Sunday, October 28, 2018

Your Next Step

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
Psalm 56:3
(KJV)

When I was growing up, my family and I used to go inner tubing on the river.  I look back now and think of how adventurous I was back then.  To this day, I have never learned to swim, and to think of getting in such deep water and floating seven miles on an inner tube now isn’t even within radar-range of what I would consider doing.  Back then, I was young and much more openminded to risk-taking, and even though I remember being scared, at times, somehow the fun must have seemed worth it.  

One of the things I find most concerning about my memories of that river is the fact that you could take a step and think you were on level ground, then the very next step could be several feet deeper, creating a massive drop-off.  You just never knew what the depth would be even one small step in front of you, and you obviously couldn’t see anything when you looked in the water.  So much of it was unknown and mysterious.  Looking through eyes that are much older and more cautious, I find the thought of such far too foolish and daring.  I must truly be getting old, but I certainly prefer that over the alternative.  😊

(As a side note, I found it interesting to find out that there has been a ban on inner tubing in that area dating back to 1965, which is the year before I was born!  Reading that didn't do much to set my mind at ease concerning the dangers of my adventurous younger days, and it was surprising to find that we must have been breaking the law, to boot!) 

As I spent time in prayer this morning, I had a whole list of things I am feeling anxious about concerning our future.  Never has it been more unknown or unfamiliar.  My mind went back to that Miami River and how uncertain it always was to take one more step.  How the “bottom could fall out” at any minute, and just because the ground felt level the last step I took gave no indication whatsoever as to what that next step would feel like.  Where would my foot end up?  Would there be ground beneath it to even step on?  Or would the step plunge me into waters over my head?

Isn't this the way with life?  There isn't one among us who can predict what the next step of their life will look like.  Will it remain steady?  Will today be "business as usual?"  Will tomorrow be a blissfully ordinary day?  I have come to dearly cherish the beauty and steadiness of an ordinary day.  It is beyond precious to me when a day doesn't include any unexpected "drop-offs" and an overall sense of normalcy and "the same" pervades.  Back in 2013, I wrote a post called "An Ordinary Day."  You can read it by clicking here.)

Life never stands still, does it?  It is like a continually-flowing river that moves us onward, no matter how much we may want to stay firmly rooted in place.  We have no promise of what our next step will entail, but we do have a promise that we will never walk alone, and even if the step in front of us calls us into a place of overwhelm, there are three things we should never forget.

1.  Regardless how deep the waters, the arms of God are wide and all-encompassing and are always beneath the lowest point. 

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Deuteronomy 33:27

"He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  Isaiah 40:11 (ESV)


"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear."  Isaiah 59:1 (Berean Study Bible)


"I will steady him with My hand; with My powerful arm I will make him strong."  Psalm 89:21  (NLT)


2.  Regardless how severely wind-tossed the waters, Jesus walks in the midst of the storm, and the waves are always underneath His feet.

"About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water."  Matthew 14:25 (NLT)

"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church."  Ephesians 1:18-22

3.  Regardless how mysterious and cloudy the waters, God sees clear through and is fully aware of every drop-off and peril that lurks in the darkness, and even though we can't see our next step, He can.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."  Psalm 34:15  (ESV)

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it,' when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."  Isaiah 30:21

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD."  Psalm 37:23

"He will guard the feet of His faithful ones."  I Samuel 2:9  (ESV)

"The LORD will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  Isaiah 58:11 (Berean Study Bible)

May God bless each one of you dear readers and guide your every step.  May you always have a strong sense of His guiding presence in your life, and may you rest in the knowledge that He is ever in control.  I am praying for every person who will ever read these words as I type.  May He meet your every need and draw you ever closer to His side!


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Updates on Mom Smith and Barbara Smith

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16
(KJV)

I wanted to post an update for all of you prayer warriors who are so faithfully lifting Mom Smith and Barbara Smith to the throne of grace.
I am so thankful to report that God has intervened and done so much for both of them!
Mom Smith is continuing to improve, after her surgery to open the blood flow to her right leg/foot.
She has regressed some as far as the blood flowing as freely as it did right after surgery, but it is still much improved over what it was before.
Lord willing, we are bringing her home from rehab next week!!!!!
We serve an amazing and awesome GOD who absolutely hears and answers the prayers of His children!  He doesn't put an age limit on healing, and He never sees anyone as too far gone.  We realize Mom Smith's condition remains very fragile, and she is far advanced in years, and still, God is SO gracious to have touched her once again.  As we watch the time of her life on earth edge closer to the moment Jesus calls her home, we deeply cherish every moment we are granted with her. 


The last time I posted an update about Barbara, I mentioned that she was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma brain tumor.  The doctors were planning to send her home without much hope at all.  Between that post and this, the family was able to find a surgeon who was willing to operate on Barbara, and she came through the surgery just fine!  They removed as much of the tumor as they could, and she is doing so much better!  She is out of the hospital and will be undergoing chemo and radiation treatments.  It is just amazing how God has intervened and answered prayer on her behalf.  The family is most grateful for every prayer prayed for her and would so appreciate your continued prayers.  The journey ahead for her is long but filled with hope, praise God!


Dear friend, I don't know what you may be facing today.
I don't know what you are praying for or what you may look ahead and see as hopeless.
I don't know the particulars of what a miracle looks like for you.
The wonderful thing is that I do not need to know.
There is an all-seeing Father in Heaven who already knows what you need, and He is the only One who needs to know because He is the only One who can perform your miracle.
May I encourage you to keep looking to Him, regardless?
No matter what you face, He is enough.

When doctors say there is nothing they can do, 
He is Yahweh-Rapha, the LORD that Healeth.

"And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."  Exodus 15:26

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed."  I Peter 2:24

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
James 5:14,15

When life is dark and you feel alone and utterly forsaken, 
He is Yahweh-Shammah, the LORD is There.

"Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me;' even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.  For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."
Psalm 139:7-14

"Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." 
 Jeremiah 23:23-24

"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."  John 14:16-17

When finances are depleted, there is no way to make ends meet, and you don't know how you will survive,
He is Yahweh-Yireh, the LORD will Provide.

"Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means "the LORD will provide"). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
Genesis 22:14 (NLT)

"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33

Whatever you are going through today, remember this—
"And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God, all things are possible."  Mark 10:27

No matter what,
because of who Jesus is, there is always, always hope!

"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about.  And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.  And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.  And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Luke 4:14-18

Look back over your life, and recall His never-ending faithfulness.
Bring to mind every time He has answered your prayers in the past.
Remember all He has done, and know this—
you, my friend, will see Him do it again!


Monday, October 1, 2018

The Inner Views of Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill

"I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I and Thou heardest my voice."  Jonah 2:2  (KJV)

It is no secret how much I love the high lonesome sound of bluegrass.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are surrounded by singing and playing music with Mom, Dad, and other family members, as Dad played his five-string banjo.  To this day, bluegrass serves as a bridge to take me back to those precious times—especially when I am missing Mom, Dad, and other loved ones who are now resting in the arms of Jesus.  One of the current groups that so expertly captures that deeply soulful, comforting, authentic bluegrass sound is Flatt Lonesome.  Their tight family harmony and skillful instrumental abilities are a gift to modern bluegrass  My family and I were blessed to recently attend one of their concerts and catch up with them afterward to secure an interview with one of their members.  I am so blessed and grateful to be able to share it with you today!


The 
of Flatt Lonesome Vocalist & Mandolin Player,
Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself and the people who make up the band, Flatt Lonesome. 

Kelsi:  Flatt Lonesome is made up of myself (mandolin) along with my siblings, Buddy (guitar) and Charli (fiddle) Robertson. Along with us, we have my husband, Paul (banjo), and our close friends, Michael Stockton (dobro) and Dominic Illingworth (bass). 

We started the band in February of 2011 after my parents had to step away from our family band, Sandy Creek Revival. My dad is a pastor and had to slow down to be with our church.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear your Christian testimony.  When did you become a Christian?  What life events led you to the cross?

Kelsi:  I was saved on November 23, 1999. I was nine years old and I was saved after church on a Sunday night. My dad led me to the Lord.

Cheryl:  What was life like growing up as a preacher's kid?

Kelsi:  Life as a preacher’s kid, for me, was wonderful! You hear horror stories of PK’s and how they grow up with a nonexistent father, or how they’re rebellious, etc. However, my father was very much present. We were his first priority and he made sure we knew that. He did not put us on a pedestal for which other people could compare their children, which saved us from much affliction. I grew up loving church and everything associated with it and I still do.

Cheryl:  Looking back over your life thus far, what do you identify as being a dark season?  How did your faith in God sustain and help you through?

Kelsi:  God has blessed me with a wonderful life, but from about age 22-24, I dealt with crippling anxiety. I went from extrovert to introvert, from confident to stand-off-ish. I woke up every morning dreading the day, scared, worried…I was not myself for a very long time. I prayed and prayed for God to take the anxiety away from me and He never did. It took my dad reminding me that God never told us he would take away our burdens, only that He would carry them with us, for me to realize that I needed help. So, I started on a long journey of self-help, help from a doctor who wasn’t only book smart, but Bible smart. I learned the hard way that you have to be willing to help yourself if you want God to help you too. And He did just that. God kept his promises, as He always does and brought me from the darkest valley in my life. I still deal with anxiety, but the bouts of it are fewer and farther between and I now have the knowledge to get through those times. God is good.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about the span of time your parents, your siblings, and you sang together as the group, "Sandy Creek Revival.”

Kelsi:  Our family sang together as Sandy Creek Revival for 5-6 years, I think. It was mostly churches and family gatherings. It was a great time in our lives, full of great memories!

Cheryl:  Please tell us about your favorite parts of the recording projects of Flatt Lonesome.  

Kelsi:  The best thing about recording as a band is watching how an album came from a mere concept to a full, cohesive album that we put our whole hearts into!

Cheryl:  We have been so blessed by the song you wrote, "In the Heat of the Fire."  Can you tell us the story behind the song?

Kelsi:  I wrote, “In the Heat of the Fire” during the difficult years of anxiety. I would sit on our balcony at our apartment alone, with my Bible and a guitar and read and sing any song that I could think of to give me hope (it’s funny how in times of need, the secular songs don’t seem so great anymore). The doctor who was helping me at the time instructed me to read through the book of Psalms and as I read through that book I underlined every single time God said that he “hears” us, or “heard” us. I NEEDED to know that God was hearing me because at the time I didn’t feel like He was and I was desperate. During these times of reading and singing is when I wrote this song.


In the Heat of the Fire ~ Flatt Lonesome (written by Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill)

Cheryl:  As a songwriter, how do you find inspiration?  Is there a particular place you like to go to write?

Kelsi:  I will write anytime and anywhere, as soon as I think of a lyric. If I don’t I will forget it! However, I find I write best when I am alone.

Cheryl:  Are there other members of Flatt Lonesome who are songwriters?

Kelsi:  As of right now, just Paul and me. 

Cheryl:  How did you and Paul meet?  We would love to hear your love story!

Kelsi:  Paul and I met in Nashville, TN! We actually met for the first time at IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) and never spoke again until we saw each other again at SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America), and then he asked Buddy for my number (how he got it, I’m not sure?!). 



Kelsi, performing with Flatt Lonesome on the Grand Ole Opry

We started talking over the phone and visiting each other when we could (he lived in NC at the time, and I lived in FL). We ended up dating for 6 months before we were engaged. Got married 9 months later and now we have been married for 6 years and have a one-year-old son!


Paul, Carter, & Kelsi

Cheryl:  How has becoming a mother enriched your life?

Kelsi:  Being a mother has shown me just how much you can actually love someone. I love teaching Carter and watching him learn those things! 

Cheryl:  What is life like for you being on the road? 

Kelsi:  One word — NUTS! :)

Cheryl:  What advice would you most like to give to wives and mothers who wear many hats and struggle to find a sense of balance?

Kelsi:  My advice is that you cannot please everyone, but you can please God. So, when life gets hard and you feel like you’re hanging by a thread, choose God first and everything else will fall into place…and when your husband offers for you to go get your nails done — DO IT!!


Kelsi & Carter

Cheryl:  Growing up, who were your strongest musical influences?  

Kelsi:  Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Merle Haggard, Tony Rice, Danny Roberts

Cheryl:  When did you begin playing the mandolin?  

Kelsi:  I started playing mandolin when I was 15-years-old.

Cheryl:  Who has most influenced you in your walk with Jesus?  Why?  What about this person do you most long to emulate?

Kelsi:  My parents have been my greatest influence in my spiritual life. Although they are not perfect, they have always been the same people behind closed doors as they were in public and that is critical for young people to see. Young people need consistency, spiritually and otherwise. 

My mother is the most godly woman I know. He faith is unwavering and her love for my father and our family is something I can only strive for.


Kelsi with her Mom, Lisa

Cheryl:  What is your personal favorite song to sing on stage?

Kelsi:  I love to sing a song that Paul wrote called, “Make it Through the Day.” He wrote this while we were dating.

Cheryl:  At the end of life, what legacy do you most hope to leave?

Kelsi:  When I am gone, I want to be remembered as a woman who did her best to please God, love her family and serve others.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?

Kelsi:  Please pray for both Paul and I as we continue to learn and grow as parents.



Paul, Carter, & Kelsi



A BIG thank you to Kelsi for sharing her heart with us here!
Dear readers, please keep Kelsi, her family, and Flatt Lonesome in your prayers as they travel, minister to others, and keep the spirit of bluegrass alive. 
To purchase their music or learn more about Flatt Lonesome, click HERE
You can also connect with them on their websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

To read previous
click the links below.