Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best Worst Giver

I have said many times "This was the best Christmas ever", but this year I really mean it. This was the best Christmas ever!!

My husband and I are not big on shopping or getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season. We try to take it slow, lay back and try to keep things in perspective. This year turned out much differently than other years in that no one made it to a store to do ANY shopping and the amazing part of it was that none of us felt any pressure to either.

So where does this leave us? Let's see, Christmas Eve we attended church, came home and had a wonderful family dinner and then gathered around the tree where there were a few cards from some family. Now feeling a bit of the pressure, unbeknownst to the other family members everyone quietly proceeded to go wrap their "gifts."

Well, it turned out that we all had the same idea...lets sneak into peoples room, find things that belong to them and wrap them up! And that's just what happened.

As the kids began to open there frantically wrapped presents we all quickly realized that each gift was a joke waiting to happen. My daughter laughed as she opened a box with one of her slippers in it, a half eaten candy bar, an empty CD case and some clothes pins.

As the gift event went on, we turned each turn into an opportunity to laugh, each laugh bigger than the one before.

Being a competitive family, it became a sort of competition to see who gave the best "Worst" gift. Even the gifts that we gave our kids (which was a envelope with some cash) had a used item from their own room and was met with tons of laughter.

I guess what made that Christmas Eve so special, obviously, was not the gifts, but truly the time together laughing and loving each other. While we didn't plan to do a gift-less Christmas, I tell you, it just doesn't get much better than this.

So we already have plans for next year.....The gift giving competition. Find the best worst gift from Goodwill and carry the title for a year of "The Best Worst Giver". Granted, this may not work in most families, but for us, Koehne's, it works just fine!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Day Is It?

I feel as though I entered a cave and three days later suddenly emerged. Not sure where the last three days have gone, but I do know that there has been a lot of long hours, work and some amazing music going on. Please know that I am not complaining  Camping out in a recording studio is probably one of my favorite places on earth!!

Watching my producer get the very best out of the musicians who are already at the top of their game is a thrill to watch. The creativity and the expertise is pretty astonishing. What also amazes me is how through the direction and wisdom of my producer Jeff McCullough, I am also able to give my very best. It is a growing and stretching experience for me to be pushed vocally and emotionally in ways I have never been pushed before and see the fruit of that captured in sound.

Thank you all for the persistent prayers. It is humbling to see how God responds. His faithfulness is overwhelming. Thank you for going to the throne on behalf of me, my family, the ministry of music and all of us that are pushing through to see this to completion.

God is so much bigger than it all and it is truly an honor to be a part of something that he is doing.

Continued health and strength as we finish off the vocals
For our families at home
Doors to open so that many have the opportunity to hear this music

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stand Firm

Sometimes my life is like a series of unfortunate events...Tripping on stage, hitting my head on boom mics while singing, running out of gas, walking into doors....and today having the water shut off mid shower at the hotel. All these things are par for the course when it comes to me, but today some of the things that were happening were clearly spiritual warfare.

It is no surprise for me that Satan would try and hinder what we are doing as I know how powerful the music that we are working on is. This CD is going to be amazing, I already know this by evidence of all the things that were happening today. Yet in the midst of it all, even more amazing things were accomplished.

It is such a powerful thing to have a producer who prays for you, prays in the midst of music and who, at every glitch, calls on the name of Jesus. I am truly blessed to be working with some amazing people this week.

Jeff McCullough a brilliant music producer

Arnie Vilches a beautifully gifted guitarist

Mark Snyder the talented writer of most of the songs

........and getting to go out some cool new restaurants. I give a thumbs up to Agrusa's 

Protection From the devil's scheme's
Strength for our families as we work hard to complete these recording
Health & Strength

Thank again for your support!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Left Behind-Intersections

Sometimes we (and by we, I mean, I) are on a journey and in the middle of our journey it intersects with someone else's journey. My journey is not about me, it's about what God is going to do with and through me to shape me so that I may be a part of another's journey so that that they, in turn, can be a part of someone else's.

Love God, Love others. The mission and the call is clear.

Today as I was traveling, I entered California at a different point than I normally do. So the drive was new...pretty much a two lane highway through the desert, but at one point in the middle of nowhere, I came across what I thought was an interesting structure. It seemed so out of place, like it was in the middle of nowhere. I decided to pull over and check it out. What I quickly discovered was that the structures were the remnants of a fire. The shoes dangling over the rafters were tributes to lives lost and the graffiti messages were memorials to loved ones gone.

As I stood there, I thought of those who passed and I prayed for those left behind to pick up the pieces, those whose lives are forever changed, those who mourn.

I don't know what happened, but what I do know is that for a moment my journey collided into the reality of another's and all I could do was pray.

God of Angel Armies Is Always By My Side

The fact that my night ended with an encounter by, what I would call, a creepy man hitting on me and questioning if I was traveling alone, does not negate the amazing day that I had. What it does do is remind me of the specific prayers that I should be praying and requesting.

1. Pray for a strong voice and good rest
2. Pray for a deep memorization of the lyrics, that they would be embedded in my heart as I record
3. Please pray for my safety and God's continued hand on me as I travel. As I was praying last night thanking God for his protection and asking for his continual guarding the song by Chris Tomlin rang in my  head. Then I said theses words...

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
Whom Shall I fear, Whom Shall I Fear!

It is true, I know that I am in the hands of God. I will continue to ask for his hand of blessings as I travel and for His mission to be accomplished. Will you join me in praying?

Now for yesterdays recap. It was amazing! This picture kinda sums it up minus the concert.

The day started off with a relaxing time on the island beach (I know that sounds exotic, but no one here seems to think of it as an island, but technically it is) then a quiet lunch by the river where I battled with the birds. Being in Phoenix, I don't deal with too many birds (except pigeons and I think they are disgusting) so my fear of birds escalated. What I realized is that my fear of these birds crippled my ability to enjoy the peace and beauty of the river, because I was consumed with thinking about my fear. God teaches me a lessons in every situation. Fear robs me of joy and peace!

After lunch is was off to the radio station, KNLB, where we were a part of the Miss Debbie show and Share-a-Thon. It was a joy to be a part of that. What a warm welcoming radio station and staff. I love doing radio...probably because I love talking, so radio interviews are always a high point for me.

Then the concert~sweet time indeed! Being able to have an hour to share music and my testimony with people is always a joy. I have to balance out the music and talk time, because I could talk about the amazing things God has done for the whole hour, but I know people wanted to hear music. The cool thing for me is that they intertwine as one for me at times. There was a great reception to the music and as I talked to people afterwards and as I prayed with individuals, they shared how their hearts were moved and encouraged and hope restored. That's when I knew God was in the house doing what He does. I am such a broken vessel, but honored that God would use this vessel to minister to his people.

A huge thank you to Ted and Cathy Kamena who hosted and set up this trip to visit Calvary Baptist Church. They are two amazing people that I had the honor of meeting and now have the honor of calling them friends.

After a long day, I got hungry, which leads me back to the top of this note. So how can one man ruin all God has done...He can't. The God of Angel armies is ALWAYS by my side.

Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 1 Lake Havasu~Sunday

I have been looking forward to hitting the road and today was a wonderful launching. Sunday always seems to be a great day to start fresh. I loved that My husband and two of my three children all got to worship together. Sadly, this doesn't happen every week, so I treasure these days. Not only is it  a glorious Sunday, but it is also Veterans Day and the time that they took out in worship today to honor Veterans had me in tears. It moved me in a way that I have never been moved before. I am so thankful in so many new ways for the service that so many offer for the sake of our freedom.

After a wonderful start to the day it was off to Fresh and Easy to furnish the family with supplies while I was gone. I think they actually like it more (menu wise) when I am gone....Come to think of it, I kinda wish I was home just to eat the "Mom's out of town" Menu.

Then I hit the to Lake Havasu. My husband asked me how the drive up went. my reply was "It was great once I finally made it." I have never been to Lake Havasu and had no idea was a bustling town it was or how beautiful of a drive it would be. My journey on 95 north took a bit longer than it should have, simply because I kept stopping to take in the view. I guess that's one of those things you can do without complaint when travelling alone.

Living in the Valley, I don't get to drive by rivers and lakes flowing through the mountains. I can't even remember the last time I just dipped my toes in the water. On one of my touristy pull overs, I just stopped a pondered the majesty of our Lord. He is a breathtaking artist. What He formed from nothing blows me away. I wish I just sit by the side of the road and soak it in for hours (tomorrow, I just may). I wish those moments would last a lifetime. Oh, to walk in his tapestry, to be a part of his handiwork. We are a blessed people, knit together so fearfully and wonderfully. My God is a great God!

Once I finally made it and got all checked in at my hotel I was treated to an amazing evening with two amazing people. I love when you can just hang with people that you don't really know so well and within a minute you call them friends. It's great to be with people that you know are real and with whom you can be real with. I think....I know this is why they are so effective in ministry. This is why their Celebrate Recovery program is changing lives.If you ever find yourself in need of a Celebrate Recovery in Lake Havsu City, AZ look them up at Calvary Biabtist Church, Monday nights.

I cherish this day, the time spent with friends, the moments away to be with The Lord, the quiet and the stillness of it all....I treasure this all up in my heart.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What's The Point?!?!

This seems to be the questions running through the Koehne household. I was approached by one of my children recently in a very tender moment where I was asked "Mom, what is the point of doing papers, going to school and getting an education? How does all of this glorify God and further His Kingdom? I just want to glorify God in all I do." I was also asked "What about a teenager or college student who does all this stuff and then dies, did they waste their time when they should have been doing Kingdom work?" Those are heavy questions from a young adult and one that ironically, I and have been struggling with as well in a different context. The answer for me and the answer I gave lies in the scripture in the Word of God. It is the only authority in answering this question "What's the Point?"

Crazy as it is, being asked this question was a healing moment for me as well. So as I tell my children that it's not about the degrees, it's not about what college you go to, the papers, the games or in my case getting on the radio, getting music gigs or getting signed to a recording label. It's so much more than that. 

And since it's not really about the degree or the homework, it IS about the discipline that those things teach you in life which in turn teaches you discipline in your spiritual life and your walk with Christ. Sometimes we are asked to do things that we just don't feel like, but because we are people that have learned to honor and respect, when Christ asks us to step out in faith, we learn more quickly to trust, to walk, to hear and to listen.

I believe that it's about the journey along the way. I believe it's about seeing your classmates and learning to love them, to be light, to show forgiveness when no one else does. To live one's walk daily in the classroom and to do it all for the glory of God. To look in our hearts, to examine our hearts in line with the Truth of Christ and that during the journey we see each day as an time to love others in the places that we have an opportunity to the classroom, on the job, at home and in our neighborhood.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble,whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved." I Corinthians 10:31-33

My prayer today was simple. "Lord, I want to follow you." I want to follow Christ and love Him and love others. The rest....the music...the singing, recording, writing, working is simply a means of doing that and what I learn and share along the way is a blessing. For my children...going to school, doing homework so that, Lord willing, they can have more doors opened so they are able to impact more people for Christ is a part of their journey  It's all part of the journey in lifting Christ high..learning to decrease myself that He might increase.

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
What's the point? To Love God and Love others, to make disciples, to be a disciple, to be a faithful follower of Christ, What's the point? expand the Kingdom of God so that all might know His love and be saved...and sometimes you have to sit in a classroom, write papers and take tests to have the wonderful opportunity to do that. Praise be to God!

And Now for your enjoyment....Homework helps us articulate clearly so that we can clearly speak the Truth of Christ Jesus so that others understand what we are saying.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Remember

My New T-Shirt That I Was Given From The Pregnancy Center Today!

Today, of all days, Nov. 6th, Election day 2012, I had some free time so I went to visit our local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Lucky for me it was right down the road from my house. What I thought was going to be a quick in and out visit turned out to be so much more. I was so impressed with the facility and all that they do. I was moved by the warm hearts and passion to serve that I saw in every person I met. And most of all I was able to remember how near and dear to my heart matters of life are and have always been.

So, I thought I would take this time to share a little bit of history and my testimony regarding choosing life. As an adopted child, I never gave it too much thought, but as I grew up I began to think about the reality of what my birth mother may have gone through. Being the third child of my birth mother's while she was dealing with her own personal struggles could not have been easy. The easy choice for her could have been to abort, but she did not. I was born in Chicago, stayed in the hospital for six weeks until I came to live in a foster home in River Forest, IL.

My foster family cared for numerous children, but for some reason their daughter, Julie, decided to place a note on her mom's pillow the night I arrived that simply said "Can we keep this one?" And so they did!

But is wasn't that simple, while it was fine for them to do foster care for black children even though they were white, the movement at that time was to keep black babies with black families and not to do interracial adoptions. At the advice of their social worker they were advised that if they really did want to keep me they should lay low and not say anything or the most likely action would be to lose me. So my family laid low. For 12 years they didn't stir the pot until they thought it was time. So when I was 12, I stood before the judge and told him that I wanted Joan and Paul Grotelueschen to be my parents (even though they already were). I remember him asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be a pianist (go figure). And that was it, at age 12, I officially was adopted by the parents that God prepared in advance for me. It was a great day!  I then received my first birth certificate with my name Maria Ladonna Grotelueschen.

Interestingly enough, since I was not adopted for 12 years, I always had my original birth certificate. Legally my name, until I was 12, was Ladonna Gene Sykes. As a young athlete I was constantly having to produce my birth certificate for state tournaments, so I knew the name of my birth mother and the hospital that I was born in. This led me to a place when I was 16 to call 411~information one day and ask for her phone number. Just like that I had it. I remember the day when I was 16 and I secretly called her. I remember her words "I have waited my whole life for this call." It was then that my friend and I jumped on a train and a bus into the inner city (keep in mind we were two suburban girl) to meet this women. There is so much to write about the whole experience, the pain, the joy, the unraveling of emotions from me and others in my family, but at the end of the day what God did through this relationship was all in his hand.

Fast forward 3 years to when I found myself in a place where I was 19, playing college volleyball and about to go on to play my Junior and Senior year with a full ride Volleyball scholarship and suddenly pregnant. PREGNANT! I remember the devastation, the disbelief of truly believing that this could happen to me! I remember very clearly my coach telling me to fix the situation because I had an opportunity to play volleyball and I would be making a big mistake if I had the baby. I remember a friend telling me to get an abortion because I had too much going for myself. In the midst of everything, my crazy life, the partying, the reckless living, I remember something about what they were saying not ringing true. I remember TRUTH. I knew that what was inside of me, as crazy as my life was at that time, was LIFE.

I remember the day I sat down to tell my parents that I was pregnant and the disappointment that filled their hearts, but I also remember their love. I remember crying, sobbing, wondering what on earth I was going to do. I still remember their love. I also remember the reality of my lifestyle at the time. I remember my Dad speaking in love to me that maybe the best thing for this child might be adoption as I was in no shape to raise a child of my own. That was my reality at the time. I was reckless, selfish and living a fast partying lifestyle. I also remember how this new reality changed my life. It was like hitting a wall and coming to a full stop. Instantly, I stopped smoking, drinking, and partying. I stopped and became a mom.

You know what else I remember? I remember the day my baby was born and I said to him "Good morning Sunshine" My life was different. I also remember the day that my Dad said to me "Thank you. Thank you for keeping him and not giving him up." He became my Dad's little man and always had a special place in his heart. I could not have done it without my parents.

The fact that my parents instilled the value of Life in my heart is the reason that I stand before you today. They spoke Truth into my heart as a child and even though I strayed away throughout my life, Truth reigned and was brought back to my mind in the darkest moments.

So back to my biological family.....One of the greatest joys from meeting my birth mother was meeting my grandparents, Uncles, my siblings and then ultimately having the joy of taking in my biological niece to live with us for a time. She was named Maria aka Little Mia. Through my adoption, I was able to turn back to where I was adopted from and take in my own niece for a time. That is God's hand, His sovereignty!

In a nutshell  today was just a good day and visiting the Crisis Pregnancy Center was just a reminder to me of God's grace and mercy over our lives and I praise Him for all He has done and for how faithful He is.

PART 2: So here I am, a day after posting this, with more thoughts. As I thought about the adoption story, I left out one of the most joyous parts. After being a single Mom for a year and a half, I started dating an awesome guy, Bob, who not only chose to love me, but love my son...OUR son. The story continued in that my husband adopted our first born and the cycle of adoption continued! So thankful for 18+ years of marriage and family built on the foundation of Christ and His adoption of all of us into the body of Christ!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


ACTS 16:25-26
This is the name of my website, my ministry and the heart of my mission statement. Why this verse? I think I'll break it down for you and for me. It's always good to remember .....

About Midnight....I remember my old motto.... "Nothing good happens after midnight." And for me, in the past, this was always true. It is powerful for me to see how what used to be is no longer the case and how God has taken what once was darkness  and turned it into light. I can now say that "About midnight" amazing things can happen.

So that is what I am chewing on today as I begin to reflect over these two verses.

What are your thoughts on the hour of midnight?
What does "About Midnight" mean for you in your life?
I would love to know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Day

Today is my first Father's Day without my Dad.

It's Fathers Day call to make & no card to send.

Today I still rejoice. God is Good. God is Faithful.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Poo-Poo

Ok, so part of me laughs because I can picture some people saying "Why is Mia (who smells like roses) talking about her poo?" As people get to know me, I think they realize that there is so much crazy that goes on in my head and my filter is quite often lacking on how much crazy to unleash into the world. And if your still unbelieving, my family could attest to this as they get to see me in all my splendor, my insane splendor. But through the crazy the one thing that remains true is that I love Jesus. I'm flawed beyond measure, but man, do I love him and how I rest in his grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Now, back to my poo....
I realized today, after spending time with my prayer ladies, that My Poo, which in my life, is MY PRIDE and MY UN-FORGIVENESS, stinks up the place. My stinky un-forgiveness not only hinders me, but it hinders the work of God and His kingdom here on earth. He has called me to do something, but my pride keeps me from obedience.

The scary thing to me is that I see so clearly how my lack of obedience in this one area directly effects God's people and seeing THAT in me is ugly and it smells foul. What I do know is that God can use that nasty aroma, like smelling salts, to wake me up to a better aroma, the aroma of repentance. Oh, the sweet scent of forgiveness, the aroma of life.....

My prayer for myself today and for you is that we would be a sweet smelling offering, not because of what we can do, but because of what He has first done. We love because He first loved. We forgive, because He first forgave. We sing because He first sang over us.

So what is your poo? What is stinking up the place in your life and hindering what God has so clearly called you to do? Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.

I don't want to keep my eyes on the rubbish, but on the one who make all things new!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm not stupid!

So I learned a few things this week

1. When telling a story and your kids start clapping and chanting "GREAT STORY! TELL-IT-AGAIN! GREAT STORY! TELL-IT-AGAIN!" What they are really saying is "Mom, that's a lame story, stop while there's still time for redemption."

2. It's a really cool feeling to say during an interview " the record"

3. I lack fear, not discernment. By God's leading and His power standing on the street at night near my car with an (admittedly) alcoholic homeless man by myself, talking with and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ for him to have the opportunity to receive eternal life, makes me so unafraid of any physical harm that could come my way. Honestly, and I say this very sincerely, I would rather be attacked than to not share the Gospel with someone that Christ so clearly told me to share it with.

No fear in love. And as my friend, Sean, reminded me, it would be a lack of love to not share with someone the only truth that brings eternal life. There is no fear in love. Perfect loves cast it all out.

I love you!

PS ...the 4th thing I learned is that when you are at a baseball game you can yell out whatever you want as long as you say it twice, but leave that last word off the second time..i.e "Here we go Aaron, Here we go!" or "Make it happen now, make it happen!"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

God is My All in All

What I am learning (again) is that God has gifted and equipped me to do far more than I think I am capable of.

His strength is made perfect in weakness.

That's all.

I can do nothing without Him.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I haven't written for a while~didn't quite have the words or motivation. Since my last post in December, I had the honor and privilege of sitting beside my Father as he took his final breath on this side of heaven. What a bitter sweet joy it was to know at that moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was standing in the presence of the Almighty King, Jesus!

I could go on and on about the experience, but the words "honor" and "privilege" seem to sum it up. Life has been busy and going a 100 mph ever since. Aside from the natural mourning process, I have been trying to move forward in the music ministry that the Lord has laid before me. I have been trying to write and have just felt as though I was coming up short. It was pretty sad as I forced myself to write and nothing intelligible would come out....that was until the Lord, in His sweet timing, poured it in to my heart and soul allowing it to come out as a prayer in song.

This evening I had the joy of sharing my first song post my fathers passing. As I shared this song with the attendees, I explained this process to them along with these words.."loosing someone can cause us to do a couple things..We run away from God because we just don't understand OR we draw closer to God because we simply don't understand." This song, this prayer is what my journey caused me to do. It caused me to simply cry out to Him and say OMG

And a link to my Dad's obituary

c. 2/2012

May it be my ambition to follow you
May it be in my soul to hope
May rejoicing that seemed far away,
Roll like thunder poured out anew
May I drown in your grace each day,
May my hunger for you cause me to….

To cry Oh God.
Oh God.
Oh My God

You are the One who has called me by name
Your blood is my salvation
Your righteous kiss upon my heart
Now fuels this holy passion