Friday, September 7, 2012

Fresh Start!

Hello Friends!
Wow! Things have been moving and shaking over here in the JGB camp! Incase you haven't heard we have been working on a new website and a new acoustic hymns CD. God has blessed us with wonderful people to work with and we want you to meet them!

 When it comes to creating and designing a website, Michelle and I are complete novices. We couldn't tell you what 'html code' is or what 'DNS' means or how to make the 'name server' point to the right place! Thankfully, God has placed Josh Moczygemba in our lives! He is creative, smart and super easy to work with! When we decided to update and create a new website, all we had to do was dump out our ideas on him and he took it and ran!  He created an AMAZING site and made it so easy for US to keep it up to date! After you finish reading this head on over to and check it out! He not only designs websites and many other things, but also takes amazing pictures! (You can see some of them on our new site!) Thank you Josh for all your hard work! You can follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Moczygema to see what he is working on.

Michelle and I have been doing so many gigs lately with just the two of us (just bass, guitar and two vocals) that we realized that we needed a CD that sounded more like we do live. We love our other CDs, full band, rock-n-roll, lots of guitars, drums and cool stuff, however, when Michelle and I go play somewhere, just the two of us, it sounds much different. We bring the same energy and fun, it's just more acoustic and not as loud, so we decided to do an acoustic CD. We had been talking about doing another CD of hymns (we released our first one "Foundations" in 2005 as The Brown Band) and thought that it would be great to make a new one as our acoustic CD. The production was very minimal since it was just acoustic guitar and voice, but mixing something so bare and raw takes a very talented we turned to our friend Aaron Patterson. We did all the recording at Good for the Soul Music studios in San Antonio and then handed it off to Aaron to mix and master. He worked his magic and made this project sound BEAUTIFUL! It was so nice to be able to see what someone else heard and created with our music! If you are in the need of someone to mix or master your next project, I highly recommend Aaron! He is an amazing musician as well! Check him out at  We are very proud of this album and can't wait for you to hear it! You can hear a few songs on our new website

Now for some business stuff...If you follow my blog or receive it by RSS feed or find it in other ways, I need to let you know that it will be moving. It is going to be embedded in our new website. You will still be able to follow, comment and see all of the old blogs, it is just going to have a new home. So head on over to  and click on the blog tab to sign up and follow us! You will be able to see what is going on in my head and in the world around the JGB!

We are so excited to share these things with you and hope you enjoy the new site and new CD as much as we do! We would love to hear your thoughts on all the changes and new things going on in world of the Justin Graves Band! You can post your thoughts on our Facebook page and be sure to "Like" us while you are there!

Now go on! Head over to the NEW and check it out!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shut up and Sing!

I don't know when it started or why I decided that it would be better, but lately I have been talking WAY to much. For some reason I think that I need to talk more than I sing. When we go to lead worship or do a Family Worship Night, I spend more time talking than singing. I know that when God called me, He called me as a musician, a worship leader NOT a preacher. I tried that a long time ago and it didn't go well at all!. I know that God has given me songs to write and the talent to play music, so why have I taken the talking route lately?

If you have ever spent any time with me, you will know that I can take forever to get to the point of a story. I will tell you every detail and boring little fact that I can think of and eventually I will get to the point of the story. Fun for me because I get to hear myself talk, bad for you because you have to listen to me go on and on about something, and may never get to the point.

We are constantly trying to get better and improve what we do, and we have been working on our Family Worship Night, trying to create a time of story and song that will connect with the audience. As we have been doing this I have been trying to write out my thoughts and create a set list that features songs from all of our CDs that doesn't seem like just a bunch of random songs thrown together. After looking at the first draft, Michelle commented that yet again I am talking way to much! “What are people coming for?” she asked. And I realized that they are not there to hear me blab on they are there for the music, the story told through song. I was frustrated at myself, so I started doing some research and watching and listening clips of concerts of my favorite artists, and you know what... Michelle was right (like she usually is). The reason I go to a concert is to hear the artists heart through their music, not to hear them talk aimlessly about random stuff.

So, I have gone back to the drawing board. I have come to the conclusion (with some help) that God has given me great songs, and that people want to hear those songs, not me talking. I know that God has called me to sing and lead worship through music and that is what I will do...I will shut up and sing!

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook fan page ! Talk...oh I mean...Sing to you soon!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer-time Fun!

Wow! What a summer! We had so much fun this summer seeing old friends and making new ones, visiting some of our favorite camps, traveling across this great state of ours in Truck Norris, and worshiping with about 2500 people in 6 weeks of camps!
We kicked off the summer in Oklahoma at Camp Egan with the Stillwater District camp and had a blast! Especially with Josh and the mud pit!  Then we headed to Austin, TX to do the music at the Redeemer Lutheran VBS where we learned that "Anything is possible with God!". We love any excuse to hang out in Austin! Great food, great friends and just a cool vibe up there in ATX.  After that we actually had a couple of weeks off, which usually never happens in the summer! It was a nice break, though to catch our breath and gear up for the run of camps we had up next!
We then headed to Camp Zephyr. What a cool place! Figuratively not literally, although this year was much cooler than in past years. Zephyr is one of our favorite places! The staff there is absolutely amazing!  Kenny Conley was the speaker again this year and did such a great job! We love hanging out with Camp Kenny! We did 3 pre-teen camps there in 2 weeks! Yeah, sounds crazy huh?!? It was great, except for the fact that I completely lost my voice! I got a nasty sinus infection and my voice said 'Adios!' This hasn't happend in the 11 years we have been doing this! At first we didn't know what we were going to do, but then my amazing wife stepped up and sang like an angel! She sang so beautifully and lead the worship through music like she had been doing it all her life! Thankfully, I was able to get some medicine and my voice came back by the end of the second camp and I was able to finish out the summer strong!
After those wonderful weeks at Zephyr, we headed to Big Country Camp. Nothing like west Texas in the middle of the summer! We had a great time and the kids were so responsive and wonderful to be around! We also got to hang out with a great speaker and friend, Shane Pruitt. He always has a wonderful way to connect with the kids!
This summer we had some new additions to the JGB. We took a new drummer, Timothy, and added an acoustic guitar player, Chandler. They were such a great find! We were so excited to have them join us this summer, and look forward to woking with them again!
There was one thing that kept coming up at these camps. One thing that we had never discovered before this summer. Something we had always heard about, but never had tried...Chicken Express! Oh man! I think that this summer, camp speakers were being payed by Chicken Express to promote their product. We had never tried it, but after hearing so much about it we HAD to find one. We lead worship at San Angelo FUMC on Sunday morning on our way to Big Country Camp and we had to grab lunch on our way out of town and what do you know...there was a Chicken Express right there in San Angelo! We went in, ordered our Chicken Express chicken tenders and dove in! Let me just say...there is nothing like Chicken Express chicken tenders...they were DELICIOUS! Chicken Express, you have some new fans!
Over all it was an AMAZING summer! Now, we get ready for a fun filled fall! We will be releasing out new HYMNS CD this September. We will aslo be traveling and doing Family Worship Nights all across the country! If you would like us to get to your church be sure to contact Michelle 210-317-6453 or ! We would love to share the songs and gifts God has given us with your community! I love that this is what God has called us to do! I have included some pics from the summer. You can see more on our Facebook fan page  Hope your summer was as wonderful as ours! See you soon!
Last day at Camp Egen
 FLY! Redeemer Lutheran VBS
Getting ready to hit the road with Timothy and Chandler!
Worship at Camp Zephyr
Camp Zephyr ROCKS!

Michelle rockin the mic when I lost my voice!

Chicken Express!

Big Country Camp!

Concert at Big Country Camp!

Worship at Big Country

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hello Again Blog-o-sphere!

Wow! It has been a while since my last post! I could blame it on the fact that school was ending or we were getting ready for the run of summer camps, or we have been working on a new CD, or that it is already 150,000 degrees outside, but none of those are the reason. Those are excuses.
Yeah, things have been busy, camps are going great (and we have 4 more to go), our new HYMNS CD is taking shape and sounding amazing, we are in the process of figuring out how to market ourselves better and all the while trying to book more Family Worship Nights and churches where we can lead worship. For me, it just comes down to focus. What am I focusing on? I find myself getting distracted by the silliest things. Instead of sitting down and just getting my job done, I find the way wander away and end up getting nothing productive done.
I know that is one of my bigest faults, being easily distracted. I like to look at the pretty flowers, or waste time getting something to drink, or play with the dog, or just watch people. My prayer right now is that I would be able to do what it says in Colossians 3:1-3 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
I have to choose to set my mind on things above! Not be easily distracted with silly pointless things, but do my job well and completing it. This is not something that comes naturally to me but I know that if my mind if focused on God then I will be victorious!

It will be easy to make excuses, but I will choose to be in control! 

Whew! It's good to be back! I will make sure I don't go that long again without leaving some of my thoughts here. Thanks for listening! See you soon! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

From bad to worse.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it feels like life is passing by you while you are looking in from the outside?  When it feels like everyone around you is moving at hyper-speed while you are stuck in slow motion, deep in a barrel of molasses? That kind of describes the week Michelle and I have had.

It all started last weekend when Michelle went with her parents to California for a funeral.  Their plane left at around 8:30am from Austin on Saturday, which ment that they needed to leave San Antonio about 6am, which in turn ment that we needed to wake up at 5am.  Whew! 

They arrived in California and were able to spent time with family and have a wonderful memorial service. Michelle, however, doesn't tend to adjust to different time zones very well.  Although she was in Pacific time, her body was operating on Central time, which ment she was waking up two hours early and ready to go to bed long before her California family. 

Now, one of the benefits of our job is that Michelle and I get to work together from home.  We basically spend all day, everyday, with each other.  It truly is wonderful! The down side of that is, when we are appart, life just seems a little off kilter.  I know that with Michelle gone I wont sleep very well, so I don't want to go to bed.  So for those 4 nights I stayed up till 3am or so and ended up cleaning the whole house! 

Gabi and I did have some great daddy-daughter time.  Being Mr. Mom went very well until Tuesday when I woke up late and failed to get Gabi to school on time, but that is a story for another time.

Michelle came home late Tuesday night.  Her plane landed in San Antonio at about 1am Wednesday morning.  Gabi and I went to pick her up and by the time we got home and un-wound a little it was almost 2:30am.  So needless to say we have been operating in catch-up mode the rest of the week.  It has been a good week, we just feel like we haven't fully recovered from so many late nights and early mornings.

I was able to spend some time writting in the studio on Friday where I came across the verse in Ephesians 6:10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  This was such a great reminder and encouragement to me. I don't have to rely on my own strength, God's power is ready and available at all times, I just have to choose to use it!  He is willing to give it to any who will ask!

Although we have drifted through this week half asleep with aching bodies and blurry eyes, we have enjoyed being back together as a family. It is so good to know that even when we feel like we have nothing left in the tank, we don't have to do this on our own. What a wonderful blessing! We can live in His strength! Be strong in the Lord! Live full of His mighty power! (but do make sure you get enough sleep!)

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook page 

By the luck would have it, this is the 2nd time I have written this blog.  I had it finished and ready to post when I hit the wrong button and erased it all. Just kind of goes along with the kind of week it has been! Just makes me chuckle a little!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are you in?

How many of you have ever felt like you have been called into "full time ministry?" "Oh no. That's not for me!" you may say.  Most of us associate that phrase with people who work at a church or are worship leaders or evangelists, or people who do "God's work" for a living.  But did you know that ALL of us who are Christ followers have been called into full time ministry?  Yeah, it doesn't matter if you are a teacher, banker, decorator, vet, shelf stocker, parent, student, nurse or grandma, we are all called by God to be His light and share His love.  We see in Mark 13 that Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love God and Love Others. In the book of John chapter 13 we hear Jesus say 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What that tells me is that as we are living our normal, everyday life, loving the people around us, we are being ministers of the Gospel.  We are living out Gods call on ALL of our lives. It is easy to think that "ministry" should be left up to the "church people", but that is not what God says at all.  He has called us all to be His hands and feet here on earth.  Yes, there are people who are called to be pastors or worship leaders, but you can also be called to be a banker or office manager or landscaper for Christ.  By doing your work with integrity and doing your job well can be such a great testimony of God's love.

So, this week step into the call God has placed on your life.  Don't think that you can leave "ministry" up to the "professional Christians."  Live out God's love right where you are, in your everyday life and let God shine through! Live to Love Him and Live to Love the ones around you!  Maybe this song will give you a little encouragement!  Click the link below to hear the title track from our Live to Love CD. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You said WHAT!?!?!

As life marches onward and I continue to get older (which is better than the alternative- says Michelle), I find myself saying things that I never thought I would say. Here are a few such phrases...

Collard greens, brown rice and ground turkey for dinner, YUM!

When I was your age...

Can you turn that music down, it's getting to loud.

Oh man! I'm getting to old for this!

Because I said so!

I'm so full! I don't think I can finish my dinner.

The concert doesn't star till 9pm! We will be asleep by then!

Some phrases that I hope to never hear come out of my mouth...

I'll have a DIET Dr. Pepper.

Is this the strongest denture glue you have?

I have hair growing where?!?!?

So, you're telling me I need bi-focals!?!

5am, yeah, I just naturally wake up that early.

We would love to hear some of your favorite phrases! Feel free to post them on our Facebook Fan Page

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wanna be a Star?!?!

So, you may or may not know that I recently tried out for the TV show X-Factor. Yeah, that's right, reality TV, gotta love it! They held auditions in Austin a few weeks ago and Michelle and I talked about it and thought, why not! So, Michelle and I talked through song choices and finally landed on a few that we thought would work. Then I rehearsed and rehearsed and practiced in front of the mirror and in front of the video camera and in front of Michelle and worked and tweaked and rehearsed some more. As the audition date grew closer, we got more excited! Where would this take us? What would come out of this? Could I really make it on the show? What could this do for our career? Think of the potential this could have for our ministry!

There were a lot of steps that we had to take just to get the opportunity to audition. First, we had to register. We spent the night in Austin and woke up at 4am just to get to the Erwin Center to wait in line to get the wrist band and ticket in order to come back and audition. We got there about 5:30 in the pouring rain and got to wait in line for about three hours (inside thankfully). Standing, waiting, waiting, standing and then more standing, all the while the X-Factor people telling us, "It will be just a few more minutes" about every 20 minutes. After all that waiting and standing they finally said it was time and they were going to start registration. The crowed rushed forward to get to the registration table to present their ID and get the wrist band and ticket needed to audition. It took about 5 minutes to complete the registration process. Yeah, all that waiting for such a quick turn around. That was OK though because we got to go have brunch with some of our best friends at a cool place in Austin.

The auditions were held on Thursday at the Erwin Center and they had told us to be there and in line by 7am. So, again, we stayed in Austin the night before and get there about 6:30am, to find out we are waiting outside. Thankfully the weather was beautiful that day, no rain. As the TV cameras were being set up and positioned, we stood in line again. Waiting and standing, standing and waiting. We had actually met a couple on the day of registration and happened to run into them again on Thursday. As we stood, we talked to our new friends and the people around us, finding out where they were from, what they did and what their story was. We became fast friends with several people and quickly realized we were all Christ Followers. All from different places and backgrounds, but all connected by our love of God. It was amazing the stories that were shared and the encouragement that came out of that little group! It certainly helped the time pass easier having a group of friends to laugh with and talk to!

Finally, it was time to go in and start the auditions. Michelle and I go in and find our seats and we realize that the section we are seated in will be the first to audition. Now, I don't get nervous very often, and I can play it pretty cool most of the time, but for some reason the gravity of this started getting into my head a bit. I was trying to remember all that Michelle and I had talked about, what to emphasize, what to do with my hands (since I couldn't use my guitar), what to say to the judges. All of these thoughts running through my head at the same time as the lyrics to the songs.

I will spare you the details of the audition, which I think I really I rocked, but their answer was, "You're just not what we looking for at this time." Whoa! I was prepared for that, but to hear that come out of their mouth did sting a bit. I knew my odds of making it were slim and that they had a very specific thing they are looking for, but it still takes you back a little when you are told "no".

After coming home and reflecting on this whole process, Michelle and I have realized a few things. First, the process of preparing for the audition helped me see that I need to take every song I sing that serious. There are so many times I just sing a song and don't really think about it. I just get through it and don't feel it. So much of a song can be conveyed through the way it is sung. Second, we know what God has called us to do and are confident in that. He has called us to travel, sing the songs He has given us and trust that He is taking care of us. That could not have been made clearer through this process. In no way were we trying to say that what we have been doing is not good enough, but this was an opportunity that we thought would be great to explore.

So coming out of this I feel confident that God has us right where he wants us. He has great plans for us, even bigger than the X-Factor! We will continue to trust in Him and let Him lead us! Just like it says in Proverbs 3:5-7. Hey I think someone wrote a song about that!

Monday, March 12, 2012

All Used Up.

My heart has been heavy. This past week I was ready to give it all up. Yep, ready to quit music all together. I wanted nothing to do with it. I was ready to smash all my guitars and find some job that has nothing to do with music, singing or guitars. Then at the point of complete brokenness (and after I had chunked a guitar across the room) I felt Gods presence in the form of my incredible wife, Michelle.
She came in with love in her eyes and tears in her heart and just let me be real, honest and open with what was going on inside of me. She just listened. She didn't try to fix the problem or tell me I was wrong for feeling that way, she just was available. Whether she was conscious of the fact that God was using her or not, she made her self available to be used. She put aside her own agenda and allowed God to make Himself known through her. It wasn't what she said or anything she did specifically, it was just the fact that she was there, caring and loving no matter what.
I think that is what God asks all of us to do, just be available. You don't have to always know what to say, you may not know what to do, but if you are willing to let God use you, He will. You may not even be aware that God is using you to help heal a broken heart, encourage someone or just help someone laugh. What matters is that you are making yourself available to be used.

Yeah, things at the Graves' house got a little tense, but they are looking up! I am happy to tell you that I will not be giving up music! I know that God has called me for a purpose and that there are times when I get distracted, and focused on myself and live in my crisis instead of living in my calling (thanks Mike Daniel!).
God has a great plan for each of us! Let's live it out! Be available for Him to be used!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook fan page!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It can get tricky!

We recently got to spend some time with good friend and pastor, Ryan Laden. The Laden family have been great friends and ministry partners with us for many years now. They currently live in Perth, Western Australia, doing some great ministry Down Under as the pastor of Warnbro Community Church. Ryan was here in Texas to officiate a wedding, so we got to spend some time with him before he returned to the other side of the world to his family. We miss them terribly, but we know they are right where God wants them and that He has called them Down Under for a purpose!

Michelle and I had a great conversation with Ryan the other day and I wanted to share a little bit of what we talked about. We were discussing the ins and outs of worship teams and worship music in the church today. As we talked I realized a few things. I want you to hear my comments with an open mind and understand that I am not saying that I am the authority on this or that I think I am right and everyone else is wrong, these are just some observations from my perspective.

If we look at the history of music in the church and the world of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) we can see that up until recently they co-existed but did not intertwine. Worship was not a genre of music. These days it seems that every band has a 'worship' album, many of which are great and inspired. However, not all of the songs out there labeled 'worship' are necessarily meant for congregational worship.
We have to understand what congregational worship is as opposed to personal worship in order to know how to use what songs and when. Personal worship is that one on one time with you and God. Could be in your car on the way to work, as you work out or just some time spent with Him alone. Congregational worship is when a group of Christ Followers gather together to celebrate what God is doing in their lives, individually and collectively. This could be anything from a Sunday morning at church to some evening in a living room. In my opinion there are songs for both occasions, but not all of them fit into both categories. There are some songs that may speak to you personally but may not connect with someone else and vice-versa, and that is OK. That goes for both congregational and personal songs.
I think that to many times a worship leader or worship band tries to take their favorite songs, that speak to them personally and try to fit them into a congregational setting. As worship leaders it is our job to understand the difference in these types of songs and understand the group we are leading in worship, where they are and what speaks to them. As the JGB travels across the country leading worship for different churches and events, it is very evident that the same songs that connect with one group may not connect with another. We have to be aware of that and be willing to meet the people where they are. If we try to force our favorite songs on a group of people instead of engaging them, and helping them engage in worship through music, all we are doing is playing some cool music and performing. As worship leaders it is our job to help the people we are leading to connect with God through music. We can not force them to engage, but it is our job to present the best opportunity for them to connect.
Now, I am not saying that performance songs should not exist in congregational worship. No, as a matter of fact they are great tools to use to get an idea or thought across that will help connect an overall theme. But, if all you do are performance songs, then you are not giving people to connect personally through music. There are so many great bands out there that are doing great music and when we go to their concerts we may connect through their performance, but we should not be trying to replicate that at our churches. We can be using those ideas, but we need to figure out how to connect the people we are leading to worship through music.
This is where worship music and CCM collide. We did not use to see CCM artists doing worship music. They made great music and it was used as performance songs or special music in church services. Today, every artist has a worship CD and therefore the radio and popular music are saturated with 'worship songs' performed by our favorite artists. So trying to capture what we see and hear on the radio, at concerts and on the internet and use it in our churches may not work, we have to be aware of the people we are leading and how they engage and connect. Sometimes that may mean playing a song we might think is old or out-dated or making a set list that has both old and new songs. We have to remember as worship leaders that it is not about us and what we want, but about us being used and being willing to serve.

This may not be the popular opinion, but it is how I view the ministry we have been called to.
Please remember that I am not saying I am right and anyone who disagrees is wrong. I believe that there is a place for all types of worship and worship leaders. Everyone connects with God through music differently. I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our facebook page

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Strong and Courageous!

Some of you may know our song 'Strong and Courageous', but I want to tell you more of the story behind the song and why it is so special to us.
This song was originally born out of us leading worship on a Sunday morning at a local church for the kids Sunday School large group time. The theme verse one particular Sunday was Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. That week Michelle challenged me to write a song for the service that weekend based on the theme verse. So, I sat down and scratched out a simple little chorus and we used it that weekend. It was a hit! We liked it and the kids LOVED it so we decided to work on it some more and come up with some verses and a bridge and voila 'Strong and Courageous' was born! It is a hit with kids and adults, and it is so much fun to see everyone doing the brave, strong and courageous motions!

Well, that is not where the story ends. Our daughter, Gabriella, has a friend named Sadie whom she calls her 'best friend.' Whenever they are together they pretend that they are princesses or fairies or ballerinas, something very girly, it is so cute! A little over a year ago Sadie and her family found out that she had a giant tumor growing in her abdomen. She and her family have gone through so much in the last year with Sadie having multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation and being in and out of the hospital. However, long before anyone knew that Sadie had cancer, her family had adopted a family verse, and that verse is Joshua 1:9, the same verse we based our song 'Strong and Courageous' on.
As Sadie has gone through all of this she continues to hold on to the truth in Joshua 1:9, "God is always with you." She is brave and strong and courageous and does not let anything hold her down! She is an incredible testimony of God's love!

As we were recording our "Live to Love" CD, we asked if Sadie would come in and say the scripture at the beginning of the song, 'Strong and Courageous'. She was a little reluctant at first, but then when she heard her voice on the recording she was very excited! It is so beautiful to hear her say the verse and know that she is living it out! You can listen to the song by clicking on it below. Enjoy!


There is one more part to this story that I don't want you to miss. For the last few years, instead of having a birthday party, Gabriella has wanted to do a fundraiser. She has such a compassionate heart, (just like her mother) and loves helping people. This years fundraiser is going to be on March 1st at Fralo's Art of Pizza in Leon Springs. Instead of bringing gifts, Gabi wants everyone to come out to Fralo's to eat pizza and enter the raffle to raise money for new bedding, art supplies and games for the kids receiving cancer treatments at the facility where Sadie gets her treatments. All of the details are below in the flyer. We would love to see you there! And remember....Be brave and strong and courageous, because God is ALWAYS with you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Light me up!

Have you ever had the opportunity to experience a raging fire? I mean a real scorcher. One that you can feel from far away. One that lights up everything around it. A fire so hot that you cannot stand by it for more than a few minutes or you feel like you will catch on fire too?

I feel like there are seasons in my life that I am like that fire. A raging inferno of Gods love. And then there are times where I feel like I am doing all I can to put that fire out. The Bible tells us over and over again that we are to love one another. Part of the greatest commandment Jesus says in Mark 12 is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." John 13:34-35 tells us “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 1 John 3:18 says "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

What I have discovered about myself lately is that when my fire and passion for God is running low so does my tolerance and love for the people around me. I get short tempered, grumpy and just generally miserable to be around. My love for what God has called me to do disappears. My creativity starts running dry and I quit really caring about what I do. I do enough to get by and just trudge through my day focused on myself.

If you have been with us at any event, you have probably heard me talk about St. Francis of Assisi and his quote which inspired our song 'Ablaze'. He said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words." It took us about 3 years to write that song and I talk about it all the time, but recently I have re-discovered the meaning of this song. I originally wrote it about living your life in such a way that everyone you come in contact with knows that you are a Christ-follower, but I am realizing it goes much deeper than that. If we are truly passionate about God and want to live our lives as worship, we should be loving at all times, even when we don't feel like it. Love isn't a warm fuzzy, chocolate filled feeling, it is a choice. If I am focusing on myself and the things I want, then I am not sharing Gods love. My fire and passion for God is being squelched by my selfishness. But if I look to God to satisfy my needs and fill up on His love, then that love will pour out of me to everyone I come in contact with, which is what Jesus is saying in the scriptures listed above. It is also what St. Francis is saying in his statement. The passion for life, love and what God has called me to do is very easily found when I am focused on Him and His love. That is where this song has taken on new meaning for me. If I am passionate about God and His love for me then I will be more loving to the people around me.

I would love for you to listen to this song and make it your prayer this week. Focus on Gods love and seek out ways to share it. Loving God and loving others...That is what He calls us to! Set my heart Ablaze!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Information Overload!

It is EVERYWHERE!!! News, TV, Email, Facebook, Twitter. You name it you can get it anywhere at anytime. Michelle and I have been noticing lately that every restaurant you go in these days has a TV. Yeah from McDonald's to the mom and pop hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We are bombarded by information... commercials... non-sense... there seems to be no escape!

When I was a kid (yeah I know I sound like one of those people) TV was something that was enjoyed at home with family or friends, but now you can hardly go anywhere without that glowing box invading your personal space. We are trying to teach our sweet Gabriella that you don't have to be constantly entertained. It is OK to just sit and enjoy each others company. We don't have to have something in our hands or staring at something to have a good time.

I will admit...I am VERY guilty of this myself. I like my information. I like to be in the know. I like noise and flickering lights. I don't sit in silence very well. If I am in the car alone I am listening to the radio...TALK radio. I would think I would be listening to cds or music or something, but no, I like my information. I am also always checking my phone for emails, Facebook messages and tweets. I am trying to limit myself so that my family knows that they are important to me, not my phone. I want to live my life in the present. I want to make memories and love and touch and laugh because we are having fun in real time, not watching somebody else live their life.

Now, am I saying that TV, Facebook and Twitter are bad? No. Not at all! I will still watch TV, I enjoy that. One of my favorite times of the day is when Gabi has gone to bed and Michelle and I get to snuggle up on the couch and watch our shows! I will still interact on Facebook and Twitter, I enjoy knowing what people are up to and getting to know them more. However, I will be aware of when I am doing that and not be glued to the TV or my phone or let those things rule my time.

I want Michelle and Gabi to understand that my time with them is valued and important to me. I want the people who we get to meet on the road know that I am interested in them and what God is doing in their lives as well.

These are just some of my thoughts...Let me know what you think!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Live to Love - How to

I wanted to give you a little something different this week.
I have done a little "How to" video for one of the songs off of our latest CD.
We take a look at the title track "Live to Love", where it came from and a few tips on how to play it.
I hope you enjoy! I will be posting more of these in the future. If there are any songs you would like to know about, let me know!
Have a great week, and remember...Live to Love!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Willie says it best! of our favorite songs sung by the red headed stranger...On the road again! Just can't wait to get on the road again!

This was our first weekend back on the road in 2012 and we had such an amazing time! Michelle, Gabriella, and I headed up to Oklahoma and played in 3 towns in 2 days. Yeah it was fast and furious, but it was so much fun! There were multiple times that all three of us mentioned how fun it was to be back on the road. On the drive home we were trying to figure out what it was about being on the road that we all loved so much. We came up with a few different ideas as to what it is we love best about road life.

Is is the family time? We spend hours and hours in the truck together singing and playing and talking. We get to see and experience new places together making memories and growing our relationships.

Is it just being away from home? There is so much excitement about taking a road trip! You never know what you will come across along the way!

How about being with old friends? Because we travel so much we have formed some great relationships across the country. It is so much fun to see old friends, catch up on life, laugh, talk and and just hang out. In our opinion that is where a lot of ministry happens, in those one on one times over a nice juicy hamburger or hot cup of coffee. Some of our favorite memories are the times we get to just sit and talk and share stories about ministry.

Is it because we are always making new friends? It doesn't matter whether we are at a church or camp or just at a restaurant along the way, when you have someone as cute and friendly as our sweet Gabi new friends are made very easily!

Is it the fact that we get see so much of the country? Whenever we plan a trip we try to make it a learning experience for all of us. We look up and see what there is along the way that would be fun to visit. We have seen some great history, and experienced some very exciting things along the way!

Is it the fact that we get to stay in hotels? If it were up to Michelle we would live in a hotel. That is her dream. It is so much fun to stay in a fresh clean place and have breakfast waiting for you every morning when you wake up!

What we have discovered is that overwhelmingly the answer is D...all of the above! We are so excited to be on the road and and can not believe that God has called us to this incredible life!

We love our life on the road! Thank you God for continuing to bless us with new places and friends along the way!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back in the saddle again!

This week we are preparing to get back on the road! We head to Oklahoma this weekend for the first road trip of the year. We are so excited to visit old friends and make new ones along our journey! The holidays have been a nice break for us, being home, relaxing, re-grouping, preparing for another exciting year, but we miss being on the road.
I can say with absolute certainty that this is what we were created to do! It is so exciting to know that God has called us to this life of traveling and leading worship, and that He continues to bring us new opportunities and encourage us along the way! Sure there are times that it is hard. We have countless stories of the crazy things that have happened to us while on the road, but through it all, God has been right there with us!
It is amazing to look back at the past 10 years and see where we started and where God has brought us. We have made 7 full length CD's, traveled to 16 different states and 2 countries, played at countless churches, camps and retreats, and we are still going strong! God continues to bring us fresh ideas, new songs, and provide us with new places to play and new people to meet! It is so exciting!
Michelle and I have often sat down and wondered how in the world this all works. We know that we are nothing special. We have no magical powers or secret weapon, we just have faith that God will put us right where He wants us when He wants us there. He continues to bring people into our life that encourage, help, and motivate us to keep pressing on.
So I am excited about this new year! I am looking forward to loading up Truck Norris (yep that is our trucks name) and heading up I-35 this weekend! When you see us driving by, be sure to wave! We will be looking for you!
Look out Oklahoma, here we come!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolution or Revolution?

Happy New Year! Can you believe another year has past? I remember when I was a kid and it seemed that it took forever for summer to arrive then it was like a million years until Christmas! The days, weeks, months dragged by like molasses on a cold day, and now they fly by like a leaf caught in a tornado!

As we have now enjoyed a little more than a full week of 2012 I have looked back on 2011 and thought about what went well and what I think I could improve for this new year. Now, I am not one for making new years resolutions. I have a hard time with telling myself I will or won't do something, because I know that I will always let myself down. I can't tell you how many times I have said "This year I will..." only to forget about it a few weeks later. I know that works for some, and to those people I say "Get on wit yo bad self!" I think instead of making a Resolution what I need is a Revolution. I don't need to make more rules for myself, I need a total mind and heart reset.

I don't know if you have seen the list of 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters, but I have run across it recently and it has started my mind racing. In his blog (, Michael gives little tips, hints and rules for dads with little girls and how to make the most out of your relationship with her. If you read it, you will cry, trust me! It made me realize how precious and special each day is with my sweet Gabriella, and how I want to invest and participate in her life and not just exist in it.

One of the things I have realized about myself is the fact that I don't live in the moment. Michelle and I have talked about this so many times. There are times that life is happening around me and I am oblivious to it. I am not soaking in the sights and sounds and feelings...I am just existing. What I am learning is that each day we have here on earth is a gift, and if we don't use it to its full potential we are wasting it. I want to revolutionize my thinking, I want to be present and aware of the world around me! I want to be passionate about my wife, daughter, and the calling on my life. I don't want to let the days blow by me so quickly that I turn around one day and wonder where they have gone. I want to soak in all of Gods glory and goodness, especially in the little things, so that I can be a better husband, father and leader.

I am calling for a Revolution in my life, not a Resolution.

I would love to hear your thoughts! You can post them on our Facebook fan page