Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top Ten Things I Am Thankful for This Year

Many of my facebook friends are doing a 30 Days of Thankfulness and post each day something they are thankful for. I love that they are doing this and it is fun reading people's thankful posts. Although I don't write my own thankful posts on facebook, it does cause me to think about the things for which I am thankful. While I didn't come up with 30, I do have a top ten list of things I have been especially thankful for this past year:

1. First and foremost I am thankful for my Christian faith that helped me through some very difficult and challenging days this past year. I don't know what I would do without Jesus in my life. As a child, I grew up in the church but for 8 long years, I wandered away from God, living a life of rebellion. I finally went back to Him in the year 2000 and that was the best decision I could have ever made! I will forever be grateful for those who were praying for me at that time in my life.

2. I am so very thankful for my amazing church family. Normally, we attend what's called the New Life redefinition service which is a small group setting with quieter worship, coffee and goodies and a great message - one in which we are all encouraged to take part. We have also gone to New Life's celebration service where the worship is much more charismatic (which I love!) Pastor Marc, Pastor Ron or whoever else preaches at that service never fails to bring a dynamic, thought-provoking message full of God's truth. I am so grateful God has brought us together with such an amazing group of people who truly love us and keep us encouraged through prayers, e-mail messages and visits.
Gathering with friends after church at Brunos Pizza
3. I'm thankful my daughter is doing so well in school this year. She is 10-years old and a 4th grader. She has had her struggles with school, and we have had some pretty tough mornings in the past just trying to get her there. This year though, she is doing extremely well and is excited (most days) to get to school. She really loves her teacher, her aides and especially loves music class. The kids in her class do their best to interact with her and she loves it when they help her on the computer.

4. I'm thankful that after putting in many years working hard in the oilfield, my dad got to retire and he and my mom moved here to Bismarck. My sister and her kids also moved here and my younger brother and his wife live in Bismarck too. It's nice to have family close by and although we all have our own lives and schedules, it's fun when we can all manage to get together!
My sister Dawn, my dad and me celebrate Father's Day in their new home in Bismarck
5. I can't not have a things I am thankful for list without mentioning the Healing Rooms of the Northern Plains. This ministry has been instrumental in keeping our faith built up and have encouraged us greatly since we moved here from Watford City nine years ago. They have been there for us since Faith was a little baby and all three of us have experienced emotional, spiritual and physical healing at the Healing Rooms.

6. Admittedly, I have not always been thankful for my job. I am a customer service representative for a health insurance company. We made a huge transition this year as we were acquired by a larger company and had to move to another building. I am thankful that this other building is only 5 minutes away from our home - especially with the onset of winter weather.

I am thankful that God gave me this job as a way to supply for my family's needs and I'm also thankful that I have some great co-workers, some of whom I have gotten to be very good friends with during the two years I have worked there. While some of our customers can be difficult to deal with over the phone, I am grateful that God allows me to see the illnesses and financial hardships they are dealing with and while I can't pray for them over the phone, I certainly pray for them throughout  the day.

7. I am thankful we got to see my wonderful in-laws this year! They live nearly 2,000 miles away so our visits with them are few and far between. This past summer we were able to meet them in Winnipeg, and had a wonderful time with them. We're hoping to travel to Ontario next fall to help my mother and father-in-law celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
David and Jean Bousfield on vacation in Winnipeg
8. Something else I am excited about this year regarding my daughter is that we have found some treatments for her that seem to really be helping her. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 6 months old and is in a wheelchair. We continue to pray and have faith that she will one day be able to walk. I'm thankful for some practitioners we met this year who have started working with Faith and are helping her make some huge forward progress.

9. I love Christian women ministries and events so I am very thankful for the opportunity to be involved in an area ministry called JOY International. Through being involved in JOY, I have gotten to know so many amazing women. I love going to the JOY breakfast each spring, where over 600 women from all over the state gather together. In 2013, JOY had one of best breakfasts ever with a fantastic speaker and some of my family including my sister, niece and sister-in-law were also able to attend. I also love our monthly Java JOY events that help keep me encouraged and inspired throughout the year,
JOY Breakfast - an event annual event many women look forward to attending
10. This may seem a bit offtrack but I am thankful that my football team, the NDSU Bison are doing so well again this year! They have won the national championship two years in a row and are the favorites to win it again this year. I graduated from NDSU in 1996, my dad and sister also graduated from there and this year the three of us had the opportunity to travel to South Dakota to see a live game.

I love that the leader of the team, quarterback Brock Jensen is a devout Christian and gathers the team together for prayer after each game and even invites guys from the opposing team to come pray with them. He is always giving glory to God for the team's victories and while some may argue that God doesn't care about NDSU football, He does give favor to those who serve Him first and foremost.
Bison fans in Brookings, South Dakota
There are many other things I am thankful to God for this past year, too numerous to mention. Mostly I am thankful for His word that brings truth into my life and allows me to live by faith no matter what the world says. I am also grateful for his faithfulness and goodness in times of hardship and struggle and that I am able, no matter how I am feeling or what I am going through, to still bring Him a sacrifice of praise. No matter what you may have gone through this year or are going through, please remember God is there for you, too. That is truly a wonderful thing to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Dove Awards Song of the Year Nominees

Did you happen to catch the Dove Awards this year? Unfortunately, I never get to watch it on TV as we don't have cable, but I do always like to see who was nominated and who won awards in each category. My favorite category is song of the year, mainly because this category encompasses all genres of Christian music. This year, there were several nominees - in fact 22 songs were nominated.
The song "All I Can Do" by Mikeschair was one of many nominated this year
Below I have highlighted some of the amazing songs that were nominated for the 2013 Dove Award Song of the Year.

“Forgiveness” performed by Matthew West
Written by Matthew West
From the Album: Into the Light

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable 
Help me now to do the impossible 

Matthew West is not only one of Christian music's most popular artists, he is also becoming well-known as a songwriter. If you listen to his music, you will know that a lot of his songs are based on true stories and Forgiveness is one of those songs.

The background of the story involves a mother, Renee Napier who lost one of her twin daughters in a car accident. The driver who killed her daughter was charged with driving under the influence. Instead of allowing resentment and bitterness to overcome her, Renee chose the more difficult route of forgiveness. Since seeing Matthew West live in concert, I have gotten to appreciate this song even more. It is a powerful message of God's love and forgiveness towards us and how He wants us to do the same for others, no matter how painful the circumstances.

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” performed by Matt Redman
Written by Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin
From the Album: 10,000 Reasons

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul, 
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before 
O my soul
I'll worship your holy name 

Have you sang this song in church? I know I have. In fact, many songs written by Matt Redman are sung in contemporary worship services all over the world. Matt has proven to be one of the most prolific songwriters of modern Christan music.

This particular song was written a few days after a group of songwriters had gathered together in a small chapel near his home in Brighton, England to come up with songs for his new album. During the session one of his friends kept telling Matt, "I have this melody I want you to hear" but Matt's head was already so full of melodies that he couldn't take anymore. Two days later, Matt relented and asked his friend to play his melody. As soon as he started playing, Redman thought of Psalm 103. He feels the finished product is something the small chapel in his hometown would have song years ago.

“Break Every Chain” performed by Tasha Cobbs
Written by Will Reagan
From the Album: Grace (Live)

There is power in the name of Jesus
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain
There's an army rising up
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain

I first heard this song when it was sung by our worship team at church (New Life). I loved it so much and found out through You Tube that it was a song by Jesus Culture. Now, thanks to Ms. Tasha Cobbs, it is becoming very popular in  black churches all across the country. 

Tasha Cobbs, a songwriter, psalmist and minister. serves as a worship leader for the young adult division at one church in Atlanta while simultaneously serving as worship pastor for the dREAM Church Center. Grace is her debut album. Tasha says, “The first time I heard ‘Break Every Chain’ I listened to it all night long. I have ministered it at my church a few times, and it always has the same affect---chains are broken, [the song] releases freedom.”

“Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored” performed by Gaither Vocal Band
Written by Larry Gatlin, Bill Gaither 
From the Album: Greatly Blessed

Greatly blessed and highly favored
imperfect but forgiven child of God
Greatly blessed and highly favored
imperfect but forgiven child of God

Admittedly, I don't know a lot about Southern Gospel music, which is the type of music the Gaither's are most well-known for. But honestly, I don't  know if there is anyone who is an avid lover of Christian music who has not at least heard about the Gaither family or the Gaither Vocal Band. 

Shortly after this song went number one on the Southern Gospel Top 80 chart, Bill Gaither posted this message, "We really do feel ‘greatly blessed’ that this song has found a special place in the hearts of listeners. No matter what the economy is doing, or what is going on in Washington, or how much turbulence is going on around us, somehow it helps to remember that God’s love for His children never wavers. We’re imperfect… but forgiven. That alone is reason to celebrate."

“Not For a Moment (After All)” performed by Meredith Andrews  
Written by Meredith Andrews, Jacob Sooter, Mia Fieldes
From the Album: Worth It All

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all you are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

This is truly a beautiful song that sings of one simple truth - that God will never leave me, He will never forsake me. Like many Christian artists, Meredith Andrews is first and foremost a worship leader who has a desire to connect people to God through music in a live church setting. 

Regarding the song Not for a Moment Meredith says, “When you watch the news and see all the stuff that’s happening in the world, a lot of it is really tragic." She knows everyone asks the question "why do bad things happen to good people?" Meredith says, "We live in a fallen place and we’re always going to come up against tragedy, but the thing is we have hope and that’s the message in ‘Not For A Moment.’ Even in the storms and the trials of life, even when we feel like God is far away, the truth is He’s always constant. He never changes. He’s always good. His heart for us is kind.”

“Where I Belong” performed by Building 429
Written by Jason Roy, Jason Ingram
From the Album: Listen To The Sound

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
 This is not where I belong

The band, Building 429 was in Bismarck not too long ago and when I was there, I could not wait for them to perform this song so every person in attendance could belt these lyrics out as loud as they could. It was awesome! Even though the lead singer is dressed in a 3-piece suit, these guys really know how to rock and they put on a great (and really loud) live show.

Since its release, "Where I Belong" has been such a huge hit. It remained number one for 15 straight weeks, something no Christian song has ever done before. It was also Billboard Magazine's No. 1 Christian song of 2012. Lead singer Jason Roy says, "This song reminds me that some day the work that God began in me will be completed. In the meantime it reminds me to say 'take this world and give me Jesus'. When I live by that phrase, everything is different and suddenly the things I think I need become worthless."

“Take Me to the King” performed by Tamela Mann
Written by Kirk Franklin
From the Album: Best Days

Take me to the king
I don't have much to bring
My heart's torn in pieces
It's my offering 

Lay me at the throne
leave me there alone 
to gaze upon your glory 
And sing to you this song 
Please take me to the king

When it comes to gospel music in the current African-American culture, there is a producer, songwriter and performer who is well-known and whose music has crossed over into both Christian and secular music. He is none other than Kirk Franklin - the writer of this soul-baring song.

He wrote "Take Me to the King" just for Tamela Mann, who often performs in his group, Kirk Franklin and the Family. Franklin said before writing the song he prayed and said, " God, I really want a song for her. Can you really speak something? After hearing the song for the first time, she said the song is "divinely inspired by Heaven."

“Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” performed by Chris Tomlin
Written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Scott Cash 
From the Album: Burning Lights

I know who goes before me 
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
the God of angel armies 
is always by my side

It's is rare to see any list having to do with Christian music without mentioning Chris Tomlin - as a singer, songwriter and performer, he embodies what it means to be a successful artist. Tomlin is often a writer who pulls songs from scripture and Whom Shall I Fear is one of those songs. It is based on a story in 2 Kings chapter 6 where the prophet, Elijah is reassuring his terrified servant that there is nothing to fear. Even though there was an army camped around their village, Elijah tells him the hills are filled with angels and that he has nothing to fear. After Elijah prays for him, his servant is able to also see the chariots of fire and the angel armies.

Tomlin says the message he wants people to take away from this song is that if you are a person of faith, you should not be living in fear. "Our story is not to live in fear but our story is to live in faith and to open our eyes."

“One Thing Remains” performed by Kristian Stanfill
Written by Brian Johnson, Christa Black Gifford, Jeremy Riddle 
From the Album: Passion: White Flag

Your love never fails, never gives up
it never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfied my soul
And I never, ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

This is another song I was familiar with because it was performed by Jesus Culture and sung at church. To my surprise, I heard it on the radio one day. There is such amazing Christian music out there but not all of it gets radio play. The writers of One Thing Remains were inspired by the words in the Bible found in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and Romans 8:37-39. Both passages speak of God's love and that nothing can separate us from it. 

Kristian Stanfill says he heard the song, which was written by friends at Bethel Church in Redding, California, in 2011 and felt a "gravitational pull" from his heart towards the song. He knew he had to take it back to his church for praise and worship. After that, he performed the song at Passion 2012 in the Georgia Dome and One Thing Remains has been gaining momentum ever since.

“All I Can Do (Thank You)” performed by Mikeschair 
Written by Mike Grayson, Ben Glover, David Garcia
From the Album: All or Nothing (to be released)

All I can do is thank you 
for this life I never deserve
Thank You for the grace
I know I don't have to earn
You love me, You love me
Your mercy is proof
All I can do is say Thank you

The first time I had ever heard of the band, MIKESCHAIR, I was doing an article for the 2011 song of the year nominees and came across, "Let the Waters Rise." I have been a fan ever since and I even got the opportunity to not only see them live, but meet them and get their autographs. I am so totally impressed with these guys - they are so young but they seem to truly love God and have a heart of worship which you can see in the music they write.

The lyrics for "All I Can Do" were inspired by a small group study that Mike Grayson and his wife Molly have been doing on the book Crazy Love. “The first chapter is all about prayer and the way we approach God and the way we think when we’re praying,” Grayson explains. "This song reminds me I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to stop and say thank you. I want to be able to rest in what God has done and be faithful. I want to find the Lord in the moment. We’re not promised tomorrow so let’s find what God has for us in the now.”

“Live Like That” performed by Sidewalk Prophets 
 Written by Dave Fray, Ben McDonald, Ben Glover
From the Album: Live Like That


I want to live like that
and give it all I have
so that everything I say and do 
points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand 
recklessly abandoned 
never holding back 
I want to live like that

Sidewalk Prophets are another band I have gotten the opportunity to see live - not once but twice. In fact they were just here in Bismarck a month ago along with Jason Castro and Matthew West. They seem genuine and heartfelt and when they sing they make you believe that they really do want to "live like that."

During an interview for breathecast, the band said, "This song really speaks to all of those people in our lives who have shown us the love of Christ through their love and actions. People who have given so much of themselves in a Christ-like way that you can't help but stand back and say "I want to live like that"! It's our hope that Christ radiates through our lives and hopefully he can use us to inspire others to live life to it's fullest."

“What The Blood Is For” performed by Jason Crabb
Written by: Ronnie Freeman, Tony Wood
From the Album: Love Is Stronger


That's what the blood is for
It cleans the dirty man I am 
makes it possible stand before you Lord
that's what the blood is for

Jason Crabb is a long-time Christian artist who is well-known in the southern gospel genre but his current album is making him well-known in contemporary Christian circles as well. In fact, in 2012 he won both Male Vocalist of the Year and Artist of the Year at the 2012 Dove Awards.

In talking about the song, "What About the Blood," Crabb says, "it reminds us that we can't be victims of our past, we let the blood cover our past and enjoy this gift of life."
“That’s What the Blood is For,” that reminds us that, “we can’t be victims of our past; we let the blood cover our past and enjoy this gift of life,” - See more at:
“That’s What the Blood is For,” that reminds us that, “we can’t be victims of our past; we let the blood cover our past and enjoy this gift of life,” - See more at:
“That’s What the Blood is For,” that reminds us that, “we can’t be victims of our past; we let the blood cover our past and enjoy this gift of life,” - See more at:

“Redeemed” performed by Big Daddy Weave 
Written by Mike Weaver, Benji Cowart
From the Album: Love Come To Life


And I am redeemed, You set me free
so I'll shake off these heavy chains
and wipe away every stain,
now I'm not  who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

The story behind the song, "Redeemed" is based on Mike Weaver's personal testimony of his long time battle with his weight and self-hatred. In 2009, after watching the popular show, "The Biggest Loser," he resolved to lose 90 pounds. But he missed the mark by 6 pounds and felt like a complete failure because of it. All of his feelings of not being good enough poured over him and it sent him to a really dark in his life.

As he was pouring out his feelings to Jesus one night in his garage, he heard Him say, "Mike, why don't you let me tell you what I think about you for once." He felt God saying that He liked his smile, his heart for people and his silly sense of humor. He also knew God was telling him, "You're mine." Weaver says, "Only Jesus can take the stuff that you hate about yourself and use that to reach people." Besides being nominated for a Dove Award, "Redeemed" won song of the year at the K-LOVE Awards.

 Other songs nominated for the 2013 Dove Award Song of the Year are:

“The Proof of Your Love” performed by for King and Country
Written by Joel Smallbone, Fred Williams, Luke Smallbone, Ben Glover, Mia Fieldes, Johnathan Lee
From the Album: Crave

“Need You Now (How Many Times)” performed by Plumb 
Written by Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, Luke Sheets, Christa Wells
From the Album: Need You Now

“From My Rags To His Riches” performed by Devin McGlamery featuring Dailey & Vincent
Written by: Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey
From the Album: Love Is a Verb

“Hold On” performed by Canton Junction
Written by: Gerald Crabb
From the Album: Show Me Your Way

“I’m Learning” performed by Aaron & Amanda Crabb
Written by: Lee Black, Michael Fordinal, Kenna West
From the Album: Mercy

“Sometimes I Wonder” performed by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Written by: Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey
From the Album: Here We Are Again

“Take Him To The Place” performed by Aaron & Amanda Crabb
Written by: Aaron Crabb, Amanda Crabb
From the Album: Mercy

“Why Can’t We” performed by The Isaacs
Written by Rebecca Isaacs Bowman, Sonya Isaacs, Jimmy Yeary
From the Album: Why Can't We

And the winner is...10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. Truly, a fantastic song but personally, I wish Forgiveness would have gotten the award, mainly because it's such a powerful message. My other favorites on the list include One Thing Remains, Break Every Chain and Redeemed. Which song would you have picked for song of the year? What are some of your favorites that were nominated?

Check out the 2011 and 2012 Dove Awards song of the year nominees.

To download your favorite songs nominated for a 2013 Dove Award, go to my SHOPPING Page. You can also download the albums by clicking on the album title on this page.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

What's Your Passion?

One prayer I’ve often heard from women is that God would lead them in the direction that God desires for them to go. I myself have prayed that prayer many times. I believe that part of God’s calling and direction for our lives is to follow our dreams and passions – after all, it is God who places those desires in our hearts. But how do we know what those passions are? Or how do we know if we even have a passion for something? 
Is photography a passion of yours?
According to speaker, mom and missionary, Lauri Desir, there are seven questions you can ask yourself that will help you to determine your passion. These seven questions include: 

1. What puts a smile on my face? 
2. What do I find easy 
3. What sparks my creativity? 
4. What would I do for free? 
5. What do I like to talk about? 
6. What makes me unafraid of failure? 
7. What would I regret not having tried? 

For me, in thinking about these questions, I know that writing and blogging are definite passions of mine. I could write and blog all day every day without getting tired of it. And I know that’s how some women feel about their own passions – cooking, gardening, speaking, photography mission work, evangelism, just to name a few. 
My brother and his wife have a passion for missions - this photo was taken while they were in Kenya

During a presentation at Java JOY, Lauri gave some great ideas on how to go about discovering and pursuing our passions. Some of the ideas she gave were:
  • Setting goals
  • Journaling
  • Making a purpose statement for your life
  • Going on a personal retreat
  • Writing out a personal/family mission statement
  • Making a bucket list
  • Memorizing scripture
Lauri also gave some great advice about not saying yes to everything every time someone asks you to get involved in a project, a ministry, a Bible study, or other event. While we must listen closely to God’s guidance we must also not feel guilty by saying no. Lauri said we can ask ourselves two questions when deciding whether or not go get involved:
  1. Does this fit into my goals and passions?
  2. Will this add or subtract to where I am going?
Memorizing scripture can help us in discovering our passions
I myself am totally guilty of saying YES! to everything – as I believe most women are. Sometimes when women are busy it gives them a sense of importance and makes them feel like they really matter. But busyness can be a major downfall of pursuing God’s purpose and plan for our lives. If we are too busy, how can we hear God’s voice and discern what he wants us to pursue rather than what we want to pursue?

I personally am coming into a season of saying NO! This is not easy for me as I am someone who doesn’t want to feel like she’s missing out in what is going on. I love Bible studies, small groups, women’s ministries and Christian events. But this year, I feel God wants me to narrow my involvement and focus on just a few things, one of which includes the book I am writing.

So what about you – do you know what your passions are? How are you pursuing your dreams and goals in 2013? Are there some things you need to say no to?

In closing here are some great scriptures to keep in mind as you reflect on the above questions:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Proverbs 15:32

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Psalm 73:24