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What happened at breakfast

July 2, 2018

When I travel and speak, telling my favorite message of HOPE, I always leave time at the end to listen to the sweet, precious stories of audience members and well, to just simply hug a whole mess of people.  While my husband says I should come with a warning sign, “Watch out, she’s a hugger!”  I think those times of embracing others fuel me.  But it is in the tender sharing of the very personal stories of loss and God’s amazing love that leave my heart so tenderly touched.  Since I share openly about the ways that God’s beautiful cardinals have touched my life, in those private one-on-one meetings I seem compelled to remind my new friends to keep their eyes and ears open and their hearts receptive for those times and places when heaven touches earth.  It is in those blessed moments when heaven truly doesn’t feel so far away.

For some reason my last few days have been filled with divine appointments and all of them have brought me to humble and tear-filled praise.  While I was definitely longing for one of those interactions (which I will write more about later this week), the one that happened before my dissertation altered both my breakfast and my heart.

A simple change in plans is how it all started.  I decided to grab a quick breakfast at McDonald’s rather than wake up everyone.  The moment I walked in it seemed like a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  The recently remodeled restaurant had a new room divider that reminded me of one of the favorite games we played with our kids that has endured today.  Even though they all know the correct locations of their states, they will still, on occasion, pull out The Scrambled States of America to put the union back togetherThe frosted glass divider has the outlines of the states placed in random locations which brought forth a smile of fond memories.


Sitting down to eat a quiet breakfast by myself, I noticed a gentleman who was cleaning the floors.  I watched as he greeted each customer and had genuine conversations with each one.  When he got to me, he asked if I had sprained my wrist.  At first, I was perplexed, but then quickly realized I was already sporting my Wilson wrist band, just like from my high school tennis team days, which protects the scar site from my recent wrist surgery.  We visited briefly before he went on with his work and I with my oatmeal and yogurt.  The sweet man then interacted with a new family who arrived as he congratulated their children on their hard work in school, swiftly learning they had just passed to the next grade level.

Eventually, I decided to refill my iced tea so I could head over to campus.  My new “friend” was mopping in front of the beverage station, so he moved the caution pylon and then asked, “Are you a professor?”.  In our exchange I confirmed that I will be teaching on campus this fall and also back in Minnesota, but that the reason for my trip was to attend a doctoral course.  He then shared about recently finishing his master’s in computer science, and how he was working simply to earn more funds to earn a PhD.  We swapped a few more niceties, and then it was time for me to go.  Before I departed, he made sure to offer his name – Akeem.  Our parting was so sweet – Heal well, Professor Kandy.  Be blessed.

My children could author the next part of this story, because they have learned that I always make sure to talk to a manager whenever I encounter exceptional service.  So often as a society we are quick to complain or to criticize but taking time to speak in gratitude is often taken for granted.  I spoke with the manager and another regular customer overheard our conversation.  Oh, are you talking about Akeem? He’s absolutely the best.

One look at the time and I knew that I needed to get on my way, but as soon as I stepped outside onto the sidewalk tears fell and they continued to pour forth for the ride to campus.  I felt honored. I felt convicted.  I felt inspired. I felt humbled.

How many times in life do we look over the least of these?  He was a man simply mopping the floor and returning trays to the kitchen, yet he was a man taking pride in his job.  He didn’t see it as a lowly position, but rather as gift to which the big opening someday will be to have three extra letters tacked onto his name.  Akeem saw God’s beautiful souls, not just diners in search of a quick bite, and he went out of his way to make them feel special.  Different than many people, Akeem practiced living perfectly in the moment by savoring the preciousness of interacting with others.

In my tear-filled drive to class, I prayed thanking God for the chance to bump into one of his saints. I humbly asked him to help me live like Akeem, not encumbered with any of life’s worries or disappointments.  I asked him to help me remember that no matter what I am doing to do it with pride as if I am working for him.  I sought forgiveness for the times where I was not filled with gratitude for all the many blessings I have received, and I humbly asked for help in remembering to live life in abundant gratitude.

On that day, heaven felt really close because even though I just stopped for breakfast, that morning, I basked in God’s presence all thanks to Akeem .

Live blessed.  Love BIG.


  1. Beautiful life story. You had a “Marty” experience only with a man named Akeem. Marty was the Walmart man in Brookings, SD who blessed many with his kindness and sincere love for people. V.J. Smith wrote a book about Marty called, “The Richest Man in Town.” 🙂 ❤

    • I loved V.J.’s book. He honored our friendship by speaking at the one year anniversary of the bus crash. I would not have thought of the comparison, but Akeem does remind me of Marty. What life lessons we can learn when we open our hearts to the possibilities.

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