The day I met Louisa Walker, it was raining cats and dogs. I remember because of the smell. Despite the strong fragrance of flowers in the air, when the door to my floral shop opened that rainy afternoon, a pungent odor wafted in and settled around me like a fog. The smell was similar to that of a wet dish rag that's been sitting out on the counter too long. It was certainly distasteful enough to cause me to wrinkle my nose and crank my neck toward the door.
And there she stood, a bedraggled woman, sopping wet, looking like she just climbed out of her box on Fifth Street. I'll admit my first thought was, "Lord, why? Why must I deal with this today?" The truth was, dealing with everything was difficult back then. My marriage was falling apart and my floral shop had become a thorn in my side. The passion and joy I once felt for it was gone. Three years before I had been sure that the flower shop was part of my purpose in life. But at that moment I felt I had no purpose at all.
Speaking of no purpose, the woman walked to the counter and I tried not to look too disgusted. She asked for a small bunch of white daisies and I hurriedly cut and wrapped them for her, wanting to rush her out of the shop before another customer came in. She dug in her dirty pants pocket and pulled out a few wrinkled and smelly bills, laying them on the counter.
I tried to smile as I thanked her but it's hard to smile and talk while holding your breath.
And then she was gone.
Until the next week. And the week after that. The woman became a regular, arriving each Friday afternoon at four o'clock sharp. She would buy a small bunch of white daisies and nothing more. Her total always came to $4.85. Her bills were always soggy. And her scent always lingered for exactly forty-five minutes from the time she walked out the door.
I was aware of my snobbishness but I couldn't help it. Shouldn't she be spending that money on important things, like, shampoo? I couldn't help wondering: where was she from? And why the white daisies? I never inquired because, honestly, I was avoiding any form of lengthy conversation. But my curiosity was getting the better of me and I knew the day would come when I would just come out and ask.
But before that day came, Frank ran off with another woman, taking any joy I had left with him. I handed the shop reigns to my assistant, Bethany, and fell into a deep depression, not leaving my house for six weeks. In between four-hour naps, afternoon soap operas, and bags of greasy potato chips, I decided it was time to give up the store for good. I was convinced God was telling me that it was time to close shop and move on.
It was a Friday when I finally dragged myself to the store. I spent the morning agonizing over everything that needed to be done to close my business.
When the door opened at four o'clock sharp and that distinct odor blew in, I sighed heavily and absent-mindedly reached for a small bunch of daisies, wrapping them in green tissue paper. She paid me, as usual, but this time she pulled out a card and tucked it inside the wrap.
"These are for you," she said softly and handed the flowers back to me.
Before I could respond, she was gone. I reached for the card and opened it.
"Even on your darkest day He sees you."
DAISIES...DAY HE SEES... My eyes filled with tears and at that moment my purpose had never been clearer.
Louisa Walker had seen many dark days herself. But as He does so well, God took the dark days from both of our lives, intertwined them and created something beautiful.
Louisa and I are now co-owners of the Brighter Days Floral Shop. On Friday afternoons we visit hospitals, soup kitchens and retirement homes, delivering white daisies to people who need to be reminded that God sees them even in the dark.
I've found that focusing on others instead of myself has brought true joy and purpose to my life.
And through Louisa, God showed me that His idea of beauty is rarely my own.
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