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The Interview Series | Sam Marsh

By Natalyn Bachek

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You’ve seen her on stage either wailing away on the drums, playing guitar or singing her heart out leading the praise band. She’s got a powerful musical gift and a heart for ministry, but what is behind that shining, welcoming face?

I had the pleasure of recently having lunch with Samantha “Sam” Marsh, surrounded by the Thanksgiving hustle and bustle of Whole Foods. We scarfed down our ultra-spicy brussel sprouts, of which neither of us could leave a crumb behind, and I got to really take a peek into Sam’s life and see how the Lord has shaped her path and led her right to Live Oak.

Sam was born in England, moved to New Jersey at the age of two then swiftly moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Sam grew up riding horses, working at a horse barn and ultimately falling in love with music by learning to play the trombone at an early age. 

Sam got accepted to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and continued her love of music by being a music major until, in Sam’s own words, “God decided to close a door.” She ended up finding out that a sharp pain in her jaw was not just a quick fix, but after a winding road of doctor’s evaluations and inevitably a surgery, the diagnosis was a broken jaw. This may have stopped many in their tracks, leaving them wondering what to do next, but with Sam, the Lord allowed this instance to mold and shape her. This is where her relationship with the Lord really started to grow and was ultimately the beginning of her relationship with Him.  

From there on out, she switched her major to religion studies and was introduced to an amazing campus ministry at App State called Campus Christian Fellowship. It was there that she began an internship with CCF. After graduation, she accepted an internship with CCF and moved to Missouri to work on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology. There Sam led three hundred students (wow!) and a thirty-member worship band regularly, but she missed her “home state,” and moved back to Charlotte to enroll at Gordon Conwell University for Seminary. 

It wasn’t until she was settled in Charlotte that she was offered a full-time position as the Women’s Minister for CCF at a little-known school called UNCW in Wilmington, NC. Although this was a full-time gig, Sam accepted and was able to still remotely complete her seminary schooling on the side (She is still powering through her seminary classes with graduation in the future!). Although a much smaller ministry than the one she previously ran in Missouri, Sam says that this is more her pace, as she leads fifteen UNCW students weekly. This allows for her to individually engage in each of their lives. Most of these students are international students and one of the perks is that Sam is involved with taking them shopping every Friday in the big CCF van. They all load up and head to our local Walmart to get necessities and form relationships off campus.

All in all, CCF and UNCW brought Sam to us at Live Oak through an invitation from her roommate one random Sunday. (THANK YOU FOR BEING THAT VESSEL ROOMMATE!) We are so very thankful the Lord led Sam our way and that her God-given talents can be used to engage more people each week. She is part of a much bigger picture that we only can see a hint of, but we know that God has it all planned out for his glory.

Fun facts about Sam:

- All of her extended family still lives in England

- Loves to skate & longboard

- Self-taught drummer!

How we can pray for Sam:

- Several months ago, Sam tragically lost her mom. Please be praying for healing and peace for her and her family. That she would lean on God daily for strength during this grief process.

- CCF Ministry at UNCW and all the students Sam encounters 

The Interview Series | The Herrings

By Laurel Senick

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Aubrey, how did you and Jonathan meet?

Jonathan and I were introduced by friends through Overflow at Port City Church. He was in the band, and I was very hesitant because I wanted to be single forever. He talked me into it, and here we are.

How did you know Jonathan was the one?

I knew Jonathan was the one because I knew if I got married it would be to someone named Samuel. He told me after dinner on our first date that his name was actually Samuel, and that was pretty much that.

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to travel?

We both have a desire to visit New Zealand next I think. Aubrey has traveled to Germany and England, which were high on her list, and she would love to go back, but it’s always nice to go somewhere together that neither of you have seen before.

In what unexpected ways has Harrison your fourteen-month-old son changed your life?

Aubrey: I’m a completely different parent than I thought I would be. I’m learning a lot about discipline and responding to Harrison by looking at the way God corrects us and comforts us. He’s gentle and responsive, and that’s the sort of mom I want to be. God doesn’t necessarily punish us for our mistakes. He shows us what’s right and redirects us.

Jonathan: As cliché as this sounds, I have a new understanding of unconditional love. You always hear people say that when they have their own kid, but it’s really true.

Was there a dramatic beginning in your life with Christ?

We were both raised in the church, and while we have had our ups and downs, Jesus has always been there as a constant.

Your small group recently did a spiritual gift study. Can you share a little about your Holy Spirit gifts?

Aubrey: My spiritual gift was giving. It made sense when the bible study explained this gift brings the ability to see through money schemes, and that someone with this gift is good with budgeting. I also have the desire to help others financially, whether it be through a gift or through teaching.

Jonathan: My spiritual gifts were prophecy and teaching. I enjoy learning the ins and outs of things on a theological and philosophical level and sharing that information with others. Also, any practical skills or hobbies that I find entertaining, I also love to share that with people (If they are willing to listen).

You’ve brought Financial Peace to Live Oak. In what ways do you see this program helping people and glorifying God?

Living in debt is stressful and not the way God intended it. This program can help us all move away from being slaves to our money and teach us to live with financial freedom. Having a plan seems like it will hold you back, but it has been the thing that has always made us feel more secure in actually spending our money, because we know we have planned for every expense, so it won’t throw something else off.  

What do you believe about tithing and how has it impacted your lives?

We strongly believe that tithing is an exercise for us to remember God gives us what we need and cares that we are taken care of. He tells us to remember the lilies of the field and that they are clothed better than Solomon in his temple. We are saying, “I know this isn’t mine and I don’t need it.” Knowing that gives you the ultimate sense of freedom from anxiety with finances.

How can Live Oak family pray for your family?

Please pray for our future. We each have new jobs which are relocating us to Raleigh.

- We will miss this sweet family that is moving to Raleigh. Please hug and kiss them good bye when you see them. Laurel Senick


A Wedding, A Funeral

THE FOLLOWING IS THE FIFTH IN A SERIES OF BLOGS, EACH WRITTEN BY A DIFFERENT MEMBER OF OUR LIVE OAK CHURCH FAMILY.

Abbey and Brian Nobles 

Abbey and Brian Nobles 

By Abbey Nobles 

If anyone knows my husband Brian and me, they know we love to travel, meet people, eat delicious foods, and tell our experiences through fun and engaging stories. So when we told our friends that we saw, felt, and embraced the glory of God, I’m sure at first they pictured us experiencing this while walking on a crazy Icelandic glacier, or relaxing under the Balinese sunset, or even enjoying the delights of a French vineyard, but that was not the case. In July of 2017 we witnessed one of the most powerful displays of the glory of God either of us had ever experienced.

Recently, Pastor Brian Few did a “Jesus Is” series which defined the different aspects of who Jesus is: the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge. It is still crazy to me to think that in this one single event, once we saw the glory of God, we stood witness all of the aspects of Jesus Brian talked about. Every. Single. One.

In July 2017, my brother and his fiancee asked Brian, my Brian, to play the guitar and me to sing the song, “Your Glory” by All Sons and Daughters, at their wedding during a moment of worship. Brian and I had a hard time practicing and needed inspiration, so for the weeks leading up to the wedding we would drive to Pender Memorial Hospital where my grandmother was a resident on the nursing home floor and practice for her.

My paternal grandmother, Nannie, suffered from dementia from 1999 to 2017. She went through the traditional phases of progression, from babbling speech and nonsensical talk to only smiles and high fives. She was always enchanted by music, so captivated, her spirit would speak the Psalms when she could not speak herself.

She would do what Psalm 100:1-2 says, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”

It was the day of the rehearsal dinner and Brian and I went to practice our song one last time for my grandmother before the wedding the following day. On this particular day she was almost unwakeable. This wasn’t unusual. I can remember my dad multiple times weeping at her bedside, thinking it was the end, yet something inside of her pulled through, she still had purpose.

She still had meaning. She still had things to teach us. This new lesson, her last lesson, was about the glory of God. Psalm 101:1 “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.”

As I brushed her soft white hair and kissed her pale and wrinkled skin, I tried to rouse her. She would not budge. Brian said, “Let’s go on and practice, she will hear us.” He started playing the guitar while I stared hard at the words on my phone to distract myself. My voice cracked as I sang the first verse:

“My life is Yours

And my hope is in You only

And my heart You hold

'Cause You made this sinner holy

And holy, holy”

My voice cracked more, she was still in a deep slumber, tears came to my eyes as I stared at my grandmother’s peaceful body slumped in her wheelchair. I stroked her soft hand and tried to push through. Other family entered the room and I tried not to look in fear of a total breakdown. I felt their warm presence, I felt the peace of God in this moment, I felt comfort, but the coming words I could barely sing:

“Cause Your glory is so beautiful

I fall onto my knees in awe

And the heartbeat of my life

Is to worship in Your light

'Cause Your glory is so beautiful

'Cause Your glory is so beautiful”

Getting to the chorus I had to stop. I had to weep. An RN I never knew and will never forget came in the room and gave me the biggest hug, she completely embraced me and said, “Baby girl you sing your heart out, you sing for your grandmother, you will do great, I know you will.”

That evening after the rehearsal dinner with so much unity and joy among the bride and groom, we got the call that Nannie had passed. The last song I sang to her would be the last song she heard on this Earth.

And I felt the glory of God in that moment.

I embraced my family, I prayed in the Spirit feeling like God had called me to be a leader in that moment. We knew her death was timely and perfect. Part of God’s glorious perfect plan.

The next day I sang for all the angels to hear. I sang, and I knew she was there singing too. The wedding continued, and joy abounded. More joy filled my heart knowing Nannie’s purpose on this earth had come to an end, she was now singing in the fullness of His glory.

That is how the glory of God works: untimely for our flesh but perfect in the spirit. It is often fraught with earthly misunderstanding, our minds not fully comprehending the Spirit.

But Jesus holds all things together, He is the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge.


 

Happy Birthday, Live Oak!

Written by Lindsay Few 

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4

Yesterday we celebrated Live Oak Church’s 6th birthday. Tomorrow we celebrate my daughter’s 13th birthday. Two hugely momentous occasions in my world. It’s impossible for me to separate the two.

In ministry, as in parenting, one cannot do the job perfectly. That’s just not in the realm of possibility for any long-term human task or calling. No one will finish the entire thing regret-free. If you don’t believe this, please get at least six years into a job and get back to me then. Best I can tell, it’s all a matter of doing the best you know how, while continually asking the Lord for gracious portions of wisdom and humility.

And this is not a bad thing -- in fact, it’s God’s own good purpose. It will never cease to amaze me that a church made of human beings is His Plan A for spreading His love across this world. Christ himself imparted the message, brought the Kingdom near and sent His Spirit, saying, “In fact, it is best for you that I go away…”, (John 16), charging his remaining 11 disciples, blessed and blundering, “Go, and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28) The mission has not changed, though at times it is hard to find the beauty Christ sees in His Church through all the mess we’ve got it twisted up in.  

You can hardly believe how nervous we were 13 years ago, bringing that little joy nugget home. We had no idea how to be parents. Parenting called to a deeper place in each of us; required us to love and to give selflessly, endlessly. And it called out deep joy; the joy of seeing someone you love that much grow; memories and milestones.

Turns out watching Live Oak grow from the ground up is not too different. There is the call (for all believers) to love, serve, and give to the church body. There is disappointment; but then there are so many moments of joy. Memories, milestones, lives changed by Jesus. And in both cases, life bigger than just myself may be harder, but is truly so much better.

In all things, we are promised, “I am with you always. Even to the end of the age.” This is the energy in all we do: Christ with us. His presence and power -- glorious news! Because in all of my best attempts I still wish I could do the job perfectly. I cannot. Yet in my weakness He is strong. (1 Corinthians 12) Jesus knows every shortcoming of my faulty self, and He promises that the good work -- the refining process He began in me -- will eventually be completed. (Philippians 1:6)

He calls this naturally grouchy, disorganized, peace-and-quiet & comfort-loving introvert into a home filled with family; a church filled with family. Gently, God has led me from a teeny-tiny comfort zone into wider places. From this vantage point, I look at His beloved Church. I see so many lives woven together into this community. For this, the body of believers, He gave His life. From this vantage point, six years into the mission of Live Oak Church, I see her brokenness and beauty, and I just love her.