Saturday, June 27, 2015

Take Heart, Dear Christian!

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
2 Timothy 3:1-5

Oh, dear friends!
The words you read above were inspired by the precious Holy Spirit and recorded onto papyrus paper by the pen of the Apostle Paul approximately 1,952 years ago.
Could there be any clearer picture of our current times?
Does the accuracy of this prophetic description completely amaze you as much as it does me?

Though I have heard this Scripture quoted and preached many times through the years,
tonight, I read it with fresh eyes, and as if for the first time.
As I did, the exactitude of its prediction hit me with such force.

It could have been written today, as a story for the evening news describing current events and modern day conditions. 

You and I are now living in the perilous times the Apostle Paul saw through the eyes of prophecy.

Does this mean we are in the last days he spoke of here?

I think we could all agree that, without question, we are.

All 19 descriptions in the above five verses are happening.
Right before our very eyes, we are seeing this and many other prophetic Scriptural passages fulfilled.

It is mind-boggling.
Somewhat terrifying.

To me, it seems the whole world is turned upside down.
What is wrong is being called right;
what is right is being called wrong.

We have completely lost our moral compass.
We are a nation divided.
Jesus' Matthew 24:12 prophecy is now reality, 
"And because iniquity shall abound, 
the love of many shall wax cold."

How else could a 21 year old walk into the sacred house of God,
sit down and "participate" in a church service for nearly an hour,
then open fire, killing nine precious, innocent saints of the most high God?
Tell me, dear friends, how could this be?

How could someone's heart be so hard, and so calloused, and so overflowing with hate,
that they could point a gun and pull a trigger on an 87 year old worshiper of Jesus Christ,
whose joy in life was to attend Bible study and sing in the church choir?

Dear Lord, help us, it is just inconceivable to me.

How could a conscience be so seared that it would allow someone to open fire on
four ministers of God, killing them in cold blood, right in the very building where they had gathered to study His Word?

I just can't wrap my mind around it.

Nine dear souls...ages 26, 41, 45, 49, 54, 59, 70, 74, and 87...
have left this world, all too soon, without so much as a chance to say good-bye
to their loved ones, due to one of the most heinous massacres of modern times.

Tears flow, as I try to type these words.
And I realize that I can't find a way to express the deep compassion in my heart.

These were my brothers...and Jesus.
This seems so unfair.
So far beyond horrible.
To think that they had to die this way.

And my mind, once again, returns to the unerringly prophetic words of our dear Lord Jesus
and the Apostle Paul.

Perilous times.
Loveless, hate-filled, evil hearts.
In Jesus' words,

"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things 

which are coming on the earth..."
Luke 21:26

No wonder men's hearts are failing them for fear.

It looks like evil is winning the war, my friends.
It appears that satan has the upper hand.
The truth of God's Word that we hold so dear to our hearts is being ignored,
suppressed, trampled, disregarded, and cast aside.

But, truly does this change anything?

Truth is truth.
Regardless of who says it is not.

God's Word is absolute truth.
It will always be.
His law, His commandments, His dictates remain.
Forever steadfast.

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89

Something that is settled in heaven, 
can never be altered on earth.
Not to worry.
No reason to fear.
Truth is unchanged.

God has, and always will have, the final word.

He is still in control, dear ones.
He is sovereign...over all.
He sees what is happening.
He knows the hearts of all men and women.
He sees the end...already...and has seen it from the beginning.
Nothing surprises Him.

Signs of the times are everywhere we look.
We are in the last days.
But, those words should not invoke fear.
They should fill our souls with an everlasting hope!


Because Jesus said,
"And when these things begin to come to pass,
then look up, 
and lift up your heads; 
for your redemption draweth nigh."
Luke 21:28

He's coming for you!
The battle is almost over!
Don't give up now!
Stay encouraged.
Be strong.
Stand for truth.
Don't be afraid.

Dare to be a Daniel, and continue to serve the living God.
Remember, he suffered a night in the lion's den, but God brought him out alive.
(Daniel 6:23)

Dare to be a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and continue to worship only God.
Remember, they were cast into a burning, fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual,
but they walked out of those flames alive, unharmed, even untainted by the smell of smoke,
and the only repercussion of the fire upon them was that it had served to burn off their binding ropes.
(Daniel 3:25-27)

Dare to be a Stephen, and proclaim what is truth.
Remember, he was stoned to death, but as he was dying, he saw JESUS CHRIST,
not seated, but standing up, by God's throne, anxiously awaiting to receive him into heaven!
(Acts 7:56)

Dare to be a Joseph, and refuse the temptation to cave to sinful pressure.
Remember, in spite of his resistance to sin, he was falsely accused and imprisoned,
but God delivered him and exalted him to being 2nd in command in the land of Egypt,
and through this platform, he was able to save the lives of God's chosen people.
(Genesis 50:20)

Dare to be a Noah, who, though it had never before rained, believed and obeyed God's command to build an ark, in spite of being mocked, ridiculed, and being perceived as absurd.
Remember, it was his relentless, unshakable obedience to God that ended up saving the lives of not only him, but his whole family, too.
(Genesis 7:7)

Dare to be a Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed every, single day, 
because of the blatant, audacious sin that surrounded him and permeated the atmosphere.
Remember, God sent two angels especially for him, his wife, and two daughters,
whose mission was to deliver them and lead them to safety BEFORE they followed orders to
deliver God's vehement wrath by way of total annihilation and obliteration of his country.
They told him, in so many words, that they could do no harm
until he and his family were safe, and they hid him away in a secure place
before they unleashed God's anger.
(Genesis 19:17-24)

Dare to be an Esther, and intercede diligently and earnestly for the people of God.
Remember, at the risk of her life, she approached the throne of the king, uninvited,
but he spared her life, granted her request, and the lives of God's people were saved.
(Esther 8:3-11)

Oh, dear ones!  
As Esther stood for the chosen people of God, 
you and I must stand in the gap for our nation.

Farther and farther we slip from the Bible and God's holiness.
Closer and closer we creep to the wrath of God that is sure to follow our sins.

"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, 
and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: 
but I found none."
Ezekiel 22:30

May it never be said that God could find no person today who will stand in the gap!

This is our generation.
We are now responsible.
The torch of Biblical truth has been passed, and we now hold it in our hands.
The ball is in our court.
We are accountable.

What will we do?

We can play church no longer.
We can be nominal, marginal Christians no more.

Who is on the Lord's side?

I want to encourage every born-again, Bible-believing, God-fearing, Christ-honoring Christian
who reads these words to pray hard and unceasingly for REVIVAL in America.
Let it begin in you.
Ask God to start a fire in your heart that would burn so fiercely,
it would compel you to influence others, pointing them ever and always to Jesus Christ.
Pray that God would send Holy Ghost conviction.
That it would spread like wildfire all across our land.
That we, God's people, would humble ourselves low before Him, 
and pray like we've never prayed before, 
and seek God's face with a fervency and passion never before seen, 
and turn from our own wicked ways.
That we would confess our sins of pride and discord and hate and selfishness.
That we would UNITE in one accord.
That we would drop the labels and denominations and titles 
and start focusing on what we have in common instead of 
digging in our heels and contending for what we do not.
That we would lay aside our trivial, petty differences, for the sake of a greater cause,
that we would finally come to the realization that we are not each other's enemy.
May our prayers begin to ascend to the throne room of God, as one man's prayer.

Dare to be like Jesus!
"...who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:2)

He is coming soon.
I have no doubt.
Until He does, it is up to YOU and to ME, my friend,
to show His love to all, to be His hands and His feet, 
to stop the ugliness and hate, to remain steadfast for the truth of God's Word,
to stand in the gap for our nation, to stay on our knees, to be the intercessory prayer warriors
who will relentlessly and unfailingly seek God to bring about righteous change.

Be encouraged, and know that God is still on the throne.

May He comfort the precious bereaved families in Charleston.
They are a shining light to us all..."a city set on an hill".  (Matthew 5:14)
They have shown God's forgiveness and grace and love, 
right in the midst of their deep grief and pain.
God bless them!
May God hear from Heaven and heal our land.
May He see fit, one more time, to send a Great Spiritual Awakening...
one such as there has never been.
And, may He somehow find it in His great loving heart to be merciful to us,
as we turn our hearts wholly back towards Him.

Look up, and take courage, dear friends!
Find comfort in God's Holy Word.
Seek His face and pray as never before.
Be confident that He is in our midst.

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, 
behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. 
And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he (Elisha) answered, 
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
2 Kings 6:15-16

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: 
because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
I John 4:4

"O our God, wilt thou not judge them? 
for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; 
neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."
2 Chronicles 20:12

For You, dear Lord, are our only hope.

If video doesn't load, click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

What a blessing to open email and see a sweet message from my online friend,
Serena, of Simple Holistic Girl, telling me that she nominated me for
the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!!

Serena has been such a dear inspiration to me over the past several months
since I subscribed to her blog.
She is a certified personal trainer and a certified holistic nutritionist.
Her blog is chock-full of wisdom on exercise, nutrition, recipes, and motherhood...
just to name a few things you will find there.
Be sure to visit Serena and check our her blog.
You won't be disappointed.

A BIG thank you to Serena.
I am so touched, moved, and humbled by your sweet nomination!
You are a special lady and a blessing to me.

So, the rules are that I need to answer Serena's questions here.
This is so much fun!

1.  Why did you start blogging?

Homespun Devotions was literally birthed in anguish.
Mom had just passed through a very serious health crisis,
and during that time, I had sent out regular email updates on her condition 
to a number of relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
It was in the aftermath of that situation and after reading those updates
 that my Uncle Donnie (Mom's brother)
 suggested that I needed to follow my God-given calling to write.
When I started this blog in October of 2011, 
I had no idea what God had in mind for it, or where He would take it.
I was in a very broken place, due to various trials we had gone through,
and I needed an outlet of ministry as my family and I waited upon the Lord for instructions concerning our future.
Little did I know that writing here would provide such amazing therapy for me,
or that it would bring so many wonderful, precious friends into my life.

2.  Link to your favorite post on your blog and explain why it is your favorite.

Oh, my, it is hard to choose just one!!
Every post has been heart-wrenched and delved into issues that are so precious to me.
But, if I have to choose just one, I will choose Our Infertility Journey,
because it is our personal story of God's amazing miracle
of leading Kevin and me from barrenness to joyful parenthood.
Once you click on the link above, you can begin to read the post,
then be re-directed to Lisa Newton's Infertility Blog, where you can read our interview in its entirety.

3.  What is your favorite thing about blogging?

To be able to have a channel to express the burdens, thoughts, and prayer requests God places upon my heart within a community of such wonderful Christian friends.

4.  What is your number one blogging DON’T?

I don't ever want to misuse the platform God has given me.
This is His blog, not mine.
It is all for His glory, not for my self-promotion.
I don't ever want to forget that or lose sight of that focus.

5.  What is your favorite color?


6.  When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

Three things...
a godly wife, a godly mother, and a writer.

7.  What is your favorite non-blogging thing to do?

Spend time with my husband and son.

8.  If you had to start your blog from scratch what one thing would you do differently?

I would have let go of the need to care about numbers a lot sooner than I did.

9.  What is your favorite food (calories don’t count!)?

Fried chicken chimichangas with salsa and chips...
and my homemade spinach dip with chips!
Glad we aren't counting calories!!!!

10.  What is the one thing you just have to do this summer?

Prepare for homeschooling in the fall.
I love praying and planning,
buying curriculum, and getting everything set up for another exciting year!
What a blessing homeschooling is to of the sweetest joys of my life.  :)


Now, I am to nominate eight other SISTER bloggers for this wonderful award.
Boy, was this hard to narrow down!
There are so many of you out there who inspire and bless me,
and I didn't want to leave anyone out!
Wish I could just nominate all of know who you are!
But, here are my eight narrowed-down choices.

I hope you will all take a minute to visit these sweet sisters, when you can.
Be sure to leave them an encouraging comment, too, if you have time.

Drum roll, please....
in no particular order....
here are the nominees!!!

Sharon Sharing God

Darling Downs Diaries

Gentle Joy Photography

So Much At Home

Briana Thomas


The Watered Soul

Jo Z Photography

Now, for the last thing I need to do.
I am to come up with my own set of questions for the eight bloggers above.

So, dear bloggers, if you and I could meet up for a cup of coffee, and we were to pour out our hearts,
these are the questions I would most like to ask each one of you.

1.  Tell us a little bit about your blog...its purpose and your vision for it.
2.  What are the events that led you to become a Christian?
3.  How long have you been serving the Lord?
4.  Who are the most important people in your life?
5.  What is the hardest thing you have ever been through or had to face?
6.  How did your walk with Jesus help you cope during that difficult time?
7.  If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
8.  Which one passion would you describe as your driving force?
9.  If Jesus Christ were to visit you in human form, what would your reaction be?
10.  What is your biggest dream...what do you long for the most?

Okay, so there you have it!
Some heavy questions, I know,
but I hope you all have as much fun doing this as I did.

Again, a big thank you to Serena at Simple Holistic Girl for her sweet nomination.
God bless you all, sweet friends.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Updates - HUGE Praise Report on Jakob Cooper, & PRAYERS NEEDED for Baby Daxton

"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD:
and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple."
Jonah 2:7

Once again, God has proven Himself faithful, 
and once again, you prayed someone through, dear friends!

Are you ready for some amazing news that proves once again
just how awesome our God really is?

Guess where Jakob Cooper is tonight???

Praise God, He is still on the throne, 
He still answers prayer,
and He still reigns!!

You have joined in the battle by praying faithful prayers.
Now, please join in the victory by giving praise to our Almighty God!!
He has surely worked a miracle on this young man.

To God be all the glory!

You can read more details by visiting the Prayers for Coop Facebook page.

To read former posts about Jakob, click the following links:

Now for the not so good news...
I just read this update about Baby Daxton, and it broke my heart.
I was so hoping for better news.
PLEASE keep this dear baby and his parents and family in your continued prayers!

Update 6/10/15, written by his mother

"Our little Dax is two weeks old today. 
I look at his little face everyday and feel so blessed to have another day with him. 
But I also feel heartbreak. 
Heartbreak like only a parent can feel for their suffering child. 
This has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my entire life. 
Today, after talking with Kosair's neuro team, we got some upsetting news; 
as of right now, with Daxton's past grade 4 brain bleed and his new smaller brain bleeds, 
the neuro doctor told us we can expect Dax to have some form of cerebral palsy. 
What degree has yet to be seen due to how small he is and depending on how he develops. 
We are holding on to hope that his brain will re-wire itself 
(as the doctor said babies' brains can sometimes do with things like this),
 and he will still be able to learn and do some things. 
They also told us that with the small brain bleeds continuing, it was far too risky to the rest of his healthy brain tissue to do his "switch" surgery on his heart. 
There are still a lot of unknowns right now. 
We have to talk to his heart doctors in the morning and see what they tell us. 
I'm begging everyone to continue to pray for our Dax. 
Please pray that his new bleeds stop, 
his grade 4 bleed stops evolving, and he doesn't get any new bleeds. 
He needs his heart surgery. 
He can't go on much longer without it. 
He's such a special little boy, and he needs all the prayers and love he can get. 
I also want to continue to thank everyone for their prayers, love, support, and donations.
You've all been a tremendous help to our family. 
Please continue to share Daxton's story.
 Thank you so much, we love you, & God bless!"

Things do not sound good for this baby,
but we know Who is in control.
How many times has He proven that His power trumps medical science?
We have seen what He can do, and we are believing Him to send the miracle this baby needs.

Please pray for his dear parents.
I can only imagine how exhausted and emotionally drained they are feeling by now.
All this, after just giving birth....this dear mother!
My heart just breaks when I think of them.
God bless them and hold them extra close to your heart tonight!

Please keep praying!!!

To read previous posts about Daxton, click the links below.

The family lives four hours away from the hospital.
If you would like to donate to help them with their expenses,
please click here.

You can also keep up with the family's updates by clicking the Prayers for Daxton Gage Facebook page.

Thank you so much, and God bless each one who prays and reaches out to this dear family
during this difficult time.

How are you, dear reader?
Are your burdens heavy?
Do you have a pressing need?
Does it feel that you have reached the end of your endurance?

Sometimes, human help just isn't enough.
There are moments when the burden of grief is just too much...
when there is no one around who truly understands the heartache,
the anguish, and the fear.
It is in moments like this that we must turn our hearts to the One Who cares more for us
than any other person ever has...or ever will.

If video doesn't load, click here.

Jesus loves you, dear, hurting one.
He stands there to you...right by your side...
wherever you are, whatever your condition, however hopeless your situation....
open-armed, with more compassion than you could ever imagine.

Tell Him how you feel.
Empty your heart to Him.
He is listening.

If video doesn't load, click here.

And if you need someone to help pray for you and your situation,
we are here, we care,
and we are more than happy to pray and to help bear your burdens to the Throne of Grace.

You are not alone.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Urgent Prayers Needed for James Furrow

"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up..."
James 5:15

When a family is hit with the news I am going to share with you today,
the blow is near unbearable.
In times like these, how blessed they are to know they have an anchor
and a hope in the One Who made an atonement for not only the sins of mankind, 
but Who suffered intense agony for the healing of our physical bodies.

I come to you with an urgent need, asking that you band together with me and others,
requesting that you pass along this request to as many prayer warriors as you know,
and that you bring the need for this man's healing before the Throne of Grace.

James was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer.

We all know the level of fear the "C" word instantly and automatically invokes.
Who among us has not been touched by its terror, 
either personally, or by watching its effects in the life of a dear loved one?

The thing I want us to remember is that 
God is bigger than cancer.
There is nothing beyond His power or higher than His authority.

Cancer is just a word...a name....a label, is it not?

God is still God.
He is still sovereign.
He still reigns, praise His name!

James is a godly man, and he and his family have strong faith in Him and His power to heal.

James' daughter, Stacie; his wife of 36 years, Lisa; James, and his daughter, Tracie

James also has three grand-children.
My heart breaks for these dear ones, as they face the uncertain, trying days that lie ahead of them.
They are a very close-knit family, with a lot of love between them.

James and his two sweet girls

Last night, as we were speaking with another dear brother in Christ, 
who is also walking through the dark and deep trial of a cancer diagnosis,
our conversation quickly turned to God,
and, I said,
"I don't know what I would do without Him."

I truly don't.

The words to a song come to my mind that I heard as a young girl
called, "I Claim The Blood", written by Paul Williams.
I can still hear Labreeska Hemphill belting out the words of the second verse,
as the sound of that old eight track came through the speakers of our big, old Oldsmobile 98.
Dad had bought that car from a man we knew, who had left the tape in the car.
Though we tried to return it when we found it, he insisted we keep it,
and it became one of my favorites.
I would listen to it over and over...those words are still so fresh in my mind.

This is the exact recording I listened to, if you'd like to hear it.

If video doesn't load, click here.

"I do not know how others make it through,
Who never go to Calvary as I do;
For there a healing, cleansing stream still flows,
With peace that only His redeemed can know."

I don't know how others make it through who never go to Calvary as I do!
I don't know how I would maintain sanity in this crazy world, if it weren't for the hope I have in Him.

On His way to Calvary, our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
endured some of the most horrific, inhumane, unjust, undeserved, torture of all time,
dealt by the hands of cruel Roman soldiers who used a whip infused with metal/bones,
to inflict the awful stripes that would pay the atonement for our physical healing.

The Roman scourging was not like the Jewish scourging.
During a Jewish scourging, the legal number of stripes to be inflicted were 39.
No more than that.
(Deuteronomy 25:3)
The rules were different for a Roman scourging.
In fact there were no rules...except to make sure the poor, mutilated victim was kept alive,
so they could be led to the cross to be crucified.

The reason Jesus endured this torturous punishment was in answer to the Old Testament prophecy
found in Isaiah 53:5,
"He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisment of our peace was upon Him;
and by His stripes we are healed."

Did you get that, dear friend?
"By His stripes we are healed."

There is no limit mentioned in this verse.
It doesn't say, we are healed of only certain illnesses.
There is no mention of the healing only applying to specific stages of disease.

Jesus suffered those stripes, so that we could all be healed, 
regardless of what stage our disease is diagnosed,
the severity of our condition,
our age,
or how long we have been sick.

No case is too severe.
No body is too diseased.
No situation is without hope.

Jesus suffered those agonizing stripes, on His way to Calvary,
for the specific and sole purpose of making an atonement
for the healing of our physical bodies.
When He walked this earth, people brought unto Him
"...all who were sick.  And whatever their sickness or disease -- He healed them all."
Matthew 4:24
(New Living Translation)
So, since He healed them all then, 
can He not heal them

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."
Hebrews 13:8

I believe, if we, as the members of the Body of Christ,
will join in unified prayer, God will still heal all manner of sickness and disease.

Please bombard Heaven with me, asking our Lord to heal James Furrow
and to bring peace and comfort to his wife, daughters, grandchildren, and other loved ones.

And, if you are suffering, I want to encourage you to look up, and believe in God.
He is still on the throne, and He still hears and answers the prayers of His people.

There is nothing impossible with Him.

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, 
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

Keep the faith, and know that He is with you, no matter what, my friend.
Claim the blood that was shed, not only for our sins,
but for the healing of our bodies.
The fountain still flows, and God still heals!!

God bless you and meet you wherever you are.

Friday, June 5, 2015

In Honor of the Best Dad A Girl Could Ever Have - And Updates

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors;
and their works do follow them."
Revelation 14:13

Today, when I opened my laptop to check email,
my heart gave a little, sad lurch.
There it was.
Loud and bold.
On my screen.
June 5, 2015.

I recognized it instantly.
Felt stinging tears rise suddenly...
out of nowhere.

Isn't that how it always happens?
You are skipping along....full of joy.
When it strikes from out of the blue.

Grief is like that.

It just appears.

Then everything is changed.
And it just has to be felt.

So, today is June 5th...FIFTEEN YEARS since I stood in the Intensive Care Unit
by the bedside of the dying man I had dreaded to say good-bye to....
for 33 years.

He was ill for most of my childhood.
I remember rushing to my room so many times,
dropping to my knees beside my bed,
and begging God...pleading with please not take my Daddy.
To please let him live until I was grown.
To please spare his life until he could walk me down the aisle
and see me married to the man God had for me.

God answered every one of those prayers.

Dad wasn't perfect.
He made his share of mistakes.
He wasn't rich.
We struggled financially....a LOT.
He wasn't well-educated.
He only made it through the 8th grade.
He wasn't refined.
He was the most country, laid back, down-to-earth, what-you-see-is-what-you-get person
I ever knew.
I absolutely loved that about him.

Dad grew up in the hills of Tennessee,
in a tiny, little house that was literally overrun with younguns.
He used to tell me how cold they would get and how they could literally feed the chickens
without going slipping food to them through the cracks in the floor.
From some of the stories he told me, it is a wonder any of those younguns made it out alive.

We think we have it rough sometimes.

Dad grew up in the good, old days...when times were bad.
Don't you just love that Dolly Parton song?

I do.
Take a listen.

If video doesn't load, click here.

Dad was raised not too, too far from where Dolly was.
In my mind, I picture his old homeplace to look something like hers.
When I hear Dolly sing those old songs she wrote about her childhood, I always think of Dad,
because the words make me think of the way he grew up, there in those nearby Tennessee hills.

There is just something about the culture there that calls to me.
The simplicity and the heart of those who lived through those lean times in the mountains.
It appeals to me...on so many levels.

I want to go visit my cousin, Eddie.
He is one of the very few "kinfolk", as they call it,
that I have left on Dad's side, and he still lives in Dad's hometown.
I want him to take me to the spot where Dad grew up,
and where so many of those childhood memories and shenanigans took place.

Dad, along with his twin brother, went to visit there a few years before he died.
He told us how the two of them sat on that old porch together and cried like babies.

I can only imagine.
Wish I could have been there with them.

Dad was probably the most selfless person I ever knew.
He would honestly do anything he was asked to do, without complaint,
without drawing back, without looking down on anyone.
If he knew you were cold, he would literally give you the shirt right off his back,
without batting an eye.
If he knew you needed something fixed, he would dive right in, no matter how dirty
or nasty or deplorable the job.
He didn't mind doing the most menial labor.
It was almost like he just expected it to be that way.
He never thought he was better than anyone else, no matter how downtrodden by society they seemed to be.
He would get down on their level, if need be, and wouldn't seem to notice they were any different than him...because he knew, in reality, that they weren't.

I remember one time there was a man in our church who had developed some sort of throat disorder.
I am assuming it must have been cancer.
The man never was diagnosed, so I can't say for sure.
But, his condition was very unpleasant to be around.
I've seen Dad go in to his room, stand over his sickbed, and take care of his needs more times than I can even remember.
No one else seemed to want to do it.
There was something in Dad that compelled him to help that man.
Another man in our church had serious problems with his feet.
We went to visit him often.
I can still see Dad going to get the container to fill it with water,
coming down the hall carrying it,
then getting down on his knees in front of the man,
and tending to his diseased feet...without so much as a word.
Dad never could pass anybody who was broken down along the road,
without at least stopping to ask if he could help.
He just knew all-too-well how it felt to be in their shoes, and he never forgot.
He just did things like that...all the time...a quiet, unassuming, very much unsung, hero.

Those are just a few examples to explain Dad's character.
To say Dad was humble just really doesn't cut it.
I'm not sure how to embellish that word enough to describe Dad.
Humble seems like a step up for him.

He didn't care about appearances.

I have told of how my family and I are being more and more compellingly drawn towards living a minimalistic life and letting go of the unnecessary.
It is a pursuit that is driving us right now, as we are feeling more and more led
to simplify, downsize, streamline, and purge.
I think my yearning for minimalism stems from two sources...

1.  My overwhelming desire to follow Jesus,
to emulate His life, to focus on the eternal, to shed the excess in order to be more available to Him,
2.  From my deep longing to somehow recapture the essence of who Dad was and how he lived his life.

Dad didn't have much.
But, then again, he didn't need much.
When he died, I was amazed at how very little he really owned.
It impresses me that very little is all he really needed....or wanted.
He just wasn't into "things".
Dad was used to "getting by", and that is all he really felt was necessary.

Dad was the perfect Dad...for me.
He and Mom instilled in me a deep, impenetrable love for God,
and a heart for others.
Their kind is a vanishing breed.
That makes me sad.
Because I feel like we are losing something so precious, dear friends.

In our self-driven quests, we are forgetting about the needs of our fellow man.
In our determination to carry designer bags,
we fail to remember that some carry around everything they own in brown paper.
In our adamance about wearing only the latest name brand,
we ignore the fact that some wear holey rags, or have nothing to wear at all.
In our desire to impress, we insist upon fine linen, while our brothers and sisters cringe to see night fall, as they scrounge for something...anything, however raggedy, just to block the cold.
We over-indulge, to the point of gluttony, while a child, just a few blocks away,
falls asleep hungry.

God forgive us.
We are so guilty.

I am missing Dad so much today.
I can't believe it has been 15 years since I stood there,
heart broken and dreams shattered of him ever seeing the little 11 1/2 week life
that lived and grew inside my womb.
That boy, who would be born to Kevin and me six months and 21 days after Jesus came for Dad,
is Dad's only biological grandchild.
Dad never got to see him...hold him the little "doo-dads", as he called them,
that he loved to make.

So often, Zach will do something really funny, and Kevin will say,
"Zach, you sure remind me of your Papaw."

He does.
It amazes me how much Zach is like Dad.
They never met, but he sure is Dad's grandson.

Dad was so comical.
He could make us laugh on our worst day.
He would get "tickled" and laugh until he couldn't stop.
Watching and hearing him laugh was some of the funniest parts.

Zach is the same way.
He can bring a smile and a chuckle, regardless what else is going on around us.
He is a light and joy and an uplift wherever he goes.
Zach lights up a whole room...with just a smile.
I think one of the reasons God let Zach be so much like Dad is to let us know that through Zach,
Dad lives on.

So, Dad, if I could pick up the phone and call you today, this is some of the things I would say...

I love you so much!
You were the best Dad a girl like me could have ever asked for.
You worked so hard to keep our family fed.
I appreciate every, single thing you ever did for me.
I will never forget the things you taught me about life....
not only through your words, but by your example.
If I could be half as selfless as you were, I would be a better person.
I know you suffered so much in those last years down here.
It broke my heart.
I still remember my anxious phone calls to you every, single morning...
worrying until you or Mom would answer the phone....
hoping with all my soul that you had a good night, and longing to hear you say, you felt better today.
I still panic when I think of all of the close calls, the emergency room visits,
the times we felt we were walking on eggshells and sitting on dynamite.
I can still see your anguished expressions, as you worried about what Mom would do,
once you were gone....
how you pulled Mom's and my hands together over you, as you struggled on life support,
as if to tell us to take care of each other.
We did, Dad.
'Til the end.
She's there with you now, and that comforts me.
I'll be coming, too, Lord willing, and by God's grace,
although I hope it is not too soon!
As much as I miss you and Mom and Papaw and Mimmie and so many others,
I pray I can live down here and be in health to first raise this sweet boy God sent to us.
You would love him so much, Dad!
Kevin and I often talk about how much fun the two of you would have together!
Oh, the adventures you would enjoy!
But, it was not to be.
I'll never understand that.
You almost made the day he got here.
As long as you had waited for a grandson of your own,
and as thrilled and happy as you would have been to meet him and watch him grow up,
God had even better...grander plans for you.
I believe you are watching us...from a distance.
I believe God is letting you see the fine, young man your grandson is growing up to be.
And though it sounds crazy, I have the picture to prove that your face was looking down on
him and me that day in the strawberry field.
Of course, I didn't notice it until I got the picture printed out...and there you were.
I've never seen anything like it.
Zach would make you proud, Dad.
He is abundantly giving...selfless...just like you were.
He is so much like you!
Why, the other day, he felt God nudge him in a store when he saw an elderly customer who appeared needy, and he took his own thirty some dollars and paid for everything she had in her cart!
I can't tell you how that made me feel when he and Kevin came home and told me that.
It reminds me of something you would do.
We all sure miss you, Dad.
Life has been very different...and difficult...without you.
You could fix anything for me, it seemed.
You always knew what to do...what to bring the most complicated into perspective,
to simplify the most perplexing problem.
You just had a way about you that made me feel safe.
Dear Lord, help us, we all miss that!
Kevin misses you so much, as he takes the best care of us.
He, as you well know, is the finest, most noble of all husbands.
God gave me the very best, Dad.
You always hoped for that, and your prayers were answered a hundred fold.
Kevin loves Zach and me with more love than his heart can hold.
He still talks about how much he loved close the two of you were.
He uses your tools from time to time, and he thinks about you.
He remembers all the times you held those drills and hammers and screwdrivers,
and he tears up, as he misses you.
You and him sure had some good times.
We'll all be together again one day, God willing.
Then we'll have eternity to share..and catch up...and finally sing together again.
I miss your sweet smile.
Your funny ways.
Eating at Sonny's with you...hearing you play your five-string....playing along on my guitar....
hearing your pitch-perfect, mountain-style, bluegrass tenor chiming in on those old Louvin Brothers,
Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Osborne Brothers, Reno & Smiley, and Mac Wiseman songs.
Every time I hear one, my mind always, always goes to you...immediately.
Especially ones like....

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

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"The Bluebirds Are Singing For Me"

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"Rank Stranger"

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"Limehouse Blues"

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"Are You Tired Of Me, My Darling?"

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...and there must be a thousand other songs that make me think of you, Dad.
Just the first ring of a five string can start me bawling.
I still take your old Old Kraftsman out from time to time...just to recall.
God bless you, dear Dad.
Today, we mourn 15 years without you down here.
How Heaven must rejoice to have you there!!!
I love you more than you will ever know.


And, now I leave you with some good news about Jakob Cooper,
and some good, then not-so-good news about Baby Daxton below.

Updates on Jakob Cooper

1st Update:
Asking for those prayers again. 
Jakob starts new chapter in rehab @ Cardinal Hill tomorrow. 
We are already there today to get settled in. 
Prayers for strength & understanding. 
God's got this.

2nd Update:

 Jakob had 3 hours of therapy today. 
He did good, now he is ready to get back at it again tomorrow, so he can get home. 
Pray he continues to progress!

God is working and moving on Jakob's behalf, dear friends!!
Please keep up the prayers!!

To read former posts about Jakob, click the following links:


Updates on Daxton Gage

God is hearing the many prayers being prayed on behalf of this little guy,
but he still has a very long way to go.
I can't even imagine the up and down roller coaster of emotions his parents must be having to endure.
As you will see in the updates, every time things seem to be going better,
something else happens, but we know our God is in control, and there is nothing too hard for Him!

June 3, 2015 - Update by Daxton's Mama
Our baby Daxton is one week old today! 

I talked with the RN this morning and unfortunately our baby boy has had some set backs. 
This morning Daxton had to be put back on the ventilator. 
Each time he has been taken off of it, he does well for a little bit,
 and then begins to struggle to hard to breathe on his own. 
She said that the doctor has contacted an ear, nose & throat specialist,
 and they're going to check out his trachea and make sure that Dax doesn't have something anatomically wrong that's causing him to have so much difficulty breathing on his own. 
Dax also has to go for a PET scan of his heart this morning. 
They just want a few more images if his heart to help plan out his open heart surgery. 
They also attempted to put his PICC line in yesterday, with no success. 
I'm asking that you please continue to pray for our baby boy. 
While I know it's for his benefit, I know he must be going through so much pain with being poked & prodded all the time. 
My heart breaks knowing there's nothing I can do to comfort him. 
Please continue to share Daxton's updates and his story. 
As I've said many times before, I want as many praying for our baby as possible. 
I know there is power in prayer. 
God bless each and every one of you, 
& thank you so much for everything you've done or are doing. 
It means the world to us.

Update - June 4, 2015 by Daxton's Mama

Talked with Daxton's nurse this morning and not much had changed since yesterday. 

He's still on the vent, & she said he's resting peacefully. 
She said his doctors decided to wait for his scan due to the fact that he would have to go off of his prostaglandins to do it. 
And it's the prostaglandins that are keeping Dax alive. 
So they decided to wait until a later date to do the scan. 
But they did do an echo, an x-Ray and ultrasound on him this morning. 
His nurse did say his lactic acid levels were high,
 so we're asking for prayers for those to go back down. 
She said they could have spiked due to the stress of being put back on the vent and where they tried to do a PICC line yesterday. 
God has brought him so far in such a short time. 
We want to thank everyone for their prayers, kind words, donations, little acts of kindness, everything you've done to help Dax & our family get this far. 
As I always ask, just please continue to pray, pray, pray & share Dax's story every chance you can. I truly believe God hears our prayers and is answering them for us. 
Thank you all for everything!

Update - June 5, 2015 by Daxton's Mama
So much has happened in the last 24 hours, so I'll try to update you all as best as I can remember. As of yesterday's update, Daxton was stable and doing okay as far as his progress went and continued to do so until around 9 pm last night. 
As usual I called to check on Dax before we went to bed,
 and they immediately put me on the phone with his Doctor. 
Dax had taken a turn for the worse, and they were not sure why,
 but his doctor suspected some type of infection. 
They began a preventive treatment of antibiotics, just to make sure because Daxton's lactic acid levels were reading 17 and higher, 
when his doctors told us they didn't want his levels over a 2 or 3. 
His doctor told us that he hoped Dax would get better, but there was a real possibility he could die. So last night, we slung everything we could think of into some bags, 
kissed our older babies goodbye, as they went to stay with their mamaw & papaw,
 and we made the 4 hour night drive from Phelps all the way into Louisville, 
praying, sobbing, and begging God the whole way to please spare our baby boy. 
When we got here, they had given Dax a lot of antibiotics, 
a blood transfusion, and were doing blood gas tests every two hours. 
His lactic acid had come down significantly, and our baby was improving. 
He was very very pale, and his nurse had said he was even more pale just hours before. 
I think "ghost baby" was the word they used to describe it. 
After tossing and turning for the few hours of sleep we did get,
 this morning was filled with such relieving and blessed news. 
Dax's lactic acid levels had come back down to 2.9 and were continuing to improve,
 and his pink color was coming back to his skin. 
I've thanked God and praised him all morning.  
Please continue to pray for Daxton, and praise God with me for this miracle. 
Thank you everyone for keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers,
 and thank you for all that you do!

If you would like to contribute to this dear family's expenses during this difficult time, please click here.   

Let's keep bombarding Heaven on this baby's behalf!!

To read the original post about Daxton, click here.