Matters of Faith

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.


I have heard many people say, “I grew up in a Christian home,” and then go on to describe some aspect of their childhood that influenced their lives later on.  It is true for me.  I did grow up in a Christian home, but I need to define that statement.

My dad came home from World War II having decided that God and faith and church were all useless.  He’d learned to be a weekend beer-drunk, and he’d tossed his own upbringing into the deep blue sea when it came to matters of faith. My mom, on the other hand, had been introduced to Jesus Christ after Dad left for his war service, and she was thrilled and excited to share that experience with him.  He wanted none of it.

Skipping over the intervening years, when he was maybe 27 or 28 my dad’s own heart was softened by my mom’s faithfulness, the kindness of caring believers, and a persistent pastor who became a lifelong friend.  Dad renewed his faltering relationship with God and felt the call of God on his life to go into the ministry.

I was five when Dad moved us to Minneapolis so he could attend Bible college and earn a degree that would start him on a journey that makes a great story.  Of course, it started the rest of us on that same journey, all in our different ways.

Those caring believers that helped get my dad back on track with the Lord became lifelong family friends, more like relatives. We visited them as often as limited funds and time would allow.  When I was still about five years old, we were there one Sunday. I don’t remember why.  There may have been some special event going on.  It doesn’t really matter.

I remember that the weather was warm enough for me to wear a pretty sleeveless dress my mom had made, and that I loved.  It wasn’t a hand-me-down; I was the first and only wearer of that dress.  We went off to Sunday school, and I loved it.  I loved the singing, the stories, and the little papers we got to take home. 

On this particular Sunday, one of the family members that had taken us into their hearts was my teacher.  I loved her.  I thought she was pretty, and she was kind and gentle.  As she told us the story of Jesus, her words sank into my heart. All these years later, I still remember her telling us how Jesus came from heaven just to take the penalty of our sin on Himself so that we could go to heaven to be with Him.

I had good parents.  I already knew I did wrong things. I understood very clearly that I wasn’t perfect in any way, but that God loved me and sent His own Son to die for me.  When my teacher asked us if any of us would like to stay after class and to ask Jesus to forgive our sin and come into our hearts to live, I immediately raised my hand.  I remember very clearly kneeling on that basement floor and praying with my teacher.  I remember feeling such a sense of gladness, knowing that I was on my way to heaven because Jesus loved me so much.

I’m 67 now, and I’m still filled with gratitude, wonder, joy, and peace at the knowledge that I have a Savior Who was willing to give His life for mine. That one moment, when I was only five, has influenced and affected my entire life.

Mansion Over the Hilltop

(Reviving Bricks
You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?)


I’ve always loved that old house, and I can’t believe it’s mine! I’m old enough to remember how it looked 50 years ago, but not too old to enjoy restoring it. My aunt knew I loved it, and no one else in the family would want to be saddled with it. They would just sell it off to the highest bidder.

Not me. Aunt Roberta was eccentric, but she wasn’t dumb. She took good care of her fortune, and I’m shocked at how much money there is. This is like the dream of a lifetime for me, and I’m going to enjoy every minute. I don’t have to work now. I can spend all day, every day, re-dreaming my childhood pleasures.


First, I need an architect. It has to be someone who loves old houses the way I do, because  I won’t have the place torn apart and changed. I want it restored to the same floor plan, the same materials, as much as possible.  Of course, we’ll modernize the kitchen and the bathrooms and whatever else can be brought up to date without losing the enchantment of the old place.

I used to imagine I was Rapunzel, way up high in the turret, letting down my long, long hair so my handsome prince could climb and to visit me.

Or I’d dream that I was Sleeping Beauty, dozing my life away because of the spell of the wicked witch. One day I’d be Cinderella, banished to the top of the house where the mice and birds watched over me; the next I’d be Snow White,  looking for a way to escape from my Wicked Stepmother.

Hours and hours I’d spend roaming the house, poking into the attics, going through trunks of fabulous old clothes. Boxes of books, pictures, toys, keepsakes were all my playthings. Aunt Roberta didn’t forbid me anything, and I was like a shopaholic on Black Friday. No child ever had a more interesting place to play than I did. Sometimes I would take my treasures down to show Aunt Roberta, and she would spin stories of the past that circled around me like the warm arms of a lover.

I’m going to recreate all that, except of course for Aunt Roberta. But I have nieces, nephews, and grandchildren of my own now who are full of questions.  I can’t wait to turn them loose to discover all the things that are still preserved in that old house.

Work first, though. Everything has to be moved out, cleaned up, and stored while the renovations are done.  It’s going to be a labor of love. I can’t wait!


Sunday Dinner

(Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.)

Sunday  dinner was the best idea ever that just doesn’t exist the way it used to. Sundays were always relaxed. We attended Sunday school and church, of course, and then went back for the evening service. Very old-fashioned, I know, but boy, did I look forward to all of it every week.

Prep for Sunday dinner usually started on Saturday, especially if we were having company. Saturday was the day the desserts were made. Cake was always good, but PIE was better because it always came with ice cream–two desserts in one!  My mom made the best pie crust anywhere.  I don’t know how she did it, I’ve never been able to get mine as tender, flaky, and perfect as hers were. For a long time, my favorite was lemon meringue.  I still love it,  Mom could always make the meringue stay glued to the pie crust and not shrink away.

Her best pies, though, were pumpkin, apple, and cherry. Pumpkin was reserved for “The Holidays,” and everyone knew exactly what “The Holidays” meant.  The first time I was offered pumpkin pie  long after  The Holidays, I was completely flummoxed.  Really?  Pumpkin pie?  I didn’t know you could even DO that!

The pies always smelled wonderful, except for the lemon meringue.  That one didn’t get baked. The others, though, filled the house with the glorious aromas of fruit and sugar and crust.  It was asking a lot for us to have to wait until the next day!

Sometimes, Mom baked special dinner rolls.  Of course, nothing smells quite so wonderful as homemade yeast bread. Just before the Sunday meal, one of us would put the rolls in a brown paper bag, sprinkle the bag with water, and put the bag in the oven for about ten minutes.  Good as new.

The meat was the center of the meal.  My favorite was unquestionably Mom’s rump roast. Before we left for church on Sunday morning, all shiny bright in our bobby-pinned curly hair and Sunday shoes, Mom would take a few minutes to make deep slits in the roast and push a clove of garlic into the slits.  The meat would close over the garlic.  Then she would sprinkle the roast with garlic salt and pepper and slide it into the oven to bake slowly while we were singing and hearing the preaching.  Sometimes, she would have us peel potatoes and carrots  that would be covered in cold water and left in the fridge until we got back home. The very first thing she did once she got her coat off would be to place the vegetables carefully around the succulent meat, sliding the whole thing back into the oven to finish cooking while we set the table, made salad, filled water glasses, and made sure there were enough chairs around the table. 

Salad could be lots of different things. My favorite, and one I still make today, was a combination of apples, bananas, and raisins stirred together with–you’ll be surprised–Miracle Whip!  Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!  It’s wonderful.  I often serve it for a company meal, and I’ve had only one person in over 45 years turn his nose up.  Poor man.

If the potatoes and carrots weren’t baked with the roast, then we’d peel potatoes when we got home from church and put them in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes, which would make them perfect for mashing.  Mom had an old Presto!  pressure cooker that had many wonderful meals to its credit. When the spuds were ready, we’d pour off the water, pour in some milk and a big dollop of butter, plus a little salt. We used the top of the mixer to whip the potatoes right in the cooker.  Back then, you could take the top of the mixer off and use it like a portable.  Pretty cool, actually, but I have to admit I like my Kitchen Aide better.

While one person was taking care of the potatoes,  Mom was making gravy. Rich, thick, aromatic gravy  you could eat like soup. Garlicky, yummy.  My dad used to mound up his mashed potatoes, spoon a hole in the top like a volcano, and then fill up the hole with gravy. It was an art. He caught me watching him once, and he blushed. I was fascinated.  By the blush, not the volcano.

What can I say about the roast?  The garlic flavor was subtle; the meat was moist. There is just nothing quite like a good rump roast. I don’t prepare it very often these days, but now and then I treat us to a memory of Mom’s Sunday dinner.  Served up with hot veggies, fruit salad, warm rolls and real butter and topped off with pie. . . .well, it made Sundays worth waiting for.