Thursday, November 6, 2014
Teresa and I met through a mutual friend about five years ago. Although she seems quiet at first, don't be fooled. This lady is a powerful, strong, and wise woman of God! She is a great example of putting your family first, but always makes time to bless others as well with her gift of encouragement. I went to an exercise class she and her best friend Danya were running last summer, and it was there that I realized what an encourager she really is. Teresa has the ability to not only encourage, but to push you out of your comfort zone. She helps you to find a strength you didn't know you actually had. A strength and power that only comes from complete dependence on God. And all the while, she gives God the glory!
Teresa grew up in Fontana, with five brothers, one of whom is her twin, and one sister. Although her father went to church with the family on special occasions, it was her mother who took the children on a regular basis. When she was in High School, she remembers reading through the book of Revelation and being so scared that she didn't open the Bible up again for many years.
Her husband was saved before she was and would often read the Bible to their family. On July 26, 2001, he took them to a "Somebody loves you" crusade and it was there that she realized she was in need of a Savior. That day, she gave her life to the Lord.
When I asked Teresa who her biggest encourager's are, she said one is her husband who always encourages her to do what is right, to run to God always and to keep her eyes on Jesus and not her circumstances. She says that her other big encourager is her youngest daughter Kayla who often leaves her little notes and pictures with scriptures where she will find them. If Teresa is having a bad day, Kayla prays for her, and if she is having difficulty with exercising, Kayla reminds her that she will do better tomorrow.
Teresa has a passion for running that began when she was struggling with her weight and lack of energy. She had a friend who was willing to go with her and found that to be a great encouragement. It was in the midst of training for a half marathon, that running became something far more valuable than simply a way to become physically fit, it became a "Platform for prayer and worship." A place she "Longed to be at, where I can just talk to God, where I could enjoy His beauty and where I can work out my problems talking to Him." It was also at this time when she began to see parallels in running with her spiritual life. Running her first 5k was such a huge encouragement, that she decided to continue and has been running ever since.
She takes very seriously the mission field of her family, and holds dear the ministry of serving them. Always there for them, encouraging them in their activities, helping when they need it, and being their biggest cheerleader. She enjoys every minute they spend together. Staying on top of her schedule and learning not to over commit helps her to do the things she needs to do and is called to do, with a joyful heart. As she always says, "Family first."
I asked Teresa what some of her favorite verses were and she said Philippians 1:6;
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. "I am thankful and grateful that God is not finished with me, nor will He give up on me despite my shortcomings. My Savior is a finisher and I need to be as well". She also loves Philippians 4:8, Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. She says that she struggles often with not being a positive person and because her mind tends to wander, this verse reminds her where her thoughts need to be.
When asked how she would encourage someone with a similar gift, she says, " I would encourage others to look beyond themselves, their situation, or their circumstances, and look to serve those around them. To look past their friends and acquaintances and look for opportunities to do things for others, compliment others, or simply smile and say hello. God always gives us opportunities to serve Him, we just need to not be so consumed with ourselves that we miss the opportunity."
I hope and pray that each one of you who reads this, has a Teresa in your life. Someone who will encourage you to do your best, to push you when you need it, and to lift you up. Life certainly is sweeter with the gift of encouragement delivered through a true friend. God laid heavy upon my heart the need to encourage women to use their gifts to bless others and to bring Him glory, just as Teresa does with her life. May He richly bless you today as you minister to others in His name.