Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lose a Voice - Read a Book...

So, as frustrating as my recent bout with laryngitis has been, I've been reminded by friends and supporters that this is also a time to rest, think, and allow myself some quiet time.

One gift has been hour upon hour of reading. I've started and finished 3 books in the past week!

I've enjoyed all three, so I wanted to share them with you. Here goes:

By Todd Burpo

I will totally admit that I secretly mocked this book for months (which goes against my personal philosophy of not judging a book I haven't read, a movie I haven't seen, or a song I haven't heard, but I digress...) I had so many people recommend it that I finally gave in. And I have to admit, I was moved. I don't know how much of it I can believe, but I do believe that this family had an extraordinary experience, and it's one worth sharing. The book is well written, and I think the discussions it can evoke are worth having.

By Ann Patchett

I read Ann's book Bel Canto as my 'airplane book' a few years ago, so I was excited when I saw this on the table at Costco. I love books that tell stories from multiple points of view. A theme in a lot of my reading and watching this year seems to be "the power of being loved." This book investigates the consequences of not accepting that love. Great storytelling and writing!

(Previously released at THE BARBARIAN WAY)
By Erwin Raphael McManus)

I heard Erwin at this year's Break Forth conference and he was my favourite speaker of the weekend. This book encourages us to rip away at civilized Christianity, and answer the primal call of Christ to "Follow me." What do we do when Christ calls us into risky places? What does a Christian 'barbarian' look like? It's obvious that Erwin is a bit of an adrenaline junky, so it would have been nice to have a few examples of risk taking that don't involve waterskis, ATVs, or visits to the ER. That said, I love this book. It's one of those books that shouldn't be simply read and closed - instead, we should use it to re-evaluate our faith walk and practices.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Every Singer's Nightmare...

Over a week ago, I started to feel a tightness in my throat. I told myself I was just tired and needed to warm up a little more gently, but I was wrong. Before long, I had every singer's nightmare: a lost voice!

I fought it for days - keeping silent when I could, drinking herbal throat tea with honey, breathing through my nose - but it was no use.

By Wednesday night, I was silenced.

On Thursday, I had to cancel a class. I started communicating with Gerald by texting.

On Friday, we had to cancel my time in the studio. Gerald told me I was off the team for Sunday's Gathering service.

On Saturday, I listened as Gerald and Monika rehearsed for Sunday.

And today, I spent the afternoon in a glorious bath of self-pity. 

I was just so frustrated!!! Here we are, recording vocals for our CDs, and I have no voice!! Our schedule is so tight, and we've already been put behind with some technical stuff, and now, I'm completely useless.

So tonight, I sat in the pew while Gerald led worship for the Gathering.

I was tired, but I knew I needed to worship. I opened my hands, lifted my arms, and sang my heart-song to God. I prayed, and listened, and felt the spirit.

I had chosen the songs for the service last week. How was it that I planned "Be Still and Know"? Did God plant that in my heart because He knew I'd need to hear it tonight?

I can't say I'm happy that I'm still voiceless, but I can say this:

Refreshed by worship, encouraged by friends, loved by my husband, and loved by God - 
I feel at peace tonight.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: The Truth About Grace by John MacArthur

I choose this book to review for 2 reasons: I had heard great things about John MacArthur, and I'll take any chance to read about grace. I finished this book for two reasons: I had agreed to review it, and I hoped I'd learn something about grace.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't hate this book, but there were 2 things in the first chapter that, if I hadn't agreed to review it, would have made me put it down. First, instead of quoting scripture, it gave scripture references. Now, unless you have your Bible memorized (which truly, I do not) then you either need to stop reading and look up every single reference, or you need to keep reading and think, "Well, I assume that reference meant something." Either way, you're not getting the most out of the message. Second, even though I feel solid in my basic theology and church terminology, I still felt like he was speaking academically at times. It made me wonder if this was written for a different kind of target audience?

Now, all that said, I think there's actually some great insight in this book. MacArthur is at his best with his play-by-play of Gospel stories, explaining hidden meaning and historical context. His descriptions of common grace versus salvation grace are wonderful, and I found lots of quotes and paragraphs to underline for further reference.

Would I recommend this book? I don't know, but it's a reminder that, sometimes, sticking with a book you don't love can still give great rewards.

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, June 13, 2012

Recording "You Are..."

Back in the studio for another great night of vocals!

Tonight we focused on "You Are..." - a song Gerald wrote for me. We played it at The Gathering one night, and Rev. Anne called it a "love song" for God, which was a perfect description. It has a soaring melody, and Denny created a gorgeous instrumental track for it.

So tonight, all I had to do was be in the moment, and sing this beautiful love song. I did three full takes, and then we did a little bit of detail work on the second verse. This verse is thick with emotional imagery, so we wanted to make sure that the performance was really telling this piece of the story.

After I finished my lead, Gerald jumped in the booth to do some lovely harmonies for the chorus. I feel so good about what were able to do tonight. I've been teaching a lot lately and that can be vocally tiring, so we've really focused on Gerald's vocals in the last few sessions. Tonight has left me feeling energized and ready to lay down the rest of these songs!

Next session - Friday!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Recording the Vocals...

We've now got three vocal sessions under our belt. The first one really was an exercise in experimentation - how do we capture the sound we love live in the unique setting of the studio?

This week, we've focused on Gerald's solo vocals. He's done some lead vocals on songs from both our Infinitely More project and his solo CD. He's just sounding great, and the more he does, the better he sounds.

Carmon and Gerald working out parts with guitars in hand...

Recording is such a different beast than performing live. Everything feels vaguely odd - no audience, the mic is different, people staring at you through a window...

And in the worst moments, you can start to feel very self conscious - "Oh no! This is being recorded! If I mess up, people will hear my mistakes... forever!!!!"

We're just trying to be relaxed about things - to remember that this is a crazy time, but a time to savour every moment.

Next week, on to my vocals!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Musician as Marketer...

One of the challenges about being an indie-musician is also being a part-time marketer.

I created these posters and order forms last week to help people preorder our CDs. At times like this, I'm really glad I have a MacBook. Nothing replaces a real graphics person, but for simple stuff like this, it's nice to be able to create at home.

I've created a few mini-posters for the CD table we put up at concerts, and some orders forms to keep track of everything.

If you're interested in our preorders, you can find us in person, or you can visit

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hair Cut for Cancer - Over 2000 YouTube Views!

Our video of my recent 10-inch hair donation has received over 
2000 views on YouTube! Whoo-hoo!

If you haven't seen it yet, here 'tis:

You can see photos & info on how you can donate at 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

CD Preorders have begun!!!!

It's official! You can now preorder your copies of our 2 new CDs!

Preordering guarantees you'll be among the first to receive your CDs. 
As soon as the first batch is printed in late July, all preorders will be placed in the mail. 
Oh, and did we mention we're offering FREE SHIPPING on all preorders?

Infinitely More features 9 original songs of praise and reflection, and our signature arrangements of "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)."

Every Church is a Small Town is Gerald's first solo CD! 
His soulful vocals will shine on 10 of his original Inspirational and Country songs.

Both CDs are backed by an incredible band of Nashville musicians!

Each CD is only $15.00 CAN, and let me say again - FREE SHIPPING!!!! 

To place your preorder, 

Friday, June 01, 2012

New Video for The Gathering at SJYM!

Every Sunday night, Gerald and I lead the worship band for 
a contemporary worship service called The Gathering.

We've just completed a teaser video to give a sense of what we do there. 
It features our song, You Take Me Higher.

The Gathering runs every Sunday night, 5:00-6:00pm
St. John's York Mills Church, 
19 Don Ridge Dr., North York, ON

Come join us!