Ed Ackerman

Ed Ackerman The Optimist

Every day of the year Faith Lane feeds my soul. On Thanksgiving, she feeds my body.

Faith is a former student of mine. I met her some 15 years ago. When she told me her name I said it sounded like a street in Heaven. It still does.

Faith sends me out to face the day each morning by texting me a verse from scripture. She has an uncanny way of knowing exactly what I need to hear.

Like last Wednesday when I read from Philippians: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”

I had a lot of requests that day.

What I need to hear this time of year, aside from the word of God, however, is Faith saying, “Yes, Mr. Ackerman, I will be making pies this year.”

Faith, a single mom, was raising five children when I first met her and as Christmas approached she told me she made and sold sweet potato pies to earn extra money for presents. Sweet potatoes had always been my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, but I had never tasted a sweet potato pie. I bought several for friends and relatives and wound up eating two of them by myself. No, not in one sitting.

Faith graduated and moved on and I hadn’t seen her until about five years ago when I was thinking about her one day and she walked back into my life the next. When I asked if she still sold those sweet potato pies, she said she did, “But now as a fundraiser for my church.”

I ordered four or five and put on an impromptu “sweet potato pie party” for my students. I bought a few apple pies and cupcakes for those who might not be into sweet potato pies and picked up soda and coffee.

It was a huge hit.

We did it again the next November and the next, no longer impromptu but equally successful. I increased the sweet potato pie order each year and all were eaten, every crumb.

As it did with many things, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to my sweet potato pie parties. I still buy a bunch and distribute them, but getting the students together without masks seems irresponsible.

I had never asked Faith how she learned to make sweet potato pies, but when I did I got an inkling of how difficult her life has been.

“I grew up in foster care,” she said, “from 12 to 21. I was in 13 different homes in one year. A lovely woman named Josephine Porter cared for me for a long time. She taught me how to make sweet potato pies.”

Faith’s life continues to be filled with challenges. If it isn’t a car conking out, it’s needing to find a new place to live. But she never complains and never stops smiling.

“God is good, Mr. Ackerman,” she says all the time. “He’s always good.”

When I tell Faith she’s aptly named, she responds, “You can’t just have faith. You have to work your faith. And that’s what I do. I don’t get upset when things go wrong. Just the opposite. I always say my opportunities are in my opposition. I don’t run away from Goliath, I run toward him.”

I apologized when I told Faith how many pies I wanted to order this year and when she told me it was no problem, I tacked on a few more.

When I went to pick them up, before ringing the doorbell, I paused on Faith’s porch to read a sign she’d hung there:

“In our home,” it says, “we put God first, count our blessings, have faith, say please and thank you, trust, believe in miracles, pray always, forgive as we have been forgiven, make a difference, give thanks, work hard and dream big, give second chances, and love one another.”

Faith Lane never stops inspiring me. She is a true blessing in my life.

The sweet potato pies are just a bonus.

But, if you find yourself hankering for one or two of your own, or even one of her mouth-watering apple pies, she’ll be making them right up to Christmas. You can reach her at 570-880-2715.

Tell her Mr. Ackerman sent you, but she’ll probably figure that out on her own.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week for Greater Pittston Progress. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.

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