Just recently, I finished reading In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado, and I was struck with the awesomeness that exists in the reality of God’s grace.  Grace is an attitude and action that is not merited— sometimes even undeserved.  Even so, Christ offers His grace to us again and again without penalty and without holding our wrongs against us.  True, we may anger and sadden Him with the poor choices we make, but He remains faithful even when we stumble. 

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul writes of a “thorn in the flesh” of which he begged for the Lord to take from him.  Yet, even though he prayed three times that this affliction would be removed, the Lord responded with these words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Some may ask why this affliction existed in a dedicated servant of Christ like Paul.  Why would God allow a weakness such as this thorn to enter into His life?  Wouldn’t this prevent Him from participating in fully effective ministry? 

I found myself asking similar questions about a year ago as I struggled through a series of debilitating allergies that took my voice and sometimes even my breath.  I pleaded with God that He would take this illness from me.  I was terrified at the thought of possibly losing my ability to sing.  I thought music was my calling and ministry role.  Why would God allow something like this to happen in my life?  How could I be effective for Him in His kingdom if I couldn’t lift songs to Him in praise?

One answer I would like to present exists in 2 Corinthians 12:7.  Paul recounts that perhaps the thorn in the flesh existed so that he might not become conceited.  There is so much truth to this, and I think it has bearing on my life as well.  Sometimes, as a musician, it is so easy to rely on my own musical skill and the strength in my talents.  Even though I don’t intend to, I find myself relying on self rather than on God in these times. 

I came through that time of sickness realizing that God is truly faithful.  Although I didn’t recover overnight (in fact, it took close to a year before I felt remotely like myself again), I saw His provision in everything.  I came to rely on Him fully in trust and increasing love.  If I can borrow Lucado’s words, I found myself “in the grip of grace.”   

Our worship band at church often leads in the song “Your Grace is Enough” by Chris Tomlin, and this tune is a poignant reminder of God’s grace and His redeeming love.  As I read through Lucado’s book, I found myself reflecting on this song with a new perspective.  Is God’s grace truly enough for me?  Can I leave behind my own selfish ambitions and concentrate on the One who gave everything to me without strings attached and without demanding anything in return? 

So I leave you today asking the same question of you: Is His grace enough for you?  I pray you will find that the answer is yes.  Blessings, friends!

Pure Joy

It was 1:00 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep.  This was not surprising considering my hectic schedule of the day just past and the thoughts tumbling through my mind at break-neck speed— so many decisions and so much to contemplate.  I curled up in a tight ball and began to pray, seeking peace and the ability to get some sleep.

But sleep wouldn’t come.  I lay there, recalling something my parents and grandparents have often told me; when you can’t sleep, perhaps God is keeping you awake for a reason and you need to pray for someone.  So that night, in the dark of my bedroom, I found myself praying.  First, I lifted up two friends in prayer— both facing very different situations but very much in need of direction and God’s peace.  Then my prayers turned to anything that came to mind.

One by one, I shared my requests with Him until I found myself turning to praise.  In all of the discussions I’ve heard on prayer, I know it is usually better to begin a prayer time with praise and adoration, but that night I had begun with a heavy heart, burdened for the ones I loved.  As my thoughts finally turned to praise and adoration, I found I couldn’t stop expressing my thanks.

I praised Him for His provision as I have lived independently and started my career over the past four years.  I praised Him for the incredible people in my life that have come beside me through everything.  I praised Him for His guidance and direction in my two years in grad school and for the mentors that have helped pave the way for me.  With tears running down my face, I praised Him for His incredible timing in bringing The Promise to my readers and for providing me with a team of individuals that are drawing together to stand behind the book and all of its promotional needs.

When I finally stopped praying and praising, my eyes were overflowing with tears, but a huge smile was on my face.  As I went into the bathroom to blow my nose (I know it sounds gross to talk about blowing one’s nose, but hear me out), I saw my smile in the mirror and I had to laugh a little.  It was amazing when I realized the pure joy that had come over me in the dark of my small bedroom.  My heart was lighter and I could feel His presence like no other time in my life.

A few weeks ago, I visited a friend’s blog in which the writer detailed a challenge to her readers.  She talked about keeping a thankfulness journal, where at the end of the day, she writes down the little things that warrant thankfulness toward God.  She recounted that it was difficult to come up with even a few reasons to be thankful in the beginning, but as she has continued in keeping the thankfulness journal, she has seen a gradual shift to giving thanks more and more every day.  Burdens and heartaches do not seem to carry the same weight anymore, and she can exude an attitude of gratitude in her day-to-activities. 

So my encouragement to all of you today is to possess this attitude of gratitude.  It can be done as simply as thanking Him for the little things every day and then gradually praising Him for the greater blessings.  Friends, I can’t wait until you experience the joy that came over me just a few nights ago!  Praise God for his faithfulness!

Weekend Randomness

This past weekend featured some of the most random experiences.  It started with a trip to the local recording studio to work on an exciting project.  In May, I will be releasing my next book, The Promise, and as a promotional tool, I will also be releasing a song single and book trailer video online. 

The recording process started with a good friend who served as producer, laying down a guitar track.  I followed that up with some accents on the piano and vocals.  The afternoon concluded with the incredible talents of two young ladies from the area lending their skills on violin.  It has always been a dream for me to release a song with more than just me on vocals and piano.  The team and I were able to work together well, and the outcome was beyond what I expected!  Right now, we are looking at releasing the single of “The Promise” on April 4.  I can’t wait for you to hear it!

The team and I left the studio in time for me to meet up with a few friends at Perkins.  We caught up over burgers and pasta and then moved on to my place where we talked and made cookies.  It was at about that time that I learned about the most incredible circumstance.  One of my friends visiting from out of town told me he had recently purchased my second book, St. Croix Chronicles, on amazon.com.  He opened the book upon receiving it in the mail and found that I had signed the used copy.  It was inscribed to a familiar name— none other than my editor’s deceased mother.  I could not believe that this particular copy of my book had come full circle— from the hands of one good friend now passed on into the hands of another.  What a small world!

The weekend continued with Crossroads Worship Band leading the music at First Reformed on Sunday morning.  I love to serve at my home church, and it was great to be joined by friends and family in worship.  After the service, I enjoyed lunch with friends before a few of us headed off to spend the afternoon at Mall of America.  Once more, I was surprised by sheer randomness. 

My friends and I had just entered the Lindt Truffle store (to satisfy my recent truffle cravings) when we saw an old friend standing at the counter.  We immediately called her name and rushed over to her, eager to reconnect and share in the randomness of our meeting.    

Now, I am looking forward to a much quieter week, but who knows what could be in store for me considering these most recent events!  I love when God surprises me with little blessings along the way to keep life interesting.  Today I am thankful for friends, laughter, music, and so much more!  Here’s to randomness and one of the best weekends I have experienced in a long time!

The Reason


I have always been a Christian musician and a Christian writer.  This is who I am and I try not to sugar-coat this reality.  Even when I was in high school, I knew God had set me apart for a different purpose, and I remember my parents telling me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that Christ defined me as a person and artist. 

Even though my career is based on my faith in Him, I am not opposed to presenting my material in a secular setting.  I have spoken at mainstream school events and have provided entertainment for nursing home audiences and corporate events.  I may not directly share my testimony or faith story at these times, but I keep my presentation positive and hint at the faith that is foremost in my life. 

About a year ago, I sang for a visually impaired support group at a local retirement home.  I sang a few of my songs that were less directed toward outright testimony but still conveyed a message.  About halfway through the event, I felt led to play my cover of the hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”  I knew I would be taking a risk at bringing faith into focus, but I prayed that someone would identify with the old hymn and make a connection.

I concluded the event and learned that there was still time remaining.  To fill the last few moments, the director of the event asked me a few questions and got me talking about my books and music.  She asked me about my disability and how I could have such hope in the face of challenge and adversity.  She wondered what inspired me as a musician and writer as well, and I couldn’t help but smile.  Talk about an opportunity!  I told the group straight out that I had a relationship with Jesus Christ and that He was the reason why I sing and write.  I didn’t give apology for this, and interestingly, the woman didn’t seem bothered by the breach of church and state.  She thanked me for my time and I left for home. 

A few days after Christmas this past year, I took the time to read through 1 and 2 Peter, and I was reminded of this verse in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 

I do not take this verse lightly.  When it comes to my music ministry, I have made it my mission to reach the people in my audiences— to minster to those who are believers and to draw nonbelievers to experience the peace and joy that Christ has given me.  A few weeks ago, I had an important interview in which I laid out my goals for my music ministry, and it was startling when I made the connection out loud.  I do not sing or write for me.  I sing and write for Him and for the people He places along my journey.  He is my reason for all that I do, and I will not give apology if you ask me why.