Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Prayer in Weird Places...

I opened a purse I hadn't used for some time recently and found this:

The last time I used the purse was several years ago on our anniversary. We spent the weekend puttering around Niagara Falls in the chill of February. Not only is this one of the most beautiful times to see the Falls in their icy majesty, but it's also wonderfully quiet. Every restaurant has a table for you, and the shops are almost empty.

One night, we went out for a special dinner (thus my rarely used fancy purse) and spent the latter part of the evening strolling through some seasonally quiet stores in the building that houses the Niagara Casino. We found a store selling 'Life is good' products and spent a fair bit of time investigating their wares and picking up a few favourites. Since the store was quiet, we got into a conversation with the sole staff member on duty.

I can't remember what we were talking about, but I remember the moment the conversation turned. It was when we said we were Christian musicians. We could see something shift in this woman. We stopped talking about trivialities and she started to quietly share her story. She spoke of a broken relationship with her son, and the countless prayers lifted that he might find his way back to God and back to her. As she spoke, we would tell these were words that had been bursting for a voice. We simply stayed still and let her speak.

She stopped for a breath and took a look at us, waiting to see if her words would be received with love. And then, in the middle of this clothing store, surrounded by the Niagara Casino, we offered a little prayer. Nothing fancy or showy. Just a simple prayer for hope and healing.

As we left, we were amazed and humbled about how God had placed us in that quiet store on that particular night. We were reminded of the deep needs of everyone we meet. And we were moved by this women's trust in us, and the courage to share her story with strangers.

When I found the card this week, these memories came rushing back to me. Then I flipped the card over, and found this:

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."

There are always opportunities to share God's love for those who want to see them too. 
Let's look for them daily...

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BIG NEWS - We're Heading To The Sea!

We've been invited to spend the winter in beautiful 
St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick!

We've sung at the Anglican Parish of St. Andrews twice over the past 2 years. Those with great memories will actually know that our first attempt was actually thwarted by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The main church, All Saints, on our 2012 Tour.

On this summer's visit, the idea of an extended stay came up. Leading a single service is one thing, but what could we accomplish if we were to integrate ourselves into the community for a few months? Talks began, and this week, everything was approved.

This January and February, we'll spend a 2-month residency in St. Andrews. The parish consists of both the downtown church and the chapel of ease that you see in these photos. Click the photos for more info on each. You can visit HERE for more info on the town.

Details are still coming together, but some of our creative goals include:

Build a contemporary worship band.
Work with leadership to explore creative and innovative worship services.
Form a songwriting mentorship group.
Reach out into the large community with songwriter nights.
Create connections and workshops for other music leaders.
Work with children and youth to find their worship voice.

Celebrating our first pink church at St. John the Baptist Chapel of Ease, Tour 2013.

We're so honoured that the Parish has given us this invitation, 
and we're incredibly excited to see what God has in store for all of us!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Worship Wednesdays: "Forgiveness", by Matthew West

Today on Worship Wednesdays, I want to share a book review for "Forgiveness", by singer-songwriter, Matthew West. I've been a fan of West's songwriting for years, so I was excited to see how his writing would translate into book format.

While working on his latest album, West collected stories about pain and healing. This small and beautifully designed book intersperses moving and inspiring stories of both giving and receiving forgiveness with West's own commentary. In some of my favourite moments, West shows how he pulled the essence from these stories to create his wonderful song, Forgiveness.

This book is reminiscent of a wise and honest storytelling circle. Personal testimonies are laid bare. Scripture, quotes, and insights are shared, and through the words of all involved, we're reminded again and again that forgiveness is difficult, necessary, and ultimately, freeing.

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."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Newfoundland Tour - The Highlights!

It's been a week since we returned from our 3rd Infinitely More Newfoundland Tour. The day after we arrived home we attended our friend's wedding, and then we had Thanksgiving, so as you can imagine, a week of rest followed!

With a month on the road, it would be impossible to share every story, but I've compiled a few favourite moments to share with you...

We performed:
15 events
13 days
10 communities!

- 7031 KM, safely driven!

- a magical moment with special young man

- meeting people who were taught by Allison's grandfather

- seeing the fall colours change as we traveled

- our CBC interview with Angela Antle! 

- sharing worship leading and songwriting lessons

- savouring berry season with freshly picked partridgeberries! 

- debuting our latest song "How The Light Gets In"

- meals of fresh cod, pulled from the water that day

- enjoying the creations of artists and artisans across the province

- time with family, old friends, and new friends

- singing about Love, and seeing that Love show up in a thousand different ways...

We also took piles of photos! You can see them HERE.

Our extreme and heartfelt gratitude goes out to everyone who attended a concert, heard us on the radio, bought a CD, shared a hug, or opened your home to us.

We can't wait to see you in 2014! 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Five Songs of Thanksgiving

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! With all the wonderful and challenging things that have happened to us over the past year, we have so many reasons to give thanks.

As we approach Thanksgiving, here are 5 of my favourite songs of gratitude:

Blessings, by Laura Story.
Having experienced my own season of deep grief, I love this reminder that blessings can come from challenging and unexpected places.

My Heart is Filled, by Keith and Kristyn Getty
"For every day I have on Earth is given by the King; So I will give my life, my all,
to love and follow him." After our car accident, this line became my strength.

Thank You, by Ray Boltz
A song of thanks for everyone who has ever shared the Gospel, 
and an encouragement for each us to do the same.

What a Friend, by Joseph Scriven
A hymn rich in gratitude for the love and trust we have in Jesus.

What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong
A love song to creation and the beauty of everyday living.

I'd love to hear your suggestions for Thanksgiving songs and hymns! 
Please leave them in the comments section.

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

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Unexpected Moments...

I'm writing from St. John's, Newfoundland, and we're a little over halfway through our tour. It's been amazing so far. Great churches, beautiful vistas, and of course, piles of food!

This past Sunday morning, we played for my childhood church, St. Thomas'. During Communion, we stood near the front of the sanctuary as the congregation walked up and down the centre aisle to reach the altar. It felt busy and beautiful as people of all ages made their way to receive this precious gift of faith.

We had invited the choir to join us on the chorus of Hallelujah (Psalm 104). If you know this melody, you'll know that it's soaring and evocative. It can bring us to a holy place of worship, and in the midst of this wonderful busyness, the worship was growing.

On each chorus, I would turn around to direct and encourage the choir in their singing. As we neared the end, I turned to bring them into a soft, sweet ending when my eyes caught those of a young man with Down Syndrome. He was standing behind me and singing. He reached out his hand in response to mine, and for that moment, everything was vividly present. I could hear Gerald and the choir. I could feel the congregation moving back and forth around us. I could feel the movement of the song and hear my own part. But I was also in a pool of stillness, holding hands with this boy, staring into each other's eyes, and singing a song of praise together.

When the song ended, he kissed my hand, I wiped my eyes, and made my own way up to the Communion altar.

It was a powerful moment, and one that few people saw. Some of the choir members witnessed it, but even Gerald who was standing next to me wasn't aware of what was happening.

I've tried to figure out what message I could share with you, how this amazing and unexpected moment might encourage another worship leader, and I just have this:

Always be open to God's plan for worship.

I'm thankful that I knew my song well so that I could both continue to lead while also experiencing this beautiful blessed communion. How many other moments does God have planned for us in worship!

Be alway open to His mystery and wonder...

* * * * * * * * 

Our Newfoundland Tour continues until Sunday night, 
and we're continuing to post photos on our  Facebook page. 
You don't need to be a Facebook member to view them, but if you are, we'd love your Like!

You can view the photos HERE.

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