laurel senick

More Than Enough

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By Laurel Senick

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38 NIV

When I began tithing my life differed greatly from what it is now. I was a single, newly born-again believer who lived paycheck to paycheck. I had a small amount of debt from a credit card and from my first computer a huge Apple desktop. Does anyone have desktops anymore? Dave Ramsey, the finance guru, would have called that a dum-dum purchase. But at the time I didn’t know who he was.

I actually think it was helpful to have some debt when I started tithing. It took more faith to give, which built muscle. God had shown me he was faithful with whatever I gave him. My home, my sexuality, and my boyfriends were the major struggles in my eyes. Funny, finances came last. The last frontier of a life submitted to God? Maybe it’s that way for everyone, like the wild wild west of religion! But in my tithing journey there have been a few defining moments.

In those pre-tithe days, my car was one oil change from its grave; that is, if I were ever to get one. Did I mention I’m tough on cars? Finally, when it kicked the bucket a friend directed me to Engine Angels, a ministry born from a dad helping his daughter fix her car. Then this dad went on to fix his daughter’s friends’ cars and then their friends’ and so on. Engine Angels will let you buy a car that has been donated and inspected, at Blue Book value, paying whatever you can afford every month at no interest. Being a single female with a job is all you needed to qualify.

What a miracle my ‘87 Grand Prix, fondly nicknamed Big Blue, was to my worried soul. Driving on and off the beach with the foam straps and surfboard—this eye-sore was one of the ways my husband Don first noticed me. Who could have thought of that but God! I was learning God’s goodness by trusting him with my tithe.

The next defining moment was after Don and I were married and the company I worked for suddenly shut its doors. While the owners skipped town, most of us finished out the work week with our special needs clients knowing we wouldn’t be paid. Days before our church had just completed a money series, prompting Don and I to spruce up our budget - including a heftier tithe.

Despite the absence of my paycheck we trusted God and gave the full tithe that would have been included with my check. God says test him in this whole money thing you know. Not only did God provide an opportunity for me to pray for my co-workers during the crisis of losing our jobs, but by the end of the next week another company had adopted all our clients and us. Suddenly, I had my old job at a new company and this one provided health insurance. We cannot out give God. I wonder how often we miss out on this promise.

Recently I had a doozy of a faith test. I didn’t realize my automatic draft for tithing had stopped until I began working on a new budget and realized I hadn’t tithed in eight months. Uh oh. Suddenly I had to make a decision. There was no extra money sitting in my account. That money was G.O.N.E. I spent it even though it wasn’t my intention not to tithe. Surely someone should have let me know, right? Oh, I had excuses, lots of excuses. Trust me—it was a battle. “The money in my savings account is mine,” I whined.

I can just imagine God getting quite a chuckle watching me wrestle this out. I wonder if he thought, let’s see if she really trusts me. He must have whispered something like, “Don’t forget you’re mine, dear daughter. Have I ever forgotten the lilies of the field or the hairs on your head?” Because I remembered His faithfulness and I knew what to do. I knew all the times when it made little sense to give but somehow, I always had enough. More than enough.

“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” Malachi 3:10-11 NIV


Pure and Genuine Religion...

From the desk of Laurel Senick:
I’m humbled to have a moment to share a bit of our fostering journey. It all started for us with a little boy from Belarus named Sergei. We hosted Sergei every summer for six years and despite his lack of English and our lack of Russian we made a precious bond.
Admittedly, the first year was the hardest, but after building a language of mime and shared experiences we looked forward each year to his return. It was his coming and the little sadness mixed with relief when he went home that first prodded my heart to foster. “I think we could foster,” an innocent, if not naïve, statement to Don one night after Sergei left.
It’s been almost four years since that night and eight foster children have come and gone. Some stayed only a few days, some for a year. But it wouldn’t have been possible without our church community because honestly, it’s tough.
Our small group made being foster parents possible by encouraging us, praying for us and the kids, loving us without judgement and being ready with the truth when we needed it. A huge shout out to Amy and Nick who babysat the twins and teen­sat our 12­year­old. Whew she was a toughy! Also, Sydney and Brittany who each babysat the twins so we could have a date night.
My favorite things about fostering? Watching a child grow in a nurturing environment. Most kids come into care with such major deficits that even a few months of stability makes a visible difference. Also, sharing the love of Christ in a concrete way deepened our understanding of God’s love.
The hardest things about fostering? The beginning, the middle and the end. Which brings me to the purpose of this blog: What can YOU do for abused and neglected children? Can you foster? Maybe not, but you can do something with the love of Christ. You could be a foster parent’s most valuable asset, the Respite Foster Parent. This is a licensed foster parent who provides a needed break for foster parents for a date night or a weekend away, etc.
A six­week class that meets once a week for a couple of hours, a background check and a fire marshal to check out your home could make the difference for a child remaining stable in a foster home. Since our church is partnering with the Bair Foundation talking with a member of their team could be a first step. Maybe this will be the beginning of your fostering journey...
“Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:34­40 (NIV)