Archive for September, 2013

New Christmas project and a great weekend at Portage Lake!

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Teaching up at Portage Lake

We’ve been kicking around an idea for the last three years, and we’ve finally decided to jump in and give it a try. I love Christmas music – Christmas is my favorite holiday all around, although Easter’s pretty incredible too – and I’ve been wanting to do a Christmas album, but just don’t have the time to make an entire project that will only be used for part of the year. I’ve been thinking of doing a shorter project and putting it in a Christmas card that people could send to friends and family. Then, if it goes well we could possibly do another the following year and then a full album on the third.

So, we’re doing the experiment! I hope it goes smashingly well, but if not, at least I got to do some versions of songs I love. 🙂

Since I hadn’t really planned to squeeze this in, it’s made the last couple of weeks much more interesting. Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go back up to Portage Lake Bible Camp in Onekama, MI to teach the life of Peter at their weekend women’s retreat. I’ve been up at this camp a couple of times before, and they are just fabulous. I love that the staff intern I met the first year I was there, Beth, was the program director the second time I came, and is now the assistant director. 🙂 I know why too – she’s amazing.

I really have a special place in my heart for this camp and for the ladies who come. This retreat draws women from about 40 difference churches, and I have been to several of them and have met a lot of the women over the years. It was also one of the first camps to give me a chance when I started speaking years ago. So now when I go there, it feels a little like a homecoming event.

I taught on Peter’s life and how he was transformed by his time with Jesus from an ordinary, uneducated, working class guy, to the head of the church and a force that God used to literally change the world. All along we also looked at how God might want to change and transform us, and how He could use us in the world today right where He’s put us.

After a great weekend, I headed home and then headed back out two days later in the opposite direction to Nashville in order to put together the Christmas project with my producer, Paul Marino. We wrote a new song called “Christmas is Forever” that I am super excited about – it’s a prayer for people at Christmas. We also wrote new arrangements and a new bridge and verse for the songs “What Child Is This?” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” I am so excited now to see how they will all turn out! Once we have all the songs planned out, I love putting them all together – it’s like painting with sound.

I got back yesterday and have already been talking with my graphic designer about what we would like the card to look like and how to put the whole package together. It’s always shocking how long artwork takes, and since I started this late for a Christmas thing, we can’t afford to lose any time getting the packaging together. Can’t wait to see how it comes out and to share it all with you!

The Bride of Christ

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Last weekend, my husband Nathan and I attended a wedding. The groom was a young man from our church named Nate whom I had directed in many VBS plays. I really love Nate and his heart. After he graduated college, though, we kind of lost track, and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. I had never met his fiancee and I was looking forward to seeing her for the first time!

The wedding was beautiful and clearly planned so that Nate would not see his bride until she was standing at the top of the aisle. I was torn! It would be my first glimpse of her too and I wanted to see what she looked like, but my favorite thing at weddings is actually to watch the groom when the bride is walking down the aisle. It’s one of the few times you can really catch a guy’s true emotions because they are usually written all over his face. It’s very touching.

So I chose to watch Nate. He’s a manly guy, and he doesn’t show a lot of emotion (unless I’m telling him to in a play!) and yet, I knew the exact moment when his bride stepped into the doorway. The look on his face captured so many things – love, joy, longing, pride, and a sense of, “At last!” Here it was, the day was finally here, and she was walking toward him, ready to start their forever.

As I watched Nate, I had a thought that has never occurred to me before. I know that we as Christ’s Church, people who follow Him, are called the bride of Christ, and that we will be gathered to Him when He comes again. Suddenly, I wondered, if Christ is the groom, will He be looking at us like that? Is He really waiting with that kind of anticipation, longing for the day when we will be united for eternity? Does He really love us like that? Will He look on His church with all that love and longing and pride and say, “At last! Here you are, and we can be together now at last!” I think so. And that thought takes my breath away.

Psalm 8:1a, 3-4
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

And yet, the Bible describes us as His bride. Not someone He’s willing to reluctantly admit into His company if we meet a series of demands, but His bride. Someone He cares deeply for. Someone He loves and longs to be with. How can that be? And yet it is. 1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

I know I can hardly wait to be with Christ, but it’s astounding to think that He might also feel that way about me. And about you. About all of us. Praise God, only He can have that kind of love!