07/14/2019              Every year my brothers and sister gather for a long weekend in memory of our parents, Frank and Rose.  We have not missed a gathering since their passing, a gathering which includes many, many previously untold remembrances and even more laughs as we cherish our upbringing in faith and love of family, friend, and God.  My late brother Neil was born just after the crisis of the Great Depression – Dad was 26 and Mom 24.  Sis Nadine came quickly after and the idea of “pairs of kids” for playmates was also born.  Ron – Rick, then Den and, well me.  Mom and Dad were 41 and 43 by then.  The point here simply sits on happiness.  As a family we knew hard times – survival from the depression, the dust bowl, World War, Korea, Viet Nam – and closer to home – outhouses, no indoor plumbing or electricity, wood stoves, a single oil burner to heat the farmhouse, plowing the acreage with horses, fires along the tracks from “hot boxes” on the old trains, spontaneous combustion fears and reality in the hay loft.  But none of that ever comes up in a “woe was us sense” because mom and dad just never let the hardships outweigh the God-given life we had.  Never once have any of us spoken about “wanting” in those days.  We had what we needed – crop of potatoes in gunny sacks in the root cellar, canned fruits, a butchered beef, pig, and chickens – and always a family at the table for meals.  And Sunday church.

This year we held the tri-annual “big” gathering for the 151 descendants of Frank and Rose.  Eighty-one made it, from as far away as Texas and Virginia, to the gathering at Arlington Park just a few miles from the old home farm and the still-in-use homestead.  Nephew Tim, a pastor in New Ulm, Minnesota provided the customary devotion.  He called on a member of each of the 6 base families to toss up a name from the Bible and with obviously no preparation, built Nebuchadnezzar, Jonah, Noah, Naomi, Isaiah, and David into a knitted connection with Jesus. The message of salvation that our family received from the diligence of Grandma Rose and Grandpa Frank.  Beautifully done.  In the end, he reflected that no building or synodical affiliation opens the way to heaven.  Belief and faith in Jesus as our savior and the knowledge that, through Him, we can boldly approach our Heavenly Father with assurance that our sins are forgiven and the mansion doors are open. 

I do not attempt herein to “saintify” my family. We are pretty good at sin. What we have is comfort in the knowledge that sin, death, and the power of the devil have been conquered – the daily demons can be pushed, battled, and blotted aside with folded hands, a bowed head, and a voice turned to God.  I think my daughter Penelope said it best.

“Papa, it was really good to hear that ‘church’ and going there isn’t the only way to have hope.  I really like knowing that what I believe and what I have faith in is like the most important.  That helps me a lot with stuff that bothers me.”  A loving seed had been sown.  I ran across an anonymous comment that I have and will continue to save as the core or the “church without walls”:

“Our churches don’t need more coffee bars, laser lights, cool worship songs, celebrity pastors, and topical sermons about having the best life now.  We need [pastors] who will teach the whole word of God, who will magnify Jesus above all else, who won’t minimize sin but call people to repent, and who will make it clear that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Without faith in Him, you WON’T go to heaven.”

submitted by Dave Smith