• Colleen

The Road Map to a Joyful Life

by Colleen Soldate, Director of Caring Ministries

The are many milestones we overcome as we journey through life. One of my first was learning how to write in cursive. Mrs. Ship, my third-grade teacher, insisted that our class replace printing with cursive writing. She confidently assured us that our pencils would flow more easily on the paper without frequent stops between letters. At the time, I had major reservations about being coerced to learn another writing style. After all, I had spent two and a half years perfecting my print! I was engulfed by this same cynical feeling upon being pressed to take Trigonometry in high school, which, as it turned out, was a piece of cake compared to Mr. Johnson’s Statistics class in college.

Upon graduating from college as a young adult, I thought I knew it all. I quickly discovered there were a myriad of disciplines to which I had yet to be exposed. Some of the uncharted territories included the nuances of being married, raising children, and making time for extended family, friends, and community. Over my lifetime, there have been so many happy moments in which God was very present. There were also moments on this journey when happiness was nonexistent – yet a sense of joy within carried me. Trusting in God’s promises even when it seemed hopeless was the center of my existence. Believing all things were possible when God is in the mix of things shored me up in good and not so good times. And when my heart was broken and I could not speak words to pray, He held me tighter than ever.

Little did I realize that when I was in the third grade, I would not only learn cursive writing but would also be given the road map to a joyful life. It was then that my parents presented me with a white leather-bound book with zipper and all. While reading the red lettering in this Bible, I no longer had to guess when Jesus spoke.

This little guidebook is full of stories of how people experienced God working on their behalf. One such story is about God sending Moses to lead his enslaved people fleeing Egypt to seek freedom and a home. I can only imagine what it was like for them to start over. I have found that starting over brings its own challenges. I wonder if they had to ask hard questions like, “What is going to define us?” “What is going to be the center of our identity?” I ask myself the same question: “What defines me?” Each story in the Bible clearly serves a different purpose but, collectively, I see a well-rounded view of who God is. The Bible, to me, is a success story that welcomes a powerful response to an upheaval that paves the way for all because it encompasses everyone.

I shall always be thankful to my parents for leading me to God and guiding me to know where to find joy in any situation. I am still taking my direction from God on this journey as he stretches and reshapes me, especially when I am complacent and comfortable. Through His Word, I treasure these precious opportunities to find out about who God created me to be. Looking back over the years, perhaps Mrs. Ship also had a mission like Moses: leading her third graders out of the world of printing and into the promised land of cursive writing.

Until we are together,

Colleen Soldate

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