Hot dog wishes & hot tears

She threw her coin in the fountain on the way into the restaurant.

Without thought of the time-honored tradition of keeping your wishes secret, she proclaimed to anyone close enough to listen: “I wish for a million hot dogs!”

The wish startled me enough to stop me mid-stride.

A million hot dogs?

Is that really what you want? She nodded yes and skipped inside, while I rolled my eyes, grinning at the thought of hot dogs and wishes. Wondering what a million hot dogs would look like. Blaming the foolishness of her wish on her very hungry belly.

Haven’t we all wished for foolish things, though?

The foolishness of our wishes can indicate the foolishness of our heart.

My heart has been more foolish than I care to admit. Wishes spoken aloud and whispered alone have indicated the duplicity of a mouth saying one thing and a heart longing for another.

We walked into the restaurant together. I gently grabbed her hand, slowing her down, asking about her wish for a million hot dogs.

What would you do if you did have a million hot dogs?

I would feed a million people, she says.

It’s that simple. A million hot dogs = a million people fed. Grinning crazy, I sat down and told the family of her wish. They rolled eyes, laughed, and we ate at a restaurant whose menu offerings don’t include a single hot dog.  Then a week or two passed, and her wishes turned different. This morning, she wished so hard for a different thing. One wish. Not granted. Hot tears falling the whole ride to school. I couldn’t change the outcome. My “I’m sorry” falling so short of healing her heart.

From the same heart came hot dog wishes and hot tears.

Aren’t we all a little mixed up on the inside, though?

Wishing for things that don’t matter and wishing for things that do?

I couldn’t do a thing about either one. I can’t make a million hot dogs appear, and I couldn’t stop her tears. How I wish I could have helped her heart in that moment, but there was nothing to do or say to ease her ache. I wanted to tell her of wishes unfulfilled that have shaped me more than wishes granted. Of wishes still being wished for that have changed me more than the changing of each wish.

I don’t think I can quit saying it:

The hollow spots are often the most hallowed spots.

Where I’m unfulfilled is where He fills me completely.

My biggest ache is His greatest glory.



Scrawled pink words across her mirror proclaim the truth that He works all things for the good of those who love him. She came downstairs this morning, trying to tell me the verse by memory. She couldn’t make her way through it, so I helped her with the harder parts. We worked on our verse before her tears fell heavy and hard. We memorized truth before we knew we’d need to preach it to ourselves moments later.

So she climbed out the van, pooling tears still filling her eyes. Heart still aching with the whisper of a wish.

Her heart is soft. That’s what I told myself as they all piled out, just a little downhearted this morning. They’re still soft. Their hearts still hurt at someone else’s broken places. They still have space in their hearts for others and not just themselves.

The best part of every part of our story is the parts of ourselves we keep giving away. Letting loose of what seems impossible to give sometimes frees us in a way that holding tight never will.

She seems too young to understand any of the things I most want to tell her about today. But etched on her heart is a memory of a day when she considered another’s needs above her own, when she dripped hot with tears with a wish for the well-being of another. She may not remember all the details of this story, but today has worn grooves into her heart in places that will become a way of remembrance for her. How fondly we fall back into patterns we know. My prayer is that this pattern of giving will become a pattern of heart.

So I prayed this for her as I prayed for her hurting heart:

May every beat of your heart remind you of ache that isn’t yours.

May every tear along the way remind you of the tears of others.

May your life be filled with sacrifice because He sacrificed His.

May you love well, so other will feel well loved.

May your unmet wishes remind you of the One from whom all good things come.










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