Who’s it For?

“Hi. How can I help you?”

“I need to…”  “Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright.”

“I need to pick out a casket.”

“Okay. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thanks.”

“Step this way. Did you have something in mind?”

“Yeah. Nothing ‘over the top’. It should be simple, but natural looking. Not that there is anything ‘natural’ about dying. I think it should reflect the kind of life the one lived who will be using it.”

“I understand. What do you think of this model over here?”

“Model? Gees! You make it sound like they are vehicles that transport the dead into eternity. Is this the newest model or a late model?”

“My apologies sir. It’s a particular style of casket. It’s in our ‘Wood Grain’ family.”

“Umm, not bad. May I see the interior, please?”

“Of course.”

“No squeaks. That’s good. Wouldn’t want to scare any children that may be at the funeral. I guess that one will do.”

“Very good, sir. Why don’t we go back to my office now and we can start the paper work.”

“You mean loan papers don’t you? With what these cost and everything.”

“Sir, they must be paid for upfront. We certainly don’t have a ‘Lay-a-way’ plan here.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?”

“It was.”

“Oh. Well I guess it kind of was. I’m just not in a laughing mood.”

“My apologies, sir.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.”

“Ok. Tell me about the deceased.”

“In general, all his life he tried his best to be a good man. To live according to God’s words, and overall, live a life pleasing to God. He was born here in this town, reared here also, but lived in several other places as an adult. He loved to travel. He was married twice, to two different women, had two children and two grandchildren. His first wife poisoned his children about him though, so after they became young adults they told their father he was a horrible man, and they never wanted to see him ever again.”

“Was he?”

“What?”

“A bad man.”

“No. Not perfect, but not bad either. He provided everything he possibly could for his children. Even though he was paying child support, if he saw his kids had a need, he met it. He took them places in America too. They loved traveling as much as he did. He also took them to church. He introduced them to the loving, one, true, God of the universe. He was faithful in taking them there so their faith could grow.

I guess it has become obvious which force won his kids over. They chose ‘evil’ over ‘good’. They know that their sins will cost them their life for eternity, but even though they saw ‘God” at work in the life of their father, it didn’t make the impact it should have. That broke his heart more than not getting to see and spoil his grandchildren.”

“That’s too bad. Seeing, or hearing from their father most likely brought on guilt, and the Holy Spirit bringing to their mind they should be living for God, instead of for themselves. By the way, I’ll also need where all he went to school, and the primary places he lived and worked, and for how many years. Any affiliations he was associated with and any other hobbies he had. Oh! One thing I failed to ask, who’s the casket for?”

“Sir?”

“Sir?”

“Who’s the casket for?”

“Me.”

Hebrews 9:27 (MSG) Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

“Now Serving Number 5”

You hear the announcement, and yes, you look down at the number on the tag you pulled out of the dispenser when you walked in, even though you already know it wasn’t your number they called. You might as well be holding number “2275”.

 Sad, but at least in America we are so impatient. We are spoiled. We are used to getting things now. Unfortunately, there are times when we take that attitude toward waiting for things from God. We make our needs known to God, and then we have to wait for the answer. Depending on the situation it can be extremely difficult. We wonder, “Did He even hear me?”

 When we don’t see the answer we expect, and by the time we feel we need it, we can develop an attitude, toward others and even toward God. The truth is how do you know God isn’t working on it? What do you think He is doing? Here is what Oswald Chambers says:

 “We look for visions from heaven and for earth-shaking events to see God’s power. Even the fact that we are dejected is proof that we do this. Yet we never realize that all the time God is at work in our everyday events and in the people around us. If we will only obey, and do the task that He has placed closest to us, we will see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes to us when we learn that it is in the everyday things of life that we realize the magnificent deity of Jesus Christ.”

I like how Chambers worded this issue. When we “ask” God, then our next step is to “trust” God. Know, be confident that He has heard you and that He “is” working things out in the way that is “best” for you. Keep in mind, God isn’t working on one request at a time, but on every request of everyone around the world who ask, all at the same time. He doesn’t take care of one request and then call the next number of whoever is line. Yes God is that omnipotent and powerful, but also so loving that He puts on every job a personal touch designed just for you.  And that my friend is called, “Love”!

My First Christmas in America

by April Joy Brady (Mark’s wife)

This is my first Christmas in America.  My previous ones have been in my home country of the Philippines.  People’s attitudes here toward Christmas are a lot different than there.  It seems as if some of the people are forgetting the real reason for Christmas.  Some even go as far as to remove “Christ” from the word Christmas with “X-mas”.  It makes me wonder if they have removed Christ from their hearts as well.  I’m not trying to be judging, it would be difficult not to be that way growing up here in America, with constantly being bombarded with TV ads and popular culture.

This season here seems to be more about parties, gifts, and where to spend the holiday.  When in the Philippines, where resources don’t flow so freely, Christmas tends to be much simpler, and we are happy to get to see family and share a simple meal, and laugh.  There is a lot of laughter back home.  I imagine Jesus’s first Christmas was simple as well.  Mary and Joseph adoring their new born son, lying still in a feeding trough with some hay, and perhaps an animal’s covering over him.  A far cry from a beautiful wooden crib from Ashley Furniture with blankets from Macys!

I think I have been blessed to have my previous life and Christmas’ in the Philippines.  I hope in the years to come I do not stray too far from my roots, especially when it comes to the attitude of what Christmas really is, or supposed to be about.

I will enjoy the time spent with my husband and the gifts he has bought for me as well as the other gifts from friends and coworkers, but in my heart I will be in Bethlehem, humming, “Away in the Manger”.

Merry Christmas everyone.  May Christ fill your hearts with his love.

April

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Don’t Forsake the Children

Her family just emigrated from India.  Mother, father, little brother, and Anara.  Anara is only three years old, and when she arrived in America, just a few short months ago she couldn’t speak any English.  Anara’s parents thought it would be best to enroll her in preschool, so they did.

Anara is smart, and soon she started learning the language, but she also started learning the Bible stories the preschool taught.  It wasn’t long before she begin sharing her excitement, of those stories, with her family.  They witnessed Anara’s happiness, and joy as she grew in her love for the one true God.

Intrigued, her father inquired of the school, and asked if they could get an advance copy of those stories.  From the mouth of a three year old, the gospel of Jesus Christ is going forth.

Jesus: Let the little children come to Me; do not get in their way. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to children like these.  Mat. 19:14 (The Voice)

Children accept Truth easier than adults.  The older one is, the more their mind gets in the way of faith.  Simple faith, like that of a child is just believing.  Not questioning, and not reasoning, because a lot of the things of God don’t make sense to mankind.  And that is because God’s ways are much higher than ours.

Be like a child, be like Anara, and simply believe.  Then, as time goes by, and you begin to experience the love of God for yourself and see his hand in your life, only then will you understand.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A Foreign Language

Her parents just immigrated to America from India.  She was three years old, and didn’t know any English.  Now, a few months later, and being enrolled in a preschool she is learning a few words at a time.  But when one of her co-students said to her, “I don’t like you and I don’t want to play with you” the toddler simply smiled and used body language to invite her to swing with her on the tire.

When I heard this true story I realized the beauty of not being able to speak or understand the language of hate, or of racism.  To have the capacity to smile in the face of evil is a special gift.  I could learn from the little precious girl from India.

I think, no, I know Jesus had this special gift.  For when He was falsely accused, hated, spit upon, and betrayed He still managed to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

A worthy goal that will take lots of practice to perfect, but think of the message it sends to the one spouting toxic words.  A message of love. In any language!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The April Effect

As most of my regular readers know, my wife April is now here with me in America as her immigration visa finally arrived.  In the past three weeks, she has been here, not only have I introduced her to life in America, and our foods, but also our conveniences.  It has been an enjoyable experience for me.

One such highlight was when we went through an automatic car wash.  You have thought we were at Disneyland and it was a ride.  Like “Mr. Toad’s Moving Lilly Pad”, or something.  She smiled, she laughed, and squealed through each phase of the process.  Evidently they don’t have them in the Philippines, or she had never seen one before.

But an even greater experience, for me at least, has been watching how my friends, and family members have reacted to her.  I have taken notice how easily they open up, and start sharing with her.  They warm up to her quickly and seem to feel comfortable around her, as if she was their “comfy” clothes they wear when at home.  One friend even said to her, “I feel as if I have known you all my life!”  Of course I smile with adoration when I witness this phenomenon.

Yesterday though I started thinking more about why this was the case.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out.  Okay, to be honest, I probably got a download from the Holy Spirit whispered into my mind.  God, is love. (1 John 4:8)  And my wife, April is a child of God.  She loves him very much and has taken on his character of loving people.  So whether people realize it or not they are responding, or reacting to the love of God in my wife’s heart.

I believe with strong passion that from the time a baby is born, the spirit man inside that child starts on a journey to be reunited with God.  So when a person enters their world, the spirit inside of them recognizes the Spirit of God inside the person who just entered, and they connect with the person easily.

This “effect” begs the question, shouldn’t all, who have a good relationship with God, seek and desire more of him and his love?  So when we are out and about in the world people will open up to us sooner, and easier and begin to have serious conversations that can eventually lead to God and potentially lead them to God?  Of course, the answer is, “Yes”.  What hinders this to happen is us.  We get in the way of God with our “rights” and our own “understanding” and “values”.  Ones that should be disregarded perhaps, or lined up to confirm to God’s “values”, and truths.

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Rom. 12:2 (TPT)

So, in conclusion, “The April Effect” isn’t really her, but what is happening when people encounter her is “The God Effect”.  May we all grow, in our hearts, an enormous amount of the love of God that it effects people.  It moves them closer to him then where they were before we entered their world.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

From Hope, to Reality

As you faithful readers of this blog know, I have been waiting for my wife’s immigration to America for two years.  Those were very difficult, trying, and long years, but the one thing that kept us going was hope!

Hope is recognizing there is very little you can do, while wanting a certain result.

Well, if all went as planned, I met my wife yesterday at an airport in America.  Waiting for her just outside the doors to the immigration section.  This process has been such a challenge that I have said, “I won’t believe it until I see her.”  But yesterday, my hope turned into reality.  God is so good.  He kept us close to his heart especially on the days when our hearts were breaking, aching, and we struggled to see us crossing the finish line.

I know we are not alone.  Many of you are facing your own struggles where all you can do is hope.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let go of God’s hand.  I know He will never let go of yours.  I recently posted a blog where I wrote about the women with the issue of blood, from the Bible.  Her reality took 12 years to arrive.  Her sickness bankrupted her, but she never gave up hope.  Then the day came where Jesus appeared on the scene.  She was healed by simply touching the hem of his garment as he walked by.  It was her faith in Jesus that healed her and not the robe he was wearing.

“So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment.”
Rom. 8:25 (TPT)

So whatever it is you are hoping for, a job, a healing, a spouse, or salvation for a loved one don’t stop hoping.  You never know the day when Jesus may show up on the scene.  It would be a tragedy to give up the day before he passes by. For Jesus passing by in the life of me and my wife I am so grateful.  Praising and worshipping his mighty name all the way across the finish line.  Thank you God.  Thank you Jesus, and thank you Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Road Construction

At the entrance to my subdivision there is road construction.  I can only exit and enter by going one way while they upgrade the infrastructure, water, electric, and sewer that runs along the road, or under it.  Then, they will put down a new road, with new lane stripes and new signs.  They say it will take 6 months to complete.  It has already been two and a half.

If that wasn’t enough to endure, they have torn up a major highway interchange just blocks from the road I mentioned above.  It is reported to take two years to finish.  The officials say, “Go slow.  Proceed with caution.  Be patient.  It will be worth it in the end.”

As I have shared in previous posts, I married a Filipino woman in 2019.  Soon after the wedding, we worked with an immigration attorney to get the process started to bring my wife to America.  I lived in the Philippines for several months until I needed an eye procedure.  We discussed the situation and felt it was best if I came back to America to have it done here.  Thinking her immigration process wouldn’t take that long and she would follow me here shortly.  It seemed as if they had missed placed her file and then shortly after they started working on her case, Covid hit.

At the time of this writing, my wife is still not here with me.  There have been lots of conversations with God about the process and questions of, “Why is it taking so long?”  Walking with God in life is definitely a journey.  As we are now getting toward the end of the immigration process I can look back and see with greater understanding.  I can see how God has updated power lines in our lives making sure that in the future we look to him for uninterrupted power to live by.  He has put in a new sewer system to remove the waste and potentially toxic aspects of our personalities away safely and quickly.  My wife compares my temper to passing gas.  She says, “It stinks at first, but it doesn’t last long.”  She has learned to let me vent and then we can return to our regularly scheduled life already in progress.

If God didn’t take the time to pour new pavement in our lives we would be traveling with him on dirt, and when the storms come get bogged down in mud.  Yuk!  If he only put down stones travel would be easier but it would be a bumpy and rough ride.  Not enjoyable at all.  But God has used the time, while waiting for her immigration to be completed, to put down nice smooth pavement.  When the final touches are completed my wife and I will be able to come and go quickly in any direction with ease.  We will be able to see the lanes we should stay in so we avoid head on collisions and harm.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Yes, walking with God is difficult at times, and it is hard to see what He is doing, because some improvements are below the surface. At times it’s hard to understand why it is taking so long, but He would say, “Go slow.  Proceed with caution.  Be patient.  It will be worth it in the end.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A New Chapter

America.  She changed today.  Maybe the reality is, she changed a long time ago from the innocent days I once knew, but this truth is obvious today.  I grew up in Oklahoma, in a middle class family that somehow, always seem to have enough and then some.  I watched as my parents made good decisions and choices who worked hard for what they wanted.  “The American Dream”.  I believed in this dream and I too sought it out.  I wanted to own my own house, well after paying 30 years of payments.  I desired a good job, a loving wife, 2.5 kids, one of each sex, and to be a happy family.

The truth is, it took me 35 years to buy the house that will be mine in 26 and 1/2 years.  I have two kids, one of each sex, who don’t talk to me, and, their mother divorced me after she made a huge mistake, but convinced everyone our marriage failed solely due to me.  As a result, my biological family doesn’t want to have anything to do with me, so you could say I don’t have the happy family I desired.  Many Christmas days have been spent filling the empty stocking with tears.

After years of checking the “Divorced” box on forms I met and then married a Filipino woman.  I thought perhaps now I would get the happy family I desired.  You know what?  There are cynical, greedy, lying family members in all cultures, but the woman I married is the exception to a few members of her own family.  I have written about it a few times; my wife lives out God’s definition of love.

After our wedding, I was with her for seven months in the Philippines, until I needed a medical procedure, so I left her there thinking immigration wouldn’t take that long and she would come to America on my heels.  There was some delay in the process, but as we were reaching the finish line Covid hit.  Another year without her, another moist Christmas day.  A lot of crying out to God, and asking, “Why?”  The big three set in: Discouragement, Disappointment and yes, even Depression.  As I crawled through those dark days way down, deep inside me, was a mustard seed of faith that was whispering, “God knows what He is doing.”  In full disclosure, my mind was asking, “Are you sure?”

January 7th, we received an email stating my wife has her long awaited interview with the U.S. embassy in Manila.  LIGHT pierced our darkness.  I wanted to wait to share this until she was actually here, but someone needs to read these words now.  We are hoping we will be together by Valentine’s Day.  What a time to reunite our love for each other and for our God who loves us beyond belief.

When my wife is in our home in Oklahoma a new chapter of our lives together will begin.  Unfortunately, she will never know the “America” I grew up in.  Today, those with money want more, and those who “think” they have power want total control.  I sense days may be coming that perhaps will not be comfortable.  Standing up for what is true, for what is right could prove to be difficult.  There will most likely be a separation of those who have a solid relationship with God from those who were pretending, because in the America I grew up in, it was popular to say you were a “Christian”, but not anymore.

Yes a new chapter will be starting soon in my life, but also a new chapter in the life of America.  Our country’s slogan, printed on our currency, may no longer be, “In God We Trust”. Sometimes I wonder who is really holding the pen, writing each chapter.  As for my life, I want God to, because whether I understand his ways or not, He does know what He is doing!

Isaiah 55:8-11(MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Peace of Mind

One doesn’t have to look around very far, or watch the news very long to see there is a lack of peace in our world.  And social media, these days, should come with a pain scale.

When I try to watch the news I find myself yelling at the so called “leaders” of our country.  You know, just because they control the media doesn’t mean they are speaking truth.  I don’t like how I feel when that happens, or when I witness unrest.

I don’t think I am alone when I say, what I desire most, right now, is peace.  Last year, 2020, kept us on edge.  “What’s going to happen?”  “What do I need to do?”  “How can I stay safe?”  “Where can I find toilet paper?” “How do I keep those I love healthy?”

When Jesus found himself in a storm, he simply said, “Peace be still.”  Is that all it takes?  Well, sort of.  It’s a start.  It’s declaring, I’m not going to get caught up in all of the unrest.  I don’t have to state my position or opinions on social media.  I can turn on the TV in time to get my weather update and then turn it off again, and make an effort to stay away from world news.

Jesus offered us peace by trusting in him.

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

Instead, I can commit to fill my mind, my time, my world with things I enjoy.  With things that build up, instead of teardown.  With activities, words, relationships that inspire, or bring peace.  It’s my world after all.  I do have a say so, and so do you.  Take control of your own life, when and where you can.  You will find more peace that way, and feel better too.

Peace out!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.