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!