Theresa L. Rowe: Shaped by Faith
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CBN.com KNOW THY BODY
Theresa came to faith in 1989 after some tough trials. A health enthusiast, in 1987 she began feeling tired and exhausted and went to the emergency room. She was examined and sent home. Over the next few weeks and months she returned many times only to be told that this was PMS, emotions, etc. Finally one night she could barely drive from the hospital and prayed to the Lord to get her home, which He did. She immediately collapsed and her girlfriend rushed her back to the hospital. Theresa was diagnosed with congenital heart failure and had to have open heart surgery.
Through this experience Theresa learned that she knew her body’s language better than anybody else – even doctors – and she shouldn’t ignore what it was telling her. Another thing she learned was to choose the right attitude - she could either fixate on negative results or focus on looking ahead to a stronger and healthier heart.
With this principle she learned how to harness her mind and body and have hope for the future. She realized that her mind and body were inseparable; both of them were working together on the same goal of recovery. In our wellness journeys, we must listen to how our bodies respond to even the smallest movements or “pangs” to maximize our fitness routines and achieve the best results. She says listening to and knowing your body is critical even when doctors and medical professionals tell you otherwise. Theresa says that life is about wholeness and wellness, not just exercising to get into the skinny jeans.
THERESA’S WELLNESS JOURNEY
Life’s circumstances can either define or refine you. Theresa has had a number of challenging events that could have defined her life. Her mother was very young and gave Theresa up for adoption as a baby. At 14, her adoptive mother lost a long battle with cancer. That was the first time Theresa realized the fragility of life. This event reinforced her feelings of abandonment.
She happened upon exercise as a way to lose weight and gain energy. Soon after this, her skills were recognized and she began teaching fitness classes. Four years later, Theresa was teaching 20 or more classes a week and owned five aerobic studios. She began to experience high fevers and extreme exhaustion.
For a year, the doctors dismissed her as a hypochondriac or a flake. Finally, after a second heart catherization, the doctors discovered a hole in her heart. At 24, the hole in her heart was closed with open heart surgery and she was back teaching classes in four weeks. The doctors said, “Exercise saved your life.”
Physically, Theresa was whole and productive, but spiritually her life remained chaotic and unrefined. God continued to pursue Theresa. After an exercise class, one of her students approached Theresa about the joy of the Lord. She was reluctant at first but the student persisted. Later that day, Theresa came to know the Lord.
At 28, Theresa’s family grew from four to six with the birth of twin sons. Not long after their birth, Theresa was abandoned again, this time by her husband. With a life shaped by faith, Theresa raised her children depending on God’s provision. She chose not to depend on the government, and Jesus provided a wonderful bounty through believers and fellow church members.
After four years of praying for a Godly man to help father her children, her prayers were answered and she remarried. In 1996, their family of nine began a new journey in service to the Lord. More recently, Theresa listened closely to the Lord’s warning and had her heart thoroughly evaluated. Initially her doctor said everything was fine with her surgically repaired heart but she continued to sense an urging from the Lord. After several other tests with another doctor, it was discovered that the previous hole had re-opened. The right side of her heart was twice the size of a healthy heart and open heart surgery would once again be necessary.
In September 2007, Dr. Carla Christian, a pediatric cardiac surgeon, led her team of physicians in the repair of Theresa’s heart. The repairs were extensive and included moving an artery to the other side of her heart but Dr. Christian was confident Theresa’s heart was strong enough to undergo the procedure - the procedure was a success.
Theresa credits God for filling the holes in her heart. She believes in the process of connecting the spirit, mind and body to maximize health. The goal of this process is called Whole Person Wellness. Faith played the biggest part. It’s been more than improving her physical body. Developing her spiritual core was more exciting – praying, reading the Bible, connecting to God, surrounding herself with a few key Christians. Theresa reenergizes everyday. She gets up one hour early. When she does that – she has to do that first – she feels strong. God is her powerhouse. When you walk as a Christian, people can tell.
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