Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - The Year I Was A Soccer Star...

"Athletic" has never been used to describe me.

I played sports as all kids do, and at one point I was even asked to try out for the school basketball team, but I chose choir over basketball, and I'm pretty sure that worked best in the long run.

One summer, my parents signed me up for soccer. I can't remember why exactly, but all my friends were doing it, so I guess that's as good a reason as any. Teams were divided by age, not by skill level, and I was fine with that. As the smallest kid in the class, and the one who loved choir, I was chosen last, pretty much always. I had lots of energy, but running, throwing a ball, or doing any kind of catching was certainly not on my skill list.

Well, that summer, the random lottery of teams did an amazing thing. When I arrived at our first rehearsal (wait, sports people say 'practice', right?)... When I arrived at our first practice, I couldn't believe who was on my team. Sherry, Tara, Beth - from some fluke of the universe, I ended up on the same team as all the athletic girls in my class!

I was completely overwhelmed. "Great," I thought, "One more summer of being chosen last. What will they do when I make us lose every game?" I started thinking of ways to fake a 2-month leg cramp...

Each week, we rehearsed and played games. But as the summer went on, the strangest thing started to happen. I became good at soccer! I tried different positions, and found my strength in playing defence. I could see the ball coming down the field and I learned just where to run and kick to get it out of my zone. I felt myself getting stronger, more confident...

Our team started winning games - not despite me, certainly not because of me, but with me. By the end of the summer, we made it into the playoffs, and in a twist never anticipated, we won the gold medal! I'd never been part of a winning sports team before. For the other girls on the team, this was their goal, their dream. But for me, it was so unexpected, so surreal...

I started that summer unskilled and lacking confidence, with no thoughts of ever winning a gold medal. But for 8 full weeks, I was surrounded by people who were better than me - talented, skilled, passionate about winning the game - and it changed me. It forced me to raise my skill level. The more I played, the better I got. My teammates encouraged me, and my newfound confidence gave me the courage to made bolder moves and take more risks.

It's been years since I've thought of that summer, but I was reminded of it this week as Gerald and I started to make plans to cowrite with several of our friends. You see, that summer was an outlier moment for me. I've never been part of a winning sports team again, and I don't anticipate it happening anytime soon, but the lessons of that summer shaped me.

If you want to become great at something, you need to be around people who are better at it than you are. Work with skilled writers, sing with amazing singers, play with monster players. Test your ideas against people with more knowledge and experience. Do it 'til it scares you, and then do it again. And when you look back at the end of the season, you'll see how much you've grown, how much you've honed your skills, the great things you've accomplished, and the confidence you've gained.

You'll have so much more to offer your team! Share with with them. Be generous. And then...

Search out a new group who is more talented than you, and start all over again...



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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review: Yawning At Tigers, by Drew Dyck

Imagine for a moment that a Bengal tiger walked up your driveway. What would your reaction be? Fear? Apprehension? Would you call for help? After your initial shock, perhaps you'd even feel a sense of awe or wonder at the majesty before you.

In Yawning At Tigers, Drew Dyck suggests that we have minimized and tamed God to the point of ignoring his true greatness and power. What changes when we look at God's might, when we remember to fear God? Like many of us, I respond strongly to God's message of love, grace, and mercy, but the all-powerful God of Might can seem foreign, even frightening. I might find myself glossing over those particular Scripture passages. But through this book, I found myself reading the Bible with fresh eyes. The verses about God's powerful holiness stood out in a new way. I imagined the psalmist trembling as he tried to put into words the sheer awesomeness of God. Imagining that vastness squeezing into the tiny body of the Christ child suddenly changed the way I viewed the Christmas story. And imagine how it might shape your view of the cross and Easter morning...

And then we need to ask ourselves, "If we understand the greatness of God's might, how then does that affect the way we see the greatness of God's love?" In exploring the majesty of God, we are forced to re-examine both our relationship to God and the way we live our lives as people of faith. This book takes you on that journey. In a world that tries to dismiss God as powerless and irrelevant, Yawning At Tigers invites you to sit in awe of a God who truly deserves the name "Awesome."

The book concludes with a well structured Discussion Guide, complete with questions, actions, and Scripture study. The guide is appropriate for both groups and private study.

I really enjoyed Yawning At Tigers, and can honestly say it has affected my personal study and faith journey. If you get the chance, read it, take notes, and allow yourself to discover the holiness of God.


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, January 14, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - Holy Unexpected...

Welcome to 2015! We've enjoyed a wonderful break after our busy holiday season, and we're looking forward to an exciting year of touring, concerts, workshops, and other projects. Before kicking off the New Year, we want to share our favourite story from our holiday singing season:

On Christmas Day, we found ourselves singing for a group of seniors in Brampton, Ontario. We often bring our music into seniors homes. Some of them are like grounded cruise ships, with glamorous surroundings and a full roster of activities for the vibrant and active residents. This was not one of those places. The home and the staff were lovely, but the residents were struggling. Many had advanced dementia and mobility issues. Several were in elaborate wheelchairs, needing to be hand-fed. Some wore protective head gear. As we sang, many seemed unaware of both our physical and musical presence. They were just in their own world.

To the side was a woman in a bright pink dress. Her physical form had been severely drained by whatever illness had taken over her body. Her limbs were thin and jolted awkwardly. Her words were few and distorted. Her face had been twisted to the point where she couldn't even smile, yet we could tell she was enjoying the music. A caring staff member had tied jingle bells to her wrist. She swung her arms joyfully, the bells tinkling with each jerk of her hand.

We finished one song, and as people applauded, we heard a voice start to sing. We looked over to see our pink-dressed friend...

Ave Maria... 

This voice didn't represent the distorted body we saw before us. This voice was pure, warm, beautiful...

Gratia plena...

We were stunned. The room fell quiet.

Maria, gratia plena. Maria, gratia plena.
Ave, ave dominus. Dominus tecum.

We couldn't believe what we were witnessing. Out of the chaos of this busy room, this moment of beauty was flowing. No one made a sound. We were transfixed by this wonder, this sweetness. Her Latin was perfect. Her tone was smooth. She sang the whole song, and brought it to a deliberate and delicate finish..

Ventris tui, Jesus...
Ave Maria....

When she finished, there was a breath of silence, and then joy-filled applause. We couldn't believe what we had just witnessed. It was so unexpected - a extraordinary moment in an ordinary day.

A staff member whispered to us, "She was an opera singer in her youth."

Her body and her mind had aged and suffered, but her voice had continued to live inside her, seeking moments when it could escape its bindings and soar once again.

As we sit here at the start of a New Year, we ask ourselves,

What are the dreams and talents that are still living inside of us? 
What might happen if we allow them to find their way out into the world?

For if we allow them to soar, maybe we can all experience the holy, unexpected...


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



Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We were blessed to have a busy 2014, followed by a very full Christmas singing season.
We are currently enjoying our first two-weeks-off in over a year! 
It's a glorious time filled with rest, visits with friends, and lots of nothingness. 

Worship Wednesdays will return next week. 
We're looking forward to a year filled with new ideas, music, and inspiration! 


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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Top Ten Moments of 2014

Just over a year ago, we left the comforts of our church staff position to take Infinitely More on the road full-time. 2014 was our first complete year of touring and recording, and it only seems fitting on this 
New Year's Eve to take a look back on this very full 12 months...


Here, in chronological order, are our Top Ten Moments of 2014:


#1. Musicians In Residence

With a goal of introducing contemporary worship and expanding the music team, we had a full winter as as Musicians in Residence in St. Andrews, NB. One of the most powerful moments was the night we debuted the first ever worship band at All Saints Church. It was a success in all kinds of ways, but our favourite was the truly ecumenical make up of the group - our 8-piece band represented 5 churches and 3 denominations. Truly the 'family' of God!


#2. First Day In The Studio

No matter how much pre-production you do, there's nothing as exciting as the first day in the studio. Hearing our amazing Nashville session players get their hands on our songs left us as giddy as kids in a candy store.


#3. The Civil Rights Museum

We can't recommend this enough. If you visit Memphis, spend an afternoon at the Civil Rights Museum. You will be shaken and inspired by the generations of people who stood up for humanity.


#4. Time With Long Distance Friends

One of the best perks of a touring ministry - we were able to see friends in Nashville, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas, and all across Canada's beautiful East Coast!



#5. Getting The CDs

After months of writing, recording, traveling, mixing, mastering, and the thousand other steps involved in making a CD, it was an amazing moment to open the boxes and actually hold the CDs in our hands.

#6. East Coast Tour 

Our biggest tour to date! 9 weeks, 5 provinces, 8300 KM, and over 30 events, all filled with incredible moments and beautiful memories.


#7. Watching Concerts Turn To Worship

We deliberately plan our concerts to be entertaining and welcoming to folks on all stages of their faith walk, but on more than one occasion this year, hearts opened and hands raised as a simple night of music turned into a powerful night of worship. We were so blessed by these amazing audiences!


#8. Teaching Workshops

This year, we put a stronger focus on teaching our Workshops on Worship Leading and Creating Music For Worship, and creating opportunities to mentor singers, musicians, and songwriters. We felt blessed to share our skills, but more often than not, we were encouraged to see so many dedicated people using their talents for the Church. I had a "proud momma" moment every time we received a  follow-up email letting us know how a worship band or choir was using their new skills on a Sunday morning.


#9. Rocky Harbour 

In the middle of our 9-week East Coast Tour, we took 3 nights off in beautiful Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. With perfect weather and a scarcity of tourists, we were free to explore the community and meet some wonderful folks. On our last night, we walked the beach, watched the brilliant sunset, and even sung our new song. A wonderful respite and a reminder of the importance of quiet time...




#10. Releasing Our First Radio Single

This Christmas, we released our first Infinitely More radio single - Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem. It was awesome to imagine folks across the country listening to our song as part of their holiday celebrations. It was particularly exciting to get Facebook messages from friends saying "I just heard you on the radio!!!"



What a year! We feel deeply called to the ministry of Infinitely More. It's a challenging path, but we can only do it with the love and support of each of you. Thank you for supporting our music and ministry by inviting us into your churches, purchasing CDs, attending our concerts, hosting us in your homes, keeping us in prayer, and joining us on this journey.


THANK YOU for an amazing 2014! 
We're looking forward to 2015!

May you remember 2014 with thanksgiving, 
and may 2015 bring you peace, love, faith, and joy!
Happy New Year!!!



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



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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!