The peeps!

The peeps!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One Faithful Couple

This past weekend I had the privilege of going to Tampa, Florida to see my in-laws honored for beginning a church fifty years ago. I have been in the Cheney family for a long time and have always known about them starting a church, but until this weekend I never really understand just what they did and the sacrifices they made.

My father-in-law graduated from Baptist Bible College in the late 50’s and moved to Jacksonville, Fl with his bride and two small boys (my husband and his baby sister had not yet arrived on the scene). He was a youth pastor at a church in Jacksonville but felt very certainly that the Lord had called him to start a church to share the Gospel and offer the Hope of Christ. He was told that he couldn’t start a church in Tampa as the city would just not receive it well. Apparently whoever told my father-in-law that did not understand the will of my father-in-law but most importantly the will of the Heavenly Father. So to Tampa he went. Alone, jobless, and penniless. His family stayed in Jacksonville until he could secure employment and a place to have church services. We live in an age where communication is so taken for granted. His only source of communicating was through letters back home to his bride. These letters were shared with us this past weekend and may I tell you I still have not fully recovered from the impact they made on me. I hope I never do. Letters from a 24 year old young man with a family to support and a burning passion for serving God in his heart that could not be stifled. We listened in these letters as he told his wife back home that he had walked miles seeking to find employment to no avail yet. He walked miles knocking on doors to invite people to come to church when he still had not secured a meeting place. He wrote how proud he was to have had 10 people in a church service one night, 11 counting the Lord. Tears just rolled down my face as I heard letter after letter and saw picture after picture of this church coming to fruition. Then as we sat at lunch that day I watched lines of people approach my father-in-law and mother-in-law and thank them for their sacrifice and told them had it not been for them and beginning West Gate their families would not have heard the message of Christ. This church was the first one in that part of the city. There are charter members still in attendance! It blew my mind.

As I heard these letters I wondered about the sacrifice both of them made. No money, wondering how they would feed their children, would they be able to find jobs. Totally dependent on God’s provision for fulfilling His calling He had placed on Gerald’s life. Not too often in life do some get to see the fruit of the seed they planted. This church now houses a Christian school and a state seminary of which my father-in-law received an honorary doctorate in divinity. He was so handsome in his robes. With all the humility that they began their dream fifty years ago, my in-laws still displayed this past weekend as they were able to celebrate with their family and friends. We are a family of 22 and 15 were able to be there. What a time we had! As we all talked of their sacrifices, neither one of them sees it that way. They said compared to the sacrifice at the Cross theirs is small. But they are great in our eyes. I have never been more humbled, honored or proud to be their daughter-in-love as they so sweetly refer to me. What a blessing for my children to get to see what their grandparents did in the cause for Christ.

How faithful our God is to us. I am beyond thankful for this family that I love so very much. Though like all families, they are not perfect – no family is. They still love each other madly and all the more their Savior. This weekend I rejoiced with them, celebrated with them, cried with them, sang with them, and marveled at the thought that we will continue this time of celebration in Eternity. We will all be there together because of people like Gerald and Judy who shared the love of a gracious Savior. I love them dearly.

Psalms 118:23

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

As a young man eager to share the Gospel.

This is the pulpit a man built for Gerald that is still used in the church today.

Our immediate family with MawMaw and PawPaw. We are missing Jodi and Connor.

All of us that were there at the wonderful banquet prepared in Gerald and Judy's honor.

More pictures of our great time still to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Let us Run with Perseverance

For quite some time my baby girl has been desperately seeking some athletic endeavor that she could excel at. She tried out for basketball, realized that wasn't her thing and just hadn't found her niche quite yet. Until now. A couple of weeks she came home and said she wanted to join the Cross Country team. She certainly has the build for a runner, long and lean, so her Dad and I thought she should give it a shot. She has never run before, except for just playing. She went to the first practice and came home excited but a little down that everyone seemed to run faster. We told her it is not about being the fastest but just finishing. So one morning she wanted me to take her to the park to run. I put on my walking shoes and off we went. We get there and she is stretching and says to me, "Can you run a mile Momma?" Well yes. I mean I think I can, I don't really want to but I felt on the spot by my smiling youngest child. What else could I do? Hadn't I been saying, It is not about how fast you go but that you finish. So I ran. And I was miserable. I wanted to stop and quit, but as I looked up ahead, at times way far ahead, and saw her running I started to pray. Lord, please let her always approach life and trials with the attitude that she can do all things through You, please let her know that she can push past her fears and her doubts and know that she can persevere to the finish. And Lord more than anything can she see that in her Momma. That I will push past my fears and doubts and dare to step beyond what I think I can't do. You know what, before I knew it I ran that whole mile and when I came around the corner, my baby was cheering for me like I was finishing a marathon and I felt like I had. She was so proud of me and what a feeling that was.
Yesterday was my turn to cheer for her. She ran her first Cross Country event and it was only a mile. It was different than what she was used to because it was an up and downhill course. She had never been in a race and when those 90 something kids took off from the top of that hill I found myself praying out loud, "Lord please please don't let my baby fall down and get trampled." They sounded like the Running of the Bulls coming down that hill! I couldn't find her at first but then I saw that pretty little head fly by and I was so proud of her! Every time she came by us she looked like she was going to throw up. Up and down the hills was hard for her. But she kept going, and pushed past her fears. She finished 49th out of 90 something kids. She finished faster than she had ever run before! She was so proud of herself and her Mimi and I could hardly contain ourselves.
She has found her sport. I am so inspired I think I am going to do the Couch to 5K challenge. What a feeling when we see our kids succeed. It must be the same for our Heavenly Father. When He sees us do what all along He has known we can do. When we trust Him to work through us and in us to accomplish what we never could on our own. Dare to push through and do what you think you can't. Then be sure He gets the glory.

Here come the Bulls!!!

Our little runner.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12: 1-3