Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Still Standing

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11
(NIV)


It just occurred to me this morning that on October 1st, 
Homespun Devotions just passed its four year annblogiversary!
Has it really been that long?
Oh, my...it doesn't seem possible.
So much has changed.
So much is better.
So much water has flowed under the bridge...
water that I am glad to know is behind, instead of ahead of, me.

When I started out on this blogging journey,
I didn't know if I would make it...not so much the blog,
as I really had no long-term ambitions or goals there and was merely trying to survive,
day-to-day...
 but me.
I honestly didn't know if I would make it.
Literally.
I wasn't sure I would survive the onslaught of circumstances we were living through.
Then, 7 months and 27 days after Homespun Devotions was birthed,
God called my dear, sweet Mom home to Heaven.

Oh, the grief!
That, on top of the other anguish my family and I were experiencing, just about did me in.
With each new step, I have slowly and gradually regained life and strength...
and courage, and in this process, I have proven over and over again,
that GOD IS FAITHFUL.

During the four years I have been writing Homespun Devotions,
God has shown His love to us in countless ways.
He has permitted us to rest in green pastures.
He has led us beside still waters.
In the process, He has restored our souls.
He has made my heart soft.  (Job 23:16)
I can honestly say I have never loved Him more.

I want to thank each one of you for walking this path with me.
For holding my feet to the fire, when I wanted to quit.
For encouraging me countless times...
through your sweet emails and your cherished public comments left on the blog.

I feel I have come to know so many of you.
Many of your names are on my prayer list, and I lift you to the Father on a regular basis.
I am continually astonished at the many precious friends God has introduced and brought into my life
because of this blog over the course of the past four years.
Had He never led my family and me down the radical path He has chosen for us,
I would more than likely have never started this blog,
and I would never have met any of you.
I would have missed out on so much and so many relationships that consistently enrich my life
and walk with Jesus.

For several years, my family and I have consistently prayed the prayer of Jabez, 
found in I Chronicles 4:10.

" Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! 
And God granted him that which he requested."

And God has granted us that which we have requested.
Surely our coast has been enlarged!

I could not be more grateful.

It's been several days since I posted here.
I know it must seem that I have fallen off the face of the earth!
Thank you to those who have written and expressed concern.
It means more to me than I could ever express, and I promise,
I will get back with you as soon as I can.

To be honest, I have started several blog posts, only to be deterred
and even discouraged, to the point that I have just walked away,
wondering if I would ever finish one again.

There is so much going on and so much on my heart right now,
it is hard to write anything rational.

When you come by here and take time out of your busy day to read,
I want the words you find on this screen to matter.
I want them to challenge you to walk closer to Jesus 
and to become more active, and definitely more proactive, in your Christian journey.
I want the words to encourage you to press on and to stay the course.

I once heard a minister say, as he stood up to preach,
"I don't have to say something, but I do have something to say."

 I love that, and it stuck with me.

He had something to say because God, through His precious Holy Spirit, had placed it upon his heart.

 I don't want what I say here to just be idle words.
I don't want to post unless God prompts me to post.
I don't have to say something.
I want what you read here to be HIS words...
thoughts that He has placed upon my heart...
thoughts that He presents...that flow through my fingers as I type.

What else matters?
What else will last for eternity?
Other than what God feels, says, and reveals?

One thing I have learned, during this blogging/ministerial journey,
is that, oftentimes, God takes me through an experience or a trial, 
because He wants me to share the lessons He teaches while going through it.

Even if I don't feel led or at liberty to give exact details,
I can always share the lessons, in hopes that they will bless you and teach you, too.

This morning, I was so heavy-laden in prayer.
Just so weighted down, filled with so much uncertainty and so many questions.

As I prayed, He spoke.

"Child, imagine that you could find a person who knows you, your husband, and your child
inside out.
One who sees the deepest desires of your hearts, your dreams, the things that fulfill you,
the things that make you happiest, the things that make your life abundant.
Imagine that this person also sees the future and every available situation and circumstance,
and this person would be willing to take the time to match your family with the most fulfilling situation.
Wouldn't you want to trust this person?
Wouldn't you go to them and release your fears to them?
Wouldn't you allow them to take over and orchestrate and introduce the best possible circumstances
for you, your husband, and your child?
I AM that Person.
I see every detail of your lives.
Every desire in your hearts.
I also see the other side.
I see what would absolutely be best for the three of you.
I see the path that would most fulfill you and allow you to be most effectively used in My Kingdom.
And, it is my desire to bring the two elements together...the three of you and the right circumstances.
But, you must relinquish control.
What control do you really have anyway?
Can you guarantee anything?
Now, I want you to picture yourself with a 50 pound appliance strapped to your back.
It is so heavy and cumbersome and hard to cope with.
You never take it off.
It is ever present...when you sit, when you stand, when you lie down.
Now imagine a strong man coming along...a father-figure type...
and calling you "daughter" and asking you to allow him to unstrap the appliance,
so you can walk away free and unencumbered.
You ponder his offer.
It is tempting.
Oh, how you would like to feel free and be rid of this awful burden!
But, you are afraid he will not handle the appliance the way you do.
You nurture it and protect it and always put it first.
You make sure it is never damaged, and it is completely safe.
You just don't feel that this man, no matter how noble his intentions,
would ever be as careful with the appliance as you are,
so you refuse his offer.
You long to give in and let him take it off your back,
but holding the control over that appliance, regardless how heavy it is,
is just too important to you, so you walk away, 
bowed down, back aching, and feet tired.
And you continue to carry the load....
even though someone else has willingly, even eagerly offered, to take it off your back.
On you plod, dejected, exhausted, and without hope of reprieve.
Child, are you seeing My point?
I am in control.
I am sovereign.
Whether you relinquish your delusion of control or not.
My eye is upon you, and I am absolutely working out the details of your life.
So, why not turn loose of the burden?
Why not let it go?
Think back over your life since you handed Me the reins.  
Have I steered you wrong?
Have I ever led you astray?
Haven't I blessed you and comforted you and made a way for you where there was no way?
What makes you think I will do something different in the future than I have done in the past?"

Oh, my.
I sat here...in my prayer chair...and I felt His love.
It was precious to me.
There were many other things He said,
some too personal to mention here.
I soaked in each word like a thirsty sponge.
I felt such a sense of relief.

I thought of my own dear, earthly, departed father,
and how he always wanted the best for me.
How he sacrificed to make sure I went to Christian schools that taught curriculum that incorporated
a strong emphasis on the Bible.
How he worked so hard for us.
I recall so many times after Kevin and I were married that we needed help in some way,
and regardless what time of night it was, or how degrading the job,
Dad was there.
He was absolutely the most humble man I have ever known.
No job was beneath him.

One of my favorite childhood memories includes my Daddy and my doll.
I named her Marsha, and she had legs that would "walk" when I stood behind her and guided her.
Those legs would often come off and become detached, and I would become so upset.
I would run to my Daddy, and he would stop whatever he was doing,
and he would sit down and "operate" on those legs, so that soon she and I were "walking" together again.

It occurred to me that, in order for him to fix the problem,
I had to hand the doll over to my earthly father.
Had I clutched it tightly and refused to trust him to care for it tenderly and fix its problems,
it would have remained broken.

As much as Dad loved me and loved to help me and was there for me always,
I know, deep in my heart, that God loves me even more.

So, why am I so reluctant to release life's problems to my Heavenly Father?
Why do I hold on to them with such a tight, white-knuckled grasp?
Why do I insist upon carrying the heavy weight on my shoulders, 
when He is standing next to me, imploring me to let Him unstrap it?

I absolutely believe that He knows what is best for my family and me.
So, why do I worry and fret and analyze and try to figure things out on my own?
When all along, He is there, working, orchestrating, and planning our next step,
basing it all on the best possible outcome for us.

God, the Father's love is unfailing.
It is unconditional.
It is contingent upon nothing.
It just is.
Always.
Unchanging.
Unrelenting.
Unstoppable.

How frustrated He must feel as He watches my feeble, incompetent, futile attempts to fix things,
when all along, He waits and bids me hand it all over to His capable hands.

God is gentle.
He will not wrench our troubles away from us.
Instead, He softly invites us to come to Him, in the tenderest of tones.

"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

I Peter 5:7 says,
"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."

The word "cast" here means "throw".
In my mind, I picture a fishing line with a huge hook on the end.
And I envision all of my cares being dumped into a big garbage bag
and the bag being attached to the hook.
I sense the heaviness as I draw the rod back over my shoulder, 
then throw the line and hook forward, spiraling it as far into the water in front of me as I possibly can.
As I cast the line, I feel a great release, as His mighty hands reach down to remove the bag from the hook.
Suddenly, I am light and free of the burden, and a sense of His peace replaces the anxiety.

I would find no relief in just gathering my troubles and dumping them in the bag.
The deliverance comes through the casting.
It takes effort to cast our cares upon Him.
To let go.
To acknowledge that He is better able to work out our lives than we are.
To release everything over to Him.
To trust Him that much.

This morning, as He spoke to me, in that sweet, forever precious, still, small voice,
I was brought to a new place of surrender.

Surrender is a funny thing.
We think that by surrendering our all to another,
we will be brought into a form of bondage, in the process.
The truth couldn't be more opposite.
Totally-reckless abandonment of self and surrender to God brings about a complete release.
It results in a severing of chains, and a thorough liberation from enslavement.


If video doesn't load, click here.

Four years later, I am still standing, by God's grace.
The enemy has pulled out all stops....
he has been relentless.
God is greater.
He is more powerful.
He has brought about overcoming victory time after time after time.

I may be weak...and tottery....and a bit quite trembly, at times,
but, praise His name, I am still standing.

"On Christ the solid Rock, I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand."
Edward Mote

Thank you for your love, your friendship, your encouragement,
and most of all, your prayers.

Your support of Homespun Devotions...
and of me and my family...
are priceless gifts to us.

We love each one of you so very much,
and we look forward to seeing where God takes Homespun Devotions from here!
God bless you all.

32 comments:

  1. love and precious blessings dear. happy blogaversary.

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    1. OH, thank you so much, sweet Denise! So very thankful for your dear visit. God bless you abundantly. I am praying for you!

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  2. Congratulations on the blogversary of your blog, Cheryl. And thank you for your post today. I sure needed to read it (in my own life!) As you say, God is always there, unchanging, ready to help us when we are ready to surrender. Great first thing to read in the morning! Thank you. Hope your next four years will be smooth sailing, with God, our Heavenly Father, at the helm. Susan

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    1. Bless your dear heart, Susan! I was so blessed and encouraged by your precious words! I can't thank you enough for stopping by and commenting today! May the dear Lord bless you abundantly, my friend. :)

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  3. Hi Cheryl! I was telling myself today that I should shoot you an email and see if you were okay. I'm so glad to see your post today!
    And happy blog-versary!! Four years...wow. That's a lot of posts, a lot of life that's gone by. And a lot of great prayer and trust here too. Handing over the hard stuff to God is really tough, believe me I know. But your story about handing over your doll to your Dad is such a great image of allowing Our Father to fix our broken lives. I think I'll be remembering that image for a long time.
    I pray all is going okay with you? Know I am thinking of you.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Oh, Ceil! Bless your dear heart! Thank you ever so much for your love and concern...it means more than you know. Yes, a lot of life that's gone by...how very true. It goes by so fast, and we look back and wonder if we have done all God has asked and if we have made the most of every moment. Your sweet encouragement to me is a treasure, and I am so very grateful that God allows us to walk this blogging journey together. May He bless you in a big, special way!!

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  4. What an incredible post dear Cheryl, and an amazing tribute to four years of blogging! Isn't it amazing how fast the time flies, and looking back at the years, you can see the precious hand of the Lord upon you through every difficult and dark moment. I often think myself of the analogy of a Father and child, when facing uncertain circumstances. It certainly helps to have that mental image and to put my situation in His lands literally. The Lord loves and cares for you so much, and the things that you are facing He knows all about them, and His plans indeed are perfect. Sometimes it is hard understanding just "what" His plans are, and I know that perhaps is where you are at. But it is okay. Just trust Him each moment, and praise Him for carrying the burden for you. By and by, you will understand it all! You are a dear precious friend, and your family is always in our prayers. Praying the Lord continues to bless your blogging for many more years :) Much love across the miles!

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    1. Oh, dear friend! YES, it is amazing how fast time flies by. THANK YOU ever so much for your precious words here...I needed them more than I can say. Thank you for your steadfast prayers for us and for caring so much about our situation and taking it to heart and lifting it to our Father. Your friendship is a precious gift, and I thank the dear Lord so much for you. May He bless you abundantly, in return!

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  5. Hi, Cheryl:
    Congrats on #4! You are a blessing to the Christians who follow you and whom you encourage. I'm blessed to be part of the journey with you and know you. We bloggers write from the heart and can only hope our readers/friends will hold our posts gently in their hands! I wouldn't have it any other way. You listed the 1 Peter verse and that's what I got today too. I am casting my care on Him because sometimes it's all so overwhelming. My girlfriend, Kristen, is so discouraged and I was able to scribble a note to her reminding her that a powerful warrior out there is praying for her and understands her feelings. Thank you for the support to pray along with me and the comfort that is for her.

    Don't worry about getting back to me either. I know the stress sometimes. We had to rush Tom to ER over the weekend. He is doing better, but I have to watch him closely following up and his ADD doesn't help in understanding some things. I haven't been on line much, but see....I know where to go for encouragement!

    Lots of thanks, love and hugs to you!
    Mary

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    1. Dear, sweet Mary! I was just lifting Kristen in prayer earlier!! I faithfully pray for that dear girl, along with your own Amy, and Abby, too, and many others. They are on my list, and each time I pray for them and think of them, my heart goes out to them so much. I am looking and longing for the day that you write to me and tell me God has sent them their miracle. I DO understand her feelings...oh, so very much! Your words touched my heart so deep, I couldn't help but cry and read them to my dear husband. I cannot even begin to thank you enough. I am SO sorry to know that you had to take Tom to the ER...I will be keeping him in my prayers, too. Love and appreciate you so very much, my dear friend. God bless you abundantly.

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  6. Happy blogiversary! What a testimony you share here. So encouraging to me as I continue to figure out this blogging thing and trust the Lord with it. You are precious. Surrender, here I am today. Thank you and blessings!

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    1. Dear Bethany! Thank you ever so much for stopping...and for leaving such dear encouragement behind. May the dear Lord bless you abundantly for the blessing you were to me today! Sending you much love and many hugs!

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  7. Happy Birthady Homespun Devotions !
    I'm sure the web has been enriched by your inspired words during these four years of your blogging, it couldn't be otherwise, my blessed heart, thank you so much for another wonderful post filled with deep Love and Gratitude.

    With dear love
    Dany

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    1. Dear Dany!! You have encouraged me so many times by your precious words and thoughts of encouragement! I can only trust the dear Lord to let you know how much you have blessed me!! May He just pour out His richest blessings upon you, in return, and may our blogging journey always keep us close in touch. Sending you much love and many hugs across the many miles!!!

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  8. Happy blogiversary Cheryl. It's amazing just how much of life we walk through in the course of blogging journey and it's great to be able to have the posts to chronicle it. May you continue to stand strong in Christ. Blessings.

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    1. Thank you, dear Wanda, and may you ever do the same!!! God's peace to you. :)

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  9. Happy blogiversary! I am SO glad you started blogging. You encourage so many and write such beautiful words. And, I wouldn't have met you if you hadn't ;)

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    1. Yes, dear Caroline....you are so right. Our paths would never have crossed, and it would have been so sad to think of all we would have missed not having known one another. You are a consistent blessing and encourager to me, both here in your precious comments AND on your own dear blog. I am SO thankful to know you, dear friend, and am praying so hard for your miracle!!!! I believe it is coming soon, in Jesus' name!!!

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  10. Well happy blogiversary! You certainly aren't alone and sharing our thoughts and what bits of wisdom we've gained along the way does bind us together and makes the Church a stronger and brings honor to our Father.

    As you recounted the words from the Holy Spirit I thought of how tender our Father is. I know He loved Job, but yet put him in his place... and not nearly as gently as He does you and I. Control in this fallen world is an illusion. The awesome gift of our senses and free will the enemy uses against us.

    Thanks for counting your blessings and reminding me of all that I have, especially the peace and joy from our Father regardless of our earthly circumstances.

    Thanks for all you do and may God continue to bless you and your ministry.

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    1. Thank you, brother, for your words and encouragement and the blessing you are to my family and me. I am praying for you and your family and believing God to keep us all strong in Him! May He just bless you abundantly for being who you are and for following Him so closely. :)

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  11. Happy blogiversary to you! I'm always blessed when I visit here. Thank you for your encouraging and inspirational words.

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Bernadine! It was such a blessing to see you had stopped by here today...may Jesus bless you abundantly and richly, sweet friend. I trust all is well with you and your husband. :)

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  12. Happy Blogiversary! Cheryl, I can't remember the exact details of how we met, but I have no doubt that God directed our paths to cross. I am so thankful for our friendship, and for your presence in Blog Land. Your words are always God-inspired, and I (and many others) are blessed by them.

    Your message today strikes me deeply, as I am one of those "appliance-carriers" you mentioned. I wonder why we get so comfortable with our heavy burdens. And why we fail to lean heavily on those everlasting arms. (At least I know I do!) He is so caring, so wise, so willing to shoulder our *stuff* - oh, to learn how to let go...

    Praying for you and the place you're at right now. Even if it's difficult, even if it's unsettling and scary, you and I both know that He knows...and He's there, every step.

    Love you - and congrats on this celebration for Homespun Devotions. My life is fuller because of your presence.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. OH, my, I believe with all my heart, He absolutely orchestrated our meeting, and only eternity will reveal the many, many times you have been there for me and helped to pray me through and brought precious encouragement to me the very moment I needed it. Your words here today just meant more than you will ever know, and I can only praise our dear Lord for you and trust Him to repay you in multiple ways for being the faithful friend you are. Love and appreciate you so much, and I am praying often for you and your family and requests, also. God is going to help us all through our current trials. He is a faithful God, and He is absolutely worthy of our trust!!

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  13. Thank you, dearest Sister in Christ. I am in the midst of the very struggle described. I have read your blog before; and I went away from it...because of the truths I wasn't desiring to face. I too, carry burdens not meant for me to carry. I cried out to the Lord and cried literally through this morning's devotion and prayer time. He put you on my heart. To come here. I wept. But this time, not from pain...from gratitude for the washing of His word to a dry and weary land.

    Praise God. And happy blogiversary. Thank you, Cheryl.

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    1. Dear Eileen!! Your words brought me to tears!!! I am so thankful that God, in His love and mercy, brought you back here. I do not know you or your current struggle, but how my heart went out to me as I read your comments. May the God of all comfort reach down and just bless you and enable you and encourage you! And may you feel His presence alongside you as never before! SO very thankful you are back here again, and I trust we can walk this journey together, encouraging one another along the way. God's peace be with you, and may His everlasting arms hold you ever close!

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  14. I applaud you on your anniversary of blogging! As I am a new blogger friend, I am not familiar with your past or your struggles. I have enjoyed your writing and the depth of your posts. I am amazed, actually. What a gift God has blessed you with and how you inspire me. I have told you before, your posts make me stop and they make me think. We each have a different style and purpose in blogging...we each have different gifts. I am so happy that our paths have crossed. I love your interest in music and the video is fantastic. You also posted some words from a favorite of mine....On Christ the solid rock I stand. I love Travis Cotrell's version. Asking God to bless you with a sweet and gentle Sunday my friend.

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    1. My dear Lady Linda, I am so deeply moved and humbled by your precious words this morning!!! How I needed the encouragement, only the dear Lord knows, and you have done this so many times....left a sweet comment when it was most needed. You are a precious sister, and God is using you in more ways than you even realize. Thank you for the consistent blessing you are to me, and may the dear Lord return those blessings back to you many times over!!!!

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  15. Dear Cheryl you are such a blessing to me and to many others as you share your heart with us. I know a father's love is tremendous, but the Love of our Heavenly Father outshines any earthly love. Do not fear, because God has you and your family in His precious arms. Thanks for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Oh, dear Hazel!!!! Thank you so very much for these precious words! You are such a dear blessing to me, too...both at your dear blogs and also through the precious encouragement you leave for me here. May the dear Lord reward you abundantly for your faithfulness to Him and to all of us. Sending you much love and many hugs across the miles!

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  16. Cheryl,
    Congratulations on passing the four year anniversary of blogging! Thank you for sharing your post on Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop! Hope to see you again next week!
    Nancy - Nancy On The Home Front.

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    1. Thank you so much, sweet Nancy! It has been a while since I have visited you, so I will hop over there to your place right now. May the dear Lord bless you for stopping and leaving such dear encouragement behind! :)

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