French Fries, Deer and Wishes

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For as long as I can remember, loose French Fries in the bottom of a greasy takeout bag represents an opportunity to make a wish. Three fries? Three wishes. One lone crinkle-cut crisp turns into one well-placed whisper of hope. For me, a trip to Five Guys is like going to Vegas and hitting a straight-line payout.

My wishes aren’t the big, ostentatious-grab-for-stuff kind of wishes. There are no “I wish I could be a billionaire” or “please make me the most popular girl at school” requests. Mine are the little wishes that make present the most immediate desires of my heart.

Sometimes those wishes are very specific — I wish my Mom will heal and return to a life of joy and mobility — and sometimes they are generic — I wish it will all work out. But regardless of the specificity of my wish, I know my French Fry wishes lighten the worries of my heart.

In my mid-30’s, my little French Fry game expanded to include random sightings of deer. Seeing three deer standing in a field is a Mega Millions winning lottery ticket kind of wish. Two won’t count and even the thrill of a thundering herd that lifts my heart must take a pass. Like the Divine Trinity, I know that seeing three deer means God is right beside me and that he hears the deepest pleas of my heart.

I’ll never forget driving home from my Dad’s funeral. His eight-month illness was a whirlwind of doctors visits and trips home; gut wrenching conversations and difficult decisions for us all. No words can explain the fear, the ragged emotions and the countless prayers we all uttered during those months. One moment we were grasping the dreaded news of a terminal cancer diagnosis and, it seemed, the very next we were saying our goodbyes.

On that 16-hour drive home after his funeral, I did a lot of staring out the window, tears rolling down my face and silent as my body was wrecked with grief. My hero, my role model, my Dad was gone and I could not fathom never hearing his voice again. As we rolled along those secondary roads, somewhere in the barren cornfields of Southern Illinois, my heart stopped. Up ahead I could see three adult deer standing solemnly in the cold morning mist.

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As I tearfully thanked God for knowing the wish I could not ever give words to, I saw a fourth deer appear out of nowhere. As he ran to join the others, he paused, turned his head up toward us, as if to acknowledge us as we passed by. And, as if in some majestic movie scene playing out before our eyes, the foursome flicked up their white tails, exhaled visible breath and disappeared, together, into the woods that bordered the field. In that moment, my unformed wish found meaning and I rejoiced that it had been answered so beautifully.

You can bet that I’ll continue to wish on French Fries and trios of deer forever. My own silent game is my visual reminder to never give up, never stop believing and always listen to my heart. Somewhere over the years, random wishes turned into prayers. They became stolen moments in the midst of a crazy day to invite God in and let him take the reins on my life.

How do you wish? Don’t ever stop clinging to the spoken and unspoken desires of your heart. Believe. Those wishes given life to the outrageously blessed life that awaits.

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