Wednesday, April 21, 2010
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.”
Does God have a sense of humor? I think He does. He created man in His image and man innately has a sense of humor, so I think God does too. After all, Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. This section of my blog will be a time to laugh.
One summer several years ago, my family was on our way to South Carolina for a family vacation at the beach. We stopped at my sister’s home in North Carolina to break up the trip. It was to be a vacation with the extended family and my sister along with her family were coming too. They planned to car pool with us the next day. So, my family of six stopped at my sister’s house for the night. Her oldest daughter had undergone outpatient surgery earlier that week and was recovering at home – she would not be coming to the beach until later in the week and her family was planning on staying an extra week.
That same evening, my sister found a goat wandering around in her neighborhood. This was a surprising find, as she lives in a gated community where no one owns goats! Equally surprising was the fact that the goat was wearing a collar. She brought it home to keep until the next day when she could figure out where it belonged (a nearby petting zoo, maybe?) She put the goat in her garage for the night…...bad idea!
That night, the goat made bleating noises ALL night long keeping most of the household awake and he also messed ALL over my sister’s garage. It was everywhere – in places I never knew a goat could reach. I will spare you the details but suffice it to say that I have never seen such a mess in my life!! The next day we made the boys (her son and my two sons) clean the garage.
Sometime later, one of my sons was talking about the goat experience and said, "You know mom, I think God has a sense of humor. I think He looked down from heaven at Aunt Alisa and said to Himself, 'Let's see...she has 11 people staying at her house...her daughter just had surgery...and she is packing to leave for a two week vacation...hmm?...What kind of fun can I have with her? I know! I think I'll send her a goat!!'"
Monday, April 5, 2010
One of my pet peeves is hearing someone referred to as “godly”. In Christian circles we hear this term often…but does the Bible use this term when making references to people? Well, yes, on occasion, but more often the scriptures speak of people who are God-fearing. In fact, in some of the places where the term Godly is used, it is not in reference to a person at all but a trait, such as Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. (2nd Corinthians 7:9-10) God – fearing on the other hand is mentioned often! And it is accompanied by many promises of blessings from God for those who fear Him. Personally, I strongly prefer this term for people I know whose relationship with God I admire.
I am blessed to call Brenda a friend. She is one of the most precious people I know! She was born to a single mother living in the inner city, along with several sisters and one baby brother. Her only brother died of an accidental gunshot wound at age three. She was in high school that day helping a teacher grade papers when someone came into her room and told her she needed to go home right away. When she arrived at home police and an ambulance were in front of her house. A neighbor came up to the car and told her that there had been an accident. Her baby brother had been shot.
Brenda loved her baby brother. She was 11 when he was born. Because her mother was deaf, Brenda was the one who woke up with him at night when he cried. Brenda fed him his bottle. She would ride to school the next day exhausted but she didn’t mind. It was a good kind of exhaustion. She would lay her head on the desk at school and think about how much she loved babies. She knew then that all she ever really wanted to be when she grew up was a mom.
When I met Brenda she was a struggling single mother of three beautiful and well behaved sons. My children were close to her children’s ages. We became instant friends. But she was not a Christian and I did not know how to share my faith with her. She was a delightful person! She was and is like a ray of sunshine. In all the years I have known her, I have never seen her pessimistic. Even as a struggling single mom living in subsidized housing, she smiled all the time. Her apartment was bright, cheery and clean with equally bright and cheery little boys running all around it. My children loved to visit them and I loved to spend time with Brenda!
As our friendship grew, she asked me one day if I would mind going with her and her mother to a Dr’s visit. I was a nurse and her mother had cancer. Brenda thought that perhaps I could better understand what the Dr had to say. I could explain it to Brenda and she would sign the information to her deaf mother. Then, if her mother had questions Brenda would tell them to me and I could answer. I gladly went along.
Some months later, Brenda called and said that her mother was in the hospital not expected to live. She asked if I could have my pastor visit her mom. She thought a pastor’s visit would be helpful but neither she nor her mother was a member of a church. I sent my husband –he’s not a pastor but he loves the Lord and he loves to share the plan of salvation with people. That night in the hospital room, Brenda and her sister Donna, along with their mother accepted Jesus as their savior. Her mom died 2 months later.
After having made a profession of faith, I nagged poor Brenda to go to Bible study with me until she finally went just to get me to shut up. About this same time, God brought Omar into her life. Omar was a few years younger than Brenda and had never been married. He had become a Christian in college. When I learned of his commitment to Christ, I was overjoyed and exclaimed to my husband, “God has brought a Christian man into the life of my Brenda!” My husband wisely corrected me in a gentle voice with, “No honey…God brought you into the life of Omar’s Brenda to get her ready for him.”
Omar and Brenda dated for a couple of years. Then one day she called me and said, “I’m going to be a bride!! Omar asked me to be his bride! I never thought I would get to be a bride! My sons’ father told me he would never marry me…but Omar wants to make me his bride!” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I heard the joy in my friend’s voice. God is so good! He had brought a hero into the life of my beautiful friend.
Today, Omar and Brenda have been married for going on 10 years. Brenda’s oldest son has grown up and moved out. Her second son is a soldier in Iraq, and her youngest is a junior in high school. She and Omar love the Lord with all their hearts. They are shining examples of people who fear God. Today, they are fostering abused children in their homes with the hopes of adopting some. Brenda is still getting up in the middle of the night to feed crying babies and still doing all she does with a smile on her face. But now she evangelizes everyone she sees too. Her "family" today includes not just her biological sons, and her foster babies, but also two young women who worked at the day care where she works. Both of these young college students come from unbelieving homes and have come to know the Lord through Brenda’s witness.
Last Christmas, she sent me a picture of her “family” standing in front of their tree. It included, Brenda who is Caucasian, Omar who is African-American, Brenda’s three biological sons who are all bi-racial, the two young women, one of whom is Caucasian and the other one is Arabic and was a convert from Islam, and the two foster babies who are both bi-racial. Brenda is a God–fearer and one of my greatest blessings! And it just so happens her birthday is next week. Happy birthday Brenda!!