When I was small, my mother would go to the church on off-days to practice music or prepare songs for our Junior Choir.  She’d bring me along and let me wander the big empty church building as she did her work. Our church was a vast, exciting adventureland to a curious little girl.  I would go pew by pew and straighten the hymnals and the offering envelopes. I’d “dust” the hardwood floors in the sanctuary by “swimming” like a fish under the pews. I’d scuff my feet on the dark green wool aisle carpet, building up static electricity so that when I touched the fancy metal stand next to the piano it made a huge, loud (exciting!) SPARK!

I’d sneak behind the baptistery and stare—up CLOSE—at the hand-painted mural on the wall there. I was astounded at the beautiful scene—at the paint applied in such thick strokes, yet conveying such amazing detail to the river, rocks, and trees in the picture. I couldn’t believe that the paint wasn’t WET!  It really looked as if that river was flowing right into the baptistery!

Another wonder was the big stained glass window, over the front entrance of the church, depicting Jesus walking on a cloud. I’d climb the stairs to the balcony, and as I stood under the window, I’d imagine that Jesus was stepping down toward me right out of the sky! The light coming through the stained glass changed the colors so that they appeared differently inside than they looked from the outside. The bumpy “cloud” under Jesus’ feet looked to me a bit more brown than white, which confused me a little. Nonetheless, I would bend my 6-year-old knees by the short pew under the window, fold my hands just so—trying to look like the picture of the little girl on my Sunday School quarterly—and say a prayer … to Jesus on the Giant Pinecone.

 I loved the “holy feeling” I got when I was in that building. It was a SAFE place, where the presence of God seemed to hang in the air. Jesus’ face in the stained glass window looked like He was smiling right at ME. It made me WANT to pray … and to be good. To this day, I still feel He is smiling at me—and I STILL want to pray and be good.

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 KJV)

 Prayer: Dear Jesus, I will thank You forever for placing me into a family who knew and loved TRUTH. You revealed the Truth of the Gospel to my grandfather—he taught my mother to love it, and she taught me. We have passed this same faith on to our children—and we rejoice to see them, likewise, passing it on. “One generation shall praise Thy works to another …” Thank You for allowing ME to find You early in my life; I will praise You until my final breath. Amen.


Barbara Hilderbrand and husband, Derrald, live in Wausau, Wisconsin. They’ve served in various ministerial roles within the UPCI over the past fifty years – pastoring in Illinois, Alaska, Wisconsin, and Global Missions’ Europe/ME region. Barb also served in Ladies Ministries in Alaska and Wisconsin. They now eagerly await their next assignment and/or the NEXT stamp on their passports.


  1. Shelly Stringfellow

    I love your description! I too have great memories of going to an empty church and feeling that same awesome Spitit of the Lord. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Oh my dear sister friend.. love this…the awesomeness of His presence and the church, I was blessed to be raised in this Truth also, now my children and grandchildren. My Mom told me when I was 2 years old I would be in the altar praying, her Pastors wife who I was named after told her to leave me alone, let her worship. So thankful that worship has never left me, I’m almost 70…