Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 6

I found this angel in chains at a garden store this summer, and the image fascinated me. Her face and posture mix gracefulness and strength, yet she's been confined like a circus commodity with the chains, crate, and 'sold' sign.

It reminded me of the way we all try to contain things that we find too large or too powerful in our lives, even if these things are good and positive - love, change, passion, talents, relationships, even God...

I thought this was an appropriate angel for New Year's Eve:

What chains have bound you this year?

What powerful and positive forces are you trying to contain,
only to your own detriment?

I encourage you to spend some time in silence or prayer today, examining 2011, and seeking a freer 2012.


To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
I'll be posting a new angel every day.
This series is inspired by my Dad's "The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Friday, December 30, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 5

Some angels need rescuing.

While crushing ribbons and wrapping paper into the recycling box one Christmas, my eyes caught a glimpse of a wing. This little angel - created only with a sliver of wood and a slip of paper - had been tied into the bow of a now-unwrapped present. I grabbed the little ornament, untied her from the bow, and found a waiting branch on my tree.

Christmas can get overwhelming with flashing lights, boisterous parties, and crowded shopping malls. This little angel reminds me to keep an eye out for the gentle, delicate details - the soft moments by the tree, the email from a long distance friend, the chance to smile at someone who needs a ray of light...


To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
I'll be posting a new angel every day.
This series is inspired by my Dad's "The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 4

My angel collection began years ago. I remember reading an issue of Guideposts magazine that focused on angels, and I became fascinated with their place in art history. I loved how they could be beautifully represented by artists from any background with any material: paint, wood, needlepoint, clay, paper, feathers, reclaimed materials - the list is endless.

That issue profiled a woman who had been collecting angels for years and I thought, "What a good idea."

I haven't counted my collection in recent years, but I'm sure it's around the 100 mark. This Mexican angel was a gift from a friend. I love her sweet, thoughtful expression. Too often, we only think of angels as represented in European Medieval or Victorian art. This little one reminds us that angels appear in the art of many cultures, and are represented through their unique world view.


To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
I'll be posting a new angel every day.
This series is inspired by my Dad's "The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 3

Stained glass windows have been telling stories of faith for hundreds of years. 4th and 5th century churches filled their windows with colourful slices of thinly cut alabaster set in wooden frames. Stained glass as we know it dates from the 7th century, where it was used to add beauty to worship spaces. Stained glass windows were also a tool for telling Bible stories in largely illiterate societies.

On this year's East Coast Tour, we had the chance to visit many beautiful churches. This tiny window was a detail found in the Anglican Cathedral in Montreal, Quebec. The larger part of the window showed Jesus healing the sick. "Feed my lambs" is a reference to Jesus's command in John 21. The dates at the bottom show that the window was given as a memorial. I love this angel for the vibrant colours, and for the reminder to care for those around us.


To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
I'll be posting a new angel every day.
This series is inspired by my Dad's "The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 2

There's a house in Burlington that's covered, and I mean covered, in Christmas lights. It's the kind of house that becomes a destination on a Christmas drive.

The lawn, walls, roof, driveway and backyard are smothered in Santas, reindeer, snowmen, and every Christmas image you can imagine. There's a full nativity in the middle of it. The motorcycle in the image above commemorates the memory of a lost family member.

Above the lit arches that frame the driveway is a lone angel, reminding us that these thousands of lights would pale in comparison to the sight of the choir of angels seen by the shepherds that first Christmas night.


To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
I'll be posting a new angel every day.
This series is inspired by my Dad's "The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Monday, December 26, 2011

The 12 Angels of Christmas - Day 1

To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas,
my Dad is writing a blog series called
"The Twelve Creches of Christmas."

Inspired by this, I've decided to write my own version, called
"The 12 Angels of Christmas."

The nativity angel, dedicated in memory of Steve.

Today's angel is one I had made for the nativity
at St. John's York Mills Church.
Dad has also featured the nativity on his blog, so you can read the story here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O Little Town of Bethlehem, by Phillip Brooks.


May you feel the peace, love,
and deepest blessings of the season!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve:

Two hours of morning carols at a seniors home....


Carol singing...

Family worship at St. John's York Mills...

Candlelight worship at Church of the Messiah...

Late dinner tonight...

One more worship service tomorrow morning...

There's no other way we'd rather spend Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Twelve Creches of Christmas

To celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, my Dad,
Rev. Hollis Hiscock, is blogging about
The Twelve Creches of Christmas

Starting Christmas Day, he'll feature a daily creche from a variety sources.

You can follow his blog here:
Moss From a Rolling Stone

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blue Christmas...

Today, in our family, we remember those struggling this holiday season with
grief, depression, loneliness, addiction, or suicidal thoughts.

We encourage you to reach out to anyone in your family or your community who may be having a rough season.

If you need help,
we encourage you to reach out to someone -

a friend,
a teacher,
a family member,
a priest or pastor,
a health care worker,
a therapist,
a hot line, prayer line,
or 911.

We're praying that you feel peace today.

You are so loved!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ready for Christmas!

Today was incredible!

We started the morning with Church of the Messiah's Christmas pageant. The church looked beautiful with all the decorations. Instead of a traditional type of pageant, adults performed monologues to tell the stories of different witnesses to the first Christmas - Herod, the innkeeper, Mary, etc. In between each monologue, we sang the Taize chorus "Wait for the Lord." The monologues really humanized the Christmas story, reminding us of the variety of reactions we can all have to the same event.

Tonight was the Christmas Carol Service at St. John's York Mills. We really worked hard to blend the traditional lessons and carols format with the range of creativity we have at St. John's. The music featured organ, choir, handbells, and our Gathering Worship Band. Pre-service, we played a jazzy version of "What Child is This," featuring saxophone. For a congregational song, we played the Caribbean-inspired hymn, "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy" featuring lots of percussion and even a trombone.

We couldn't have Christmas Carol without singing "Silent Night," but we wanted to give it a little twist. Gerald played a classically-inspired version of the melody, while I told the tale of how Silent Night was composed for guitar. As the story ended, Gerald played a simple arpeggio, and I sang the first verse. On the second verse, the congregation joined in, and we added chimes, band, organ, and choir. Just beautiful!

Gerald had the idea of singing the classic "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth." complete with the opening clip from the original Bing Crosby/David Bowie video. Our choir's bass lead sang Bing, and Gerald was Bowie. It was wonderful to look out and see the smiles during the video.

Gerald leading the band in our pre-service rehearsal.

We also sang Gerald's song "My Heart is the Manger." This is truly one of my favourite Gerald songs ever, and it was awesome to include it in the service. After the service, I was flooded with positive comments about the song. When we do our Christmas album, this song will be first on our list.

We've been singing Christmas music for over a month now. It's been good, but as of today, I am officially, 100% in the Christmas spirit!

Bring on the eggnog!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I might annoy you this Christmas...

The store was feeling the crowded energy of Christmas shoppers.

I noticed two women in line ahead of me, getting agitated with the sales clerk. At first I thought they were together, and then I realized they weren't - their only connection was their mounting frustration with this lone salesperson.

One woman was waving her twenty dollar bill in the air and saying "It's just not worth the savings" with increasing vigour. The other was pacing back and forth, tapping her wallet on the counter and saying, "I'm still waaaaiting." over and over. Finally, the first woman just walked away, with a final "It's really not worth the savings." The other let the clerk check out her purchase, but only with voluminous sighs worthy of a community theatre melodrama.

It was finally my turn, so I smiled at the clerk as he dealt with my purchase. But he was so beaten down, so embarrassed, that he wouldn't meet my gaze.

This wasn't a bad person or a lazy worker -
just someone overwhelmed on a busy day
in a crowded store.

As he finished my transaction, I tried one more time. "I hope your day gets better." He finally looked up and caught my eye. I gave him my biggest, goofiest grin. "Hope your day gets better, " I sing-songed.

He laughed, I smiled, and that was when I decided...

This Christmas, I'm going to be the
most joyful
customer you've ever seen.

I'm going to smile at everyone - and I mean everyone!
I'm going to let you cut ahead of me in line.
I'm going to ask you, "How's it going?" before you check out my purchase.

And if things get too crazy, I may just break out in a round of
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" while you're crashing your shopping cart into mine.

Extreme times call for extreme measures. You may find my approach silly or annoying, but giant-sized Grinchiness must be met with freakishly fantastic festiveness!

My challenge to you: How are you battling the Grinch this year?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Loooooong Day!

Today is our longest day of singing for the year.

9:30-10:30 am - set up and sound check

10:30-11:30 am - lead music for morning worship at Church of the Messiah

12:00-3:00 pm - Christmas carolling at Allan Gardens Christmas Flower Show

3:30-5:00 pm - band rehearsal for The Gathering

5:00-6:00 pm - The Gathering worship service

And tonight - shhhhhhh.....

Great people, great music, and our carolling even made it on tv!

Good day, indeed!

The pond at Allan Gardens.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Every church really IS a small town...

Tonight, we sang our 3rd annual Gospel & Christmas concert at St. Barnabas Church in Peterborough. As we arrived at the church, I couldn't help but remember the snow and bitter cold that greeted us on last year's visit!

Our Christmas product table, featuring ornaments made by moi!

Early in the evening, we sang Gerald's song, "Every Church is a Small Town." As we were singing the first verse, a family arrived, late for the concert. They made their way to the front and began helping their elderly mother from her wheelchair into the pew.

As all this unfolded, the audience stopped listening to the song, and turned their attention to the family. Some gave them a welcoming smile. Others had a look of concern over the mother's failing health. Others left their seat to help the mother find her way into the pew.

"Oh no," I thought, "No one is going to hear Gerald's song!"

And then I realized, "Oh my goodness,
we're watching Gerald's song!"

It was amazing! Here we were, singing this message about every church being as loving, caring, and giving as a small town, and right before our eyes, we were seeing that message in action.

I shared my thoughts with Gerald on the drive home.

He said, "You know, I had the exact same thought process."

How beautiful and rare when Life imitates Art...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post-Birthday Bliss

Yesterday, we celebrated the start of Advent,
and the start of another year of Me!

I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday:

- singing in the morning at Church of the Messiah

- relaxed afternoon

- leading evening worship at The Gathering

- Thai food with all the family

- lots of chocolate, and a new MacBook Air!

Today, we're just relaxing...

And now that my birthday's over,
we can sing Christmas carols!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Infinitely More concert!

Tonight, we brought our East Coast Tour concert to St. John's York Mills.

I don't even know if it's fair to still call it our "tour concert." It was developed on tour, but since then, we've added new songs, and continued to tweak and tighten the transitions. I think I would just call it "our concert" now.

Either way, it was a fun night with an appreciative crowd. There were lots of photos taken, and I'll try to get them up soon.

We're starting our busy season now. Our product table was full of Christmas specials, and after Sunday, we'll be able to sing Christmas carols at home!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New photos!

I've just posted a new photo album featuring pics from last week's
Kerr Village Tree Lighting.

You can visit the album here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kerr Village Tree Lighting

November 18, and we've just completed our first Christmas gig of the season!

We braved the cold and wind to sing for tonight's Christmas tree lighting in the Kerr Village area of downtown Oakville. Outdoor gigs are always a challenge, but never more so than in near-winter weather. The wind blew over our music stands, so I sang the whole set holding on to Gerald's stand to keep it in place. The weather played havoc with the sound, knocking out the guitar feed several times. And the cold cut through all our clothing and turned Gerald's guitar-playing hands into fleshy knots.

But there's something special about singing Christmas music! Despite the chill, everyone seemed happy and appreciative - we even had some little girls dancing at the foot of the stage.

The point of the evening!

About halfway through the set, Gerald turned to me and said, "Let's do Lean on Me." Not Christmas, but whatever. As we were singing it, a woman approached Mom at the CD table. She had a large bandage covering part of her face. "I've just finished cancer treatment. Part of my nose has been removed, and this is the song that got me through it." She bought our hymns CD, and Mom gave her a few angel ornaments, just because.

This week, we received encouraging news about someone we know who's fighting cancer. I can't help but think that we heard this woman's story for a reason tonight.

We got lots of photos tonight. I'll post them later - when I defrost a bit!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We're bringing our East Coast Tour Concert to Toronto!

Mark your calendar and join us for a great night of
music and inspiration!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Break Forth!

We're attending Break Forth!

Last year, we attended this awesome worship conference, and it was just incredible. 3 full days of learning from some of the best leaders in worship skills and songwriting, with 15,000 people from all across Canada.

To see photos from last year, click here.

We'll be booking some concerts in the Edmonton area for January 24, 25, and 26. If you're interested in booking us, please visit here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Wild Sunday...

Today was hardly a "day of rest" for us,
but it was definitely a vibrant and memorable Sunday...

- a sermon from the Bishop

- tech issues from a buzzing mic

- a baby-dunking baptism

- John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy"

- liturgical dance

- Gerald's mouth trumpet on "Oh When the Saints"

The font at Church of the Messiah. Yes, the baby went completely under!

- band rehearsal moved to a new room for the day!

- Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"

- Communion at The Gathering

- Gerald's stunning new setting of "In Flanders Fields"

- awesome band that can play beautifully with an unplugged rehearsal

We each pinned a poppy on the cross as we gathered around the altar for Communion.

Thankful for a full day, and a well-earned tired.

Flowers from the altar guild at Church of the Messiah - thank you, ladies!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My Dad got a cover story!

My Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, has written a great article for
Silver and Gold magazine called

Is Faith Still Alive?

It's made the cover of the magazine!

You can find the magazine by clicking here.

The article is on page 8.

Yay, Dad!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Rehearsal Buddy...

The puppies always want to be around us when we're rehearsing.
Sometimes, they bring a ball and try to join in our 'game.'
Other times, they ask to get picked up.
They love it when I hold them while I'm singing.

Tonight, Sebastian asked to get up while I was working out the harmonies for Gerald's new song.

If I can ever teach him to sing a third harmony line,
we're buying a bus and taking the show on the road!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New photos!

I've just posted our photos from Saturday's Music Team Workshop!

You can see them on our Infinitely More Facebook page here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music Team Workshop

Today, we lead the first-ever combined Music Team Workshop at St. John's York Mills. We invited members of the choir, morning worship team, and Gathering worship band for a time of learning and fellowship.

Gerald teaching the importance of a great song idea.

Patrick, the church's new organist and choir director, spoke about his plan for the morning worship program. I introduced the idea that everyone - whether a player or a singer - is not just a musician, but a 'worship leader.' Gerald taught a great segment on songwriting, focusing on the importance of a great idea and a great hook. We also shared our plan to start a monthly Christian songwriting group, which was met with lots of enthusiasm.

After we worked everyone's brains, we all relaxed with a feast of Thai food. Some people borrowed training DVDs, some shared ideas from the workshop, but mostly there was just lots of chatting and laughing.

I'm so excited that we've been able to introduce workshops to our church's music program. I think they're a great tool, not just for teaching skills, but especially for building community.

I'll let you know when I post photos...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Those Autumn Leaves...

A little glimpse of the changing season:

Virginia creeper

Wild rose hips

I love these colours!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dunking the Baby

We started our morning at Church of the Messiah for a service of baptism and communion. I'm a huge fan of baptism services - adults or babies, they always move me. I love the idea that we're welcoming a new "family member."

I've seen lots of baptisms - mostly babies, some sprinkle-on-the-head adults, and a few full immersion adult baptisms - but never a full immersion infant baptism!

Stained glass at Church of the Messiah

Instead of using the stone font, a large galvanized tub was moved to the centre of the worship space and filled with warm water. It was draped with a decorative cloth and became the centerpiece of the service. It was the perfect height when the children gathered to watch the baptism. After the prayers, we lead the congregation in singing "Wade in the Water" as the baby changed out of her fancy dress. As Tay prayed the words of baptism, he slowly lowered the baby into the water, until he gently covered her nose to dip her - quickly and completely - under the water and out again.

It was a beautiful image of a life changed, purified, and transformed.

In the evening, we led our worship band for The Gathering. There are some nights when it just flows, and this was one of them. Every song felt like it was in the right place at the right time. People lifted their voices and their hearts. The message was challenging and insightful. Gerald sang "If They Knew It Was Me" - one of the most powerful songs he's ever written.

Our Sundays are busy, but I wouldn't change them for the world.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cool things about today:

- singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" as the offertory at Church of the Messiah
(yes, it fit the Gospel!)

- debuting our new original setting of Psalm 126

- thoughtful, inspiring messages by Rev. Tay Moss and Rev. Anne Crosswait

- singing "I Can See Clearly Now" with Gerald

- playing with our awesome 7-piece band at The Gathering

- glorious sunshine the second weekend of October!

Take a little time this Thanksgiving to count your blessings...


I took all these photos at St. John's York Mills today.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Jesus Jam photos...

... are now up on our Facebook page.

I've also added a few photos to our
"Making Music" album from our recent visit to
St. John's Weston.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Why I Love Mondays

Our Sundays have become really full:

  • early morning rehearsal
  • sound check
  • morning service
  • break for lunch
  • private rehearsal
  • band rehearsal
  • Gathering service
  • Chinese food and television

Sometimes we shake it up with Thai food and a movie, but you get the picture.

I'm definitely not complaining. We feel incredibly blessed to make a living doing what we love. I'm just acknowledging the reality that for most people in ministry, Sunday isn't our day of rest. And working in music always feels like a 24-7 job.

Last spring I found myself feeling completely overworked. There's this myth out there that if you're self-employed, you can pick and choose your work hours. The real danger is that you can actually end up working every day - taking gigs when they arise, writing songs when they come, arranging rehearsals around everyone's busy schedules, and constantly tackling site updates, music selection, booking, grant applications, writing newsletters, organizing gear...

So now, we take Mondays off.

I've taken to putting a vacation reply on my email so I don't feel obligated to check it "just in case". We try to avoid any kind of house work, car repair, or errands. And the best part is if we do go out somewhere, it's usually pretty quiet because the rest of the city is having a workday.

The only goal is to rest, reflect, spend time with family, and face a day with no expectations.

If you're self-employed, I highly recommend choosing your own day of rest, ordering some hot and sour soup, and reminding yourself that "rest" can sometimes be more productive than "work".

FYI - I've dated this for Monday, but let's be honest, I'm writing it on Tuesday and just adjusting the date. Nothing this solid was actually accomplished yesterday...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Jesus Jam at Church of the Messiah

Today was full so this blog will not be.

We had great services today, starting at Church of the Messiah in the morning and finishing with The Gathering tonight. Our 8-piece band at The Gathering included a violin solo on "My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness" - beautiful!

After the morning service, the children of Messiah were invited to join us for a Jesus Jam. We chose Hillsong Kids' "Let Your Light Shine" - which is crazy catchy and still ringing through my head - and invited the kids to bring their instruments and play along.

We had 2 guitarists, 1 violinist, and group of children who wanted to play shakers. The real challenge was the vast range of experience in the instrumentalists. Gerald was awesome in the way he taught the song to each child, finding ways for even the most inexperienced to feel included.

While we were teaching the song, some children were drawing on a large canvas. In the end, they all came together and played the song in our Rock Star Finale. It was a lot of work, but I think each child was able to learn something.

I'll be posting photos later this week...

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Video!

When we were in Newfoundland, we visited the church where my Dad was baptized. I'm a sucker for singing in an empty church, and the results are here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back to Church Sunday

What a full and rich day!

Today was "Back to Church" Sunday in the Anglican Church - a day when people are invited to return to the church, or just visit for the first time.

This morning, we played the always friendly St. John's Weston. We shared the music for the service with the music director, Marianne Gast, so the congregation got a good mix of organ, piano, choir, and our guitar-driven sound. This church has a tight but welcoming community, and it was awesome to hear them sing out!

St. John's Weston

In the evening, we played with our worship band for The Gathering at St. John's York Mills. We had an awesome team with piano, keyboard, percussion, guitar, 3 vocalists, and saxophone.

To emphasize the theme of 'community', we sang Gerald's song "Every Church is a Small Town," which was inspired by events and people at St. John's. Some members of the congregation heard it at our Fireside Concert, but it was powerful to finally sing it in the church itself. I'm always so proud of Gerald when we sing that song, but never more than tonight. The reaction was potent. We received feedback at the church and even via Facebook, and I can honestly say - it's been humbling.

As a planner and an organizer, I find there are times when the business side of being a musician can get distracting. But then there are days like this, when we get a glimpse into how much our music, our art, can affect the lives around us. It's a more-than-gentle reminder of the real priorities of the 'job'...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Burlington House Concert

Earlier this year, my parents decided they wanted to host an Infinitely More house concert. Our original plan was to sing in the garden, but between recent rains and a neighbour's crazy lawn mower, we made a last minute decision to move indoors.

The living/dining room was actually a fantastic setting. We turned the dining table into a product table, our SoloAmp provided the perfect amount of sound, and the audience sat in a cozy cluster of chairs. During the intermission, everyone wandered out on the deck to enjoy the sunshine and refreshments.

Our house concert set up...

We performed the show we developed on our East Coast Tour. We've been focusing on worship services for the past few weeks, and it felt great to do the show again. And it's always fantastic to have an audience who's ready to smile, laugh, and sing along.

One of the audience members took lots of photos, so I'll post them as soon as I get them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Challenge of Choosing Worship Music

One of the great challenges of being a worship leader is choosing music for the weekly service.

How many songs?
Fast songs?
Slow songs?
Not too many slow!
Old songs?
New songs?
Didn't we do that last week?
What's the scripture reading?
What's the sermon theme?
What's the liturgical season?
That song has too many verses!
That team member hates that song!
That key is too high/low, has too many sharps/flats, needs a capo for the guitar and a transposed chart for the sax player...

I've heard the process compared to a doing a jigsaw puzzle, walking a tight rope, and being a DJ.

Gerald using his iPhone to tune his guitar.

Today, I've been in all day planning mode. Still a few gaps to fill, but mostly happy with our choices.

Of course, tonight I may have some kind of worship concert dream and then have to redo the whole list in the morning!

And still, it's one of my favourite parts of the job...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11

How can we worship today and not think about the events of 10 years ago?

I remember watching the second plane hit.

I remember walking outside, and the streets of downtown Toronto being freakishly quiet.

I remember our church gathering that night to pray, sing, and worship.

Today, we led worship at Church of the Messiah in the morning, and at The Gathering tonight. Both services were wonderful and vibrant in their own unique way. We're at Messiah for the next few months, and we're excited about partnering with this creative congregation. This was our first Gathering since July, and it felt awesome to be back at it.

Gerald sang his song "Angels in the Dust" at both services. He wrote it after meeting a first responder. The man had spent a month in the rubble - searching for survivors, and then for victims. We've sung the song a number of times over the years, but singing it today was a whole new experience.

Today felt so personal - hearing the memories of others, recognizing healing, and sharing the trials of forgiveness. Feeling humbled and blessed tonight...

Monday, September 05, 2011

Blog Scooped!

I've been scooped!

Paula Fredericks collects blog posts that reference house concerts. She picked up my post about our Bedford house concert.

You can see it all here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tour Day 31 - Home

Safely home!!!

An amazing month. It'll take a while to process it all.

A few notes:

  • 6138 KM
  • 5 provinces
  • 11 performances
  • 3 ferries
  • 2 new songs
  • 100+ photos
  • 12+ hours of video
  • 3 guitars we wanted to buy but couldn't afford
  • countless hours of visiting, chatting, sharing, and eating

A huge thank you to everyone who has shared this adventure with us!

We truly appreciate your prayers and your support. I'll let you know when the rest of the photos and videos are posted.

For now - family, puppies, laundry...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tour Day 30 - Montreal

- awesome brunch

- stunning Anglican cathedral

- lots of walking

- free espresso tasting and demo

- amazing public art

- lots of photos

- exploring the underground city

- all you can eat sushi

- reflecting on the past month

- packing for tomorrow

One more day of driving and we're home. I can't believe it's been a month.

There's so much to process, and we'll be taking lots of time for that over the next few weeks.

For now, I'm just ready for a safe drive tomorrow, and a happy reunion with our puppies!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tour Day 29 - Back in Montreal

I know lots of areas are suffering today from Irene, but things seem thankfully untouched here in Edmundston.

So now, we're very much on the way home.

After two long days of driving, we decided to spent the next two nights of our tour just as we began - in Montreal.

We had dinner in a fantastic Italian restaurant with a super-cheap lobster special and platters of pasta. When the violinist visited our table, he played my request of La Vie en Rose. What a glorious start to the evening!

As we wandered the streets of Montreal, we found a sprawling music store called Archambault. It was huge! The first floor and basement contained CDs and DVDs. The Gospel section and the Swing section were side by side - it's like it was designed for me!

The second floor contained thousands of music books, sheet music, scores, and even more CDs and listening stations.

The third floor contained instruments and gear, so this is where we spent most of our time. In every city we visit, Gerald always tries to find locally built guitars, and there are lots in Montreal. We found some great handmade Boucher guitars, including a big-sounding, tiny guitar that we took turns playing. It's rare we both fall in love with the same guitar, and it was difficult to leave her behind.

Gerald also tried a Daddy Mojo. He had seen them online and was very curious. The body of the guitar is a wooden cigar box. Each one is handmade, and the sound is bluesy. They look outrageously cool, but Gerald decided it's more a guitar to look at than play.

One of my favourite memories of tonight: playing a two-guitar version of Brighter Happy Day in the guitar room.

I haven't been playing guitar in our shows lately. I think I want to change that...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tour Day 28 - Hurricane Irene

We got the email first thing this morning.

We'd been watching the reports of Irene, and could see her heading towards New Brunswick. We wondered would happen with our St. Andrew's concert. Even if we could make it into the area, would anyone want to venture out to see us.

When the concert was canceled, we were disappointed but not surprised.

We got in the car and drove. We thought we'd be able to get out of the storm range, but then we heard it's going to hit as far west as Quebec.

So we're hunkered down in Edmundston, NB, and praying for all in Irene's path...

Till the storm passes over,
till the thunder sounds no more,

Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Lyric by Mosie Lister

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tour Day 27 - Bedford House Concert

We awoke to another large day - brilliant sunshine with nary a breeze in sight.

Our first stop was the Halifax Folklore Centre - a brilliant music store! As we played guitars, Gerald told me the story of the last time he was in the store. He was playing one of his original songs when he realized a man was listening to him. The man said "Nice song."

It was Garnet Rogers, brother and musical partner of Stan Rogers.

The highlight of this visit was playing a 1938 Gibson - well worn with a sound to reflect its long, full life. They said it wasn't for sale, unless the right home came along. You know, like if Amy Grant called looking for a birthday present for Vince Gill... then they might consider selling it.

Lunch was a wonderful patio experience with a high school buddy of Gerald's. Love hearing stories of the-teen-who-would-become-my-husband!

Tonight we drove into beautiful Bedford for a house concert. Tom and Elaine have a great living room for a concert - high ceilings, open floor plan, and a willingness to move their furniture around. Most of the audience knew each other, so there was a really warm feeling in the room.

Just before the show, a woman walked up and said, "Remember me?" It was my godmother!! I haven't seen her in years! Apparently, my Mom knew she was coming, but didn't tell me, which was awesome! So good to see her!!

The whole night just felt wonderful! The music felt alive, and people responded really positively to our new song, "Infinitely More." We had lots of time in the intermission and after the show to visit with people, and it was great to hear their stories. There's something so special about singing Gospel music in some one's living room.

Watching the weather reports of Hurricane Irene tonight and wondering about the fate of tomorrow's concert ...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tour Day 26 - Halifax

Writing from beautiful Halifax!

After a deep night's sleep on the ferry, we had a bright day for driving. Our Saturday concert is in Bedford, so for tonight, we found a great little boutique hotel in Halifax. We were referred to a fantastic restaurant called Jane's which featured treats like teriyaki scallops and rhubarb cordial.

For this whole trip, we've been heading east, finding new places every day.

Today was the first day we started driving west.

Still two concerts this weekend, but home is in sight.

Well, two concerts, assuming Irene doesn't bust up the party...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tour Day 25 - The Ferry!

I swear I'm 10 years old when I'm on a boat!

We had an excellent morning in St. John's - awesome brunch with friends, easy packing, and a beautiful drive out to Argentia. Tonight is the long ferry ride - 14 hours!

When we booked the ferry, there were no cabins left. The ship has sleeper chairs, but really, who wants to spend the night that way? We were added to the wait list, and I called several times, but still no cabins. We boarded at 5:00, and I went straight to the purser's desk to ask one more time. I literally cheered when he gave me the key. I think I won the prize as most enthusiastic customer of the trip!

Our room is tiny but efficient - 2 beds (4 if we used the upper bunks), 3 piece bath, desk, table, 2 closets, and a TV.

As soon as we settled in, I went exploring. This ship isn't as snazzy as the Blue Puttee, but it still has a great gift shop, games room, kids zone, internet cafe, and 2 restaurants. There's a brightly coloured lounge with wifi and wrap-around windows. I had a lovely hot chocolate and people watched. I also watched the sunset from the deck. Windy and damp, but really beautiful.

I love being on a boat!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tour Day 24 - Final St. John's Jaunt

Today was our last full day in St. John's, and we couldn't have had more perfect weather!

After swimming through a pile of emails, we headed out to lunch with our friends and hosts, Paul and Carol. We went to a fantastic little cafe near St. Thomas' for great food and vibrant conversation.

Gerald and I then struck out down Duckworth St. for another jaunt through downtown. I bought a little antique at Livyers, one of my favourite treasure spots in the city. We just followed wherever the streets lead, poking our heads into shops, cafes, and other hideaways.

In the late afternoon, we took the winding road up Signal Hill to Cabot Tower. There's lots of history in this area, but for us, it was all about the views. (You can see photos here.)

When I first moved to Toronto, there was something that always felt odd, but I could never put my finger on it. I met a girl from Victoria, and she mentioned how much she missed the ocean.

It's true.

When you grow up looking at the ocean every day, it somehow shapes you. You spend your days next to something truly beautiful, and truly dangerous.

When you live by the ocean,
you're constantly reminded that the world is huge,
and you're just tiny.

Gerald and I found a great little pub downtown for an evening feast of cod tongues, scrunchions, cod, shrimp, and scallops. With the exception of the light fixture crashing from the ceiling at the next table, it was a pretty nice place.

We took an lingering drive around Quidi Vidi Lake, which looked beautiful in the sunshine. Quidi Vidi Village is a little fishing community right inside St. John's. It was always an ignored part of town, but a few years ago, people realized the beauty of living by the water, and lots of new houses have popped up.

We finished the day with more socializing, and some packing. Tomorrow, we head to Argentia and take the ferry to North Sydney, NS.

Praying we get a cabin!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tour Day 23 - St. John's & New Photos!

Today featured classic St. John's weather -

...rolling fog...

You could just see it sweeping across the city.

With the chance to see the ocean gone (you couldn't see hills, much less anything past them), we settled in for a big screen movie and an afternoon of just relaxing. We have a busy weekend coming up, so we're really trying to rest up now.

We spent the night feasting and laughing with family. It's such a rare treat to spend time with them - I'm soaking in every moment.

The relaxing day also gave me a chance to post some photos!
You can see them all here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tour Day 22 - St. John's Downtown

Thanks to a day of glorious sunshine, we were able to spend the entire afternoon downtown!


- Watching Gerald play speed chess and kick butt!

- Sipping lattes at Hava Java.

- Finding awesome music/worship books at Afterwords.

- Getting a private bodhran demonstration at O'Brien's Music.

- Buying an Irish penny whistle at O'Brien's.

- Seeing fantastic artisan work at different shops.

- Enjoying a "Newfoundland Roll" at a sushi restaurant.

- Walking around the gorgeous downtown, enjoying the sights, and seeing a familiar face or two.

Posting photos tomorrow - I promise!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tour Day 21 - St. Thomas' & A New Song!

Today, we spent the day singing at the church where I was baptized - St. Thomas' Church in St. John's. How awesome to walk into this beautiful building! We haven't been here for years, and it always feels like coming home.

St. Thomas' - The Old Garrison Church

The church is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary, and as I sat in the pews, I was flooded with memories of the 150th anniversary, celebrated while my Dad was rector of the parish.

We sang two songs for the morning service, and at the coffee hour, we were hugged and loved by many dear friends!

This evening, we did our concert. It was so wonderful to sing for so many familiar faces.

One of the highlights of the show (at least for us!) was debuting our new song, Infinitely More! This is the song Gerald starting writing back in Cheticamp, NS. We finished the bridge yesterday, added harmony, and sang it tonight. It felt so good to sing it in public, and we received a lot of encouraging feedback.

That wraps up our Newfoundland concerts. We have shows next weekend in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but for the next three days, we can just putter around the city and spend time with family. Hope the weather cooperates!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tour Day 20 - Kenny's Pond

As I'm writing tonight's post I'm indulging in a dark chocolate truffle flavoured with Newfoundland berries. Outstanding!

For a while now, Gerald has been mulling over the idea of having a signature song for Infinitely More. The first pieces came in Cape Breton, and today, the final lines came together. We spent the morning writing the bridge, and we're so excited! We're going to do a final polish tomorrow afternoon, and if we feel confident, we may debut it tomorrow night.

This afternoon, we visited the beautiful Kenny's Pond Retirement Residence for an afternoon concert. We were in a beautiful room on the sixth floor with an amazing view of the pond, and stretching out to Signal Hill.

An ad for our concert in the elevator of the retirement residence.

We had a great crowd who sang and laughed and really enjoyed themselves. After the show, we were invited to join in the spread of coffee, tea, sweets and other delights. What a gorgeous place! Gerald and I considered putting in our applications, but figure we still have a few years before we take that step.

I've been organizing our photos and video from the last week, and I'm going to post some stuff tomorrow or Monday. I'd do it tonight, but we've been asked to sing a few songs at St. Thomas' tomorrow morning, so it'll be an early rise.

My word, this truffle is good!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tour Day 19 - Church of the Good Shepherd, Mount Pearl

We've been itching to get to downtown St. John's, so we took advantage of the sunny weather and headed down for the afternoon. There's no way you can cover all the bookstores, antique shops, cafes, and artisan nooks in one day, so we paced ourselves by just hitting a section of Duckworth St.

We dropped by Fred's Music, where we played an in-store concert on our last visit, about 7 years ago. We were shocked when the guy behind the counter remembered us by name! Fred's is a huge supporter of local music, so we had a great chat about local artists, including Newfoundland's newest friend, Russell Crowe.

Our afternoon ended with a cappuccino, sipped overlooking the Narrows.

There are only 2 things I really miss from home on this trip:
our puppies, and our espresso maker!!

Our concert tonight was at Church of the Good Shepherd in Mount Pearl. It's a fairly new church (the congregation is only 25 years old) with a beautifully open sanctuary and a modern touch in the stained glass.

Tonight was one of these nights when we feel really fortunate to do what we do. There was something awesome moving in the room. We felt very connected to the audience, and we could tell by their singing and their expressions that they were feeling the Spirit too. It sounds flaky when I try to describe it, but it really was potent.

At the CD table, I was able to have some good chats with people. It was awesome to see some great family friends!!

We've been taking lots of photos and videos this week. I'm going to try and post some this weekend. No promises, but I will post a link once they're up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tour Day 18 - Salvage to St. John's!!!

Today's weather was exactly what I ordered: sunny, big sky, bit of a breeze.

We left Eastport and made the beautiful drive to Salvage. We drove slowly to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. The sky was huge, bright, and scattered with puffs of white. The water was the colour of new denim. The greens, browns, and greys of the landscape shimmered in the sunshine.

It's on days like this that people spontaneously decide to abandon city life and live 'round the bay.

Salvage is truly picture perfect. It could be a set created by Hollywood to portray the classic fishing story of Newfoundland.

Our destination was St. Stephen's Church. It was in this beautiful wooden church where my father was baptized. The church was empty today, so we spent a fair bit of time in it, looking at all the details and imagining the generations who have walked its aisles.

We decided to shoot a little video (which I'll post soon), so I sang a verse of "This is My Father's World" - I couldn't resist the double meaning.

In the afternoon, we had a relaxed drive into my birthplace, St. John's! There's nothing like being home! We're staying the next week with lifelong family friends. We have 3 concerts this weekend, and then 3 play days. I'm going to enjoy every second!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tour Day 17 - Eastpost, and New Family History

I'm almost giddy remembering the events of tonight.

The Parish of Salvage is a five-point parish, and tonight we sang in gorgeous Holy Cross Church in Eastport. The sanctuary is so striking. It's build in a cross shape, with high open-beamed ceilings and lots of handcrafted details.

We had a great concert with an audience full of sweet people. We added a new song - "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" - that went over really well.

We were excited to sing in this beautiful church, but in the interest of full disclosure, we had another reason to be excited about tonight.

Salvage is my Dad's birthplace!

He didn't spend his whole life here, but I had a secret wish we might meet someone who had known my Dad's family. Before and after the show, I met a lot of people who knew my Dad in one capacity or another, which was great, but then I met Bride.

Bride knew my grandmother.

Dad's mom passed away when he was very young, so there are few family memories of her. I felt like I was touching a piece of lost history tonight. I couldn't believe it when Bride started naming the members of my family - she knew them all! She mentioned how she would visit my grandmother and her sister. She said my grandmother was a beautiful woman, and a sweet lady.

But then she shared the best piece of information - my grandmother could sing! Apparently, she played piano, and was a "beautiful singer". My heart jumped! I don't think I've ever heard this about her before. I have great memories of Mom's mom (my Nana) singing in the church choir, but it was awesome to hear that about Dad's mom too! I felt my roots get deeper and stronger.

It's hard to put my feelings about all this into words. I was so truly blessed by tonight. Really looking forward to spending a little more time here tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tour Day 16 - Indian Bay

For a province that's had a terrible summer, we've really been blessed with a lot of great weather since we arrived.

Today was not one of those days.

Between pouring rain, wet twisting roads, and watching for moose, it was a slow drive to Indian Bay.

But the drive was well worth it. We're staying the night with our good friend Rev. David Coffin. We met David years ago when he was the rector in Botwood, and he's got a great spot here in Indian Bay - beautiful community, and a rectory with a stunning view.

Tonight's concert was sponsored by the church but held in the Lion's Community Center - a large space with a great stage. We had a fantastic crowd who sang along and gave us a lot of encouragement.

David is a great singer, so in the second half of the show, we invited him up to sing with us on "This is My Father's World." As we've been driving through the gorgeous east coast provinces, this hymn has come to us many times. Little did we know that it's also David's favourite hymn! He and I each sang a verse, and the three of us sang the last verse with harmony. Awesome!

With Rev. David Coffin, after the show.

I'm always challenged standing at the product table after the show. Yes, we want to sell CDs, but we also hear many stories of the challenges people are facing. Last night was no exception. It reminded me of the stakes of what we're doing up there on stage.

There's an old adage in ministry:
Treat everyone like they're hurting, and most of the time you'll be right.
So true.

After the concert, we stayed up late chatting and sharing stories. We'll never become millionaires working in ministry, but after a night like tonight - good friends, good stories, good food - our life is rich indeed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tour Day 15 - Treasure Hunt!

We started the day with a creative meeting. As today marks the midpoint of the tour, we figured this was a good time to check in with each other, review our program, and make plans for the next set of shows.

We also watched some of the video we shot in Leading Tickles. I'm hoping to cut and post a few songs soon.

The weather this afternoon was perfect, so I headed out and found a walking path where the old railway used to be. I have so many memories of playing on those tracks as a kid - walking on the rails and picking up stray spikes.

A plate from the long gone Newfoundland Railway.

The path lead me to a hidden rocky beach. I had to climb down through some long grass and stinger nettles to find it, but once there, I felt like a 10-year-old.

Spoils from my treasure hunt!

I found all kinds of treasures - luminescent white shells, coloured stones worn smooth by the waves, and buffed pieces of sea glass. One of the pieces of glass was from an old Javex bottle which, according to my online search, was manufactured in either 1956 or 1966 by Dominion Glass.

Javex bottle sea glass.

Our final night in Botwood was spent the best way we could spend it - sitting outside, enjoying a great meal with my awesome family.

Tomorrow, back on the road...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tour Day 14 - Scrunchions, Frogs, and Risque Worship

This morning, we returned to St. James' Church in Botwood to sing for their morning service.

We decided to do Gerald's song "All The Things I've Broken" because it really fit the sermon, and "Just a Closer Walk" because, well, it's fun. During the sharing of the peace, the organist asked if we would also do the offertory, so we added "Give Me Jesus."

At St. James', they sing a lot of their liturgy to energetic music, so the whole service had a joyful, but still worshipful, feeling.

The rest of the day was devoted to relaxing with family. We took a spin down to the museum and gift shop on the old airbase. Out on the base, the Salvation Army Church was holding an open air service. The speakers and band were set up in a grassy area. The place was packed with cars, and most people either sat in their cars or just stood outside. Kind of reminded me of a drive-in movie. The music was fantastic, of course. Had I known they were doing the service, I probably would have attended. I really love seeing worship outside the walls of the church. I'm sure some people find it cheesy, or maybe even offensive, but I think that's why I find it daring, exciting, and even a little risque.

For dinner, we visited a great restaurant and indulged in Newfoundland specialities - fresh cod, scrunchions, and partridge berries. The weather today was just stunning, so after dinner we visited my cousins' for a bonfire, complete with smores and catching frogs (led by my 9-year-old cousin).

I just love being here. I really wish there was a shorter commute between Toronto and Botwood.

When someone invents teleportation, let me know...

More photos!

I'm on a roll!

I've just added the photos from this weekend's concerts in Botwood and Leading Tickles, NL.

You can view them here:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tour Day 13 - Leading Tickles, NL

We left Botwood after an early supper to take the rolling, scenic drive to Leading Tickles for tonight's concert.

Leading Tickles is a gorgeous little town, especially on a sunny day like today. The town is actually on an island, and the water, views, and hidden feeling give it a special quality.

I've had a few people ask me about the origin of the name "Leading Tickles". Locals just call it The Tickle, but I haven't learned any real history yet. If anyone has any, please leave a comment!

A few years ago, the Anglican church was burned to the ground. With a lot of donations and hard work, a new sanctuary was erected. I would call this new church modern-traditional. It looks like it's been there forever, yet it's bright and new with all the modern fixings.

Unloading gear at St. Nicholas' Church

Our audience tonight was wonderful! They sang along when invited, and even when we didn't invite them, I could see people singing and worshiping quietly in their pews.

After the show, we were hosted to a fantastic spread of homemade sweets and treats.

Tonight was our only night drive of the trip, and I don't mind saying we prayed for a moose-free trip all the way home!

New photos!

I've just posted our Cape Breton photos on our Facebook page!

If you haven't visited yet, please visit our page for lots of tour photos and video. You can see our content even if you're not a Facebook member:

And if you are on Facebook, please *like* us!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tour Day 12 - St. James' Church, Botwood

What a fantastic night!

As I mentioned yesterday, it was great to actually have a full rehearsal in the church. We left our gear set up overnight, so when we arrived at the church tonight, we just had to do a few last minute adjustments, and we were ready to go.

We had a great audience, and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the crowd.

My uncle is a songwriter, and a few years ago when they visited Toronto, we all sat for a night and played songs for each other. A few weeks ago, I found the lyrics he'd left us, but we couldn't remember any of the melodies. So we picked a lyric that spoke to us, wrote new music, and surprised him with it tonight in the concert.

The song is called "Peace, Joy, and Love" and the chorus is based on Matthew 7:7. We wrote a gentle and lyrical melody that really seemed to fit the words. When we were singing it, I couldn't look at my uncle, but when we were done, I could tell he was pleased, which made it all worth while.

After the concert, there were tea and buns and lots of fellowship. My little cousin, Christian, came back to help me at the product table, and there were lots of hugs and laughs all around the room.

Looking forward to singing in Leading Tickles tomorrow night!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tour Day 11 - Rehearsal

It's nice to finally be settled in one place for a few days.

After a relaxing morning, we visited the church where we'll be singing tomorrow night. We had the luxury of actually setting up all our gear and doing a full rehearsal in the sanctuary. After a few days of driving, it was great to touch and tweak all the songs. We usually get about an hour or so to set up for a concert, so it was fantastic to have several hours to really adjust our sound and get used to the acoustic.

Tomorrow, we'll have a quick sound check, set up our CDs, and then have the concert. After the show, the church is hosting a reception right in the sanctuary, so we're really looking forward to a great night!

If you're in the area, here are our weekend shows:

St. James' Anglican Church
Friday, August 12

St. Nicholas' Anglican Church
Leading Tickles
Saturday, August 13

An offering will be taken at each concert.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tour Day 10 - We're in Botwood!

I don't have the exact mileage in front of me, but so far, we've driven over 1700 KM on this trip. And we have the gas bills to prove it!

Today was another full day in the car as we headed east towards my Mom's home town of Botwood. My extended family still live here, and the town is full of great memories for me.

Our drive today was clear and easy. We spent a lot of the time listening to music and singing along. We've been giving ourselves different vocal challenges, like trying to learn both an upper and lower harmony on the same song. Other times, we just switch into silly songwriting mode, improvising ridiculous lyrics and trying to crack each other up. Yes, over 1700 KM and counting...

We always love trying local and unusual food on our travels, so today, we tried moose burgers. They had a really distinct taste - kind of gamey, I guess? We liked it, but I don't know if we'd order them again.

I'm so happy to be in Botwood now! We'll be here for several days, and we have concerts Friday and Saturday night. It's so awesome to be around my family. The next few days are gonna be good!!