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
While I watch the wind blow the last of the colored leaves to the ground, my thoughts follow the dirt lane to the old farmhouse where my maternal grandparents raised their children during the Great Depression. It’s a house I visited many times while listening to my mother’s childhood stories. I toured it once recently when the present owner invited me inside.
Although my mother and father moved hundreds of miles away after their marriage, my mother’s thoughts frequently traveled to her childhood home. She loved nothing better than to scoop up my siblings and me and take us with her as she recalled her childhood on a farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania – stories I treasured and passed on to my own little ones.
Mother spoke of a life filled with an abundance of indoor and outdoor chores and of nearby relatives who frequently stopped by on Sunday afternoons for visits. On stifling summer days, the adults visited in the shade of the large front porch while the children took turns cranking the handle of an ice cream freezer on the grass under a shade tree.
When the harsh winter wind rattled the shuttered windows and forced snow to swirl across the bare fields, it was the kitchen that was the center of Mother’s family’s life, mostly because it was the only room in the house that was heated. Family and guests gathered there, the single-paned windows steamed from the conversations.
The old farmhouse, which originally belonged to Mother’s grandparents, had no electricity, indoor plumbing or central heat. Bathtubs, toilets and even a kitchen sink were non-existent. Things weren’t any better outside. There was no tractor or modern farm equipment. Keeping the farm going depended on horses and one’s own strength and determination. Parents and children worked hard from early morning to evening, but my mother’s stories were never ones of complaining.
The day before Thanksgiving, Grandma Alice killed and dressed turkeys for customers from town who gave their orders in advance. Once the poultry orders were filled, Alice killed the turkey she would cook for her own family. Grandpa Ed finished the outdoor chores, then got out his hunting clothes and sharpened his knife and cleaned his gun. The days immediately after Thanksgiving were hunting days and Ed needed to hunt game to help supplement his family’s food supply.
The Great Depression was in full force and money was scarce for my mother’s family. Mother often said that while she and her siblings were growing up, they never realized how primitively they lived on the farm. A person can’t miss what they don’t know, she explained.
Something inside my heart was soothed when Mother spoke of the contentment that was felt at the end of each day as the family gathered at the dinner table and her father thanked the Lord for His generous provisions. Grandpa Ed and Grandma Alice made it clear to their children that, but for the Lord’s benevolence, their harvests would be small and their needs large.
My grandparents have long since gone to be with the Lord, and their farm has changed hands several times since they sold it. But my mother’s stories taught me that when a family realizes that they’re dependant upon the Lord to provide for all of their needs – as well as their blessings – every day is Thanksgiving Day.
May your Thanksgiving Day be joyous, may you be surrounded by your loved ones, and may you give thanks and praise to the One who provides for your every need.
“When you have all you want to eat, then praise the Lord your God for giving you a good land.” Deuteronomy 8:10.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011, 2012Read More
Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away.
Is your camera ready? Batteries charged? Space on the card?
Great!! Now let’s go through the basics of how to take better photos for your family get togethers.
You may not think this is a biggy. But it is. We’ve all had someone with a camera, getting in our face, snapping away while we chew food. Not cool! As a professional, I want my subjects to feel at ease. If they think I’ll post an unattractive shot, they won’t relax for me.
So, how do you do this? Promise them you’ll delete bad shots. Take a couple of good shots, then let them view them. They’ll relax when they can trust you.
2) Simplify your background!
Crop out unnecessary parts of the picture.
It does involve some effort. But it’s worth it!
a) Find the timer button on your camera.
b) Get your tripod out, or use a stack of books on a chair.
c) Pick a location that can fit all your subjects. Outside in the yard, on a porch, in the family room. Decide beforehand.
d) Give clear directions to the group to meet at a certain time and have your camera ready. Hit the timer button and run to get in the shot!
These are the kind of pictures that show the whole room or whole table. Maybe a driveway full of cars.
Does grandma make homemade cranberry sauce? Take a picture.
Does she bake a certain cake? Take a picture.
Try the picture from a higher perspective. Or on a table.
Is someone dancing on the Wii? Take a shot from in front of them and from behind. See which works better.
The list could go on. These suggestions should get you thinking.
But what about you? Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving memory? Can you share it with us?
Or what about an idea that might be neat for a picture? Share your thoughts and let’s make this Thanksgiving a year to remember!
My yard, wearing its leaf-woven quilt, had been raked and mulched. A crisp cold wind blew its way down my mountain hollow, singing its prelude to winter. Frost diamonds glistened atop pumpkins destined for decorations on my farmhouse porch. All the vegetables from our garden had been preserved in glass jars and lined spring house shelves, joining sister jars of plump summer blackberries.
The season of thankfulness had arrived. Time to bow the knee and fling praises toward heaven for harvest gifts and blessings bestowed. The calendar confirmed the natural signs. I had decorated the altar table at church with a cornucopia of fall’s offering, wheat sheaves and a painting of an older man saying grace over his bountiful table. I was going through the motions, but my heart was heavy and not even the slightest thanks could penetrate the sorrow barrier binding my spirit.
Earlier that week, I retrieved my tablecloth from the dining room credenza and underneath the heirloom covering were place cards inscribed with family members’ names. I remembered the excitement of finding the beautiful cards in an antique shop and rejoicing over how they would complement my grandmother’s tablecloth. I lovingly picked them up and pressed them to my heart.
The name of my son’s fiancé was on top, the beautiful young woman who died of a brain aneurism shortly after accepting Brad’s proposal of marriage; Gretchen was twenty-eight. Next in the stack was the name of my own precious daughter who passed away after a courageous battle with breast cancer; Brooke was thirty-four. My mother’s name was on the next card, the mother who died six months after my daughter’s death. Tears fell, leaving smudges on the beloved names. How could I have a spirit of thankfulness after such tragedies? I crumbled in a heap of overwhelming sadness.
Through my sobs slowly came a realization: I was so fortunate having had these amazing women in my life, two of them only for a short season. How could I not celebrate with thankfulness their grace and beauty?
It was Gretchen who started the tradition of giving me a flower arrangement for our Thanksgiving table every year. Brooke carried on Gretchen’s custom until her own death. I had not been able to face flowers since Gretchen and Brooke’s passing, and had started serving Thanksgiving dinner on TV trays to avoid the memories made around the holiday table. I decided to renew the floral tradition to honor those memories and in thankfulness for Brooke and Gretchen’s lives.
This year, I will again set our holiday table, and embrace Morgan, the lovely young woman God has graciously brought into Brad’s life. As for the name cards, I will give them a place of honor on the sideboard.
We will once again hold hands, offer thanks for our blessings, for those around the table, and those who have left our sight but not our hearts.
Sweet readers, my prayer for your family as they gather together to ask the Lord’s blessings is for love to permeate the room, and that the heaping bowls of food remind you of God’s provision, that grace abounds, and that the memories of loved ones gone on to glory hover close.
Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!
With a thankful heart,
Dee Dee Parker
Thank you, my precious friend Dee Dee, for sharing your beautiful memories and thankful heart with SOAR WITH EAGLES. I’m praying that our Heavenly Father creates an abundance of joyful new memories for you and your family this Thanksgiving.
Author Dee Dee Parker writes of her beloved Appalachia, captivating readers with her tender southern voice. She has written Josie Jo’s Got To Know, a delightful children’s book that can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.josiejo.com. Dee Dee is currently finishing an adult Christmas novella, Peppermint Snow.
Please visit my friend Dee Dee’s website: http://comegohomewithme.blogspot.com
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More
I knew the minute the father checked his Rolex watch that his son wouldn’t be back to our house for a second visit. Acutally, I knew his son was a “one-timer” when the dad glanced into our formal living room and “the look” crossed his face – as in ”there’s-no-furniture-in-their-formal-living-room-look” followed by the “they-aren’t-good-enough-for-us-look.”
It was true: we didn’t have oodles of money. But can a person’s worth really be measured by their possessions or lack thereof?
That summer, my husband’s job caused him to travel frequently, leaving me to fill our two young children’s summer days on a shoestring budget.
After breakfast, my son, daughter and I snuggled together on our sofa, a blanket protecting us from the morning chill. 30 toes peeked out from the cover’s edge while I read a short story aloud.
There were chores to do after dressing for the day. Justin helped Megan with the ones that were hard for her while Lappy Appy, our sturdy Lhasa Apso, supervised. Laughter and giggles filled the air while little ones learned early lessons in responsibility and teamwork.
After lunch, we laced up 30 toes inside sneakers and drove to a nearby park with Lappy Appy where we ran and walked four miles around the shimmering lake, breathing in pine-scented air. When Megan wore out, I carried her in my arms. When Lappy Appy wore out, Justin did his best to lug her in his little arms. When Justin’s arms gave out, Megan climbed onto my back so I could tote Lappy Appy in well-exercised arms.
Collapsing in the hot car, we opened the windows, the wind cooling our sweaty skin and tossing our sun-bleached hair on the drive home.
With 30 tired toes stretched out in the family room, it was entertainment time. Not from TV or video games, but from stories. Oral histories, some people call them.
My children heard accounts of family members’ lives who came before them. They learned about relatives who helped start our country and the high price they paid for freedom. Justin and Megan understood that they were able to have a good life because of their ancestors’ sacrifices.
They learned Old and New Testament stories, and understood that God gives everyone gifts that He expects them to use for His glory, not their own.
While little fingers helped prepare supper, Lappy Appy took care of spills, and after dishes were cleaned and put away, baths refreshed. Then 30 bare toes hurried to the deck. Sitting together on the glider, we watched the moon rise through the trees, a prelude to the Great Horned Owls’ nightly songfest accompanied by a chorus of crickets and katydids.
Cool night air persuaded us to leave the concert and climb the staircase for the final time that evening. Justin and Megan retrieved pillows from their bedrooms and plumped them against the headboard of my large fluffy bed. While Justin and Megan snuggled on either side of me, Lappy Appy stretched across the foot of the bed, head lying on her paws.
Night after night, we accompanied Laura Ingalls and her family on their long journey from the big woods to the prairie. Little hands squeezed my arms when wolves howled and smiles sparkled when Pa played his fiddle. Stopping to turn the page, I saw what could never be purchased: 30 toes evenly lined across my bed. And on nights when Daddy was home, 40 toes fanned across the comforter.
What was it like at Mr. Rolex’s house? My boy was never invited, so I can only guess. Did they make homemade cookies or crank their own ice cream? Did their dad play baseball in their yard with them? Did they sit outside until the wee hours of the morning watching meteor showers and identifying constellations? Did their mom direct singalongs in the car while she drove? Did they listen to raindrop symphonies or ooh and aah at Frankenstein lightning? Did their parents tell them that if they could dream it, they could do it?
Today, Justin and Megan came home for a visit. They are adults now, living and working in distant cities. And between the four of us, we have no fancy watches.
We may not have had an abundance of possessions or money when our children were growing up, but as the four of us sit around our old kitchen table, talking and giggling and enjoying each other’s company, I count 40 priceless toes.
What are some of your favorite family memories? What are you most glad you did when your children were growing up? Leave a comment and tell me!
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3.
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More