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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Send the power!

Today marks the 7th day without power at our home in Columbus, Ohio.  Last Friday, 80 plus mph straightline winds whipped through much of the surrounding areas, downing trees, and wreaking havoc. Fortunately for many, power has been restored, but not for us.  Last time we had a significant power outage was in September 2008 after Hurricane Ike paid a visit inland.  The mild fall temperatures made it bearable.  This time, with temperatures inching toward 100 degrees, the challenge to stay "cool", in every sense of the word is great.  Thankfully, my in-laws (who live around the corner) had their power restored early and we have spent the last two nights with them. 

I can't help but reflect on the uncanny timing of such a major inconvenience which has come smack in the middle of the busiest seasons of this year in life and ministry.  While I'm sure this power outage has meant different things for each person affected, for me, I see it as both a spiritual test and/or possibly even a "dart" of the enemy whose goal is to frustrate the advancement of God's kingdom.  Thankfully, God is not taken off-guard or frustrated and He is able to use ALL things for His purposes. 

One thing I've been reminded of during this expeience is that God's POWER is made perfect in our weaknesses.  When I am weak, then I am strong in Him. I think we need seasons where we are out of control so that we can be reminded that everything we are and do for God, is because of Him!   Life and ministry is going to go on and God's power is going to come through even when the electricity doesn't! 

So today I'm choosing to take comfort in knowing that as I minister over the next couple of days (on tv, and in person) that God is going to make up for any lack in me--emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Perhaps He purposed to empty me some so that there's more room for Him!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take Me Higher

My husband, Matt, a history buff and former intern with the U.S. Senate, had been looking forward to a family trip to our nation’s capital since we brought home our first son from the hospital. Now, with two boys, ages eight and five and an unusually warm spring, it was finally time. Matt knew where he wanted to stay and excitedly made the hotel reservations. I think he considers making reservations part of the mantle of fatherhood to provide for and serve his family. And he must be right. Whenever I make the reservations, though we usually save a few bucks, we end up wishing we could stuff them into the mattress for added comfort. There seems to be something in the heart of a father that understands that some things in life
are worth an extra cost.

We left home around 4:00 pm on the eve of Spring Break, and, seven hours later, we arrived at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton. We were excited but mostly exhausted and eager to turn in for the night. As Matt began unloading the van, I called to him and told him that I would check-in. Caught off guard, Matt nervously looked up at me through the luggage rack and said, “If there’s a problem with the reservation, come and get me.” I answered back, “sure”, wondering the whole time what exactly he could mean by “problem.” When I arrived at the front desk, I gave our name and was told we would be staying on the seventh floor. Recalling the concern in Matt’s voice, I said to the clerk, “Um. That’s a non-smoking room, right?” I was proud of myself for thinking of the only possible problem Matt could have been referring to. I was assured it was in fact a non-smoking room.

Moments later, Matt and the boys arrived at the front desk and I led us toward the elevator. When I told Matt we were on the seventh floor, he responded with obvious disappointment. “I had requested a HIGH floor,” he said. Hoping my optimism would catch on, I said, “I think seven is pretty high”. I could hear the sigh under his breath—his expectations were not met, and he was kicking himself for not doing the check-in himself. By the time we made it to our room, the tension was thick; even the kids could sense it. We opened the door, moved the luggage inside and I ran over to draw the curtains to check our view. Buildings. Lights. Good!. Then Matt came over to take a gander. Validated, he said, “This isn’t the view I wanted.” I tried to assure him that the view was great, and I said, “If we were up any higher, we would just see the tops of those buildings and I’d rather look directly at them.” Determined to get what he came for, Matt picked up the phone to call the front desk to request a different room. Now there were four people sighing—me, the boys, and the luggage valet. When Matt hung up the phone and the corners of his mouth were slightly upturned, the rest of us knew an elevator ride was in our future. We trooped out of the room with the luggage rack in tow, listlessly filed into the elevator, and the boys argued over who would get to press “seventeen.”

As soon as the door to our room opened, I made a bee-line for the curtain. Determined to show my husband what a waste of effort we had just undertaken, I flung the curtains back. I could not believe my eyes. The Washington Monument. The Jefferson Memorial. The Air Force Memorial. All right there! I looked at Matt and he was grinning ear to ear. THIS was the experience he wanted to give his family. Matt knew all along that staying on the seventh floor would mean settling for far less than was possible.

As I laid down to sleep in that comfortable bed, God impressed upon me that I often settle for seventh floor experiences in my spiritual life, too. God has been there before and, like Matt at the hotel, knows what is possible and longs for his Bride and children to experience it all. But sometimes I’m tired from traveling, and I don’t want to expend the energy to go up any further. I pull back the curtains of my life and declare, “This is good enough.” And the Father sighs. Even though He could, He doesn’t force me to the higher floor. Instead, He simply extends the invitation and asks us to trust Him that it’s worth the trip. Is God asking you to go up higher? Imagine the view if you’ll just say yes!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Moving By Faith

Even though I’m a song-writer with an appreciation for poetry and symbolism, sometimes I just want people to shoot straight with me and tell me what to do. This is especially true when I read the Bible. I suspect that’s why the book of James is one of my favorites. James doesn’t break it to me gently or serve up his recipe for godly living with a teaspoon of sugar. He says things like, “If you want to please God, look after widows and orphans in their distress” and “God hates favoritism”. With such clear statements of God’s will, the reader is left without excuse—only a choice to obey or not. Not all matters in a Christian life are so crystalline, however. How should we discern what college to attend? Or whom to marry? Unless the potential college or spouse is named after a Biblical character, the answer is not going to be stumbled upon in Scripture. When we can’t see the answer, we have no choice but to walk by faith. Though walking by faith seems precarious, it’s the greatest adventure on earth, and Jesus has promised blessing to those who do: “Blessed are those who don’t see, and yet believe!” (John 20:29).

Several years ago, my husband Matt and found ourselves in need of similarly specific direction. We were living in a house that Matt owned before we were married, and, though we loved it, we wondered if we should sell it to pay off some student loans and rent for a while. We understood the Bible’s view of debt and stewardship and didn’t sense we were violating God’s will, so this decision fell squarely in that often-dreaded “grey” area. We did the only thing we knew to do: pray. Over a period of several months, we came together often to ask for God’s leading concerning our house. Though we didn’t see any writing on the wall, we were moved to become familiar with rental properties in the area. It occurred to us that identifying a suitable place to rent might ease our emotional attachment to our house. We found many nice apartments, but they all had one problem in common: there was no room for our baby grand piano.

Then, one day, we noticed a “for rent” sign on a duplex less than a mile from our home. We stopped and peeked in the windows for a closer look. The open floor plan was just what we needed; we could envision our piano right in the corner with room to spare. I turned to Matt and said, “This is where I would want to live if we sold our house.” Matt agreed. But even though it was helpful to know that there was a rental property that would suit our needs, we were in no position to sign a lease. Time passed; the “for rent” sign on the duplex disappeared, and we—having given up the idea of moving—wound up at Home Depot buying paint and wallpaper.

Then one day, there was a knock at our door. It was a realtor. She said, “I have a client who would like to buy your house.” Shocked, I said, “But our house isn’t for sale.” She said, “I know, but they are very interested and would like to make an offer.” I’d never heard of such a thing! “Do people really do that?” I thought. We took the Realtor’s card, chuckled to ourselves and then went back to enjoy our freshly painted living room.

Then Matt said, “Do you think this is God answering our prayers?” I laughed, “Honey, we just painted and wall-papered. God couldn’t be asking us to sell.” I was partly kidding. Later we agreed that we should at least take the next steps to see whether or not this is God at work. We called the Realtor and began discussions about a potential sale. Once a mutually acceptable price was agreed, we discussed terms and possession. Surprisingly, the buyers informed us they did not want to take possession of the house for nine months. They told us they did not want to break their lease. We contemplated this scenario and ultimately decided that we would not want to wait that long to sell.

A week later, unable to let it go, in yet another God-inspired moment, I suggested to Matt that we find out where the buyers are leasing and consider a sub-lease. I knew it was a long shot—we didn’t even know what part of town they lived in or whether there would be room for our piano, but I was optimistic. I ran to the nearest phone book, looked up their address, and set off to locate it. Could it be? Yes! We had driven right to the beloved duplex—the only suitable property we had found months earlier. We could hardly wait to get home to finalize the deal! A couple months later we packed up and joyfully swapped homes.

Yes, we walk by faith and not by sight. But sometimes the Lord turns our faith into sight and makes even the grey zone crystal clear.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exciting things happening in 2012!

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to update you on some exciting new opportunities that have presented themselves since the dawning of the new year!

First, I have recently learned that my new single, Never Mistake, has been on "heavy rotation" on The Inspirational Country Radio Network, based in Texas. D.J., Ricky Russ, loves the song and calls it "A Keeper". If you haven't heard it yet, you can download at iTUNES.com, or CDBABY.com. Because of the great reception at ICR, I have taken the plunge to release the song to radio nationally. It will be sent out to about 1000 radio stations sometime in March. I'm hopeful that many other stations will also pick it up!

Next, just a few weeks ago I learned that Power Source Magazine (industry magazine for Inspirational Music) is giving me my own column! I am calling the column, "All In A Day's Grace" and I will be sharing stories of God's miraculous intervention in my every day life. The column debuts in March, 2012, though several articles have already been published in previous editions.

This coming Thursday, I will be heading into the studio to do some vocals on a new song that I co-wrote with my Producer, Felix Weber, specifically to be used in a Documentary Film. The Film is being Produced by Advent Media and will be entered into a Film Festival in Hollywood next month. Check out www.168filmproject.com to learn more about this competition and festival. My involvement in this film happened unexpectantly and I couldn't be more excited. The film features the stories of three inmates who have found freedom and hope in Jesus while they were behind bars (and still are). The song is called, "Changed On The Inside" and I know it's going to be a very moving conclusion to any already powerful film. Felix and I are producing the last chorus of the song only at this time because that is all there is room for in the film, however, as soon as the film is complete we plan to produce the whole song. We have great expectations for this song and can envision it being used in prison ministries all over the globe! Pray with us that the final writing and production is all that God intends it to be, for HIS purposes.

And lastly, in less than a week I will be heading back to Nashville to showcase in front of some Christian Record Labels who are looking for new artists, songwriters, and songs. We labored over the decision to take part in this showcase but decided that we shouldn't shut a door that
God may want to open--since He seems to be doing a lot of opening these days! We don't have any real expectations other than God's will WILL be done!

I'll send you an update soon--and link to the finished film as soon as it's able to be shared publically.

Blessings to all of you! If you have prayer concerns or a story of God's intervention in your everyday life, drop me a note. I'd love to hear from you!

In Him,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Prayers, Tears, and Automobiles

Buying a used car is a daunting task under any circumstance but buying a used car as a young, single, trusting woman, took intimidation to a new level. Of course, this car needed to be affordable, reliable, have low mileage, be safe, fuel efficient, but truth be told,it also needed to be cute. I wasn’t asking for Cabrio- cute--just something you wouldn’t find the ladies who play bridge driving. Living in a large metropolitan area, the issue was not the lack of selection but the over-abundance of candidates, spread across a 50 mile radius.

Over a period of several days, I paged through thousands of ads, highlighted, circled the ones that caught my eye, and left dozens of messages until, inevitably, I came down with a bad case of decision-paralysis. Exhausted and glazed-over I gave up and accepted the invitation to the pity party that had been delivered to my heart soon after the search began. Why couldn’t I have a husband like everyone else? Why did my father have to live so far away? Why did I have to go through this alone?

After the lights were out on the party for one, I decided to do some business with God. I said something like, “God, clearly this is not a job for a woman to do alone. How am I supposed to know who is being honest with me, or whether the newer car with higher mileage is better than the older car with lower mileage? You said, YOU would be the father to the fatherless and the husband to the husbandless! And that’s me, so today I’m asking you to do your thing. If you want me to have a car then you’re going to have to bring it to me! Amen.”

The next day I awoke with a sense of peace that God would in fact guide me in my search and give me wisdom. So, with renewed hope I searched the ads again and called about a car that I’d seen before but hadn’t yet acted on. Surprised, the owner answered right away. After she passed a few preliminary questions about the car, I asked her where I could see the car that day. Bracing myself for her answer, I practically jumped out of my chair when she told me where she worked—just a 2 minute walk from where I worked! On my break I went to her workplace to see the car. When
she greeted me, I smiled—I owned a blouse exactly like the one she was wearing. I thought to myself: it’s a sign (albeit much more colorful and stylish than typical signs. I love it when God speaks to me in my love-language!). Though I was tempted to sign over the check on the spot, I decided I should actually look at the car. I did the typical single-girl, check: I looked for rust, scratches, and dents, checked to see if there was a driver-side interior mirror, and looked under the hood to make sure there was some stuff there. The car passed—even the cuteness test. It was a red coupe, with a sunroof. I was definitely falling in love, but in a moment of clarity I decided I should arrange for a professional inspection before driving off into the sunset.

The inspection report came back to me later that day and there were no concerns so I called and let the owner know that I’d like a second date—I mean, look. Well, the next day I was particularly busy at work and because I was hosting a “jewelry party” in my home that evening I could not squeeze in a car viewing and a pricey decision. So, on my way home from work I quickly pinned a note to the car saying that I’d be in touch soon. I realized that I was risking her selling the car to someone else over the weekend, but trusted that if I “set it free” that it would come back to me, if it was meant to be.

Once home, I had just a couple hours to get ready before my guests would arrive. I really didn’t know who to expect –new to the city, I hadn’t made many real friends yet, but I had gone door to door in my complex to invite some neighbors. About fifteen minutes before the party began I, got a call from a neighbor whom I met for the first time knocking on her door a week earlier. She said, “I’m coming, but I’m going to be a few minutes late because I’m bringing a friend who lives across town”. I was so excited that this party wasn’t going to be a total bust!

When my neighbor and her friend finally showed up, I welcomed them inside. Once inside, I looked up at the friend and she looked at me, and we both appeared to be thinking the same thing: haven’t I met you before? Then, suddenly, it dawned on me: “I looked at your car yesterday!” She said, “Yes!! Well, it’s here, do you want it?!!”

Needless to say, I made arrangements to buy the car the next day—the car that my heavenly father and husband brought to my door step, all because He loves me. And He loves you, too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Echoes of Amazing Grace

Nicaragua 1997. Beads of sweat rolled down my back and legs. Outside the lone window, on the rooftop, were armed guards manning their posts.The stench from a couple dozen filthy prisoners saturated the air of the tiny second floor room. The first reel of The Jesus Film was over. Nervously, I cleared a path through the men until I reached the front; I was the half-time show. There were no musical instruments and no interpreter, so I sang the only song I hoped would strike a chord: Amazing Grace. Trying desperately to maintain composure, I did the only thing I knew to do—close my eyes and sing. The room was eerily quiet until a perplexing sound broke the silence. Too nervous to look, I waited until the last note then opened my eyes to the most beautiful sight-- tear-soaked cheeks in every direction. I had been hearing the sound of tears pooling on the dirt floor! The Lord showed up and used me just like He had promised five years earlier on the other side of the continent!

Winnipeg, Canada, 1992. I was there to sing. Nothing more, nothing less. When my part was over I sat down, quietly sighed relief, and got comfortable to enjoy the ministry of a woman named Nancy Fenstermacher. I gathered quickly that Nancy had a special connection with God and I was eager to observe how God would use her to reach the women who had come. When Nancy turned her attention toward me, I could not have been more surprised; I did not plan to be on the receiving end of any personal exhortation that day. But the words that Nancy spoke to me that day marked me for life. Here is an excerpt:

I have set before you, daughter, an open a door that no man can shut…
You shall sing where there are prisons and dungeons ..A sound will come out of you that will bring revelation of the Lord Jesus to men who sit in darkness.

Because the meeting was recorded I was later able to transcribe the message and I recognized that many of the words were direct quotes from the Bible. Though I didn’t fully appreciate the scope of what was being spoken, I accepted that this message was from God and that I was to hold it close to my heart. For the next five years, I carried the message in my Bible and would often meditate on it and ponder how the prophetic elements might be fulfilled. At times I became discouraged, asking God, “why isn’t this happening?” I even wondered if I had somehow messed up His “A” plan. Nevertheless, I heeded the words of Habbakuk 2:3.

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

When the opportunity to go to Nicaragua on a missions trip presented itself, I jumped at the chance though I made absolutely no connection with the words on that yellow sheet of paper in my Bible. There were no plans to sing and no plans to visit prisons. Once in Nicaragua, most days we went door to door inviting people to come seeThe Jesus Film. After the film we would mingle among the people, pray, and share our faith.

On our second last night, at the ministry base, I led the team in worship as I had done all week. As the team members were scattering back to their rooms, the leader, Brian, approached me and asked me if I would consider singing at a prison the next day. Reluctant initially, I remembered a promise I made to the Lord that if He would open doors, I would walk through them, so I agreed.

The next morning we prepared to go to the prison. I was a little uneasy with the whole idea; I had never been to a prison, let alone a Nicaraguan Prison! I didn’t know what to expect and I wondered what impact a song could possibly have.

After arriving at the prison, the Warden took us on a tour. Apologizing repeatedly for the deplorable conditions, he walked us down the corridor where the prisoners were housed. We stopped at the first cell and peeked inside the tiny barred window. I was shocked to see several men cooped up with only a few rays of sunlight streaming in the small window. As we continued, we passed what I assumed to be an unnoccupied cell because of the total darkness. But when I looked up, I saw the fragile clutches of a man’s hands on the bars. The Warden told us twelve men shared that dark cell. In that instant, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said, “This is a dungeon!”. Then, the words of the prophecy given five years earlier came flooding back.: A sound will come out of you that will bring revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to men who sit in darkness! I started to weep, both for the lost men and in response to God’s remarkable faithfulness to use me.

A few years after my trip to Nicaragua I received news that made my heart leap again. One of the twenty or so men who encountered Jesus in that upper room was so transformed that he went on to begin a Prison Ministry in Nicaragua after he was released!

I never could have imagined that the Lord could ever use me and a song to reach prisoners in Nicaragua, but He did. And today, countless men who sit in darkness in Nicaraguan prisons have echoes of Amazing Grace ringing in their hearts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Keys To Fulfilled Dreams

Published in Power Source Magazine, August 2011 Edition. View online at: www.powersourcemagazine.com

I was 29, living in Vancouver, Canada, and dreaming about just three things: getting married, having children, and recording my own songs that would point people to Jesus. Discouraged from the dating-scene, I realized that my best efforts were getting me no closer to a husband and kids, so I shifted my focus to music. To get me moving in the right direction I decided that I needed to buy a piano, despite my limited skill. Because my job with a para-church organization didn’t allow for a lot of extras, such a purchase would require trust. Never one to shy away from a great faith adventure, I combed the online ads until I found a gently used, reasonably priced electronic Yamaha P200.

One day, as I was tinkering on my new piano, I realized that my sister, an accomplished pianist, did not have a piano to play. I knew how much joy I felt from just a few lightweight chords and could imagine the frustration of having much more complex harmonies at my disposal but being without an outlet for their expression. Unmistakably, I felt the Lord urging me again to buy a piano—this time, for my sister. My spirit bucked. I wanted to plug my spiritual ears, close my eyes, stick out my tongue and chant, “la, la, la, la, la…I can’t hear you…la, la, la, la.” After all, I had just purchased a piano that stretched me to my financial limit, and I was fearfully aware that I would soon need to replace my aging car. “I’m a single woman, working for a non-profit,” I sulked. “Isn’t my life an act of generosity, in and of itself?” The more I thought about buying another piano, the more I convinced myself that God would not be asking it of me. But, just in case, I checked the online ads in my sister’s neck of the woods and was so pleased there were no Yamaha P200s for sale. No piano, no sacrifice.

As the weeks went by, however, the thought of purchasing a piano for my sister visited my thoughts regularly. Sometimes I dismissed the idea immediately, and other times I would again check the online ads. Each time, great relief came when I saw that no piano was available.

As I suspected, the time soon came to replace my aging car. I obtained a loan to purchase a used, Honda Civic--exactly what responsible women in my line of work drove. I did everything I knew to sell my old car, but after several weeks it still sat. Eventually, I took the car to my parents’ city, hoping to improve the chances for a sale. Still, nothing happened.

One day as I was praying (probably asking God for the millionth time to send me a man to marry!) the “buy-your-sister-a-piano” notion interrupted yet again. But this time, it was accompanied by the message, “Your car doesn’t owe you anything. Use the money from the sale of your car to buy her the piano.” I knew that I was not going to escape these nagging thoughts, so I asked for confirmation, “Ok, God. I’ll know it’s YOU asking me to do this, if You sell my car this weekend.” I figured the chances of it selling that particular weekend were pretty slim, and I hoped I might soon be able to put this “piano-thing” to rest. To my astonishment, shortly after I lay the “fleece” before the Lord, my Dad called and asked me to approve an offer he received on the car. I accepted and sold the car before the weekend was out!

By that point, my reluctance to buy a piano for my sister had turned to enthusiasm, and I eagerly searched the online ads. My spirit leapt when my eyes landed on the ad for piano that was the same as mine located just 60 minutes from where my sister lived in rural Manitoba! I called the seller right away and made arrangements to send the money and pick up the piano.

If the story ended here, it would have been a great reminder how God leads His children and answers prayer. But this story packs a triple punch because it also serves as an example of how we can never “out-give” God.

You see, not long after I purchased the second piano, and before my sister received the gift, in what might appear to some as desperation, I joined an internet match-making service and met a man named Matt, from Columbus, Ohio. We began corresponding, and it soon became obvious to us where things were heading. Before our first face-to-face meeting, Matt told me a story that made my jaw drop. A couple years earlier, he entered a contest and won a one-of-a-kind Yamaha baby grand piano that had been signed by more than 75 artists, including Elton John, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, and American Idol’s most colorful judge, Steven Tyler.

Eight months after our first online contact, I not only became Matt’s wife, but the co-owner of that beautiful, white, baby-grand piano! And to think, I was dragging my feet to follow God to give away a meager electronic keyboard! I’ve often wondered where I’d be today if I had not followed God’s lead. What blessings might I have missed out on?

This month, Matt and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and I am in production of my fifth original song, Never Mistake. Though I can still only plunk on the piano, God has even worked out that detail: our 8 year old son, Tyler, is a natural. Over the years I’ve learned that God is the Author of our dreams and that faith and obedience are always the keys to their fulfillment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Manitoba Concerts

Hi! It's less than 2 weeks until I fly to Manitoba to visit my sister, Tracey, and her family and minister in music/word to the communities of Winkler, MB and Portage la Prairie, MB. I'm excited to return to Manitoba after 4 years away. I understand they had snow today (May 1!!) so I'm hoping it's gone by the time I arrive.

I've had a difficult spring, health-wise. On the last day of my kids' spring break in late March, I came down with a sore throat. I suspected it was strep throat but by Monday, the symptoms grew to include a ridiculous headache. The symptoms began to remind me of December, 2009, when I was hospitalized with meningitis. Evidentally, if you've had meningitis once, you're more susceptible to it so I was advised by my doctor to go to the hospital right away. They performed a bunch of tests on me and were able to rule out the usual suspects like flu, strep, and pneumonia, so they were forced to perform the diagnostic tests for meningitis which included a CT scan and a spinal tap. Thankfully, the tests were negative, so after a very long day at ER I was sent home and basically told that I was suffering from a "cold". I felt a little silly going to the hospital for a "cold", but I was so relieved it wasn't worse! Unfortunately, about an hour after I got home, I became violently ill with terrible nausea and the most incredible headache I had ever experienced. After a brutal night, I was back at the Doctor's and from there was sent to the hospital for the second time. The Doctors suspected that I was dealing with the unfortunate side-effect of the spinal tap--the dreaded spinal headache. I was hoping they would immediately administer the "antidote", otherwise known as a "blood patch", but for some reason, they sent me home with some drugs and told me to return 3 days later! So, I spent the next 3 days completely debilitated and unable to be upright. On Friday, I went back to the hospital for the 3rd time to get the blood patch. It was an impressive procedure. A team of about 8 people were involved! The relief was almost immediate but I was far from feeling well as I was still dealing with whatever it was that prompted the hospital visit in the first place! After a few more days in bed, my own Doc was finally able to diagnose me with a severe sinus infection and he put me on a concoction of antibiotics and steroids. Finally, after 2 weeks of illness, I began to feel relief. It took another 10 days after that for my strength to return.

I am so thankful for the many people who brought in food and offered to help with my kids while I was sick. I am also thankful for my friend, Jennifer, who sat by me in ER for several hours. Last but not least, I'm thankful for my husband, Matt, who kept things going at home and took care of me. The Body of Christ is so amazing. I honestly do not know what people do who are not part of a caring church community when they are "down for the count".

One of the blessings of this illness was the reminder of how many caring people are in my life. In addition, the Lord gave me a song while I was at my lowest. It's a song that speaks about the spiritual battle we are in and how God fights with us and for us. I don't want to reveal the title yet until it's finished. I hope it will bring encouragement to those who are facing spiritual battles.

On the recording front, I am nearly ready to record the vocal for "Never Mistake". I'm eager to do that! I've had the chance to share the song with 3 different groups so far and I've gotten good feedback. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it available before the end of the summer.

Well, gotta run now and get my youngest son to soccer. We've now entered the world of having both our children in sports and the schedule is challenging. Imagine if I had 3 or more?!

Blessings to each of you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Happenings

Hi Everyone!

It's been a couple months since my last post and a few things have transpired that I 'd like to share with you. A week ago Sunday night I sang to a group of about 50 folks in Galion, OH at Peace Lutheran Church. I was part of their concert-series that they've been doing for a while. They offered a simple dinner and people gathered around round tables in their fellowship hall and then I sang after dinner. I was so happy to have a few friends from Columbus travel to Galion to be there for the concert. Next week, I will be travelling to Mason, OH (near Cincinnati) for a women's gathering, where they routinely draw about 400 women. The theme of the evening is "We sparkle like jewels in His crown". The decor and meal will be based on the classic movie, "Breakfast at Tiffanys". I am the featured guest and will be sharing 5 or 6 songs and some words of testimony. I'm excited that I will be sharing my newest song, "Never Mistake". Felix Weber has done another wonderful job creating a beautiful accompaniment track for me. I've been giving a lot of prayer and thought to my preparations as I sincerely desire to encourage this group of women and remind them that we are precious to Christ and that "He rejoices over us with singing!"

Also on the horizon is a trip to Manitoba! Just a couple weeks ago I was able to firm up plans for two separate concerts in southern Manitoba for the middle of May. Some of you may know that not only did I once live in Manitoba but my sister and her family still reside there. It's been about 4 years since I visited them in Manitoba (though we've seen each other elsewhere). I'm looking forward to visiting them on their own turf, getting a glimpse into their world, and sharing my music with old and new friends in Manitoba. One of the churches is in the process of constructing a new sanctuary and it's expected that it will be completed in time for the concert to be held there as a sort of "grand opening."

On the new music front, I mentioned that Felix has created the accompaniment track for Never Mistake. I'm hoping to be able to record the vocals this spring. I'm very excited about the prospect of making the song a duet with a wonderful male singer from Canada. I can't share his name yet as we've yet to work out the details, but it's looking very good! I'd be honored to have his voice on my song. Stay tuned for more about that!

I'm also working on another song called, "Close The Gap". This song was inspired by a dear single-mom that we're blessed to know. Not too long ago we sat and I listened to her pain as she lamented all that her son would miss because there is no father in his life. She had been reading in a psychology book about the "prognosis" for a child who grows up without a father and the words she read were very disheartening. While not diminishing the vital role of a father, I encouraged her with the TRUTH that God has promised to be a father to the fatherless! I also found myself saying to her over and over again that God will "fill in the gaps". The next day, while on my treadmill, the words to this song started to come together. I'm still working on refining the lyric and creating a melody, but I hope it'll all come together in the not-so-distant future!

That's all for now! Thanks for listening and for your continued interest in my music and ministry.

For His Sake,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Never Mistake

Happy 2011! Things are moving along this year already! I have just finished writing a brand new song called, "Never Mistake". It's a song for which the inspiration came many years ago. A preacher spoke at college chapel at North Central University in about 1990 or 1991 and he said one line that I've rememebered forever. The line was this: Never Mistake the silence of God for absence. I wrote that phrase down in my Bible and have read it numerous times over the years. I suppose it was particularly meaningful to me at that time in my life as I earnestly sought God for his plan and direction. There's something about nearing the end of college that forces that kind of contemplation. So often I felt like I was calling out to God and asking Him for clear direction and yet He remained silent and then disappointment or confusion would take up residence. You see, back then, I was always looking for the writing on the wall. I was so nervous to make a mistake outside His will. As I've matured and grown in my walk with the Lord, I've learned that the walk of faith is more often about following your heart's passion and trusting Him to bless your decisions and to work in you! Henry Blackaby put it this way, "Find out where God is working and join Him there." So, this new song, Never Mistake, is a song that, I believe, is relatable to everyone who is waiting on God for guidance or an answer to prayer, or to someone who may be facing difficult consequences for sinful actions. The words to the chorus are:

Never mistake
The silence of God for absence
Never mistake
His discipline for wrath
Never mistake
A no for I don't love you
Never mistake
The father heart of God

So, now I've got 1 song down and 2 more to go before I can record my new CD. I have a handful of other songs that I'm working at. I'm not sure which of those will emerge next! The thing I'm learning about songwriting (or anything creative for that matter) is that there are countless directions one could go but at some point, I just need to pick a direction and MOVE! Hmmm, it kind of sounds a lot like the walk of faith!

If you would join me in prayer for a few items, I would appreciate it.

1) Pray for continued inspiration to write!
2) Pray for the funds to record the new CD
3) Pray for wisdom on how/when to proceed with the launch of the new CD.
4) Pray for more doors of ministry to open to me so I can share my song and story with more and more!

Thanks for your interest and support!

In Him,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 2010 Update

Hi! Just a few more days until my family travels to Canada for Christmas, so I thought I better post a new entry to keep you up to date on happenings.

First of all, I wanted to let you know that "You, Me, and Jesus in a Ryder Truck" continues to get airplay on inspirational country radio in 10 different markets. Though I have yet to receive any feedback about the song, I can only hope that people are enjoying it and that it will soon spread to even more markets. If you have a station playing inspirational music in your area, I would so appreciate you taking a moment to drop them a line or pick up the phone to request the song. I will be happy to provide a CD or mp3 file to any DJ willing to play the song.

My goal for the new year is to write and produce 3-4 new songs and then release an EP that would include these songs along with my single, Finders Weepers. I also hope to work with HMG Nashville to formally release a few songs to inspirational radio. I am really curious to see how well my songs will be received by DJs and listeners. I hope that releasing to radio will help open more doors for ministry and in turn, help me make more music. Before I can reach these goals, I will need to sell a bunch of my current CD, Just One Glimpse, and earn money through appearances. I would so appreciate you referring me to any churches/pastors that might be willing to invite me to sing.

I am singing this coming Sunday at Karl Road Baptist Church in Columbus. I will be the featured soloist and will have the honor of having the Karl Road Baptist Choir joining me. I will be singing, "Birthday of a King" which is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

On Christmas Eve I will be singing at my parents' home church in Shawville, Quebec. I also received an invitation to sing at a large church in Ottawa, Ontario on New Year's Eve, but sadly, I had to decline; the timing wasn't conducive to our travel plans. I do hope they will invite me again!

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading and for your continued support and interest in my music and ministry. I so appreciate you, your encouragement, and your support.

Have a blessed Christmas and I hope you will carve out some time to sit by the manger and soak in the wonder of our Father's most precious gift.

In Him,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You, Me, and Jesus in a Ryder Truck gets AIRPLAY!

Hi Friends and Family:

Listen to the radio spot

I can't wait to share this exciting news with you! I just learned that my song, "You, Me, and Jesus in a Ryder Truck" will be featured on 94. Country (94country.com) tomorrow as the DJ's Pick of the Week! If you're able, tune in tomorrow (Sunday, October 24) between 9:30 and 9:45 am (EST) to hear the introduction and song. This development is a direct result from my time in Nashville last week! Let me tell you about it.

As you know, I travelled to Nashville to attend The 16th Annual Inspirational Country Music Week. My trip was somewhat threatened when I came down with "shingles" just 2 weeks before my scheduled departure. Because every person experiences shingles differently, I wasn't sure what kind of condition I would be in. Thankfully, by the time I left the discomfort was minimal so my plans went ahead.

I travelled to Nashville with my Dad and we had an enjoyable trip. We got into the Nashville/Country Music mode by listening to all my favorites for most of the trip. We arrived Sunday around noon and had just a couple hours before my sound check. I was nervous leading up to the soundcheck. Being at TBN's Trinity Music City was a little intimidating. It was a big stage, lots of lights, and lots of complicated looking technical equipment! Several people sound-checked before me so I was able to gain my composure before my turn. The sound-check went reasonably well though I did strain on a couple notes. All along I'd been praying, "Lord, just let me get those notes--and then not look surprised when I do!" A couple hours later, the showcase began and I was on about half-way through. Honestly, I don't think I could have done any better. My voice was free and singing seemed effortless. All glory to God for that! The audience seemed really receptive and seemed to be drawn in by the stories of my songs (You, Me, and Jesus and Finders Weepers). The show ended with the featured performance by Voices of Glory (America's Got Talent 2009 Top 5 Finalists).

Once the pressure of my showcase was over, I was able to relax and just enjoy the rest of the week--not that I didn't enjoy the performance, but you know how that goes. My Dad flew back to Columbus on Monday so I was so glad to meet another artist who was there on her own. We hung out the rest of the week after my Dad returned to Columbus. Her name is Sheila Berry and she's a much more experienced song-writer than me and gave me so much information and encouragement along the way. God's graciousness never ceases to amaze me. Sheila and I were the ONLY ones at the convention who were there on our own and we were around the same age and showcased back-t0-back so it was the perfect occasion to meet each other. We may not ever have met had we not showcased on the same night.

All week long we enjoyed great music and inspiration. The most helpful seminar I attended was one called, "Is Your Song Radio-Ready". 4 panelists were present and answered several of my questions. I learned how to approach radio with a song and most importantly I walked away feeling that it IS possible for my songs to get on radio. I always had radio artists up on a pedestal and didn't think I could "compete", so to speak. I learned that there are plenty of stations out there playing music from independent artists and that sometimes even relatively unknown artists have songs further up the charts than the "big" names. In country music, it really is all about the story and lyric of the song.

One of the panelists I met at the seminar was Scott Perkins, also known as the Country Parson. He lives in Kansas and has a syndicated Inspirational Country Music show. Scott was very gracious and willing to listen to my song. He must have liked it because just today he messaged me and told me he was going to feature it on his program tomorrow! It will also air in 9 other markets across the country and as far away as Austrailia next week!

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this development. I pray the song will get picked up by other stations and that the Lord will use it to open even more doors. Even though this particular song isn't the most seriously spiritual song that I sing, it really does have a foundational message of God's design for marriage and our need to ride with Him in all aspects of life. There are too many married people out there trying to do married life on their own, in their own wisdom and strength. Marriage is a marathon and we need God's help and sustaining power.

Well, thanks for reading and for taking an interest in what I'm up to and how God is using my music.

Take care!!

For His Sake,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Power Source Magazine Reviews "Just One Glimpse"

Hi Everyone!

A couple days ago I received some exciting news that Power Source Magazine has chosen to review my CD in their August, 2010 edition! I'll be sure to give you the link to it once it's available online.

Each month Power Source Magazine is mailed to industry professionals, members of the Christian Country Music Association, fan subscribers, and radio. They mail to over 2,000 radio stations, including approx. 1,000 Christian Country stations and charting stations in Country (including Music Row reporters), Southern Gospel and Bluegrass. They also provide additional distribution during major events, including: Country Radio Seminar, CMA Fest, National Quartet Convention, and of course ICM (Inspirational Country Music) Week and the ICM Awards. The magazine was founded by Gene Higgins, who also founded the Christian Country Music Association/ICM Awards (www.ccma.cc & www.icm-awards.com) and HMG Nashville (which is a marketing and promotional service for artists.)

I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to get some publicity about my CD and ministry into the hands of industry professionals and artists. The "Inspirational Country" genre seems to be a very good fit for my song-writing and vocal style. If you had asked me 5 years ago what type of music I felt most suited to write, I would have said, "Contemporary Christian" or "Praise and Worship". Though I still am very passionate about those genres, I seem to be a story-teller at heart and country music is a wonderful medium for that.

I am hoping to attend the 16th Annual Inspirational Country Music Week in Nashville from October 10-14th. It's my desire to learn more about the industry, connect with other artists, get inspired, and develop my song-writing. This event seems like it would give me opportunity to reach those goals.

As with most opportunities in life, there is a financial cost. In this case, there is about $1000 standing between me and this opportunity. I could reach this goal by selling about 80-100 more CDs (which I already have in stock). Perhaps you know of someone who might enjoy receiving a gift of one of my CDs. I am selling one CD for $12.00 or multiples at $10.00 each. Shipping costs are minimal. Please email me at karen@karenburkhart.com if you'd like to place an order or visit my website at www.karenburkhart.com. I also have 4 individual songs available for download at ITUNES. Any support would be greatly appreciated.

Making Music for His Glory,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finders Weepers Now Available for Download at CDBABY.COM/ARTIST/KARENBURKHART

Hi Everyone! Finders Weepers is now available for download. I hope you'll check it out. Downloads are 99 cents. I'd love to know how the song speaks to you so drop me a note. If you like the song, please spread the word. Thank you so much!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Song Coming Soon!

Tomorrow I go into the studio to record vocals on my newest song. Felix Weber has once again produced a beautiful track and it definitely has all the flavors of Nashville 2010. I feel so privileged to work with Felix. He's the total package--songwriter, producer, instrumentalist, technician, engineer. Oh, and I almost forgot his most valuable quality; he is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. I believe having a spirit-filled man working on my songs breathes life and power into the music and it makes it all more authentic.

My new song is called "Finders Weepers". No, I didn't get it mixed up. It's a twist on the well known school yard chant. The song is based on the Scripture where Jesus says, "Whoever seeks to save (find) his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save (find) it." Like Jesus does so well, he takes conventional wisdom and turns it on its head.

I look forward to sharing the song with you soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Encountering God

I've been thinking a little about REVIVAL lately and what it's going to take for we, as members of the Body of Christ, to begin living the radical life that we've been called to. Surely God didn't save us so we could go to church on Sunday, say "grace" three times a day, and put fish on the back of our cars. When I read the Bible I see that disciples (followers) of Christ lived extreme lives--lives that were filled with great adventure, miracles, and encounters with God. Of course, I realize they had mundane aspects in their lives too and certainly more than their share of suffering, but look at the fruit of their lives!

On Sunday our pastor asked us to imagine leading one person to Christ in our lifetime. I certainly appreciated the challenge and recognize that for some, it may even have seemed beyond reach, but I must confess that I was a little sadenned that we feel we have to expect so little out of disciples of the living God. Weren't we told that the same power that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us? As a recovering legalist, I certainly recognize the pitfalls in a discussion like this. I'm absolutely not suggesting we guilt anyone into witnessing. I remember well the days of sitting in the salon chair stewing about the right opportunity to share the gospel with my stylist only to slink away with a freshly coiffed do and a side order of guilt for not having witnessed. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about real revival where our encounters with God are so powerful and our spirits are so full that whatever we do and wherever we go we reflect His glory. What's it going to take to turn our Christian list of have-tos into love-tos and compelled-tos?

I'm convinced that what is lacking in the lives of many warming our pews is a genuine encounter with Jesus. Not your mother's encounter. Not your grandparents' encounter. Not even your child's encounter. But YOUR encounter. No, it's not all about experiencing goosebumps and warm feelings (those are fleeting), but we all need something to make our faith REAL and come alive! I believe that God delights to make Himself real to each of us. So, why do so many feel distant and like their faith is only in their head? It's going to take an encounter with Jesus for faith to take that long trip from the head to the heart.

So, how can we encounter Jesus? I think humbling ourselves and confessing our need is probably a good place to start. Jesus has never been a fan of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. The Lord is near to the contrite and broken in spirit. I think another step in the right direction is to actually attempt something bigger than ourselves--whether that's a tangible or intangible. Meeting His children in the midst of steps of faith seems to be favorite activity of God. No doubt you've heard before that faith is like a muscle and it has to be exercised in order to grow. And further, if our faith isn't exercised, just like muscles, atrophy will set in. So, if we're not growing in faith, we're losing faith.

Do you want to encounter Jesus? Try needing Him. Try asking Him to meet you. He won't disappoint.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Heart of Worship

Hi Everyone! I realize this blog has been virtually empty since the launch of my website and I'm hoping to change that. I figure a good place to start is to blog a little about the worship and prayer service I recently led, called The Heart of Worship. So, here goes...

The initial vision for The Heart of Worship was birthed many years ago while I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At that time I was blessed to be part of a thriving Christian community who loved to worship through music. Once a month, Christians from all over the city came together on a Saturday night just to worship in song. It was led by local musicians and one special singer/songwriter in particular named Steve Bell. If you haven't yet heard his music, you should check out www.stevebell.com. This Saturday night event became so popular that it wasn't long before they had to move to largest church and then into a neutral theater. It was a real highlight for me and many others. God really used those services to minister to people and to unify the body of Christ in that city.

It's been almost 20 years since those days in Winnipeg, MB. It's hard to believe I've already lived in Columbus, OH for almost 9 years (a personal record for me!). For many years I've carried this vision of leading a large gathering of worshippers from all Christian walks. Finally, in mid 2009, I decided to approach one of my church leaders with this vision. He was open and gave me his blessing to proceed with planning a single event. Originally planned to occur in November, 2009, the event was postponed to April, 2010.

So, this past Sunday, I saw the first phase of my vision realized. About 150 people gathered at UALC on Lytham Road to spend a couple hours in the Lord's presence. It was a beautiful night and I was so pleased to hear positive feedback and people's interest in doing it again. Some even suggested monthly! It was very affirming to hear that others felt the same need that I have felt for many years--for an extended time to soak in the Lord's presence.

There are no set plans for another service like this, but I'm confident it will happen again. Right now, my goal is to solicit more specific feedback from people and hear what they liked about the night and what we might be able to improve upon. So, if you were there, please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

100 Huntley Street

Just wanted to let you all know that I have been invited to appear on the Canadian Christian TV program, 100 Huntley Street, on Thursday, October 8. I will be interviewed and sharing part of my testimony and singing. I'm so pleased to have this opportunity to share God's story and the music He's given me. Please be in prayer as I prepare for this.


Hi Everyone! Welcome to my new blog. I'm really excited about having this feature on my website. This is where I hope to share news and the occasional deep thought. Yes, mothers of young children are capable of a few every now and then! Check back often.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Welcome to the new Karen Burkhart website. We hope you like it. If you find anything wrong with any of the links, please let me (the webmaster) know. My email address is willy@citylinewebsites.com.
Thank you!

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