Hope for Wholeness Conference, 2015

I just returned from an amazing Hope for Wholeness conference in the Asheville area of North Carolina.

The theme was Masterpiece in Process.

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I was very excited to reconnect with Bob Hamp, one of my unofficial mentors 🙂 Since it was in the elevator that we first met in 2011, he wanted to recreate the moment. That’s Meleah with the photo bomb.

Maggie, my daughter, spent most of the conference hanging off my back. Since you can only see the very tip of her head in the above picture, here she is, photo-bombing a shot with my friend and comedian, Christina Ringer.

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I can even play the guitar with Maggie hanging out back there!

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Conferences are my happy place, and this one was no exception. They also remind me that I have a blog 🙂 You can imagine that my life is busy as a mom of 3 and the director of a non-profit ministry. And you’d be right! But I miss writing and am hoping to check in with you more.

Perhaps I’ll even share the video of me rapping at the conference!

Worshipful Wednesday: Can’t Get Enough of You

For much of my life, I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of loss. Fear of the walls that I’d so carefully constructed falling down around me.

Fear of trusting God and having Him disappoint me, too.

Though I had worked through some of this, I carried much of this fear into my marriage. I would at times ask my husband not to go out without me, such as an occassion where he was going to hear music with friends. I was totally gripped by a fear that something would happen to him while he was gone. This, thankfully, happened very infrequently, but when it did, it was as real and oppressive as anything I could remember experiencing.

In 2004, my husband and I were involved in an amazing church plant. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It really felt like this was how the church was supposed to be: real, welcoming, warm, convicting – just full of Jesus. I was the worship leader, and personally, I felt as if I was finally walking in the fullness of my calling: to use my songs to glorify God and to lead people to Him. I signed up to attend a local worship conference with Andy Park, Rita Springer, and some other well-known leaders.

Just weeks before I was scheduled to attend this conference, the church plant closed when the pastor chose sinful behavior (a sin that he had struggled with for years but had had several years of victory over) above his calling.

I went forward with my plan to attend the conference, though I had no idea why. It felt as if all my dreams had come crashing down, once again.

The conference was amazing, but on the morning of the last day, that dark voice began to beckon: You need to leave. Something awful is going to happen. You need to go home NOW or something will happen to Roy.

I called Roy, sobbing in my car, telling him I needed to come home RIGHT NOW. It didn’t matter that there were only a few hours left in the conference (something Roy pointed out). I replied, “Right! There’s only a few hours left! I might as well just leave, so nothing horrible happens! It won’t hurt to miss a few hours!”

Thank God for my patient husband. He talked me down, and we hung up. And as I remember the story, I sat in my car, crying out to God, weeping, so desperate for Him to show up.

And at that moment, this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, flowed out of me. It begins:

I come to You in desperation

On our last Sunday at our beloved church in Virginia, I was asked to lead worship, as our regular worship leader was out of town. I lead the congregation in this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, for many reasons. For one, I have lead worship numerous times at the church, and it is a team and a congregational favorite. And I sang it for myself because of the special place it holds in my heart: in times of desperation, in places where I am stepping out in faith, the song reminds me of God’s faithfulness. I needed to be continually reminded, is times of ease and trials, of Jesus’ wordsApart from Me, you can do nothing.

My husband captured this video on his iPhone. The lyrics are below, as well as a link to the chords.

Can’t Get Enough of You
By Brenna Kate

I come to You in desperation
I wait for You with expectation

I wouldn’t want to take even one single breath without You
I don’t want to make even one little step without You

Without Your touch, without Your breath, My life is meaningless
I need Your power, I need Your love, I just can’t get enough

I just can’t get enough of You, more of You
Lord, You’re the one thing I desire
I can’t get enough of You, more of You
I need Your passion and Your fire

God, take me in Your arms and fill me with Your love
My heart wants more and more, I just can’t get enough

© 2005 Unveiled Faces Music

Here’s the chord sheet: Can’t Get Enough of You in C#m. I wrote the song in B minor, but it seems to be easier for the congregation to sing in C#m.

I also want to mention that this was the last time I had one of those dark episodes. God is able.

Worshipful Wednesday: Breathing the Breath

I’ve always found breathing a very spiritually-centering activity. Not in some sort of new age, emptying one’s self sense. But in a way that reminds me of who gave me breath in the first place.

When fear, doubt or anxiety threaten to overwhelm me, having a seat and taking a few deep breathes reminds me that the same God who breathed His very breath into me to give me life can handle whatever concerns I am facing today.

Several days ago, I read the following about prayer in Oswald Chambers’ devotional My Utmost for His Highest:

We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds about prayer. If we think of prayer as breath in our lungs and blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on.

You can read the rest of the day’s devotional here.

That’s how I’ve begun to think about prayer. As a mom of young kids who works outside the home, I began to be frustrated concerning my prayer life. No matter what I did, I seemed to lack a set-aside chunk of time to devote to prayer. I needed to think outside the box and get creative. I’ve learned to make prayer more of an all-day activity.

Sometimes, I just say the name of Jesus as I go about my day. I’ve even been known to say, “Holy, holy, holy” under my breath – though I realized it wasn’t really “under my breath” when my then 5 year-old started to do the same one day in a store! I realized that prayer is simply a recognition of Who is in control, a day-long conversation with the God who is able.

Today, I’m sharing a song entitled “Breathing the Breath.” It’s a Matt Redman song.  This song has become especially meaningful to me since losing an uncle to complications related to COPD, a condition which makes breathing difficult and for which there is no cure. The song recognizes that much of life is a “giving back” to the God who gave us everything in the first place, even in the very breath we breathe.

Here are a few of the lyrics:

We have nothing to give that didn’t first come from Your hands
We have nothing to offer You which You did not provide
Every good, perfect gift comes from Your kind and gracious heart
And all we do is give back to You what always has been Yours

Lord, we’re breathing the breath that You gave us to breathe
To worship You, to worship You
And we’re singing these songs with the very same breath
To worship You, to worship You

You can listen to the whole song on YouTube.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: You’re My Everything

For a while, I’ve wanted to use this blog to share some of my songs, for your use and encouragement.

A friend and I were chatting back and forth last week, and she sent me this verse as encouragement, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

I thought, “Hey, I wrote a song with that verse in it!” And decided to make a recording of it.

Most of the songs I share will be recorded on an iPhone, so they won’t be studio quality. But you can download them for free, and I’ll include the song sheets if you would like to play them.

The PDF:

You’re My Everything

If you look at the chords, they appear way more complicated than they actually are. That is the summary of the notes being played for times I played with other instruments.

So let me explain in my best guitar-ese, remembering that I am not a trained guitar player.

Despite the complicated-sounding chord names, “You’re My Everything” consists of the same 2 chords, repeated over & over. Here’s what they look like on the guitar neck:

 

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You’ll notice I have my fingers on the two middle strings (D & G) on the same fret, and then I move up one fret in the same position. The first chord is the 6th fret, and the 2nd chord is the 7th fret.

Enjoy!

Freedom Friday: The Power of God’s Will

For it’s only in Your will that I am free*

Do you ever think about the Garden of Gethsemane? With Good Friday coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about the words Jesus said as He prayed one of His final prayers here on earth.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”**

Prior to this prayer, Jesus asked all the disciples to sit in Gethsemane while He took Peter, James and John further into the garden to pray. He stated, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

After uttering His first prayer of submitting to God’s will, He walked back and found His three closest friends – asleep.

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'”

***********

I first heard the song “Jesus, All for Jesus” at a women’s conference. I was struck by its simplicity and depth and challenged by the lyrics.

But I find myself singing one line over and over as Good Friday approaches:

For it’s only in Your will that I am free

The only place we are truly free is in the center of God’s will. This was true for Jesus, too.

But how can horrific suffering that ended with death on the cross be freedom?

Isaiah records in a section of Scripture that prophesies of Jesus’ coming and is often referred to as “The Suffering Servant” that “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.”

The cross was God’s will for Jesus.

The first time I saw the above verse, I didn’t know how to respond – because I knew the implications. It was the fulfillment of God’s perfect will that Jesus die on that cross – for me and for you. It was the only way for us to be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). And not a quick, easy death (because God could have done that), but one that involved being crushed and suffering immensely.

Jesus knew that there is no life apart from God’s will.  And so He surrendered to the will of His Father.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11

For the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

For our freedom (Galatians 5:1).

And for His glory (Philippians 2:11).

Jesus, All for Jesus
Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be
Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands

For it’s only in Your will that I am free
For it’s only in Your will that I am free

Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be*

*Song lyrics are from Jesus All For Jesus (Featuring Robin Mark).

**The story of the Garden Gethsemane, as quoted above, is found in Matthew 26.

Freedom Friday: Fourteen Years

It’s January 4th.

I saw the date several times today. I even wrote it on something and thought, That sounds important. 

I then took my littlest out with me to run errands. I just put a couple of CD’s in my car 2 days ago, the only 2 I could find (still nowhere near unpacked): Keith Green and Sara Groves.

Soon it came on:

There is nothing new
I could give to You
Just a life that’s torn
Waiting to be born

I Can’t Believe It.* The song I was listening to that week of January 4th 14 years ago when Jesus invaded my life.

Rivers overflow

Friends may come and go
But You’ve been by my side
With every tear I’ve cried
I don’t actually know the day Jesus grabbed ahold of my heart. It happened several times during the week of January 4th as I wrestled with the truth of who God says He is.
 
Oh, I can’t believe that You’d give everything for me
I can’t believe it, no, I can’t believe it, no, no
I know You never lied, and so it’s just my foolish pride

That I just won’t receive it,
It’s so hard to receive it in my heart 

And make the start with you

I just could not believe that someone would die for me. Who would do that? It doesn’t even make sense! But I desperately needed a fresh start. I was failing miserably at life, at relationships, at – well, most everything. I longed to believe that Jesus is who He says He is.

Help me, help me now
I just don’t know how
You know, I’ve been so alone
Please melt this heart of stone

There was no longer any question on that day in January of 1999 that I desperately needed Jesus.

I have a serious gap in pictures during that time, but here’s a gem from about 6 months later:

I still do need Him. There is nothing magical that happens at the moment of salvation (if you have a “moment,” yet it’s often a process) that makes us less reliant on God. If anything, I believe we become even more keenly aware, through the power of the Holy Spirit and our spiritual eyes being opened, that apart from Him, we really can do nothing.

Especially recently, I’m intimately and painfully aware of my weaknesses and failures and continual dependence on Him. I know the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:10, that when I am weak, I am strong in Him, but I don’t know if the power of that truth has been fully recognized in my soul, or embraced in my heart.

Yet when I shared with my dear husband why January 4th is significant, I got choked up. I know that I know that I know that Jesus has deeply transformed my heart and my life.  He continues to change me and set me free, one breath at a time.

And I continue to choose to trust Him. Trust that He is good, that He is my only hope. That He cares about me so deeply and passionately that His perfect will was for His only begotten Son to suffer, be crushed, punished, condemned, and to die so that I would not be punished or condemned, but may have peace and life till it overflows.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Thank You, Jesus, for life. For breath. For a fresh start. For joy in my sadness, light in my darkness, truth in my confusion, peace in my anguish, sight in my blindness, hope in my desperation. For when I am weak, Your grace becomes sufficient, and then, I am strong.
 
Jesus, let’s go for at least 14 more!
*I much prefer this acoustic version of the song to the one that is typically played. It’s raw, it’s pure, it’s just Keith Green and his piano – how I like him best.

Monday Morning Meditation: Wait in Expectation

I will be out of town when this is published and will not have access to a computer.

Thus, I’d like to leave you with a few verses and a link to a song I wrote back in 1999 based on this psalm.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

I named the song, In the Morning.

Wait for Him with expectation. He hears your voice.

In the Morning
In the morning, LORD, You hear my voice;
In the morning I wait.
Yes, in the morning, Lord, I lay my burdens before You,
And wait in expectation for Your voice.

By Your great mercy, I will come into Your house.
In reverence, I will bow down.
Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness,
And make Your way straight before me.

Por la mañana, Señor,
Escuchas mi clamor
Por la mañana, Señor, te esperoy
Por la mañana, Señor,
Te presento a ti mis ruegos
Y quedo a la espera de oir tu voz

Por tu gran amor, entraré en tu casa
Con reverencia, me postraré
Guíame Señor en tu justicia
Y empareja delante de mi tu senda

© 1999 Unveiled Faces Music

(Unfortunately, I do not currently have a recording of the Spanish translation. Any native Spanish speakers want to volunteer to sing, or at least reassure me that my Spanish is not horrifying?)

Exodus Conference Follow-up: Download My Songs

Throughout the next week or so, I’ll be posting some new material and reposting some old material here that is relevant to the various things I discussed at the Exodus Freedom conference.

I stopped emphasizing the fact that I am a singer/songwriter on this blog a while ago, and I’m not positive why. Maybe I was concerned about the quality of the recordings I have, or I let my critics get to me (who at one point called my music “crappy”). I also thought I’d just wait to start sharing my music when I had more professional mp3’s.

Numerous people came up to me at the conference to confirm that my songs could be found somewhere on-line. One woman emphatically said, “I need to have your songs……in my car!!!”

Well, thanks for the encouragement, folks 🙂 I’ve decided to stop caring that the recording quality may not be great and simply allow God to use my songs however He sees fit.

That said, I will give a disclaimer. I gave a concert in May of 2001. Someone put a minidisc recorder in the front row of the sanctuary and recorded it (remember those things?). I made a CD out of that. That whole CD is available for free download here. Simply right-click on the individual files to download. You can also download the CD art at the above link if you want to burn yourself a CD and be all old skool 🙂

I shared several of my songs in the context of my testimony in one of my Exodus Freedom conference workshops. Here they are. These will all play streaming. If you want to download the first three, go here, find the song, and right-click to download.

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(downloadable here)

You can also purchase my testimony through CA Tapes. The mp3 is $5 & the CD is $7. The quality of the songs came through pretty well.

You can also download other random songs here, including

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, the sweet baby we lost through miscarriage.

I will close with the words of thanks to God that I used on the CD:

“[Thanks to] Jesus, for keeping me alive when all I wanted to do was die. Let me never forget what You’ve done for me.”

To Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Monday Morning Meditation: Start Your Day with Power

What are you like when you wake up in the morning? How do you react to your alarm? Are you excited about a new day? Are you instantly weighed down by the worries of life? Do you hit snooze several times, unready to face the day?

I’m a morning person, without a doubt. I often wake before my alarm even goes off. I almost never hit snooze, but jump out of bed and usually either go for a run or have study time.

That doesn’t mean I always wake with joy or gratitude. As I hit the pavement or settle in for study, what pops into my head is often all the things I need to do or am concerned about. I struggle to focus as I become overwhelmed with what lies ahead.

“But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16 (NLT)

Reading this psalm today was a powerful reminder for me. I have a choice in the morning about what I focus on. I can choose to focus on God’s power, His ability to take care of my concerns. I can sing of His love that has always been unfailing and will not change just because my circumstances feel insurmountable. I can make Him my refuge from my first waking moment.

What can you do to make God your focus in the morning? How can you sing with joy rather than wake with worry and frustration?

Lent: Moderation & Consecration

Lent is upon us.

Recently, my kids were quite sick. During that time, I was surprised by an unexpected blessing: I had to slow way down.

When I was sitting with a sick kid or stuck under a sleeping baby, my iPhone options were boring me. Thus, I got back into the habit of actually reading books!

We were also unable to go to church due to lingering illness, so I read Acts 22 (no special reason – I’m reading through Acts and that’s the chapter I was on), as well as that day’s reading from My Utmost for His Highest. Then we watched a pastor friend’s church service over the internet.

As I found a few minutes to pray, I was thinking of the upcoming Lenten season and what, if anything, God would have me do during that time. The line “Make My Life a Prayer To You” came to mind.

So I began to sing through the lyrics:
Make my life a prayer to You, I want to do what you want me to,
No empty words and no white lies, no token prayers, no compromise
I want to shine the light you gave Through Your Son, you sent to save us,
From ourselves and our despair. It comforts me to know you’re really there.

Oh, I want to thank you now, for being patient with me
Oh, it’s so hard to see when my eyes are on me
I guess I’ll have to trust and just believe what you say
Oh, you’re coming again, coming to take me away

I want to die, and let you give Your life to me, so I might live,
And share the hope You gave to me – The love that set me free,
I want to tell the world out there You’re not some fable or fairy tale
That I made up inside my head: You’re God, The Son, You’ve risen from the dead.

I want my days to be free of rituals and compromise of any sort. I want my entire life, every moment, to be a living sacrifice, wholly devoted to serving Him and others. I know there are areas that I do still falter or willfully disobey. I want to learn to submit them to Him.

This Lent for me will be a time of moderation & consecration, a time where I ask God to cleanse my life of any idolatry (the song “Give Us Clean Hands” also keeps coming to mind), a time to continue on the journey of becoming all God created me to do so that I can do all the things He has called me to do.

And when I falter and I am not able, I will choose to remember that He is able.