Sunday Post 181: My Friend Theara

A beautiful thing happened this week.  About 15 staff and former staff members at the Cary YMCA celebrated Theara’s 30th birthday.  I can’t remember when I felt any prouder of the place where I work.  I can’t remember when I felt more full as a person.

When I first arrived at the Cary YMCA, one of the branches of the YMCA of the Triangle, Theara was about 9 years old.  I was put in charge of the youth department, overseeing several after-school and day camp programs.  She was one of our kids.

In many ways Theara was like all of the other kids.  She was excited, happy, funny and glad to be alive.  She built a connection with every person she came in contact with.  Some days she might get frustrated with someone, but her anger didn’t last long.  She primarily brought joy to all she came in contact with.

There were also ways that she was different.  Sometimes she moved slowly.  We’d walk a group of kids to the park about a half mile from the building.  Theara would get tired.  When she did, she would stop, refusing to complete the journey.  At those times, she couldn’t be moved.  We discovered the best plan of attack was to simply rest with her.

Oh, and one more way Theara is different.  She has Downs Syndrome.

There are a lot of people who don’t conform to the norms of the world.  Sometimes they intentionally choose to be different.  Sometimes it just happens.

The beautiful thing about life is that sometimes those who look at the world through a different lens, from a different perspective, make others laugh, love and grow the most.

As I moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the director of the Cary Y, Theara would often drop by our office suite after her high school bus dropped her off in our parking lot.  She would fill us in on her day, share a little sunshine, and then she would line the only three men in the office up.  And each afternoon she visited, she would announce that one of us had won the “It’s Your Lucky Day to be Handsome Award.”  I often dressed up in suit and tie, and I’m proud to say that I took first place in this afternoon ritual more than not.  And I would boast to colleagues the entire next day about my recognition.

As we celebrated Theara’s life this week, I felt genuinely happy.  The memories were sweet, her smile still infectious.  On my way home Tuesday afternoon, I thought to myself, I hope my girls will bring as much joy to others as Theara has brought to me. 

If they do, they will be lives well lived.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

 

 

Sunday Post 150: Teach Them Well

You always try to teach your kids good stuff.  Sometimes I think I focus more on making sure that they know the proper way to use me and I in a sentence than to ensure that they understand the importance of loving their neighbor.

On Christmas, I worry about the same thing.  I know of families who forego presents and instead take a mission trip.  Others choose to make a significant contribution to a charity or serve lunch at a shelter on Christmas day.  We just eat like hogs and give each other an exorbitant number of presents, many of which we don’t really need.

I think my parents realize how we indulge on this day and that we really should have a different sort of focus.  So each year, after we’ve opened our presents and before we stuff our faces, they sit the family down at the dinner table.  As our stomachs rumble and the smell of turkey wafts through the air, we pause to listen.

Being a minister, my dad has always been able to share a sermonette off the cuff.  And that’s exactly what he does.

In front of your plate you’ll see an envelope with your name on it.  Your mother and I have decided to support several charities across the world in your honor.  There are a ton of folks out there who don’t have the ability to give a single gift at Christmas.  There are many who don’t have food to eat, and yet, look at us.  I’d like for you to read your card to the family.

Each of us, from age 11 to 75, reads and shares the story of someone in need throughout the world and how my parents have chosen to support them.

They aren’t sharing this information to say look what we’ve done.  They’re sharing the information to help teach the next generation that it isn’t all about us.  They share to teach us and remind us that we are incredibly fortunate and that we should be thankful.

It’s not a guilt trip – my mom and dad would be the first to tell you they indulge their children and grandchildren as much as any other proud grandparents.  But they take their job of passing down their passion for loving their neighbors to those who will soon follow in their footsteps.

I guess one day I’m going to be the one holding that torch.  I should start now – pretty big shoes to fill.

 

Sunday Post 148: Christians Unite

Aren’t we supposed to be on the same side?

I grow so weary of Christians attacking each other.  I grow so weary of disagreements on issues driving us to question each other’s commitment to Christ and in some cases leading us to question someone else’s faith altogether.

How could we possibly determine whether someone is a Christian simply because of his political affiliation?  How could we imply that we love God more because we stand on one side of a single issue?

Yeah, there are those who believe that it’s not possible to lead a Christlike life if you’re not exuberant about paying significant taxes to support those who haven’t been born with as many earthly blessings as you.  And, there are those who condemn someone to hell if they support gay marriage or the pro-choice agenda.

I get it!  I have passionate views as well.  But I wouldn’t question someone’s personal relationship with Christ because they don’t fully agree with Danny Tanner’s social and political views.  I might argue with them; I might wonder why they believe what they do; but that’s as far as I’d go.

I don’t like Fettuccini Alfredo.  Does that mean I don’t like Italian food?  It does not!  I just don’t particularly like that white goopy sauce.  Do I think you’re ignorant because you do?  No.  I think you have different taste buds.  If I’m splitting dinner with you, I’m going to try to pursuade you to order something else.  But I won’t question your commitment to the Italian food cause.

An athiest who reads this blog once commented that if every Christian talked about their faith as I do that maybe she’d be more interested in learning more.  That made me feel pretty good!

I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day.  How could someone who doesn’t believe in God have any interest whatsoever in learning more while watching us condemn each other?  It is so NOT what Christ would do.

Let’s celebrate Christmas by doing what He would want us to do.  Go find a Christian you don’t agree with – and give him a hug, and begin acting out your faith with those who are actually on your side.  Once we get that down, we can reach out to those who have no understanding at all.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and BraidsAmazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful:  Click here.  And thanks!

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