Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

The reason why we do what we do...

The only reason Infinitely More, Worship Wednesdays, and every song we've ever written exists...

Because God left the splendour of Heaven to lie in a manger...

Emmanuel, God With Us.

May your heart welcome the Christ child on this day.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Video - St. Andrews By-The-Sea!

In just a few weeks, we'll be in beautiful St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick. We've been invited to spend January and February leading worship, building a worship band, hosting songwriter events, and helping form a new creative Wednesday night worship service.

We've created a new video to share our ideas and invite the musicians, songwriters, 
and vocalists of St. Andrews to come and join us!

Please contact us for more information:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Sing It Like You Mean It!

It's a great time of year to be a musician. Everywhere you go, people want to hear live music. They smile when they hear the songs, and often will sing along. And everyone wants to hear those amazing tunes we only get to sing once a year - The First Noel, Silent Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, to name a few.

But it's also a difficult time of year to be a musician. Everywhere you go, people want to hear live music, which means vocal fatigue, miles of snowy driving, sleep deprivation, and a constant fear of catching the latest strain of cold. And everyone wants to hear those same songs again and again - The First Noel, Silent Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing...

Don't get me wrong - I actually adore singing Christmas carols. I'm a total Christmas music geek, knowing all the songs and the stories behind their creation. But by the time you've sung Away In A Manger for the 20th time in a month, some of the magic can fade. Nobody means for it happen, but it's a long season, and we all get tired, and our minds drift as the music and lyrics flow from muscle memory.

Between concerts, worship services, corporate events, private parties, and community celebrations, many musicians are performing up to 20 or 30 times this month. But as Christian musicians, this should be seen as an amazing ministry opportunity. In a society ruled by political correctness and a neutering of faith expressions, we actually have the opportunity to sing the Gospel this month, in public! In fact, it's welcomed!

The best carols are a perfect blend of melody, poetry, and theology. They are filled with a promise of peace and life. They sing of Love that passed all natural and supernatural barriers to join us in this broken world. This is the story that changed the course of human history, and continues to change lives - mine included, and I hope yours too.

And this is message we get to sing. 

Over and over, we get to share the message of Emmanuel, God With Us, with folks who are tired in their faith, who are struggling with problems beyond our imaginations, or who have never even heard of Jesus.

Imagine if, through our drifting off, they missed that message? 

So when you're singing yet another rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful or Joy To The World, take a moment before the song begins to glance over the lyric. Recognize the amazing hope you're about to share, and then...
sing it like you mean it.

Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

And don't forget to check out our FREE shipping, 
FREE gift-wrapping special on all CD purchases!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Shopping Special

What better gift to give than inspiring and uplifting music this Christmas season? 
To help you finish your Christmas shopping, we're offering the follow special:

FREE shipping!*
FREE gift wrapping on all CDs 
purchased in December. 

4 different CDs to choose from: 

Finish your Christmas shopping with Infinitely More! 
Downloads also available. 

*Free shipping within Canada. Reduced shipping for International orders.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Sing of Advent!

Last week, we shared some of our favourite congregational Advent songs.

Sometimes, it's important to sing for people - to give them a chance to pause, listen, and process the message in a different way.

Here are some of our favourite Advent songs for soloists, duos, band, and choir. These songs explore themes of longing, transformation, and anticipation. Enjoy, and please feel free to add your own favourites in the Comments section:

My Deliverer 

Written by the great Rich Mullins, we've performed this both as a duo, and similar to the video performance, with a soloist on the verses and a choir on the choruses.
If you have a children's choir, even better!

A Change Is Gonna Come

Bringing non-worship songs into a worship setting is a great way to look at themes from a new perspective. And let's face, there's always a good reason to listen to Sam Cooke!


I love this song by Kathryn Scott. You can sing it anytime, but I really feel it captures the desire and anticipation of Advent.

Deliver Us

We love the sparseness of this song - a simple, plaintive cry for the Advent season.

We hope you're enjoying a blessed Advent season! 
Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Sounds of Advent

This past Sunday marked the start of the Christian new year - the first Sunday in Advent.

I've always loved this time in the worshiping life of our church. In the madness of shopping, planning, and overwhelming societal obligations, we have the chance to offer something different - a sanctuary, a quiet place to simply relax and prepare for the birth of our Saviour.

This is a time to sing songs filled with longing, anticipation, patience, and perhaps even a little impatience.

This week, I'm sharing a few of our favourite Advent songs and hymns for congregational worship:

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Written in the 12th century, we've welcomed Advent with this song for generations.
This Enya arrangement isn't congregational, but hauntingly beautiful.

Soon and Very Soon

Written by Andrae Crouch, this isn't limited to Advent but certainly suits the season. Sing it simply as a chorus or work it up as a showstopper with all kinds of voices and instrumentations. 

Wait For The Lord

From the Taize community. A beautiful chorus to sing as an Advent meditation.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

A classic Advent message written by the great hymn writer, Charles Wesley.
The lyric can be sung to a variety of hymn tunes and effectively played by organ, choir, or band.

What are your favourite Advent songs and hymns?
Please share them in the Comment section below!

Next week, I'll share some of our favourite feature songs - music for soloist, choir, or band to help our congregations relax and reflect on the beauty of the season.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Why I Celebrate Birthday Week!

This is a week when we gather around tables, share time with family, eat great feasts, and celebrate one of the finest holidays of the year... my birthday!

Yes, I know there's another holiday tomorrow 
and that's a fine one too, 
but today is my birthday!!!

In my family, we celebrate Birthday Week. When Gerald and I first started dating, I was mocked for celebrating Birthday Week. I was told it was silly and maybe even a little childish (insert my snort of derision here...). Of course, it's also piles of fun, so it was no surprise when in just a few years, another Birthday Week started to appear in March...

I actually love that my birthday falls so close to American Thanksgiving, as I consider Gratitude to be a large part of my birthday celebrations. The whole point of Birthday Week isn't to receive a week's worth of presents, but to enjoy a week's worth of presence:

I take time each day to enjoy visits with friends and family, sometimes with a party, but mostly with hours spent eating treats or sipping lattes.

I spend a little extra time in Scripture and prayer, talking to the One who knew me before my first breath, who "knit me together in my mother's womb".

I respond to each message I receive on Facebook, giving thanks for the ability to keep in touch with friends from around the world with a few simple key strokes.

I praise God that I am able to make a living doing something I love so dearly, and I also take time off and enjoy the blessings of rest and restoration.

I reflect on the past year, giving thanks for blessings, challenges, and lessons learned.

I spend time looking ahead to the next year, dreaming of new challenges and asking myself questions like "How can I become more _____?" and "How can I do _____?"

Birthdays have taken on new meaning since May 3, 2009. On that day, Death passed near us and God said, "Not today." I'm so incredibly aware that, with a slight adjustment in trajectory, I might not be here to celebrate this birthday. So I will never complain about my age or my years. I want to live long and earn lots of wrinkles. I will live life to the fullest, choose the adventure over the comfortable, never miss a chance to say "I love you" and turn everything I am and have over to God...

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above,
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace,
Whose ev'ry thought is love.
For ev'ry day I have on earth
Is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow him.

(My Heart is Filled, verse 3. By Keith & Kristyn Getty.)

Happy Thanksgiving! 
And for some of us, Happy Birthday!
Let's give thanks...

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Years ago, I discovered the teaching of John Maxwell through his book, Talent Is Never Enough. Since that time, I've been following his books and videos, gleaning tips and advice for communicating with others.

Whether you're a worship leader, a preacher, a concert artist, or a songwriter, communication is the key to what we do. We can believe the Gospel all we want, but if we can't communicate it to our audience and congregation, it's lost information.

Recently, John paired with speaker Les Brown to create a fun and informative series of videos, called "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Each interview shares their experiences as speakers and preachers.

For todays' Worship Wednesdays, I suggest you pull out your notepad, 
watch these videos, and take lots of notes. Enjoy!

The Good:

The Bad:

The Ugly:

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

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Covenant Awards

Last night was the big night! Talented Christian singers, musicians, songwriters, and producers from across the country gathered at the Crossroads Television Studios for the annual Covenant Awards. Sponsored by the Gospel Music Association of Canada, the Covenants represent the highest honour in the Canadian Christian music industry.

Last year, we were excited to join the party for the first time. 
Last night, we were honoured and humbled to attend as 3-time Nominees.

Since receiving the news of our nominations, we've received many messages of love and support, and we're so grateful for every single one. We were nominated in categories stocked with amazing and accomplished talent, so we had no expectations of winning.

But cliches are around for a reason - it truly is an honour just to be nominated.

We didn't prepare any thank you speeches, but since we have this platform, 
we want to take a minute and say:

Thank You 
- to each and every person who has been and continues to be a part of our music and our ministry
- to everyone who bought a CD or downloaded a song
- to each person who hosted or attended a concert
- to Denny Martin and Carmon Barry who produced our nominated CDs
- to our friends who encourage and love us
- to Helen, Hollis, Sandy, & Gerry - our wonderfully supportive parents
- and most of all, to the God who called us to this crazy life of music ministry, who continues to surprise us at every turn, and who - despite our doubts, questions, fears, and struggles - holds us so securely in the palm of His hand

Congratulations to all the Winners & Nominees! 
We took some photos to capture the night! 
You can see them HERE.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - In Flanders Fields

This Sunday, churches across Canada will have a moment of silence. We'll give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this country and remember those who gave their lives in pursuit of those freedoms.

For most of our us, our remembrance won't be complete without hearing the classic poem, In Flanders Fields. In our new Infinitely More tradition, we sing it, set to Gerald's evocative music. I asked him to share this very profound writing experience:

In Flanders Fields has always been the poem that, like everyone, I would hear every Remembrance Day.  It was meant to be honoured and there was always that gulf of silence that ensued afterwards that made more sense the older I became.  Two years ago when I felt the approach of Remembrance Day it struck me to write a musical setting for a worship service, but I didn’t give it much thought beyond that. I woke up on the Friday morning however and for some inexplicable reason I felt a deeper compulsion to get it done.  I felt a burning need to somehow touch these words if I could.  Call it patriotism or if you will and more accurately, call it a haunting.  I got up that day and in a very short period of time I transcribed a piece of music that I felt had been given to me.  The prosody worked.  The weight of the music seemed to match the poem.  There was that ache and hope that only history can give.  Since then it has become a regular staple in our repertoire around this time of year.  And as always, it is dedicated to the men and women who have given their lives in the hope that the better angels of this world would hold tightly to its momentum…and of course to John McCrae who first penned the words…

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, 
between the crosses row on row. 

In Flanders Fields. Words, John McCrae. Music, Gerald Flemming.

We give thanks.
We remember....

You are welcome to use this video in your church this Sunday. 
Please just let us know so we have some sense of where our music is traveling!

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

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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Our CBC Radio Interview!

We're having a grand time here in Newfoundland! Lots of great churches, wonderful visits with friends and family, and of course, plenty of food!

This weekend, we were honoured to be featured on WAM, a popular CBC Radio show. Hosted by Angela Antle, WAM features a variety of artists from across Newfoundland.

Angela played a few of our songs and talked to us about our songwriting, why we chose Gospel music, and my Newfoundland background.

You can hear the whole interview here:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Newfoundland Tour 2013

The concerts begin tonight!!

Our tour map!

We're so excited to be in Newfoundland for our 3rd concert tour. Over the next two weeks, we'll perform 14 events in 13 days in 9 communities - definitely an Infinitely More record!

We'll be posting photos and video as we go, so stay tuned for all the latest. And if you're in the area, please come join us!


Salvation Army Church
Tuesday, September 24

Christ Church Anglican
Wednesday, September 25

Workshop (private event)
Thursday, September 26

Holy Cross Anglican Church
Thursday, September 26

St. James' United Church
Friday, September 27

Sunday, September 29
Sunday morning worship
To be confirmed...

Church of the Good Shepherd
Sunday, September 29

Agnes Pratt Seniors Home
Monday, September 30
Private Concert for Residents

Kenny's Pond Seniors Residence
Tuesday, October 1
Private Concert for Residents

Memorial Trinity United Church
Wednesday, October 2

Anglican Parish
Thursday, October 3

St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church
Friday, October 4

St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church
Saturday, October 5

St. Mary's Anglican Church
Sunday, October 6

We generally add a few dates along the way, so please check
for all the details!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Big News - Our First Covenant Award Nominations!!!

I was all set to blog tonight about the start of our Newfoundland Tour, but something amazing happened today, so tune in tomorrow for the Newfoundland blog. Tonight, I need to share some amazing news:

We've received our first Covenant Award nominations!!!

For the uninitiated, the Covenant Awards are the highest awards of the Canadian Christian music industry. Think Grammys for Canadian Christian artists. Awarded by GMA (Gospel Music Association) Canada, the national awards cover genres of Christian music ranging from Inspirational to Southern to Worship to Rap.

We've been nominated in the following categories:

Inspirational Song of the Year 
Real Big Fan
(on our Infinitely More album)

Country Song of the Year 
Every Church Is A Small Town
(on Gerald's solo album, Every Church Is A Small Town)

Country Album of the Year 
Every Church Is A Small Town
(Gerald's solo album)

The full list of nominees can be found here.

We're overwhelmed, ecstatic, and humbled to receive these nominations. Several of our friends received nominations too, which makes the celebration even sweeter. And the talent with whom we've been nominated is amazing, including multi-Covenant winner, Ali Matthews, and Canadian country icon, Paul Brandt.

If you're not familiar with our nominated songs, 
you can hear samples in the Downloads section of our Store.

We'll be posting more as we get closer to the awards ceremony in November, but for tonight, we're just incredibly, incredibly grateful. What a night...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Worship Wednesdays Mentor Moments: Allison Speer

Surrounding yourself with great teachers and mentors is one of the keys to learning and growing. Occasionally here on Worship Wednesdays, I want to share with you some of the lessons we’ve learned from our own mentors:

I first saw Allison Speer sing on a Gaither Homecoming video. I fell in love with her powerful voice and communication style. When I first attended Ben Speer’s Stamps-Baxter School of Music in Nashville, TN, I was excited (and admittedly, a little terrified) to subject my music and performance to her scrutinizing eye. Over the years in Nashville, Allison and her husband Brian became mentors and friends.

Early in our Nashville experience, I attended Allison and Brian’s Christian artist workshop, GodSong Music Academy, when a discussion broke out. One of the artists mentioned how much she wanted to minister to people from the stage. Allison quickly interrupted her,

“You don’t start ministering when your song starts. Your ministry starts the moment you step out of your car in the parking lot, and ends when you drive out of that parking lot at the end of the night. Everything you do, every word you say to people, every action you make is an opportunity to show Christ to people.”

These words rang through my mind. Had I been following this? Sure, I’d always been polite and professional when visiting a church, but this raised the bar.

Suddenly, being nice to people wasn’t enough. 
Now, I needed to be Jesus.

Isn’t that what we’re called to be? It’s one thing to sing about the Gospel, but in really living it, aren’t we being asked to be Jesus to everyone we meet? And if we’re really called to a life of ministry, shouldn’t it be a ministering life?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

This lesson changed the way I walk into a church. I’m certainly not perfect, and truthfully speaking, some days my cranky self wins. But if every Christian musician treated the church and its people with that kind of love, imagine the difference we could make.

You can hear Allison's beautiful vocals and Brian’s sensitive production on our duet of 
In The Garden:

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - "Angels in the Dust", a First Responder's Story...

It was 2003 when Gerald (my husband & Infinitely More partner) found himself sitting in a greasy spoon with friends in New Jersey. Over platters of bacon and eggs, talk turned to the events of September 11th. Only a few years had passed and the topic was still heated. Some raised political issues, others talked terrorism. The temperature of the conversation got more and more heated until one man finally said, 

"You don't know. You weren't there."

The table went silent.

Gerald asked, "What do you mean?"

The man began to tell his story. He was a fire fighter by trade. He and his comrades were some of the first on the scene. They spent days digging through broken metal and mountains of rumble, praying for survivors and never finding enough. 

He spoke about the dust in the air, how it was thick and blocked out the light. And then he said, "Here we were in the middle of downtown New York City, and it was so quiet. But you could hear them."

"Hear who?"

"The angels. You could hear the angels collecting the souls."

One of the great privileges we have as artists is sharing the stories of other people. Gerald kept this story close, and after a few years of gentling holding and praying over it, he put it into a song.

"Angels in the Dust"

Today, we remember all the stories that came from that day. We remember those who are still feeling pain, grief, or fear. And we remember each soul collected by the angels...

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

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Start of a "New Year"

Let's face it - January 1 is the start of the calendar year, Advent 1 is the start of the Church year, but for most of us, the Tuesday after Labour Day is the real start of the new year.

Teachers and students return to their classrooms. Churches go from "summer" schedule to "regular" schedule. Bible study starts up again, and music groups of all types begin their new rehearsal season.

As we begin September, 
here are a few thoughts for kicking off the "new year":

Gather The Troops
Even if your music program continued over the summer, chances are numbers were slim and rehearsals pared down as members traveled and enjoyed a season of relaxation. Host an informal get-together so everyone can share stories from their summer adventures. You will never waste time building community within your band and choir!

Assess Where You Are
Now that you've got everyone together for a BBQ, potluck, or Chinese takeout (a personal favourite!), take some time to brainstorm about the upcoming year. As leaders, it's important to come to your music team with a vision for worship and special events, but don't forget that open communication with your singers and musicians leads to their personal investment. Get their thoughts about the team's needs, strengths, and challenges, and where they feel God is leading both the congregation and the music program.

What Did You Learn This Summer?
Remember the classic "How I Spent My Summer" essay? Sit with your music team and ask about their summer experiences. Did they visit different churches? Maybe they heard a great new song or discovered a new worship artist? Share stories, photos, and playlists and see what new ideas might be a good fit for this year's worship plan.

Welcome New Members
Other than New Year's resolutions, September is the time of year when people start new things. Why not encourage them to give the music team a try? Host a sing-along or jam night for new singers and musicians. Have a special welcome session after church. General announcements are good, but remember that most people respond best to a personal invitation. If people are shy, you could invite them to "try us until Christmas," just to see how they like it.

Communicate With The Congregation
With the physical separation of musicians and congregation during Sunday worship, it's easy for a subtle distance to grow between the two groups. Reach out to your community using via newsletter, social media, or Sunday morning announcements. Ask for their prayers as the music program begins a new season. Share your vision for their worship music. Give them a way to request new and favourite songs. Let them know about upcoming special events so they can participate and invite their friends.

How are you kicking off this new season? 
Please share your thoughts and ideas 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, August 28, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - 4 Ways to Worship in the Studio

Today's Worship Wednesdays post comes to you live from the studio!

Over the next few days, we'll be laying down guitar tracks for our new Infinitely More CD! This album will reflect our live performances - finger-style guitar, tight vocal harmonies, lots of our original songs, and a few new arrangements of favourite hymns.

For those of us who are primarily live performers and worship leaders, being in the studio is a wonderful but very different experience. In its best moments, we get to play with our songs in a new way, investigating details of sound and phrasing. But in its worst moments, gear, technology, time constraints, and the financial cost can distract and overwhelm.

All of that stress will only feed into the music. Things can be technically perfect, but if you lose that sense of reverence and praise, your message will never be as clear and moving as you first imagined.

Here are 4 tips for bringing a feeling of worship into the studio: 

Our live performances always start with prayer, so our studio sessions are the same. This morning, we offered gratitude for our talents and for this opportunity. We prayed for the optimum use of our time and skills. And yes, we definitely prayed for all technology and gear to work as it should!

Create Your Sanctuary
Churches of any size are designed to visually inspire worship. Do the same with your recording space. Bring in a few photos, your Bible, or favourite piece of art to help inspire you. Some artists enjoy recording by candlelight. (Just be sure to run any major choices by your engineer.)

Imagine the Audience
Your recorded songs won't live in a vacuum, so think about your listener. Imagine a large crowd of worshipers for your hymns and corporate worship songs. Think about the broken heart or distracted faith of the person listening to your CD in their car. Sing for each of them...

Remember the Message
As you work through your recording, you'll pull apart your songs in detailed ways - re-recording the guitar part of verse 2, adding harmony to the bridge, singing that final "ooh" 6 different ways. Keep the full lyric in front of you. Remember the original inspiration for the song. God has asked you to sing this particular message for such a time as this, so remember the power behind that.

How do you bring worship into the studio?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Great Cloud of Witnesses...

Today's Worship Wednesdays post is inspired by our travels over the past 2 and a half weeks. As we've been touring the Maritime provinces, we've seen churches of all shapes and sizes. (See our photos here.)

Some have been small country churches, with each piece built and shaped by the hands of the community. Others have been cathedrals with great artwork and architecture.

St. Margaret's Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick, bridged the ages. The original church had a beautiful spot by the river that was, unfortunately, prone to flooding. After many years, the old church was sold, but many pieces - including pews, stained glass, and the bell - were saved and moved into the new structure. The blend of old and new is a beautiful symbol of the many generations of worshipers.

The plaque outside Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, showing the construction date of 1688.

One of the most striking churches was Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in historic Old Quebec City. This church was one of the first buildings of the city, built in 1688. Over the first 100 years of its existence, local artists added to the beauty of the sanctuary. One build the altar pieces, another added the gold leaf. A woodworker carved the pews, and a painter created art for the ceiling.

The opulent altar of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.

As we walked the aisles and gazed at the art, I was reminded of the reference in Hebrews to the "great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us.

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
Hebrews 12:1, The Voice

I could visualize the artists planning their act of worship through wood and paint. I could see the priests and elders nodding their heads as they approved the designs. And I imagined the smiles of the congregants as they walked into the sanctuary, the smell of varnish still lingering as new images of faith filled the worship space.

As worship leaders, we can get so wrapped up in the new and the now. What songs are topping CCLI? What is my favourite band writing? What new tech do we have to play with? How do we build our Twitter following? How do we hold the attention of parishioners with a YouTube attention span?

Sometimes, we need to remember the generations of witnesses who have come before us, worshiping in their own 'contemporary' style. They fought through the challenges of their day and time, offering their art and music and prayers, all in an attempt to know Christ and make Him known. And as we imagine them, we are reminded that we are not alone in this faith journey. We are surrounded by the faithful of all generations, and on those days when we feel a little overwhelmed, maybe that can give us a little more strength for the race.

How do the worshippers of the past encourage your worship path?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - The Story Behind "I Wanna Make Some Noise"

I have a song that's affectionately become known as "the traffic song."

If you're familiar with Toronto, you're familiar with our epic traffic. Crowded highways, endless construction, and an ever increasing population make for slow driving at the best of times. One day, I was driving home from visiting my parents in Burlington. The 45-minute jaunt turned into a 2-hour odyssey of drifting down the QEW at 10 KM an hour.

I tried various radio stations, but nothing caught my ear, so I shut off the radio in frustration. As I sat in the silence of my car, a little line started drifting through the air...

"I wanna make some noise for the Lord..."

I started to repeat it until a second line came, and then a third. Before I knew it, I had this groovy, Gospel song building. It sang about evangelism in a fun, cool way. But how to capture it? A song idea can slide out of your hands like a wet fish. I knew I had to record it or risk losing it forever. 

Because I was driving, my options were limited: I couldn't call my voice mail, there was no one to write it down for me, and truthfully, I didn't know how to use the recording device on my new phone. So as legend goes, I sang it over and over and over and over again until I finally reached home. By the time I pulled off the 401, I had a complete song written and memorized.

We recorded I Wanna Make Some Noise with an awesome Nashville band and included it on our Infinitely More debut CD. To hear a sample, visit the Downloads section of our Store.

Lessons of that day?

- Turn off the radio and just listen.

- Always have a way to record your song ideas.

- Sometimes, traffic ain't all that bad!

What are some strange places where you've found songwriting inspiration? 
Please leave your story 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!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Every Church is a Small Town - Be Part of the Video!

On Wednesday, we kicked off our Maritimes Tour with a warm and happy concert at St. Margaret's Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The friendly folks sang along with us, and it was a truly relaxing evening.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about Gerald's song, Every Church is a Small Town, and the truth in its message. Whether we're in Fredericton, Toronto, or Nashville, each church shares the closeness of a small town - knowing and caring for one another in a way that feels like home.

With that in mind, I struck on an idea for a video. Over the next few months, we'll be visiting churches in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Newfoundland. As we visit each one, I'll be take video clips of the people within the church walls - smiling faces, happy folks, friends who know each other well.

When we get back from our Newfoundland Tour in October, I'll put the clips together to create a music video for Every Church is a Small Town!

As we visit churches on our tours, we hope you'll come out and give our camera a smile!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Sing a New Song, Bible-Style - Part 2

Last week, we started to take a look at all the invocations in Scripture to sing a “new song.” 

How can these "new song" verses inspire us as songwriters?

Today, we finish our brief study by looking at verses from Psalms, Isaiah, and Revelation:

Psalm 149:1  
Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

There’s nothing like singing God’s praise in the company of those who love Him. Are we writing songs that reflect the voices and prayers of faithful worshipers? They entrust us with putting their worship into singable form. Are we writing their cries of pain and praise into our songs?

Isaiah 42:10
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.

Such imagery! As I read this verse, I’m reminded of the variety of church communities around the world - tiny country churches, storefront urban missions, cruise ship chaplains, and outdoor mega-churches. Some songs are common to all, but we also need songs that reflect our own unique worship environments. How can we write songs that reflect our local church, with their specific needs and thanksgivings?

Revelation 5:9
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

When the book with the seven seals is opened, a new song is sung. Are we reacting to God’s new miracles with new songs of praise? It’s easy to only seek our songwriting ideas in the pages of Scripture, but God is still moving. What inspiration can we find from God’s actions today?

Revelation 14:3
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

A song that only the Redeemed could sing. What would that sound like? What kind of words would the Redeemed want to sing? We need songs for all steps of our faith journey, including our holiest moments. Are you writing melodies and lyrics that shoot straight into the heart of God in pure, unadulterated worship?

It’s been quite awesome to read each of these verses and pray over the message each one might hold for songwriters. Another time, it might be interesting to read them from the point of view of a worship leader, musician, or congregant.

Perhaps you've had your own unique insights while reading these verses. 
Please share 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!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

On The Road Again...

There are few things we love more than throwing the guitars in the car and hitting the road. I'm writing from Day 1 of our Maritimes Tour of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia!

Unlike our mega-tours of the past two summers, this tour will be a completely different configuration.

The next 3 weeks will include:

Driving over 3000 KM through 4 provinces.
Half a dozen concerts & worship services.
Writing new songs.
A few much needed vacation days.
Pre-planning our new songwriting CD.
Visiting dear friends.
Booking our fall tour of Newfoundland.
As many French macaroons as I can eat...

We're starting with 2 of those much needed vacation days. Today was a wonderful day for driving - lots of sun, billowing clouds, and one short rain burst, perfect for testing out my new wipers.

Entering Quebec City - check out that sky!

Tomorrow, we'll enjoy Old Quebec City, truly one of the most beautiful and romantic places in Canada. I'll do my best to meet my macaroon minimum...

Stay tuned through the next few weeks on this blog, 
our site, and Facebook page for updates, photos, and new videos.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - Sing a New Song, Bible-Style - Part 1

As songwriters, we love the words "new song." In our home, we compare new songs to the smell of fresh-baked bread - filling every corner of the house with goodness and warmth. I love waking up in the morning to hear a new guitar riff drifting out from Gerald's writing room. And we love the feeling of singing a brand new song together, discovering the harmonies and the little ways we can shape the melody with our voices.

We consider songwriting to be scriptural. If you search "new song" in the NIV translation, you'll find 9 references to singing a new song unto the Lord. (Some translations give 10.)

I thought it would be fun to look at each of these verses and see what message they might hold for contemporary songwriters. Here we go:

Psalm 33:3
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

As we sing our new song to the Lord, we are also asked to 'play skillfully'. All offerings that come from a worshipful heart will be accepted by God, but why not offer Him our best? Learn your craft. Practice your instrument. Warm up your voice. Manage your tech. Let's raise our talents to their highest level when offering them in worship!

Psalm 40:3
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. 

I love the image of God putting a new song 'in my mouth.' Legendary songwriter, Harlan Howard, used the following as his epitaph, "He wrote the songs; I held the pen." God has melodies and words ready for us to receive. Sometimes our job as writers is simply to listen.

Psalm 96:1
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

I love the invitation in this verse for 'all the earth' to sing. Are we writing songs that are inclusive and invitational? Are we creating words and melodies that will cross boundaries of age, nationality, gender, and denomination? Are we writing for both the lifelong Christian and those who have never set foot in a church?

Psalm 98:1
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.

He has, hasn't he? Sometimes the best songs to write are simply sharing the wonders of God. We can write a list song of the beauty of creation, or craft a story song sharing our personal testimony of blessings. "How Great Thou Art," "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," "Indescribable,""How Great is Our God," - the list could go on for days, and still there are always new praises to sing!

Psalm 144:9
I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you.

Could this verse be any more perfect for guitarists?? Okay, substitute '6-stringed' for 'ten-stringed', but you get my point. We sometimes only think of 'singing' as 'praise', but for instrumentalists, worship can come through the strings of the guitar, the keys of the piano, the skin of the drum, and the tone of the flute. Let's never forget the prayers and praise that can soar through a pure melody or an instrumental offering.

That covers 5 of our quotes! 
What are your thoughts on these verses?

Tune in next week for Part 2 ...

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - How to Sing 2000 Years Worth of Music on One Sunday Morning

This past week, I greeted our congregation by saying, "Today, we'll take you through the ages with our music. We'll sing one song that's so old we don't even know the author, and one that we finished just a few days ago."

Over the course of the hour, we sang words directly from Scripture, hymns from Victorian worship, praise choruses made popular by worship bands, and as promised, we debuted our brand new song, "Turn This Water Into Wine."

In choosing songs from different times periods, we reflect the voices of worshipers throughout the centuries. We're also able to connect with the various generations represented in our pews.

But how do we sing such a variety of material without sounding disjointed?
Here are a few techniques we like to use...

#1. It's All Worship!

This is the key to it all! If you think of your set list as a disjointed collection of songs, that's exactly what it'll feel like to your congregation. Remember that each song is an act of worship that not only reflects its time of creation, but is also a voice for worshipers today.

#2. What is your "Worship Voice"?

How does your congregation engage in worship? Are they strong singers, or do they need encouragement? Do they like jump-up-and-down praise, or do they prefer a meditative tone? Combine their worship style with your personal musical skills to create a signature sound for your church. Use feeling, groove, and tempo to create a worship environment where all songs can find a home.

#3. Shake Up Your Instrumentation

One of the fun ways to enliven songs from different ages is to shake up the instrumentation. Why not ask the worship band to jazz up that ancient hymn, while the pipe organ adds some majesty to a contemporary praise chorus? If you only lead with a solo instrument - piano, organ, or guitar - try bringing in a guest musician with a 'colour' instrument like saxophone, violin, or some percussion.

#4. Train Your Congregation to Listen

I remember seeing Bishop T.D. Jakes in an interview about worship music. He said that his church deliberately uses a variety of songs for worship because "we don't know when the Holy Spirit is going to show up, and we don't want to miss it when He does!" Encourage your congregation to seek God's presence in songs of all generations.

#5. Create New Music for Ancient Words

A few years ago, Gerald and I started writing our own settings for the psalms. We now have over 20 psalms that we're able to use in congregational worship. Let's face it, if we've been singing the same words our whole lives, we sometimes start to tune out the message. In singing these traditional words to new tunes, we refresh the message for lifelong Christians, and introduce ancient worship to new believers.

These are just a few thoughts on how to blend the ancient and the modern in your worship. 
Please share your thoughts and ideas 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, July 17, 2013

Worship Wednesdays - How Do We Lead Worship When We're Hurting?

We've all been there. The days when going to church is the last thing on your mind. It could be the job you're about to lose, the love that just walked out the door, the diagnosis that was revealed, or the fear that came true. Whatever it is, it's huge and it's overwhelming, filling your body with aches and your heart with pain. And the last thing you want to do is put on your Sunday best and exchange pleasantries in the pews.

But you can't stay home from church. You're the worship leader. Not only are you expected to attend, you're suppose to lead everyone else in worship!

How do we lead worship when we're hurting?

It's easy to lift our hands in praise when things feel glorious, but it's a completely different act when we're in pain. And to lead others in this state is another thing all together. It challenges us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are a few thoughts on how to lead worship when you're hurting:

Pray About It

It's my go-to response for everything, and it never lets me down. When I'm going through a difficult time and I'm called upon to lead worship, my first act is to pray in private. I ask God to infuse me with His peace and strength. I ask Him to lead when I cannot. We know that Jesus wept as he moved through his ministry duties. Your pain is not foreign to him.

Talk To Your Team

Remember when we spoke about relationships and prayer with your team? Well, this is where it comes into play. Say to your team, "Today's not a good day for me. We buried my best friend this week. I could really use your prayers today." Just knowing you're surrounded by love can make a world of difference.

Ask Someone Else to Take the Lead

Gerald and I are always aware of raising up leaders within our teams. Maybe this is a good week for you to ask someone else to lead for you? They might just lead one song, or they might take over one task for you - for example, they could take the instrumental lead while you continue in your role of singing and praying. Your load will be lightened, and you'll also practice trusting your fellow musicians, something that can only grow and strengthen your team.

Remember You're Singing to Broken People

Some people will tell you, "There's always someone worse off than you." I hate this statement. It gets us into this weird my-pain-is-better-than-yours competition. Perhaps there's a different way to approach this idea. Here's what I do:

Find some quiet time before your worship service. Ideally, sit in the sanctuary and look over the pews. Think of each person who will sit there during the service. Think about the things that they are going through - their grief, their loneliness, their illness, their struggles. Now, think about how much they need to worship. In this moment, I always remember my calling, my authority, as a worship leader. God has called each of us - leaders, singers, musicians - into this role. Those hurting people need to worship, and we have the honour of trying to lead them closer to God today. For whatever reason, this always locks me into place. 

Step Down If You Have To

Maybe it isn't just a bad day. Maybe you're truly in a time of depression and long-term struggle. Find some time to speak with your pastor. Seek some counselling. In consultation, consider taking some time off. It's better to take a break and care for yourself than risk the harsh reality of burnout.

Remember to Worship

Worship leaders and Christian artists are notorious for allowing the performance aspects to distract us from actually worshiping. It's easy enough for it to happen - how can I get swept up in worship when I have that key change coming up at bar 34? But on rough days, it's even more important that we are not just worship leaders, but lead worshipers. Cry out to God. Sing His praises. Give thanks for your blessings. You will draw closer to God and, as promised, God will draw closer to you. And in your authenticity, those you are leading will draw closer to God as well. I don't know quite how that works, but it does, and I'm so grateful for it.

 I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you've lead worship in difficult times. 
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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