Saturday, April 7, 2018


I was baptized as a baby in a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY, Presbyterian Church.

After moving upstate, I grew up attending and being confirmed at Third Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck, NY. I sang in the choir, went to youth group, was an acolyte, worked at our food booth at the Dutchess County Fair, and so much more. I was a Sunday school teacher, then the Superintendent, as well as the Christian Education Chairperson. I loved Pastor Torcello.

I left the church for a few years, but then got back on track in the late 1990s when I lived near a church in Fishkill, NY. I have always enjoyed reading the signs that are posted in front of many churches to help one take in life’s lessons. I actually nicknamed a church that I was once a member at (Fishkill Baptist Church) the “sign church,” because of how the words on their sign encouraged me to come back to church after years of falling away…. I used to deliberately drive by it over and over to read the words posted there. One Sunday, I parked and went in. I hadn’t been in a church in years due to a very unpleasant experience elsewhere years before. (Unfortunately, I recently heard from friends that still attend that church that they no longer use their sign for encouraging words. That’s too bad.)

This church’s carefully selected sign words are what got me back to God. I was baptized as an adult at Fishkill Baptist, helped in the Sunday school, and sang in the choir there too. I learned a lot from Pastor Eckler.

When I moved to Ulster County, in New York, I began attending church where I am a member now, Grace Community Evangelical Free Church, in Lake Katrine, NY. Pastor Wes Smith has helped me through some pretty dark episodes, and I'm a better Christian because of him.

The time spent with children at my church is the highlight of my week. I truly wish that all adults could be as sweet to one another as children can be. I love helping in classrooms there and teaching the kids songs to sing in front of our whole congregation. Watching their enthusiasm (and nervousness, too) when they perform really helped me come to terms with what I used to do decades ago as a teacher when my students would perform at school concerts and productions.

Another person whom I actually listen to and learn from at Grace Church is Craig Paquette. When he opens our service with a Bible reflection, he explains stories in real-life terms that I actually can make sense of.

          Besides that, his cheery disposition is comforting to be around. He's told many stories in our church, but here's my favorite, and I'll explain why after you read it:

The metaphor of the “downward escalator” is one of our spiritual life. Just about every child has tried to walk up a down escalator. So envision yourself going up a downward escalator…. If you stop in the middle, what happens? You start going down. The point of the analogy is that there is no middle ground. If you're not going up, you're going down. The same applies to our relationship with God. If we're not constantly exercising spiritual life (by being in steady obedience with God, going to church, being engaged in the Bible, and being in fellowship with “like”-minded people), it will be hard to overcome the downward pull of the world, the flesh and the devil always trying to tether us to this Earth. By doing this, it enables us to move toward a trajectory (God) instead of just randomly going about.

This story helped me because, when I first heard the word “escalator,” that reminded me of my unbelievable fear of touching them back when I had mysophobia. But then, I really “got” what Craig was saying and why.

          (And, once when he addressed our whole congregation, he talked about bacon. Anybody that discusses bacon, I listen to!)

So, if you've never been to a house of worship, why don't you try it? If you are not comfortable, try another one. Just go to learn more about God, and how He can help you take on life's challenges.

And, churches can also be a fun place. A boy named Jacob in my church made me laugh when he saw a cancer surgery scar on my face and said, “You look like you have a giant exclamation point on your face.” Boy, was he correct!

I will be eternally grateful to Pastor Torcello (R. I. P.), Pastor Eckler, and Pastor Smith for how they've taught me. I know God placed all of them in my life at certain times so I could get through it all. Thank you, God, for Pastor Torcello's trying to teach me how boys should treat girls, Pastor Eckler for “saving me” on that beach we met on at Camp-of-the-Woods after that second marriage’s horrific, violent honeymoon, and Pastor Smith for teaching me ways to handle life with a brain injury.

I affectionately called Pastor Wes Smith “Pastor Smarty-pants” for a while because it takes a special person to be able to understand and therefore provide help to someone with “abnormal” personality quirks such as mine. He is smart because he helped me maneuver life’s challenges in a real and humorous way. (One example: he compared choosing foods at a buffet to choosing to sin. I “got” his funny message.)

Because I’ve lived in many places, I’ve had the opportunity to worship in many different churches. No matter where I was, I feel that God has blessed me.

Here are some church signs that have really helped me:

·       Forbidden fruit creates many jams [Pornography ruins many relationships.]

·       Jesus knows me, this I love [A sign I got at the Town of Esopus United Methodist Church’s Apple Festival, a deliberate reversal of the wording from the song, “Jesus Loves Me.”]

·       I got this – God

·       Come in




Thank you, churches, for all your help!


For the coming year, I will be excerpting, weekly, material from this fine book by Janet Johnson Schliff, M.S.Ed.. She wrote it over a three-year period, with some coaching and editing help from me, through my business, The excerpts are from the almost-final version. The memoir is now available in paperback and ebook formats from and from its publisher, 



Janet Johnson Schliff was on WKNY  Radio 1490 at 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, Kingston, NY.

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at Barnes & Noble, 1177 Ulster Avenue, Kingston, NY.

I [DWC] attended, along with almost 40 other people. The talk was especially well received, with several questions at the end, as well.
Congratulations, Janet!

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, at 7 p.m. on March 6. 

She spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, at 2 p.m. on March 17. 

She spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, at 6:30 p.m. on March 28. 

She spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, at 4 p.m. on April 3. I was able to attend. They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.

On 4/4/18 Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library at Rhinebeck at 2:30 p.m.

On 4/27/18 Janet will be at the Stone Ridge Library at 5:30 p.m.

On 5/4/18 Janet will be at the Hurley Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/9/18 Janet will be at the Kingston Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/14/18 Janet will be at the Staatsburg Library at 7 p.m.

On 6/9/18 Janet will be at the Tannersville Library at noon.

On 7/13/18 Janet will be at the Esopus Library at 7 p.m.

More signings will be coming up, and a fine feature about her by John DeSantos [845 LIFE] appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Monday, March 12, as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month. She was recently interviewed by the Kingston Daily Freeman, and that interview should be published soon.

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