Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Evening with Amy Grant

Last night was a special time and I am so thankful to have shared it with 3 of my most favorite people in the world!

Amy Grant was completely herself ... real ... sincere ... authentic ... sharing intimately about her faith and her family. I was amazed to be sitting at the Bass Hall with thousands of others who apparently share the same relationship with her that I do...this was a tad bit dissappointing as I have felt that our friendship was uniquely special and I found myself surprisingly shocked that she was sharing so intimately with everyone else! I hope you are smiling with me!!! I was blessed and so thankful to be in Fort Worth last night. There have been many evenings over the last 10 years when I would love to have come to DFW for 24 hours to enjoy an evening like this with my dear friend Amy Grant! Maybe someday our paths will cross again and we can actually have dinner together. That would be nice!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tonight, Tori and I, together with my Mom and Sister are going to hear Amy Grant at the Bass Hall. We are all excited! Today I am posting the last of the stories that were shared with me about Amy. Thanks so much for sharing in this time of reflection. I know I have had fun!

Tami Weaver

I was in college when her album first came out. Several of my friends had a connection to her through Nashville r and brought the album back after Christmas break. It was a little daring for me to listen at first, since it was instumental Christian music. But, I like you loved her songs instantly, even the ones that weren't big hits. I felt such a connection with her, what she was going through and loved to hear any thing about her life. Her sister's inlaws go to church with my parents, and I would always make my mom pump them for information about her. I got to go back stage one time, although I kinda talked my way back there. She was still married at the time and she and her husband were so personable and real. I always read about her, got her albums/cd's and went to see her in concert. I agree with you, she sang about a realationship with God that was something I wanted. It was also a connection that she had church of Christ roots and was singing this way about her faith. ( singing with a guitar no less)
I can so identify with you feeling she was your friend. I loved reading the album notes seeing what was going on in her life/ reading between the lines. I always thought that if we met on an airplane we would have so much fun taking. I've been know to go to Mardels and listen to all her old albums and read the album notes because it gave a little more insight into her life.
I was so saddened by her marriage break up and disappointed by her remarriage to Vince Gill. I kinda would like to know the whole story, wouldn't you?
I went to her last concert about 2 years ago here in Ft Worth at Bass Hall. Sorry you had to miss that one. She played a bunch of old songs and it was a treat. Vince was there and they did seem to really have a sweet relationship. I thought the concert was going to be what it seems the book is like-telling what was going on in her life when she wrote those songs.
You know she always seemed so real and down to earth despite her super stardom. I'd love to read her thoughts about songs she wrote. Even now when I hear her older songs it takes me back to where and when I was when they came out. I remember the first time I heard her on the radio, I thought Christian music had arrived and I was so proud for her

Courtney Critz

My memories of Amy Grant go back as far as I can remember. When my parents first returned to church when I was a baby, they went to church with the Bannister family. One Sunday, Brown brought "a brand new singer" to church with him. My mom described her as a shy, teenage girl. She was Amy and apparently played with me in the pews during church. My parents were horrified because I wouldn't stop crying that day. : ) Maybe I was just trying to sing to her!

One of her early concerts was my first concert, and I can probably sing every word to every one of her early songs. "Father's Eyes"

would have to be my favorite, though. I have always identified with God as Father in a special way because of the precious relationship He has given me with my earthly daddy. I remember being a tiny girl and wishing that someday someone would say those things about me as I tried to become more like my Heavenly Father. I identified with Amy so much in that song.

I also have many special memories with Amy's Christmas albums. They

come out every year the day after Thanksgiving and are my favorites!

I've sung those many times for Christmas events, and it's not Christmas until you hear "Breath of Heaven" and "Tennessee Christmas"

at least once!

Judy Vaughn

Kelly, my personal favorites by Amy are Breath of Heaven ( as illustrated by requesting Beth Plemmons to sing it at both yours and Randy's and Donny's and Kendra's Christmas weddings...which by the way if you can't get Amy...Beth is the next best thing! ) and El Shaddai because of the words AND sounds. Both are beautiful to me.

The other song of hers that made an impact on me was because of an experience I had in my classroom. I had a second grader (Keely) with emotional problems stemming from a turbulent family life with a nasty divorce going on. She reached out to me a lot and I grew really attached. During the last few days of school I allowed the children to bring music they wanted to hear from home. I got a real kick out of some of the things they brought including the Macarama (sp?) that we tried to dance to! My little friend, Keely, brought My Father's Eyes by Amy Grant. I could not believe she would even have it. She LOVED that album and the title song in particular. I am sure it gave her comfort.

Amy has no idea how her gift has touched so many people!

Holly Davis

Amy Grant has been one of my very favorites. When I was in Junior High, our Summer Intern, played the song, Thy Word during a Wednesday night lesson. I thought it was a beautiful song sung by someone with a beautiful clear voice. I remember going in his office after church and asking about the tape that was played. I can see it laying on his desk even now, Straight Ahead, the one with the stoplight on the cover. That was my first introduction to Amy Grant. I had the tape of my own the very next day. I remember my parents getting tickets and taking me to the Unguarded Concert in Dallas. I thought she was amazing. My parents also got me the life size cut out (I can't remember what they are really called) of Amy from the display at the Christian Bookstore. So I had a life size Amy Grant in a black dress holding a dozen roses in my room. I am pretty sure she is still with us in my parents basement. I read her book many years ago and was also a member of her Fan Club. That was way before websites so every 6-8 weeks I would get the paper newsletter in the mail to catch up on what was going on with her! I skipped out on my college graduation (for my masters, not undergrad) so I could go to her Christmas Concert in Detroit! When it comes to her music, it is hard to choose favorites, depends on what day! I guess I would have to say: My favorite song - Thy Word since that was the first one I heard. My favorite album is the album of Hymns she came out with a couple of years ago.

Jennifer Hagen

I have been a Texas girl almost all of my life and as most people know who are from Texas, snow is close to nonexistent at Christmas. When I heard “Tennessee Christmas” for the first time (my dad was a huge fan) I could see the snow lined rooftops and taste the snowflakes on my tongue. As I took Amy to Baylor with me in 1990, I have vivid memories of me and my roommates standing on our beds belting this song out at the top of our lungs! I adore this song and it is not Christmas for me unless I can listen to it time and time again with my three girls staring at me like a crazy woman!

The other precious memory I have has to do with her Legacy Album. I totally anticipated its release because I am an old time Baptist girl who loves her hymns. If I remember correctly, I was hugely pregnant (just a few days away from induction) with my second daughter when this was released. I thought it would be a great album to take with me to the hospital to listen to during my labor. I went from Walmart, to Target, then to another Walmart where I finally found it. I was so excited that it never left my cd player until we left for the hospital a few days later. I can see myself now sitting in my bed at Arlington Memorial Hospital weathering through some tough contractions listening to Amy’s sweet voice sing, “This is My Father’s World.” My favorite on the album though is “It is Well with My Soul.” What an anthem of praise as I awaited Katie’s birth! Amy Grant is a huge blessing in my life…I have never met her and frankly I think I have only heard her in concert once, a very long time ago. She has been a testament of faith and perseverance in her Christian walk as she has traveled down some very dark paths. I applaud her for being real in her new book and I can’t wait to read it!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She's Back!!!
My Mom has returned from 5 and 1/2 weeks in Russia and we are so thrilled!
These 3 grandsons could not contain their was so precious to see them run into her arms yesterday at the airport.
Oh how we missed her!

Sharing More Memories of Amy Grant

Here again are some of the memories shared with me over the past few weeks. I will have one more post which will include many of the memories that were sent to me via email. Next week I will be seeing Amy Grant at the Bass Hall in Downtown Fort Worth. I can't wait! My sweet daughter Tori, my sweet sister Becky and my sweet Mama will be sitting by my side!

Lyndsey Goode:

While I've never met Amy, she's a big part of one of my favorite memories - one of my most vivid memories of Mandy(our precious cousin who was killed by a drunk driver). I was in Houston at their old house and after some glorious time in the pool, Mandy & I spent what seemed like hours in her room (just us - no siblings!) talking about everything in the world and just listening to "Age to Age" over and over again. We'd stop and rewind after every song because every song was just that great and we needed to hear it again immediately. I remember singing our favorites - "Sing Your Praise to the Lord," "I Have Decided" and "El Shaddai" at the top of our lungs again and again. That album will probably always be my favorite, since it was the first one I really knew and because it's so connected to Mandy for me. Even though I have her others, this is still the one that I come back to now when I'm in the mood for some Amy!

Becky Reeeves

Hi Kelly! What fun! I'm so glad you have been privileged to meet Amy Grant, pray for her, follow her life, and now be involved in reviewing her new book! I, too, was shaped by much of her music. I have memories with many of her songs, but my biggest memory is of singing "I will remember you" with my best high school friend at our high school graduation in front of over 2,000 people. The song of hers that I have sang most often in my head, however, is "Faithless heart" I identify in a deep place in my heart with the words in this song. I guess this would be my vote for my favorite Amy Grant song.

Anthony Parker

I was first introduced to Amy Grant in the early 80s in the little missions center at Lipscomb. We missions groupies would hang out there and Amy Grant vinyl albums would be played. This was one of my first exposures to contemporary Christian music of any kind, and I thought it was wonderful. And while our missions director would tell us how wrong instrumental music was in public worship, he somehow knew it was spiritually healthy for us to listen to it in the missions center.

Her "Mountaintop" song has to have had the greatest impact on me personally as I have wrestled, especially at times of leaving the U.S. for other parts of the world, with the need to come down from the mountaintop to the people in the valley below. It's strange that I now view my time in Africa as a mountaintop and the U.S. as a valley.

Tim Chapman

I am sitting in Denny's and my cell rings. I say hello and the voice on the other side says "hey Tim, it's Amy". Now I know a lot of Amy's but I had just left the Amy Grant/ Vince Gill concert while Darcy went backstage with my pass. I remember thinking I wish I were Kelly (Or maybe I wish Kelly were me) as I talked and joked with an individual who had impacted my life and my families for over two decades. Well I am not the most talkative person even with Amy Grant, so we laughed about family, Vince ( first name basis now :) and I related some of the blessings she had been to us. She was very gracious and had such class in our short conversation and I said goodbye after I confirmed I would have something to bring home to Kelly. She laughed and agreed.

Then I noticed I had missed the first call, so I checked the message it was " Tim, its Vince what is going on......" . You see we lived in a country town and you would think back stage everyone would want his autograph and pictures. Actually as Darcy described he was just roaming around because most were back there waiting to see Amy. So he was working the crowd with a lame comedy act and Darcy caught his attention (I wonder why :). She convinced him to give me a call and his message was almost as long as my conversation with Amy and it was hilarious.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sharing Special Amy Grant Memories

In this post I wanted to share the specific memories of those who will be receiving a copy of Amy Grant's new book Mosaic.
As we get into the week I will be posting more of your memories, but we will get started with these three. Enjoy!

Laura Vaughn

I also have my most prominent memory with Amy Grant at about age nine. Randy, Kelly, Nana, and Papa had all given me cassette tapes with all her current songs and I listened to them constantly! I recall that my favorite song was “My Father’s Eyes.” One day while walking in the mall in Abilene Kelly and Mom told me that they had a surprise for me. Kelly had three tickets to Amy’s concert in Dallas! I was so excited! I bought a whole new outfit for the concert, even new tights, shoes, and a bow! Randy, Kelly, and I went to the concert a little early and I got to actually meet Amy and take lots of fun pictures! I remember Kelly talking to her for what seemed like forever! I just couldn’t wait to hear her sing! I remember one part of the concert in particular. We were on a higher level looking down at the stage, and I remember Amy walking out in the most beautiful gown! It was either purple or blue and I thought she looked just like Cinderella. Her hair was like a fountain of curls! I sang along with every song I knew. After the concert I developed the pictures and put them in a photo album that now sits safely with my other keepsakes. I still hear Amy sing on the local Christian music station and even though I don’t listen to her music regurlarly, I could still sing along with some of her old songs. I think Amy was a huge influence on me and a big part of why singing is still my favorite thing to do. She allowed me not only to enjoy music but grow in my faith through music!
I hope that Amy Grant’s music will be something for my children to grow up with as well, so that they can also grow with the Lord in an exciting way! Thanks to Kelly for bringing someone so special into my childhood

Cheryl Cash

My two memories of Amy's music involve her Christmas music. I cannot find the tape and I can't remember the Title of the song...but it is the song about Mary"s thoughts as she carries Jesus and it is sung with the chorus of "Breath of Heaven".

My son Alex was born on December 24th. Our daughter was not yet 2 yrs old and my pregnancy with Alex had been a surprise. I was overwhelmed and anxious as I carried him and worked out all the details of traveling from our home in Ft Portal across two countries to Nairobi for his delivery. This song was balm...exhortation...Hope. "But I offer all I the mercy of Your plan... Help me be strong...Help me be...Help me...." I prayed this song to the Lord over and over. I thought about Mary and the practical side of her pregnancy. The faith and ponderings of her heart. We aren't told everything about that time for her...but as I carried my own child...I viewed those moments for Mary in a new light. That song and its cries nursed and nurtured me...reminding me I am never alone. Mary's mother did not travel with her to Bethlehem. She delivered her first child without her family near. As I longed for my own Mom and sister during the delivery and the joyful moments after Alex had arrived...the song filled my heart. "Breath of Heaven Hold me FOREVER NEAR me...Breath of Heaven..." God's mercies and Presence are so undeserved and so Powerful...PRAISE!!!

The other memory is an ongoing is now my Christmas tradition to listen to Amy sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and cry. One good heartfelt cryfest...mostly with thankfulness for all the amazing Christmas memories I have of my precious family in the States. A part of me always misses Christmas at "home" even though I so love our Christmas memories and traditions that we have established in Ft Portal with our children, missionary friends and Ugandan friends.

Finally, I want to share Jeff's memory. I have to share it with you because it took place in Eldoret, Kenya!
When Jeff was interning in Eldoret (he was there for 6 months in 1989) he was feeling very stressed. He was walking through the market and put on his walkman and listened to Amy Grant. It changed everything for him. His outlook changed. He didn't feel alone anymore. Amy accompanied him through the market!
As he walked around, a guy in the market asked what he was listening to. Jeff told him, "Amy Grant". The guy asked if he could borrow the tape and Jeff let him. Several days later when Jeff walked through the market...all the stores and dukas were playing Amy Grant! And the Eldoret market was never the same...

Jill Coan

About twelve years ago, we lived a few blocks away from a family that had lots of kids (smile). Five to be exact. I went on daily walks with my two (at the time) little ones. I kept seeing these kids and wanted to get to know them. I found out that they lived with their grandmother. In fact, there mother had been murdered and their father was in jail. At some point, I invited the kids to go to church with us. I didn’t think of the logistics of it, because we did not have room in our vehicle for all of them. Amazingly enough, God always provided a way to get all of them there. At some point, we purchased a van. Not exclusively for that reason, but it helped make our decision when we looked at vehicles. The first 6 months or so after we invited them, we had 3 or 4 go with us each week. At some point, two of them stopped going as much. There were twin girls, however, who would not ever miss. We really bonded with them and they became part of our extended family. They spent Sunday afternoons with us and visited us during the week. At some point we shared an Amy Grant CD with them. They immediately loved her music. A few months after we shared Amy Grant with them, we heard that Amy was doing a concert in Dallas. We immediately bought tickets for our twin girls (they were around 10 years old at the time) and ourselves and lined up a babysitter for our little ones. At some point before the concert, I had the idea that it would be an amazing thing if these precious twins could meet Amy face to face. I knew it was a long shot, but I wrote a letter asking her as much. I gave her some background about the girls in the letter. Everyone that I told about this smiled sweetly and reminded me that Amy was “big” and to “not get my hopes up”. They were up, though. I was elated to receive a phone call from Amy’s staff telling me to bring the girls to the ticket office 2 hours before the concert began. Steve and I took them early. The staff person asked if they could go to a pre-concert party with Amy and then sit up front during the concert. They also wanted the girls to go backstage for an after concert party! We were SO excited. The girls had shocked, disbelief and excitement etched on their faces. I began to cry as they did. What a moment. I will NEVER forget it. I had more joy watching those two girls enjoy the concert on the front row (as I sat in the nosebleed section) than I would have ever had being on the front row myself. It was an unforgettable night. The two normally quite girls were chattering all the way home. They shared their one on one conversations with Amy. They kept saying how nice she was. From the way they described it, it seems that Amy took them under her wings and was their personal escort through the night. I could not have been happier. I am so thankful for Amy Grant. She may be “big” as everyone warned me, but her heart is much bigger.

I am so happy to have a place to share this story. What a sweet memory! Our precious twins just turned 20 a few months ago. One has a daughter of her own. We have all gone our own ways, but we know that we impacted their lives... And they ours.

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (2nd of 4)

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (2nd of 4)
Praying for the Believers in Benin and among the Aja People

Last night I was home with my two two-year-olds which permits little productive work other than enjoying wrestling with them and doing a little laundry (I was trying to be super-Dad and let them share in this character-building chore with me…big mistake. Reminder to self: toddlers can’t fold and only make a mess of what you’ve already folded).

The television was on because I had just caught the end of the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the Vikings. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, one of the kids had grabbed the remote and we ended up on the new CW station. They were airing the new show called “Aliens in America”. The language of the first few scenes took me aback but the storyline was intriguing enough that I stayed with it awhile. (oh, sorry CW, I doubt I will make it a staple source of what little TV I watch nowadays). This site shares this synopsis, “Aliens in America follows a teenage boy named Justin Tolchuk as he tries to make it through high school in Medora, Wisconsin. His mother signs up for the international exchange student program, thinking that an athletic and brilliant Nordic teen would shed some instant “coolness” on her son. However, her plan backfires as she discovers that her exchange student is a Pakistani Muslim named Raja Musharaff. Despite the cultural differences, Justin and Raja develop an unusual friendship that might just allow them to get through high school’s social nightmares.”

The stereotypical nature perhaps regretfully displays many American’s view toward people of other cultures. Of course in this first episode perpetuating their ignorance by whispering that Raja could be a terrorist in their midst, or during his introduction at school, the class teacher actually surveys the class, asking how many people are angry at Raja because his people blew up the buildings on 9/11. Obviously the insinuation is hideously naive, but the stupidity of the American mindset is disappointedly laughable. Then the teacher perpetuates her lack of awareness of the rest of the world by saying that Raja would be able to teach them about “Muslimism” (for any of you equally unaware, she should have said “Islam”).

So in the midst of Raja’s budding friendship with Justin, this American secular teen is slowly introduced to Raja’s world, which includes this Muslim’s daily prayers. In this scene, Raja introduces Justin to the god to which he prays when he is wrestling with the stress of life. Raja’s spirituality is strikingly more sophisticated compared to Justin’s response to stress, “usually I just eat a brownie or buy a CD.”

OK, enough about American TV reviews. I was simply struck by this characterization of the average American when it comes to facing the challenges of life. Eat some comfort food and acquire some new merchandise. It wasn’t long before I found myself wrestling with my own prayer life, especially regarding intercession for the nations of the world, so geographically and mentally distant from most of us in America. If we are a part of the family of God worldwide, this should NEVER be the case with us.

This is the 2nd in a series (see the first here), hoping to direct our thoughts toward an area of the world important to me and my family. Having lived in West Africa (Benin) for almost 10 years, I came to establish some of my favorite friendships among the believers among the Aja people. They are human like you and me, making their share of mistakes and learning how to enjoy the fullness of God on their journey of faith. But I might step out on the edge and suggest that our brothers in sisters in Africa struggle in their faith at an entirely different level when it comes to persecution, oppression, and in battle with the spiritual forces of evil. Every culture has its gods, its demons, its idols and its forces that wreak havoc on the maturing Christian hoping to live victoriously each day. But I plead with you this week to remember your brothers and sisters of faith in West Africa.

Pray for the believers in these ways:
- that in spite of their poverty, they will find God’s daily bread to be sufficient provision and abundant living (pray, too, that those Christian families suffering through poverty because of their Christian choices will find the generosity of God and His people worldwide),
- that in spite of oppression and rejection from their immediate families, they will remain faithful to the family of God and the integrity of God’s people; while at the same time not distancing themselves so much from their pagan relatives that they might miss opportunities to be witnesses of faith
- that the seeds of jealously sown into the lives from earliest days will die out among the lives of believers (in the years I served there, I can say that jealousy was a daily demon to wrestle with within the church)
- that believers will know well the victory of today as well as the hope for eternal rejoicing
- that believers might find in one another true godly friendship and marital relationships (that believers would find encouragement, accountability and sharpening strength from other Christian friends and spouses)
- that believers might find strength in God, to stand in the face of the enemy and to gird themselves for the war of souls facing not only this generation but the ones to come
- that believers would commit themselves to multiplying and advancing the Kingdom of God into areas unknown or unavailable to western Christianity.

While many Americans may have little response to the challenges of life other than eating and shopping, may American believers share through prayer the challenges facing our family in Africa. Next week, I will continue this prayer focus, encouraging us to pray that the barriers to Christianity would fall in the face of God’s great power.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hot Dog Banquet

We rushed back from Baird to make it in time for Tori's practice for the upcoming Christmas musical and as well for Tori and Timothy to attend the Hot Dog Banquet. This is the Banquet that is sponsored by children of Richland Hills specifically to pray for the missionairies and those they serve around the world. Throughout our time in Benin we were blessed by the prayers prayed for us at this Banquet. We actually came to see this time as a time to consider the things that we considered impossible prayer requests and we would give them to the kids. We did this because when their pure hearts come before him with prayer, He Responds! We saw amazing things happen and lost people saved. Because of their powerful prayers, we wanted to be there tonight among those coming before Him. It was a special time and Tori especially was touched by this opportunity. Everytime it was time to pray, she was one of the first to volunteer as well as her sweet cousin Pate! I was so blessed that Murphy and Christine Crowson included Tori up on stage when their family was being interviewed. I had tears in my eyes for most of the evening. There is some sadness that our family was not up on stage sharing about our lives and our dear Aja friends. My heart was aching tonignt to be up there sharing their story and asking for prayers for God to be at work in their lives. The transition continues for us...and it is HARD. We appreciate your prayers for our family every time we come to your mind. We are earnestly seeking the Lord continuously about where He wants us to be...He leads with peace and clarity and we are waiting for His voice that we have come to know so well to tell us the next step.

PS: I will be posting the memories and stories of the 3 contest winners tomorrow!

Abilene and Baird....Time well spent!

We have enjoyed an incredible weekend. My cousin Tim Chapman, who I enjoy referring to as my third brother, because we are so close, flew in to DFW Thursday afternoon with his wife Darcy. We left soon after for Abilene and I took my son Timothy with us too. Randy stayed behind with everyone else and they came on to Abilene as soon as Tori was out of school on Friday. I mentioned earlier that this is my reunion year. Darcy had been a Sing Song hostess our senior year and all of the 1992 Hosts and Hostesses led worship in ACU chapel on Friday and Saturday. We were so blessed to spend some great time together and to be so encouraged seeing old friends. It is so refreshing to be with friends who are growing in the Lord, pressing on in hard times and reflecting Christ in their marriages, families, jobs and ministries! Randy and I both were deeply encouraged and reminded again of how thankful we are for our years at ACU. Our kids were so thrilled that they were able to spend the majority of their time at the ranch in Baird. Becky and Tony were there with Pate and Benj, Uncle Andy joined us and so did Paw! This was a guarantee for a wonderful weekend. We are blessed.

My 2 favorite Tims......Tim Chapman and Timothy Vaughn

Here are some fun pictures from the past week! I plan to post your Amy Grant memories this week but I just had to put some fresh pictures up of my precious children!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And the Winners Are:

Thank you so much for your participation this week. I have had so much fun being in discussion about such a special person who blessed so many of our lives. Your emails have been so fun to receive! Keep sending them if you want too. I will be sharing your stories next week. For now I want to share with you the winners of the three books. I will share why they were chosen on Monday!

And the winners are:
Cheryl Cash
Jill Coan
Laura Vaughn

Please send your address to and I will get these in the mail to you next week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mosaic Review Continues

I have so enjoyed receiving your emails and hearing about your memories that involve songs and experiences with Amy Grant. She is someone that the Lord has used to bless countless lives over many years. I believe her book will bless many more. An interesting fact I discovered was that her editor had told Amy that she needed to include a timeline history of her career in the back of the book. The reason being that someone just picking up the book and reading might miss the fact that she even had a career because the book is such a personal revelation of her life as a mother, daughter, friend, wife, and child of God.

In conversations and emails, some of you have mentioned being disillusioned with Amy as she went through her divorce. I want to offer some thoughts on this subject. One thing we can all know is that this was a very painful time for Amy and her family and this was not a sudden decision. We do not know the whole story or even the reality of the pieces of the story that we have heard. Anyone who has followed Amy’s life over the years heard on numerous occasions that there were struggles and very hard times in her marriage. She was candid about that. When she made the decision to follow through with the divorce, she felt the terrible impact of this decision and she shares her heart about this in Mosaic.

I remember hearing Amy say in an interview, in response to a flood of criticism, “I would challenge anyone to work as hard on their marriage as I have on mine.”

I remember a couple of things going on in my own life as these things were unfolding for Amy that caused that statement to resonate deeply in my heart. I had been a part of a mission team. We had made a commitment to serve in Benin together for a period of time. Our commitment was sincere and we had every intention of being with this team for as long as we served in Benin. It never entered our mind that events would unfold any other way. Very painful events and circumstances took place which no one knows or understands except for those of us who lived it out. It became an unworkable situation, deeply painful for all of us involved. Many tears were shed sitting face to face with one another. And even in the midst of doing the best we knew how in order to make it work (not to mention under the heavy stress of living cross-culturally), we all suffered criticism from afar and trite comments like “why can’t you just love each other and try harder?” We did love each other and we did try for years. Randy and I received wise counsel from many trusted mentors and finally it resulted in a very painful conclusion.

The separation felt liberating but also brought with it shame, embarrasment, and to this day, I suspect there are people who question our decision. There were many obvious consequences with which we lived. In the year following the separation, my husband and I both went spiraling into emotional depression. The outcome of our choice brought about needed change, but the effects of the decision left us personally with unhealed wounds and loads of grief that we were not prepared to deal with. In Amy’s life, she mentions in her book going through such a dark time when she felt she could not even pray with her own kids at night. I know Randy and I both experienced similar disconnect from the community of faith and even a bit distant from God Himself. Shame will do that to us.

Rebounding is only possible with the reality that God’s grace is perfectly sufficient to cover a multitude of sins, errors, and all of our shame (sometimes mainly self-imposed). God’s love is great and all we ever need. When the events of life and subsequent choices leave us faced with decisions beyond our own comprehension, we can trust Him to resurrect the lifeless and bring hope for the future. While the decisions people make often label them for life, or pidgeonhole them with the permanent scarlet letter, God’s mercies are new every morning. We can be confident that God doesn’t categorically write us off. But in the Christian community, we are often not described in the same way.

“We never really know what is going on inside of another person. It’s a good reason to be gentle.” (Mosaic, 168)

Tomorrow I plan to post some of your responses and announce the three winners. I hope you will keep coming back because I received so many responses over email that I am hoping to share more of them next week on this blog. This weekend my family and I will be heading to Abilene for Homecoming. It is my 15 year reunion!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Amy Grant Book Review Continues

Today has been fun. I have enjoyed your comments and emails and welcome more. If you want to send me an email, my address is
Please continue to send your memories that are either an experience with Amy herself or with her songs. Don't forget to tell me your favorite song!!! Later in the week I will be sharing some of your favorite memories and more of mine.........and announcing the three winners of Amy’s new book!
This week I have been listening to a lot of my favorite Amy Grant CDs. It is hard to pick a favorite because I have such sweet memories that go along with each one. However, one of my favorites is the Behind the Eyes CD. Yesterday I was enjoying it so much when my daughter got in the car and just flippantly decided it was time to listen to a little more of High School Musical. ): My CD was placed in the console of our car. Later when we arrived at our house, I lifted the lid on the console so that I could grab it and take it with me. As I lifted the console I heard an awful noise. My CD snapped into 2 pieces. ): I couldn’t believe it! I am sorry to say that I was more than a little upset. These CDs have been with me for a long time and all the way to Benin and back….okay so I think I have said enough here that at least someone will have an idea of something that I might like for Christmas!!

Today I thought you might enjoy reading a few pieces from Mosaic,

“In our lives the darkest times, the days that are bleak and black, add depth to every other experience.”

“Salt water is the greatest component of our world, yet some people have never seen an ocean. That doesn’t change the ocean. It is constant and powerful and like the love of God, whether we’re immersed in it, standing on the shore, or a thousand miles away, it remains.”

“All of us want our lives to be meaningful. The answer to that longing will never be found in a bigger flat screen television, a new wardrobe, the perfect figure or a bigger house. The secret to a life well lived is in giving. When we give our lives are touched and changed.”

“I remember making a plan on a Sunday morning a few years ago for our family to visit a new church. My children were young – Sarah still in diapers. Being on time is a challenge for some of us, and even more so when small children are a part of the picture. This particular morning I had left us a good safety margin of time, but one thing led to another and everything started backfiring. Sarah was fed, dressed and ready. While I was checking on Matt and Millie, Sarah got a hold of a slice of toast with grape jelly. By the time that I found her, the dress had to go. A wet towel took care of the sticky hands. The problem with outfit number two was sudden diarrhea. A wet towel was not going to fix this one. After a bath and outfit number three, I finally got us to the car. As I was struggling with the straps of the car seat (a struggle made more difficult by her stiff body- I’d be mad too if I had been dressed and redressed three times in a hurry), I imagined that this might resemble God’s experience with me. He knows where he wants to take me, and he’ll get me there in spite of myself.”

“We never really know what is going on inside of another person. It’s a good reason to be gentle.”

Prayer for her children, “God, find them the way you found me.”

“Like everybody else, I wish I were in better shape or had planned an upcoming event a little more thoroughly. I wish I were neater. I wish I weighed what I weighed in my thirties. But all those things are for another day. This day – at a hundred and forty –five pounds, at forty-six years old, with a few gray hairs and not quite enough sleep- this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

If you live in the Fort Worth area, come join me at the Bass Hall on October 30 and hear Amy Grant discuss the book and sing some of our favorite songs. For more information click HERE

To purchase Mosaic click HERE

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Book Review: Mosaic by Amy Grant

I have been an Amy Grant fan since I was 9 years old. (The age my daughter Tori is right now…which amazes me!!!) I remember clearly the day I was first introduced to the voice of Amy Grant! My Dad had done some car repairs for some good friends of our family at a highly discounted price and as a part of their heartfelt gratitude to him, they brought over the first 3 Amy Grant albums and gave them to me! I had no idea who she was but I was excited about the gift and immediately went to my room, shut the door and put the first one on my record player! I remember lying on my bed and listening to one song after another until I had listened to all 3 records. I am sure when I went to bed I had it playing softly as I went to sleep. These songs were describing a relationship with God that I was just on the very tip of coming to understand, and I was very curious about what this could mean in my life. As the verses of these songs became more and more familiar, they were more and more influential on my heart.

My parents as well were enjoying her music and very soon I remember my mom starting to seek out tickets for her concerts. I remember my family going to hear Amy in Dallas and then my mom driving my sister and me to Waco and sometimes Oklahoma as well to hear her sing. My sweet mama did this many times over the years. Now looking back on this as a mother myself, I am so touched by her willingness to do this.

I was always interested in any information I could learn about Amy. Her music was such a part of my life that I wanted to know more about hers. Her voice had become so familiar that I felt like we were friends. During my elementary and junior high years, I can remember having long conversations with various friends about what our favorite Amy Grant songs were and why. Whenever I heard her speak I always enjoyed her perspective. I could tell she loved Jesus and had a deep love for her family. Growing up, she was always someone I could look to who represented goodness and someone who admittedly was on a journey with the Lord. She spoke honestly and humbly and I was drawn to that.

I remember my heart aching for her when it became evident that Amy was going through a very painful time in her family. I had the privilege during this time to take my niece backstage before one of the Christmas concerts and talk with Amy. I remember telling her how much her music meant to me and that I was praying for her. I remember her looking me in the eyes and saying, “Thank you so much. I need your prayers.” Her humility and sincerity were again so evident.

Since our return from Benin and our having continual access to the internet, I have enjoyed looking at the Amy Grant website from time to time. (Okay I look several times a week!) I was excited to hear about her upcoming book and thrilled about the opportunity of receiving one to review! Once receiving the book in the mail, I found a way in the midst of caring for 4 small children to finish this book within 24 hours. I discovered that supervision of children does not always have to involve direct eye contact. :)

I had high expectations for this book. I opened it, expecting Amy to share her heart with me (after all, we are friends!). I will tell you that without a doubt, I have not been disappointed. Surprisingly, I found myself amazed at her willingness to share her deepest thoughts on the joys and pains of her life. I found myself crying with her on one page and laughing out loud on the next. I found it so refreshing to hear her speak of her relationship with Jesus, a relationship that is her deep source of daily strength and joy through all the mountains and valleys of life.

The book is divided into short vignettes that reveal what prompted her heart to write the songs that we have become so familiar with over the years. We gain precious and sometimes startling insights into Amy’s motherhood, marriage, friendship, faith, loss, forgiveness and redemption. This book feels like a getaway with a kindred spirit. As I finished this book I felt as if I was walking away from a warmly satisfying conversation with a gracious and wise friend.

Amy Grant’s publisher has provided me with 3 copies of her book to give away on this blog. To make this fun I would love to give these away to the 3 people who can share their most unique memory with either Amy Grant herself or with one of her songs. You can either leave your memory in a posted comment or you can email me at

I will post your memories and will announce the winners on the blog later in the week. (If you email me, know that I will likely share excerpts from your memory on a future post, unless you direct otherwise. If you wish anonymity, I will honor that. Just say so.)

Whether you share a memory or not, indicate your favorite Amy Grant song of all time. We will be tallying the results as the week goes on, so please VOTE!

To purchase a copy of Mosaic, CLICK HERE.

Tomorrow I will be posting some of my favorite quotes from Mosaic!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (1st of 4)

It’s been just over 3 months since my family left Benin to return to life in the U.S.A. We served as church-planting missionaries in this small West African country since 1999. Our years there were full of great adventures, incredulous challenges of faith, lots of homesickness and loneliness, but most importantly characterized by a host of life-changing relationships formed with friends who labor for the gospel.

For the next few weeks, I will post about our time in Benin, encouraging you most of all to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who continue the work of God there. Selfishly, I know this journaling is part of my family’s re-entry adjustment. “Everything-Benin” consumed my mind for the past decade. We thought about it every waking moment. We lived it and we stood side-by-side and face-to-face with so many of our dear African friends. Now that we have plunged into the American race pace, I confess that my thoughts are often pulled in other directions. Some important, some vain. Likely this has been part of my own internal stress for the past few weeks. If my life was so changed and so impacted by my friends in Benin, why did I just go the past 2 days so busy that I barely even had a thought, much less prayed for them? I am lamenting my own shortcomings here but know that most of the world does the same. Few people have even heard of Benin. Fewer lift up the country of Benin in prayer. And even fewer know the names and stories of our Beninese brothers and sisters.

I know several dozen families just like ours who continue to diligently serve in WA or have over the past 2 decades. Some of our dearest friends are other American missionaries who have served or did serve in either Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso or around those parts. I am blessed to know them. Ask the Lord to richly bless the efforts of missionaries in WA. It is not an easy place to live, yet in some ways, it is an ideal place to live, raise a family and serve alongside some wonderful African friends in the faith.

I served among the Aja people group in southwestern Benin. Totalling nearly one million in either Benin or neighboring Togo, these people are mostly rural agriculturalists and wrestling with the chains of voodoo, animism, idolatry, witchcraft, sorcery, fear, and jealousy. Oh, that last one is so prevalent! I want to encourage you to pray for freedom from all of the above! And we need to storm the gates of heaven asking God to strengthen the Christians in this battle. They are still a minority voice and face a host of challenges, persecutions and discriminations. But after knowing my Aja Christian friends (and collaborating stories from other American missionary colleagues), I will tell you that the world can have great confidence in the work of Christ in the hands of these African brothers and sisters. Talk about faith!! I sometimes feel like “I taught them faith – they live it out!”

Pray today and this coming week:
- With the country’s democratically elected President Yayi Boni a professed believer, ask the Lord to use this man to steer the country with wisdom and practical solutions to Benin’s challenge with poverty. It was good to live in Benin under a government that was friendly and accommodating to the efforts of Christian missionaries. Because such environments can change in a heartbeat, ask the Lord of the Harvest to do a mighty work among the African Christians during this time of relative peace.

Here’s how I will categorize my posts over the next few weeks (look for them around the weekend):

- WEEK 2: Praying for the Believers in Benin and among the Aja People
- WEEK 3: Praying for the Non-Believers (overcome the barriers keeping them in darkness)
- WEEK 4: Praying for the future of African Christian leaders – so much potential!!


Thanks to David Ker for encouraging us to thinking globally and praying for the world! Thanks DK for encouraging us to voice these perspectives so the Christian world can pray! To read some other thoughts about praying for French-speaking Africa, go here. Sorry not many pictures on this post, but keep checking back!

** PS - keep checking all week for Kelly's thoughts on Amy Grant's latest book! My wife has been a huge fan all her life so this week will represent much more than a book review. It'll be interactive and fun and we even have a contest to participate in! We both enjoy Amy's authentic Christianity and you'll hear more about her honesty in this coming week's review. Check back!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Reminder.......
Please do not forget to check this blog on Monday for the review of Amy Grant's new book Mosaic! I will be giving away 3 copies of the book.
This book is honest and refreshing on so many levels.
I will tell you more on Monday.
We did it! We did something that for the past 3 months I have thought we can not do!
I went to Target with all 4 kids! This is a huge hurdle for me!
We had a big talk before we went in about how we ALL would behave, and that includes myself!
I assured them that if any one could not behave and obey the first time, we would be walking back out to the car without our desired items to purchase and go straight home!
They believed me! We had a pleasant time and we just might do that again sometime!
To quote from Amy Grant in her new book Mosaic,
" Kids know who they are the minute they are born. As parents we have the fascinating job of slowly discovering them."

Found these pictures on my Dad's camera and thought they would be fun for my Mom to see!
I think these are from Labor Day weekend.

Monday, October 08, 2007

We had a great morning at the Pumpkin Patch in Flower Mound with
Aunt Kendra, Tyler, Colby, and Brady, as well as Nana and Papa!

Life is happening so fast and we have so much to post about our life's happenings and not enough time and energy to write about it thing I do want to mention that is soon to come on this blog is something that I am very excited about!
I will have the energy to write about this!

Anyone that knows me well, will know that I have been an Amy Grant fan my entire life. I have often joked that her music has been the background music to my life since I was in the 4th grade. Amy Grant has written a book that was released this past week and I have been given the great opportunity by her publisher to review the book. I will be reviewing her book on this blog next week and will be giving away 3 free copies of this book. The book is great and I am looking so forward to telling you about it. Be sure and check back next week is going to be FUN!!


Tori and I had such a special opportunity this morning. She had the day off from school and we were asked to speak at Fort Worth Christian, to the Elementary school morning chapel, about our life in Benin. Tori had told me a few weeks ago that she would love to have the opportunity to talk about her life and friends in Africa...just a day or so after she mentioned this to me we received a phone call requesting us to come.
FWC is a special place to our family. I graduated from there, as did my sister and brothers. Tori went there for a few months during her Kindergarten year when we were home for a furlough. Today she felt so special as her friends remembered her and were showing such excitement in seeing her!
We loved talking about the reasons we went, sharing some of the Aja langage and talking a bit about what life for a 9 year old in Benin is like! It was also fun to speak to a room full of kids about God's plan for their lives! It is very likely that in that room full of kids that the Lord will call some of them to go to a place where no one has heard the name of Jesus! We encouraged them to not be afraid but to be excited about what God will do! There is nothing better to do with our lives than to spend it serving Him and living a life that draws other people into knowing Him!!!

This is an early morning pic with Lael before we left for FWC!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Benjamin Brooks, a month ago.

For those of you who do not immediately recognize this handsome young man pictured below, let me reintroduce you to Benjamin Brooks! He got a hair cut like Timothy, and Timo told him tonight, "You don't look like Benjamin anymore." He is so cute. I especially wanted to post this picture and the ones below for my Mom to see. She is in Russia and the Lord is using her to do many different things as she is there involved with the ministry of Come Before Winter.

My Dad with Benjamin above and with Lael below

Friday night we joined Randy's parents and sweet cousin Brady for some fun at Chick Fil-A!

Precious Lael is a natural hard worker around the house.
When asked to help pick up the toys, most of the time she does more than her share and actually seems to enjoy the process of making the room look clean.
It truly warms my heart to see her take on tasks like above on her own initiative.
She loves to come and find me and show off her job well done!