Sunday, April 25, 2010

So Long for now, Tessa

I found out yesterday that my precious friend and personal trainer, Tessa Harris, was killed around 11:00 a.m. in a tragic car accident on I-64 around Owingsville, Kentucky, at mile-marker 119. I include the mile marker number because Jason was killed just a few miles down on that same road at around mile-marker 108. I don't know exactly why the news of her death hit me so hard but it most certainly did. I am so devastated because I guess I felt that our relationship still had some miles left to go. She was my fitness trainer at the Vitality Center and for some reason, we had an incredible bond that centered around me whining and her not budging to my pleas for mercy. She was a hardcore chicka who took her job seriously. But the thing I loved most about my time with her was how we could laugh our heads off and the dumbest stuff. She always lost it when I did my dismount off of the big green ball. I was a mess at times and she always had the best time making fun of me. We always lost track of the number of reps I had done because we talked incessantly and assumed the other was counting. I would always guess higher and she would call me out every time. I guess the personal training aspect of her work was why we we had such a personal relationship from day one. I knew that God had strategically placed her in my life for a season. We began to share our "stories" pretty much from the first time we met. I knew she had lost her father to a motorcycle accident when she was in high school. She knew we had lost Jason in a car wreck in 2006 and had remembered him as they were close to the same age. I remember telling her that they would have made a great couple because they were both "extreme" people and would have gotten along fabulously. Based on all that God has done in my life over the past ten years, I knew He expected me to share the real "Him" with her. She and I both shared salvation birthdays at 13 years of age. She revealed to me that she had asked God to comfort her at a difficult time some years before and that she KNEW God had sent her Jessica Baldridge as an answer to that prayer. She connected those dots which gave me peace that she had a relationship with Him. I believed she GOT IT. Her job was to encourage me in my physical training. My job was to encourage her in her spiritual training. I always quoted that 1 Timothy 4:8 verse that said "physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." She didn't necessarily buy it but I always told her to look it up. For about 9 months, I met with her on a fairly regular basis. I didn't want to be obnoxious with my godly advice but I rarely hesitated to speak it. We had numerous discussions about God, His love, and His ways such as the power to pray for your enemies. She did put into practice some of what we talked about and she would be so excited to tell me so the next time we met. I looooved her so much and I looked forward to getting back to the gym and catching up with her while shaping up. When she started a FB account last fall we became friends and stayed in touch that way. The last time I talked to her on the phone, I asked her opinion about the Ab Pro Circle. She wasn't convinced it could do all it boasted but I told her I wanted to try it. I did. But now I want my Tessa back!!! On April 14, she commented on my Facebook "From Russell With Love" photo album and said she missed our times talking together. She told me to come back if I wanted. I still had like 3 or 4 sessions with her that I had paid for so I had full intentions of going back. I had planned to do it soon. But God had other plans. His ways are higher than ours. I trust Him but my heart truly aches. I would have loved to mentor her. I know God will use her death and funeral for His glory. That's how He works. Use it LORD!!! Pour out your Spirit of grace on her family and may they see your love literally surrounding them now. Draw many people through her death. John 11:25-26 says, Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" So Long for now, Tessa.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Serina......My Housekeeping Friend From New Orleans

So Long Insecurity Book in the Sheraton Hotel gift shop!!!!!!
St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square

French Quarter, I-10 and Lake Ponchetrain
Central Business District of New Orleans (Super-dome is behind the Capital One building directly in the center of the photo)

When Mike and I were in New Orleans for the AAOS annual meeting, we stayed at the Sheraton on Canal. I always love staying there because the views are spectacular from the higher floors. The last time we stayed there in Nov. 2008, we had a marvy Mississippi River view. I am totally ecstatic with great views and I'm not really sure why (prolly something from my dad). But when we fly, I will fight for the window seat if not assigned to me. If I fly with any of our kids and they have an assigned window seat and I do not, I make it crystal clear that if they are seated in a window seat, certain conditions must be met which include peering out the window pretty much the whole time. I would be the window monitor!! If they do not plan to comply, they would lose their window seat privilege. We must honor the integrity of the seat. This is a big deal. Thankfully, they are cooler than me and don't really care that much so they usually just surrender it to me without any trouble. But anyway, we travelled to New Orleans again last month (March 2010) for said meeting and this time we were assigned a room on the 4oth floor only this time we would be facing the French Quarter and the CBD as well as Lake Ponchetrain. It was a spectacular view and I was mesmerized by it. I have also come to realize that with opportunity comes responsibility. Anytime God gives us an "overview" view, I presume He expects us to pray over the city and surrounding area. The first time I felt prompted by the Spirit to do this was on a flight to San Diego back in 2005ish. As we descended, it was so beautiful and the homes were so numerous and I began to think how cool it was that God knew everyone who lived in each house. I just felt compelled to pray for salvation's and for an outpouring of His Spirit over them all. After that trip, it has pretty much become a special time of prayer for me and to pray over the areas I fly over, not knowing anything about the people I am praying for. Back to the hotel story.........As I prepared to do my thing each day while Mike faithfully attended his "meeting," I would hang out in the room until it was time to get out and shop, eat, tour, shop, eat, etc. One day I got frustrated because I had been out all afternoon and when I got back, my room had not been cleaned. A few minutes later the housekeeper (young black woman) knocked and I let her in but not without some inner whining. I always prefer to be out when they "do their thing" but that would not be the case on this particular day. Within 15 minutes, she was finished and out the door without any significant conversation whatsoever. The next morning, I was finishing up my "quiet time" when she knocked on the door and said, "housekeeping." I was a bit perturbed because I was in the room and I really did want her to service the room with me there. My preference would be for her to "magically" come when we are not around. Again, that wasn't happening today. I asked her to come in. While I sat in a chair and finished reading my Bible and Updated Breaking Free, she (exact same girl from yesterday) began to make the bed and whatnot. I was still annoyed in my spirit that she was crashing my "alone time" party, but I began to ask God if there was a reason that He put this same young woman in my path two days in a row. It was becoming too obvious that He was up to something because the times of her cleaning were so day she came late, the next really early. Vat the heck was up with that?! I tried to be still and listen to any word from God. I sensed that I was to have a conversation with her so I asked her if she was in town when Hurricane Katrina hit. (Everyone from NOLA has a Katrina story and all you have to do to get them to open up is ask them about it. They still want and need to talk about it). She began to tell me that she was indeed in town and did not evacuate until she was put on a bus from the Superdome and bused to Dallas. She told me that after a month in Dallas, she found out she had a cousin in the Atlanta area and arrangements were made for her to go there for three months. It sounded to me like she had no immediate family to speak of. She said it was the worst thing she had been through and not knowing if she would get to come back to New Orleans was very stressful. I thought about the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church where Beth filmed the re-taping of Breaking Free. I am currently doing that study and had been working on my "homework" when she interrupted me. I asked her if she was a Believer in Jesus Christ and she said she was. I asked her if she had a church in NOLA and she said no. I then asked her if she had ever heard of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church and she said that she knew of it because she lived right down the street from it. She said she had never visited it because she thought that you had to be a member to go. I totally corrected her and said that she didn't have to be a member to visit and that she should find a Biblically sound, genuine body of believers, church. I told her that FABC was the real deal and that it was predominately black but that I would go there if I lived here. I told her that they could help to mentor her in her relationship with Christ as well as encourage and support her and be a family to her. I warned her about the numerous false teaching churches out there and that this one could be trusted. She told me that she goes past it everyday and that she would check it out. I told her that the Bible study I was currently taking was filmed there and that she should go there ASAP. I repeated that if I lived in this city, I would go there!!!