Two o’clock in the morning and my head is still pounding from a migraine that has dogged me since early the prior evening. I tried medicine, light and sound deprivation and sleep; nothing helped. I get migraines occasionally but very rarely do they hit this hard and take so long to resolve. The house was quiet and dark as I made my way to the kitchen to pour a glass of water. I stood leaning against the counter for a minute, but the magic of hydration did not help as fast as I had hoped.
Making my way back to my bed, I stepped over the boys who must have snuck into my room at some point and made themselves a small bed of blankets and pillows. The pressure in my head was still intense enough that it felt like my eyes would be pushed right out of my head. I began going back over the day before to see if I could discover the cause of my migraine, but that only brought up the things I was stressed about:
the email from Will’s teacher letting me know that he wasn’t doing well at all, the realization that I forgot to RSVP for the basketball banquet meaning Evie couldn’t go that night, the projects still needing attention at work, paperwork due to register Ronan for school, taxes, and well, the list just continues to grow from there.
As I sort through what I can, the quiet and the dark reveals a clarity that I can’t seem to find during the activity of my day. In my head the following conversation took place:
“Why do you persist at doing these things yourself?”
“I don’t do these things myself; Paul has the other side of this list.”
“But it’s more than the two of you can handle. Why do you have such a tight grip on these things?”
“Who can I ask for help? I have no family here and all my friends are just as busy.”
“Let these things go.”
“And FAIL! Let everyone down? No thank you!”
“Who said ‘fail’?”
And then relief, relief from the migraine that chewed away at the inside of my head, relief from the responsibilities far greater than my abilities settled the anxieties in the night.
“How do I let go, but not fail?”
“You know the answer.”
How relief and shame can share the same space is always a mystery contained inside the realization that God, who walks beside you through all of the emails, the phone calls, the bills, the meetings, has been politely extending the answer the entire time. How long would I go on ignoring it?
Without God these things multiple and to your heart, soul and mind they are death by a thousand cuts. Each cut allowing a little of your sanity and confidence to escape and threaten to part from you forever. My shame and misplaced pride responds, “Not those little things God. I can have this cleaned up in no time.” The Truth, “If you could, you would, but you can’t so you have not. Did I not say, ‘cast ALL your cares’?”
There is nothing so small that God can’t help you with and there is nothing so small that a thousand of them would not turn into a crushing burden. It took a migraine, a quiet night and a soft word spoken to my heart that I am not enough, but He is and He wants to carry all of it.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Will, Ronan and Arielle were running around the worship center as their dad and I were rehearsing for the upcoming service. In an effort to keep them occupied, I gave Will and Ronan our phones, encouraging them to use the flashlight to find “hidden treasures” in the rows of seats (keeps them busy, helps clean the church = win-win).
The house lights were down as dramatic music cued the beginning of my solemn monologue. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flashlights in the bleacher seats as my three- and eight-year-old ran along the top row. Half way down, my two-year-old was trying to come down the stairs but instead of shining the flashlight on the path ahead, he was shining it in his face. “Dear Lord, please just don’t let him fall.” I looked back at my prompter and rushed through my lines, glancing over at every pause. Surely he will turn the light around instead of struggling to find the next step down.
Miraculously he remained uninjured—but he also only advanced two steps. The verse in Psalms about God’s word being a lamp to my feet came to mind.
And I wondered if I do this to Jesus. How often to I allow His light and wonder to shine in my face but not influence my choices? What’s the point of having a flashlight in a dark room if you never use it to help you find the places you could be going?
Jordan Feliz, new to Christian radio with his hit single, The River, started his music career in his senior year, joining a rock band and touring nationally for four-and-a-half years.
After that, Jordan became a worship leader at a church in Clovis, California. It was there that he felt God put a desire in him to start creating music again. Music, “directed towards Him”. That’s when he and his wife, Jamie, began praying and two years ago moved to Nashville.
But, the move and the adjustment to life in Nashville wasn’t easy.
“It’s definitely been difficult. He’s just been so apparent and we’ve seen so much of God working in our lives, so it’s really kind of been like walking through the fire feeling protected. It’s been awesome because in the difficulty we’ve been able to just seek him more.”
When asked what it’s been like to be a new artist on Christian radio with a song that has created so much buzz, Jordan was quick to say it’s been “overwhelming”.
“That’s basically my word for the year… overwhelming! I kind of came into this with not too many expectations knowing that I am the new guy. But seeing the way that God has really used this song and hearing the stories that people have sent, in the short amount of time that The River has been out, it’s been amazing. I honestly am so blessed and so honored to be a part of this.”
The inspiration for The River was John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me will have rivers of living water flow from within them.”
“It’s an invitation to everyone. To the person that feels too ashamed to take all their baggage to the foot of the cross, and to the person who feels like they’ve lived their entire life by the book. But more than anything, The River is an opportunity to go down in amazing grace and to rise up being made new.”
Jordan is married to his high school sweetheart, Jamie and they recently welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Jolie! And, the best thing about being a Dad?
“Finding a new perspective on the way that God loves us as his children, it’s created like a whole new respect from me to the love of God that he shows us, and it’s just crazy because I never knew I could love anything as much as I love my daughter. And, it just sets it in a totally different perspective now. I am his son and thinking that he thinks the way I feel about her. It’s just crazy. It’s just a total mind trip for me.”
Before Tenth Avenue North was a band and was still just a street in Florida, Mike Donehey and Jason Jamison moved into student housing together at Palm Beach Atlantic College (before it became a university). Before wives and babies, before Jeff Owens came on as their permanent electric guitarist; the guys decided to follow God with their music and there is no looking back from that. Now, with their recent release of their album Cathedrals, they are celebrating their fourth album together by calling their fans that purchase the album and putting on surprise shows across the country.
To say that Mike Donehey, lead singer and songwriter for Tenth Avenue North, is wise beyond his years would be an understatement. Just look at a few of the lines from songs that he has written over the past few years.
She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love.” – You Are More
Oh, Father, won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’” – Losing
I wish you never thought you had to go
Wish you never thought you had to leave
Together we can lift each other up
We can build a shelter for the weak – No Man Is An Island
As a band, Mike, Jason and Jeff want to encourage their fans and anyone who listens to their music to pursue a meaningful relationship with Jesus. This message has a new audience, one that the guys love deeply; their children. Writing, recording and touring keeps them busy; sometimes they are away from home 15 days in a single month. So when they are home with their families, Mike, Jeff and Jason make sure that time at home is meaningful and positive. They encourage their families to grow spiritually, by acknowledging the sacrifices their wives make while they are on the road and taking on more duties when they are home. For example, Jason takes his daughters to school in the mornings. This gives him the opportunity to talk with them about the things going on in their lives and to pray with them on those mornings before the bell rings. Having children has only deepened their desire to share the love of Christ, now that they are experiencing a father’s love for his children.