Faith Journey of Stephanie Smith

Although I attended this church as a teenager, my relationship to the First United Methodist Church came later in life. When I was an infant, my Dad was in WWII. While he was stationed overseas, Mama and I went to live with my Grandma Eaton and Aunt Arline and my cousin in Collins. My Grandma was my spiritual rock. She taught me how to pray. We shared a bedroom so every night we prayed together.

When my Dad came home we all moved to Norwood Ave. My Mom and I attended this church. I remember going to VBS as a child. During high school, I attended Sunday School, Methodist Youth Fellowship, and I sang in the choir. My Mom highly influenced me to become a member. She brought home the books and we worked through them together. At seventeen I was baptized and joined the church fellowship. My Grandma and Aunt gave me a white zippered Bible, which I still have to this day.

Being raised by loving, caring and generous parents, I was blessed to attend two religious colleges:  Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, and after two and a half years I returned to Ohio to Ashland College in Ashland. I taught elementary art for one year in Galion. As I began my second year, my Dad unexpectedly died. I grew up pretty quickly at that time, but I don’t remember if faith was a part of it. I had to become strong for my Mama, and she was strong for me. I did not return to teaching art.

When I was six I was diagnosed with a mild case of Infantile Paralysis (Polio). While I attended Ashland, I had lived one summer with a family who had two disabled daughters. At this point I knew I needed to get a job. A friend worked at a facility for developmentally disabled adults in Cleveland. I went to work with her one day, applied for a job and got in. Later I moved to the United Cerebral Palsy Association. I felt like God placed me there. I can honestly say that I loved my job. Praise the Lord!

I came home as often as I could to be with my Mama. We attended church whenever she was able. My Mama passed away in 1991. Having lost both parents and having no brothers and sisters I felt like an orphan, but I knew that was not true. I was surrounded by a host of dear friends and Christian brothers and sisters. Hallelujah!

When I moved back to Norwalk in 1999, I can honestly say that I came home again. Thank You Lord!

I joined the choir again and dearly loved singing God’s praises, and realized for the first time that so many of the hymns and anthems contain Scripture out of the Bible. My eyes were opened! I had the opportunity to join the Disciple Bible Study sessions and for the next six years I completed Disciple 1-4, as well as  the two additional lessons, Jesus in the Gospels and Christian Believer.  I was filled with God’s Word and filled with joy. I have been immersed in Bible studies since I began.

I surrounded myself with wonderful and strong Christians in my daily life. I joined the United Methodist Women and Bible studies outside the church. Then came the icing on the cake: I filled in for someone on the Worship Committee. They were talking about adding a praise service. Despite the negative comments I kept trying to come up with positive things. I was so excited. I can say it was then I was bursting forth of myself, full of love for Jesus. I had been quiet and gentle before, but now I was full of joy. It was the first time I ever fell in love with anyone. I’ve been attending the early morning Praise Service since it began.

My faith and trust in the Lord grew. I can’t just attend once service on Sunday, I have to attend both. I have no family or responsibility on Sunday morning, so I am available, and I can think of nothing I would rather do. Praise the Lord!

My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ continues to grow. I am abundantly blessed and full of JOY! I pray you are, too.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love birds. I have had seven parakeets in my lifetime. Their names: Michael Millet Smith I, II and III, Joy, Hallie (short for Hallelujah), Paxie (Latin for Peace) and now Gabriel Shabbat. (I taught him so say “God bless you, precious.”) They have been my family, plus my two dogs. They are my joy and delight! I am blessed!!!

I joined Facebook a few years ago. It has been such a joy for me to re-acquaint myself with friends from past work experiences and to make new friends. I share encouraging remarks and uplifting comments. I guess you could call it outreach ministry; and “THANK YOU LORD FOR THIS MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY!”

Love you all in Jesus’ name!


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