More than lunch

Yesterday, I had one of those lunches that make you want more.

 

It wasn’t the food. It was the company, and the conversation, and our common calling.

 

Most of the women seated around the table were strangers to me, at least in person. I knew them online to a small extent, because we all write in common, intersecting communities. After sitting with my new friends for a couple hours, I walked away inspired. It wasn’t just a networking opportunity at Gloria’s that day. It was an opportunity to share in God’s redemption story in each of our lives, over and over and over again.

 

Don’t get me wrong — to the casual observer, we looked like a bunch of women having a good time, nothing special. Laughing, talking, listening, eating. The usual. Nobody stood up and made a big holy proclamation or anything.

 

What inspired me was just that — sitting beside normal women who were living normal lives, called to write for Jesus, trying to figure out what it looks like, trying to work it into busy schedules, and sharing how Jesus had taken their broken lives and made them whole against all odds.

 

So refreshing.

 

Lately I’ve been allowing discouragement to seep into my thoughts, my speech, and my actions. This writers lunch reminded me how important it is to be with people who tell about their Jesus stories. Fellowship is not just a good thing. It’s essential.

 

We can’t live without it.

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23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV

 

 

 

God knows we’re not able to do life alone. Words of encouragement are not just sweet phrases scrawled in curlicue writing. God knew we would fight discouragement, temptation, sin, opposition, doubt and persecution. He told us to consider how we might spur each other on. In other words, think of all the different ways you might encourage those around you who are living for Jesus — and do it.

 

That’s why it’s important to meet with others who are living out God’s Truth. When words take us down, His Word fills us up. And yesterday, my heart was overflowing.

 

–Teresa

 

My Cute Guy

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May 18 is a special day in my house because it’s my husband’s birthday.

So yesterday we celebrated the day Rick was born, along with all the days that came after that special day.

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I’ve known him for the majority of those days, starting when he was 19 and a sophomore at UNT. God made sure our paths crossed, literally, in a marching band drill in late October. I thought, Hey, who’s that cute guy? and he thought, Hey, who’s that cute girl? We had been marching on the same field, being cute and all, since August, but had never noticed each others’ cute selves until the marching season was two games from conclusion.

And here we are, a cute guy and a cute girl, years later.

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There are so many reasons I’m thankful for my cute guy — his leadership, his integrity, his unending and enthusiastic support of me, our girls and our grandkids, his compassion, his loyalty, his devotion to God–but I’m most thankful for his life. Because apparently, during those 19 years that I didn’t know him, he gave life a run for its money, and the Lord kept him around through several near misses. So glad, because I sure need him.

I thank God for my cute guy.

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Kristen Chronicles:Doing Today

Certain phrases can be so powerful, it’s as if they transform you to another place and time. It happened the other day, and the phrase, “it’s just so overwhelming” made me think of a day when I’d felt totally overwhelmed.

I was picking up Kristen’s toys in her room. It was a day like any other day, I was doing mom things like any other day. Nothing out of the ordinary. But all of a sudden I felt overwhelmed by the foreverness of our extraordinary life: therapies, specialty doctors, prescription medicines, medical knowledge I never dreamed I’d have, support groups, fears, dashed dreams, close monitoring of developmental milestones, little known diseases, genetics, research, appointments, insurance, ARD’s, special education, IEPs, goals, inclusion…the list was endless of the things I needed to be on top of as a “good” parent.

For six years people had been congratulating me on being a special needs mom, telling me that I was special, and silently I’d been shaking my head, thinking, But I don’t want to be special. I’d rather not if it means that Kristen has a healthy, normal life.

But I kept those thoughts inside, expressing them to my husband only, who felt the same. We’ve always been in this together. And together we sought God’s purpose in our lives as special needs parents.

But on that one, insignificant day, the foreverness of this special needs journey hit me like a ton of bricks.

Forever.

Always.

Never-ending.

I sat and wept that day, totally overwhelmed at the thought of forever. I just couldn’t do forever.

And then I was filled with the thought, But you can do today.

And that’s what stopped my tears. I might not be able to think about forever, but I could do today.

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James 1:4 

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When we’re in tough situations, whether it’s raising a special needs child, weathering a financial crisis, losing a loved one or facing a life change, looking long into the future is necessary. But dwelling on forever is rarely a good thing. Instead, try to break up the future into shorter spans of time: today, this week, this year, five years, etc. Those are small bits of time that we can get our minds around.

Most important, keep going. Persevere.

We wouldn’t be here today if people before us didn’t persevere. Even though I love history, there’s no way I’d go back in time and face the circumstances and trials of decades and centuries prior to mine. I’m not that brave.

But if our ancestors could prevail over their setbacks, so can we, in our privileged, digital age.

When we go from ordinary to extraordinary, forever overwhelms us — but we can do today.

–Teresa

 

 

Unity

 

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In my quiet time, I’m following the First 5 study on Acts. The early church’s unity, devotion, and the way they sold off their possessions to support each other is foreign to us.

But it’s refreshing, too. When was the last time we showed that level of devotion? Those new believers were unified by Christ’s love, His instruction to tell His message, and even through persecution.

Do we, as believers, have that kind of bond today?

If not, should we?

Culturally, we look different from that group two thousand years ago. But shouldn’t we strive to share the same spirit of unity in Christ, the fervor of running together towards a common goal, the same big picture thinking those new believers had?

Let’s remember, love, unity, fervor and big picture thinking doesn’t equal sameness.

Those people had disagreements (Acts 6:1-5; 15:36-41), just like we do. Even though somebody loves the Lord with all his heart and soul, he might still sharply disagree with another believer.

Hence the abundance of denominations, all claiming that Jesus is Lord, but differing in the way they interpret Scripture. Which one is right?

God.

In other words, we should do our best to interpret His Word, then get over ourselves. We’ll get it wrong somewhere, somehow, because we’re human. He’ll set the details and gray areas right in the end.

One thing He’s been abundantly clear about: Jesus is His Son.

God wanted us to find peace with Him through Jesus. If He didn’t want a relationship with you, with me, with all of us, He would have done nothing. He certainly would not have sent His Son to live on earth and die a horrible death. But God did — does — want a relationship with us, so someone had to die in our place. Someone without sin. Jesus.

To date, Jesus is the only person who has given His life for me on a personal level. I’ve never had anyone else die in my place. No one has willingly taken a bullet meant for me, no one has taken my place at the guillotine, no one has pushed me out of the path of a speeding car. If someone had, I’d live forever in their honor, filled with renewed purpose. I’ve always loved A Tale of Two Cities because that kind of self-sacrificing love amazes and humbles me.

In recognition of the One who DID give His life for me, for you, for all of us, shall we live with renewed purpose, in Jesus honor, and in unity, as those first believers did? Isn’t it the least we can do for the One who gave it all?

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:46-47New International Version (NIV)