Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some Crazy Lady

Remember the time the Christmas before last when the kids and I handed out candy canes? We had so much fun that time that we meant to make it an annual tradition, but somehow we never got around to it this past Christmas. I thought of it again last Tuesday night, after a woman named Phyllis knocked on our door.

I was frantically trying to finish my fish tacos and get the kitchen cleaned up before Bible study, and I figured it must be Gentle arriving early to pick me up. When I saw the kind blonde stranger on the porch, I felt momentary relief, but when she held out a flyer my stomach sank. Ugh. A door-to-door salesperson. I don't have time for this!

"I'm starting a morning prayer meeting in my home, and I'd love it if you could come," she said with a warm smile.

I took the flyer and smiled back at her. But I frowned when I saw the time: 6:00 in the morning! 

"I made it early so people could come before work," she explained. "You can come and stay for a few minutes, or for the whole hour."

Gesturing to Allyson, who was clinging to my leg, I told her I didn't think I could make it that early.

"Well, I take requests," she said, pointing out her phone number on the flyer. "If you have any prayer needs, please let me know."

I thanked her and went back to frying the tilapia with a grin on my face. I'd just been asking God to help me relax and rest in His presence, to make me ready for Bible study, and then He sent Phyllis. My spirits were instantly lifted.

I couldn't stop thinking about her for two days. I was amazed at her boldness, to knock on a stranger's door and invite her to a prayer meeting! I wondered how many people were meeting in her home each morning. What if no one came? Maybe I...? No, it was way too early in the morning.

Then I remembered Priscilla Shirer's admonition on the videos at the Jonah Bible study. She urges us to "go to the Nineveh in our neighborhood," to show God's love to people who need Him. Hadn't I been asking God to show me how to love the people in my neighborhood?

I phoned Phyllis on Thursday to tell her I'd come at 6:30 on Friday morning, and she was ecstatic. She told me she'd handed out 30 flyers that Tuesday. "On Wednesday morning, I told God how disappointed I was that it was only me," she admitted. "But then He said, 'You're not alone. I'm here. Jesus is here. The Holy Spirit is here. That makes four of us.'"

In the morning darkness on Friday, I walked to her house, about eight houses down. We prayed for our neighborhood, and for our families. I loved the instant connection we felt as sisters in Christ. I told her I'd come back on Mondays and Fridays.

The way Phyllis had reached out to me brought to mind the candy canes, and I started thinking about what we might do for Valentines Day. On that same Tuesday, Gentle had given us a treat bag with a card that said, "We love because He first loved us." She said she was handing out bags to her neighbors.

So today I baked triple ginger cookies and filled six Ziploc bags with six cookies each. I took six of Allyson's leftover Valentines and wrote, "We love because He first loved us... The Broad Family... Bill, Sarah, Ethan & Allyson."
Allyson was of course excited to come; the candy canes back in 2009 had been her idea. I wasn't too sure about Ethan, but he agreed readily. When Allyson invited Bill, though, he said, "I think I'll stay here and clean the kitchen."

By the time everything was ready, it was nearly 8:00 and getting dark. We slipped on our flip-flops, and I put on a light jacket despite the unseasonably warm temperature today--in the 70s this afternoon after last week's dip into the teens.

We followed the same route we'd covered with the candy canes, so it wasn't so scary as the first time. Allyson rang the bell when we got to the house of the family who gave us the pumpkin pie. The moment the door swung open, she whispered, "Happy Valentines Day," and handed the man the cookies.

"Oh, you guys are so good to us always!" he exclaimed.

I blushed. "They're ginger snaps," was all I could think of to say.

"Well Happy Valentines Day!" he said.

The door was already half closed when I asked, "Is Elizabeth home?"

"Yes, she's right here," he said, pointing to the dining room table. I realized that once again I'd interrupted their dinner, but I plowed on, telling her about Phyllis's prayer meeting.

Apologizing for being in her pajamas, Elizabeth nevertheless came to the door with a tablet in hand. I told her the address and the time, as well as my phone number. She thanked me warmly and we wished them a good evening.

We had one more house left, an addition to last year's list. I wanted to take some cookies to Phyllis even though I knew I'd be seeing her at 6:30 in the morning. I wanted the kids to meet her, and I wasn't ready for our little adventure to end yet.

Her house was brightly lit, and there were two cars in the driveway. "She's home!" I said. "Now, Allyson, this time you need to say 'Happy Valentines Day' really loud, okay?"

Allyson rang the bell, and we waited for what seemed a long time. "She's probably looking out at us and not opening the door," Ethan said.

"No, she wouldn't do that," I argued. I knocked on the door, and Allyson did too. A moment later the door opened, and we were face to face with a strange man who looked to be in his 30s or 40s. Phyllis had told me she lived alone with her son, but this man seemed too old. For a moment I thought I might have the wrong house, but this was definitely it.

The man cocked his head and eyed us in confusion. Oblivious to the awkward silence, Allyson handed him the bag, shouting, "Happy Valentines Day!" He glanced down at the cookies, and there was another heavy silence. Then he sputtered, "Well, thank you so much!"

"You're welcome," I murmured. "Um, good night."

Back on the sidewalk, Ethan asked why I didn't tell him we were looking for Phyllis. "I was expecting her to answer the door," I said. "I was so surprised to see him that I just froze. I couldn't even remember Phyllis's name at that moment."

"Well, you should call her or something," he said. "He's probably telling her right now that some crazy lady is going around the neighborhood handing out cookies."

I burst into laughter. "Yes, he probably is," I choked out. "Oh well." And we laughed all the way home, just like we did when we handed out the candy canes. When we told Bill the story, he just shook his head.

I'll tell her in the morning. It was only a matter of time before she figured it out, anyway: yes, I am a crazy lady. It sure is fun!


Gentle said...

We handed out 6 bags too! How funny! It was actually kinda hard to walk up to peoples doors and be a "disruption." We did it today in the afternoon. Everyone was very receptive, thoughtful, and thankful. I pray that somehow a seed or two or three...or six was planted.
So glad you attended the prayer group! And I am proud of you!
Side note: after smelling your fish and feeling guilty of wanting to gobble it up-I prayed on the way home for God to continue working in my heart during these weak moments...I came home to a plate on the counter that Sean used to make a sausage link. All the white fat was bubbled up and solidified white-I almost hurled...then got a giggle at God's humor. "Thank's for the reminder God." God is good.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

I'd probably have a heart attack if someone knocked on my door and invited me to a Prayer Meeting.

Not much chance of Christianity around here.

Save some ginger cookies for me.

God bless.

Sarah said...

Gentle - I'm so glad you guys had a good experience handing out your bags. I'm really glad you gave me the idea about putting the verse on the cards. And that's funny about how God answered your prayer regarding eating meat! I love how God can always surprise us.

Victor - I think getting an invitation to a prayer meeting is pretty shocking around here too. But it sounds like people are even more resistant and closed off over there. I need to be thankful that I live in "the Bible Belt" (southern U.S.). Most people here have at least been to church at some point, and claim to believe in God. It must be discouraging to be isolated in your neighborhood. That's why our global community of believers here on the Internet is such a blessing.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

It's not just my neighborhood - it's the UK in general being a secular country. Even the laws of the country seem to be somewhat anti-Christian. For example, they want to make it legal for same sex marriages to be conducted in church. If a priest/vicar refuses to conduct such a marriage for gay couples he'd be breaking the law.

A few years ago they made it illegal for adoption agencies to refuse to give children to gay couples for adoption. The Catholic Church ran many such agencies which did not want to give children to gay couples. The Church tried to get the law changed to make an exception on religious grounds as they did not want to give children for adoption to gay couples. The Church failed and it closed down all its adoption agencies.

Sarah said...

Victor, that's crazy! I can't believe the government dictates what the church can and can't do. I pray it doesn't come to that in the U.S.

Things are definitely moving in a more politically correct direction, and I don't know where it will all lead. I do know that pastors have to be careful what they say from the pulpit now. If they speak out against homosexuality, they can be accused of a "hate crime."

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Thank you for your report about Christianity in various countries which you posted on my Blog.

Reading the UK entries I tend to agree with what was said.

Church attendance is low - 5% or so of population. It's traditional to attend church three times in your lifetime.

Baptism "to have the baby done" or "to wet his head".

Marriage "to get good photos for the wedding album".

And funerals to "get a good send off".

Religion doesn't come into it. In our church we usually have baptisms requests from people we've never seen attend church. They do it to get their children in a Catholic school. The priest can't actually refuse baptism - can he? Or refuse a wedding?

It is not common to admit you're a Christian - at work, or on TV or media if you're a celebrity. Christianity is mocked and to believe in God, Jesus "and all that" is not "very intelligent". Only naive people believe in God.

For a politician to admit to being a Christian would lose him a lot of votes. He may even lose an election.

Tony Blair, (past Prime Minister) was openly a Christian, (now a Catholic although not when he was Prime Minister). There were often articles and comments about this in the media. Same for other Christian celebrities.

I feel Christianity is in retreat here. The Church (all denominations) don't help with their inactiveness.

Another example about our laws.

Recently a Christian married couple owning a Bed and Breakfast small hotel refused to give a double room to two gay men booking together. They offered them two single rooms instead.

The gay men took the hotel owners to Court for discrimination against gays. The gay men won. The hotel owners are appealing to a higher Court. The case continues.

Sorry to take so long and so much of your Blog.

God bless.

Rebekah said...

ahhh! I love that someone knocked on your day and invited you to a prayer meeting! That is so wonderful and kudos to her for boldness. :)

Sounds like y'all had fun passing out candy. I'm sure you blessed alot of people. :)

Sarah said...

Victor - I love ALL your comments on my blog. It's fascinating to read about what life is like in another part of the world. That is so sad what happened to the couple with the B&B.

Rebekah - Yes, I am amazed by my neighbor's boldness. I pray I can have the same courage when God moves me to reach out to others.

Jenny said...

You are so fun! How many groups are you in now???!!!!

Sarah said...

Jenny - Way too many groups! Way too many! But I love them all, even though I know I should cut down on some of my activities.


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