Monday, September 29, 2014

Music Monday - Why I Love These Female Christian Music Artists

When I first started listening to Christian music about fourteen years ago, there were a ton of male artists and bands but it seemed the female Christian music artists were not so abundant. Of course there were a few, like Rebecca St. James and Crystal Lewis but it seemed for the most part, the males dominated.When I wrote the article, My Ten Favorite Christian Female Artists, three years ago it still seemed to be the case.
Nichole Nordeman via Flickr @ CM Central
Nowadays that doesn't seem to ring true anymore. Currently, there are many new female Christian music artists on the scene, many of them not even 30 years old! These are the kinds of gals that are true role models for young girls, very unlike the Katy Perry's and Miley Cyrus's of the world!

Something else that's different about modern-day Christian music is its new reliance on digital music and social media. No longer do artists have to rely on simply getting heard on the radio and selling albums to be deemed successful. In fact, one of my new favorite artists, Kim Walker-Smith, isn't heard on contemporary Christian radio at all.

I don't think she even sets out to be a "successful" Christian music artist, she simply uses the gift of worship God has given her. Through albums produced by Jesus Culture and through people sharing her music through video on YouTube, she has become very well-known. She often breaks out into spontaneous worship and can be heard praying and singing in tongues as she sings. Listen to her sing "Rooftops" in the video below.

Christian music artist Mandisa got her big break on the hit reality show, American Idol. Others like Moriah Peters auditioned but didn't get past the first round. Still, she didn't let their rejection deter her and thinks of her experience as a valuable life lesson. I write more about these artists and others in my article, Ten Amazing Female Christian Artists.

No matter how these young, talented ladies have made it, one thing they mostly likely all have in common is that they never gave up. I find this commendable considering how difficult and competitive the music industry appears to be.

Moriah Peters in Bismarck, ND Photo by Cari Bousfield
Another thing I applaud all of these female Christian artists for is their dedication to the Lord. Natalie Grant made a bold declaration of her faith by leaving the Grammy Awards early at the beginning of the year.

Some female secular artists like the late Whitney Houston and Jennifer Hudson got their start in the church but gave their gifts over to the world.

While I'm just stating a fact and not judging them for this, I often wonder what would have  happened if they continued in Gospel music.

For Jennifer Hudson, she seems to make it work but we all know what happened to Whitney. I truly believe she was a Christian who struggled and fought against the wiles of the enemy and in the end, the enemy won.

I can only pray she is at peace with her Heavenly Father as I do believe she had received Christ as her Savior. Some people might not agree with this and that's fine. I do believe if she would have stayed in the Gospel music scene, she would still be with us today. Hearing her sing, "I Love the Lord," brings tears to my eyes every time. 

For me, listening to my favorite female Christian artists and worship music is a great way to connect with my Heavenly Father. There is something about worship music that makes it easier to enter into His presence. This is true no matter where I am - driving around town, sitting at the office listening to Christian music on Pandora or at a Christian concert.

What about you? Who are some of your female Christian music artists and why do you like them? I would love to hear about it!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11

It's impossible not to think about the events that took place 13 years ago today. I'm pretty sure every American steels themselves for another year of remembrance as the date September 11 approaches. It is still really unbelievable that such a horrific surprise attack happened after the turn of a new millennium.

On one of the websites I write for, one of the questions in the forum was "Where were you?" The question needed no further clarification. What sort of surprised me as I read through everyone's answers was the young age many of the writers were when it happened. A majority of them were in middle school and high school and a few were even in their elementary years.

I was older then them - 27 to be exact. I was working for the North Carolina Automobile Dealer's Association. I was taking a morning break checking e-mail when I noticed a message from my mom telling me to pray because a plane had gone down.

Not long after that, I received another e-mail telling me another plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I relayed the message to my co-workers and we were soon receiving news reports of what was happening. I remembered thinking to myself, "Raleigh is not all that far away from New York City."

All of us gathered in the conference room and turned on the television. Like all of the other millions of Americans watching, we couldn't believe our eyes and could only stare at the screen in stunned silence. After what seemed like hours, we finally turned off the TV set. The thought struck me that we needed to pray. We gathered together in a circle, held hands and prayed for our country and its leaders. For several days after 9/11, many churches throughout the country opened its doors for special times of prayer.
A Wendy's sign in Kentucky features a sign saying "Pray for America"
The tragedy affected my sister's wedding plans. She was getting married two weeks later back home in North Dakota. We decided instead of flying back home, we would drive instead. As we traveled the 1,800 miles we saw thousands of flags displayed in car windows with the red, white and blue flapping wildly but proudly. Many businesses had "God Bless America" and "Pray for America" displayed on their marquees.

Sadly, since the attack on U.S. soil, I'm not sure if Americans understand the magnitude of what happened that fateful day. While Congress seemed to unite for a little while after the terrorist attack, it certainly didn't last very long. Americans quickly stopped praying for their country and we are now more divisive than ever. I can only hope that as new terror groups threaten our country, we will get back on our knees and pray for God's mercy.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Top Ten Weekend - Ten Christian Events Taking Place this Fall

Welcome once again to Write On's Weekend Top Ten. This weekend I'm focusing on ten great Christian events taking place during the autumn season right here in Bismarck.
Java JOY event at Boneshaker's
Fall seems to be a favorite time of the year to kick off events that continue throughout the year or annual events that take place each year. This year there are a couple of new events including a Healing Conference and prayer vigil for Pastor Saeed Abedini. If you're like me and enjoy getting out and about before the snow flies, I'm sure I will see you around!

Java JOY - This event held at a local coffeehouse is one of JOY International's small group events for women. Each month there is a different speaker who speaks about a subject relevant and interesting to women and the issues they face. It's a great event for seekers and believers alike that features a different speaker every month. Held on the first Thursday of the month, it kicks off September 4th and runs through May.

Beth Moore
Beth Moore Simulcast - This annual Living Proof Live event is the highlight of the year for those who love Beth Moore. Once again, this simulcast will be held in churches, homes, women's prisons and military bases all over the world. The event held on September 13th will be viewed by thousands of women and once again feature music by praise and worship leader, Travis Cottrell. Three cities in North Dakota will have venues hosting the event including Bismarck, Harvey and Medina.

Celebrate Your Man Conference - This is a one-day marriage enriching event for wives that will take place on September 13th. The event is being sponsored by Big Blue Couch Coaching. Speakers include Certified Life and Marriage Coach, Rachel Chumley and Certified Life Coach, Mandy B. Anderson. The event is limited to 25 attendees.

North Dakota Right to Life Conference - Each fall the North Dakota Right to Life Association hosts three banquets held in cities across the state. This year's banquets are slated for:
  • Bismarck on September 21 
  • Dickinson on September 22 
  • Fargo on September 24
The keynote speaker is Steven W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute. He was converted from being a pro-choice atheist to a pro-life Roman Catholic while working in China when he witnessed the horrors of women being forced to have abortions during their seventh month of pregnancy due to the country's "one-child" policy. 

Pastor Saeed Abedini Global Prayer Vigil - A two-hour interdenominational prayer vigil will be held September 26th on the capitol grounds. The day will mark two years since he was imprisoned for his Christian faith in Iran. Those who attend the global prayer vigil are being asked to wear yellow. Grand Forks and Minot will also be among several cities throughout the world that are hosting prayer vigils on the same day #savesaeed

Love Unleashed Healing Conference "Cal at the Belle" - This conference is being hosted by the Healing Rooms of the Northern Plains on October 3rd and 4th. Cal Pierce, director of the International Association of Healing Rooms (IAHR) will be speaking three times each day. Each segment will feature a different topic. The event takes place at the Belle Mehus in downtown Bismarck. There are over 3,000 Healing Rooms throughout the world and the ministry is based in Spokane, WA.

STEER Missions Conference - This annual conference takes place this year on October 3rd and 4th at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck. This year's banquet speaker is Steve Douglas, President of Campus Crusade for Christ International/CRU. During the conference there is also a men's luncheon and a ladies' luncheon as well.

Matthew West and family
Matthew West Concert - Contemporary Christian music artist, Matthew West will be returning to Shiloh Christian School on October 17th for the second year in a row. Last year he, along with Jason Castro and Sidewalk Prophets, performed in front of a sold-out crowd. He sang many of his top hits including Forgiveness, Hello My Name Is and Stronger which are just a few of his songs that are based on true stories.

MOPS - The International organization called Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) begins meeting each fall as well. This group of moms gets together twice a month to help encourage and support one another in the raising of young children. There is usually a meal and a speaker featured at each meeting. There is a local MOPS group at 5 different churches in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

Moms in Prayer - This group is formerly known as Moms in Touch and is another International group of moms that starts meeting in the fall. These moms focus on praying for their kids attending either public or private school. Some communities also have groups that pray for their college-aged kids or adult children in the military. There is no speaker or no meal, just a quiet time of coming together to pray for their children during the school year. There are seven schools in the Bismarck-Mandan area who have active Moms in Prayer groups.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TBT - A Look Back at the Book Healing for Damaged Emotions

Welcome to Write On's Throwback Thursday (#tbt) where I'll be featuring a blast from the past in the form of photos, a blog post or who knows what else!

This week's TBT is an article I wrote for HubPages way back on January 29, 2010.  Of course the whole world is mourning the passing of the amazing and talented Robin Williams and there has been an increase in dialogue on depression and suicide.

I wanted to share this post as a way of helping people to know there is hope in overcoming depression. I myself was healed of clinical depression and I give God all the glory for His healing touch in my life. I pray that He would do the same for others who suffer with this terrible condition.

"Satan knows your weaknesses; he understands your infirmities and uses them to great advantages against you."
Pastor David Seamands Author of Healing for Damaged Emotions
 Image Source via Flickr @ darcyadelaide
How can a Christian be depressed, you might ask. Aren't they supposed to have the "joy of the Lord?" Take a look at the following scriptures:
  • "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" Psalm 42:5
  • "It is better for me to die than to live" Jonah 4:3
  • "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death" Matthew 26:38
As you can see, there were people who, like David, Jonah and Jesus Himself, experienced depression. Dr. Seamands stresses that "our failure to deal realistically with ourselves regarding depression is the root cause of much of our depression."  Go to my HubPages article Healing for Damaged Emotions.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Carol Kent Shares Six Choices for Living "A New Kind of Normal"

I was blessed to be able to attend the annual women's conference held at Century Baptist this year and I must admit, I was completely blown away by the amazing speaker who had quite a story to tell.

Gwen Damlo from KNDR, Carol Kent and myself.
The conference kicked off on Friday evening with a wonderful time of praise and worship. Shortly afterwards every lady in attendance listened intently as speaker and author, Carol Kent told the story of when her only child, Jason Kent was arrested for murder.

She went on to tell us about the reality of living "a new kind of normal" that included not only her son's conviction but his sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Honestly, I had a tough time comprehending how a devout Christian could carry out such a horrendous act but one would have to know the whole story to understand why he did. He thought he was protecting his young stepdaughters from further abuse by their biological father. Jason's actions affected every person in his family and after he was convicted the story of the naval officer's crime spread like wildfire and was even the subject of a Dateline episode.

Despite being thrown into the spotlight, the Kent family stayed connected through the ordeal and Carol continued to write books and speak at various events all over the world. Her son Jason lives out his days in prison by spreading the Gospel message through Bible Studies and leading many men to Christ.

Carol says her son knows what he did was wrong. At the time he was putting himself above God, making an idol out of himself by thinking it was solely up to him to protect his family.

Throughout her new way of life, Carol says she had to make six important choices if she wanted to continue living the way God wanted her to despite her circumstances.

Her six choices include:
  • Choose life
  • Choose trust
  • Choosing vulnerability
  • Choose gratitude
  • Choose forgiveness
  • Choose positive, purposeful action
She says even her son Jason had to make all of the same choices and that whenever he starts feeling depressed about his situation, he writes out a gratitude list of everything for which he is thankful.

The conference continued the next day and after a wonderful time of fellowship with other attendees during breakfast, everyone joined in on an upbeat praise and worship time. Carol continued to teach and shared with us many life stories, lessons and testimonies. Her talks were based on two of her books, "Six Essentials of Spiritual Authenticity " and "Becoming a Woman of Influence: Making a Lasting Impact on Others."

Carol Kent taking time to talk to a conference attendee
The entire Love Out Loud conference was truly was a wonderful time of learning, growing and connecting with other women and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

Be sure to go to my shopping page to find more books by Carol Kent.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Ten Weekend - Ten Places I've Been

Welcome to Write On's Weekend Top Ten! Just recently, I wrote a guest post for a fellow North Dakota blogger's website in which I talked about 5 places in North Dakota I've never been. Some of my friends and family were absolutely shocked to discover I've never been to the Medora Musical! What makes it a little more comical is that while I've never been to some great spots in North Dakota, I have managed to travel to some pretty cool places outside of the state!

Here are the Top Ten Places I've Been (outside of North Dakota):
Image Source via Flickr Mr. Nixter

#10 Washington D.C  While in college, I had the opportunity to attend a national convention of a sorority with which I was involved. One year, the convention was held in our nation's capital. It was a great opportunity to ride the metro for the first time ever,  see the White House and the Washington National Monument.

#9 Dallas/Fort Worth This is another place I was able to go to during my college days. I along with nine other young ladies took a tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards and the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

#8 Raleigh/Durham I was blessed to be able to live first in Raleigh when I moved down there with my sister years ago and then in Durham by myself after she went and got married! Some of my greatest and most exciting experiences as a Christian took place at Faith Assembly Christian Center (FACC) led by the late Bishop Leroy McKenzie. 

#7 Myrtle Beach, SC While living in North Carolina, my mom and two aunts flew down to see us and together we road-tripped to Myrtle Beach where my mom's cousin's friend had a home right on the beach. It was October so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves!

#6 Disney World/Atlantic Ocean Another place I got to go to while in college when my roommate's boyfriend at the time won a trip for four to Disney World. I got to tag along with them and my roomie's brother. We had a great time swimming in the ocean and cruising to Sarasota in a convertible.

#5 San Jose, CA/Pacific Ocean I traveled to the opposite side of the country and saw the Pacific Ocean when my younger brother participated in a wedding. Five of us made the trip in my little Dodge Neon and even drove through Yellowstone National Park on our way back which was an added bonus!

#4 Mackinac Bridge, Michigan My husband and I have crossed this 5-mile long bridge that connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan on our way to and from his parents' home in Ontario. We even spent our First New Year's Eve together in Mackinaw City after spending Christmas in Canada.
Going across the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan
#3 Niagra Falls What more is there to say about Niagra Falls other than WOW! I went there with my husband in the winter - on the Canadian side of course! They had a beautiful light show over the Falls for the Christmas season.

#2 Glacier National Park My husband and I honeymooned in Mountain View, Alberta which is right across the border from Glacier National Park - it was simply breathtaking to drive through. 

#1 Toronto, Ontario This huge city of 2.5 million people is my husband's hometown. I may as well add Mississauga right here since it is the neighboring city to Toronto where my mother and father-in-law live. We have flown and driven the 1,800 miles to get there. I really wish it was closer so we could be nearer to my Canadian family.
Of course the best thing about going to Toronto is hanging out with family!
 I'm curious to know what your top ten list for places you've been looks like! Is there any place you would love to go but haven't had the opportunity? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

TBT - Former Miss Rodeo America Won Crown While Beating Cancer

Welcome to Write On's Throwback Thursday (#tbt) where I'll be featuring a blast from the past in the form of photos, blog post or who knows what else! This week's TBT is a post from April 24, 2012 that I had on a different blog that I have since taken down. It features Miss Rodeo America Ashley Andrews Alderson speaking at a Charity Lutheran's Women's Event on how she won the crown while beating cancer.

Miss Rodeo America, Ashley Andrews Alderson, spoke at a women’s luncheon event called “Faith through Adversity.”

The event was put on by Charity Lutheran’s Charity Women in Mission for Christ. As Ashley spoke, it was quite apparent this former rodeo queen was not only beautiful on the outside but inside as well.

Ashley, originally from the small community of Bowman, was crowned Miss Rodeo North Dakota in 2006. During her reign, she was diagnosed with a type of cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She endured chemotherapy treatments for six months. Through it all, she vowed to remain positive– even after all of her hair fell out in a big clump in the shower one day. She ended up getting not one but three wigs to help her through her life as a rodeo queen with a serious illness.

While Ashley served as Miss Rodeo North Dakota, she had two goals in mind – to become Miss Rodeo America and to beat her cancer.

In December of 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, it seemed  there was moment destined just for Ashley. After reaching the top five during the Miss Rodeo America competition, the judge’s  final question was to describe a challenge she had faced this past year and how she handled that challenge. She said her answer did not come from her, but came instead through God’s amazing grace that had accompanied her through all that she had been through. In her answer, she declared these three truths she had founded during her past year:

  1. Everything happens for a reason
  2. Something good comes from every bad situation
  3. God will never give you more than you can handle

After each final contestant answered their questions, Ashley found herself up against Miss Texas for the Miss Rodeo America title. After she was announced the winner, she received a phone call from former Senator Byron Dorgan, who was one of many from our state to congratulate her.

It was truly an amazing testimony about how God gave her strength and grace and was able to use Ashley’s life in such an amazing way. In sharing her story, Ashley also testified how the power of positive thinking and support from her family gave her courage to face and overcome her illness. Today Ashley resides in her hometown of Bowman with her husband and two small children. She remains cancer free.

What about you? Have you gone to an event and you still remember something that the speaker said that inspired you?  Who is the most inspiring speaker you have ever gotten the chance to see in person? Feel free to share with a comment. I would love to hear from you!