During my first pregnancy, I was about 5 months along when I started having terrible problems with my hands. Long story short…it was so bad and painful that I went to an orthopedic hand specialist who diagnosed me with carpal tunnel syndrome.
The doctor ordered a “nerve conduction test” just to make sure. It was bad enough to require surgery, which I had right after Brewer was born. Without getting into too many specifics of the test, let’s just say it is one I hope I never have to endure again. I will tell you that it requires hooking you up to electrodes and sending “electric currents” into your hands to assess…damage or feeling…I was losing feeling in my hands. It was NOT FUN….I was sweating…my clothes were wet when I left the testing center.
Needless to say…the test revealed nerve damage and the need for immediate surgery, especially before I thought about getting pregnant again. So surgery I had….6 weeks to recover from one hand and then the other. The surgery brought much relief but a warning……..”Sherry…you are never going to be able to use your hands like a normal person. If you want to maintain the use of your hands……you can do light housework…but not heavy…nor are you going to be able to garden and dig….limit carrying heavy things…you have got to protect your hands. There is some damage.”
This was a wake-up call…..after carrying our firstborn around …..and as he became heavier….we decided to hire someone to help me in our home. First, there was Jennifer, a godsend whom I love so much, but at the time she had young children too and couldn’t be very dependable. So Jennifer, in her love for me, helped me find Fannie. Fannie has been a member of our home for 23 years. A true treasure from God.
Together, we have grown and gone through the Front 9 of my life with the kids…..she has embraced our family as her own as we have her. All of the Bradshaws are convinced there is only one “FANNIE!” She calls us her “white” family. Yes, Fannie is African American…..it has been a joy to have her be so entrenched in our lives…..our kids….have not see “skin” color as a difference, except when they were young.
Fannie often tells the story of our firstborn, Brewer, at four years old, telling Fannie to “wash her hands. They were dirty and that she couldn’t feed him!” We all laugh at his interpretation of skin color at that age. Everyone who knows us and has been in our home knows Fannie. Our kids’ friends and our friends embrace her as their friend….and our friends have become her friends! Our daughter, Collins, couldn’t wait to watch the movie, “The Help” with Fannie. I joined in one hot afternoon and we had a grand time! I am so glad….that our relationship has been so different than the ones in that movie! WE did have some good laughs………! It saddens, no, it makes me sick to ever think that anyone would see “skin color” as a meaningful difference in anything.
It made my heart rejoice the other day when Fannie had several friends over at our house and they were sitting at the kitchen table laughing and talking and enjoying a Coke on a hot day. Thomas recently “snap chatted” a picture of Fannie napping at our house. Thomas woke up from a nap to find Fannie napping on the sofa beside him. I love it.
Recently, I have been praising God for Fannie all over again because I am facing more hand surgery…..not sure when…but the cortisone shots are not lasting as long….so…I know that surgery is in my imminent future. It has reminded me of Fannie’s faithfulness to me and how it has protected “my hands” all these years! 2 Samuel 22:37, “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” It may not have been my ankles, but God has used Fannie to make sure my hands did not “give way”.
I think about God’s provision in my life….and Willie Mae Brown, who we affectionately call “Fannie,” has been God’s direct provision for me! She has been my “hands” many times. She has been faithful, loving, kind, dependable, hardworking, and has extended grace countless times just as Titus 3:14 instructs, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.” She has truly devoted herself to doing good.
Just this Monday, as I usually do, I came down to see Fannie. I had been in my office reading and writing and it was time to cook breakfast for “T” and, yes, for Fannie. She often refuses, but this time she said, “Yes” and sat down to eat with Thomas. It is my joy to cook for and serve her! As usual, we discussed our weekends and she shared with us about a women’s conference at her church.
I loved hearing all the details. She made an interesting comment which at first made me laugh, but after much thought…I realized it was a word from God to me. Allow me to share…..Fannie said of the guest speaker, “She brought it then she KILLED IT!” Meaning she had some great things to say…but then she talked for so long…..it killed her message.
As I have been preparing to speak many times this fall….I have been seeking and asking God not only to teach me His Word, but to show me the delivery…..He did. Through Fannie that morning–the point for me to take to heart? “LESS is MORE!” Don’t bring it then kill it! It was a God moment and word to me for sure.
I love how God uses people in my everyday life…..to challenge me, encourage me, and teach me. Fannie continues to do just that…she has taught me much about “how to serve”, how to “not covet”, and how to “overcome” and live on…after her husband Elijah died years ago! God has manifested Himself in this Precious Woman….and not only been my hands at times, but a “messenger” from God.
The point of the post…..God places messengers in our lives……every day….Do I/you/we have the eyes and ears to see and hear them? Many times in the Old Testament God sent messengers, sometimes these were known as prophets. If you read long enough, you will find that quite often the people did not listen. Sad. They missed out. Let us be discerning in listening to the messengers in our lives. If we find it is God speaking to us, let us take Eli’s advice to Samuel in I Samuel 3:9, “So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’…”