About Teresa

Hello! One of my greatest passions is encouraging and mentoring women to partner with God through the everyday circumstances of life. I am a speaker and also the author of Becoming A Peaceful Mom (Amazon). Connect with me at www.celebratethefamily.org!

The Best Way To Work Through

What are you trying to work through?  If you’re like me, often it’s not just one thing. Whatever it is, it can consume our thoughts, drain our energy, and sink us low.

. . . heartbreak . . .a frustrating job . . . an unfair outcome . . . financial issues . . . a stressful relationship . . . an ongoing health matter . . . overcoming a fear . . . completing something  . . .a devastating loss.

I have been studying the book of Haggai, a two-page history near the end of the Old Testament. It’s been several years since I read it, and I thought I’d zip through in a couple of days. I was wrong. God is holding me in His words here, helping me learn more deeply Who He is and how He loves us. God speaks through the prophet Haggai and tells His people to first consider their past way of living and now to consider Who He is and how He wants them to live forward, how they are to work now.

And when God knew He held their attention, He assured them of His love: “I am with you, declares the LORD.” (Haggai 1.13)

Their obvious work is to rebuild God’s temple, a daunting and monumental job. Yet, I imagine among all these workers, they are working through personal struggles with any number of the themes listed above–not to mention the fear of attack from enemies. God knows this. He sees their heart and assures them of HIs commitment to them.

God sees how you and I sometimes work through things—by self-determination, by denial or avoidance, by complaining, judging, or jealousy. He sees our fear, grief, anger, or waning hope. I have wasted much time working through circumstances and relationships leaning on my emotions, on what I think, on whatever evidence is tangibly in front of me—rather than leaning in to God who is right here with me.

God loves us in our weakness, even when we lean away from Him. He doesn’t scold or shame us. He doesn’t ridicule or react as though He’s surprised by our behavior. He doesn’t leave or step back to give us space to figure out that we need Him. God remains near. He keeps His word:

“I am with you, declares the LORD.”

Back to Haggai…  God speaks again to His people, as they work.  “Be strong . . . Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts . . . My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” (Haggai 2.4-5)

This. God is making us strong warriors.
He assures us that we can be strong as we work through anything because He is with us, because His Spirit is in our midst.

God knows the strength you and I need when circumstances wear us down or cause us to worry, to fear. He wants us to rest secure in His strength. How do we get there? We practice every day by getting to know Him through His Word, talking to Him, and learning to listen to Him.

This strength He calls us to is poured in to us and grown as we walk with Him. His pour is not like an energy drink that lasts for a few hours. When you and I lean in to Almighty God, He provides a sustaining stamina that compels awe in us.

When we depend on God’s strength, trusting HIs presence with us, His peace transcends the circumstance and He grows our faith to trust, He’s got this. We partner with Him and work through—and continue to become who He created us to be, all to His glory.

Dear God,
I don’t want to work through any thing on my own anymore. I am sorry for all the times that I have leaned away from you, rather than toward you. Thank you for your patient love. Thank you that you are always with me, in my midst. Help me believe this and trust you more. Amen.

On Waiting For A Convenient Time

When I was 30, I received my first Bible. It wasn’t something that I’d always wanted; rather, I was curious about something my husband valued—spending daily time reading it. That was a new, unfamiliar, and to be honest, overwhelming idea to me. Even after he gave it to me, several days passed before I made time to give it a try. . . .You would think I was about to attempt reading a foreign language! (All of that story is in my book Becoming A Peaceful Mom.)

That particular time is my life was the most challenging season I had ever faced. In my head, I pushed back, rationalizing that giving some of my time to study scripture would just have to wait. Yet a yearning stirred in my heart, that I felt I had to respond to. There wasn’t a convenient window of time that presented, nor has there been since. I determined to take this step and God made the way.

Why am I sharing this now—at the beginning of December, when the added flurry of gift buying and decorating abounds—as yet another thing to build into your day?

Because . . . This life is busy all the time and hard a lot of the time.

Because . . . God wants to lead you and me through the busy and hard, such that we learn to abide in His Life in us.

Because . . . The world broadcasts many messages that distract us from the most important relationship we are created to have and the most important message we are to believe.

Because . . . God wants you to known Him personally—to know His character, His voice, and the depth of His love for you, for me.

Beginning with the Book of Ruth, I roamed through books of my Bible, journaling facets of God’s character portrayed in amazing and true stories. The more I read, the more I realized how much I didn’t know about God—things He said and did. The more I read the more I was gratified, as He helped me grasp how much He loves me, loves us.

My hesitant start to open God’s breathed-words, became a passionate personal pursuit to know Him. I had no idea what I had been missing. I had no idea how much more this relationship could be. I had no idea of how powerfully God moves through His words.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3.16–19)

Lovingly, God waits for us to decide to give Him some of the time that He has given us. He knows our hurdles, as He knew mine. He will lead you through—even during the added busyness of this season.

Dear God,
You see my heart and my thoughts, and you love me right where I am. Thank you. Help me step closer to You, to know you. Amen.

My Mom

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve attempted to write this post, but each effort brought a waterfall of tears or a heavy weight to my heart, such that it seemed hard to breathe. On June 19, my sweet mom took her last breath on this earth and is now in heaven with Jesus. I am sad and miss her every single day. I still reach for my phone to call her.

Yet, peace and gratitude to God anchor this space in my heart that grieves. God gave our family many rich years with Mom. She was 85. In her last few years, His comfort and strength carried me as she endured the heart-breaking changes that Alzheimer’s inflicts. And in her last days God answered my final prayers—that she would know who I was as long as she lived here, that I could be with Mom in her last days, and that she would die peacefully in her sleep.

“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…” (I Peter 3.4–5a)

In so many ways, this sums up my view of Mom. She wasn’t perfect—in fact, she was the first to point out her faults—but I admired her greatly. Her example, through many challenging circumstances over the years, inspires me to persevere in Christ and trust Him.

Her hope was in God. “I’ve been thanking Him all day,” was her response when anything good happened—from a bountiful day of crabbing off the dock to a grandchild scoring well on a test. When heartache, worry, or hardship challenged any of us, Mom seldom pushed advice and faithfully promised, “I’ve been talking to God all day.”  She knew God as the source of all that is good, all provision and protection, and all grace.

I think the most profound way that I see the fruit of Mom’s hope in God is in her gentle and quiet spirit. We see so much when we look back, don’t we? I look way back and see my selfishness, stubbornness, and plenty of other ugly-nesses toward Mom in my teen and young adult years—and how she loved me through them. Then I look back over our years of raising children, ministry, and work—which meant less opportunity to be with Mom and Dad—and she never complained. Always, “Come see us when you can, or we can come to you.”

When I was raising teens, when I missed our kids as they moved out, and when I struggled to be quiet (and say less) or gentle (in tone), I would vent disappointment in myself to Mom and ask, How did you do it? I remember how I was toward you . . . I know how much more you wanted to see us. And she would say,  I would talk to God and ask Him, because it’s all up to Him. As years passed she added, In time you forget the hard stuff and remember the good. 

She depended on God. She loved Him–loves Him–MOST.

I always saw Mom as a selfless giver. Readily she gave us her presence… her time… encouragement… support… help… a listening ear… or a warm hug or smile. Some days I could hear in her voice over the phone or see in her face that she was tired or burdened with something. Yet, always she gave, from a heart brimming with gratitude. “God has given me more than I could ever deserve.” Only in these last few years of grieving the loss of who she was before Alzheimer’s, have I realized how much more she has given me through how she lived.

Whether she was delighted, discouraged, worried, or thankful, her consistent refrain was, “I don’t know what I’d do without Him.” And now she never has to think about that again.