Yesterday I had the chance to spend about an hour with one of my very good friends. I haven't been able to see her as much as I would like - she lives in Tampa and we live in Orlando. We have been friends for ten years now, and it was good to be able to sit down with her and just talk like old times. It reminded me of why she is such a special person in my life - and the life of my entire family.
She told me about the great things going on at her church - the one where I served for four years as college minister. She said that every Sunday night, there is a service called Late Night - it is designed for teens, college students, and young adults. They have a great band leading worship, and the church's student pastor speaks. She goes every week - and she said that she is just so blessed watching the students raising their hands and looking up to the sky praising God. It reminded her of Psalm 100 - how we should all praise God with singing and even dancing - if that is done to the Lord.
We talked about the country, and how sin is the reason the nation is so bad off. I told her about how Defender Ministries was doing, and she was so excited to hear about it - and how I get to write all the time for it. (She always loved to read what I wrote.) She told me she still exercises every morning, plays golf every Tuesday - and can still do a split. And we both were thrilled at how God worked it out for us to spend time together - she wasn't even supposed to be home when I showed up.
The thing about this friend of mine is that she is 87 years old. Her name is Dottie. When I graduated UCF in 1996, that September I moved to Tampa to work with the North American Mission Board as a Semester Missionary at her church and at USF's BCM. Part of my "pay" was room and board - at Dottie's house. For the next two years I stayed with her - and she basically adopted me as her grandkid. We had great talks and forged a great friendship that still lasts. My grandmother couldn't make it to my wedding, so Dottie was walked down the aisle as my "adopted grandmother."
What is so incredible about this lady is not all of what she has accomplished - which is amazing in an of itself. [Some highlights: she was a pilot, helped bring the Republican Party to Florida, served as a delegate for Reagan at the 1980 convention, knew Bob Hope, has flown around the world] But she is also the most generous and godly woman I know. Her house is always open to people in need (even though she has been burned by them before). She has given money to so many causes and groups. When I was college minister, she used to stock pizzas in the freezer, candy bars in the pantry, and soda in the fridge - so that my students would have things to eat when they came by. She loved it when they came by - even got lonely when they didn't show up for a while.
She also is the greatest servant I know. You know what she does on those Sunday nights? She works in the kitchen - and washes dishes until midnight after the service. And then she takes all the tablecloths home to wash them. Does the same thing on Wednesday nights. She collects aluminum cans and pans to donate for money for the local cancer hospital and for the church's mission group. She delivers food every week to shut ins in the area.
About a week and a half ago, the Oviedo area lost their version of Dottie. His name was Frank Wheeler. He was older and died of a heart attack. For decades, he has been that kind of guy - he was on building committees at the church and was one of the cornerstones of the whole community. After he died, one of the McDonalds in the area had a note on its sign about it. I told Heather that you really made a huge impact when you are mentioned on the McDonalds sign. The entire city was touched by that man - even if they didn't realize it.
Dottie and Frank were amazing testimonies to me about how to live as a Child of God. Dottie and Frank walked with God for so long - and they still loved him and served people. If anyone could "retire" from being a Christian, it would be Dottie. But she still is just as much of an example as always - maybe even more so. When I look back at my life, and the people who made me who I am, Dottie is definitely one them. And by her living in such a godly manner every single day, she still IS one of those people. She is still showing me how to live like Christ. I'm proud to say I know her and that she is my friend. I hope that when I am 87, people can say stuff like that about me.