Olivia Newport ballerina and toddler

Photo by Lorri Nussbaum www.keeperscards.com/

When my daughter was in later elementary school, Hannah was her best friend. Hannah ate at our table. Hannah slept at our house. Hannah went to church with us. For a couple of years, the two girls found every excuse possible to be together.

Then Hannah’s mother remarried and moved to the other side of town. It was only a few miles, but you know how it is. It’s one thing for nine-year-olds to run between houses, and more complicated to arrange play-dates across town. The girls saw each other every now and then, but as they got older they drifted apart.

Honestly, though, the drifting was more on my daughter’s end. By then she had a new best friend. (Now Kaylee ate at our table, slept at our house, and went to church with us.)

Hannah used to call at random intervals and we would hear the latest news. Her own family started going to church, something they never did when she was little. Her mother and stepfather came to faith. She boldly called herself a Christian. When she graduated from high school early, Hannah sent us an announcement. She went out of state on a well earned scholarship and trained as a nurse. I always had a vague idea of where Hannah was, and remembered her fondly, but life had moved us all on.

Then the doorbell rang one spring day and there stood Hannah. Twenty-one years old, a credentialed nurse recently returned to town and working in the E.R.—and wife to a young Army man. Together they worked in the youth ministry of their church. My daughter was not home, but I was glad to chat with Hannah. In the back of my mind, though, I wondered why it was so important to her to come by after ten years and talk at length with me.

She was finally old enough to put words on the reason for the random unreciprocated contacts through the years. It wasn’t just my daughter. It was all of us. It was the intact family she didn’t have. It was a dad in the home who showed her that all fathers did not have to be what hers had been. It was her earliest taste of a community of faith. It was wide-eyed discovery of the love of God. She traced her own faith journey to the first night she sat at our table. I think it was a ham and potato slow cooker dish.

Yes, I cried.

My daughter had a string of best friends in her growing up years. There was Emma and Danielle and Hannah and Kaylee and Chelsie and Christy and Kaitlin. Some were in our home more than others. I was a working mom just trying to keep order in the household and no doubt feeling guilty that I did not do enough for my kids. I did not know the power of what was happening at the time.

I write fiction partly because of the power of stories like this. We’re all living stories.

  • What chapter might you be writing right now and not even know it?

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  1. Angela on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    As a teacher, my days are full of Hannah moments, although many times I do not realize the fact until well down the road. But, I’ve also learned, those are often the best ones – the moments that make the longest and strongest impact.

    • Astride on the March 16, 2014 remarked #

      I feel a bit silly admitting this, but for the last two years whneever I see something cute for babies, I buy it. That way I now have a small collection of beautiful things for my child that is not even here yet (though hopefully will be soon). Your blanket (gray edge) should absolutely be in that collection, together with the Apple Papple print I already have from your shop!

    • Demelza on the February 17, 2015 remarked #

      Smart thnkniig – a clever way of looking at it.

  2. Olivia on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Thanks, Angela. I’m sure teachers must wonder sometimes what became of some of their students. I know some of my teachers had a deeper impact on me than they ever knew.

  3. Mary Curry on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Wow, Olivia. What a beautiful and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Olivia on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Mary, thank you for reading. May the day ahead of you be rich.

  5. Katie Ganshert on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Olivia.

    I hope I’m writing a chapter titled “Trust”. I’m trusting God with a lot of things right now.

  6. Dianne Christner on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Won’t it be fun in heaven to find out how our lives or our books touched others?

    • Olivia Newport on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

      Dianne, sometimes we want to jump to the end of the story, but God’s pacing lets his beauty in our lives unfold.

      • Olaf on the March 16, 2014 remarked #

        De dc3a4r granarna gc3b6r mig glad, sc3a5 baghgliea att se pc3a5. Vc3a5r minsting Hugo skulle c3a4lska att bc3a4dda ner sig sjc3a4lv och dockorna och alla njukisdjuren under den, och jag skulle tycka att hans kaosstc3b6kiga rum skulle bli trevligare att stiga in i om granarna fanns dc3a4r. Vi c3b6nskar oss filten med grc3a5 kant.

  7. Julie Jarnagin on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Wow, Olivia. This is lovely. I’ve always been a woman who worries if she’s doing enough, and this has reminded me that God is enough. He works through us even when we don’t realize it. Blessings to you.

    • Olivia Newport on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

      Julie, I know what you mean! Either I worry too much, or I bury myself in business and am not mindful enough to see what is right in front of my eyes.

  8. Joe Pote on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    What a great testimony! I just love when God does things like that.

    I find myself becoming increasingly aware of the many ways that God uses us to touch the lives of others.

    I love finding out God somehow used me to reveal himself to someone else. I also love realizing how He has used the lives of others to reveal Himself to me.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Olivia Newport on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

      Joe, even when we can’t see what’s going on, we can know God is at work in someone’s story somewhere.

  9. Jennifer K. Hale on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    What a beautiful post! Your family reminds me a lot of what mine was like growing up. My parents always kept the door open to our friends and I pray that many of them, like Hannah, had good experiences in our home. Great job on many levels, O! 🙂

    • Olivia Newport on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

      Thanks, Jennifer. We are far from perfect,yet God manages to use us anyway!

  10. Olivia Newport on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Katie, trust God’s presence in the small stuff, and you will see him in the big stuff!

  11. Keli Gwyn on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    What a beautiful post, Olivia, and a wonderful reminder of how we’re planting seeds, sometimes when we least expect it.

    • Olivia on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

      Thanks, Keli. It’s a challenge to be mindful, isn’t it?

  12. Megan DiMaria on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Lovely! We all have a need to connect, to see how life is from a different perspective, don’t you think?

    I have fond memories of older women who took the time to speak, to listen.

    Thanks for sharing this sweet story, Olivia!

  13. Olivia on the October 10, 2011 remarked #

    Megan, thanks for stopping by. Isn’t it great when we discover we are not alone?

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