A weekly blog, by author Leslie K. Howard, filled with spiritual, uplifting thoughts to help you get through your week

Posts tagged ‘Faith’


Surviving The Storm

SandyFive years ago the east coast of the United States was attacked by Super Storm Sandy. Millions of people were without power for over a week.  Thousands had to evacuate and many lost their homes to the storm surge. According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) there were 117 death associated with Sandy.  Parts of the New Jersey coast were devastated and some have yet to fully recover.

The Howard household had its share of damage; A very tall Pine tree fell and pulled up most of our back patio while simultaneously destroying our fence.  We suffered roof damage too but all in all, it was minimal and could have been costly had we not good insurance.

So here we are March 14, 2017 on the precipice of another storm.  This time we are getting a blizzard with snow expected to reach up to 2 feet with high winds and bone chilling cold.  And again the Howard’s have to get ready. So I thought this would be a good time to share with you how we got through Hurricane Sandy and how we plan to get through this monster snow storm.

Preparation:  In the book of Matthew the bible tells the Parable of The Ten Virgins who were waiting for the Bride Groom to arrive. Five were ready and five were not.  While the first five prepared themselves by filling their oil lamps, the other five, didn’t. The ones who had oil told those who didn’t to go and purchase some from the market.  While they went shopping the Bride Groom arrived and took the prepared virgins into the banquet. The unprepared virgins were not allowed in. Moral of the parable….  Always be prepared.

Before you send me letters, I know the story is about preparing for the second coming of Jesus and not for a storm.  However, we can apply the story to our everyday lives.  With that in mind, let me share with you how my husband and I prepared for Sandy.

I used to run the food pantry at our church.  I’d shop and stock our shelves with food  for people in need.  I tried to get items that were easy to prepare and would hold them over for a few days.  So as I went to the market to get provisions for our home, I shopped for many of the same items.  Because of the intensity of the storm we wanted to be prepared for a week without power. Later I’ll share my recipes with you. Here’s what we purchased.

  • Cash (we didn’t purchase cash. LOL)
  • Locate nearest shelter
  • 7 Gallons of Water (drink 1 gallon per day)
  • Instant oatmeal (individual packages)
  • Canned chili with no beans
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Instant Rice (The boil in bag kind)
  • Chunky Beef Soup
  • Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Progresso Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Canned vegetables (Green Beans, Carrots, Corn)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned Corned Beef Hash
  • Canned Chicken
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Crackers
  • Tea
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Canned peaches
  • Rasins
  • 24 Sternos
  • Sterno Chafing Racks
  • Aluminum Pans
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Paper Plates
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Disposable Cups
  • Toilet Paper
  • Napkins
  • Garbage Bags
  • Refill any prescribed medicine
  • Tylenol (or OTC pain medicine of your choice)
  • Cold or Allergy Meds
  • Toothpaste
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Baby Wipes ( Do Not Flush Down Toilet)
  • Blankets
  • Comforters
  • Battery Operated Radio
  • Flash lights
  • Old Brooklyn Lantern
  • Candles
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Batteries
  • Manual powered Can Opener
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Fill Bathtub with water (have an additional bucket or two filled with water)
  • 1 Brick

Hurricaine Sandy hit New Jersey October 29th  around 8pm.  Our power went out during the night but we were able to sleep in our bedroom for two nights. Our children were grown and living with their mates so it was just Hubby and me.  After the second night we could no longer sleep upstairs so we moved our living quarters downstairs.

We bundled and snuggled together laughing, talking and enjoying  our candle light.  We put our sterno racks on the dining room table filled the aluminum trays with water and lit the sternos.  This was our source of cooking and heat.  When we finished cooking we poured the hot water into the bathroom sink so we could wash our bodies. We refilled the trays with water for heat and hot beverages.

After a day or so our home was getting too cold.  Before the storm hit, we sat down and discussed our survival plans. We made our grocery list, went shopping for anything we didn’t have in the house.  We located our local shelter just in case we had to evacuate.  It was then that I suggested to my husband that we block off one room for our living space.  As the child of a single mother, (with little money) there were a few times when we had no power because the electric bill wasn’t paid. We had to huddle in one room using heavy comforters to cover the doorway, and lit the gas oven for heat.  My husband wasn’t seeing it my way and our discussion got, should I say, “rather heated”.  For some reason he just didn’t agree.  His main concern was if we didn’t allow the heat to move through the house that the pipes might burst.  I understood that but I also knew we had to stay warm.  It’s at times like that a girl has to really pray… Hard!

Well, all I can say is by day two, Girlfriend was much too cold;  and so I got the ladder, hammer and nails and proceeded to secure the comforters over the stairway leading upstairs and the area separating the living room from the dining room.  (after a few heated words, Hubby began to help)  We moved our heating source to the coffee table and we got comfortable and cozy on our living room sofa.  To ease his concerns about the pipes, we allowed the basement and the upstairs bathroom faucets to drip.  Problem solved.

Going to the bathroom was an ad-ven-ture.  Boy was it cold….  I own two pairs of adult footie pajamas and how I wish they had those old-fashioned “Trapped Doors” on the backside.  Needless to say our bathroom activities were as brief as possible.

We filled the tub (and a few extra buckets) with water, just in case our water stopped running. We’d need water to flush the toilet.  We had extra garbage bags just in case we ran out of water and we had to use them for … Ahem… body waste.  Thank God it didn’t come to that.

In the mornings we had instant oatmeal, fruit and tea or corned beef hash.  For lunch we had soup or tuna and crackers. We snacked on peanut butter, crackers, raisins or fruit. And dinner was a gourmet delight.  I prepared spaghetti dinners using Ramen Noodles and the Chili mixed with tomato sauce.  Add a can of string beans and you’ve got a meal.

Another favorite was the Chunky Beef Stew over Instant Rice with Canned Carrots on the side.  Yum!  As a rule, we stay away from canned food and instant noodles but these were desperate times.  We did not use the flavor pack, just the noodles.  When preparing canned veggies, pour off the pre-packaged water and rinse with clean water.  That will eliminate much of the salt.  We drank plenty of water to keep our bodies flushed.  But that meant more trips to bathroom… Brrrrr….

We lived like this for seven whole days.  We’d take turns sleeping so one of us was awake to keep an eye on the fire. Safety First!  When not cooking and not having to be concerned about heat we could relax, read, play cards, sing and act silly. We reminisced about our family when our children were small.  We imagined what our grandchildren would grow up to be. We talked about our future and thanked God for our present.

Everyday my husband would suggest I go to the shelter while he’d stay in the house just in case there was a problem with the pipes. I refused.  I just couldn’t leave him.  I did go to the shelter twice to charge my phone and computer but came back home.  I saw a few neighbors there.  It was very crowded but the community volunteers did a great job keeping the people comfortable.  They had a generator so they could cook meals, show movies and of course allow all us tech hounds recharge our devices.  I really appreciate my community.

Cash came in handy.  Because of the power outage, the ATMs were not working.  Everything was on a cash bases.  At one point the car needed gasoline.  Because the refineries could not process the oil into gasoline New Jersey instituted a gas ration.  Cars with license plates in odd or even numbers could only get fuel on certain days. People not only needed gas for cars but also for generators. As you can guess, the gas lines were long.

On the seventh evening we decided if the power wasn’t restored by the next day, we’d go to the shelter.  Praise God for day eight…. “Then There Was Light”!  We survived!  By the His grace, we survived!  I think Frank and I grew closer as a couple.  Our love was tested but we worked together and with faith in Jesus, we survived the storm.

So now, as I type this blog, the snow has begun fall.  We are expecting another storm. This time up to 2 feet of snow with blizzard conditions are predicted.  We are well prepared with food water and the Word.  My husband is slouched on the other end of sofa, asleep.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I stepped out on to the sun porch to check the weather, and he growled “Close The Door.  It’s Cold!”…. And so, it’s begun.

I hope my little story helped.  Next time a storm comes and your power goes out use some of my tips.  Let me know how you do.

Oh before I go, aren’t you curious about the brick?  Well, let me share.  One night I got sick of sleeping on the sofa and was determined to sleep in my own bed.  I went to the backyard over by the garage and picked up a nice red brick.  I washed off the mud, wrapped it in foil and let it sit in the sterno heated hot water.  I let that brick get good and hot.  I then wrapped it in a few towels and placed it in my bed.  While I washed up and brushed my teeth my bed was getting toasty warm.  When I got under the covers I felt like Goldie Locks.  Ahhhh… Just Right.  I put the brick at the bottom of the bed to keep my feet warm and I was toasty all night long.

Like, Post, Share.  Be Blessed!

It’s Cutting Time Pt. 1

Pruning 1There have sure been a lot of babies born lately.  It’s that time of year you know.  Spring is just around the corner and there is new birth everywhere.  Keep your eyes open for baby birds, squirrels, zoo animals, trees, plants and flowers.  What about us?  After a harsh winter, are we experiencing new birth or are we hanging on to some dead wood that needs to be pruned?

Scripture tells us “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…”  Those words are spoken by Jesus himself ~John 15:1-2.  Notice in the pruning process; both branches that Do and Don Not bear fruit are cut.   A gardener knows if she wants a full fruitful crop then the pruning process must take place.  Now the novice gardener will only cut away the dead leaves and branches, but the skilled gardener knows some good leaves must be cut as well and she knows exactly where to cut.

The Father is the Master Gardner, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  If we are to continue to grow on the vine, some of our leaves and plants must be cut.  There is simply no way around it.  Now no one said this will be easy or painless but if we want healthy spiritual lives then we must submit and not complain during this season.

Pray this with me:

Heavenly Gardener, I know you are making a better me so I will reflect you.  I must admit this cutting is painful; there are honestly some things I can’t let go.  I feel helpless and weakened by them but I can’t bear to part with them.  I’m powerless and I need you to do it for me.  It is for my own good and my growth.  So I freely submit myself to you Father. Cut away the dead, leaves that are bearing no fruit.  Even take away those that appear to be good but aren’t good for me.  Feed me the life cleansing water of the Holy Spirit so I will stay on the vine and produce good fruit.  In Jesus Name Amen!

Be on the lookout for pt. 2.

A Right Time God

A Time 2Yesterday’s sermon was titled “When God Is Silent.” The minister said a lot of things but one in particular came shining through: “God will never leave you nor forsake you. Even when He’s silent He’s right there with you. He’s working behind the scenes preparing so you can receive what He has for you.”

This got me thinking, God like any loving parent is NOT going to give us everything we ask for. He knows we can’t handle everything so He gives us what’s best for us. Now like a wise parent there are somethings He says yes to while there are others He says no. And then there is the wait….. You see He’s saying yes but not now. You can’t handle it now. Although you want it now because you live in a Right Now society; now is not the time. I’ve always intended to give you a red Mustang. Red is a nice color for you and I know you’ll be a responsible driver. But not at age 12. I waited for your 30th birthday. You had matured and was ready. You see it is during the wait that character is built.

Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. ~ Romans 5:3-6

So through the years of 12 and 29 God might be silent (on this issue), but at the right time He speaks loud and clear. We have got to be patient with God and wait on Him. Know this even if He says “No” on this side of glory, the “Yes” on the other side of glory far outweighs and physical thing we can ever have in this world.

God Is Faithful

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” ~Hebrews 10:23.  No matter what, God promises to be faithful to us.  We go through everyday life and people promise to do this or that for us, but they fail.  Perhaps he promised at the altar to love, honor, be faithful, and cherish you til death do us part; and now you are divorced because he’d been out creeping?

Or you have a friend with the ability to hire you but gave the position to someone else. Heart breaking I know.   Yes man (humans) constantly make promises but break them, but scripture tell us the contrary about our God: ” God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Num 23:19.

Oh yes we can depend on God, the Rock of our salvation, to be true, honest and faithful toHis word.  What about you?  Do you trust Him  or are you leaning on your own understanding?   Is your hope truly in Jesus or is your faith wavering?  The word clearly tells us that we will have tests, trials, temptations but Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.  Do you believe Him?  Do you believe that even though it looks bleak right now that His promise to be faithful and never leave you is true?  Or have you lost the hope which you confessed when you first believed? Listen God will give you a real love relationship that will make that other one a far and distant memory. That position you’ve been praying for, He will deliver it to you and it will be ten times better than the one you think you lost because it was God and not man who delivered it to you.  For He prepared it especially for you with Your Name on it!  Can I get an Amen here?

Your job in all of this is to have Faith and Trust in God.  Scripture says it best:  ” Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” Ps 37:4  Hoekstra  Commentary says “We can cling tightly to the promises of God. We can confidently hope in God fulfilling His promises to us. We do not need to waver in doubt, because God is reliable. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. “

Be Not Afraid

The word for today:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;…You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,… Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;…” Psalms 91:1-2,4-5&14.

Terror threats, fires, floods storms, earthquakes and droughts are all part of our daily lives. But we cannot live our lives in fear. Our trust is in The Lord our God,. He and He alone is our protection- our refuge- our strength. Let us not quiver and live in fear, for this is what the enemy wants. He wants to place us in a constant state of fear so as to chip away at our faith. NO my sisters he will not succeed because our victory is already won! It is assured because our Lord Jesus Lives! Walk everyday in victory.

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Living Faith

What if you lived your life by faith?  I mean totally by faith, what would it look like? Does living by faith mean throwing caution to the wind?  For example, if you want a new car does it mean forgoing paying your rent and light bill to provide the down payment?  Reasoning “The Lord will take care of my needs.” Does it mean, because you had a dream about marrying a man that you immediately claim the new guy at church yours?  Name it and claim it.

Faith doesn’t mean you don’t accept reality.  However what it does mean is you have, through the working of the Holy Spirit, the ability to see things not as they are but as they will be. It is as the scripture says in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Okay so, what if you lived every moment as if it was already done by God?  Would you turn in the best projects at work?  Would you treat your enemy with love?  Would you forgive the person who wronged you?  Would you do all you’re supposed to do and not stress about how the situation is going to turn out? Would you walk each day knowing you’re blessed?  Sounds to me if you are doing this then you are living by faith.  When we walk by faith and not by sight we live life in a contented state.  We consult God asking what He wants for us; then we accept His will, whether things turn out in our favor or not.  Living by faith is not about us acquiring things; it’s all about our trust relationship with the Lord.  Living in a state of contentment is pure evidence that we are living by faith.

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