When it's right, it's right... 

I had a cool interview this past weekend for my radio show, Songwriter's Corner... I interviewed a group called The Reminders ( ), which includes a songwriter named John Thompson, the guy who wrote "El Shaddai." What an honor! That was probably the first song I ever learned to play and sing in church when I was younger. (When I told him that, on the air, and said, "You've probably heard that a million times, right?", he said "Yes, actually I have." But he smiled while he said it, in a very kind and unassuming way.) The on-air interview was spent talking about their current work as a group, but afterwards I asked him how he came up with "El Shaddai," so he told me the story.

He said he was living in Nashville at the time, in a 4 story tiny, narrow brownstone, with a piano on the first floor, and his bedroom way up at the top. One night, he couldn't sleep, and he made it sound like he was in a season of really crying out to God, "Where are you, God?" So he went down to the piano on the first floor, in boxers and t-shirt, sat down at the piano and played a couple of chords: the Dm and the G/C. And then the rest of it just flowed out. He said he just played the whole thing through the first time out; he literally wrote it in four minutes. But he didn't have any lyrics for it (he said he knows when he has lyrics, but felt that he didn't for this one.) Well, the next week he had a writing session with Bill Gaither, so Bill came over and said, "You got anything?" and John played him the music he'd written. Bill said, "Nah, that's too Hebrew sounding, not commercial. What else ya got?" So they put it away and wrote another song (which never went anywhere, by the way). Not too long after, John was getting together with Michael Card for a writing session, and he told Michael, "I have this one song, it's kinda Hebrew-sounding, and it's a little weird because the verse and chorus are basically the same, but I feel like it has a special anointing on it." So he played it for Michael. Michael liked it and asked, "What do you think the song is about?" John said, "I feel like it's about God Almighty." "Well, in Hebrew, that would be 'El Shaddai,'" Michael replied. So he took the song home and the next week sent John the full lyrics to "El Shaddai."

Even then, they weren't sure the song was commercial. A while later, Amy Grant's manager contacted John to see if he had any songs to pitch, and he told him, "I've got this one song, but I'm not sure it's very commercial." But the song struck a chord, so she recorded it and the rest is history, as they say. It became the first single off the record, and was an instant hit. The song won a Grammy, was named one of the "Songs of the Century" by the RIAA, and the Gospel Song of the Decade (80's) by Billboard Magazine. It also won the Dove award for Song of the Year in 1982. And all for a song that nobody ever thought would see the light of day because it "wasn't commercial."

For me today, the moral of the story is, when you feel like something has a special anointing on it from God -- whether it be a song, or a ministry, or something else -- follow that anointing! It doesn't really matter if anybody else thinks it's gonna work. If God has a plan for it, follow that plan -- and maybe be prepared for the ride of a lifetime.

PS -- The full interview with The Reminders will air at 2:00 pm Eastern on May 2 & May 16 on on The Sound of Unity stream.

Thankful much? 

What do you have to be thankful for today? I've been trying to ask myself that every day lately. It seems like since the beginning of this year, God has been opening up so many more doors for me to minister in a wonderful variety of places and ways -- and at the same time, it seems like my family and I have been under constant attacks, physically and every other way. But no matter the problems that come our way, I know that my God is greater! And I am resolved that no attack of the Enemy will keep me from doing what God has called me to do, as the Lord strenthens me. He is my Strength and my Song!

It's so much easier to come up with things to complain about or things to hope and pray will be passing soon. But it is so much more beneficial to my soul to focus on the beautiful things in life.

It is such a simple concept! Why is it so hard to implement? The apostle Paul worded it this way:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

And here's a bonus thought from that same chapter:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

I pray that God is strengthening you today, and that you find the beautiful things in your life to focus on!

A new year and a clean slate 

What is it about a new year that feels like a chance to start over again? January 1 is really just an arbitrary day on the calendar, another day in a string of endless days. Perhaps it's the placebo effect (we *think* it's new, therefore it *feels* new), or perhaps it's the satsifaction of getting back down to business after weeks of holiday busy-ness and routine-derailing Christmas events and days off.

Whatever it is, I don't care! I love the feeling of a clean slate. The chance to start afresh. I love cleaning out my son's toys and scooting off bags of tired old playthings to the Good Will to find a better life.  I love wiping off the whiteboard in my studio of last year's projects and making new lists of things to accomplish this year.  I love the feeling that the old is past, the new has come, and ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!  

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 3:13 (NIV)

So what's your favorite thing about the new year, and what are your goals this year?  Here are mine:

- Get back in shape.  (I'm not attaching a number to this, either here or in my mind! I just want to be healthy and fit to do what God has called me to do with excellence -- and without huffing and puffing as I step off stage. ;)

- Write one song per month.

- Do more co-writing.

- Get better at my radio show.  (Did I mention I host a radio show now? :)  You can listen at 2:00 pm EST the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month on on "The Sound of Unity" stream)

- Start the novel I've always wanted to write. 

Happy new year to you!  What are you gonna do with your clean slate?  The sky's the limit!

Remembering why it's worth it... 

Thursday morning I left home for 10 days for the Road to Recovery Tour with Leah Martensen, leaving behind my husband and my 3-month-old baby for the first extended trip since my son was born. Oh my gosh, was that hard! I worried and fretted about it for weeks beforehand, wondering how I was gonna do being away from my sweet little baby boy for so long. I knew my husband would do great, and that my mom would be able to help out too, but I just didn't know how *I* would do with it. I wondered if maybe it was time to quit doing this and just stay home. But I prayed and prayed about it, and I just felt like the Lord was saying, "You still need to go and do this."

So I got on a plane, I flew to Detroit to meet up with Leah, then we drove to Missouri where we had our first gig last night at the recovery group at the Solid Rock Family Church in Jefferson City, MO. And as I stood on the stage and delivered our songs and delivered my testimony, and saw people moved to tears in places, and jumping to their feet with applause, and shouting "Hallelujah!" and "Amen!", and as I heard their stories afterward about how the Lord had touched them, I remembered why it's worth it. It's worth it to leave home, even when it hurts, to follow the path the Lord has for me, to answer the call, because my "light and momentary suffering" can make an eternal difference in someone else's life. So thank you, Solid Rock, for reminding me of that! And thank You, Lord, that You have a way of always proving my fears and worries unfounded--it all works out when I just trust in You.
"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29-30)

Life will never be the same... 

On Easter morning, April 12th, 2009, we welcomed a son into our family, and life will never be the same. My husband and I have always wanted children, but after 12 years of trying and waiting and being told it would never happen, I am thrilled to say that God is faithful to His promises!! For those of you wondering how you missed me being pregnant, well I wasn't. We adopted. I'll be honest, there was a time when I didn't think adoption was for me. But the Lord showed me that He is the one Who puts families together -- no matter how those families come together. I love that adoption is a symbol of what God does for each one of us -- takes someone like me who wasn't in His family and says, "You're my daughter! Welcome home."

So now, life is very different! We were there when Jonathan was born, so we've known him from the first second of his life. I'm so happy that the Lord worked it out that way, because we didn't have to miss anything. But having a newborn in the house definitely changes things. I'm still trying to find the balance -- trying to find a minute to do anything besides making bottles, changing diapers, and holding my sweet little guy to calm him down or get him to sleep -- but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I know this phase of his life will zip by so quickly, and I want to savor every minute of it.

So I know there are so many parents out there -- what's your story? Leave me a comment about your little bundles of joy. God bless you.