Friday, July 3, 2020

Sharing Today at "Becoming Minimalist"

"And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
Luke 12:15
(KJV)

Today, I am SO grateful to Joshua Becker for allowing me to share my heart at his amazing blog, "Becoming Minimalist."  I have been following Joshua for years, and he has been a huge inspiration to my family and me on our minimizing journey.  Joshua was the first person I wanted to interview back in 2015 when God began to lead me to start the "Inner Views" segment of this blog.  I thoroughly enjoyed our telephone conversation, and you can read my interview with Joshua by clicking HERE.

My family and I are finding a deep and meaningful sense of purpose in the "nothingness" God has led us to carve out in our lives.  Our passionate pursuit echoes the cry of John the Baptist's heart in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

A closer walk with Jesus is the driving force behind our letting go of so much of this world's goods, and it is the thrust of our new book, 

(You can order your own copy of our book HERE!)

"I stood in our son, Zach’s room, staring at his cleaned-out, nearly empty closet. 

“The only thing that will be on the floor will be my laundry basket, Mama!” His words were spoken with such pride and excitement, and in that moment, it hit me how grateful I am not only for our minimizing journey but for the timing of it."  

To read the rest of my latest article, "Finding Substance in Nothing," click HERE!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Good-bye, Brian

"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."
Revelation 21:4
(KJV)

With tears and a broken heart, I bring the sad news that my nephew, Brian has passed away.
How grateful we are for every prayer you have prayed, every email, every comment, and every gesture of kindness you have extended to our family during this time.  This is not the outcome we hoped and prayed for, but God had other plans.

Good-bye, my dear nephew.  I will never, ever forget you, the happy and fun times we had together growing up, your mischevous nature, and the way you could always make us all laugh.  We will surely miss you, and you will forever and ever remain in our hearts.


This song is of great comfort to me right now.  I hope it will bless you, too.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Changes at Homespun Devotions, BOOK REVIEWS, & Frugality in the Kitchen

"The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."
Titus 2:3-5

Today, from the midst of the heartache going on in my family, I have some good tidbits of news to share, but first I want to let you know that my nephew, Brian has been moved to a hospice facility.  They are keeping him comfortable, and the family has spoken their good-byes.  How long Brian will tarry in this condition is in the hands of our just and loving God.  Our hearts are broken, and we lean upon the Lord for strength and grace.  Even in the face of all that is happening, I am STILL holding out hope that God will perform a miracle, and Brian will wake up.  Please do continue to remember my family in prayer.  Your loving thoughts, friendship, and prayers mean more than I could ever say.

~ Changes here on the blog ~

You may have noticed that I have pulled nearly all of the content down from the Homespun Devotions archives.  It will no longer be available here because I am in the midst of a new and exciting project—a long-awaited dream!  Now that I have walked through the grueling experience of independently publishing our book, Biblical Minimalism, and I believe by God's help and grace I can do it again, I am compiling devotional content that He has inspired me with over the years into a book!  A homespun devotional tapestry that will be interwoven with inspirational thoughts, some of my original poetry, and new material that He is streaming into me along the way.

When I first started this blog, I had a dream of writing a devotional book.  Recently, the Lord brought to my attention that this is exactly what I have been doing over the past almost nine years!  As I have been writing the devotionals He has been inspiring me to share here, I have been writing that devotional book.  

I apologize if there are certain articles you have become accustomed to referring to here on the blog that will no longer be accessible to you, but if you can bear with me, Lord willing and somewhere down the road, you may just be able to refer to them forever by way of a book you can hold in your hand!

What I will leave accessible here on the site are all the Inner Views interviews I have conducted over the years, all of the guest posts that some of you have so kindly provided, and a select few of my own devotionals scattered here and there.  (I also have a very exciting NEW upcoming Inner Views interview that I can't wait to share with you soon!)

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Book Reviews of our new book are happening!
OH, it has been an exciting time for us, and how grateful we are to our beloved launch team!  Some of the launch team members have already finished reading the book, and we could not be more grateful for their beautiful reviews.  We are looking forward to all the upcoming reviews, also, and hope to be able to share them with you here soon!

Click on the links below to read what the launch team members are saying!

Shirley at "A Word Fitly Spoken"

Karen at "Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge"

Martha at "Meditations of My Heart"

Deborah at "The Beautiful Matters"

If you would like to order your own copy of our book, just click HERE!

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Moving forward in the spirit of Titus 2, I felt led to share some of the lessons on frugality the dear Lord has taught me throughout many years of marriage.  It was fun writing this "new-direction" post!


Being married for 32 years is such a gift on so many levels.  Staying with the same man, loving him wholeheartedly, knowing what he likes and enjoys, sharing such a long history together —it all adds up to this wife feeling so, so blessed.  Kevin and I give ALL glory to God for the precious life and deeply meaningful marriage He has blessed us with, and my heart is humbled and beyond grateful that I get to walk through life with this amazing man.  The fact that God sent us a dear son of our own to raise together and love is a treasure the two of us will never be able to praise God enough for —how we thank HIM.  He has been so faithful to us, and it would take at least 32 years for me to sit down and tell you of the many answers to prayer and manifold blessings He has poured and continues to pour out upon us every, single day.

One thing I've learned over these 32 years of marriage is how to be frugal in the kitchen, and one of the neatest ways that allows me to call forth my creative side is by challenging myself with making meals that will feed us for more than one meal.  The goal is to always stay in competition with myself to see just how many meals one dish can stretch into!  😂

Upon leaving a comment over at Deborah's blog, "The Beautiful Matters" (by the way, I love, love, LOVE her blog ~ you should check it out and subscribe - she published a beautiful book review of our book today ~ you can read it HERE), it came to my mind that I should share here what I was sharing in that comment.  So, here goes!

First, though - I'm sorry I am not one of those super-talented foodie bloggers.  I have no photos of the food to show, but I can promise you that these recipes work, they will stretch your grocery dollar until it screams, and you will hear lots of "mmms" and see smiling faces at your supper table!

One of the ways I cook something that stretches into feeding our family of three for nearly a week is by starting out with cooking a HUGE pork roast in the crock pot.  

I season the outside of the pork roast with my "go-to" seasoning combination.  I use this blend for SO many recipes.  Here are the stars of the show:

Seasoned Salt 
(I used to only buy Lawry's, but I have found that the Aldi brand is just as good and usually less expensive.)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Black Pepper

I will also sometimes add paprika or even steak seasoning, (depending on what I am cooking) to this "go-to" seasoning.

So, after I rub the outside of the pork roast with the above seasoning combination, I put it in the crock pot (fat-side down), and I take the handle of a wooden spoon and poke holes all over the roast, making sure to twist the spoon handle to make the holes bigger.

Next is where an amazing secret comes in concerning cooking a pork roast!! 

The liquid I pour over and around the pork roast is ~ not water, but apple juice!
The apple juice permeates down into the holes and flavors the pork as it cooks, and oh, my!
Let me just say that it takes this already delicious dish to a whole new level.
It also makes your gravy a beautiful golden color and gives it a distinctive flavor.  (recipe below)

Meal #1 from cooked Pork Roast

~ Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Corn, and Green Beans ~

After the roast is done, remove the meat from the crock pot, leaving the broth behind.
Cut the meat into servings and place it on a pretty meat platter.
Strain the broth by putting a colander over a large bowl and pouring the broth from the crock pot into the colander, making sure to sift out everything but the luscious, rich broth.  Set the strained bowl of broth aside.

Then, make homemade gravy, just like this:

Start out by melting one stick of butter in a large saucepan.
To the butter, add some flour to make a nice, rich roux ~
(sorry, I don't have the exact measurement on the flour - I use the old-timey Tupperware scoops, and it usually takes about 2 to 3 of those heaping scoops to one stick of butter.  The general rule for a roux is equal parts fat and flour.)
To the roux, add the "go-to" seasoning mix above (to taste) and stir the butter, flour, and seasonings together until everything is smooth.
Then, pour the entire bowl of broth into the roux and stir vigorously.  You will want to have your heat up pretty high during this process.  Let it bubble, and stir continually until the mixture starts to look like real, homemade gravy.  Oh, my goodness!  This is SUCH good gravy!  It thickens to a beautiful texture, and the taste is just amazing!  If any remaining lumps bother you, you can use an immersion blender to break them up.  (I LOVE my immersion blender!)

For this meal, I also make homemade mashed potatoes, canned corn seasoned with butter, and 2 cans of green beans.  I pour the 2 cans of green beans into a pot, add two beef boullion cubes, and let them cook until all the water is cooked off (about 10 minutes or so).

After this original pork roast meal, the creative fun begins!  From that leftover pork roast, the following recipes spring forth!

Meal #2 from cooked Pork Roast

~ Open-faced Pork Roast Sandwiches ~

Toast two pieces of bread, while heating a portion of pork roast and gravy, separately, in microwave.
Butter the toast, then layer the pork roast on the buttered toast.
Pour the warm gravy over the open-faced sandwich.

Serve with some of the leftover mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans, if desired.

Meal #3 from cooked Pork Roast

~ Pork Ranch Barbecue Nachos ~

Ingredients:
Cool Ranch Doritoes
Shredded Cheese
Can of Chili Beans, heated
(I pulverized the beans with an immersion blender as I heated them, but you could also smash them with a fork or potato masher.  Chili beans are what we had on hand, but you could also use refried beans or some other type of canned beans.)
Leftover Pork Roast, reheated
Diced Tomatoes
Sour Cream
Ranch Dressing
Barbecue Sauce
Diced Onions (if desired)

Spread a layer of Cool Ranch Doritoes on a dinner plate.
Spread shredded cheese over the Doritoes.
Spread warm chili beans over cheese.
Spread warm pork roast over beans.
Shred another layer of cheese on top of the pork roast.
Top with diced tomatoes, dollops of sour cream, onions (if desired).
Squirt ranch dressing in a criss-cross pattern over the top.
Squirt barbecue sauce in a criss-cross pattern over the ranch dressing.

You could also add jalapeno peppers, black olives, pico de gallo, salsa, or any other toppings you'd like.

Meal #4 from cooked Pot Roast

~ Barbecue Pork Sandwiches ~

Ingredients:
Leftover Pork Roast
Barbecue Sauce of your choice
Hamburger Buns
Butter
Bag of Cole Slaw 
(Pre-shredded mixture of cabbage & carrots.  We always put ours through our chopper to blend extra-fine.)
Mayonnaise
Vinegar
Sugar

Sandwiches

Heat leftover pork roast in a saucepan & slather with barbecue sauce while heating.
Butter top and bottom of each bun and brown in a skillet, butter-size down.
Assemble sandwiches by placing a portion of barbecue pork on each bottom bun, then topping meat with cole slaw.  (Recipe below.)

Cole Slaw

Place shredded cabbage mixture in bowl.
Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar in small bowl.
(I apologize that I do not measure.  I just put about 2-3 large dollops of mayonnaise in a bowl, with a dash of vinegar, and about 2-3 teaspoons of sugar.  I keep stirring and taste-testing and adding sugar/vinegar it until it tastes "right" to me.  😕
I know ~ but this is the country way of doing things and the way Mom taught me to cook!)
Pour mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar dressing over the cabbage, and voila!  You have cole slaw!

Note:  This slaw is SO good - it takes me back to when I was growing up and Mom, Dad, and I would go into country restaurants and they would serve cole slaw with Captain's Wafers crackers before the meal.  Does anyone else remember that?  

Meal #5 from cooked Pork Roast

~ Cold Pork Roast Sandwiches ~

Slather a slice of bread with mayonnaise and pepper.
Place cold pork roast on bread, and top with second slice.
Yummy and so, so simple.

Meal # 6 from cooked Pork Roast

~ Must Go Soup ~

Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Corn
Green Beans
Pork Roast
Half & Half
Any other leftover cooked veggies from refrigerator
You can also add any canned veggies that don't require a long cooking time

Dump all into a large pan and heat slowly.  When meat and veggies are warm, top everything with Half & Half until all is covered to a creamy, liquid consistency.  The leftover mashed potatoes and gravy give this soup an amazingly rich base that morphs into a delicious, velvety soup.

Again, I wish I had taken photos of all of this at each step, but I failed to do so.  I was too busy enjoying the process of creating wonderful things for my little family to eat.  
I hope you can find something in this post that will spark a new creative and very frugal adventure in your own kitchen cooking for the ones you love most in the world!

Let me know if you try any of these recipes!  May God bless you as you seek to steward wisely!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Update on Brian 6/27/2020

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."  
Psalm 86:5

The family gathered around Brian yesterday, and after speaking with three doctors, the decision was made to stop life support.  Doctors say that the only brain activity seems to be from his brain stem (if I am understanding this correctly?) and all of the physical movements are just reflexes.  He is having seizures and remains unresponsive.  We were able to get more information yesterday as to what happened in the beginning.  He had a massive heart attack outside his workplace, someone revived him and helped him stagger inside, where he had a second massive heart attack and was without oxygen for 20 minutes.  He felt face-first onto the concrete and broke both of his jaws and possibly his nose, in the fall.  His heart was shocked six times (not four, as I previously stated) before they could get his heart beating again.

Yesterday, when the life support was removed, Brian's brother, Shawn, (the nephew who was born about five weeks before me) was SO upset and crying and Sharon told me that a tear trickled from one of Brian's eyes.  Oh, my goodness.  That touched me to my core.  I can't help but believe that he is hearing things ~ I know they say the sense of hearing is the last thing to go ~ and I still hold out hope that there is life in there somewhere.

The last I heard from my sister, Brian continues to breathe on his own, and no one knows how long he will live.  As a matter of fact, none of us know how long we will live, do we?  In Brian's state or just walking around healthy.  The death angel could come for any of us at any time, and we would be powerless to do anything other than to surrender to the will of God and go.

"There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death."  Ecclesiastes 8:8

That is why it is so vitally important that we remain ready to meet the Lord.  With the world reeling out of control like it is and end of time prophecies being fulfilled everywhere we look, I can tell you this ~ I don't think it will be long before Jesus splits through the clouds to take us all away with Him.  But, even if Jesus tarries His coming, and the world continues to go on, ALL of us will be called to leave here one of these days.  It could happen anytime.  I guarantee you Brian did not expect to collapse from two massive heart attacks the other day.  No doubt, he got up, went to work and about his daily activities, just like every other day, thinking he would go home that night.  He never made it back home.  He more than likely never will.

So, this should serve as a reminder to us all.  If there is anything at all between you and God, it is high time to get things cleared up.  He is a merciful, forgiving God with arms stretched wide open, waiting and hoping we will come to Him, repent of our sins, and live the life of victory Jesus died to enable us to live.



I ask that you please keep praying for Brian.  No, I am still not giving up hope.  Call me crazy.  I've been called worse.  I still know that God is on the throne, and life and death are in HIS hands.  He is in control of this and every other situation of life.  May His perfect will be done.  

Please pray for all of our family, especially Sharon (Brian's mother/my sister) and Shawn (Brian's brother/my oldest nephew), Brian's sisters, his kids, and all who are grieving right now.  Your prayers are SO appreciated.  Thank you for every comment, email, and gesture of kindness.  Each one means SO much!

So thankful my Jesus has big shoulders.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Update on Brian 6/26/2020

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4


Brian's condition worsened overnight, and he is now running a fever.  His heart was working at 25% capacity yesterday, and now it is even less.  They have determined that he did have a heart attack, and this is why he collapsed on the concrete.  They had to shock his heart four times when he first came in to the hospital to get it to beat again.  In the fall, he broke both jaws, so if he can feel pain, I can only imagine how much pain he is in.  My sister said, at times it seems like he is in pain because of his facial expressions.  Other times, there is no reaction.  The critical care team assembled this morning and were wanting to know when Sharon will be there, so it sounds like things are reaching the point we were hoping they would never reach.

Of course, I am still holding out hope for a miracle, but I do not believe, at this point, that is God's will in this situation.  NOT that I in ANY way know the mind of God, but that is what I am sensing when I pray.  

This song is on my mind and comforting me this morning, and the video pretty much says it all.  Sometimes, we don't get the answers we want and are praying for.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Update on Brian 6/25/2020

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

This is a precious video just released by "Sounds Like Reign."  It blessed me so much, I wanted to share it with all of you.  Never before has it been more important for God's people to be instruments of His peace.  He is our only hope!  


To read our exclusive interview with "Sounds Like Reign," click HERE.

UPDATE ON BRIAN

The doctor came in today and told my sister that there is NO way Brian will come out of this.  There has been no change, and he is still completely unresponsive.  She asked the doctor if they would please do a test to see if there is any brain activity, and the doctor agreed to do an MRI on Brian's brain.  The test results will be back tomorrow, and if it is proven that there is no activity, my sister will have to make the final decision as to whether or not to continue the life support.  It is horrible for her to watch him suffer like this, and she wants to do what is best for Brian.  Both of his jaws are broken from when he collapsed and fell on the concrete.  It is horrible to think of the pain he is in.

I am the last one to give up hope, and I keep pleading with the Lord to step in and give Brian one more chance.  It does not appear that this will be in His Divine plan, and I am preparing to let go.

Your continued prayers are so deeply appreciated.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Update on Brian 6/24/2020

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
Isaiah 53:3

Thank you all for your precious emails, faithfulness to pray, and for all you do to show your love and support to my family and me.  It truly means more to us than we can put into words.

This update is written through much sadness and pain of heart.  I just wanted to let you all know that a decision will need to be made very soon as to whether or not Brian should be removed from life support.  Though he is able to breathe partially on his own, there are no other signs of improvement.  The doctor told my sister yesterday that they cannot continue to leave him on the respirator.  She and Brian's adult children are in very much need of wisdom and discernment as to what should be done.  It is very difficult to make such a weighty decisions from a place of such grief and emotional distress.  May God's will be done and revealed in this, as in all things.

I am asking you to pray for my sister, Sharon (Brian's mother).  Much of this lies upon her shoulders, she is not in good health, and the thought of losing one of her kids is almost more than she can bear.  Please pray for her to have strength to get through whatever is ahead and for God to give her wisdom as to what to do and when to do it.  Please also pray for Brian's children, his siblings, and all of our family during this difficult time.


Your prayers are a Divine gift to all of us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Giveaway Winner & Update on Brian 6/21/2020

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
Hebrews 13:8
(NKJV)

Today is the day to announce the winner of Marilyn Moseley's beautiful new book!


Zach entered the entrants into Wheel Decide, and the wheel chose...

🎉🎈🎉🎈🎉🎈   Kitty!   ðŸŽ‰ðŸŽˆðŸŽ‰ðŸŽˆðŸŽ‰ðŸŽˆ

Congratulations to you, Kitty, and we will be getting your book in the mail to you within the next few days, Lord willing!!!
SO happy for you, and I know you are going to love this book!!

To all who didn't win but would like to have a copy of this book, please stop over and visit Marilyn's blog, as she is giving away some of her books there, also!  Her giveaway ends on Thursday, June 25th, so you still have plenty of time to enter!!

You can also order Marilyn's book by clicking HERE.

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I also wanted to share the latest update on my nephew, Brian.



My sister called me from his room a little while ago, and there has been a slight improvement, all glory to God!!!!  They tried removing the respirator, and Brian is now able to breathe partially on his own!!!!  This is SUCH great news!!!  I know it is GOD Who is answering the many prayers going up for Brian.  He is still on the respirator, but we are believing that things are heading in the right direction.

The doctor said that the fact that Brian is breathing partially on his own is a sign that there IS brain activity going on.  Hearing that brought such great relief!

I want to thank all of you who are praying and emailing and being so kind and supportive to my family and me.  Truly, you dear readers are some of the best people on the planet!  God bless each one of you for helping to bear our burdens.



HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all the Dads!

May God bless all of you with a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

UPDATE on Brian 6/20/2020

"There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24

First of all, THANK YOU ALL for the many emails I have received this morning, for every comment left here, and for all of the outpouring of love and support.  It truly means so much to me.  There are no words.  


I just got off the phone from speaking with my sister, Sharon.  She is in Brian's ICU room.  They took him off the sedation, and there is ZERO response.  ZERO activity, other than he opened his eyes.  It was absolutely heartwrenching to hear my dear sister repeatedly calling for her son to wake up and talk to her.  She put the phone on speaker, so I could talk to him and pray for him over the phone.  It was one of the saddest things I have ever done in my life.  Your prayers and emails and comments are SO appreciated.

All I can think about is the flood of memories of our growing up years.  You see, my sister, Sharon, and my Mom were expecting at the same time.  I was an aunt when I was born.  My sister had my nephew, Shawn, (Brian's older brother) 35 days before I was born.  Brian was born the following year about 14 months later.  So, all of us grew up together and were very close.  Shawn and Brian are more like brothers than nephews to me.

This is beyond difficult, and your continued prayers are so deeply appreciated.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Urgent Prayer Request

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Psalm 46:1

Dear friends, will you please pray for my nephew, Brian?  He collapsed today and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance.  He has a serious infection and is in critical condition.  They have put him in a medically-induced coma.  Please pray for my sister, Sharon, Brian's mother, also.  She is not in good health, and this is going very hard on her.  I am so concerned for her.

You all have been so faithful to pray my family and me through so many, many times, and we are so appreciative to all of you dear readers!  Here's another time we truly need your prayers.

If you could please pass this prayer request along to your prayer groups, we would be most grateful.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Monday, June 15, 2020

A Beautiful Giveaway!

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

Many of you are familiar with sweet Marilyn Moseley's blog, Mountain Top Spice.
If you are, you have probably already heard about her amazing new book, Through Love's Eyes!
We received our copy of this beautiful book in the mail, and I can tell you that it is just wonderful!

Ever since I began seeing Marilyn's vibrant photos on her blog, I have been saying that her photos are magazine worthy and should be seen by the world.  Now, they can be!!



Through Love's Eyes by Marilyn Moseley

Today, we are offering a giveaway of one copy of Marilyn's beautiful new book, Through Love's Eyes!!

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave us a comment below!

Giveaway is only open to those who live in the US, due to shipping costs.

Please note:
"Unkown" or "Anonymous" commenters will not be entered into giveaway since we have no way of identifying or making contact.  If you are an "unknown" or "anonymous" commenter and would like to enter the giveaway, you will need to leave your name and contact information in your comment, please!

Drawing for giveaway will be sometime on Father's Day, this coming Sunday, 6/21/2020.

Opinions are my own, and I received no monetary compensation for this review or giveaway.

In case you aren't the blessed winner, you can order Marilyn's book by clicking HERE.
Please make sure you visit and subscribe to Marilyn's Blog.
You can also connect with Marilyn on her Photography Website and on Instagram.

Be sure to comment below to be entered into the giveaway for this wonderful book!!

God bless you, dear readers and keep you safe and well during these crazy times.

Monday, June 1, 2020

What Do the Times Require?

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, 'It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.'"
Matthew 21:12-13

"We want more men and women who walk with God and before God, like Enoch and Abraham. Though our numbers at this date far exceed those of our evangelical forefathers, I believe we fall far short of them in our standard of Christian practice. Where is the self-denial, the redemption of time, the absence of luxury and self-indulgence, the unmistakable separation from earthly things, the manifest air of being always about our Master’s business, the singleness of eye, the simplicity of home life, the high tone of conversation in society, the patience, the humility, the universal courtesy, which marked so many of our forerunners seventy or eighty years ago? Yes: where is it indeed? We have inherited their principles, and we wear their armour, but I fear we have not inherited their practice. The Holy Ghost sees it, and is grieved; and the world sees it, and despises us. The world sees it, and cares little for our testimony. It is life, life–a heavenly, godly, Christ-like life–depend on it, which influences the world. Let us resolve, by God’s blessing, to shake off this reproach. Let us awake to a clear view of what the times require of us in this matter. Let us aim at a much higher standard of practice. Let the time past suffice us to have been content with a half-and-half holiness. For the time to come, let us endeavour to walk with God, to be ‘thorough’ and unmistakable in our daily life, and to silence, if we cannot convert, a sneering world."

– JC Ryle –​

As you read the above words, were "amens" flowing from your lips?  Were you nodding your head in agreement?  Did you think the author was alive and speaking in our time—in 2020?

Yes.  I was.  And, I did.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the end and saw that it was JC Ryle who penned these words.  JC Ryle was the Bishop of the Church of England in Liverpool for the span of almost 20 years.  JC Ryle was born on May 10, 1816, and died on June 10, 1900, at the age of 84—lacking a few days, that was 120 years ago.

The burden on his heart is conveyed by his words, and today, almost 120 years later, I echo them.
My heart is so heavy over so many things right now, including the lackadaisical condition of God's church.  I wonder - could the reason He is not allowing churches to open back up at full-speed be because He is STILL trying to get our attention and show us that some things need to change?  Maybe He doesn't want us to go back to "business-as-usual." Yes, I said "business" because that is exactly what far too many of our churches have become.

I repeat JC Ryle's words again, when speaking of God's people who have passed off the scene,
"We have inherited their principles, and we wear their armour, but I fear we have not inherited their practice. The Holy Ghost sees it, and is grieved; and the world sees it, and despises us. The world sees it, and cares little for our testimony."

I'll admit, I was very upset the other day when I heard that the Supreme Court ruled that churches cannot yet meet at full capacity.  Not that I want people to be careless and start gathering in large crowds, putting the vulerable at risk, if there is still any hint of danger.  Not at all.  But, I do NOT like the thoughts of nine people wielding that much power and infringing on our rights to hold church services.  They deny this privilege, yet they allow bars, liquor stores, and pretty much everything else to open at full capacity?  Seriously?  There is no denying that this is absolutely wrong, and I just hate it.

At the same time though I realize that there is a Higher Power than the Supreme Court, no matter how much authority they take over our lives, and if HE did not grant them the power they have, they would have none.  "Jesus answered, thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above."  John 19:11

If God withheld life and breath from any one of them, they would have no power to retain their spirit and would have to succumb to death, just like the rest of us.

"There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death."  Ecclesiastes 8:8

God holds the power to the Ultimate "Supreme Court," and what He allows is all that will be allowed.  So, I have to stop and ask myself, is there something HE is still trying to get across to us by not allowing churches to fully reopen—are there changes He is wanting us to make before we do?  When I ask these questions, a myriad of answers start flooding my mind.  I would hardly know where to begin to express it all, but suffice to say that I do believe God has a reason for all that is happening, and I also believe it is His desire that we all examine our hearts and lives during this time.  The old "normal" has been completely shaken up and rearranged, and I believe there is a Divine purpose for that.

The New Testament church started in an upper room inside a house.  Jesus didn't tell the disciples to go to a big megachurch filled with thousands of people and if they did that, the Holy Spirit would come to them.  He told them to tarry in Jerusalem, and there they stayed inside a house on the second floor until the day of Pentecost when the promise was fulfilled.

The original Christians worshipped in simplicity.  They worshipped with their whole attention turned upon the lone Galileean Who had just suffered untold anguish, bled, and died for their sins.  They often had to hide and keep their worship hushed, due to the threat of persecution.  They weren't worrying about bigger worship centers, more small groups, forming bowling leagues, and drinking Starbucks before service.  They met together so they could earnestly pray, to remind themselves of all He had taught them, and to make sure they were ready for His second coming, which even in their generation, they assumed would be soon.

Somehow we have become so laser-focused on numbers and how much money we can raise and how many "campuses" we can build, as if we think we have to do big things to "earn" vistitations from the Holy Spirit in our worship.  All along, the promise has been given, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them."  Matthew 18:20

I often wonder if Jesus were to walk into many modern church buildings and see how entertainment-obsessed we have become, observe our money-making initiatives, and watch how lightly we approach prayer and worship, would He draw out a whip and drive us all out?  Does He want us to go back to that kind of "normal?"

How I long to see a deeper reverance for God!  How I wish we would fear Him as He should be feared!  How I yearn for the heart of those first Christians in that upper room!

We say we want to see a great revival.  Great revival will not come without a major humbling of ourselves before God.  Are we really learning anything right now?  Everything we have, including our religious freedoms, can be snatched away from us in the blink of an eye.  It is time to get low before God and ask Him what He is trying to say during this season.

I don't want to waste this opportunity while He is knocking on my heart's door.  I don't want to come out of this unchanged.  I want to dig and search after Him until I find out all He wants me to learn.

Our world, as we all know, is in such a state of chaos.  My heart literally breaks when I think of the man who was ruthlessly murdered by the hands of a police officer just this week.  I can't even explain how I felt when I heard that George Floyd was calling for his mama as he died.  Just unbelievable.

I am also appalled at the horrific reaction of those who protest what happened to George Floyd.  Just because one police officer does something so wrong does not give anyone the right to disrespect all of the rest of law enforcement.  It is just despicable to watch what is happening right now.

There is heartache everywhere we look.  From the virus to violence and everything in between, we see much to be concerned about, as the world around us searches for hope.  Hope is a person, and His name is Jesus Christ.  He is the only One who can relieve the sadness, remove the pain, and heal the hurting.

"For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
Isaiah 66:2

My prayer is that we would all kneel before Him with a "poor" (humble) and "contrite" (remorseful, penitent) spirit and sincere "trembling at His Word" and seek Him with our whole hearts about changes He may want us all to make.  Maybe it is time that we shake off religion and start seeking deeper relationship.  What a glorious thing it would be to emerge from the pandemic with a renewed reverance for God, a magnified carefulness in our Christian walk, and a heightened awareness of His soon coming!  Can you imagine what our collective worship would look like if we did?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Are You at Your Wits' End?

"These see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.  For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses."
Psalm 107:24-27
(KJV)

Does the above passage of Scripture resonate with you today?  Like waves of the sea, do you mount up to the heaven one day, only to find yourself falling back down into the depths of despair the next?  Is your soul melted because of the trouble that surrounds you?  Do you reel to and fro and stagger like a drunk man?  Are you at your wits' end?

When I was growing up, Mom, Dad, and I heard a song called "Wits' End Corner," and it came to my mind today.  I was SO wishing to hear it and searched for it on youtube, and praise the dear Lord, I found it!  I hope you can take the time to listen to this dear, old song sung so beautifully and harmoniously.


If you find yourself at your wits' end today, I want to encourage you that you are in good company.  

The prophet, Jeremiah said, "Cursed be the day wherein I was born.  Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?"  Jeremiah 20:14,18

The prophet, Elijah "went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, 'It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.'"  I Kings 19:4

King David said, "I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.  My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me."  Psalm 38:6,10

Job said, "Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?  My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul."  Job 3:11, Job 10:1

Jonah said, "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.  I do well to be angry, even unto death."  Jonah 4:3,9

The Apostle Paul said, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;  by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."  2 Corinthians 6:4-5,8-10

"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2 Corinthians 1:8

Most importantly,
our dear Lord, Jesus was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed him not."  Isaiah 53:3

He said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death." And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.'"  Mark 14:34,36

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is to say, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?'"  Matthew 27:46

We could go on and on and tell of not only Biblical people, but God's people throughout history who have reached the point of being at their "wits' end."

Are you there today?

If you are, may I encourage you?

Jeremiah, Elijah, King David, Job, Jonah, and Paul persevered, and they overcame!
They are now a part of that "great cloud of witnesses" who proved it can be done!

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  Hebrews 12:1

Our dear Lord, Jesus overcame!
He rose above all, including death, hell, and the grave, and He is now seated in glory!

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

You can overcome, too, my friend.
I don't know the individual circumstances of life that may have driven you to "Wits' End Corner," but I can tell you this.  "Wits' End Corner" is where God hangs out - just like the song says.  He is there.  Right in the midst of your current situation, and He has everything you need to enable you to keep pressing on.  To walk forward, even though you don't know where you will find the strength to take the next step.  He will empower you to keep fighting the good fight so that one day, you will join the ranks of those who have already laid hold on eternal life.

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."  I Timothy 6:12

As I stood next to the bed of my dear, dying mother, she looked up into my eyes, struggling to talk to me.  I gently pulled back the BiPap that was pressed so tightly to her face and bent low to listen with all my might to what she was trying to tell me.  I knew it would be of eternal significance, and oh, I SO did not want to miss it!  I SO wanted to understand.  She was trying so hard, and finally Kevin helped me decipher the three beyond-precious words she was trying so hard to convey—words that often return to my mind and sustain me.

"Keep.  Pressing.  On."

These are the words I pass on to you today, weary heart.  I know the battle has been long.  I know the struggle is real.  Keep.  Pressing.  On.  Don't give up.  God is there with you - hanging out beside you on "Wits' End Corner."  This time of severe trial and testing will produce precious fruits of righteousness, and you will one day look back on today and better understand the process.

I think you may enjoy our new book and might possibly find encouragement in reading about the many lessons God has taught my family and me over the past few years.
Order HERE
Here is a trailer I put together until Zach is able to find time to make a better, more professional one for us.


You can order our book HEREIf you are unable to afford to buy our book and would like to have your own copy, please email us, and we will mail you a copy free of charge.  Our main goal is to glorify JESUS and be a blessing and encouragement through the telling of our story.

In closing, PLEASE pray for our dear friend and fellow blogger, Betsy, who lost her brother to Covid-19.  Our hearts go out to her and to all who have lost loved ones during this sad, difficult time.  May God have mercy and heal every hurting heart.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Biblical Minimalism ~ The Book Is Published ~ All Glory to God!

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12
(NKJV)

Hello, everyone!

I love the above verse, and it surely applies to the news I am sharing with you here today.  As many of you know, my family and I have been on a mission of minimizing our lives over the past few years, and the Lord laid it on my heart to write a book about it and include the many spiritual lessons He has taught us along the way.  

When I finished writing our family's story, we knew we needed a powerful cover for our book—one that would portray the compelling call of Jesus to follow Him wholeheartedly and without reserve.  I couldn't imagine what that would actually look like, until the day Zach called to me and said,  "Mama, you HAVE to see this picture I found online!"  I can hardly put into words the emotions that washed over me as I stood behind Zach staring at the computer screen.  It was my first time seeing Helen Thomas Robson's amazing photo, "My Friend."  I was so overwhelmed as I said, "That's it, Zach!  That is the exact epitome of everything I am trying to say in this book!"  

He and Kevin both agreed, and the quest was on to find out who took that photo.  After some searching online, I found Helen, and soon, we were on the phone talking like old friends.  I told her some of our story and how deeply her photo moved us.  I began to inquire about obtaining the rights to use her photo as our book cover, even though I was no where near ready to publish.  The book needed a thorough, professional edit, and the cost was inhibitive.  Helen, so graciously allowed me to use her photo as the banner of our Biblical Minimalism blog, and we agreed that I would call her back if and when the time ever came that the book would be published.

After a long waiting process, the Lord made a way, and the book was finally edited and recently prepared for publishing. I contacted Helen again and was able to secure usage rights for the book cover!!  Zach applied his amazing graphic design super skills, and he designed the cover so beautifully.  We could not be more pleased with the outcome! 

Here it is!


Last week, I completed the laborious task of publishing, and our book is now available for purchase—both in paperback and ebook form by clicking HERE!!

The other day, my dear husband came home from work, and as I met him at the door, I saw that he was holding something behind his back.  He had that little mischievous grin on his face, and I wondered what was going on.  Soon, he showed me.  In his hands, he held an envelope from Amazon, and I instantly knew what it was!  The "proof" copy of our book!  Kevin, Zach, and I stood by our kitchen counter to open it together.  It was quite an overwhelming feeling to stand there and hold in our hands the thing that, not only have I poured so much time and energy into over the past few years, but we have walked out together every single step side-by-side.  Soon, we prayed together, praising God for allowing this to come to fruition and dedicating this book to God.

I'll be honest.  When it came right down to the point of hitting that "publish my book" button, I was terrified.  If this were a ficional book, it wouldn't be nearly as hard to "put ourselves out there."  But, this is our story - so near and dear to our hearts - a story that we walk out and live every single day.  Things are revealed in this book that are deeply personal to us, and when I thought of hitting "publish," it felt like releasing something sacred to a world that is far too often unkind and unforgiving.  We are all three very private people which made this even more difficult.  But, GOD.  He kept dealing with my heart, showing me things like:

1.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  (Revelation 12:11)
and
2.  The whole reason He has led us on this journey is to help others through sharing the lessons we have learned.  When we laid down our lives and consecrated to following Him with all our hearts, He accepted that sacrifice of surrender and led us in a path that would teach us what others need to hear.  To hold that in and refuse to share what God has taught us for the sake of protecting our privacy is rooted in pride.  I could feel, deep in my spirit, that it was time, and it was His ultimate will for us to move forward in this process.  You know how sometimes you just "know" something is God's will?

I am not going to say that I overcame fear to do this, but I am often reminded and comforted by Elizabeth Elliot's words,
"Sometimes when we are called to obey, the fear does not subside and we are expected to move against the fear. One must choose to do it afraid.”

By His grace alone, we did this afraid, and now it is done.

With the publication of this book, our family ministry has expanded.  It is exciting to us, yes, but is also requiring an enormous amount of faith!

Please join us in giving praise to God for making it all come together, for providing the finances needed, and for miraculously making this happen!

We are not in this to become rich, by any stretch of the imagination.  Our fervent desire is to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to get this book into the hands of every person who wants to read it, whether or not they can afford to purchase a copy. If you would like to support our ministry and purchase a copy (or multiple copies!) of our book (available in Kindle and Paperback format), just click HERE!

We have also added a "Donate" button option (located in the right sidebar of this blog) to enable those who feel led to make a one-time or recurring contribution.

To those of you who have so graciously agreed to be on our launch team, your books will be coming in the mail to you just as soon as possible.  Thank you for your patience!

Many, many thanks and blessings to all of you for being so loyal and encouraging to us on this amazing journey!  May God bless each one of you in a special way.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

And, The Winners Are.....

"Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honour and majesty."  Psalm 104:1


Recently, we decided to give away not one, not two, but THREE copies of Karen Del Tatto's new devotional book!!!



Today, is the day of the drawing for the giveaway!
And, the winners are.....
Regina,
Charlene,
and Su Ann!!!!!

If you weren't one of the blessed winners, you can purchase Karen's new book HERE.

Read our exclusive interview with Karen HERE.

Read Karen and her husband, Michael's love story HERE

and a special Christmas memory she shared with us HERE.

You can also connect with Karen on Facebook and Pinterest.

A BIG Congratulations to Regina, Charlene, and Su Ann for winning!!
We will be in touch with you soon!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Another Giveaway!

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5

I am so excited to share another giveaway with you, dear readers!
My sweet friend and fellow-blogger, Karen Del Tatto, recently wrote a wonderful devotional book called, "Choosing to Trust God: Breaking the Habit of Worry A 30 Day Devotional."  What is so amazing is how the Lord led her to write it before the coronavirus pandemic.  It is so fitting to this trying time, and the lessons God has taught Karen are so applicable to what we now face.  

We are giving away not one, not two, but THREE copies of Karen's new book!!!


To enter, all you have to do is leave us a comment below.  Zach will enter three commenters' names into Wheel Decide sometime on Sunday, May 17th, and each of the three winners will win one copy of  Karen's new book!

Giveaway is only open to those who live in the US, due to shipping costs.  

Please note:
"Unkown" or "Anonymous" commenters will not be entered into giveaway since we have no way of identifying or making contact.  If you are an "unknown" or "anonymous" commenter and would like to enter the giveaway, you will need to leave your name and contact information in your comment, please! 

Opinions are my own, and I received no monetary compensation for this review or giveaway.

If you aren't one of the blessed winners, you can purchase Karen's new book HERE.

Read our exclusive interview with Karen HERE.
Read Karen and her husband, Michael's love story HERE
and a special Christmas memory she shared with us HERE.

You can also connect with Karen on Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings to all of you during these trying times!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Winners of Pressley Girls' CDs!!

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


And, the three winners are........
Commenter #10 - Steve,
Commenter #5 - Cindy, 
and
Commenter #16 - Elizabeth!!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS! 
I know you will thoroughly enjoy hearing these sweet girls sing!

We have Cindy's and Elizabeth's contact information, but just realized we do not have Steve's.
Steve Barnes, if you see this post, PLEASE email us within the next five days at homespundevotions@gmail.com and give us your mailing information so we can mail your CD to you!

For those who didn't win, please go HERE to purchase your own copy of their CD.
Also, be sure to visit and subscribe to the Pressley Girls' YouTube channel,
visit them on Facebook, and stop by their website.


Kneel at the Cross ~ The Pressley Girls

💜Happy Mother's Day!!💜
Stay tuned for another giveaway coming soon!!!!