She Found Comfort in Counting Blessings

A woman's fears are eased away when she encounters a young man with a list of reasons to smile.

- Posted on Feb 27, 2017

A woman writes in a notebook

“Do you mind if I join you?” The young man’s voice made me look up from my complimentary breakfast.

“That’s fine,” I said, motioning toward the chair across from me.

“It’s really crowded in here,” he said, flashing a nice smile.

Looking around, I realized there wasn’t one vacant table in the hotel dining area. All my attention had been on me.

As I idly watched the guy put cream in his coffee and hot sauce on his sausage, my mind spun with the frustrations of my doctor’s visit the day before. I’d traveled a long distance through a snowstorm to see yet another specialist, but even he didn’t have answers for my growing inflammation problems.

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My breakfast companion noticed me staring. “Traveling far?” he asked, giving me a friendly nod.

“I live about six hours north, up in the Wyoming/Colorado corner of the state.” I hoped he didn’t have any more questions for me. He seemed nice enough, but I was in no mood for small talk. I dipped my head back toward my plate and stuffed my mouth with a bite of toast to signal the end of our conversation. Lord, please help me deal with my fear.

To my relief, the young man reached into his backpack and pulled out a spiral notebook. He wrote as he ate. After a few moments of complete silence, I started to feel bad about cutting him off.

“Are you a budding writer?” I asked, softening my voice.

“No ma’am,” he said. “I’m working on a list for my mom. She’s fighting lung cancer and she’s asked me to make her a smile list.”

“I’m sorry about your mother’s health,” I said, feeling even worse. “What’s a smile list?”

“Oh, just little blessings. She says reading my daily list brings her a lot of comfort.”

“What a lovely gift for your mom.”

“Thank you,” he said. The big smile flashed again. “It was my idea. I’m going to school back East. Mom’s condition is terminal.” He hesitated and I could feel his pain in the silence.


“I tried to come up with something I could do to let her know I think of her every day.”

“Would it be too personal to ask you to read a few of your ‘smiles’?”

“No, not at all,” he said. Then, looking down at his notebook and scanning the page, he read:

  • Driving last night with sleeping passengers
  • Watching the sunrise
  • Looking forward to my next visit home
  • Finding a shiny penny
  • Sharing a table at breakfast with a nice stranger

His last entry caught in my throat.

“I’m battling some health problems of my own,” I admitted. “You’ve been an answer to prayer.”

The young man’s smile lit the room.

“Oh,” he said, grabbing his pen and writing. “Mom will love that one.” Then he stood up, gathered his things and took his coffee to go. “I have to meet my plane.”

As he walked away, I took out a pen and pad and wrote:  Encountering an answered prayer

And then I smiled.

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