The Mark Trammell Quartet Homecoming has quickly become one of my favorite weekends in the past four years. Friday night kicks off the weekend with a great concert, the golf tournament spends a couple hours on the green Saturday morning, and then everyone returns to the church that evening for more music. Sunday morning we are blessed to hear Mark preach. In preparation for the 2014 Homecoming, Jess Trammell asked Mark (her father-in-law) if the ladies could have a luncheon to gather at while the guys golfed…and so Reflections of Grace was born.
This event was also held at Hillcrest in The Rock Gym and began at 10 AM. Round tables bubbled over with beautiful flower arrangements in mirror-tiled vases, pink accents, note pads and pens. On the far side, the banquet (a.k.a. food!) was spread. The lemonades, tea and water were on a separate table along the back wall and desserts sat caddy-corner in a space of their own. Everything was beautiful…and tasty!
As the morning began, Jess introduced herself and shared the vision she had for the luncheon’s theme. “I have these vases that I used in my wedding,” Jess began; she went on to tell us of the conversation she had with her mom during the preparation of the event. She told her mom, ‘The vases are so beautiful and have mirrored tiles and I want something that goes along with that.’ We read through some Scriptures and continued talking and my mom said, ‘What about Reflections of Grace?’ As women, we should be full of God’s grace and thankful for the grace He has extended to us. We talked about a couple of Scriptures and I really felt God lay a verse on my heart, it’s in 2 Corinthians where Paul is talking about the thorn in his flesh and goes on to say, ‘And He said to him, My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness, for gladly I would rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.’”
What I liked about this part of the luncheon was that all of the ladies in the MTQ family participated. After Jess introduced the theme of the gathering she asked Pam (Dustin’s mom) to come up and pray. When she finished, it was LaResa’s turn (Mark’s wife) to say a few words and introduce Susan.
“We share our husbands with you,” said LaResa, “and I feel like God calls us just like He calls our husbands, and we don’t take it lightly that you all would come and spend this time with us.” She went on to introduce the morning’s speaker, “I want to introduce Susan, a lot of you know who Susan Whisnant is, she is a friend to us, a co-worker with Mark, and she’s like family to us. I want Susan to come; she is going to do a little bit of singing, so we’re going to enjoy that.”
Susan came and began singing For The Life Of Me and Apart From You. “Is anyone else nervous?” Susan asked, “That’s what I thought, pray with me…” Then she bowed her head and prayed. After “amen” she invited us to sing God is so Good with her.
“My mom and dad, . . . my dad still pastors in Rock Hill, South Carolina,” she began, “they taught me how to sing but the most important thing they ever did for me was when they said, ‘Susan, you can be the best at singing, you can look nice, but if you don’t know Jesus, Susan, you’re absolutely nothing.’” She went on to tell how at five years old she walked in to the bathroom where her dad was shaving on a Sunday morning and said, “Daddy, can you tell me how to ask Jesus into my heart?” “And my dad could have said, ‘You know what Sue, we’ll be in church in an hour, you’re just five. But you know what my daddy did? He picked me up and put me on the cabinet and told me how much Jesus loved me and if I were the only one He would have died for me. The best decision I ever made was to ask Jesus into my heart.”
“There’s a verse in the Bible that says ‘If you delight yourself in the Lord He will give you the desires of your heart.’” Susan went on, “The second most important thing that my mom and dad ever told me, I can remember being eight years old and my mom and daddy saying, ‘Susan, you pray for your husband.’ I was like, ‘I’m not married?’ They said, ‘I understand that, but you pray for the man God has for you.” She went on to tell how at eight she remembered standing on her bed looking out the window that was high on the wall and praying, “God, keep him safe for me.” This led into the story of how she met Jeff, her husband.
“How many of you believe prayer really does change things?” asked Susan. “I know as far as the Mark Trammell Quartet and the Whisnants when we leave and our drivers drive us all night, if it wasn’t for the prayers of y’all and our families, I don’t know how we would make it. I know there are times when angels just wrap their arms around that bus and keep it between the lines and I’m so thankful for that…”
“There are so many things I want to talk about today,” said Susan. “But I did this solo project about five years ago; I actually forgot about the solos because I never sing them anymore, so I started listening to them this week so I could remember the words and some of those songs blessed my heart. Apart from You, God, I’m nothing… We know as ladies, as moms, as grandmothers, we know how to look good, we know how to talk right, we know how to make everybody think that our world is perfect when a lot of times we’re falling apart. Maybe even our friends beside us are falling apart, and we don’t even notice.” Susan went on to introduce her song Church Across the Street, “I want to encourage us as mothers, friends, grandparents, there’s a lot of young girls out there, they’re living across the street…and they’re longing for somebody to share the good news of Christ. We walk by them every day. The lady at Wal-Mart, she may just need for you to say, ‘God loves you.’ We are the church across the street and we can make a difference.”
In the stillness that followed that ballad Susan asked us to sing the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus with her. Then she said, “Sometimes I don’t like me, because I know me, but He loves me. He loves us. I wish I could tell you that I never made a wrong choice, that I was the perfect wife, the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect mother, but I can’t tell you the times that the Lord has had to pick me up and chisel away things on me. He knew what He was doing. I didn’t know what He was doing! But He did. When I mess up, when I’m weary, I always go to Psalm 51. Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within in. Ladies, we need to hit the ground singing, ‘Create in me a clean heart!’ How can I help somebody? And I’m gonna say this: I’ll never stand behind what I do – this is what I do – not who I am. I have just as much responsibility when I step off that bus and I’m walking in to Wal-Mart to represent my Savior, Jesus Christ. So every day, create a clean heart in me. God if there be anything in my life that would cause me to be a hindrance to someone else – God I want you to get that out of me.” She went on to say that she doesn’t write songs, but a friend helped her with these lyrics – she sang Create In Me A Clean Heart and a soft hum of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus followed.
“I want us to form a circle and I want us to grab somebody else’s hand,” Susan instructed, and all the ladies joined hands and created a giant ring of prayer.
Conclusion: I can’t put into words how the Holy Spirit filled the room that morning. There was an anointing on Susan as she shared and it blessed and encouraged the ladies there. Many times, tears sprang to my eyes. What a great way to start a day!