2019 has been an ongoing celebration of milestones. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in October! 2019 also marks the 20th year of full-time ministry for our duo. So, to add to the celebrations, the release of our first ever Christmas album – ‘LOVE IS HERE’ – happened on December 1st!
‘Love Is Here’ is a collection of Christmas songs both old and new. The title track – Love is Here – is an original written by Russell and clearly shares the wonder of Christmas and the reasons to celebrate the wondrous gift of Emmanuel, God with us!
In addition to the album, we set out on a Christmas tour. The ‘Love is Here’ tour made stops in… Houston, TX Katy, TX Lindale, TX Texarkana, TX Fort Smith, AR Van Buren, AR Myrtle Beach, SC Murrells Inlet, SC
Every stop on our tour was an opportunity to share the Hope we have in Christ – The Prince of Peace coming as a child to save the world! Wow! Aren’t we thankful for Heaven’s Perfect Gift – JESUS!
How many times do we think, “I have to look good, or do that well, or act the part?” How many times have we compared ourselves to others and wished so badly that we had it altogether like they did? I’m sure your answer is the same as mine…MANY TIMES! I even want to look good and look like I have it together when I’m out on the farm jogging. I’ll think, “Am I jogging enough? If anybody can see me are they impressed that I just ran that fast or that far??” Granted, my jogging is more like walk/jog right now but I still want the approval of others. It’s been out there on the farm when I’ve had to say, many times, “God, You are my Audience of ONE! YOU are my Audience of ONE!” He is! He’s the One we should seek to impress. Did you know, though…HE LOVES US WHEN WE’RE AT OUR WORST…and He doesn’t love us any more at our best! He LOVES us. HE LOVES YOU! He IS love. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” Also, 1 John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
See…God loves us even when others might not. God delights in us, even when everybody around us is rolling their eyes. God sees us, even when we’re out on the farm, or in the gym, or at the desk, or wherever we are and is overcome with love for us. We don’t have to earn it. We couldn’t if we tried. He “demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Whatever stage you’re on, or field you’re running on, or path you’re forging, know this…Our Audience is an Audience of One…THE AUDIENCE OF ONE…Jesus Christ…the One you don’t have to impress. He loves you and me, just the way we are and loves us too much to leave us there. He wants to make beauty out of the ashes we’ve created during our lives. He will if we let Him. Let’s do it. Are you ready??
What’s that one thing you believe God put you on earth to do? Have you ever thought about it? What’s the one thing you believe every part of you has been created, crafted, uniquely woven to do while you’re on this earth? You might be thinking…”Those are pretty hard and deep questions, too hard for me to figure out.” I understand! They ARE hard and deep and sometimes feel like they could have so many different answers.
As I type this, I am praying that God would just pour His wisdom through these words and say what He wants to say…
We’re all created in His image. God came among us as Jesus Christ and showed us how to live. He probably had everybody pulling Him in so many directions; yet He had a purpose…to do the will of His Father.
We all have a purpose…to do the will of our Father. We have each been crafted with unique talents, gifts, personalities, likes and dislikes to be used for bringing praise to our Creator and Savior. Everything we do should point other people to Christ.
Have you ever noticed how busy we all get??? Sure you have and sure you are! We are ALL busy, and busy at many (many, many) good things. Let’s look back on Jesus’ life. He had many people asking Him for things. After all, they had God in the flesh walking among them. We probably all would have been asking Him for things! Jesus, however, concentrated on what He was here for, knowing that He had created people to be able to do His work with His help and the help of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus kept looking to God the Father and kept His focus on doing His will. Jesus wasn’t here on earth by accident and neither are we. Jesus had a purpose for being here and so do we. He created us that way…WITH A PURPOSE…with HIS purpose.
If you don’t know what that is, ask Him. If you don’t know HIM, ask Him to make Himself known to you. He DOES have a purpose for your life and mine. The way He made you is different than how He made your brother, or sister, or neighbor, or ___________ (you fill in the blank).
I believe that over a lifespan, you will do many things that work together to become the ‘one thing’ He created you for. After all, we change during different seasons of life. We grow, mature, slip, get back up. One thing remains, though. God has a purpose for your life. Don’t ever forget that. He wants to use each of us to touch people’s lives. Maybe you love to sing (like I do). God may use you to sing a song that will speak His life into a person’s life for the very first time and they realize God loves them and has a purpose for their life. Maybe you like to draw, run, build things, play golf, work on engines! Whatever it is, He can use it if you give it to Him and surrender control.
He died for you. You’re special to Him. He will help you figure it out. He will help you as you surrender all the good stuff for His best. Why not let Him?
Pray with me…Lord, please help me to give you every part of me, I mean EVERY part. Help me to know without a doubt that You created me intentionally, with a purpose, to bring honor and glory to You. Help me allow You to do what only You can do in and through me. Please make clearer and clearer the path You have for me and help me trust You, especially on days and seasons when the path gets hard to see. Thank You, in advance, that You’re going to do amazing things in and through me because You created me that way…to honor You. You’re a good God and I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Rest. What a seemingly simple word. It is only four letters. But, oh, the implications it can have on a life that actually does it!
My husband, Russell, will often say to me, “Sit down…rest.” There’s that word again. It’s sometimes, (I’m being a little too easy on myself), it’s often difficult for me to sit down and rest. We homeschool our children, Will and Sidney, and this year is the first of many years to come of a lot more to do. Will is in eighth grade and Sidney is in third grade. Their workloads are only increasing from here. So, as I write this, I am looking back on yesterday – a Saturday that we were actually home and not out on the road doing ministry. I had a terrible day because I couldn’t seem to rest. There’s that word again!
Saturdays, in my mind, were meant for catching up on the things you couldn’t get done during the week. Well, because I homeschool, I had laundry, tons of emails to go through and send, and just the normal cleaning. What I needed more than anything, though, was to rest. There’s that…you get the picture.
Jesus had a few things to say about resting. He tells us to come to Him, all who are weary and burdened and He will give us rest. He says our souls will find rest. He told His apostles to come away to a quiet and desolate place and rest a while because there were so many people needing them that they hadn’t even had a chance to eat! We are to “be still and know that He is God.” We are to rest.
I have to realize…it’s okay to rest. Our bodies are designed to rest. We can’t function properly without it. Sometimes we just need a day, or even a few hours, doing things that instill joy into our lives: playing games with our kids, watching a movie, or just napping or taking a long bath. Maybe you haven’t just sat quietly and waited for the Lord to speak. Tell yourself, “It’s okay to rest!” Say it with me, “It’s okay to rest!” One more time, “It’s okay to rest!”
Now, I wonder if your family will notice? I think they will. I think mine will. When we’re rested, we can hear The Holy Spirit’s voice louder, easier. We can feel the joy that He intended for us. I think our Heavenly Father will smile as we take time rest.
Now, can you count how many times I used the word REST? Oh stop it…go rest!!
Well – we’ve got a crazy idea and we are wondering if you’ll help us with it???
We’re putting together a house concert tour starting in August and running into the Fall…anyone interested in hosting a house concert? It would be such fun sitting in your living room/backyard with 20-25+ of your friends singing, laughing, maybe even crying… If you’ve got a living room and friends…that’s all you need! We put the idea out on our Facebook page last week and the response has been great! There are still dates available for both weekends or week nights but the weekends will go fast! Let us know and we can send you a pdf document with all the details and requirements. Call us 843-446-2983 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Based on the initial response to this idea, we are also looking to add house concerts to our ‘Love Is Here’ Christmas tour as well! More to come on that idea.