An Invitation.

Posted by Colleen Woods on

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about anymore than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks.

Frederick Buechner


A few days after Roy reached out to me with a reply to my rather long letter, a parcel arrived in my mailbox from him! I love any time I find a handwritten envelope in my box, but a handwritten parcel is triple joy. Roy's parcel contained two books which quickly became cherished possessions of mine. One was a copy of Roy’s devotional book Meet Me in the Meadow, and the other, a copy of Sons From Afar, written by Jan Markell, which shares the true story of Joseph Aaron Lessin, Roy’s father. 

I wanted to know everything I could about this kind and generous man of God who had reached out to me, a stranger from Minnesota. I started reading Sons from Afar immediately and didn't put it down until it was finished. The book is infused with the grace and mercy of God and the guiding of His sovereign hand. It is a redemption story that could only be written by God – and told so eloquently by His faithful servant, Jan.

Much as I have no way of knowing how many turkeys have been grilled at my house since my father died, the amount of parcels carrying books that traveled between the Lessins' house and mine are seemingly incalculable. I lost track over time.

Within a couple months of our meeting by mail, Roy and Char invited me and my husband to visit them at their home. Char is also a Minnesota girl ... oh love! Her childhood home and farmstead are located 15 miles off the interstate that takes you to Fargo, North Dakota and the Greyhound Bus stop there. Her hometown, Rollag, is nestled amidst one of the most picturesque places in Minnesota, with its rolling hills, white churches and farms with red barns dotting the byways. 

I brought a hostess gift from Minnesota for Char, and I was blessed immensely by her beautiful gift of hospitality, which she graciously shared with us during an evening of conversation and prayer. (Let me not forget to mention her delicious homemade cake that probably would be a blue ribbon winner at the State Fair.) I loved learning a little bit about Char's life on the farm where she was raised. I imagined the woods at the edge of the field where she picked buckets of raspberries when she was young. A photograph of her hometown church graces one of their walls, the place her faith was nurtured as a little girl.

The evening passed much too quickly. I wanted to stay. A friendship was born in heaven that night. Who but God?

(By the way, I recently learned that Char’s favorite store-bought cake as a child was the same as mine: the pink-dyed snowball cakes filled with cream and covered in desiccated coconut. We are true kindred spirits!) 

My fascination with cake baking began when I was in kindergarten. I was one of the countless little girls across America that asked Santa to deliver an Easy-Bake Oven to her house that year. Available in pale yellow or turquoise, complete with bowls, baking tins and yummy little cake and frosting mixes, it was many a girl’s dream. It was Christmas of 1964, the year after Kenner introduced their little baking wonder that captured hearts and imaginations and sold over 500,000 ovens in two months. Many were fortunate to have their wish for Christmas granted. I was not one of them. I got a sweet story instead. 


A party without cake is really just a meeting.

Julia Child

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