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I Remember My Mother

        Today is Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018. My mother has been in heaven now almost five years. It’s hard to believe. I wanted to post this again today to honor her. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven!   

 

The first time I posted this blog was on April 25, 2009. I posted it again on May 12, 2012, the day before Mother’s Day. And I am, once again, sitting in the emergency room of our local hospital. It is almost unreal how much my mother’s health has failed in the last three years, how quickly it has failed in the last six months. She can no longer walk with a cane or walker. She is in a wheelchair all the time.  Different systems in her body have begun to fail.  It is very difficult to watch. But still, she is here and God willing, will celebrate Mother’s Day – perhaps at home or perhaps in a hospital room. But she will be here and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I am sitting in the emergency room of our local hospital – again.  My mother fell this morning.  Although she uses a walker or walking cane all the time, she often falls because of problems with one of her knees.  She has seizures, which occasionally cause her to fall.  She has congestive heart failure and degenerative disc disease.  My mother will be 80 in one week and her health has been failing for a number of years. 

This is not how I want to see or remember my mother.  I want to remember her the way she was when I was a child, a teenager and a young married woman with a child of my own.
When I was a child my mother was constantly busy.  Even though she worked full time, she would come home every day and cook “supper” as we called it then –meat, vegetables, bread and tea.  My sister and I always had clean and ironed clothes to wear to school.  On Saturdays, my mother would get up very early, and by the time I was up, she would have made-from-scratch cake layers cooling on racks, waiting for the sweet, sugary icing to be spread on top of each layer and all around the sides.  Then later in the morning, she would leave for her weekly appointment at the “beauty shop.”  (In those days, we had not heard of hair salons.) Sundays found her teaching an elementary Sunday school class and singing in the choir.
My mother taught me to respect my elders.  I still say “Yes, m ‘am and No, sir.” She taught me how to act in church and showed me what would happen if I didn’t behave!
During the summer months, my mother would come home from work and stand on her feet for hours blanching and then freezing beans, peas, corn, and squash so that we could have fresh vegetables in the winter.
My mother continued to be active in my teenage years; however the degenerative disc disease had begun to slowly ravage her spine.  Over the years, she lost several inches in height.  But this did not slow her down – at least not then.  She and my dad attended every chorus concert, every play that I was in, everything I did, they were there.  
I became engaged my sophomore year of college and as I planned my wedding, my mother was there to help and advise me.  I still remember her teary eyes as I dressed to leave the church for my honeymoon.
When my first child was born, my mother and father were at the hospital almost before I arrived!  I can see, even now, my mother holding my daughter, Kim, in her arms.  When I came home from the hospital, my mother stayed with us for a week, taking care of all the household chores so that I could bond with Kim and learn how to be a mother. (Why don’t babies come with an instruction manual??)  My mother also stayed for a week when my son, Kyle, was born, again taking care of everything.
Shortly after Kyle’s birth, my father became gravely ill and was hospitalized for several weeks, having two surgeries during that time.  My mother was an absolute rock.  She stayed, day and night, with my dad until he came home.  Once home, she waited on him hand and foot and watched over him vigilantly until he regained his strength and health.
When my daughter became pregnant at 16, my mother (and father) became a rock of support.  They surrounded my daughter with love and prayers.  When Kim went into labor, they made a mad dash to the hospital to be there when their first great grandchild was born.  I have a photograph of mother holding my grandson.  The love in her face was as intense and as deep as the love had been when she held her children and grandchildren.
Although my mother and I have not always seen “eye-to-eye” on some issues, and there have been times when she has driven me crazy (what mother doesn’t drive her daughter crazy sometimes?), she has always loved me, always supported me and always been there for me.
I don’t want to see her growing frailer with each passing day.  But this is life.  The least I can do is to be here for her.  Sitting in the waiting room of the ER.  Waiting.
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Book Review: Safe Harbor

“Safe Harbor” by Kristen Terrette is an enjoyable, well-written book that I found hard to put down. I quickly became involved in the characters’ lives, especially Eva, as she struggles to find her way back to God.

The story takes place in Moanna, an island off the coast of Georgia. Thad, a former NFL player, and his father, John, relocated there several years before the story begins. Eva, her daughter, Willow, and her mother, Ellen have since moved there to have a fresh start.

God causes Thad and Eva to run into each other all the time and the attraction, much to Eva’s dismay, grows. The walls that Eva erected many years ago begin to slowly crumble.

This book included many scriptures on forgiveness, how much God cares for us, how much he loves us. He patiently waited for Eva to come home, just as he patiently waits for us.

This book was a blessing to me as I’m sure it will be to all who read it.

I give it 5 stars!

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Not But I . . . But God

On Monday, February 26, 2018, I carried my husband, Dave, to the hospital. He was there 10 days and 11 nights. While he was there he had two medical procedures and one operation. During that time, I stayed with him all day almost every day, took care of our dog (as much as she would allow me to – she is a daddy’s girl) and worked from Dave’s hospital room, from home and even made it to the office once for a meeting.

I don’t handle stress well, yet I live in a state of what I call semi-stress all the time. My mind doesn’t know how to be quiet and my body doesn’t know how to relax. So, imagine the state I was in during the time I described above.

The hospital where Dave stayed had a coffee/water station on each floor. One day, about half-way through Dave’s stay, I went to get some ice at the station. There was an elderly African American woman standing at the station. She said “hello” and I replied “hello.” Out of politeness, more than true interest, I asked her how she was doing. She said “I am too blessed to be stressed!” Immediately the thought came to my mind that if anyone says that to me again, I’m going to scream. And so I popped off, rather sarcastically, “Well, I’m blessed, but I’m extremely stressed.” This woman, whose name was Margaret, reached out and grabbed my arm as I tried to escape. Following is a paraphrase of our conversation:

Margaret: Let me tell you a story. I stand before you as an example of God’s grace                and mercy and healing power. In 2008, I had a stroke that was so severe, the doctors          said I would never walk, never talk, would basically be a vegetable for the rest of                my life. And do you know what caused that stroke? Stress. My son-in-law is down              the hall-the doctors think he’s had a stroke. And do you know what caused that                    stroke? Stress. Who do you have in the hospital?”

Me: My husband.

Margaret: I want you to go back to his bedside, stand next to him and say over and             over “But God. But God. But God.” Repeat after me.

Me: But God. But God. But God.”

By now, I’m crying. “Thank you,” I blubbered. I start to walk away. But Margaret is             not  finished.

Margaret: Let me pray with you before you go. And she prayed such a powerful                  prayer – three sermons could have been preached from that prayer.

I walked away, after receiving the sweetest hug and more words of encouragement. I thought to myself, “Well, she has a great testimony. But I’m not sure that’s for me.” How thick-headed can one person be?? (Note here – I said “But I…)

Later that evening I was checking my personal email. I receive several emails each day from various Christian websites, book stores, women’s ministries, etc. One of the sites had sent an extra email that day as they were promoting a book titled…you got it…But God…can change anything.” Now God has spoken twice in one day – But God! But God! Not but I…But God! I ordered that book that night and two days later it came. I began reading it immediately. It was like the author had been spying on me.

I plan over the next few weeks to complete the book and hope to write some comments and thoughts about it as I go along.

In the meantime, just remember, it’s not “But I” – it’s “But God”!

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Honesty and Anger

When I started this blog nine years ago, I promised myself and you, my readers, I would always be open, honest, and transparent. I think I’ve done those things, yet, when I think about what I’ve posted, I realize that I’ve never posted anything that was gut-wrenching, soul-baring, lay-it-all-out-for-the-world-to-see exposure. I’ve played it safe – posting blogs about my family – my husband, mother, daddy, my kids, my sister, and friends. Or blogs about Lent and Advent. Or blogs about cooking. Anything but what’s going on with me. One reason I’ve not posted anything about me is that I am a very private person and a very proud person. I only share what’s going on in my life with one or two people. So today’s post is the gut-wrenching, soul-baring, lay-it-all-out-for-the-world-to-see post.

Now before you decide that you don’t want to read another sob story, I would like to ask that you hang in with me for a moment. There’s a lesson in all of this and I’m sharing because I hope that even just one person will learn something.

I have been angry for years. It hasn’t always been evident, in fact, most of the time, it simmers beneath the surface, ready to boil over without even a second’s notice. My anger has known no boundaries, it has been directed to anyone and everyone. It has been directed to me. But most of all, it has been directed to God. There have been so many times that He could have stopped situations from happening, made things happen that, in my opinion, needed to happen. After all, He is omniscient, omnipresent, all-mighty, can-do-anything-He-wants-to God. Right? Wrong.

God created each person and gave them a free will. That means that each one of us can choose-right or wrong, good or bad-but it’s our choice. Because God gave us a free will, He will not try to change our mind. He can’t change our mind unless we allow Him to. Sometimes we allow Him to and sometimes we don’t. When the people we love, admire, and look up to, choose not to change their minds, we get wounded, hurt, destroyed.  Instead of putting the blame where it truly should be, on the person who wounded us, we blame God. After all, He is omniscient, omnipresent, all-mighty, can-do-anything-He-wants-to God. He could have stopped that person from wounding us, if He’d wanted to. And that’s where I really got tripped up. “If He’d wanted to.” “If He’d wanted to” – read “If He’d loved me – really, truly loved me – He could have stopped that person. But since He didn’t stop that person(s), that means He doesn’t love me.” And that, dear friends, is a lie straight from the pits of hell.

The enemy wants us to believe that God doesn’t love us at all. Once our minds and hearts absorb that lie then our anger towards God seemingly has no limits. But God answers back with grace, mercy and love. God loves us more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend this side of heaven. Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to me”. (NIV) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.” God’s love for us is boundless, extravagant, reckless, unlimited and everlasting. And when we realize that fact, and absorb it into our hearts, minds, souls and bodies, we can no longer be angry at anyone. Most of all, God.

 

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Book Review: “Roundabout” by JoAnn Durgin

If you have read any of my blogs, you  have likely read at least one or more reviews of books written by JoAnn Durgin. Ms. Durgin has her own unique style of writing, as every author should, and it has served her well in every book she has written. Her most recently published book, Roundabout, the latest in the Lewis Legacy Series, falls into the same category of writing, but this time, with a twist.

In the previous books of the Lewis Legacy Series, the hero and heroine meet for the first time in the early pages of each book. But in Roundabout, the hero, Sloan, and the heroine, Jensen, knew each other a number of years prior to the actual beginning of this book. Ms. Durgin skillfully wove their history throughout the book, building on it with each chapter, making it very hard to put the book down.

If you are familiar with the Lewis Legacy series, and all of the TeamWork members, you will be delighted to know that several of the TeamWork families appear in this book. (Although each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone, I encourage you to read all of the books from the beginning. It is a wonderful series that makes you feel good, inspires you and can open your eyes to God’s truth for the first time, or remind you of His truth, as it has done for me on many occasions.)

A beautiful message of love, faith, and forgiveness is shared through the eyes and life of Chloe, the daughter of Joss’ and Winnie’s, whose story was told in Book 3, Twin Hearts. The message Chloe shares with a teenage gang member reminds all of us that no matter what we’ve done and no matter how far we feel from God, He is always waiting for us to turn to Him with His heart full of forgiveness and unconditional love.

It’s February, almost the 14th! What better time to read this beautiful love story than this month?

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Doris!

This past Saturday, my sister, Marie, my cousins, Jeanette, Jeanine, Ann, and a dear family friend, Jewell, celebrated my Aunt Doris’ 91st birthday. We carried cake, balloons and gifts and surprised her. She had no idea we were coming, much less bringing a birthday party!

Aunt Doris is in a nursing home where she has resided for so many years that I’ve lost count. When she first went there, she was well, walked everywhere on the property and was the life of the party. In those days, “assisted living” residences didn’t exist, and even if they had, my guess is that she wouldn’t have been able to pay the astronomical monthly cost to live in one. But she loved where she was then and now. She would visit the other residents who were not able to “get about” like she could, she went to the dining hall for every meal and had her hair and nails done at the in-house salon every week. She went to the church service held there every Sunday, and she played Bingo every Friday. In 2010, she was crowned as Mrs. NRC (initials of the name of the residence) and the sash proclaiming that fact hangs over her bed today. She loves angels, evidenced by the fact that there are angel figurines everywhere in her room, gifts from those who love her. There are cards and pictures of family members and her room is always decorated for the season. A Valentine’s heart is already hanging on her door.

When it got a little more challenging to walk, she used a wheelchair. Every day, she was dressed, hair and nails done and up and down the halls she went, scooting along in her wheelchair, visiting the other residents.

If you asked her, she would probably say she’s had a good life. And in many ways, she has. For as long as I can remember, she’s been a Christian and demonstrated her love for Jesus in everything she did. I can remember when I was a child, she was the Vacation Bible School (VBS) Director. Every morning of VBS week, she would stand outside with her beautiful smile, and she would call all the children to attention by saying, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'”  And we would come to order and follow her inside the church to begin the day’s activities.

She had her beloved husband, Lonnie. She always said, “Lonnie spoils me.” He did and she deserved it.

When we were gathered in her room on Saturday, several of my cousins talked about how she always dressed beautifully and how many of her outfits were by Jonathan Logan (a very well-known dress designer back in the day). Jeanette remembered that she didn’t have a dress to wear to a school dance. Her momma, my Aunt Grace, brought Jeanette to Aunt Doris’ house, and Aunt Doris loaned her one of her Jonathan Logan dresses. Jeanette said she “felt like a princess” at that dance.

When I went to say goodbye to Aunt Doris on Saturday, I reminded her that she and I were the February birthday girls. Many, many years ago, Aunt Doris gave me her birthstone ring. It remains in my jewelry case today. (Unfortunately, it no long fits.)

Aunt Doris’ health is very poor now. In fact, she gave us quite a scare on Saturday when she seemed to lose consciousness. The nurses were able to wake her up and we visited for a few more minutes.

As my sister and I left we both agreed that we were very glad we visited.

From left to right: Me, Jewell, Jeanette, Aunt Doris, Marie, Ann & JeanineAunt Doris is Waving.JPG

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Book Review: Thee Will I Cherish

JoAnn Durgin has done it again! As with all of her previous books, she has written a story that immediately captivates the readers with characters that they love, scenery that almost has one heading for the airport to fly to the location in the book, which in this case, is Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and her signature trademark – the Gospel message skillfully woven throughout the book.

In Thee Will I Cherish we meet Gabriella Martin and Harley Goodwin. Gabi, as everyone calls her, has returned home to be the interim CFO in her parents’ marriage ministry. She runs into Harley, a friend from childhood, again and again and again. I won’t give the plot away, but suffice it to say, it is a delightful love story.

Thee Will I Cherish is the first in a three-book series and I can’t wait to read books 2 and 3, Thee Will I Honor and Thee Will I Love. All three can be read as stand-alone books but it’s so much more fun to read series about members of the same family. So, grab your copy of Thee Will I Cherish and read it before the next two are released in 2018!

 

I did not receive any goods or services for this review.

(c) Edwina Cowgill 2017