Archive for the ‘Service with a Smile’ Category


Posted: January 3, 2010 in Service with a Smile

 service_with_smile_heading4Chapter Seven


 I have spent the last several New Years Eve celebrations going to parties or sitting at home and ushering in the New Year with a bottle (or two) of champagne, watching the ball drop and making resolutions that I knew I would never keep.  I would lament the previous year and dread the upcoming one.  This year however, was quite different……

There was absolutely no one on the road at 6am New Years day as I drove to work.  I was still remembering the wonderful worship service that I had attended the night before.  I had great peace in knowing that Anthony and I had stood together and determined that we would live our lives for the glory of God in 2010 and faithfully give our money and time to His service. I woke up that morning with a picture in my head of the outstretched hand of Jesus and He was saying “Try Me”.  It must have been a dream that I was in the process of waking up from and I attributed it to not enough sleep.  When I walked through the door things were already going wrong.  The cook and the kitchen manager had not showed up and the manager was frantically trying to put out the breakfast buffet. The first table that I served stayed a very long time and I was looking forward to my first tip of the New Year. Guess what? No tip. None whatsoever. Nada.  As a server, getting stiffed on your first table of the day, much less the year is not a very good indication of what’s to come.  I tried to put that superstition aside and thought about my upcoming trip to NYC.  All expenses were paid, but I knew that I would need some money for my daughter and I while we were there.  I felt like $100 would be sufficient…that is if I had a hundred dollars!  All year long the Lord had provided us with money from unexpected places and people and I was truly thankful.  Somehow, I didn’t think it would be right to ask him for money for a vacation. 

Mid-morning, a gentleman that I did not recognize (unusual in a local family restaurant) came in alone and was seated in my section.  I served him some juice and he served himself to the buffet.   “May I bring you some more juice?” I inquired, “No thank you, just the check please”.  When I handed him the check he looked me right in the eyes and held out his fist. “The Lord told me to give this to you. Happy New Year.”  I held out my hand and he closed it around the money that he placed there.  I couldn’t resist and I peeked into my slightly opened fist.  First I saw a one, then a zero….then another zero.  One hundred dollars!  Tears started rolling down my face as I looked at the man and thanked him.  I barely choked out a whisper, “Oh, thank you, and thank YOU Lord Jesus, I would have never asked” The man replied with a smile, “I know” and walked away to pay his bill.  I recalled the picture that I had seen of the Lord and remembered that He had said “Try Me”.  I was so overwhelmed, that an elderly guest and her husband asked if I was going to be okay.  I told them the whole story and the man pulled out a little white hanky and wiped away his tears.  “Thank you so much for sharing that with us, I can’t wait to tell my friends about how much Jesus cares.  Sometimes I forget myself.”  Later, when I called my Mom to tell her the story, she said that she had been praying for me and felt that I would need a hundred dollars for my trip.  She wanted to send it to me but knew that it wouldn’t arrive in time so she started praying for an answer-shortly after that the man entered the restaurant.

Try Him, vow to serve and honor Him this year with your time, your finances and even your fun! Malachi 3:10    “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and TRY ME now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”.

 Karen Dunn


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Chapter Six

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” 1st John 4:18a. This is the truth that I have been putting into practice since the last time that I wrote to all of you.  I have learned that the love of Jesus is what we all long for in this world.  That perfect love.  The name above all names that will bring the biggest man to his knees in awe and reverance.  This was especially true on that wonderful day when revival broke out at work…………


“Are you kidding? We’re out of chicken again?!” I was beyond frustrated.  We had advertised a $4.99 buffet and were not at all prepared.  The entire dining room was full, we were short staffed and a waiting list was growing rapidly at the door. We have a rather “hard” group of people that work at the restaurant and all of them were on staff that day.  The servers were in tears and the kitchen staff decided that it was a good time to start a fight in the kitchen.  Most of the people involved had spent the majority of their adult life behind bars. It had become a very ugly scene and the language was beyond intolerable with my Lord’s name being used in front of and behind every curse word. I flew back to the kitchen with an arm full of plates and walked into a war zone.  All I could do was cry out in my head “Oh Lord Jesus help me!”.  Immediately I opened my mouth and at the top of my voice started singing, “Jesus loves me this I know!” The voice that I heard wasn’t even my own.  It was the voice of an angel and the Spirit of God swept over me like never before.  I slowed the tempo down and slowly set the dishes down singing louder and stronger.  By the time that I sang the last “yes, Jesus loves me” both of my hands were raised and tears were rolling down my cheeks to the point that I couldn’t even finish the song….then…very softly, I heard a man’s voice sing “the Bible tells me so”.  I looked up to see a huge man with a single tear rolling down his face.  The entire kitchen was silent.  Then, a cook started working and singing “Jesus loves me”  the next person sang “this I know” until the whole kitchen had sung a line from that song.  It was an amazing move of God.  The course of the entire day had changed at the hand of the Lord.  After lunch had died down I walked to the back and a server was trying to hide her tears when she saw me.  “Can I do something for you honey?” I asked.  “you can come home and sing me to sleep…you sounded just like my Mama”.  Then she looked up at me and couldnt’ stop the tears, “Miss Karen, does Jesus still love me?” “Oh yes, He loves you so much that He gave His life for you”.  That day she gave her heart to Jesus and has completely changed her life’s direction.  When I came back out front the cashier was crying! “Oh my, honey, what’s wrong!” I questioned, “Miss Karen, could Jesus really love someone like me?” She also gave her heart to Jesus that day.  Praise God!  The entire mood of the restaurant has changed.  The fighting and cursing has all but stopped and I never hear the name of Jesus in a curse word anymore. 


Revival doesn’t just happen in a church building.  It SHOULDN’T just happen in a church building.  The name of Jesus, that Name above all Names, should be lifted up high in our voices and our lives wherever we are.  We never know when His light will shine through our lives and bring light to the darkest places and the sweet aroma of the love of Jesus everywhere we go.


2 Corinthians 2:14 (New American Standard Bible)

 14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.


Karen Dunn


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Keepin’ it real!

Posted: April 25, 2009 in Service with a Smile



Chapter Five


This has been a particularly interesting week.  On Monday, two rough looking men came in the restaurant to eat breakfast.  I have served them before and had even intended on writing a chapter on their lives.  They are former drug addicts and have recently been saved and do odd jobs for a living.  We have had good conversations in the past, but this one turned very strange,,,,,, 


I am sure that I have lived far more than my actual years of 48!  Many things have happened in my life that have caused me to become very fearful.  Fear of sickness, death, violence, poverty, etc. etc.  However, over time, I have prided myself in the fact that I have learned to virtually overcome the fear of anything.  I have learned to harden myself to any type of fear-from physical to emotional.  Therefore, when the conversation that day with “Jim and Joe” got weird, I was surprised at my reaction-that of fear. We had been having a conversation about the Lord coming again and then I left the table to attend to some other guests.  When I returned to the table, Jim turned to me with a glazed look in his eye and told me that he was indeed Jesus and had come back to earth.  I laughed nervously in hopes that he was joking but he was not.  He became louder and louder until two of my guests walked out without eating.  He left the restaurant and came back in walking straight toward me.  He reached out, stroked my ear, and said “my sheep hear my voice” I pushed him away and went straight to the back of the restaurant.  My heart was racing for several minutes after that and I was shaking.  The next day he came in again..then the next and then today.  He just kept staring and wouldn’t stop-I was nearly paralyzed with fear.  I went to the back and prayed “Lord, I don;t understand what’s happening here, I have prided myself on overcoming my fears and now I’m terrified of a mentally ill man”. His response was so real that it was nearly audible “Proud? You’re proud of what YOU have accomplished? You can doing nothing without me my child for you are afraid of being afraid!” Even as I am typing this out I cannot stop the tears from flowing.  I truly have been afraid of being afraid.  I have tried to overcome fear through my own sheer will and have failed miserably.


I gathered myself together and went straight out to his table and smiled.  “are you going to behave today Jim?”  He smiled a sheepish smile and said “that’s not what I meant the other day Miss Karen”.  I just smiled and went back to work.  That was all there was to it.  He said that he had been coming in the last two days to apologize but I would’nt come to the table.  Oh my, shame on me.  I am so thankful that the Lord used this to show me the truth about myself.  This is all very fresh so I hope to let all of you know what I learn in the weeks to come about the perfect love, Jesus, who casts out all fear.


1 John 4:18 (New American Standard Bible)

 18There is no fear in love; but (A)perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not (B)perfected in love.


Karen Dunn



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Chapter Four

Posted: April 7, 2009 in Service with a Smile



Mr. West was a kind, unassuming man who owned and operated a gas and grocery in the middle of an “economically challenged” neighbohood for many years.  I had the pleasure of getting to know him through a local restaurant that I worked at and he frequented.  He always ordered the buffet, sweet tea and a cup of coffee at the end of his meal.  Most days he had a friend with him but on that day he was dining alone……


Saturdays in the summertime can be very taxing as a restaurant server.  When I see a bus pull up I have mixed emotions—glad to see the business but know that I will spend an hour in the tub just to get the feeling back in my feet!  This day was no different.  Three buses of National Guard recruits had just unloaded and I was already running crazy!  Every table was full except for one.  In the midst of the chaos I spotted Mr. West coming in the door.  I smiled and waved as I breezed by him, quickly pouring drinks and clearing plates for bus loads of hungry men.  I noticed that he was alone and looked even more alone in the huge crowd of people that surrounded him.  I hurried past him many times until I actually caught his eye.  He smiled a timid smile and I smiled back and hurried past.  I poured a cup of coffee and rushed to the table to drop it off for him when something inside of me (that still small voice!) prompted me to fix his coffee up just like I had seen him fix it then plopped myself down right there across from him at the table. We made small talk about his store, the weather, gas prices and how funny it is when people fall asleep in church!  I patted his hand when I got up and told him that I would be praying for him.  As he was leaving he left a generous tip and thanked me for “taking time out for an old man.”  Several days later I found out that he had gone home to see the Lord that very afternoon.


I am so thankful that I took those five precious minutes to sit down with him.  I may have been the last person that he ever spoke to.  How awesome is that? To think that your voice will be the last one that someone hears before they face God is sobering.  Thankfully I knew that he was a christian.  What if he wasn’t?  What if I had simply kept busy with the task at hand and like Martha, missed an opportunity to serve my Lord? What if I was entertaining an angel and didn’t realize it? How many opportunities have I missed because I was just too busy? It was a day that is always in the back of my mind as I serve hungry people-hungry for love, attention and hope.


Hebrews 13:2

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 

Karen Dunn

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A party of three

Posted: February 22, 2009 in Service with a Smile


Chapter Three

Monday. Again.  Oh well, I was determined to put on a smile and go on into work the evening shift.  Monday is the deadest night of the week so I simply tolerated Monday nights without expectations.  This night, however, would turn out to be unforgettable. 


An elderly man had been in that morning and wanted to reserve our private meeting room for a party of three. He was described to me as a tall elderly man with a kind smile and a twinkle in his eye.  I was definitely intrigued!


At five o’clock he came into the diner carrying a box and wearing a broad smile and a worn suit with a carnation sticking haphazardly out of his suit pocket.  His thick hair was combed back and slicked down with VO5 and I smelled the faint hint of Old Spice as I approached him to help with the box.  We walked to the meeting room and I helped him unpack his treasures.  He had two candles, some sparkling cider, an African violet and a small box that he quickly put in his pocket.  I just had to ask questions!  He proceeded to tell me that he was surprising a lady that he had been “courting” with a romantic dinner.  I became determined to make this a special night for the two of them.  I put the cider on ice, set up the candles and flowers and helped him to straighten the carnation in his suit pocket. When I started to put the dishes on the table he asked that I set the table for three. Three?  I was somewhat confused.  I did not think that two elderly people would need a chaperone! Ha! He then explained that the other place setting was for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I was moved to tears as I set the table and prepared their dinner.


The gentleman left to pick up his date and I surveyed the room.  Due to being on a fixed income, he had ordered the least expensive thing that was on the menu but that didn’t stop me from serving it on the best dishes, slicing up strawberries and chocolate and making it a dinner fit for a king!  After all, the extra plate made me realize that I would be indeed in the presence of royalty.  When they entered the room the woman was overwhelmed with his kind gestures and had tears in her eyes.  She pulled out a lace hankie and dabbed her eyes daintily.  It was so moving to see two people so much in love. For two hours I served them with joy always mindful of the extra plate on the table.  When they started to leave he winked at me and said that they would be back for their first anniversary. I believe that Marvin and Edna will have a strong marriage as long as Jesus is the third chord that will bind them together. 


 Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New International Version)

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
 two can defend themselves.
 A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


A Birthday to Remember

Posted: January 27, 2009 in Service with a Smile


Chapter Two
It was a hot, muggy August day and business had been painfully slow.  I perked up when a customer came through the door and put on my best smile as I approached the table.  She looked up at me with an expression that I couldn’t quite read and slowly smiled.  “Today is my birthday” she said with odd resignation.  “I would like the biggest steak you have!”. “Of course, will any one be joining you?”  I said “Oh no, I’m all alone”.  “Well not today, you’re spending your birthday with me!” I laughed, and left the table to put in her order.  I was determined to treat her like royalty as no one should have to be alone on their birthday.  When she finished her dinner I brought out some cake and loudly sang happy birthday to her ( I have lived long enough to not be embarrassed by such things, ha!).  Then I sat down  and we both had coffee and made small talk. 
The Westfields had been in earlier that day and as usual they left a generous tip and a pocket size card with an inspirational verse on it.  I so looked forward to those cards and always passed them on to my customers as the Lord would lead.  Today, this particular card would save a life.
When we finished our coffee, I set the bill on the table along with the card that the Westfields had given me.  I noticed that she took a napkin and wrote a lengthy note on it.  She handed me the note on her way out and hugged me and she was gone.  As I read it I was moved beyond measure: “Before I came in here today, I stopped at the drug store and picked up a prescription for sleeping pills.  I had every intention of having a last meal, going home and taking the pills and ending my life.  You see, many years ago my family disowned me for marrying outside of my race.  They have not spoken to me in fifteen years.  This year my husband died and our son that was born with cerebral palsy died six months later.  I have been totally alone ever since.  I thought that the Lord had forgotten me until you showed me such kindness.  When I read the card I knew that God still had a plan for my life.  Thank you.”
The card read:  Never give up hope!  Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Praise God for people like the Westfields who faithfully continue to sow seeds of hope. 
dining_restaurant_55_smaller1Hello friends!
My name is Karen Dunn.  I live a simple life with my husband Anthony, daughter Amanda and 2 lazy cats. My job as a server in a local family restaurant is exhausting and perhaps seen by some as even degrading and unrewarding.  However, the opportunities to bring joy and hope to the masses is extraordinary.
In the days to come I want to share some stories with you about the way that the Lord has moved and changed the lives of many (especially my own) one lonely, desperate soul at a time in an unobtrusive little restaurant in southeast Tennessee.  Who can possibly say how many lives THESE people have changed as a result of the far reaching arm of God.  Perhaps capturing these memories on paper will remind me of the plan that God has for my life.  So, I suppose I am somewhat selfish in my desire to share these stories with you.  The stories are true but the names are mostly fictitious.  Not to “protect the innocent” but because I never even knew their names.  God, however, has their names permanently etched in his heart and had a definite plan for them that day………

Service with a Smile 

Chapter One

I was finally winding down to the end of a very long day. Only one more table to go!  Three shabbily dressed men with scruffy beards and holes in their shoes sat down in my section.  Oh well, at least it was my last table.  I put on a smile, straightened my apron and approached the men. 
I had been preoccupied all day with the realization that if I did not bring $187.00 to the dealership in the morning my car would be repossessed.  I knew that if I was lucky I would make $75, but $187.00?  No way!  “Well Lord, you know what I need!” I laughingly prayed.  By the time that I reached the last table I was overjoyed!  I had earned an unthinkable $150.22! Praise God, I could now call around to some friends to get the rest of the money that I needed.
“Hello gentlemen, may I bring you some coffee or tea today?”  When they looked up, their smiles were quite disarming.  They were so kind that I decided to ask them where they were from.  They shared with me that they were street ministers that had been formerly drug addicts and they came to work with some ministers here in town to teach them how to reach the people that many of us have written off and forgotten.  I was truly moved by their testimony.  When they had finished their meal I noticed that there was a $5.00 tip on the table for which I was grateful.  As I layed down the ticket one of the men asked if they could pray for me before they left.  I responded that it would be my honor to pray for them instead.  I did so and felt such peace and joy that I was energized as I started back to the table to clean it up.  I was shocked to see that the $5.00 was there-along with several other bills and a pile of change!  When I counted it up you would never believe it-$36.78-not a penny more or less!   The men were leaving when I sprinted to the door to thank them.  They said that when I finished praying for them the Lord told them to empty out their pockets of any cash or change so they did.  When I told them my story we rejoiced together!
I learned a valuable lesson that day-when I pray for others I stop worrying about my own problems and needs and my burden is lifted!  Praise God for His faithfulness and His great patience with me!
Job 42:10a After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous..