“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.
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