Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Inner Views of Dayle Shockley

"I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust."
Psalm 91:2
(KJV)

A few months ago, we were blessed to feature the Inner Views of Gayle Cox in this post.
You will remember that during the interview, Gayle discussed how having an identical twin,
named Dayle, has enriched and blessed her life.
I am not sure whether it was Gayle's or Dayle's blog that I came across first, 
but regardless whose blog I discovered first,
these two precious sisters have become a source of great encouragement to me.
Though we have never met face to face, I somehow feel I have known them for years.
I love reading about their Godly parents, their daily lives, their trials and triumphs,
their amazing careers in writing,
and a certain, precious, sweet, little girl that you will come to know and adore in this post.



It is such a blessing to bring to you the 
of
blogger and award-winning writer from Southeast Texas who considers her greatest titles to be wife, mother, and grandmother,
Dayle Shockley.

Cheryl: What are some of your favorite childhood memories?

Dayle: I was blessed to have a rich childhood, with a treasure chest of memories, so it’s hard to know which ones to highlight, and since I am an identical twin, they all include my twin sister, and most would include my big sister, as well.

To name just a few, there was playing in the back of Daddy’s old station wagon for hours on end. There was the sweet smell and taste of honeysuckle in the spring, and buying soft-serve lemon ice-cream cones from the ice-cream truck. At dusk, on summer evenings, we’d run blindly around the yard, chasing the white fog that the mosquito truck pumped out during his nightly runs through the neighborhood. Perhaps it’s no small miracle we all lived to tell the tale.


Dayle and her twin sister, Gayle, and their sister, Elaine

Dayle, Gayle, and Elaine

Cheryl: What is it like for you to be an identical twin?

Dayle: I’m not sure it’s possible to explain the relationship of identical twins, unless you are one. Friends don’t understand it. Husbands don’t, even though mine has done an excellent job of accepting this part of me. Children don’t. Even siblings and parents cannot totally understand the devotion between identical twins. It is a relationship unlike all others, like a part of you is living and breathing in another person. Gayle and I have shared everything that life has handed us—the good, the bad, the ugly—and I can’t imagine a world without Gayle in it. We are best friends.

Dayle and Gayle, through the years, the best of friends

Cheryl: How old were you when you became a Christian? Who most prayed for you and influenced you to seek the Lord?

Dayle: I was raised in a minister's home, by godly parents who have always loved me unconditionally. Even though both of my parents prayed for me, it was my daddy’s prayers that I heard every day.

Dayle and her precious Daddy

At the age of 13, I was filled with the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost, born again, as written about in the Book of Acts. It was a life-changing experience, and it is why, no matter what dark and heavy trial I may be going through, there is a deep and unspeakable joy at my very core. It is the one thing I possess that nobody can take from me. Even when I strayed and made unwise choices, as a young adult, I never lost my faith, nor questioned the validity of my experience. My belief in Jesus Christ is the anchoring force of my life.

Cheryl: You often speak of your husband on your blog and refer to him as "The Man" or "The Captain". We would love to hear your love story. When did you meet? Was there a certain moment in time when you realized he was the man God intended for you to marry? How long have you been married? What qualities about him do you admire the most?

Dayle: Yes, I often refer to my husband as “The Man.” He was named after a famous baseball player, Stan Musial, who was called Stan the Man by his fans, and that’s how my husband also came to be referred to as “Stan the Man.” My husband also played baseball quite well, so I guess his naming was quite appropriate. I refer to him sometimes as “The Captain,” because he was a fire captain with the City of Houston Fire Department and retired after 34 years of faithful service.

Stan and I met at church and had many friends in common. He had been through a divorce (no children), and I had never been married. Our love story was short and sweet and we will soon be married 36 years. My husband is strong and steady and brings a calmness to my madness.

Dayle and Stan on their happy wedding day in 1980

Cheryl: How do you keep your marriage strong? Can you share with us some specific things you do to keep your love alive and fresh? What advice would you give to the reader who is ready to give up on their marriage?

Dayle: I think what keeps any marriage strong is simply staying committed to each other. Relationships are like the tide; there’s an ebb and flow to them. Some years are hard and heavy, with challenges and obstacles, while other years are smooth sailing. You have to remain committed, no matter how your feelings may ebb and flow.

After almost 36 years of marriage I’d say we do struggle sometimes to keep our marriage fresh. It is something both parties have to work on, and I think life just gets in the way, but it’s worth the effort and I want to always be open to new ideas, or to just staying true to the traditional ones, like setting aside time for each other away from the rest of the world. To read more about my marriage, our struggles and successes, you can visit my blog link here.

To any couple considering giving up on their marriage, I pray you will do what my husband and I did whenever we reached a point of crisis, and that is seek professional help. We go to doctors and dentists and car repair places, but we are often leery of getting help for broken marriages. Please, put aside your pride, and just go. I’ve seen, up close and personal, the devastation that divorce brings. Both of my sisters went through unwanted divorces after decades of being married, and while their grief was immense and unimaginable, the ones who suffer the most are the children. Death is final but divorce never ends. It is generational and affects generations to come. Divorce not only separates families but separates friends, as well.

I would also ask couples considering divorce to take the time to read a powerful book entitled, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein. This is a 25-year study that is the result of following children from the time of divorce to their adult life. If you Google the title, you will also find online interviews with the author. It is a sobering and enlightening read and if couples would put their children’s needs before their own, I believe the divorce rate would drop dramatically.

Dayle and her beloved husband, Stan

Cheryl: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Dayle: I wrote my first short-story in second grade, which is still in some dusty box in the attic, but I didn’t have an inkling that I wanted to be a writer at that point.


Dayle in 2nd Grade

I just loved reading and writing seemed to be the natural result of my reading. Maybe the seed was planted way back then, but the first time that I purposefully set out to be a writer was after my daughter was born in 1986. I entered a small writing contest and was flabbergasted to win First Place, and receive a modest check. I wish the rest of the journey had been that exciting, but writing well is hard work and the road to publication is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been blessed to realize a few of my dreams, and I give God the glory.

Cheryl: As a writer, what is your most cherished accomplishment? What are you most proud of?

Dayle: Several things come to mind. Winning two Amy Writing Awards for my work in two newspapers would be at the top of the list of “proud” moments, as well as being one of only seven authors chosen to appear in Dr. James Dobson’s timeless book, A Family Christmas. You can read more about his book, and read my story, here.

And last but not least, in 2000, I wrote a piece about the Presidential Library of George H. W. Bush in College Station, Texas. After the article appeared in The Dallas Morning News, I received a personal letter from the former president, thanking me for the article. He had enclosed an inscribed book and signed a copy of my article. I was completely overwhelmed and honored by such generosity.



Cheryl: What books have you written? What most inspired each book, and how can we purchase them?

Dayle: I’ve written three books and have contributed to about 20 other works, most of those being Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. My first book, Whispers from Heaven (Pacific Press) was inspired by my beautiful daughter, her tender perspective on life, her love for God as a child, and her sweet insights. If we are wise, we will take notes from our children on how to live. No wonder Jesus said we must become as little children, in order to see the Kingdom of God.

Silver Linings (Pacific Press) is my second book and was written at the request of the editors at Pacific Press, as a sequel of sorts to the first book. Each chapter is a short essay with a take-away of finding the good, the silver lining, if you will.

My third book, Home Improvement – 9 Steps to Living a Joyful Life (Word Aflame) was a work-in-progress for roughly two years. I spoke at a ladies conference and my topic became the launching pad for this book. Using everyday chores as analogies, I attempt to help the reader see that living joyfully has a formula and is not based on whether we are “happy” or not. To summarize, I believe the following "musts" are essential to living joyfully: 1) We must, daily, open the door to God; 2) We must dump disappointments and painful encounters in a "trash bag" and get on with our lives; 3) We must maintain a cheerful and positive attitude, no matter our circumstances (yes, it is a challenge, but possible); 4) We must forgive ourselves and others; 5) We must nourish the spiritual man on a daily basis; 6) We must keep our relationships healthy, particularly our marital relationship; 7) We must establish spiritual boundaries in our lives; 8) We must reach out to those around us, not just with our prayers and words, but with our actions; 9) We must make time to relax and refresh our physical bodies, else we will be worth little to anyone.

All of my books can be purchased online. Just Google the titles and my name and they should pop up somewhere, or you can go to my blog and find the links on the sidebar. My first two books are out of print, but there are many used copies still available and I’ve come across some as cheap as a penny. That will do wonders for your ego.



(I found some current links to purchase Dayle's books
To purchase "Whispers from Heaven", click HERE.
To purchase "Silver Linings", click HERE.
To purchase "Home Improvement", click HERE.)

Cheryl: Can you share with us about "Joe" and how his note to you impacted your life?

Dayle: I’d be happy to share the story of Joe. I have blogged about this and hope it’s okay that I’m pulling a little from that post, but here’s the beautiful, amazing story of Joe:

In December of 2005, I received an email with the subject line, “a note of gratitude.” The email came from a man named Joe. Four years earlier, Joe had read an editorial I’d written and wanted me to know how it affected his life. This is what he wrote to me, and I’ll never forget what a profound impact his words had on me:


Ms Shockley, you wrote a small article in The Dallas Morning News “FAITH COMFORTING IN TROUBLING TIMES” a short time after 9-11. I was so impressed with it I cut it out and placed it in my billfold. Two years ago my wife kicked me out because of my drinking. Later that night agonizing over the loss of my family I came across your article in my billfold. After reading it, a renewed hope began to build up in me. I knew God was going to see me thru. Today, my marriage has been restored and I belong to a Christian based 12 steps called 'CELEBRATE RECOVERY.' Ms Shockley I shall forever be grateful for your article because I felt the Presence of God. 
Joe

When I read his sincere words, I was overcome with emotion and wept. To imagine this dear man carrying around my article in his wallet for years was humbling and inconceivable. I simply could not believe it. Joe made me realize, all over again, why I write. I don't write for the masses, or to be recognized and put on a pedestal. I write to encourage, to motivate, to offer a glimmer of hope when all seems lost, and to maybe—just maybe—make a difference in somebody’s world.

It was a friend who suggested that I print out Joe’s words and put them in my wallet, as he had put my words in his wallet, just in case I ever needed to be encouraged. What a great idea, and I still carry Joe’s words in my wallet. They are just as moving today as when they were written.


Cheryl: When did you begin blogging? What life events led up to you starting your blog? How has becoming a blogger enriched or changed your life?

Dayle: In 2005, my niece persuaded me to try online blogging. I’d always kept a personal journal, so I wasn’t sure about posting my thoughts out there in cyberspace. But a curious thing happened. Before long, I’d reconnected with friends from years past—many living close by—and made new acquaintances, as well. Shortly after, I was hooked.


Online blogging may sound impersonal, but take it from a former skeptic: it’s not. My friends in blogland have prayed for me during rocky times, and cheered me on in good times, and I do the same for them. I go through seasons of stepping back a bit, but I always remember my fellow-bloggers in prayer and I look forward to returning and “visiting” with them, like old friends. Just knowing they’re out there, puts a smile on my face.

Cheryl: What is your deepest regret? If you could go back and live life over, what would you most like to change?

Dayle: I’ve never understood those who say they live with “no regrets.” Truly, how can one live without regrets unless one has lived without making mistakes? I have regrets a mile long, but I’ve discovered the truth found in Romans 8:28, that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” What that means to me is that no matter our mistakes, our less-than shining hours, our foolish and impetuous choices, those terrible and unspoken missteps, if we are willing, they all can become stepping stones, leading us in the right direction, pointing us to God.

Cheryl: Who are some of your spiritual heroes? How have they influenced and shaped your life?

Dayle: You’re probably referring to people I know personally, and I’ll get to those, but my Old Testament hero is Joseph. What trials he faced. What testing he endured. What losses he grieved. And yet Joseph pressed on and never turned against God. Through all of his difficulties, he maintained his integrity and, through humility, rose to a position of authority. He forgave his brothers for their ultimate betrayal, and he was instrumental in saving a country from starvation, including his own family. If you haven’t read the inspiring story of Joseph lately, I encourage you to do so. It begins in Genesis 37.

As for those “spiritual heroes” that I know personally, my mother has been, and continues to be, my greatest spiritual mentor and example. I observe how she lives her life, how she treats everyone, both family and friends, and even at my age, when I should have it all together by now, I still strive to be more like her. I often say if there is any good in me, I owe it all to the goodness of my mother.

Dayle and her dear, sweet mother

I have also been greatly influenced by the life of my big sister, Elaine. I’ve watched her use her amazing musical talents to glorify God and encourage others, even when walking in deep valleys herself.

Dayle's sister, Elaine and her husband

Cheryl: What is your biggest passion? What fulfills you most?

Dayle: The answers to these two questions have changed through the years, but at this point in my life, other than spending time with family and extended family, I am most fulfilled whenever I’m out and about in God’s big world. I’m a big advocate of the slow lane, taking the back roads, savoring the day. Since retirement in 2008, my husband and I have been blessed to travel extensively, making lifelong dreams come true, seeing God’s handiwork from coast-to-coast. We love the beach. We love the mountains. We love baseball.

Stan and Dayle at the top of Clingman's Dome in 2014

It’s been a joy to plan trips around what we love and we never take such a privilege for granted. Since the birth of our granddaughter last year, our traveling has been mostly on hold, except for a few long weekend trips, but being out in nature will always be the place where I feel closest to God.

Cheryl: Can you tell us about Arabella?

Dayle: Arabella is my darling granddaughter.

Adorable, sweet Arabella

I look at her and hear a thousand violins. I call her Memaw’s cupcake, and she is growing way too fast. I wish there was a way to put a lid on her for a little while, but the best I can do is try to squeeze the goodness out of each moment that we have together.

Arabella and her mama, Dayle's daughter

We’re still working on our selfies.

Dayle and her darling Arabella

Cheryl: If you were sitting across the table from someone who is severely depressed, what would you say to them?

Dayle: What an interesting question. By “severely depressed” I assume you mean someone who has been diagnosed as “clinically depressed.” If that were the case, I would probably direct my words to the family of this person, because those who are clinically depressed are often not able to receive a lot of input, not even words of encouragement. It’s like their system is shut down; nothing comes in, nothing goes out. I would certainly want to tell this person that things can get better, because I speak from experience, as a close family member has dealt with depression a large portion of her adult life. She has been in a good place for almost two decades now, and I give a lot of credit to her for remaining diligent in her treatment.

I would say to the entire family of the person who is severely depressed, first, and most importantly, educate yourself on this subject, precisely on the exact diagnosis of your loved one. Knowledge is power and I have reams of information that has helped me know how to help, what to do, and what not to do. Contrary to some people’s opinion, depression isn’t something someone can just “get over.” That is perhaps the most harmful thing you can say to someone who is suffering from depression. I mean, do you really think any person wants to be depressed, and if people could just “get over it” don’t you think they would want to do so as quickly as possible? To say, “get over it,” is the voice of ignorance and it’s unfortunate that so many families have so little knowledge when facing this debilitating condition. By educating yourself, you will see that depression must be treated, just as any other illness needs to be treated. There are medications and therapies available, and patience and compassion are the best things you can practice.

Cheryl: What are your favorite Scriptures, hymns, books, and other resources to turn to in times of despair and discouragement?

Dayle: I don’t think there is a way that I could name a favorite Scripture, as I have so many favorites underlined in my old green Bible, but you’d have to look hard to find anything more powerful and uplifting than the familiar 23rd Psalm. It’s like a life’s journey condensed into six little verses. I’m also partial to the sixth Chapter of Luke, in which Jesus says things like, “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you and bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.” We also find “The Golden Rule” in Verse 31: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As a young adult, I fell in love with the Word of God and I understand why it is referred to as the “Bread of Life.” It nourishes the soul and within its pages I find strength and direction for every situation. It never disappoints.

Reading the Bible is just one sure way to chase away the blues and find words of encouragement and hope. I also play piano and often in times of despair I will sit down and play songs like, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” or “How Great Thou Art,” or AndraĆ© Crouch’s “Soon and Very Soon.” Music brings healing to my spirit.

In addition to the Bible, perhaps my greatest source of inspiration, in book form, is Mrs. Charles Cowman’s classic devotional, Streams in the Desert. When my big sister gave it to me for Christmas in 1999, I had no idea that I would still be using it as my daily devotional in 2016. That’s how rich it is. Every year, despite having read it just the year prior, I find something new between its covers. I can’t recommend this book enough.


To order, click HERE.

Cheryl: How can we pray for you?

Dayle: Praying for each other is such a privilege, isn’t it? I have a number of personal struggles and heartaches that I’m dealing with, as I’m sure all of your readers do. We live in a broken world and so many are hurting and dealing with unspeakable issues. While I can’t share all that’s in my heart, the Lord knows the things that are there, and just to have others say, “Lord, you know the struggles and heartaches Dayle is dealing with today. I ask that you bring resolution and answers, in your time and in your way, and give her the strength she needs until that time comes,” would be an incredible blessing to me. My desire is to wake up every morning and be a better person than I was the day before. I want to be a vessel that God can use, and a light in dark places. Thank you, Cheryl, for inviting me to participate in your inspirational “Inner View” series. It has been my distinct honor to share my thoughts with you and with your readers.


And a BIG thank you to you, dear Dayle, for being willing to share your heart with us here!
I have been so blessed by getting to know you better, and I know your story will touch the heart of every reader.

God is so wonderful to allow our stories to become intertwined in this amazing blogging community.
I never cease to be astonished at the way He orchestrates our lives and intersects our testimonies.

Please take Dayle's prayer request to heart, dear readers,
and be sure to remember her in your regular prayers.

It is a wonderful thing that we do not need to know the details of another's heartache.
Since we all share the same Heavenly Father who is entirely aware of each and every need of every, single one of His beloved children, we need only to lift them and their needs to our Father in prayer.

He knows, He understands, and He cares more than any of us will ever be able to comprehend.

Our God is bigger than any mountain that we can or cannot see.



If video doesn't load, click here.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us..."
Ephesians 3:20

To read previous
click the links below.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Please Pray for Shorty Bear!

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
I Timothy 2:8
(KJV)

Dear friends, I am writing today to ask you to earnestly pray for dear Shorty Bear.
You will remember me writing this post after meeting with her and her husband last month.

Shorty Bear's health problems have escalated since that time, and she is now very ill.
Her doctors tell her she is in the last stage of diabetes, and there is nothing else they can do for her.
They told her that she has already beat the odds, and that she should make a bucket list and do as many things on the list as possible.

Her spirit is so strong, and she continues to press on, regardless.
I always correspond with her with the intention of encouraging her,
and I am always the one who ends up being encouraged.

She is just such a precious, dear soul, who means so much to me, 
and to so many of you, too.

I asked her permission to post a prayer request for her and only do so with her consent.


Please pray.
We all know God has the last word, and He is the Great Physician.
Pray that she will be able to do the things on her bucket list
and that God will defy the doctors' predictions and grant her more quality time with her beloved, Eddie, and her sweet dog, Coco.

I had mentioned in this post that I would soon be publishing her interview here.
Sadly, I don't think we will be able to complete the interview, due to her extensive health issues.
While that makes me so sad, as I know you would have enjoyed reading her powerful testimony,
I acknowledge that God always knows what is best and accept His will.

When we cannot understand His logic, 
we must always trust His wisdom.

Thank you ever so much for reading and for your faithful prayers!

Also, please keep the dear people in West Virginia in your continued prayers,
as they try to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the recent devastating flood,
and there are so many others who need so much prayer at this time.

There is a precious reader of Homespun Devotions with whom I have become acquainted
who desperately needs your prayers for her home situation and marriage.
Please pray for her, dear friends.
Pray that God will heal what is broken in her life and give her daily wisdom and strength and direction for her future.

Kevin's Aunt Vaida needs much prayer, as she is undergoing chemo therapy and radiation,
in the midst of being homeless, due to the recent flooding.
God has miraculously provided for temporary shelter, while she goes through her treatments,
for which we are all so thankful, but a permanent home for her and Kevin's uncle is needed.
They lost nearly everything dear to them in the flood, including wedding pictures and so many other cherished possessions.

There are so many hurting hearts in our broken world.
The recent violence just literally boggles my mind.
As Dad S. watches the nightly news, I often have to just leave the room,
as I cannot stand to absorb one more heartbreak.

If only we would all turn our eyes upon Jesus!
If only our hurting world would seek His face!
In doing this, individually, then collectively, our focus would become single and,
yes, at last, we would all be united as one.

God is our only hope.
I think often of the words to the old, familiar hymn...
"When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand."

Oh, how true!

We dare not put our hopes and trust in anything or anyone in this life.
All here is sinking sand.
All here consistently changes and gives way and is so undependable.

I see this more and more in my own personal life,
as God continually leads us to deeper levels of trust.
I wrote about it in this post and this post and most recently, here.

In Christ alone dare we put our trust, dear friends.



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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Inner Views of Robin McCarter

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, 
to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
Genesis 50:20
(KJV)

The sweet lady you are going to read about today has overcome incredible odds.
When she first told me her story, I was completely amazed at all God has brought her through,
and I couldn't wait to share her testimony with you here.
How blessed I felt when she agreed!
Her gentle spirit, courage, and faith in God have been an enormous encouragement to me,
and I know you will also be inspired and abundantly blessed by reading her story.
NOTE:
Parts of her story discuss the details of her abuse and are intended for mature readers.
You may want to have tissues handy as you read this painful-turned-triumphant testimony of a life redeemed by God's amazing grace.

of
Child of God, Wife, Mother of Two, Abuse Overcomer,
Robin McCarter.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about your childhood. 

Robin:  I was brought up in a Catholic family.  I was raised in a Catholic school until the 6th grade. Throughout my childhood and my adult life, my mother has always been sick.  This sickness has been physical, but also mental.  My mother battled with depression and anorexia. Growing up she did not have to work, and my father always provided for our needs. It was not until we moved to Florida that my father began to molest me.  This behavior would usually follow a night of drinking, but not always.  I have three sisters, all which are younger, two original (current ages 38 and 35) and one (age 25) from my mother’s second marriage. 

Cheryl:  We would love to hear your Christian testimony.  When did you get saved?  How has that decision impacted the rest of your life? 

Robin:  During the year I turned 13, I realized that Jesus was the only [way] and got saved and baptized.  Jesus was the only way to survive this life. My family had moved to Florida, where my dad accepted a new job.  Although, this move brought about many hardships for my family, the decision to accept Christ generated a lifetime change.  God’s path for me began to develop and opportunities became available.  I was very active in the youth group, participating in everything, mainly so I could stay away from home.

Cheryl:  Has there been a particular person who has most influenced you in your walk with Jesus? Is there a prayer warrior in your life who has prayed you through the rough spots?  Who would you say is your spiritual mentor, and why?

Robin:  Once we moved to Florida, I began to attend church, through the invitation of a neighbor.  I met the youth leader and his wife, Steve and Kathleen Steff.  They did not have any children of their own, and, in a way, took me in.  They became such a huge part of my life.  Kathleen was a mother figure that taught me many valuable lessons.  Up to this point in my life, I had not seen a Godly example of how a family should be.  They were a loving couple and put God first in their lives.  She would pray with me and offer advice for all of life’s troubles that a young, teenage girl experiences.  Although, not until recently have I shared with them the molestation that occurred in my life.  We have not seen each other in over 20 years, until most recently.  God has brought us back together.  I am so thankful for women that are Godly examples to young girls.  Also, my mother-in-law, Debbie Starnes.  This woman has an amazing testimony.  God uses her daily, she has been an example to me and has encouraged me so many times.  She has been like a mother to me, and I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of a family that has so much love.

Cheryl:  For years, you endured the horrors of sexual abuse by the man who should have loved, shielded, and protected you most.  What were the circumstances surrounding the beginning and duration of this abuse?

Robin:  My family moved to Florida during the summer of my sixth grade year when my father was offered a job.  My father thought that this may be a good change for our family, a fresh start so to speak.  Within a year’s time my mother was back in the [mental] hospital.  Although my mother had spent time in mental hospitals, her diagnosis was not made know to us children.  We would visit her there and spend time with her.  When she was releasedm she did not call my father to pick her up, but, instead, a friend of my father's.  My dad did not have much to say about this.  He took us to visit her, and it was then that I knew she would not be coming back.  She gave me her wedding rings, and I can remember holding them in my hand all evening.  I remember going to Pizza Hut and holding them in my hand the entire time.  When we got back home, I gave them to my father.

My father would now be left to raise three girls.  My father through all of this was not innocent.  He had a drinking problem that mainly stayed outside of the home; however, he came home drunk.  Just before my mother left, I remember during the middle of the night her waking me and sending me to her room, while she slept in my bed.  This is when the molestation began. My mother was gone for good and returned to take my sisters, leaving me there alone. From the time I was 13 until the age of 17, my father was sexually molesting me.  I was scared and did not feel that I could tell anyone.  We were in a place where we did not have any family or close friends.  Night time is what I feared the most, especially after a night of drinking; my father would come into my room and lie in my bed.  Although intercourse did not occur, touching, rubbing, and kissing did.  I knew then that this was not normal behavior for a father /daughter relationship.  I would immediately get up and lock myself in the bathroom.  I felt alone and that there was not anyone that I could share this with. 

My mother returned one of my sisters and I felt the need to be a “mother” to her.  I did not tell her about what was happening, as I was scared and thought, if I tell this they will take us away, and where would we go? My senior year in high school, my mother decided that she wanted to see us.  She had found a new man that she wanted to marry.  This is only after years of seeing other men and staying away from us.  She thought that my sister was acting a little strange, and this is when it all came out.  I said, "I think she is fine, but it is me that is having a problem."  Immediately, my mother contacted the police department.  During the 90’s, I do not think that children reporting abuse was taken as seriously as it is now.  I reported to the police department after they had arrested and interrogated my father.  I failed (2) lie detector tests. There I was, a 17 year old girl, and two detectives telling me that he did not do this.  My father was released because he claimed he had done nothing wrong, and many people said he would never do this.  Letters were sent, and phone calls made.  The police department advised that I should live with my mother from now on.  

Cheryl:  How was it possible for you to ever forgive your father for what he has done to you?  How have you found peace and been able to get past the pain of such betrayal and hurt?  

Robin:  God is the only way that anyone will find peace and be able to forgive anyone.  To this day, my father does not accept what he has done, but I cannot allow his actions to hinder what God has for me.   I have forgiven him and pray for him.  His life has become much more difficult now.  He is serving a 25 year sentence for his actions against his 8 year old stepdaughter.

Cheryl:  The fact that your mother left you vulnerable to this molestation is almost incomprehensible.  How have you found it in your heart to forgive her, the one who should have nurtured and gone to any length to keep you away from such abuse and violation?

Robin:  To be completely honest, I do not know if she even knows or realizes that this took place.  I hid so many things out of fear...fear that Child Protective Services would come and take my sisters and me away.  Once again, it is only by God’s grace that I have been able to forgive.  When I think about how God forgives us, who am I not to forgive?

Cheryl:  I can only imagine the amount of courage it took for you to let anyone know about the hidden torment and agony you were going through.  How did it make you feel when the authorities and those around you trampled that courage by refusing to believe that you were being sexually abused?

Robin:  These situations have come a long way, as a matter of fact, today, these situations are handled with a seriousness that did not exist 25 years ago.  6 years ago, my father was arrested for molesting his 8 year old stepdaughter.  He is now serving 25 years for this.  I reported this act when I was 17. It was not until I was 35 that the authorities finally believed me.  I then felt an obligation to stand up for her.

Cheryl:  How many years did it take for your truthfulness to be validated?  How did you feel when you realized God had vindicated you and allowed your integrity to be proven?  How did you get through the years in between when those who knew you did not believe you were telling the truth?  Has it been difficult to forgive them for not believing you and intervening on your behalf?

Robin:  It was 18 years before the truth of what happened came out.  God is the only way that any of us can live through this life.  I believe that I have not experienced many of the hardships that a lot of women face, because of my trust in the Lord.  God is the GREAT PHYSICIAN.  He cares for us more than we can imagine.

Cheryl:  How did the truth of your father’s abuse come to light?  What was your reaction when you thought you may have to face your father in a courtroom after so many years?

Robin:   Two years ago, I received a call from the police department with an apology for not believing me, as my father had abused his step daughter, an 8 year old girl.  The police had asked for my help.  They had arrested my father and spent hours interrogating him.  I was contacted by the state attorney’s office, and a deposition was scheduled.  I would face the possibility of having to go to court and face my father after all of these years.  The day before the deposition was scheduled, my father accepted a plea of guilty and a sentence of 25 years.  After this, I received calls from family members that did not believe my story and now understand and now believe that, yes, he could do this.  For a couple of years now, my father sends letters, asking how I could do this to him, and that he has done nothing wrong.  He has stated that I should question my Christianity, as children do not do this to their parents.  I trust in the Lord to see me through this time.  I have not responded to the letters, as any response could be used for his appeal process. The thought of seeing him again after all of these years presented a nervous feeling for me.  I knew, though, that what I was doing was the right thing.  An 8 year old little girl had been the victim of this terrible crime and someone needed to believe her, to stand up for her.

Cheryl:  Please describe your relationship with your father and your mother, individually, today.

Robin:  My mother and I speak and have a relationship, although it feels strained at times, because she continues to deal with illnesses.  I feel that I sometimes still fall into the “mother” role.  My relationship with my father exists only in letters that accuse me of putting him in prison.  

Cheryl:  If you were sitting down, having a cup of coffee with a person who has been sexually abused in the past, what would you say to him or her?  How would you tell them to find hope?  How can they overcome their past?

Robin:  Talking with someone that has experienced the same abuse, I would have to encourage them to trust in the Lord.  The only way to overcome the past is to forgive and not allow those things to hinder what God has for them.  Oftentimes, women allow abuse to guide their entire lives, hindering them from marriage, children and relationships, even with God.  You simply must let the “bad” things in life become a part of who you are and your testimony.  God can take what was meant for bad and use it for good, Genesis 50:20.

Cheryl:  What about the young person who may be reading this who is currently being abused…what advice can you offer them?

Robin:  A young person that may be experiencing abuse, must find someone to talk to.  This behavior is not normal and is certainly not their fault.  It must be reported.  The only way to remedy this type of behavior is to stop it.  Our telling may keep this from happening to someone else.

Cheryl:  How did you meet your husband, and how has your marriage and becoming the mother of 2 children helped you to heal?  How has the pain and hurt of your past influenced your parenting?

Robin:  My husband and I met at North Greenville University in 1993.  I know that this was a God thing.  My getting into college was all God, I have never taken an entrance test, and my husband had not considered North Greenville, even though it is a few miles from home.  I believe that God certainly put us together.  As a parent, both my husband and I decided we will not raise our children in the same environments that we were brought up in.  His father had some addictions, and my husband also comes from a broken home.

Cheryl:  Both your daughter and your husband suffer from an illness. How you have found strength to walk this difficult journey?  How has your faith in God and the strength you have gleaned from your own painful childhood sustained you and helped you minister to your daughter and husband?

Robin:  God has worked miracles in the life of my 18 year old daughter.  She was diagnosed with colitis, a disease that can destroy your colon.  For 3 years the medication kept her body stable, until she would begin to experience a “flare up”. We did not realize that this would lead to the removal of her colon, which would take 3 surgeries.  The Lord has taught us through this trial to trust in Him.  God has used this trial to strengthen my life as well as hers. 
God continues day by day to send blessings.  

Most recently my husband had surgery, it is a very scary time when your body starts to get sick or get older.  He had 3 ½ of the 4 parathyroid glands that we have removed because his calcium was too high.  After this surgery, all pathology reports were good, no cancer.  However, after the trip back to the endocrinologist for release, she felt that he was too young to have this, so she ordered additional blood tests.  Of course, you are sent home with worry about what the tests will tell.  Once again, God’s blessings poured down, all tests were normal.

We can attribute God’s blessings to His love, mercy, and faith, on our parts.  It is not always easy to simply drop all worries at His feet, we tend to carry them all with us.  God loves us, He is our Father, and fathers care and love their children.  Continuously being in a state of prayer and seeking God’s will can keep our minds on the right path.

God has not left us to walk through life's struggles alone, but He is right there, carrying us all the way.  When you have a child with an illness, it is very scary.  Placing our trust in God is the only way to find strength.  It is sad, but we tend to seek God more when there are difficult times.  I try to be thankful, certainly for the good times, but also thanking God for the bad times.  It is the bad times that teach us lessons and teach us how to place our complete trust in God.  I cannot control even one piece of my life, but I know the One that does.

Cheryl:  God has redeemed your story in so many amazing ways.  Tell us about your work with North Greenville University your educational accomplishments, and the wonderful opportunities He has opened for you through Christian Worldview.

Robin:   I graduated from high school, with no direction in life.  I had never take the SAT test, never thought about college, much less applied anywhere.  It was that summer that God showed me that He is control.  In Florida, there was a youth conference that met every summer.  I had been to this conference for 6 years.  North Greenville University had a table set up, and I filled out a card for more information.  I had been involved in the theater my entire life, and I put that I was interested in more information.  Within a week’s time, I received a call that someone was impressed with me, and they wanted me to come and visit North Greenville.  My mother and stepfather brought me to South Carolina.  During that day, I took entrance tests, and financial aid was possible, covering the tuition and board.  This opportunity was incredible.  By August, 1992, I was at North Greenville, and I was able to participate in Act II, a theater group geared towards ministry and missions.  The Lord opened the doors for a better life.  My work in the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University has been a wonderful opportunity.  God has provided ways for me to share my testimony and encourage others along the way.  I pray daily for God to provide opportunities. As long as we are faithful, He will provide them. 

It is now that God has impressed upon me to begin a ministry that may help other women, young and old, understand how you can only go through this trial with the Lord.  My husband and I have been married for almost 22 years now and have two children.  I have watched God at work and seen Him answer prayers.  God is always there. It is a question of whether or not we choose to see Him and live for Him.  God does not leave us alone to ourselves, He guides and is there when we stumble and fall.  Our lives are not perfect and I believe that He allows us to experience certain struggles in an effort to help someone else. 

I have been praying that the Lord would open the doors of opportunity for me to share [my] this story.  My relationship with the Lord has made it possible for me to forgive my mother and father.  You never forget [although forgetting can be a long term result of forgiving others that have hurt us] the trials you face in your life, I believe that God brings us through our struggles to help others.  We don’t know who around us may be struggling with the same struggles we are. In the case of testifying about my own molestation, I was able to save [help] a little girl and I don’t how many others.  Today, the Lord is opening doors for me to be able to share this story.  Throughout my life, I see God at work.  God’s healing power is the only way to make it through this type of abuse.

I did not finish my associate’s degree until 5 years ago, when the Lord opened the door for me to work at North Greenville.  I had applied numerous times for a job there. In the Lord’s time, He opened the door, when I least expected it.  Now, I have completed my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degrees.  Through God all things are possible.  We must remain faithful, God has not left us here to fend for ourselves, and we must learn to trust in Him.  

Cheryl:  What does a typical day in your life look like, at this point in time?

Robin:  My oldest daughter has recently graduated college and gotten married.  We are raising our 14 year old daughter, going into the 10th grade.  I, of course, am working full time, continuing to go to school, working on a doctoral degree, volunteering for fundraisers, keeping up with my daughter’s volleyball schedule and hugging my husband as much as possible.  I continue to seek God’s will for my life daily and pray for opportunities to share with others.

Cheryl:  We are living in very discouraging times, and many Christians are struggling to find hope for a brighter day.  Are there particular “go-to” Scriptures that keep you encouraged to press on for God in these dark days? 

Robin:  My favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."  God is the great provider, and His strength and love help us to persevere to run the race.  His love for us is more than we can ever imagine, His care for us is far greater than we can fathom.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you in this season of life?  Are there particular needs and burdens you bear that we can help lift to the Father on your behalf?

Robin:  I have recently reunited with my sisters, after more than 20 years, to find out that one of them has been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.  The cancer has spread to her liver and her bones.  I have been traveling back and forth to Florida to help her with her doctor visits and plan for treatment.  She has 3 children and is a 38 year old, single mother.  Her name is Chrissy.  Please pray for her and her family.  

A BIG thank you, Robin, for being willing to transparently share from the heart with us here.
I can't imagine the amount of courage it took to open up like this,
and the help and encouragement your testimony will bring to others is immeasurable.
May the dear Lord abundantly bless and reward you for being obedient to His call upon your life.

Robin is a motivational speaker, and she would love to come to your church or ladies' meeting to share what God places upon her heart.
You may contact Robin at robinlmccarter@gmail.com or robin.mccarter@ngu.edu to schedule
her to speak at your upcoming event.
Please add Robin, her two daughters, husband, and sister, Chrissy, to your prayer lists, dear friends.
Surely there is nothing too hard for our God, 
and Robin's testimony proves that He is absolutely able to do exceeding abundantly above
ALL we can ask or think.  (Ephesians 3:20)

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Giveaway Winners Announced!!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, 
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17
(KJV)

A big thank you to all who entered our giveaway!!
It is time to announce the winners!!!
So, without further ado, here they are!!!
The numbers chosen by random.org were:

Saleslady371
Bethany Carson
Sharon
Gayle
Dayle

I thought it was SO neat that the comment numbers of twin sisters, Gayle and Dayle, were BOTH chosen as winners of the book!!

Congratulations to all five winners!
I am so happy for each one of you!!!

Each of you will receive your very own, brand-new copy of
Joshua Becker's  new book entitled "The More of Less".

If you are a winner, please email me with your mailing address as soon as possible, 
and we will get your package out in the mail to you right away!!

God bless you all, dear readers, and thanks again to each one who entered the giveaway!!