Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Grammys, Adele’s red dress & why music isn't my first love (my post-Grammy thoughts)

"I'm standing here because music was, is and will always be my first love."

Did LLCoolJ really say music is his #1, above family, above God and fellow human beings? Perhaps he didn't mean it to that extent when he opened the Grammys with those words.

True, music is a humungous part of some people's lives and legacy. For many, it probably is their first love, just like anything else. Ask me what or who captures my attention and most of my time and I'll show you what I worship.

What is tugging at your heart for worship? We are all made to worship something so whatever we spend the most time doing will be a pretty strong magnet pulling us in.

What sums up your purpose and meaning in life? God, our true first love, should be our final love. Music is His gift to us, a treasure, designed to draw our magnetic hearts into a relationship with our Creator. He gives amazing gifts because He loves us, purely and eternally.

The highlight of my Grammy viewing was a fantastic performance by fellow Coloradans The Lumineers (check it out! Shout out Denver) and the glamorous Adele whose dress was my favorite of the night (red & pink floral print dress by Valentino) and whose accent reminds me of England (miss it!). She is always so genuinely surprised to win, even with a mantel at home full of gold gramophones.

It was so cool that one of my new favorite songs, 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, took home a Grammy.  I hope this allows so many more people to hear it, and be changed.

Oh, and was it just me, or did it rain on stage during Fun.?  Electric shocks are not fun!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When the probability is low...

I remember the day on a family vacation, we were all hanging out by a beautiful lake. So distracted by the scenery, it must have slippedthrough our minds to check our belongings before we left the picnic area. We were staying with friends in Vermont, and it wasn’t until much later that we realized the video camera was gone. Tracing our steps back to that picnic area, we searched with flashlights under the moonlight.


I remember that sense of despair as we got back to their house. The probability was next to zero that we’d ever see it again. I tried comforting my mom, who was the one behind the camera, freezing all the moments in time. The video camera wasn’t that important, it was the hours of filming she had done, still in the camera bag. We’d never get to re-live them years down the road.

Around the kitchen sink all of us grabbed hands and prayed. Yes. Even for a video camera. God, if there is any way for us to find this again, please help us. It’s gonna be miracle. Only you can do this.

Wherever I am, God is awake. Prayer is not a formula, it’s not a complex style that you have to stand on one foot and look in one direction. He knows where you at, and He wants to commune with you. “You have not because you ask not.”

Then our friends had an idea. They got up early the next morning and made signs to post in the local diners and coffee shops. If someone had seen it or picked it up, they could call the number. Kind of like a missing cat sign you see on the neighborhood light pole. I thought about the slim chances of anyone being at the lake AND at the restaurant the very next day.

We left Vermont and headed home. While unpacking and settling back in, my dad checked the voicemail messages. It was a man with a deep voice talking about a sign at the diner for a missing camera. He found it at a lake and took it home, hoping to find a way to get it back to the owner. He left his number and said to call him back.

We were all in complete shock.

The probability WAS close to zero, yet God doesn’t look at probabilities. We got our videocamera back and I learned that there is no such thing as a petty prayer. You can come to Him about everything. Prayer is staying connected to Him.

He won’t always answer us the way we think would be best, but the essence of our journey with Him is trust.

A prayerful life is a powerful life.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Some days I feel like a little child standing barely tall enough to reach the knees of my Father God.  With my arms fully extended, I   reach for Him to pull me into His embrace.  “Hold me, Daddy.”

It’s okay to be like a child with God.

One thing that brings me to this place more than anything is sickness.  I used to be so aware of germs that my friends would even call me a ‘germ-a-phobe’.  But, I’ve learned that there are sicknesses that aren’t caused by germs.  When I experienced hoarseness in my voice for a long period of time, it was so unusual.  I had it checked by the doctor.  He said everything looked fine, but the problem persisted.  I’m singing all the time, as you know, so this wasn’t good.  We can’t always have immediate answers when it comes to sickness we live with.  When this happened to my voice, I resolved to find an answer.

I recently read a story in the book of Daniel where King Nebuchadnezzar searches for wise men to tell him the meaning of his dream.  He demands that they tell him what his dream was first.  After many attempts, no one could do this!  Then a guy named Daniel shows up, and God reveals the dream and it’s interpretation.  King Nebuchadnezzar declares in Daniel 2:47, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries…”

When I kept doing Google searches and sorting through possible causes for my persistent hoarseness, it felt like I was hitting a dead end, over and over. It’s so natural to worry, but I kept reminding myself that my God is the revealer of mysteries.  Psalm 18 has moved me to see how powerful my God is:

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears….

The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook…

He parted the heavens and came down He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind…

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them…

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

This God, who delights in you, and in me, is our Refuge and Deliverer. We can count on Him every day, no matter what kind of distress we wade through.

I remember coming to the week of recording our last album and I was hit with sickness.  Singing “By Faith” in that recording booth never felt more real as I sang the words, ‘Your strength is enough for me, Your grace is all I’ll ever need’, knowing I could have been stronger for the recording days, but God was going to make up for that.  This is grace!

It’s a tricky life being a vocalist with allergies and so many physical things to slow me down – needing to perform at the top level, to deliver a great song every time.  When we become unable to solve riddles in our lives, God gets bigger in our eyes.  I see how weak I really am and how I need God to rescue me.  He knows the answer.  He is my Healer.  What is a situation in your life that puzzles you?  Let it bring you to a place of child-like dependence on God.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unwrapping Oregon

The smell of fresh ocean air and the quiet roar of waves welcomed me to Camp Bradley in Oregon this past weekend. The most cozy and fantastic seaside cabins were given to us to stay in! The beauty – so different from our mountain home, overcame me.  I love the water! It reminded me of the chilly coast of England.

150 ladies gathered to worship and dig into the Word with Kari Patterson, our retreat speaker.  Let me tell you, even though I am quote ‘ministering’, I am fully receiving. My life is changed so often when we travel to lead worship!  Kari is a sharp teacher and I loved getting to know her sweet heart.

One thing God illuminated in me is that I'm prone to worry.  And this uncovers a lack of trust. Often times, my mind spins through thoughts of how I can avoid problems. My husband knows how I enjoy being a human calculator, too. If things add up to a good outcome, I'm settled.  But if it doesn’t add up ‘my way’, I'm back to worrying.  This process began on my flight home to Colorado Springs before I chose to slam on my mental breaks to stop the worrying.

"Do you trust Me?" God prodded. I remembered what Kari said about trust.  It's comes down to humility, knowing that God is bigger than me.  I need to admit that I can't calculate the future, but that God can.  “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Now, I can't promise anything that grand ("All Things Work Together", an oldie by Twlia Paris from my iTunes library came on in my ear buds while I flew over the clouds).  In my hands things often fall apart. I need to remember how capable God is, and humbly admit how incapable I am to carve out a good path for myself. I need the divine Guide.

This got me thinking about the circumstances that allowed us to travel to Oregon it the first place. Our return to Trail Christian Fellowship to lead worship for the women's retreat was set up through divine navigation.  In 2009 my family had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Maui together.  Enjoying the pool at the resort, my parents met a couple from Medford, Oregon who suggested we visit a church in Eagle Point when we were on tour later in 2009. So we did!  The friendship we made at Trail was awesome and this summer we remembered our time there.

Recently, seeing a gap in our calendar, Becca asked me, "Do you think Trail would want to have us back some day?" Little did we know that the very day our email was received, the women's director was caught in a bind and needing a worship leader for their retreat coming up in a couple weeks!  Perfect timing. We booked our tickets and came to fill the need.  God is certainly the best guide we could ever ask for!

I try to entrust so many things to my own care – figuring out finances, health, my calendar, family situations and friends... it's a habit that only through humbling myself I will break. I will give way to the most able Savior, Jesus Christ. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.” - Psalm 91:2

- Elissa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lessons from Undaunted

I recently finished a couple books that have truly left a mark on my heart. The latest, Undaunted, by one of my new favorite people, Christine Caine, left me highlighting something on every page – not like I haven’t heard some of these truths before, but they literally made sense in my heart for the first time. I hope to meet Christine one day. This woman is a fighter!

I closed the last page of the book (ok, not really. I read this on my iPad) and felt different. I felt less like a discouraged, disappointed, weak person striving to make something of myself in my own strength, and more like Moses or Esther. They were ordinary people with flaws. However, they trusted and obeyed the words from their Heavenly Father and saw incredible things happen. It’s true; I haven’t spoken before a pharaoh or seen that burning tree in my backyard.


If I just stop and think about incredible things that HAVE happened, small ways I am able to be a part of a supernatural change in someone’s life, then my burning bush isn’t so incomprehensible.

So often we overlook these things in our lives. We’re so busy climbing the mountain we miss the whole point: the journey. Esther was on a journey. Moses was on a (long) journey. God met them on their highways. In Undaunted, I got to see glimpses of Christine’s journey. I was so inspired by her approach to every ginormous obstacle that stood in her path. As if she would say, “Um, my God is bigger!”

All along this journey, keep your eyes open. Burning bushes are all around us. They are signals, signs on the highway that our God is bigger. Don’t give up or slow down! As crazy as it sounds, I believe God speaks to us. If we’ll listen, this journey can be so much more than reaching the top of the mountain. A scrapbook isn’t about the last page. Every page is significant, and leads up to the last page. Each day is like a page in this story God is writing through you. What will it say today?


Monday, October 1, 2012

Not just another map

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to take statistics seriously and to really see them as individuals.  Can anyone relate?  Numbers can seem so disconnected.  Like, more than 9 million children under age 5 die every year. More than 6 million of these deaths are preventable.

Then it all happened for me when I walked the streets of El Salvador.  Breathing in the air, shaking hands and hugging young ones that came up running.

Recently, after one of our concerts, the Compassion table was buzzing.  A little girl urged her mom to let her sponsor a girl from Africa.  Though this single mom felt she couldn’t afford it, she decided to trust God to provide.  They took the plunge.  Her daughter was willing to find some odd jobs to help cover it.  I was so amazed when she wrote me just a few weeks later to tell me the miracle.  They did find jobs, and earned enough to sponsor for a full year!

I’ve got a basket full of maps in my office…state maps, trail guides, downtown directories... but this map here is different:

My husband Bryan made this at my request (isn't he good?), it represents where Compassion works.  Each country represents a story, and chapters of the story are tragic and sad, unjust and devastating.  But when Compassion moved in, it started a new chapter of HOPE.  Each of us has the opportunity to help write this chapter, because we’ve been changed by God’s grace and salvation – we can bring that same grace and salvation to a boy or girl, and their family – and even their entire village!

Numbers are actually real people, and when we realize that we can touch one life that will cause a ripple effect, these “statistics” become an opportunity for God to surprise us.

Just like that little girl with wide eyes at our Compassion table weeks ago, we can have the faith of a child, and trust that our Father in Heaven will help us as we each take the plunge and sponsor a child.

And could it be that your heart will change?  Could it be that your gift to that child will be the greatest blessing in your own life?


Find out more about Compassion.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flight Delays and Thoughts on Belonging

I've spent so much time in the Dallas, TX airport this week that I memorized the place. Got my guitar, iPad in tow and a carry-on roller bag. I think I'll either write a blog or play my guitar for these travel-weary folks!

Before any music goes out I want to tell you about my weekend in eastern Pennsylvania. It welcomed us with lush green hills, winding rivers and the extravagant skyline of Pittsburgh. We came for the girls of Christian Center and surrounding churches near Belle Vernon for the I AM HIS retreat.
Preparing for this retreat stirred a lot of thoughts in me about belonging to God. When you think I am _____ what do you feed into the blank? What we do or how we feel is usually the case; lonely, happy, depressed, a student, a friend, singer...

When we fill in the blank do we ever just say I am His?

I'm boarding the plane home with my husband tonight - finally. With hours spent in this airport incurred by multiple flight delays and cancelations, I've had time to encounter a lot of people traveling. A Muslim man in a corner doing his ritual prayers, a business man making transactions on his cell phone, a woman frantically trying to get a standby on our flight. Our identity as a son or daughter of God needs to be the identity most prevalent in our lives so we can reach others and they find freedom in being God's child too.