A friend of mine had a dream to celebrate her 40th birthday at the beach with a few of her closest girlfriends. So she saved her money, rented a 12 bedroom beach house in North Topsail Beach, NC for a week and invited every lady friend she has across the country to join her. Cool idea, huh? If you know Caroline TeSelle, the idea makes sense. For as long as I have known Caroline (and her husband, Greg), they have always been about loving Jesus and loving people and in so doing they create community wherever they go. I was honored to be on the receiving end of Caroline’s invitation and blessed enough that all the details seemed to work themselves out for 5 of us Marylanders to travel down to represent the Mt. Oak church era of Greg and Caroline’s life. Four days away at the beach with a few of my closest girlfriends was amazing in itself, but that was just the beginning of “the amazing”. Caroline brought together 22 ladies from 7 states that connected in ways that are only possible when Jesus is at the heart of it.
Caroline has been one of my most consistent cheerleaders as I have walked my Breast Cancer journey. She has supported me with emails, texts, handwritten notes, a post on her blog, and a personal TeSelle family visit (complete with TeSelle hugs). But perhaps the way she touched me most was in her asking her friends to send handwritten notes and cards to me in the mail. What kind of friend does that? Oh yeah, the kind that invites all of her friends to the beach for a week. And what kind of friends actually do send cards to someone they have never met just because someone asks them to? Caroline’s friends and now that I have met a few of them I am no longer surprised at all! The trip to NC gave me the opportunity to meet these friends of Caroline’s that prayed for me and sent me such encouraging words.
The time away at the beach with these ladies was rich with conversation as we all sought to know each other and learn how each of us knew Caroline. As we all shared stories about the impact that Caroline (and Greg) have had on our lives, I realized that community like the kind I experienced under their leadership over 15 years ago which has continued on with some of our closest friends has played such an important role in my journey through cancer. God’s provision came through those around us that have loved us so well. I am forever blessed that I never walked the journey alone.