Friday, November 29, 2019

Kick-off of Christmas Memory Sharing Posts!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

Now that Thanksgiving Day is over, I have a confession to make!
We have been so excited for Christmas at our house that we put up our tree on November 18th!
Thanksgiving Day seemed to come so late this year, and we just couldn't wait any longer!
During our 31 married Christmases, one of my favorite parts has always been turning off the lights at night and staring at the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree.  We still use the same, exact artificial tree we bought the first Christmas we were married, and it still looks brand new after all these years and the many times we have taken it out and put it back into its original box!
You can catch a glimpse of it in the photo below that Zach used to create the graphic to advertise our upcoming Christmas Memory Sharing posts!  Didn't he do a great job on this graphic?


We are super-excited to start sharing the beautiful Christmas memories from so many of you amazing friends and readers!  After publishing this post, the emails started coming in, and oh, my!  They are each one just wonderful and so very heartwarming.  If you aren't already in the Christmas spirit, reading them will soon get you that way!!

There's still plenty of time and space to share YOUR story with us!  Please refer to this post for instructions.  The more the merrier.  Someone needs to hear YOUR story!

To kick off the Christmas Memory Sharing, today I am re-posting a story I wrote about during the first Christmas season after starting Homespun Devotions.  It is a true story from my very own childhood, and I hope you enjoy reading it!  Stay tuned because you do not want to miss the other writers' heartfelt stories we will be sharing here over the days leading up to the day we celebrate Jesus' birth!! 

Story first published on Homespun Devotions on 12/16/2011

I don’t remember the exact year, but I was somewhere around five years old.  Dad’s work had been unsteady, and we were struggling financially.  Christmas was coming, and no one in our household had any idea how we would buy gifts.  We had pretty much decided there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas—at least not in the way of giving and receiving gifts.  But then one day, it all changed.

Dad used to describe himself as a “jack-of-all-trades, yet master of none.”  He had a little bit of knowledge in the area of plumbing, electrical, car mechanics, all types of maintenance, and a host of other things.  He was the best improviser I have ever known.  He could take almost anything that was broken and rig up some way to fix it.  If he didn’t have the right parts, he would create them out of the most unlikely objects.  Dad could do a lot of things, but one of his most enjoyable “skills” involved trash-picking.

Yes, you read it right—Dad loved to go through trash.  He loved to see if there was anything salvageable that he could reinvent, re-use, or recycle into something useful.  He could very easily have been the man who coined the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  He worked for a while for the sanitation department and rode on the back of a garbage truck.  Dad was a very humble man, so positions that other people would find degrading didn’t affect him or make him feel degraded in the least.  He wasn’t one for caring what other people thought of or said about him, and he didn’t have an ounce of foolish pride in him.  He just accepted things as they were, and he made the best of the hand he had been dealt.

He loved his work with the sanitation department, obviously not because of the horrible smells he had to endure while riding on the back of the truck waiting for the driver to stop so he could empty people’s trash cans, but for the “goodies” he would find from time to time.  I remember one particular day when he came home with a beautiful crocheted afghan that someone had carelessly tossed on the top of their trash.  Mom washed it thoroughly, and my family used it for years.  I still remember its vibrant color scheme and how pretty it looked on the back of our couch.

Dad had a very dear friend named Jimmy, and he would sometimes enlist Jimmy in his trash-picking endeavors.  Dad was a husky, strong man, and Jimmy was considerably thinner and more limber.  Now, you can choose to believe the following story or not, but I can assure it is absolutely the honest truth.  During Dad and Jimmy’s trash-picking escapades, Jimmy would climb up on Dad’s shoulders, Dad would stand outside of garbage dumpsters, and Jimmy would dive in.  This was way before the term “dumpster-divers” was invented.  Who knows?  Maybe someone observed their method and came up with that term! 

Jimmy’s family was struggling, too, and at the time, he and his wife, Dorothy had two little boys—  Jimmy, who was about a year older than me, and David, who was the same age as me.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so right before the above-mentioned Christmas, Dad and Jimmy decided to go out trash-picking.  In their search, they came across a toy store and stumbled upon a dumpster goldmine in the back of the store!  Now that I am grown and know how much it means to Kevin and me to see the thrill in Zachary’s eyes at Christmas, I can only imagine how Dad and Jimmy felt when they discovered what was in that dumpster!  It must have felt like the ultimate trash-picking treasure chest!

Once again, Jimmy climbed on Dad’s back, while Dad stood outside the dumpster.  Toy after toy after toy came to the surface, as Jimmy searched through the rubbish.  All of them had some slight defect, just enough to make them “unsellable,” but they were brand-new in their original boxes!  They brought the toys home, and what a Christmas we had!  I will never forget the thrill in my heart, when my Daddy handed me a beautiful Snow White doll that talked when you pulled her string!  Even though she had a minor imperfection and stuttered a bit, it never made any difference to me.  For years, I loved and cherished her, and she and I spent many happy hours together.  Little Jimmy and David felt the same about their toys, and Christmas was extra special for all of us that year.

I look back on that Christmas as one of the happiest of my childhood.  It didn’t matter to any of us where our toys came from—we were just so grateful to have toys.  To us they were good and perfect gifts, and our hearts were filled with thanks to God for making it possible for us to have them.  

After all, every good and perfect gift comes straight from Him, no matter where we find it. 
Written by Cheryl Smith

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57 (KJV)


Today as I read the Thanksgiving Day proclamation made by President George Washington in 1789, my heart was saddened to think about how very far we, as a nation, have strayed from God and the vision of our founding fathers.  I am SO grateful to God for allowing our great country to be founded upon the the Word of God and by men who believed in Him and trusted in Him for guidance and wisdom, and it burdens my heart to see the disdain so many have for Him now. 

The United States of America absolutely was founded as a Christian nation, and no matter how much people try to rewrite history, the past can never be altered. 

I heard there are those who even want to change the name from Thanksgiving Day to some other title.  It seems to go against the cultural tide to even acknowledge that there is a God, let alone to show gratitude to Him and thank Him for all He has done.  No matter who turns their back on Him, He will always be God, and He will always be so worthy of our praise and gratitude.  How I praise Him today for the many blessings He has bestowed and continues to pour into my life! 

I hope each one of you have an abundantly blessed Thanksgiving Day, and I trust you will enjoy being reminded of how our very first President set aside and designated this special day as a day to praise our awesome Creator!

"By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation."

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor ­­­– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be ­­­– That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks ­­­– for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation ­­­– for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war ­­­– for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed ­­­– for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted ­­­– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions ­­­– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually ­­­– to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed ­­­– to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord ­­­– To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us ­­­– and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

Sunday, November 24, 2019

We Have A Winner!!!!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17


A BIG thank you to all who entered our 8th Year Blogiversary giveaway!!
We so appreciate your loyalty, support, and encouragement all these years, and it was such a joy to hear from you!
I am SO sorry to all who were unable to leave a comment to enter the giveaway.  I truly do not know what is wrong or how to fix it, and I do apologize!

The way we chose our winner is by using a handy dandy gadget Zach introduced me to called Wheel Decide.  If you ever need to choose a winner for something, this is a very fair and fun way to do it!  We numbered each qualified comment for the giveaway, then Zach entered the numbers on Wheel Decide, spun the wheel, and our winner was chosen!!!

Drum roll, please.......

And, the winner is —MARCI!!!!
Hooray for you, my friend!!
Please email us your mailing address so we can get your package in the mail to you pronto!!
We are so happy for you and can't wait for you to start enjoying your goodies!

********************************************************************

Thank you to all who have been sending in your favorite Christmas stories and memories to us!
What a joy to read them, and we can't wait to share them with our readers!!
PLEASE continue to send them in!  
Is Christmas your favorite time of year?
Do memories of Christmas past warm your heart and draw your thoughts toward home?
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Have you experienced a Christmas miracle?
Every story is special and meaningful and packed full of blessings, and we want to hear all about YOURS!
We want to hear your Christmas stories and give you a chance to share them with the world!


To enter, 
all you need to do is email your favorite Christmas memory/story/miracle to homespundevotions@gmail.com.
You can either include it in the body of the email or in a Word document attachment.

All story tellers are welcome!
You do not have to be a blogger to participate but if you do have a blog, website, or online business, we will promote it in the post and direct readers to you.
 If you'd like to be promoted, please include a bio to introduce yourself and your brand to readers.
If not, we will keep your identity as private as you'd like—you can choose to be anonymous or just use your first name, if you prefer. 
A photo of you, the story teller, would be appreciated, but is optional.
Please keep everything aligned with Biblical values and all content family-friendly.
We will edit and add artwork at our discretion.
No monetary compensation will be given, but we will share your stories in Homespun Devotions blog posts and promote them on social media. 
Number of posts in the series and starting date will depend upon number of participants.
We'd love to have lots more participants and hope to hear from you soon!
******************************************************************************
To all who have been praying for my sister, Sharon, we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts!
She did well throughout her tests, thank the Lord, and we are awaiting results and praying for a good outcome.
If you will, please keep her in your prayers.

You prayer warriors are the best!
God bless you all!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Share Your Favorite Christmas Memories on Homespun Devotions!!!!

"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, good will toward men."
Luke 2:13,14

ATTENTION STORY TELLERS!
How would you like to join in on a fun writing adventure this Christmas season?
Is Christmas your favorite time of year?
Do memories of Christmas past warm your heart and draw your thoughts toward home?
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Have you experienced a Christmas miracle?
Every story is special and meaningful and packed full of blessings, and we want to hear all about YOURS!
We want to hear your Christmas stories and give you a chance to share them with the world! 
As of today, we are opening up the Homespun Devotions platform to all of you!


To enter, 
all you need to do is email your favorite Christmas memory/story/miracle to us.
You can either include it in the body of the email or in a Word document attachment.

All story tellers are welcome!
You do not have to be a blogger to participate but if you do have a blog, website, or online business, we will promote it in the post and direct readers to you.
 If you'd like to be promoted, please include a bio to introduce yourself and your brand to readers.
If not, we will keep your identity as private as you'd like—you can choose to be anonymous or just use your first name, if you prefer. 
A photo of you, the story teller, would be appreciated, but is optional.
Please keep everything aligned with Biblical values and all content family-friendly.
We will edit and add artwork at our discretion.
No monetary compensation will be given, but we will share your stories in Homespun Devotions blog posts and promote them on social media. 
Number of posts in the series and starting date will depend upon number of participants.

And, don't forget about entering our
  Bath & Body Works Christmas GIVEAWAY!!!


To enter, all you need to do is click HERE and leave us a comment on the giveaway post!!
Hurry!  Winner will be chosen one week from today on 11/24/2019!!!
We hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Eighth Year Blogiversary and A GIVEAWAY!!! Edited: Prayer Request Added 11/13/2019

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever."  Psalm 30:11,12

Edited:  11/13/2019 @11:50 PM
To all prayer warriors, will you please pray for my sister, Sharon, and also add her name to your prayer lists and groups?  She didn't get the best news from the cardiologist's office today, and she will be going back for further testing next Wednesday, 11/20.  She also has an aortic aneurysm that is a continual concern.  We would so appreciate your prayers for healing, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your faithfulness to share in our prayer requests.
*********************************************************************************

I can't believe it is now ten days into November!  I'm quite late in acknowledging it here, but we are well into my favorite season, and I couldn't be happier!
Not only are we in my favorite season, but the first day of last month marked the eighth year anniversary of this blog!  


I can't say it doesn't feel like eight years have passed.  It does.  When October 1st passes each year and I think about the birth of Homespun Devotions, my mind always goes back to the circumstances surrounding that time and how God led me to begin blogging.  I look at life then and compare it with life now, and I hardly see any resemblance.  It is near unrecognizable and hard to believe how much has changed.  I am definitely not who I was, and this song that Zach recently introduced me to is one of my new favorite songs.



The saddest difference between life now and life when I first started this blog involves one of my deepest sorrows.  You see, when I first started blogging, my dear, sweet Mom was alongside of me, constantly encouraging me, telling me, "Cheryl, you don't have to be seen to be heard."  Mom didn't understand computers or even what a blog was.  She just knew it was something I was trying to do for God, and she encouraged me every inch of the way.  I miss her and my dear, sweet Dad so much it hurts.  There are no words.

Tonight, I came across this post I wrote shortly after Mom left us.

Sadly, our family has lost others during the life of this blog, too.  AshleyUncle JohnJimmyVictoria, Kevin's Dad, Danny & Vicki (within a few hours of each other - neither knew the other had passed), LDAunt Vaida, and Aunt Cathy.

Life in these past eight years has been chock full of so many other changes, too, and so full of spiritual growth and development.  As I contemplate what caused that growth, it is easy to identify that it has been a steady, ever-increasing surrender to the perfect will of God.  A continual pursuit of endeavoring to align modern-day life to the way Jesus lived His life on earth.  An unprecedented hunger and longing for more of Him and less of me.  (Some of those lessons are documented on our other blog, Biblical Minimalism.)  As my heart steadily yearns for more intimacy with Jesus, His love continually compels me to release every, single thing that is hindering that intimacy.  Though the process has been strewn with self-denial and peppered with so many things that were hard to do, I have been set free from layer after layer of smothering bondage, and today, I walk freer and more happy than I have been in my whole life.

There is such great victory to be found in total surrender to the will of God.  The battle that precedes that victory is intense and hard-fought, but when we are able to reach that place of handing all things over to Him and trusting Him completely and unreservedly, the peace that comes from aligning our will with His is overwhelming and all-encompassing.  It is SO worth the fight.

You know, consecration is an intriguing enigma.  We think we are laying down so much and we are making such extreme sacrifices.  We look at the things God points out in our lives that are hindering our walk with Him, and we think He is asking so much when He tells us to give them up.  The truth is, through it all, we are gaining immeasurably more than we are forfeiting.  In reality, we are trading the bad and the good for the better and His best.  The more we love Jesus, the more the things of this world pale in comparison to Him, and the less we love them.  Loving Him more than we love this world totally transforms our desires and morphs them into His.  Total surrender to God is giving up our life and what we think it should look like and finding a much better life in following Jesus with our whole hearts.  It is taking our hands off and handing Him the reins, allowing Him full control of our every move.  It is saying from the heart, "Not my will, but Thine be done."

This song is my continual testimony and cry of my heart.


This is exactly what Jesus meant in Matthew 10:39 when He said, "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."  Oh, the abundant life we find, when we reach the end of our surrender and completely lose ourselves in Him!  Giving God full control absolves us from the responsibility of figuring out what we are to do next, where we are to live, how we will survive, who should remain and who should not remain in our lives, and when we are to walk forward and when we are to rest.  There is amazing, unbelievable freedom in allowing the precious Holy Spirit to live vicariously and completely unhindered in our hearts. 


Sweet Will of God - Amy Grant

"My stubborn will at last hath yielded;
I would be Thine, and Thine alone,
And this the prayer my lips are bringing,
“Lord, let in me Thy will be done.”

  Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee;
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
  Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary,
The darksome path hath dreary grown,
But now a light has ris’n to cheer me;
I find in Thee my Star, my Sun.

Thy precious will, O conqu’ring Savior,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Shut in with Thee, O Lord, forever,
My wayward feet no more to roam;
What pow’r from Thee my soul can sever?
The center of God’s will my home."

Words and Music by Lelia Naylor Morris

During this autumn season as we near Thanksgiving, I thank God for each one of the friends I have met through blogging!  All of you are dear to my heart.  I sometimes think how we would never have met had I not taken that leap of faith and hit the publish button.  God has a perfect plan, and it was His will that our paths intersect and we become a part of each other's lives.
May He bless each one of you in a special way!
As a way of saying "thank you" for being a part of this journey, Kevin, Zach, and I are offering a GIVEAWAY!  Can anyone say Bath and Body Works Christmas scents are BACK????
These are my two long time faves—SOOOOO.......


I thought perhaps they may be your favorites, too!!!

And, who wouldn't love to give this sweet little angel Christmas mug mat doily a home???



And, to sweeten the deal, we are throwing in a few wintry-type tea bags!!!


All you need is your favorite mug!!!


Picture this—you curled up in your favorite chair, placing your favorite steaming mug/cup on this cutesy mug mat/doily, breathing in the scents of vanilla bean or peppermint wafting past as your hands turn the pages of your favorite book!

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave us a comment!
That's it!
On Sunday, 11/24/2019—just two weeks from today—at some point throughout the day, Zach will randomly choose a winner!
Anonymous commenters will not be eligible since we have no way of knowing who you are.
Offer is for US residents only, due to shipping costs.  😢

Many blessings to each one of you!

GOD BLESS OUR AMAZING VETERANS!
A BIG THANK YOU to ALL who currently serve and have served in the past!
We appreciate you, your families, and every sacrifice you have made and are making.
We take what you do very personally and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!!