Simply Sather

1 THING I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT LYSA’S LATEST BOOK + STUDY GUIDE

My first and second attempts at drafting this post were too long. It was almost like I was trying to rewrite every single thing that Lysa TerKeurst’s book meant to me in one blog post.

That would mean taking a 7-week study,  with videos 169 pages from a study guide and 261 pages from her actual book and downsizing it to fit here on my blog post.

First, it was 10 things I wanted readers to know about this book, then five and now it’s down to one. Because really, more than you reading my words about her words and teaching, I really, really want to recommend it for yourselves. I want women to get with other women (about 6 to 10) and have a leader who will facilitate the questions and another who will check in on the women throughout the week. And someone who will host the group in their home or get together on Marco Polo or Zoom to discuss (just look at one another’s faces) and help spur one another on to do the work this book challenges you to do.

I’ve read and participated in a lot of books and studies from Christian authors and have facilitated many women’s small groups but this book is the one I will recommend for helping people really dig into their stuff with the Bible. Oftentimes, we have good intentions about reading/studying our Bibles (having “Quiet Times”) but we don’t really know what that means. This study’s format, together: watch a brief video, take notes, discuss with others who watched the same video, on your own: read the chapters, reflect, study guide work, deeper Bible Study and deeper personal reflection and then repeat.

It’s got built-in accountability and personal work for you to do to allow God to grow you and for you to help others do the same.

Maybe you’ve been in a group like this one around a book that you think is similar to this one. I thought I had done something similar (and as for the format, I had) but the one thing that I really want you to understand about this book is this:

This is the very first book I can recall where the author wrote from inside the wounding, the pain, the sickness, the despair, and the hopelessness and still remained in and fought for her faith. 

Most of the books, movies, testimonies, and stories I’ve heard – even me sharing my own in this space and on social media – are from the victory, looking backward into the devastation. Lysa writes from within her illnesses, from the brokenness of her marriage and all of the emotions that come with not knowing how it’s all going to end. Before she knows how the results will come back about cancer in her body or whether the intensive counseling that she and her husband are walking through will work or not, she invites us into it.

It’s powerful.

Lysa + Purple Heart
I am still learning and growing from what happened after I became a widow.  “And not only is His presence in the process, but there’s also purpose in the process”.

Not at all a victim, she is never whiny (in my opinion), she does not dwell on her emotions to the point of losing sight of God. But, y’all – she does keep it real. She is fully transparent and vulnerable and that is so appealing to me.

Reading a book like this by a well-known woman of faith like her, helped me understand this scripture so much better:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. | 2 Corinthians 12:9

And it helped me ready myself for more boldness and authenticity in my own life.

How, Regina? How are you living more boldly and authentically??? Here are a few ways that I am living out my faith and walking through the process of responding to disappointments and unmet expectations in my life.

  • I’ve submitted a video of myself singing a worship song to the new church we attend; I have a live audition for their worship team in March!
  • I’ve begun to share more authentically about the hardships experienced after being widowed – explaining the mess I chose because I didn’t believe what God said about me during those dark times
  • Tied to that, I’m sharing about finding amazing love after making messy choices and not always choosing to trust God
  • I’m speaking up and offering experience to those willing to hear about parenting teens (especially boys) in this fast-paced, technology-laden world
  • I’m telling people who God says I am and walking in it
  • I’m working jobs that take me out of the limelight and allow me to serve and love people on smaller platforms and in quieter ways (surrendering my “pride of life”)

 

It’s these things and even a few others because of the vulnerability that Lysa shared about the attacks on her marriage, her health and ultimately her faith, and her pointing readers (her hearers 1 Timothy 4:16) back into the Bible, I believe I can do the same.

If you’re interested in doing this deep, reflective soul work but don’t know anyone near you that is willing to do it with you, consider gathering some friends and working through it together digitally – you can access the videos here and get the book and study guide here.

Let it change your perspective. Let it change your life. Let it help change you.

 

Simply Sather

THE GOLD STAR SERVICE BANNER

I’ve recently updated the bios on my Facebook and Instagram profiles to include, “life + love beyond the gold star”.

I’ve been around this topic before. Concerned it wouldn’t be something people would want to read about or care to know about. (I’ve been flat out told this before.) I switched my focus to soul care and helping other people take care of themselves. I wanted them to spend some intentional time tending to matters deep within them; like I believe I’ve had to do. It is very important work and I can’t imagine abandoning it completely, but after seeing passionate non-Gold Star Family members care for those who are in this unfortunate “club” I was compelled to come back around to it.

Before I keep going on about my why let me explain what the Gold Star Service Banner (or Service Flag) is and why we have one hanging in our home.

From the FlagPro website:

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson approved a new device that could replace the wearing of traditional mourning for loved ones who have died in service to our Nation, and also foster home-front pride for those risking their lives for our freedom. Then known as the Service Flag, we now more descriptively refer to it as the Service Banner. The familiar colors and proportions of the Banner derive from a version copyrighted by Captain R. L. Queisser in 1917. This copyright has since passed to the United States Department of Defense, which regulates the authorization to manufacture Service Banners.

“The Service Flag displayed from homes. places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep blue star for each living member in the service, and a gold star for each member who has died.” Usually hung in an exterior window, the banners became commonplace in homes where anxious yet proud families waited for word from their sons, husbands, brothers, and friends striving to free those an ocean away.

As the war continued and men were killed in combat, fatally wounded, or died of disease, the gold star was substituted and superimposed upon the blue star so as to cover it completely. The gold star was meant to convey the honor and glory deserving of the individual who had made the supreme sacrifice for his country.

The Service Banner came into use again decades later, when the men and women of the United States took up arms to defeat fascism and tyranny, this time across both oceans in World War II. The same mass production that produced tanks, bombers and uniforms were used to produce the Service Banner. Modern practicality meant that the banners were now being produced in both blue and gold star versions, with multiple stars to reflect the terrible sacrifice made by the citizens of our great nation.

The Service Banner was put to rest after that great effort, with the hope that its like would never be called on again. America’s reluctance to see injustice done, however, would revive the Banner to stand once more for the generations who would serve in Korea, in Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and finally in our ongoing war against terrorism.

I first learned about this service banner when I was teaching fifth grade; a fairly new teacher preparing to teach a history unit on World War II (my students’ overwhelming vote) a topic I knew very little about.

I’d already married into the Marine Corps six years earlier and we had welcomed our first son a couple of years after that. My then husband, Chad Simon, had already been a Marine for a decade by then and I was quickly learning about being “married to the military”.

I checked out EVERY age-appropriate resource to bring into the classroom to prepare for an interactive unit on the topic of World War II. We covered a lot of facts and details about the time period, the country’s leadership, fashion, music/entertainment and things like the kind of foods that were most common. We turned our classroom into as much of a representation of that time period as we could.

I first learned about the service banners at the same time as the students in my classroom.

We made them out of construction paper and had discussions about what it may have felt like to have to change your star from blue to gold. We talked about how common the banners were since there was a draft and young men were required to enlist. It was so difficult for all of us to fully comprehend and those ten and eleven-year-olds had a lot to say about how unfair and challenging they believed it might be.

You should know that I was the kind of classroom teacher who would “go there” with her students; much like I tend to do with my own son, husband, and friends. It’s not easy and I do not have all of the answers but I’m willing to make room to have the difficult conversations because it develops empathy and compassion for others. It improves the likelihood that we might see ourselves more clearly and address our own weaknesses and blindspots.

And well, I believe that God works in all of the details of our lives; that in His way – when we allow Him to – He uses seemingly small, everyday things to move us toward preparation and readiness for bigger things. Which is what He did in this case.

Because only one year later, the attacks on the Twin Towers would shake the nation and move my husband from his training as a reservist into preparing to become an active duty, deployed service member. The time between the attacks on September 11th of 2001 and his deployment on June 5th of 2004 and his death on August 4th, 2005 are such a blur to me – even now, all these years later.

But now I’m ready and willing to go back into it to help others; the few others who have experienced something similar.

05 June 2004
deployed on our only son’s golden birthday 05 June 2004
IMG_0629
embracing the quilt
Gold Star Flag
gold stars are hung on a flag to notify others that a loved one was killed while serving in the war

We never owned a blue star banner, only the gold one.

Chad (SSgt. Chad Simon) was an infantryman navigating new territory in Iraq when the humvee he was driving was destroyed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Because he was not killed instantly, our permanent admittance into the Gold Star community didn’t come until 9 months later.

I’ll share more about his death, our grief, and the support we’ve received as a part of this community in future posts. A lot of what I’m involved in now and how I try to live can be connected to what happened when this gold star stopped being a history lesson and became personal one.

As I’m sharing this sometimes gut-wrenching story, I hope you will see how God truly never abandoned me through it all.

Simply Sather

4 1/2 TIPS FOR TURN-AROUND AIR TRAVEL

I really, REALLY like the adventure of travel.

Going through TSA efficiently without getting stopped (my person or my bags), getting to the right gate and in my seat with ease. Takeoff and landing. Meeting up with the people I’m supposed to connect with. Trying new foods, people watching, seeing new places and making new memories. All of it forces me to grow. And I really enjoy that!

But it can be stressful; e-s-p-e-c-i-a-l-l-y when all of the things with (air) travel do not go as expected.

Last week, I had the adventure of traveling to Los Angeles for what was to be a 26-hour trip. Super exciting and manageable, right?

Well yes – until the flight is delayed by two hours and forty-five minutes AND there is already a two-hour time difference. Y’all! I think my body has finally forgiven me.

I am grateful for the experience of travel but when it is such a short trip like this one, into a new experience there are a few things I did and planned well and a couple of things I wish I’d cued up better before leaving from Texas to California.

1 | MY LUGGAGE

This may sound silly, but I was not going to bring a suitcase one night. It was on principle y’all.

When I was married to Chad, he would also say, “you pack it, you carry it”. It was definitely the Marine Corps training in him, but I was also a horribly bad overpacker. I packed for situations that could not have been humanly crafted and then attempted to bat my eyelashes at him to carry it all. He wasn’t chivalrous like the movies and looking back on it now, I’m kind of grateful.

I now pack with preparation but also in the event that I’m traveling by my lonesome – which I was on this most recent trip – I can handle all of my possessions and keep them under my care without looking as though I was a performer in the Cirque De Soliel.

Duffle Bag
one magazine, one book, one bag

One day, I’m going to have an AWAY set of luggage to jet set around the world. A former co-worker allowed me to borrow her white “Bigger Carry-On” for our honeymoon to Sonoma last year and I’m still crushing on it. Seriously, I see people rolling their bags through the airport, I’m all like, “someday cuties, someday” (talking about the navy and white suitcases, not about the people).

For now, my extra large duffel from Target – which they still have – has traveled all over the world and was perfect for my most recent trip to L.A.

And a quick half-tip:

One thing I have to say is that Apple and American are not on the same page with the headphone situation. Since upgrading from an iPhone 6 plus to an iPhone 8, I have had to learn to adapt to the one outlet challenge. For those who don’t know, the same portal you use to charge your phone is the same one where the headphones go. I’m glad I had a book to read and a backup charger because I couldn’t listen to music or watch movies from the headrest in front of me (and drown out all the sniffling, coughing and other weird, super loud noises people make when they get settled into their seat on an airplane) and charge my phone at the same time – which I used to be able to do.  When I went to research it, the solution was to buy a special adapter.

Which I did not. But fellow iPhone users, be warned and look into this before you travel.

2 | APPS ON MY PHONE

I used to silently judge other travelers for having their tickets on their phones. Thinking they were being “extra” by trying to be too hip and up to the trend of doing everything digitally.

Now, I’m one of those travelers.

For the few airlines that we consistently travel on, American + Alaska Air (in that order), I have their apps on my phone and am able to do everything from checking in, selecting my seat and pulling up my ticket – from my phone. It’s phenomenal!

And thanks to the diligence of my Mister, I now have an Advantage Air number/account with American and am collecting them miles.

IMG_2056.PNG
yes, I have all of the apps on my phone in folders (which are in alphabetical order)

And because my flight on the way home was delayed, I got all updates via text and call. It was so easy. Annoying because we were repeatedly delayed, but easy because I didn’t have to do anything but receive the communication. I so appreciate that!

The one app I struggled with on this last trip was my Uber app.

I’d used it before but when I got to the airport, my cell phone coverage was horrible because I was basically in a basement and I couldn’t get the app to open. Eventually, after 20 minutes of fiddling with it, I was able to get my account working again and request an Uber Driver to take us from LAX to our hotel in Woodland Hills.

Recommendation? Make sure all apps and gadgets are charged, downloaded, connected properly to payment accounts and ready to go before you leave your home and working Wi-Fi.

3 | LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD

When I travel, I want things to be easy peasy. I want to be able to access things (cords, extra charger, essential oils) quickly and without holding up the line.

And let me say, that while traveling is an adventure, it’s also a massive opportunity to be considerate of other travelers. I’m not going to go into all of that right here, but let me say, stuff you do at your house as far as personal grooming goes, should wait until you arrive at your next private location. I’m looking at you dude who took off his shoes and put his feet up on the seat in front of him.

The way I lighten my load is to wear the same pair of pants both days. Or I take photos of the Bible Study devotional so that I don’t have to bring the entire book to cover one page. I will bring items that I can use once and toss while keeping costs low or even forgo my natural regular skin care routine for what is provided for free (and without weight) in the hotel room.

Another thing that helps me to lighten my load is to think ahead about my return.

4 | CONSIDER YOUR RE-ENTRY

I catch a lot of flack for being an “over thinker” but here is an area where I find it comes in handy!

No matter the reason for the trip or the experience, even as I’m packing to go, I’m considering the return. And I make adjustments in my schedule accordingly. Where people are relying upon me, I stock up on coffee and godly grace to be present and do what it is they need and then there is clear communication about when I need to unplug and just sleep. That has been a remarkable help in getting back on track.

Be intentional about your schedule when you return from any amount of travel.  Give yourself permission to take something off of your plate and give your body a little extra time to recover. Do as much planning and preparation for events before you leave so that you can really enjoy down time guilt and pressure free. I did well with this but know that I could do even better.

___
I’ll be using these tips during the coming year as I go back and forth between DFW and LAX to do volunteer work to support Gold Star spouses. I hope to get better and better at implementing these four (and a half) tips so that I can focus more and more on the people I’m flying to meet and serve and enjoy the scenery too.

+EkOFV6DQQaxNvpCG4iWNg
beautiful view from hotel (Woodland Hills, California)