"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
I never cease to be amazed at the depths of genuine love and friendship that run
throughout this blogging community.
Four years ago, when God first led me to start Homespun Devotions,
I never imagined how profoundly that decision would affect my life.
For years, my little family and I have diligently and regularly prayed "The Prayer of Jabez",
after reading Bruce Wilkinson's book by the same title.
In case you aren't familiar with Jabez's prayer, here it is...
"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying,
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."
1 Chronicles 4:10
One of the ways that God has chosen to "enlarge our coast" is through Homespun Devotions.
Without a doubt, we would never have "met" the dear people God has brought into our lives,
had we not started this blog.
Many of you have become more than just mere acquaintances.
You have become cherished heart friends...
friends who share your prayer requests with me, and with whom I share mine,
friends who stop by and encourage me, both by leaving dear comments or by emailing privately,
friends who care and who show it in so many sweet and wonderful ways.
This Christian blogging community is tightly-knit, accepting, forgiving, and filled with grace.
It is a place of great encouragement to me.
Many of your names are written on my personal prayer list,
and I regularly lift your names to the Father, as your personal needs and burdens have become very important to me.
I truly love all of you so much.
Several months ago...I can't even remember exactly when or how we found each other...
I became acquainted with a new blogger.
I have been so blessed by her deep and thought-provoking writings.
This dear lady has left encouragement for me and picked me up so many, many times.
She is filled with so much love...for God, for His Word, for His people, for her family.
She has become a dear and cherished friend,
and I am SO blessed to be able to present her interview to you here.
Many of you know her already, but for those who don't,
please allow me to introduce to you,
Pastor's Wife and Christian Blogger at Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge,
Karen Del Tatto
Karen Del Tatto.
Cheryl: Could you tell us about yourself, Karen?
Karen: You’ll always hear me tell people that I grew up in a “Leave it to Beaver” family. I lived in a close-knit neighborhood with my parents and two brothers. We would play kick-ball until dark, hide and seek in the back woods and, in the winter, sleigh down the front road, parents and kids alike.
My father, a very hard worker, taught me to have a strong work ethic. My love for the outdoors came from him. Every weekend, he would have our family out hiking in the woods. (As a youngster you probably would have heard me complaining, but as an adult, those are some of my fondest memories, and ever since childhood my favorite place to be is outside!)
My mom is my best friend. We have a wonderful relationship. Growing up, she was always home when I got home from school. I would sit at the kitchen table, where she had cookies and milk waiting for me. I would tell her about my day. Our favorite thing to do together is laugh! It was very hard when I got married in my early 20's and moved four hours away from my family. If I were to be honest, that is probably one of my biggest regrets, as I feel like I missed out on so much, but I know that God had a much bigger plan and it was through that move that I would eventually meet Him…
Cheryl: How did you come to know Jesus Christ? When did you become a Christian, and what were the events that led up to that decision?
Karen: The events leading up to my coming to know the Lord happened over a 12 year period - all beginning when I moved four hours away from my family. I worked at AT&T in New Jersey and transferred with the company to Massachusetts. In the first few months of working at AT&T, I met Liz who shared the Gospel with me and how God was working in her life. In fact, there were several Christians who worked in the office where I did, and they would hold Bible studies in the conference room during lunch, but I wasn’t interested and rejected it. Fast forward five years, when we began the process of moving from our first home to a bigger house to accommodate our expanding family. The Lord did indeed “establish our borders”, blocking the house we thought we really wanted to buy and settling us in the home we are in now. Our neighbor, Makiko, was a Christian. One day, we were visiting, and she gave me a copy of "The Living Bible" and told me to read it, and God would speak to me. I graciously took the Bible and attempted to read it, but I didn’t understand it and felt the Lord was not “speaking to me”. Fast forward another seven years when I met Paula, who had recently moved in a few houses down. She had a little girl my daughter’s age. She, too, was a Christian and invited me to attend Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs), a Christian mom’s group, with her. I was looking forward to meeting other young moms. It was then that the Lord started softening my heart; the manner of those Christian moms was something I wanted. Their gentle ways and their excitement for the Bible was contagious! Paula then introduced me to her friend, Cindy, another believer, who asked me if I wanted to do a Bible study with her. She said I could pick the topic, maybe something I struggled with. I struggled terribly with anxiety, and she picked out a Bible study that spoke on that subject. During the study, I was quite taken by the story of the Apostle Peter walking on water and, upon seeing the waves, starts to sink and cries out to Jesus to save him. I wanted that! I wanted salvation from my anxiety and wanted to know more about this Jesus that could bring me peace that surpasses all understanding. I bought a Bible and started to read on my own and, suddenly, God was “speaking to me”!
I don’t have one of those testimonies where I had this stand-out moment of salvation. Mine was a gradual calling out to the Lord. My assurance - this "Miss Goody Two-Shoes" now saw herself as a sinner in need of a Savior.
This is the reason I am passionate about the Word of God, because although the Lord used many people throughout my testimony, it was ultimately in the pages of the Bible that the Lord showed me His great Salvation.
Cheryl: Tell us about how God has led you throughout life...in marriage, being married to a minister, various ministries you have been involved in, raising children, etc.
Karen: I have been married to my husband Michael for almost 32 ½ years. Like all marriages, we have had our ups and downs. God used the book, "Sacred Marriage", by Gary Thomas, to show me His great purpose in my marriage – to bring Him Glory, by being a testimony in showcasing Christ’s love for His bride, the church, by how I conduct myself in marriage.
As I raised my children, the Lord used another book, "Shepherding a Child’s Heart", by Tedd Tripp, a book whose insights had such a profound effect on my children’s behavior and, most especially, me, as a mother. Our family was truly blessed as a result.
When I felt called to homeschool, the Lord surrounded me with Godly mothers to share their insights and wisdom to help me along in my homeschool.
Prior to my husband feeling called to attend seminary, the Lord was preparing me, yet at the time, my husband and I didn’t realize God was working on both of us to that end. It was only in hindsight that we could see God moving in us to be willing to obey the call.
The Lord used several Pastor’s wives to mentor me during the five years my husband was in seminary. The words of wisdom they shared from their own experiences was such a blessing to me and truly helped me in my role as a Pastor’s wife.
My husband’s first pastoral assignment was not an easy one. A majority of the congregation were not believers. I relied heavily upon the Lord for strength during the two years we served. The Lord used me through a very successful Vacation Bible School to show a doubtful congregation that God would provide the children to attend. And He did! Abundantly!
Years ago, the Lord laid a ministry to the Marines upon my heart, which was born out of heartache when my “now” son-in-law was in harm’s way overseas for nine months. As I sought the Lord for guidance on this ministry, He provided the means to have a successful run for many years where thousands of dollars were raised, and many Marines were reached.
Throughout my years as a Believer, the Lord has used His people, whether it be through interaction, their writing, their wisdom, or their prayers, to help guide me to walk in obedience with Him. He has also used trials in profound ways to mold me and shape me, the loving hand of the Father refining His daughter. And most especially, God’s Word has been my rock in my marriage, as a parent, and in ministry
Cheryl: When did you start blogging, and what triggered God leading you to begin "Growing Together In Grace and Knowledge"?
Karen: I began blogging the first week of January 2015. The first week of 2015 seemed like the perfect time to start a blog for the purpose of deepening my relationship with the Lord and encouraging others; a desire the Lord laid on my heart five years ago. You might wonder why so much time passed before I began blogging. My Heavenly Father was preparing and refining me for such an endeavor.
In the past five years, I've endured many trials and life changes which caused a greater dependence upon the Lord. It may not always be revealed to us this side of heaven, but the Lord, in His infinite mercy, showed me in a few very difficult circumstances that "what man meant for evil, God meant for good". Through those trials, He sustained me and brought about amazing blessings that were above and beyond what I hoped or imagined. In any trial or affliction, we have opportunity to bless others with the Comfort in which we were comforted. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV Through blogging, I desire to bring those experiences and blessings, as the Lord leads.
The Lord had used those five years to prepare me, both practically and spiritually, to begin writing a blog in Janaury 2015 - in the Lord's perfect time. After being parched for a season, I had a true thirst to drink up the Word of God and to share all that the Lord revealed to me.
Cheryl: How has your blog enriched your life and walk with Jesus?
Karen: Writing a blog is humbling to me. I am not an eloquent writer, but I love to share what God is teaching me through His Word and in my life experiences. This blog is just as much about my growth and accountability to the Word as it is about bringing gracious readers encouragement and hope.
My faith has been incredibly strengthened in writing a blog. When I stare at the computer screen and see what I have written, I praise God for His words; because what I see typed out just doesn’t seem like something I am capable of writing. All glory and honor go to the Lord.
Cheryl: What would you say are your biggest blessings at this season of life?
Karen: Ahh, I have so many blessings at this season of my life.
Most notably, having my daughter, son-in-law, and nine-month old baby granddaughter living with me and my husband. I enjoy Gabrielle and Garrett so much! And, to have been a part of my first granddaughter’s life in such a close, intimate way - since the day she was born, being present at the birth and now living under my own roof, watching her reach her milestones, enjoying her big personality and her infectious smile, has been such an incredible blessing!
Seeing my parents who are in their late 70’s still living such vibrant, active lives, walking four miles a weekend, every weekend.
My blog and meeting so many kindred bloggers who love the Lord Jesus – Iron sharpening Iron…
Cheryl: In many ways, we are living in very dark days. In closing, what words of encouragement would you like to share with the people of God?
Karen: That they would “fix their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3
Wonderful encouragement and advice, indeed, in these troubled times!
A big thank you to Karen, for sharing her heart and testimony with us here!
I hope you are as blessed in reading her interview, as I was in conducting it.
I do hope you will take the time to stop by Karen's blog.
I know you will be abundantly edified while reading what God has placed upon her heart.
Thank you, dear readers, for your faithfulness to visit here.
You are so appreciated and loved!