Saturday, December 6, 2014

Accepting Help with Fake Glitter Snow

It is finally the end of the school semester!!
But it would have been better if it came last week. 
You see, this week, we got a new sound board installed at church and I started decorating for Christmas on the stage. Both of those are pretty time-consuming, even though they are fun! But it's kind of stressful sometimes.

So after Sunday services, Monday work and exams, on Tuesday, I was losing my mind a little. Not to mention that JD was traveling and unable to help me. I had way too much to do and no way to get it done. So finally, I drew on my final resort.
I texted Mom and Dad for help. 
You see- I'm married now. And when you get married, you're not ever allowed to ask your parents for help *in my silly head*. But with JD traveling, I didn't have another option.

I was embarrassed to
1. Ask for help
2. Ask it from my parents.
But of course, they said yes and arrived as soon as they could to help me.
As Mom and I fluffed trees, I told her about a few things that I just couldn't get done that week with my crazy schedule. She turned around and said, "Next time, please call. I'll be happy to help you out!"

Honestly, I kind of thought that when I said my vows, they included, "And now you only call JD for help-never your parents, never ever ever ever again."
I don't know where I got that from, but why did I ever think that just because I'm married, my parents wouldn't still help me cover the stage in fake glitter snow?

Two days later, I'm finishing up the stage and mom and dad are helping again. After a long run, Jim and Kari Ann walk in and start helping! It's 7:30pm on a Thursday night and they are newlyweds. But here they are, helping me run extension cables to strands of Christmas lights. It flat-out amazed me. (and got me home before 9pm. Thanks guys!)

Fast forward a few more days:
We're celebrating our NewSong volunteers and afterward, Dan was talking to JD about his travel plans for this week. JD was telling him that he'll be out of town for a while and I'll be taking exams during that time period. Dan turned around and said, "Hey - please don't hesitate to call if you need anything while JD is gone. We'll help!"

I don't know if you're much like me (stubborn, hard-headed and proud), but I forget that people genuinely will help me when I ask. They will give. Just as I would help them if they asked. That's what community is for! And as JD once told me,

"Court- when you don't let me help, you're robbing me of the joy of bearing your burdens. You rob me of the joy of serving. You also rob me of your good mood." (the last part was in jest, but it's true sometimes!)

So this week, don't be too proud. It's Christmas season, which means a lot of extra work for people. We've all got lights to hang, presents to wrap and a house to decorate. So ask for help if you're overwhelmed. I promise that your family would rather help you wrap a few presents than have you miss out on watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with them.

Ask for help.

On November 16th, we sang:
"You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman
"Steady My Heart" by Kari Jobe
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
and "Christ is Risen" by Matt Maher

On November 24th, we sang:
"You Are My Vision" by Rend Collective
"Jesus Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"Have Your Way" by Eddie Kirkland (many of you asked me about this one!) 
and "Thank You God for Saving Me" by Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham

On November 30th, we sang:
"10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
"Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)" by Chris Tomlin
"Restore to Me" by Candi Pearson-Shelton
and "Have Your Way" by Eddie Kirkland

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chili Dogs and a Clean House

I woke up on Saturday morning, liberated that it was not a work or school day, but chained to the fact that I HAD to clean the house. My mom would have told me, "Courtney. The health inspector is going to condemn you." She would have been exaggerating, but not by much.
After I spent the whole day cleaning and grocery shopping, I was sprinting the finish line to have the house ready by the time guests arrived for the Saturday afternoon get-together.

I always love entertaining people. I really love it and I'd do it every weekend but as JD always reminds me, there's a full day and a half of preparation, especially when you're me. I assured him that we were having only hotdogs and Stouffer's macaroni and cheese but before I knew it, I had 3 different appetizers, two different kinds of hotdogs, macaroni and cheese and three different desserts. Even though I didn't cook most of it, it all took very specific dishes to be presented properly.

My heart filled with joy as everyone arrived and all the kids flooded through the house. It was full of noise, joy and blankets as we split from going inside to by the fire outside. Just the kind of night I love. Everyone talking, enjoying, eating and watching football.
This was exactly what I love and yearned for. Providing a warm, fun place for people to truly connect to one another and it was already blessing me to be able to offer our
home as that place. 
Finally, after most of the folks had fixed their plates, I stepped up to grab a chili dog and sat down at the deserted dinner table. It was so nice to sit down and watch everyone squishing into the living room. After all, I needed to monitor the kitchen and the table was the perfect place to do it from, even if it meant sitting by myself for a few.

Two bites into my hotdog, I saw a little one making her way to me. Her plate was full of cut-up hotdog, ketchup and mac 'n cheese. She also was trying to balance a plastic fork, a drink and a napkin. It was taking all of her concentration not to spill her plate of food on the floor. She scooted behind me and pulled herself up into the chair next to me and started eating, not saying a word. Finally I turned around, curious, and said, "Hey munchkin. Whatchya doing over here?"

"You were sitting by yourself and you can't be lonely. So here's what I did today."

Off she went into telling me about her trips to Target, her little sister and all of her friends at school. As I sat there, listening intently between her mouthfuls of hotdog, I realized the depth of what she had done. She left the crowded living room with three other children her age to come sit with me, perceiving that I was lonely. She, at the ripe age of 5, didn't think twice to care for me.

Thank God for the church.
Thank God for great parents.
Thank God that we can gather together and let children teach us some of the most important lessons.
Thank God that children love us so well.
And thank God I cleaned the house today.

So do what it takes. Clean the house, buy the groceries and take the chance. Invite folks over to your home and be blessed. If you're like us, your house may not be big enough so that half of the people need to sit on the floor and the best you can afford is hotdogs, but I promise that it is worth it. God calls us to live together and that's why. So that others show us love as we sacrificially show them love.

On October 26th, we sang:
"10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
"Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
and "Your Presence is Heaven to Me" by Darlene Zschech

On November 2nd, we sang:
"Holy Spirit" by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
"Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
"At the Cross (Love Ran Red)" by Chris Tomlin
"Great I Am" by New Life Worship
and "Build Your Kingdom Here" by Rend Collective Experiement

On November 9th, we sang:
"This is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham
"Holy (Wedding Day)" by The City Harmonic
"How Great Thou Art"
and "My Sweet Lord" by Crowder feat. Emmylou Harris

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Priorities and Skipping Homework

If you would have told me six months ago that I couldn't have everything, I would have totally denied you. I would have said, "Oh yeah, I know you have to prioritize things," and inwardly said, "Unless you're me..."
Ha. How naive.

We have some of the greatest friends in the world and one thing that they've always been honest about is how they aren't perfect and they can't get everything done. They've brought us over to their houses when they're perfectly clean and when we've had to make paths through the toys to get to the couch that is halfway covered with folded laundry. And you know what? That's totally cool with me.
I'm so glad to have friends who are totally honest and cool enough with their priorities that our friendship means more than their perceived perfection.

But when I got married, I really had those screwed up.
My priorities got out of whack.

As a newlywed, I thought that our house should look perfect all of time. After all, my new role was chief cleaner and chef. (dismiss the fact that I don't know how to cook! ha!) JD's new role was chief caretaker and bacon-bringer. Pretty soon, we both started school and our roles changed. Soon enough, we hired a chief caretaker and JD took over cooking. (I'm pretty sure that was in self-defense.) Not long after that, I had to give up cleaning once a week too.

Let me tell you. "Failing" at your home duties within six months of getting married nearly killed me. For the first month into this thing, I was killing myself. Not only was I busting my behind to "keep up appearances", but I was giving myself a big fat "F" for failure as wife. Every time that I sat down to watch TV with JD or spent time having fun outside of the house, all I could think was, "But I have so much work to do at home," or "I need to be dusting the guest bedroom right now- not watching TV."

As I sat in Ruby Tuesday and started talking to JD about this the other day,  I said, "I'm just failing at this wife thing!" He laughed in response and said, "I think since I'm your husband, I get to be the judge of that and I say you're not." I went on to list all the things I haven't been doing in our home. He went on to list all of the other we have been doing and why they are much more important than finding the correct outdoor storage container for our outdoor cushions- you know, because they can't be left out. They may get outdoor things on them! Duh!

He went on to talk about priorities and how he values time we spend watching Once Upon a Time much more than he values a clean floor. He values microwave dinner together more than a dinner I spent all night cooking. He values our marriage more than he values getting every single piece of homework done.

This got me thinking about what my priorities need to be.
Having friends over to a dirty house comes before a night spent alone in a clean one.
Prayer time trumps cooking the perfect meal.
Our marriage trumps agonizing over a paper for an extra hour.
Generosity trumps saving that ten dollars for a new blouse.
Having friends "bring something" to the party is way better than working myself into a frenzy trying to make one more dish.
Stopping to send that encouraging text to a friend is better than pretty much anything else you're doing right now.
Wearing your yoga pants to small group is better than skipping because you're not dressed up enough.

You see- all of those things are really important and I'm not diminishing them! Cooking a good meal, having a clean house, getting dressed up nice, doing my homework- those are all super important, trust me. But when they take over the even MORE important things, we have a problem.

When I let all of the really important stuff rise to the top and didn't try to pick the most-est important things, I let the important things get in the way.

What are your priorities? And what are you trading for the things that you think you're failing at? I'll be willing to bet that you're just placing guilt and blame on yourself when no one else is. And I'm pretty sure Jesus came to break the chains of guilt and doesn't appreciate the ones that I'm putting on myself.
So ask. Ask those around you if they've even noticed that you're not holding up what you assume is your end of the bargain. I promise it'll be a constructive conversation. Because sometimes what is most-est important to you is just important to your spouse. And almost all of the time, your kids think playing is the most-est important.
 And ask God to help you properly assign your priorities. He'll help. I promise.

On October 12th, the church's 35th Anniversary, we sang:
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"Overcome" by New Life Worship
and "This I Believe" by Hillsong

Last week, on October 19th, Adam led and we sang:
"Take Me Lord" by Adam Lynn (wahoo! He wrote this one!)
"Your Love Never Fails" by Jesus Culture or Anthony Skinner
"It Is Well" (the hymn)
and "Called Me Higher" by All Sons and Daughters

Monday, October 6, 2014

Squeezie Pouches.

Two Sundays ago, I was sitting on the floor of our good friends' living room when their child plopped down in my lap. She was content with her "squeezie pouch" of applesauce and starting to do a puzzle.
This is one of the best parts of having friends - their kids. I love playing with them and interacting with small children. They always seem to find the important things in life and share them with us, if we'll listen.

So she sat down and immediately turned her little head around.
Suddenly, I had applesauce breath all in my face and little eyes about one inch from my own. You know that closeness- only a child can be that close and not weird you out.

"Mrs. Courtney? Do you like squeezie pouches?"
"I sure do!"
"I'll go get one for you."
"No thank you! I'm full. I ate my supper."
"Okay. Well you can have some of mine."

After I finished refusing her squeezie pouch, she went happily back to her puzzle, playing with JD and her sister and I went happily back to talking with her parents.

That night, after I told JD the story, I thought about how sweet she really was in that moment. And how trusting she is.

She was sure that her parents had extra squeezie pouches and if I wanted one, she'd get one and they wouldn't mind her sharing. If I didn't want my own, she'd share hers no problem.

As I thought about that and we started preparing for our next sermon series about stewardship, I thought about that precious squeezie pouch.
Do I fully rely on God to supply my every need - including my need to give to others - as much as she relied on her parents? Do I trust that God will supply me with enough if I should share every small thing?

I'll tell you what. That squeezie pouch is challenging me every day to trust that God has blessed me with more than enough to give and share.

On September 21st, we sang:
"Jesus Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"Nothing is Holding Me Back" by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
"Safe" by Phil Wickham
"Washed by the Water" by Needtobreathe

On September 28th, we sang:
"Come As You Are" by Crowder
"Forever Reign" by Kristian Stanfill
"My Lighthouse" by Rend Collective Experiment
and "I Am" by Crowder

On October 5th, we sang:
"Lord I Need You" by Chris Tomlin
"A Mighty Fortress" by Christy Nockels
"How Great Thou Art"
"We Are" by Kari Jobe
and "At the Cross (Love Ran Red)" by Chris Tomllin

Monday, September 15, 2014

Superhumans and Jesus

In August, I started the process of finishing my degree at the University of Mobile by May. It requires me to go full-time to school, but almost all of my classes are at night or online, so I can still work at the same time. What no one told me about this whole "go-to-school full-time and work full-time" thing was that it was going to be really stressful!
Oh wait.
Everyone told me that! Ha!

I have done the double full-time thing once before and knew that I could handle it, probably much better than when I did it last time. JD and I discussed it and how we would need to limit any activities outside of just work, school and time together. We also discussed that we would need to pay a yard man so that JD could start helping me with laundry, cooking and cleaning.
What I didn't realize is that JD would actually have to start helping with those three things. You see, in my mind, we discussed it but I was going to be Superwoman and still pull it all off. He was going to look at me in November and say, "Wow Court! I can't believe this! You got straight A's, were never late to class, grew the worship ministry at CUMC, cleaned, cooked, did laundry, grew with the Lord AND lost 20 lbs!"
Ha. How naive I was.

Today at lunch, I finally realized that I've been beating myself up for weeks every time that I get home and my wonderful husband is serving me dinner and folding the laundry. I had this attitude that if I couldn't do it all, I was failing as a human, Christian and wife.
As soon as I thought about this, I had to do the hard thing. I had to confess all of this to JD and tell him that as much as I didn't want to, I was going to keep relying on him to meet some of "my" to do lists at the house.
He laughed and said, "Wasn't that what we agreed to in early August?"
I also had to confess to God that I've been busy and it's been hard! 

I think that's often what happens in our relationship with God. We often try to take it all on. We try to bear the burden that God had previously said He'd share with us. When we get consumed with guilt because we can't do it all, remember what Jesus said,

"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30

All I can say to that is, "Hallelujah!"

August 24th, Adam led and we sang:
"White Flag" by Chris Tomlin
"Here For You" by Matt Redman 
"Your Glory/Nothing But the Blood" by All Sons and Daughters
and "My Heart is Yours" by Kristian Stanfill

On August 31st, we sang:
"You Are My Vision" by Rend Collective Experiment
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
and "You Make Me Brave" by Bethel (love this song!)

On September 7th, we sang:
"This is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham (or a great recording by Shane & Shane)
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"Take Me Lord" by our very own Adam Lynn! He wrote it!!
"Forever" by Kari Jobe

And last Sunday, September 14th, we sang:
"Reign in Us" by Starfield
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
"Your Grace is Enough" by Matt Maher
"My Lighthouse" by Rend Collective Experiment

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sleeves and Crying.

So I have one rule on stage for myself.
As you can tell, that rule isn't, "Don't say stupid stuff on stage," because I do that all of the time (on accident- not purposefully). It's definitely not that one! Just watch the beginning of 9:15am service from last week. You talk about embarrassing......
It also isn't, "Don't make a fool of yourself." My band knows all too well how often I do that.
It isn't, "No dancing," or "I'm going to be awesome all of the time," because I love to dance and I'm kinda bad when I dance!

The rule is - no crying on stage. I don't know what's up with me, but I totally get wierded out when people cry on stage, even if it's for legit reasons! I get all emotionally closed up when people cry in movies. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I just don't like it! I think I'm like a man in that way. Have you ever seen someone start crying in front of a man who suddenly doesn't know what to do with his hands or what to say? -Yeah.. That's me.
Some call it being emotionally stunted or cold.
They're probably right.

So this week, I was really caught off guard when I started to tear up during the offering song. I've been singing along with this song and studying the song for weeks, but it wasn't until I was singing it in front of everyone that it really hit me.
Which made me REALLY mad, but also really glad that God showed me a new way of seeing Him.

Here are the lyrics.

It's there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
 There in the very breath we breathe
Your grace grace
Oh such grace
The same for the rich and poor
The same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh such grace!

As I started singing verse 2, I thought about my life over the past year. 
I thought about my wedding day and how God's grace and presence was so palpable.
I thought about two months before that day when we laid my grandmother to rest. We wept at the graveside and felt God's presence there.
I thought about all of my friends- rich, poor, saints and sinners and how God's grace is covering each of them and shining through them in my life. 
I thought about the months where we've had plenty and months where we've inched by with God's help.
I though about the times where I did the right thing and the times when I messed up horribly. 
My life has been kind of a roller coaster over the last year. It's been one of the most memorable, shaping and wonderful years that I've ever had and as I reflected, I saw God's grace through the darkest lows and the brightest highs. 
So today, I encourage you to look back on your life. Think about your wedding day and the day you wept by the graveside. Think about all of the spans of your life and thank God for the grace that you didn't even know was there at the time. 
And it'll be okay to cry. 
Just not around me. 
Just kidding :).
Yesterday, August 17th, we sang:
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
"At the Cross (Love Ran Red)" by Chris Tomlin
"Your Grace Finds Me" by Matt Redman
and "Your Grace is Enough" by Matt Maher
Oh. And I forgot about the one other rule I have on stage! I always have to wear sleeves. My momma  pulled me aside one day when I was young and said, "No one wants to see your armpits on stage. Wear sleeves!" and goodness knows that my momma is always right! So you're welcome. You can thank her for that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Little Opinionated.

A few weeks ago, it was a regular Monday night in our home. Mondays are one of the few days that neither JD nor I have something planned and we thoroughly enjoy rotting our brains in front of the TV and eating cookies for dinner. We talk and joke and enjoy the other's company on Mondays.
On that particular Monday, I happened to be a little opinionated, as I'm apt to do every once in a while.

And this is how people feel about my opinions!
Okay. Let's not lie here. I'm extremely opinionated. It's by the grace of God and a good husband that I don't open my mouth more. I'm so opinionated that I got used to the taste of my foot in my mouth for a while. I realize what an annoying quality it can be, so I try to temper it. But not around JD. He's part of my "free space" where I'm allowed to "share my feelings" - or some excuse that I made up like that. 

So I was sitting on the couch while the evening news played, blabbing on and on about a blogger that writes terrible things in the name of Jesus and how everyone re-posts his really mean, hateful blogs. While I was wagging my mouth, JD was processing half of it and processing the news as well. If you'll remember, a few weeks ago, another plane went down.

I'll never forget the moment that the commercials went on and I finally stopped talking. JD turned around, knelt in front of me and said, "Courtney. I'm sorry that this blogger is driving you nuts. I'm sorry that he is misrepresenting Jesus and leading people astray. But our job is to represent Him well. And today, we will be thankful that we are not in the midst of war or poverty. We will be thankful that we and our families are safe. We need to be grateful to God that one of us wasn't on that plane and pray for the families who face that reality. We will pray for the people around the world who have some bigger problems."
Then he just walked off like he hadn't brought the house down with his words. He acted like it was no big deal and just his normal thoughts.

My little pea-picking brain and my unfocused heart were instantly snapped back into reality. Sometimes I get so upset about things that I think are a huge deal. I get too focused on things that do not even come close to mattering for almost the rest of the world. I get caught up in small matters that don't matter at all.

So today, and everyday since he said that, I've been trying to focus on the bigger pictures. I've tried to focus my prayer life more on other people and less on the things that frustrate me, because I realized that I can avoid and eliminate a lot of the things that frustrate me. I can open my eyes and see more of God and His people around me and less of the mess that folks like to stir up. I can lift my eyes above and see the Lord.

July 13th, we sang:
"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
"At the Cross (Love Ran Red" by Chris Tomlin
and "Want to be Real" by Chris August

On July 20th, we sang:
"Lay Me Down" by Chris Tomlin
"Our God" by Chris Tomlin
"Sing and Shout" by Matt Redman
and "I Am" by David Crowder

July 27th, Adam led worship and we sang:
"Heaven Fall Down" by Phil Wickham
"Lord I Need You" by Chris Tomlin
"You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman
and "I'm Getting Ready" by Michael Kiwanuka Here's the original song!

On August 3rd, I braved the waters by myself and we sang:
"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman
"Not For a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
"How Great Thou Art"
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
"We Still Believe" by Kathryn Scott
and "This I Believe" by Hillsong

And last week, August 10th, we sang:
"Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
"Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong
and "Thank You God for Saving Me" by Phil Wickham

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Loaded Questions.

Have you ever been really disappointed in yourself?

Whoa. Loaded question, right?
This weekend, I was disappointed in myself.

This past weekend, the hubs and I spent some time outside of our normal surroundings. I was so disappointed in myself when I found myself thinking, "You are wasting my time." You see, the hubs and I were supposed to be helping someone, but it wasn't at my pace or in my kind of order. Whoa. How selfish! (and some of you would sarcastically say, "How surprising!" - just kidding, hopefully)
As I sat in my frustration about the schedule of our day, I felt so convicted. I was thinking of myself first.
If I was going to help someone, I better be put to the best possible use and all of my time should be well-spent. If I wasn't being used to my fullest potential, it was a waste of my time. 

That is a lot of "I"s and "my"s and not a lot of "them"s.

As I spoke with JD about this and apologized to him for my poor attitude, we realized that we had both struggled with that attitude.
I wonder how many other times I've done that. When I've gone to serve others, have I been mostly concerned about myself and how my *precious* time was being spent?

While all of that is a valuable question, my biggest question was, "God, how is this guilt absolved?" You see, I felt super guilty. I had wasted a whole day of helping someone on my selfish thoughts. (By the way- it's because I was guilty!)

Today, as we took communion, we sang,

"There's a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I've ever found
Comes like a flood, flowing down
At the cross"

We can walk with God for a long time, but the cross never gets old. The power of the cross and of God's forgiveness never gets old. Taking Communion never gets old. The gravity of the King of the Universe taking on my sin never gets old. 

So if you've been disappointed with yourself, remember that the cross breaks the power of shame. It doesn't mean we don't have to grow, but it means we can grow without the chains of guilt and shame. Thank God for the cross today and celebrate that the chains of disappointment are broken.

Today, we sang:
"Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"The Same Love" by Paul Baloche
 and "At the Cross (Love Ran Red)" by Chris Tomlin (off of the awesome new Passion album)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Car-Buying and Burger-Induced Comas.

This week was quite the week for the Foote family! On Tuesday, we found ourselves at a car dealership bargaining for a Toyota Sequoia. There's nothing like selling and buying cars to make you feel like a real, grown-up married couple! But more importantly, I got to spend lots of time with good friends this week.
While we were at the dealership, I was rounding the corner to the restroom when I heard my name. Soon, I saw a NewSong member! She asked what she could do to help and then introduced me to the manager and told him to accept our offer on the car. (Ha! I love when people are that honest.) It worked! Her influence was invaluable in helping us. As the day progressed, she continued to help us with the car and when it had to stay in the shop, she ended up driving me home!
But the best part was that I got to hear her story. I got to hear how God has changed her life and the hope the He brings her each day.

It was amazing. Flat-out amazing! And so encouraging! 

I'm of the opinion that we don't share our stories enough, but I think it's because we don't know them. In this rat race of a world, we rarely take the time to step back and look at our lives outside of one day at a time. When I finally do that, I see God's beautiful artistry. But I have to take the time to recount my days and find the thread of God weaving each one of those days together. I'll tell you what- she had done that! She sees everything that God has done for her and it was so beautiful and humbling to listen to her story of God's work in her life.

Fast-forward a few days.

On Sunday, we ate lunch at my parents' house. After 3 burgers and watching soccer, Justen fell fast asleep on the couch. 
Olivia, who is 5 years old, taught me a very important lesson. She really wanted to play in the other room, but we had to pass the sleeping Justen. She took very careful steps not to wake him up and instructed me to do the same. She used her whispering voice, crouched low behind the couch and made sure not to make a lot of noise so that we didn't wake him up. She didn't even want to turn on the light in the next room in case it would wake him up.  She colored in the dark and whispered the whole time.

"Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, 'Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.'" 
Luke 18:16-17

If we treated everyone with as much respect and regard as Olivia treated the sleeping Justen, this world would be a different place. No wonder God told us to be more like them. 

This week reminded me that no matter what is going on, whether I'm buying a new car or playing after Sunday lunch, listening to other people is one of the greatest chances I have of seeing God. The Bible says we were created in the image of God and I sincerely believe that. When I look up from my phone and start actually talking to people, I see Him. I see Him at work in others' lives. I see Him in the children. I see Him in the stories that people recount. 
I see Him in you.

On June 29th, we sang:
"Lift the Name" by NewLife Worship
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"My Hope" by Paul Baloche feat. Kathryn Scott
and "Carry Your Name" by Christy Nockels  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Worst Sales Pitch Ever.

Only a month into marriage and JD and I realized that we really need something: A bigger car!
Over one month of marriage, we borrowed my dad's Highlander and trailer probably 8 times! So we set out last week to upgrade my car just a little bit. It's not our long-term plan, but it will be great for a while.
This is the back-story of how we ended up talking to the worst used car salesman in the world.

We got back from test-driving an SUV and we start listing a few concerns to the salesman. Here are some of the responses that we got from him:

"Oh- that indicator light isn't a problem! I looked it up on the internet. Trust me."
"You're an engineer?! Can't you afford better than this?"
"The boss is gone now. What do you want? Money off? All I want to do today is make some money so that I didn't work for free. I'll make this work."
"I'll grab the window button out of my car and swap it out for you if that'll make the deal!"
"Yeah- Toyota is the one brand that we don't have to apologize for all the time when customers want to return their cars."
"Oh. That's broken from *big* people sitting on it." (seriously?!?!)
"Since you went to college, life for you is like roller skates. I'm walking without shoes on a bed of oyster shells. Must be nice to be you!"
"Wait. When you got out of school, you must have started at $__________." That was when he tried to guess JD's salary and I knew that we were done.

I don't usually like to jump onto abbreviation bandwagons but SMH! ("shake my head" for you folks like me who don't keep up with what the cool kids are abbreviating these days!)
As I got up this morning and was laughing over all of the silly things that this salesman said to us last night, I thought about the ridiculous things that I've said to people.
I've made assumptions.
I've thought that they must have it easier than me.
I've let my selfishness shine through.
I've said downright offensive things (hopefully only a handful of times).

And I'll tell you what. I'm so grateful that the spirit of the Lord reigns in His children. I'm so grateful that people forgive me for the sometimes harmful words that come out of my mouth! Praise God that He gives us the ability to forgive and sometimes forget! And thank you.
Thank YOU for forgiving the times when I've assumed.
Thank YOU for forgiving my selfishness.
Thank YOU for forgiving the offensive.
And I thank God that He has given you that spirit and has forgiven me!

So today, thank the people who have listened to your ridiculous words. Thank them for sticking with you and forgiving you. And thank our Heavenly Father that He always sees and always forgives!

"O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above."
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

On June 17th, we sang:
"Heaven Fall Down" by Phil Wickham
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"Great I Am" by NewLife Worship
and "The One You Need" by Shane & Shane, in celebration of Father's Day!

On June 22nd, we sang:
"Holy, Holy, Holy (Savior & King)" by Gateway Worship
"Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor (from their live album)
"Waiting Here For You" by Jesus Culture (LOVE this song!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Worst Advice Ever.

As we were planning our wedding, JD and I got LOTS of advice. Every time someone learned that we were getting married, even strangers, they wanted to give us advice! Being the youngsters we are, we were looking forward to this advice. After all, many people who were close to us that knew we were planning on getting engaged had given great advice!

But then we actually got engaged.
Let me preface this by saying that I really think most people were trying to be helpful. But I think most people’s brains had fallen out of their heads. Here are the most common pieces of advice that we got:

Don’t go to bed mad. (okay- decent enough!)
This is your last chance to run.
(thanks. real inspiring!)
Good luck! I pray you’ll stay together. (seriously?!)
Why get married? Live together and see if it works out. (not even worth addressing!)
The first year is the worst.
The years with kids are the hardest.
Being an empty-nester is the hardest.
(apparently all of marriage is hard!)
You know that most marriages fail these days? - Oh. But you look like a nice couple. (I bet you're a motivational speaker!)
You could buy a car with that wedding budget. Don’t you think you should spend your money more wisely? After all, we are God’s stewards.
Don’t be a dope- just elope. (That one is from a certain bald pastor)
And the final - RUN!

As funny as these are looking back, I must say that they truly terrified me at the time. We had seen plenty of marriages fall apart and the ever-looming statistic of “50% of marriages end in divorce” was always in our minds. It got so bad that one day after church, I broke down and cried. With all of these people telling us how hard it was, was it really worth it? Was it worth the heartache and hard work that seemed to dominate everyone’s time? After a while, clarity started to set in as I realized that what these people said reflected more on them than it did on us. But still, it stung.

One day in Ministry Leaders’ meeting, I mentioned that this kept happening. A day or so later, Marcia Jacobs walked into Hannah’s office and told me how discouraged she was to learn that this was what people were saying. She went on to tell me how much joy Craig had brought her and how her marriage was her most treasured relationship. The next day, JD called me from work and told me of a coworker who had found out that he was engaged that morning. The coworker found JD and told him how much he loved his wife and how happy he was for JD that he would get to experience the same joy that he had. As the wedding drew closer, I had various church members and friends who wished us well by saying, “I pray each day that you find the joy and happiness in your marriage as I have in mine.” Now these were encouraging conversations and the pieces of advice that we needed and treasured!

I can honestly say that I was discouraged in the beginning. But as these stories and real sentiments came from people, I was encouraged.
I think we often forget the impact that our words have on people. Many people’s negative comments about marriage were short, passive sentences or even jokes. But with so many people saying them to us, we began to believe them.
After a lot of reflection, this reminded me that we really need to think about what we are saying. Are we discouragers or encouragers? When we see someone struggling or someone who is having a difficult time, do we sympathize with them and say, “Yeah, I know it stinks, doesn’t it?” or do we take time to encourage them? Do we give into the worldly way of complaining about everything or do we lift one another up?
For me, joking is a part of most conversations, but I know I have to be careful not to joke negatively for very long. Negative comments have become so pervasive in our society as people use social media to “vent” and feel more and more entitled to always share their opinion. But we have to remember that our words reach ears. Our words truly do influence people and we can’t be so wrapped up in our own problems that we forget that what we say really does influence the people we say it to!

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -
Hebrews 10:23-25

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. - Ephesians 4:29

So today, I encourage you to use your words to encourage the people around you. Whether it’s about work, kids, marriage or whatever, encourage one another! Think about whether what you’re about to say will encourage or discourage.

This past Sunday, June 8th, we sang:
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman
"Reign in Us" by Starfield (an all-time favorite of mine!)
"The Upside of Down" by Chris August (that whole album is fabulous!)
and "Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin

Monday, April 14, 2014

Come Near.

Over the past weeks, I've sat down to write a blog about what's been going on in my life numerous times, but it's been such a whirlwind that I never could catch all of it up! Many of you know that my grandmother had terminal cancer and my mom was her main caretaker. Thank all of you for your love, prayers and support over those weeks as we walked with her through her final days. As my mom says, "We felt them and appreciated them more than you'll know!"
I have so many things to say, but the main thing I can say is that the Scriptures are true: "Come near to God and He will come near to you." James 4:8. Through this entire experience, I can honestly say that God is faithful to draw near to us whenever we need Him. If you're going through tough times, draw near. Our God is faithful to love, provide and care for us when we need Him. 

Since I'm a bit behind, that's all I'll say today and here are the songs we've been singing in NewSong for the past months!! Since there are so many, I highlighted a few that folks have been asking about to try to help you out if you're looking for something specific.

On March 2nd, we sang:
"Lord I Need You" by Matt Maher or Chris Tomlin
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"In Christ Alone" by Kristian Stanfill
"Second Chance" by Rend Collective Experiment
and "It Is Well" by Shane and Shane

On March 9th, we sang:
"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman
"Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
"Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
"My Hope" by Paul Baloche (feat. Kathryn Scott)
and "Great is Thy Faithfulness"

On March 16th, we sang:
"You Are My Vision" by Rend Collective
"Sing and Shout" by Matt Redman
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
and "Build Your Kingdom Here" by Rend Collective  (love this song and their new album!)

On March 23rd, we sang:
"This is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham
"The Lord Our God" by Kristian Stanfill
"Not For a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
and "Made Alive" by Citizens

On March 30th, Adam led and we sang:
"Our God" by Chris Tomlin
"One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
and "In the Light" by DC Talk

On April 6th, we sang:
"Lord I Need You" by Matt Maher
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
"When My Heart is Torn Asunder" by Phil Wickham (love this new album too! We sang this the week after my grandmother died. Declaring "There is hope beyond the suffering/joy beyond the tears/peace in every tragedy and love that conquers fear" was so powerful that day!)
and "We the Redeemed" by Hillsong

And yesterday, on Palm Sunday, April 13th, we sang:
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"Hosanna (Praise is Rising)" by Paul Baloche
and "I Am Not Alone" by Kari Jobe (hands down my favorite new album!!!!)

Next week is Easter! Be sure to invite a friend. We never know who is looking for a church to attend until we ask :).

Monday, February 24, 2014

He Knows.

I remember when JD and I first started dating three years ago- he was a runner. When I met JD, he was running 10 miles on a very regular basis. I was working out 4-5 days a week, but I've got a confession: I've always hated running. I'm pretty sure it runs in my blood. We all hate it. My sister does it now just to stay in shape. But I'd rather do anything than run. Elliptical? Cool. Weights? Cool. Yoga? Cool. Run? Not cool. Not cool at all!
So the first time that JD asked me to join him on a run, I was prepared. Ha. I knew it was coming. I responded with, "I don't want to slow you down! So no thank you!"
That little stinker responded with, "Your legs are a foot longer than mine. Plus, it'd be a great way to talk to each other! And if you don't want to run, we could play ultimate frisbee!"

1. Running is not for talking. It's for getting away from monsters.
2. He stinks.
3. Isn't ultimate just running and throwing something at the same time?!

After seven or eight invitations, I had to let on to my big weakness: I hate to run. Sorry JD.

Do you remember a weakness that you tried to hide from someone you were dating or close friends with? I think we all do it. We don't want to be seen as weak, different or in need of pity.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We all have weaknesses that go much deeper than our physical abilities. We have weaknesses in our character, our walk with God and in our soul. But the good news is that He knows. God already knows and there is no use in trying to cover it up.
But this verse tells us more than the fact that God knows our weaknesses. It tells us that God's power is made perfect in our weakness.

"Christ alone
Weak made strong in the Savior's love
Through the storm
He is Lord
Lord of all."

Yesterday, I was so glad to sing and declare that I know that I have strength in the Savior's love.
I shared last week in Helpless vs. Hopeless that my grandmother is extremely sick. I am a weak mess when it comes to dealing with her and my family. Some days, I feel like I don't have anything to offer her and that I can't do anything.

But I thank God that He makes me strong. I thank God that He uses my weakness. I can delight in weakness because it is only then that I am strong. I can delight that I have nothing to bring and that I must rely on God to help me.
He makes me strong- He helps me. His power flows through my weakness.
So this week, whatever your weakness is, whether it be finances, your marriage, your job, your parenting, your relationships etc., know that the Savior's love makes us strong. It makes us strong enough to stay in budget, to love your spouse well, to focus on our work, to parent with grace and love and to love someone while they hate us in return. It makes us strong enough to walk through the valley of death and fear no evil (Psalm 23).

Christ alone- our cornerstone.

On February 23rd, we sang:
"Here for You" by Chris Tomlin (Jamie lead)
at 10:40 only, we sang "Nothing is Holding Me Back" by Bryan and Katie Torwalt (Adam lead)
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong (Landon lead)
and "Wake Up" by All Sons and Daughters (I lead).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Women's Conference 2014 Set Lists

Christ UMC's Women's Conference 2014 Theme

I was honored to be able to lead worship at the 2014 Women's Conference at Christ UMC. It was my first time to lead at our Women's Conference and I enjoyed it thoroughly! The WC Committee was so sweet and treated me like royalty, which I, 1. Did not deserve and 2. Loved.

A good number of people asked, "What was the name of that song?" so I thought I would list them out for you, along with who sings a version that I like, in case you want to download it on iTunes!

In the first session, we sang:
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" by David Crowder
"10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman (or Rend Collective Experiment-theirs is so beautiful)
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong
"How Great is Our God" by Chris Tomlin
and **"In Christ Alone" by Kristian Stanfill (really, I just know this one and make up my own version!)

In the second session, we sang:
"(This is) My Father's World" by Gungor
"Crown Him (Majesty)" by Chris Tomlin feat. Kari Jobe
and  **"Brokenness Aside" by All Sons and Daughters

In the third and final session, we sang:
"Holy, Holy, Holy" by Gateway Worship (it's a great contemporary arrangement)

"It is Well" by Shane and Shane
"Lord, I Need You" by Chris Tomlin
**"For Your Splendor" by Christy Nockels
and "You Are for Me" by Kari Jobe

I put asterisks (**) beside the ones that I got the most questions about. Hopefully this helps you find some worship music that you'd like to listen to during the week!
It was an honor and a joy to lead worship for WC 2014! Thank you!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Helpless vs. Hopeless

This year, I was asked to lead worship for the 2014 Women's Conference.

As a side note, I told JD that I should turn down the offer because I thought we would be moving that weekend into the new house. He told me that he make sure we weren't moving that day.
It turns out, we had to move on February 15th and that since I was leading at Women's Conference, it was all up to JD. It totally worked out in my favor!

Back to the main point of the story (you know, where I'm not gloating)—
Last week, my mom called to say she had taken my 80 year old grandmother to the hospital. Since Gran is 80 years old, it wasn't a huge deal in my mind—that's just part of being old. (No offense if you're 80 and reading this!) On Wednesday, we found out that Gran had some large masses of cancer in her lungs. By Wednesday afternoon, she was planning on fighting it with chemo, but told the doctor that her short-term memory had been failing, so he needed to check her brain out. After a bone scan and MRI, the doctor was sad to report that my grandmother had cancer on her adrenal gland, her lungs and in many places on her brain.

As you may guess, we were all quite shocked and devastated. My grandmother has been a champ though! She's laughed and made jokes and told stories. She's not being depressed and sad, but instead encouraging and loving each of us. The family has started pouring in to spend time with her before she passes away, which she says is morbid, but awesome. She's still feeling alright and we are certainly enjoying spending time with her, which brings us back to Women's Conference.
I loved leading worship and singing with all of those women in the room. It was awesome! But my favorite nugget of wisdom from the day came from the speaker, Joy Earle. She said,  

"Don't confuse helplessness and hopelessness. You may be helpless, but you are never hopeless with Christ."

Those were the exact words I needed to hear! With cancer, we are helpless. There is nothing we can do to make my grandmother well except pray. There is nothing we will be able to do in the end. We are helpless. But we are not hopeless. 
So I'll keep praying for help. I'll keep praying that Gran will have a good "homecoming" as I've heard it said, but she and I both know that neither of us are ever hopeless.

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him."
Psalm 62:5

"As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more."
Psalm 71:14

"And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Romans 5:5

January 26th:
"The Lord Our God" by Kristian Stanfill
"Sing and Shout" by Matt Redman
"Jesus Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"This is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham
"By Our Love" by Christy Nockels

February 2nd:
"God is Able" by Hillsong United
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
"Great I Am" by New Life Worship
"Buried in the Grave" by All Sons and Daughters
"His Glory Appears" by Hillsong

February 9th:
"Lay Me Down" by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman
"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
"A Mighty Fortress" by Christy Nockels
"Brokenness Aside" by All Sons and Daughters
"Called Me Higher" by All Sons and Daughters

February 16th:
"Our God" by Chris Tomlin 
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
"Overcome" by New Life Worship
"People of God" by Gungor     

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inviting No One.

Since August 4th, there have been quite a few incidents where people have encouraged us to elope.
"It'll save money."
"It will mean more."
"You won't have any 'wedding pressures'."
Boy were they right! I'm halfway through wedding planning and I've got decision fatigue like no other. The florist asked me what kinds of flowers I'd like and I told her, "White." She asked, "What kind of white flowers, honey?" and I said, "The pretty ones." HA! That was pretty much all she got from me until my sister stepped in and took over.

I'll tell you what- there have been quite a few times when I've wanted to just chunk all of the planning out the window and waltz downtown to the courthouse in the white dress I've got stored away at home. I don't have white shoes yet, but you probably couldn't tell if I went barefoot.
Ha. I've heard that this "I'm-not-gonna-finish-planning-this-sucker" happens to nearly everyone, so I'm not worried. But after the third or fourth time I wanted to give up on wedding planning, I started giving it some serious thought.
Seriously- why are we doing this?! It's a bunch of money, time and effort. I'm spending a ton of my time trying to make sure that I don't forget what the day is all about, but that's pretty hard when the caterer wants to know what color plates I want and I'm trying to figure out which one of 10,000 different stamps to put on the invites.

But then I remember.
I'm a part of the body of Christ. JD is a part of the body of Christ.

As I thought about just getting married with my family there, I remembered everyone in NewSong. I remembered how awesome it was to see that person finally text in, "I got the job! Thanks for the prayers!" on one Sunday morning. I remembered how awesome it was when I got to go to her birthday party last year. I've gotten to watch her grow up over a whole year! I remembered how hard fourth grade was when it started last August and how their parents have learned that patience and persistence is helping their children. I remembered the text that said the baby had been born and mom & baby were doing well. I've celebrated and prayed for so many people who are near to me and if they suddenly stopped sharing with me, I would feel robbed.

I remembered that celebrating our major life events together is so rewarding.

One of the greatest joys in this life is sharing our stories and living our lives with other human beings. God designed us to live that way and instructed us as the Body of Christ to live in that way. God encourages us to talk together.
Sometimes, it seems like its not worth all of the work.
But then I remember. 
I remember that if I stop living in fellowship, I would be robbed of seeing God in other people. They would be robbed of seeing Him in me.

I remember that if we don't invite anyone, we wouldn't have anyone to celebrate with.
So this week, invite someone. Let someone in. Share your life with someone else. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

January 12th, we sang:
"Sing and Shout" by Matt Redman
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong
"Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews and
"Oh How I Need You (Find You)" by All Sons and Daughters

January 19th, we sang:
"Reign in Us" by Starfield
"Nothing is Holding Me Back" by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
"O the Blood" by Kari Jobe and
"Steady My Heart" by Kari Jobe

 On January 12th, I encouraged all of you to SING out and bring your sacrifice of worship that morning. I was blown away by you guys that morning and this past Sunday. I love to hear a congregation who is worshiping and I'm fairly certain that God does too.
Keep up the good work troops!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God's Great Dance Floor?

If you have ever ridden in the car with me for very long, you'll pick up on a habit that my fiance JD loves to laugh about. Whenever a song comes on that I think is less than intelligent or that I'm sick of, I'll say, "NUH UH!" and turn the station. He's learned that when "I Can Only Imagine" comes on, he better go ahead and change it. There are quite a few other songs that I don't like or don't agree with that he knows I won't tolerate for very long.
A song came out about a year ago called "God's Great Dance Floor" by Chris Tomlin. I love Chris Tomlin and his music, but this song drove me NUTS! The song was awesome except for the title and the bridge. It's a pretty easy song. The chorus says,

You'll never stop loving us
No matter how far we run
You'll never give up on us
All of heaven shouts
Let the future begin

Cool enough, right?
Then the bridge.
I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor

I've gotta be honest. For months, I was furious that this was a title track and a single on radio. What in the world is "God's great dance floor"? Was he talking about the disco in Heaven, or some magical floor that Baptists aren't allowed on?  I was so frustrated about it because I love Chris Tomlin, but I thought this was the dumbest lyric on planet earth.

On New Year's Eve, I was getting ready in the morning and praying at the same time. I was praying that over 2014, I would follow Jesus more closely and be more in line with Him. As I was praying, I was reminded of Jesus saying, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Usually, I keep going with that verse-- you know, "And no one comes to the Father but through me," but only the first half kept running through my head. I was thinking about the New Year and how Jesus is "the way" to a better year, "the truth" to how I am to live in order to have joy and peace and "the life". The Life stuck with me for a while. I started thinking on how we never are truly alive except with Jesus. We know that the consequences of sin is death, so our hearts and souls aren't really alive except when Jesus is in us.

I feel alive. I come alive. I am alive on God's great dance floor.

Understanding washed through me quickly when that song popped on right in the middle of this thought. Chris wasn't talking about something ridiculous. He was talking about John 14:6. We aren't really alive and moving until we're with God. We aren't alive unless we're abiding with Christ. I suppose that he could have said, "We're not alive unless we're in God's wrestling ring," but being alive and grooving on a dance floor is so much cooler. (Yes- I said grooving is cool. I am cool too.)

So I remembered and was encouraged by this song that with God, abiding in Him, we are alive and much more likely to dance and enjoy life. We find joy and peace and our groove with Him. 
Although it's still not my favorite song in the world, it helped me to determine my "resolutions". 
This year, I decided that it wasn't so much a year to make resolutions as it was a chance to start over again. As I sat watching Carson Daly on NBC as the big ball dropped in NYC, I realized for the first time that we treat the New Year as a time to start over- to wipe the slate clean and give it another go.

I must admit that I'm pretty partial to 2014. After all, it is the year that I'm getting married, which is pretty durn cool! But more than marriage, I have the chance to make this year different. In our new Follow series, we are talking about not trying harder to do what Jesus says, but learning to just follow Him. If I can learn how to follow Jesus effectively, this year will be different.

The more I follow Him, the more impact He has on my life.
The closer I follow Him and find my way through and with Him, the more alive I will be. 
The more alive I am, the more likely I am to dance.

On January 5, 2014, we began worship with the story from 2 Kings 6 and sang:
Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin
Here For You by Matt Redman
Turn Around by Matt Maher (his live album is awesome- especially for the gym!)
and Nothing is Holding Me Back by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

I'll take a quick moment and brag on my band members this week. Many of you may not have noticed, but Tom (the guy who led the last two songs) just jumped in at 9:15 and 10:40 to sing those songs! Adam, our bass player, was leading those songs and went through practice leading them. After practice on Sunday morning, he was on call for work and they had to call him in. While I was standing there trying to figure out what to do a few minutes before the first service, Tom volunteered and said he could do it. I was floored that he wanted to just jump in and sing songs that he hadn't practiced with- and he did AWESOME!
I'm blessed to work with some really, really great musicians who have incredible hearts. So thank you for practicing with us and being there for all of the leg work Adam and thank you to Tom for stepping up!