Saturday, September 27, 2008

Walking for the Lost

It was a beautiful day . . . Of course any day is beautiful if you're winning souls over for Christ.

This past Saturday was "Soul Walk" in downtown Nashville. I wrote on it a few posts ago, but for thos eof you who may be new to this blog and don't feel like going back and hunting it down, Soul Walk is a fundraising event where people sponsor the participants to walk/run a 5k. Half of what I (and everyone else from our school who participated - pictured at the left) raised went right back into our school (YAY!) and the other half goes directly to funding programs that gets the message of the Gospel to those who need to hear it most. (DOUBLE YAY!) THAT was what this event was supposed to be about and what I was all set for it to be about at 8am Saturday morning.

But as the race got underway and the air horn blew, this race took on an even more personal meaning. First, let me explain that I have never ever been involved in any kind of a race before. I'm just not the racin' kind. Really. For field day in elementary school I tried to sign up for every event that did NOT involve racing. It's just not my cup of tea. And this wasn't really a race, race, but the air was charged with enough positive energy to light up the New York City skyline. As you can see, by the picture to the left, I was pumped! (And so was our school superintendent who is just behind me to the right.) So we start out and I make up my mind to stick with someone from our group because, not having participated in a race like this before and not realizing how well they were going to mark it, I was really afraid of getting separated, turned around, and . . . well, lost.

I had a group of gals that I work with (pictured to the left - the three in the white shirts and the one in the back with the white sun glasses) around me to start the race so I just decided to hang with them so I wouldn't end up on the wrong path, never to find my way back to the bus. Obviously, the adrenaline must've gotten to my brain because these ladies are fit. Elizabeth and Beth, the two in the front on the right, walked the Music City Half-Marathon this past April! And Kim in the back with the white sunglasses has coached volleyball in the past not to mention she has legs about as long as I am tall . . . well, okay, that's a slight exaggeration. Kim on the left is spunky and full of energy. And here I am with an ankle that had been hurt and I thought, "Okay, God, I may not BE lost, but I sure FEEL lost."

Lost. How many different kinds of "lost" are there? There are those that are lost to the Lord - those that I was walking for. Then there is being physically lost - what I was afraid of. And then, more often than anyone will ever admit, is the state of knowing where you are and knowing you're a Christian but not knowing much of anything else - just feeling lost. I've spent some time there. Recently, my laptop crashed with my entire manuscript and some other documents on it (which is partly why I haven't made a post in over two weeks). I felt really lost then. Other times, I allow myself to fully consider the responsibility of being a godly mother to Alison and Olivia, and I know I do so many things wrong. I want to give 100% of myself to each of those two precious girls . . . and to my husband . . . and to my students . . . and to my coworkers . . . and to my readers and sometimes I end up feeling really, really lost - like I want to say, "God, where am I now, where am I going, and how on earth am I going to get from here to there?"

So, back to the race, I decided that I was going to "draft" the Kim with the long legs. So I got behind her and kept my eyes on her stride and I drafted her . . . And I kept on . . . And I did some more. Granted, Kim was not walking as fast as she could've been, but it gave me hope that I wasn't going to go through the race alone and, more than that, since she has such long legs, even though she wasn't going as fast as she could've gone, she really, really pushed me. And she cheered me on and kept encouraging me so that I never felt like I couldn't do it. It's one thing to just make it through the race, and certainly that would've been an accomplishment, but it's an astronomic difference to be pushed to achieve far beyond what you thought you could have. God sends you people to make sure you don't go through your "race" alone and sometimes those people don't just lead you when you are lost. THEY PUSH YOU!

I've been blessed to have had lots of people push me in my life. One of my dearest friends, Jana (pictured with me at the left), has helped and encouraged me so much on my spiritual journey and I feel I've grown a lot because of her lead. She (and God, of course) also get the credit for me being at the wonderful school that I'm privileged to teach at. It's quite a story. Really. I've had my friend and superintendent of our school push me to be a better teacher and coworker. I've had my publisher, Joan, and a wonderful mentor, Ramona, encourage and push me with my writing. I have my mom who has always been the best example of a wife and mother that I could learn from and now I'm pushing myself to be just like her. I love you, Mom!

I know we can't push ourselves continually or we would fall apart. That why we are human beings and not machines. But I hope that I can regularly push myself - like Kim pushed me on Saturday - and maybe, just maybe, through my children, my teaching, and/or my writing, I will lead more lost souls to the finish line.

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: It has been a while since I've been on here and I apologize. I should have at least posted the prayer request that my manuscript could be recovered from my laptop. Bits and pieces have been retrieved. I'll find out exactly how much tomorrow. Either way, it's okay. I've got the whole story in my head and there are more important things to pray about. I will have prayer updates for you by mid-week when I post the first of the two bios of the contest winners' nominees. In the meantime, I am going to ask for you to pray for one of the contest winners. Her name is Brenda Olien. She lives in Norwalk, Ohio but her job has recently taken her to Cleveland - about an hour from Norwalk. Obviously, with the housing market the way it is, she is faced with possibly a long commute for a considerable amount of time. She needs her house to sell. Please pray for that. You'll learn more about Brenda and her husband, Dan, next weekend. As a praise today, I want to give you an example of the quality of student that our school turns out. Please check out One of our high school seniors has created a wonderful blog where she is using her resources to serve God to the best of her abilities at this point in her life. She is truly a remarkable young lady with an incredible home and church life in addition to a Christian education. I'm so proud of her and of many of the students we have that are as dedicated as she is. I think you'll find her passion and fervor for serving the Lord and her zeal for life to be similar to that of the young woman I'll be introducing you to mid-week, so make sure to check back! And in the meantime, if you have a prayer request, even an unspoken, feel free to email me personally through my profile and I will be happy to post it.


* said...

Mrs. Stephens! I love you so much! You are so-o sweet! Thanks so much for writing about me in your post!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Wow--way to go, Jen!!! I'm totally impressed. How lovely to have such a fun day and do so much good at the same time. :-)