--- Isaiah 40:31
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
Socks, socks, and more socks! It looked like my dryer contained more men’s socks than the Gold Toe sock display at Macy’s.
The sight of so many socks now piled on top of the dryer made me exasperated. My best estimate told me there must be at least 50 socks that I needed to match, fold, and put away. I definitely was not pleased with this menial, time-consuming chore.
“It’s all in a person’s perspective. You can either find the blessing and be grateful or find the fault and feel awful.” I could hear my friend Miss Caroline explain the value of perspective as clearly as if she stood next to me. It made me take a second look at the sock pile.
I suddenly realized several important things:
My disdain at having to fold so many socks turned to joy when I adjusted my perspective. A chore that could be viewed as drudgery was actually a blessing.
What things in your life need a change in perspective?
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Photograph by Cynthia Howerter © 2013Read More
My son often spoke of the spectacular view from Mill Mountain near Roanoke, Virginia. Several days ago, after locking the door to his apartment, Justin and I walked to my SUV. “Mom, how about driving to the look-out before we leave for Richmond? I’d really like you to see the view.”
Minutes later, we were driving on a narrow road that curled its way up the steep and heavily wooded mountain. “Justin, look how far you can see into the forest,” I said as my eyes beheld beautiful rock formations and waterfalls usually hidden by dense vegetation.
Justin gazed out his window at the woods’ treasures. “You know, Mom, if you walk through this forest when the leaves are out, you can’t see anything else in the woods – not even another person who might be only 20 feet away. You could easily think you’re all alone in there.”
“But once the leaves come down, you can see everything clearly—even someone walking a quarter-mile away.”
Slowing the SUV as we approached a sharp curve, I noted the absence of guard rails as I looked down the steep drop-off just feet away. A car could go over the side and no one would know if the foliage was out! Heart pounding, I looked quickly back at the road.
“Mom,” his voice pausing, “this forest is just like a person’s life.”
“What do you mean, Justin?”
“Well, everyone has problems, but when we keep them to ourselves, it’s like we’re surrounded by thick foliage that makes us feel isolated. The leaves also keep others from seeing what we’re going through.”
I nodded, taking in the wisdom of Justin’s analogy.
“But when we speak about our problems, the leaves fall to the ground and we realize that we’re not alone in the woods; other people – people with all kinds of problems - are walking just feet away. Once we share our experiences, we can see things more clearly. Then we can find the path that leads us out of the forest.”
“Mom, if I hadn’t told Megan about the problem I was going through, I’d never have known that she’d gone through the same thing. And I’d still be in that forest, unable to see that someone close to me had already been there and found the way out.”
We reached the mountaintop and stood silently, our view of the valley and surrounding mountains unobstructed, until a piercing wind hurried us back to the warmth of our vehicle. Together, just an arm’s width apart, we found our way down the rugged mountain road.
“Ready to go home, son?” I asked when we reached the gently rolling valley that spread out before us.
“Ready, Mom. The road we need is right up ahead.” Justin turned toward me and smiled.
Are you allowing foliage to make you feel alone, afraid, overwhelmed, discouraged? Do you feel like a failure? Do you think you’re the only one going through a rough time?
Cut that foliage down today. There’s more people in the woods with you than you could ever imagine.
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
But if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photographs by Cynthia Howerter © 2013
Happy New Year, dear friends!
I have the best readers. A number of you contacted me when you weren’t seeing new posts recently on Soar With Eagles to make certain I was all right. My heart is so touched by your concern. Thank you. Not only am I fine, but—
I’ve been busy writing and compiling an anthology, God’s Provision in Tough Times, along with my wonderful co-author, Christian writer, speaker, and vocalist La-Tan Roland Murphy. I never imagined how much work goes into writing a book, let alone an anthology. It’s safe to say that La-Tan didn’t either!
Because our book needs to be completed and turned into our Publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, by mid-January, La-Tan and I have been writing and working feverishly to acquire, read, write, edit, and assemble the stories. That is no minor task when fifteen writers are contributing their own stories in addition to the ones La-Tan and I have written! But, everything is falling into place according to schedule. (No, really, La-Tan, it is!).
God couldn’t have given me a more perfect co-author in La-Tan Murphy. Although we only knew each other by sight and name when we began working on the book, we’ve delightfully discovered how alike we are and how easy it is to work with each other. (Oh, no! Is it giggle time again, sweet La-Tan?!).
God’s Provision in Tough Times is an anthology of true stories written by people who have not only personally experienced unemployment and financial hardship, but God’s provision when all looked lost. A reader doesn’t need to have experienced unemployment to appreciate the heartfelt stories of a God who knows each person’s every need and provides for them during times of adversity.
God’s Provision in Tough Times is scheduled to be published on May 1st, and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. <–Click here to go to the Amazon.com page for God’s Provision in Tough Times.
Please tell others, especially those who are unemployed or facing financial hardship and are in need of godly encouragement, about this spiritually uplifting book.
As far as Soar With Eagles’ articles, expect to see regular posts from me once again.
Be sure to visit the websites for La-Tan Murphy and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas by clicking on their highlighted names. You’ll get to know La-Tan, and don’t forget to check out the books that Lighthouse has published for other authors.
I’m asking God to bless each of you and your families in the new year. Thank you for being faithful friends and readers.
(Okay, La-Tan, I’m getting back to the book now. ).
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More