It's all His.
Does this happen to you? Something you've heard many times before hits you anew like a thunderbolt and rocks your world? It happened to me the other day when I was in the car, in traffic (arg…), making the most of it by listening to my favorite Bible teacher on my phone. He mentioned in passing the meaning of Psalm 2:7&8….that God has given the ends of the earth to His Son as an inheritance. Its ALL His. Every hill, every ocean, every nation is His. All the decades of nations grappling over land and resources, fighting like petulant children saying “mine, mine, mine” one day will be over, and we will understand it has been HIS all along…the King of Kings. And this goes for everything in my own little world, too. Everything God has given me... talents, time, this home I live in, the guitar I play (I’m having trouble even using the word “my” here!)…it all belongs to Jesus. I don’t “own” any of this stuff!
So, the best thing I can do is to offer it all back to Him in loving gratitude and service, to use it in a way that He would. This is basic, I know…but on this day it really, really hit me. I have a longgggg way to go in living in joyful surrender, peace, and purpose for the King of Kings who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” and every minute of my day. But every day, like a child, I’m “getting it” a little more. My aim is to bring Him praise, to make His name known. And every day is filled with opportunities to do just that.
Summer of 2016 (where did THAT go?) was full of opportunities for our little team to praise Jesus with kids and leaders all over the place. Here is a re-cap (not all inclusive), as well as a tiny look ahead (as far as my little mind can conceive, anyways):
We were in Texas twice, and loved our time in the Lone Star State (that Texas hospitality thing is real). First, we did a concert to kick off VBS for United Methodist Temple in Port Arthur, where we feel like part of their family by now. A week later, we were in Dallas where I got to lead the worship for a fantastic VBS at First Baptist of Dallas for about 1000 kids from preschool to 6th grade.
Oh, were those kids incredible! Have I told you how much I love VBS? Everyone is “all in” at every VBS I’ve ever experienced. There is joy and enthusiasm and a sweet connection that can only come from a Good, Good Father. It’s so much work for so many volunteers who flop in bed at night with aching feet and a smile, thinking of all those kids who sang about, learned about, and reveled in the love of Christ. Ron and I love being part of these incredible teams anywhere.
Then came our yearly JOY of singing for Royal Family Kids Camp up in Angeles Crest. RFKC is one of our favorite ministries, providing a life-changing week for kids in the foster care system in Orange County. The band and I LOVE going up there to celebrate every summer with these kids and leaders. They steal our hearts every time.
Sorry for the grainy photos…but at least here you can see Ron (behind me on the drums)!
Here some of the fearless guy leaders jumped up for a song--and the kids loved it!
To see a killer sweet clip of a little girl who came up to sing Day by Day at this event, follow me on Instagram #janaalayra and check it out!
In July we had the thrill of leading praise at another amazing VBS: Purpose Church in Pomona.
This was our second VBS with Purpose Church, and we just love, love, love the team and the kids there, and we had a total blast with them. Again, I wanted to take all these kids home, and the high school volunteers were beyond fun and enthusiastic! [Check out my Instagram for an awesome clip of them on stage!] I also got to do mini-worship times with the toddlers and babies and their faithful volunteer leaders. Super sweet. A great reminder of Psalm 8:2 "From the mouths of babes and infants, God has ordained praise."
We also managed to get a little recording done that week backstage with these incredi-kids who have become quite the little recording pros for Ron and me: Rosie, Jack, Chase, Lily and Charlie. You'll be hearing their sweet voices a lot on the upcoming CD. And I got to hug one of the cutest kids in the world, Duder Daughtrey, after our little concert.
Central Peninsula Church in Foster City invited us back to lead worship for their amazing “Summer XP” (VBS). What an INCREDIBLE week. Gatherings like this remind me a skosh of what heaven might be like…so much joy and love and simplicity.
And wow, do these kids learn to reach out to a hurting world at all these VBSs too—collecting socks, school supplies, and funds for those in need around the world, and being taught how to live with them in mind and caring for them regularly. These are rich times for these kids in so many ways.
In between these VBSs there were concerts and chapels and gatherings of many kinds that also fill my head with images of God’s love and goodness! Saddleback Irvine South was a Saturday night bash of some of the loudest, most vibrant kids ever! Calvary Bible Church in Murrieta welcomed us into their “house” again (maybe for the 4th time) for a sweet family concert, where once again there was a strong contingent of kids with Downs Syndrome. These two boys named Aaron and John have been to many concerts, and they make everyone smile and get weepy, seeing their abandon before the Lord and utter love and joy. Here they are with their friend Tyler (in the middle), donning my shirts (I am so proud!)!
And there was the concert at EVFree Fullerton’s Rainbow Express camp for Special Needs kids….another event that just steals my heart. Not only are the campers adorable, but also the gobs of teens who love on them all week!
Oh, the joy of leading that gathering of campers, counselors and families, and hearing them shout out at the top of their lungs, “Jesus is ALIVE!” Yeah. And of course Seth Erre, my little hero (in the orange shirt), stole the show again!
One of my favorite things this summer was in August when I snuck out to OakBridge (YoungLife) camp in Ramona to lead worship for a special retreat Mariners Church Lighthouse ministry puts on for kids from inner city Santa Ana. I can’t adequately put into words how special this camp is and how much I loved these kids! They are so appreciative, so sweet, so engaged. Everywhere I looked, counselors were hugging on their campers and helping them have a weekend they would never forget…in the hills of Ramona, with a swimming pool (crammed all day), fun activities, and nature all around--so different from the concrete surroundings they are used to. To worship together, hear awesome messages and take hikes with these precious kids…I don’t deserve it. I left with a heart ready to burst from blessings.
Oh, then there was singing for Science Discovery Camp in Downey at Calvary Chapel Downey.
THOSE kids can sing!!! This photo is of the girls in the 7th grade class. They were so joyful and so NOT "too cool." A taste of heaven.
I’ve probably forgotten some other things, but at least that’s a sampling…
Answered prayer: All that high energy singing is a challenge to my vocal cords, and last summer resulted in some scary damage. But this year I was very careful, and I also had a prayer team constantly lifting me up. By the last closing concert I just wanted to cry with joy—thank the Lord, I had no problems. Thank you, prayer warriors! I cannot do this without you! But in Christ, all things are possible. I saw that again firsthand.
What's coming: Now its Fall, and time to fasten our seatbelts again. Tomorrow I’m speaking for my first young Moms group for the year…there will be many and I love these opportunities.
Ron and I are also on a fast track to finish this new kids’ CD we’ve been chipping away at for years. It’s so difficult with so much LIFE to get that kind of work done to our satisfaction. We would love your prayers.
Travels? We are looking forward to what the Lord has for us in the months ahead, too. It sure seems like God is opening up doors to share and minister to kids outside of the USA in the near future. We are praying!
Speaking of singing with kids all around the world, our friend Kevin in Dallas is editing our dream piece--"Everybody, Everywhere" with clips of kids from all over the world singing that song. We mentioned on Facebook we need clips and we got a few, but if you'd still like to to add yours, go to my music Facebook Page immediately! We can't wait to share this with you!
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Also, we hope to SEE you! We have concerts on the schedule coming up that are open to the public, including a band event this month in Orange, so please check out our ever-changing schedule.
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Press on, dear friends, and keep growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Its all for Him, from Him, to Him, through Him (Romans 11:36). He is alive, and He is love.
Love and peace in Him,