Friday, June 17, 2016

A Cure For The "If Onlys"

Hey Friend,

I have always been convinced that there is no such thing as coincidence.  The events of this week convinced me even more that this is so.

My husband and I have many bookshelves in our home that are filled.  We also have sixteen boxes of books in our attic.  In an attempt to pare down, lighten the load, and simplify, we started going through the boxes to see which books we'd like to donate to a local charity that has a second hand bookstore.

Meanwhile, some conversations and yes, arguments have been taking place with one of my adult children over the past several weeks.  Even as adults, my children take turns at making me want to pull my colored-over, gray hair out by the roots lol.  I love my children with all my heart, but sometimes their behavior makes me question how much I like them at the moment. 

Anyway, all of this has had me going back over my parenting in my mind.  I wondered...if only I had done that differently, would they not be acting this way?  If only I had been more ___________.  If only I had been less ______.

Always the question:

If I had done something different then, would things be different now?

No matter what your stage of parenting, I don't know many parents who haven't been plagued by the "if onlys" at one point or another. 

As I was mulling this over in my mind while sifting through books, I came across an autographed copy of John Rosemond's popular book, "Because I Said So!"  John Rosemond is a columnist and widely read "authority" on child rearing and family life.  My dad had given me this book when I was a young parent. 

My first thought, while cradling this gift, was "If only I had taken more of his (John Rosemond's) advice to heart."  My dad and Mr. Rosemond were of the same school of thought when it came to parenting...practical and no-nonsense!!

I flipped through the pages while thinking that this was a book I wanted to hold onto - for my children's children.  That's when it fell out.  The sheet with my father's sermon notes from a sermon given in 2001 by a Pastor Dennison.  The message was (not coincidentally) entitled, "A Cure For The If Onlys". 

Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at my father's words written in block print (tell tale sign he was an engineer).  My dad passed away five years ago and there have been so many times when I would have loved to have been able to ask him what he'd do in a given situation.  How would he handle my children?

And here in front of me was the answer to my mulling.  My dad's sermon notes sitting in my hand.  Now tell me that God doesn't have perfect timing??!!  I felt like my dad's hand and heart were reaching down to me from above.  Definitely a "God moment".  I'm sharing my dad's sermon notes here with you.  I hope and pray they can be a balm and comfort to your heart as they were to mine....

A Cure For The "If Onlys"
"Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers...and he brought their father a bad report about them.  Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him."  (Genesis 37:2b-3)

Truth:  We tend to live our lives in the PAST or in the FUTURE, but faith can only be exercised in the NOW.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  (Romans 8:28)

Truth:  If we trust God with the PRESENT, the PAST is gone and our FUTURE is assured.


"When his brothers saw that their father loved him (Joseph) more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him."  (Genesis 37:4)

Truth:  God is at work through FAILURE and REGRET to fulfill His plan.

LOOK: at the stories of Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his Brothers, The Prodigal and the Elder Brother.


Truth:  Life is full of foolish DECISIONS.

LOOK: at Jacob's "If Onlys", Joseph's, Reuben's, Yours and mine.  They range from lying, to favoritism, to adultery, to murder and more. 


  •      Believe God has a PLAN for us.
  •      Believe God is in CONTROL.
  •      Believe God can and will FULFILL His plan.
  •      Believe God has the POWER.
Truth:  God is at work through my FAILURES and REGRETS to fulfill His plan.

LOOK: at the stories of Peter and Judas.  They both denied and betrayed Christ, but God still used their failures and regrets to fulfill His awesome plan.    
end notes

What this tells me is that no matter how badly I screw up, no matter how many mistakes I make, no matter how many "if onlys" I have...God is STILL able to redeem them, redeem me, redeem my children, and fill in the GAPS with His love.

Our mistakes DO NOT...CANNOT thwart the sovereign will of God!

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8: 37-39)

This post is dedicated to my loving dad,
Ted Senter
who waits for me and continues to look
down over me from heaven.
Thank you for this gift...
I love you dad and miss you...Happy Father's Day!
Me xoxo

ps.  I will be taking some time off for some R&R and visitors from the North.  I plan to be back at my laptop around the 8th of July.  If you missed it, I invite you to listen in to my interview with Holly Barrett on her podcast...just click the link below or look back through the Archives for posts you may have missed...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sharing My Heart (plus podcast)

Hey Friend,

This week I am blessed to be doing something REALLY different.  I was invited by Holly Barrett, writer of "Living a Redeemed Life" and popular Christian blogger, to be her guest on her weekly podcast series. 

I have not met Holly in person, but have linked up many times with her "Testimony Tuesday" blogging linkup.  I've read Holly's writing and folks, she is the real deal.  I love Holly's candor in her writing and after chatting with her before and during the podcast, I felt like I had known Holly for years.  Then, when you put two southern gals together...who knows where the conversation will take you lol.

If you've read my blog before, you probably know that I champion a ministry called Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  You may have wondered, how did a middle-aged homemaker from North Carolina come to start a Christian education ministry in the Middle East?? 

Well here's your chance to get some answers plus a whole lot more on my blog, my ministry, and how God has redeemed me from the pit in order that I might praise Him and give Him the glory.  In our conversation I share my heart, my passion, and what makes me tick.

I hope you'll tune in and listen to our conversation while you're washing dishes, paying the bills, or folding laundry...I truly hope that it will bring a smile and encouragement to your day.

Just click on this podcast hyperlink to the interview:

After the interview, I hope you'll stick around Holly's place to read her blog and check out her amazing story and what she is doing to further God's kingdom.

I also invite you to follow the link on the Podcast notes to Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. to read more about how we are helping orphaned and impoverished children in the Middle East reclaim a redeemed life and how you can be part of the story!!

When this was taped, the Pittsburgh Penguins had just started the final series with San Jose.  I don't want to mess with MOJO, but I sincerely hope that by week's end we will be hoisting the CUP!!!  Yes, I bleed black and gold...Let's go Pens!!

Holly and I shared a lot of laughs as well as some deep conversation.  We'd love to have you join you there...

Be blessed...

 ps.  Holly loves to hear from her listeners, so let her know your thoughts and I pray you'll keep tuning in to her uplifting and encouraging podcasts. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"Hey Day" - A Redemption Story

Hey Friend,

I remember a time that I was going through the check out line at the grocery store with my son and daughter when they were young.  My son sat perched in the front of the cart while my daughter hung on the side.  The young man bagging the groceries snagged the gallon of milk and slapped a little orange sticker that said "Paid" on the jug of milk and shoved it under the cart.

My daughter, into reading everything at this point, asked me, "Mommy, what does this say?" 

"That says 'Paid',"  I told her while fiddling through my purse in order to pay the cashier.

"Well why did he put this sticker on the milk?" she asked with typical childhood curiosity.

"That tells people that I paid for that jug of milk," I said - still somewhat distracted.

Leave it to my daughter to pull the sticker off the jug of milk.  Then she tugged on my arm until I bent down to her level.

"Here ya go Mommy," she said, as she proudly stuck the orange sticker on my forehead, "you've been paid for!"

Out of the mouths of babes such truth will come...

That was quite a few years ago.  Little did I know, at that point, that in a few years, my husband would walk out the door and abandon me and in the process leave our children in the wake.  I knew and experienced the sacrifices that go into being a single mom.  These women are heroes in my book.

My husband and I reconciled about a year later. Ten years later, he left again.  Abandoned not once...but twice.  It felt like I had the word "unworthy" seared upon my forehead.  Separation and divorce do nothing for one's self esteem.  I thought I was about as low as a person could go...

That was until the day I lost my job.  Enrollment in the school was down and one of the classes had to be cut guessed it - it was mine.  I needed that income, meager as it was.  Now what was I going to do?

I came home and sobbed.  I tried calling my mom, my close friends and family members.  I couldn't get anyone.  I went online and was hoping there would be a friend available that I could talk to.  I desperately needed the reassurance that I, indeed, had value.  I was struggling to find any. 

My friend, Dave, from high school was the only friend online.  I hadn't talked to him in thirty plus years.  We had exchanged pleasantries on Facebook - "cute dog" was the last thing I had written.  But, that day, God prompted me in an uncustomary way to reach out and say, "Hey".  That was it..."Hey".  That was all I could muster. 

That one word prompted more written conversation and spoken conversation, then reuniting in person.  The pictures below show us celebrating the anniversary of "Hey Day" (June 2nd) and celebrating over two years of marriage.

Though I was originally redeemed- "paid for"- by the blood of Christ, that day I felt like God had purchased back something of value that had been lost - me.  I felt like once again I had that orange sticker placed on my forehead that said to the world...I am loved and I have been paid for. Someone saw value in a daughter who was of great, great value to God.

God can redeem anyone in any situation.  Nothing is beyond Him.  He is ABLE!  How have you seen His redeeming love worked out in your life? How do you hang onto God's love when others deem you unlovable?  I would love if you would share?!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that through the blood of Jesus Christ,  I have been bought and paid for.  Help me not to find my worth in who others say that I am, but to truly know that I am your precious daughter because YOU have claimed me - you have paid the ransom.  I praise you for your faithfulness through good times and bad.  Thank you for your ever lasting arms you've held under me so that I would never fall.  May I be sure to always tell of the good things that you are accomplishing THROUGH me.  May your name be glorified!!  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. Next week I'll be blog hopping over to Holly Barrett's place.  I will provide links to her wonderful blog, "Reclaiming a Redeemed Life" as well as to her podcast on which I will be her guest. 

If you'd like to know the story behind how a middle-aged homemaker from NC came to be championing a Christian school in Pakistan, you may want to tune in.  Holly and I will be chatting about my blog, the foundation, the good works that God is up to, and ultimately about how we can reclaim a redeemed life. 

I know you'll love Holly - a native North Carolinian - who is hard at work furthering God's Kingdom.  See you then...