We just returned from a bucket list trip to Honolulu. My dad was stationed at Pearl Harbor, so it was always a dream to stand where he stood.

More than unplugged, we were transported to a different reality.

Honolulu and Waikiki beach felt like NY city in paradise. The pace slow, the views phenomenal.

Walking through a rain forest, smelling the flowers, feeling the splash of a waterfall and soaking in the Hawaiian sunsets burned permanent tattoos in my brain. It can't adequately be described.

Pearl Harbor tugged at every emotion. Reliving the day that changed everything for America left us speechless.

A surprise encounter happened on the beach. Most nights we watched the sunset from a bench a block from our room.

In front of the bench was a beach mat, an umbrella, a suitcase and a towel.

The first time we saw it we wondered who would be brave enough to leave their belongings unattended? At the end of the week we met their owner.

Every Friday night an area hotel unleashed a 10 minute display of fireworks. We perched on our favorite bench to enjoy the show.

A 57 year old Hawaiian gentleman strolled over and tucked something inside his suitcase. He looked tired and much older than his age. With a tilt of his head he caught my husband's eye and stated, "Fireworks tonight."

"Yes," my husband answered, "we thought we might catch them here." He asked where we were from and when he heard, NC, he said, "Tarheels." My husband lit up. He and Keith carried on about sports and players and coaches like they had been buddies for a lifetime. Keith was a graduate of Oregon State.

He apologized for his trembling right hand, "Parkinson's Disease," he explained. "Four minutes to fireworks, but that building will block your view from here. You'll see them better over there."

We shook his hand, thanked him and hurried off to watch the sky light up.

Neither one of us could forget about Keith. We wondered, how did he end up staying on the beach? What happened in his life to bring him to this point? He was obviously very intelligent, there just seemed to be a distance in his gaze.

As we packed the next morning to leave, I discovered a copy of "What on Earth Am I Here For?" by Rick Warren. It's a condensed version of The Purpose Driven Life in a little booklet form.

I typically keep several in my glove compartment and give them away as God leads. Today, one was hiding in my suitcase.

I held it up and my husband smiled. We headed to the beach hoping to find our friend, but all we saw was his pile of treasures. All week the pile had been just that, a disheveled heap, but today it was neat and tidy. We tucked the book into the suitcase.

There were many Keith-like people wedged into the corners of this paradise. One woman stood on the corner with flowers she had picked and at night we watched from our balcony as she snuggled in between a nearby building and a dense shrub.

In the midst of God's beautiful landscape, broken lives stood on the shore. Keith and the woman on the corner were obvious, but many others were disguised.

Lord, sometimes the darkness in this world seems overwhelming, yet Your Light shatters all darkness. Will You open Keith's eyes to Your purpose and plan? May he in turn point others to Your Light. In Jesus' name, amen.

How do you prepare for the unexpected encounters in your life?

Aloha