Tour! …cancelled

We’ve been planning for months for Jonathan and the band to go on Florida Tour in the fall. How cool is that?!? Last year, we thought there was nothing more to the project and we were gonna close up shop but after some prayer, the LoRd really brought it back to life again.

In February, two of the most amazing musicians came on the scene.  They both love the LoRd and basically finish each other’s sentences musically. The first time they had practiced through Jonathan’s Run to You album, they nailed it perfectly. THese guys come prepared.

So months of planning began. I was in the middle of studying to take the State Boards for Nursing, juggling a babe, and contacting churches and venues for the band to play. I couldn’t quite figure out how to be a “mom’ to 6 grown boys and LoRd, puh-leese help me learn how to cook before August! ok, I”ll cross that bridge when we get there. We set budgets, had fundraiser events and a worship night which was very well received. Moving forward!

Jonathan and I hit a turning point in planning for the Tour in the summer.  We gotta lay this thing on the altar and sacrifice it to the LoRd. We want this so badly, so does the band. This would be so disappointing to them, to us, and to everybody else that’s been supporting us this entire time. But it was confirmed. CHristian musician Evan Wickham said that if you are not playing your music in your own church, you have no business taking them elsewhere. Ouch. He’s right.

We haven’t been able to play these songs regularly in our worship sets at church despite people asking. We have volunteer musicians and people in our congregations and choir inquiring about these songs all the time. The band has even got the blessing and support from the leadership of the church to go on tour. But it’s true, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense if other churches were playing these songs and not our own.  Jonathan once described it like boats. When you have a smaller church, it’s like a canoe, you can put the paddle in the water and maneuver in a different direction rather quickly. With a megachurch, it can be like turning the Titanic.

So for now, the Florida Tour has been extremely scaled back. Its super-disappointing and yet  we know that if God isn’t for it, it would just be a waste of time and energy. We once again wait. And pray. Believing that God can make a breakthrough in our own congregational worship and do a new thing. It’s not about “Jonathan’s songs”, it’s about what He wants to do. We will submit to those plans, even if these songs aren’t necessarily a part of it. We are just called to serve.

I’m so thankful for the reports from the congregation and all across the country from those who have heard these songs and been encouraged in their own personal lives. Our prayer is that God would continue build up His Church through them. His will be done. What an awesome thing it is to be used by God and submitted to His plan.  We want to lay our lives down before the LoRd, and whatever He wants to do with it, it’s up to Him.

“Unless the LoRd builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it.” Psalm 127:1

On a high!

We are on a 2 week high. Seriously.  My amazing husband and I just finished up this weekend on our old stomping grounds in Viera.. Let me  just bring you up to speed:

My husband Jonathan spoke last weekend at our church. It was incredible. He taught about Jonah, the prophet that ran from the call of God and how the story is more than just a man and a whale. I was blown away by how much is beneath the surface of this story! I encourage you to check it out.

This past Friday, an episode of RealTalk the Pod released, fresh out the oven. In Episode 42, our friends and podcasters Ethan Sansoni and Bryan Saylor interviewed  Jonathan about the Run to You CD he recorded last year, the death of his mom and the birth of our son, Joram. This episode made me laugh and cry.  I continue to refer people to this episode because of its rich and humorous content.

Finishing up with weekend, Jonathan and the band were invited by  Pastor Dean of the CCM Viera Campus to lead worship and perform at their Saturday Summer Night. Side note: Jonathan and I used to be a part of the Viera campus before we got moved to Melbourne. Although it’s been about  4 years since we served at that campus, the people there are so welcoming and treat us like family. We were overwhelmed by the response of the people. I would’ve thought they had forgotten us by now. But these guys make us feel special every time we’re around.

There is something about a ministry that takes on the personality of its leader. Pastor Dean Corns is one of my faves. He’s family oriented, people-focused, a gifted preacher and a visionary. He’s also an incredible time manager.  After the worship set that weekend, as Jonathan and I were backstage,  he made the announcement to the congregation that because Jonathan is an extension of the Viera family, they should treat him as such.  “It is a special thing for something like this to be birthed from our own church. Buy his album and merch to show your support for what God is doing.” We were floored.

As the service closed, the congregation flooded out of  the sanctuary and like a stampede, headed right for our table. We are gonna need backup! I couldn’t have done it without the support of our great friends Ethan, Bryan and the super-supportive sisters Sarai and Damaris- all sporting our freshly-pressed tees  and tanks, working the table like true champions. The grandparents baby juggling while the band performed some of the songs off the album at the Summer Night.

As we wrapped up after the Sunday services, we reflected over lunch the highs and lows in ministry.  Obviously, the LoRd has blown our socks off the last 2 weeks and yet we know that we gotta keep focused, willing to stay the course, regardless of the highs and lows.  Yes, there are some major burdens to bear in ministry and absolutely some incredible  highs.  But we are not called to complain, or even grip too tightly to the victories or sorrows. We’re called to serve. We cannot live on the highs of yesterday. We must be ready in and out of season and be open for whatever He has for us TODAY.  And that, my friends,  makes us free. Wow, I was so blessed and overwhelmed by this weekend. And tomorrow is a new day!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Keep truckin’ forward!

Amy

Life transformation through blogging.

Well, I can’t necessarily say that blogging changed my life. But what I received through months of telling a story did. One one hand, I wish this circumstance had never occurred but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be where I am without it.

Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Hmmm. The thing that stuck out to me the most in that statement was the phrase,”just as you were taught”. Where would I be without the people in my life that poured into me?

I had been walking with the LoRd for a few years yet still doing my own thing, thinking my own way, whatever. But one day it all started changing. I learned that I could really put to action the things I learned. No more just “head knowledge” but “heart knowledge”. Sometimes you just need someone to show you the way before you have the confidence to take that first step. Yes, it is possible.

I loved my mother-in-law Arlene. She made being married to her son so much easier than I thought. Everyone anticipates who their ‘in laws’ will be, and I had heard all the horror stories.But by GOd’s grace alone, He placed me with th sweetest family that loved the LoRd. And they didn’t just go to church.  They actually DID what He said.. It was kinda freaky at first. Took a minute for me to get used to.

Everything was great. Married life was great. I loved hanging out with my in-laws on a Friday night or spending the night on their living room floor on CHristmas Eve watching It’s a Wonderful Life.

One day it all changed. Arlene got cancer. Stage 4. The news slapped us all in the face so hard it took awhile to figure out what day it was. Arlene was a healthy, happy, active and involved woman. SHe loved grandbabies. She loved people. SHe loved watching the LoRd restore people because He had done such great things in her life. How could this be? Why her?

Since she we attended a mega-church and she was everybody’s best friend, we had to do some crowd control. So I started a blog to keep people updated with her story. Over the course of 10 months, I had over 19,000 visits to that site. I never thought I was a writer but God was doing such a work in my life without me realizing it at the time. I had to write. About her faith, her journey, the struggle, all the ups and downs with chemo. When she started to lose her hair and her first trip to Panera to order mac’n’cheese after major surgery. The victories and the discouragement. Everything.

I didn’t realize what was happening through that period. My sweet mother-in-law was playing a major role in my life. She was mentoring me. Between episodes of Judge Judy and trips to the chemo-lab, she would tell me stories. Stories of her life, how she had been broken, hurt, some of her life struggles as a young pastor’s wife and how practically God came through. How she learned to trust Him.

As I continued on writing this blog, my life started changing. I always ended the blogpost with a Bible verse. My faith was being built in the process. Hearing her stories of how she had been hurt deeply as a pastor’s wife, or how people in her life had failed her and all she could say was, “yet God..”

“Yet God.” It changes everything. It’s not the end of the story. For any of us. We’ve started out with the wrong foot in life. Yet God… And though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted or what we prayed, I feel like I was beginning a new life in the middle of the sorrow. I always thought I’d walk with a limp, even as a CHristian. But Arlene would challenge that thinking.”It is for freedom that Christ has set me free,” Galations 5:1 says so why be bound in unforgiveness? She was a true example of someone who had been dealt the wrong cards in life and yet finished her race strong.

The loss of her was devastating. But she taught me to trust God even in the difficulties. I am who I am today because of the impact she made on my life.  I invite you to read a few of the journal posts of her story. I will treasure it  for the rest of my life.

WHAT?!?!?! Bahahhah!

I just discovered my old blog from my trip to Mexico. HOLY  MOLY!  I totally forgot I even had one!  I stumbled across it on a google search and as I read some of the posts, I had to laugh out loud at some of the stories when I was living out of a hammock.  Wow. Feel free to check out the me from 2008.

Roadie!

This year, one thing on our bucket list was to hit up North Carolina and visit Elevation. Let me paint the picture…

After 2 weeks of band practices and rehearsals, my husband played at one of the biggest events our church has of the year..Praise Night. And what an incredible night it was.  A few different bands, choir, orchestra, video, lighting, production, 3 different campuses all ready for one night to just blast the LoRd and encourage HIs people with praise. Awesome.

Then let’s jump in the car, drive through the night and clock in 11 hours up the road to North Carolina with an 11month old.  Just call me crazy.  My husband is amazing. I don’t know how he did it being as exhausted as he was. We pulled into our destination at 7am.

Someone asked me what possessed us to drive through the night after such an intense night and all the crazy preparations that were needed, I responded: “We wanted to experience the next level of psycho” haha..Check!

After face-planting in bed for a few hours, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of North Carolina, digging into the lives of our good friends, Steve and Crystal and doing nothing. Glorious. I never knew how relaxing it was to watch an overweight man ride his mower to cut the lawn. As he said, “Obesity is the beauty mark of the South”. I believe it. I got to witness how Carolinians weed around their lakes. Just throw some gasoline on it and torch it!

We wanted to see a church we had been following for a couple of months. And what an experience! We were welcomed and ushered around, meeting their staff and volunteers was incredible.  My husband had the chance to meet one of their main worship leaders which was something on the Bucket List. They do things very differently at their church and I admire that. A mega-church, cutting edge with video/production, current music, and get this- no extra ministries. Just the weekend service and a community group during the week. Wow. HOw cool is that?! So when there is an event, everyone is ready to be involved.

I long for that. Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to just lay down by green pastures. I also came away with an incredible gratitude for my own church. How we know the Word, the accountability, the structure.  There’s a lot of weirdness out there in churches. I’ve seen it. I think we all have.

I was struck with how crucial it is to know the Word, how we as Christ followers can never take that for granted. We cannot even substitute good books for the reading of His Word. THere is no comparison. How quickly we can be led astray if we don’t hold on to the direction and guidance, warnings and encouragement given throughout Scripture.  Our leaders must know the Word and teach others how to ‘feed’themselves. It’s so easy to depend on the faith of others. We must hold ourselves accountable to know the Truth and live it out as well.

And can I just say, I’m blown away at how much God truly loves us. And guides us, and knows all the things we have screwed up in our heads about Him. How much we stray from the Truth in areas of our lives and don’t even know it! How gracious He is to love us unconditionally as we are. And yet, continue to bring us into right standing with HIm.

Ok, so all of that in four days.  It wasn’t the most fun-filled, high octane trip I’ve been on, however it was thought provoking. And I am grateful for the different scenery and time to reflect.  As Mark Batterson once said,” Change of place + Change of pace = Change of Perspective.” I 100% agree.

And WHO are you?

I was in a class recently that assessed the different personality types to help better understand one another and the different ways we communicate. Which one am I? and a better question – which one is my husband?

This assessment test, referred to as DISC  was developed by psychologist William Marston and the most updated and more concise testing was by John Geier.  Marston conducted a study that was published in 1928 called, “The Emotions of Normal People” (Haha, normal!) in which he established that people behaviorally respond by emotions based out of these four categories: Dominance (D), Inducement  (I) Submission (S) Compliance (C). He believed that people respond to their environment out of their personality types.

So who are you? Let’s break it down…

D-dominant, driven, power, assertiveness, strong willed, ambitious
– they like freedom, respond best when given choices, excellent decision makers, etc

I – influencing, tend to be emotional, magnetic, warm, enthusiastic
– a people person, inspiring, leading, energized by the public eye

S- Submissive, Steady, relaxed, consistent, predictable, deliberate
-love family, blend-in personality, care deeply for others, quiet/soft spoken

C-Compliant, careful, structured, cautious,  neat, accurate, diplomatic, routine
-love details, research, understanding how things work, loves being prepared.

Yes, you can be a mix of different ones, and can adjust with different crowds.

D/I are the extroverts with S/C being introverted, then you have those that  are your task-oriented minds vs social- means, Assertive vs Passive. Open vs Guarded. Ok, you get the point.

In this class, we talked about the flip side of the coin to the stronger personality traits, ie negative tendencies such as: “talking only about themselves” “impatient” “always late” “impersonal” “insecure.”  I know this could be true however,  once you throw Jesus in the mix of it, everything changes.

Thinking about my personality/habits,  I used to be a very self-focused, destructive, emotionally fragile and insecure girl and I might add, pretty rough around the edges. BUT now, praise the Lord, HE has command over my life. It is only by His grace and leading that I can think of others, be a good and loyal friend, pay attention to the needs of others, be on time, be a giver and actually have security in my life. Not of myself but who He has made me to be. I no longer have the need to have other people “fix” me or fill the void in my life.  He’s taken the brokenness of my life and after years of wandering, I’ve found a resting place… my Savior Jesus.  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”… lemme hear the choir sing!:

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

all other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand.

I cannot even begin to tell you how different my life is now that I’m walking with the Lord. He continues to love me, challenge me, convict me, discipline me. And wow, do I know I have a long way to go. I fail. I gossip. I run late. I get cranky.  But I still can reach ahead for the goal. I want  every part of my life to be in submission to His control. Wow. I never thought I’d say that but when you know you are loved, it’s easier to trust and let go.