I’ve thought long and hard about where to start my blogging journey, and it seems that the only logical place is “at the beginning.” I don’t mean the beginning of The Mystery of History (though I’ll get to that one day), but the beginning of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For if it weren’t for that special relationship, it’s doubtful that you and I would have a relationship at all! Ultimately, He’s the gracious thread that weaves our lives together as parents teaching world history through a Christian worldview. So, here’s Part I of “My Salvation Story.”
As the youngest of three girls, I was reared in a very loving family. My parents were doting, responsible, and steadfast. If there were one word for my mother, it would be “amazing.” If there were one word for my father, it would be “intelligent.” The two were a wonderful combination. My sisters were my best friends, or almost so. They did insist I kiss Bobby Morrow in front of all the other neighborhood kids; they did force upon me a few “medical experiments” in search of make-believe diseases; and they did throw salt in my eyes just to laugh at my writhing and temporary state of blindness! All to say, being the baby of the family had its downside, which was exacerbated by the blaring fact that I was unusually small for my age. I’m quite sure my teeny-tiny frame and easy-to-pick on third-born status prompted me toward a lifetime of acting much bigger than I am. According to my mother, I “walked and talked big” as a child to stand up for myself – and ward off any possibility of being overlooked or underestimated. (I confess, at 4’11” today, I’m still working that angle with big hair and high heels! These accessories are very intentional.)
Despite the sibling pranks and size issues, I grew up quite loved and well taken care of with a bent toward “wandering” for adventure. I suspect the adventurous side of me grew in part from my dad’s passion for sailing. As a family, we spent nearly every weekend of every summer at Seabrook Sailing Club near Houston, Texas. It was there we sailed boats for fun or raced in regattas to test our wits and will against the gusty winds and choppy waves of the Gulf of Mexico. Full of curiosity, I fell in love with the sea and its endless beckoning. Sitting on the edge of the coast, where water and sky meet the land, my mind wondered deeply about the clouds, the height the seagulls soared, and the oblivious little lives of the barnacles growing on the pilings and piers. And don’t even get me started about my interest in outer space! The intrigue of the moon and stars lured me into thinking I would one day be an astronaut.
As a side note that should be relevant to my readers, while I enjoyed exploring the world and space through National Geographic magazines, I don’t recall getting too excited about history class growing up. In fact, world history wasn’t even a part of our public school curriculum! But I do remember that when asked to draw a picture of the Mayflower in First Grade, I added a line of numbers to the sail. “Why did you put numbers on the sail?” my teacher asked. My reasoning was simple. Every boat I had ever seen had big black numbers on it – because they were marked for racing! Though I was an “A” student, I wasn’t smart enough to know the difference between a boat in a regatta and a ship full of Pilgrims. Oh, well. I was only 6 or 7.
Getting back to my vast curiosity with life, I wondered deeply, too, about who I was, way down deep inside. In a peculiar way, I remember staring into the mirror as a little girl and pondering who I was behind the sun burnt nose and straight brown hair. I think by gazing deeply into the darkest part of my blue green eyes, I was trying to see my soul and peer into my being. “Who am I?” I demanded to know. “What makes me think?” “How do I breathe?” “Why do I dream?” Having not been “churched” or taught from the Bible, I didn’t know the story of Creation and had no Sunday school knowledge of a Creator. So, though I told no one, the idea of my own existence absolutely confounded me, as well as that of the universe that spun around me! Life to me was – a – mystery!
While we were a close family that celebrated warm gatherings at Christmas and Easter, our occasions were centered on brightly wrapped packages, Santa Clause, chocolate bunnies, and Easter egg hunts. Spiritual matters marking these cherished events were left out of the fun and feasting back then and Jesus wasn’t mentioned. For me, there was a void that I could not put my finger on. I was missing something – or rather Someone – to pull together the holidays and answer all my questions about life.
In my childish wonderment, I have memories of brushing up against a few matters pertaining to God. At about age 9, I remember using an old electric typewriter to dutifully type out the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament and the Beatitudes from the New Testament. Unfortunately, that was the extent of my childhood study of the Scriptures. (But because God’s Word is powerful, I remember it to this day!)
And long before DVD’s or Netflix, I remember waiting all year long every year to catch on TV the one-minute soliloquy of Linus, the beloved Peanuts character who quoted the biblical account of the Christmas story in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Though I didn’t know the words of Linus were straight out of Luke, I felt that they were very special. Watching Linus clutch his blanket and take center stage, I would sit and hold my breath through his moving little speech . . . hoping not to miss a single syllable. Though I didn’t realize it, Linus was presenting the Gospel.
In a similar manner, so was Rosemary Clooney. The 1960’s singer/actress had a Christmas song on a children’s record that planted spiritual seeds in my soul when I listened to it over and over again as children do. Following an acrostic of the word Christmas, she sang:
C – is for the Christ child, born upon this day
H – for herald angels in the night
R – means our Redeemer
I – means Israel
S – is for the star that shone so bright
T – is for three wise men, they who traveled far
M – is for the manger where He lay
A – is for all He stands for
S – means shepherds came
And that’s why there’s a Christmas Day
There were two big words in that little children’s song that were new to my vocabulary and boggled my mind. They were “Redeemer” and “Israel.” I wasn’t sure where Israel was and what it had to do with a baby in a manger. And the concept of a redeemer was completely beyond my understanding.
As may be apparent, I was a loved child. But spiritually speaking, I was a lost child – searching for meaning, purpose, and a deeper identity. How fortunate I was to be surrounded by a close family that was kind to my curiosity and patient with my wandering spirit. They reined me in as best as they could until I hit junior high and high school – when it was much harder to corral my restless heart. I’ll conclude my story of coming to know Christ in my next blog post when I, the child-turned-teenager, encountered the one and only Redeemer, who was in fact from Israel.