Through the lace curtains at my kitchen window, I watch the first snowflakes—as big as goose feathers—fall from the gray November sky. Scents of cinnamon and pumpkin waft through the room when I open the oven, and when my eyes catch sight of the oil lamp on the cherry farmhouse table, my thoughts follow the curving lane to the old farmhouse where Alice and Ed, my maternal grandparents, raised their children during the Great Depression.
Although my parents moved hundreds of miles away after their marriage, my mother’s thoughts frequently traveled to her childhood home. She loved nothing better than to gather my siblings and me next to her as she told us about her childhood on the 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 to visit.
When harsh winds rattled the shuttered windows and blew swirling snow across the barren 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 old single-pane windows covered with condensation as much from conversation as from the heat of the wood burning cook stove where a chicken roasted in the oven.
The old farmhouse, which originally belonged to Ed’s parents, had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heat. Bathtubs, toilets, and even a kitchen sink were non-existent. Things weren’t any better outside. Three Belgian work horses—Fred, Maude, and Prince—pulled the plow and heavy wagons. Faith and a person’s own strength and determination kept the farm going when the economy and adverse weather interfered. Although parents and children worked hard from early morning to evening, my mother’s stories were never ones of complaining.
The day before Thanksgiving, Grandma Alice, bundled up against the raw wind, killed and dressed well-fed turkeys for customers from town who gave their orders weeks in advance. Once all of the poultry orders were filled, Alice killed the turkey she would cook for her own family. After Grandpa Ed finished the outdoor chores, he opened the old dovetailed chest in the guest bedroom and pulled out his hunting clothes. After dinner, he sharpened his knife on a stone 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 when 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 dependent 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 eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Deuteronomy 8:10 (NIV)
To God be the Glory
Cynthia Howerter © 2011, 2012, 2013Read More
There are times in a person’s life that are difficult to describe with words. Even if you are a writer.
Can the setting of a wedding capture the essence of two people’s joie de vivre?
Can the perfectly played notes of Bach’s Wachet Auf stir the passion in a person’s heart?
Who can read the thoughts of a father whose only and beloved daughter is about to embark on a new life with another man?
How does one describe love?
Is there a look, an expression that conveys one heart’s desire to commit to another for a lifetime?
What makes the ecstasy of joy so contagious?
How can someone’s happiness touch so many hearts?
Will you remember the description of a setting or the picture forever engraved on your heart?
This is a way to say that all of the prayers you’ve ever prayed for the spouse that God ordained for you have been perfectly answered.
Congratulations, my precious daughter Megan Kelly and wonderful new son Tyler!
All photographs by John Nettles, Jr., of City Light Studio, Charleston, South Carolina. ©John Nettles, Jr. http://citylightcharleston.com
A special thank you to Karen Hewitt Hagan and Sandra Ericksen of www.CharlestonGardenWedding.com, 27 1/2 State Street, French Quarter Gallery District, Charleston, South Carolina, for providing their beautiful art gallery (Hagan Fine Art Gallery – http://haganfineart.com ) for Megan and Tyler’s wedding.
We also thank our incredible wedding officiant, Christy Loftin, who guided Megan and Tyler through the spiritual and legal details of their Charleston wedding, and who, unflustered and with great poise, conducted the wedding ceremony in candlelight due to a spur-of-the-moment electrical outage. http://christyloftin.com, and on Facebook: Details Charleston.
To God be the Glory!
© Cynthia Howerter 2013
There are times when we all need to reflect, if only for a few minutes. It’s not that difficult to manage, even in the midst of a great whirlpool of busyness. I like to settle into our comfy sofa with a mug of coffee while I gaze through the windows into our woods and let my mind wander.
I’ve found that as I sip my coffee and take in God’s creation, my mind usually lights on things that need contemplation.
When God moved us to Virginia, we purchased a home in a neighborhood that was just being built. Only one other house was occupied on our street when we moved in.
I yearned for a neighbor who could be my friend. Ideally, I wanted a woman about my age who shared at least some of my interests. And so, I waited patiently for this unknown woman and her family to buy a house on my street.
After 15 months, the sound of a chain saw roused me one morning. I was thrilled to see that the lot next to ours was finally being prepared for a new house because I just knew the friend I longed for was going to buy that house and my happily ever after would soon come to fruition.
So when the realtor told me that a young couple with two little ones and a newborn purchased the house that I thought my unknown woman friend should buy, I was not happy. Not at all.
You see, I am a writer and writers need quiet so they can concentrate and create stories. Visions of loud plastic wheels scraping on the pavement outside my office window made me close my eyes and shudder. Noisy children have the potential to interrupt a creative streak. I did the math and I was not happy.
I should know by now that God’s plans are not our plans.
So I turned to prayer. I asked God to give me a loving heart toward my new neighbors (who I knew would be yelling at their very loud children!).
But God could see a much bigger picture and He did so much more than what I asked.
It turns out that the three little children are beautifully behaved. And quiet. Their parents are a delight. The family of five are the smiling-est people I’ve ever encountered, and they never fail to say hello.
Whenever the older children see my husband and me, they run straight to us and jump into our arms. The baby looks at us and smiles. Memories of our own children when they were little ones ignite and glow in our hearts each time we see the three little treasures next door.
The parents nearly always take a minute or more to chat with hubby and me when we’re outside. I often wonder if they realize how much joy they and their beauties bring into our lives.
Isn’t that just like God? He took my prayer request and answered it better than I could have imagined. But I might have not been aware of His blessing had I not taken time to be still and ponder.
My empty mug signals the end of my reflection time and I walk back to my computer to create. You see, I am a writer and I need to be surrounded by joy.
Take a few minutes to reflect on your life, especially if you feel frustrated or trapped. What hidden blessings are revealed to you as you relax and let your mind contemplate?
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More
Recently, my daughter Megan and I traveled together to Pennsylvania. Light-hearted and serious conversations peppered our three-day trip. We laughed, we reminisced, we sang along to our favorite songs. We caught up on each other’s life.
When the trip finally came to a reluctant end, Megan made me promise that we will take a trip together—just the two of us—every year. Of course, it’s a promise I wanted to make, and one that I intend to keep.
I know my daughter very well and we immensely enjoy each other’s company. Why? Because we’ve spent a lot time together. Time talking. Time listening. Time focusing on each other. That’s how good relationships are built.
It’s the same with our relationship with God. When we spend time reading the Bible, we come to really know God. We learn what pleases Him and what He desires for us. When we spend time praying, God listens as we tell Him about ourselves, our heart’s desires, and our situations.
Do you know what your most priceless possession is? It’s your time. Spend it well. After all, once your time is spent, you can never get it back.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22: 6 (KJV)
P. S. Don’t forget to enter the Book Giveaway Contest for God’s Provision in Tough Times! 5 people will each win a copy of the book! The contest will end Friday, August 9, and the 5 winners will be announced. All you have to do is: 1) Be a SWE’s subscriber, and 2) Leave a comment. Be sure to state whether you’d prefer a paperback or Kindle version of God’s Provision in Tough Times.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
It’s the one day each year set aside to honor women who are mothers. Why are we mothers? The obvious reason is because we bore babies and birthed them into this world or adopted children in need of a mom, but the heart of the matter is that we are mothers because God gives us children.
It’s funny, but in all the hoopla surrounding Mother’s Day, I rarely hear anyone mention God’s hand in motherhood. It seems like it would be obvious.
While science makes it possible to collect sperm and eggs and combine them in a test tube to create a human life, I know of no person or process able to create sperm or eggs except God.
This morning when I walked into the kitchen to find three beautiful cards and a bouquet of fresh flowers wishing me a happy Mother’s Day, I remembered immediately who really gave me those two beauties I call son and daughter.
Thank You, God, for my precious children and for the joy and love they have brought to my life. Thank You, Father God, for my own mother, for her love, guidance, and Godly wisdom which, through your grace, continues at age 89. Thank You, Lord, for my two grandmothers, Alice and Anna, now in glory with You, who brought such love and happiness into their family’s lives, with their eyes firmly and constantly on You.
Thank You, God, for Mother’s Day.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:25-29 (ESV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!