--- Isaiah 40:31
I learned about the Boston bombings yesterday while I was writing about my ancestors surviving British and Indian attacks near their Pennsylvania home in 1778. Just like the people who attended the Boston Marathon, my fifth-great-grandparents only wanted to enjoy life.
But sometimes things happen that we can’t foresee. God does not give us a crystal ball to view what lies ahead of us.
But what God does give us is the ability to seek His wisdom when we’re caught in the crossfire of evil.
God’s word tells us: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
My ancestor, Colonel John Kelly, was a godly man who lived by his faith and the Word of God. In July, 1778, when fellow settlers in a nearby fort were surrounded by 300 warring Indians and British, Colonel Kelly, a Revolutionary War officer, quickly assembled a small group of militia and drove off the aggressors.
I like to think that the scripture from Isaiah was going through the Colonel’s mind when he gave his orders to the brave – but vastly outnumbered – men he commanded. The Colonel and his men had every reason to fear: they were a group of no more than 30 facing 300 — but fear did not stop them from helping their friends and neighbors. Rather, God gave the ordinary men the courage and ability to fight evil and win.
The Colonel’s story is timeless: God’s help never wavers when we keep Him the focus of our lives. Yesterday, when bombs exploded in Boston, brave people ran toward the explosions to help the injured. Their own lives were at risk; no one knew if another bomb would explode in their midst.
Wherever we are, in whatever situation we face, we can confidently go forward – without fear – knowing that God is with us and will provide the courage and skill we need to persevere and win against evil.
But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.
IN GOD WE TRUST – TO HIM BE THE GLORYRead More
For all my friends who’ve been begging me for a humorous story—enjoy this parody of quasi-true events!
Tim and I recently spent a weekend with Maxine, an elderly widowed friend. She’s lived alone for years and was quite excited when Tim and I accepted her invitation to spend a weekend at her house. When she opened the door to let us in, she didn’t look well, but I assumed that we awakened her from an afternoon nap.
Maxine has always been quite the hostess and she handed Tim and me a thick, chocolate drink served in her prized Waterford goblets after she set a lovely plate filled with cheese, crackers, and dip on the coffee table.
“Is that gorgonzola cheese?” I asked politely, noting the deep blue swirls.
“What’s that? Oh, just a minute. Where did I put that hearing aid?” Maxine seemed to be looking in the extra crystal goblets sitting on the counter. “Well, I’ll find it later. I always do,” she smiled sweetly. “That’s Swiss. How do you like it?”
I’ve told my husband a million times to drink slowly, that gulping the entire beverage at once belongs to college boys. So, when I saw Tim chugging down that delicious chocolate drink, I just rolled my eyes. That’s when the choking started. One Heimlich manuever later, and Maxine’s hearing aid rolled across the carpet.
“Just like magic!” Maxine joyfully exclaimed as she picked up “her ear” off the floor.
Why do I never think to bring our video camera on trips?
When suppertime approached, Maxine asked if Tim and I would mind preparing dinner as she was experiencing some indigestion from something she believed she ate at lunch. Glad to be of service to our dear friend, we followed Maxine to the kitchen where she opened the pantry door and gave us free rein to choose supper from stacks of canned goods while she returned to the family room and stretched out on a recliner.
“Ugh. Not this!”
Tim’s eyes bugged out as he beheld the broth seeping from a seam. ”I’ll find the trash can, Cyndi.”
By the time he returned, I had carefully examined every box of jello, cake mix, and canned good on the middle shelf. “This pantry is nothing short of a lethal weapon!” I handed him a bottle. “The date on this is 1990.”
“What is it?” Tim is curious by nature.
“It was honey. I don’t know what you’d call it now. Poison maybe?”
“We’d better get Maxine. She ought to get rid of the expired foods.”
Maxine hobbled to the pantry holding her abdomen. “There’s nothing wrong with anything in there,” she insisted.
“But, Maxine, most of this stuff is from the early 90s. It’s—”
“And you can’t buy it anywhere now for those prices.” She was beaming with pride at her shopping prowess.
“What’s that noise?” Tim wondered, looking from me to Maxine.
“Just my innards,” Maxine explained.
Tim and I looked at each other. Someone had to ask the question, but Mr. Curiosity was suddenly silent.
“Maxine?” I purred.
“Hmm?” she groaned.
“What did you have for lunch today?”
She held her middle with both hands as she shuffled to the sink. Holding up an empty can wrapped in faded paper, she announced, “Stew. But I won’t buy anymore of that brand, I can tell you. It was so stiff that I had to use a knife to get it out of the can. Darn manufacturers trying to cut corners. They think we won’t notice. But I’m onto them, don’t you worry about that!”
Tim took the can from her and, for a minute, I thought he was having a heart issue because the color drained from his face. “Maxine, the expiration date is 22 years old!”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you! Those food companies aren’t making food like they used to.” Maxine looked over at me. “Did you find something you can make for us for supper, honey?”
The look that passes all understanding passed between Tim and me. “Maxine,” Tim asked, ”when’s the last time you went out to dinner?”
“Well, that depends on how you define dinner.”
“How does a steak, baked potato, and salad at the Lone Star sound?”
Maxine’s face lit up like her 85th birthday cake. “I’ll be ready in two minutes, honey.” She was holding her tummy like it held her savings account. “I just need to freshen up first.” She winked as she shuffled past me. ”That’s code for using the bathroom.”
“Thank you,” I silently mouthed to Tim, giving him my most grateful smile.
“Cyndi, I want you to have me put down if I get—”
“Now don’t worry about lunch tomorrow, you two.” Maxine poked her head around the corner. “I’ve already made us a jello salad. I’ve been saving that cherry jello and canned peaches for a special treat.”
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (KJV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photograph by Cynthia Howerter © 2013
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