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Book Review: Bruised But Not Broken

Sheryl Beck-Nelson’s book, Bruised But Not Broken – The Journey from Heartache to Healing, is a candid look at her life beginning on February 26, 2012, the day her husband, Rich, had chest pains, through the hours and hours of his heart surgery, through the many hours of watching and waiting, until February 28, 2012, when he went to be with the Lord. She walks the reader through her grief, through decisions that had to be made, from planning the memorial service to where she and her son, Mathew, would stay. She does all of this in the first 21 pages of the book. The remainder of the book covers the healing process she went through – how God walked with her through that period, the blessings He bestowed upon her, and the things she learned.

This book is one of the most inspiring and motivating books I’ve ever read. Based completely on Biblical teachings, Ms. Beck-Nelson shares what she learned during this time, and she urges the readers to apply the lessons she learned to their lives. She encourages us to dream big and extravagantly, to discover the purpose God has for our lives and to follow Him.

This book will certainly help someone who has suffered a great loss, as Ms. Beck-Nelson did. But the book’s reach is far greater as it will benefit everyone who reads it.

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Book Review: Portrait by JoAnn Durgin

Best selling author, JoAnn Durgin has begun a new series, but fans of the Lewis Legacy Series (LLS) have no need to worry! There will be occasional glimpses of our beloved TeamWork members. This new series, The Grantham-Michaels Series (GMS), promises to be just as good, if not better, than the Lewis Legacy Series. Now, before all of you LLS fans, of which I am one, start throwing things at me, let me tell you that the GMS series is totally different from LLS. In the first book of the GMS, Portrait,  Ms. Durgin included fascinating information on fine art, painting portraits, collectors’ items and even shipping, adding a realistic background to the story.

Of course, there is the beautiful love story of Evan and Lianna. Captivated by each other at first glance, Ms. Durgin, develops the love story, using the faith of Evan and Lianna to build each other up and to witness to those around them. With grace and finesse, she shows that Christians can be faced with temptation, but stand strong in their beliefs.

There are wonderful secondary characters–Evan’s brother, Dylan, who has been in and out of prison for years, Lianna’s best friend and roommate, Sunnye, The Granthams’, Evan’s “family” and business associates, and the precocious, hurting Samantha, the nine-year old daughter of the Granthams, who is highly intelligent, frequently tries to act like an adult, but still is a child.

Portrait is a fresh, new writing from Ms. Durgin and I look foward to reading the next book in the series.

I did not receive any compensation for this review. The opinion expressed here is solely mine.

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It Really Is Just a Number

When I was in my twenties, I never thought about what my life would be like when I reached my fifties. Heck, I never thought about what my life would be like in my forties. Certainly, I never even broached the subject of turning sixty! Horrors!

When I reached my early fifties, I considered my sixties but only for a nanosecond. After all, that was lightyears away.

In my mid-fifties, I began to have the occasional ache here, a little pain there. Still nothing to be concerned about, I reassured myself.

Then I was no longer in my mid-fifties, I had reached my late fifties. Suddenly, without any warning (or any to which I paid attention) I was staring sixty in the face. I convinced myself that sixty is just a number and I kept on going.

The other day, an envelope arrived in the mail. The return address was the Department of Health and Welfare. My first thought was, “What do they want with me?” I ripped open the envelope and peeked inside. There was a card there. A red, white and blue card. Across the top was printed “Medicare.” And I knew I had almost arrived.

Yesterday, I reached the mid-point of the sixties. The BIG one. 65. WOW.

I’ve been reflecting about all the things I’ve done in these first sixty-five years of my life. Here are some that mean so much to me: 1) I’ve taught many classes in church, and I’ve counseled more people than I can count on ten fingers and ten toes. I hope and pray that God spoke through me to help each person. 2) Some people would probably disagree, but this is my story, so I’ll say that I believe I’ve achieved success in my professional career in my chosen field of administration. I’ve worked for Fortune 500 companies, privately-owned companies, a non-profit organization and three—count ‘em—three churches. 3) I am a writer. I’ve written articles for websites, church newsletters and over 600 blogs on this site. And, under a pen name, I’ve written and published a book. I’m working on two books now.

My greatest achievements are named Kim and Kyle, my two children. We went through some very difficult years—years they should not have had to go through. But by God’s grace and mercy, we survived, and we thrived. Today, both are happily married. Kim has one son, Mack, and her husband, Steven, has a daughter and son, Danielle and Owen. Kyle, and his wife Angela, have one son, Maverick, who turned one year old yesterday. Yep, born on my birthday.

Now, I begin looking ahead to what God has in store for me, and my wonderful husband and soul mate, Dave, in the next 65 years.

Robert Browning wrote: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

It really is just a number!

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Book Review: “Chasing Abigail”

When I first began to read “Chasing Abigail” I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed by the number of characters in the book. At that time, I did not realize that this book is the second book in The Restoration Series. Yes, you can read this book as a stand-alone and you will enjoy it. I would recommend that if you can get a copy of Book one in the series, Leann’s Victory, do so and read it.

Still, I persevered and a few chapters into the book I had the characters fixed in my mind. In all fairness to the author, Renee Kinlaw, the characters and their roles were listed in the front of the book–I didn’t see that page until I was finished reading the book.

This book centered around Abigail Reese and Michael Jennings. Abigail is a young woman who ran every morning as a form of exercise, but who had also run away from love, commitment and relationships most of her life. Michael is Pastor Michael Jennings, the single pastor of Palm Island Baptist Church. Jennings has been praying, asking God to send him the woman that he has selected for him. God shows him that woman is Abigail. Michael is captivated by Abigail’s beauty and even by her wounded spirit. And so, the “chasing” of Abigail begins.

Michael and Abigail’s story is a beautiful love story, but more importantly, God and Abigail’s story is a moving story of the love of the Father for His daughter. It tells us that God stands at the door of our hearts, knocking, patiently waiting for us to let Him enter. It reminds all of us just how far our Father God will go to prove His love for us. It reminds us of how his love for us is unconditional, extravagant, reckless, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. 

Ms. Kinlaw did a masterful job in writing this book, without being pushy or “preachy.” This is a book that you will want to put on top of the stack of books by your bedside that you’ve yet to read. And you will want to read it more than once – it’s just that enjoyable.

I give this book a 10 on a rating scale of 1-10 and if I could rate it higher, I would.

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Day 25: THE GIFT OF HIMSELF

 

Good Morning and Merry Christmas! I understand with the dawning of Christmas Day, Advent has ended. And yet, the priceless gift, given for all, comes to us in a baby . . .

Luke 2 (New King James Version)

Christ Born of Mary

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

The beginning of our Savior’s life. His life begins humbly, in lowly surroundings. But His beginning did not stop in from doing anything that God had sent him to earth to do. He answered the call on His life.

What about you? What about me? Have we allowed our beginnings and our history to keep us from answering God’s call? If so, it’s not too late. He remains at the door, knocking. All we have to do is answer, by opening the door.

Abba Father, You have given your most precious, your greatest gift—Your son. He willingly came to earth and was born in a manger in a stable. What a humble beginning for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. At the end of His life, He was victorious over all. May we, your sons and daughters, not look at our beginning or our history or even where we are today, but look to You and answer Your call. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pray, AMEN and AMEN.

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December 24, 2018 Twenty-fourth Day of Advent: The Gift of His Presence

During this Advent season, I am unwrapping one of God’s gifts to me every day. 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)

When I opened my Advent gift this morning 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 title is sums up the book completely – practicing the presence of God. One would think, as Christians, we would be aware of His presence and not have to “practice” being aware of His presence. 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. That is why this gift is so important–to constantly remind me that-no matter what-He is always here with me and with you.

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

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Sunday, December 23, 2018 Twenty-third Day of Advent: The Gifts of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23 King James Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 Amplified Bible)

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. (Galatians 5:22-23 Living Bible)

 Today, when I opened my gift, there was more than one gift, there were nine gifts!

If you read many of my blogs, you know that I love to compare different translations, as above. Today, I would like to take these translations and mix them until the two verses are completely clear.

But when [we allow] the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He will produce in us love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness [to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, Jew, Gentile], goodness, faithfulness [to God, to our families and friends, to our church, to our employers}, gentleness, and self-control [self-control of emotions, actions, thoughts]. Against such things there is no law. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m sure you’ve hear people say, “I’m just a work in progress.” That is certainly true of me, especially regarding some of these fruits – patience, gentleness, self-control, frankly, all of the fruits. But as we’ve already discovered during this Advent season, God is a God of mercy and grace. When my self-control slips, my behavior is not what it should been when I’m waiting, when my love is subjective, God’s grace and mercy offers me another chance when I repent.  He will do the same for you.

Father God, You are the God of second chances. Of as many chances as we need to exhibit, no, to live, the fruits of the Spirit. Help us to be ever aware of these fruits in our lives, to live every day demonstrating these fruits to all with whom we come in contact. It is in the matchless name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill