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The Gift of His Presence*

*As I wrote in my blog yesterday, I am unwrapping one of God’s gifts to me every day during Advent. I want to receive God’s gift, hear what He says about me, and be transformed by it.

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he [Moses] said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:14-15)

I opened my first Advent gift this morning and it was the gift of His presence. What a marvelous gift! His presence surrounds me, envelops me. The Bible says in Psalm 139 that there is nowhere I can go to get away from His presence.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Every step I take, He takes with me. Everywhere I go, everything I do, He is there.

LeeAnn Payne wrote an excellent book years ago titled “Practice His Presence.” The book is about exactly what the title says – practicing the presence of God. One would think, as Christians, we would be aware of His presence and not have to “practice” having Him present. But that is usually not the case-at least for me. I get so busy – so involved in the task of the moment – that I do forget His presence. I think that is why He gave me His presence as the first gift – to remind me that-no matter what-He is always here with me and with you.

Abba Father, thank you for my first gift of Advent – the gift of your presence. Help me to always be aware of Your presence and to walk in it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(c) December 2009

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The Gifts of Advent

I read an excellent article in Pray!, an online news magazine, just a few days ago. I was so impressed by it that I want to share parts of it with you.

The article was titled “Unwrapping God’s Gifts” and the author was Cynthia Bezek, editor of the magazine. Ms. Bezek wrote about Advent, which begins today, and her article focused on Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her reaction to the news that she would be the Mother of the Messiah. The article spoke of how Ms. Bezek was impressed with Mary’s “ability to receive the affirmation and blessing God was giving her,” and how Mary “received God’s affirmation with both humility and confidence and praised Him, saying:

My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
Holy is His name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Ms. Bezek continues, “I want to be like Mary – a person who hears what God says about her, receives it, and is transformed by it. One who believes He loves and delights in and favors her. Who confidently accepts what He says about her as true and doesn’t argue, bargain, deny, or come unglued when He invites her to partner with Him to accomplish impossible-sounding things.”

She then reveals her plan for the season of Advent. “I intend to unwrap one of God’s gifts for me each day and ask Him to help me to intentionally receive it and believe and live differently because of it. I don’t know what specific gift the Holy Spirit will invite me to unwrap each day, but there are myriad possibilities, life changing gifts such as:

• His promises: presence, hope, redemption, restoration, help, comfort, wisdom, forgiveness
• His deliverance: from fear, condemnation, despair, defeat, confusion, depression
• His victory: over temptation, besetting sins, spiritual attacks, doubt
• His Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and so on”

How wonderful it would be to be transformed during this season of Advent! To unwrap a gift from God each day and truly experience His love and all of His good gifts He has selected just for you! He stands ready to lavish His love upon you, to pour the oil of healing into your heart, soul and mind and to give you all He has for you.

I encourage you to join with Ms. Bezek and me and unwrap a gift from God every day during the Advent Season. I am positive that the gifts you open have been selected and wrapped just for you!

I’d love to hear about your gifts! Please leave a comment anytime during the Advent Season. I may not blog everyday about my gifts, but feel free to leave your comments anyway!

Maranatha!

(c) Edwina Cowgill
December,2009

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Miracles, Gifts and Talents

The theme for this week has been Thanksgiving, and those people in my life for whom I am so very thankful. God has given me amazing people who have a significant role in my life and I am and always will be thankful for each one of them!

There are things in my life that God has done that I consider miracles. To Him, it’s probably ordinary, everyday occurrences, but to me, they were miracles. Like the time many years ago He had a friend come by with a few groceries. It was a difficult time financially and I needed the encouragement as much as I needed the groceries. I had been crying out to God earlier that day for a word, a sign – anything – to remind me that He was still with me and I would be okay. Within the hour, my doorbell rang and there stood a dear friend with two bags of groceries in her hand. I will always be thankful that Linda was obedient when God spoke to her telling her to bring the groceries. The groceries were appreciated but the encouragement she brought was priceless.

There were also the years that I did not have any medical insurance. I worked for a church who did not offer health insurance to its employees because we had a small staff and everyone was able to obtain insurance through their spouse’s policy. Except me. Six years out of the nine I was employed, I did not have medical coverage. During those six years, my children and I were not sick – not one time. There were no typical children’s illnesses or broken bones, and I did not have any medical issues. When I left the church to accept a position with a large corporation I did receive health insurance as part of the benefits. Within the first three months of employment, I needed the coverage for one of my children. You will never be able to convince me that God did not protect us from illness and injuries during those six years. It was not a coincidence. It was a miracle.

God has also given me gifts and talents. It is with all the humbleness and humility I have that I even bring this topic up. Yet, I am very thankful that God has bestowed these gifts upon me and I would be remiss if I did not publically express my thankfulness.

God has given me the gift of administration and this gift has the key to every job I’ve ever held. I’ve always worked in the administrative (read secretary) field. I’m in my 14th year as a Church Business Administrator and believe me, if there is an area that needs lots of organization and administrative skills, it’s in the church!  I love administration and all that it involves and I am thankful for this gift.

When I was six years old, my family and I came home from church one Sunday and while my Mom was preparing lunch, I went to the piano, sat down, and “picked out” the melody of the special song the choir had sang that day. “A Star is Born!” NOT! But it was quite amazing to realize that I could, at age six, play the piano “by ear.” For those not familiar with that term, it simply means that I can hear a song, sometimes only once, and immediately can play it. It is a talent that only God could have instilled in me, along with a great love for music, and I am truly grateful. Music, and playing the piano, has brought me great joy and comfort throughout the years.

I have always said that I am not creative – that God gave me a double portion of administration skills and no creativity skills! However, almost two years ago, God called me to a life of creativity. He reminded me of how creative He is (look at the beauty of nature) and because He resides in me, I have that same creativity. I’m not bragging here because I’ve yet to realize the full meaning of ‘having the same creativity as God.’ In a time of study and prayer, God spoke to me about creativity in the areas of writing, drawing, photography, singing and dancing. DANCING??? He must have been rolling on the floor laughing when He said that! Since that time, I’ve been concentrating on writing. Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never thought I could do, especially as a ministry to others. Yet, that is exactly what God is having me do.

You see, God knew the desires of my heart. He knew that I wanted to be able to minister to women through writing and even though I didn’t believe that would ever come about, He is making that happen. And He’s doing the same thing in the area of photography. Singing and dancing? Well, the jury is still out on those two! The point is God knew and HE is giving me the desires of my heart.

There are so many things that God has done and is doing in my life for which I am thankful that I could fill up 100 pages and still not cover it all. I am sure there are people I failed to mention earlier this week, miracles that, somehow, I’ve forgotten (like the fact that I wake up each morning and I can move and see and breathe), and talents that may be rusty from lack of use, but are still there. In a thousand years, I would not be able to thank God enough for these blessings, but that won’t stop me from trying!

I hope that in some small way, the blogs this week have encouraged you and helped you to realize your blessings. I pray that we will all carry this thankful attitude into the coming season of Advent. Speaking of Advent, we will be doing something different through my blogs, so stay tuned!

Maranatha!

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Thankful for My Family

When I think of people for whom I am thankful, my family is first and foremost.

God gave me two parents who raised my sister and me in a Christian home. They instilled in us Christian values that have guided us all of our lives. We lived very close to the church where we were members and every time the door was opened, we were there. Even today, though they are physically unable to attend church, they faithfully watch their church’s television broadcast of the weekly service on TV. Every morning they have their quiet time and Bible reading and every night they pray out loud together. If you are visiting overnight, you are “invited” to join with them.

My parents have been married for over sixty years and through those years, they have had their ups and downs as all marriages do. They have demonstrated faithfulness, trust, respect and love to all who know them.

As a teenager, and even as an adult, I have not always agreed with my parents. They have respected my opinions and decisions and I respect and love them for that.

I grew up with a wonderful sister. Marie is six years older than me. Growing up, six years was just enough difference in age for me to want to hang out with her and her friends all the time and for her to consider me the “pesky little sister.” When I reached adulthood, we became best friends. She was and still is my protective big sister. I love her and there is nothing I would not do for her and I’m sure she feels the same way about me.

Almost six years ago, God brought the most wonderful Christian man into my life. It was only a few short weeks after we first met when I knew not only was he a gift from God, but also the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. I think Dave knew this, too. We celebrated our fifth anniversary this past September and every day Dave demonstrates to me what a marriage created by God should be. He loves me, protects me, puts my interests and needs above his own. He also allows me to be me – to pursue those things that I believe God has called me to and those things that interest me. He is my best friend, my soul mate. Every day, I thank God for Dave.

My children, Kim and Kyle, have brought me great joy since their birth. Kim was born in November, 1978. It was so much fun having a daughter. We would play dress up and dolls. I even have a picture of her, when she was five years old, standing on a stool, putting makeup on me. She has grown into a beautiful adult woman who is smart, kind and a great mom. She works full time in a managerial position and is going to school at night to get her Bachelor’s degree but always finds time to spend with her son, her family and friends. I consider Kim one of my best friends.

Kyle was born in March, 1984. He took his own sweet time in coming into this world – three weeks late – but well worth the wait. Once he arrived, he demanded attention! He was colicky for several weeks and he and I got to know one another quite well during that time! Fortunately, he outgrew that and was a healthy, happy baby. Kyle has grown into a man who is loyal, trustworthy and highly respected in his chosen field.

My children and I went through a lot as a family – the three of us – and though it was extremely difficult at times, we made it. Today, Kim and Kyle are successful adults, stronger for all they went through and compassionate towards others who find themselves in the midst of similar situations. I am proud of them both (in case you couldn’t tell) and excited to see what God has in store for them!

I have a wonderful grandson who lights up the room every time he walks in and he has done that since he was an infant. Mackenzie is a joy to know and have in my life. Everyone always compliments him to me about how polite and well-mannered he is. He is respectful and yet, is a typical teenager, interested in video games, girls and music. Did I mention girls?? I am looking forward to his future and seeing the manifestation of God’s call in his life.

Numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins are also important to me, as well as “family” who are not blood related, but just as close to me. I cannot thank all of these people enough for the role they have played and continue to play in my life. I love them dearly and I pray God’s richest blessings upon them every day.

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Kreativ Blogger Award

Another award I would like to pass on to the following bloggers:

Deborah M http://www.deborahsbutterflyjourney.blogspot.com/

Carman http://www.continuousdelight.blogspot.com/

Robin Lee Hatcher http://www.robinlee.typepad.com/

Lena Nelson Dooley http://www.lenanelsondooleynewsletter.blogspot.com/

Megan diMaria http://www.megandimaria.blogspot.com/

Michelle Sutton http://www.edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com/

Lisa Harris http://www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com/

Congratulations!

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Giving Blog Awards

I was so honored to receive this blog! When receiving it, I agreed to award the blog to ten others. Do you know how hard it was to select just 10? I’ve not met any of these women, but have been impressed by their generosity in sharing their knowledge of the writing field, by their openness in their blogs and by their witness for God. Here are the ten winners and their blog sites – I encourage you to check out their blogs:

Cathy Bryant http://www.wordvessel.blogspot.com/

K. Dawn Byrd http://www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com/

Missy Tippens http://www.lifewithmissy.blogspot.com/

Melanie Dickerson http://www.melaniewrites.blogspot.com/

Carman http://www.continousdelights.blogspot.com/

Andrea http://www.arise2write.blogspot.com/

Sharlene MacLaren http://www.sharlenemaclaren.blogspot.com/

Nora St.Laurent http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/

Tricia Goyer http://www.triciagoyer.blogspot.com/

Sharon A. Lavy http://www.sharonalavy.blogspot.com/

Congratulations to all!!

names of God

Thankful for God

This is the week of Thanksgiving, 2009. It is a time of cooking and baking, getting together with family and friends, feasting and football, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and last, but definitely not least, being thankful.

This year, as in all previous years, I have much for which to be thankful. Today, I want to look at the most important person in my life, Jesus Christ.

Without His sacrifice of death on the cross that covered my sins in His rich, red blood, I would not be assured of eternal life. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, when my spirit leaves my body it will immediately be in heaven with the other saints and angels, praising God! What a glorious day that will be! Maranatha!

His death on the cross not only means eternal life in heaven, it also means abundant life here on earth. The Bible says in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” I believe that abundant living can be found in knowing who God is and walking in that knowledge every day. Here are just a few of God’s names and their meanings as just one way to get to know Him better:

 El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty

 El Elyon – The Most High God – above Him there is no other!

 El Olam – The Everlasting God – ageless, eternal, from age to age still the same, and forever!

 Elohim – God

 Qanna – Jealous – He is jealous for me and for you.

 Adonai – Lord, Master – as we allow Him to be Lord in our life, He blesses us and enriches our lives

 Yahweh – Lord, Jehovah

 Jehovah Nissi – The Lord My Banner – Exodus 17:15 “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is My Banner.”

 Jehovah Raah- The Lord is My Shepherd – Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.”

 Jehovah Kaddesh – The Lord Who Forgives – Psalm 103:3a “who forgives all your sins”

 Jehovah Rapha – The Lord That Heals – Psalm 103:3B “and heals all your diseases”

 Jehovah Shammah – The Lord Is There – From Ex. 48:35 and understood to mean that God will not abandon us.

 Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness – Psalm 103:6 “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”

 Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The Lord Who Sanctifies You – The Lord Who Sets You Apart

 Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Will Provide – Psalm 103:5a “who satisfies your desires with good things”

 Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace – From Judges 6:24; peace is translated as “absence from strife”

 Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord of Hosts – This name denotes His universal sovereignty over every army, both spiritual and earthly. The Lord of Hosts is the king of all heaven and earth. (Psalm 24:9-10; Psalm 84:3; Isaiah 6:5)

How can I not be thankful when I realize that God is all of the above names to me and more? He is my Peace, my Righteousness, my King, my Master, my Healer, my Forgiver, my Savior.

My heart is overwhelmed. There are no words in the English language that could adequately describe my thankfulness.

Maranatha!