Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Inner Views of Barronelle Stutzman

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12
(KJV)

Some of us have heard and read the above Scripture most of our lives.
We have heard it, and we have shied away from it, because the very word "persecution" automatically strikes a dart of fear into the heart of a Christian and presents images of martyrs and past saints who have suffered immensely, many of them giving their very lives for their refusal to deny Christ.
We not only shy away from 2 Timothy 3:12, but we also have a tendency to pass it on to Christians who live in countries where they are not legally permitted to walk out their faith in an open arena.
We never think it could happen here...to us...in the land of the free.
After all, we live in a country in which the Word of God is its Constitutional core.

It is hard for me to imagine or wrap my mind around the fact that Christians are being targeted, not only in those distant, far-removed countries that are hostile to Christianity, but they are facing persecution right here, in the United States, on American soil, by the very government that was founded upon the tenets of God's Word.
How could this be?
How did we get here?
The thought is beyond alarming.
If our founding fathers were to have the opportunity to come back and see what is going on,
they would not recognize this as being the United States of America.

The dear lady I am interviewing today is one of the sweetest, most soft-spoken people you could ever meet.
She is genuine and sincere to the core, and she loves Jesus with all her heart.
Zach and I recently had the amazing privilege of being a part of an event sponsored by Concerned Women for America, during which we were so blessed to meet her face-to-face and hear her and her attorneys discuss the persecution she and her husband Darold are going through, simply because they are taking a firm stand to defend God's definition of marriage.
We left that encounter saddened and stirred in spirit, yet inspired, and determined to help pray them through this most difficult season of severe testing and trial.
Perhaps you are familiar with her story.
I am grateful and humbled that she so graciously consented to share an interview with us here, and
I know you will be blessed, deeply moved, and challenged as you read her heartfelt words.

Barronelle and her husband, Darold Stutzman

The
of
Barronelle Stutzman

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Barronelle:  I was born in Springfield, Missouri, but soon after our family moved to California because my dad got a job working at Alcatraz. (My family actually lived on the island, even though I don’t remember much about it as I was just a toddler.) Later on, when I was still very young, we moved to Richland, Washington. Soon after our family arrived in Washington, there was a dust bowl, and I remember living with my mom, dad, sister, and our collie dog in an underground basement.

I had really good experiences growing up; however having my parents divorce when I was 13 was difficult. I remember when my mom told me they would wait to get a divorce until all their bills were paid off, and I thought, “Well, that’s not going to happen—there are lots of bills.” But plans must have changed because they divorced anyway.

I have lived nearly my whole life in the Richland area. For several years, we lived in Connell, Washington, which is a small town of about 800 people outside of Richland. I loved Connell. Everyone knows each other as you are constantly seeing each other at the store, post office, or gas station. It’s a great place to raise kids, and often the best entertainment was found with community games and events. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes was playing softball, and if I weren’t so old, I would still be playing.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your Christian testimony.  How old were you when you became a follower of Jesus?  What life events led to that decision?  What are some of the most tangible ways becoming a Christian has transformed your life?

Barronelle:  I was raised in the church, and my mom sang in the choir. I misbehaved in Sunday School so much that I should have been kicked out. So for any Sunday School teachers reading this, please know that there is hope for even the most challenging kids!

My sister and I were supposed to sit in the front pew, with our little white gloves and patent leather shoes, and be quiet. We’d get the stern look if we got out of line.

Growing up, I always thought that being a good Christian meant going to church, praying, reading your Bible, and following the rules. But there is a big difference between being a “token Christian” and being a follower of Christ, which is the true definition of “Christian.” But I didn’t understand the difference for years, and I just lived and behaved like most everyone else.

You see, when we truly believe that God is our life, we change. Instead of living for ourselves, we want to be obedient and faithful to Christ. But because I am full of sin—I have nothing to offer Christ except my sin—I needed the grace of God to save me. I prayed that God would take away my ego, my pride, and give me a childlike faith, that I may do whatever He has set before me.

Cheryl:  Who, in particular, do you credit as being your strongest Christian mentor?  How has this person strengthened you in your walk with Christ?

Barronelle:  When we were dating, Darold, (now my husband), asked me about my relationship with Christ. I was insulted.  “Why would he ask me about my relationship with Christ—can’t he see I’m a lovely, angelic woman?” Eventually, I figured out that he had actually asked me a good question. Even though I was a “token Christian,” I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. I am so thankful that God put Darold into my life.


I used to be very naïve about Scripture, even though I had read the Bible. I was naïve about what it meant to be a child of God, to have spiritual responsibilities. I didn’t know what godliness was all about.

Cheryl:  How did the Lord lead you into the florist business?  What part of this line of work do you enjoy the most?

Barronelle:  My mom bought a shop, and she asked me if I would deliver flowers after I got off work. I didn’t like to deliver flowers. Still, I slowly branched out into many other parts of the business. I learned how to keep the books, and I even started learning to make arrangements. Over the years, I have received training from some excellent floral designers, and I have attended several classes.

What I most enjoy about my business is working with God’s beautiful creation and bringing joy to others through designing. It is such a blessing to create with flowers—it’s art at its best!

Cheryl:  Please share with us about the persecution you are currently facing.  How and when did it start?  Living in a country that proclaims religious liberty, how has what is happening most surprised you?  How has it affected your life?  What will your next step be?

Barronelle:  Washington State passed its same-sex marriage law in 2012. And we were told that this was a matter of “live and let live”—those who disagreed with the law would not be affected. A few months later, Rob, one of my favorite customers, came in to talk about his floral plans for his upcoming marriage with another man named Curt. For years, I knew that Rob was gay. He always came in and picked out unusual vases, described the theme he wanted, and told me to just “do your thing.” I loved the freedom Rob gave me to custom design floral creations for him. He loved my work, and I loved doing designs for him.

Before he could get too far into discussing the details of his wedding, I gently put my hand on his and said, “Rob, I’m sorry. I cannot do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” He said he understood, and we talked for a few more minutes. We hugged each other, and he left. I thought all was fine, and we parted as friends who respected each other, but disagreed over a very important issue.

Within a week or so, without a complaint being filed by Rob, the attorney general sent me a letter explaining that I had to make custom floral arrangements for same-sex weddings. Otherwise, I would be sued. I turned down his ultimatum. Then, the ACLU also got in contact with Rob and Curt, and they also filed a lawsuit against us. Both the state and the ACLU are suing us personally and corporately.

We did nothing wrong. We just have a different view from the state and Rob on what marriage is. We believe it is a union between one man and one woman that signifies the relationship of Christ and his church. Evidently, in America, you can’t act on that belief in the public square.

We received death threats, and people threatened that they would contact all our wholesalers and put us out of business. We notified the police, installed a security system, and have even changed the route I take to work. Still, on the good side, we have had lots of support from all over the world—we have heard from people in 68 different countries.

We have presently lost at two courts, the latest one being the Washington Supreme Court. We are planning to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our case.

Cheryl:  Your forgiving spirit is SO inspiring and moving to me and to so many others.  How have you found it in your heart to forgive when you know that you stand to lose everything...your business, your home, your life's savings, etc.?  How does one come to a place of such forgiveness, even compassion and love, for the very ones who are bringing about such severe persecution and hurt?

Barronelle:  I sin all the time, and yet Christ continually forgives me. So, it is my responsibility to forgive others, including everyone who has filed and pursued this lawsuit against us. Also, even though we have received a lot of hate mail and calls, we do not harbor any spite or animosity toward any of the folks who have sent hate our way. Amidst all the difficulties that this lawsuit has brought into our lives, Darold and I have complete peace about our situation.

We may lose all we own: our business, our life savings, our retirement. We have spent years saving and working to leave our children and grandchildren something. But it is not ours. We must offer our lives to God—that He would use them for His glory. What do I have that is not from His hand? What do I own that is not already His? All I possess in this life is His, and I offer it all back to Him.

Cheryl:  Throughout this ordeal, how has your personal relationship with God been affected or changed?  Have you felt abandoned, or have you felt His presence more intimately as you live out what it truly means to suffer for His name's sake?

Barronelle:  My relationship with Christ has grown stronger and deeper, but I still have a long way to go. I have to rely on Him because this case has brought such a big mess into our lives! Even still, it is exciting to see what He is going to do through all this. We have seen miracle after miracle happen during this case. God is really in control!

God says to count it all joy if you are persecuted. In America, we have faced a softer persecution than people in other parts of the world face. But I am still facing threats to remove me from the public square because of my religious beliefs. Now, more than ever, it’s time to stand and bear witness to the truth.

Cheryl:  Has there been a particular moment that you have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit ministering to you in a very individual and powerful way?  How did He assure you that you were not walking alone?  

Barronelle:  I especially felt God’s presence when I learned that I had breast cancer a number of years ago. I really wanted to be an example of how to lean on Christ. After I found out, we got our prayer group together, and we bowed in prayer. The room was filled with God’s presence.

Many times, God sends us just the right people to encourage us. They tell us their stories, their trials, and they give us the tools to comfort, listen, and just hug. Hugs are the best part.

Cheryl:  It is one thing to talk the talk of a Christian and feel a sense of boldness in times of support and lack of resistance.  It is quite another to walk the walk and stand in firm defense of God's Word while staring straight into the face of opposition and hostility.  When faced with such a situation as yours, it would be so much easier to recant and conform to what is politically correct..to not make waves...to not put one's own interests in jeopardy.  Please share with us about any inward struggle you experienced when you were asked to do something that contradicts the Bible and your personal convictions.

Barronelle:  I struggle with God’s Word. There are things that God says that I don’t like—like watch your tongue! But he gives us the Scripture for our own good. And when we choose to ignore it, we get in trouble. We’d all save ourselves a lot of heartache if we’d just obey the Bible’s teachings.

Cheryl:  How is God turning your and your husband's test into a testimony and a ministry to strengthen and inspire His people?  What doors has He opened for you to be able to share with other Christians? 

Barronelle:  We have been privileged to share our story with so many and encourage people to stand for religious liberty. Some of my favorite moments have been getting to encourage those in the church to stand for God’s truth. And we have been so blessed with the people who have come alongside us to affirm and encourage us. I am still surprised, however, whenever people refer to us as “heroes” or “saints.” The truth is that we are just simple people. You might say that God picks the most unlikely men and women to serve Him and further His purposes, and I suppose that’s why He picked us.

Cheryl:  What would you identify as being the greatest threat to religious freedom in our current culture?

Barronelle:  Our greatest threat is when Christians don’t stand for the truth, out of fear of punishment. Too often, we fear losing revenue or our jobs. The fact is: none of this is going away any time soon. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you.

Cheryl:  We recently heard you speak, and my heart was stirred when you mentioned how much you appreciate the way so many have stood behind you, and you asked that we not only stand behind you, but that we stand WITH you  Please tell us how we can most effectively stand with you in the fiery trial you are walking through?  What are some of the things we can do to support and encourage you?

Barronelle:  People always tell us they are standing with us. We cannot fight this battle alone. The future of our Constitution and our freedoms are at stake—our freedom to live out our faith in the public square is at stake. So talk to your congressman, get involved with your school board, or run for city council. Whatever you do, don’t stay silent.

Cheryl:  In Luke 9:26 Jesus says, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels."  As Christians, we would all like to think that we possess the necessary courage to do the right thing, should we be faced with a situation like yours...that we would not be ashamed of Jesus and His holiness, regardless of personal cost.  In that crucial moment of decision, how does determined faith overcome fear?  Having walked and still walking the difficult path of being the one who stands to lose so much because of your stand for Christ, what advice would you offer to the Christian who may feel a desire to follow your example, but who feels paralyzed by the spirit of fear?

Barronelle:  We all experience fear. But God will not ask you to do something for which He has not prepared you, and you can always be sure that He’ll walk with you through it all. We never thought we would be where we are today.  But here we are, not smarter, or braver, or bolder—just normal people, with a mighty God.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?  Are there specific petitions you would like us to help you lift to the Father?

Barronelle:  There are so many things for which we need prayer. Pray for Rob and Curt, the two men who are suing us. Also, pray for Alliance Defending Freedom and its legal team. What a godly organization that is representing us pro bono! 

Photo by Zachary Smith 
Barronelle with Matt Sharp, Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom

We pray that the U.S. Supreme Court would take our case. And pray for our pastors, that they would stand for biblical principles. And for Darold and me—that we would not fail in our task. Pray for all the persecuted Christians around the world (many of whom face things far worse than we do). Through their examples, God has taught us to be bold and shown us that there is a price to pay. Freedom is not free. Christ died for us; what are we willing to do for Him?

Very good question, Barronelle.
What are we willing to do for Him, dear friends?

The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Barronelle and Darold, legally.  

Just a few days ago, they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case.

I am copying a quote from ADF here...

"When some of our Ministry Friends heard about Barronelle’s situation, they immediately responded with a $2 million matching grant to help with the huge expenses of taking her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that any gift you make will be doubled, dollar for dollar, to go twice as far to defend Barronelle and others like her.

Her case could make a big difference to the religious freedom of all Americans."

If you feel led to contribute to this cause, please click HERE.

At the end of one of Barronelle's responses, she said this,
"Don’t think that it can’t happen to you."

Barronelle and Darold's story could be your story...or mine.

We can no longer afford the "luxury" of sitting on the sidelines, refusing to take a stand.
Religious liberty for ALL of us is at stake and more in peril than it has ever been in our country.

If you aren't already doing so, please remember Barronelle and Darold in your prayers,
praying specifically for the requests shared in this interview.

Thank you ever so much, Barronelle, for taking time to share your heart with us!
We are so thankful for you and Darold, and we stand united with you in this battle.

"If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:31

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Romans 8:37

On a side note, Zach was asked to photograph the event where we met Barronelle.
 This one is my favorite.

Photo by Zachary Smith

Barronelle stood, hand-in-hand with another persecuted brother in Christ, Kelvin Cochran,
as many pastors gathered around and prayed over them.
Such a beautiful sight, and the presence of God was SO real in that room!
I will never forget it.
This picture speaks a thousand words!
Two precious children of God, standing in front of the flag that represents the freedom our ancestors bled and died to preserve!
A flag that represents "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for ALL."
Dear Lord, help us!
How have we drifted so far?


Photo by Zachary Smith
Barronelle & Darold Stutzman

"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


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

What A Miracle Looks Like

"He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles."
Job 5:9
(KJV)

I just want to praise God and report that Kristen and baby Eli are doing very well!!!!!
Oh, this little guy is so precious, and he just grows cuter and sweeter day by day!!
What a blessing from God!
(To read first post about Baby Eli's entrance into this world, click HERE!!)
We cannot stop praising Him for this amazing miracle.


Isn't he just adorable?????

And the look on the faces of his dear, sweet parents just melt my heart!!!


Have you ever seen anything so precious in your entire life?
This is one loved and cherished little baby boy!!!!!

I tell you, I look back over the last several months and all of the worry and fear and trauma my dear niece has endured, and I just feel like I could never, in a million years, praise God enough!
The outcome is exactly what we prayed for and believed God to provide.

"Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
And their eyes were opened..."
Matthew 9:29-30

We would still appreciate your continued prayers that God will keep them both safe and well 
and not allow any more blood clots or complications.
Our family is so appreciative of every prayer you have prayed and ways you have reached out to us during this awful trial.
We love each one of you so much and praise God to have such an amazing support system.
May He bless each one of you abundantly!!!

Dear friends, I do not know what you may be going through today or what type of heartache
you may be called upon to bear, but I just want to encourage you.
God is still on the throne.
He still loves you.
Your life may not be void of problems, trials, sorrow, hurt, and disappointment,
but He is WITH you, through it all.
We live in a fallen world.
We suffer.
We are betrayed.
We cry.
We question God and ask Him why.
We struggle, because even in our most doubt-filled moments, we still know and believe that He has the power to prevent hard things from coming into our lives, and that is one of the main causes of our confusion and disillusionment.
We believe that God is in control, and He has the ability to stop bad things from touching our lives,
so why in the world doesn't He do that?
Why does He permit such?

I do not, nor do I claim to, have the answers.
I ask the same questions more often than I care to admit.
I don't know the mind of God.
His thoughts are so far above mine, that the two cannot, nor will they ever, be reconciled.
But, this I do know.
God never promised we would not go through difficult things, but He did promise to go through them with us.
And, He does.
Even when it doesn't feel like it.
Even when we cannot sense His presence.
Even when things seem to only get worse when we pray.
He is there.
"...lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Matthew 28:20

I do not know why my dear niece had to go through the anguish she has endured,
but I do know this.
When I look at this picture, I see the end result of her suffering.


A perfectly-formed, completely healthy, happy, contented, precious baby boy
who makes this face when his Mommy kisses his nose!

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

Oh, PRAISE GOD!!!!!

There is a beginning and an end to every trial, my friend.
Your morning will come.
The end result will be beautiful.
God is now working on your behalf.
Even though this season my be beyond difficult, this too shall pass.
Please keep encouraged, always, and let me know how I can pray for you.

I want you to know that as I compose this post, I am praying for every, single person who will ever read these words.
You are loved.
Don't ever forget it.

************************************************

And, in case you haven't noticed in the upper right sidebar,
I also wanted to let you know that the goal has been met for the Cooper family to pay off the remainder of Megan's funeral expenses!!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you to each one who made this happen!

The family would like to share this message with you.

"We, the family of Josh and Megan Cooper. would like to thank EVERYONE who helped in any way with Megan's funeral expenses. There are no words in our hearts that can express how thankful and blessed we are for everything that everyone has done for us through this time of sorrow. We truly appreciate the many prayers for the family, especially for Josh and little Sierra, the acts of kindness and sympathy, food, flowers, donations, cards, visits, phone calls, and kind words spoken to our family.  We truly appreciate it very much!!  May God bless each and every one of you."
    The Family of Josh and Megan Cooper

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And, speaking of prayer, I now leave you with a very special picture and story, followed by a beautiful song sung by my all-time favorite singer, Ricky Skaggs.
I first heard him sing on Moon Mullins' bluegrass program when I was 14.
You just remember moments like that.
Mom and I were parked in front of Dad's work, listening to the radio while waiting to pick Dad up,
when this voice came on the radio.
It was the kind of voice that just makes you stop and pay attention.
From that moment until this, he has been, and will always remain, my favorite.

Several years later, Kevin and I fulfilled a lifelong dream when we went to Nashville for our honeymoon.
While there, Ricky Skaggs was filming a "Hee Haw" episode, and we were so blessed to be able to attend as members of the live audience.
After the show, he was kind enough to stop and talk to us and give Kevin time to take this picture.


The day Kevin and I met my musical hero, Ricky Skaggs

Let Ricky's song remind you that somebody's prayin' for YOU!!


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Introducing....Baby Eli!!!!!! All Glory To God!!!!!!!

"Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! 
You are clothed with splendor and majesty..."
Psalm 104:1
(ESV)

For months I have longed to write this post.
And, now, dear friends, here it is!!!!!
I wish I had a larger font capability to say,
PRAISE GOD!!!!
Only HE could do what has been done!

Remember this little guy?


So many prayers have been prayed for him over the course of the past several months.
This morning, our dear Lord answered those many prayers, and He allowed him to make his grand entrance into this world...perfect and beautiful and more precious than words!

It is with great praise and honor and glory to God that Kristen and Mike introduce to you....
Baby Eli!!!!!!!!!!!

Just look at that sweet, beautiful face!!!
I tell you, my heart is so full of praise and gratitude to the dear Lord, I hardly know what to say!!!
Sometimes, all you can do is cry!!!!!!
There are just no words.

Zachary says that God has very BIG plans for Eli.
The name Eli means - "High, ascended, my God!"
And, how we glorify our great God this morning!!!!!

Seeing the look on my dear niece's face and the sweet, little bundle of joy in her arms fills my heart with a gratitude that can not be expressed in mere words!
The picture above surely speaks for itself.
To see how God has moved into the scene of this situation and allowed Kristen to go full term without premature labor and to watch how He spared both of their lives and permitted little Eli to be born healthy is what a modern-day miracle looks like.

My heart is deeply humbled by the overwhelming outpouring of prayers, love, encouragement, comfort, and kindness each one of you have extended to and upon behalf of my dear niece, Kristen, Mike, and their precious, precious baby boy, Eli.
I wish I could somehow convey to you all that is in my heart, but words fail me.
Every, single prayer you have prayed has been so deeply appreciated by all of us, and it has been heard and answered by our loving Father in Heaven.
I know some of you have even given up food to add fasting to your prayers, and I cannot begin to express how much this has moved and touched our hearts.

You are the body of Christ, His hands and His feet,
and you are very dear to me.
"Thank you" seems to sound so inadequate.

You have faithfully and tirelessly shared in the carrying of this burden, 
and now, today, I invite you to rejoice with dear Kristen and Mike and their brand-new, miracle baby boy, Eli!!!

And, dear friends, I ask you to please bear with me in asking for your continued prayers for Kristen in the days to come, as she will remain at risk for another blood clot for the next three months.
BUT, God!
He is still on the throne, as He has so vividly demonstrated this morning, and we know that if He can do what He just did, He can do ANYthing and everything that we ask.
Truly, He has, once again, fulfilled His promise in Ephesians 3:20.
He has done "exceeding, abundantly ABOVE all we could ask or think"!
Praise His holy name!!

I could NOT wait to share this news, and it feels like a thousand pounds has been lifted!
This trial has seemed never-ending, but, oh, the end result!!!!

"THANK YOU, DEAR LORD, from the bottom of my grateful heart for what You have done!"

"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods."
Psalm 135:5


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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Time Draws Near - PLEASE Keep Praying!

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7
(KJV)


Happy 4tof July!
I am SO grateful to God for being born in this amazing land of the free.
It is with deep gratitude that I observe this Independence Day and reflect upon the many brave souls who have given their all to preserve that freedom and hand it down to you and me.
My own dear Dad was a brave soldier, and Kevin's Dad is one of the few still-living World War II veterans.
God bless each one who has served or is actively serving and selflessly putting their lives on the line each and every day to protect the liberty we hold so close to our hearts.

***********************************************

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and given in response to the Cooper Family's need.
It is SO deeply and genuinely appreciated.


There are no words to express gratitude for your prayers, kind words, and generous giving towards Megan's funeral expenses.
If anyone feels led to contribute to the remaining balance owed, you may do so, by clicking on this link.
To all of of you who have donated through the youcaring site or sent funds directly to the funeral home or to the family,
we cannot thank you enough.
My heart is deeply touched and moved by the love and compassion of God's people.
It is a beautiful, precious thing to see.
May the dear Lord bless each one of you in a very special way.
Please do continue to keep this precious family in your prayers.

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I also want to thank you for every prayer you have prayed for my dear niece, Kristen,
through her long and very hard ordeal.
I can't believe it is down to just one more day of waiting!!!!!
Lord willing, she will give birth to her precious baby boy at around 9:00 am tomorrow,
Wednesday, 7/5/2017.

These past several months have felt like an eternity.
I can't even imagine how hard and long they have been for Kristen.
Fear has been a continual and ever foreboding opponent.
So many times, I have fallen to my knees and, from a heart filled with fear,
 begged the dear Lord for mercy upon Kristen and her dear baby.
And, each and every one of those times, God has so graciously extended that mercy.
He has brought her through so many ups and downs, and now we near the time of the grand entrance of this little guy for whom we have all so diligently prayed.


I am glad God doesn't turn away from us because of our fear.
I am ever grateful that His love for us is unconditional,
and He steadfastly keeps every promise He ever made, regardless how faithless and unbelieving we can be sometimes.

Seeing what God has already done, watching Him come on the scene time after time,
feeling the presence of His comforting Spirit, and being a witness to His answers to prayer 
gives me faith to believe that all will go well with both mother and baby tomorrow.

Since Kristen had to stop her blood thinning medication to prepare for the upcoming c-section, they are telling her that she is at high risk for another blood clot from now until 48 hours after birth.
Then, she will go back on blood thinners and will still remain at risk for the next three months.

I am so thankful to know that God is bigger than all of our risks.
He holds this universe in His mighty hands, and He is ever in control over everything that happens in our lives.
Our eyes are upon Him for continued healing, protection, and mercy.

"My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:2


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I am believing God that the next time I post here, it will be a post of praise to our dear and loving Lord for the way He brought Kristen and her baby through!!!
Tomorrow is the day!!!!!!
My family and I deeply appreciate your prayers at this time.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fundraiser Set Up for Cooper Family - Can You Help?

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2
(KJV)

Hello, dear friends!
I come to you with yet another plea...both for prayer, and also to ask for your help.
As you all know, our dear friend, Priscilla's 26 year-old sister-in-law, Megan, was suddenly and tragically killed in a car accident on her way home from work last week.

She left behind her husband, Josh, (Priscilla's brother), and their 7 year-old daughter, Sierra.

 Megan, Josh, and Sierra

Megan did not have life insurance, and the family is left to bear the burden of her funeral and burial expenses.
You can read about Megan's accident here, and her obituary can be read here.

 Sierra and her Mommy, Megan, just days before Megan's death.

YOU CARING ACCOUNT has been set up to receive donations for Josh, to be applied to Megan's remaining funeral expenses.
The family would be most grateful for any and all help, as the Lord leads you to give!
I cannot imagine the pain in the hearts of these two.

Sierra and her Daddy, Josh

I know this family, and I can vouch for the authenticity of this need.
I cannot thank you enough for your support, kindness, and most of all your prayers for them, at this time.
To donate, please click HERE.
God bless you for your generosity!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Updates - 6/21/2017, Prayer Requests, & More Arsenal Scriptures

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

First of all, I want to PRAISE GOD for hearing and answering the many prayers YOU, dear readers,
have prayed over the past few days for the precious nine year old, little girl who has a mass in her stomach.
At the time I asked for prayer, my family did not want to disclose the identity of the little girl,
as my dear sister, Sharon, (her grandmother), had just undergone major surgery and was suffering from complications, and we did not want to alarm or worry her or add to her physical distress.
Now, that we have GREAT news, I will tell you that the little girl is none other than the one I have referred to here on the blog as "Little Miss", my niece, Kim's daughter, Kyla.

Little Miss Kyla

You may remember this sweet picture I shared with you here in 2012.

Two people SO dear to my heart, my precious Mother and sweet "Little Miss" Kyla.
This picture was taken three weeks (to the day) before Jesus called my dear Mom home to Heaven.

The doctors have determined that the mass in Kyla's stomach is BENIGN.
PRAISE GOD for this wonderful news!!
I have to believe that dear Mom is watching over us all, and the many prayers she prayed for all of us for so many years are still being answered.
Kyla does have an epigastric hernia, and she has to have surgery on July 28th. 
We would surely appreciate your continued prayers that all will go well with her during the operation.
We cannot thank you enough for your faithfulness to pray.
We realize the outcome could have been very different, and we have no words to express how grateful we are for God's mercy!

**************************************************

Please continue to pray for my dear friend, Priscilla's family, as they walk through these days of grief,
after the tragic and sudden death of her 26 year-old sister-in-law, Megan.
Megan died in a car wreck on her way home from work last week and left behind a husband, Josh, and a precious seven-year old, daughter, Sierra.

Josh, Sierra, and Megan

Sierra and her mommy, Megan

My heart just breaks as Priscilla tells me how little Sierra goes in and lays out her Daddy's clothes for him, and how she is so concerned with the grief of other family members.
She is truly a precious, loving, little girl, who now has no mother to love and care for her.
Dear friends, PLEASE continue to lift up this dear family in prayer.

Megan did not have life insurance, and the family is left with a lot of expenses that must be paid.
If anyone feels led to reach out and bless them in any way,
please contact me privately.

As a side note....
Many of you will remember THE BROWN FAMILY and how prayer requests and updates concerning them and their tragic August 2014 car accident were the main focus of Homespun Devotions for such a long time.
The same dear friend, Priscilla, who just lost her sister-in-law, Megan, is the same person who personally knows the Brown family and who originally notified me of their need for prayer.
Priscilla is one the dearest and truest friends a person could ever have.
She has prayed my family and me through countless trials, afflictions, and distresses,
never, for a moment, turning her back on us or shying away from standing by our side,
regardless the cost.
She is one of the most faithful, dedicated, intercessory prayer warriors I know.
She not only prays for us and others, but I happen to know that she often gives up her daily food and adds fasting to her prayers, never seeing anything she does as a sacrifice or wanting any attention drawn to it.
She was a precious, beloved friend to my dear Mom for many years, 
often calling her to encourage and lift her spirits during times of pain, abandonment, and despair.
She is one of the few people you can call or email anytime, day or night, and you know, without a doubt, you will find someone on the other end of the computer or phone who will drop everything and fall to their knees.
Through all of life's ups, downs, sorrows, and joys, Priscilla is there, she is a treasure, and friends like her are precious and few.
I cannot begin to say how much Kevin, Zachary, our extended family, and I love and appreciate her and her faithful friendship, love, support, encouragement, loyalty, and prayers through the years,
and it is our prayer that God will reach down and comfort her and her dear family now, 
in their time of need.

*******************************************************
I would so appreciate your continued prayers for my dear niece, Kristen,
and her precious unborn baby boy, as the day approaches when they will do a C-section on July 5th.

Kristen's dear, unborn baby boy

We continue to believe with all our hearts that God will bring Kristen and her baby through
and allow both of them to be alive, healthy, and all to be well, in spite of all.
(For those who do not know, Kristen has a blood clot in her lung, has had to be on blood thinners throughout nearly her entire pregnancy, and is suffering from tachycardia.  She will be taken off blood thinning medication on July 4th, the day before the C-section.)
We ask that you will please continue to pray that God will not allow Kristen to go into labor before July 5th, due to the risk of giving birth while on the blood thinner.

I anxiously look forward to the day that I can share an amazing victory report with you, 
telling you how God has answered the many, many prayers you have prayed for so long!!

Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you."
Matthew 9:29

My faith says that Kristen and her baby will LIVE,
that they will be in GOOD health, 
and they will both have a HUGE testimony to share for many years to come!

Again, I believe Mom's faithful prayers over us all for so many years are still being heard,
and I feel that she is watching over us all.
More and more, I can see and come to greater appreciate the invaluable worth of a praying mother,
and it makes me want to be ever more diligent to pray over and for our own precious son.

*******************************************************************

Many of you already know about the awful trials that our dear fellow blogger and friend,
Kelly-Anne and her family are facing.
They lost their home and everything in it on June 7th.
It is just heart wrenching to see the devastating pictures and read of the pain and loss in Kelly-Anne's latest blog post HERE.
Dear friends, PLEASE PRAY that Kelly-Anne and her family can find a permanent place to live 
that would accommodate her and her family's needs, along with their beloved pets.
Surely, we know God sees all they have suffered and lost, and He has promised to supply their needs.
It is a complete miracle that Kelly-Anne and all of her family members and their pets were
able to get out in time, and that none of them were harmed.
Eight people died in the fires that swept around their home, including their little 3 year old neighbor whom Kelly-Anne and her family used to babysit.
Oh, it is so sad!
May God have mercy and open the right home for Kelly-Anne and her family in the aftermath of all they have gone through and lost.
Please pray!

**********************************************************************
What would we do without Jesus?
To whom would we turn in such times of need and grief and loss?
I am so thankful for the precious Word of God and the comfort it provides.

It is on that note that I leave you with 30 more Scriptures for your Massive Scriptural Arsenal,
along with a song that has encouraged and sustained me through recent trials.

"For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
Isaiah 41:13

"...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Matthew 28:20

"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

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me: Thou shalt stretch forth Thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand shall save me."
Psalm 138:7

"The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."
Job 33:4

"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him."
Isaiah 64:4

"For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."
Psalm 100:5

"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands..."
Isaiah 49:15,16

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

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15

"Be still, and know that I am God...:
Psalm 46:10

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Mark 11:24

"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."
Psalm 24:4,5

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the 
singing of birds is come..."
Song of Solomon 2:11,12

"And the LORD, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed."
Deuteronomy 31:8

"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.
Psalm 103:13

"And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest."
Exodus 33:14

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

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22,23

"My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up."
Psalm 5:3

"And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace."
John 1:16

"Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust."
Psalm 16:1

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Romans 8:26

"The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places."
Habakkuk 3:19

"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."
Isaiah 43:19

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"
Matthew 6:26

"In the day when I cried Thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul."
Psalm 138:3

"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
Romans 8:32

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Jeremiah 29:11


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God bless you and meet any needs you have, my friends.
I love and appreciate each one of you so very much!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Building An Arsenal of Scripture - Part 2 & Update On Kristen & Two New Urgent Prayer Requests

"Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, that made heaven and earth..."
2 Chronicles 2:12
(KJV)


UPDATE ON KRISTEN:
Thank you all SO very much for your continued prayers for my dear niece, Kristen.
Her three doctors have finally come to an agreement on a definite due date, praise God.
This is such a relief to all of us.
They have made the long-dreaded switch in the two medications,
and they have scheduled a C-section for July 5th.
They plan to have her off the blood thinners just one day ahead of surgery,
so if you could please pray that Kristen will not go into labor before the date of the C-section,
we would be most grateful.
Also, if you will, please pray that she will not develop other blood clots while off the medication,
and we are hoping her platelets and levels will be such that she can withstand an epidural to be able to be awake to experience the birth.
Surely, our trust is in the dear Lord, Who made Heaven and earth.
He is the Great Physician.
He is Jehovah Rapha - The God Who heals.
"And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: 
for I am the LORD that healeth thee."
Exodus 15:26
We are believing He will show His power through Kristen's situation.
I cannot wait to share the victory report here with so many of you
who have so faithfully prayed her through this awful ordeal.

I do not have words to express how much your prayers and loving support mean to my family and me.
We feel so blessed to have all of you in our lives and to know that so many of you are praying and interceding on behalf of my dear niece and her baby.
God bless each one of you, and may He reward you for your sacrifice and meet any needs you have in your own lives.

*************************************************************

I also have two NEW very urgent requests for prayer.

Today, I received news about a precious nine year old little girl who has a mass in her stomach.
Dear friends, PLEASE pray that God will heal this dear child and not allow the mass to be anything serious.
Needless to say, the family is very concerned and trusting God for good news.
We know God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think,
and our eyes are upon HIM and His power to heal.

************************************************************

Last night, I received news that my dear friend, Priscilla's sister-in-law, Megan, was killed in a car wreck yesterday evening on her way home from work.
She was only 26 years old and left behind her husband, Josh, their little 7 year old girl, Sierra, and many other loved ones.
My friend and her family are in complete shock over what has happened,
and the dear little girl, of course, does not understand and is asking so many questions.

 Megan, Josh, and Sierra

7 year old, Sierra, with her Mommy, Megan, last Saturday

I can't even imagine the pain in this little girl's heart.
PLEASE pray for all who grieve over this tragic loss.

*******************************************************************
I'd like to share several more Scriptures that God has been giving me to add to my Massive Scriptural Arsenal, in hopes that they will bless you, and you will be able to memorize them 
and add them to your own Arsenal to have on hand, at all times.

Before I do, though, I want to take this space to PRAISE GOD for bringing me through a very
rough and trying time over the course of the past several months.
The enemy has fought so hard to thwart a particularly difficult endeavor that God called me to.
We all know that wherever God is working, and whenever His purpose is being accomplished,
the enemy is not far away, doing his utmost to kill, steal, and destroy everything God is doing.

"And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him."
Zechariah 3:1

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11

Let me just tell you that the spiritual warfare has been intense, and I remember one night, 
when the battle was particularly fierce that I actually told the Lord out loud,
"I am NOT going to do this."

Yes, I am ashamed and sorry to admit it, but it is what it is.
I am not going to sugar-coat the truth or pretend to be someone I am not.

I was SO discouraged, so exhausted, so physically ill,
I honestly did not think I could take it one more second.
There was a very identifiable, palpable correlation between the weighty task at hand and the severe satanic attacks I was experiencing.
There was no doubt that satan was standing at my right hand to resist me.
NO doubt whatsoever.
I knew exactly what he was doing.
But, when you are sick in body, weary in mind, and diminished in spirit,
it is hard to fight.
You reach a point where you have nothing left.
(If you care to read anymore of the not-so-desirable details,
you may want to read this post and/or this post.)

Praise the Lord, even though I was strongly tempted to run away from the battlefield, 
I finally mustered the courage to pick up my Sword and fight.
All glory to Jesus, I fought clear through and finished the exacting assignment He was asking of me.
It is done.

The lessons He taught during this time of severe testing are ever before me,
and I do not think I shall ever forget them.
I hope to share more about what He has shown me concerning spiritual warfare in a future post,
if He wills it to be so.

For now, here are 20 more verses to add to your M.S.A.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you:  
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings;
that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
I Peter 4:12,13

"Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage:
for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."
Joshua 10:25

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
I Corinthians 16:13

"...for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."
2 Chronicles 20:12

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
Ephesians 6:10

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

"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."
Isaiah 25:4

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
2 Timothy 2:3

"...there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few."
I Samuel 14:6

"The LORD your God which goeth before you, He shall fight for you..."
Deuteronomy 1:30

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalm 126:5,6

"The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction."
Jeremiah 15:11

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."
Ecclesiastes 11:1

"For the LORD will not forsake his people for His great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you His people."
I Samuel 12:22

"And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places..."
Isaiah 32:18

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Philippians 4:13

"Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defense, and thou shalt have plenty of silver."
Job 22:25

"The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build..."
Nehemiah 2:20

"Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Isaiah 55:3

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
Proverbs 18:10

God bless you, dear readers!
I love and appreciate each one of you from the bottom of my heart.

This song is my testimony tonight.
I cannot praise God enough for delivering me, once again.
PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!!!!!

May He soon send deliverance to all of you who are suffering and in battles of your own.


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