Three years with Noah!

March 7th, 2019

Noah and Toby were pretty much instant friends, and it’s been beautiful to watch them become brothers.

Three years ago today these two met for the first time, and our family got one of the best blessings we could have. Who could imagine how seamlessly you would fit into our family, and how very much poorer our lives would have been if we had never known you? Happy Family Day, Noah!! We can’t imagine our lives without you!

Crazy story from a crazy week

February 18th, 2019

Our homecoming picture – you might be able to tell what decade it was from the hair.

This past week has been crazy. We had our Chinese New Year and Rinnah headed back to school with her roommate only to call us the next night from the ER in terrible pain. After a lot of craziness just to figure out what to do, misdiagnosis, ice storm, transfer to another hospital in our state which necessitated Nathan traveling to IN to get her, and then major miscommunication and mistakes at our hospital here, it was 2.5 days before she had surgery. Almost as soon as she was discharged, I had to leave for Chicago with Rachel for a string quartet competition and college visit. It’s been cray-cray. Fortunately, Rinnah is okay, and recovering well. Hopefully she’ll be able to catch up all the work she has missed, but we’re just so relieved she’s okay.

With all that, though, one hilarious story did happen, and I’m copying it here from Facebook:

Okay, didn’t think I was going to share this, but then I thought, whatever, we both had epic hair, own it! So, here’s the weird, pretty hilarious coincidence that happened in the middle of this terrible time with Rinnah’s emergency surgery.

Put yourself in my shoes. We’ve just spent a day and a half trying to get our daughter diagnosed and switched to another hospital in another state while also covering several things that were really important to our other 5 kids – it was terrible timing. Rin and I had both been up most of the night with pain and procedures, etc, and I had JUST fallen asleep hard for about an hour.

So, I’m literally passed out face-down on the worst hospital cot ever when I realize that there’s a doctor in the room talking to Rin. I wake up, sure I have pillow creases across my entire face, and he turns around to introduce himself to me as the surgeon. I reach for my 10 year old glasses since the other ones coveniently disappeared as I was racing out the door to the hospital, and my blind self realizes as he turns around that the surgeon is…

The guy who took me to homecoming a hundred years ago. Hahaha! What a strange moment! And exactly how you’re hoping to run into an old high school friend!

So, maybe I’ll continue the trend and rock the old pjs, unshowered, no makeup, ancient glasses look for my next class reunion! Or maybe not. 😂

But at least I instantly remembered that he was kind and brilliant and wanted to do good in the world. Which he is apparently doing! So thanks, Dr, for being so good to my baby! Ironically, I found this picture so quickly because my mom got bored when she came to help me after Rinnah’s birth and put all my highschool pictures in order.

PS. He still has good hair.

Xīn nián kuài lè! Happy Chinese New Year!

February 10th, 2019

Somehow we got everyone at the table! 19 people, woot!

Everyone pitched in – here we are making dumplings on the left (for Noah’s northern region) and rolling spring rolls on the right (for Ethan and Anna from the south).

Braised tofu, voted (shockingly!) favorite dish, spring rolls, and dumplings done pot-sticker style.

Whole fish symbolizes prosperity and abundance and is both very traditional and Ethan’s most, most, most favorite thing. This American mom was challenged, but this year we got it right, and it was definitely delicious (even if they are looking at you).

Happy Chinese New Year! One of the things we’ve found to be so important with our “littles” is to try to support them in continuing to celebrate and know their home culture. Our adopted kiddos came to us older, and they have lots of memories and many years of living in China. We don’t want them to lose such an important part of their history, lives, and identity, so we’ve been learning SO much about Chinese cooking, holidays, and culture, and we had our second annual Chinese New Year dinner together last night.

One thing that really hadn’t occurred to me before is that our kids had not really celebrated this in China. CNY is a family holiday, and our kids did not have family. So, they had seen it and been around it, but had never been a part of it. As Ethan said, “Now it’s our turn, mom!” So happy to celebrate with them!

Two of my brothers and their families were able to come, along with my mom, Rachel’s best friend, and Rinnah’s roommate from college came home with her for it too. We cooked forever, and then had a fabulous time!

Sweet story about Anna

January 25th, 2019

Anna drew this picture of us for me.

Just didn’t want to lose this sweet story I posted on FB:

Here’s your “sweetest thing!” post for the day.

Anna is still afraid to go to bed alone, so I’ve always sat with her until she falls asleep. She gets very chatty at this time which I enjoy, but a couple nights ago it was just going on forever. I finally told her she had to stop talking and go to sleep.

A: Okay, mama. (Silence for 10 seconds.) This is so hard!
J: I know, but you have to sleep, hon.
A: Okay, mama. (Silence for 5 seconds.) But I really like to talk!
J: I know sweetie, and I love talking to you, but you will be so tired at school. You really need to sleep now.
A: Okay, mama. (Pause.) But there is a lot to say!
J: Okay, hon, let’s do this. Think about all the things you want to tell me and pick the most important one that you really, really want me to know about and tell me that one. Then you can tell me the rest tomorrow. Deal?
A: Deal. Okay, I’m thinking. (Humming, thinking.) I got it! I love you, mama. So, so much. Okay, good night!

Cue my heart melting. I love that girl.

Joining the Aspire Tour!

January 8th, 2019

The promo for one of the upcoming events with Aspire

Just a quick announcement – I’m thrilled to be joining the Aspire Tour for 2019! So far, I’m booked in several cities this spring in FL, NC, SC, WA, and OR, and will do some more dates with them in the fall. Excited to see where God takes this, and doubly blessed to be getting to do some of these with my friend, Melissa Spoelstra! I’m also really looking forward to connecting with other women in ministry – so excited to get started!

Christmas events in NY

December 12th, 2018

Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle

With the Women’s Ministry Director and my old youth group “kid” Jaime at Church on the Sound – what a blessing!

Trying to fit 700 women at a sit-down meal simultaneously at Smithtown Gospel.

With my wonderful friend, Linda – what a joy to spend time with her again!

One of the Saturday venues, Grace Church.

This past week I had a number of Christmas events in New York. It started with one large church I’ve been to before booking me for their annual women’s Christmas event. Then the women’s director, Diane, called me one day and said, “we can afford to fly people in, but there are a lot of other churches here who can’t. Would you be willing to do other events for smaller churches while you’re here?” Of course I said I’d be happy to, and the next thing I knew I had four churches in three days! I was so impressed with Diane’s desire to help other churches in this way! It’s not the norm, and it should be because it makes so much sense – I just loved that she wanted to use her church’s resources to also bless others!

One odd thing that has never happened to me before happened here. I had shipped several cases of books and CDs ahead to the church since I can’t carry that much with me on the plane. Well, when I went to get the boxes, they looked like they’d been through a war! Two cases were ripped all over, one was literally missing the outer box and somehow the inner boxes all showed up, but separately (have no idea how that worked!!) and the fourth one just never showed up. I called USPS and they said it was “missing” then “undeliverable” and then, I kid you not, the message said, “DESTROYED.” What, did they drop a bomb on it? And, if you know it was destroyed, you must also know where it is?!?! What the what?! Anyway, super frustrating as it was a huge amount of product to lose and it’s a double whammy since it was all my Christmas CDs I was hoping to sell. Sigh. Live and learn, I guess – always going FedEx from now on.

So, Thursday night I was at Church on the Sound (as in, Long Island Sound for those of you not from Long Island) for their women’s Christmas tea. It was a great night with a really fun team, but personally for me the best part was that this church was literally minutes from where we lived when we were living on Long Island. It’s 3 minutes from where Nathan did his doctorate, and we drove past it pretty continuously, so it was a fun walk down memory lane. And, when I got there, one of the girls from my high school ministry from way back was there, and it was so good to see her! Then I looked toward the back and her mom was there too! So fun to connect with them – she has a special place in my heart.

Friday night was the bigger event I had come out for in the first place at Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle, and it was packed! I think there were over 700 women in the room at tables, and they had used every inch of their space. Sadly, Diane had surgery just before this event, so she wasn’t able to be there after all, but we talked by phone, and her daughter did an amazing job covering for her! I also had the joy of another close friend from my Island days coming to this event with her daughter, so again, just such a lovely blessing!

Saturday was very busy as I had two events back to back. I did a Christmas brunch at Grace Church and then headed straight to New Village Church for their Christmas tea. I was especially touched at these two churches with the number of kids we got sponsored for Compassion. It never fails to bless me when I see people really reaching or sacrificing to do something for kids in need, and I saw that over and over at these churches – what a blessing! I would have come just for that! But again, beautiful teams at both of these churches, and even though I was very tired, I was just overwhelmed with the blessings of the family of God!

The next day I spent services at Smithtown Gospel again, and then traveled home. Long Island is a pretty tough place to do ministry, and I have to say, I was really impressed with these churches. I will be thinking of and praying for them all, and so glad I got the chance to be with them!

Events for Fall 2018

November 26th, 2018

Ethan and Anna fishing off the dock at our hosts house in Kingsville – like visiting old friends!

Concert at New Albany Presbyterian

One of the services at Union Chapel

Titusville Ladies’ Conference

Baskets of Blessing at Anastasia Baptist

Another historical post to cover where I’ve been this fall. 🙂

In August we had the wonderful privilege of being back with our friends from First Baptist in Kingsville, OH. This is a smaller church, but they are very dear to us! They are one of the first churches to ever have me in many years ago, and have become friends as we’ve gone back many times. This trip, we took the whole family and stayed at a “magic house” as the kids called it – Dr. Dan and his wife Stevie have the most amazing place with ziplines, goats, secret doors, haywagons, ponds, you name it. The kids could hardly believe it, and they are just wonderful people and wonderful hosts, so it was ministry and a family trip all in one!

The following week I did a concert at New Albany Presbyterian. This was also a sweet night for me as the music director there is my old high school choir teacher who really had quite a profound impact on the direction of my life. Not only was he an excellent musician which just got me excited about making music, but he was the one who talked me into auditioning for voice in addition to piano, and the rest, as they say, is history. 🙂 It was so fun to be with them!

In September I did a women’s retreat for Karl Rd. Baptist Church. I completely re-wrote my women’s conference, “U-Turn: Trusting God When Life Changes Direction” for this one, and boy, did we have many U-Turns on the way to that retreat! It was clear why God had new and different things to say to both those ladies and to me, and I was just marveling at God and all He was teaching us that weekend!

In October I had several big weekends in a row. First, I did a retreat for the East Central District of the Missionary Church denomination on the topic “Nothing to Fear.” I’ve been with them before, and they are just lovely to work with! This was, I thought, a very timely topic, both for them and for me – I always learn so much when I’m writing my retreats. Then the next day I stayed and led worship and gave the message on all the services for the host church, Union Chapel. They were outstanding hosts – just served with such a humble heart for Christ during the retreat, and then were just amazing to me. Such a great weekend.

The next weekend I did the Titusville Ladies Conference in Pennsylvania. This conference has been going on for many, many years, and was held in the most beautiful historic church. I did a concert and testimony on Friday night and then spoke on the life of Peter on Saturday. This was another lovely team with an especially fun worship team – just loved getting to worship with those ladies!

Then the following weekend I did another retreat in Ohio for Christian Fellowship Church on Esther. This was a three day format, so we had a fabulous luxury of time, both to meditate on what God was saying and to rest. What a lovely bunch of women too!

Then in the first weekend of November I headed down to Florida to do a women’s event and the services for Anastasia Baptist Church. On Saturday they had a big women’s luncheon called “Baskets of Blessing” where everyone brought things to fill baskets they took to women in nursing homes, which I thought was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Then Sunday I sang on all three services. I so appreciate the different teams and the way the services were focused on the Gospel! And on my way home, I got to visit with my cousin who lives in Orlando and designs super-secret fun stuff for Disney, so that was a real treat – I don’t get to see him nearly enough any more!

Taking off in a week or so to do several Christmas/Advent events in NY, and then I’m done until next year. We have a pretty big announcement about the spring, so I’m excited for things to get finalized so I can share!!

National Adoption Day

November 9th, 2018

Our family

Today is National Adoption Day in National Adoption Month. Our lives have been forever changed by adoption, so completely that’s it’s almost impossible to think of what to say on this day. Noah joined our family 2.5 years ago, and Ethan and Anna came home only 15 months ago. This past year has been one of the hardest of my life for many reasons, but on this day, I want to honor my adopted kids by telling you just a few of the blessings and miracles we’ve seen:

Noah, immediately after open heart surgery, with pink lips, toes, and fingers for the first time. Miraculous.

Noah, after recovering, running and playing and laughing, joining the cross country team.

Noah, telling me he wanted to go to OSU. “Why, because you want to be a Buckeye?” I asked. “No,” he answered, “so I can stay close to home, mom.”

Ethan’s stunned and touched reaction to the first time his birthday was ever celebrated in his nine years.

Ethan’s sweet heart and amazing patience as he helped his new sister try to figure out how to ask her questions in English.

Ethan, when he finally felt safe after a year home, calling me “mommy” for the first time and climbing into my lap, telling me I needed to kiss “his whole face.”

Anna, who had never been able to make the sound “f” or “s” before because of her cleft palate, saying the word “face” correctly after her surgery and looking absolutely shocked and amazed.

Anna, singing at the top of her lungs in the shower, “I love my family! I love my family! I love my dad! I love my mom! I love my Toby! I love my Rachel…” and on through all of us.

Anna, when we were talking about the day we met and I asked her if she was scared and she answered, “Of course.” And I said, “Yes, it’s scary when you don’t know us and don’t know if we’ll be nice.” And she said, “oh no, mom, I knew right away I would love you. You and dad kept smiling and you helped me and you were so kind. I was scared I would never learn to talk to you!”

These are just a few moments that still take my breath away when I remember them, and bring tears to my eyes. And when I think of the patience, the persistence, the kindness and openness of my biological kids Rinnah, Rachel, and Toby to widening our family, to bringing others in and making this the new “us,” I am literally so proud I don’t even know how to express it. I have been blessed and blessed and blessed.

Adoption is hard. In a perfect world, there would be no adoption because it wouldn’t be necessary. But this world is broken, and there are kids who have had their lives turned upside down by that. They need families.

So, on this National Adoption Day, I want to say, this isn’t about me. While it’s been one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done, this is not about my experience at all – it’s about three kids who have learned what a family is, that they have one forever, and are living into that new reality. It’s about having a front-row seat to redemption, both theirs and mine. It’s about God making all things new.

Let’s pray that all children everywhere who need a family get to know that reality too.

Ministry Round Up

July 3rd, 2018

This is more of a historical post for me so I don’t forget where I’ve been. 🙂 We have been so busy with the new kiddos coming home and the release of the new album that I have had to take a hiatus from my blog for a while. I’m trying to get caught up so I can get back at it, and didn’t want to miss 6+ months of events! Here are the ones I didn’t write about while I was on taking a break:

Just before we left to adopt Ethan and Anna, on July 27th, I sang and spoke on the morning services at Bethel Presbyterian. This was to update them on Noah (this church was incredibly supportive of our adoption of Noah, hosting a benefit concert and just being incredibly faithful and lovely to us in prayer and support), and also to tell them about Ethan and Anna and have a time of prayer for that. I just love them – what a faithful, wonderful group of people! I also introduced my new song “Nothing to Fear” doing an acoustic version, and telling them that we were working on the new album.

July 27th, bright and early, we left for China, meeting Ethan and Anna on July 31st and adopting them on Aug 1st. It took a couple weeks to finish all the paperwork, and we returned home on August 12th. If you’d like to read about our adoption trip, you’ll find the first post here.

The next two months were a blur of adjustment, starting school, learning English, and medical appointments.

On Oct 18-21 I went to Nashville to record all the vocals for the new album and do the photoshoot for the packaging.

On Nov 17-19 I went back to Nashville to shoot the majority of the footage for four music videos, a pretty insane weekend and shoot schedule!

On Dec 1st I had my first event back after the adoptions. I spoke and sang for the Christmas banquet for Dublin Baptist Church, and then left immediately after that to drive up to Marion Ohio where I did the Christmas brunch for Cornerstone Alliance Church the following morning, speaking on the topic “Worth the Wait.” I’ve been with Cornerstone before and just love working with their women’s ministry! And it was great to get to know the people at Dublin Baptist too. 🙂

The following weekend I drove to the middle of Pennsylvania to do Christmas events at Roxbury Camp. Their event has grown so much in the past years that they can’t fit everyone, so they do two identical, back-to-back events. I got to stay at the camp, and just can’t tell you how much I appreciated the camp staff! They were just the kindest, most lovely people! And the program director was a missionary kid in the Philippines growing up and decided he wanted to throw a staff party on the night between the events just to bless the staff and us. He made all Filipino food and taught me how to make lumpia, basically a Filipino spring roll, and they were great! We made so many, he sent some home with me, and the kids just cleaned those up!

On Dec. 17th, I went back to the church I served as music director for over twelve years. It was their 40th anniversary year, and they invited people back to do a retrospective. It was so lovely to catch up with everyone, and I sat in with the worship band and spoke and sang some too.

On Feb 25th I spoke and sang at the worship services for Grace Polaris Church in Columbus. This is the church that did my assistant, Donna’s, funeral, so they have a special place in my heart! And I did the services to help promote the women’s conference I gave there on March 2-3rd. I did a concert/testimony time on Friday night, and then Saturday did a one-day conference on Esther. Sadly, the women’s ministry director (who is lovely!) lost her mom that very week and was unable to be there, and I just appreciated how her team pulled together and did a wonderful job even without her there.

March 4th I was the guest worship leader at Karl Rd. Baptist and also did a few songs from the new album. I always love being here – this church is absolutely outstanding in serving their local community and I love the diversity here too which totally reflects their neighborhood. It’s a picture of heaven to me!

On March 11th I sang at all the morning services for St. Luke’s in Gahanna, OH. This is also a special church with a great heart for outreach! I just love being with them, and did a full concert for the new album later that month on March 21th.

On March 16th and 17th I did the regional women’s retreats for the Nazarene denomination at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. This was a beautiful facility and a great team, so we decided to bring in my video guy, Jeff, and film it too. I spoke on the life of Peter, one of my favorite topics!

The next day, since we knew we had Jeff in town, we did another cray-cray day of filming, getting additional footage for two of the music videos that needed it. We hit about 5 locations and still got Jeff to his plane with minutes to spare. That was nuts, but I’m so glad we got it done!

March 24th I did a one day women’s retreat on Esther at Fulton Creek Friends Church. I was with them last year too, and just love their heart for special needs families. And as an amazingly sweet surprise, they had two girls scheduled to do a dance to my song “Your Child” that they had planned even before they knew I was their speaker!

April 13th and 20th I did benefit events for Remember Nhu in Indianapolis and Cleveland. Remember Nhu is the organization we went to Thailand with several years ago, and I wrote the song “To Be Love” for them. They fight child trafficking, and just do great work. I am so excited to see how fast they are growing and how God is blessing their very needed ministry, even as I am so sad that their ministry is necessary. It’s a privilege to help their mission.

April 21st I sang for a “last roll call” service for the Veterans Association here in Columbus. It was a memorial service for the more than 600 service men and women lost in the last quarter. That was a hard event to do, but again, just a privilege to be asked.

After school got out, we headed to Florida, all eight of us in a mini-van! And we had a vacation mixed with a few events. 🙂 May 28th I was on Moody Radio Florida for a couple of hours in the morning, and on June 3rd I did the morning services at Pillar Community Church in Vero Beach. On June 8th I went to the international headquarters of Campus Crusade which are in Orlando and taped segments for several of their radio programs which will broadcast over the next several months. And then on the way home, I did the morning services at First Presbyterian Church in Hickory, North Carolina. All in all, it was a long and fun trip with some great ministry mixed in. 🙂

Then on June 17th I was at Living Waters Lutheran Church in NJ. This is my aunt and uncle’s church and we were visiting after my daughter Rachel played at Carnegie Hall with her youth orchestra. They really touched my heart with their support for our Compassion kiddos at that church!

Now I have a bit of a break until later in the summer. Anna had to have some pretty major surgery, and I didn’t want to schedule things without knowing how it would go.

The Making of the New Album

December 14th, 2017

Final cover image for the new album

Me with Jeff Kubach and the Trevecca guys, Collin, Tyler, and Elijah during the video shoot. These are all pictures from the videos, but really, watching people write a song is not super photogenic!

Setting up for A Greater Love

Sometimes four cameras pointed at you at once is intimidating, especially when there’s one just for your hands. Don’t miss any notes!!

A rooftop shot for How Far Love Goes

Shooting Forever Family

Piano scenes for Porch Swing

And, what else? Porch swing scenes for Porch Swing.

Given all that is going on around here, I know you will believe me when I say the fact that we have completed a new album is a miracle of God! Here’s the rundown of the making of the new album:

Earlier this year after much prayer, Nathan and I decided to commit to another album. This is a very expensive and time-consuming process, but it had become clear that I needed new songs given the shift in my speaking topics in the last several years. Basically, we had to decide if it was time to hang it up completely, or do another album. I do not feel any sense at all that God is done with our ministry, so an album it had to be. This was pretty daunting in a year when we knew we’d also be completing two adoptions from both a time and money perspective, but we knew if God wanted it to happen, He would make a way.

I had already written several songs, and I also started gathering song ideas and praying over what we needed in this new “toolkit” for ministry. I made an album plan and a writing plan for the songs that weren’t written yet.

In June, I went down to Nashville to write a few songs with my producer, Paul Marino. We’ve written many of my favorite songs together, and it was another challenging and fun artistic endeavor. I love the creative process, and to say, “I need a song about adoption, let’s make that” and then sit down and create something out of nothing is pretty darn fun. By the end of that trip, I had the album plan, the songs all written, arrangements done, and everything in place for them to start the recording sessions without me. In the past I’ve been super hands on, and have even co-produced or produced some of my past projects, but I’ve worked with Paul so much that I knew what I would be getting. He’s absolutely amazing, and I totally trust him, and we were leaving for China so I gave him the go-ahead to do the band and string sessions without me.

We got the initial rough mixes from the band literally as we were leaving for China. Nathan was trying to download them on my phone in the airport for me so I could listen on the long flight. I knew if I wasn’t able to get them listened to and give feedback the minute we got to China, there was no way it was happening because once we got the kids it would be non-stop for the foreseeable future. I listened and took notes most of the way to China, and fortunately we had a decent internet connection in Hong Kong to send feedback. Paul as usual exceeded my expectations, and I was really happy overall with the direction this went.

We had initially planned that I would head down to Nashville again at the end of September to do the vocals, but that didn’t end up happening. I got sick and also, it was just too early to leave the new kiddos. They were doing really well, but when you’ve lost everything and you’re in a new country and literally your whole world has changed, having your new parent leave even for a few days can be really frightening. We decided to wait until October to give them a few more weeks, and have the string sessions done first.

While we waited, I put together all the text for the CD insert and proofed it 800 times and sent it to Royce, the graphic designer and photographer working on the project. That way he could do an initial layout just to get ideas for spacing, etc. I also researched and picked a new manufacturer because the one I’ve used for years closed shop and Royce needed their specific templates. And I worked on getting the mechanical and digital licenses for the couple of songs that needed them. AND, I did something I truly hate – I shopped for clothing for the photo shoot. I’m a jeans and t-shirt gal and I hate, hate (did I mention I hate it?!) to shop for clothing. It is way too much pressure to figure out how to look cute etc, etc. I brought my mom just to make me get it done.

I got the string session rough mixes just before I went to Nashville, and holy cannoli, this is why you work in Nashville. Phillip Keveren who is an amazing arranger, orchestrator, and pianist did the string arrangements, and they are incredible. Again. He did the arrangements on my last two albums as well. The man is a genius. And also incredibly nice – that’s a rare combo. And the string players are all from the Nashville symphony and knocked it out of the park. The cello solo at the beginning of “In Christ Alone?” Mic drop. I don’t even need to sing the song now. Close your eyes and you’re in Ireland.

I drove into Nashville, about six hours from my house, and went immediately to the photographer’s studio. My publicist, Gina Adams, who is not just a great publicist, but also a friend after all these years met me there and we proceeded with another of my least favorite parts of these things – the photo shoot. This business is not kind to women, and I can be really hard on myself. Nothing fun about it, but she kept making me laugh which helped and the photographer, Royce was super nice and easy to work with. And he got some great shots which I am very relieved to have done. He got me proofs and some ideas for the cover layouts over the next couple of weeks.

The next three days I spent with Paul and also with Jeremy Johnson. Jeremy is Paul’s writing partner and they produce tons of things for Lifeway and are great friends. Paul is a good friend, and I’ve known Jeremy for years and we’ve written a bit together too. He engineered the vocal sessions at his studio and did a bunch of the programming and the keys and mixing and all kinds of fun stuff. It was so fun to see him again and catch up with his family and see how his kids are growing. It’s a really lovely thing when you can work with people who are just amazing at what they do, and are also stellar people. Doing vocals can be kind of mentally grueling since you have to be on your game for literally every second of the sessions, but it is also really fun. I love communicating through sound, always have, and it’s super fun to collaborate with these guys.

A couple weeks after that trip, I got the initial mixes and was giving feedback and changes. Jeremy did an outstanding job with the mix. Then, after going back and forth and listening in several difference places (things sound different in your car than they do in your stereo, than they do in your headphones, etc.), I gave final approval and it headed over to Kent Hooper for mastering. Then another round of listening and feedback and changes and final approvals. All this time as well, we were doing the same thing with the graphic design for the artwork on the CD and case. At the beginning of November it all went to manufacturing, and we got them just before Thanksgiving.

But wait, there’s more! Even though we have the album, the official release won’t be until February of 2018 because you need lead time for the PR campaign and we also realized we needed videos to support the release.

So, I headed down to Nashville for one last long weekend. I flew Jeff Kubach in from Philadelphia. He’s been my director on several music videos and is outstanding. Gina, my publicist, about killed herself getting together shoot locations that seemed to change their available times every time we turned around, so the shoot schedule changed almost daily at the end. It was very nerve wracking.

So, to be clear, in the past we’ve taken anywhere from 3-5 days to shoot a single music video. They are like mini-movies. There was no way that could really happen this time. First of all, there simply wasn’t time, either before the release or in my life – even getting away this extra weekend was killer. And secondly, to be blunt, there’s no money for that approach this time. Our adoptions have drained all our resources and we’re stepping out on a limb with this album as is. So we did something I would have said was impossible – we scaled back and simplified tremendously and shot everything we needed for four music videos and an interview in a single long weekend. They won’t have the story lines of our other videos, but they will work, and we needed to be practical this time.

It was like trying to coordinate a major military campaign. We used film students from Trevecca University to help carry stuff and set up lights and have multiple cameras running for each take which shortened our time considerably. We planned all the outside shots on Saturday only to find out there were thunderstorms all day and we even had a tornado at one point. I only ended up shooting one scene in the rain, and that was hilarious watching everyone running with umbrellas trying to protect the cameras and lights and get the shot before I looked too wet and we had to give up. We lost our guitarist and had to find another on the fly. I had to literally write notes to myself about which clothes and jewelry I was wearing in each video so I wouldn’t mess it up since we switched back and forth between videos every time we switched locations. I did my hair 13 times. That’s only interesting if you know me, I guess, but let’s just say I’m not a hair-doing girl either. It was nuts. But somehow, by the grace of God, we got it done. Now, I’m still in the middle of watching the initial editing for those as they are put together.

So, even though this album isn’t officially released until next year, if you’re reading this, you are connected with us and we are selling the album in our store already – it’s not available anywhere else until that release date. So I hope you will pick up your copy and one for your best friends, and help support our ministry! And hopefully it’s interesting to know what goes into putting an album together too. 🙂

Finally, we named the album “Nothing to Fear” from the lyric, “For You are for me and there is nothing to fear.”

Songs are:

1. Nothing to Fear
2. A Greater Love
3. How Far Love Goes
4. Forever Family
5. Porch Swing
6. Patient with Me (Hello Again)
7. It Is Well with My Soul
8. Living Abundantly
9. Love in Action
10. In Christ Alone