Steps of Faith

Ruth Ayres invites us to celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Journey to Egypt.png

My youngest daughter wrote a note to me in appreciation for me paying for her registration for the Girls on the Run 5 K Race and inspired me to persevere and be ready for the race last Saturday.  She wanted to help me get rid of my diabetes so she took steps of childlike faith to help me and boy, were they huge!  I had to have faith that I would be able to run the 5 K after still recovering from two weeks of congestion and a weak voice.

As we left the house around 8:00 a.m., I had a couple of pieces of bacon and one fourth of a cup of water.  By the time we arrived after waiting in a long line to exit the interstate and get to our destination, it was time for the race began.  I felt an urge to go to the bathroom but felt that I could make it.  Soon, the runners took their places at the Start Line.  My daughter and I began jogging and continued for half mile or so when I finally had to walk for a while.  The more that I had run, the more my bladder had bounced around causing me to realize that I needed to find a Port-o-Potty quickly, but there were none to be found until the half way mark on the race track.  When I laid eyes on the potty by the side of the road, I knew I would be okay.  After my visit, we began to jog again while also walking at times.

An adult, probably a boy’s mom, had brought him to a sidewalk to cheer the participants on as they ran or walked the 5 K.  When I saw the joy on his face, I gained a new energy.  He was confined to a wheel chair so even though I was beginning to feel pain and weakness in muscles that I never usually feel in my legs, I knew that I had to keep going.  I appreciated the cheering sections of the race way because not only did that little boy and his mom encourage me, but the others along the path told me that I could do it.  I like how I kept thinking the same thoughts as the cheering section which kept me energized.  A woman who was running behind me spoke up to her daughter and said, “I may not be fast, but I am steady.”  Those words reverberated over and over in my head.  “Of course,” I thought, “just keep a steady pace and you will get to the finish line.”

My daughter looked over at me during the race and said, “Mommy, do you think if you go back to the doctor this week and he rechecks you, that your diabetes will be gone?”  I replied, “I wish it were so, honey, but we have to keep running and keep exercising to lower my blood sugar which will also help me to lose weight.”  I realized at that moment, that she had such a hope that this 5 K would end my diabetes.  It was hard for me to tell her that it would take more than one 5K to end diabetes.  What I realized, through this encounter with her, was that every day, the steps I take do matter in my journey to a healthful lifestyle.  I look forward to taking little walks with my family while also running more with them.

When I began to see people up ahead getting closer to the finish line, my child said, “Let’s go Mommy!” and we transitioned from walking to running.  There is unspeakable joy when you see that you have made it over half way, then two thirds of the way and then you can make out the finish line.  I kept my steady pace and crossed the finish line with my daughter ahead of me.  She received a medal and we took pictures.  It was my second 5 K but the first one that had a fancy Finish Line.  The first 5 K that I had done in the Spring started and stopped at my school and there was no official Start and Finish Banner.  Crossing under the Finish Banner boosted my confidence and created a sense of satisfaction that we had made our goal to not be the last ones across the line.

The steps that I took back in the Spring of 2015 had started my training phase to be in the first 5 K.  In September, I began to run again and build my stamina.  I had missed two weeks of running due to sickness before the Girls on the Run 5 K but hoped that I could take each step and have fun knowing that I was side by side with my child.  I knew what it felt like to go too fast and not be able to continue running so I was determined to keep a steady pace and allow myself the grace to walk as needed.  The steps that I took to prepare me for the two races that I did in 2015 were well worth the effort that it took.  They were steps, baby steps in the right direction.

Matthew 1:20
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 2:13
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

The Return to Nazareth
19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20“Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.”…

When I think about Joseph and the steps that he took to guide Mary on the donkey to Bethlehem, I realize that he too had to have faith that God would help them while Mary was very pregnant and traveling a far distance.  I am always astonished to see the moving interpretation of this journey each year as my family watches “The Nativity Story”.  I know that after this journey, God allowed Jesus to be born as His gift to the world to take away our sins.  Herod, though, was looking for baby boys because He was threatened by one of them whom he had heard was a king.  God spoke to Joseph in another dream and Joseph immediately took steps out of Bethlehem with the new baby and his wife.  I have tried to imagine that this second journey at night was likely a difficult one as they made their way south down to Egypt.  I love to celebrate the events like the shepherds and wise men coming to worship Him, the angels singing “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to those on whom God’s favor rests!” and the animals surrounding God made into a human in the stable.  After this momentous occasion though, God used Joseph to keep Jesus safe.  Joseph had walked to Bethlehem so I’m sure He had faith filled feet to take the next steps of faith.

After Mary, Joseph and Jesus had been in Egypt for a while, God spoke to Joseph in another dream to return to Israel.  Even though the Bible does not say much about their time in Egypt, I can imagine that they had begun to get settled because they knew that King Herod would thrive for a while longer in Israel.  When he passed away, though, God spoke to Joseph in another dream and Joseph again listened.  In every instance of God speaking to Joseph, He required Him to use his feet and take a journey, a faith filled trek to the next place which He had in mind.  I am so thrilled to read about how Joseph obeyed God and accomplished the purpose to accept Jesus as his earthly son, to keep him safe from an enemy and to raise Him in a loving home back in His home country.

I wonder how the return to Israel happened.  Apparently, since the details are not recorded about their journey back home, we know that God took care of them.  Again, it was their steps of faith to trust that God would take care of them even when they didn’t have all of the answers.  They trusted and knew that their job was to be faith filled and faithful because God was trustworthy and would provide.

Could it be that God calls us to listen to Him and hear His plan for our lives?  His Word is a road map which provides light.  David in the book of Psalms tells us that His Word is a light to my path.  He is speaking and waiting for us to obey.  I sometimes feel like my world is too full and crowded with demands, but then I read His Word and I focus.  His Holy Spirit comes near as I draw near to Him and places peace in my heart while giving me direction.  I am amazed by Him and His willingness to guide me like He guided Joseph and Mary.  They were chosen by Him like Christians are chosen to follow God.  Jesus traveled with Mary and Joseph on all three legs of their journey in much the same way that His Spirit travels with us as we make our way through life.  What a comfort to know that He is with me everywhere.  I may be waiting in a doctor’s office like I was last week hoping for good news which I received, but wasn’t sure what the outcome would be for a while.  Even there, I believe He sent a special angel to sit with me in the waiting room to tell me as we talked that, “It will be alright.”  This precious angel was no longer there once I quickly changed my clothes, but know that her presence was God’s way of traveling with me as I embarked down an uncertain path.

He came alongside of me to encourage me during the 5 K with the people whom He placed in my path.  I know that He helped my body as well especially when my right lung in my back began to burn and I coughed at times.  As the maker of all things on the earth, He is more than able to handle my issues and I witnessed the strength that he gave to me during the race.  Even in the midst of my busy day with the 5 K and speaking at a Christmas banquet that night, God came alongside of me on Sunday morning as I witnessed a beautiful children’s play at my parents’ church where we had visited.  It was there as I listened to “Christmas in Egypt” that God spoke into my spirit about how small steps of faith is what accomplished His plan for His Son to arrive back in Israel where He would grow up and accomplish God the Father’s plan for Him.  I am so glad that He is my Savior and that His Holy Spirit will help me to continue on my journey of faith.

I will keep taking steps of faith and making my way through each day.  I must listen to Him as I pray and read His Word.  I need His help as I make food choices and know that this diabetes diagnosis can be reversed with His help and my choices.  Having His Spirit, family who love me and friends who cheer me on will hep me accomplish His perfect plan for my life.

Map Credit:  http://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney1/3-jesuss-childhood-journeys-b/mary-joseph-go-to-bethlehem/

 

Where I Am From

CTWIF_image_highres

“Where are you from?” is a question that people ask me sometimes.  Although I grew up in the same town where I was born, I have decided that I am not just from that location, but am from a collection of experiences.  We are all from a geographical location in the world, but the actual place on the map where I was born and reared is not what I plan to talk about today.  Instead, I’d like to consider that I am from a collection of experiences that I’ve had through my childhood and young adult years.  I have come from these experiences which shaped my thinking, my values, my morals and my definition of family.  I have framed my experiences in a poem below using the phrase “I am from…” at the start of each line.  As I share the experiences that I have had, please consider each moment as one that has shaped me into who I am today.  My dear parents shaped me the most as an only child as did God, extended family, friends and church experiences.

My parents are stepping away from jobs that they have each had in their church for over 40 years.  They at first were reluctant to step away at the end of this year, but have realized that it is time.  God has prepared people who will shoulder the responsibilities of their church jobs well.  I can only imagine that it will be somewhat difficult to no longer consider yourself as the one who is in charge of getting the job done, but as time moves on, I am excited for the new change for my parents.

I decided to honor my parents and their lifetime service to God by sharing experiences that they’ve given to me and to others.

I dedicate this poem to my parents who are loved forever:

Where I Am From

By Lisa Maples
I am from two people who decided to honor the Lord and always attend church even from the beginning of their marriage 55 years ago when my dad was in the Army in Georgia.

I am from a time of patience as my parents waited on God for 10 years at the start of their marriage before He allowed me to be born.
I am from Sunday mornings and nights at my small Christian church where I learned to sing of the Lord as my mother led the singing.

I am from a decision to follow Jesus as a child when I asked Him into my heart.

I am from Wednesday night gatherings at church:  Bible studies, Victory Leader’s Band nights, CPMA (Church of God of Prophecy Marker Association) meetings, Missions programs, district conventions, state conventions and church General Assemblies.

I am from Vacation Bible School, crafts, games, snacks and Bible stories on hot summer nights.

I am from summer church camp where I learned to be away from home for a week and how to use the pay phone to call home multiple times a day while also getting to worship God with other Christians who were my age.

I am from gospel music where I learned to prefer to clap on the second and fourth beats of the songs while also singing at least two hymns from the brown hymn book during each service.

I am from a mother and father who spent time with me, reading to me, taking me to church and providing for my every need.

I am from evenings, during my childhood and early teenage years, of cleaning the church when it was my family’s turn, dusting the pews, playing piano as my parents continued cleaning.

I am from a dad who told his childhood stories with our family around our kitchen bar as we ate, causing laughter and a legacy of storytelling for me.

I am from a dad who ordered, organized and shared Sunday School materials to spread the gospel of Christ and equip the Christians who faithfully attended Sunday School while also arranging teachers for each age group.  Ever since he left the army, he has served in Sunday School Ministry as an organizational leader.  This is over 50 years!

I am from a dad who always had my car running to warm it up in the winter and had wiped the windows so I could see how to drive.

I am from a mom who ironed my clothes and as a little Girl, curled my hair in rollers so it would look special for Sunday morning church.

I am from a mother who kept accurate and meticulous records as the Church Clerk and Treasurer and paid the church bills all for God’s glory as His faithful servant.

I am from a mother who cooked dinner most nights after a long day at her daytime job.

I am from a time when my parents read Bible stories to me and recorded my retellings on cassette tape which we would fondly play again and again as I got older.

I am from spending time worshiping with my parents who were in the church choir directed by Sister Lib as they sang “There Is A River” and I saw how they meant every word.

I am from that River never running dry as it flows from God above.

I am from the Fountain that is filled with His Great Love.

I am from the vast supply of God’s Grace as I learned to pray at home and alongside my parents in church as they prayed for themselves and for others.

I am from reading aloud and memorizing holy Scriptures in Sunday School, Children’s Church and Gleaners thanks to Sister Broach.

I am from church musicals and Christmas plays where I began to discover my gifts thanks to Betty and Bill.

I am from Sunday afternoon visits to widows and those who could not do for themselves as my parents offered their words and their presence to combat lonely days for those people.

I am from church yard sales early on frigid Saturday mornings where we sold my clothes that had gotten too little to raise money for mission work in our church.

I am from Brother Earlie’s Sunday School class where he shared the Bread of Life every week in the downstairs Sunday School room on Opal Drive.

I am from the Sunday night “testimony services” where the saints would tell how good the Lord had been to them, increasing my faith and trust in an almighty God.

I am from hours of prayers that were lifted by my parents and other prayer warriors like Sister Sandra and Sister Kathy.

I am from a Baptismal service held at Doug and Dammie’s pool when I was 8.

I am from 10 years of piano lessons and after dinner practice sessions which God used to prepare me to be a school and church pianist as well as a church choir director.

I am from unselfish parents who let me practice piano while they cleaned up the dishes as if I were serenading them.

I am from visits to my grandparents right after church on certain Sundays.

I am from my Mother’s mother, Grandma C., who made apple jelly and pies for me from the apples along the dirt road to her house.

I am from my Father’s mother, Grandma A., who fixed dinner and cakes for us and was always so glad we came.

I am from a time after visiting my grandparents down in the country about an hour from church when God spared our lives after a drunk driver almost took them.

I am from that moment around Age 12 when my mother told me she had cancer and suddenly, I was no longer a child.

I am from those moments when my dad called his friends and tearfully asked them to pray for her.

I am from hospital visits by our pastor, family and friends.

I am from the good reports from the doctor letting my mother know that her cancer was gone after the surgery.

I am from when I looked back from my church pew at age 18 and saw this incredibly handsome teenage guy walk through the doors of the church for the first time and wondered where he had been all of my life.

I am from grilled cheese sandwiches after church on Sunday nights at his house with Dot, Jack and Eric.

I am from waiting in line at K and W to eat after church while my family got to know my boyfriend’s family.

I am from a dream wedding that my parents let us plan.

I am from a church family who hugged and loved on my parents once I moved away to be his wife.

I am from a place of Faith which came by hearing God’s word preached in church and lived out in my home.

I am from Faith filled, lovers of God, who have been faithful in their time and effort to serve the Lord.

I am from parents who for 40 years made time to count church money on Sunday afternoons, make a deposit and take it to the bank.

I am from a mother who learned several new computer software systems as the times changed to keep stellar records of church business as the church clerk and treasurer.

I am from a mom who stayed in the house and up very late to work on all of the church bookwork.

I am from a mom who would not stop church book work on the computer until she was at a good stopping place, even if it was 2:00 in the morning.

I am from a dad who would bring lunch and ice cream to his wife who would still be working on the church bookwork the next day.

I am from a dad who would go through the church after most families had left being sure every light was off to conserve energy and to keep the electric bill within reason.

I am from a dedicated set of parents who cherished doing the work of the Lord.

I am from parents who have come to help us since my husband and I became parents and needed a nurse, a cook, a yard guy, a power washer, a vacuumer, a mopper, an ironer, a folder of clothes, a chauffeur for our kids and a listening ear.

I am from love, the kind that speaks kind words and shows love with action.

I am from the most wonderful place.
I am from a home filled with faith, hope, love, laughter, patience, gentleness, care and compassion.
I am from my Heavenly Father who knew me before I was born and gave me the exact earthly parents whom I needed and the world still needs.

 

On a personal note to my parents:

Thank you, Mother and Daddy, for giving your lives to Jesus and being His hands and feet.  The lives you have touched directly and indirectly have been recorded by our Heavenly Father.  I am a life that was dedicated to God by you when I was a baby.  You have always kept your promise to raise me in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Thank you for your service to God, Mother and Daddy, and for the model of stewardship that you showed to me. As you step into the next stage of your lives, I hope your fervor to serve the Lord will not decrease but increase. May He grant to you a peace knowing that as you pass the torch, it is now time for the next servants to serve God as you did in your roles as Sunday School Coordinator and Church Clerk and Treasurer, both for over 40 years. You have been good and faithful servants.

I honor you for your tremendous service to God. Thank you.

I love you, Mother and Daddy.

 

Picture Credit:  http://www.painesplough.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/CTWIF_image_highres.jpg