Sunday, September 28, 2008

My cell phone rang...during church

It was around 9:30 this morning that my cell phone began playing "The Aggie War Hymn" at a very obnoxious volumn. Not exactly an inconspicuous tune. Especially during church. Okay, so I was in kidzchurch, not "big" church, but still, the room was quiet...until..."goodbye to texas university, so long to the orange and whi-i-ite. Good luck to dear ol' texas aggies, they are the boys who show the real ol' fight"....WHERE IS THAT DAD GUMMED PHONE??? I was searching every nook and cranny of my purse. The song went on and on and on and on. Heads were turning. Okay, so they were like 6 and 7 and 8 yr old heads, but still. WHO would be calling me during church? All I could think of was that it HAD to be bad news of some sort because everyone who knows my cell phone number knows I'm in church on Sunday mornings. Finally, I found the dern thing and picked it up. Andrea. Oh no, I hope everything is okay. Andrea was my next door neighbor briefly when we lived in Keller (near Fort Worth). Although we were only neighbors for a short year, our lives had been sewn together in so many ways and therefore we hadn't lost touch. I answered the phone nervously.

"Hi Heather, I just wanted to call and tell you that I'm getting baptized today!!!!"

"You're WHAT??? Wait, start over, where, how did this happen? What does your husband think? Tell me everything."

I guess I should give you some background knowledge. Andrea always knew she believed in a God, as in God the creator, and she even prayed to God for help every now and then, but as far as having a real relationship with Him that every aspect of her life was filtered through, not so much. Beyond creating the universe, God was kind of irrelevant to Andrea most of the time. She was in a miserable marriage, on the brink of divorce. Her relationship with her mother and siblings was scarred, to say the least. There was a feeling of hopelessness and desperation that wouldn't go away. And add to that her first child in July '06 with no help or support from her husband or mother, well, life was rough. Every so often, we would chat, mostly in the front yard. She was a great cook and often prepared tasty treats for us (and for my dog) and would surprise us with them. One night, she knew I had a busy work schedule so she surprised us with a home cooked dinner. We had dined with her and her husband a few times throughout the year. And occassionally talked on the phone here and there.

One day, Andrea asked me, "So why is it that you're so different than everyone else I know? You and your husband are actually nice to each other. You seem like you're love. I watch you with your kids and you never lose your patience with them (yeah right). What's your secret?"

"Well, um, uh..." I didn't know what to say without it all sounding cheesy, like a rehearsed sales pitch. But is there any other way to say it? I love Jesus! He is the reason I'm different. He is the reason I love my husband the way I do. He is the reason I treat my children with love and respect. I am to be a reflection of Him in every aspect of my life. You should try it...the whole Jesus'll rock your world. I really did say that.

She kind of accepted my answer, and said that she had hoped one day to go to church and give this whole God thing a shot. She had been really burned by Christians during her teen years at a church and really never wanted to go back. But she had a baby and didn't want her baby to be in a church nursery even for an hour a week, so she guessed she wouldn't be trying this whole God thing any time soon. Her husband was raised catholic, and I use that term, "raised" loosly because it was mainly just the box he checked off on applications in the section that said, "religion". I loaded her up with some good reads and just kept being a good friend, never mentioning God unless she would ask me a direct question about spirtitual things.

When we moved away, she stood in my driveway and cried as we pulled out. I was really her only friend, or the only friend she trusted anyways. We kept in touch through email and phone calls. She and her family came to FL last summer and we had dinner one night.

But today when she called, there was something very different about Andrea. For the first time, I heard hope and peace and JOY in her voice. She said, "Heather, you were right. He has changed my life." She found a church in Fort Worth and the way she found it made us both giggle. They were advertising a divorce recovery group and she wanted to go, even though she's not divorced, but that's how much she despised her husband. She thought maybe she could get some confirmation that "God wanted her to divorce him". Well, she went. And quite the opposite happened. She discovered that divorce was not a part of God's plan. She said, "Heather, I read the whole new testament and started to get the was not God's plan for me to divorce Wayne." And then she said, "He's coming to church today for the first time since his childhood. He's coming to see me get baptized. And my mom and my brother are coming too. And I don't really care WHY they're coming. All I know is that they're coming to God's house, so something good is bound to happen."

Andrea said that when she found this church, she immediately felt like she had found a home. She felt so welcomed and so loved. She has joined several Bible Study groups and has made lots of new friends who are patiently teaching her God's word. She even took a parenting class there. She said every aspect of her life has changed.

I was so thrilled for her, but at the same time bummed that I couldn't be there on her special day. I told her I was just in TX last weekend and had I known, I would have swapped weekends so I could be there today. I encouraged her in her walk because there will be hard times. I explained to her that her husband may not be on board with this whole new lifestyle, but not to let that get her down. Just pray for him and be an example of God's love. And as I was trying to encourage her, she was an incredible encouragement to me.

She said, "Heather, I always wanted what you had and now I know I do. I want you to know what an impact you had on my life just by your lifestyle and the way you interacted with your family. I learned so much from you. You guys may be in FL, but God is STILL using you here in TX." AMEN! Thank you Jesus!

I kept wishing I could have recorded this conversation and played it back on those hard days when I feel like a worthless piece of crap. When I feel like I'm doing NOTHING for the Lord. You just never know what kind of impact you will have on someone's life just by being yourself and doing what you do. But doesn't it feel great when you know that God has used YOU to enlarge His kingdom?


Jonatha said...

All I can say is Wow! That is so amazing! The saying about "preach the gospel at all times, sometimes with words" is what comes to mind. You are living your faith, and bearing fruit! What joy is in store for her!

Rhonda C said...

Amen... Wow!

The Mitchells said...

WOW. That is an amazing story and has to make you feel so good!!

tales_from_the_crib said...

very moving story, it should come with a warning...way to make the preggers lady cry! Okay, so mostly it's my crazy hormones, but thank you for sharing such a special part of your week.

laytonfamily said...

what a GREAT friend! Good for you for planting and watering those seeds! How wonderful we'll see Andrea in heaven on day, that makes me smile real big! Aint Jesus great???! And may God bless YOU for your obedience to His Word!!!

Stephanie said...

What a wonderful story!

circus of love said...

Praise God!

Anonymous said...

Prais God, the angels in heaven are rejoicing. Andrea is such a sweet woman, and now she is your sister in Christ. You've added another jewel to your crown. I am so proud of you!!!!

Love you,

kristi said...

That is awesome!