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Parental Influence

The biography, Norma, is the story of well-known singer for Lawrence Welk, Norma Zimmer. One of the more poignant aspects of her story is that of her teen years. Her parents were a source of great pain to her because of their drinking. Though these years were difficult for her, she began to find an escape into a better world through singing. As a senior in high school, Norma was invited to become a featured church soloist by Carl A. Pitzer of the University Christian Church in Seattle. When her parents heard she was to sing a solo in church they both insisted they wanted to hear her, though they did not normally attend. She tells the story of that morning:

I was excited and elated at the prospect of singing again. The choir processed down the middle aisle, and as we walked I stole glances at the congregation, trying to find my parents–. I couldn't spot Mom and Dad.

Then in horror I saw them–weaving down the aisle in a state of disheveled intoxication. They were late. Few empty seats were left. My parents stumbled over the feet of other people to reach a place in the middle of the row. The whole congregation stared. I don't know how I ever got through that morning. The invocation, the congregational hymn, the prayer, the offering–and then I stood up to sing. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.” The song seemed interminable. I tried to think only of the words and kept my eyes from turning to the row where my parents sat.

I took my seat, my heart pounding, my cheeks burning. Dr. Hastings started to preach. At first I hardly heard him. Then his words reached me, “God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in time of trouble.”

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My own trouble seemed to bear down on me with tremendous weight that morning. I felt I had more than my share of grief, and I knew I needed help. I realized how desperate life in our family was without God, and that day I recommitted my life to Him. As Dr. Hastings preached that morning, Jesus came into my life not only as Savior but for daily strength and direction.

–James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 195-196.