When the phone rang this morning, I was sitting at my computer ready to start my day. It was a bit later than usual due to the school cancellation. It was just a normal Monday morning, if you discounted the amazing amount of snow for mid-November around here.

It’s funny how a simple phone call can rock your world.

At about 10:30 this morning, I found out my friend Carla Dysert had been killed in a car accident earlier that morning. The news washed over me in a tide of disbelief.

It felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.

I knew Carla very peripherally for years as she went to my church, but I started to know her better a few years ago when she began to periodically attend my Sunday school class. Then this summer, when I started volunteering at Guiding Light where she volunteered too, our friendship grew, as I got to know her more deeply.

(Carla is in the pink shirt)

Even hours after I learned of her death, I still am having a hard time believing she is really gone. I think it’s because she was one of those people who were so very alive.

I’ve spent most of today thinking about Carla and what she has meant in my life. I’ve shed a lot of tears – and I’m not much of a crier – as the reality of her loss has settled over me.

As I’ve thought about her though, one thing came clear to me – Carla challenged me. She challenged me by the way she lived. Carla didn’t read God’s Word and think it meant someone else. She believed it was directed at her, and unlike so many of us, she acted on it.

Carla was someone who did what God asked her to do, even if other people thought she was a little, well, odd. I remember her telling me about a time she felt God asking her to claim a college football field. She went down and walked every yard of that field, praying over it. Never mind that everyone thought she might be a little crazy. πŸ™‚

Carla was a big believer in the power of prayer. Her prayer journals were an artistic wonder – notes, small drawings, glued on pictures of those she was praying for papered its pages. She wrote down what she learned from her Bible study times and what she felt God was telling her. She wrote down prayer requests and how God answered and came through. She felt so strongly about journaling, that she was always giving people journals of their own.

Many time, you could find her walking around buildings in downtown Lima, praying over that particular ministry. It didn’t matter to her that people driving by might wonder what in the world she was doing.

When Carla said she’d pray for you, she did. When Carla said she’d do something, she followed through. When Carla thought you were wrong, she told you.

As I cried off and on today, immeasurably sad that my friend was gone and thought about how crushed the many people she touched probably felt, it occurred to me that Carla would probably wonder why I was upset. I can envision her, her blonde head cocked to the side saying in her perpetually upbeat voice, “But Rosanne, why are you upset? God knew I was going to die today. God allowed that so it’s okay.”

And then she’d smile.

The thing that made Carla unique was that she was always listening for God’s voice and she didn’t just listen. She went out and did what He asked, too. She was always looking for the opportunities He put in her path and acting on them.

One of those ways was at her job. Carla worked a lot of hours at Primrose where she was the director, but the reason she spent long hours there wasn’t because she was a workaholic. It was because she spent her days meeting the Primrose residents’ needs, and waiting to do her work until later in the evening.

Carla was also a big believer in God’s Word. She wasn’t about denominations. She’d tell you it’s about God and what the Bible says. She wasn’t about physical church walls. You could find her at our Baptist church as soon as you’d find her attending a street church in the south side of Lima or joining a charismatic church on a mission trip. Carla was about loving people because Jesus loved people.

I’ll be honest and say I wish I understood why God took Carla home today. But I can’t. I wish I could tell you there was some greater purpose, but all I can think is, “It was too soon.”

But I want Carla’s death to mean something. I don’t want her death to just be a tragedy. I want it to call us all to action and to continue her legacy. So, I came up with an idea. I’m calling it the Carla Challenge, and I hope she would get a kick out of this.

The challenge is this – whatever it is you feel God telling you to do, just do it. Put it at the very top of your to do list. Don’t let busyness or fear or doubt or just feeling silly keep you from it. Whatever opportunity God places in your path, take the time to act on it.

Because if anything summed up Carla’s life, it was her ability to listen to what God was telling her, look for the opportunities He placed in her path and act in obedience. No questions. No hesitations. Just do it.

Will you take the Carla Challenge today and keep her legacy alive?

Blessings, Rosanne



72 Comments on The Carla Dysert Challenge

  1. This is a beautifully written article about Carla. I’ve known her for 20 years as we grew up together in the nursing home an assisted living industry I didn’t know much about her family but I did I know that she was a strong faith-based woman that loved life and people. Today was a very sad day for me, as well. I will miss her greatly. I just talked to her on the phone two weeks ago. I guess God needed a special angel today because Carla is just that, very special and she will be missed by all who knew and loved her. Thanks again for the article snd Yes, I am joining the Carla Challenge!

    Georgiana Saffle

  2. This was much needed today. Sometimes I feel a little crazy when God tells me something that doesn’t make sense at the time. This post reassures my trust that God has a plan. So sorry for your loss, praying for peace and comfort for her family, friends and the entire Ada community.

  3. I’m in for the Carla Challenge! Last time I saw her was 2 weeks ago as we passed one another in the church hallway. Only enough time to greet each other as we both hurried on to our destinations. And, as always, she was wearing that brilliant smile! I can only imagine the brilliance of her smile NOW! My prayers for His peace and comfort to her beloved family and to all who knew her.

  4. Yes! I will take that Carla challenge as I work at the Y and God has allowed me to help so many people…..hundreds! I did not know Carla personally but I do know Ken some because he works out there. What an incredible lady! God took her because she’s much more needed there than here. Maybe He feels she accomplished all she could here…..it was now time to move on :). Thanks for posting this incredible story. I teared up reading. Jane

  5. I met Carla through our Wednesday “lunch group” about 2 1/2 or 3 years ago.
    She was a beautiful woman both inside & out. She was so proud of her children & granddaughters & loved them so much. I loved to hear her stories! I will truly, truly miss her. I hope I can be half the person she was & would like to follow her example of how she treated everyone she ran into with kindness & respect. Rest in peace my dear friend.

  6. Oh my you surely knew this wonderful person that is exactly what she would say I to have cried all day over her passing why Lord why her she was such a good person friend to everyone but yes she is in heaven where she belongs much to soon but I will have to say God must of really needed her… RIP my friend and everyone’s friend Love you Evonda

  7. I will take that challenge! And yes, she would get such a kick from this! With her bigger than life personality, and love of Jesus her savior, I believe she ministered to everyone because as she told me “God led me to it”! I will miss her tremendously but know I have a special Angel in Heaven watching over me and all her friends. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to a very special lady! I hope everyone who reads this will take the challenge to “pay it forward”! Tanya Frost

  8. I did not have the honor of knowing Carla, only her incredible daughter Brooke and her lovely, delightful grandaughters who are all a reflection of what you have so graciously shared.

  9. I gladly accept the challenge.

    ONE thing, I believe that needs to be understood, is that it’s the THIEF who comes to steal, kill, and destroy…NOT GOD.

    All to often we want to blame things on God when He had nothing to do with it.

    • I agree with you Scott, and sometimes because we have been gifted with free will, we choose to drive too fast when the roads are dangerous. I don’t know if that’s what caused the other driver to lose control of his car in this accident, but it does happen at this time of year. We are certainly not guaranteed that we won’t have trouble, even terrible grief in this life, but we are guaranteed that God will walk through the valleys of darkness with us, and bring good out of even the worst situation. Thanks for posting.

  10. Rosanne,

    When I got to the part about what Carla would say to you I had to smile. She would say just something like that, wouldn’t she?! I can hear her voice and see her exact expression in your words. Such a lovely, Christ-centered woman. She encouraged me many times, even in random text messages with scripture and/or prayers. She will be greatly missed. Whenever she heard me sing she would make it a point to tell me that when she and her daughter first heard me they thought, “that’s what the angels must sound like”, lol. I thought today, oh Carla, now you know what the angels REALLY sound like. One day I will join you at that concert, dear friend. I am looking forward to it!

  11. Carla was a role model for so many people. Her heart was filled with Love and so much generosity that it’s hard to comprehend the “why”. I’ve known Carla for many years through sports, Elderberries, Primrose, Christianity, community; and so many leadership roles…a void is left for her friends and family to step up and fill. Carla loved God and her family above all. Amazingly strong and will be dearly missed!!! I accept the challenge to live fully and without shame to be a strong role model in christian living. God Bless you, Carla, for the lives you’ve touched and changed through your love and spirit-filled life. XOXO

  12. I was friends with Carlafor the last few years. She was an inspiration the best part of our time together was sharing our faith. I never had to put on the face the world expected, I could be myself. She prayed with myself and my prayer partners one day when she walked into our prayer time. It felt like we had all been praying together forever. Carla loved people from her heart and most of all she loved Jesus Christ. I know where she is right now, in the presence of her lord and savior Jesus Christ. This is a comfort to me, one day when the Lord calls me home Carla will be with those at the Gates of heaven to welcome me home.
    Wendy Zomer

  13. Beautiful written. I meet Carla many years ago when she and Greg ran the bowling alley. And all the delicious food she use to make there. But the last time I seen was at the first pro game Zach played in she was one proud Moma. She thought that my husband and I didn’t have tickets and offered us some tickets. Always such a sweet person just love all the bubbling Aura about her I think she alway had a Halo. I will miss you dear friend since I moved from Ada many years ago and only had a chance to visit her on FB. Rest In peace praying for her family.

  14. What a wonderful tribute to someone I only wish I could have met. Our thoughts and prayers go out to lift up the Dysert family at this difficult time. Thank you for sharing, and yes… I accept the challenge!

  15. What a beautiful + amazing dedication + challenge you’ve composed. I am sure you will find many to accept that challenge in honor of your friend. She sounds like a blessed soul. Sorry for your loss + sadness. I used to live in Lima + moved to Mobile, AL this past March to do exactly what I felt God was calling me to do; and I also accept the CARLA CHALLENGE.
    Thank you for the nudge!

  16. I did not know Carla but what I’m sure if from reading your article- is that she now walks the streets of Heaven !! God is amazing and she knew it … And set a good example for people to follow !!! I’m sure she was a shining light in many lives !!! I’m sure her light will continue to shine – in all those who knew her – and now through your loving words !!! Prayers of comfort and peace to her family and friends !!!

  17. A beautifully written article about a wonderful woman. I am so happy to have known her and called her my friend. I too have been so sad today due to her loss here on earth, but someday we will meet again in Heaven. The Carla Challenge is so perfect in her memory. I accept and will remember her always.

  18. What a powerful tribute to one who demonstrated the love of God. It is no accident that the Word tells us we will be known as Christians by our love. Thanks for your encouraging post. Do not stop writing. God’s truth is in your pen.

    Keith Curtis

  19. I accept the challenge. I never met her but feel blessed to have known her through this article. Thank you!

  20. I met Carla 17 years ago at Springview Manor. I remember meeting her for the first time when she interviewed me for the Activity Director position. Working with her was one of the best experiences I ever had! I looked up to Carla as a mentor. She was the kindest, warmest most decent human being I ever met. She would of gave you the shirt off of her back if you asked her. She always went out her way for you. Carla was also one of the best mothers she did so much for her children. Weekend trips, every season sports, she was very busy with her kids lives. When I heard of her passing today my first response was shock lots of tears then anger.. why did it have to be her? It all seems so unfair for such a beautiful person to be taken from her family? They are all in my thoughts in prayers. She had such a strong faith in god, I know she’s with him now. I just wish we could have had her longer. When I think of one person that I would strive to be like it would be Carla Dysert. I will take the challenge. I’m so thankful I seen her in august this year when I made the trip home to Ohio.

  21. I didn’t know Carla, but thru your post, I have a glimpse into her Christ-honoring life! I accept the challenge and I am praying for her family and friends at this time of sorrow and loss. Thank you for sharing! God bless!

  22. What a tribute to a wonderful lady….seeing her each Sunday …sitting with “her girls”…she certainly touched many lives…..I accept this challenge…I volunteer at St.Ritas in several areas. When I see the opportunity I will continue to pray with my Patient Pride ladies.

  23. Thank you for writing this about Carla. For those of us who did not know her as well, it was encouraging, challenging and heart piercing to hear how on fire she was for God. Your testimony about Carla WILL make a difference, and those people who knew her and can share her story WILL see the God work through it. Her story needs to be told. Thank you for doing that. 2 Corinthians 12:9

  24. What a beautiful challenge and a wonderful way to honor Carla. I will open my heart and mind to listen and follow what God is asking. Thank you for this.

  25. What a beautiful tribute! I accept the Carla challenge! She was a special lady and missed by many. May prayers of strength, peace and courage surround her family and friends.

  26. I have known Carla and her family for years – going back to when they owned the bowling alley in Ada, OH. I too cried when I heard the news. She was a beautiful person, and heaven most assuredly gained another angel yesterday. May God Bless her family as they struggle to make it through the coming days and years without her. Her smile and laughter will surely be missed.

  27. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing lady. Carla was the most positive person I have ever met and truly saw the good in everyone. She loved her children and grandchildren beyond words or emotion. When you mentioned her cocking her blonde head, I could hear her sweet voice. We all need to live this challenge in honor of our amazing friend. Thank you for this article, I believe it will help us all heal as our emotions are raw and tears are many.

    God Bless….

  28. I did not know Carla but from the things I’ve just read, tears are streaming down my cheeks. What a lovely tribute to this woman!! And what a woman, friend, and child of God she must have been. May God welcome her home with his loving arms and may her legacy of faith live on. Challenge accepted!

  29. Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute to Carla. I have known Carla for many years, but not with the depth that you have expressed. I am so humbled by her love of the Lord and her walk. Carla always made you feel special, she had a love and warmth about her that you always felt. I can only imagine how she will be missed by Greg, her children and her entire family. May the Lord wrap his arms around them all and give them comfort and peace. I will except the challenge.

  30. I did not know Carla but after reading this post I feel she must have been an inspiration to all who did know her. I take the challenge in her memory.

  31. Carla was my only sister and I will miss her very much. Thank you for such a beautiful article! I can’t think of any other words to say right now ~ your article pretty much summed everything up about her. Thank you to everyone for all your prayers. I’m heading to Ada today and your article gave me an overwhelming peace of mind. So thank you for that!

    • Carlisa, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m so glad that anything I wrote gave you peace of mind – that’s very humbling. I loved Carla too and will miss her! You and your entire family will be in my prayers!

  32. Thank you so much for writing this article — I read it at night and I couldn’t stop thinking how so little I’ve done in my life and how much she has done in hers. Thank you Carla for all the wonderful conversations we had about work and life. I will honor this request to be a better person as Carla has done for so many.

  33. Carla was an awesome, very upbeat, great, happy person. My heart hurts for the loss of her. I do know that I will see her again someday. She was taken from us to soon. She helped and cared so so much. Always a big beautiful smile on her face. Went above and beyond for anyone who needed anything, it didn’t matter what. In the mornings she would anyways say Good morning Martha Martha! I would always respond Good morning beautiful! Today I did something that she would have done and the only reason I did it was because of her. I took all of our clothes 8 big garbage bags full of clothes to a needy family I saw on Facebook. I was going to take them to goodwill but instead I did this and the whole time I thought of her cause this is what she did she gave to individuals that she knew needed help. I found myself on the south end of Lima unloading bags to someone who was very appreciate of what I brought. I was chased by a man with a gold tooth wanting $20 but I jumped in my truck on the other hand Carla would of have him the $20 lol. That’s the kind of person she was.. I love you Carla

  34. Beautifully written I only knew Carla for a short while beautiful lady always had positive things to say. God bless her and her family.

  35. Carla’s heart for God is definitely worthy to model. I spoke with her about a student that she had been trying to connect with. Her heartfelt concern was for this young lady to know Jesus and the power of Gospel. Psalm 90 says to “teach me to number my days oh Lord” and for God to “establish the work of my hands”. Carla lived this out and had a life well spent! Thank you God for sharing Carla with us!

  36. Carla was a wonderful woman who always had a smile on her face. I met her at least 10yrs ago she worked with my mom at outlook Pointe. She will truly be missed. Prayers for her family. I accept this challenge.

  37. I went to grade school with Carla. Had sleep overs. Then we found each other again on facebook. A beautiful lady and a beautiful family

  38. This was posted on my facebook by a family member that knew Carla. This is so beautifully wrote. Carla is smiling down from heaven. I will except Carla Dysert Challenge with honor and great faith. Thank you for letting me get to know this amazing woman.

  39. God blessed me with my Carla “Angel” several years ago when I moved a family member into Primrose. It was a time of hope that was short lived. Carla gave me strength an understanding that my worldly actions were not of my own doing and I could embrace the peace of God’s love and release my sense of failure. Meeting her changed my whole life. We kept in touch even after I had to move said family member out. I drive past Primrose daily and often would drop in for my Carla “fix”, and if she was out I felt the loss. My heart goes out to the Dysert and Primrose families, but she carries on in all of us. Thank you for this well written piece. You hit the nail on the head.

  40. Beautifully written. Carla had just friended me on facebook this summer, we were classmates. I’m finding my way with the Lord and so wish she and I could have time to talk but I now feel she will be a guardian angel for many of us. I know she will be for me. God’s blessings to all who knew Carla and I accept the challenge! Praise God! His will be done. Amen.

  41. God bless you for this article. I didn’t know Carla but after reading your article I wish I had known her. Thank you for telling the world what a great person your friend was and a great child of God. God bless you and Carlas family.

  42. I have known Carla for sometime and was in disbelief when I heard what had happened, only God knows why he called a wonderful, giving person home and we shall never know until we too are called. i enjoyed working with Carla on the window coverings at Primrose, she was easy to please and always went out of her way to make everyone she came in contact with to feel important, always kind and generous. Im thankful for her friendship and I am going to take the challenge, because even though she will only be here in our hearts, in knowing Carla this has always been her challenge to all of us!
    Thank you Rosanne. Payers to the Dysert Family!!!! Lori

  43. My heart goes out to Carla’s family & friends. I will keep them in my prayers I have read all the comments & feel that I knew this wonderful woman from all the stories. I accept the challenge. Thank you for posting such a wonderful tribute.

  44. Thanks so much for sharing! I definitely accept the challenge. I am so thankful for our friendship. I will definitely miss our fun and challenging discussions.

  45. I will take the Carla challenge. She was a part of my family but I want to be able to do just some of the things that she did. She was bold but she was obedient also. Rest in peace Carla.

  46. As a Miami football mom I remember those times when Carla was “claiming the field” in the name of the Lord. It was so reassuring that Carla was putting her prayers in motion. I have to say miricles truely did happen especially in 2010. Even when Zac was truely injured. As many of you shared, a physical pain occured when I heard of Carla’s death. But along with that was a comfort that she is with our Lord right now. Carla dear I take this challenge to be more like Christ.

  47. My heart breaks that God has called her home, but what an awesome, wonderful lady! I had the privilege of having lunch together this summer and catching up.
    I treasure the time we spent. My dear friend, I miss you as we all will….

  48. Carla sounds like a truly amazing person who has blessed many lives. I am sorry for your loss, but your words honor Carla and her abounding faith. Thanks for issuing this challenge!

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