I'm sure most of you have heard the old saying, "When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade."
Well, last weekend, the world watched as Meghan Markle took the lemon that was tossed to her when her father couldn't (or wouldn't) make it to her wedding to Prince Harry, and made a great, big pitcher of lemonade that the world could enjoy. It tasted so good.
Like many other Americans, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding. I put on my yellow fascinator, sat up in bed and smiled through the entire ceremony. It didn't matter that I was still in pajamas. I felt dressed up. And it was so pleasant to see so many people who seemed to put aside their political, racial or religious views, and just enjoy a day when two people expressed their love to the world. It was a beautiful thing, And I, along with millions of others, wish Meghan and Harry a happy life together.
Still, as we celebrated love being expressed across "the Pond," tears of sorrow were flowing right here in our own backyard as we mourned for the eight students and two teachers who were killed in the May 18 school shooting in Texas.
Life seems to be like that: You can cry tears of sadness one minute, and then the sun comes out — for a while — and it's sunny again and you find yourself crying for joy.
At this time, I don't have the words to express my grief at the loss of life we experienced in the Santa Fe High School shootings in Texas. When I heard, my first reaction was, "Oh, no. Not again." But it had happened again; innocent victims being killed in what is supposed to be one of the safest places in the country — a school. And by one of their peers.
It isn't only the children in school who don't seem to be safe anymore. The same week, two children, right here in our own community, were playing in their grandmother's yard, when they were shot in the crossfire from a drive-by shooting. I am thankful that the two children who were shot in their grandmother's yard will survive. But the question is still in my mind: If our children aren't safe in their own front yard or in school or in church, where can they be safe?
To say my heart goes out to the Texas school shooting victims' loved ones doesn't seem to be enough. Even saying that I am praying for them seems not to be enough right now. Still, it is at times like this when we, in the faith community, must put our actions where our faith is. We must believe with all our hearts that somehow, some way God will see us through this moment of grief. I, for one, believe that He will.
I know there are people who will say, "What kind of loving God would allow this to happen to innocent people?"
I won't pretend to tell you that I know the answer. But I can tell you that God is the Spirit of love, and that it wasn't He who did the killing. I can also tell you that there is another spirit that thrives on doing evil deeds. And while most rational thinking people, and even some Christians, don't like to admit it — that evil spirit is the spirit of the devil.
There. I've said it. While I believe that some people who perform such heinous acts are, sadly, mentally ill, I also believe that some people are born bad and are just plain evil. You don't have to agree with me, but I believe that it was the spirit of the devil that crept into the darkest corners of the mind and heart of 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis and caused him to plan, and then carry out his murderous actions against classmates and teachers.
Yet, because I know that God is love, I believe that even Pagourtzis, and others like him, can be forgiven of the horrible act of violence they allow themselves to carry out for the sake of evilness. Hard for you to wrap your heart and mind around that? I know it is. But although you can't see it now, God has a plan for every life He created — even Pagourtzis'. God is Love and therefore, He is forgiving. Why else would He teach us to pray, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"?
While I don't intend to be preachy (not a preacher; just a believer), I know in my heart that someone needs to know that there is a good Spirit and an evil spirit in the world. Someone needs to know, and eventually believe, that God is love and in His own time, will take care of it all.
Les Brown to speak
Miami native and motivational and inspirational speaker Les Brown will be welcomed back to Miami on Friday, when he will be the guest speaker at Unity on the Bay, 411 NE 21st St. The doors will open at 6 p.m. Brown will speak at 7 p.m.
Brown, who was born in an abandoned building in Liberty City, faced many challenges in his life. When he was in elementary school his teachers said he would never amount to anything. In high school, he was placed in special education classes because he was thought to be mentally slow.
But thanks to a few teachers who wouldn't let him give up, Brown used his own determination, persistence and belief in his ability to go beyond being a sanitation worker to unleashing a course of amazing achievements, including becoming a broadcast station manager, political commentator, a multi-term state representative in Ohio and a speaker to audiences as large as 80,000. Brown also was the host of his own television talk show.
His dynamic personality makes him one of the world's most renowned motivational speakers, and he is a much sought-after speaker in business and professional circles for Fortune 500 CEOs, small business owners, nonprofit and community leaders from all sectors of society.
Tickets to the event are $119 per person for platinum tickets, and $65 plus ticketing fees per person for gold tickets. Platinum ticket holders will be guests at a private reception with Brown. Tickets can be purchased on Unity on the Bay's website, unityonthebay.org. Call Jason Weeks at 305-53-9191, ext. 223, for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New church pastor
A warm welcome to the Rev. Michael D. Solomon, who has accepted the call to be the new pastor at Gateway Baptist Church, 6500 SW 97th Ave. He succeeds the Rev. Steven L. Ray, who retired after 25 years of service to the church and community.
Solomon, his wife, Christina, and their five children come to Miami from Delaware.
You are invited to hear Solomon preach on Sundays at 11 a.m. and at Bible Study at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. His sermons can also be found on YouTube and on Gateway's new Facebook page. Call 305-271-1141 for more information.
Grad Day service
All graduates will be honored at 10 a.m. Sunday at The Church of God Tabernacle's annual Grad Day service.
Those graduating from kindergarten through college will be honored. Graduating high school seniors affiliated with the church, and those who are returning to college and who qualify, will be presented with scholarships of $500 each from the Ethel Goldstein/Ida Belle Johnson Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
This year, 20 returning college students, two first-time recipients and one high school graduate will receive the scholarship gift. Since 2000, thanks to Taffy Gould and Lauren Gould and the Goldstein Family, the foundation has presented more than $250,000 in scholarships to youngsters affiliated with the church, where Bishop Walter H. Richardson is the pastor and overseer.
A very happy belated birthday to Idah Robins, who celebrated her 106th birthday on May 19.
This still beautiful centenarian is the mother of five children, has 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren, and is "auntie" to many nieces and nephews. She has lived to see two of her great-grandchildren graduate from college.
Robins, a 50-year resident of Bal Harbour, never lets her age get in the way of staying beautiful. She gets her hair and nails done every week and loves getting dressed up. She loves good food and eating out with friends . Her grandson Billy Goldberg tells me that Robins is one year older than Joe's Stone Crab, one of her favorite restaurants. She goes out with friends at least two or three times a week for dinner, and keeps her mind sharp by playing solitaire on her iPad. And get this: She never forgets anyone's birthday and loves being the matriarch of her family.
God bless you, Idah Robins, to see many more healthy years.