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SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts tagged gratitude
Legacy

IMG_2587 It’s hard to think of the word legacy this month without thinking of Beth Gurley. My dear friend left such a legacy behind when she was met in Heaven with open arms on September 11th.

I’m awful at remembering years because some memories feel like yesterday while others feel like decades have passed. I first met the amazing Beth through her daughters, Kathryn and Sara (Meredith is the oldest and was already out of their house by this time). Kathryn was interning with us at SMC and helping me learn the lay of the land since I was new on staff. I immediately noticed something different about the Gurley Girls, it was about WHOSE they are. Usually when I come across a young person who shows such remarkable faith and strength I seek out their parents. I have this ridiculous need to know them and find out what they did to make their kids awesome sauce. Thus, my crush on Beth began.

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When you first met Beth you noticed her smile. It wasn’t just her perfectly polished teeth, it was the fact that her smile started with her mouth and ended with a radiance from her eyes-that could only come from a deeply rooted faith and relationship with The Lord. How I wanted to be Beth Gurley from that moment on!  Her faith, her joy, her love for others, her devotion to her family, her desire to be more like Jesus, and a gazillion other things have had me saying I want to be like her when I grow up.  If I can be half the woman of God she was I will consider myself a success.

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As a small group leader, Beth challenged her girls to be more like Jesus, to get to know Him, to study His word and to not take themselves so seriously. Beth left a hole in our ministry when she left to spend more time doing her mission, Step Up. I have no idea how many families are changed because Beth and Jim created Step Up and NEVER waivered from their dedication to it, even when the dreaded C word entered their lives. But I do know, her unfailing determination to serve those less fortunate made a difference in our community.

Once the evil C started battering her body, Beth refused to allow it to steal her joy. Beth knew JOY was not based on her circumstances, but was a gift from God. She freely shared it with others. C would cause her great pain, but you could still look into her eyes and see the sparkle of joy and life and love.  I would call Beth to check in on her and I would end up crying the entire time.  I’m a really good friend like that.  She would remind me the worst thing that could happen to her would actually be the best thing-to wake up in the arms of Jesus.  And she’s so very right, but the human woman remaining on earth knows what we are all missing out on without her here.

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But legacy…her legacy of faith, hope, trust, love, joy, peace, laughter, radiance, perseverance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, patience, and self-control are things that the rest of us can aspire to because of her legacy. Beth devoured The Word and it was clear The Word resided within her, oh what a legacy.  Beth served with a gracious heart, oh what a legacy.  I can think of countless verses in the Bible that come to mind when I think of her and her legacy:

Proverbs 31:10-31

Galatians 5:22-23

Isaiah 40:31

Revelation 21:4

And so many more verses because her legacy is of God.

Shea

daddy 2012

How To Create Your Sunshine And Rainbows

There seemingly aren’t more formidable tasks than writing about gratitude while enduring the worst storms life has ever thrown my way. And yet, here I sit with this very assignment.

In 2017, I haven’t experienced much sunshine nor seen many rainbows. I can’t imagine a year worse than this. I keep getting knocked by one wave after another - each subsequent wave stronger than the last. I will say I’m not surprised though. In March, God came to me in a dream. I know that might sound kooky, but it’s true. To keep things brief, in my dream, my husband and I were catapulted into the air when God’s hands reached out and caught us. He set us in some nasty pond water which we had to navigate, but we only felt peace because not only was God with us, He kept us safe. I woke up with an overwhelming peace, however, I also recognized that things were about to be extremely difficult.

Fast forward eight months: the nasty pond water we are navigating is still swirling all around. My father died in August; family challenges are pervasive; other friends and family have passed as well. I’m not going to lie; some days have been the most difficult of my life. Through this, I’m so grateful for the gift of perspective. For being able to recognize what is happening and to see the beauty despite (or maybe because of) my heart being broken.

Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. (Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT)

Growth happens here in the sorrow. Yep, I’m finding this to be my experience and I’m (usually) grateful for this process. Google defines refine as to remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process.” Also, to “improve (something) by making small changes, in particular make (an idea, theory or method) more subtle and accurate.”

Life looks different after the death of someone who shared a piece of your heart. The lenses with which I see the world have changed – as if I’ve put on a new pair of glasses. Seemingly, everything needs to be reevaluated and reexamined. I’m learning to look forward to this new normal. I’m kind of eager to see what changes I will undergo and who I will become – how I will be refined.

It’s important for me to remember, however, that before everything started, I’d been asking God to mold me into what He needed me to be. Hindsight being what it is, I’m also grateful I didn’t play the tape out before my request because I’m not sure I would have been so bold. But God always knows what He’s doing, doesn’t He? His vision is perfect. He sees far beyond what we can only imagine.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him. (1 Timothy 1:12 NLT)

I’m humbled thinking that I am trustworthy in the eyes of the Lord. In this valley I’ve become acutely aware of the beautiful. I’m also learning to redefine what beautiful is. Sometimes even sadness can be beautiful.

I’m grateful that I can empathize with the brokenhearted and see what a process grieving is. How everyone is affected so differently. And that even though the pain can be unbearable, getting through it and feeling it is the only way in which to navigate that pain. Sorrow can be a beautiful tribute to those we love and a wonderful reminder of how much that person meant to us.

I feel like throughout this process, I’ve had to learn to create my own sunshine and rainbows. I’m learning to search for them and find them in places that aren’t obvious.

Just last week I was driving home from work. I noticed a young lady sitting in pine straw near a sidewalk wearing running gear. The fact that she was sitting initially got my attention, but upon closer look, she was crying and visibly upset. I turned the car around to check on her. Turns out that while she was running her mom called to tell her that her father had just died. I stayed until her friend arrived.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT)

While this experience reopened my heart, I’m so grateful I was paying attention and took the time to stop. I’m also grateful for every day privileges I can use to ease the process. I’ve rekindled my friendship with music. In so doing, it has provided me with solace and comfort and has helped me through some tough moments. The Bible even points to music as a way toward healing.

Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again. (1 Samuel 16:16 NLT)

Old favorites will always tug at my heart, but I’ve added new favorites like Even If (MercyMe); Different (Micah Tyler); The Beautiful Things We Miss (Matthew West); Still (Hillary Scott); and God Help Me (Plumb) just to name a few.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that there truly is always something to be grateful for. It’s just that occasionally, it’s not always easy to find. Sometimes we must choose to search for it and look around us instead of focusing within. It’s also crucial to remember we’re all doing the best we can during any given moment. When life is stormy and turbulent, we must dig deep into God’s word, strengthen our relationship with our Him and sometimes make our own sunshine and rainbows. Often, it’s the only way to find the beautiful around us.

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:7 NLT)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Make it be filled with sunshine and rainbows!

Angela

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

The definition of gratitude is “the state of being grateful.” And that my friends is where I get tripped up.

“The state of being grateful” implies a constant awareness of the blessings of that we receive everyday.

Several years ago when Ann Voskamp published One Thousand Gifts, I had friends who took the dare to record 1000 blessings, and they succeeded easily.

I started several times, and always got side tracked with my journal laid down somewhere so I could conveniently use the excuse “I’ll catch up when I find it.” And soon the good intention left my mind. I had difficulty maintaining the “state of being grateful”.

This past year I sat in a study of the disciplines of Jesus and learned I had to practice a discipline. I had to consistently repeat the discipline in order to acquire it.

To practice this state of gratitude, one needs to be consistently practicing being thankful.

When you are in a “state” you are not consciously aware of striving to maintain it. You practice it enough that it is a natural part of your being.

You know, it is real easy for me to be thankful for an end of a crisis, the end of a harrowing time, the good diagnosis, the great outcome, the successful completion of a project. Yes, I am real good about saying “thank you God” on those occasions.

Ann Lamott once said that there were only two prayers, “Help me Help me Help me” and “Thank You Thank You Thank You” ( and she just recently added a third prayer “WOW”).

Many a time I prayed the “Thank You Thank You Thank You” prayer with a sigh of relief, but aren’t those “thank You’s” an emergency prayer? A Thank You for the times you feel you got by the skin of your teeth? A Thank You for the uttermost relief that washes over you when things turned out ok.?

The practice of gratitude is to be constant, not just daily, as 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.

Ann Voskamps writes, “We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”

“We give thanks to God not because of how we feel, but because of WHO HE is.”

That is the line drawn in the sand. Lord, thank You for everything that is in my path of this life You have given me. Whatever is given I know it is a good and perfect gift of Your will, for You are good all the time.

Lovingyougood…sd