Archive for March, 2012

A crazy, wonderful, busy week

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Waiting on the set of Atlanta Live!

With the incomparable Babbie Mason

At WMVV radio

The ridiculous white/chocolate/red velvet/cheese/carrot/ganache/raspberry cake Donna and I shared

At South Venice Baptist Church for the concert

Leading worship at the women's retreat at First Presbyterian St. Pete.

Singing on the service at First Presbyterian St. Pete

With Kate Bruington at Moody Radio Florida

I’m sitting here on the other side of a crazy week, and I am so grateful for so many things. 1) All the work God did. 2) All the work He’s going to do. 3) All the doors He opened for me this past week. 4) A little time off! I have a couple weeks here where I don’t have to go anywhere and plan to hang out with my fam on their spring break. 🙂

I left last Tuesday and flew to Atlanta with Donna. We were staying with her friends down there, and let’s face it, she wanted to go just to see her friends and meet Babbie Mason – I’m not very cool to her anymore. 🙂 We had such a fun moment on the plane. I noticed the woman next to me looked very nervous before take-off, so I started talking with her to distract her, and we found out we were neighbors! Then she mentioned that her husband had passed away the year before and she was nervous about traveling alone and got confused, etc. So Donna and I asked if she’d like us to help her find her connection in Atlanta (it’s a huge and confusing airport) and she was so sweet and thanked us over and over, and called us her angels. I think that’s just the way God connects people, and I’m so glad we met! I’m hoping I’ll see her this summer when she’s back up north.

Donna and I got in around lunch and killed a little time before heading to WATC studios to do their TV show, Atlanta Live! That was a lot of fun because it’s two hours long, so there are several guests and I always like to meet people and see what the Lord is doing in their lives. It was a two hour show, and I had about a half an hour of it.

Then we headed to Donna’s friends’ house (hi Sandy and family!) and in the morning we headed back to WATC to film Babbie’s House. This is Babbie Mason’s show, and it was such an honor to meet her and be with her. She was just down to earth and fabulous. We were laughing because she was fixing the pillows on her set and we were saying, “Yep, this is your house!” She was an amazing woman, and I’m so glad I met her. I also met Kristen Feola who was taping the next show, and we realized we had the same publicist and I had just looked at her page the day before! She was a sweetie.

Then we raced out of there to make it down to WMMV, a radio station south of Atlanta who has been so supportive of my music and ministry. I taped an interview about my new book and some liners for the station and got caught up on their ministry. They are such sweet guys with great hearts for the Lord!

The next morning we got up very early and drove to Toccoa Falls, which is up in the mountains Northeast of Atlanta to do the morning show on WRAF, another radio station who has been really supportive for years. I’ve been there before as well, and it was great to see Mike Shelley again and sit in with him on the show! He posted our interview here if you’d like to listen.

Then it was back to drop Donna off (she stayed in Atlanta a bit longer) and I headed for the airport. That is quite a hoopla there with returning cars, etc. Jeesh. But I made it to Tampa, and went to my Grandma’s house. It’s fun that I sing in the Tampa area so much because I get to see a lot more of my Grandma! She rocks. She’s 93 and still riding her bike. My mom had flown down a few days earlier and was helping me that weekend and my uncle lives there too, so we had a little reunion going on. 🙂

The next morning I went and sound checked at First Presbyterian in St. Pete where I had a women’s retreat the next day and then we drove down to Venice. I did a concert there Friday night, and that was so fun. Before the concert, I met with some women who wanted to talk to me about a women’s retreat the following winter, and so we got to see a little more of Venice as well. I’ve never been there. That night, the concert was at the church of an old friend who had moved to Florida from my home church, so it was also great to catch up with her and meet her kids.

Then mom and I drove back to St. Pete and stayed there so we could get up early for the women’s retreat. I taught Esther, which I love, and led the worship, and it was just a special day. Great women, and so excited to study the Word! We also just loved getting to know Marie Huber, the coordinator. She did a beautiful job.

The next morning I went back to that church again and sang special music on their services and told a story about World Vision, and then that afternoon they had a concert as well. The music director there, Tom Lippert, is such a sweet guy, and I have truly loved getting to know everyone I’ve met at this church – they’re just lovely.

Finally, we went back to Grandma’s and Monday morning got up early again to be on the morning show at Moody Radio Florida. I’ve been here before and it was great, but I hadn’t been with this morning host, Kate Bruington before. We just loved her. She and I did an interview about the new book and Thailand and the ministry, and when we were done she said she wants to have me back in the next couple months to do a full interview on the book, and also talked to my mom about doing an interview about hers, so that would be wonderful!

Then, we kind of crashed in a pile. 🙂 Mom and I hung out, went out to dinner with my uncle and grandma, and got up early the next morning to fly home. Busy, busy, and I can’t say I like it when the schedule is that packed, but I am also so grateful for all the opportunities to share the Lord.

Billboard, events, and jet lag

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Setting up at Grace Church in Powell, OH

Well, we’ve been home almost two weeks, and I am just starting to feel like myself again. I have had jet lag before, but nothing compares to the jet lag we had coming home from Thailand! I was just worthless for a full week. Several times I had to eat dinner standing up just so I could stay awake! Yikes.

We had some great news last week, though. My new single, “Life Not Typical” was on the Most Added list for the Billboard chart! We’re still gaining ground, and I hope to see it chart in the Top 40 soon. So that was really exciting for us!

I also had a couple of events this past weekend. I was so blessed to have both of them be local events, and I was so grateful because with the jet lag, I was still struggling a bit! They say it’s a day for every time zone, and we were 12 hours off, so I should finally be back to me.

Last Thursday I spent a great night with the ladies at Grace Church in Powell. I got to share some of what we had seen in Thailand as well as my new video and our story and songs. They were a wonderful group, and I hope to see them again soon!

Last night I also did a very interesting event unlike anything I’ve done before. A church just north of us was doing a spa night as an outreach event, and they asked me to come in and present the Gospel. It’s a fundraiser for a different charity every year (this year it was for a group that helps women who are experiencing domestic violence) and all the women come and get spa treatments such as manicures or chair massages, and hear a short talk on the charity and then the Gospel from me. It was a super fun night, but I have to say, it’s not easy to transition to the Gospel from eyebrow waxing! And yet, we did it. 🙂 It was fun, and yes, I got a chair massage.

Thailand, part 3

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The girls playing outside the main home

With Nhu (left) and Lida, who became so dear to us

The girls showing us a dance they had made up

Some of the girls out back washing their laundry at the main home

A rice field, newly planted

One of the girls walking from the smaller house to the big house

Two sisters in their tribal dresses ready for worship

A few of the girls showing their tribal clothes for worship

Everyone's getting settled for the service

Leading worship with two wonderful young women, them in Thai, me in English

Two of the girls sharing a dance during service

Mho gah tuk!!


It was hard to believe as the days went by that we were actually getting close to the end of our trip. We were gone two weeks, but when you spend two days on either end just traveling, the time goes so fast!

On Saturday, we split up. Nathan and the other men took the boys on a special outing involving lunch, video games, and “The Green Lantern” in Thai. I stayed at the main girls’ home on Saturday and took advantage of the time to teach some more music to several of the girls. We also played more Uno, ninja, badminton, and jump rope. It was amazing to watch how the home ran like clockwork. All the girls had chores and they all just went and did whatever their job was without complaining, and everyone working together made the house run. It’s no small thing to feed three meals a day to 50 or 60 people and to keep the house clean and organized.

I was also impressed by how the girls cared for each other. There are house parents at all the homes and they were very loving and excellent at their jobs, but it is not really possible to give individual attention all the time with that many children. The girls watched out for each other and the older girls cared for the younger ones. They weren’t assigned smaller children, it just happened. Culturally, they all considered themselves sisters. I was struck several times by how this kind of home really wouldn’t work in the States, but here, with their culture, it worked really well. There was one particular girl who had some learning problems and issues, and when we would play games, she could never keep the rules straight, but all the other girls were just patient with her and helped her until her turn was finished. Disagreements were very uncommon. I asked what kind of punishment was used if someone needed correction and the answer was, “Dishes. We obviously have tons of dishes and they really dislike that job, so the worst punishment we can give is dish duty.”

The next day we had worship at the main house. That was just a precious, precious day to me. Every week all the houses gather at the main house because they have the biggest space. There are also a few people from the community who come because Christian churches are rare. One of the permanent missionaries here spent four years learning the language which is very complicated so that he could preach and translate. It’s also complicated by the fact that many of the girls and boys here have tribal backgrounds and their own languages, and there were other internationals there as well.

When we arrived, many of the children were wearing their tribal dress, and we were told it was because it was a special occasion – they did it in honor of us and our last day with them, and also because it was the pastor’s birthday. They looked so beautiful, and we could tell which tribe they represented and were able to start picking out biological brothers and sisters a bit too.

The service began with a team of girls from the main house who led worship. We knew several of the songs and sang along in English. Then they asked me to come and lead some worship which I did with two of the girls I had worked with the day before. Then there was a time of open sharing, and all three houses as well as other groups of children came forward one by one and presented special things they had prepared. There were a few choral pieces, a couple of dances, and several songs. Finally, we heard a testimony from someone who had become our dear friend of how God had first spoken to her heart and was working to help her save her daughter. The pastor translated, and it was just beautiful.

After the service we had an amazing afternoon celebration. The houses had all made us special cards and pictures, and they had prepared several songs for us as well. Then we had a huge feast of Mookata (mho gah tuk), or Thai barbeque. They set out pots all over the yard with wood charcoal in them and with a pan over the top. Around the edge of the pan was chicken stock and they cooked vegetables and rice noodles in that, and in the raised center there was a piece of fat to grease the pan and all around that they cooked pork and chicken and fish cake. Apparently the goal is to eat everything. And to feed your guests until they explode. The girls we were with thought it was hilarious to keep sneaking food into our bowls after we’d said we were full, and in the end, we ate for two hours with them.

We played all afternoon with the girls, and then it was time to say goodbye. That was so hard. For every member of the team I think there were a few children who had really touched their hearts, and for me, there were two in particular to whom I had a very hard time saying goodbye. They were both my older daughter’s age, and were so sweet. They stood together holding hands as we were loading the van, and then one ran to the van and came in for one last hug even though we had been hugging for half an hour already. They both still have surviving parents, so neither is adoptable, but it broke my heart to drive away. I hope I can visit them again.

That night we all had dinner together and then we got ready to leave in the morning. Nathan and I were headed back to Bangkok for a day before going home, and the other couples were staying another week in a different location. It was hard to say goodbye to the rest of the team as well – that is an amazing bonding experience! But it’s different since I know I will see them again.

We left early the next morning, and spent the afternoon at the hotel. That night we went to dinner at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel which is the tallest building in Thailand. We went to the top and took in the view.

The next morning we were on our way by 3:45am. Six and a half hours back to Narita, layover, and then the long flight back to Washington D.C. When we finally got back to our house in Columbus on Tuesday night, it felt like forever. It was so good to see our kids! And after what we’d learned, we held them closer even than we might have. Now we are praying through how God will use this trip, and how He would like to use us to help.

Want to see lots more pictures? Check out the full album here!