I Believe in God’s Time, by Adriana Arbeláez

I believe in God because he held my hand when my father left me alone. I have had a happy and wonderful life, but when my sister and I were children, my family experimented difficult situations, which made us stronger. Our father left my sister and I when we were born, and our mother lived through difficult times because she had work hard to afford all the expenses that my sister and I had.

My sister and I grew up and my mother gave us all that we needed, but one day everything was dark for us: The money that my mother was earning, was not enough for all our expenses, and we lived difficult times. She worked as a language therapist and in my country, Colombia, that job does not pay well, so when my sister and I finished our high school our mother did not have money to pay the tuition. For that reason, we decided to demand our father for abandoned us when we were children. This situation was difficult because our father is a bad person who does not love us. I remember that one day we received a counter demand from him saying that my sister and I just wanted to steal his money, and in front of a lot of people in the court our father said he hates us and that he said to our mother that it would be better if she had aborted us. Our heart was broken but we heartened ourselves to forget that situation.

But when everything was so dark, one cousin invited me to a Christian Church called Rock House, which is near my house in Colombia. I went with my mom and it was amazing because we felt how God touched our heart through the Minister’s words. My mother and I decided to join the church, and one day, during a praying meeting, we started to cry and I heard the voice of God saying to me that every issue would be solved with our father only if I pray for him every day. I believed God’s words, but I thought it was strange because I hated my father and it was difficult to pray for someone who hates you, but I did it and everything related with the demand was solved. It was a miracle. The lawyer called and told us that our father called her because he had paid all the money. My mother and I cried and prayed for a long time. Since that day I am thankful to God for everything he did. I believe that even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the impeccable love of God is with us, and even when we are trapped in the middle of the storms of this life, we won’t turn back because God is near, he never lets us go.

…………………………………………………………..

a-arbelaez-photoAdriana Arbeláez is studying English in the TCU Intensive English Program.  She is from Bucaramanga, Colombia.  She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and corporate communications from the Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga.

I Believe in the Power of the AHA, by Mikaela Miller

The patient sat on a piece of plywood resting on two school desks, hand exposed through sterile blue sheeting. The surgeon leaned over, allowing the sunlight streaming through the barred window to be his guide as he carefully pulled a scalpel through the skin around the man’s knuckle. The man stared calmly off into the light, willing his stomach to settle, but there was a certain look of relief and thrill in his eyes. Today was the day that a piece of shrapnel that had made its home inside his thumb for 8 years would finally be removed. There was a resounding ding as the sliver hit the bucket, and the man glanced down and expelled a sigh.

Fast forward a few hours and we are packing up for the day, passing boxes of prescriptions, glasses, and linens towards the bus assembly line style. The man reappears, a huge grin consuming his face despite the pain that is slowly overcoming him from the fading anesthesia. “Gracias, gracias” are the words falling, falling from his mouth when the ‘aha!’ moment strikes.

This is what I want to do. This is who I want to forever serve.

For a girl that had dreamed of doing anything but medicine, this was a huge revelation. It came exactly two weeks before I checked “Biology — Pre-Med” on my first college application, and long after that life-changing trip, I am still wearing the pre-med badge and dreaming of the day that I can return and be the life-changer.

………………………………………………………..

TIB Mikaela Miller

Mikaela Miller is a junior Biology major, minoring in Mathematics and Chemistry, on the Pre-Medicine track. Originally from Chandler, Arizona with roots in Seattle, Washington and a new home in Fort Worth, Texas, she hopes to find a little piece of “home” across the nations through travel and medical mission work. 

 

I Believe in Gratitude, by Rev. Angela Kaufman

I am one of those people….the person with the “life is good” sticker on the back of her car, the one who’s coffee mug says “half full” and who’s currently wearing a shirt that says “happy camper”. I’m the one who sings the “rise and shine “ song from church camp first thing in the morning – much to the chagrin of my wonderful not-so-morning person husband and my half-asleep kids. I’m the person who in our house reminds us before meals to offer up one thing we’re thankful for from the day, and the one who even on my crankiest, most exasperated, most frustrating days finds myself most days hitting my “reboot button”.  I’m like this on the outside because on the inside I believe in gratitude.  I believe in gratitude not because life is always easy or good, but rather because in fact life is often difficult, hard, and even exhausting….and yet is beautiful nonetheless.

This belief was made very real to me at a young age as I grew up with both the “beautiful and the messiness of life” in my own house. One on hand, I was the product of one hard-working, steadfast parent who taught me by example the virtues of commitment and responsibility, faith and friendship. My dad taught me how to fix my own car and just about anything else, how to value a life of learning and appreciate a good book, and most importantly what it meant to live a life committed to God and to the church. But the other side of the coin was very different, and through the anger and volatility of my mom I gained a different set of life-skills.  I learned as a youth how to quietly sneak out the house at night to find peace, how to make friends with people who had spare couches and how to navigate the landmines of an unstable parent. I learned like many others do, how to talk around public conversations that would reveal that I lived with someone whose illness robbed her of her mind and whose anger shut the door to her heart. And while it’s made for a difficult story in certain chapters, that rocky path taught me that life can be just as beautiful in the valley as in the mountains. It showed me how to give thanks on the days when it rains as well as those when the sun shines.

One of my favorite bloggers once said, “a crisis shakes things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most.” For me, what’s left when the crisis, the loss or the grief of our lives has taken hold and shook everything else off? Gratitude. Gratitude for a God who loves us as beautiful and worthy people filled with promise. Gratitude for family and friends who help us live life with humor, love, grace and second chances. Gratitude for the chance to start each morning anew.  I believe in gratitude, and that deep, authentic, sincere gratitude is the product of an imperfect, messy, and beautiful life. It’s birthed out of hope and from it comes joy, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a mobilizer. It calls us not just to sit still and admire the view, but to realize that with every new morning comes the responsibility to care for others, to serve a world in need and give thanks to a God who loves us and reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And with that in mind, nothing can keep me from singing, even if it is early in the morning.

……………………………

angela-kaufmanRev. Angela Kaufman serves as the Minister to the University and more recently also as the University’s Church Relations Officer, supporting connections between the church and the campus. She received her bachelors from TCU and her Masters of Divinity from the University of Chicago. Angie has been or is currently active on the boards of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, National Assoc. of College & University Chaplains, University of Chicago Disciples Divinity House, the TCU Wesley Foundation and the General Board for the church.  She is the lucky other-half to her wonderful partner in crime and IT genius Jack and co-parent to two amazing, adventurous boys and a husky-shepherd mix named Bailey.

I Believe God’s Creation is Awesome, by Janet Lanza

As I sit on a shaded breeze-cooled porch at the beach and experience the ocean’s vastness and rhythm, awesome is an easy word to think of.  The ocean with its size, waves, currents and ever changing colors is truly a work of art.  My favorite thing to do at the beach is to take an early morning walk along the water’s edge.  As I’m walking, I sing familiar hymns such as “This is the Day the Lord Hath Made” and “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.”  It just seems like the right thing to do and it is here in this awesome place and time that I feel closest to God.

I love to garden and I am constantly in awe of nature.  How did this huge thick stemmed okra plant grow from that tiny seed?  How did that small tomato plant produce the bright red home grown fruit that tastes like heaven in your mouth?  And how in this huge world did those squash bugs know that I was growing squash and decide to show up for an unwelcome visit?  It’s mysterious and awesome and all a part of God’s creation.

I imagine my family may tire of my excitement over the sky.  So many times I call out their names or text them and tell them to join me or go look at some marvelous sight in the sky.  Sunrises, sunsets, colors, pictures in clouds, a full moon and the beautiful “Jesus light” that streams from the sun when it starts to peak from behind a cloud are majestic and awesome and I’m so grateful that God created them and gave me eyesight to enjoy them.

Have you ever watched a bird build a nest?  How awesome is that?  How does that little bird know how to construct a nest that will withstand the elements and keep the eggs and baby birds safe? And the color of bird’s eggs and their beaks and feathers and the grace with which they soar through the air…that could not have happened by chance.  It is surely the handiwork and creativity of an awesome God!

During my 25 years of training students to work with preschool children with communication disorders at TCU, I had the opportunity every day to experience the awesomeness of the human mind and spirit.  TCU students overcame their fears to provide effective speech and language therapy to the children.  Families diligently brought their children, followed through with home practice and surrounded them with the love they needed to face their hurdles.  And oh my, those sweet children!  Some of them had so many barriers in their way, but continued to work hard to communicate in ways that most of us take for granted.  Thanks be to God for creating all of those awesome people and putting us together.

If you have had the privilege to experience childbirth as a mom or a dad, you have been in the midst of God’s amazing creation.  There are no words to describe the feeling of awe and love that come with that newborn baby. I believe that we are all children of God and God created every awesome one of us.

Each time I had to change my password at TCU, it took me forever because I tried to come up with a word or phrase that would inspire me when I logged on to the computer.  One of my favorites included the phrase “in awe.”  I wanted to be reminded often not to become too grown up or jaded, but like a small child learning about her new world, to see the brilliance and awesomeness of God’s creation everywhere we look.

I wish the same for you.  Being “in awe” helps you stop and appreciate your time on earth.

……………

GA TIB BOOK Janet LanzaJanet Lanza has recently retired from 25 years on faculty at the Davies College of Communication Sciences and Disorders at TCU and 38 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  She is currently enjoying gardening, cooking and all of God’s awesome creation.  She is an active life-long member at Ridglea Christian Church in Fort Worth TX.