Wisdom at the Waffle House

It’s a pride thing. I’m sure of it.

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune illness meaning no more wheat or gluten for me. Eating out is complicated. Sometimes I lie to servers and say, “I’m allergic to wheat.” It’s easier than explaining. I feel awkward being the center of attention and answering so many questions.

I like to pretend I’m like everybody else.

Last Saturday morning my husband and I went to the Waffle House. Ordering is easy.

“Bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns. No toast, please”

Good stuff at the Waffle House

A few minutes later our piping hot order was delivered with two pieces of toast on my plate. “Um, I didn’t want toast.”

I can get sick from a few crumbs, but I didn’t want to say that. I needed a clean plate.

The waitress sighed, removed the toast, and handed me my old plate.

Another waitress saw what was happening. It was like she knew me. She looked me straight in the eyes. “Honey, you have Celiac, don’t you?”

I nodded.

“So does me niece. Here, let me get you a new plate. It’s safer.”

I wanted to jump over the counter and hug her neck. She saw the real me and felt compassion.

She smiled. “Here you go. Enjoy your breakfast.”

Oh, that God would give me the same sensitive spirit–a heart that doesn’t rush to judge and understands far beyond what my eyes can see. A heart more like His.

“When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her…” Luke 7:13 (NAS)




  1. I love when people “get” it! 🙂

    Hope all is well with you!



  2. Oh J…sigh. This brought tears to my eyes. I suppose it’s all such a issue w/ me still. I love that God used this to birth a prayer in you for sensitivity to others. So like God. So like you.

  3. Wow. Great wisdom! May we look and care for others as much. God and his servants are at the right place at the right time.

  4. It sure does make a difference when people understand! I have a strange chemical allergy to car fumes which prevents me from being able to spend much time in a car. Anything more than 50 miles can be deadly for me and even 50 is tough. It affects me like asthsma — my lungs tighten and hurt, lack of oxygen makes me as drowsy as when you take cold medicine and I can’t think or concentrate well. Then comes headaches. It came from having damaged lungs from an accidental overdose of medication I was taking for pneumonia back in 1983! I’d missed a few doses and was trying to catch up, not knowing doubling the dosage could be harmful! Then I was carbon-monoxide poisoned by an old car a neighbor sold me (without telling me about it’s bad exhaust). The two situations added up to this weird allergy that no one understands or can do anything about. I got tired of having to explain why I had to refuse a ride from a well-meaning person who saw me walking down the road in bad weather, or to people who offered me a ride to church (in the beginning I couldn’t ride in a car at all). Since doctors couldn’t pinpoint the problem for a long time and didn’t know what to do, I’ve had to endure all kinds of jokes, like “Why don’t you just hang your head out the window when you drive?” and then they’d laugh. The doctor said that one! Some family members just said I was imagining it, it was all in my head. Then because I got tired of explaining and seeing people’s puzzled looks, I stopped talking about it. So, people forgot about it and would ask me to go someplace way to far for me to ride and I’d have to remind them. Only one person has ever fully understood — an allergist my family doctor had finally sent me to when he’d run out of ideas. I’ll never forget the day he sat across from me, after doing lots of tests, and said, “Your problem is real. You’re not imagining it. I know others have probably accused you of that or have just not understood, and you may have even doubted yourself because of it, but I’m here to say, it is a real situation. It’s rare, but you are not the only one who is going through this.” His face was so serious and his manner so compassionate and understanding. After years of no help, no understanding, not even being believed — someone who understood and cared. My eyes welled up, so thankful. Such a feeling of relief to finally be believed and understood. Physically he was never able to give me much help for my condition, comparing it to something like diabetes that you just have to learn to manage, not be cured of. But emotionally, he gave me a gift that meant more to me than any physical healing and I’ve never forgotten that. Thanks for posting your story, Julie. I know you can’t relate to my particular ailment, but I know you do understand what it feels like to be understood and cared about. God bless 🙂

    • Melinda Graf says:

      Julie Gilleand – I don’t know where you live, but my environmental medicine doctor in Dallas could very well help you. When I first went to him almost 20 years ago, I thought I was coming from far away – a three hour trip. However, when I got there, I met people from all over the U.S. and I’ve since met people from several other countries who travel to Dallas for treatment. Here’s his website: http://www.johnsonmedicalassociates.com. At the very least, it would be worth a phone call. Ask to speak to someone who would listen to your symptoms and see if they would recommend you come to see him. He also does telephone consultations, but I’m not sure if he would do that for a new patient he’s never seen in person.

      Dr. Johnson treats chemical sensitivities and I actually took shots for gasoline and diesel fumes for several years. He was the answer to my prayers and could be for you too.


      • Hey Melinda,

        Thanks for reading. And so glad you got some answers!

      • Wow, Melinda, thanks for the information. I’m in Indiana so that’d be quite a trek for me, but I will certainly visit the website and check it out. I didn’t know there were shots for gas fumes! Maybe that was unheard of back in the 80’s or maybe just the bigger cities have those resources. That’s so interesting. So do you also have an allergy/chemical sensitivity to that? If so, are you better now? Would love to hear from you in an email (maroonbell@aim.com), if you can share.

        Thanks again, so much!

        Julie Gilleand

    • Hey Julie,

      Wow. You’ve been through it. So sorry! And I know about those puzzing looks. What a gift this doctor gave you. The gift of listening–really listening to you. Much love to you today!

  5. Oh, boy, this is beautiful. The waitress is beautiful. Your outing with your husband is beautiful. God understanding, and sending an angel, is beautiful.
    Love & hugs,

  6. I love this. It puts me in mind of one of God’s names, El Roi, the Lord sees me. Praise God for waitresses who don’t hunk we’re trying to be high maintenance, but see us.

  7. Julie, What a lovely post! And what a caring, loving God to put that waitree right where you needed at the right time! Bless you!

  8. So true, Marilyn. She was heaven-scent. Thanks so much for reading and understanding!!

  9. Ginger says:


    I just found your blog via Guideposts. I’ve been reading your older posts and have found them to be most inspiring. I have been an admirer of your mother’s writing for many years. She is truly a lovely and Godly woman. I can see the apple does not fall far from the tree. Please visit my humble little blog
    I began in April. It is ginger.wethreebears.blogspot.com. I write about my little corner of the world.

    Til next time…God bless you.

    • Hey Ginger,
      So nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by and your kind words. Will go over and visit your site right now!!


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