Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10 Things I Wish I'd Known: When I Started Leading Worship

1. Passion can't be taught; It is learned. 
          I didn't figure this one out until I began raising up worship leaders. I have girls who have amazing voices and no emotion. Nada. Yet I also teach girls with intermediate voices and amazing passion. Wanna know the common denominator between the passion girls? Life. Life experiences that drove them to a place where they were broken before God. That's it. And that brokenness is either the preliminary to or aftermath of spending quality time at the feet of the Lord. Studying the Bible, knowing God through it and prayer, and applying it. So if you feel as though your passion is lacking, be patient ;) Or look over your life and see where God has brought you from and how He has shaped and fashioned your life. Where were you 5 years ago?

2. Break the Glass: Interact with your congregation.
          There is nothing more discouraging than executing a worship service and it ending up feeling like a rock concert. On both sides: congregation and worship leader. For the congregation, there is some weird automatic pedestal that goes up when people step foot on a stage. I don't know why, or where it started but it is just a sad sorry fact because in reality, we are not worthy of a pedestal. Worship leaders, worship teams, and pastors are real live people with the same issues and struggles as the congregation. We are made from the same fiber. We are no better than anyone else. So there has to be some sort of glass shattering, pedestal colliding action that creates a legitimate community worship experience. I'll give you a hint: authenticity. 

3. Play with a Click Track: The whole band.
          There is something to be said for quality music in worship. There is not enough time or space to debate this here, but you can see some good discussion on Vicky Beeching's blog. However, I am on the side of "quality is always good but never required". If you have the ability to raise or place into action, quality musicians, do it. If you just don't have those resources yet, obviously you can still have a very well executed worship time. The Holy Spirit does not work under the conditions of quality music ;) But playing with a click track definitely glues a band together; professional and mediocre. I practice with it on my own time so that I can come as prepared as possible to our service rehearsals. 

4. It's ok to do some old school tunes.
          Hymns are some of the most powerful songs of worship ever written. Let me repeat. Hymns are some of the most powerful songs of worship ever written. I absolutely love them. Usually teams don't play them because they fear bringing their church back into the old school world of music, but there are plenty of newer versions with the post-mod melodies and arrangements. This isn't a requirement thing, it a preference. But for me its so easy to get caught up in the new of worship that we forget how powerful the things of old are. They minister to people in absurd ways and sometimes the newer generations don't even know the song is 100 years old! My favorites right now are Come Thou FountIt is Well, and Amazing Grace

5. Don't assume anything.
          When teaching or talking through a song with your congregation, the worst thing you could do is assume that everyone there knows what you are doing, singing, or talking about. Alot of churches have revolving doors with unbelievers just feeling things out. The worst thing that could happen is that they walk into a church and leave feeling like they were in a foreign country. We have a tendency to speak "Christian-ese" and not even realize that the average person has absolutely no idea what the holy spirit or sovereign or fellowship is [thanks brian and daniel]. Now some of you have the words "dumb down" flashing through your heads right now. Let me clarify that that is not what I'm saying in the slightest. I'm saying lets be real. Teach your congregation. This should also be done in collaboration with your pastor. You are a team. 

6. Make eye contact with the people you are leading. 
          They want to know you see them. I understand being wrapped up in the spirit and closing your eyes when leading. I do it too. But I try to make sure that I connect with the people I am leading. I want them to know I like them :) And I like hearing them. I even choose a couple chairs in rehearsal and pray for the people who will be sitting in those specific chairs. Then during the service I make eye contact and smile at them. It may be all made up in my head, but I feel like it communicates something. 

7. Plan everything.
          From the songs to the speaking to the verses to your prayers. Not because all those things have to be executed exactly as planned, but because planning gives more leeway for organized spontaneity. I have a hard time when I have to say a prayer or a short share time between songs and the only content I have is a topic sentence or key scripture. So lately, at the request of my pastor, I've been scripting my speaking and even my prayer, not so that I can read it, but because it forces me to think through everything and try out words and concepts behind the scenes instead of in front of 1200 people. Planning for such a fluid thing, like a worship service, sometimes seem oxymoronic. But it works. 

8. Video record yourself and watch it.
          Oh snap. This is one of the hardest but best things I've learned to do in worship leading. In every performance actually. It's awkward and weird to see all the quirky things I do when singing. I make some crazy funny faces. But it makes me more aware of my stage presence: Am I distracting? Do I look fake? Do I look stiff? Etc, etc, etc. It is also good to hear yourself: Am I on key? Do I ad lib too much? Is there too much blank space between songs? Etc, etc, etc.

9. Be apart of the team. 
          Being a team player is crucial to my productivity as a worship leader. I learned this lesson by watching other people. I saw how non-team players became almost like a big elephant in the room that no one wanted to address and most avoided. I also saw my tendencies towards that kind of leadership and vowed that I would keep myself in check by surrounding myself with people who could frankly speak into my life. Teams accomplish more than one person. It's a fact. The lack of a teamwork is guaranteed prescription a for burnout. 

10. Don't take things too seriously, it's not about you anyways. 
          As a creative type, I am married to my art. I am self-conscience of my music, guitar playing, singing and writing because it is apart of me. It's not just an occupation or a hobby. So when ideas get shut down, I use to [and sometimes still do] get totally offended because I couldn't separate me from the work. But over the years, God's patience has slowly convicted me and I now take everything with a grain of salt. Let the little things be little things because worship leading [through song] isn't about us anyways right? It is about how we can be serve God through leading His people in musical worship. The important thing is that that translates to the congregation. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Look + Some Inspiration

Hello friendlies,

Like my new header? I felt like it was getting a little too cluttered all up in here, so I scaled down just a bit. And I didn't like that right when you click on my page, you have to scroll down because the header was massive. Rookie mistake. So it's skinnier now and a little more mod.

I also read this article this morning and it was very fitting for my current state of being. It moved me and stirred this restlessness in my heart. It stirred the pot of complacency I so commonly sulk into due to routine, comfortability and lack of motivation. It's long, sorry. But it's so good.  

The 5AM Club
by Nicole Whitacre
The 5 O'Clock Club is a Mahaney-family club. Mom is the founder, chairman of the board, and the secretary. Without her, there is no club. This club has very few members (only six); no chapters to speak of. It is extremely unpopular from about 5-6 each morning and very popular every hour after that.

The 5 O'Clock Club is all about The First Habit of the Highly Effective WomanShe Rises Early. In fact, Mom would say that this practice BY FAR has been the most helpful in seeking to fulfill the other six practices on the list. I wholeheartedly agree.

The 5 O'Clock Club began a few years ago while Mom was writing Feminine Appeal. The only way to meet her deadline was to get up at the insanely early hour of 4:00 a.m. Then, when we were writing Girl Talk, I reluctantly joined the 4:00 club. That was painful. When the books were finished, Mom realized that all that extra early-morning time could be put to good use for her family. And so the 5 O'Clock Club was born.
Every morning, Mom wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. She makes her coffee and then she makes phone calls—to the Bradshaw, Chesemore, and Whitacre homes. We all answer in our groggy voices—“thanks, Mom” and then roll out of bed sometime between 5:00 and 5:30.

I have to say for the record, that after Mom, Janelle is the most consistent member of the 5 O'Clock Club. This should give women around the world hope for rising early, because until this past year, Janelle would have been the champion sleeper of our family. If Janelle can do it—anyone can.

So why should you join the 5 O'Clock Club? For starters, getting up early ensures you get a quiet time each day. If you have children, you know that “quiet time” after they are awake is something of a misnomer. If you work a job or go to school, being on time is usually non-negotiable. Waking up late means your quiet time is probably the first to go.
Referring to Bible reading and prayer, John Piper says: “I earnestly recommend that it be in the early morning, unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons.  The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep.  The body does, but not the heart.  We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here Goes Nothin.

Today I launched the trial run of my I {Heart} Singing E-course. I'm so nervous! I was up til 2 AM this morning uploading videos and editing posts. My 12 lucky troopers are in for some musical drilling these next 7 weeks. Can't wait to hear their feedback. 

**If you want to be on the notification list for this course, email me. Your email won't be sold or have my word. I will send you only 2 emails total: 1 to let you know when pre-sign ups are available + 1 to let you know when the course starts. That's it. 


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Obsessions: Bangles + Braids.

I am not really obsessed with a whole lot lately. Not by choice but probably because I've had barely enough time to breathe in the last 3 weeks. I was pretty much in survival mode and my brain could only handle the necessary questions for everyday life like: Did you brush your teeth? and Where did you leave the keys?

So today's Obsessions are a slim pickins. I would apologize, but I can't because sometimes its good to have nothing to be obsessed about. It reminds to me to enjoy all I already have. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

#Follow #Friday

Happy Friday friends! Today is officially declared "Get My Life Back in Decent Order" Day, consisting of laundry, dishes, mopping, dusting, more laundry, and unpacking my bag from the trip [don't judge me]. But not before I get you guys my #Follow #Friday faves. 

If you're a bloggin' newbie, check this guy out for some legit tips.

For all my artsy fartsies, you will love this girl.
Pretty things to look at :) We all love that right??
This girl has some bomb diggity posts & freebies. You'll love it.

And thanks for everyone who signed up for the Free Trial Run of my I Heart Singing course. You will be getting and email from me shortly. 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Lessons I Learned Today

God never changes. That's a fact. 
Ice Coffee with Sugar-free caramel is a pleasant change from my tea fetish
Cowboy boots are the shoe version of your "little black dress". They look good with everything and you always get compliments. 
I am buying myself legitimate alarm clock because my phone has proven unfaithful.
My husband is the most patient man on the face of the earth. I'd happily bet my life on it. 
The Home Goods store de-stresses me.
If I forget to sing just for the pure sake of singing, I get really cranky.
Sleep is imperative to the well being of myself and those around me.
There is something to be said for keeping your word.
I forget to cross things off my plethora of lists and therefore never get the gratification and closure of it's completion.

Calling All Closet Singers

Are you a hairbrush singer? Do you love music but think you could never be as good as so-and-so? Well then I have a treat for you!

7 days from today I will be starting a trial run through my I Heart Singing E-Course. My running motto in this course is Everyone can sing. You might call me crazy but I know it's true and I'll prove it through this course. "How are you gonna do a singing course through the internet??", you ask...Well, guess you'll just have to take it to find out :)

It is a {7} week course and I am offering it absolutely FREE to the first 10 people who apply below. I already have 2 signed up so that means I have 8 spots left. 

Enter your name and email below and I will send you a Welcome Email by Friday night to confirm your registration and get you your login information. 

*The entry closes when all 8 spots are taken or by midnight on Friday.

This is going to be fun! :) 


Monday, March 14, 2011

MBSW: The Grand Finale.

For previous posts on My Baby Sister's Wedding go here.
The day was absolutely gorgeous and everything came together beautifully!
I'm so happy for you Julis and I love you very much :)


Friday, March 11, 2011

She Speaks: The Actual Conference

So there is this conference for girls and women who are pursuing to be public speakers and writers...perfect right??!! I mean, the subtitle should be a picture of my face! haha. 

Well Joanna and I have been talking for the last couple months about going but by the time we got talking, it was a little too late to start saving $$. So started saving now, hoping that we'll get to make it to next year's conference. And then...

We found out about this beautiful scholarship opportunity! Can you tell that I am excited?? 

The She Speaks Conference is put on by the women of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I have never met these girls but the content they produce on their site, blog, and conference pages has been incredibly encouraging and influential for me this last year as I have pursued writing and speaking with my whole heart. They have spurred me on to believe, not in myself, but in the goodness of God, the calling of God, and the power of God. That He chooses ordinary people to do His work and impact His people in ways that we could never ever dream of. Boy is that the truth. Never in my life did I anticipate working on this book project. And never did I think I'd be speaking, as a 22 year old, in front of Mom's groups and women's events

But this is just proof that God, the original creator, has crafted in each life a story and every story should have the opportunity to be told. Let me say that again: every story should have the opportunity to be told. Mine. Yours. Your parent's. Your children's. Because every story brings light to who God is.

Crazy isn't it?

The two portions of the conference I am most looking forward to are the Speaking and Writing segments [from the conference site]:

She Speaks: (Speakers’ Track) Whether you feel led to speak in a large arena or lead Bible studies in your church, you will be equipped with the tools you need to effectively share your message, build your platform, and market your ministry.
She Writes: (Writers’ Track) Learn everything from basic writing guidelines to preparing an article or manuscript for submission, and everything in between. In addition, you will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with some of the top editors, publishers, and literary agents in the Christian market.
So this is my entry of chance. 1 out of 200...those are good odds right? :) 
Happy Friday. Oh yea, my sister is getting married tomorrow!!

#Follow #Friday

Happy Friday! I hope your week went well. Mine has been full of writing, working and wedding planning. My Little Sister is getting married on Saturday so we're all hands on deck the next couple of days. But I couldn't forget about Follow Fridays! I can hardly believe its Friday already. 

Here are some of my recent faves:

1. One of my favorite writers, Shauna Niequist. Her blog is as good as her books. // 2. I'm not sure where Mrs. Nesting Place comes up with all her creative and reconstructive ideas, but I like it. The highlights for me are her step by step photo tutorials. // 3. Cara: This girl is a dear friend and has a crazy good story to tell. So full of wisdom and compassion, she's a newbie to the blogging world so please welcome her gently :) // 4. I love looking at the pictures on Oh Joy's site. Her compilations of products makes me want to be everything. // 5. Who doesn't want easier, more creative ways to be organized??? Simplify Organizing sends me weekly tips on how to keep up with the house work and minor things I tend to neglect if not reminded. Good reads too. 

Have a splendid weekend!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just in case you didn't know...

Our music is now on iTunes and Amazon for your personal enjoyment. And it's less than $10! Click the photo to go directly to album page.

And if you have time, leave a review :) 

Happy Wednesday!


Happy Smelly Ending.

Question: What kind of animal tracks are these? Look closely.

These are skunk tracks.

How do I know, you ask...well I wouldn't normally know that. Those look like deer or rabbit or squirrel tracks for all I know. But there is one key to this puzzle I have not yet revealed.

The key is that at 4:00AM Monday morning my dear friend Cara woke me up from her sofa bed and alerted me that there was a strong smell in the house and it might be a gas leak so we needed to leave asap. As I sat up and when my senses rushed back to me, I was greeted with the strongest, most piercing nasty scent I have ever smelt.

The next morning, her landlord called and after he checked everything out, his conclusion was that a skunk sprayed somewhere in the ventilation system and steamed the entire house. Pee-you. 

So after she googled some "how-to's" about getting rid of skunk smell, we went back to gather our things and did laundry for the remainder of our day. 

It wasn't all a loss however. She lives 10 minutes from Lake Michigan so in between loads we took Ty to see the gorgeous frozen over lake and walked through downtown Holland. This isn't a Cali-type lake. It is one of the Great Lakes. So it's pretty much an ocean with no waves and no sharks. Ty's kinda body of water eh? :) 

I found a little creative shop that I fell in love with [and will soon be doing a Friday Feature on] and Cara took me to her friend's Art Bar. It is exactly what it sounds like. A building full of stuff to make art: from a piano full of beads and jewelry to a wall of scrapbook paper and the like. It was heaven. 

We ended our day with showers, folding laundry and playing Bananagrams. Oh how I love friends and Bananagrams. 

Home now and finding out there's yet another level of exhaustion. 

Be back full force this week.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Obsession: My Very Own Travel Kit

Tuesday night a friend of mine texted me to ask if she could come over. I told her I'd be home in 20 minutes and of course she could come over. What I thought was going to be a girly convo turned out to be a cry fest and a big box of travel goodies. 

She made me my very own travel kit! Just because she loves me.

Here's some pics I snapped before I tore into it. 

Adorable right? 

She even wrote verses on each item to encourage me in the truth during my fast-paced time. With the crazy busy week before, emotions going crazy and running on bare minimum hours of sleep, this sweet gift was so perfectly timed that it made me cry. [I know, babyish of me, but it's just the darn truth.]

So thanks Kandis for making my day. 

Happy Saturday. Tomorrow Ty and I are going to this church. Worship review to come. 



Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Feature: There Once was a Girl.

The once was a girl who flew across the country to go to bible college in a land she'd never known. She nervous about the unfamiliarity yet excited about the adventure and independence. Little did she know just how much those hallways would shape her life and direction. Little did she know just how influential those professors would be in her passion for writing and compassion. Little did she know just how much her career path would become clearer because of the opportunities that seized her during those ripening days.  

2 years later she returned to her alma-mater and led worship for her favorite chapel of the week.
That girl was me and that school is Grace Bible College.

I spent 2 of the most wonderful years of my life @ that school and as I walked about it today all the memories came flooding back. Teachers that I missed dearly, friends I hadn't seen in 2+ years, and yes, even the cafeteria warmed my heart. 

It says alot about a college when student come back with the fondest of memories. Grace isn't a flashy school. It is very homey and down to earth, settled in the old time suburbs of Grand Rapids, MI. But if there is one thing it has on any other school is the world it is heritage. Grace has deep deep heritage that, I believe, has immense influence on the lives of every student that walks through those tan hallways doors. 

I love my college. I love the people I met there. I love what I learned. Even the hard stuff.

Today I am a happy girl, with a smile from ear to ear. 

Happy Friday! 


**Don't forget: tomorrow's Saturday Obsessions!
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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