Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Bake Some Cookies, Everyone!

As I write this, my shoulders are aching.

"Of course," you say, "This is your busy season! 20 events in less than a month. All that singing and playing, not to mention carrying gear. It makes sense that your body would feel the burn..."

Actually, it's not that kind of aching. 
Tonight, I have Baker's Shoulders.

Today I celebrated my annual Christmas Cookie Day with my Mom. It starts a few days in advance as we discuss the goals of the day. How many different kinds? Are we doubling the recipes? Should we try new cookies or stick with classics? Let's make up the shopping list...

On the actual day, breakfast dishes are cleared and the kitchen becomes a baking machine. Don't step in the room unless you want to be assigned a task.

This year, we tried two new recipes - Mexican Wedding Cookies and Spiced Fig Pinwheels - and my favourite classic choice - Scottish Shortbread, this year with a Salted Chocolate topping. Fabulous!

Right now, the final batch is done and the house smells amazing. We made over 250 cookies! Including the ones that didn't make it onto the cooling racks...

Everyone is busy in December, but those of us in music and/or ministry seem to get an extra dose of it. Between worship services, concerts, seniors home ministry, and all the planning, rehearsing, and traveling that goes with each event, it's easy to see December as a month to 'get through.'

But what a terrible way to approach one of the most beautiful months of the year. This is a season filled with once-a-year music, art, and enjoyment. We personally know the feeling of getting to the end of the month and feeling like we didn't experience any of it. It's exhausting and depleting.

We live in a society that glorifies stress and overworking. We're encouraged to brag about our lack of sleep, our refusal to take a day off, or our '80-hour' workweek. This is our currency to define ourselves as productive, important, and successful.

But what's the point of spending our days creating glorious, inspiring music and worship, and then missing out on the glory and inspiration of it all?

I'm not going to ignore the truth - December is difficult for many people for many reasons. There's no denying it. But we also have the ability to make positive choices in difficult seasons, and today, I'd like to encourage you to do just that.

Whether it's baking cookies, watching a Christmas movie, or taking the long drive home so you can see the neighbour's crazy light display, take a little time each day to enjoy the blessings of the season. Read an Advent devotional or book of seasonal poetry to give yourself a moment of focus in the day. And take a few moments to be still and give thanks for the blessings in your life.

This may seem like simple advice, and it is. But in the craziness of the season, it's the simple things we tend to overlook. And when we turn our focus back to them, even for a few minutes, the results can be powerful!

One week til Christmas Eve, everyone! 
Let's enjoy the blessings of this beautiful season...

*   *   *   *   *

There's still time to order Infinitely More CDs for Christmas! 
Each and every CD ordered from our site this month will receive a FREE Christmas Card! 
Please visit www.InfinitelyMore.ca/Store for all the details




Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Our First Radio Single!

This week, we've taken a new step in our ministry - 
we've released our first single to radio!

Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem is the title track of our brand new Christmas album, 
and perhaps one of our favourite cowrites.

You can hear a sample of the song HERE.

Last winter, I came home after a busy morning of teaching to hear Gerald's familiar words, "I started something new today." He played me a verse and a chorus:

There's a boy in the African desert
Who is watching the skies tonight
He knows that two thousand years ago
A child was born from the light
And his heart beholds that beautiful sight

Tonight, Everywhere is Bethlehem
Children are praying for peace and love 
And whispering ‘amen’
In their dreams they see the manger 
And the Saviour who Mary tends 
Tonight, Everywhere is Bethlehem

I fell in love with the moving imagery and the sweeping melody. I could picture this young boy with a look of wonder on his face. I imagined a warm breeze moving around him, and the stillness of the night.

I announced, "I love it. I can see the second verse. By the way, I'm cowriting this with you."

It's not the first time Gerald has heard me say these words. A smile crept across his face.

"What's your idea?"

My imagination leapt to the other side of the world. If "everywhere" was Bethlehem, then I wanted to show a completely opposite setting that would also be home to the hope of Christmas. I saw a young girl in a crowded urban setting...

There's a girl singing carols in Times Square 
Collecting spare change for the poor
She sings 'no crib for a bed'
To remind us what Christmas is for
And her voice rings out so sweet and so pure

Tonight, Everywhere is Bethlehem...

As we continued to work on the song, we wanted a way to bring the message of the first Bethlehem into our "everywhere" Bethlehem. We remembered the powerful message of the angels:

Do not be afraid. There is great news, for all the Earth. 
A child is born. He's Christ the Lord. Hope of the world.

With that, our song was complete. We decided it made a perfect duet, with Gerald singing the 'boy' verse and me singing the 'girl' verse. We created harmonies for the chorus and bridge. This summer, we brought the song into the studio to record. Denny Martin (Nashville) put together a wonderful track using acoustic instruments and lush strings. Carmon Barry (Toronto) painstakingly recorded our vocals to find the perfect mix of performance and emotion.

We're thrilled with the recording, but the best part is singing it live! We love seeing the smiles in the audience, and it's always an honour when someone wants to buy a whole CD because they've fallen in love with one particular song. And this Christmas, we get to share it with a whole new audience...




We're so excited about this new adventure. We believe passionately in the message of our songs, and in the power of having Christian music on the radio. We pray this radio exposure gives our music the chance to be heard by a broader audience.

We would love your support in getting Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem out to a larger audience.

How can you help?

- Please call or email your local radio station to request our song.

- If you work in radio, please contact us for downloads.

- And finally, please keep Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem in prayer, 
that it may reach hearts this Christmas season.

Thank you!!


Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Guest Post by Gerald Flemming

Today, we featured a guest post by my husband 
and Infinitely More partner, 
Gerald Flemming.


Is it possible that with every single choice we make 
we either gather closer to Jesus or shove him farther away?  
Is the world we live in that absolute?  

I’m staring at my hands right now.  I’m thinking about what I’ve done recently and what it tells me about my life.  I’m judging the worthiness of all the input I’ve left myself vulnerable to this week…of every single sight and sound I’ve willingly left myself open to.  I’m ‘microscoping’ every word I’ve spoken and every action I’ve taken.

Wow, what a frightening way to live.  Being so obsessively self aware of our moral compass that we’re constantly staring at the needle as if it was the second hand on a Doomsday clock.  Staring so hard at the minutiae of our lives that the colors of the world become muted and grey.  We find ourselves stressed and tired and uninspired, so quick to judge others around us as being wrong or even worse - damned.  I know this sounds a little overwrought and over the top, but it happens every single day.  It happens on the internet and in our own lives.

There is a Pastor, someone I’ve known for eight or nine years.  He posted recently that he found he was tired and anxious and edgy all the time.  And then he was quick to post 'of course' he was, and that was fine because he wasn’t made for this world - he was made for the next world.  If you look at his other posts, tracing back, you see a picture of someone who is caught up in the politics of fear and paranoia and looking for Biblical justifications for all of it.  He hates 'this' politician and 'this' is why.  He puts links to all of these outlier blogs that speak in very hyperbolic terms about the conditions in the world today.  Don’t get me wrong - he can out-quote most Old testament scholars I know, but his swift judgmental attacks on anybody who challenges his assumptions seems to show somebody who is becoming unstable and detached from the love and the grace of Christ.  We are called to view the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament.  I’ve never heard him quote the New Testament.  Not a single time.

Living the sanctified crucified life is a hard choice.  There is no question about that.  Allison and I were privileged to be at a lecture series where a wonderful speaker talked about living the Crucified Life.  He talked about waking up every single morning and laying our shames and guilt at the feet of the cross.  Every single morning.  He talked about the difference between being private and being secretive.  Being private is being respectful and modest.  Being secretive, having secrets, is shame based and calls into question the behaviour that is indulged in the shadows.  That was an interesting distinction to me and it felt like that was a healthy level of responsibility to have towards my life and my daily practices.

I think there is absolutely a healthy level of scrutiny we are called to as Christians.
I also think that scrutiny can become as addictive as alcohol or drugs.  I think that individuals can end up craving both self-judgment and the judgment of others and using the Pulpit, their prayer group or their Facebook page as places to indulge this addiction.

At times when we feel that overwhelming need to judge either ourselves or others, maybe it’s as simple as reacquainting ourselves to the peace and beauty that is all around us.

The creation, that is here for us to witness.
The beauty that can render us in awe-filled silence.
A quiet so deep that we can hear the Voice.
Can it be that simple?
Can we trust that it’s really that easy?

‘Be Still and Know that He is God.’


Peace, Gerald



Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Every Song Has A Story

For today's Worship Wednesdays post, I actually want to direct you to an article I recently had published.

We were asked by the Niagara Anglican paper to share some words about the creation of our new CD - How The Light Gets In. If you've been following our posts this year, you'll know that our biggest focus for the CD was the songs. How do we discover great ideas for songs? What is the writing process? How do we choose which songs to record, and then, how do we record them?

We decided to distill all of this into an article called Every Song Has A Story.

You can read the article HERE
The link will take you to the full paper, so please scroll down to page 11.



I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look into the creation of How The Light Gets In
To hear the songs referenced in the article, please visit HERE.


Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - East Coast Tour: The Numbers!

Home.

We left Ontario on September 9 to start our East Coast Tour.

On November 9, we finished the tour with our final appearance.

The past 2 months have been an intense experience in so many ways. In the next few weeks, we'll finish all the follow up, including a post mortem for ourselves to celebrate the tour and learn how we can make our ministry more accessible and more effective. In the meantime, here are a few numbers to put things in perspective:


EAST COAST TOUR

4th time touring the East Coast

9 weeks on the road

5 provinces

30 different events

 3 seasons

2 ferries

1 snow storm

8300 kilometers

3 islands

2 moose sightings

1 trip to the mechanic

2 new songs

500 photos

And "infinitely more" new friends, 
amazing experiences, and unforgettable memories.


We still have a few more photos to post, and we're working on a compilation video to share some of our experiences with you.

This week, however, we are simply grateful for every church, family, and community who chose to invite our music and ministry into their lives.

Thank you, East Coast! 
Can't wait to see you in 2015!


Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - New Videos!

Hello from my hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland!

We've just finished the busiest stint of our East Coast Tour

12 events in 11 days in 7 communities

We left Ontario just after Labour Day, and this week, for the first time in almost 2 months, we will start to drive west.

In lieu of a post today, we wanted to share some pieces of our concert with you. These come from our recent concert at Church of the Good Shepherd in Mount Pearl, NL. Thanks to Matt for the video!


How Great Thou Art

We created this arrangement a few years ago for our Infinitely More debut CD. It's become a standard in our repertoire, not just for its message of praise, but also for its ability to cross boundaries of generations and denominations.





Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem

Gerald and I wrote this song last Christmas, to celebrate the love and hope that started in Bethlehem, but has the power to spread across the world. This year, it became the title track of our first Christmas album!



We hope you enjoy these videos! To see photos from our East Coast Tour, please click HEREWe ask that you please continue to keep us in prayer as we travel across the country, and share our final performances of this tour. Thank you!



Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Write Bad Songs!

One of the great blessings of this East Coast Tour has been the chance to mentor singers, musicians, and songwriters. We've met many of them through our workshops, but we've also met lots just through our concerts. Every so often, a young person will come up after a concert and say, "I want to be a musician too."

We'll ask if they sing or if they play. Are they taking lessons? In school groups? Have they put on a local show yet? Are they in the church choir or band?

Inevitably, the conversation will come around to songwriting. It usually goes like this:

Us: "Do you write your own songs?"

Them: "No."

Us: "Have you tried writing?"

Them: "Well, yes, but my songs were terrible, so I gave up."


At that point, you can hear our hearts break a little.

At first, I tried to sound comforting, consoling them with cliches: "It's okay. We all write some bad songs. You can do it. Keep trying..."

But on Sunday, I met an 11-year-old who told me:

"I tried writing, but I failed miserably. My songs were awful!"


That word: "FAILED"


What a powerful word. It can shut down the best of intentions, the most noble efforts, the lifelong dream.

And yet, if we let it, it can transform our world. It can be the great lesson learned, the giant mountain we overcome, the mighty leap to success.


So when she said, "I failed,
I exclaimed, "CONGRATULATIONS!!!!"


She looked at me like I had three heads.


"Congratulations!" I reiterated. "Writing bad songs is the first step to becoming a songwriter! Write lots and lots and lots of bad songs. Each one will teach you something, and before long, you'll notice you're writing good songs."


I could see the plan forming in her head. I could almost hear the songs writing themselves in her imagination. A smile crept across her face.

When we parted, I said it again, "Write lots of bad songs! Promise me?"

"I promise, " she said.

The Dream was alive again...



Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!