Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Inner Views of Lovelle Gerth-Myers

"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Psalm 30:5
(KJV)

I first "met" the sweet young lady being interviewed today through her mother, Holley Gerth's blog,
where I am a follower and have been a sporadic link-up participant for the past few years.
The first time I remember clicking over to her blog, I read this post and watched the accompanying video, which I am including towards the end of this post.
I will never forget how much her words ministered to me that day,
in light of some circumstances my family and I were walking through. 
As I became acquainted with her story, my heart went out to her so much.
I was just floored, as I read of how God has redeemed her pain and brought her out of the hurts of her past, leading her to a place of peace and happiness and fulfillment in Him.
I am so blessed and grateful to be able to introduce her and her amazing story to you today, 
and it is my prayer that you will find hope for your own situation as you read how God has worked in and through her life.


The
of 
Speaker, Writer, Life Coach, Encourager,
Lovelle Gerth-Myers.

Cheryl:  Please introduce yourself to us. 

Lovelle:  I love to write, speak, and encourage people. I have seen God do amazing things in the most impossible circumstances. I am passionate about helping others deepen their relationship with the Lord by using my story to help people truly see that we serve a limitless God. I live with my husband David, my dog, Buford, and my parents Holley and Mark Gerth in the South. I love teenagers, especially the ones that are rough around the edges. My background gives me the ability to help them in tremendous ways. I am passionate about mentoring our youth. We can’t expect the next generation to be a good one if we don’t guide and direct them. I also love coffee, carbs, running, and the great outdoors.

Cheryl:  What was life like for you growing up?

Lovelle:  Well, horrible. I don’t remember much of it. I was in the California foster care system from ages 4-8. I had a few good years with my grandmother, but when my grandfather died, I moved in with my abusive mother and step-dad. I was physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused from the ages of 12-17. I moved out at the age of 17 to escape it.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your earliest recollection of hearing about Jesus? What about Him most stirred your heart and drew you to Him? When did you become a Christian?

Lovelle:  My first recollection of hearing about Jesus was definitely with my grandma. The short 3 years I had with her really did get me through the next 5 years of abuse. I learned the foundations about Jesus but didn’t follow Him. Honestly, I hated God for letting my parents do all the horrible things they did to me when I was a teenager. I accepted God into my heart at the age of 17 when I was homeless. When I moved out of my home I didn’t have anyone but my grandma, so I went to church with her to spend time with her. Every time I walked through the church doors I felt the Lord poke at my heart. Even though I hated Him for everything, He still stirred at my heart. I had tried so hard to control my surroundings because of my past, but on that cold winter evening, when I had literally nothing, I let Him take control, and it’s been the best adventure ever since.

Cheryl:  Looking back over your life, so far, what would you define as your darkest moment? How did you make it through?

Lovelle:  To be honest, I feel like my whole entire childhood was dark. I have a lot of horrible memories that I will never be able to forget. How I made it through? I am not sure. The only thing I can think of is that God had His hand on me. When I started following Christ I held on to Him. I literally had no one. I prayed a lot and held onto his promise that everything was going to be okay. It took a long time but God fulfilled his promise to me. I have amazing adoptive parents, a husband, family that loves me extremely well, and healing. God gave me a purpose. I can honestly say, I wouldn’t change anything because I have had to lean on God in a way not a lot of people have ever had to experience. I’ve seen him provide gas money when my tank was on E. I’ve seen him provide a home when I was homeless (twice). He provides, and hardships built my faith and endurance.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about what happened on August 28, 2014. How has life changed for you since this monumental event? How did your life intersect with the lives of Mark and Holley? What events led up to your adoption?

Lovelle:  On August 28th 2014, I became a wanted daughter to an AMAZING couple named Mark and Holley Gerth at the age of 21. Life has changed a lot. I have had to learn how to interact with families. I never really knew how to do that because I didn’t grow up with a family that interacted. As bad as this sounds, I have had to be less selfish. When you only have yourself, you don’t really have to think to ask someone to do something or to call other people. You just get used to being alone. I’ve healed so much because I have an amazing support group that love me through my pain. The abuse caused attachment and trust issues. I don’t really know how to let people in. My heart is like an onion. Slowly those layers are opening up and my amazing family is letting me take my time. I met Mark and Holley at a transitional facility I was living at called Saving Grace. My mom volunteered there, and we met and just clicked. The more we hung out, the more we got closer. Mom and dad waited 10 years to adopt a 21-year-old, and God told them it was me. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Holley, Lovelle, and Mark Gerth

Cheryl:  What does Ephesians 3:20 mean to you?

Lovelle:  God can do more than anything that we could ever come up with. His plans are great. We may not see it, but it’s true. He never fails, and is always faithful.

Cheryl:  Will you share with us about your love story? How were you and your husband introduced? When did you hear God whisper that he was the one for you?

Lovelle:  Ready for the cheesiest story ever? My husband and I met because of a forced blind date. I wanted nothing to do with it. Our mutual friend wouldn’t leave me alone, so I agreed to go on a chaperoned meeting IF he was interviewed by a couple of my friends and passed. I wasn’t present at the interview either, and he passed. I gave him my number after our chaperoned meeting and told him that until he knew if I was the person God had for him then we couldn’t really be in a relationship or anything. I told him to pray about it. We both prayed about it and started Courting. Within 4 months we had a wedding date. I think we knew we were going to be married within a month and a half. We didn’t hang out alone for over a month. Didn’t hold hands until almost 2 months and didn’t kiss until around 4 months into our courtship. David had never kissed anyone or even held hands. I was his first girlfriend. Through him the Lord has really showed me what freedom means. I am not defined by my past or the things that were done to me. Even though I am still going through healing because of my past, I am not damaged goods. I do deserve a good husband and Godly man. I may be biased, but I tend to think I hit the jackpot. ;-)


Lovelle & David on their happy wedding day!

Cheryl:  What part of marriage do you love the most?

Lovelle:  I can’t really think of one thing in particular, so here are some things I love about my husband…. I love how patient and tender my husband is. I love having someone by my side and not feeling alone anymore. I love having someone who takes such good care of me and loves me so well. Someone who holds me accountable and leads me spiritually. Wounds heal when people love you extremely well. My husband has done such an amazing job at that within the last 2 years.


David & Lovelle

Cheryl:  Of all of the hurts you have suffered throughout life, which would you say has been the hardest to forgive? Why? How has God given you victory in this situation?

Lovelle:  Definitely the sexual abuse… My husband has been super patient, but it has definitely been hard in marriage. It’s affected how I think about life and how I let people in. It’s affected my trust level with everyone including my husband. It makes me so mad sometimes because people are having to pay for what one person did. Still… I believe forgiveness is a daily thing. When you are affected by triggers, sometimes daily, it makes it hard to be okay with what one person did. I have to choose to see them the way Christ sees them. I may not like them sometimes, but I can pray for them and ask God to help me. That’s what I do. Take it one day at a time. I am slowly working towards victory in this situation. My husband and I have been going to counseling (for me) for a couple months and will continue. Just to clarify, we are completely fine. He goes because I am learning to let him in on some of my biggest hurts. I don’t really know how to let people be there for me. When he goes, he is there for me and I am learning to let him be. I am learning a whole new level of intimacy. I’ve gotten a lot better and will continue. The Lord is good. It just takes time.

Cheryl:  To what part of brokenness can you most relate?

Lovelle:  To all of it. I’ve seen a lot of things in my 23 years of life.

Cheryl:  How has God turned your tests into testimonies and allowed you to use painful life experiences to help others?

Lovelle:  My life verse is Philippians 4:12-13. It says, “I have learned the secret to living content in any and every situation. whether its with a full stomach or empty. With plenty or with Little, for I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

This verse is why I have been able to turn tests into testimonies. I’ve lived in virtually any situation you can imagine, and God has taught me to be content through it all. I’ve learned to see trials as lessons. They teach me what I can do better and have shown me how I can help others. I love working with troubled teens because at one point in time I was one of them. I currently work with teens that struggle with drugs and/or were abused. My past gives me insight that not a lot of people have. It’s been wonderful to see the Lord use the hardest parts of my life for His glory.


Cheryl:  While going through the roughest times, who did God use the most to minister to you? What suggestions can you offer to those who want to reach out to others who are hurting? What specific actions of others have been most effective in helping you to heal?

Lovelle:  When you are struggling I don’t think there is ever only one person. You learn to embrace the good because it doesn’t happen very often. He’s used teachers, my grandmother, and a lot of random kind people to encourage me. My suggestion would be to keep your eyes and ears open. Every second we have on this earth is a second we could be using to minister to someone. Listen to God’s voice, and He will lead you to people He wants you to help. A lot of people hurt and may not say anything. God has insight we don’t have and if you ask, He will give it to you. 



Lovelle & Buford

Cheryl:  What would you say to the person reading this who feels unloved, rejected, abandoned, or hopeless?

Lovelle:  People will fail you. That’s a guarantee, but God won’t. God created you and knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your past, and He knows your future. He loves and embraces all of that. You are worthy, and you are loved more than you can possibly imagine. Trust in the person who created the heavens and the earth because He’s got a plan, and it will come to pass. He wastes nothing. It’s our darkest moments that God can use the most.

Cheryl:  How difficult is it to receive or feel worthy of being so abundantly loved after living through the pangs of hurt and abuse? How can we, as the body of Christ, penetrate and break through the barriers and walls of those who have have been deeply wounded and are afraid to trust again?

Lovelle:  Extremely difficult. I don’t know how to let people love me or be there for me. I’m getting better, but it’s still hard. The best way to help is to walk out God’s love and have no expectations. I’ve been hurt by a lot of Christians who have expectations in me that I just didn’t meet. I couldn’t open up or trust in the time they wanted, so they left, and my walls got higher. Love like God does. Let Him do the work. If you just walk it out, and trust that He is working in the hearts of the (ones who are) hurt, then it will save you and the person who is trying to learn to trust a lot of heartache. Remember, it’s not your job to save someone. It’s God's. It’s our job to lead by example, and God loves people right where they are at. It’s a process.


Buford

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your work. What about it most fulfills the passions of your heart?

Lovelle:  I work with teenagers who have drug issues and some have a background of abuse. Almost all of them have pretty bad home lives. My passion is to use my past for God’s good. I am doing that, and I am so grateful God is allowing me to do that.

Cheryl:  We are living in such discouraging times. How do you remain hopeful and encouraged in your walk with the Lord? What are some of your favorite Bible verses, hymns/music, books, and other resources that you turn to and use on a regular basis?

Lovelle:  My favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:12-13 and Hebrews 12:1. I love the First5 App by Proverbs 31 Ministries. I am a firm believer in reading your Bible. I have a journal, and I write letters to God. I try to do it every day, but sometimes I don’t. Any books by my Mom, Holley Gerth are amazing. I listen to Christian music. I currently have the Planet Shakers Outback Worship Session CD on repeat in my car. That’s been a huge help.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?

Lovelle:  You can pray for direction and for God to open doors. I’ve been going through a depression, and I want to feel better.

Cheryl:  I completely understand, Lovelle, and I will surely be praying for you.  I can't thank you enough for being so willing to be transparent and share your testimony with us here.  I know it will bless and encourage every reader.  May God abundantly bless you, your husband, your parents, and your ministry.  May He enlarge your coasts and expand your opportunities in new and unexpected ways, and may He keep all of you safe in His tender care.

As I read through Lovelle's interview responses, I am reminded of Joseph's words found in 
Genesis 50:20,
"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

God is turning all of Lovelle's pain into good, as she pours hope into the lives and hearts of the young people He brings across her path and allows her to connect with and minister to.
Please add Lovelle and her prayer requests to your regular prayers, dear friends,
and I hope you will stop by her blog and consider becoming a follower/subscriber.

And, now for that promised video.
I can't begin to tell you how much Lovelle's words meant to me when I watched this back in March,
and I hope her words minister to you and your situation today.


If video doesn't load, click here.

And, here is a bonus video in which Lovelle talks about the amazing story of her adoption
and what it means to "wait well" for God's promises.
One of my favorite takeaways from Lovelle's words in the video below is this...
"Our dreams can only go as far as we allow God to take them."
I know this will bless you as you watch and listen!


If video doesn't load, click here.

Thank you again, Lovelle, for sharing with us here.
Your life is truly a shining light of Jesus' love,
and I know God is going to use you and your story of redemption in ways you have not yet imagined!

Thank you, dear readers, for your support, encouragement, and faithfulness to stop by here.
Your visits are so appreciated.
God bless you all!

To read previous
click the links below.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

"...thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57
(KJV)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Did you ever notice how hard it is to pray without asking the Lord for anything?
To pour out a prayer of pure thanksgiving...just praising Him for all He has done,
without bringing any new petitions before Him?

Today, I wanted to do that.
Even though there are burdens pressing heavy upon my spirit,
I suppressed the temptation to ask on this Thanksgiving Day. 
I owe God SO much gratitude and worship for all He has already done.
Don't we all?


~ My Thanksgiving Day 2016 Prayer ~

"Dear, Precious Lord,
Where do I begin to even try to express my gratitude to You this year?
As You know, today is the day that our nation has set aside to give thanks,
but, as You also know, I am so thankful every, single day that I live.
Because life itself is such a gift, and I thank You for it from the bottom of my heart.
Thank You for being who You are, Lord.
You are the Savior of my soul,
the keeper of my heart,
the One I adore above all others.
You mean absolutely everything to me, 
and I simply have no words to tell You that strongly enough.
I am glad You don't look on the outward appearance, but You look way down deep inside my heart.
So, You know how much I love You, Lord...
how much I thank You for being my all in all.
Thank You for the amazing gift of Your one and only precious Son.
Thank You, Jesus, for being willing to hang on a cruel, rugged cross,
to stretch out Your arms, and to take the blame for all of my sins.
I feel SO bad that You had to do that...
to think that my sins are the very reasons You were tortured beyond endurance hurts me to the core,
and I am SO SORRY.
I could never, in a million years, ever thank You enough or even partially repay You for all You went through because of me and all of the wrong things I have done.
Thank You for loving me, even when I am so unlovable.
Thank You for covering my sins with Your own precious blood.
Thank You for washing me clean and giving me a fresh start...so many, many times.
Thank You for grace and for the way it gives me strength to stand against the wrong.
Thank You for forgiving me,
for erasing my unrighteousness, just like it was never there.
Thank You for my dear, hard-working, loving husband.
Lord, You surely knew when You created him how much I would need him as I am walking through this life.
Thank You for his never-ending patience with me...
his kind, compassionate, giving, merciful spirit,
his willingness to lead our little family in Your ways and to follow Your heart.
Thank You for every second You allow us to spend together,
for the deep bond You have allowed us to forge over the past nearly 30 years.
I just could never thank You enough for him, Lord.
Thank You for our dear, sweet son who means more than the world to both of us.
Lord, we just don't know how to thank You for allowing us to be his parents.
After so many, long years of waiting and longing for him, he is truly a gift straight from You that keeps giving every, single day.
Thank You SO much that he loves You, dear Lord, and that he tries so hard to walk in Your ways.
I can't begin to express how much it means to be the one he calls "Mama".
Oh, thank You, Lord!
Thank You for the everyday moments the three of us share together, the comfort they both are to me, the meals around our table, our laughs, our prayer times, our Bible studies, our walks, our silly moments, the times we lighten up and act goofy, and those serious and somber talks we all love to have.
Thank You that YOU are the central focus of our lives and home.
Thank You for lifting us out of the miry clay and setting our feet upon a rock and for establishing our goings.
Thank You for allowing us to leave behind so much pain and sorrow and move to a place
where You have given us a fresh, new start.
Thank You for my family...the sisters and brother so dear to my heart,
my nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts, and in-laws.
Thank You for my sweet, Godly parents and for the way they raised me in Your love.
Thank You that they instilled an adoration for You within my heart from earliest childhood.
Thank You for the 34 years you gave me with Dad and the 45 years You gave me with Mom.
Thank You to know that they both now rest in Your own loving arms, 
never to suffer again.
Thank You for my extended family, all of my loved ones, and so many precious friends.
Thank You for the ones I haven't even met yet...including the ones I've made through this blog,
who have grown dear to me, even though we have never seen each other face to face.
Thank You for the people in my life's inner circle...the ones I turn to for guidance, counsel, and support.
Thank You for all of the times they have been there for me and the special blessing they are to my life.
Thank You for the many times You have healed my family and me...
for the many recent and long-ago answers to prayer,
for giving me songs in the night,
for lifting my spirits and giving me hope and courage to take one more step.
Thank You for food and a nice, warm place to sleep and call home.
Thank You for eyes to see the beauty all around me,
ears to hear, hands to serve, feet to walk, a clear mind, and the ability to reason.
Thank You for the relationship I have with You,
for our daily prayer time, our sweet communion, the way You speak to me.
Thank You for the health I have and for giving me strength to push through even the worst moments of pain and affliction.
Thank You for never giving up on me, even when I must be so hard to deal with.
Thank You for meeting me so intimately in so many anguished moments
and for letting me know, with such certainty, that it truly is better farther on.
Thank You for helping me to keep Heaven in view when earth's trials become overwhelming.
Thank You that this troubled world is not our home...
that You have gone away to prepare a much better place for us,
and that You will one day come back to take us there with You for eternity.
I could go on and on, Lord!
There is so much more on my heart.
You know all about it...all about me,
and I will share those other things with You alone.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I could not be more thankful, Lord.
I love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Inner Views of Caroline Harries

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

The sweet lady being interviewed today has become a precious friend to me.
We have never met face to face, but I feel like I have known her for years.
We connected online through our mutual experience with infertility,
(You can read Lisa's Inner Views, by clicking here.)
We have prayed for each other through many battles and struggles,
and she is always there to offer a kind word, compassion, empathy, and most important of all, her prayers, no matter what it is that I am going through and share with her.
Some of you already know her, others of you may be meeting her today for the very first time.
If this is your first encounter, I am so grateful to be a part of introducing you to her 
and her blog, "In Due Time".
I hope you will take the time to visit her and consider becoming a follower/subscriber,
and I am just so grateful to be able to share her testimony with all of you today.


With gratitude and joy, I bring to you the 
of
Jesus Follower, Texan, Blogger, Financial Analyst, Author of "In Due Time" Devotional,
Believing {4.5 Years} for Miracle Babies, Fitness + Travel Enthusiast,
Caroline Harries.

Cheryl:  Could you give us an introduction as to who you are? 

Caroline:  Hi, My name is Caroline. I grew up in Oklahoma with two old brothers, but my parents moved to Texas when I was in high school. I went to Baylor University and graduated with my degree in Finance and Marketing and now live in Texas with my husband. I work as a financial analyst and have been at my company for 10 years. When my husband and I aren't working we love to travel the world. I also love to work out and compete in races including half-marathons and triathlons.

Cheryl:  I would love to hear your Christian testimony. When did you become a Christian? Were you raised in a Christian home? What life events led to your decision to follow Jesus? How has that choice affected your life?

Caroline:  I was not raised in a Christian home. In middle school our neighbors invited me to church, which is when I became a Christian. For years I went to youth group and Sunday services with them, and then when I could drive I went on my own. My faith has always been a huge part of my life.


Cheryl:  How did you meet your husband, and when did you know he was God’s choice for you? How long have you been married?

Caroline:  We met at our church. He was working for a ministry and during our young adults meeting he asked for help with an event that was coming up. I thought he was cute and I signed up to help bake. :) 11 months later and we were engaged, and 5 months later, in April 2011 we were married. I think I knew within the first few weeks that I would marry him. We have been married 5.5 years now!

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your infertility journey.

Caroline:  Pretty soon after getting married, my husband and I decided we were ready to have kids. Because of prior health history we both did baseline tests right away. It was at that time that doctors told us it would be impossible to have kids. We met with a specialist who gave us the slim chances and very little options. Even though we were dealing with both male and female factor, we didn't have a peace about pursuing IVF and really felt called to wait on the Lord. Soon after the diagnosis, my husband moved to Georgia for 6 months for work. When he came back we pursued a healthy lifestyle in terms of eating and supplements. It's now been 4.5 years and we are still waiting and believing for a miracle and have released all control to God.



Cheryl:  There is a temptation to become bitter when life does not go exactly as we planned or envisioned it. How do you overcome this temptation? Are there moments when you feel like turning away from God, instead of towards Him? What inspires hope within you and keeps your thoughts loving towards God in those moments of questioning why?

Caroline:  Whew. Yes, there have been times where the temptations are so real. There have been days where the darkness has won. But, I always remind myself that God's ways are perfect and there are two options: run towards him or run away. Clearly, running away isn't going to get anywhere so I have chosen to run towards him. I cling to the Word, the prophetic words given to us, dreams, and worship music to help get me through on the hard days.

Cheryl:  Do you feel it is wrong to question God’s will when you have prayed with all your heart for a child of your own, only to continue to seemingly be told “no”?

Caroline:  I don't think His answer is no. I think it is "not yet." We know we will have children, but for us it's a matter of when we will have children. I don't understand everything he is doing, but I do believe that his plans for me are perfect.

Cheryl:  Tell us about “Moms in the Making”. How did it come into existence? When did you feel God leading you to start it, and how has being a part of it shaped your thoughts towards infertility? From its beginning, how many miracles have you witnessed take place?

Caroline:  I started Moms in the Making in June 2013. It had been on my heart for awhile, but took me some time to get started. We originally started with around 10 ladies who were all desiring to be a mom. Some already had kids but were dealing with secondary infertility and some who had recurring miscarriages. We all had different stories, but we came together with the common desire to seek God in our journeys. Now, three years later, all those ladies have gone on to have children. We have had 33 babies that have been conceived and born. God truly has been faithful. There is nothing like having support with those who get it and it's been amazing to celebrate every baby.

Cheryl:  How do you handle being around other women who are able to conceive and have children?

Caroline:  Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Really though, in my flesh, it's really hard, but Jesus is the one who gives me strength. It's his strength that is perfected in my weakness. It's not always easy, but Jesus helps me every step of the way. There really is no other explanation.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about the times someone has specifically singled you and your husband out and prophesied over you and your situation.

Caroline:  Whew! There have been so many. I have kept track of them all. My husband and I have been called to the front of our church on many occasions. On one Sunday in particular we had a guest speaker who called us up to the front and clearly stated that the power of barrenness would be broken as well as I had a gifting to be a mom and with kids. Yes, the waiting is hard. I love planning and so I have planned and dreamed the perfect timing, on many various occasions, to come up with short with still no positive pregnancy tests. I remind myself that God's word never returns void and what he has spoken he will do. I have prophecy after prophecy to rest in during that wait.



Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your blog and what inspired you to start writing it? How has your blog enriched your life? What would you say is its main focus? What is the story behind the name of your blog?

Caroline:  One week after our diagnosis, we were driving to Austin when I heard the Lord tell me to start a blog. Because I am a financial guru, I chuckled, but that is when the journey of blogging began. It originally started to share scripture and document our fertility journey, but now has expanded into everything from a scripture verse to a recent vacation. In Due Time was not the original title, but in August 2013 I did some rebranding. Colby, my husband, picked the title from several different scripture, but my personal favorite is Galatians 6:9. The biggest blessing out of my blog is getting to "meet" people from all over the world, including both other bloggers and readers too.

Cheryl:  I am so inspired by your determination to encourage others and maintain your faith in the midst of your own struggles. I have found encouragement through your words so many, many times. I especially love your posts on faith and about Abraham and Sarah. Please share some of the thoughts God has given you concerning Abraham and Sarah’s situation and how their miracle has inspired you and how their story continues to give you hope of God sending you a baby of your own.
Caroline:  I cling to their story. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and what He did for Sarah, He will do for me. Of course I hope I don't have to wait that long, but there is so many powerful scriptures in Romans 4 that have helped me. Their testimony is so powerful and brings me hope.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your “blue sock moments”?

Caroline:  My husband and I took a step of faith and started cleaning out our nursery. While I was in there, I found one baby blue sock. It was one sweet way that the Lord has reminded us that he hasn't forgotten us. He has continued to give us blue sock moments throughout our journey. I love encouraging my readers to look for these moments too whether it's something physical, or a sweet whisper from the Lord.

Cheryl:  You and your family experienced one of the most painfully devastating losses. Please share with us about Kai. How has your faith in God carried you through such darkness?

Caroline:  My sweet nephew, Kai. After months of vomiting, my 2 year old nephew was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was found during his MRI and he was admitted immediately to the children's hospital. Two days later he had brain surgery to remove the baseball size tumor. The results came back as ATRT which is a very, very rare cancer that only happens in children 0-3. We only had 15 days after Kai's diagnosis before he went to be with Jesus. To say our family was rocked, is an understatement. Even though it's been 2.5 years, I think we are all still processing. God has definitely carried us through, but it's been a struggle. God, if you are healer, then why didn't you heal Kai? We just keep trusting and believing even though we don't have all the answers. 

Caroline with her nephews, Brecken and Treagan; her nieces, Addison and Maya (holding a picture of her brother, Kai); 
and her nephew, Lincoln

Cheryl:  Which causes, in particular, has Kai’s story inspired you to become involved with? How can we help?

Caroline:  We have been very involved in several races, including Head for the Cure and Brain Power 5K. I have also done some fundraisers for St. Jude. Although he wasn't treated there, we believe in what they do!

Cheryl:  As you have walked through grief recovery and are still walking through the pain of infertility, and even in the trials of every day life, what are your favorite Scriptures, books, and other sources of encouragement? Are there specific songs that have been and are a special blessing to you?

Caroline:  My list here could go on and on. There really is so many. My favorite song right now is "Take Courage" by Kristene DiMarco. I love the Streams in the Desert devotional. All of Romans has helped me so much and really any worship music by Bethel has helped me so much on my journey.

Cheryl:  What have you learned about health, along the way? What changes have you made regarding food choices, exercise, and in other areas?

Caroline:  Health has always been important to me, but over the years I have done more research. I'm a big believer of fixing the problem and not masking the problem with medicine. We eat a healthy diet including grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, fish, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables. We stay away from all things processed including refined sugars and breads. We believe what we put in our body does matter and that what we eat can heal our bodies.

Cheryl:  How long have you been running? Please tell us about the marathons you have participated in and how running has positively influenced your life.

Caroline:  I grew up very active. I played soccer all throughout my life and once I started my career and sat in a chair for 8 hours a day, I started working out every day. I have competed in 5 triathlons, 5 half-marathons, and many smaller distances too. I love being active and I think working out goes hand in hand with eating healthy.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about essential oils. How have they benefited you and your husband? How can we order them?

Caroline:  When I was first told about oils, I was not interested. But once I learned more, attended a class, and did research, I was immediately interested. Oils go back to the Bible days and they can help in all areas including health and emotions. You can use them in so many ways including everything from a headache to cleaning your house to combating stress. You can use this link to order or contact me to learn more.

Cheryl:  If you had the opportunity to meet Jesus face-to-face on earth, in human form, what are three things you would you most like to ask Him?

Caroline:  I would love to know why He makes the decisions He does including the timing of healing (or not healing).

Cheryl:  You have some exciting news concerning a project God has recently helped you to complete. Will you share with us about it? How does it feel to have made such an accomplishment? 

Caroline:  Yes, my big news is I wrote a book! I didn't realize it at the time, but it really has been 4.5 years in the making. The Lord kept nudging me to write it, and I finally got serious about it in the fall of 2015. The book is written for anyone who is going through trials and/or waiting on the Lord {which is everyone, right?} It's formatted as a 60 day devotional and my prayer is that it brings hope and encouragement in the waiting. It's title is "In Due Time", which is also the title of my blog.

Cheryl:  How can we order a copy of your new book?

Caroline:  You can purchase a signed copy here. Please use code "homespundevotions" to get 10% off your order + a free bookmark.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?

Caroline:  I would love prayer for my husband and I to conceive a child naturally. I would also love prayer that my book gets in the hands of those who need it.

Cheryl:  Thank you ever so much for your time and willingness to participate in this Inner Views, Caroline.  I am consistently encouraged by your hopeful spirit and never-give-up attitude.  May God bless you and Colby and soon send you the desires of your heart!

It is so hard to understand why loving and devoted couples like Colby and Caroline have not yet been blessed with a baby of their own.
I pray for them often and am standing in faith with them that God will turn their impossibility into a Divine-intervention miracle.

Caroline was kind enough to send me an advance copy of her book
and I have just finished reading it.
It is designed to be read over a span of 60 days, 
but, I tell you the truth, dear friends...
once I got started reading this book, I could not stop.
It is chock-full of encouragement and wisdom that can only be gleaned by actually walking through 
the painful process of waiting upon God.
Here are just a few of my favorite takeaways from the book...
Page 14
"When you can trust God’s character — that He is who He says He is, then you can have faith in His promises — that He will do what He says he will do."
Page 16
"Faith is the currency of heaven and takes you to a very intimate place with your Heavenly Father. When faith is partnered with prayer, it brings blessings down to earth."
Page 32
"It doesn’t matter what problem you are facing, God comforts you in all your affliction. However, He doesn’t want His comfort to stop with you. God desires for you to walk in community, not only with other believers, but also with those people who are in a similar trial as you are. And when you do, you can use the comfort that He has blessed you with to bless others."
Page 34
"In this verse, David encourages believers to wait on the Lord. In fact, he speaks of the promises that the people would inherit not just once, but five times in Psalm 37. He didn’t instruct the people to wait impatiently, with a bad attitude or wrapped in bitterness. Instead, this verse encourages to “keep moving forward steadily in his ways.” Waiting shouldn’t be inactive, but as you wait on God, you should be seeking Him wholeheartedly. You might only take baby steps instead of the giant steps that you desire, but it’s important to make an effort to move forward. Don’t become so impatient that you become stuck and sit still."
Page 47
"What are you praying for? Are your words speaking life as you command your mountain to move, or are they speaking death, which causes your mountain to grow?"
Page 51
"Isaiah 55:9 says that the difference between your thoughts and His thoughts is the difference between heaven and earth. This gap is immeasurable, but when you spend time with Him, this gap grows smaller and smaller. Even though it will never close completely, the closer you are to God, the closer heaven becomes to you."
Page 58
"The valley or “path” referenced in this verse is the Valley of Baca or “weeping.” Although the people in this Psalm wept their way through their desolate and barren valley, they didn’t stay there. In the NIV translation, it says they “passed through.” You, too, are just passing through. Although on the hard days it might not feel as though your time of waiting will ever come to an end, this verse promises that your trial isn’t going to last forever. Often before God blesses His children, he takes them through the barren valleys."
Page 89
"Ultimately, if you so choose, your suffering will bring you closer to God, and He will get all the glory when you come out on the other side of this trial. And then, a testimony of the faithfulness of God is etched inside of you."
Page 106
"Are you feeling weary? In this scripture, Jesus tells you to let go of all your weariness and burdens, take His yoke and find rest in Him. What does the “yoke” in this verse even mean? A yoke is used to attach a team of oxen together to plow a field or pull a heavy load. Two yokes balance the load, with the stronger one in front. In the same way, Jesus wants you to join with Him so that He can carry your burdens. As He leads the way in front, He takes the heaviness of the load and offers His strength to you so that you can find true and peaceful rest as you release your burdens to Him."

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book!
I was so blessed and inspired to read the encouraging thoughts God has laid upon Caroline's heart,
and I hope you will consider going here to order a copy of your own. 😊
As she said, we are all waiting upon the Lord for something, it seems.
Our reasons for waiting may be worlds-apart different,
but the anguish of heart is the same for all of us.
If you find yourself in a season of waiting, you will find much encouragement and support in the pages of the In Due Time Devotional.
And, don't forget!  If you use the "homespundevotions" when you order, you will receive a 10% discount and a free bookmark!!!

God bless you all, and thank you ever so much for your kind support.
We are all in this Christian walk together.
As the quote says,
"We are not placed here to see through each other, but to see each other through."

To read previous
click the links below.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Asking for Help With A Blog Issue

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


Sorry to veer off course here, but I figured the easiest way to find the answer to this problem is to ask you, my fellow bloggers, if you can offer a suggestion to my dilemma.
I know many of you are very proficient, and I would love to tap into your expertise,
if you would be so kind!

Every day, at specific times throughout the day, there is an almost identical spike in my blog traffic.  
It is very methodical and seemingly intentional.
I do not believe the pageviews are "real".
It is just too obvious to be coincidental.
This has been going on every, single day for the past several months.

I think I have narrowed it down to a particular referring website, and I would like to completely block their access to my blog, if at all possible.
Is there a simple way to block a particular website from being able to infiltrate like this?
I have tried to figure this out on my own, but the results I find with just googling it have fallen short in helping me know what to do.
Is anyone else having this same issue?
If you email me privately, I can tell you the exact website that I believe is causing this.
I would love to know if any of you are being bothered like this and how to stop it.
 Any help any of you can provide will be most appreciated!

Thank you ever so much, and may God richly bless you!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Inner Views of Jim Daly

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
I Corinthians 15:58
(KJV)

In these troubled times, as I look around upon the conditions of hostility towards God,
His Word, and Biblical principles, I admit that I often fight discouragement.
I frequently find myself searching for a beacon of spiritual stability...
one that is uncompromising, one that has remained steadfast, in spite of society's changing culture,
one that has maintained a long-lasting history of Godly consistency and integrity.
During these moments, my thoughts often turn to a ministry that has been a profound blessing
to my family and me throughout the years.
Looking back, I can't remember when or how Mom and Dad first became aware of Focus on the Family, but what I can recall is the steady encouragement this ministry has brought into our lives.
Mom and Dad have been called home to glory, they have won their crown, and the race of their earthly pilgrimage has been run.
Now Kevin and I are raising our own dear son, and I cannot express how much it means to know that Focus on the Family still endures, that same steadfast lighthouse of truth, continually pouring encouragement into the lives of families who long to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
They still stand for life, for traditional marriage, and for the old-time foundation of Biblical truth that Mom and Dad strove so hard to instill within me.
It is with great joy and blessed gratitude that we share with you the interview of the man who is now at the helm of this ministry and who is faithfully carrying the same torch of keeping the trust of truth that has been committed to him in this current generation.
He has an amazing testimony of God's redeeming grace,
and you will be abundantly blessed as you read his Inner Views.


The
of
President of Focus on the Family,
Jim Daly.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself. 

Jim:  Well, first of all, thank you, Cheryl, for giving me the opportunity to share with you and your readers.

I’ll introduce myself first as the president of Focus on the Family and host of its radio program, since that is how your readers would most likely know me. I served at Focus for 16 years before being named president in 2005.

But as honored as I am at the opportunity God has given me to lead Focus, I consider being a husband and dad more important. My wife Jean and I married in 1986, and we have two teenage boys, Trent and Troy. We’re also currently caring for two young children in the foster care system. Having a family means the world to me, partly because of my chaotic upbringing.

My dad was an alcoholic and he abandoned the family when I was 5 years old. He died of circumstances related to the disease when I was 12. My mom soon remarried, and our stepfather – although he truly loved my mom – didn’t care for us kids. He abandoned the children after Mom died of cancer when I was 9. We came home from her funeral to find an emptied house.

I went on to spend some time in foster care. I didn’t find a true place of belonging until I became a Christian in high school.

My life is proof that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Why else would He choose an orphan with a troubled upbringing to lead an international Christian organization dedicated to helping families thrive? Truly, all things are possible for God!

Cheryl:  How were you first introduced to the cross of Jesus Christ? When did you surrender your life to Him?

Jim:  Although my mom wasn’t overly religious, she was a good woman who loved us deeply. She taught her children the Golden Rule and had even put me in a church after-school program where I studied the Bible every Wednesday.

But Mom didn’t give her heart to God until the cancer had almost taken her. I thank God that my “adopted” grandparents – neighbors from the happy early days of my childhood – visited Mom when she was at the hospital and led her to Christ.

As a 9-year-old boy who was a nominal churchgoer at best, I was comforted by learning the story of her conversion, but it wasn’t something I really understood.

Fast-forward to 1976, when I was a high school sophomore. I was in desperate need of a male role model… and God brought me Coach Paul Moro.

Coach Moro was the new high school football coach. He was a star college football player, but instead of pursuing the sport professionally, he wanted to coach and mentor high-schoolers.

I’m so glad he did.

Soon, Coach Mo and his wife, Joyce, were inviting me to their house for dinner. For the first time since I was 4, I saw what an intact family situation was like. He pushed me on the field.

And he was a Christian.

I wanted to learn more, so Coach invited me to join him and others from our team to attend a football camp sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The days were filled with practice and training – and our evenings with something called “devotions.”

When the guest speaker started to share about the emptiness he had felt in his life, I felt like he was speaking to me, because I knew that feeling all too well. By the time he was done and asked if anyone wanted to invite Jesus into their life, I knew I wanted God to be a part of my life. One of the leaders helped me pray (I didn’t even know how to do that), and I knew my heart was changed.

Cheryl:  Who do you identify as being the most influential mentor in your walk with the Lord?

Jim:  I’d say that would be Coach Moro. God used him to lead me to Christ, after all.

Cheryl:  How did you become involved with Focus on the Family, and what types of ministry have you participated in during your years working there?

Jim:  After college, I got a job in sales with International Paper, a big company in the field of paper and packaging products. I wasn’t there for long when, to my surprise, I was offered a top position and a six-figure salary.

And that’s when I got a phone call from an old buddy.

My friend told me Focus on the Family had an opening. Now, Jean and I were big fans of the broadcast – but the job I was offered was for a position that paid one-third of the job I could have at International Paper!

The funny thing, however, is that both Jean and I felt God speak to us… and we took the job at Focus.

I started out as an assistant to Dr. Dobson in 1989. In that role I met with ministry donors, thanked them for their support and updated them on our various projects. From there I was able to help the ministry start a new international effort and was appointed international field director for Asia, Africa and Australia in 1992. In 1997 I became the vice president of the International Division. I was named chief operating officer in 2004 and was named president the following year.

Cheryl:  In a culture that is becoming steadily more hostile to the cause of Christ, I cannot begin to tell you how much my family and I appreciate Focus on the Family and the way you, as the current president, are so faithfully maintaining Biblical standards and the soundness of teaching that we have come to rely upon and expect from them. It is such a comfort to know you are there, carrying the torch and fighting for what is right, and I want to personally thank you for your dedicated service. What would you say is the biggest threat we, as Christians, are facing in the current cultural war against evil in these last days?

Jim:  I appreciate your words of encouragement. Biblical fidelity is something we really pray and strive for at Focus. We want to be completely dependent on Him – on His wisdom, His grace, His guiding – especially as we see Christianity maligned by the culture at large.

It’s tempting to say the biggest threat to Christianity in America comes from the outside, through the continued erosion of religious liberties. And certainly, U.S. Christians are facing oppression that’s new to us here, and it’s a serious and important matter. There are attempts to silence Christians and to force them to violate their beliefs, and many of us are feeling that pressure in their work places, in schools and even from the government.

But I fear that the greatest threat to us really comes from within.

American Christians have been in the majority for most of our history. So as we transition to a minority position, the temptation to compromise increases. The snake asked Eve in the Garden, “Did God really say?”, and he asks us the same thing now:

- Did God really create marriage as the lifelong union between one man and one woman?

- Did God really say we’d suffer tribulation and that “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution?” (2 Timothy 3:12)

- Do we really need to share the Gospel and “let our light shine?” – shouldn’t it be good enough to have a private faith?

What will our answer be? Will we affirm what the Bible says is true, or will we doubt His word? I pray the American Church will remain faithful to Him!

Cheryl:  After spending so many years in ministry, what task would you say has been the most fulfilling?

Jim:  I’m an extrovert who loves people, so for me the tasks I enjoy most are people-related.

It’s always fulfilling to speak with people at our events who have been encouraged and helped by Focus on the Family.

It’s also satisfying to host our radio broadcast – what a privilege to talk with so many experts and leaders, and to work on a program that’s heard by more than 6.3 million listeners a week!

Another part of my job that inspires me are my travels to and meetings with the team members in our international offices. During my visits to China, the Middle East, and other areas where there is real government oppression and persecution, I’ve seen the incredible, supernatural faith of my brothers and sisters who thrive and love Jesus under conditions most Americans couldn’t even dream of. The Holy Spirit uses Christians in these countries to convict me of being “soft” in certain areas of my walk, and I’m grateful for that.

One last thing: I find it very encouraging to meet with people on the other side of the issues. I’ve been with homosexual activists and with people who work at Planned Parenthood. It’s an honor to get to know them and share about my faith with them. I’ve even developed a real friendship with some of my ideological opposites, and I’ve seen how God has moved during our times together. I have faith that God can completely transform their hearts – no one is too far from God’s grace.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your books, "Finding Home" and "ReFOCUS: Living A Life That Reflects God's Heart"?

Jim:  “Finding Home” is my autobiography – basically an expanded portion of some of what I shared here. God has redeemed my painful childhood, and for that I am thankful.

ReFOCUS” is my third book, and in it I share my thoughts on engaging the culture in a compassionate and Christlike way. What should our motivation be? How can we stand on principle with Christ’s heart? How should Christians engage as we go from being the majority to being the minority? With everything going on in the political and cultural landscape, it’s still a timely read.

My most recent is “Marriage Done Right: One Man, One Woman,” which was my attempt to challenge each one of us to look within his or her own heart and examine our life and behavior. Marriage isn’t an entitlement. It’s a gift that too many of us have squandered. If we want to preserve and promote God’s definition of marriage, it’s a good idea to spend our time examining His plan and His purpose for it.

Cheryl:  We recently received Focus on the Family's DVD, "Irreplaceable", and, to tell you the truth, as a Christian mother striving hard to raise our teenage son in the fear of the Lord, I was completely appalled to see the things our young people are being bombarded with in this age. As a Christian father of two sons and prominent spiritual leader in this generation, what do you feel are the most important things we should be teaching our children and teenagers? How can we equip them with what they need to stand for God, even if it means standing alone?

Jim:  The most important thing we can teach them is to know and love Jesus, to follow Him, and to live by God’s Word, because in Him we can find everything else – the courage, the hunger for holiness, the grace – needed to “make it” in this increasingly secularized world as the minority.

Another thing that would be wise is to help your children understand their identity in Christ – and that, as Christians, they are in the world but not part of it.

Cheryl:  One of the most wonderful ways Focus on the Family has ministered to us, as a family, through the years, is through Adventures in Odyssey. I cannot begin to tell you how much we all enjoy it and the way the truth of the Gospel is presented in such an understandable and interesting way. Our son also dearly loves and subscribes to Clubhouse Magazine. What other Focus on the Family resources are available for our youth and teens?

Jim:  Again, thank you for your words of encouragement! God has certainly used Adventures in Odyssey – we get notes from college students who listen to it, and from deployed members of our military who listen. AIO fans might be interested in our Adventures in Odyssey Adventure Club, a membership-based program that includes unlimited episode streaming, daily devotionals, a Clubhouse magazine subscription, and exclusive content!

We also have two additional magazines young people would enjoy: Clubhouse, Jr., which is aimed for younger children ages 3 to 7. We’ve also in the middle of relaunching an old favorite: Brio magazine for girls will be coming back!

PluggedIn.com is a great resource that helps parents and teens decide what entertainment choices are best for them.

I encourage young people looking to practice their faith publicly to take part in Bring Your Bible to School Day, which is completely student-led and sponsored by Focus. More than 350,000 students recently participated in the third annual event! That’s a huge number and we’re grateful for it, but I also know there’s much room for growth there. This event is for young people from kindergarten to college.

Older teens and young adults can also benefit from Boundless, our outreach for single adults. It’s a timely resource that helps singles live with godly intentionality and make the most of their current season of life while keeping their eyes on what God may one day have for them.

Cheryl:  As days grow darker and we draw closer to the 2nd coming of Jesus, I perceive that the role of Focus on the Family will become ever more necessary and desperately needed. How can we best support and stand behind this ministry and do our best to insure its continuation and prosperity?

Jim:  God’s light shines more brightly against the dark, so I believe with you that the greatest opportunities for Focus and other like-minded organizations and individuals are ahead!

The best support you can give is to pray for us. Pray for our staff, for our leadership. Pray that we can discern God’s voice and do His will. That we would have creativity to develop good resources that will equip believers, bring hope to the broken, and reach the lost.

Obviously, we are also grateful for the people who give sacrificially to the ministry. We can’t do what we do without the generous donations from our ministry friends. They fund the teams who create our resources – counselors, radio producers, writers, event planners, family help specialists. They make it so we can create resources and run efforts like Focus’ Hope Restored marriage intensives out of Branson, Missouri. We consider our donors to be our partners, and are grateful for all they give.  (Note from Cheryl:  You may donate by clicking HERE.)

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?

Jim:  Thank you for asking.

In 1 Kings 19 we read that God was going to allow his prophet Elijah to stand in His presence. So there came a great wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Then a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

Finally, he heard a voice. God spoke in a “low whisper.”

I have a very busy life. I travel, attend meetings, and carry a heavy responsibility here at Focus.

So I would appreciate prayers for clarity and discernment to hear God’s voice through the busyness, and in spite of this fast-paced life.

I would also be thankful for prayers that I would be the husband and father my family deserves. Jean and the boys are my greatest earthly gifts, and I want to serve them well.

Cheryl:  We cannot thank you enough for your kindness and the gift of your time and participation in Inner Views, Jim.  You are such a blessing to us all, and we are deeply grateful to you for all you do.  May God continually grant you renewed strength, courage, and wisdom in each challenge you face.  May He always protect you and your family and ever keep you close to Him.

Dear readers, how grateful I am that there are still men like Jim Daly, 
who are firmly standing for the right on the front lines in this present time!
Let us keep Jim and the entire Focus on the Family ministry and staff in our regular prayers.
May God prosper and expand their realm of outreach beyond what they can even imagine.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20,21

To read previous
click the links below.