My sister Suzie and I grew up known as the pastor’s kids. While Dad preached from the pulpit, Mom would sing out more than her share of hallelujahs. By our teen years my sister and I had grown tired of trying to be this perfect Christian family, by setting a good example for others to see. We turned against our parents and their demands of proper behavior. Dad would scream out scriptures, saying how God would send us to hell for our sins. Mom would hold the Bible close to her chest, crying out her daughters’ sinful ways. Suzie’s and my sins were what all teenage girls wanted. To wear makeup, have the latest teen fashion, and go to a school dance with a boy.
At eighteen, I turned away from my parents and their ridged religion. I kept telling myself that I was fundamentally satisfied and financially secure. I didn’t need a family or a God.
Soon after Suzie left home she became a prostitute strung out on drugs. One night she showed up on my door step, high on cocaine. She told me she was pregnant and had nowhere else to go. I had her admitted into a clinic that got her off the drugs and provided medical care for the baby she carried. Six months later she delivered a healthy baby she named Lacey Star. Overtime, my sister and her daughter drifted out of my life. I never knew where Suzie or Lacey were, or what had happened to them. I should have prayed, put them in God’s hands, but never did.
Then the phone call came. “It’s me, Suzie.” She told me she had given up prostitution and drugs. How she had found a job at a discount store and joined a church. As a single mom, she struggled to pay the bills and raise her daughter. With her life straightened out she often thought about calling me. When told she had aids, it made her realize she had little time left to make things right between her and me.
“Sis, I have something to ask you.”
“Suzie, I’ll help in any way I can.”
“Will you be Lacey’s legal guardian?”
“Me? I’m way too old to be raising a kid. Have you thought about someone in your church?”
“I thought about how much Lacey and you need each other. I want to give my daughter and my sister the family they never had.” With a sigh, she said, “You can’t keep blaming God for your miserable childhood. Our parents and their religious rules were wrong. Your Heavenly Father will forgive you for your sins and not send you to hell.”
Filled with anger I said, “You want me to have a family that includes God. You know how I feel about these things. Will this be your death wish?”
“No, it will be my answered prayer.” In her voice I heard the hurt I had caused her.
I asked, “Do you believe in answered prayers?”
“I believe in Jesus who answers my prayers.”
Sitting on the front porch, I watched the purple haze of the evening turn into night. Often during the quiet times I thought of Suzie. After my sister called to tell me she had aids, my life took a turn in a positive direction. She and I decided it would be better for Lacey to stay in her own home and attend the same school. I gathered up my belongings and moved in to take care of Suzie and Lacey. Before my sister’s death, I accepted Jesus as my savior.
With a purple boa wrapped around her neck Lacey joined me on the porch. She sat down beside me on the wicker couch.
“Lacey, I like the boa, nice touch to your outfit.” Next fall, she would leave for college.
“I couldn’t find my mascara, I borrowed yours.” Her eyes were the same color of green as her mother’s.
“Who’s picking you up?”
“How many are going to ‘Acquire the Fire’ ?
“Everyone plans on going. Such an awesome way to share Jesus with others.”
“Will Tyler be there?” He was a teenager from another church youth group. Last summer they had met at a Christian rock concert.
Smiling, Lacey said, “Well, of course.”
As the church van pulled up to the curb Lacey hurried down the driveway. I waved to everyone in the van and with a quiet voice said, “Thank you Jesus, for Suzie’s answered prayer.”
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