itself to have lunch for her birthday, I took it!

Now since neither one of us pushes strollers anymore, I had to go shopping with her before lunch. Oh the sacrifices we make for our friends! Did I mention that Gail is THE perfect hanger? I may not be a size 0/2 but this was really going to be fun! Too bad I couldn't "fatten" her up with lunch first! (Kidding! I sincerely enjoyed her gift card. We just can't share clothes.)

The best part of the day came after selecting our seats at the Corner Bakery. It dawned on me that our food would be delivered to us and I would get a chance to ask my new nine little words. Uh, oh.

  • How would I bring it up?
  • What if they react negatively?
  • What if they laugh at me?
  • What if they spit in my food?!
Oh this was going to be harder than I thought. Before I knew it, there he was. Standing there beside our little corner of the bakery, placing our food down, (ask him. ask him. ask!), taking the number off our table, (ask! ask! ask! NOW!)...

"Excuse me? What's your name?"
(Here it goes!)
"Hugo, we're going to pray over our food before we eat and I was wondering (sweating profusely at this point), How can I ask God to bless you today?"
(Oh my goodness! Am I still here?! Did I pass out? Is he looking at me? Can I have a food tester please!)
"Me?", he asks with a boyish grin.
"Yes. You. How can I ask God to bless you today?"
I must admit. He looked like he had been waiting all day for someone to ask him anything at all. His inquisitive eyes seemed to answer back, "You mean, you see me? You care about me?".

His simple response: "I want to know I'm doing a good job."

His words matched his eyes. He was doing the best job he could but wanted to know if he was making an impact. He wanted to know if anyone could see, if anyone cared. He wanted to be known. Was it worth his time making sandwiches and clearing tables? Will anyone ever really take the time to know him? Will anyone simply ask his name and say, "Thank you Hugo!"

Those questions in his deep dark brown eyes helped guide my prayers for Hugo. Yes, Hugo. There is someone who knows you by name and knows you. And I will ask Him to pour out a blessing on you. May you get to know Him and may He make an impact in your life as these nine little words are making in mine.

And so it was. One more memory added for Gail and I to share on birthdays. It might go something like this:

"Lunch? Yes Gail. Of course. Oh! Remember that first year we went to the Corner Bakery and met Hugo? Where should we go this year to get sprinkles on our ice cream cone?"
Who knew nine little words could be so sweet!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nine Little Words

Words. Big words. Little words. Fancy words. Easy words. Long words. Silly words. Poetic words. Whispered words. Loving words. His Word.

Words, words, words. They hold immense power. They hurt. They heal. They preach. They guide. They lead. They judge. They soothe. They bring laughter.

They are on pages of loved books, devotionals, journals. They pass the lips of dear friends in delicious conversation. I savor each one.


They feel, “I love you mommy.”

They communicate, “Mommy, I’m hungry.”


They bring peace as words pass telephone earpiece, “I’m on my way home.”

They connect and rest, “Come to bed.”


His Word. Gospel given. Word encouraging, convicting and wise. Loving, living, breathing, piercing. Alive.


I’m not going to pretend I have great insight on how words are used or even that I am some sort of writer. What I do know is that on one, heavenly ordained day at a women’s retreat, nine little words were placed along my path. I picked them up because they were too good to leave behind.

“How can I ask God to bless you today?”

I remember the first time I heard those words. Oh how they stirred my soul! You mean to tell me that God Himself can pour out a blessing on those He loves by nine simple little words? You mean to tell me that I could ask that question and genuinely take their answer to heart and pray for them? You mean I would not know the impact it made in their life until kingdom come if any at all? I bought it. And to think Shannon Smith [speaker] had never challenged me to do so. She never even offered but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. God would not let me.

And so began my journey, outside of four walls, outside of what I knew to be comfortable, outside of my home, outside of my church, outside of what I knew to be safe. Little did I know how eager I would be to ask and yet afraid at the same time. Little did I know then that it would cause me to face my fears and see how God had been grooming me for these moments when I would ask,

“How can I ask God to bless you today?”

Little did I know I could find such immense pleasure in praying for people I had just met and might never see again. My journey along this path only began in late November 2009 and yet when I write these words just two months later, it feels like I’ve been doing it my whole life.

I can remember the faces and names of those I have asked. I remember their requests with such detail and clarity that I offer them up to God on a regular basis and that has been my true joy.

So along with other wanderings of my day to day life, this blog will be sprinkled with written experiences of those strangers who crossed my path. My hope is that it will lift your spirits or even encourage you to do the same or even pray for those strangers as well.

Join me. Share your stories. Share in the joy.

“How can I ask God to bless you today?”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fall Down. Get Back Up.

"A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble - because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out." - C.S. Lewis

Yes, when we fall down it can look awkward. Sometimes when left bare in that moment of vulnerability, it can even seem gloomy and depressing. However, we were not meant to crawl but stand upright and bask in His light for many to be awed by the splendor and beauty of perfect draw all to Him.

Even the leaves of majestic oaks and maples fall to the ground, yet return during a period of growth. Then as God again cools the earth to bring restful sleep, He paints those same mighty trees with colors unmatched on any painter's pallet...reminding us that beauty can be fleeting but He is always ready to restore.

And to think He loves me more than those mighty oaks. Here's to getting up and being restored!

Fall Maple Tree photo by Lisa Arnold

Tuesday, January 5, 2010