My deadline was hovering and I’d been praying for an idea for Light Notes – an inspirational story would be a godsend. But how would I find one in Hawaii while taking care of the grandkids? It would take a miracle.
Little did I know that God had more than one planned.
“There’s only one thing I want to do before I leave tomorrow,” I said to my daughter, Traci, who’d just gotten home from travel to the mainland, “and that’s a trip to Matsumoto’s for shave ice.”
Since I’d watched 11-year-old Hunter and Hailey all week that included early release from school each day, grateful Traci was anxious to please. Off we headed to Oahu’s North Shore, about a 35-minute drive from their home at Schofield Barracks.
Our first stop was for shave ice with the twins hopping on one foot and then the other as the line extended out the door. Then, once our “sweet tooth” was happy, their mom herded us across the street for her healthy acai fruit-bowl. Another line awaited us.
But sometimes waiting puts you in the right place at the right time. While I browsed in the boutique next door, Traci spent her wait-time eavesdropping.
“Remind me to tell you about that guy who was behind me in line,” Traci whispered upon my return as she discreetly pointed in the direction of the menu bar.
I noted the “20-something” in plaid shirt and flip-flops and then turned my thoughts to shopping. It would be an hour or so before we headed back home.
“You were going to tell me about that guy,” I prodded as we drove down the highway.
“Well,” Traci paused, “I heard him talking about how his business got started. And since I was wearing the HE>i (HEgreaterthani) tee-shirt and Hunter was too, I asked if he’d let me take a picture of them together.”
I gasped. This was the perfect story for Light Notes; a young entrepreneur who was running an inspirational lifestyle logo business. But now we were miles away and who knew where he could be in Haleiwa – or if he would still be there – even if I went back.
Yet the thought to at least try persisted. “You might go to the HE>i store,” Traci advised as I grabbed my laptop and jumped into the car.
While I raced toward Haleiwa, afternoon traffic building on the two-lane road, I knew it would be a “God thing” if I connected to my story source. Then as I wheeled into the HE>i parking lot, there was the young man in plaid just crossing to get into his car, a huge box in his arms.
“Excuse me!” I shouted as I braked and simultaneously rolled down my window. “I work for a newspaper in Washington State and I’d like to tell your story.” And then I added, “My daughter took a picture of you with my grandson.”
A smile crossed his face and then a quick promise that he would be right back.
“You’re lucky to have caught him today,” a sales assistant commented as I set up my computer on their store counter. “He’s usually not here.”
Another cue this HE>i story needed telling?
Before long Kaimana Plemer returned, ready for our interview as customers browsed nearby. Silently, I prayed that God would give us a connection, a feeling of trust so vital to a good story.
“So where in Washington are you from again? Kaimana asked, my hands poised on the keyboard.
Reaching for my Tri-City Herald badge, I explained there were three cities together, all on the east side of the state.
Kaimana’s face brightened. “I have friends from Pasco. Do you know Scott and Tiffany Smiley?”
My mouth dropped. Not only did I know about Army Captain Scott Smiley who authored the book "Hope Unseen", but I had also interviewed him a while back.
What were the chances that Kaimana and I would have mutual friends, besides the other coincidences – a spontaneous drive, an overheard conversation, a fortuitous face-to-face encounter – that brought me the opportunity to tell the HE>i story?
And what a story! One that reminds us to be humble and to live as Kaimana told me, “Jesus, others and then me.”
As I reflect on all that happened that day, it wasn’t chance but God’s perfect timing of “small miracles.”
And to think, I had only asked for one.
Read the rest of the story in Light Notes “Oahu’s North Shore HE>i logo catches a wave.”
If you have a story idea for Light Notes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.