Thursday, April 9, 2009

Marita Thelander Shares Her Story

It's day number SEVEN out of eleven salvation testimonies to be shared on Selah the days leading up to and just after Easter. I can't think of a better way to celebrate His resurrection than hearing God-stories of souls raised from death to life. So pause. Ponder what He has done. Then praise Him!!!!

Today, Marita Thelander shares her salvation story. I love watching her go through the process of owning her faith, but to see her personality shine through it all is an added bonus for sure. It will be obvious to you as you read that one of her many God-given gifts is writing stories. I pray this ministers to you. May God receive the glory!

by Marita Thelander

At nine-years-old, I nervously picked at my fingernails in the front seat of the Grand Torino station wagon as my mom drove me to the church on a warm August morning. The car pulled up the little slope of the parking lot and my tummy did a flip-flop, somersault, and then landed in a thud when she stopped near the bus.

Sandy and Carol ran to greet me. “This is going to be so much fun,” Sandy exclaimed. She always had a flare for the dramatics. Tall and skinny Carol just smiled. Her eyes showed the excitement more than Sandy’s mouth blabbed it.

My mom handed the adult in charge my permission slip and the driver whisked away my belongings. My friends waited patiently as I gave my mom a hug and accepted her last minute “behave” talk.

On the bus, Sandy opened a duffle bag stuffed full of a variety of snacks. “The food at camp is gross, so my mom sends me with stuff she knows I like so I won’t starve.”

“If you would learn to eat real food, you wouldn’t starve,” Carol spoke for the first time.

I turned to wave at my mom as the bus pulled out of the parking lot. Being the youngest of six kids, I had seen all my siblings get to go off on adventures. This would be a new experience for me. Excitement, mixed with fear of the unknown, threatened to cause tears to slip down my face.

Camp had a lot of fun things, and, like at home, I blended into the background, unnoticed.

From as early as I could remember, I had been a compliant child. At the end of my Kindergarten year, my teacher told my mom I should be held back a year. “She is so small and I don’t think she has learned anything,” Mrs. Anderson had told my mom over the phone.

“Are you sure?” My mom asked in disbelief. “She reads out loud to me when I’m ironing or doing dishes.”

After some persuasion, Mrs. Andersen agreed to have me tested. Not only could I read, but my math and reading skills were mid to post first grade level.

On the way home from the test, my mom asked me, “Why didn’t you tell Mrs. Andersen you could read?”

I shrugged my thin shoulders and simply answered, “On the first day of school she told us to sit down and be quiet. So I did.”

So, the words of the speaker one night in chapel, caught my attention. I sat up straight and tried to focus on what he had to say. “If your mama makes it to heaven it is because of a choice she made to accept Christ as her Savior. You can’t make it to heaven on your mama’s apron strings.”

I sat on the edge of my seat in an attempt to ignore Sandy’s constant whispers and doodles.

“Your parents make choices for you. What to eat. What to wear,” he continued, “but choosing Christ as your Savior is a choice only you can make.”

Being the youngest of six, I always did what I was told. I had three sisters that were nineteen, eighteen, and sixteen and two brothers that were thirteen and eleven. Everyone made my choices for me, and not always good choices, either. Good or bad, I complied.

“Tonight you can choose to accept Christ,” the speaker began his altar call.

I had accepted Christ before in Children’s Church…and Sunday School…and VBS…and Missionettes. Pretty much, anytime the sinner’s prayer had been offered, I prayed it.

He invited those who wanted to accept Christ to come forward, and instructed the adults to leave us alone. “They are old enough to make this choice on their own. They are old enough to say the words themselves.”

I knelt near a post at the far end of the altar area and found my own words to ask Jesus to forgive me and become my Savior. I didn’t want to leave the sweet presence I experienced for the first time ever.

I searched for new words to express myself to God. Tears slipped down my chubby cheeks. I heard myself speak louder with boldness and raised my hands in simple praise.

A woman slipped her arm around me and asked, “Is this the first time you have spoken in tongues, Sweetie?”

I wiped my face. “In what?”

She gently hugged me and whispered, “Stay close to Him. He has a special purpose for you.”

When I went home, I told no one of my camp experience. I had been a good secret keeper all my life. My commitment to Christ had been my choice. A choice no one could take away from me.

Marita is a middle-aged woman who thrives on her husband’s love, mixed with generous portions of good chocolate and daily lattes. She serves beside her husband as they pastor a small church in the mountain community of Randle, nestled among the Cascade foothills in Washington.

Married for 27 years, she has three adult children, two of which are married. While she never liked the title of mother-in-law, Marita does enjoy the new season of life called Gramma-in-luv. With five grandchildren under the age of three, Marita feels she taught her children the concept of loving their spouses quite well.

In the past year, Marita began to pursue a long hidden desire to write. She has treasured friendships that have developed over the internet that share the same passion for writing and sharing God’s love. If she can get her ADD, middle-aged, menopausal mind to focus once in awhile, she may actually accomplish something.

You can find more of her written works at or at her blog, Mari-flower.

10 friends shared a comment:

Denise said...

This was awesome.

Joanne Sher said...

OH wow! What an incredible testimony, from an INCREDIBLY wonderful woman and friend. VERY cool.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Great to "hear" you today LauraLee. Not the voice I expected! You are a strong woman, girlfriend.


Leah Orcutt said...

Marita, I love your story! Thank you so much for sharing! Now we definitely have to meet. :)

Laurie Ann said...

How precious a testimony! Great is His love toward us and we are so priveleged to choose Him. I'm glad you chose at such a young age!

Diana D said...

Awesome! I'm hooting at my desk! Loved the pace of her testimony (man, can she write - whew) and was just so full of JOY for her! So uplifting, THANKS to you both. Did I mention I am loving this blog??????

godsown said...

Marita love your testimonie and how you wrote it.....


Josh said...

Great way to share your testimony. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and it helped me get to know you a little bit better. I love that we get to share in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by our own choosing and no one elses. Thanks for sharing. :)

LauraLee Shaw said...

Mari, I can't thank you enough for letting me share your story on Selah. You inspire me and cause me to lift up my chin to the One who loved you enough to keep pursuing you. Thank you!

Lisa Mikitarian said...

The way you presented your testimony, Mari, is as beatuiful as the testimony itself. What I heard was humble authenticity. It blessed me.