Sunday, March 10, 2019

Rest In Peace, Little Max Brown ~ PLEASE Pray for this Dear Family!!!

"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
Matthew 5:4

There have been a lot of heart wrenching posts here at Homespun Devotions over the past seven years and five months, but this post is one of the saddest I have ever written.

Many of you long-time and loyal readers will remember that on August 4, 2014, I published THIS POST, asking for prayer for a dear family who was involved in a horrible car accident. Steven and Shyla Brown and their four children, MaKeya (age 6), Quinton (age 5), Max (age 2), and Navaya ("Raya" - age 1) were all in the vehicle when it crashed.

Left to Right: Quinton (5), Nevaya - "Raya" (1), Shyla (24), Steven (23), Max (2), MaKeya (6)
(These are their ages at the time of the accident.)

Little Quinton lost his life, and Max and MaKeya were left paralyzed from serious injuries they sustained in the accident. Thankfully, Raya was not injured. Life has been a struggle, with many ups and downs, but God has brought them through so many hard places as a result of your and others' faithful prayers. 

Fast forward to yesterday, 3/9/2019, when Shyla wrote the words below.

"I never imagined having to write another post like this.  I am in this nightmare that I just can't seem to wake up from.  At 5:30 am, Max started making noises over the baby monitor. Steven ran in there as he always done. Shortly after, I heard the one thing no mother wants or should ever have to hear; he is not breathing. For 30 mins we done CPR, but we were too late.  Quinton came and took his brother by the hand and led him through the golden gates.  My baby boy always wanted to jump out of his wheelchair and chase his sister but he is now up there chasing his brother.  He no longer needs that wheel chair.

The day is going to come that I am going to have to say see you later, and I am not sure I can go through this again.  I just don’t understand how this can all be happening again.  Life is too short. Grab your babies, and give them the biggest hug you have ever given them.  Spend a little extra time tucking them in tonight because you never know what tomorrow brings.

Max Rian Brown, Mommy loves you so much.  Always remember that!!!!"

Rest in peace, Max

Max was seven years old.  It is so hard to believe that he is gone.  I cannot wrap my mind around the pain this dear family is going through.  I still remember standing by little Max's hospital bedside, pleading with God to heal him and give him more time with his family.  God was faithful.  He answered those prayers and spared Max for another four years and seven months.  I know each and every moment of those years, Steven and Shyla cherished and were deeply grateful for more time with this precious boy, all while mourning the loss of his brother Quinton and also devoting their lives to caring for him and his sisters, Makeya and Raya.

There were many, many updates posted here that document their journey. I am sharing the links below, in case you would like to read and follow along.

Max and Quinton, enjoying happy times together before the accident

Both precious little boys are now reunited forever, two brothers resting together eternally in the arms of Jesus.

I asked Shyla to share an update on MaKeya's condition, in her own words.

"MaKeya is doing awesome!! She is one tough little girl. She is now 11 years old. She is supposed to go next month to get a bladder augmentation done and a mitrofanoff put in all in the same day. She is excited about getting the mitrofanoff. She can't wait to be able to cath herself. She is growing up way too fast. She is even more excited that she goes to the hospital on April fools day. She is already planning tricks to play on the nurses. She is a big trickster. She is always playing tricks on someone. She learns something new every day. Right now, she is one of my rocks. I have been trying to hold myself together in front of the girls, but sometimes I am unable, and she will wrap her arms around me and wipe my tears. She keeps trying to get me to eat something. It is like she is being mommy to me right now. I know she is hurting inside as well though because she asked my mother-in-law why this keeps happening. My youngest, Raya, she is now 6. She doesn't quite understand exactly what is going on but she has been grumpy a lot today and I think it is because she feels and knows something is missing. These two girls are going to be my rock."

MaKeya, age 11                                      Raya, age 6

Dear readers, PLEASE, please pray for God to strengthen and help Steven, Shyla, MaKeya, Raya, and all who mourn Max's passing. The pain in their hearts is unfathomable. Dear Lord, please, please have mercy and send comfort to their hurting, broken hearts, in Jesus' name.

UPDATE ON 3/11/2019

Some of you have asked if there is a way you can reach out to the Brown Family by sending a card or financial donation.  If you feel led to do so, please send any correspondence to:

Steven and Shyla Brown
PO box 762 
Garrison, KY 41141

Thank you so much for your kindness to them!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Comfort of Light & Memories of Mom

"Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."
Psalm 97:11

I love Country Sampler magazine and have been a subscriber for years.  When it comes in the mail, I like to set it aside until I have time to sit down, uninterrupted, so I can really absorb and take it all in.  As I perused through the pages of a particular issue, I came across a picture of a living room where the sun was gleaming in through the window just right, casting its light over the sofa and floor.  The picture just drew me in.  I sat there and looked at it for a long time.  Long-buried feelings rose to the surface, and even though I had never seen that picture before or been in the room that was portrayed in the photo, the effect it had on me was profound and unexpected.  For some unexplained reason, the way the light was shining through the window immediately made me think of Mom and caused me to feel an overwhelming sense of missing her.

It may sound strange, but there is something about afternoon or evening light streaming through a window onto furniture in an inside room that always reminds me of her.  The feeling I get when I see that is hard to put into words.  I feel comfort.  I feel transported back to when I was a little girl growing up.  I feel safe and loved and sheltered and prayed for.  I'm not exactly sure what particular long-ago memories are resurrected or which moment of my life first brought those feelings, but something about that scene just takes me back to a very happy, peace-saturated time, and I could literally stare at it for hours.

Though I could not find the exact Country Sampler picture online, I found the photo of light streaming through a window shown below, and it makes me think of the little apartment Mom lived in when she passed away.  Her kitchen table was right in front of the window, and she and I spent many an hour sitting at a table similar to this one playing Scrabble, doing jigsaw puzzles, eating meals, laughing, and talking.  Seeing this picture makes me long to sit down and visit with her in a room like this just one more time.

Photo by Alexander Harding 
(I tried to make contact to ask permission to share this photo and was unable to, so please know that no copyright infringement is intended, nor will I receive any monetary benefit from sharing the photo here.)

If this really was Mom's kitchen table, I would walk in, and she would give me a sweet, gentle hug.  She would immediately ask me if I was hungry, we would sit and make plans, and I would feel a sense of the sincerely purest welcome I have ever felt anywhere, other than in our own home.  Mom was just like that.  You knew if she had anything, you were welcome to it.  Dad was the same way.  He would give you the shirt right off his back, if you needed it, without thinking twice or batting an eye.  I've seen them both give until they had nothing left to give without ever noticing they were even giving.  I'm sure most people feel this way, but to me, there will never in a million years be anyone in the world like my Mom and Dad.

Childhood in our home was far from perfect.  We had many obstacles.  We moved (at last count) 47 times, mostly without good reason, in my opinion.  It made me extremely insecure, but in spite of all, I would not change a thing because through it all, Mom and Dad were there, and I felt unconditionally loved.  As long as we were together, seated around a table such as the one in the photo above, I knew that everything would be okay.  

I think the reason I am so drawn into a photo of light streaming through a window is because, somewhere in the back of the recesses of my mind, it simply reminds me of home.  It transports me back to when Mom and Dad were here, such a huge part of my daily life.  And as I think of them and long for them and wish for more time on this earth with them, another thought quickly follows my pondering and reminds me of a song written by the late, great Dottie Rambo, one of the greatest Christian songwriters of our time.  I hope you can take time to listen to the words.

Though I will never be able to walk into Mom's kitchen or feel that precious, unique sense of earthly welcome again, there is an eternal home called Heaven where Mom and Dad are waiting.  When I get there, by the grace of God, we will spend the endless ages in the comfort of the Light of the World.  There will be no more good-byes or separations and rainy days are non-existent because our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the everlasting Light.  The light of His presence will stream eternally, and there will be no more sadness or brokenness or tears.  Can you imagine a place like that? 

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful."  Revelation 21:4-5

"And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."  Revelation 22:5

This world is getting darker all the time.  While we are each living "in the meantime," waiting for the completion of our journey home, Jesus calls on us to be keepers of His light here on earth.  "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16

If ever there were a time that the world needs to see our good works manifesting the light of Jesus' love, it is now.  If you see a gloomy place, let His light within you burst forth to stream comfort, encouragement, and cheer into that darkened corner.  A genuine smile can light up a whole room.  A kind word can turn someone's day completely around.  "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11 Empathy can build a bridge between two conflicting opinions.  Meanness can be quenched with kindness.  Gentle, quietly-spoken words can defuse tension.  "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."  Proverbs 15:1

Be faithful and true to the calling of making a positive difference in your world, just like Jesus did.  "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him."  Acts 10:38

Keep going about doing good.  Bring healing to every hurting soul you possibly can.  Speak life and peace and faith to the depressed, oppressed, wounded, and hopeless.  Keep pressing on and fighting the good fight of faith, and remember this - harvest day will come.  

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9

One day, we will be home, and we will receive our reward.  Jesus will be there, waiting for all of His blood-washed children.  He will welcome us in with open arms and show us the mansion He has been preparing for us all this time.  At last, He will speak the words we have been waiting to hear all our lives, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant:  enter thou into the joy of thy lord."  Matthew 25:21

God bless each on of you dear readers!  I am praying for every one of you right now and trusting God to be near you, supply your every need, fill your life and soul with the fullness of His presence, and inspire you to go out and live your life like Jesus lived His!

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."  Missionary, C.T. Studd

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

When Darkness Seems Impenetrable

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
John 1:5
Recently, while traveling, we ate breakfast in our hotel dining room.  We knew the minute we walked in that the room was charged with a negative tone.  Everyone was frowning.  Even the breakfast employee had an angry scowl on her face.  The room was crowded—probably about 20 to 30 people coming and going, as I meandered around and made my way through the crowd to fill my plate. I tried so hard to make eye contact. With someone.  Anyone.  I had a huge, beaming smile that I so longed to share with any person who would look at me.  Many were seated at tables, some tapping phones, some seated across from loved ones who weren't looking at each other.  There was not one person in that room who seemed happy or joyful.  Everything in me wanted to make a positive difference.  I wanted them to know that there is a way to find real, true, authentic joy.  I wanted to show them how much it bubbles up inside me and how it forces a genuine smile, even when I don't feel like smiling.  I wanted them to see JESUS—I so wanted them to see Him through a live, physical demonstration.  But, not one person would even give me the opportunity.

After I made my way to and was seated at our table, I sat there, puzzled and perplexed. There was such a pervading cold, unfriendly vibe that seemed to hang like a thick, foreboding cloud in that place, and it frustrated me to no end that I was unable to penetrate it with kindness. Then, I looked down at the t-shirt I was wearing, and a thought crept into my mind. Softly enough for only those at our table to hear, I whispered, "Maybe it's my t-shirt?" Zach bought it for me for Mother's Day, and I love its message. It is such an amazing witness.

An amazing witness, yes, but could those who don't feel the same way about Jesus that I do find it offensive?  Whether the message on my t-shirt had anything to do with my inability to connect with anyone or not, the thought of the possibility got me thinking about how our society is permeated with such disdain for Christianity.  There is a powerful spirit of antiChrist that has infiltrated our world.  
(And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  I John 4:3)  It started when our Lord was here on the earth, and instead of lessening, all these years later, it has strengthened and become more emboldened, it seems.  It saddens my heart because the light of the Gospel is the only message that will ever make a difference in the lives of those who are unhappy.  It is the only thing powerful enough to break through the steely walls of darkness that have become such a stronghold in our world.  It is up to us to share God's love through the kindness we show and to disprove any misconceptions about who Jesus really is, but when we are around those whose minds are closed and we aren't given an open door to demonstrate who He is, how will we ever make them see?  

Alas, the three of us left that dreary dining room with my mission to make a positive difference completely unaccomplished. I felt so vexed in spirit as we walked down the hall talking, each of us discussing the gloomy atmosphere we had just left. It is still bothering me, all these days later.

It is bothering me enough to cause me to become more determined than ever to keep trying. To not give up just because I failed the last time I tried. To be kind, in spite of who rejects that kindness. To minister, even when the sacrifice is unappreciated or even unnoticed. To love, even when I am despised in return. To smile, even when no one makes eye contact or chooses to return that smile. To verbally compliment one good thing about the person who is so incredibly rude. To speak a word of encouragement to every person I encounter throughout the day. To make sincerely empathetic eye contact with everyone I chance to meet. To reject the thought that I am just one person and what I do will never make a dent in the hate-filled, mean-spiritedness that pervades our society. Isn't all of this what Jesus did? What His Divine nature within us cries out to STILL do?

What if we dared to press through the overwhelming, unprecedented resistance and made up our minds to choose Jesus' path every time? How different would our world be? Sure, there will be those times when it feels like we walk away and leave evil-charged atmospheres the exact same way we found them, but is that reason to throw up our hands and pre-judge every future circumstance we find ourselves in?

I want to challenge you to continue to press through whatever evil resistance you encounter, and choose goodness, in spite of what you see. Be the one to bring the light of Jesus' love into every darkened corner that comes across your path. Choose to keep overcoming evil with good, even when you feel the complete opposite of an overcomer. Do the right thing regardless what everyone else is doing.

Light will always dispel darkness, and darkness can never extinguish light. They thought they ended goodness when they laid our Savior's blood-soaked, tortured-beyond-recognition, lifeless body in the tomb. But, praise His wonderful name, He proved them all wrong three days later, and He came out of that grave alive, never to die again! The power that raised Him is inside each one of us, as believers who are filled with His Spirit!

"...having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."  Ephesians 1:18-21 (ESV)

"And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power."  
I Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."  Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)

Same Power ~ Jeremy Camp

You've got His power, so, keep shining His light!
Allow the power of the Spirit of Jesus inside of you to have full access and control.
Yield to His nudges, and boldly do everything He prompts you to do.
Even when it doesn't appear to be making the slightest difference, press on.
Keep trying.  Keep persevering.  Crucify your flesh and feelings.  
Don't let past defeated missions dissuade you from setting out on new attempts.  
As the old saying goes, Christians are the only Bible some people will ever read.  
What are they reading when they peruse our behavior?  
If we were put on trial for being Christians, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A, B, C's For Successful Christian Living & A Sweet Birthday Dessert

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

My biggest goals here at Homespun Devotions are to encourage you in your walk with Jesus and to say only what He wants to be said.  Today, I felt led to compile a list of Biblical, practical A,B,C's that will hopefully give you a boost in your Christian journey.  As I was writing this post, I asked Kevin and Zach the question, "What do you think are some of the most important things we need to do in order to live a successful Christian life?"  They gave me some amazing answers, and I incorporated them throughout this post.  There are no words to ever express the deep love and gratitude in my heart for my dear husband and son.  They are, without a doubt, two of the most Godly people I know.  I love them with more love than my heart could ever hold.  Thank You, Jesus for answering my many prayers and blessing me with two beyond-precious people to walk through life with, and thank you, dear Kevin and Zach for your continual help, support, encouragement, and love.
And, thank you, dear readers, for reading!  You are such loyal, kind people, and I love and appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.  Many of you have become such dear friends, and it is such a blessing to walk this Christian/blogging journey with you.  If you have never reached out to let me know you read these posts, I would absolutely love to hear from you!  Sometimes blogging feels like a one-way street.  Encouragement is a two-way street, so why not leave me a comment today and introduce yourself?

And, now for those A,B,C's, along with two accompanying Scriptures for each letter!

Ask God for what you need.
"Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
John 16:24 (ESV)
"If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it."
John 14:14 (KJV)
Be who you say you are.
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9 (NASB)
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
I John 3:18 (KJV)
Cast your cares on Jesus.
"Casting all your care on Him; for He cares for you."
I Peter 5:7 (American KJV)
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV)
Don't worry.
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34 (NASB)
"Worry is a heavy burden, but a kind word always brings cheer."
Proverbs 12:25 (CEV)
Encourage everyone.
"But encourage one another every day, while it is called today, so that not one of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
Hebrews 3:13 (Berean Literal Bible)
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 
I Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
Forget the past.
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13,14 (KJV)
"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:62 (KJV)
Give bountifully, freely, and wholeheartedly.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
Luke 6:38 (KJV)
"He answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."
Luke 3:11 (KJV)
Hold fast to the faith without compromise.
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 1:13 (KJV)
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)
Intercede, and stand in the gap for others & our nation.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
I Timothy 2:2 (KJV)
"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none."
 Ezekiel 22:30 (KJV)
Jesus first, always, in all things.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:1-3 (KJV)
Kindness matters.
"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
"A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself."
Proverbs 11:17 (ESV)
Laugh often—it's so good for you.
"A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones."
Proverbs 17:22 (American KJV)
"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.
Job 8:21 (ESV)
Meet faithfully to worship with other Christians.
"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."
Hebrews 10:25 (New Living Translation)
"Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens! Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!"
 Psalm 150:1-6 (ESV)
Notice your blessings and what God is doing for you.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."
Psalm 103:2 (KJV)
"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips."
Psalm 34:1 (CSB)
Open your heart and hands to those in need.
"Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward them for what they have done."
Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him?"
I John 3:17 (King James 2000 Bible)
Pray faithfully and continually.
"Pray without ceasing."
I Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41 (KJV)
Quit doing the things Jesus wouldn't.
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor."
Ephesians 5:1,2 (KJV)
"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
I Peter 1:14-16 (ESV)
Read God's Word.
"Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15 (American KJV)
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (KJV)
Speak life.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
Proverbs 18:21 (American KJV)
"For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
Matthew 12:37 (King James 2000 Bible)
Trust God with all your heart for all things.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5 (American KJV)
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."
Psalm 37:5 (KJV)
Unite with other believers.
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." 
I Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
Volunteer your time, gifts, and full availability to God.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
 Matthew 20:28 (KJV)
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
I John 3:16 (KJV) 
Wait for God's timing.
"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."
Psalm 27:14 (KJV)
"Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."
Psalm 37:7,9 (KJV)
Xerxes, the King, required that no one enter his throne room without an invitation.  The great news is God has already extended a perpetual invitation to His throne to us!
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)\
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."
John 6:37 (KJV)
Yield to God's will in every part of your life.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:1,2 (KJV)
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." I Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
Zeal is important. Keep it alive.
"Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
 Romans 12:11 (Berean Study Bible)
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

On another note—
We are celebrating my dear husband's birthday, and I wanted to share what I made for him.
We talked about getting a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, like Zach chose for his birthday back in December. Then we talked about me making him a huge, homemade-from-scratch chocolate chip cookie. I've been so sick for several weeks, and I am not able to do much without having to sit down every few minutes, so my kind, thoughtful, ever-concerned husband decided he didn't want me to attempt something totally from scratch. SO, he mentioned that he would like cupcakes made from a cake mix, so we decided on that. I wanted to add my own something special to them, so this is what I did.

I started with this store-bought cake mix and store-bought icing.

Helpful hint😀 I always add 2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise to store-bought cake mixes to make them more moist.

Then, after I baked, cooled, and frosted the cupcakes, Zach crushed three Butterfinger bars for me,
and I placed some on top of each cupcake. Then, I put a Hershey's chocolate kiss in the middle of each one.

And, here they are!

In the background, on the left, you can see the most adorable coffee pod display case my sweet niece, Kristen, sent to us for Christmas. Is this the cutest, neatest thing you have ever seen?

To take the photo below, I temporarily moved it over beside the corner shelf my dear Daddy made for Kevin and me years ago. We display our collection of white pitchers on it. I love the simplicity of a white pitcher sitting on a white doily!

Kristen's gift pairs perfectly with the tin coffee sign I received when I participated in
Stephanie's Ornament Exchange in December.  I just LOVE it!

I felt so bad that I didn't get to do a special post to link with Stephanie's Reveal Party, but we were gone for several weeks and weren't home for me to open the package and take pictures. Here's a picture of everything that was in the box.

Aren't these primitive Christmas ornaments so charming?

In closing, I am including a few songs that are encouraging us right now.  I hope they do the same for you!  I don't know what you are going through, but everybody's going through something.

Everybody's Going Through Something ~ Karen Peck & New River

This life is full of trials and tribulation, just like Jesus said.  Whatever you are going through, remember this.  Everything is better with Jesus.  I just want to remind you that He is going through your pain WITH you.  He will never leave you, and He is always on your side.  It is safe to put your trust in Him.  Maybe you've prayed for many years over something, only to find that your situation hasn't changed at all.  Keep trusting for your breakthrough.  Maybe you just haven't seen it yet.

Haven't Seen It Yet ~ Danney Gokey

God has never failed us yet.  We've seen Him move mountains SO many times, and I believe we'll see Him do it again!

Do It Again ~ Elevation Worship

The God of the hills and valleys is with you, my friend.  Through all of life's changes, He remains steadfast, faithful, and the same.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward.  God isn't finished with you yet.  You still have work to do.  Hold on.  Lift up your head.  He'll get you through this.

Lastly, the song below is the cry of my inmost soul.

God bless each one of you, and may His presence be especially near to you in this very moment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Inner Views of Daniel Thrailkill

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Romans 8:37

My family and I were recently blessed to enjoy a concert that included the bluegrass band of the young man I am interviewing today.  I knew the minute their music started ringing out from the stage that we were in for something special.  Not only is he super-talented, he also has a deeply-instilled love for God and speaks of his Christian faith freely while performing and throughout his interview below.  They have already won the 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association Momentum Band of the Year Award, and I know this is just the beginning of the amazing things God has in store for his and his band's future.  I am so thankful to introduce him and to share his inner views with you here!


of Bluegrass Singer & Musician,
Daniel Thrailkill

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself. 

Daniel:  To start, my father is a pastor at Back Creek Presbyterian Church in Mount Ulla, NC. He began his ministry in Spartanburg, SC at a small church, and in his time there, my older brother, myself, and my younger sister were born there (I was born in 1997). Being raised in the church, we were always singing hymns and learning about God through song. My mother is gifted with music, playing piano and having a wonderful voice. We moved to Mount Ulla, NC in 2001 and we’ve been here ever since. My siblings and I were homeschooled, which allowed us to have a special time of singing and prayer every morning. I took piano lessons from age 7 to 12 from Ann Drechsler, our church organist. I still use the basics she taught me and I’m able to read music because of her instruction. As a child, I was more interested in sports (baseball, basketball, golf, football) than music. I’ve always enjoyed being athletic and trying to “be good” at sports, however bad I was at them. I still enjoy getting out and playing disc golf with my bandmates and brother. When I turned 13 or 14 I began loving music and focusing on listening to music. My family has always been steeped in a love for good music, so that has been a true blessing. My brother Will plays the upright bass and my sister plays piano as well. I’m 21 now, I still live at home as a student and musician, and music teacher. I’ve been a student at Mitchell Community College and I received an Associates in Arts Degree in 2017. I’ll be starting at UNC Charlotte in the spring of 2019. I also teach guitar, ukulele and piano at Learn Music in Cornelius, NC. I’ve been teaching there for a little over 2 years and love it! 

Cheryl:  When did you first begin singing?

Daniel:  I first began singing in church, and with my mom, Angela. I started singing by myself whenever I got more into bluegrass and country music when I was around 14 years old. 

Cheryl:  What instruments do you play, and how long have you played them?

Daniel:  I play piano and guitar exclusively. I’ve been playing piano since 2004, and guitar since 2009. My first taste of the guitar came from my dad, Bill. He had a few guitars around the house and I was interested in learning how to play. An elder in our church, Mark Merrill, taught me my first song, Windy and Warm (a Chet Atkins tune). I dabble in other bluegrass instruments, such as bass, mandolin, and banjo, but I would not consider myself proficient in them.

Cheryl:  Who are your biggest musical influences?

Daniel:  Wow, I’m not sure where to start. I’m influenced by a multitude of artists and musicians. If I were to pick a top 5, I would say my mother, Brad Paisley, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton and my bandmates.

Cheryl:  How did your band, The Trailblazers, get started?
Daniel:  We got started because our mandolin player, Jonah Horton, needed two guys to play guitar and bass with him for an event in Salisbury, NC. So he asked myself and my brother to join him. We called ourselves the Carolina Swinggrassers. Eventually we got a few more gigs as a three-piece band. One night in early 2016, Jonah came to our house for a practice and I asked another friend Alex Edwards to join us and jam with us for a bit. So once we started practicing and jamming, Alex fit right in. I believe we changed the name to the Trailblazers in February of 2016.

Cheryl:  Who are your current members? Can you tell us a little about each one?

Daniel:  So Will Thrailkill is our bass player. He’s 23 years old and just received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UNC Charlotte. He’s beginning a job at a ceramics plant called NGK, located in Mooresville, NC.

Alex Edwards is the banjo player and he’s 26 years old. He works in Mechanical Engineering in Spencer, NC. He began playing bluegrass with his family band, The Edwards Family. He was also homeschooled. He is a Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina banjo champion.
Jonah Horton is 17, and he’s from Wilkesboro, NC. He plays mandolin, and has been playing ever since he was seven years old. He’s played with Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, and many others. He took first prize two years straight in Galax, VA at the Galax Fiddlers Convention. Hundreds of people come to compete there, so it’s really awesome he’s been able to win it twice. 

Left to right:  Jonah Horton on Mandolin; Guest Fiddle Player, Ivy Phillips; Daniel Thrailkill on Guitar; Will Thrailkill on Bass; and Alex Edwards on Banjo

Cheryl:  What dreams have you already achieved, as a musical artist?

Daniel:  Well, I’ve been able to travel some. That’s a huge part of why I love to play live bluegrass, is the potential for seeing new places of the nation. With my time filling in with Circus No. 9 (band based out of East Tennessee), I’ve been to different places in the Midwest, and up the Atlantic coast. It’s been fun!

Every gig is an awesome opportunity to play the music I love, and that’s an achievement I always look forward to.

Cheryl:  As a band, what are your hopes for the future?

Daniel:  We’d like to be able to play full time at some point. Also moving towards a new album would be great too! We’re in the process of writing some new original material for an album.

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite songs to perform together?

Daniel:  Some of my favorites are Girl in Carolina, Road to Rowan, and Machines…we like to jam out on those.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your personal Christian testimony. How long have you been following Jesus, and what does He mean to you?

Daniel:  I’ve can’t really pinpoint a time in my life without a Christian influence. Being a pastor’s child and being raised in the church, I have been accustomed to the gospel and the grace of our Lord! And I’m so thankful for my parent’s faith and the testimony they have shared. When I was in my teens, I was rebellious and apathetic to the faith, I just didn’t understand what a relationship with Christ was, or how to have it. When I was somewhere between 17-19, I can’t remember a specific time, but I started seeking the Lord through prayer and the bible. I love the book of Romans, and that is where I learned about God’s love and wrath combined, and how He has saved me from a multitude of sins. And by faith, I try to live day by day having a relationship with Christ my Savior. 

Cheryl:  Who has mentored you most, as a Christian?
Daniel:  There’s been many people in my life that have mentored me, but my dad has been the biggest influence in my Christian life. He’s shepherded our family in the most important things and through the hardest times. 

Cheryl:  As a young person in the music business and during a time of growing hostility toward God and His Word, how do you remain focused on your faith?

Daniel:  Well, it’s easy to become scared or even hostile right back to a community that can be against the Savior and gospel that I love…but I go back to Matthew 10:32, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” This fights the fear of man. We’re prone to be scared of scaring people away with the gospel, or being persecuted because of it. This verse just melts that away.

Another good promise to cling to is in Romans. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who is indeed interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:31-35

Cheryl:  To the one reading this who is feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in their Christian walk, what would you like to say?

Daniel:  I would say something I tell myself a lot.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

This verse speaks to our emotions and feelings, speaking truth into a place that may be darkened by the world. 

I would also say, don’t find comfort in the world. Find comfort in the Word of God and in prayer. He shows up in supernatural ways to those who seek Him wholeheartedly. 

Cheryl:  To what spiritual resources do you most often turn when you need encouragement ~ are there particular Scriptures, books, or songs that help you the most?

Daniel:  Well, you can look back at those passages mentioned before. I love to go to Isaiah 26, Psalm 139, Matthew 10-11, John 17…these all are mentions of God’s love, and they reach down into our hearts to lift us up.

Also, songs like “Power of the Cross” by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty, and “He Will Hold Me Fast,” by Ada Habershannew. I love old hymns too. “Be Thou My Vision” and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” ring truth in my heart.

Cheryl:  What do you most hope to accomplish through your music?

Daniel:  I hope to glorify the Lord in all that I do. Fame and fortune have their place, but nothing surpasses the goal of glorifying God, my Father. I’d like to be able to play music with my girlfriend, Carley Arrowood. We love to play in churches and encourage folks through gospel and bluegrass music.

Cheryl:  Describe a perfect day for you.

Daniel:  That’s a hard question.

I love to sleep in late, but I’d want to wake up early for my perfect day. Waking up early, and spending the day with my girlfriend, Carley Arrowood…hiking and being in God’s Creation. Then coming home and playing games with my family, and maybe watching a movie before bed. That’d be a fun day.

Cheryl:  What do you identify as being some of the biggest challenges Christian face today?

Daniel:  I believe the theology of the church is in bad health. Many Christians are going away from what the Bible teaches on very important things. There is a need for God’s Word in those places. Another challenge is technology and the way we can make our phones and the internet a god over the One True God. It’s a fast paced world, and while we feel we need to keep up with it, it’s making us less godly people.

Cheryl:  How can we make a positive difference and successfully meet those challenges?

Daniel:  Well, the obvious answer to me, is stay in the word and in prayer. Fervently. And reverently. God’s word is a sword…and it’s not just a sword against our enemies, but it’s a sword to our own hearts, finding the sin and killing it. Through the Bible we can have a right view of God and Christ, making us reprioritize our lives to His standard.

Cheryl:  How can we find your music and keep up to date with the Trailblazers?

Daniel:  You can go to as well as on Facebook, and Instagram. Our music is on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

Left to right:  Jonah Horton on Mandolin; Will Thrailkill on Bass; Daniel Thrailkill on Guitar; Guest Fiddle Player, Ivy Phillips; and Alex Edwards on Banjo

Cheryl:   How can we pray for you?

Daniel:  Thank you so much!  Pray that I would have the wisdom from above we hear about in James. I’ve been going through this verse with my girlfriend, and finding good help within it.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  James 3:17-18

A big thank you to Daniel for taking the time to share his inner views with us!
Please keep Daniel and The Trailblazers in your prayers, dear friends.
And, if you can, it would be such a blessing if you could stop by, check out their website, and show them some support!

Daniel Thrailkill ~ Blackberry Blossom

click the links below.