Monday, November 07, 2011

Are you making a difference?

I left the church when I was fourteen.

It took me twenty years to return.

When my daughter was born, I was blessed to find a sitter who lived nearby and who was also someone I met in labor class. Kathy was a new mom too and soon I found out she was a Christian as well.

When my daughter hit the terrible twos, she handed me a book by Dr. Dobson. I didn’t have a clue who he was but read it anyways. It wasn’t long before I was invited to mother and daughter banquets and special events at her church.

I cooperated, but felt uncomfortable back in this strange environment. My husband and I had never discussed the need for religion or even our personal beliefs. I wasn’t sure how to act or dress.

Then they invited my daughter to Awanas. Of course, we agreed but when it came to fulfilling the parents’ part, we balked. Take her to Sunday School and stay for church just so she could earn a badge?

I remember that Sunday well. How could I forget? The preacher talked about everything in our lives as though he’d peered through our windows that week before.  My husband and I looked at each other in amazement.

What just happened?

We finally had our first conversation about religion on the trip home. Somehow God had paired two wayward Christians with similar backgrounds—we hadn’t thought it important enough to discuss until then.

 I still regret those lost years. But I’m thankful for the found ones.

We never know how certain people will impact our lives. One chance meeting in a labor class changed me forever. Kathy never gave up. She saw a person in need and reached out.

I think of her today as I meet so many new people in my life here in Texas. What will be their impact on my life? What will be my impact on them?

So tell me, who has impacted your life most?


Diane said...

I've had a few people truly impact my life, but when Joe and I first gave our lives to The Lord, 28 years ago, He brought a couple, Nan and Dave into our lives to disciple us. We learned how to pray, how to beleive, how to fight the good fight of faith just from being part of their lives and watching as they lived out their faith. They will always have a special place in my heart.

Lin Floyd said...

a woman from my church who befriended me and got me involved in a mormon youth group. she was a former ballet dancer and choreographed dance for summer programs which I got involved with and later started attending sunday services as my widowed mom wasn't active in any church. My youth leader helped me find the church and a new career-teaching dance. All because she took time to contact a shy quiet teenager.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

I always find it so interesting to hear how a person finds their way to Jesus. It unique and individual way in which Jesus connect with different people is as different as each individual....I think that is so very cool!

I'ts not a one size fit's all, He has the ability to meet everyone at their point of need in whatever way will make the biggest impact.

Love it!

I have had so many spiritual mothers, those strong women who impacted me when I was a new mom. I did not have a clue what to do with a strong willed toddler and an even bigger need for Christ.

Hmmmmmmmm sweet memories of some amazing ladies!


Tamika Eason said...

I am always amazed at how God plants people in my life. My prayer partners came when I thought I could never find my way home again. They never condemned me; they covered me with love.

Heidi Willis said...

Those "lost years" are years when God was preparing your hearts for what He wanted to accomplish in them. He can now use you in ways He might not have had you never know what it felt like to be lost.

You may never know who you are impacting the most. :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

What a wonderful story. It's so true, we rarely know how we've impacted another's life. Do we?

When I was a teen, our Reverend, we called him Rev. Bob, definitely helped me discover God as a personal God. I'll forever be thankful for his dedication to the youth at our church!

Loree Huebner said...

Awesome story!

I too left the church for a time when I was younger. Thankfully, God never let me out of his sight, and pursued me.

My mom's faith always inspired me. I saw her go through rough times, but her faith never wavered. She always knew she would meet Jesus one day.

Marja Meijers said...

I was 16 when I left the church and it took me 22 years before I came back and finally gave my life to the Lord. My first pastor in the US has been a great mentor and inspirator to me.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, I'm so glad He used that babysitter to bring you back, sweetie!

My Sunday School teacher when I was seven, a college student, talked about Jesus in a way that caused me to fall in love with Him. I don't even know her name, but I bless her to this day for introducing me to my best Friend.

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Rhonda Schrock said...

What a wonderful story, Terri! So, so very glad you came back to the Lord. This will encourage others whose kids/friends/family members have wandered away.

Probably some of my biggest impacters (is that a word?) have been other godly women who took time to mentor and invest in my life. Wow! I'll never be the same.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I lost some years in college and can only hope God was using me in some way during that time.

A few people come to mind, my mom certainly one.

Great thought stirring post!
~ Wendy

Melissa Marsh said...

Hmm. That's a hard question. Certain people have impacted me in different ways. As far as my faith, I would say my current pastor has really challenged me and made me dig deeper into the Bible, and I LOVE it. :-)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Terri, such a timely post. I have so much I could say here, but I think I'm just going to let the post sink in for a few minutes. Thank you!

Retired English Teacher said...

I also regret many lost years when I was far from the Lord. Thankfully, the Lord had me tethered to His redeeming love and brought me back.

I've often been out of His will, but never out of His grace.

Sassy Granny ... said...

Oh I do so hope you find a good fit in your church there. I'll bet you impact them as much as they impact you!

As for me ... my most recent hero is my 18 year old granddaughter, Katheryne. She's had some rugged challenges in life, but her courage & tenacity is nothing short of amazing.


Jill said...

My parents had the most impact on my life. I have to say that my husband and I have been put in the position of helping rather than being helped for most of our married lives, and sometimes that gets me down. But it seems to be the way that God wants it.

Susan Roux said...

Don't we all have people who've impacted us along the way. Either by encouragement that help us take the first step or by hurtful statements that empower us with the attitude, "I'll show them!" We never seem to forget them, do we?

Happy to hear you're meeting a lot of new people.

Deborah said...

I was never 'in' the church as a child, and didn't come to know the Lord until I was almost 27. Several people had a part in leading me there, but one was my ex-husband. He was saved about a year or so earlier, and started taking our daughter to Awanas....I can still remember helping her learn John 3:16. Six months later I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and take control of my life. Two weeks later, my husband, Brian, did the same. That was way back in 1985.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Several people have impacted my life: my grandmother, my parents and my Spiritual master have all inculcated in me a belief in religion and faith in God/Supreme power.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, what an awesome testimony, Terri!!! The Lord has laid a couple people on my heart to reach out to, so hearing your experience inspires me to keep at it. :)

Karen Lange said...

I think my Mom has impacted me the most. My husband has helped me grow a lot too. I like what you said about being thankful for the "found ones". That's a good way to look at it. Our pastor's wife said that you needn't regret your lost or wayward years; they placed you where you are now.

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Thanks for sharing.

I love how you share your regret, but also your thankfulness. That's what we all need to do.


Rahul Bhatia said...

A lovely read!Some people surely bring about positive changes in our lives and we should consider ourselves fortunate when destiny brings them to our doorstep

Rahul Bhatia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica Nelson said...

Oh my Terri!!! WOW. I had no clue. What an interesting story and thank goodness you and your hubs had similar backgrounds. lol
There have been lots of people who touched my life in different ways. And when I think of them, there's usually a word that comes to mind, like Love or Passion.
Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog today. :-)

Stacy Henrie said...

I think the person who's impacted me the most is my husband. I wouldn't be the person I am today - reaching toward my dreams of publication - if I hadn't married him. He's helped me mellow out too. :) Great post!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

What a beautiful conversion story!

I was born into a religious family. But it wasn't until I was truly converted myself that I appreciated all that I had. Over the years I've seen how God has guided me and my husband and I marvel at His mercy and kindness.

Thanks for the wonderful post!

Carole said...

I would have to say my older sister Marilyn who invited me to help her teach Sunday School and VBS at the First Baptist Church in my small hometown- I was a teenager then and I believed in God but did not know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. But I got to know Him there and it has changed my life forever - the best decision I ever made. Thank you sister:-)

Sarah (Nikki) said...

I love this post Terri. There's so many people who impacted me...the one who comes to mind right now is Carl....He loved me when I couldn't love myself. I've learned there's awesome people everywhere.....can't wait to hear about those you're going to meet in Texas

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Terri, I am giving you The Tell Me About Yourself Blog Award!

You can read all about it in my post on Thursday, November 17. Don’t worry, if you don’t have time to participate, that’s A-OK with me, but if you’d like to participate, here are the rules:

Thank the person who awarded you, blog about it, list seven things about yourself, and list 15 other blogs you would like to pass the award on to.


Nancy said...

What a great story. I'm hoping that the same thing will happen to some dear people I know that are in a very similar situation. You have given me some extra hope today. Thank you.

Sally said...

I would have to give it up to my husband for impacting my personal walk with the LORD. He gave me time to discover Jesus, myself, held me steady when I was confused and cheered me on in my own ministries. I know you'll fall in love with the Texans, I sure have.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, great testimony!

My hubby and I grew up Catholic and even married in the Catholic church but we weren't even good Catholics-- ECers (Church on Easter and Christmas only)
Then my hubby's brother became "born again" and through a "chance of fate" we ended up moving back to live closer to him. He invited us to a Bible study in his home and that was the first time me and the hubby started discussing our faith more seriously.

ginny said...

I had a friend from our church who invited me to sing in the folk group, like back in the 70's. Then another friend invited me to her prayer group. That really took off for me. Before you know it, I was neck deep in my faith. I lost it somehow during those 20-29 years of age. I am still being impacted by invites from people, and it is getting better all the time. I call it, the Divine Conspiracy! God knows what He is doing alright!

Kathryn Magendie said...

what a question this one is, and I sure wish I could answer it with one person but instead it'd be this long list, both "good and bad" who have impacted me.

Have missed your blog - have missed so many blogs, especially lately.

I will tell you this - every week since I returned from texas I have been sending, and will send, my father's pastor, when he asked if he could pray fro me, a card that reads: "are you still praying for me? well, keep trying because it isn't working yet..." or some variation of that ... wonder what he'll make of that? But, it's always nice to have someone thinking of you and pulling for you.

smiling warmly.

Deb Shucka said...

Such a powerful reminder here of the power one person can have. I'm thinking those lost years weren't really lost, but helped form the foundation for your faith today.

My brother Mark is currently having the most profound impact on my life through example and love.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

As a young teenager, my parents took me to Youth Rallies and other meetings. I'm so grateful for those experiences because they created a hunger in me for more of the Lord.

Susan :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I would say that my Grandfather has mean the most to me. He's always encouraged me. He's always pushed the fact that he thinks I can do better. He's also always been there for me. We live on different continents and have since I was 8, but he's always been there for me and even now at 91 he's still there for me. :)

Amie Borst said...

beautiful story, terri! that's one thing i truly believe - people are watching us and we need to act as the savior would. we never know how it might impact someone.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

"I still regret those lost years. But I’m thankful for the found ones."

Those "found" years... ummm, ummm, ummm. Now those are preaching words, sister. I was thinking about this very thing this week as I encountered a very lost soul on a seeming road to nowhere.

But then she asked a question, and the dialogue was open. Oh the places we stand and the words we speak! Help me to stand and speak them well, Lord.

I want nothing more than to point others back to Jesus. This will be enough for me.

Happy Thanksgiving, friend.


Christa said...

I'm new to your blog and enjoying the reading very much. This post especially struck me because, after my divorce in 1998, when I was wayward and in dire need of gainful employment, God put someone in my life who helped change me forever. An under-qualified stay-at-home mom, I found myself sitting in the office of a big law firm interviewing for a position that was totally beyond me, skill-wise. Lo and behold, they hired me. Twelve years later and I'm still there. I've grown closer to the Lord in those years, thanks to my friend and mentor who was there waiting for me. God led me to that place, without a doubt. It amazes me still how wonderful He truly is.