Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Inner Views of Evelyn Rennich

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15,16

In our ongoing quest to minimize and simplify our lives,
I am always on the lookout for those who will encourage and keep us inspired 
on our journey.
My goal, when trying to seek out this encouragement,
is to not only to find those of like mind as far as the desire to live minimally,
but also who are Christians and whose motives for minimal living are driven by a passion to better serve Jesus Christ.

One of the first minimalism blogs I came to follow and appreciate was Becoming Minimalist,
written by Joshua Becker.
Joshua, who is also a dedicated Christian and pastor, 
was the very first person I interviewed for our new "Inner Views" endeavor,
and you can read that interview here.

At some point in time, while reading Joshua's blog,
I was introduced to yet another blog that talks about minimalism.
When I checked it out, I was thrilled to find out that the writer of the blog is also a Christian and a wife and mother.
I immediately began following her blog and have gleaned so much wisdom from her testimony and experiences.
I know you will, too.

I introduce to you, grace-clinger, mother of four, and Smallish blogger,
Evelyn Rennich.

Evelyn Rennich.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself, Evelyn!

Evelyn:  I'm a Colorado girl, happily married to a great man and mother of four young kiddos. I love hiking and coffee.

Cheryl:  I would love to know about your Christian testimony. When did you become a Christian? Were you raised in a Christian home? What life events led up to your decision to follow Christ? How has that life choice affected your life since then?

Evelyn:  I was raised in a very happy, functional Christian home.  I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life at the age of 5, but my personal relationship with Him didn't begin until middle school. It was at that point that I learned that Christianity is a personal, intimate walk with the God of the universe.  My spiritual life has been characterized by a gradual deepening ever since.

Cheryl:  The name of your blog is “Smallish”. Can you explain what prompted the name?

Evelyn:  We were living in a very small apartment --450 sq. ft-- with two young boys, when I began Smallish.  We were just beginning to realize the benefits of living in a small place, and it all seemed to fit; this idea of living small, not just in physical space, but with smaller means (we are a one-income family), and with a small footprint on earth.  "Smallish" is our way of communicating our desire to live responsibly, joyfully.

Cheryl:  What inspired you to start blogging, and how has your blog enriched your life and journey towards minimalism?

Evelyn:  In the fall of 2012 we were excited to move out of the teeny apartment we called "the Shoebox" and "get on with normal life" in the 1,300 sq. ft. home we owned.  I realized over the course of the summer that there was much I would miss about living in the small apartment and also was surprised to learn that I had a regret-- that I had not blogged about all we had learned and our journey of living in a little home.  I started blogging just months before we were planning to move out.  Wouldn't you know it, God had other plans.  We ended up living in our "Shoebox" apartment for three more years before God decided that season was over. Smallish is a sort of souvenir that grew up with us. :)

Cheryl:  What does minimalism look like in your home?

Evelyn:  Minimalism, to us, is limiting possessions, certainly, for we see giant blessing in fewer belongings, but it is so much more.  Living intentionally with less is a holistic endeavor.  It positively affects nearly every area of our lives.

We are a family of 6, so minimalism in the strict, least-amount-of-belongings doesn't quite fit us. However, I am constantly purging physical things that we don't use or need.  In nearly every area of home or heart, I seek to "find the minimum level" of what I can live with.  Most days, the things we own still seems like too much, but this whole minimalism thing is a journey. :)  Minimalism also means we are committed to living slowly--not filling our schedules up with too many activities.  It means we'd like to live with minimal impact on the earth, which is also an area I feel like we have to get better at.

Cheryl:  What are the causes that are closest to your heart?

Evelyn:  I care deeply about salvation in Jesus Christ for a lost world, care for children, and about justice issues such as poverty/trafficking.

Cheryl:  How do you allow a mindset of minimalism to set the course of your Christmas spending, and what does Christmas day look like in your home? And favorite Christmas traditions you would like to share?

Evelyn:  We don't buy many presents for our kids, and we usually make something for other family and friends.  Our children receive wonderful gifts from family members, so my husband and I keep presents small and practical.  This year we bought our older 3 snow shovels because we knew we'd gain many hours of quiet and energy-exertion outside through the winter. ;)
Christmas day is a slow celebration including the reading of Scripture, giving gifts and giving thanks, grazing on good food, and enjoying family.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you, specifically, at this season of life?

Evelyn:  What a sweet question!  As much as I love blogging and learning to live minimally or "green", raising four young children and supporting my husband is my primary calling in this season.  It is not a glamorous job, but I am keenly aware that if I don't invest my best in these years of building my marriage and setting foundations for my children, then I will have failed at my biggest tasking.  I would appreciate prayer that I can keep my priorities in order and serve my family each day with the joyful intention that translates Jesus' love into action.

Thank you so much for your heart and calling to share and minister, Cheryl!

And, thank YOU, dear Evelyn, for being willing to share your heart and thoughts with us here!
I love hearing from those of like mind, who are setting their focus on things eternal,
rather than the accumulation of things that are of this world.
Evelyn brings out some wonderful points in the two post links she has included above.
I hope you will take the time to click on the links and read her words of wisdom
and that you will consider subscribing to her blog, "Smallish"!

To read previous
 click the links below.

The Inner Views of Joshua Becker
 The Inner Views of Lisa Newton
The Inner Views of Dr. Alveda King
The Inner Views of Jen Avellaneda
The Inner Views of Tonya Shellnutt
The Inner Views of Karen Del Tatto

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Inner Views of Karen Del Tatto

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Psalm 27:17

I never cease to be amazed at the depths of genuine love and friendship that run 
throughout this blogging community.
Four years ago, when God first led me to start Homespun Devotions,
I never imagined how profoundly that decision would affect my life.
For years, my little family and I have diligently and regularly prayed "The Prayer of Jabez",
after reading Bruce Wilkinson's book by the same title.
In case you aren't familiar with Jabez's prayer, here it is...
"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 
Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, 
and enlarge my coast, 
and that Thine hand might be with me, 
and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! 
And God granted him that which he requested."
1 Chronicles 4:10

One of the ways that God has chosen to "enlarge our coast" is through Homespun Devotions.
Without a doubt, we would never have "met" the dear people God has brought into our lives,
had we not started this blog. 
Many of you have become more than just mere acquaintances.
You have become cherished heart friends...
friends who share your prayer requests with me, and with whom I share mine,
friends who stop by and encourage me, both by leaving dear comments or by emailing privately,
friends who care and who show it in so many sweet and wonderful ways.

This Christian blogging community is tightly-knit, accepting, forgiving, and filled with grace.
It is a place of great encouragement to me.
Many of your names are written on my personal prayer list, 
and I regularly lift your names to the Father, as your personal needs and burdens have become very important to me.
I truly love all of you so much.

Several months ago...I can't even remember exactly when or how we found each other...
I became acquainted with a new blogger.
I have been so blessed by her deep and thought-provoking writings.

This dear lady has left encouragement for me and picked me up so many, many times.
She is filled with so much love...for God, for His Word, for His people, for her family.
She has become a dear and cherished friend,
and I am SO blessed to be able to present her interview to you here.

Many of you know her already, but for those who don't,
please allow me to introduce to you,
Pastor's Wife and Christian Blogger at Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge,
Karen Del Tatto

Karen Del Tatto.

Cheryl:  Could you tell us about yourself, Karen?

Karen:  You’ll always hear me tell people that I grew up in a “Leave it to Beaver” family.  I lived in a close-knit neighborhood with my parents and two brothers.  We would play kick-ball until dark, hide and seek in the back woods and, in the winter, sleigh down the front road, parents and kids alike. 

My father, a very hard worker, taught me to have a strong work ethic.  My love for the outdoors came from him.  Every weekend, he would have our family out hiking in the woods. (As a youngster you probably would have heard me complaining, but as an adult, those are some of my fondest memories, and ever since childhood my favorite place to be is outside!) 

My mom is my best friend.  We have a wonderful relationship.  Growing up, she was always home when I got home from school.  I would sit at the kitchen table, where she had cookies and milk waiting for me.  I would tell her about my day.  Our favorite thing to do together is laugh! It was very hard when I got married in my early 20's and moved four hours away from my family.  If I were to be honest, that is probably one of my biggest regrets, as I feel like I missed out on so much, but I know that God had a much bigger plan and it was through that move that I would eventually meet Him…

Cheryl:  How did you come to know Jesus Christ? When did you become a Christian, and what were the events that led up to that decision?

Karen:  The events leading up to my coming to know the Lord happened over a 12 year period - all beginning when I moved four hours away from my family.  I worked at AT&T in New Jersey and transferred with the company to Massachusetts.  In the first few months of working at AT&T, I met Liz who shared the Gospel with me and how God was working in her life.  In fact, there were several Christians who worked in the office where I did, and they would hold Bible studies in the conference room during lunch, but I wasn’t interested and rejected it.  Fast forward five years, when we began the process of moving from our first home to a bigger house to accommodate our expanding family.  The Lord did indeed “establish our borders”, blocking the house we thought we really wanted to buy and settling us in the home we are in now.  Our neighbor, Makiko, was a Christian.  One day, we were visiting, and she gave me a copy of "The Living Bible" and told me to read it, and God would speak to me.  I graciously took the Bible and attempted to read it, but I didn’t understand it and felt the Lord was not “speaking to me”. Fast forward another seven years when I met Paula, who had recently moved in a few houses down.  She had a little girl my daughter’s age.  She, too, was a Christian and invited me to attend Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs), a Christian mom’s group, with her.  I was looking forward to meeting other young moms.  It was then that the Lord started softening my heart; the manner of those Christian moms was something I wanted.  Their gentle ways and their excitement for the Bible was contagious!  Paula then introduced me to her friend, Cindy, another believer, who asked me if I wanted to do a Bible study with her.  She said I could pick the topic, maybe something I struggled with.  I struggled terribly with anxiety, and she picked out a Bible study that spoke on that subject.  During the study, I was quite taken by the story of the Apostle Peter walking on water and, upon seeing the waves, starts to sink and cries out to Jesus to save him.  I wanted that!  I wanted salvation from my anxiety and wanted to know more about this Jesus that could bring me peace that surpasses all understanding.  I bought a Bible and started to read on my own and, suddenly, God was “speaking to me”!

I don’t have one of those testimonies where I had this stand-out moment of salvation.  Mine was a gradual calling out to the Lord.  My assurance - this "Miss Goody Two-Shoes" now saw herself as a sinner in need of a Savior.

This is the reason I am passionate about the Word of God, because although the Lord used many people throughout my testimony, it was ultimately in the pages of the Bible that the Lord showed me His great Salvation.

Cheryl:  Tell us about how God has led you throughout marriage, being married to a minister, various ministries you have been involved in, raising children, etc.

Karen:  I have been married to my husband Michael for almost 32 ½ years.  Like all marriages, we have had our ups and downs.  God used the book, "Sacred Marriage", by Gary Thomas, to show me His great purpose in my marriage – to bring Him Glory, by being a testimony in showcasing Christ’s love for His bride, the church, by how I conduct myself in marriage.

As I raised my children, the Lord used another book, "Shepherding a Child’s Heart", by Tedd Tripp, a book whose insights had such a profound effect on my children’s behavior and, most especially, me, as a mother.  Our family was truly blessed as a result.

When I felt called to homeschool, the Lord surrounded me with Godly mothers to share their insights and wisdom to help me along in my homeschool.

Prior to my husband feeling called to attend seminary, the Lord was preparing me, yet at the time, my husband and I didn’t realize God was working on both of us to that end.  It was only in hindsight that we could see God moving in us to be willing to obey the call.

The Lord used several Pastor’s wives to mentor me during the five years my husband was in seminary.  The words of wisdom they shared from their own experiences was such a blessing to me and truly helped me in my role as a Pastor’s wife.

My husband’s first pastoral assignment was not an easy one.  A majority of the congregation were not believers.   I relied heavily upon the Lord for strength during the two years we served. The Lord used me through a very successful Vacation Bible School to show a doubtful congregation that God would provide the children to attend.  And He did!  Abundantly!

Years ago, the Lord laid a ministry to the Marines upon my heart, which was born out of heartache when my “now” son-in-law was in harm’s way overseas for nine months.  As I sought the Lord for guidance on this ministry, He provided the means to have a successful run for many years where thousands of dollars were raised, and many Marines were reached.

Throughout my years as a Believer, the Lord has used His people, whether it be through interaction, their writing, their wisdom, or their prayers, to help guide me to walk in obedience with Him.  He has also used trials in profound ways to mold me and shape me, the loving hand of the Father refining His daughter.  And most especially, God’s Word has been my rock in my marriage, as a parent, and in ministry

Cheryl:  When did you start blogging, and what triggered God leading you to begin "Growing Together In Grace and Knowledge"?

Karen:  I began blogging the first week of January 2015.  The first week of 2015 seemed like the perfect time to start a blog for the purpose of deepening my relationship with the Lord and encouraging others; a desire the Lord laid on my heart five years ago.  You might wonder why so much time passed before I began blogging.  My Heavenly Father was preparing and refining me for such an endeavor.

In the past five years, I've endured many trials and life changes which caused a greater dependence upon the Lord.  It may not always be revealed to us this side of heaven, but the Lord, in His infinite mercy, showed me in a few very difficult circumstances that "what man meant for evil, God meant for good".  Through those trials, He sustained me and brought about amazing blessings that were above and beyond what I hoped or imagined.  In any trial or affliction, we have opportunity to bless others with the Comfort in which we were comforted. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV  Through blogging, I desire to bring those experiences and blessings, as the Lord leads.

The Lord had used those five years to prepare me, both practically and spiritually, to begin writing a blog in Janaury 2015 - in the Lord's perfect time.  After being parched for a season, I had a true thirst to drink up the Word of God and to share all that the Lord revealed to me.

Cheryl:  How has your blog enriched your life and walk with Jesus?

Karen:  Writing a blog is humbling to me.  I am not an eloquent writer, but I love to share what God is teaching me through His Word and in my life experiences.  This blog is just as much about my growth and accountability to the Word as it is about bringing gracious readers encouragement and hope.

My faith has been incredibly strengthened in writing a blog.  When I stare at the computer screen and see what I have written, I praise God for His words; because what I see typed out just doesn’t seem like something I am capable of writing.  All glory and honor go to the Lord.

Cheryl:  What would you say are your biggest blessings at this season of life?

Karen:  Ahh, I have so many blessings at this season of my life.

Most notably, having my daughter, son-in-law, and nine-month old baby granddaughter living with me and my husband.  I enjoy Gabrielle and Garrett so much! And, to have been a part of my first granddaughter’s life in such a close, intimate way - since the day she was born, being present at the birth and now living under my own roof, watching her reach her milestones, enjoying her big personality and her infectious smile, has been such an incredible blessing!

Seeing my parents who are in their late 70’s still living such vibrant, active lives, walking four miles a weekend, every weekend.

My blog and meeting so many kindred bloggers who love the Lord Jesus – Iron sharpening Iron…

Cheryl:  In many ways, we are living in very dark days. In closing, what words of encouragement would you like to share with the people of God?

Karen:  That they would “fix their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Wonderful encouragement and advice, indeed, in these troubled times!
A big thank you to Karen, for sharing her heart and testimony with us here!
I hope you are as blessed in reading her interview, as I was in conducting it.

I do hope you will take the time to stop by Karen's blog.
I know you will be abundantly edified while reading what God has placed upon her heart.

Thank you, dear readers, for your faithfulness to visit here.
You are so appreciated and loved!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Inner Views of Tonya Shellnutt

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
Ephesians 4:1

Looking back in retrospect, one of the most meaningful new entrances into my life in 2015 was, undoubtedly, the dear lady I am interviewing for this portion of Inner Views.
The way we met was unusual.

Let me explain.
I have been impressed with Concerned Women for America for years,
often seeing news bits with Penny Nance speaking out against abortion and other issues
that are close to my heart.
So, one morning, early in 2015, when I got an email from CWA announcing that the state I live in was, for the first time ever, going to have a State Director for CWA, I was ecstatic.
The email explained that our new director would be a lady who 
was moving to our state from Montana, where she had served as the state director there.
There was a spot to "click" and read more about her, which I did.
There, it gave the opportunity to either email her or call her, to get acquainted.

Immediately, I felt one of those unmistakable Holy Spirit nudges to contact her.
At first, I thought I would email, because the thought of talking to her seemed intimidating to me.
But, the longer I sat at my laptop composing an email to her,
the more that still, small voice kept urging, "Why don't you call her instead?"

I finally decided to be obedient, picked up the phone, and dialed her number.
I found that my intimidation was unnecessary, as my phone call was very warmly received, 
and we were both at ease and enjoyed a sweet and encouraging conversation.
I found that her worldview was the same as mine,
and that the burdens upon my heart, were upon hers, also.

We made plans to meet after she moved to our state, and I hung up the phone inspired
and looking forward to our meeting.

Fast forward past many emails between the two of us to last September,
when my family and I attended a conference to be a part of the Concerned Women for America
prayer team.

There, the new director and I were finally able to meet face-to-face,
and we shared a wonderful time together!
We laughed, but we also cried, as she told her side of the story about that first phone call
and about some of the things she was going through the day I called her.
I had no idea.
Just another example of how God works on both ends of a situation,
and how important it is that we mind God, when we feel His Spirit nudging us to do something.
We just never know what is riding upon that nudge, and to fail to follow His lead 
could absolutely impact the life of another.

This dear lady has become very precious to my heart, and the more I get to know her and work with her, the more the Lord strengthens our bond.

She is training me to work for CWA as a Prayer Action Leader,
and I look forward to what God has in store for this venture in 2016!

I am ever so grateful to her for sharing her story/testimony with us.
I will forewarn you that you may need tissues while reading.
She has been through a lot of pain, but God has redeemed that pain,
and He has turned it into a real blessing to many, including me.

So, without further delay, I would like to introduce to you, 
SC State Director for Concerned Women for America,
Tonya Shellnutt.

Tonya Shellnutt.

Cheryl:  Can you give us an introduction of who you are, a bit about your personal Christian testimony/journey, and the issues that are closest to your heart?

Tonya:  My story isn’t one that is all warm and fuzzy. I had a pretty rough upbringing despite being very loved by my mother. My birth father left when I was six months old, and my mom married a man who was in law enforcement, but who was a drunk. I was sexually assaulted when I was just five years old by a neighbor whom my parents left me alone with. Obviously, the traumatic incident left me scarred and was one that would shape my future negative behavior patterns. When I was 21 years old I met my future husband Rich, and he suggested I enter into treatment for my alcohol addiction. Really it was just a way for me to cope with the traumatic events in my life. I went through treatment and have been sober for 21 years. In 1997, I dedicated my life to Jesus Christ and have been freed from the chains of shame and guilt. My mother passed away in 1997 in a motorcycle accident. That day, I lost my mom and my dad. I do not know my birth father, and, unfortunately, my adoptive dad wants nothing to do with me. I am orphaned from the world’s standpoint, but so loved by my Heavenly Father. This is my story. This is what has shaped everything about how I live my life. I work with women in crisis situations who have been physically abused, dealing with addictions, or just needing someone to mentor them. Everyone wants to be loved and if we can help them bring Hope, then we will see real change and grace.

Cheryl:  For those who are not familiar with Concerned Women for America, will you kindly explain their history, their mission, and the seven core issues they defend?

Tonya:  Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, with over 500,000 members across the country.

The Judeo-Christian worldview once served as the bedrock of Western Civilization. In recent times, Western Civilization has willingly chosen to exchange the faith and logic of a Biblical worldview for an irrational secularism based on an unthinking and cruel relativism. This foolish exchange is at the root of the glaring injustices of modern American public policy.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) affirms the Bible's unmistakable standard that there is right and wrong; that God is the Authority who established right and wrong by creation and by revelation in His Word, the Bible; that He has sent a Savior, Jesus Christ, to free us from our sin (wrong) by simple repentance and to enable us through the Holy Spirit to do what is right.

Thus, through its Board of Trustees, CWA has established seven core issues on which we focus our efforts. Because the culture war that has engulfed our society makes claims on every area of life, we must set priorities thoughtfully to determine how best to fulfill our calling.

Provided below are very basic descriptions of our core issues.

Sanctity of Life:
CWA supports the protection of all innocent human life from conception until natural death. We also support alternatives to abortion and healing for mothers suffering from the results of abortion.

Defense of Family:
CWA believes that marriage consists of one man and one woman. We seek to protect and support the Biblical design of marriage and the gift of children.

CWA supports reform of public education by returning authority to parents and also accessibility to alternate forms of education.

Religious Liberty:

CWA supports the God-given rights of individuals in the United States and other nations to pray, worship, and express their beliefs without fear of discrimination or persecution.

National Sovereignty:
CWA believes that neither the United Nations nor any other international organization should have authority over the United States in any area. We also believe the United States has the right and duty to protect and secure our national borders. We believe in budget restraint which embodies responsible spending, small government, and a budget in which the U.S. government spends within its means and ceases to steal from future generations.

Sexual Exploitation:
CWA endeavors to fight all pornography, obscenity, prostitution, and sex slavery.

Support for Israel:
CWA believes that the people and nations who stand with Israel and the Jewish people will be blessed by God. We believe that any foreign policy effort to withdraw U.S. support for Israel is in direct contradiction to America’s national interests.

Cheryl:  Of all of the committees, causes, and ministries available, what drew you to this particular coalition, and how did you personally become involved with CWA?

Tonya:  I believe that the prayers of my Great-Grandmother were the blessing of my salvation. She prayed for me and told me stories about the Great Depression. All she wanted for her birthday one year was butter. Butter, nothing else. I couldn’t even imagine, and it inspires me to protect the freedoms that she endured for me. My grandfather was in WWII. The military is VERY important to me. They know what sacrifice is, and there is nothing more inspirational than one laying down their life for another, just as Christ did for us. We are called to reflect that same sacrifice. Why wouldn’t we be involved in causes that inspire others to do the same and reflect biblical values?

Cheryl:  We are in the midst of a spiritual downward spiral in America, yet I am encouraged to believe that God is raising up a generation with a renewed passion for righteousness. On a personal level, as a mother with children still living at home, what do you feel is the single-most important thing, habit, or trait we should focus on instilling and fostering in the hearts of our children to give them the strong foundation they will need in the future?

Tonya:  One of the most important things we must do for our children is to prepare them for the real world. Yes, it is important to shield them from age-appropriate content, but look for every opportunity to be a teachable moment. A lot of the women I mentor have very little coping skills. It isn’t because they were brought up in terrible homes, rather they were not given coping skills to deal with adversity. Kids need to see adversity and how you handle it. They need to see Jesus in us and how we cling to His word and promises and how they help us get through life. More often than not, kids learn by example, not the words we say. Therefore, if we teach our children to love Jesus, life skills, and empower them to greatness, we will see a generation rise up and protect our faith and freedom.

Cheryl:  I absolutely believe the quote that says, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." As Christian women, wives, and mothers, how can we most effectively wield and utilize the power of our influence to promote the cause of Jesus Christ?

Tonya:  Women hold a tremendous amount of influence. God ALWAYS intended it for us to use for good. We have a society today where women misuse their God-given power. I wrote a book about this. It is called Woman Power Revolution. The book isn’t about women gaining power, rather about how our wounds can define how we treat men. If we don’t let God heal our wounds and treat our husbands and children as the Lord would see fit, we can use our power and influence in destructive ways. We were meant to empower others to greatness. God gave us this gift. If we live our lives for selfish gain, rather than seeking how to leave behind a meaningful legacy of courage and intentionality, we fail to utilize our God-given potential. Everyone needs a cheerleader, so encouraging those around us can make a life lasting impact. I like to refer to God’s desire for us to be sparklers for Christ. Light up a room when you walk in!

Cheryl:  Through your involvement with CWA, you are on the front lines of a cultural battleground, fighting a war that must seem insurmountable and impossible to win. On a personal level, how do you stay encouraged to press on and continue the fight?

Tonya:  My story is one that God has allowed perseverance and endurance to be developed into my being. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control.” When we trust the Lord to walk us through the valleys and we believe He is Sovereign, life is totally doable and we endure for the sake of our legacy which is ultimately God’s story of our lives. Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

Cheryl:  The role of Christian wife and mother is truly one of great demands and responsibility. Adding the obligations of ministry and/or advocacy to that already-overflowing-plate can be overwhelming. How do you find balance?  What advice would you give the woman who is reading this and feeling called to become more involved with CWA, but feels intimidated?

Tonya:  Our first and most important ministry we can ever have is our family. If we neglect our family, we have strayed from the will of God. However, one of the greatest tragedies, in my opinion, is not doing something because of fear. If God has put a desire in your heart, don’t be afraid, and minimize every reason why you can’t. Our families can be inspired by our courage and boldness. I would never counsel a woman to walk with such caution in life that she lives her life paralyzed. There is little freedom in that. God tells us over and over in scripture, DO NOT BE AFRAID. This isn’t a suggestion.

What an amazing and powerful testimony of the redemption plan Jesus put in place as He hung on an old, rugged cross for each one of us!

Tonya is living proof that, through His grace, we can rise triumphant over our past,
regardless how difficulty-ridden it happens to be,
and we can emerge victorious over every obstacle satan has managed to insert into our lives.

Dear friends, my prayer is that you will find hope in Tonya's story.
That you will come to the full realization that Jesus loves you,
and He wants to give you a new start, free from guilt and despair.

We are here to pray for you.
If you would like to share specific prayer needs with us,
please contact me via email, and, if you would like me to, 
I will happily share your requests with Tonya, also, so she can pray for you, too.

Please keep Tonya and her family in your prayers,
as they continue to courageously fight on the front lines of the intense cultural battlefields of our day.
Surely God is using them to portray what it means to stand for His truth.

Thank you for reading, and thank you, dear Tonya,
for opening your heart to us here.
Transparency takes a great amount of courage, and we so appreciate you being willing 
to share your redemption story with us.
I know your testimony will bless and inspire many!