Wanda Maiden

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Our family did go to church. My granny was the driving force behind that. I remember sitting in the pew on Sunday mornings and her feeding me Chiclets so that I’d be quiet. I had a sense that there was a God. I didn’t know to call him God, but I wanted to be in church surrounded by people who knew something I didn’t quite catch yet.

I had a couple of Sunday school teachers that were really awesome. I found out later that it was because they lived their faith daily. It wasn’t enough to go to church on Sunday and become somebody else Monday through Saturday. They lived their faith daily, and that made a big impression on me.

My teenage years got in the way of church and I put God on the back burner. I went about my business doing what teenagers do. That didn’t work out too well for me. I put the cart before the horse and got pregnant.

Then I got married. The pregnancy miscarried, but our young marriage continued.

In June of 1972, over a one month period, my husband graduated from college, our first son was born, and we moved from Virginia to New Jersey. That was a major culture shock. It took us a couple of years to settle in and by then, don’t you know, his work moved us to Delaware.

I realized that I was missing something that had guided my life when I was younger. God was making it clear to me that He didn’t need a personal assistant. That job’s taken; so I don’t get to necessarily put in my two cents.

He’s a good, good God. I’m so grateful He called me by name. It happened one Sunday morning when I had been visiting churches. I went with a friend and at the end of the service they had an altar call. I didn’t know what an altar call was, but it seemed like they were calling my name and I was supposed to go down front.

So I did, and that was the beginning of a new life for me. That’s the only word I can think of. It seems so trite now, but between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, my life rocks! I am so blessed and, although all the pieces haven’t fit together yet how I think they should, I know that God has a plan that’s right for me.

It’s my goal and desire to be able to connect with other women in my church. Maybe that’s a new ministry opportunity for me, I don’t know. I just keep thinking God’s not finished with me yet.

Fast-forward five years. I began working as a preschool teacher – a job that continued for 17 years. I spent my days with three and four-year-old children. It was a blast. When I retired, I had the freedom to spend time with my parents in Virginia. When my mom got sick, I could be there and hold her hand in her final days.

A few years later in 2014 my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I spent the summer alongside him as he told me funny stories about growing up on a farm in Virginia. In spite of the sadness, it was how it was supposed to be. That’s okay with me.

Now I’m at the stage in life where I’m closer to the end than the beginning. So I’d better pay attention. There might be some good stuff I don’t want to miss.

At the core of who I am, God has planted seeds of faith; so it’s always been easy for me to believe. Nobody else in my immediate family seemed interested in having a relationship with God, but they know who to call when they need prayer. I do a lot of praying.

Most recently, issues with my health have come up that have been totally bizarre. Yet I know that God’s going to use those issues to move me closer to Him and maybe those that I love as well.

A couple of years ago doctors discovered I had a growth on my kidney six centimeters long. That’s kind of big. The first doctor that I saw wanted to remove my kidney. Well hello, I’d kind of grown attached to it. So I got a second opinion. That doctor said we should wait and seeing what happened next. Don’t you know that within three months that six-centimeter growth was gone! It just went away.

This past year I found a black dot on my thumbnail that  looked like a pencil point. Nothing much to it. Then it became an abrasion at the end of my nail. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who found it to be malignant skin cancer.

The treatment plan was amputation down to the first knuckle. I don’t like the word, “amputation;” so I call it “shortening.” I’m learning to live with a shorter thumb. Though there are times of frustration, I can still move it, groove it, and it gives me a really good topic of conversation – as though I were short on words.

Something interesting with this thumb issue is that my husband has been toting me around to many doctor appointments. I’ve enjoyed a life of extreme health, but every week has been at least one doctor’s appointment, and he has stepped up to help me.

We’ve been married for 52 years and I’m very grateful for the ways that he has come alongside and loved me. Both of us heard the words, malignant Melanoma, at the same time. We looked at each other: no tears, no outward expression of shock and awe, just a coming alongside each other. It’s been good for me to let him help me. I’ve been quite an independent person.

My current church is an interesting place. We’ve been working together at being a church for over 20 years. We’re just now about to move into a real church building. We started in a person’s home, then moved to the Senior Center. We bought some property that didn’t work out, and most recently we’ve been meeting at a movie theater.

Up until last week, that was a grand idea, but last week the movie started playing in the middle of our service, and that created some chaos. The sooner we get into that building of our own, the better things are going to be. We’re excited.

When anybody asked me for a little tip or advice, I say that it always goes back to Jesus. As a young mom when my baby boy was born and we moved to New Jersey, I felt so alone. All my friends and tightly-knit family were 200 of miles away. No Mom, no Granny to help me.

That created quite a struggle in my mind, and that’s when I found Jesus. Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to share with other women that Jesus is all we need. Surrendering to him doesn’t mean giving up who I am. It means embracing who He is and inviting Him to be a part of my life.

It’s my goal and desire to be able to connect with other women in my church. Maybe that’s a new ministry opportunity for me, I don’t know. I just keep thinking God’s not finished with me yet.

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