Blue Plate Special Delivery

by Patti Richter

Give me a sign of your goodness, . . . for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me. Psalm 86:17 NIV

Why didn’t I begin sooner?

With an out-of-town move approaching, I needed to work fast. I jettisoned extra household possessions like the old green pressure cooker, and the s’mores maker—used exactly once.

Living in the same house for ten years caused a natural build-up. But at least the sorting tasks kept me from thinking about the harder aspect of moving: giving up friends.

I conquered the kitchen and den in good time and loaded give-away items into boxes and bags. But my progress stalled when I reached the dining room.

From the china cabinet, I took out an old Blue Willow plate I’d never used but always cherished—a wedding gift from an elderly widow. The vintage plate had been used at a downtown diner our late friend operated after World War II.  I’d never wanted to let go of it, even though we never had blue décor. But it was time to pass it on.

That’s when I said a brief prayer—aloud. “Lord, I’d really like to give this to someone who would appreciate it.” I didn’t believe God wanted to micro-manage my life, but this move had me feeling as fragile as the china. I needed the Lord’s help every step of the way. I laid the plate on the dining table to think about later.

At church the following Sunday, I stood at the children’s check-in counter before teaching my class. A girl in bouncy curls and a fancy dress stopped to scan her ID. As our coordinator, Terri, walked by, she told the girl, “I love your dress! It’s my very favorite shade of blue.”

Delft blue, I noticed—the color of Blue Willow. This made me recall a lunch meeting at Terri’s house years back. My memory suggested a blue kitchen, and maybe . . .  

At home later, I wrapped the old plate in tissue paper and put it in a gift bag. But I wondered if Terri would consider the plate a strange gift.

The next Sunday, after teaching my children’s class for the last time, I went to find Terri. When she descended the nearby stairway, I waved to get her attention.

“I need to say goodbye, Terri.”

“I’m so glad you’re still here. We’ll miss you!” She sat down beside me.

 “I’ll miss everyone, too, but I have something for you.”

Terri looked surprised when I lifted the bag, and then startled as she pulled away the tissue paper. Tears slid down her face as she struggled to speak.

“Did you know I collect Blue Willow?”

With relief, I explained: “I heard what you said to the girl in the blue dress and remembered your kitchen; but I wasn’t sure.” Then I told her about the plate and my prayer.

“You don’t understand how this makes me feel,” she said. “I’ve been so overwhelmed lately and feeling like no one ever thinks of doing anything for me. I asked the Lord to encourage me.”

God is not too distant or too busy to answer our smallest plea. First Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV). Terri and I had each sought the Lord in our weakness, and he showed us how much he cares.

Weeks later, as I sat in our new dining room unpacking a box, I gazed out the window at houses across the street and wondered about making new friends. Then, pulling a china plate from its packing paper, I smiled. Our move had gone so well. God had helped us—down to the very last plate.

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Do you have an encouragement story? Please share!


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