--- Isaiah 40:31
So many people enjoyed yesterday’s article – “Morning Biscuits” – and several readers asked me to post Miss Megan’s southern biscuit recipe. If you read the article, you will know that you cannot substitute any of the ingredients!
Please write and let me know how Megan’s southern biscuit recipe turned out for you! I’d love to see a photograph of your biscuits!
MISS MEGAN’S SOUTHERN BISCUITS
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup butter, cold but not too hard
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 450°. Place 1 1/2 cups flour in a large mixing bowl. Add butter, and use your fingers to work it into the flour. Mixture will be crumbly and should look like small peas. Add buttermilk and cream, stirring just till flour is moistened.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Using floured hands, knead dough 4 to 5 times by folding dough over and pressing down with the heels of your hands; gradually add as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth dough. Dough should not be sticky.
Pat dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch round cutter without twisting the cutter. Combine dough scraps, pat to 3/4-inch thickness, and cut into rounds. Place biscuits, with sides touching, in an ungreased baking pan. (Do not use non-stick pan!).
Bake at 450° for 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes 16 biscuits.
Spread with butter and your favorite jam.
Northeast Georgia girls like sorghum on their biscuits. Southern Georgia girls, like La-Tan Roland Murphy, prefer their mama’s homemade fig preserves.
I sure hope Mama Nadine Roland sends some jars of her homemade fig preserves to Richmond this year.
We are grateful to Miss Caroline of Rabun County, Georgia, for the tasty sorghum syrup, and for teaching Miss Megan and me – with great patience and much love - how to be southern.
Share what you have with Christian brothers who are in need. Give meals and a place to stay to those who need it. Romans 12:13 (NLV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photograph by Cynthia Howerter © 2013
“Megan, I bought ingredients for homemade biscuits. How about making some for us this morning, please?”
“Sure, Mom. Help me set out the ingredients and utensils and I’ll make up a batch of biscuits that’ll set your mouth to waterin’.”
I’m assuming that my northern friends are now realizing that the Howerter girls have gone southern. No one makes biscuits like Megan, so when I knew she was coming home for the weekend, I hurriedly looked up her biscuit recipe. I didn’t take time to thoroughly read the list of ingredients; the only item I saw that I needed to purchase was buttermilk.
“Mom, is this flour self-rising?”
“Self-rising? No. Why?”
“Well, Mom, it takes self-rising flour to make good biscuits.”
I plopped a can of baking powder on the counter. “Just add some baking powder and that’ll take care of the rising.”
“Where’s the cream, Mom?” Megan held the refrigerator door open with a hip while she routed through the dairy shelf.
“Cream? The recipe calls for cream? Oh, gosh, I didn’t buy any. What about using some half-and-half? That should work.”
“I dunno, Mom. The recipe calls for cream.”
“We’ll have to improvise, honey.” Megan shot me a glance that questioned my culinary skills—make that my southern culinary skills. “The biscuits will turn out fine. You’ll see,” I assured my daughter.
In no time at all, Megan cut out circles of dough and placed them on a large baking sheet which went into the hot oven. I enjoyed a cup of hot coffee while I watched the biscuits through the oven window. Twenty-five minutes later, it was obvious to me that those biscuits really did need self-rising flour. Another ten minutes, and I realized that cream and half-and-half aren’t equal substitutes.
Acknowledging that our homemade southern biscuits looked nothing like the photograph in the cookbook, I cut one open to find that the inside wasn’t flaky and fluffy. Rather, the dough was a little undercooked. Well, maybe a lot. Yes, I ate it anyway.
Taking another biscuit, I examined the exterior before mutilating -uh, make that pulling apart – the inside. Those biscuits were so much like my life, I realized.
Rather than take the time to start my day the right way with prayer and five minutes of Bible reading, I frequently start my day in a rush and, hours later, I wonder why it is so unfocused and helter-skelter.
Then, when trouble and difficulty hit, I find myself not properly prepared to handle it – all because I’ve neglected taking ten peaceful minutes to start my day focused on my heavenly Father. Just like biscuits that turn out flat and undercooked because I was in a hurry when I skimmed through the recipe, my life isn’t full and rich the way God intended it to be when I ignore Him.
I licked the last of the Georgia sorghum off my fingers and picked up my Bible that sat in full view on the coffee table.
Ten fulfilling minutes of Godly focus— or a day of raw, lumpy dough.
Are you making wise choices every morning when you wake up?
Great riches are in the house of those who are right with God, but trouble is what the sinful will receive. Proverbs 15:6 (NLV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photographs by Cynthia Howerter © 2013Read More
Sometimes I think I’m too quick with a smile and a kind word to strangers. Perhaps I should err on the side of caution and not speak to people I don’t know. Ever feel like this? Lately, whenever I’m tempted to keep smiles and brief greetings to myself, I think of my friend Pastor Tony.
Last September, my son and I drove to Philadelphia where he was scheduled to take an exam. Knowing it wasn’t smart to sit in my car in a Philadelphia parking lot for several hours, I gathered up my handbag and laptop and walked inside the office building where I hoped I’d be able to wait for my son. The security guard smiled and hospitably told me that I was welcome to wait in the comfortable lobby.
In between the hectic morning arrivals and late afternoon departures of office workers, there isn’t a lot going on in the lobby – except the large-screen TV which proved distracting to me as I tried to work. While packing up my laptop, the security guard kindly asked, “Where’s home?”
I hesitated answering for a second, knowing that speaking with a stranger in a large city might not be prudent. But feeling God’s peace that it was all right, I answered, “Richmond. Richmond, Virginia.”
We introduced ourselves. Cynthia the Christian writer met Pastor Tony the minister who also worked security during the week. The bond of Christianity smoothed the way for conversation. Pastor Tony learned that I was writing a book about God’s provision during tough times and I learned that Pastor Tony was in the midst of a tough time.
It doesn’t really matter what obstacles Pastor Tony was facing that day. What was significant was that God placed me in that particular lobby at the exact time that Pastor Tony was assigned there — and that Pastor Tony needed a listener who wasn’t in a hurry. As Pastor Tony spoke, his love for the Lord as well as his knowledge of the Bible let me know that God was already on top of Pastor Tony’s situation.
After leaving Philadelphia that day, I prayed often for Pastor Tony, asking God to guide and provide for him.
On a recent trip to Philadelphia, I found myself inside the same lobby. The security desk was unattended when I entered the building, but it wasn’t long before I heard a familiar voice.
“Tony, is that you?” I smiled as I turned my head toward the voice.
“Cynthia. As soon as I heard your voice, I knew it was you.”
Our conversation picked up where we’d left it in September. Only, it was obvious that Pastor Tony had changed. Yes, he was still facing adversity, but Pastor Tony’s spirit had been renewed.
I learned that the Lord used Pastor Tony’s weekday security job to put him in touch with others experiencing similar difficult situations—office workers in need of Pastor Tony’s spiritual knowledge and compassion. One might say that God provided Pastor Tony with a new flock in an unexpected sanctuary. All because Pastor Tony wasn’t afraid to smile and speak kindly to strangers.
I left the lobby understanding that a simple smile and a few kind words are powerful tools that God uses to touch the hearts of strangers in need. Knowing this, I’ll be using mine more often. What about you?
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
Photograph by Justin Howerter © 2013
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
In the dark of the night, Ima let herself inside our house. I didn’t know she was coming, because – well, Ima is a spur-of-the-moment kind of person who shows up when she wants. As I laid on the cold tile floor, sweating profusely, heart pounding, and waves of nausea sweeping over me, Ima casually stepped over me and sat on the edge of the tub—just watching me suffer.
Tim never noticed her as he cradled me in his arms, not knowing what to do at 2 a.m. in an abruptly awakened state of confusion. Ima crossed her legs and sighed as my symptoms slowly subsided and my husband, at my insistence, helped me back into bed where I fell into a deep sleep.
Early the next morning, Ima shook me awake. “Admit it,” she chided. “You’re afraid, aren’t you?”
“Well, now that you mention it, Ima, yes, I am afraid.” I plumped several pillows behind my back and leaned into them.
“You realize that you probably almost died last night, Cyndi.” Ima’s one of a handful of people who call me by this name. “What do you think it was—a stroke? Heart attack?”
I shuddered as my mind replayed the frightening events.
Tim entered our bedroom and handed me a steaming mug of coffee, interrupting Ima. He announced he wasn’t going to work and that I needed to call our family doctor pronto for an appointment. “Something’s wrong, honey.” By the look on his face, Ima had already talked with him.
“I’ll say something’s wrong. You had a heart attack!” Ima isn’t big on subtleness.
“How do you know it was a heart attack and not a stroke, Ima?” I asked.
“Does it matter, Cyndi?” she replied.
I picked up the phone.
“I don’t know, Cyndi.” Ima plopped next to me on the sofa. “How could the doctor not have a clue what happened? I mean, you and Tim described to him in detail everything that happened. Do you think he should have told you to go home and relax? Maybe it’ll happen again. Only the next time—”
Several weeks later, my phone’s caller ID displayed my mother’s name. “Hi, Mom.”
“You don’t sound like yourself, Cynthia. Are you all right?”
“No, you’re not!” Ima whispered. “You’re a walking time bomb. That little episode was just the practice session.” Ima’s a master at raising my anxiety level.
“I don’t know, honey. Your voice hasn’t sounded quite right the last few times we’ve talked.”
“I don’t know why, Mom. Everything’s fine.” It’s okay to tell your mom a little white lie so you don’t worry her. Isn’t it?
“Liar!” Ima hissed in my ear. You’re right. I shouldn’t do that.
“Have you stopped writing articles for your website? I haven’t seen anything lately.”
I could hear the concern in Mom’s voice. “I’ve just been really busy with the book.”
“But I thought you turned in the manuscript.”
“She did, Betty. She just doesn’t want you to know—”
I covered the phone with my hand. “Stop it, Ima! You are not going to upset my mother. Do you hear me?” Ima slinked across the room and stretched out on the recliner.
“I’ll write for the website soon, Mom.”
“You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Liar, liar, pants on fire,” Ima sing-songed.
“I have to know what happened to me, Tim. I’ve been paralyzed with fear for a month. I can’t write. I can’t even think of a story.”
“Who do you want to see?”
“Dr. Tom and Megan recommended a cardiologist. I’ll see him.”
“What makes you think he’ll know anything, Cyndi?” Ima squawked at me as I picked up the phone and spoke with the scheduling secretary.
“Well, Mrs. Howerter, I’ve looked over the test results, and we know for certain that you did not have a heart attack. You had a vasovagal episode – probably caused by dehydration.”
“That’s good news, isn’t it?” I smiled weakly.
Ima chimed in. ”There’s gotta be something else.”
“The ultrasound picked up an abnormality – a leaky heart valve – but, for now, it’s so mild that you need no treatment. In fact, you just need to go home and get on with your life. Do whatever you want – just like before. Go live your life and enjoy it.”
“What does he know?” Ima crowed.
I pretended I didn’t hear that. “Thanks, Doctor.”
“We’ll do an ultrasound once a year, just so we can keep tabs on the valve. Otherwise, get on with your life.”
I nearly skipped to my car. As I slid behind the steering wheel and buckled my seatbelt, Ima started to open the passenger door. “No, you’re not coming home with me. You see, Miss Ima Fraid just lost her job.”
“I’m getting on with my life. And Ima Fraid isn’t going to be part of it.”
Is Ima Fraid chummy with you? Show her the door, and do what you need to do to face your fear head-on. Oh, and write this down and memorize it: ”Fear hath torment. 1 John 4:18.”
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photo by Health Care Weekly Review
I’ve returned to bed this morning, lingering, because two mugs of coffee have not given me their usual jolt. Lying here, I study the old, faded quilt that I’ve thrown over me. Although I’ve used it as an extra cover all winter, it’s been years since I really looked at it.
My Grandma Anna made it. I no longer remember the name of the quilt pattern, but I’m struck at how cheerful the colors are. While a neutral brown creates the border and surrounds each of the flowers, it’s the palette of colors that Grandma Anna selected that catch my eye.
Hexagonal pieces of plain lavender fabric surrounded by pieces of printed lavender.
Pale pink enveloped by cheerful pink roses with green stems and leaves on a white background.
Yellow ringed by yellow and blue. This is art produced by a creative mind.
My mind drifts to the dresses Grandma Anna sewed for me when I was a wee lass. Dresses that I now realize were expertly sewn and fitted, looking more like an expensive store-bought dress than one that was sewn at home. The wool mittens she knit, made of primary red, yellow, and blue-colored yarn, fit my toddler hands perfectly.
A gifted student of color and design created numerous works of love-infused art just for me.
Although I knew Grandma Anna to be a godly woman who read and studied her Bible and never missed church, I never realized until now what a highly creative person she was. She lived in a different state when I grew up, and, because of the great distance between our homes, I saw her briefly once or twice a year. She passed on when I was in my twenties.
Now, so many years later, God is giving me an opportunity this morning to see Grandma Anna through different eyes. And I realize how alike we are.
Who in your life do you need to see from a different vantage point? Your spouse? Your child? Your parent or a sibling? A friend? A foe? What precious and unique gifts do they possess that have been there all along, obscured by their very presence, in front of your eyes?
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. Proverbs 14: 1 (NKJV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photographs by Cynthia Howerter 2013Read More