Wife of the Month

090120I would like to nominate April for “Wife of the Month”.  For the month of September, she can use the special parking space.  That is, if she was here in America, and if she could drive.  She has completed the immigration process, but can’t take the final step because her country is still in “lock down” mode, so the U.S. Embassy isn’t doing interviews.  Being separated is difficult, but I can see how God has used it for His glory thus far.

Last week, I sent her the following message, and though it is personal, she agreed to let me share it:

Baby, I love you! I simply love you, because you have God’s DNA in you, and it shows. In you is peace, joy, faith, hope and love. Of course the greatest of these is, love. Because love, never fails! Baby, when you look back over our short marriage, you can see a trail of love that has dripped over the mountains we have overcome, and across the ocean that separates us now. Without love, God’s love, we would not have come this far. The story of “Mark and April” would have been a short one, but as it is, our story, is still being written.

I couldn’t wait any longer Baby April. I know our 18 month anniversary isn’t until next week, September 1st, but I just had to let the words above out. I was unable to contain them any longer. So Happy Anniversary, April. I am so happy to be known as the American, who married April Joy Santiago Cruz, and has so far, survived.  I am a lucky man who is blessed by God. He loved me so much that He hid you from the eyes of others, for such a time as this. I know two, maybe three of those men looked your way, but because of your wonderful faithfulness to God they gave up in their pursuit.

Our story, feels like it is taking forever to be written, but I know we are steadily moving every day toward his destination for our lives. Baby April, each day it gets easier to love you, because you, like God, are love.

To you April, the love of my life,
Mark

I am grateful for God’s love, and for his tender nudge to try marriage again, after checking the “Divorced” box for 24 years.  April struggled with her singleness a lot, and most who knew her started believing  “marriage” had passed her by.  But God had a plan that took years to connect two individuals who were 8,149 miles apart.  It’s like He set her on a shelf, so she would be available for me that one Friday afternoon, in October 2018, when I first saw her face on a Filipino dating site.

It’s hard to trust God, who doesn’t always share what He is up to, but when you do, it’s worth it!  God is so amazing, and I am so grateful, He first loved us.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Like Today!

clockOne of the hardest things, about walking with God, is knowing, “when”.

You are trusting God to do something in your life.  You have asked for it more than a child asking for candy.  Whether you are waiting for your spouse, or waiting for the correct time to start that business that has been brewing in your heart for 10 years.  Or in my case, when am I going to win an Oscar award for the New York Times best seller I wrote?  Some maybe hanging on to the promise that one day they will be debt free.  We want to know “when”, and when we focus on the not knowing it distracts us from living today.

A father and mother knew they were taking their two daughters to Disneyland, but also knew there was no way they could tell them until that day had come.  Why?  Because those wise parents knew that every day before would be a disappointment to those girls if “that” day wasn’t “the” day they got to go.

Do you see now why God can’t tell us “when” what He has already commissioned to take place in our life will happen, because if He did it would ruin “today” if “today” wasn’t the “day” it came about.

If God told a man who his wife was going to be before it was time, that same man would most likely get a restraining order from that woman, because he would get caught stalking her simply because he wanted to see her, and get to know her.  A woman’s business may fail because she opened it too early, or in the wrong place.  Then she might be tempted to walk away from God, thinking, “Well God you said I would have my own business!”  I probably wouldn’t enjoy writing any book if I only focused on, “Is this the one?”

I would rather be a mile behind God,
than one inch in front of him.

Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy today.  Like today!  See God’s hand in your life today. You might be saying to yourself, “I haven’t seen God today at all.”  My reply would be, “You woke up didn’t you?”  Last year I went through a time of asking God for more money to pay the extra bills we had.  I remember God asking me, “Okay, how much money do you need today?”  I thought about it and realized the bills for the whole month had already been paid and “today” I didn’t need any.  God could have said, “Well then shut up!” but He didn’t.  He didn’t have to, because by his question I knew He had met all my needs for “today”.

TRUST will help you overcome the word, “when”.  Trust doesn’t mean you throw your hands up and say, “I don’t have to do anything.”  But it can calm you down knowing God will work it out when it is time.

This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 AMPC)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What Day is This?

061220I notice patterns.  I also see common denominators.  I can’t help it.  It’s the way I am made.  I think I could have that disorder: Denoterns.  Anyway, perhaps many others have it as well, but I have noticed several times in the Bible where it took three days to change someone, or something.

Take Jonah.  God gave him direct instructions to go to Nineveh and share whatever message God told him to.  I think Jonah took it upon himself to judge the people there, and he boarded a ship going the opposite direction.  Perhaps his heart was full of hurt he associated with the people there and he wanted God to wipe them off the map.  You can read the whole story for yourself in the book of Jonah in the Bible, but after he was thrown overboard and spending three days in the stomach of a great fish, his heart changed.

Three days!

There are many other instances whether they journeyed, stayed or not ate for three days.  Three days can seem like eternity when you are hungry, thirsty, hurting, or desperate for an answer from God.

Jesus in the tomb is probably the most famous story of a three day ordeal in the Bible, but after his third day, anyone in the world can have their wrong doing forgiven, just by accepting Jesus.

On a personal note, three days after my wife gave up on hoping, asking, and believing God to send her a husband I sent her a message.  On the fourth day, her life changed.  It seems as if it takes three days to work out the flesh.  In other words, it takes that long to realize that when your situation changes it wasn’t you, but had to be God.

I don’t like going through a three day ordeal, but I hang on, because I love the fourth day.

If you are going through something, and you have turned it over to God, realizing you can’t do anything about it otherwise, then know this; your forth day is coming!

CONFESSION:  I made up the disorder Denoterns.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Love Laws

060520Last week I mentioned how my new life with my Filipino wife wasn’t easy in the beginning.  There were obvious things to overcome.  Cultural differences being a big one, and even though she can speak English, our language has enough quirks to rattle anyone.  I’m glad I don’t have to learn English.  A friend once told me she had ESL and I asked her if it was terminal.  (English, Second Language)

I knew if our marriage was going to survive, it had to be built on love.  I got the bright idea to post the characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a all over our apartment in the Philippines.  I thought seeing the Post-it Notes would always remind us to be loving.

In the midst of one heated battle I went around and removed, ripped, and threw the Post-its away.  I thought, “Love isn’t working!”  But the honest truth is this, I wasn’t working love.

God’s word tells us that love never fails, so the problem wasn’t love, but me.  I had the love laws in my head, but they had not made their way into my heart.  Once things are in your heart they come out of your mouth.  The words that come out of your mouth affects how you live, because they are based on what you believe to be true.

In practical terms, once the laws of love were in my heart it caused me to act and react, then say things to my wife in a loving way more consistently.  That made all the difference in the world.  One thing that also helped was believing she really loved me unconditionally.  Reminds me of God.  Her love to me has replaced past hurts.  I’m still learning to let my first reaction be love, but it’s getting easier.  My wife gives me lots of opportunities to practice.  Kidding.  (Well sort of.)

I encourage you to learn the love laws for yourself, and then place them into your heart.  Life is better when you love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NET Bible)

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.

It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.

It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

 

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Two Can do More Than One

051220Considering the challenges, it’s understandable why my wife and I had a difficult time in the beginning adjusting to each other.  An American who didn’t understand Filipino culture, and a Filipino who wasn’t used to a man making decisions.  My wife’s father left the family when she was young.

We had several, heated discussions to say the least.  Many times, either of us wanted to say, “Forget it!”  But one thing kept us trying to figure it out.  We both had to admit there was no doubt God wanted us to be together.  There were too many strong confirmations this marriage was being formed in heaven.

The one line that always got us to stop fighting and take a breath was this,

“We can’t let Satan win!”

It seems as if we were battled by fierce forces unseen, and the truth was, we were!  Satan wanted to put asunder what God had joined together.  “Asunder”, means interfere.

Today, we are doing great.  My wife has only messed up once in the last three months.  Did I say, “My wife”?  I meant me.  The other night we were talking, and I said something about helping others, more than we currently are.  It was then, my wife opened up and shared her dream of helping lives in tangible ways ever since she was a little girl.  I had no idea.  We then dreamed about what that would look like.

The next day I had the opportunity to help a young father, who had relocated to Tulsa from the Covid hot spot of Boston.  They arrived in an old vehicle with only the things they could pack in it.  After he pulled away I was moved to tears as I thought about the shoes he walks in, and I was thankful I was not wearing them.  I don’t have a lot of “extra” right now, as our own budget is tight, but the things he really needed, I had.  It was while thinking on what had just transpired, I said to myself, “Two can do more than one.”  Walking out my wife’s dream had just begun.

I am thankful to God for his many blessings, and I look forward to seeing what and how God will do more through us together as his Spirit leads.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Life Changing Love

Charlie 1.pngThere is this unbelievable feeling when you are in love with someone. You think about them all the time.  You can’t wait to see, talk, or be with them again.  There is nothing else that feels the same way.  This is how I feel about my wife.  Ok, I know some of you, who know us, will say, “Yeah, but you two have only been married 7 months!”  This may be true, but you see I have purposed in my heart to never fall “out” of love with her.  I have this desire to forever find another way, to make her feel loved.

Which is a nice segue into my second point.  A greater feeling than loving someone else is knowing that you are loved by them.  Again, I have to point to my wife.  She is so understanding, patient, and forgiving.  Knowing I am loved by her will cause me to smile for no particular reason.

But even greater than her love, is God’s love.  His love is perfect, and again I will smile when I sense his love come over me in waves.  Not because He just did something for me, but because I am his child.  God can’t help but love us because, after all, He is love. (1 John 4:8)

Ways to experience this kind of love:

  1. This kind of love is recognized when you spend time with God.
  2. This kind of love is known after spending time reading the Bible, and learning how He has loved others.
  3. This kind of love is solidified by loving God back. You do that by praising him, and worshipping him.  When you are confident, knowing how much God loves you, nothing that happens to you in life can threaten your relationship with God.

Be love to others:

In the current condition of our world, we, who know, have, and trust in God’s love need more now than ever to share that kind of love with others, who may be lost, confused, or scared.  God’s love through you, might just be the very thing that saves their life now and for eternity!

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

IR

Charlie 7I got remarried yesterday evening, after being divorced for twenty-three years.  I no longer have to check that dreaded little box, “Divorced”.  I married a wonderful woman of God who is a Filipino.  The only problem is, I’m an American, and she is not allowed to enter the United States without a Visa, which could take a year or longer to arrive.  When she said, “I do,” she became an “IR”.  Instant Relative.  This status gives her priority over everyone else trying to enter America by any other means.  Work Visa, Student Visa, Fiancé Visa, etc.  It also gives her access to a “Green Card” and two weeks after she arrives in America she will get her Social Security card.  Being an “IR” has instant privileges.

When one accepts God’s free gift of salvation, through his Son Jesus, they instantly become an “IR”.  They become a son or daughter to the God of the universe.  You will walk around, with a smile on your face, knowing whose you are, that you belong to God, and He is your Abba Father.  (Daddy God)  That status brings instant privileges as well.  Like having access to the throne of God.  Being able to walk with him and talk about anything.  God will guide you, Jesus will be with you, and the Holy Spirit will comfort you.  You have a free Attorney, Jesus, to defend you against Satan’s accusations.  Also, there will be free of charge, to you, accommodations in heaven that have no check out date or time, and who could argue with the blessing of eternal life?  Yes, being a child of God is good!

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better? (Mat. 7:11 MSG)

There are so many reasons to accept Jesus, mainly, because He first loved us.  If you are not currently, my prayer is that you will become an “IR” with God.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Are You an Answer to Prayer?

tripleTwice now, in my life, it has come to my attention that I have been the answer to someone’s prayers.  A very humbling experience.  The first time there was a new church in Massachusetts praying for a youth minister.  They focused on this need one particular night in September.  They had no idea how they could do this, because the church was so small they couldn’t afford to pay, but yet they had several youth in the church.  Note; despite the facts they prayed.  They believed God would hear, and God would answer.

One year later I arrived as their new youth minister who agreed to work with no salary.  I went because I knew God would bless my obedience and somehow meet my needs, and that he did.  A few months after working in the church I got into a discussion about how I came to be there.  One of the church elders told me about the prayer meeting.  I pressed to know the actual date.  When he recalled and shared the date I realized that was the very night God called me into the ministry.  During the following year God got me ready for the ministry.

The second time is more recent.  I have been divorced for 23 years or so.  A long time.  For the most part, I have been content with my situation.  I had even said I didn’t want to be married again, that I was okay.  Then in the past year, something begin to change.  I started hearing several testimonials of success from online dating.  Something I did not believe in.  Also I started meeting women who had come to America from the Philippines and were happily married.  They shared their stories, and encouraged me to try.

One Friday afternoon I found myself filling out a profile on a Filipino dating site.  I submitted it and my matches came up.  As soon as I saw April’s cute face my heart was captivated.  I read her profile and was hopeful.  Could she be real? I wondered.  I found her on Facebook and sent her a message.  I never expected to hear from her but two hours later I did.

We begin texting a lot.  Every chance we could.  Then, I called her.  She was so shy but cute.  Eventually, we took one giant step and video called.  Wow!  She’s real, and I haven’t been talking to a man in Yemen.  As the conversations continued, our hearts became knitted.  I decided it was time to go meet her and her family in person.

I traveled the 7000 plus miles.  After being there several days I learned that April and her family had been praying for years for a man to marry her.  I have come to accept that I am the answer.  The only way to be the answer to someone’s prayer is by yielding to God’s will.  To be willing to go, do, and say as he directs. I’m not special, just willing.  There may be a people group in a foreign country praying for you, or a manager praying for a dedicated worker.  Whatever the case may be, I hope you look beyond your own desires and accept God’s desires for your life.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

 

Love? Or in Love?

I met a woman today who was absolutely beautiful! As we talked I could discern this woman was also wise.  While talking the subject turned to marriage.  Her face lit up as she spoke of love, and marriage.  She shared with me the great love of her life. You see the woman I was speaking to was a widow. She mentioned how it is a give and take of both sides.  She said one has to give 50%, but at times you may have to give more like 70%, and one should be willing to, for a season.  She told how a marriage takes work and lots of it!  She mentioned how today too many take marriage so lightly.  She said a lot of people “love”, but asked how many couples are “in love”?

Wow!  My heart was stirred by how she spoke of love.  I asked her if she would like to go out on a date.  She asked me if I had my own car and could still drive? Oh, I guess I should mention this beautiful lady was 92 years old.

I’m divorced, and for the longest time feared of allowing myself to love again knowing I could get hurt again. If you want to be married you must first be willing to risk.  If you don’t take the risk of being hurt or having your heart broken again then you aren’t going to live life fully!  Sure, you can play it SAFE, but is that living?

Jesus risked all to love us.  He gave 100%.  He was willing to live among us in order to really love us.  He knew his heart would be broken many times by the very ones he loved, yet Jesus is still “in love” with us.