Teresa's house is bursting at the seams with the loves of her life - her husband and six children
(four of whom were born in Ethiopia). In her "spare" time, she writes, speaks about
motherhood, adoption, and following your passions, runs her popular blog
(TeresaSwanstromAnderson.com), hosts gorgeous dinner parties, trains for half marathons, and
infuses beauty into every corner of her Denver home. She believes in celebrating the everyday,
and instilling the love of God and others in her children's hearts. She loves Jesus and followed
his call to expand her borders ... and then wrote a book about it. Through it all, Teresa chooses
joy amid the craziness of everyday life.
We invited Teresa Swanstrom Anderson to share a bit of her heart with us recently, and wanted to send it along to you all as bonus to our Fall Prayer Guide.
Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Teresa!
"I am the mom of six kids (2 biological + 4 from Ethiopia), which makes me chuckle every time I say it. I always thought I never wanted kids and desired instead to get my doctorate, move to Europe, and work in the art world. But God stopped me one day with the realization that I’d never consulted Him on my plans. Finally opening my hands and releasing the dreams I was tightly holding, I gave my carefully planned out life back to Him to care for. I asked Him to take the pen I was writing my life with and requested that He, please write my story instead. Over a decade has passed since that day, and He continues to whisper freedom into my life as I often still try and convince Him my little plans are best, forgetting that His way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30).
I’ve had a few conversations lately with women who feel guilty that Christ hasn’t “called them” to adoption. It’s almost as if they’re apologizing to me with guilty eyes, feeling as if they need to explain themselves and share the purpose God has given them. I want to put my hand on theirs, look deeply into their souls and say…STOP.
Stop putting my calling on like a Spiderman costume and feeling bad that you’re not actually Spiderman.
My calling isn’t your calling…and that’s ok.
Yes, the Bible tells us…
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27 . NLT)
It doesn’t say every person who loves the Lord must adopt. What it does say rather, is to care for them. And there are countless ways to do that aside from bringing a child into your home.
Similarly, we often feel guilty for not moving across the globe to help stop the horrors of the sex-trade. We have this innate desire to help, to make a difference, and not selling all our belongings…not giving our entire life for the freedom of all those who are oppressed leaves us feeling guilty. But guess what…
We can help bring freedom to survivors of sex trafficking with something surprisingly simple!
We can genuinely make a difference in the lives of real women who have been rescued. If we were ever to meet these ladies, we could look them in the eye and say, “Yes. I believe in you and your freedom so much that I did something.”
The crazy thing is that as complicated as this form of slavery is…what we can do is uncomplicated. By simply donating 4 bras...you're providing a living wage for a woman in our El Salvador program. When your company, church, or group of friends donate 200 bras...that's half a month's inventory for a woman in Mozambique.
See? Just because some of us are called for something other than giving our entire existence to abolishing this type of slavery, it doesn’t mean we can’t make a serious difference.
Ok, maybe you know this. Maybe you’ve been giving your bras and your dollars. Perhaps you’ve been an #everydayabolitionist for quite some time now. A simple bra is life changing; you get it. You don't have to give your whole life to human trafficking, but you can do this. Similarly, you and God can go on a journey together in the Bible without quitting your job and going to seminary. Studying the Bible is sometimes overwhelming. We open its pages with such great intention, and as we sit with its heaviness resting in our laps, we freeze. Voices of inadequacy are whispered into our ears as we realize we don't know where to start, what to read. How do we read the Bible well? How do we unravel the mysteries inside and study in a way that we understand while growing in truth and knowledge?
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 . ESV)
While reading Psalms 19 this week, I’m reminded of the goodness of His plan as He instructs us in which path to take. Verse seven says, “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.”
The Message translation shares this passage this way:
The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.
GOD’s reputation is twenty-four- carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
God pulls our lives together and points out the right road while showing the way to joy. Wow. I know we want that for ourselves as well as for these sweet bra-selling girls who now live in the bright light of freedom. It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence:
Love others as you love yourself.
That’s an act of true freedom.
(Galatians 5:13-14 . The Message)
-By Teresa Swanstrom Anderson
We at Free The Girls are passionate about freedom + true healing! We also believe that God's love emboldens us to make an impact on the world, and that prayer plays a major role in the success of this organization. We like to invite you this fall to pray alongside of us as we near the event of Freedom Sunday, we'd like to invite churches and faith groups into this amazing work of seeing captives set free - and seeing them live hopeful lives.