My Origin Story

Recently, I was given an opportunity to tell how I came to faith in Christ. That’s kind of a tricky story…when you come from a family where there is mental illness and domestic violence, nothing is ever simple.

As a nine year old girl, I had the privilege of going to a church camp for a week. This was probably my first time away from home that long, and I was pretty quiet (some girls tried to block the cabin door and not let me back in saying “You know, people would like you better if you talked more…”). But the Bible study part and the singing part and the part where you got asked if you wanted to “give your life to Jesus” drew me right in. I thought maybe if I put Him in control of my life, I could go home and not fight with my brother and not yell back when I was yelled at and be “really really good” and then maybe my family would not be so angry all the time. Here’s a glimpse into a little girl’s world:

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus loves the little children?
Oh really? Yes, I see…
He must love the other children
(This don’t look like love to me!)

In the car, while Mom hits Dad
And we sit in the back
Afraid and sad
As we drive to the church
And park in a row
Where all those nice people
That Jesus loves go…

I think of the words
Those nice ladies say,
“You can get what you want
From God if you pray.”
So I pray, and I pray,
And I pray and I pray….
(But it never makes
The pain go away).

So sometimes I wonder
Why I am so bad
That Jesus can’t love me
And neither can Dad.

After camp, I went home filled with hope that things would be different. That lasted about two days, so I kind of decided God didn’t answer my prayers, that I wasn’t good enough, and gave up on faith. It’s normal for little kids to think everything is their fault, but that’s a lot for a little kid to try to sort out!

Our family still went to church every week, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Our new Sunday School teacher when I was 14 was a young mom with a big heart and a lot of enthusiasm. She kept telling us God loved us and that He had a plan for our lives and that faith was the only reasonable response. She seemed sincere, but it still all seemed like just words.

Then, three weeks after a friend of mine hung himself, her beautiful 18 month old daughter was killed in a tragic accident. I thought surely she would give up her hope and faith. I mean, how can anyone make it through that kind of loss and still believe God is good and kind and loving or even watching!?!?! But she did.

Seeing her still cling to God and not just give up was pretty powerful. One night we prayed together and I gave faith another chance. God answered this time. Hope began to sprout from all those seeds Sunday School teachers had planted in my heart, even when the ground was still pretty hard and dry.

I am very grateful.

As A Sparrow Falls

The world is full of big problems
I am small, like a sparrow…
I can do only small things
But I can learn to do them with great love.
My actions may not make a difference
To anyone except the person I love and listen to,
Pray with and care for, feed or walk beside.
But to that one, it matters.
Just because I am small and insignificant,
It doesn’t mean the love God has given me to share
Does not matter. It is still His love
And those I love are still important to Him.
God doesn’t abandon or forget even one small sparrow.
He will be with us. We are valuable to Him.

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Luke 12:6-7 “What is the value of your soul to God? Could your worth be defined by an amount of money? God doesn’t abandon or forget even the small sparrow he has made. How then could he forget or abandon you? What about the seemingly minor issues of your life? Do they matter to God? Of course they do! So you never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world.” From The Passion Translation

Kaleidoscope (Poem)

Broken pieces gathered together
Reflecting the love of the Father of Light
Each carries a portion
Of the grace that sustains us-
Brings beauty from ashes,
And songs of deliverance
In the darkest of nights.

We have been rescued
From the things that have shattered
The lives that we thought we had planned.
Brought back from destruction
Redeemed and forgiven
Made vessels of honor
To be held in His hands.

Light of the spirit
Shine in our darkness
Bring forth Your beauty and light
May these broken pieces
Empowered by your mercy
Serve with rejoicing
Listen with humility
Walk in love out into the night

Teresa Norman  June 2017

Where Are Your Poor? (Poem)

“Where are your poor?” our Honduran guest said.
I was humbled by his words.
His eyes had observed that our country is rich,
Richer even than what he had heard.

In his country many are poor,
Much more than we’ll ever see.
His church gives away what little it has
Trying to meet their needs.

We give a little while they give a lot
(Seems like the reverse should be true).
Forgive us, Lord, for failing to see
How many times we ignore You.

Give us hearts to see You, Lord,
In the hungry, poor and cold.
Give us hearts to gladly share
Our lives and the things we hold…
To value our brother more than our comfort.
To know when we give, we receive,
And that we can never out-give Your provision—
Help us live what we say we believe!

Teresa Norman , July 2000

The Pearl of Great Price (Poem)

There are times I set my eyes
Upon the things I see
And it’s then that I lose sight
Of how You died for me.

Circumstances pierce me through
When I take my eyes off You
And the victory You won
Does me no good.

But when I lift my eyes to see You
I am changed within.
And Your radiance and Your peace
Replace my despair.

I’m reminded that it’s true–
It’s worth it all
Just knowing You.
Jesus, You are everything I need.

Jesus, You’re the pearl of great price,
The author and the giver of life,
The faithful and the true—
There’s nothing worth more
Than knowing You.
The greatest joy of all
Is knowing You.

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God
You are the Prince of Peace—
You give such peace.
You’re the Bread of Heaven,
Living Water
Lord and so much more!
Thank you, Jesus
For all You are!

Teresa Norman 1984

Staying with the Story (Poem)

Too easy to leave the scene on Good Friday
Convinced Hope has died and the story is over …
Even the disciples,
These ones who were chosen
Who had seen water turned to wine,
Loaves and fishes multiplied
Dead people raised
Blind people seeing and lepers cleansed
Even they still left confused and afraid…
Thinking they were abandoned.

I am so like them….
When dreams die or hope is buried
When I am dead
In my woundedness
Or pride
Or failures
Or unforgiveness
I so easily lose my way-sink back to the pit I came from…

But the finder of lost sheep (and lost disciples)
Does not abandon us on the shores of our desolation
Because He knows our hearts better than we ever will
He will meet us on the shore with fresh fish on the fire
To feed our hungry souls. He knows we are human.

Hope rose again.

Teresa Norman 2020

A Practical Savior (poem)

A Practical Savior
As Jesus hung on the cross
Son of God and son of a woman
Bearing the weight of our sins
He looked at his mom. He saw her.
She, who knew before anyone
That he was not an ordinary child;
Knew he would not be an ordinary man.
She who nurtured him, taught him,
Sang over him, prayed for him
And followed him, could not be left alone.
He told her John would be a son to her
He told John she would be a mother to him…
John took her into his home.
It mattered enough that even as He died for the world,
He took care of the practical needs of a Jewish mamma
Not to be left alone.

Teresa Norman 2020
(thoughts on John 19:25-27 from The Passion Translation)