Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Inner Views of Stephanie Hoium

"In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me."
Psalm 120:1

I love people.  
I am fascinated with their stories.  
I hang on their words as they open up their hearts and share what God has brought them through.  
I believe there is a Divine purpose for every single person that God allows us to meet.  
Recently, He brought a very devoted young mother and her precious little girl across my path.  
I knew from the moment we met, that there was something very special about them.  
Something about the way the mother scooted over in her chair to make room for the little girl, 
the kind tone she used while speaking to her, 
the comfortable way they interacted with each other, 
and the friendly reception I got when I ventured to say hello.  
Kevin and Zach often tell me that I never meet a stranger, and when they see me starting to strike up a conversation with someone we've never met, they know they're in for a wait!  
I love the quote, "Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet."  
The longer I talked to this sweet mother, the more I realized how much her story needs to be told.  She has endured untold heartache and extreme challenges, and she is still here to tell us about it.  Hers is a testimony of God's grace and healing and blatant proof that He does indeed still answer prayer, and He is still performing miracles in the lives of those who believe.  

So, without further ado, I gratefully present to you the 
Stephanie Hoium.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Stephanie:  Well, my name is Stephanie Hoium. I have been married for 5 years to my loving husband, Justin Hoium, whom I've been with for the past 10 years. We have a beautiful 6 year old girl, her name is Rozlynn Hoium. I'm different. I go against the grain. Nothing has ever... and I mean EVER restored my faith more than the day my daughter was born.

Cheryl:  What happened on the day before Easter six years ago?

Stephanie:  I was coloring Easter eggs with my little sisters, as I do every year. I was pregnant with our baby girl whom we had already picked out her name. (Rozlynn) 

I was having severe headaches through out my pregnancy. So I brought it up with my doctor, and she told me that headaches were "normal" during pregnancy, and to go take some Tylenol, and go lay down and sleep it off. Well, after I was done coloring Easter eggs, I did just that. My unknown aneurysm ruptured. I was found in my bed convulsing and not responding to anyone. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital on Harper Rd. They checked me out, and the doctor said " She's had aneurysm rupture." So, they took me by helicopter and flew me to Charleston. Justin, our best friend, Jeff, my mother and step-father all rushed to the hospital where they were told they could save Rozlynn, but they didn't know if I would make it. She was born with R.O.P ( retinopathy of prematurity) - she had two holes in her heart. One hole was through the top 2 ventricles of her heart, and one was on the outside of the lower right ventricle....

which have all closed!  For all the prayers that our little family of 3 received. it was miraculous. I didn't wake up for 2 months after that because I was in a coma. I finally was released from the hospital, still with no idea what was going on. I got to meet our little angel. She looked exactly like my husband, except she had my blonde hair. She was perfect.

Cheryl:  Will you describe the aftermath of that day's events?

Stephanie:  Well, I know that my mom has PTSD from it. She gets really sick even thinking about that day, or driving through WV. For my husband and I, it has brought us closer together. You never know when it will be your time to go. So we make sure we say all the things that need to be said before we go to bed, and we make sure we tell each other and our daughter we love them more than anything.

The happy day they got to bring little Rozlynn home!

Cheryl:  Looking back, what do you consider to be your darkest day?

Stephanie:  I was very depressed. I wasn't allowed to drive for a year after everything had happened. I just had to stay at home with constant supervision.

Cheryl:  What helped you cope during that time?  Was there a particular person who faithfully stood by you and encouraged you to keep going?  If so, can you tell us about him/her and some of the most meaningful and effective things they did to help you make it through? 

Stephanie:  My husband, Justin, my daughter, my mom. Justin would comfort me and tell me that we will make it. It was hard. If my husband wasn't there to tell me what happened everyday and calm me down from a complete emotional break down... wipe my tears away. I just don't know what I would have done.

Cheryl:  What suggestions can you make to someone who wants to reach out to someone else in distress?

Stephanie:  NEVER give up on God. He has a plan for everyone, even if you don't see it yet. Never give up on the one person who loves you unconditionally.

Cheryl:  How are you doing now?

Stephanie:  I'm doing well. I still have issues with my short term memory loss; That's why it has taken me so long to respond to this email!

Cheryl:  In retrospect, how would you describe your views towards God before this life-altering event? 

Stephanie:  Honestly, I hated Him. I didn't understand why He was giving me so many trails in my life. Why was He making it so hard for me? Why was He making it so hard for Justin and me to just be happy and comfortable? But I now realize that He was making me stronger. Making me stand up for what I believe in and to never give up.

Cheryl:  How did this whole experience draw you closer to God?

Stephanie:  All I can say is that He didn't give up on me even when I didn't believe in myself and I wanted to just end it all.

Cheryl:  What changes can you perceive in your perspective towards life in general? 

Stephanie:  I love my life and everyone who is in my life.

Stephanie, Rozlynn, & Justin Hoium

Cheryl:  Please tell us about your little girl.

Stephanie:  Oh the love of my life! Her name is Rozlynn Ember Hoium. She's 6 years old and smart as a tack. She's so smart! She loves to play games, read, and go to church. She's simply just amazing.

Cheryl:  What is your favorite part of being her mother?

Stephanie:  Teaching her things. I've taught her how to cook various things. I've taught her how to speak in Spanish.

Cheryl:  As a stay-at-home mom, what fulfills you most?

Stephanie:  Being able to provide for my family and keeping them healthy and active.

Cheryl:  What are some of the things you enjoy doing with your daughter?

Stephanie:  Cooking, reading, and teaching.

Cheryl:  If you were having coffee with a reader who is discouraged and depressed, what advice would you draw from the well of your own life experiences and share with them to offer hope?

Stephanie:  I would tell them to never give up on God and to never give up on the people they love the most. God and these people have made you who you are. Never be ashamed of who you are. So what if people are going to judge you. You know who you are and what you believe. ALWAYS stick to what you believe.

Cheryl:  To the person who is now in the throes of a long, painful recovery process, what would you say?

Stephanie:  Prayer works. It will be hard. But never give up.

Cheryl:  Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Surely God has spared your life and the life of your little girl for a special, Divine intent. Will you share with us about some of the good things you have seen come out of your own pain? How has God redeemed your suffering and turned it into something good? How is He turning your test into a testimony? 

Stephanie:  God has tested me on so many levels. I hated Him for it because I didn't really understand why. I just wanted to be happy. I felt so tortured by all this evil and negativity around me. I had one light in my life. That was Justin. He came to me when I was at my lowest. I was broken. He was broken. We've built our relationship on trust and love. We fixed each other with the help of God. I never knew that I could love someone with my entire soul. I wasn't even sure that I could even love. I met him, and together we walked hand in hand and he has NEVER left my side. I'm so thankful for the blessings that God has given me and my family. We are whole.

Cheryl:  In closing, are there any special words of comfort you would like to share with us?

Stephanie:  Love. Love hard and true. I want people to know that life is scary. There's so many unknowns. But, God has the answers. Don't ever turn your back on Him. I want everyone to know that this can happen. I didn't believe it would happen. I was 22. It happened to me. I made it out alive. God has kept me here for a reason.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you in this current season? 

Stephanie:  For peace and good health.

I am just so inspired by Stephanie, her never-give-up attitude, her resilience,
and, most of all, her faith in God and her desire to honor Him with her life.
I love seeing how Justin and Stephanie pulled together through such extenuating circumstances,
and how Justin stood by her through her darkest times.
Theirs is a beautiful true love story.
The trials they have walked through together have served to strengthen their marriage and deepen their bond and love for one another.
It is a rare and amazing thing to behold.

A BIG thanks to you, Stephanie, for being willing to step forward and share your heart and story with us here.  I can only imagine how God is going to use you and your testimony to encourage others who feel they have no hope.

I can't wait to see what great things He has in store for you and Justin and little Rozlynn in the future.
God bless the three of you again and again!

Dear reader, how are things with you?
Are you facing tough circumstances in your life?
Does it seem that all hope is gone?

I hope you will consider Stephanie's story and how God sustained her.
He didn't promise that we would never go through difficult times,
but He did promise to never leave us alone.
He always walks through the fire with us, and He is eternally faithful and true to His Word.

Be encouraged.
I trust that, regardless what you are going through, you feel His comforting presence walking alongside you, and that you always know how much you are loved.

God bless you, each and every one!

To read previous
click the links below.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Inner Views of Sarah Davison

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High:
To shew forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night,
Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound."
Psalm 92:1-3

If you have been a reader/follower of Homespun Devotions for long at all,
you will know how much bluegrass music means to us.
Both Kevin and I were raised on it, and it just seems to course through our veins!
So, it is no surprise that when I somehow stumbled across the talent and harmony of a group called High Road, I was instantly intrigued and hooked on their music.
Their distinctive sound just drew me in.

A few years later, we were so blessed to see them perform in concert and were able to talk with one of the members off stage.
How thrilled and grateful I was when I later requested an interview with the founder of the group, and she agreed!

It was a true joy and blessing to me to get to know her a bit better, 
and I am so very excited to introduce you to her and the music of High Road today.

Farm Girl, Piano Player, Dog Lover, Pie Baker, & Founder of High Road Music,
Sarah Davison.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Sarah:  I grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa. My family raises cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. My mom taught elementary for 34 years and just recently retired. Our hometown is about 180 strong and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love my home area so much. The people there are so wonderful! I remember doing music as far back as my earliest memories go-- my dad would hold me as a baby while he played the piano and sang old country songs. That's where I learned to sing and play. I started playing with him when I was five at old time music festivals and concerts in our local park.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your Christian testimony.

Sarah:  My parents always were the greatest example when I was growing up. I watched them pray together and we talked through so many scriptures together as a family. Then my dad start our local Cowboy Church and I got to be involved in it from the ground up. I always knew I wanted to sing and play music and write gospel songs since I was thirteen- that was really the time where I decided to follow God and whatever He had planned for me in music. I was 21 when I was baptized and just out of college. That was a day I will never forget!

Cheryl:  Who is your greatest spiritual mentor? How has this person helped you in your walk with Christ?

Sarah:  My parents have been the most influential people in my walk with Christ. I still ask them questions and look for their guidance almost every day. I also really love the relationship I have with my cousin who I consider to be my sister, Amanda. She is one of my best friends and we pray for each other constantly. I think it's so important and special to have a person like that in our lives! I'm so thankful for her.

Cheryl:  What is your earliest memory of singing?

Sarah:  I remember singing at our township's community Memorial Day service when I was five. I played the old upright piano and sang God Bless America! I remember wearing a pink and white dress that my grandmother bought me and just how much fun it was to play and sing. Each Memorial Day our farm neighbors go to the little country cemetery on the hill and bring flowers in to decorate veterans graves. We sing and pray and have fellowship and all the children are involved. This annual event is one of the many wonderful memories I have of growing up on the family farm.

Cheryl:  Who has most influenced your style, musically? Who were your favorite singers to listen to while growing up?

Sarah:  My favorites are Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, The Isaacs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Floyd Cramer, and even Broadway musicals. I love classical piano too- Chopin is my favorite. Gospel music was always played in our house- The Cox Family, the Goodmans, Gaithers, and old hymnals were sitting on the piano all the time.

Cheryl:  When did you know that God was calling you to sing full-time for Him?

Sarah:  When I was thirteen I knew that I wanted to surrender to doing music full time someday.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your journey into singing and performing on a professional level.

Sarah:  I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont university school of music. I was a jazz piano major and loved my time there. I met a lot of wonderful people and still love having those relationships to this days with my fellow students and teachers. After graduating I worked in the country music side of things for a while and was leading music at church every Sunday.

Cheryl:  What musical instruments do you play, and how did you become involved in playing them?

Sarah:  I play mainly piano only. I can also play a couple other instruments but not well enough to do them in public! Lap dulcimer, mandolin, trombone and tuba because of band in high school, etc!

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about High Road? How did the group come to be? 

Sarah:  We all met through mutual friends in college. Some people ask if we are related- we aren't but we would claim each other!!!

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite parts about touring? What do you miss the most while you are on the road?

Sarah:  I love traveling and always have. I miss my dog the most! Lol!

Cheryl:  Can you share a special memory of seeing God move in a special way during one of your concerts?

Sarah:  One of the most special moments I recall was in East Tennessee when we had an invitation to pray for a woman who just found out she had cancer. It was one of the most powerful worshipful times of prayer I've ever felt. So awesome!!!

Cheryl:  What would you most like to accomplish through your musical career?

Sarah:  To be honest I don't think about the word accomplish too often-- I mainly think about what can I do to make a positive impact for Christ and be used in whatever way I can. This entire groups ministry is God's, and He put it together- so everything we do is not what we are doing, but what He puts in front of us.

Cheryl:  High Road will soon release a new album. How can it be purchased?

Sarah:  It's going to be on iTunes as well as our website

Cheryl:  On a personal level, what are some of your favorite things to do when you are taking some time off?

Sarah:  I love to crochet, bake pies and cakes, and make jam!

Cheryl:  Thus far in life, what is the most fulfilling thing you have ever done?  What about this experience meant the most to you?

Sarah:  The most fulfilling thing I've done if I say what comes to mind first would be to play on the Grand Ole Opry a couple times this year. It's always been a dream of mine and it was amazing to be a part of it!!!

Cheryl:  What are some things that still remain on your bucket list?

Sarah:  Bucket list item --would be to perform at the Ryman someday!

Cheryl:  Looking back over your Christian journey, what would you define as one of the darkest places, so far?  How did your faith in God sustain you through that difficult time?

Sarah:  There was a time just a couple years ago where I felt like Satan was trying to tear our ministry apart- using distraction and deceit in every way. I felt very alone and unsure of the future. It was a really tough time. Over a few weeks of serious prayer and reflection one day this assurance just came over me that said GO ON. And so I did. It was then I realized that God was teaching me to give everything to Him and let Him have the reins. Wow! Ever since that time I have felt like a weight was lifted off me. He is so good to us even when we don't deserve it.

Cheryl:  How do you stay encouraged, spiritually? Are there certain Scriptures, books, hymns, or other resources that you would like to recommend to the reader who may be finding it hard to remain hopeful in these troubled times?

Sarah:  I started writing scriptures on the mirror in my bathroom for a good amount of time- it's the first thing I see and the last thing I read usually and it helps me memorize verses. I also love listening to online messages and studies when we travel- I subscribe to several!!!

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?

Sarah:  Pray that this next album would just be an instrument to be used in whatever way God sees fit to bring the Gospel to those who need to hear it. We want to be real transparent people and these songs on the new project are almost all original, so it's really a window into our hearts. We pray it reaches someone in need and makes a difference for the good to a lot of folks! 

If video doesn't load, click here.

To order High Road's latest CD, click HERE, then click on "store".

A BIG thank you to Sarah Davison for taking the time to share her thoughts and heart with us here.
Please keep Sarah and her group in your prayers, dear readers.
May God just bless them abundantly as they travel and share His precious Gospel in song!

Surely God has a plan for us all, and even though our talents and gifts are varied and unique,
we are all important to the body of Christ.
So often, we struggle in trying to find out what it is that we are truly supposed to be doing in this life.
But, if we examine what we do well, naturally and without much effort, if often leads us to being able to figure out the Divine purpose for which we were created.

What are your gifts and talents, my friend?
Can you sing well?
Are you able to proficiently play a musical instrument?
Are you comfortable and in your element while publicly speaking?
Do you come alive while teaching?
Are you passionate about encouraging children and youth?
Does it fulfill you to the brim to write?
Are you often inspired while spending time with or ministering to the elderly?

God has a special place for each one of us to work in His Kingdom,
and there is certainly no shortage on work to be done.
"Then saith He unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few..."
(Matthew 9:37)
God often directs us to our special place of ministry by allowing our personal gifts and talents to become evident and by allowing them to become the things we most love to do.
If we pay attention to this, it is really not all that difficult to figure out our life's purpose.
Once we figure it out and embrace it, God will always be faithful to open the right doors 
to allow us to live out our Divinely-ordained mission while on this earth.
Once He opens the doors, it is up to you...and to walk through them.

Is there something God is showing you to do, but you haven't yet quite mustered the courage to take that first step of obedience ?
Your world...your realm of influence...your family, friends, loved ones, and acquaintances
are waiting to receive the blessings that only you living out your God-ordained purpose can bestow.
I encourage you to step forward and start sharing your gifts to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ!

I was challenged by a comment our sweet friend, Beth Willis Miller left on the blog
to encourage Zach after his recent interview.
"What would a boy, just like you, do in a situation just like the one you are in, if he was absolutely certain that God was with him?"

I place the same challenge before you, dear friend.
Be certain that God is with you.
Take that leap of faith you have been so hesitant to take, and be all God has created you to be!

I am so thankful Sarah and High Road have found the path God has created them to follow.
What a blessing they are to us all!
I hope you can take the time to enjoy a couple of their videos below,
and maybe even catch one of their upcoming concerts!
You can find their schedule by going to their website, then clicking "Calendar".

If video doesn't load, click here.

If video doesn't load, click here.

Thank you for reading, for praying, and for supporting the ministry endeavors we highlight here on Inner Views!!

To read previous
click the links below.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Inner Views of Zachary Smith

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5,6

For the past five years, I have been writing devotions here.
Much of the inspiration behind them is and has always sprung from the fountain of motherhood...
from being "mama" to one beyond special son whose very existence defies medical odds.
If you have been reading here for very long, you will know that Kevin and I struggled with infertility issues for a very long time, and, finally, after 12 1/2 years, God miraculously sent us the baby of our own for whom we had longed and prayed so many years.
(To read our complete infertility testimony, click here.)
From the moment they placed this sweet baby boy in my arms over 15 years ago,
Zach has been and is the joy of our lives and home.
Through him, God has opened a whole new world to Kevin and me,
and we never cease to be amazed over the fact that we are his parents.
I can honestly tell you that the wonder of it has never worn off and the miracle is never overlooked.
Even though I know how much Zach values his privacy,
I felt led to ask him if he would mind sharing his testimony with us here.
I so wanted to share a Christian testimony from a teenager who is doing their utmost to swim against the current in this evil age of time, and the person I most hoped would grant this wish is Zach.
I know how he lives.
I know how hard and diligently he prays and seeks God's face.
I know how much he hungers after righteousness, and I daily see the effort it takes for him to maintain a victorious Christian walk, in the midst of so much temptation and worldly pull.
I refused to pressure him or push him into this, and I only asked that he consider my request.
After initial hesitation and much prayerful consideration, Zach agreed to be interviewed.
I cannot emphasize enough the amount of courage it took for him to come to this decision.
The descriptive words and all answers are completely and uniquely his own,
uncoached and unedited,
and let me just say ahead of time, that I feel very unworthy and am very humbled by his kindness towards Kevin and me.
More than once, our tears flowed as we read his responses to the questions I asked.
We are eternally grateful to be the blessed ones he calls "Mama" and "Daddy".
Today and forever, we say, "thank You, Lord."

Without further ado, I gratefully present to you the
Son of 2 Wonderful Parents, Servant of the Lord, and Christian Teenage Boy,
Zachary Smith.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Zach:  My name is Zach, and I am 15 years old. I have the two most wonderful parents that any child/teen could ever ask for, or possibly imagine, in my opinion. I have been raised in a Christian home my entire life, and Jesus' blood saved my soul when I was very young. Since then, the Precious, Holy Name, Jesus Christ, has taken an all new meaning for me. He is my Peace, my Purpose, and my Friend. He has brought me to new places and levels for His Names' Sake, and I feel completely unworthy of the amazing life He has gifted me with. With all my heart, I desire to somehow repay Him, with my (very flawed and imperfect) self. 

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your Christian testimony. How long have you been a Christian? What led you to the cross of Jesus Christ?

Zach:  I have been a Christian for approximately 10 years. As in many cases, I was saved at a small altar with my earthly father and Heavenly Father. Throughout the next few years my Christian life stayed relatively dormant, perhaps even declining somewhat. Eventually, God broke absolutely unbreakable bonds in my life, which led to me rededicating my life back to Christ. Since then, it has been quite the spiritual ride with many hills and valleys. But, through it all, the Lord has been a faithful and gentle Guide.

Cheryl:  Living life as a Christian teenager in these days is extremely difficult. Never, in the history of our nation, has it felt more like swimming upstream against a raging current. There are so many temptations that are completely unique to this era of time…things people in past generations couldn’t have even imagined. Please share with us about what you feel are the biggest challenges facing teenagers who are doing their utmost to please God in these perilous times.

Zach:  I must agree with you, it is difficult to be a Christian teen in these last days. There are more temptations in this era than ever before, pertaining to this generation. But to pinpoint a few certain areas, I would have to say that the new age of electronic "enlightenment" is wearing away at our morals, decency, polite manner, and even the ability to distinguish between what is fantasy and what is reality. Cell phones, television, the internet, and video games are causing precious moments of time to be lost forever, inconceivable evil to be unleashed into our private, once-safe homes, and disrespect and dishonor the ability to gain access into the minds of kids and teens alike through violence, making parents look ignorant, and the elderly look like a drain on society. Social media leads to hours upon hours of wasted life, and the loss of innocence and privacy. I am ashamed to admit that I find my own self spending so many wasted minutes on most of what I've mentioned above. So, the question remains. How do we rise above the entertainment and noise as Christian teens and adults alike? And ultimately we will realize the answer to this question; we can't. Only One Person was ever capable of rising above sin and evil entertainment His entire earthly approx. 33 years of life, and that was Jesus. And, only with His Help, so can we.

Cheryl:  How do you stay encouraged, as you look around and see SO much Godlessness, and it feels that evil is winning the war? What do you do on a personal level to combat the discouragement and hopelessness that tries to settle in when it just feels too difficult to continue trying to do what is right?

Zach:  To be honest, when I look around and see the overwhelming tide of evil that has been unleashed into our society, I am often discouraged. And though these two answers may not be the best, they have worked often for me. The 1st is to simply try to not think about it all. I've learned that trying to focus on working out my own spiritual life with fear and trembling is the best way to stay encouraged about what's going on outside of my life. And the 2nd is to realize that this is not permanent. Eternity is. This is just a small taste of what is to come, whether it be Heaven or Hell. This life will be over in the blink of an eye. Heaven and the Lake of Fire are forever. If you doubt this, I suggest you walk into a nearby nursing home and sit down with a nearby resident and ask them how quickly their life has gone by. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they will tell you how fleeting this life truly is. So, when it really comes down to the truth, it is not about this life or even what occurs in it. As Christians we're living this life for the next Life, which will be Eternal, where we will have no concern of what has happened, is happening, or will be happening here.

Cheryl:  What is your favorite Bible verse? Why? Describe how it has helped you through rough times.

Zach:  My favorite Bible Verse is simplistic, yet in my opinion, is some of the most empowering Scripture in God's Word. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. When I recall these precious Holy Spirit inspired words, I realize that whatever I face, whatever I go through, God is with me, working through me, and truly strengthening me.

Cheryl:  What is the most difficult thing you have yet had to face in life? What was your darkest day? How did your faith in God sustain you?

Zach:  Truthfully there have been quite a few things. When I mentioned God breaking unbreakable bonds for me, He mightily did, but through several very painful experiences that, right now, I feel that if I disclosed what they were, it would be in a very harsh way, as I'm still fighting bitterness, to say the least. But one that I am willing to disclose is the death of my Godly, dear Grandmother on the date of April 28th, 2012. She was a very generous and caring Grandmother, who truly loved the Lord with all her heart. Losing her was extremely traumatic to say the least. But as I sat on the front pew at the funeral home with my parents, I knew the Lord was right beside me, and through that horrifying experience, I gained an entirely new appreciation and love for my Lord. He was with me in the fire of grief, just as He was in the fire with the three Hebrew children. He will do the same for all of us, whatever we are going through.

Cheryl:  What has been the greatest blessing or life experience you have yet encountered?

Zach:  I can never praise God enough for the many things He has done for me. But to name a single experience, it has been our recent move to another state. God has lifted my spirit, given me things I've never had before physically or spiritually. It is like being transferred from a dark dungeon to a castle, which has been quite a transition. There are truly too many blessings to count, but certainly this has been one of the most memorable.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your strongest spiritual battles? How do you conquer and overcome when you are engaged in battling the enemy in these areas? What advice would you give to another teenager sitting in front of you who feels like giving up?

Zach:  Obviously, as every teenager on Earth has to endure, my hardest battle in the present is Adolescence. I truly desire to keep my mind, actions, and soul pure before God. But, sadly, in this era of time, all entertainment, literature, and even language is directed to feed and appease our flesh and carnal nature. The internet offers an endless supply of pornographic pictures and videos. Television contains continual commercials causing both men and women to commit adultery even in their own minds. Video games include content that should never be seen by anyone, especially a child. Even at the supermarket, a Christian cannot escape temptation from unbelievably revealing magazine covers. Books, movies, cell unending supply of evil, temptations, and more. It's overwhelming. But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. We can overcome. The best way I know how to conquer the enemy (in whatever form he is in) is to lean fully on Jesus Who, as I mentioned before, lived a perfect life. As my life verse states, we can do all things through Christ. We can resist. We can fight. We can conquer satan through the Power of Jesus Christ. So, to the teenager sitting in front of me, the first thing to say is that I know how you feel. It feels like there is no way we can overcome. But there is a way; Jesus. God has made us warriors, and He wants us to take up our weapons and fight. When I realize that I am fighting for a greater cause, I fight harder. I desire to fight for my Savior. To please Him. This is why we fight.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear your point of view concerning the many years of infertility your parents faced before God sent you to them. How does it make you feel to know that God performed a great miracle in allowing you to enter this world? How has knowing this affected your life? How has it shaped your thought processes?

Zach:  My parents were unable to conceive a child for 12 and a half years. Doctors declared it impossible for them to ever have a son. And yet here I am. It makes me feel low and unworthy before God. I still wonder why, why me? I find myself a failure so much of the time. But, God wants me here. It's inconceivable that I'm here (literally.) With the knowledge of this it has impacted me in such a way as that I know that I'm not here just to drift through life never doing anything for Him. None of us are here without a purpose. It makes me realize that God desires each and every one of us to work for Him and enlarge His Kingdom. It is our true purpose in whatever way He chooses for us to do it.

Cheryl:  What are you most passionate about? Tell us about the things that bring you most fulfillment in life. What makes you happiest and causes you to smile the most?

Zach:  Without hesitation, I am most passionate about serving Jesus, glorifying Him in everything I say and do. Doing His Will fulfills me completely. I am happiest when I am with my parents and know that I am pleasing Jesus.

Cheryl:  Describe a perfect day for you.

Zach:  A perfect day for me would be residing at where I live now, enjoying the peace and serenity of the area outside of our house, feeling the Lord's Presence with us clearly. I am truly living my dream.

Cheryl:  Do you have any inkling as to what God may want you to do as a grown-up? What are you feeling pulled towards, at this point?

Zach:  Ministry has always called out to me in many ways. The feeling of doing God's Work in a large way would thrill me. I enjoy writing, and showing Jesus' Love to others. At this moment in time, I honestly don't know. I simply want God to completely and wholly guide my life.

Cheryl:  What would you define as your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?

Zach:  I feel that I have no greatest strength without Christ. But I'd have to say my love for my Savior is my greatest strength. I have many weaknesses, I'm afraid. Out of them all though, I'd say my greatest weakness would be an overactive temper and inflexibility. I do not control my anger as much as I would like. I try to remember to transition the anger I contain into passion for Christ. That is an area I need much prayer in.

Cheryl:  What are your favorite singing groups/singers? What are some of your favorite songs?

Zach: There are many in Southern Gospel but I do have some favorites. I greatly enjoy the Greater Vision Trio, with whom Rodney Griffin performs, and so many of the songs they release, especially "Looking For The Grace", "He Is To Me", "Put Out The Fire", and "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is."Also, The Kingsmen are one of my all-time favorite groups, as well, with many truly inspiring songs, such as "Battle Cry", "Cross of Grace", and He's Everything I Need". I also love the Kingdom Heirs, and many of their songs as well, such as; "Just Preach Jesus", "He Locked The Gates", and "We Will Stand Our Ground".
(You can read The Kingsmen's Lead Singer, Bob Sellers' interview by clicking here.)

Cheryl: What are your hobbies and favorite things to do when you are enjoying downtime?

Zach:  I love to pray, read my Bible, spend quality time with my parents, read devotionals/Christian fiction/Christian biographies, and play video games. I enjoy collecting action figures, hotwheels with superheroes on them, and old memorabilia from a number of things.

Cheryl:  In Jeremiah 29:11, God’s Word says that He has plans and a future for you. Psalm 37:4 says that He will give you the desires of your heart, if you delight yourself in Him. What are your dreams and hopes for the future? If you could plan out a perfect life…if God asked you personally about what you wanted, and He promised to grant that exact life to you, what would it look like?

Zach:  My dreams and hopes for the future are innumerable. But to name some would simply to find my calling, and then do it for the remainder of time until God leads me to something new. To find a Godly and decent wife that would love the Lord more than I. That I would correctly raise my children, in such a way that they would love the Lord as much or more than I do. And of course to live a life that would please God until the day I pass away and that I would make Heaven my Eternal Home. This would be the perfect life for me.

Cheryl:  What would you say to a teenager who is considering becoming a Christian in these difficult times? How would you advise them? What would you most recommend to them about the Christian life? What would you warn them most strongly about?

Zach:  To that teen, I tell you that this will be the most fulfilling thing you could ever do. There's nothing better than serving Jesus. If you search the whole world over, you will never find the fulfillment and contentment that following Him brings. But I won't lie, it isn't easy. But going through life without Him isn't easy either. In fact, I'd much rather go with a Dear Friend on a treacherous journey than alone, wouldn't you? You will be persecuted in one way or another for your faith, but believe what you will feel on the inside is so worth it. And remember, the work is hard, but the retirement and benefits are out of this world.

Cheryl:  What would you say to the parent of a teenager who has strayed from the Biblical teachings of their childhood?

Zach:  The best thing you can do for him/her is pray. Once you have prayed, you've done your part. God has made us all with a free will, and sadly, some of us, no matter how Godly we have been raised, will depart from the truth we have been taught. Give them to Jesus. Continue to pray. Keep encouraged! God is not finished with your life or your child's life.   

Cheryl:  Please share some parting encouragement…anything God is laying upon your heart to say. If you were sitting down, face-to-face with each Homespun Devotions reader, individually, what would you say to them right now?

Zach:  I have no idea what you are going through, my friend. But know that Jesus is here, right with you, and He will not leave you. I know it may feel like you are alone, but believe me, you are never alone. The blessings you will gain from what you are going through right now will be immeasurable. Keep going! You're nearly there!

Cheryl:  How can we all pray for you, during this season of life? Are there specific needs you would like us to lift to the Father on your behalf?

Zach:  I request that you would pray that I would draw closer to the Lord each and every day. That He would help me to keep from anger and bitterness. And that He would bless my parents, family, and friends. Thank you, and may God richly Bless you!

Dear Zach!
It is with so much joy, thanksgiving, and love that I say, "Thank you"...
for the blessing you are, for your respect and consideration of your Daddy and me,
for your Christian witness, and for the amazing gift you are to us and to this world.
I could not be more proud of you and more grateful to God for allowing me to be your Mama,
for allowing me to stay home with you and continue to homeschool you,
for every, single second He has given, is giving, and will continue to give me with you, God willing.
I love you with more love than my heart can hold.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading and for your loyal support and encouragement.
I ask that you PLEASE keep Zach in your daily prayers.
The past several years have not been easy ones.
Sometimes, the aftermath is as hard as harder than the storm.
We spend a LOT of time praying together, working through the issues,
and praising God for the things He is now doing in and through our lives.

I know God has a special plan for Zach, and I can only plead with Jesus every day to help
Kevin and me to know how to continue to raise him and to impart the wisdom we need to continue to pour into his life.
Please keep us in your prayers, too, as we truly realize that raising a child does not allow for "do-overs".  We want to do the very best we can, and it will only be through God's abundant grace and mercy if we ever get any of this right.

God bless you, one and all.

To read previous
click the links below.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Two Special Smilestones...a Fifty & a Five!!

"The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: 
forsake not the works of Thine own hands."
Psalm 138:8

I feel like I owe the readers of Homespun Devotions some sort of apology.
My blogging has been sporadic, even non-existent, of late.
It is just that there is so much going on in our lives that I am too busy enjoying what is happening to sit down and write about it.  ☺
And, believe me, that is a good thing.
The pieces are falling into place, like the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle shown in the picture above.
While I was working it, it is was a mystery.
Some pieces were lovely and bright and joy-inspiring.
Some pieces were dark and ugly and, at first glance, seemed pointless.
But, when it was all complete, just look at how pretty it became!
Every, single puzzle piece had a point and was designed by the one who created the puzzle.

(I wrote more about this in the 2nd blog post I ever wrote.
If you would like to read this blast from the past, just click here!)

Such is the story of our lives.
God, our glorious Creator, has done so much for us.
I keep telling Kevin and Zach that I never really feel like I am getting my praise completely out.
I just feel that even my grandest attempts to let Him know how much I appreciate all He has done and is doing just falls SO short of expressing the deep gratitude and JOY in my heart and soul.

He has delivered us from so much bondage.
He has lifted us out of the miry clay and set our feet upon a rock and established our goings.
(Psalm 40:2)
Praise His holy name!

While it would take me years to share all of His bountiful blessings with you,
I do want to mention two special smilestones He has recently permitted me to pass.

Number one, I turned 50 years old.
Can I believe it?
Not at all.
Is this me?
Sometimes, I am not sure!
Because, inside, I still feel like the 14 year old girl who handed God the reins to my life here in this sacred spot.
Hopeful.  Bursting with anticipation of what God is going to do next in our lives.
Excited for the future.
Longing for His will to be made known.
Yearning to fulfill His plan for me and live out the purpose for which He placed me upon this earth.
Dreaming of the adventures life holds for my little family and me.
An endless romantic-at-heart.
Perpetually thirsty for God.
Hungry for more of Him...His Spirit, His blessings, His love.

Do I feel 50 years old?
Not a bit.
Oh, the physical part of me feels it.
Every ache and pain and new age spot reminds me.
Where do they come from?  Age spots, I mean.
How can they just appear overnight?
The physical part of me feels 50 years old...some days older!
But does that inward part of me feel like it has inhabited earth for 50 years?
Not a chance!

"For which cause we faint not; 
but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16

Do you know what God has been showing me concerning my 50th birthday?
This is the Year of Jubilee!!!!
I love reading about the year of Jubilee in the Old Testament and how at the end of each 7th year,
there was a release, but at the 7th end of the 7th year (at the end of 49 years),
there was this amazing, wonderful, magnificent, liberating thing called "The Year of Jubilee".

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; 
and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, 
in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family” 
Leviticus 25:8-10

"Hallow the fiftieth year"....I love that.
"proclaim liberty throughout all the land" that, too.

In this 50th year, slaves were released and set free.
Mortgages were cancelled.
Bondage was obliterated.
Chains of oppression were broken.
Families were reunited.

It was a time of great rejoicing.
It was a year of restoration and the righting of wrong.

50 used to sound so old to me.
Decrepit, even.
Like a dreaded event that meant life was over.

Now, that I am here, I find that it is not an event to be dreaded at all.
Turning 50 feels like turning a corner.
Like something truly amazing and wonderful is coming.
Like an incredible smilestone...a major accomplishment...not for me, but for GOD.
Without Him, I am nothing.
Without Him, I can do nothing.
Without Him, I would not be here.

In light of what He has done and is still doing in our lives,
how can I ever view turning 50 as a negative?
I am SO blessed to be alive.
I look back over the many health challenges and things God has brought me through,
and I am compelled to turn my face Heavenward,
raise my hands to Him Who has wrought such miracles,
and burst forth into heartwrenched praise!

I haven't shared much of that with you here, but suffice to say, 
life, to me, is a beyond precious gift...given by a loving Creator Who absolutely wants us to live it abundantly.

He is a mighty GOD to me.
I have seen Him do miraculous, humanly unexplainable things...
things that there was no other explanation for...
just HIM and His almighty power,

He has brought me to this place...
of turning 50, of entering into "The Year of Jubilee",
of the beginning of a new chapter for my family and me...walking forward together in a new place.
It is the beginning of new traditions, a fresh start, a clean slate.
Thank you, Jesus, from the bottom of my grateful heart.
Knowing this, makes me sing!
Here are two of my favorite songs in the world.
 I may or may not be known to often randomly break out singing them,
regardless of where I am or who is around me.
That is one of the sweet benefits of being a jubilant 50.
I no longer have to care what people think of me.
How liberating!!

If video doesn't load, click here.

If video doesn't load, click here.

On a more serious note, another fact about turning 50 is not lost to me.
There is this intensified sense of responsibility.
Because, I now officially feel like one of those women the Apostle Paul was writing to in Titus chapter 2.
You know the passage. 
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
Titus 2:3-5

God, please help me!
Am I qualified to fill these shoes?
I am here....I have arrived, by His amazing grace.
Am I ready for this new dimension of commission?

The second smilestone I recently passed is the 5th Anniversary of this blog.
That's right.
50 years ago, I was born.
Five years ago, on October 1st, 2011, Homespun Devotions was born.
I can't believe it has been five years.

Thank you for walking this journey with me, dear friends.
Of all the places you could visit on the worldwide web,
of all the many other ways you could choose to spend your precious time,
you come here.
You read.
You subscribe.
You comment.
You follow.
You never cease to encourage me.
I am humbled indeed by your kindness, love, and the precious gift of your friendship.

You mean the world to me.

My prayer today is that God will be especially near to each one of you.
That you will know how much you are loved.
That you will see how special you truly are.
That you will feel His presence in brand-new and exciting ways.
That your burdens will be lighter,
your health will improve,
your days will be long upon this earth,
and that each one of those days will be filled with His most abundant blessings.

I don't know what you need today.
But, you and I, we share the same Father.
You are my brother.
My sister.
Dear to my heart.
And, our mutual Father is continually aware of each one of your...and my individual needs.
He cares about you so much!
He is watching.
He knows.
So, be of good cheer, and press on.
God has great plans for your future.
You are perpetually...and unconditionally loved!

God bless you, my dear friends.