Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Three Year Smilestone!

"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)


Homespun Devotions just passed its 3 year anniversary!
Can you believe it??
It is amazing to look back over its life span and discover how it has changed
and evolved since its inception.
You, dear readers, have walked with me....
some of you since the very first post!
Whether you have been here since the beginning,
of if you came on board somewhere along the way,
I can't thank you enough for being here.
It has been a genuine pleasure traveling this winding journey with you.


God has a way of nudging us to fulfill His purpose for our lives.
There was a day I had no desire to start a blog.
There was a time, I didn't know what a blog was!
When Homespun Devotions was first birthed,
it was born of necessity...me feeling a need to write, basically....
trying to sort through spiritual turbulence and endeavoring to give my sanity a way to survive.

Today, all glory be to God, I feel a whole lot different than I did then.
Truthfully, I never thought I would do this long-term...
it was more of a therapeutic device and coping mechanism, in the beginning.
Then, somehow, over time, it metamorphosed into a ministry,
and now, I clearly see, it was by God's design that I ever started it in the first place.
Because, God has taken what started as a way for me to work through the darkness
into a means of reflecting His marvelous light.
I have met countless people who have become forever special to me...
cherished friends whom I have grown to love and appreciate...
people I would never have met in any other way.
What a treasure!

There have been days I have felt like I wanted to quit...
times I felt uninspired....
moments I didn't think anyone was reading and asking myself, "What's the point?"
Every, single time I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel,
one of you...or just someone passing through...
would send an email or leave a comment of encouragement just in the nick of time, 
when I was barely hanging on.
I have never ceased to be amazed at God's perfect timing.

I remember one pivotal day that seemed to be a real turning point.
 I was praying, seeking God's will and mind concerning Homespun Devotions,
wondering if I should continue it or if maybe it had run its course,
asking Him if it was time to move on to something else.
There came a point in my prayer that day that it occurred to me
that I hadn't really ever thought to surrender it over...to Him.
Even though I have always tried my utmost to follow His lead in every post
and write what He laid on my heart, I started to wonder if my vision for Homespun Devotions
was lining up with HIS vision for it.
What direction did He want it to take?
What was His purpose for its future?
I felt myself letting go, as my eyes came wide open to the realization that nothing about my life
is my own...including this.
I can't really call it "my" blog, because, in reality, I am not the owner.

That day, I absolutely told God to take it over...that I was taking my hands off.
I told Him it was His...to do with as HE will.
If He wants it to continue, I will keep going, as long as He gives inspiration.
That if He wants it to come to naught, that is okay, too.
If He doesn't want it, I don't want it either.

It was just a short time after that prayer of surrender that this blog
experienced its biggest surge and growth spurt ever.
The surrender and surge came after a long period of desperately-needed healing and restoration
in the hearts and lives of my family and me.

You see, when God called my little family and me away from our last post of ministry,
none of the 3 of us were in a good place, physically or emotionally.,
The wear and tear and years of forging full-speed ahead...wide-open...
had left us drained.
The demands and beyond-intense strain had worn us down, broken us,
and left us raw in the aftermath.
I'll be honest, at that point, I didn't care if I ever did another thing for another person....or for God.
EVER.
I was tired exhausted beyond measure.
Jaded.
Drained.
Burned. Completely. Out.

God called us out and away from all of that,
into a place of quiet...rest...serenity....peace.
He has led us beside still waters, and, in the process, He has restored our souls.

I have learned the true reality of what "the Lord is my Shepherd" means.
That dear, familiar Psalm holds fresh and new and deeper meaning to me than ever before.
We have experienced His gentle care,
His nurturing love,
and His tender embrace.
After resting in His arms, I find that I have never loved Him more than I do right now.

My relationship with Him is so much closer....so much more intimate....
so very precious.

When I surrendered this blog to Him...totally and completely that day...
God sent the surge, and during that time, something happened inside of me.
I can think of only one way to accurately describe it.
Have you ever gone camping, built a campfire,
then let it die down towards the end of the evening?
You know how it dwindles to a tiny smolder?
How the next morning, sometimes there is still just a tiny bit of smoky activity going on?
Like there is still a little spark doing its utmost to exist and cling to life?

That is one way of describing the state of my spiritual zeal....
before the blog surrender and surge, that is.
Down deep, under the ashes, was a spark of a desire...just a spark, mind you,
because truly that is all I had the strength to muster.
I was the morning-after smolder....
just a faint, smoky rise working its way through the burned out kindling of last night's fire....
barely hanging on, scarcely capable of plowing through the covered-over pile of ash.

Then, the surge happened.
I felt long-buried feelings.
It was like someone came along and poured high-octane fuel on the tiny spark buried under the ashes,
reigniting and rekindling a blazing, roaring fire to an intensity I thought I'd never experience again.

God did this.
Only He could have.
Only He can bring the dead to life again.
Only He can resuscitate what is barely breathing.

As He poured the fuel on that smoldering ash,
I realized that I am no longer on the scrap heap.
I felt new life...renewed strength to rise up from the ashes.
Enough to stand and repeat the words I spoke to Him so long ago,
"Here am I. Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)
I never thought I would utter those words again.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

I have waited upon Him, and during my waiting, the vessel has been remade.
My time in the Potter's house has left me changed.
I am not the broken-to-bits, crushed-beyond-recognition mess I was when I landed on the wheel.

I love the quote that goes something like this,
"God's wheels grind slow, but exceedingly fine."
It has taken time.
It has been a painful process...
this breaking-to-be-made-over-again.
But, every second of the transformation has been necessary...
because God could not optimally use the old vessel. 
There were so many flaws, so many parts of me that were a hindrance to Him.
I see now what I didn't see then.
I was a marred vessel...so incapable of seeing myself for who I really was.
There was so much about my mindset that was so contrary to His purpose.
So much spiritual prejudice.
So much self-righteousness.
So much pride.
So much Pharaseeism.
So much bondage to manmade molds.
God had to break it all to set me free.
He had to lead and bring me to His wheel...
to be remade...all over again.

How could I minister to all of the Corneliuses He would bring across my path,
if I viewed them as unclean, just because they were "different"?

In order for me to reach across the aisle,
God had to let down the sheet...
more times than once, because I don't always get it the first time.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.
And now I say, with Peter,
"God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."
Acts 10:28,34,35
(To read the complete story, start reading at the 1st verse of the 10th chapter of Acts.
You won't be able to put it down!
It is one of my personal favorite examples of how God works on both ends of a situation.)

In the process of my remaking experience, I have learned much.
Things that I hope will enable me to more effectively and sufficiently empathize with and help others.
Maybe they won't have to go through the painful process I have in order to see the light.
Perhaps I can share and comfort and more capably point to the Source of all aid.

As God has changed me, He has changed Homespun Devotions.

Homespun Devotions has evolved into a place
to champion the cause of those who are hurting.
A place to stand in the gap for those who need a hedge of prayer.
A place of intercession, support, and advocacy.

Having a part in these types of ministerial scenarios makes me literally come alive.
It fulfills a deep-seated need to nurture inside my spirit.
It is absolutely what I am called by God to do.
If I go too long without someone to reach out to, my spirit becomes very restless.

I love the way God keeps reinventing us as we walk this Christian journey.
How He takes each experience, both good and bad, and uses them as building blocks
and stepping stones to be used in our next season of ministry.
Looking back, I can see so many places He has done this,
and I know He is doing this still.

The Scripture God is giving me right now...both on a personal level for my family and me
and for Homespun Devotions is found in Isaiah 43:19.
"Behold, I will do a new thing;
now it shall spring forth;
shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."

There is something so exciting about the word "new",
especially when God speaks it to you, on an individual level,
and lets you know that there is something brand-new in store.

I can't wait to see where He takes us...and Homespun Devotions....next!!
I hope you will stay on board with us and watch His exciting plans unfold!!
Thank you ever so much for your faithfulness and support.
God bless each one who stops by here....
***************************************************************
Now for a couple of exciting updates!
Today, I heard from Chris Thompson concerning Connie Flanders.


This is what Chris said,
"Update!  The doctors have lowered the sedation medication,
and Connie is AWAKE!
She is still on the vent, but I am so glad that they finally let her wake up.
Last I heard, she is calm.
She can't speak because of the vent in her trachea, but Mickey said that she moves her lips.
I have no news about her pancreas yet.
Last I heard, it was about the same.
BUT, I feel that is about to change!
Thanks for the prayers!!
Love ya."

Thank you, sweet Jesus, and all glory be to GOD!!

I cannot thank Him enough for what He is doing for Connie,
and for what I know He is yet to do.
Her miracle is coming...I believe this with all my heart!

Please keep praying for her and interceding to God on her behalf.
(Click here to read the ORIGINAL POST ABOUT CONNIE.)

****************************************************
Little 2 year old Max Brown's mommy, Shyla,
shared this...and I couldn't wait to share it with you here!

"Someone is mobile.....he did not even have to be taught."

And now, just watch this miracle unfold a little bit more....
(if you are reading this by email, you will have to click here
to be re-directed to Homespun Devotions to view the video.)



All I can say again, is thank you dear, precious Lord!
God still answers prayer, dear friends.

If  anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.
1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.

Please mail donations to:

Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
OR
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

Most of all, please continue to lift them to our Heavenly Father in prayer.

(To read previous posts about the Brown Family,
click ORIGINAL POST,
and 1ST UPDATE,
and 2ND UPDATE,
 and 3RD UPDATE,
and 4TH UPDATE,
and 5TH UPDATE,
and 6TH UPDATE,
and 7TH UPDATE,
and 8TH UPDATE,
and 9TH UPDATE.
and 15TH UPDATE,
and 16TH UPDATE,
and 17TH UPDATE
and 18TH UPDATE,
and 19TH UPDATE.)

32 comments:

  1. Happy blogiversary Cheryl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Congratulations on your blog! I loved your testimony. :) I'm glad I found your blog. The day I stumbled upon it was a big day for me, as well, because I was losing hope in my situation until I read your blog, which I know the Lord led me to because I was in desperate prayer. That's still my favorite post, ever.

    I'm glad to hear the good news of Connie and Max. :) Every time I see that little boy, I think of my own 2-year old and how very hard that must be. :( It makes me so sad. I'm really glad to hear the good news of these two. Thank you.

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    1. Oh, bless your dear heart! I SO appreciated your sweet words. It blesses me to know that you found encouragement here, and your consistent encouragement back to me is something I treasure. It is sweet friends like you who keep me motivated to press on and keep writing here. Thank you ever so much for being such a support and blessing to me. I am praying for you. :)

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  3. Congratulations, and thank you for serving the Lord so faithfully! You are blessing many of us right now... :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth! Your kind words brought me to tears. You are such a blessing to me, and I love reading your Bible studies. So thankful to have "met" you through this, and I can't thank God enough for allowing our paths to cross. I hope you are feeling much better. I am praying for you.

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  4. Congratulations and thank you! Wow!! So glad to see little Max up and moving!! and glad to hear about Connies health improvements as well. All are still remaining in my prayers. Thank you again Cheryl, you are a blessing to all.

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Carol! Your prayers and kind comments are such a dear blessing to me. God bless you in a big way in return! Much love to you.

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  5. Happiest Anniversary, Cheryl! I love this blog, and I'm so glad that God had you stay in Blog Land. You know, I can't even remember how I *discovered* your blog. But, though I can't remember the exact way, I do know that God led us to each other. I have so enjoyed getting to know you better, and having you share this faith journey with me is beyond special!

    May the Lord continue to use you in the lives of so many people. You're a prayer warrior with a big, tender heart. I can't wait to see what God unfolds in your life, and in your writing. It will be wonderful - for I know that you are dedicated to reflecting Him in all you do and say.

    Some day I'll have to share my rather "unlikely" start with blogging. There was also a day when I had no intention of starting a blog. But, 4 1/2 years later, here I am. I'm grateful for this venue to share my heart and my life with others. And you, friend, are one of the most encouraging sisters I know. Thank you for you, and for your presence in my life!

    Great news on Connie and Max. Oh, what an amazing God we have.

    GOD BLESS...(and I love you, too)

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    1. And, I love you, dear friend! I can't remember how I found your blog, either, but oh, how I thank GOD that we found each other! For you have enriched my life in so many wonderful ways! Your precious words here today meant so much more to me than I could every hope to express! Thank you ever so much for this dear encouragement. I would love to hear your story of how you started blogging...I know with all my heart that GOD was in it all the way, because you are such a blessing to SO many through the words that flow from your obedient heart. I am so grateful God is allowing us to walk this life and journey together. I am praying for you, sweet friend, and I know God is going to continue to use you in amazing ways...how I thank Him for you and that He allows you to be such a special part of my life!!

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  6. Congrats on 3 yrs! May God bless you as you continue to serve Him! You have been an encouragement to me in my walk with the Lord :)

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    1. OH, thank you so much! Your words blessed me more than I could ever express. So very thankful God allowed our paths to cross. :)

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  7. Happy Blogiversary! I agree with everything you said from not knowing who's reading your blog and is it worth it to God's perfect timing. I believe no matter the numbers, as long as at least one person enjoyed your blog then it's worth it. You never know what that one person is going through or who they may bless by reading your words. I'm glad you hung in there or else I wouldn't have stumbled upon this blog when I did! Thanks!

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    1. You are SO right, Serena! And I am so glad I hung in there, as it has been such a blessing to meet you, too! You have so much good health knowledge and advice. It is a true wealth of information to explore your blog. I can't thank you enough for every kind word you have ever left here. So thankful to know you. God bless you and your sweet family.

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  8. What a blessing this post is. I think it says it all.
    What we do should be God honoring or it will not last.
    This little place on the big `net has become a place of encouragement and prayer for many.
    Thank you for keeping us updated on all that God is doing in your life and others.
    Happy Blogiversary!

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    1. Oh, Michelle! Your dear words touched my heart so deeply! What a blessing you are to me! Thank you for every time you have left encouragement for me here and for every kind word. May the dear Lord bless you richly and keep you in His care. Much love to you.

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  9. Congratulations! I know the feelings associated with writing, the good and the bad. You've developed a wonderful perspective and wisdom by being open and seeking the hand and will of our Father in your ministry. I pray for His blessings on you and your work, sister. Keep running the good race!

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    1. Floyd, your words are always so encouraging. I cannot thank you enough for stopping by and taking the time to leave comments. And your prayers are appreciated more than you will ever know. I pray for God's richest blessings upon you and your family, as well.

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  10. Cheryl, I remember coming across your blog and bookmarking it. It was special from day one! You have been a blessing to me. I love your posts. Thank you for caring and loving everyone. I can't wait to tell Connie about you. I told her Saturday and she smiled, but she is still under the effects of all the medicine. I know that she will want to meet you. We may all have to meet half way one day. Her family are all so appreciative for your prayers and the posts. Tonight, I showed the girls how your top popular post was the one about Connie and the Brown children. They thought it was awesome to see their mom's post at the top of the list. It makes them feel good to know that people are praying. You are also a wonderful example for them by showing them how Christians ought to pray for each other, even those they don't know really well. They think a lot of you. We all do!
    God bless you and Homespun Devotions!
    Love ya!

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    1. Oh, Chris! Your words touched me SO deeply. You are such a blessing to me, as well. I can't wait to meet Connie someday, and it will be such a blessing to share in her victory!! Her dear, precious girls! I am SO grateful if this has been a blessing to them. My heart goes out to them so much, and to know that they had to go for so long without seeing their Mom, then to see her in her current state. I am SO thankful they have you in their lives. I surely think a lot of all of you, too, and it is just such a blessing that God allowed our paths to cross. My love to you ALL.

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  11. I am so thrilled to see little Max up! Thanks for sharing that video. God has us all on His potter's wheel. Thanks for mentioning that in this post. I have been thinking on that subject for the past week.
    God bless.
    Love ya

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    1. I know what you mean...I was SO happy and grateful to see little Max sitting up and moving that wheelchair and his head. Oh, it is such a BIG improvement over the condition he was in when I went to see him last month. God is healing these precious children, and He cannot be praised enough for all He has done and is doing and will continue to do!! Love you, dear sister.

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  12. God bless you Cheryl as you continuing writing on the blog that belongs to Jesus. Happy anniversary for three years of faithfulness. Thank you for sharing at 'tell me a story.'

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    1. The blog that belongs to Jesus...I LOVE the sounds of that, Hazel. Thank you for understanding my heart, and for your kind words! Much love to you.

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  13. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! It is very encouraging!

    Thank you also for linking up with the Art of Home-Making Mondays each week. You are a blessing :)

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    1. Thank you so much, JES! Your dear, kind words meant so much to me today. Thank you for being such a consistent encouragement to me and for hosting the weekly link-up. God bless you richly...and sending much love to you today.

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  14. Dear Cheryl,
    Congratulations on your 'smilestone'. It is always so encouraging when I stop by here...so happy I found your blog. :-)
    I pray the Lord will continue to lead and guide you in all that you do. Thank you for your prayers and for being such a sweet friend.
    Much love,
    ~Melanie

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    1. Oh, Melanie! It was so nice to see you here today and to read your precious words! You are a dear, sweet friend to me, and one who has sustained me in the battle. I am praying for you and your dear family as you walk through these hard places in your ministry. God is with you, and He is holding you..."The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27. I could never thank you enough for your sweet friendship and kind words. God bless you!!

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  15. What a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL testimony to the redeeming power of God's love. I adore your word picture of the smoldering campfire ember. God could have chosen to snuff out that one last spark, but through your surrender, he delight to have it into a bright glowing flame for His glory and your good. Amazing! I'm so glad we're linkup neighbors at Jennifer's today.

    Blessings on the next three years...or however many God leads you in this ministry of words.
    -Becky
    www.beckykeife.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Becky! I was so touched by your sweet words, and they were such an encouragement. I can't thank you enough for stopping by and leaving such a blessing behind! God bless you, as well.

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  16. Happy blog anniversary! Three years is awesome!!

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