Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our First ECMA Nomination!!!

Today's Worship Wednesday blogpost will be shared next week. 
We received some big news today that we want to share with you:

We've received our first ECMA Nomination!!!

The East Coast Music Awards celebrate the wide range of music created by East Coast artists. We are completely humbled and honoured to be invited into this awesome group of nominees.

How The Light Gets In was nominated for Gospel Recording (Album) of the Year!

The nominations were announced on Twitter this morning:

The full list of nominees can be found here.

Congratulations to all the nominees!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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

"Athletic" has never been used to describe me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review: Yawning At Tigers, by Drew Dyck

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Worship Wednesdays - Holy Unexpected...

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

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

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

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

Ave Maria... 

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

Gratia plena...

We were stunned. The room fell quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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

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

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