It's no secret that I love Panera. There is something about hardy soup, salads, and endless breads that just does good for the soul. If we had a lunch date at Panera, I'd probably share my secrets with you as we scarfed down some warm yummy food.
I'd tell you I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always.
You'd know that I worry. A lot. I worry about the past and how it affects me. I worry about the future and what it holds. And sometimes I even worry about today.
I'd warn you that I talk fast because I'm a city girl at heart, even though I was raised in the south.
I might even tell you that I don't pronounce the second r in my name, but everybody else seems to do, so I answer to it anyways.
You learned that I'm stubborn and strong-willed.
You'd realize that I hardly cry, but that my heart is continually burdening for the hurting and the broken.
You'd see that I try to find beauty and hope in difficult circumstances.
I'd let you in on the secret that I used to be a wallflower who was painfully shy and somehow grew up to be a wildflower who loves talking to complete strangers.
Today, I had the great blessing of sharing my dreams, hopes, and fears with my sweet friend Heather. She gave me the encouragement I needed to begin my 25 days of giving. She blessed me with more fun creative gift ideas. I had bought a gift card at Panera when we got our food that I planned to gift it on my way out as my first gift of 25. I found it fitting knowing that so much love and joy can be shared over a warm meal; which was a gift I wanted to pass along to a stranger.
However, as we were leaving, I couldn't seem to make up my mind or gather enough courage to give it to someone. Heather kept encouraging me as random people passed by. But then I heard that small voice of doubt in my mind saying, "you can't do it." I finally started to muster up some courage as a security guard walked by. But that courage came and went as he passed on by.
Then I looked up and saw this:
The hair salon was directly across from Panera, and I figured I could find someone in there to bless. As I walked in, I saw a few stylists with customers and a women at the front desk on the phone. I stood there patiently waiting for her to get off the phone, still trying to muster up the courage to hand over the card. She got off the phone, and looked me, and asked how she could help me. I stumbled over my words as I explained that I wanted to give her a gift. I wish you could of seen her first reaction to me. I could seriously feel my heart sinking out of my body. She looked at me confused and bewildered. And I seriously thought she was going to reject it.
I attempted to re-explain that I was giving her a gift, no strings attached, no reason. Just simply out of love. Her face softened and she got a huge smile. Then she asked if I would come around the counter and give her a hug. As she hugged me I could feel her love, gratitude, and thanksgiving, which was a beautiful gift back to me. She also gave me the gift of seeing her joy, which I carried the image of her smile with me the rest of the day.