It was the Saturday morning of my crazy weekend before leaving for England; the weekend when I wasn't going to church, but did.
The phone rang and the voice on the other end said, "Are you busy?" It was my dear friend Frances.
"Busy? Just a little!" I thought with a wry smile.
"Not too busy for you," I said.
Then the words poured through the receiver, all of a jumble, catching me up on all the news of God afoot in my friend's life. Here is just a snippet:
It was Wednesday and Frances was at the Ganz warehouse sale with 10 year old Eden, one of my God daughters and my namesake (Belle is her middle name.) I was the one who cut her umbilical cord when Brian, her dad, gladly conceded that honour to me!
Eden had been so good all day, but had lost Frances in the store, so she went to the front where they made an announcement.
Frances didn't hear the first announcement because she was humming the new song we had learned as a worship team; the one that both worship teams would be joining together to sing at church on Sunday: How Great is Our God .
A beautifully dressed elderly woman, approached Frances and said, "I've heard of whistling while you work, but you're humming while you shop."
Frances said, "I'm worshipping!"
"You are?" said the woman, "What's the song?"
Frances starting singing the first line of the chorus, "How great is our God..."
And the woman sang the second line! "Sing with me, how great is our God."
Frances smiled, with eyes shining and threw her arms around her. She said, "We knew what we shared, but all the while I was thinking that I shouldn't be hugging a total stranger and I hoped she didn't mind."
"I said to her, 'If we never meet again, I know we'll meet in heaven and we'll remember this moment.'"
They began to share details of where they went to church and the woman told Frances that when her husband had passed away, 16 years ago, when she was 57, she made the decision to change churches because if she had stayed at the church they had attended together, she would have died of grief. There were too many memories. She needed to break away and have a fresh start. Since then she had flourished in her new church, but she said, "The most growth has come froem the hard places--the valleys."
The woman continued, "I learned to pray, 'Lord, help me to be better, not bitter. It sounds trite, but it's all about being grateful; thankful for what we have; seeing God's face through the trials. God forms his image in us through trials."
"We were just babbling information like a brook," said Frances, "And I instantly loved this lady."
They talked about how to be unfocused on the storms, but so focused on the hand of God that we see the face of God.
The woman shared that her daughter struggled with stress and anxiety. Frances said that she would pray--she said she knew that kind of stress.
That was when Frances heard the announcement, which was being made for the second time, "Frances, please come to the front of the store, your daughter is here."
Frances saw the cashier waving at her. Eden burst into tears at the sight of her mom, who threw her arms around her and said, "You're safe."
She took with her a prayer, "Lord, help me to be better; to rise above the storm; to be better, not bitter."