Monday, June 22, 2015

One Final Blog - Live Well. Love Better. Speak Jesus.

Teresa's courageous battle against cancer ended on May 22, 2015 at 10:45 AM. Many have asked me to share the tribute that I read at her Celebration Service. It follows here:

Live well. Love Better. Speak Jesus.
If my sweet wife, Teresa, had a life mission statement this would be it. Her whole life revolved around these three things. It’s probably best summed up by the verse printed on your program “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
            Teresa lived life well. She had so many relationships with so many of you. Friend, mentor, champion, encourager, motivator, daughter, sister, aunt, Gogo, Mama, Wife, Hero. Many of you have stories about how she touched your life. Over the last few days, I have received numerous texts, emails, calls and social media posts about how Teresa Kinsley touched your life. Some of them described a gentle word that spoke to a deep hurt. Some described a powerful prayer that opened your heart. Some described a kick in the pants to get you out of self-pity. Many described the unconditional love she carried for people.
            For the life well lived was exceeded by the way that she loved. Some of you didn’t know Teresa but she loved you. She prayed for many that she never met because she heard of your trouble. Love motivated her to pray for you. But those of you who did know her have no doubt that you were loved with a deep compassion and motivated by wanting you to have all that God had planned for you.
            She loved her friends. Some of you have known her since school days and through Alta Woods Baptist Church. And you always knew that when you were with Tutta, no matter how long ago the last conversation was, it was like you had never been apart. She carried this ability to instantly reconnect friendships.
She loved her Mama and Daddy. For these past three years, Sara and Robert put their lives on hold and were with her most every day. She told people constantly that we couldn’t have made it through this journey without their sweet support.
She loved her brother and sister and their families. Family was so important to her. Just having you guys around brought her so much joy.
She was deeply in love with her grandchildren. For seven years, she would light up as each one of you would bring wonder to life. Even the smallest accomplishments were celebrated and cherished.
Perhaps her deepest love was for her children. From the day Chris was born, through the surprise birth of twins, Craig and Kim, to the discovery of her sweet Alfie in a squatter camp in South Africa, the role of Mama brought her deep fulfillment and defined much of how she loved. She prayed for you without ceasing … truly. She never quit and I suspect she is interceding before the LORD right now for the welfare of her kids. You continue to be her greatest joy.
She loved her husband in spite of himself. She lovingly supported me through all of life’s challenges. She worried more about me than she did herself during the last three years. To watch her daily fight for life, has inspired me to be a better man. But the greatest thing that she ever did for me was to help me choose a life of significance over a life of success. She did this because as much as she loved all of us, it didn’t hold a candle to how much she loved her JESUS.
Teresa’s life can really be divided into three distinct parts; Life before Africa. Life in Africa. Life after Africa. Teresa’s family was faithful attending church in her formative years. At the age of six, she asked Jesus to be the LORD of her life. She has told many of you that despite her tender age, she knew that she knew that she knew that at that very point in time her eternity was secure. On that, she never had a single doubt. And that began a road of simple faith. Teresa’s faith, while deep, was very simple. If Jesus said it, that was all she needed. She didn’t need to dissect it. She didn’t need to read commentaries on it. She didn’t need to question the validity of it. HE said it so it was TRUE. As she grew up, her faith grew incrementally as she made life choices and matured into adulthood. She was active in church and as she entered high school, missions became a more important part of her life. She went to Costa Rica, New York, Minnesota and Ohio where she worked with kids and shared the love of Jesus. It was on one of those mission trips that my eyes were opened to the beauty of the person that Jesus was creating. We became inseparable (that is unless I did something stupid to separate us).  And then in June of 1977, we were married. We lived life, raised children, endured and survived crises. By every account we lived the normal American life. But in Teresa’s heart, Jesus was on the move. She became somewhat restless in her faith.
When the empty nest hit us in 2000, Teresa went to Hong Kong on a three week mission trip. It changed her. She came back and immediately began to look for an opportunity to go again the next summer. She discovered a three week trip to the Ukraine where she could teach English at a former communist camp by using Bible stories as its basis. It was during that trip that we had a family crisis and she was too far away to do anything about. So she went to the woods outside the camp to pray and intercede. As she began to pour out her heart in prayer, she heard the voice of Jesus say “Stop! The bowls of intercession are full of your tears. Stop! And begin to Praise me for what you have yet to see”. And that’s what she did. For the next few hours she sang every praise song she knew. She read all of the Psalms and other Scriptures that praised the LORD. That night at the camp, 70 Ukrainian kids said YES to Jesus. That night also marked a change in our lives together. Two weeks later on the way home, she asked the LORD Why she was so privileged to live in America and have such wealth and freedom. LORD, there has to be more of You. The LORD responded by telling her that she would live overseas and preach the Gospel. BUT … Don’t tell your husband yet because he is not READY.
After she got home, the LORD performed a miracle. While Teresa had always been willing to share Jesus, those of you who knew her back then knew that she really hated being in front of people. She was fine in front of five year olds, teaching them in kindergarten but if you got much older than that, she just got really nervous and scared, almost sick to your stomach scared. She continued to pray about this discontent that she had, until one day during that summer the LORD decided to unleash the Holy Spirit’s power that had been living within her since salvation. I distinctly remember her coming into the house and she looked different. There was a confidence, a boldness, a smoldering compassion that was on her face. Scared the fool out of me. I watched as my timid bride became an instrument of the Gospel.
For two years she honored that command to not tell me about the LORD’s promise. But there was one day, in the midst of a failing business that the LORD said now you can tell him. She did and I’m the better man for it. It took us two years but finally in 2004, we packed up two suitcases each and a trunk of stuff and moved to Johannesburg South Africa where we only knew two people.
But in that move, the Teresa Kinsley that the LORD created in 1956 was unleashed on one of the darkest places on the face of the earth and Hell itself trembled at her arrival. The thing that Teresa did best was carry the very Presence of the LORD into places that the enemy held a stronghold. When she walked in, no matter the situation, peace reigned. Then she opened her mouth and either spoke words of truth and encouragement or words of spiritual warfare and intercession. Whatever the situation called for, she was prepared through the Power of the Holy Spirit to meet it head on. And oh how she loved the African People. It didn’t matter your age (she always loved the children), your race (oppressed or oppressor), whether you lived in a shack or the suburbs, whether or not you liked her or not, whether or not she was seen as the enemy She showed you the Love of the One Who Died For You. It was unconditional love, unblemished love, completely, utterly without end love.
Teresa had many jobs while in Africa. She worked in a hospice tending to dying patients that were the ages of her own children. Even without speaking the language she prayed for them to know her Jesus. She worked in a mobile TB clinic assisting the nurses in dispensing life-saving medication. She planned and ran day camps. She preached in church. She counseled the hurt and needy. She took food to the hungry. She sought out those who were sick with Aids and had been hidden by families fearing the stigma. She mentored young people who had been sent to us to learn what life was like to serve in a different culture.
But her favorite thing was going out in the impoverished community rescuing children of abuse and neglect. And it was here, that the LORD took another step in building our family. As she was investigating reports of abuse at one shack, she met a family at the shack next door. A man who had fathered four children had taken in the three children of his deceased sister; a thirteen year old girl, an eight year old boy, and a 19-month toddler. As Teresa often did, she struck up a conversation with the family and discovered their needs. She went back and brought them much needed food purchased with her own money and worked to get the two older children enrolled in school and the toddler placed in a day care. And she continued to go back to this family week after week. This little boy toddler would not leave her mind. The little boy never made it to the day care, and with his two older siblings in school he was left to fend for himself. One day Teresa arrived to find this little guy lying lifeless in the dirt; snot dripping from his nose, drool coming from his mouth. She scooped him up, found his uncle in the bar next door and as all good school teachers do, asked permission to take the boy to the medical clinic. The uncle granted permission and he was diagnosed with double pneumonia, and multiple symptoms of starvation. Having no place to put him, the clinic asked her “Mama Teresa do you want to take him home”?
Teresa loves to use this as an illustration of obedience. In an instant she said YES. Alfie came to live at our house that day and he never left. Whenever she shared this story, she reminded people that how in an instant of obedience destinies are changed. Alfie’s destiny was changed. But so was Teresa’s and so was mine. So was our family. And many of you have been forever changed by hearing that story of mercy and seeing the fruit of it.
But then Teresa would go on to share that your life can be changed in an instant by the word YES. Jesus is calling you. It may be the first time you have heard his voice. It may be that you have known him for 50 years but HE is now asking something of you. An obedient YES will change destinies … yours and countless others.
In the days since the diagnosis almost three years ago, Teresa showed tremendous courage and fight. But it wasn’t in her own strength. Someone would comment about how well she looked and she would say “It’s Just Jesus”. The nurses would greet us with how are you feeling and she would reply “I’m good. It’s ALL Jesus”. As we talked to our doctor about the status of the cancer she would say “I know I’m a miracle. Jesus is not done with me”. Jesus always got the credit and I truly believe that her testimony kept her going. Revelation 12:11 says “And they overcame [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
If there is one thing Teresa would want from today, it is that someone hearing these words would respond with a YES to whatever Jesus is asking of you. YES to salvation, YES to turning away from sin, YES to serving, YES to going. It’s a short word, but it defined her life. It was always YES to Jesus. We all should leave this world with that word on our lips.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I’m pleased to share with you that we are taking a NO CHEMO Summer Break! Our last scan at the end of May showed the same status as the previous ones, so there has been little change in the tumor size since we began chemo. However, Teresa’s tumor marker continues to decline. This month it was down to 75, which is great news. So Teresa will spend the summer not having to battle the side effects and have time for her body to begin to recover from the toxicity of the treatments.

Today (June 13) marks the one year mark on this journey of cancer. If you look at pancreatic cancer survival from the medical perspective, she is a walking miracle. If you look at it from a spiritual perspective, you fall on your face and thank Jesus for the gift of life.

So, it’s been 365 days. What have I learned? Teresa has her own thoughts and I will encourage her to share them with you soon.

My Jesus is all sufficient. From the first day battling fear and doubt to chemo treatments to dealing with side effects to hospital stays to demands of living life with this ever-present demon, I can tell you that HE is all sufficient. HE has sustained us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. Have I doubted? YES. Has HE ever NOT come through? NO!!!!

Family is invaluable. We would be wiped out without our immediate and extended family. They never cease to pray. They never cease to help without prompting. They have picked up Alfie from school while I was working and Teresa was not well. They have tutored him and did homework with him. They have helped transport. They have sat with Teresa during her 5-hour sessions of chemo. They have called and sent texts of encouragement. They have given us money to go to out-of-state doctors for second opinions. They have loved beyond measure.

The Church works in crisis. From the first week our church family rallied at our home to pray. They brought us meals. They checked on us. They always called when Teresa was down the most and lifted her spirits. They went out of their way, in spite of busy schedules, and ministered to us and our family. They truly acted out “When I was sick, you visited me”. There are hundreds, if not thousands, around the world that pray for us daily. I know because I get texts, emails and messages from them that tell me so. It’s overwhelming to know that so many intercede for you by name so often.

FRIENDS!!!! I cannot say enough about those we count as friends. They let us be real. They allowed us space to be down without judgment. They provided a safe place to vent without trying to fix it. They woke up in the middle of the night at the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray for us. If we called out for help of any kind they responded immediately and extravagantly. Simply put, they helped us “bear our burden”.

My Bride. Teresa is the most amazing woman you will ever encounter. Jesus broke the mold after HE created her. She has the strongest spirit. Even at her worst, she never loses TRUST. She constantly declares the Goodness of Jesus in the midst of the sickness and the struggles. Is she ever down? Of course, she is human. But the “Power that raised Jesus from the dead” lives in her. She is more than a survivor. She is ALIVE and a CONQUEROR. I tell her often that she is MY HERO. She is so Brave, Courageous and Heroic. She picks me up much more that I do her. She makes me a better husband, dad, and follower of Jesus. She is my all. The testimony that is coming out of her life as she lives out her faith in the face of cancer is changing lives all over the world. I know her life has changed mine. I long for the day that she can be cancer free and continue to declare the goodness of God.

It’s been a long 365 days. I would not wish a similar experience on our worst enemies. However, HIS plan for our lives will come to fruition despite the cancer. HIS WORD says that no one can shut a door that HE has opened. I believe that. I trust that. You should too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baltimore ... Update from Johns Hopkins

We certainly felt each and every prayer today. We have been in a place of continual peace.

Everything went fine with the scan and the visit.

Dr. Zheng had not received a copy of Teresa's last scan so the visit was a bit incomplete but we will take care of that Monday.

Dr Zheng said that the tumor was slightly smaller than when he first saw her 9 months ago. But he wants to compare this can with the one we had a month ago.

His opinion was that since we continue to the tumor markers decrease that tells us the chemo is working. He thought was to continue the chemo protocol we have been using but at a reduced dosage and less frequently, three weeks apart instead of two.

He also said that he will contact the National Association of Health in Bethesda MD that is conducting clinical trials in immunotherapy and see if Teresa is a candidate for that.

So staying the course looks like the recommendation.

But as I said this morning, we are going to takes man's wisdom and ask the LORD about it. So pray that we get a clear answer from HIM.

And aren't you glad HIS ways always trump the natural.

And by the way, Teresa and I had a date night at Phillips Seafood Restaurant on the Inner Harbor. Great Food. Better company. If you're ever in downtown Baltimore, we certainly recommend it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Baltimore ... Status

We are in Baltimore MD this morning. No SNOW. Good for travel bad for the view.

We are having a CT scan at Johns Hopkins Medical Center at 1:30 ET followed by an appoint with Dr. Zheng at 3:30 ET.

Dr. Zheng is the physician that we saw early in our journey that recommended the chemo protocol that we used for the last 8 months.

While it was a very harsh treatment and the tumor doesn't appear to be any smaller, Teresa's tumor markers (which measure the activity of the tumor) has been dramatically reduced from 78,000+ to 200+. Positive things.

We reached a point after completing the last treatment about a month ago that Teresa needed a break from chemo. Our local oncologist agreed that we needed a break. She told Teresa that she had not expected her to be able to do 6 treatments of that protocol. Teresa did 15! Only Jesus.

So we've been off chemo about 5 weeks. Teresa is certainly feeling better without putting highly toxic poisons in her body. She is still struggling with extreme fatigue and numbness in her hands and feet but that should come back in about 6 months.

So now we are here asking for man's opinion as to what our next steps should be. We will take that info and take it to the LORD and see if HE agrees.

We are in a good place. We really are. No despair, no depression, little discouragement. Our heart is to see Teresa healed as a testimony to Jesus' goodness, HIS love and HIS power. Rev 12: We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the WORD OF OUR TESTIMONY.

This is a good story. Not a fun story but a good one. It's a story that will draw people to Jesus. We just want a lot of time to tell a lot of people.

Monday, November 12, 2012

And so I believe …. (Scan # 2 Version)

When I started this blog I intended to update it often. I expected to find it therapeutic and for a few days it was. But then the grind of living life and trying to keep things normal just sapped the desire to write frequently. So here we are in November a full two months from my last post.

We had scan number two today. The results? We have reached a place of “stabilized disease”. Stable is good, right? It means the tumor has not grown any but neither has it shrunk. We are “stable”. Our doctor says that sometimes this is the best that can be achieved with metastatic pancreatic cancer. If I sound perturbed by that status you would be correct.

I have entered that state of faith in which I trust in what the LORD has told me. I truly heard him say “This is NOT unto death”. When I share that, I get a few different responses.

  • Silence. What do you say to someone who has heard the LORD speak?
  • “Are you sure that is what you heard?”
  • “She is saved. Her soul lives forever with Jesus.”
  • “She may not be healed in this life.”
  • “I admire your faith.”
  • “I wish I could believe like that.”
  • Silence with the look that says “You’re crazy”.

But what should the response be when someone trusts in the WORD of the ONE who asks “Is there anything too hard for ME?” (Genesis18:14)

My answer is to simply believe. It’s not easy. It’s only because I know my Jesus that choose to NOT go running, screaming into the night. HE is the ONE who sacrificed his own life so I could supernaturally be spared my own. HE is the ONE who has supernaturally provided money when I have had none. HE is the ONE who supernaturally healed by daughter in ICU when she was 5 months old. HE is the ONE who supernaturally made a way for us to minister in Africa for 6 years. HE is the ONE who supernaturally led us to a sick, neglected 18-month old who is now our son. HE is the ONE who supernaturally conquered infertility to bring us our first granddaughter. HE is the ONE who supernaturally speaks through me every time I share HIS WORD. HE is the ONE who supernaturally calms my fears, dispels my anxiety, and soothes my heart.

So why wouldn’t I choose to believe HIM? If I allow the natural circumstances and “realities” of life to countermand HIS supernatural nature, what does that say about my faith in HIM? So I say “NO” to those things that want to mock HIS CHARACTER and say “YES” to HIS WORDS.

Is this journey any fun at all? Not really. Does this journey have any joy in it? Abundantly. I have the privilege of being able to testify to HIS NAME and HIS CHARACTER in the face of the whispered lies of the enemy. I have the privilege of choosing in word and action to stand for HIM as HE stood for me at Calvary. I have the privilege of allowing HIM to use my life as a proving ground for HIS NATURE. In that there is much joy accompanied by many tears. But I wouldn’t trade it for an existence without HIM. And so I believe. (Mark 5:36)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scan Results and the way forward

Today (Friday August 24 2012), Dr Young shared with us the results of the CT Scan that was performed yesterday.

Teresa's tumor is smaller than the original scan. That is good news, certainly, from our original scan. Dr. Young was very pleased that things were moving in the right direction, especially since we have only had 4 rounds of chemo.

Teresa is still in Baptist Hospital receiving fluids and trying to get her digestive system back on track. We are to receive a different medication to help that along today and then tomorrow morning we will be discharged.

Our next round of chemo won't be until the day after Labor Day, which gives Teresa a much needed break. We will continue on the protocol that we have been following with a slight reduction in the dosage of the drug that is the source of our digestive issues.

Keep praying. This is good news but it is not the best news which is a complete healing from cancer!

Nothing is too hard for our Jesus and we are trusting simply in what He has told us.

We are going to celebrate Alfie's baptism on Sunday. It will be a great start to a great week.

We love you all and thank you for your prayers, your support, your food and your embodiment of the Spirit of Jesus.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Scan and A Hospital Stay

I want to give everyone a quick update. Teresa finished her 4th round of chemotherapy on Monday August 13, 2012. Our first follow up CT Scan was scheduled for Friday, August 24.

This past week the severe side effects from the chemo became chronic. Home health care came to the house on Tuesday (the 20th) to administer IV fluids. On Wednesday (the 21st), the side effects continued so Teresa was admitted to Baptist Hospital that morning.

She continues to receive fluids and the staff is working to get her system back in working order. Since we were already in the hospital, Teresa had her CT scan today (Thursday the 23rd). We anticipate having the results of that test tomorrow.

Teresa is resting well and her spirits and her courage continue to be high, which is extremely normal for her. She is my hero.

I will try to post updates here as we get them.