MY FAITH JOURNEY:
My faith journey began 77 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida. I am one of those lucky people to have been born to loving parents who also loved the Lord. We attended a great mid-sized Methodist church that had an abundance of young people and wonderful pastors and teachers.
Sunday afternoons my Dad and I took long walks along the streams and through the beautiful wooded areas close to our home. I learned to enjoy the beauty of nature on those sunny afternoons. I think Dad gave me the gift of seeing the Lord’s hand at work everywhere in the natural world.
I had fun growing up! We lived in a neighborhood full of boys and I was the biggest tom-boy you could possibly imagine. I played baseball (got knocked flat by a ball flying off a bat-nothing broken except the bat!) I fell out of a tree-again, nothing broken except the branch that made me fall. I wore out dozens of roller skate wheels on our streets and sidewalks. Every day, rain or shine, the boys and I rode our bikes to school, about a two-mile trip. Every Saturday I rode my bike to our church for children’s choir practice, about a five-mile trip. You might wonder what mother would let her little girl do all that, but those were gentler times.
There were no TVs to keep us indoors and we all enjoyed each other. In thinking back, I don’t remember any of us ever getting into a fight or having a falling-out. I wish that could be said of today’s children!
Both Mom and Dad believed in the Golden Rule and taught my sister and me by example how to practice it. They also taught us to practice another Bible verse, “Be ye kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another.” Those early teachings have been a very good foundation for me in living my life.
In my senior year of high school, I fell in love and instead of going to college, I got married and subsequently had my two great children. I also began a 40-year career with the telephone company. The marriage didn’t last, but guess what? The Lord had blessed me with my children and great job.
Several years later a good-looking sailor stationed at our naval base stole my heart. We married and moved west. He was from Idaho and wanted to work in Salt Lake City. The fall of that year the city had a record early snow in September. Here we are, Florida Crackers who had never seen snow, trying to deal with two fee of it! The children and I had a ball. We had hats, gloves and coats but no boots. We built snowmen and threw snowballs and froze our feet!
Well, a wife and two children were way too much to handle for someone not used to a family. Once again things did not turn out as planned and I was single again. By this time, I had started my job at the telephone company in Salt Lake City. I loved the beautiful valley and mountains so I decided to remain here in Utah.
Then the Lord gave me another blessing. The Sunday I transferred my membership from Florida to FUMC, I met my husband to be, Donn Thurman. We celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary just before he passed away.
As many of you know, Donn lost his leg and almost his life in 1964 when he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. The Lord answered all our prayers and Donn pulled through. Our First Methodist family was wonderfully supportive. After his recovery, Donn was able to serve our church as the sound engineer for 38 years.
As our children grew older and Donn grew strong again, I was again able to get more involved in church activities, including the choir, United Methodist Women, and church Council. I was fortunate to serve as chairperson for the Mission Work Area for several years. That was a real Joy! Our church folks rallied around and supported three mission trips to the Navajo Reservation to help several small Methodist churches there with special projects. On our second trip, we got lost. We asked the local police for directions and wound up parked in a vacant field in a circle as if we were pioneers camped for the night. We all got a good laugh out of that one and finally reached our destination.
Over the years, life has had its ups and downs, but the Lord has blessed me with his loving care in too many ways to count. One very special blessing for our family was the birth of our granddaughter, Jessica. Our daughter’s second child, Cheryl, was born brain damaged. Her mind was that of a newborn baby and her body was very small. She was 6 ½ years old when she passed away, but the Lord brought our Jessica into the world the day before he took little Cheryl home to be with him.
When circumstances are getting me down I have to remind myself, ‘with God all things are possible.” A verse from Psalm 18 cheers me again that God is watching over me: “I will lift up mine eyes into the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord which made Heaven and Earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. He that keepeth thee will neither slumber […] nor sleep.”
A few weeks ago, Rev. Lee read the words of John Wesley that I like very much. They’re on the banner here at the front of the sanctuary:
“Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.”
I believe there are a lot of folks who practice those words in our congregation. Thank you for listening to me and for being my wonderful church family.