Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Greatest of These

It was during the final message, before we all left for our various prison ministry hubs throughout the state of Alabama, that the Lord started to work in my heart about my need for a greater love. The pastor who was speaking was talking about compassion, and love, and what it means to have these two rooted in who we are.

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, 
and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." 
-1 Timothy 1:5

This message and his text (above verse) touched my heart so deeply. I found myself longing for a love for each of those prisoners, those many souls I would be meeting the coming week.

I wanted more than just an overall feeling of pity. Pity comes easily enough when you enter prison and see people who so desperately wish they could change their circumstances and where they are. These people are at the end of their rope; at the bottom of the bottom, and your heart would have to be made of stone to not feel something for them.

But this day, I felt myself wanting more than that. Wanting to feel more than just pity for the masses. In my heart, I desired to feel an overwhelming love and compassion for each person I met. I wanted to see them as more than just another unfortunate person with a tragic story. I wanted to see each of them as beautiful souls, whom Jesus had placed in my path for me to love.

The next morning, in my quiet time, I read the love chapter, Corinthians 13. The last verse sums up the whole chapter beautifully: 

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

I began asking the Lord, the beginning of that week, to change my heart and give me a deep, genuine love for each person. And He answered. He confirmed through messages, songs, + verses throughout those next few weeks. He confirmed through prisoners who thanked us for bringing love to them, for loving them individually. It was a wonderful thing to see Him direct and bless in this little area of my life.

"Lord, break my heart with compassion, as I see them passing by,
Traveling down the road to nowhere, trying to fill the void inside."
Forgive me when I judge them, when I don't take the time to care,
You have given me this glorious news, yet I neglect to share
I'm guilty, Lord, of focusing, on the little things in life
Forgetting that you put me here to point others to Christ."
-"Through Your View"

I've realized that it's more than just these prisoners for whom I need love. I want love to be the thing that drives me. Love for Jesus, first of all. And love for others, next. The only way to have this true love, is for me to allow Jesus to pour it into my life, so that I can pour it out onto others.

"When God puts love and compassion in your heart towards someone, 
He's offering you an opportunity to make a difference in that person's life. 
You must learn to follow that love. Don't ignore it. Act on it. 
Somebody needs what you have. " 

This last quote speaks volumes. So true. God gives us the love, and then calls us to act on it---to follow. This is our call. Will we step out and allow God to fill our lives with this amazing love of His?

Praying this love + compassion will fill YOUR heart today!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The 2017 Post

January 2017. This month is pretty much my favorite month in the world right now for a variety of reasons.

First, and most importantly, it is the start of 2017. I love even the sound of NEW YEAR. It just has a ring to it. Honestly makes me "fly up on the wings of anticipation", just thinking + dreaming of all the things I could do this year. Places to go, projects to start, businesses to get off the ground, plans to make...ah, give me ALL the new year feels!

Secondly, tonight has been my "carrot out in front of me" for the past month and a half. As I type this, we are mere minutes away from finishing recording for our eighth family album. Pretty sure there's going to be the biggest party ever happening in the bus quite shortly! Well, actually in all honesty, we are all way too tired to party. So I will go to bed and party another time. Besides, when you're at this point...a long nights' sleep is basically better than a party anyways. Best thing in the world! 

Thirdly...well, I don't know why thirdly. But I needed a thirdly, because I had a first and secondly. So of course a "thirdly" completed it. 
So for "thirdly" let's just say that its just a great month to be alive! =)

As I mentioned in my last 2016 post, I tend to get overly visionary on myself. The hilarious thing is that I'm not even a visionary in my personality. But I am the daughter of an extremely visionary father, who married my extremely visionary mother, and so I really don't have any choice but to have a very large dose of visionary in my genes. Even if I'm not technically a visionary. I still have to keep up my end. =)

All that to say, January is always a time of goal setting, brainstorming, and lots of blank paper. This month so far has been a little different than normal and I'm still trying to catch up with myself. A time like the above picture (vision session from a few months ago) is basically my one of my two greatest wishes right now. Maybe one of these days. Laptop, favorite playlist, Bible, journal, notebooks, + coffee. Double coffee. Or maybe even triple coffee. Basically lots of coffee.

But in the meantime, I'm recovering from a very crazy but very blessed December, and am adjusting into the completely + totally different lifestyle of tour life. For years now I've been trying to figure out if it is easier to blog at home or out on the road. I'm still confused on that so until I figure out, I'll be over here just doing my best to blog whenever I can, wherever I am landed. =)

Oh. And in case you were wondering about my 2017 goals? One of them was to blog 2x a week. 

Yeah, goal blown. (sigh)

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." -Les Brown

Happy January, peoples! And Happy 2017.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Upcoming Tour Schedule January 2017

Sista + I, drinking our coffee and inviting y'all to join us at one of our upcoming winter tour concerts!

13...Hope Community Church, Lebanon, IN, 7pm
14...New Bethel Baptist Church, Eddyville, KY, 5pm
15...Bethel Baptist Church, Hartselle, AL, 10am
15...Berry Baptist Church, Berry, AL, 6pm

16-19...Studio Recording, Nashville, TN
20...Way of the Cross Chapel, Brooksville, MS, 7pm
21...Graysville United Methodist Church, Graysville, AL, 6pm
22...Renew Hope Prison Crusade, statewide AL
23...ReNew Hope Prison Crusade, statewide AL
24...ReNew Hope Prison Crusade, statewide AL
25...ReNew Hope Prison Crusade, statewide AL
26...ReNew Hope Prison Crusade, statewide AL
27...Good News Baptist Chapel, Dozier, AL, 7pm
29...Lighthouse Baptist Church, Dawsonville, GA, 9:45am + 6pm

I'd be simply thrilled to meet some of y'all at one of these dates, if you live nearby! 

Have a blessed Thursday!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

I'm enjoying a little true blue solitude this evening. So perfect! I left the house, found a quiet corner of our little town, and settled in for a few hours. Normally we would be having our formal Christmas Eve Party tonight, but this year, we did that last night, and today was a work day instead of a holiday. A little backwards, but, hey, why be normal when you can be different? My life motto. =) 

My thoughts ventured to my blog. Blog? What's that? Oh yes. That place of dreams + plans + future ideals. Well. It has been a long time since I've been here! I'm not currently in a writing mood, and I'm not planning for this post to be more than a few sentences, but I did want to drop in and alert y'all to the fact that a New Year is coming (!!!), and with it are some goals + visions for this blog, about which I am very excited. I tend to be a person of much fire + flare, but sometimes it's just that---fire + flare, and no actual completions of those grand visionary explosions. One of my many goals for 2017 is to continue in organization but to add discipline to my organization. I feel like the two could be a winning combo, but alas, I wouldn't know. Yet. Here's to the future! Can't wait to share more with y'all soon! (Soon. Around the New Year. I'm coming back. Promise. =))

All that to say, it seemed like if I was going to blog tonight anyways, the fitting thing would be to say Merry Christmas to any remaining little readership there may be (smile) and to wish y'all the brightest, loveliest, + cheeriest Christmas you have ever had! 

"And Mary said, 
'My soul doth magnify the Lord, 
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour'."
-Luke 1:46+47

May your spirit rejoice in the SAVIOR tonight + always!

Monday, October 31, 2016

"You Know You Might Be In A Campaigning Family If" + My Thoughts on the Election

The other day I discovered this little draft entitled, "You Know You Might Be In A Campaigning Family If". I was meaning to post this long ago-I actually wrote it months ago, right after we had finished out biggest chunk of campaign work in the south, but it got stuck in drafts and I totally forgot about it until I recently discovered it again. I almost hit "delete draft".
I mean, we are way past that now, and in someways it's a little painful to reflect on that season (just being honest).

But as I scrolled down through and laughed with the memories, I decided against deleting it. I want to remember and document those times. It was a good cause, it was a good work, and we made some great memories that I don't regret. And sometimes even when everything looks so extremely dark + dismal for our country, it is still good to remember to laugh.

God is on the throne, after all. We are called to do our part, and to leave the results up to HIM. Thank goodness that is all we are called to do. If the results depended on us it would be constant depression, I'm afraid, with the current state of things politically. But with obedience for us, and the results with's just a really safe place to be, if you think about it.

So this evening I'm going to take you down memory lane with me, and laugh a little over some of these moments from the good old campaigning days-those days of fighting for a good cause with my favorites (that would be my family) and learning so much more about life + public relations + public speaking + public debating + public EVERYTHING than I could ever have learned anywhere else.

I'm still really thankful. It wasn't a waste. It was good.

All that to say, here you are:

"You know you might be in a campaigning family IF....."

...even your eight year old uses political lingo, always, even in bedtime prayers: "And dear Jesus, I pray that Allison would please get married, and I would endorse _________ for brother in law." (if Rebs got a dollar for every brother in law endorsement she has given she would be one rich little woman! =))

a sibling "endorses" you for a work project

...for that matter, everyone in your family "endorses" (or doesn't endorse) everything and anything. Who needs the world "support" when you can "ENDORSE" someone or something? It just sounds so much more...important and political. =)

...speaking of all of that....the children would turn anything and everything from assignments to jobs to WHATEVER into an election: "okay, so who do you endorse to do the morning milking? Who would be your second choice, and why? Okay, time for the vote! It appears that Mitch has received the most endorsements and Carson second, HOWEVER they are almost tied for delegates so this may have to advance to a broker convention!" =) get the news that Crispy Creme Chris Christie has dropped out of the race, and your ten year old  brother promptly exclaims "I wish he would've stayed in because he was helping to split the establishment vote!" Like what ten year old even knows what "split the establishment vote" means?
One who has watched all of the debates. =)

...You use nicknames to discuss candidates (see above example =)) 
And there are many more examples from which I will spare you. =)

...the sibling group chat has politics ALL THROUGHOUT it. have specific emojis that you use to more accurately convey your emotion when discussing dealings with "Trumpers".
And they are not complimentary emojis. avoid the use of one certain emoji like THE PLAGUE because it looks EXACTLY identical to the way Trump crosses his thumb and index finger and HORRORS to imitate him.

...your eight and ten year old siblings know exactly the meanings of GOP and establishment and broker convention and delegates and winner takes all and caucus. develop basically a whole new language with friends you campaign with.

...all of your siblings have the Cruz app and i360 Walk App on their phones and all of you have used them in ?? states. dread checking comments after a political post because there are truly all sorts of people in the world and some of those very unique types always have lots of negativity to share about how wrong they think you are. have to bring a more level headed family member in to proof the comments and help determine which ones would qualify as too inappropriate to post and which ones will slide by. of you who isn't at the watch party texts a sibling who is: "How is it going? What? Seriously they said that? Those liberals are crazy! I say, down with the aristocrats! Ahem, the establishment. Umm, my apologies----been immersed in too much French revolution history." =)

...every single meal time we talk about politics. And lots of other things, of course. But always politics makes it in there too.

...your siblings make up charts before each primary/caucas and go around to each person in the family to get everyones predictions on what they think will be the final rankings of each candidate.

...your brothers give you hassle because once upon a time you were a Rubio fan and now of course you're not... but the brothers just can't let you forget about it.

...even the few times you all consciously try to divert the conversation and just discuss other things politics comes back in.

...we older ones were at a church's college/career class valentines party, and were playing Catch Phrase. Two of our boys were on the same team, which was bad news to begin with. The hilarious thing about it all was that with every question that came up, they used their political knowledge to figure out the answer. Case in point was the question, NAME THIS FOOTBALL TEAM. Denver looks at Josh and said, "Josh, the team that Rubio's wife was a cheerleader for"! Josh immediately named the team and the game kept moving...except that literally every else in the room is still reeling trying to put all the information together: "DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT?!" And I looked at the guy next to me who was giving me this incredulous "whoa, your brothers are hard core!" type look, and said, "That, my friend, is what happens when your brothers live, eat, and breathe politics and know way too much about the candidates." =)


And that's a little humor for your evening. =) I hope that in the middle of all of these very serious and very heartbreaking dynamics that are surrounding every aspect of this current election...I hope that this post maybe gave you a laugh or two, and will remind you that we can always have JOY when we are on the winning side!

Ending out on the serious side...a number of you have asked me how I will be voting next month. Please watch the following two videos and read the linked article. I could write my own long post but these three people explain it so well that I am just going to share their views with you instead of writing a long post and trying to say the same thing all over again.
For a more serious view of things, such as how I am planning to vote and what my beliefs are in that,
watch this video of my brother Mitchell.
This one also says it SO WELL and I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and watch it!

Last but not least, if you have time, check out this article that a friend of mine wrote on the subject. So good.

Do what's right. Stand for truth. Vote biblically.

"Of the two evils, choose neither."
-Charles Spurgeon

Have a blessed evening, friends!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Bell Sleeve Pattern + God's Bigger Picture

I've been finding in my life that God delights in working through the non-ordinary. I've also been realizing that He has little lessons prepared for me in literally EVERY area of my life, if I just am in tune with Him and watching for them. 

Last December, He taught me a very powerful lesson through a bell sleeve pattern, of all things. I started this post in February and here it is now, just a little while later. =) I feel like for some reason, this timing of posting this now is perfect, and that there is someone out there reading this that needs this truth in their lives today. TAKE HEART that God has got your life in His hands. This truth impacted my perspective in such a huge way, that it is my HOPE that it can do the same for yours. It doesn't matter how big or small your trial is, or how unique to you-I want you to know that GOD CARES and that He has a bigger picture in mind.

At the time of this particular sewing project, I was going through the greatest struggle of my twenty-four years of life. I was dealing with major trust issues (both with God + with several people in my life) and I literally felt like things were spiraling out of control. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt I was deeply invested with a situation, deeply affected by the results, and yet completely and totally out of control with the entire thing.

I needed this lesson. Jesus in His grace knew that and sent me this truth at the perfect time, to strengthen my faith and remind me that He cared more than anyone else could.

It was a cold December afternoon. I was knee deep in fabric, frantically trying to meet a looming deadline and sew two new costumes for our church's annual Live Animal Christmas Play. (why is it every time I sew something I am behind and frantic? Agh!) 

Here I was again, with little time to spare and no extra time for something to go wrong. I was combining and tweaking patterns which required extra time and major extra mental capacities which I felt were seriously lacking. 

But when it came to this sleeve I determined to follow instructions. I knew better (from past failures) than to attempt to throw a sleeve together without a concise plan in mind. 
I've sewn sleeves before. Many times. The first time I tried making up my own pattern and cutting out the fabric how I thought a sleeve should look. 

I can hear all you fellow sewers of sleeves laughing. I know, how ludicrous. Can we just say EPIC FAIL for that first sleeve project those years ago?! =) 

Needless to say I learned my lesson. And since, even though I love veering from the patterns and combining ideas and coming up with my own, I always (and I mean ALWAYS) make sure to *mostly* stick to whatever sleeve pattern I am using. No more cutting out my own ideas. The pattern makers know best in the sleeve arena!

I've always been infatuated with bell sleeves. They're just so awesome-I love the flow of the extra fabric and the regal feeling I always get when I'm wearing a top or dress with sleeves like this.

I was very excited about this pattern and sewing these dresses for several reasons, one of which was that I was combining multiple patterns (and that always excites me because then its kinda original with me!) but also because I had only sewn short sleeve and sleeveless styles before, and hadn't previously done long sleeves. 

I laid the sleeve pattern out and began to cut. It looked crazy for sure but being a seamstress who has sewn a lot, I have learned by now that sleeves, more than any other part of a sewing project, look totally not like a sleeve when they are first cut out! It doesn't matter if its a cap sleeve, or half sleeve, or long sleeve...the pattern piece (before sewing) just doesn't resemble a sleeve at all.

I was pinning along (see above picture) and had just finished cutting out the first bell sleeve, when my youngest sister Rebecca walked through the room. She came over to observe my progress and asked, naturally, "So what part is that supposed to be?" 
Me: "Its the sleeve, Rebs!"
Her: "Wait. The SLEEVE? Are you sure, Chels? There's no way that's a sleeve! It doesn't look even close to a sleeve!! I think you are wrong!" =)

I smiled at the thought of her giving me sewing advice. =) As I opened my mouth to answer her, it was like Jesus gave me this lesson on the spot. I began to explain: "Yes, it's a sleeve, honey! I know it doesn't look like it now, but its gonna be the most beautiful sleeve you can imagine, and when it's all finished, it won't look anything like what you are looking at now. See, a sleeve doesn't start out looking like a sleeve. In order to get that beautiful bell shape, I have to cut out something that looks very different. I have to follow the pattern. If I follow that pattern, this sleeve will turn out looking just like what its supposed to look like, and it will fit me perfectly. But I have to stick to the pattern for that to happen. So even though it looks really strange right now, I know for SURE that it will look like a perfect sleeve if I just keep going with the pattern. And you know something, Rebecca? Life is the very same way. Often what Jesus tells us to do doesn't make sense. We think 'this isn't what I had in mind! This isn't what my life is supposed to look like!' There are going to be times when this will happen to you. But don't worry about how things look at the time. You can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that JESUS made the pattern (His Word) and listening to it and His still small voice will get you successfully through whatever you might go through! The circumstances and results will very well look completely opposite to what you were wanting. But trust the Designer-He put the time and thought into this pattern (your life) and He has a beautiful sleeve (story) just waiting at the end, if you will just trust and obey, no matter what!"

I'm not sure how much of the lesson she retained, but I continued to mull on this after she left, and in the weeks to come...
Does the pattern always make sense? Ha, NO. Not in the slightest.

So why do I still choose to follow it?

Because I have seen the picture on the cover of the pattern, and I know that that picture's costume was sewn directly by following the instructions of the pattern. I know that no matter how "unlike" it my current piece of fabric may look, the maker of the pattern knew what they were doing and had a very definite plan in mind. And I KNOW that if I follow that plan, I will get a sleeve exactly like the one on the cover of the pattern.

Why do I still choose to follow God's Word and listen to His voice even when it looks like everything is falling apart and there is no possible good ending? 

Because I have seen His Word. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it change my life. I know that it is real and alive and LIVING. I know that Jesus is real. I have heard His voice. He gave me pattern instructions and even though it went against everything that I felt like doing...obeying that "pattern" of His voice is always the greatest decision I could make. No, I might not understand. I very well might feel like making up my own and not following His. And I might not even get the chance to see the fully "finished product" of that circumstance, for years to come. But following it will always yield the sweetest results, in the end.

From my heart to yours, I am praying that Jesus would use this to touch whatever heart or hearts are needing this reminder today-that although your trial looks like a sleeve pattern to you, and you think "how in the WORLD could anything positive and beautiful come from this distorted shape?"yet Jesus looks at your "sleeve pattern" story from a heavenly perspective. He sees the beautiful picture of what can be, what will be, if you continue to follow the pattern. He knows that the final product will look beautiful, and intricate, and amazing, if you are faithful to follow HIS design. Don't take that scissors and cut out what YOU think looks like a bell sleeve. Just keep following that pattern. Don't stray from it. The person who created that original sleeve pattern? They knew what they were doing. They measured + analyzed + planned out that bell sleeve pattern, right down to the smallest measurements. Everything was prepared for a beautifully finished product, IF the pattern will be followed. 

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, 
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory 
at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 
Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, 
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1 Peter 1:7+8

This is the story of life. Stay strong. Keep going even when you don't understand.
Don't veer from God's pattern. His instructions are the best every time.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Happy National Coffee Day!

I've always thought that the whole national whatever day idea was kinda weird. 

I mean, really...there's apparently a day to celebrate pretty much anything. And why?

But in spite of all my prejudices against the whole idea, I felt that National Coffee Day deserved its own little corner of recognition in my world. =)

So here's a little humor in your coffee-filled day for all you fellow coffee lovers out there! Coffee cheers!
More than once...
 Did you know this, mom?!

 Love it. 
 How I feel some days. My days like this are rare. But they do occur. =)
 Can I get a witness?
 Been there!
Gotta end with the best one. =)
Hope y'all are having a lovely, "guilt-free-although-five-cups-consumed", kind of a day! 
And don't forget whipped cream! =)