Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - The Hospital Room Lesson

As I write this, we're about a third of the way through our 5th Annual East Coast Tour. So far, it's been an amazing journey! Lots of driving, East Coast Music Week, the GPS Youth Conference, and lots and lots of great laughs with friends and fellow musicians.

Over the next 9 days, we'll sing 7 (maybe 9!) events in 7 different communities! It's going to be a lot of driving, a lot of singing, and a lot of gear-lifting. Weeks like this are what we live for. They're awesome and exciting. We love the travel, the people, and the music. It can be a little overwhelming, but for the most part, it's nothing short of invigorating.

Yesterday, Gerald and I had a very different experience. Our good friend Bev (name changed to respect privacy) experienced a hip replacement just before we arrived in St. John's. Over the last few weeks, we've been visiting and laughing and drinking lots of espressos together. A few days ago, she was readmitted to the hospital with a post-surgical infection. These situations are never fun for anyone, but they're a particular challenge when you're a vivacious, go-getting, life-living kind of lady.

Singing in Bev's hospital room...
We knew we might not get to drink espressos together before we leave St. John's, so we figured we'd visit Bev in the hospital. Guitar in hand, we made our way up to her room. We asked the folks in the rooms around her if they'd be disturbed by some music, but they all insisted we keep the doors to the rooms open.

Over the next 30 minutes, we sang half a dozen favourite songs. "How The Light Gets In," "Hallelujah (Psalm 104)", "Be Thou My Vision," "All You Need Is Love"... songs that by their very nature are filled with peace, joy, and healing. As we sang, Bev closed her eyes and let the music wash over her. She smiled and relaxed.

This week, I'll be thinking of our hospital room experience. I wanted to be reminded each night that even though we are singing for that wonderful entity known as the Audience, we are also singing for each individual soul in the room. Souls with their own needs, pains, and struggles. I'll think of the gentleness in that hospital room, and remember that, as busy as each day may become, I can trust in God and the music to be the peace, joy, and healing we all need...


Our East Coast Tour is in full swing! 
Please visit our Calendar for a concert near you.



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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Worship Wednesdays: 5 Ways to Welcome Church Visitors - East Coast style!

Two weeks ago, we were stranded on an island.

Our ferry, scheduled to take us from Cape Breton island to Newfoundland, was cancelled not once, but twice. The first day was Maundy Thursday, so I decided to take advantage of the delay and attend a worship service at a local church.


Here's how the day unfolded, and 
5 lessons I learned on how to welcome visitors to your church:


#1. Post Your Worship Times 

Since we've never spent any real time in North Sydney, my first job was to find a church hosting a Maundy Thursday service. I assumed they all would, but I literally couldn't find Holy Week services listed on any church's websites! I was persistent, and the 5th church site I visited - St. Giles Presbyterian - had them listed on the home page.

LESSON: Don't assume that all 'your people' will know the service times. You never know when a visitor will need your church. Post all the worship times on your site, and highlight special services or changes in the schedule prominently on the home page.


#2. Notice the Newcomers

When I arrived at the church, another woman was also parking her car. I asked if I was parked in the correct lot. She asked who I was and if I was visiting. I shared my story about the ferry. By simply noticing and responding with warmth, she immediately made me feel welcome.

LESSON: When we have a rare Sunday off, we've visited a number of churches. In many, we leave without anyone ever introducing themselves or noticing that we're new. Always reach out to the person in the pew (or parking lot) that you don't know. Many people come to church for connection. The Church is not the building. The Church is always the people.


#3. Learn and Use Names

My new friend, Ruth, asked my name and remembered it. The congregation that day was small - probably only 20 people. When we entered the sanctuary, she introduced me to the group by name. The parishioners also remembered my name and used it in conversation after the service.

LESSON: There is power in knowing and using someone's name. We've all felt this at various times. Be aware when you meet someone new. Learn their name. Use name tags if you feel this might help. Also, I was comfortable being introduced to the group. Be sensitive to those who might be shy or introverted. Consider introducing them to another individual or smaller group.


#4. Explain the Worship

The service was lovely, with a beautiful altar display, a brief sermon, a hymn, and a wonderfully intimate Communion.

LESSON: Not everyone visiting your church will know how worship works. They may be from a different denomination or new to church altogether. Be sure to announce which book to use and how to receive Communion. As my retired minister Dad always says, "Not making announcements is like inviting people to your house and not telling them where the bathroom is."


#5. Be Generous!

Lunch was planned for after the service, so I was invited to join the group. In true East Coast style, this small group of 20 people had prepared an 8-foot table laden with homemade sandwiches, cookies, bread, preserves, cheese, and biscuits. It was glorious! We ate and laughed and told stories. Knowing that I was stranded for the day, they asked if I wanted to take a plate home with me to the B&B. I thought I'd take a few biscuits and a cookie. This is what they gave me:



LESSON: Jesus was always incredibly generous with people. Instead of a few bottles of cheap wine, he made over 900 bottles of the very best. He created so much bread and fish there was baskets of food leftover. The woman who simply wanted to touch the hem of his garment got a full on face-to-face healing experience. Let's be generous with our visitors! Let's have them leave feeling loved and valued. After all, isn't that how we're supposed to love? "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."


I want to thank the wonderful people of St. Giles Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, for their warm hospitality on Maundy Thursday. You truly made me feel loved and welcomed! 
May God continue to bless your community!


Our East Coast Tour is in full swing! 
Please visit our Calendar for a concert near you.



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

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

On the Road Again...

Worship Wednesdays takes a break this week as hit the road!

This week, we're driving straight through to Newfoundland. That's 5 full days of travel, including a day on the ferry. Please keep us in prayer for safe travels.

We're so excited to begin our 5th annual East Coast Tour! 

We are still adding concerts to our schedule, so please check our Calendar often. 
To book a Concert or Workshop, please Contact us.


April 8-12 - East Coast Music Week, St. John's, NL
April 11 - East Coast Music Week Gospel Showcase, St. John's, NL
April 13 - Seniors Concert, St. John's, NL
April 14 - Seniors Concert, St. John's, NL
April 14 - Seniors Concert, St. John's, NL
April 19 - Worship Leading Workshop, St. John's, NL
April 22 - Concert, Clarenville, NL
April 23 - Concert, St. John's, NL
April 26 - Concert, Trinity, NL
April 29 - Concert, Bonavista, NL 
April 30 - Concert, Gander, NL
May 8 - Concert, Bedford, NS
May 10 - Concert, French Village, NS
May 13 - Concert, Dartmouth, NS 
May 20 - Concert, Miramichi, NB
May 22 - Concert, Pennfield, NB
May 24 - Concert, St. Andrews, NB
May 27 - Seniors Ministry, Rosemere, QC
May 29-31 - Elim Women's Retreat, Peterborough, ON


For full details, please visit our Calendar.

Hope to see you at a concert!



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


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - 3 Priorities for 3 Days!

The calendar is not my friend right now. No matter how much I stare at it, it refuses to add any more days.

This Sunday - a mere 3 days away - we leave for our 5th East Coast Tour! 

Our first week will be all travel as we drive directly to Newfoundland. Our second week will be the East Coast Music Week, and all the excitement of the East Coast Music Award celebrations. From there, we kick off 7 weeks of concerts! So far, we have 20 events in 5 provinces, with several more awaiting confirmation.

We're tremendously excited, but WOW - there's still so much to do! I really need someone to invite a 10-day week...

Here are our top 3 priorities for the next 3 days:



PACKING

9 weeks on the road requires guitars, sound system, hostess gifts, clothes for both winter & spring weather, and enough CDs for 20+ concerts. This week, we become master Jenga players, trying to squeeze all of that into one little SUV without the whole thing toppling over. I always hope the car will act like Mary Poppin's carpet bag - small on the outside with inexhaustible storage on the inside.



PLANNING

The first leg of our trip will entail 3000 KM of driving, plus a ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. This past week, the ferry looked like this:


Yes, that's the Newfoundland ferry, stuck in the ice. Stuck for several days actually. So, we've planned our drive, but allowed for a few buffer days on the front end. We're watching weather reports and updating our GPS apps. We had our mechanic scour our car and make the appropriate repairs. We renewed our CAA membership. And of course, we're also adding in lots of...


PRAYER

We've been praying over this tour for months. We've prayed for the churches who are hosting our ministry, for all who are helping in the planning, and all who will attend. We've prayed for our East Coast Music Awards experience, that whatever we do there will be honouring to God. And as we approach the drive, we're praying for safe travels!

We would love for you to join us in prayer for this exciting adventure

If you live in the East Coast, we invite you to attend a concert, or consider hosting your own.

We invite you to join us on the journey by following our site and Facebook posts.


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




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Same Kind Of Different As Me, by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

"A modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together."

With a subtitle like that, how could I not be intrigued?

Denver Moore and Ron Hall tell the story of an amazing friendship. Denver - a 20th century sharecropper who set out into the world, only to find himself homeless and friendless. Ron - an affluent and successful art dealer, living in a world of power and pride. That is, until Ron's feisty wife, Deborah, feels called by God to serve at a local mission. Ron dutifully joins her, bringing his wealth of prejudices with him. Even though we might want to look down on Ron, it's to our own shame - if we're being honest, most of us carry these same prejudices. In their weekly visits to the mission, they meet Denver - large, sullen, and violent. But Deborah's generous heart reaches through the socio-economic gap to meet Denver with a faith-inspired love. The journey of Denver, Ron, and Deborah will have you turning pages, laughing, crying, and rethinking the way we view the homeless. It speaks deeply to one of my favourite themes: the power of being loved.

I love the way this book is written, with Ron and Denver writing alternating chapters. Each tells their side of the story in their own distinctive voice, and the effect is powerful. The final pages of the book include a reader's guide, a follow up with the authors, and a few family photos.

Denver and Ron came from vastly opposing backgrounds, but through their struggles, faith, and commitment, they find their common humanity in their uncommon friendship.

I highly recommend this deeply moving story. May it inspire each of us to reach across the gap and love someone who is the same kind of different as us.


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



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - In The Shadow Of The Cross - By Gerald Flemming

Today's blog is a guest post by my husband and Infinitely More partner, 
Gerald Flemming.


IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS...
By Gerald Flemming

Recently I had a very humbling and conflicting experience.  I was asked to play music for the wedding of two really good friends of ours.  They wanted twenty minutes of pre-service music and then a few pieces in the service itself.  They wanted specific hymns and they wanted all of it to be instrumental.  Whew…okay.

As anybody who plays guitar knows, note-perfect fingerstyle guitar arrangements of songs take quite a while to either put together yourself or to learn.  I decided to do signature arrangements because I felt it would be more personal as this was to be mine and Allison’s gift to them.  It ended up being between 10-12 original guitar arrangements of hymns and it took about 30-40 hours to construct and play competently.  It was a real investment in time when other things were pulling on me to do simultaneously, but again, we do and should make these sacrifices for each other as friends and as Christians.

The day came and with it, an extreme amount of weather that threw everything into a bit of disarray.  A couple of lovely young singers were late and had to rehearse while the congregation was sitting there waiting for things to begin.  I started about fifteen minutes late which was fine, but by this point everybody was excited/agitated and wasn’t really in the mood to listen to twenty minutes of instrumental guitar music.  So everyone talked and got reacquainted waiting for the main show to begin.

At this point I just martialled through, smiling and playing, trying to be aware of the script and the timing of how everything was to play out.  It reminded me of some of my time as a secular musician in a bar competing with a million different agendas, the last of which was listening.  The ceremony was beautiful and both of our friends (who are going into the ministry together), had a wonderful bonding experience, with the Groom’s mother being the person who married them.

On the way to the reception, I felt a little tweak.  I thought to myself that what had happened hadn’t been very ‘artistically’ satisfying.  It would have been easy for me to just improvise and play a bunch of different pieces of music off the top of my head as background music before the festivities were to begin.  I felt weirdly silly for having gone to all of the trouble that I did.  And then in response to that I felt guilty for feeling that way, because it was a gift and there shouldn’t be any expectations about how a gift is received.

Two days later Allison showed me a photo she had taken.  It was me working, just before the service.  Those last bits of prep, trying to make something as good as I could possibly make it.  And I’m standing there in the shadow of the cross, just another servant, wanting desperately to do good work.

Who was the music really for?  It was for the One who sacrificed everything for us.  
The One who, without promise of glory or praise, died and was risen to save us all. 

Sometimes we have these brief bouts of ego.  These petty needs to be bigger than our gifts.  It makes us human.  It reminds us how broken we are, and the work that we still need to do.  I was being reminded of something.  Something I actually strive to remind myself of.  That it’s about the service.  

How can I better serve here, in the shadow of the cross?  




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

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - How The Light Gets In

On last fall's East Coast Tour, we shot 3 performances for NTV's Heart Matters
This week, we posted the title song from our ECMA nominated album - How The Light Gets In:



I've written before about the journey of our songs
and How The Light Gets In is one song that's had a great journey.

It was a special homecoming to perform this song for a Newfoundland television show. Gerald actually started the song on a previous East Coast Tour. One night, while the ink was still wet on the page, we shared this new song, announcing it was a 'world debut.' People responded positively, so we continued to share it each night. At first, it was a solo song for Gerald with my harmonies on the chorus. It became one of my favourite parts of the show. As the tour went deeper into the fall and the weather got colder, singing the song felt warm, 
like a summer's day.

Some songs are meant to be solos, but others begin to reveal themselves as duets. One day, I went to Gerald and said, "I really feel like this song is meant to be a conversation, a shared message of two voices." I suggested we could alternate the couplets in the verses, and then come together in the chorus. He smiled and said, "I was actually thinking the same thing." 

As we went through the process of choosing songs for our new CD, How The Light Gets In started to work its way to the top of the list. It become the title song of the album, inspired our CD cover, and has become a staple in our repertoire. 

We hope this song will inspire you, and add a little 'summer' to a chilly winter day!


How The Light Gets In 
Written by Gerald Flemming (c) 2014

All that we are given
Is yet to be revealed
As we seek out the stillness 
Of a silent promise sealed

And in this gentle season 
Where storms are held at bay 
The smallest here among us 
Are lifted by His grace

We open up our eyes to the brilliance in the skies 
That’s how the light gets in
There’s a warmth on our face from the beauty and the grace 
That’s how the light gets in
How the light get in

As the morning gently holds us 
In the quiet of His hand 
The restlessness is calmed by 
The promise of His plan

And in that peace we're given 
A joy that knows no bounds 
Every sin’s forgiven
In the splendor of the crown

We open up our eyes to the brilliance in the skies 
That’s how the light gets in
There’s a warmth on our face from the beauty and the grace 
That’s how the light gets in
How the light gets in

All that we are given 
Is yet to be revealed


To hear the full album, please visit our Store.



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