Bethea is a hebrew name meaning “Maidservant of God”. Carola Meerkerk started out as part of a trio forming Bethea. Called to serve God as a solo artist now, Carola continues to write and share the songs enabled by God.
After many years of leading worship at church and retreats and going to songwriting workshops, Carola once again was at a satellite conference where she listened to Paul Baloche talk about his process of songwriting beginning with prayer as he sat at his piano. Carola went home, sat down at the piano and prayed this prayer “Lord, if you want me to write songs, you’re going to have to do it, because I think I can do the lyrics but the melody is beyond me!” She then wrote her first song opening up the waterways to a waterfall that has continued to flow unabated. At first, she thought she would write her songs for only Jesus to hear, but opportunities arose through Women’s Retreats and her church to write for specific events and to share what God had given her to share. With lots of encouragement and affirmation she continued to learn, read about songwriting, go to songwriting boot camp and forge forward. In the Spring of 2010, Carola found a website for Roy Salmond, Whitewater Productions, a CD producer. As she prayed, she felt prompted to phone him and when she did, Roy was willing to meet and mentor her with her songwriting. In September of 2010 Roy challenged Carola to move forward and after much prayer, she and her husband took a leap of faith and the journey of making this CD began. “During this process I learned how much I need to depend on God’s help every step of the way. Choosing from over 40 songs to the 11 that are actually on the CD was an answer to prayer. Choosing our name was an answer to prayer. Choosing the album title was an answer to prayer. We prayed over every step of the way and everything has come together one puzzle piece at a time. God is GREAT! As we went along each step of the process I realized that it was all in God’s hands and therefore “In His Hands” was the logical title of this album, the theme of which is included in the songs. Our photographer was a gift from God. We met at a Womens Retreat the year before and Amie Stafford (www.amiestafford.com) did a phenomenal job of the photography and graphic design of our album.”
On this album, Carola’s good friends, Lynn Brady and Rose Scott sing harmony on background vocals .
Carola’s life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 and its the first song on the album, “Trust in Him Alone” a paraphrase of the verse with a catchy chorus. The next song, “Come Meet Jesus” Carola says “I wrote this song to say I’m just like anyone else! I can’t meet your needs, I can’t fix your problems as much as I would love to make it all better, but Jesus can – He’s the one you need!”
“At some stages in the process of making the CD, there were disappointments. One member of our then trio had to drop out due to personal difficulties, and it made me question whether I was going in God’s direction or my own. I also had some ministry opportunities that took a curve away from what I thought was God’s will but He had a bit of a different plan in mind. I wrote “In Your Will” acknowledging that I would follow and obey even when I didn’t know which way to go and God has been faithful to redirect and bless my obedience even when I don’t know the outcome.”
Psalm 139 is Carola’s take on the passage and it puts the words of the Psalm into a song of God’s love for every one of us. Her servant heart comes through in “Strength of Your Name”, a longing to serve Jesus, to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when the time comes to meet Him face to face.
Most, if not all, parents fear for their children’s safety at one point or another. In spite of this, we need to let them go and let them grow. What a blessing it is to know that we can entrust them into God’s hands, through thick and thin, that he will always be by their side. “I wrote “Safe and Sound” months after Andrew’s attack and death, (see below) having had either a panic attack or a premonition of danger when my two young daughters were on an outing with a friend. I was brought to the floor with anxiety and I prayed for God to keep them safe, pouring my heart out, pleading for them. After a while, a feeling of complete calm and peace settled over me. With tears still pouring down my cheeks I sat at the piano and out came this song with much prayer.”
“Lay Your Burdens Down” is an upbeat fun song with a bit of a Hawaiian flare to it. “Stand Firm” is a song of encouragement, that in the midst of the blues, with recriminations coming back at you, wrestling with your thoughts, we need to stand firm against the lies and stand firm on God’s promises and faithfulness.
In October 2008 Andrew Gawley was attacked in his apartment by a stranger. He was stabbed and his bed doused with gas was lit on fire. He managed to survive with 83% of his body burned. Andrew had previously lived with the Meerkerk family for over a year and both families were good friends for years before that. Carola took turns with his mom & dad (Darlene & Chris Gawley) nursing Andrew through the next three months as he recovered from the attack. During this time, Carola wrote the song “My Heart Cries Out”. In the midst of his pain and suffering, God’s strength and love gave him peace and comfort to make it through every day. Andrew went to be with the Lord on January 27, 2009. “I Will Take Care of You” was written about Andrew’s death and also about Carola’s husband who lost his job a few months afterwards, as many have in this time of recession. The chorus is written from God’s perspective telling all of us that He will take care of us through those tough times. Carola says, “I have a personal experience of God’s provision during those tough times. In the midst of chaos and heartache, God carries us, he provides peace, comfort, strength to face each day. His love for us is greater than we can understand.”
The final song on the CD is based on Isaiah 12 and Psalm 67, a heart’s cry “If all the world had eyes to see, everyone would get down on their knees and “Worship the Living God”. ” God desires everyone to turn to Him, to worship the Creator not created things. He waits and longs for us to come to Him.
As it has been all along with this project, it is all “In His Hands”. “I pray that these songs will encourage each one who listens, to new faith or to deeper faith, to dig deeper into God’s Word and to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ which will lead others to Christ as well.”