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LETTING GO*

It is one of the hardest things mothers, yes, parents, have to do – let go of their children. After all, we are the ones who carried them for nine months, rocked them to sleep, who saw them get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten, excited and nervous at the same time. We are the ones who went to every concert, every game, and every activity. We taught them manners and we demonstrated our values, beliefs and morals, hoping and praying they would accept them as their own. Mothers have been known to empty the piggy bank, look under the cushions of the sofas and even conduct a scavenger hunt through the house looking for change to donate to the “prom dress fund.” We cried with our daughter over the breakup of her first love. We held our breath as our son raced down the football field as a bunch of guys from the opposing team tried with all their might to stop him.

And then comes….The Day. We watched as our sons and daughters walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive a piece of paper that signifies the end of one era and the beginning of another. And before we know it, summer has passed, their bags and car are crammed to the brim with almost all of their worldly possessions and they leave for college, excited and nervous at the same time. (It seems as if it was only last month when they left for kindergarten.) And we let them go, not just physically, but also emotionally. Or at least we should. Frankly, we should have been letting them go gradually throughout the years. But letting go, especially during their teen years is so hard: “Am I letting them go too soon?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” we think to ourselves. But we must let our children go and there is a right way and a right time to do it.

I learned this lesson the hard way. My daughter is 30 and my son is 25. I raised them as a single mom from the time they were 12 and 7 because their dad left. I share this, not as an appeal for pity, but so you will have some insight into the decisions I made when raising them.

It is an entirely different scenario to raise children as a single parent. You realize that you alone are responsible for the lives of your children. It is a frightening prospect especially in this day and age. As a single mother, I made some good decisions but I made a lot of mistakes too. It is my hope that you will learn from my mistakes as you read further.

In some areas I was lenient with my children (I’m sure they would disagree!) and in some areas I was very strict. I know I wasn’t always consistent in my discipline. But the biggest mistake I made was not letting go emotionally of my children.

I really believed I had let go until a few weeks ago when my husband (their stepdad) pointed out to me that I was interfering – meddling – in their lives. I was shocked beyond speech! Me? Meddling?? Never! Ah, but alas, indeed I was. What I had said or asked my kids over the last few years had been out of my love and concern for them, or so I thought. It was not in my mind each morning when I woke up to think, “How can I meddle in my children’s lives today?” But the advice with which I had freely showered them had never been requested by them. After several days of thinking upon what my husband had said, I realized he was right. A light bulb moment!! I prayed about this, asking God to forgive me and to give me an opportunity to talk to both of my children so that I could apologize to them.

A couple of weeks later my son was home from New Orleans where he is stationed. He and my daughter were in the kitchen and no one else was around. God spoke and said, “Now is the time.” So I went and sat down with them and apologized. I explained that I had not realized I had been interfering in their lives, but I knew it now and would try my best never to interfere again. They were so gracious and both of them – grinning from ear to ear – told me they accepted my apology even though there was no need to apologize. “After all,” they said, “you were just being a mom.” Hugs and kisses all around!

Have I been completely successful in staying out of my adult children’s lives? No. But I’ve made great strides in not interfering. There have been times when I’ve asked one or the other about a particular situation, but hopefully, they know that it is because I am concerned and I do love them. What they may not know is that there have been many times when I’ve wanted to ask them about a particular situation, but I’ve kept that question to myself. And I pray daily that God will lead, guide and protect them.

Enjoy your children while they are with you. But remember to let them go when it’s time.

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A Better Way, basement, moving company

Second Chances*

My husband and I recently had our basement finished. After living in our house for 2 years, we decided to have it finished and move my parents in so they would not be living “alone” any longer. In the midst of our working on the basement, my parents realized that they would still be alone, even if they moved in. My husband, Dave, travels for business and is usually gone five days a week, 50 weeks out of the year. I work a full time job and am quite frequently away several evenings a week. We stopped work on the basement until we could decide what to do. Ultimately, we decided to give the basement a second chance – third really if you consider its original use as storage space. This time, we hired a company to come and finish the work for us.

Once the renovation to the basement was finished, there were several pieces of heavy and cumbersome furniture we wanted moved to the basement and we knew we could not do that ourselves. So we hired movers from a company called A Better Way Moving. This company is part of a program called “A Better Way” that was started a number of years ago by a man in the community who wanted to help young teens and men break the addiction of drugs and alcohol. He wanted to give them a second chance. The program requires the men to live and work on a farm while recovering from their addiction. The young men who have been in the program for a while and have shown they can be trusted are allowed to work for the moving company. We were privileged to have three of these men in our home. These young men were so polite – always saying “yes sir” and “no sir” – no bad attitudes – no foul language and no “slacking off.” They were there to do a job and they got in and got it done. I suspect that “A Better Way” may not have even been their second chance – it could easily have been their last chance.

That’s the way God is and it’s also the way we treat Him. God is a God of second chances – even third, fourth, fifth and on and on – chances. He is always waiting for us to come back to Him. And sometimes, we wait until He is our last chance to cry out to Him. But even then, He is there, waiting to give us a second chance.

© 2008 Edwina E. Cowgill

image, love, mirror, worth

Look in the Mirror

“What you persistently think, eventually, but inevitably, crystallizes into the words you speak and then into the things you do.” (The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry)

In other words, what you think about yourself will influence everything you say and everything you do. You begin to believe what you say about yourself. And once you believe what you say about yourself, you will begin to act that way.

If you tell yourself you are worthless and unlovable, you will begin to believe you are worthless and unlovable. And once you believe it, you will begin to act as if you are worthless and unlovable. You will begin to dress with no thought as to how you look. You will develop an “I don’t care what other people think of me” attitude. You may even begin to act wild and reckless, doing foolish and stupid things because your mind tells you no one else cares about you – so why should you care. The way of dressing, the “I don’t care” attitude, even the reckless living are all defense mechanisms to keep from getting hurt. No one wants to be considered a worthless, unlovable person – and no one is. As the old saying goes, “God didn’t create junk.” To put it another way, God didn’t create worthless, unlovable people. He created us in His own image. But because of circumstances in which we were wounded emotionally, we tell ourselves these things until we believe them. Or even worse, some primary person or persons in our lives have told us that we are not lovable, not worthy of their attention, their time, their love.

So how do we change our “stinkin’ thinkin’?” We first have to know who our worth comes from. It doesn’t come from our parents, our heritage or our place in the family. It doesn’t come from our social status, the amount of education we have or our place in the community. And it doesn’t come from who we married or how much money we have in the bank or what we do for a living. Our worth comes only from God. Yes, that’s right – GOD.

God created us in His own image and God is not junk!

So back to the question – how do you change your thinking about yourself? You must begin to believe that you do have worth, but it is worth that comes from God – from belonging to Him and knowing who you are in Him. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and tell yourself, “I am worthy because God created me and I have worth in Him.” Repeat this to yourself several times throughout the day. This is not the power of positive thinking – this is a fact you are stating in order to plant this truth into your heart! Act like you believe it. Dress like you believe it. The more you say it, the more you will believe it. And the more you believe it, the more you will act like it. Before you know it, you will see yourself as God sees you – worthy and lovable.

(c) 2008 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Lessons Learned, Pt 2: Words from the Lord

On Wednesday, I posted about the first lesson God has taught me on this journey. Today’s blog, even though I named it “Lessons Learned: #2” is not so much about a lesson learned as it is about God reminding me of things He told me recently as well as things He told me many years ago.

Several years ago, God directed me to write out a mission statement for my life. After praying about it, this is what I wrote:

To be a woman after God’s own heart, helping other women recognize
who they are in Christ through the use of the creative gifts God
has given me: writing, drawing, photography, singing and dancing.

At the time, I thought it was rather presumptuous of me to think that I could write, draw, photograph, sing and dance. In fact, I thought God was ROLF (rolling on the floor laughing)! Me, dance? Ms. Two Left Feet? You’ve got to be kidding! I realized that writing was number one on the list so I decided to start there. I did research, I took classes (am still taking classes) and I believe this is God’s direction for me.

Fast forward to this past June during my denomination’s convocation, held at our church. I was sitting in church, listening to the message and I felt that God was speaking to me. It addressed something that has bothered me for a long time. When I was a child, I believed with all my heart that God was calling me to be a missionary, but nothing ever came of that. After all, I was only a child of 10 or 11 – what did I know? Here is what I heard on that June night:

I called you to the mission field when you were a child.
I called you then and I am calling you now to the mission
field in your own backyard. You are a Missionary to every
woman you meet.

I am willing to admit that I could have not heard correctly when I was a child. As I’ve already said, what did I know at that age? But I don’t believe I missed Him this time. This word lines right up with my mission statement.

A few days ago, I was looking through an old journal for a particular entry, and came across this one that I received from the Lord on August 2, 1994:

I am taking you in a new direction, says the Lord. You will
begin to do a new thing and will stop doing – lay down – some
of the things you are now doing. There is a new and fresh
anointing on your life. The old book is closing and the
new book is opening.

I know that the Lord will give people words about their life that will take place far in the future. I think He does that sometimes to teach us patience – certainly that is the case for me. Until recently, I never saw “the new thing” manifested in my life. At least not what I felt the Lord would call a new thing. Yes, many great and wonderful things have happened to me in the last 15 years, but nothing that I believed lined up directly with this Word given in 1994. However, when I read this Word, and then the Word I received during Convocation, and thought about those in light of my mission statement, it all came together. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle that has been missing a couple of pieces for almost 15 years. Now the puzzle is complete and it makes sense.

So this is lesson number two in my journey. Patience is a virtue. And if God said it, He will do it.

Isaiah 55:11 (New International Version)
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
.

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LESSONS LEARNED: #1

This blog was originally posted on August 12, 2009

 

Last Wednesday I blogged about being burned out – totally and completely. God led me to the Song of Solomon, 1:4 as my theme verse for this time in my life: Take me away with you – let us hurry. Let the King bring me into His chambers. I am now on a leave of absence from all duties at my church. (For a full explanation, please read last Wednesday’s blog: “Take Me Away.”)

As I walk through this journey, I plan to blog about what God is showing me. I believe there are many things that God wants me to know and I think He wants me to share some of these truths with you. May He give us ears to hear, a mind to understand and a heart to receive what He will show us in the coming days.

***********************************************************
This past week was the first week of my leave. I made an effort that was less than successful to spend more time with God. There are still many distractions, no matter what time of day I try to read His Word and pray. There is, of course, the TV with its’ siren call even at 3:00 in the morning. There is research yet to be done for my current WIP (Work in Progress) and there’s the actual work itself crying for attention. Even blogs, which I enjoy writing, can take up a lot of time. There is still dust on the furniture, laundry to be done and groceries to be bought.

It has become obvious to me that the first lesson I must learn during this leave is that I must be disciplined to not allow anything to take precedence over my time with God. After all, if I don’t spend time with Him, this journey will be one of circles. Never moving forward, but repeatedly going over the same ground.

prayer, remember, sleep, thoughts

Sleep — or Rather, the Lack Thereof

This was originally written and posted on June 14, 2009. Since that time, my sleep patterns have grown much worse. That’s my picture you seen in the dictionary by the word “insomnia.”

It is 3AM on Sunday morning and I am, once again, wide awake. Why can’t I sleep? What is going on in my life, my head, and my mind that prevents REM?

Some thoughts dance through my mind like butterflies – barely lighting before moving on. Other thoughts move through my mind like turtles – slow, ponderous, heavy thoughts that weigh me down like quicksand.

Legs move and twitch – restless. Tossing and turning – no relaxing, comfortable spot to be found on a mattress that is “guaranteed” to make you sleep. HA! Mind flies – free-floating thoughts. Husband is in constant pain. Adult children – facing challenging situations. Grandson – problems at school. Parents – growing more feeble and frail with every passing day.

How do I stop these thoughts in the early morning hours? Experts have suggested, “Do this” or “don’t do that” but they don’t have my life. They don’t live inside my mind. Stress, anxiety, worry, concerns, fears. Where is the peace? Where is the sleep?

The sound of rain outside my window should bring peace and relaxation, lulling me to sleep. Rather it seems to add to the butterfly-moving thoughts flitting through my mind.

Where is the peace? Where is the sleep? Suppose I name off these thoughts – these worries and anxieties – to God in prayer. Will that bring me sleep and peace? Why not try? Can’t hurt, can it?

“God, here are my worries and concerns:
Husband – in constant pain
Adult children – facing challenging situations
Grandson – problems at school
Parents – more feeble and frail every day……”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thoughts in the mind are like
butterflies, flitting
to and fro.
Alighting from flower to flower
drinking sweet nectar
or
leaving nothing.
mind empty.

Abba Father, chest, heart, jewels

Body of Jewels

Some time ago, I dreamed about a chest, similar to a pirate’s chest, which was sitting on a table. The chest was stunning, made of rich mahogany wood and the hinges were shining, pure gold. Upon opening the chest, I discovered jewels of every kind and color imaginable. Deep red rubies, sky-blue aquamarines, sparkling diamonds, purple amethysts. Multi-colored opals, tigers’ eyes, onyx. Citrines, garnets, pearls and emeralds. There were rings, necklaces, broaches, earrings, bracelets and loose gems. The chest was so full that when I opened it, the jewels spilled out, cascading onto the table. Rays of sunlight splashed onto the jewels, making their colors even richer and sending fragments of rainbow colors over the table.

I believe this is how God looks at us – as a vessel, a chest, if you will – full of jewels. He looks at our heart and sees a sparkling blood-red ruby. Other than the diamond, the ruby is the hardest gem known to man. Natural rubies have imperfections in them, just like our hearts do. But when God looks at our heart, He doesn’t see the hardness or imperfections. He sees the strength of the heart, the power of the beat, both of which come from Him. He pours His love for us into our ruby hearts.

God looks at our lungs and because He breathes His life into us, he sees sparkling diamonds that are clear and pure. When diamonds are moved in the light, they become “alive” as the clarity – the clearness – refracts into multi-facets. As we breathe and move in Him who is alive within us, our lives should be clear and transparent so others can see Jesus in us.

When our Father looks into our eyes, He sees jewels of different colors – golden amber, brilliant aquamarine, emerald green, deep dark onyx. If the eyes are truly the window to our souls, as some say, just imagine the beauty God sees as He looks at our souls through our eyes.

You see, when God looks at you, He sees who He created you to be – not who you see when you look into the mirror. He doesn’t see the flaws you see – He sees your ruby heart of gentleness and kindness. He doesn’t see the lackluster of your diamond lungs – He sees you sharing Him when you gave that homeless man money for a meal. He doesn’t see the weaknesses in your soul – He sees His strength working in and through you. He doesn’t remember that sin you confessed because He cast it into the depths of the sea.

God sees each of us as a jewel – we are jewels in His eyes. And He considers us to be the Pearls of Great Price. God gave away His most precious possession, His Son, to purchase us – the Pearls of Great Price. He has placed a high price on you and on me because we are so valuable to Him. Pearls shine with a luster and glow and our lives, even our countenance, shines because of Who lives within us.

So when our Abba Father looks at us, He sees beauty, value and worth. He sees rubies, diamonds, emeralds and onyx. He sees jewels and the Pearls of Great Price. Because that is who we are to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

(c) 2008 Edwina E. Cowgill