Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy


Road Signs

Posted by admin in October 6th, 2016 | 6 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is ahead and if I need a warning. Caution: curve ahead. Yield: there’s oncoming traffic. Slowdown: school crossing. Love those road signs. Need them.

There are some “road signs” in our Christian walk, but not always and not as many as I would like. In July 2015, Daryl and I moved back to the US after a dreamy and wonderful five-year existence in beautiful Lithuania. Loved my job. Loved my students. Loved my friends. Loved Lithuania. I truly felt God’s good pleasure (in the words of Eric Liddell). But we knew in our last year there that God was calling us back to the US. Promptings. Urgings. And some tangible evidence that we were needed back home. So we packed up our wonderful life in Lithuania and returned to the States with joyful expectations and a plan. Plans are funny. Plans are stupid.

On the night of our arrival back home in Kansas City, all of Daryl’s kids greeted us at the airport and all the grandkids were there too. It was a lovely sight and all felt as it should be. That night Daryl’s daughter and her husband surprised us with the news that their family of three was going to be a family of four. I laid my head on the pillow that night and was so glad we were home.

Within our first few days back in the US, my cousin Jerry Wayne died. My first family event was a funeral. Jerry Wayne was my Mom’s cousin. Both being only children, they were raised like brother and sister. Jerry had always been my idol – a horseman, a true Texan, a great sense of humor, and movie star handsome. A group of us cousins had planned to go and spend a weekend with Jerry on his Texas farm in September–a way to reconnect as a family. Instead, we drove down a long highway to a funeral. He died August 2, 2015.

One of my plans for our new life back at home was family meals! I decided to do “First Sundays” each month and fix a big old meal and any family member in town that wanted to come, would be warmly welcomed. Plans are funny. Within the first month of our being home there was a fallout with family members and I grieved those plans.

So, I wanted to spend my time wisely. I wanted not just to mope around feeling sorry for myself. A dear friend of mine, Betty Barnett, had moved to an assisted living residence an hour out of town. Daryl and I went to visit dear Betty about every two weeks. Betty had no husband, no children, no brothers or sisters. She had been a volunteer for the organization Daryl and I used to work for. She was my travel companion back in the day when I spoke for women’s conferences. Every June 1st, Daryl and I celebrated Betty’s birthday by taking her out for dinner and going to the Johnson County library sale. I loved Betty’s spirit and her heart for God. I once wrote a blog about her because she so lived out the spirit of Christ – humble, gentle, always a servant’s heart. Betty died in October and those in charge of her estate did not have a funeral for her. We got word of her passing and never got to celebrate her life or even properly say good bye. Her death made me think of my own death and left me wondering, would I die alone too? I started having bad dreams of Betty dying alone with no one there to hold her hand or say good bye. It was a tough loss.

Compensating for my lost plans, I became consumed with home projects. I had a job lined up to teach starting in January, 2016, so I got busy painting, repairing, cleaning, and organizing our home. I was grateful for a semester off to get back into the swing of things before classes started in the spring. Then I got an official email from the university that funding had been cancelled and there was no job for me. It was a great job that I really was looking forward to. Plans are stupid.

November came and family hurts hadn’t healed so we celebrated our first Thanksgiving back home with only part of our family. My sister and her gang came up from Oklahoma and I cooked my head off. We had a good time and though we missed the absent ones, we made the best of it. My brother-in-law Mike brought me a beautiful oil painting that I had always admired in their home. They had just sold their big house and were downsizing to a charming 1930’s bungalow and the painting wouldn’t fit. It’s worth a fortune and I was so shocked that he and my sister had decided to give it to me. Made me glad to be home. It blessed me deeply.

On December 11, I woke up thinking of my Dad’s passing. It was the fifth anniversary of his death. He died while Daryl and I were heading home from Lithuania for the holidays. He died while we were in flight. As Daryl and I layed there in bed slowly waking up the phone rang. My brother-in-law Mike had died. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Without warning. Gone. Mike was one of the most important people in all of my life. The loss was one of the worst I have ever experienced. It has been nearly a year now and I am still not recovered from it.

Because I had been preparing for our first Christmas back home, I had gone wild with the Christmas decorations. Being unemployed had something to do with that as well. Two Christmas trees, lights in every room, our big tree outside covered in Christmas lights—we walked out of our over-decorated home to bury my brother-in-law. It was horrible.

On the five-hour drive down to Oklahoma I made calls and let family members know Mike had died. Each call so surreal and each announcement choking the breath out of me.

A casket to select. A cemetery to choose. A funeral to plan. A loved one to bury. There was pain in every step.

The day after the funeral I got a phone call. My cousin Carolyn’s husband had died of a heart attack on the way home from the funeral. Kenny was one of a kind. He was so easy to be with. He loved God. We had plans to go and be with them in Texas in the spring. Another loss? Another death? Another stupid plan.

At my brother-in-law’s funeral I was reacquainted with his sister’s two girls – Rachael and Fern. I had always loved these two beauties. Their Mom had been a kind of hero of mine. Mike’s sister Val had died of cancer and the girls had been hit hard with the loss of their Mother. Seeing them at Mike’s funeral brought back so many memories of Valerie, their granny Irene, and of course Mike. Fern had met a wonderful young man and married. Corey was a helicopter pilot for his community’s search and rescue. He was a highly trained EMT and also an instructor. He loved God and really lived out his Christian faith. We fell in love with Corey and made plans to travel to North Carolina in the spring and visit Fern and Corey along with other friends we have in that State. Meeting Corey reminded me that God does answer prayers. I shared with Daryl how I had prayed for Rachel and Fern for years to find comfort in God and to find good mates. Corey and Fern were evidence to me that God answered prayer. Funny, kind, a good listener, madly in love with his wife and a good brother-in-law, Corey touched mine and Daryl’s hearts.

Three weeks after Mike’s funeral in Oklahoma, I traveled back to Kansas. It was ridiculous to walk into our over-decorated home. Our first task was to take down all the Christmas decorations. Daryl went outside to take down the lights on the big tree and slipped on the ice and broke his wrist (the other wrist). He was in a cast for six weeks and in a lot of pain. He was without the use of his right hand. He had to go to physical therapy for another six weeks after the cast was removed. In the meantime there was another family fallout and this time it was worse. Reconciliation seemed impossible. Hearts were broken. Plans are stupid.

In May, another tragedy. Corey died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 42. Fern and her two kids had lost the love of their lives and those lives were forever changed. Thousands of people attended Corey’s funeral. He was one of the finest young men I have ever met and he was gone in an instant. Tragedy isn’t a big enough word for his death.

Five deaths in ten months. Broken family relationships that just won’t heal. Joblessness. Weight gain. Constant illness. Sorrow and loss at every turn.

Road signs. I wish when we had left Lithuania I could have seen a road sign warning that a big, long, black, endless tunnel was ahead. I have read about, heard about, and talked to people who have experienced The Dark Night of the Soul – but nothing in my whole Christian life has prepared me for this—the tunnel that never ends.

What? Is there no good news? Yes. Daryl’s daughter Lana had a beautiful and healthy baby girl on February 7, 2016. Baby Lydia is wonderful and her brother August is delightful. Daryl’s job is going well and he loves what he is doing. We found a wonderful church and each Sunday the sermons are perfect for us, as is the praise and worship. This church has been my lifeline. We got a puppy and she has brought comfort and diversion to our lives. We are both healthy – stressed out a bit, but healthy. Our home is warm and safe and dry. We don’t have any huge impending debt. God is good, but when going through a tunnel it is almost impossible to see what’s on the outside.

Yes. I understand that death and dying are a part of life. I am fully aware that all those that have died this year are Believers and I will see them again. I am not without that hope. But that hope seems like a very thin thread to cling to right now. And yes. I understand that God is my Provider and that He is faithful. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me…and yet…the darkness closes in.

I watch as my sister and niece go through the grieving process and there is nothing I can do to help. The very thing that can fix their pain is impossible to produce. My heart grieves each day for family members I cannot see as I long for reconciliation. I wait for a job that doesn’t come and I look for light around each corner. But the tunnel is dark and and I can’t see daylight as I had hoped.

I wish there had been a road sign that said, “Dark Tunnel Ahead.”

C.S. Lewis states that when you are happy it feels as if God welcomes you with open arms, “But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”― A Grief Observed

Anfechtung is the word Martin Luther used to describe these dark tunnels. He often said he experienced a loss of faith that God is good “…and that He is good to me.” “Luther’s agony in his later years was all the more intense because he was a physician of souls; and if the medicine he had prescribed for himself and for others was actually poison, how frightful was his responsibility?” (Bainton, 1950).

Luther explains that without these tunnels no one can truly understand Scripture, faith, the fear or the love of God. One cannot know the true light of hope who has never experienced darkness.

Is FAITH, truly the cure for the lack of faith? Luther thought so. Scripture says without faith it is impossible to please God. So…I move through the tunnel Hellen-Keller like with my arms outstretched and awkward footing and no senses or feelings to guide me…just blind, deaf, and muted by the pain and the darkness, but stumbling forward trusting only in God because in the words of Peter, where else can I go? Christ alone has the words of eternal life. I hope it is true. I cling to it being true and it better be true because I have staked my entire life on it and even if I spent what is left of my years here on earth stuck in this dark endless tunnel I’d rather be in the dark with Christ than on the outside without Him. Peace.

Heroes, Transitions, and Faith

Posted by admin in April 20th, 2015 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could be a brilliant writer, but I’m not. I have this deep desire to write profound thoughts as well as thought-provoking ideas. I’m that land-locked penguin that wishes she was a swan. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Sadly, after five years here in lovely Lithuania, Daryl and I are moving back to the USA. But leaving Lithuania is not the only big change. After nearly 20 years of working with IICS (now called Global Scholars) neither Daryl nor I will be with the organization any longer. Our departure from Lithuania inadvertently becomes our departure from IICS.

Wow. Big change. Big transition.

Here’s a piece I put together for our colleagues and friends. My words, though not eloquent nor terribly weighty, do come from the heart.

Greetings from cloudy and very cold Vilnius! Spring in Lithuania is more of a state of mind than an actual season change. I hope and pray that you are flourishing in your walks with God, your host cultures, your classrooms, and of course your families! All of you—each of you—have been a tremendous […] Continue Reading…

Am I a Pharisee?

Posted by admin in March 1st, 2015 | 4 comments 
Published in freedom, obedience

Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm…a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two definitions of Pharisee: 1) A Pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form; 2) A hypocritically self-righteous person. I think my sister was probably referring to the second definition. And maybe she’s right. However, it is that first definition that I was really aiming for – in a New Testament kind of way. I think anyone who knows me, knows that I live in a black and white world. I am devoted to absolutes: right/wrong, good/evil, yes/no. I am teaching a semantics class this semester and I repeat again and again, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Yup. Pretty black and white.

Sadly our world is often lived in the gray areas. Gray. Dismal. Unclear. And if you try to draw clear distinctions, as I am prone to do, then there is the question of being judgmental. Are we as followers of Christ ever directed by Scripture to be judgmental? And what is Christ referring to when He […] Continue Reading…

Walking About On My Own

Posted by admin in May 11th, 2013 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know one of the reasons I want to be in heaven is I want to see what it feels like to have no sin in my life—I am not sure how we get rid of the hate and frustration…and I am sure my sin clouds my view of things. So I would love to know what it feels like to have no sin.”

It was the first time I’d ever thought of Heaven in those terms—as being sin-free living. To me Heaven always has meant seeing Jesus (yay), being healed of all of our diseases, getting along well with others, and being able to live in peace. But being completely free of sin hadn’t really entered my mind; not like that. I read my friend’s words and just started to weep. Yes. I want to be free from sin. I know I’m forgiven each time I ask God to cleanse me of my sin. And I know the Holy Spirit works in me to convict me of sin and help me to overcome it, but I can honestly say […] Continue Reading…

A Postcard from the Ledge

Posted by admin in December 4th, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow on the ground. A delicious 21 degrees Fahrenheit is for me a perfect temperature. But not all days are like this…some days it’s a struggle. Not because of Lithuania, but because of homesickness, missing family and friends. I often wonder what am I missing in the lives and events of those I love back home in America?

Obedience means different things to different people. For some it is raising a family; for others it is starting a small business or keeping financial records at an organization that provides humanitarian aid. For Daryl and me it has meant to travel 5,057 miles away from home to live as strangers in a foreign land. We are deaf—we have no idea what is being said around us. If someone was to call out, “FIRE”, we’d have no idea what was going on. We are illiterate: as academics it is a difficult struggle to not be able to read or write; not to comprehend something as simple as a label on a jar. We are mute: we can’t answer when people speak to […] Continue Reading…

Patches of Godlight

Posted by admin in October 1st, 2012 | 5 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

In our apartment building here in Vilnius we are required to clean the common areas/entry areas of our building every third month. There’s a list on the door as you leave the building reminding all the tenants which month is their month to clean. Welcome to the cooperative neighborhood of a former Soviet State. September was our month.

It’s not that I mind this duty so much, it’s more of a hassle than anything else. Daryl and I do clean the area together, sweeping, dusting and mopping. We also shake the welcome mats and clean off the sidewalk leading up to the building. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. Once I just half-heartedly swept and didn’t even mop! There are times when it is our turn that we take a paper towel and spot clean. Not really the right way to do this job. Argh! (Not the pirate argh, more like the ugh argh).

But recently Colossians 3:23 kept rolling around in my head, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Not just when you get paid? Not just when people are watching? Not […] Continue Reading…

Who Remembers Second Place?

Posted by admin in May 23rd, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in Lithuania

Okay, I gotta start out telling you how all this came about. I wanted to read the Book of Acts this year and remind myself of the life and times of the early Church. This has to be at least my 20th reading of this book, but for the first time EVER something hit me. Let’s look at these verses then I’ll explain.

Acts 1:21-26: “‘Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.’”

(Insert: So we’re talking about 120 people. And out of that band of Jesus’s followers they selected two…)

“They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.’ They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.”

For me, this story illustrates perfectly how guys […] Continue Reading…


Posted by admin in November 21st, 2011 | 5 comments 
Published in Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting these days. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for FedEx. Waiting for OTR carpools. Waiting for water delivery. Waiting for laundry to dry. Waiting for translation. Waiting for Daryl. Waiting in line for groceries. Waiting.

Funny thing about waiting in a foreign land–it’s not like waiting for a checkup in the doctor’s office back home or teeth cleaning at my dentist’s. For those things I usually take a book, a favorite magazine and a nice cup of coffee and actually enjoy the wait. Waiting in that way is different. No real worries like, “Did I misunderstand my appointment?” “Am I sure I’m waiting in the right place?” “What’s holding things up?” “What am I missing here?”

Waiting in a foreign land is more difficult than in one’s native country. Why? Well there are two main reasons: one, if you don’t speak the language you are a deaf, illiterate mute. Secondly, you can never rest while waiting in a foreign land because you are constantly looking for cues, clues, watching others, ‘on alert’ in case an announcement is made and the crowd moves. In a foreign land you are always defining, redefining, interpreting and most […] Continue Reading…

I’m Simply Not Good Enough

Posted by admin in August 10th, 2011 | 8 comments 
Published in Lithuania, missions, obedience, teaching

We are one week from leaving for Lithuania and we still don’t have a place to live. But I keep humming the Christmas carol, “No crib for a bed…” Even the Son of God on His advent to earth didn’t have a place to live. That strikes me as so strange. It wasn’t like God didn’t know He was sending Jesus to earth during a census. That’s so odd to me. Is there a lesson in that? Probably.

I’m still struggling with certain aspects of leaving the U.S. We kept our grandsons for several days last week and I found myself crying at every funny phrase, every hysterical expression, every tender moment. How can we leave such precious ones behind? Will they forget us?

I found myself saying a bad word on Monday when I dropped something on the floor. What a mouth I have! And yet I want to use this same mouth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the lost. I’m such a weirdo.

We’re trying to get packed and I am fretting over what to take, what not to take, what we’ll need, what we don’t know we’ll need and over and over in my head […] Continue Reading…

Heading Back to Lithuania

Posted by admin in June 5th, 2011 | 3 comments 
Published in Blessings, Lithuania, prayer

Sorry guys. I think I promised not to use my blog for newsletters and self-promotion! Ugh. But again, I’m up against a timeline and so wanted to let everyone know how God has answered prayers and opened doors. Please forgive the format.

Abraham heard from God at Ur. God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. Paul had that Damascus Road experience. And Teri McCarthy? Well I heard God as I was coming out of the ladies’ room at Vilnius Pedagogical University. (Of course you did!) It was May 12, 2009. Daryl and I had just met with university officials working to place IICS professors in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania.

After our meeting, I went to the ladies’ room. When I came out, the bell rang dismissing classes. Suddenly I was caught in the helter-skelter of students running to and for; from one class to the next. As I stood there everything went kind of slow motion. I started hearing students’ voices clearly and distinctly. My heart started racing. I stood there for what seemed like minutes, but was actually just seconds. But something happened to me in those brief moments in that crowed hallway and I […] Continue Reading…

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  • Road Signs
  • Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is...
  • Heroes, Transitions, and Faith
  • Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could...
  • Am I a Pharisee?
  • Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm...a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two...
  • Walking About On My Own
  • I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know...
  • A Postcard from the Ledge
  • I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow...

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