--- Isaiah 40:31
I was more than ready to throw in the towel on my writing career for a multitude of reasons, but the vehicle that drove my desire to quit was the “middle school slumber party syndrome.” You see, whenever my daughter attended slumber parties during her middle school years, she always arrived home the following day with a severe case of crankiness and an uncanny ability to see the negative in everything. Hence, my name for this emotional state of mind.
I’ve learned, however, that the middle school slumber party syndrome isn’t unique to young teen girls with sleep deprivation. It can be seen in either sex at any age when a person is in any way deprived of adequate sleep. Perhaps you’ve observed this, too?
So after spending five nights sleeping poorly on a sofa while staying with a close friend in crisis, I experienced an acute case of MSSPS. During the four-hour drive back to my home, every negative reason why I should quit writing entered my brain—and made complete sense to me.
Fortunately at one point, I remembered that it always works out best for me when I consult God before making any big decisions, so after asking Him for godly discernment, I focused on listening for His response.
Twenty minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was our long-time family friend Don Wentz calling to tell me how much he’d enjoyed reading God’s Provision in Tough Times. Don explained that he’d read one story each morning as a sort of devotional, and that the stories provided him with encouragement and inspiration for his day. Don then asked when my next book is due to come out.
“Really?” my startled brain responded. “Don, let me ask you a question—and please give me an honest answer. Do you think my writing’s any good? Because I’m seriously thinking about quitting writing.”
“Don’t quit. I mean it,” Don replied. “You’ve been given a gift to write about everyday circumstances from an encouraging perspective. And God’s Provision? I needed each of those stories. I think you’re under spiritual attack. Whatever you do, don’t quit writing.”
Could this be God’s response to my prayer? I had to know. “Don, what made you call me just now?”
“Well, I felt a sudden powerful urge to pick up the phone and tell you how much your writing means to me. I believe it was the Lord putting it on my heart.”
I knew immediately that Don’s call was the Lord’s response to me seeking His will.
The evil one will use any means to derail us from doing God’s will. He knows that our resistance is low when we’re tired, frustrated, hungry, lonely, or feeling down. But rather than following through with decisions made under duress, we need to remember that we can never go wrong seeking God and His plan for our lives.
Satan took full advantage of my exhaustion and almost had me fooled, but when I remembered to seek the Lord, God sent a faithful servant to guide me back onto the right path.
The Lord will work out His plans for my life—for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me. Psalm 138:8 (NIV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More
Have you ever read a story that never leaves you? For me, it’s the monk story.
More than 10 years ago, I sat in a waiting room where, rather than waste time, I flipped through the pages of a magazine until an article captured my attention.*
The author had long dreamed of being a monk, but because a 9-5 paying job seemed more practical, he chose that route instead. Years passed and although he was successful, he never forgot his heart’s desire.
One day the author saw a newspaper article about a local monastery. For men who wanted to consider entering monastic life, the monastery was holding a four-week retreat. Qualified applicants would live at the monastery and participate in its activities. At the program’s conclusion, participants could decide whether or not they wanted to enter the monastic order.
The author’s application was accepted and after checking in on the first day, he was shown to his quarters. His stark, doorless room contained a single bed, dresser, desk and chair.
After unpacking, he and the other would-be monks attended an orientation where they were given their itinerary for the next month.
The author was stunned to learn that morning prayers and vespers began at 3:30 a.m.—attendance mandatory. After an early breakfast, assigned chores were performed in silence until lunch. Afternoons were spent in silent study, and once evening vespers ended, the men returned to their rooms where they remained silent.
Assigned to wash the monastery’s floors, the author thought his chore not so bad until he learned that he would scrub the floors on his hands and knees—in silence. The work was painful, exhausting. Hours of silence magnified the harshness. This was not what the author imagined when he dreamed of monastic life.
After lunch on the fourth day, the author returned to his room and began packing. When the head monk walked past the open doorway, he stopped and asked the author why he was leaving.
The author explained that life in the monastery was nothing like he’d imagined. The hours were long and the work was difficult. And then there was the silence. The painful, lonely silence. It was all too much, too difficult for the author to bear. He couldn’t see himself serving God this way for the next 15 or 20 years.
To the author’s surprise, the head monk didn’t try to persuade him to stay, but rather agreed with everything he’d said. Life at the monastery was unbearably difficult. Why, during his many years there, life had never once gotten easier for him. If anything, it sometimes became harder.
Shocked, the author asked the head monk how he was able to stay.
“As much as I love God and want to serve Him, if I viewed my life as though I had twenty or thirty years left here at the monastery, I couldn’t handle it. I’d pack my bags and leave.
“But God uses the difficulty, the austerity, the silence to teach me perspective. I’ve learned to look at my life one day at a time. When I do that, I can get through the hardships that each day brings. There are some days so difficult that I need to look at my life in one hour - or even one minute - increments or I’d be overwhelmed and give up.
“God has taught me to view my life in manageable amounts. That’s how I get through the unbearable. That’s how I stay. That’s how I’m able to serve the Lord.”
After letting the monk’s words sink in for several minutes, the author removed his clothing from his suitcase.
“What are you doing?” the monk asked.
“I know I can make it till dinner.”
Life is difficult. It can be downright brutal. But I know I can make it through today. What about you? How do you get through the toughest of days? Let me hear from you!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
* I regret that I cannot recall the name of the author or the magazine so that I can give both their due credit and my appreciation. If anyone should recognize this story, please contact me. It is not my wish to take credit for this story.
Cynthia Howerter © 2011, 2013Read More
It’s September and time for some updated photos in the slider! I hope you enjoy the fall scenes and the new eagles. Did you notice the change in the banner at the top? (Make sure you’ve clicked on “Soar With Eagles” in the very small blue letters at the bottom of your email notice to view the home page).
Here in the South, it’s still quite hot, but while visiting a dear friend in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains this week, I saw several trees with colored leaves. Are the leaves beginning to change where you live? Have you noticed autumn’s nip in the air yet?
Once September arrived, the geese began flying in large V-shaped flocks, mornings and evenings were a little cooler, and the firewood man delivered the cherry and oak logs for our fireplace. We purchased and froze gallons of fresh apple cider to be used for hot, fragrant wassail throughout the cold days of fall and winter.
The sweet fragrance of summer grass gave way to the scent of damp, musty earth in our garden, transitioning from the growing season to dormancy while pungent chrysanthemums contributed a splash of color. Tim diligently raked leaves every weekend, and by mid- to late-October, the children and I watched daily for the first snow flurries.
Flocks of wild turkeys rustled in the fallen leaves carpeting our large woods—and sometimes appeared on our second-floor deck—scavenging for acorns and walnuts scattered on the ground by fall rains and wind. Cardinals, black-capped chickadees, and finches flocked to our bird feeder to feast on black-oil sunflower seeds while nuthatches navigated the rough bark on the oak tree next to the deck. The nocturnal hoots of great-horned owls grew louder as they roosted closer to our house in the aged oak trees.
As nights lengthened and frosts appeared, small crackling fires in our large center-house fireplace burned, mostly for the ambience. Mugs of hot chocolate topped with gooey mounds of marshmallow warmed little hands while the fire’s dancing flames mesmerized tired children and parents at day’s end.
Window screens were removed and snow shovels replaced garden tools next to the garage door. Tantalizing scents of cinnamon-laced pumpkin bread and pies filled the house and caused loved ones to ask if they would be able to eat some for that evening’s dessert. The freezer gradually filled with vegetables, meats, and baked goods to be used throughout the long winter.
Prayers of gratefulness began and ended each day and preceded every meal, the four of us understanding that the bountiful goodness in our lives is a loving gift from the One who faithfully provides.
What do you love about autumn? What are your favorite memories of crisp fall days? I’d love to hear them!
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
Psalm 95:2 (NIV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More
Hello dear friends,
I have an article at Colonial Quills today! You won’t want to miss this post about historic Smithfield Plantation and its owner, William Preston, an American Patriot. Smithfield Plantation is located adjacent to Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. Click here to go directly to Cynthia’s article: Colonial Quills.Read More
Writer Vicki Moss is showcasing one of my stories today in her article, “Moving on to God’s Best,” that appears in The American Daily Herald. Here’s the link for her article: http://www.americandailyherald.com/pundits/vicki-h-moss/item/moving-on-to-god-s-best. Just click on the link and you’ll go straight to Vicki’s article. I know you will enjoy it.
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More