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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

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Day Two: The Gift of Vision

Advent, 2017
Day Two

musings of edwina

 

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets; that he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)

Another translation of this verse says it this way: “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.”(The Message)

This verse makes it very plain that God has a vision, not just for the Body of Christ, but also for you and me.  If this verse is not proof enough to persuade you, here’s another one that is more specific in meaning: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11) If there has ever been any doubt in your mind as to whether or not God has a plan…

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Thanksgiving Memory

One of my fondest memories of Thanksgivings past started on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving morning. Members of the church where my family attended would cover shoe boxes in colorful paper and bring them on Wednesday night. After Bible study, the boxes would be filled with fruit, nuts, and perhaps a piece or two of soft peppermint sticks. The name of a elderly member of the church, or a member who was a “shut-in” (the modern term is “homebound”) would be written on a card and tucked inside the box.

Bright and early the next morning, volunteers would go back to the church to pick up the boxes and distribute them. Many boxes were loaded into cars headed for various locations in the county where we lived. My daddy was one of the volunteers that distributed the boxes and every year he would bundle me up in my coat, hat and gloves (this was before global warming) and take me with him. My family and I lived less than a block from the church. In the surrounding two blocks there were at least six, maybe seven, widows living in that neighborhood, including both of my grandmothers. This neighborhood was where my daddy always distributed the Thanksgiving boxes. Even though I was young, I understood what it meant to those senior citizens to receive the basket. Each one of the  “widow women,” as my grandmother called them, was always glad to see us. It wasn’t so much the fruit and nuts, although I’m sure they appreciated that. Rather, it was that someone remembered them. Someone thought about them and cared enough about them that they took the time out of their holiday to come by and visit for just a few minutes. . . to listen to them share about their Thanksgivings past, and about what they were thankful for that year.

All of those “widow women” have been gone for years now, and my parents have been gone for several years, as well. But the lesson I learned every year at Thanksgiving remains today “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

May your Thanksgiving  be filled with blessings from above!

Edwina