STARTING CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER TERESA PENNER | LIFE+APP
How do you wake up on New Years Day? Energized? Exhausted? With a hangover?
Our family was out late on New Year’s Eve; we got home around 3 a.m. We rocked out and celebrated with the LIFE+APP band who had played an energetic gig at a local restaurant. It was fun, but when my eyes first peeled open on New Years Day, I felt exhausted.
I switched on my iPhone and checked my email. The first message I read in 2016 immediately grabbed my attention and I was fully awake. It was a glorious letter of gratitude from one of our LIFE+APP attenders where my husband, Jonathan, and I are founding leaders.
Tanya does not identify as a Jesus follower. But that hasn’t kept her from coming to LIFE+APP for several months. Recently she expressed to me that since attending our Soul events, she feels that the walls she once built up against God are slowly coming down. The last day of December, she posted on Facebook that one of the greatest blessings of 2015 was her attendance at LIFE+APP. Here is her letter from New Year’s Day. I share it with her permission:
“Teresa, You’ve been on my mind so much lately but not so much as you were this morning. Last night was the first time dating back to childhood that I didn’t get drunk on New Years Eve. Even when I’ve been sick I’ve pulled through and gone out. Even on quieter New Years Eves I even had just a few drinks – however, last night I didn’t have a drop. Instead, I made a nice steak dinner with all the fixins’, and then we crawled into bed and fell sound asleep – didn’t even make it to midnight, lol.
Waking up I had this feeling, this ‘oh my goodness I can’t believe we didn’t even wait until midnight to celebrate together, that’s terrible’ feeling, but then it occurred to me – what a beautiful and amazing way to start a new year – cozy and warm and peacefully resting with the love of my life – what perfection.
Donovan had to be at work this morning at 7 a.m., hence why we had a quiet night in, and so I offered to drive him. My car was so cold and the doors wouldn’t shut properly, we got his door shut but mine wouldn’t close. So here we are cold, it’s literally the crack of dawn, and we’re driving down the road while I hold my door and drive – eventually it warmed up and closed but whoa that was weird. Anyway, we were talking about the significance of it and I said ‘oh gosh I hope this isn’t a bad omen about the crap and annoyance of the new year’ and Donovan said, ‘no, it’s a reminder to drive slow and be careful’ and I looked at him and said ‘and a good reminder that although things might get uncomfortable and unsure, I’m grateful we’re in this together and at least we’re happy and laughing at it lol’ and he’s like ‘happy new year babe.’
After dropping him off I had this OVERWHELMING feeling of love and joy and gratitude – not just for Donovan and our special relationship – but gosh, that’s right up there. The sun was starting to rise and I thought, ‘this is the first time in over 20 years I haven’t started a new year foggy brained and hungover and what a beautiful sunrise, a promise that light always comes with the opportunity to start again’. And so I did what felt SO natural to do, I prayed.
Totally surrendered, [I] expressed gratitude for my life and all those who join me on my journey. I asked for guidance and basically asked to be of service. I said I don’t know what this year will bring and I don’t have a plan or a vision (which is tough for a planner and big picture girl like me) but as much as I’ve been fighting this and trying desperately to sort my life and stuff out, I can’t. So I just said OK I’m going to surrender and trust and have faith and offer my service – how can I use my passion and creativity to be of service to help and support others. It was a cool feeling and a cool moment starting this new years day. And I wanted to share it with you-you were the first person I thought of after I got out of prayer ♡♡♡♡.”
So while I woke up tired and groggy on New Year’s morning, Tanya woke up sober and hopeful and delighted in her growing awareness and response to God.
God is at work in every heart. We get to come along for the ride. We’re commissioned to do our best to create environments where people can ask meaningful questions and download information about God that helps them know how valuable they are and what’s true about God. We have never talked about adult beverages or getting drunk at LIFE+APP. Instead, we relentlessly pour pictures of a God who loves, who wants what’s best for us, who longs to engage in a personal and intimate relationship with each one of us. As Tanya so naturally experienced, God loves to reveal Himself to those whose hearts are open.
Will you join me in praying for Tanya, for LIFE+APP, and for everyone who is on the journey toward God?