The Ordinary Day I Met an Extraordinary Story

On “Ordinary” Days

It seemed like an ordinary Saturday at Outdoor Church. It was 2012. Jeff and I showed up.

And in an ordinary way, we met a man named Walt.

I knew something was special about him, this homeless man who sang “Amazing Grace” like he fully understood it.

2012-walter-baby-love

2012, Walter and me after Outdoor Church

But I didn’t know how much his specialness was going to stick with me.

Walt and I continued doing church together once a month at Outdoor Church when we each could make it. Occasionally we’d see each other during the week at Manna House if he needed food. Or at the annual King’s Banquet held at The Rock Family Worship Center where we serve our homeless guests as royalty.

2014-02 Walter

2014, Walter and me at King’s Banquet

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2015-04-04 Walter

2015, Walter and me at Manna House

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2016-02 Walter

2016, Another King’s Banquet with Walt and me

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Then one day I heard good news. Walt got housing. His homeless days were over.

We Make “Ordinary” Introductions

A few years later, another ordinary Saturday, I showed up at our Huntsville Dream Center for Servolution, an outreach into our community to show the love of God.

A four-year-old girl named Aleesa and her mom volunteered for the same assignment that morning.

I didn’t yet know Aleesa or her mom. Neither did Walt.

But all that was about to change. In big ways.

Aleesa, her mom, and I were put on the same team. We were to deliver goodie bags to a public housing unit – the one where Walt lived.

Door to door we knocked together. Eventually we knocked on Walt’s door. That was when Aleesa and Walt first met. She and her mom connected with Walt immediately.

And they stayed connected. They became friends.

I’d even say they became family.

A New Story Begins

Anybody can hear the beginning of their story. Because Aleesa wrote it down. With the help of her mom, she published their story in a book, The Day I Met Walt.

The-Day-I-Met-Walt

Aleesa-book

On yet another Saturday, last October 2016, Aleesa and Walt held a book launch.

Walt couldn’t have been more proud. He was dressed in his best and wore his biggest smile. Many of us lined up at the Huntsville Dream Center to get our copies autographed by Aleesa and Walt.

2016-10-15 Aleesa

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2016-10-15 book

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2016-10-15 autographs

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autographed-book

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I treasure my copy.

Five months later, Walt died.

But the Story Continues

I no longer get to hear Walt sing at Outdoor Church. Or sing in the elevator for us at his apartment complex. I no longer get to hear him tell what God has done for him lately, how good God is.

I miss Walt.

But thanks to Aleesa and her book, his story lives on.

Aleesa now reads her book at schools and churches across our area, sharing her love for Walt and God’s love for us.

A few weeks ago, she read her book to the students where my daughter teaches. Jenna’s 1st graders sat mesmerized as Aleesa read her book, with her mom by her side. Here was a fellow 1st grader, just like them, who had written a real book. We gave them each a copy of their own to take home.

2017-10 Aleesa

As Aleesa tells it, she may be little, but she serves a big God. I can hear Walt in my head, sharing that same sentiment.

Who Is in Your Story?

I know Aleesa will continue to do amazing things in service to her big God. She has a godly family leading the way. I’m grateful for the day I first met them and for the encounters we’ve had since.

We never know what will happen next when we meet a person. Aleesa and Walt couldn’t have known how their paths would merge on the day they first met. But I’m sure glad they did.

The day Aleesa met Walt not only changed their lives, but it continues to change other lives as well.

Stay alert to who you meet this week. It might seem like an ordinary day, but it could be the start of an extraordinary story.

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When have you had an “ordinary” encounter that turned out to be extraordinary? Please share in the comments.

You can purchase Aleesa’s book, The Day I Met Walt, at Amazon or at Aleesa’s homepage. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Huntsville Dream Center.

I wrote more about Walt here:

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Watch Aleesa tell about her story here.

Four-Year-Old-Aleesa Self-Published

58 thoughts on “The Ordinary Day I Met an Extraordinary Story

  1. Sarah Geringer

    What a wonderful story, Lisa! I love that we live in a time when self-publishing is so accessible and affordable, and it knits people together in new ways. A sweet, beautiful testimony–so glad you shared this ray of sunshine today.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, this age of easier access to publishing has made such a difference to many. It definitely made a difference in Walt’s life to have this book about himself. He was so proud of it! He showed it to me over and over and talked about it even more. 🙂

  2. Becky Hastings

    This story brought tears to my eyes! I love the beauty of each relationship here and the hope that grew! What a beautiful reminder to be present, to show up and love well always on the lookout for the people God puts in our path. They just may impact your life forever. Thank you for sharing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad this touched you too, Becky. The story of Walt and Aleesa is a precious one. I’m so thankful that she wrote the book and that it’s been able to reach so many. Yes, relationships that we start today may affect us the rest of our lives!

  3. Debbie Putman

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and Aleesa’s book. Thank you for shining always for Jesus in the many ways you serve your community. You are an inspiration.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re sweet, Debbie. I’m grateful for the opportunities that have opened up to Jeff and me the past 5 years in learning how to meet others in our community. I was blind for a long time to those doors.

  4. Ashley Davis

    Timely post. What a great story!
    This past Monday and Tuesday, I talked to a variety of different people.
    First, on Monday night, I was at BSF. I passed a lady in the hall that looked familiar, and I got a glimpse of her name tag. She is a customer of ours at Dream Dinners and just made her meals last week. So I stopped her and talked to her for a few mins.

    Tuesday morning at boot camp, another dream dinners customer came in. She walked by me, so I stopped her and told her who I was. She is usually kind of hasty when she picks up meals, and normally not overly friendly, but she was so nice yesterday morning. Another lady I do boot camp with is a customer as well, so when she got there, I introduced them.

    Tuesday afternoon, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to my TLS class at boot camp, but I wanted to stop by before work to see my health coach. I also wanted to give her one of the fish bracelets. So when we walked into her office, she told me she saw one of my fb posts about God answering my prayers from last year, and that she fb stalked me bc she didn’t really know a lot about me. 😂 We had the best conversation yesterday. I wish we could have talked longer. She is a believer so we talked about God, Jesus, church, the coc (her kids went to a coc school for a while, but they go to church somewhere else), the Philippines, our families, etc. it made my day. Her niece is currently battling DIPG, so if you could pray for their family. Niece is Aubreigh.
    Then last night at work, one of the guys at the party was a guy I went to South Alabama with.

    God is so cool. I know all of those meetings were not a coincidence. I don’t know if He has anything further planned with them, but it was so fun seeing all of these people.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Wow–God is working overtime in setting up these divine appointments for you, Ashley! And each one is so special and unique, weaving in and out of the different segments of your life. So cool how God can do that, with little to no effort on our part. He just wants us to show up and open our eyes and actually see the people he puts in front of us. You share such great examples of this!

      Praying now for Aubreigh. I had to look up DIPG (brain tumors, right?). It sounds very troubling. May the Lord have mercy on that family.

      1. Ashley Davis

        Even more meetings last week. I saw another lady last Monday at BSF that I recognized. She’s the new manager at the new boot camp my gym is opening up. I didn’t get to speak to her that night, but saw her that Tuesday at boot camp. So I talked to her for a little bit. She’s really cool! I’m also going to dinner with one of my trainers this week. She’s a new Christian, so excited to talk to her and get to know her better.

        Aubreigh has her next MRI tomorrow. Yes, DIPG is a rare form of brain tumors and inoperable. There have been 5 cases here on the Gulf Coast. She has a Facebook page, Aubreigh’s Army. You can get updates there.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Kelly. The story runs so deep in many ways with Walt and Aleesa. It’s been encouraging to my faith as I’ve heard how God showed up in so many different ways in their story.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Amen, Lynn. I’m thankful that God worked to merge our stories together through writing devotionals at the same time all those years ago. Even though we still haven’t met yet in person, I am grateful for your friendship!

  5. Trudy

    Wow, Lisa! This story brings tears to my eyes. It’s so amazing how God works. I remember how close you felt to Walt and I can easily understand how much you must miss him. But I never heard the story of Aleesa and him. And how she is still spreading the bond they shared and spreading their love of Jesus. This really chokes me up, also the video you shared. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. It renews in my heart the truth that with God, all things are possible. Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad Aleesa and Walt touched you too, Trudy. I love these kind of real-life stories that happen among “ordinary” people in “ordinary” ways that are truly extraordinary because of the God we serve!

  6. Barbara H.

    Wow – what an amazing little girl! And what a sweet encounter. I am so glad Walt got to see the book before he passed away. I love your last line – “It might seem like an ordinary day, but it could be the start of an extraordinary story.” May I be alert to His leading and filled with His Spirit so I may act and react in those encounters as He wants me to and not miss them due to my own self-preoccupation.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I was so very, very glad that Walt got the book before he passed. Aleesa had given him a hardcopy version before the paperbacks came out, and he couldn’t have been more proud of that book! It really touched him deeply in such a positive way. Aleesa’s family was so good to him.

  7. Karen Woodall

    Great story!! Thanks so much for sharing and I think you are right… we can experience the extraordinary when we open our eyes and receive what God sends our way!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, opening our eyes is SO key to receiving God’s gifts. He stands there with his arms full of grace to give us, but too often we are blind to his gifts. I want to live with my eyes wide open! Thanks, Karen.

  8. bill (cycleguy)

    Thanks Lisa! This one has found its way into my Amazon cart. I have a chance to read at our local elementary school but I’ll have to read this and get approval before using it. But I can try. If not, it can be used here at the church.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You will definitely be able to use it at church, Bill, and hopefully at the elementary school as well. Aleesa was able to read it at some of our public schools, but I know that regulations vary from state to state, and even district to district within the same state. The book is definitely full of beautiful God references. My daughter teaches this year at a private Christian school for underserved students so the message was welcomed there.

    2. Terita (Aleesa’s Mom)

      Bill and Lisa,

      Thank you. I hope you’re able to read it to the children, Bill. God has opened many doors — even allowing Aleesa to read it where people rarely discuss God. I’m in awe of His love and His willingness to reach children and adults through this simple story of His love.

      Blessings!

  9. floyd

    What a beautiful and heart warming story! It’s a happy ending, but the kind that leaves tears behind. Till they meet again.

    There are no ordinary days. Each one is a miracle and within each another.

    So glad they touched your life then yours touching mine.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “There are no ordinary days.” Can I quote you? That’s beautiful, Floyd. If only we could all live with that realization in every day….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It is definitely a tear-jerker. There were other incidents of God at work in the larger story too, but not enough room to tell! So grateful for the people God sends into our lives to create new chapters for each of us.

  10. TC Avey

    So so sweet! This brought tears to my eyes!
    So often we overlook people. We take ordinary days and gloss over them. We forget to see the opportunities before us. Thank you for sharing this! What an amazing little girl and what a marvelous story of her and Walt!
    I can’t wait to get a copy of this book for my 1st grader!

    Sorry I haven’t been more active. Life is busy. God has opened new doors for me to serve in my church and community and it’s leaving little time to blog/write. Perhaps one day this will change as I LOVE writing/blogging but it’s not the season of life I am in right now.
    Happy Holidays and God bless you and your family. Thank you for such an amazing blog!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate you taking time out to read this post and to comment, TC. It sounds like you are in a busy season of in-person ministry, which is such a blessing. Yes, those “ordinary” days each contain an opportunity; it’s just often hard to keep our eyes open enough to see them. Praying you have a sweet Thanksgiving, friend!

  11. SUSAN SHIPE

    OH LISA! I am so happy I “picked” you out of the lineup to visit – I have shared this WONDERFUL story everywhere. Heartwarming. Hope-full. Encouraging. Blessed.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad this story made you happy, Susan. It makes me smile, too. 🙂 I wish you could meet Aleesa in person; she is such a delightful young lady! Just like her mother. I’m glad God puts special people in our lives when we’re not expecting it.

  12. Ruth

    What a beautiful, sweet story! Thank you for sharing with us about Walt and Aleesa and her mom. What a special little girl she is to have already heard and obeyed the voice of God by writing their story and getting out and sharing it with others!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Ruth: Aleesa is indeed a special little girl to already be aware of such spiritual issues at such a young age. I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in her life in the years to come.

  13. Cindy Burgess

    This brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart so much! Such a sweet and beautiful story of love and grace!! Isn’t our God so awesome to orchestrate these relationships. I’m definitely going to get a copy of Aleesa’s Book!!! Love you Lisa!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You would love both Aleesa and her mom, Cindy. Maybe one day you’ll get a chance to meet them. They are precious. Yes, our God is definitely incredible in his ability to weave people into our lives at just the right times and places. Nothing we can do on our own!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I only wish Walt were still here among us to continue enjoying his newfound relationship with Aleesa and her family. But once those ties are made, I know they last for eternity. They’ll pick back up once we’re all in heaven together.

  14. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Lisa,
    Love this story because it speaks to what God can do if we simply make ourselves available. I would say you, Aleesa, and Walt all had an ordained appointment directed by God and look what wondrous things happened!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Bev, that God did orchestrate these relationships for us; all we had to do was just show up. I’m learning that more and more. It increases my faith in what HE can do, and decreases my worries about my own lack of skills. Blessings to you!

  15. Beth

    We truly never know who we will meet that God will use to change us forever. I’m so glad that you and Aleesa met Walt. And that Aleesa’s book keeps introducing Walt to more and more people even after he had died! That’s an incredible gift she gave him and, it sounds like, he gave you both an incredible gift in his friendship as well! Thanks for this inspiring story, Lisa! You have such an incredible heart to care for those who are the outcasts in our society. “You” inspire me!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your words are always encouraging, Beth. Thank you, friend. Walt did indeed give to us over and over whenever we’d see each other. He had a very hard life and faced difficult choices along the way, but in the end, he had found peace in God’s grace, just like we all can, thankfully!

  16. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, this post has moved me to tears! Just precious! Thank you for reminding us that there really are no ordinary days. Each day contains the beautiful miracle of those God places in our lives.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I need the reminder myself, Joanne. Some days feel so “ordinary” but it’s only because I’m not adequately appreciating them all. Even ordinary is incredible with God beside us!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m happy to share stories about people like Walt and Aleesa and her family. God is so creative in how he made each person so special, and then weaves us together in unique ways. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Bethany, with your people this week!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly! I heard a quote just this morning about surprises that really touched me: “Real Hope is openness for surprise for that which you cannot imagine,” by Brother David Steindl-Rast. May God surprise us both today, Theresa. 🙂

  17. Joanna Sormunen

    The story made me cry, Lisa. It is true, you never know who you will meet and how they will change your life.

  18. Dawn

    Lisa,

    This so such a touching story. It is beautiful, but I love how the pictures show joy and love that is shared between God’s people and the way He moves through those who are willing to let Him love through them. This is such a good reminder of loving God and loving others because of that.
    It really blessed my heart. Thanks for sharing this with the #GraceMoments Community!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for reading, Dawn. Walt was definitely one-of-a-kind (but I guess everyone is, right?!). I was blessed by knowing him, and then doubly blessed again by getting to know Aleesa and her family more because of their own friendship with Walt. God is crazy good at how he works things out.


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