What was the most recent thing you celebrated with your spouse? Well, being able to celebrate with her husband, Chris Rademaker, when they were nominated for New Artist of the Year for the GMA Dove Awards 2014 was the best part of being nominated, according to Jodi King from Love & the Outcome. The Canadian couple didn’t know that their obedience would lead to awards; just believing that He had a plan was enough for them. But it does represent the culmination of obeying God when He told them to sell everything they owned, including their home, and live in their Jetta for a couple of years.
See, Jodi and Chris met when he was in another band called The Attics and she thought he was really cute. Fast forward, Chris’ band breaks up and they suddenly know that as a couple they are to go out and make Christ known. Not only did they “hit the road” leaving their home country, the two traveled to the Philippines, Liberia and China while landing securely in the United States and coming on a tour near you very soon.
When asked which song on their self-titled album reflects their belief in Christ, Jodi believes that is “Heart Like You”. With all of the changes that they have experienced over the past few years, she says that their main goal was to “stay in love with God”. And they continued to pour into their marriage as they faced a terrible loss. Chris’ mom passed away after a heart-wrenching battle with cancer and the couple had to sit down and decide if they would continue with their musical career in the same way.
They are the first ones to admit that you cannot continue to live the same way after losing someone you love and that it does influence how they live their lives now. And Chris knows that his mom would be smiling with the recent accolades they have received, including winning the GMA Canada Covenant Award for New Artist of the Year 2014. Now we have to wait until October to see if they take home the United States version of that award!
By Stacey Stone
When we use the phrase “as a Christian” we tend to paint ourselves and others into a corner that Christ never intended to push us into. But when we add to that and say “as a Christian mom” that takes it to a new level and author Becky Kopitzke says in her new book The Super Mom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood that it is a painful level to try to reach. “I think we forget grace,” Becky explains, “We forget how God knows that we are but dust and we are flawed people.” And, as she goes on, Becky explains that we have been that way for a long, long time.
“I mean ever since the Fall, Eve started this whole deal but, if I were in her shoes, I would probably eat the apple too. We forget how fallen we are and we are spending our lives trying to be more like Christ. But that’s why it’s called sanctification, not perfection.”
Even as moms, particularly Christian moms, we strive towards a perfection in parenting that we were never promised.
“We are not instantly perfected the minute we are saved,” shares author Becky Kopitkze, “We spend our lives becoming more like Christ; our whole life is about running the race and in the end I will be in glory with the Lord and I will be beautiful and shiny but right now, I’m kind of a squished grape.”
So how, as a Christian mother, can a woman know that how she is right now is okay and recapture some of the joy that she felt at being a mother earlier in her life?
First, Becky points out that God knows that we are flawed and that makes it okay.
“God knows that about me and I think we expect ourselves to be perfect in ways that God doesn’t even expect of us,”
explains the author of the Super Mom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood, Becky Kopitzke. And as far as recapturing that joy that you felt early on about becoming a mother, even before you gave birth or adopted, Becky shares her wise words towards that goal,
“Think about that joy we had even before we became moms and we just couldn’t wait to be a mother!” She continues, “Then we get muddied up with the anger and the worry and the fear and the exhaustion and then the kids have personalities of their own and things become kind of messy. And we lost that joy that we thought we would have in motherhood… it’s still there! It’s still there and God wants to show it to us”
Ask God today to show you the joys of motherhood and then to help you show them to your family as well.
By Stacey Stone
“No one can prepare you for the chaos of a family breakdown.” – Jason Gray
Jason Gray has sung so many people through their pain that very few people thought to look underneath the songs to the hurt that was their influencers. For more than eight years, Jason watched as his efforts to keep his marriage together failed and the relationship fell apart. “I’ve often wondered how over half of people in marriages go through this and survive it. I didn’t know if I would,” he says. “I hear experts say the death of a spouse is very difficult, but if someone dies, you still get to keep the memories from your story. The story remains intact. One of the most significant things you lose in a divorce is your story. You don’t have access to it the way you used to. For all the people out there who have gone through or are going through a season in which you feel your memories, your life is co-opted by a sense of pain and loss and confusion. I have an understanding of what that feels like.” From his songs Remind Me Who I Am to I Am New leading up to his current album Where The Light Gets In, they are expressions of that pain and how Jason fought to keep on singing. “I was just exhausted, depressed and heartbroken. I would be picked up at the airport by some church and have to be whatever they needed me to be. We drove to the church, hauled in the equipment, went to meet everyone and then I would go to the green room, crumple on the floor, weep, pray…and then sound check, play a concert, sign some autographs, go to a hotel, crumple on the floor, weep and cry out to God. I devoted so much energy to my marriage being healed. I never prayed for something so hard,” admitted Jason. “It left me asking, ‘Does prayer work? Is God real?’ My belief was broken. My prayer was broken. My worship was broken.” When there was nothing left to struggle for and his marriage ended, Jason began to hope for conversations that did not contain the pain of his lost marriage and music that reflected that healing he longed for. Our pain, loss and failure become our most significant teachers, I think. How do we learn to forgive unless we are hurt by someone? How do we learn courage unless we are faced with fear? How do we surrender to grace without desperately needing it first? Richard Rohr says that if we are not transformed by our pain we will transmit it. I want to be transformed, and even now I’ve begun to be grateful for the painful teachers in my life who are making me new.”
By Stacey Stone
“My two children, when they went to college, I shared with them this piece of wisdom; that no matter what happens, a bad truth is better than a good lie. And there is nothing that could happen that I would not support them through as long as they tell the truth.” – Cindy, Family Life Radio listener
One of the greatest fears that the parent of a teenager who is a Christ-follower faces is what their child will face when they go off to college. For mothers and fathers of teens, Dr. Michael Guillen shares your fear and has written a book, Amazing Truths: How Science and The Bible Agree, to confront the professors and university officials who believe that the Bible and science cannot be studied or discussed together. “Whenever I talk, nine times out of ten, one of the big groups that stay afterward to talk to me are mothers and typically many of them are in tears when they are telling me this: ‘You know, my kid, we raised them in the church and we have a good Christian home. Then they took off to school and they came back as atheists,” Dr. Guillen explains. He continues, “When you dig deep and find out why, what’s happening is these kids are going off away from home and they’re being told that you have to choose between science and the Bible. And that to choose the Bible is to be lowbrow and uneducated and outright stupid.” So what is a parent to do to prepare their child for the secular science beliefs they are going to face?
Dr. Guillen says that you do not have to choose between the Bible and science, “It’s hard out there because we are being told that we are like the children of divorce. There is a divorce between the Bible and science and we need to choose and that is simply not true.” He hopes to empower believers so that when they are faced with a challenge to their faith they can stand up and resist. Dr. Guillen shares, “Part of what I am praying that this book will do is that it will empower believers. That is to say that if you already believe, if you are already on the path with Jesus then this book is going to give you confidence that you are on the right track.” And in that moment when someone challenges your child’s faith, that they will have the tools to push back and not simply accept what their professors are saying. He wants to reassure the teens and their parents, “My hope above all is that young people who leave home and they go off to college and get educated and they encounter this hostility, it really is just all out right hostility not just disagreement, that they will feel confident that they are on the right path and they will continue walking with the Lord.”
By Stacey Stone
As the father of two young daughters, Chris Tomlin is used to not being paid attention to when they are around. When he made his debut recently as a children’s book author, the crowd of toddlers was not exactly sitting still for the performance. Some drooled, others wanted their mommies and a few chose that moment to pick their noses but Chris went forward to read his book “Good Good Father”. The song by the same name has been to #1 and back and is performed in churches across America every Sunday. Fox and Friends joked with Chris asking if this was the song that Chris sung to his daughters each and every night because he is a good, good father. The song of course describes how God loves us and what makes Him a loving father but it made us wonder, what makes a good, good earthly father? The pillar of strength and love that a family is built upon is a dad that works endlessly to build up his children. This dad disciplines his children so that they know their boundaries using tough love of his words and not his fists. A father expects his children to help with chores and to do well in school but does not reward them for actions that are expected of them. Taking granted of what they have is never an option for the children of a good father. They will see the value in the food their parents provide and the clothes, home, and other possessions will be seen as necessary but not more important than the love a good father provides. A good father might say that “is not how it was done when I was growing up” but also understands that times change and the way that kids express themselves changes with it. He knows how to have fun with his kids by taking them to sports events with their favorite teams, movies they’ve been wanting to see or sitting down to take them on in their favorite video game. A good father takes the time to listen to his kids so he knows all of the above and the chats are comfortable and easy over time. And finally, a good father is the spiritual form of our Heavenly Father on earth as he studies, teaches and leads his family into a loving relationship with their Good, Good Father.
By Stacey Stone
Blair sat at her desk, the wind taken completely out of her sails. The promotion that she was promised was handed off to another and that other was now trying to drive her to quit. As the sun set and darkness took over, Blair worked diligently on a project that her new boss handed her at 4:30pm. “This has to be done now!” she demanded so Blair knew that she was going to miss the President’s big dinner that evening putting together a 3 hour report.
Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
What Blair didn’t know was that the game her boss was playing carried ramifications she could never dream of. The woman that gave her the project had told the President that Blair had other dinner plans that evening and could not make it.
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Blair can tell the story without tears now but the pain in her heart is just the same. The games people play and the untruth told that night almost changed her life forever. But the truth won out and justice prevailed when her antagonizer was caught in another mistruth and Blair finally received her promotion.
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
So why do we choose to play the game, hurt others around us and tell lies that, if we were caught, would end our careers? Because as humans, we always want what someone else has or we choose sin over God’s will in dishonesty. When Francesca Battistelli was asked about writing her song, If We’re Honest, she said that she composed it right after she, her husband and their small children moved back to Nashville. “I thought I was writing this song for everyone else,” Franny explained. “But in the last few years God has really used it to show me areas in my own life where I needed to be more honest,” she continues, “with Him, with myself, with people in my life.” Then she shared James 5:16, “Confess your sins, one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Francesca believes that having people you are accountable to, who will ask you the tough questions, can keep you honest.
Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
This accountability will change all of the games people play,
if we’re honest.
Ever wonder how artists come up with the song lyrics they write? Matthew West said he takes his songwriting very seriously. So much so, that he goes to a very special place to write. When he’s not touring, he goes to a rented cabin.
“That’s where I write the songs, and very special things have come out of that time in the cabin. God has spoken to my heart in a powerful way.”
Listen to Matthew West’s music for very long and you’ll discover he’s a powerful storyteller; stories that come from those impacted by his music. Like, his most recent song, Grace Wins.
“Every night at our concert we sing that song, and I give an invitation to the gospel and many people for the first time are raising their hands saying that they want to be living proof that grace wins every time. The neat thing about this story is that it’s an ongoing story. There’s a young man right now who is in a Christian recovery program called Teen Challenge and his name is Robert. The reason and the way that he got there is because of the song Hello My Name Is. I was at a concert and I sang Hello My Name Is. I told the story of Jordan who inspired it, who went through a program called Teen Challenge to get help for his addiction. This young man wrote me a story when he got home from my concert and said I only came to your show because my mom asked me to. I never even heard your music before. He said, “I’m a drug addict and I heard that song you sang and I’m ready to get help can you help me.” Well, my dad who many of your listeners might know is in ministry. He’s been a preacher for 40 years. We got on the phone with this man Robert and he agreed to get help, and our ministry was able to place him in this Christian recovery program. The reason why I wrote these words is because he was hearing all these voices and he was starting to say oh no I don’t need help. So he reached out for help and then changed his mind, reached out for help and then changed his mind because he thought how could God love somebody like me? But all because another man named Jordan said Hello My Name is Jordan and I’m a child of the one true King, it caused a chain reaction, and now there’s another person’s life being rescued from the bonds of addiction. And that’s the proof! All of our lives can be living proof that God’s grace wins every time.”
Matthew’s songs have impacted many with their compelling lyrics, beginning with his first number one hit, The Motions. As a gifted singer and songwriter, you might think he’s living the dream instilled in him from an early age, but that’s not the case. At one time, Matthew’s driving passion was far from a number one hit on the Christian music charts, but many “hits” of a different kind. His passion was baseball!
“One of the things I’m thankful for are the dreams that didn’t come true because I found, like, me, wanting to be a baseball player and thinking I was gonna go pro. You know, sometimes doors have to close in our lives and we’re devastated by that, but then God uses that to lead us to where he really wanted us all along. So ironically these dreams that didn’t come true they’re not meant to devastate us. They’re meant to redirect us into the direction that God wants us to go. So I’m thankful for some of the opportunities that haven’t happened because they’ve led me to where I am today. And I’d say of all of that, I’m so thankful to be making music, hopefully, songs that matter, that are more than just entertainment, but that are songs that have poured into people’s hearts through the message of the song.”
So, how has Matthew West been able to stay the course and pursue God’s plan for his life, to proclaim his passion for Christ through his music? Matthew would say it was the strength of his grandmother!
“She raised ten children and she had nine boys and one girl and for a good part of their childhood my grandpa wasn’t saved. And so she was the one who would lead every one of those children to church every Sunday. She was the one who prayed for her husband to quit drinking and come to know the Lord, and she was the one that saw my grandpa through, and he got saved, and then they all started going to church. And she’s the reason that my dad asked Jesus into his heart, and then went onto Bible college and became the preacher who then gave birth to me and has raised me to be who I am today. So Grandma West is somebody who always holds a special place in my heart.”
Like many Christian music artists, Joel and Luke Smallbone, of For King and Country, had meager beginnings. For a couple of years, they toured around the country in a 15-passenger van!
“ It’s interesting because it was nine of us dudes in that van and it got pretty gross at times, but there’s some really great memories. It’s a forced family out here, and we really have a special kind of relationship and understanding with all of us in our different roles.”
Now, they travel with a semi-trailer and buses! And, it’s not uncommon for family members to join them on the road. Joel’s wife, Moriah Peters, was on tour with them recently. And Luke had his wife and two small children join them as well.
When asked what it was like to have his wife on tour with him, Joel said, it has really brought them closer together.
“It’s wonderful to both be musicians and to be in this, because you have a sense of understanding and camaraderie and connection. You have those hard discussions, and there’s certainly been moments of discomfort. But I’ve never felt like it’s been a bad thing. I think often we run away from discomfort, but I really feel like our understanding of each other, and the stage, and music, and the show, it has grown our relationship and actually bonded us. It has bonded us more closer together than anything else, just having that camaraderie and connection.”
The message and the lyrics of their music reflect what Joel and Luke are passionate about. They come from a family of seven children, and their song It’s Not Over Yet was written for their youngest sister, who has been ill.
“Libby, (or Elizabeth), has had a pretty severe battle with Lyme’s disease over the last three years. And pretty dark moments, kind of chronic and sleepless nights and all the rest of it, so that was pretty heavy on our hearts. And so this song, It’s Not Over Yet, really the whole lyric was built around encouraging our little sister. It starts off with saying, “There up inside your head you’ve got a voice that says you won’t get past this one. You won’t win your freedom” but it’s really an encouragement to her and to anyone who hears that while there is breath in our lungs, no matter what your situation and no matter how hard the circumstances are, it’s not over yet, you know, and we’ve still got an opportunity to serve, to love well, to find joy, and to bring God’s kingdom to earth if you will.”
The song “Priceless” took some time to write because of the message they wanted to convey to young girls and women about their value and worth. A message they’ve been conveying for a few years now. The song is set to be the theme of a new movie, with the same name, that is in the works from King and Country. Joel stars in the movie and Luke is one of the producers.
“We’ve had this kind of movement as I call it, this priceless movement for a few years, and we’ve always wanted to write a song in regards to it. But frankly I think both Luke and I were really daunted by the task because it’s a sensitive topic that you also want to present in the right way. Even in the new record we kind of shelved the idea. We tried it a few times and we could never quite get it right. I don’t know if it was the inspiration of working on the film or it was just providential timing, but we were working on an anniversary edition for the album, kind of a celebration, of Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. We wanted to put three or four more tracks on it, so we were out on the road in the back of the tour bus, and we started working on this song with a buddy. And sure enough it found its way to becoming what is now Priceless, and I feel I’ve never in the history of the band, gotten emotional listening to a song that I’d been a part of writing, because it feels like one of the more important songs that I’ve ever written.”
Joel recently spent three weeks on the set of “Priceless” the movie, along with his brother-in-law who is one of the producers, who happens to be married to Joel & Luke’s sister, Rebecca St. James! And if you look closely towards the end of the film, Rebecca has “a little bit of a cameo”!
Plumb stepped to the microphone wondering if this would be the time that she could tell her story that she didn’t cry. It wasn’t and as she started to sing “Need You Now” the tears started rolling down her cheeks. “I was caught up in what the world had to offer,” Plumb explained. “Saying all along that I wasn’t after fame and fortune, but I was.” It was two days after Christmas in 2011 and her husband began to think that living with someone else would be better for him and his future. They separated and only a miracle straight from the hand of God could bring them back together.
That was when Plumb got down on her knees and God met her there. Telling Him that it was all a mistake, that she wanted her marriage and she wanted to live for Him, God gave her back her family and they celebrated their rededication of their vows. She shares that she has never had a relationship with Christ like she has now and she celebrates that her walls are down and her secrets are out. Now when asked what she is feeling about her marriage and God, Plumb can’t say anything but “thankful”.
When she wrote her song “Need You Now” Plumb says that she never thought it would resonate with people the way that it has. She was actually surprised at her own reaction to the song when she was going through her separation. “It’s funny how the songs you think everyone will be drawn to are often not the ones you think are the most authentic,” explains Plumb. “I’ve learned a lot as a songwriter because of that and I am so thankful for the response.”
In her new book “Need You Now: A Story of Hope” Plumb tells of how she lived the words of her album Need You Now after its release. “It speaks to what I went through after the album release and now singing those words shows me how God can use what we are experiencing before we ever go through it!” The book is her opportunity to write about the crash and burn of her marriage and how they are working on rebuilding their 14 year union. She says that date nights may simply be going to Home Depot without the kids but that she and her husband are intentional to keep the romance alive.
So from this point forward, Plumb wants you to know that there is hope in the pain and worship when you can barely hold up your head. And maybe a few tears each time she walks to the microphone.