I Am Blessed By Teresa Messenger

Photo: Dreamstime
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved beauty. From the time I was born my mother loved to sing to me. There was nothing I enjoyed more than resting in her arms in the rocking chair while she would sing me to sleep. I remember wishing that someday I would be able to sing like her. On the rare occasion I was able to hear my mother play the piano, it created a desire within me to learn how to play. When I was five years old there was a dear lady in our church that my parents were able to pay to give me piano lessons for a few months and that was all the instruction I would ever have. But I never lost my love for this instrument. I remember thinking “if I ever become a piano teacher, I’m going to teach any child who wants to play as badly as I did, even if they don’t have money.” Years later, God held me to that as I taught piano and voice to kids who had the desire but no financial support.

In addition to my mother, God blessed me with the gift of incredible grandparents who believed in providing an Adventist education for me. There were many privileges I would not have had to better my talents if it had not been for the financial sacrifice on the part of my grandparents. I was always singing in this little group or that one. The choir teachers knew I loved music and would encourage me and give me opportunities to challenge myself with solo parts in the choir performances.

God opened doors for me wherever I was to make music for Him. When I was at Andrews University I attended as many musical programs and performances as possible. I loved singing in the college choir. The director made the music so alive! I had always wanted to become a choir director. I used to stand in front of the stereo and direct whatever was playing. The feeling of my body directing and giving expression to the music being produced was an incredible experience. There was a lady named Pat Silver who directed band for many years at Andrews University. To say she inspired me would be an understatement. It was fun, it was moving, and it was life changing for me to watch the music respond to her every move. She was such an expressive director! She created a desire in me to direct somehow, someday, and create beautiful music.

I have had the privilege of performing with some incredibly talented musicians over the years. When my children were quite small I remember writing a song for a "Home and Heart Christmas Concert" several of us performed at the Sligo Adventist Church together. It was the first time I had performed one of my own pieces in public, and I was quite shy about it. One of the musicians encouraged me and told me he thought my song would be the one everyone would go out singing. He and several of the others offered to accompany me. Their faith in my abilities gave me the courage to open myself to other possibilities in the world of music.

I often prayed about my desire to direct--wondering if it would ever be possible. Then, one day our church decided to have a choir for some programs they would invite the public to. They were used to me arranging concerts and singing, so when I volunteered to become the choir director, I guess they were willing to give me a chance.

There was a very gracious man at that church by the name of Howard that mentored me through the directing process and gave me the opportunity I had been longing for. Howard was incredibly talented and imparted to me a gift that has developed and continued to give for many years. From there I have had the privilege of writing and directing many programs over the years, both in churches, and as an academy choir director. I have never done a program since without a feeling of gratitude toward Howard for his mentor-ship, and to God for answering my prayers.

To say that music is a part of my life would be an understatement. Music IS my life, my heart! My talents are humble compared to some, but God helps me to utilize what I have for Him and that brings me joy.

My mother is where all of this began, and so this needs to come back to her. There was another talent she had and that was her ability to paint and draw anything. She was self taught and incredibly gifted. I used to ask her to teach me how to do what she did, but she was so busy raising five kids it wasn’t possible. I have wondered for years if God had passed any of her talent on to me. I took one art class in Academy and the teacher there inspired me deeply. When I was raising my children there was a nagging desire to paint and see if the talent was there, but I had four kids and was busy with music, work and church, so the desire became dormant…until I met Frank.

Frank was an incredible, well-accomplished artist in his own right. He came into my life as the kids were leaving home and I found myself with more time on my hands than I was used to. If it had not been for Frank, I never would have picked up a paint brush. For ten years he encouraged me to paint, and I kept putting him off, thinking I would never be as good as he was. Finally, I decided to take him seriously--but about that time he had a health crisis, so I helped his wife take care of him through the final days of his life. The day he died I was rolling him over in bed and laughingly I said, “Ok, Frank, you can teach me how to paint in heaven." At that moment he grabbed my wrist and told me I shouldn’t wait for heaven.

Thank God, I took Frank's encouragement to heart and embarked on a journey that would transform the way I perceive the world. I’m still at the beginning of this new adventure in the arts, but am loving every step. I ask God to give me His eyes to see, His heart to paint with, and the ability to inspire others with a picture of who He is through the images He helps me create.

Gratitude and Thanks

I have directed many Christmas and Easter programs over the years, and with each one, my husband has been at my side willing to help. He has done everything from manage the PowerPoint, handle the lighting--to narrating and preaching. Not once in all these years has he refused to help create a blessing through the programs. God blessed me with an amazing man and it's important that people hear about his support and generous spirit. My children have been incredibly supportive as well.

The last person I want to mention is Roberta St. Louis. After Frank died I searched all over for someone who could provide the necessary instruction for me to blossom into an artist. At 83 years-of-age, Roberta is an incredible artist who teaches out of her home. She has quite a waiting list, but somehow I was able to find a spot in her class. Watching her take my raw God-given talent and mold it into something that can bless others has been amazing. Roberta doesn't just teach a class--she gives her heart to her students. She passed on to me the gift that Frank wanted share. I could write a whole other article on the life changing impact that art and color has had on my life. My gratitude goes to all of the people in my life who have helped me come to this moment in time runs deep. Each one of them are as much a part of my story as I am.

Special thanks to Dr. Michael Anderson for allowing me to paint from some of the his photographs.

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