I remember Nana… and the lesson of The Saturn


5c7adf98_1389653It’s been 2 1/2 years since my Mother (Nana to our family) went to be with Jesus.  As memories do, they come quickly and sometimes without warning, leaving me glassy-eyed and unable to speak. Most of the ones I have of Nana are embedded in  sweet, tender moments that pop up when I see a beautiful garden, a photo in an album or celebrate a birthday.

Occasionally, I will reflect on what seemed like her unassuming way of accepting things at face value…and learn from her posthumously.

This month, it was her car that taught me a lesson.

When Dad died and left Mother a widow at 62, she had never paid bills or made any significant purchases by herself.  She was saddled with quite a bit of hospital debt, but had it paid off within a couple of years after his death by setting up payment plans.  Soon after, she began to talk to my Hubby about purchasing a car.  Being the engineer and wise purchaser that he is, Gibson heard her desires for a Saturn and began to research the best car.

The next day, we heard a beep-beep outside and looked to see Nana in our driveway with a brand new Saturn!  Turns out the Saturn folks did a great job of making her feel like family, and she bought a car right there on the spot.  We worried that she had not gotten a fair price or a dependable car, but Nana was happy with her invitation to the monthly hot-dog events at Saturn and visited there frequently to see her Saturn family.

When Momma moved into Assisted Living here about 15 years later, she turned over The Saturn to our youngest daughter – Caroline – who had just gotten her license.  Nana’s Saturn lasted much longer than she did and longer than any of us would ever have dreamed!

This month, we were able to donate Nana’s Saturn to MAIA Moms.   A 20 year old car with less than 100k miles.  Truly, a little old lady’s car.  But a lady with spunk, fortitude, and as it turns out – an eye for a good car deal.

I am reminded of this verse and it gives me great comfort in praying for those who might seem like they are flying solo:

Father of the fatherless and Protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.  Psalm 68:5

Do you feel alone in a decision?  Without wise counsel or protection?  Look to Him.           Nana did!

saturn

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WDYSYA (whodoyousayyouare)

One of our favorite shows to watch is “Who Do You Think You Are” WDYTYA which is a genealogy exploration on various actors and actresses, sponsored by ancestry.com.  Maybe it’s because I’ve taken a recent interest in our family tree,  but we dvr and watch almost every episode.

But lately, I’ve been struck by a different question:  “Who Do You Say You Are”?

Flipping through magazines in the rack at the grocery store, I’m astounded at how many of those glossy covers are dedicated to answering this question for women today.  And surprise? Most are not answering them from a biblical perspective.

One of my faves (O Magazine) has a headliner article this month:  “O’s Guide to Being Your Truest Self”.  And while the title sounds inspirational, the guiding articles include insights from women on:  Being Transparently Moody, Living Under Pseudo-names, Expressing Yourself, True Confessions and The Fake Me.  Really O?

About the same time I was pondering these untruths, I heard a 15 minute challenge from a missionary friend in Kenya.  Pastor Joel Maregwa was here speaking to the Seacoast Staff during our weekly prayer time when he gave a teaching on Abiding from John 15.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The importance of Abiding, Pastor Joel said, is that the time spent with the Father will hopefully cause us to take on more of His attributes, looking like Him.  Pastor Joel reminded us that it’s not WHAT we do, but WHO we are that defines us.  We are children of God and should – with continued abiding and relationship with Him – look more like our Father every day.

So instead of Thinking about what you Do and how that defines you as: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Worker, Leader, Teacher, Doctor, Nurse, Technician, Accountant, Business Owner, let’s begin Saying Who We Are…

Daughter of God

Daughter of The King

Daughter of a Heavenly Father

Sister to Jesus Christ, Messiah

WhoDoYouSayYouAre WHDSYA?

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from “Help me Rhonda” to “Love and Mercy”

beach boys

Growing up in the 60’s, we knew every word to hit songs of The Beach Boys and played them nonstop whether it was summer or winter.  Songs like “Barbara Ann”, “Little Surfer Girl” and “Help Me, Rhonda” flowed off our lips and out of our radios like Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” does for teens today.

Over time though, I’d lost track of the band and the cute blonde boys that used to hang on life sized posters in my room.  Until a few weeks ago.

The Hubby and I were searching for a Saturday night movie and ran across:  Love and Mercy, which is the biography of Brian Wilson, songwriter and lead singer for The Beach Boys.  It’s a great movie (though hard to watch)  about this incredibly gifted musician who struggled with drugs, an abusive father, mental issues and a therapist who manipulated his personal life and career.

The highlight of the movie is at the close, with Brian writing and singing the theme song “Love and Mercy”.

Fast forward a few weeks to last night, when we were given tickets to attend the Brian Wilson concert at the newly renovated Gaillard auditorium.  There we were, with a thousand people, swaying and singing to those same tunes from our teens.  We all looked a little different, and so did Brian and the band.  But if I closed my eyes, I was back in my ’65 Mustang with the windows down, blonde hair blowing, frayed jeans and peasant top bouncing as I was singing ‘Help me Rhonda, Help Help me Rhonda’.

Once again though, the highlight for me was as they closed down a 4 song oldies encore with the newer “Love and Mercy”.  The innocence of our youth (and Brian’s) had been replaced with the reality of our world and singing about a much deeper subject:

I was lying in my room
And the news came on TV
A lotta people (shooting) out there hurtin’
And it really scares me

Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
Love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

Brian inserted some words that were very timely for the Charleston community (shooting) and his compassion came through loud and clear.  And while it’s fun to swing and sway with old tunes, it’s also gratifying to sing a new tune that fits the times.  A new song written by someone who has lived a painful story, moved forward with a new sound and settled on the things that really matter.

Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
Love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

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from expectation to Hope

In reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkheurst, I was midway through Chapter 10, when one bracketed quote smacked me in the face.  Knowing this one required processing, I put the book down and picked up my journal and pen.  Lysa writes:

“The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field and its the perfect place to grow a bumper crop of disappointment.”

Well we know that, right?  The Hubby and I talk about expectations all the time.  We know that before we go on a vacation or weekend trip, it’s a good idea during the drive to say “What are your expectations of our time away?”  We’ve learned that 21 years in, because of some ugly failures to communicate in the early years.  We are created so differently, that a weekend at the beach has me looking for a lounge chair with books (away from all human beings), while he would prefer to be among people shopping, exploring or meeting other people on vacation.

So as I processed this, I explored the difference in these two similar but different words:

Expectation:  a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something

Hope: the expectation or feeling that what is wished for can be had or that events will turn out for the best

Well that ‘s not too different, right? But I knew as a believer, there is a difference for me in that 4-letter word.  Searching again, I found buried in Wikitionary a definition for Hope from the viewpoint of Christianity:  “The virtuous desire for future good.”  Even better, from the Bible dictionary:  “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something based on a promise from God.”  In short, Expectation depends on us – or man.  Hope depends on God.

We know the scriptures give us support for this with over 200 verses speaking about hope. A few of my favorites are:

Psalm 33:22  Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 119:147  I rise before dawn, and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 62:5  For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence; for my hope is from Him.

A good friend paraphrased Ps 62:5 this way: “God is the author of Hope.  We have no business kicking Hope out the door.  God created it.  God placed it in us.  Only He can remove it.”

So let’s kick despair and disappointment out the door.

I’m going to re-frame all my expectations into declarations based on Hope.

Won’t you join me?

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it is well…with my soul.

I felt myself going down a few weeks ago.

sea-billows-roll-bill-stephens

You know that slippery slope where you lose hope?  Sometimes the trigger that starts the dive is predictable.  This time it was not. It was the culmination of weeks and weeks of mini-traumas to my soul. Some were my own doing, or un-doing. Some were random acts of hardness caused by the circumstances of people I feel close to, responsible for, or drawn to help.

The result?  A week or so where I felt continually on the verge of tears.  Emotionally responding to everything – including whether or not my husband took out the trash that day.  I described it as ‘Fragile’ in a cry out to The Hubby, The Daughters and The Besties. Fragile seemed to best describe the feeling that I could break at any moment.  My quiet times were desperate attempts to cling to His Promises and search for one that might keep me from descending into that pit I know too well.

So on a Sunday morning driving to church, God delivered.  I was listening to local radio when a newer version of It is Well With My Soul came on.  As I sang along to a hymn that my father and I used to harmonize over, the tears began flowing.  Although I’ve sung these words hundreds of times and know the story behind it, I suddenly realized what a generation-to-generation. faithful God we serve.  Remembering some of the horrible events that prompted the hymn’s creation, I wondered just what year the words were penned.  My phone pulled up Wikipedia and took me back to 1873 and the life of Horatio Spafford:

This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plans, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.[3]

I marveled again, at a loving Father who has guided men and women for centuries.  He takes our soul past the pain of our circumstances, heals it with the balm of grace and mercy, then prompts us to use it to encourage others through words, songs and action.

My soul can be battered and bruised, worn out and weary, tired and troubled.  But our God brings peace like a river until we are able to say with boldness and surety:  It is Well…with my Soul.

Sing it with me, wherever you are in the journey….

It Is Well With My Soul
(Original lyrics)[1]

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.

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For Goodness Sake

IMG_8675Jenna Surratt is wife to Jason, mom of four precious towheads and is on the Seacoast Sisterhood team. Her ultimate desire is to help her kids know and show God’s love. She thrives on connecting with other moms and encouraging them to live on mission. She enjoys adventure, playing sports, a good book on the beach, Indian food and living in the Lowcountry.

The Lord will give a reward to everyone, slave or free for doing good. -Ephesians 6:8

I believe goodness is the most overlooked fruit of the Spirit, simply for the reason that if you are demonstrating the rest of the fruits, how could you not be living a life overflowing with goodness? In a general sense, I certainly want my kids to “be good,” but if they are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle and self-controlled, I would probably be pretty satisfied. Turns out God’s standards of parenting are higher than mine.  He desires for us to be so full of His Spirit that we overflow with ALL the fruits of the spirit. Similarly to the other fruits, goodness directly reflects the character of God.

Taste and see that the LORD is good. – Psalm 34:8

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. – Psalm 107:1

The goodness of God leads to repentance. – Romans 2:4

The fruit of goodness is referring, not to usefulness (e.g. I want a good surgeon), but moral behavior. Christ-like goodness is for the selfless benefit of others, not simply for the sake of being virtuous.

Here are a couple of tips for walking out goodness in your everyday life.

  1. Ask God to show you how to be good.

You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68

There are SO MANY opportunities to do good in this world. There are injustices on every corner. Opportunities to do good flood our inbox, text messages, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Everything from making a meal, to serving in the church nursery, to fighting human trafficking. Not every opportunity is for you. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received is there is a season for everything and you don’t have to do it all in this season.

Be a good steward of your time, talent and treasure and be prayerful about each and every opportunity that comes your way. Better yet, ask God to give you a Holy Discontent. Pastor Greg preached an incredible message around this topic last weekend (7/11 & 12). If you missed it, be sure to check out the archives.

  1. Glorify God with your goodness.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

No matter what your position or season in life, you have the opportunity to bring glory to God. As a mother with young kids, there are plenty of excuses to not serve. However, I have had the pleasure of getting to know a group of moms whose heart is to do nothing but seek out opportunities to bring meals, clean homes, do crafts with homeless kids, love on sick children, support foster families, provide baby supplies for unexpected mothers… and so on. All these selfless acts of service bring glory to God.

Some of my favorite people to watch are those that serve from the sidelines with all of their heart. For example, take our Tech Art Director, Rick. Rick serves tirelessly week after week, with major skills and a humble heart, to ensure the weekend services flow smoothly. When conferences or big events come along, he puts in more hours than anyone because he has to be there for everything.

rick

I want to encourage you to take a few quiet minutes today to ponder this verse then ask God to fill you with a fresh spirit of His goodness to act on whatever He asks you to do.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

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Guest Post by Barbara Zuercher: Grace for the Good Girl

barbzMeet Barbara Zuercher, Small Group Leader, Sisterhood Mornings  

I have been married to Barry for 42 years and have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. I have lived all over the country from the west coast, to the Midwest, and now east coast. I am a retired Special Ed Aide. We have moved to Mt. Pleasant to retire eventually-my husband travels and works from home. We were drawn to Seacoast by the overwhelming hope that we feel every time we walk through the doors, by the endless possibilities of service that are available, and the fact that we experience God here in a way we never have before.I help in the Won by One ministry at Seacoast and more recently and unexpectedly a table leader at sisterhood. I love to read, walk, garden and spend time with my friends and family-and I am learning to love being an introvert. I am humbled to think I am writing a blog! You can find me on IOP beach most mornings with our Boykin Spaniel Bella where I experience God blessing me beyond what I ever asked or imagined by allowing me to live in this corner of paradise :).

Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily Freeman

Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit. The good girl in me says “got it covered”. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control-CHECK! Until I reach the end of my good girl self. Until I can’t measure up to the standard of perfection I have set for myself.

Emily Freeman, author of “Grace for the Good Girl ” is a self proclaimed good girl. She says of herself “ I was a good girl with a heavy, innate sense of right and wrong and an extra dose of responsibility.” If her credo rings true in your heart, then you will be in for a life changing adventure on the pages of her book.

“Grace for the Good Girl” is divided into three parts : Hiding, Finding, and Freedom. Bit by bit as I read and re read, God’s faithfulness and his grace overwhelmed me. As a “good girl” I have spent a large part of my life trying to copy Jesus, hiding behind masks, and taking on responsibility that is not mine. I can totally identify with the “good” older brother in the story of the prodigal son. Freeman points out in that story that yes, the father is looking for the prodigal, but he looks for the good son as well. Read it in Luke 15. Josh Surratt recently said “at the end of the day, we ALL are recipients of God’s grace”.

Good girls are needed, not needy. Good girls do not like to fail (especially when you are writing on Debbie’s blog!). But in our need and in our failures God shows us there is no unredeemable place with Him. He is never surprised, will not come undone and He cannot be overwhelmed. Our job is to sit in the safe and secure lap of our faithful Father, be honest with Him about who we are, and rely on His Spirit to develop in us the fruit found in Galatians 5. That is true freedom. Only then can we say it is covered!

Freeman concludes with verses we hear each week at Seacoast. Ephesians 3:20-21:“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever. Amen! ” So for all of us good girls out there who are struggling to look like we have it all together, claim that promise. His power is at work in us, and it will transform us.  Barbara

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