by Cynthia Fantasia
It was a glorious, sunny October day. Just a bit windy, though. Like every Sunday, we – aunts, uncles, cousins – were gathered at my parents’ home for dinner. Just as we were settling in someone noticed a tiny plume of smoke off in the distance. Several of the adventurous uncles – including Bob, my husband – decided to investigate. “We’ll be right back. Start eating without us” they called as they piled into a car. We laughed and began to eat. Fifteen minutes later they arrived home, pale and visibly shaken. In that short period of time a conflagration had been declared, the wind carrying the fire across streets. Close to 70 departments responded and by the end of the next day, 2/3 of the city had burned to the ground.
But let’s back up a bit. Bob and I (and our 2-year-old daughter) raced back to our home, that for the present time was protected by a huge hill. However, embers were landing on our roof by that time. As we and our neighbors waited outside for instructions, the police car came down our street, bullhorn blaring “Get your valuables and get out. NOW!!”
Bob and I looked at each other, then at our daughter standing between us, and we walked to our car leaving everything behind. A split-second decision made in the midst of high wind, acrid smoke, and increasing embers.
Were we scared? You bet! Did we know the end of the story? No! And during that long night when we had no idea if we had a home to return to, we kept reminding each other that we did walk away with what was valuable. We eventually were allowed back to our neighborhood to find that every home was saved. And life could resume as normal. What? I was changed forever by that experience: we never had a fire in our fireplace, I can smell the faintest whiff of smoke and still go into high alert, and I put every extinguished match into a small dish of water, just to be sure.
It’s been almost 50 years since “the fire” and lessons have emerged to shape my life. Three years caring for my husband as he battled Alzheimer’s Disease (eventually going Home almost four years ago), a variety of unexpected changes to “my plan for my life,” and now the pandemic, have given me the opportunity to see with clear vision. Let me share three with you, in the hopes it may provide you with a path of perseverance and resilience in these uncharted days:
Open Handed Living – Research has determined that we open and close our hands about 25M times in our lifetime. That’s a lot of “letting go.” During this pandemic season, what is God asking you to hold onto loosely? Or to even let it go? Maybe it’s a grudge, some anger, a need to forgive? Ask Him to give you the strength and courage to release it.
Intentionally Pursue Gratitude – it will eventually become a habit. While we were very grateful that our home was saved and over time we could move on with our lives, we lived through a night believing that all we had in this world were the clothes on our backs-and each other. And for us, that was enough.
Life is short – be kind – Actually, this was my husband’s life motto. It’s much easier to be kind and to love others because God loved us first.
Let’s look through 2020 lenses, see the world as God wants us to see it, and show His love to all.
Cynthia Fantasia served for 24 years as Pastor of Women and Service at Grace Chapel, Lexington, MA. She speaks nationally and internationally, has written several Bible studies that have been used in several churches across the country, and she loves to share God’s love. Cynthia passionately presents the Word in a relevant, practical, and often humorous way. Her journey of faith has taken her on some exhilarating adventures, some deep valleys, and through some turbulent waters. Through it all, Cynthia has found that He is sufficient for any, and all, of life’s experiences.
She was one of 15 pastors in North America selected to join a cohort, through a Templeton Grant, investigating the relationship between science and faith. Cynthia was the co-founder of GCScience – which now has an international internet following of over half million. Cynthia was a member of the team awarded a Templeton Grant to do further study in the local area.
A contributing author in Mothers Have Angel Wings by Carol Kent, and 30 Ways to Embrace Life by Lucinda McDowell, Cynthia is the author of “In The Lingering Light: Courage and Hope for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver” chronicling her and her husband’s journey through Alzheimer’s Disease. It was released by NavPress July 9, 2019.
Ordained in 2007, Cynthia earned a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
She and her late husband have three adult children and five grandchildren. Long walks, great books, and seeing the world through the eyes of her grandchildren, fill Cynthia’s days with wonder and joy. You can visit Cynthia online at www.cynthiafantasia.com.
Cynthia is also one of our featured speakers in the by design Speakers Directory. If you are looking for a Christian speaker for your special event, please visit our online directory or contact us to request a hard copy.