It was late January in 2016. My carotid artery had ruptured two months prior and I was still recovering from the surgeries that repaired it. I wasn’t driving. I wasn’t working. I wasn’t doing much of anything except trying to process the ramifications of the diagnosis I had just received. Yes, I did have Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that makes my insides prone to spontaneous rupture.
If you’ve ever heard me tell the story about the months where I had to set an alarm on my phone every hour to pray because sixty minutes was as long as I would last before I felt another panic attack coming on – this is that season.
I heard a knock on the door and slowly made my way to answer it. And there stood Beth Moore on my front porch. Well, okay technically no. It was my next door neighbor, Mary Ann. But she could have been Beth Moore – she was little and blond and feisty and I was about to see that she couldn’t keep her love for Jesus just to herself.
Mary Ann had just moved to the neighborhood and she didn’t know me from Adam. But our conversation went like this:
Mary Ann: Hey! I don’t know if you’d be interested in this or not, but I was wondering if you would like to come over for Bible st—
Me: YES! Wait. You were going to say Bible study, right?
Mary Ann: Yes, but don’t you want to know what day we are meeting or what we are studying or what time?
Me: No. I don’t care when. I’ll be there, whenever it is.
Mary Ann: Well okay then, I’ll see you next Tuesday!
What Mary Ann didn’t know is that I had spent that cold morning in January asking God to give me direction from His Word on my next steps.
What I didn’t know was that Mary Ann was nervous about inviting a stranger to Bible study, but she was determined to obey Jesus anyway. She knew He was asking her to invite the housebound neighbor next door.
From that conversation, along with a few other similar ones Mary Ann had with other friends, the Turtle Sisters were born. What are the Turtle Sisters? We’re a group of girls wanting to dive into God’s Word together, but we love and pray and support each other through the ups and downs of life.
Here’s the part of this story that I want to encourage you with today:
Our choice to obey God helps to advance His will for the world around us.
Not long after Mary Ann invited me to Bible study, I would build this website, start this online ministry which you are a part of, and begin writing my first Bible study for my fellow Turtle Sisters. Last month, I released my second Bible study, Determined: Living Like Jesus in Every Moment, a six-week study of Luke.
If you are reading this post, if you have walked through the Ready study, if you are reading through the Bible with me in my private Facebook group, or if you are about to walk through the Determined study with me, you can thank my next door neighbor for being courageous enough to obey God. She helped open the door that God wanted me to walk through.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I’m wondering if God is stirring your heart in a specific way today. How is God calling you to obey Him?
Our stories are never just about ourselves. God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will, but He chooses to partner with us to make beautiful things happen. That truth humbles me as much as it inspires me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Take the leap of faith. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if you’re afraid. God’s plan for you is about His plan for the world around you.
Get to it.
I’m rooting for you, always.
Janet Cutshall says
Thank you so much for the command from God to obey. It is so vital but sometimes so hard to do. It is better to obey than to sacrifice. Obey God’s word and obey walk in His spirit.
I’m so glad God used this to encourage you, Janet!
Oh, Heather, I’m enjoying the Jacob study so much. Our facilitator had to be out for a couple weeks so I even got to lead our first and second meetings. I know you know: If you really want to learn something, commit to teaching it!
I’m 67, living past my expiration date so to speak, as I’m hoping you will! My diagnosis is bipolar illness and I’ve been entertaining myself since I “met” you imagining my many manic episodes as “spontaneous synapse and neurotransmitter ruptures.” I hope you don’t find that plagiarism of your diagnosis too unsettling or disrespectful. I don’t mean to offend or to be too familiar.
Forty years ago, at diagnosis, I was committed to doing everything necessary to comply with medical advice, secretly harboring a hope for a cure. Instead I’ve had to renew hope in light of a hard story. Or something like that.
So I wrote a book about 10 years ago after I finally gave up the ridiculous notion that I could support myself financially by working a series of low-paying jobs. Forty years of slamming myself against the wall working but never staying around for a promotion. I was deeply ashamed of not working when I wrote that book. I can see that now but at the time I thought I was in good shape. We had raised our beautiful daughter who was away on a full academic scholarship at college, my husband and I were holding my fourth marriage together, we survived breast cancer and loved our church and our leadership roles in it. We love the Lord.
And we still do! A number of bombs have dropped in our lives but we survive. We have found a Bible-believing family in our new church, plenty of ways to serve and we are faithful.
I still have that what-am-I-supposed-to-do-IF-I-grow-up feeling. I feel under-used. I can’t settle, still. Well, yes, I am hypomanic most of the time, medicated by my psychiatrist to the hilt. My list of, and loyalty to, the ways I am compliant to the medical recommendations and prescriptions may be as impressive as yours. I see obedience to authority as a good thing. I actually love submitting to my husband so he can love me as Christ loved us. It’s not that.
How did you decide among many things you COULD do, what you SHOULD do? I’m playing flute in the praise band, sewing for myself and my family, enjoying two Bible studies a week, keeping up with a small group of intimate friends, going on mission trips.
Frank and I don’t feel busy-busy. I journal, he sells real estate part time. He’s doing different things personally and the same social things with me and we both like that. You should see my sewing room for one! You should see his barn, also designed for one! Still, my favorite time is the cuddle up at the end of the day.
Bottom line, I still want to write another book. Yeah. That’s it. I want to write a book called “Eternally Extra, Transforming Mental Illness into Joyful Service.” I’ve outlined 10 chapters and written one. Then I gave it up when my daughter scoffed at it, I had a medical crisis and I just lost hope.
I read “Renewed” and danged if it didn’t renew me. But how do you decide?
Tracy, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad you found it renewing for you and I am cheering you on for that 2nd book!!
Hey Heather, I’ve been following you since the Diamonds conference and have thoroughly enjoyed your entire website. I just wanted to say that you’re an inspiration- you have so much wisdom. Thank you for being a voice of encouragement. You’re in my prayers <3
Thanks so much for your kind words, SawyerMarie. The Diamonds conference was an inspirational time. Hugs!!