Friday, December 30, 2011

For those who walk the races

This year has been a tiring one, full of many changes here at the end. I am grateful for, as I’ve said in previous posts, this full time dependence on a strength outside of myself. It is good to be here. It’s also good to know that God is okay with my moving slowly. My taking it one day, one hour at a time. I can find several scriptures that tell me this, but my favorite is this one.

Isaiah 40:31

those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Notice the acknowledgment in this verse that even walking can result in faintness. There is a lot more walking than running in my life these days. I am the one who is not in the race to win, I am just in to finish. And that doesn’t mean that my expereince is any less rich, it might even mean the opposite.

While watching the Ironman race recently the stories that kept me on the edge of my seat were not the record setters, but the last place finishers. The 75 year old man, the woman who recently lost 100 lbs, the cancer surviver.

So for those of you at the end of the pack with me today, walking and not running, for whatever reason, we can soar on wings like eagles too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas with a newborn

This is an exceptional Christmas season for me. I gave birth to my daughter the day before December began and have spent the last couple weeks recovering and getting to know these new hands and this new face. Norah and I are figuring things out as best as we can. Achieving small milestones one day at a time. Getting out of bed in the morning (and in the middle of the night because she has yet to know the difference), remembering to eat meals and feed my family, changing diapers and cleaning spit up, getting rid of jaundice... small victories make up my days.

There have been no Christmas parties for me this December, no visits to the mall to see the window decorations, no shopping apart from a couple grocery store visits. I have yet to listen to the station on the radio which plays non-stop Christmas music, something I normally indulge in. I am a sucker for sentimentality, but this year... every small taste I have had of what the culture deems “Christmasy” has left me thirsty. This year... it is all about this baby.

Jesus came to earth as a baby. A crying, pooping, breastfeeding, spitting up baby. He was fully human which means the creator of the sun and the moon came to the earth in a body which at first breath knew no difference between night and day.

This Christmas eve night and in the dark early hours of December 25th, I will be up, holding and nursing and caring for a newborn baby.

And this will be my celebration of the incarnation. This is my worship. Perhaps God is opening the veil for me a little bit more this year...perhaps I will get to experience Christmas in a new way.

I have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Kids Record!

Well if you haven’t heard my big news (besides the birth of our daughter) let me fill you in. I have a new record available today! I have joined forces with Andrew Simple who has produced several Rockabye Baby! Albums, (although you might be more familiar with his songs you've probably heard in Best Buy, Travelers Insurance, and Pillsbury commercials) and we are releasing a kids record of all original songs under the name Alli and Andrew!

We also have 2 videos up on youtube and one more that should be up by the end of the week! The first is this video of the song H-E-L-P featured on the album,

(click on this link to watch this full screen)

And we also have this Justin Bieber parody video we did for your comical enjoyment...

(click here to watch this full screen)

If you have kids, have friends or family with kids, or are going to be in the car with kids driving to grandma's house this Christmas then this is the perfect record for you!

I am so grateful for your continued support of my music and hope you enjoy this new side of me in this season. I hope the little ones in your life enjoy listening and dancing to Alli and Andrew as much as we enjoyed creating it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Daughter

I have a daughter. This makes me cry just saying it in these first days. A sweet, squirmy, yawning, crying in a high pitched sound that her brother has never in his life made, little girl. Norah Lynn was born in the early hours of November 30th, last wednesday. We had a home birth this time around and that deserves a blog all it’s own for the gift it was to us. We put James to bed tuesday night and when he awoke in the morning, there was a new sister to meet. What a miracle!

I am still searching for the right words and ways to say things so for now I will just let it be known that she is here, that all is well, and that God has been so gracious to us to give us such a beautiful baby in such a beautiful way. Over and over in these past few days my heart has exclaimed, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...” (Luke 1:46-47)

Thank you for your prayers and words of congratulations, we feel very loved and surrounded in this season, another enormous gift.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Story behind the song - Springtime

I am at the end. Of pregnancy that is.

I am in my final few weeks of carrying this child and the song on my lips is “I need thee every hour....” as it was in the beginning of pregnancy, it is now and will continue to be, well, every hour.

I wrote the song Springtime last winter about this and it is on my new EP.

When I was early pregnant with James who is now 2 1/2, I found myself crying in church to the above mentioned hymn. I was about to embark on a tour (with lots of doggy bags in hand) and I was not feeling up to the challenge of pregnancy let alone becoming a mother.

Oh how good it has been for me in this season of child rearing to be desperate. To be dependent on God, because for so long I felt like I was coasting. Like a song from my very first record says, “when I’m away from my source of peace...something fills that space in me...and it feels like I don’t need you.”

I was so tired of feeling self sufficient. It really only led to being disgusted with my own pride and greed. (which of course led me to my... yep... need.)

So I felt it three years ago and Lord knows I feel it today. I need thee every hour.

I have loved the book Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. It’s a years worth of short devotional readings for every day. The reading from the day James was born spoke like it was God himself talking to me, and I think He might have been. The sentence that stuck with me the most was this:

O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray Thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from Thee.

I have not let go of this phrase and even wrote a blog about it at the time. God has been so good to allow me to thirst for Him in these ways. How easy it is (in our culture especially) to be content with gatorade when we’ve been offered living water.

So I am thanking God for the end of this pregnancy. If you ask me how I am doing, does my back hurt? Am I sleeping okay? Am I ready to have another one? I will have a hard time giving you a smiley happy answer. But know that I am thankful, know that it is very good to need Thee every hour.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why We Sing EP Now Available!

It has been a long time coming but I'm excited to say that my new EP, Why We Sing is now available! After 10 years of making music, it feels right to release this collection of songs that are a reminder to me, and hopefully to you who listen, why it is we keep singing.

Last fall, with several family members, I witnessed my grandfather transition from this earth into the forever kingdom of God. He passed away in a hospital bed as we sang the words to the final verse of the modern hymn “In Christ Alone”. 10 minutes after his passing our family sang the doxology around his bed. Praise God from whom all blessings flow... praise Him all creatures here below...praise Him above ye heavenly hosts...

I learned a great lesson in Praise on that day. In those moments of loss there is nothing to lean on but the power and promise of a loving God.

It has been experiences like these in the last couple years that have led me to record “Why We Sing”, an EP of hymns and worship songs.

I hope that as you listen, no matter where you are on your journey, you will be inspired to sing. Because the journey itself, with all of it’s uncertainty’s, is one of the reasons why we sing. And my heart needed to sing these songs.

I hope you enjoy the new EP! Click here to check it out in the store section of Also please check out some of the other work by Scott Erickson who painted the artwork for the cover, I'm a huge fan!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Geoff Moore and Sara Groves

There are two records available today that I am very honored to be a small part of. The first is Geoff Moore’s new record, Saying Grace. It was so fun for me to write with Geoff, someone whose songs have influenced my life over the years, as well as the church as a whole. He is the sweetest man and I look up to him greatly, so to share stories and write music together was a great joy for me! Thank you Geoff!

Geoff, Don Chaffer and I wrote “Saying Grace” and “The Long Way” together, and Geoff and I wrote “Find me in the Fields”. The last one is a title Geoff had brought up and I’m so glad he did because I loved it immediately. My husband and I are going camping as our last mini vacation before this new baby enters the picture, and that to me is more of a vacation than a beach resort most days. I don’t know what it is, but I do seem to find rest and hear God clearer “in the fields”, as Geoff does. The song talks about literal and metaphorical fields and is a good reminder for me to live life to the fullest.

I am proud of all the songs I got to be a part of, and I really love the rest of this record as well. The song “The wonder of kindness” is probably my favorite on the record, if I can say that. :) Even though I had no part in it! Geoff and Don wrote that one really beautifully and it moves me every time I hear it. Check out his record here!

The second record I want to tell you about is Sara Groves new project called Invisible Empires. What a great title and cover, huh?
Sara has been an inspiration for me as a singer/songwriter, woman, and believer! Her music has meant so much to me and to get to write with her for this record was really quite a privilege. I try really hard to listen to other peoples records, but more often than not it is Sara’s that I put on at the end of the day. I just can’t get enough! We wrote the song “Open my hands” together on this project. It was inspired by our conversation about the “Good things” of God. On her last record, she referenced a verse from the Psalms that talks of God withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly. We wanted to continue that thought. A quote inspired us:

“...but how is this true, when God oftentimes withholds riches and honours and health of body from men, though they walk ever so uprightly; we may therefore know that honours and riches and bodily strength are none of God’s good things;... and the good things of God are chiefly peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost in this life; fruition of God’s presence, and vision of His blessed face in the next, and these good things God never bestows upon the wicked, and never withholds from the godly.”
-Sir Richard Baker

This truth is a constant encouragement to me and Sara’s prayer in this song of opening our hands to whatever God has for us is such a great prayer. Thank you Sara! You can order Sara's record today here. (and she has a really great package deal that includes a tshirt, an instant download with bonus songs and commentary on the record)

I love writing songs. I always have... and I suspect I always will. It will look different over the years I’m sure, but the gift of being a part of projects like these has been life giving for me. I hope you’ll check them out!

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I am expecting my second child this thanksgiving. So far this pregnancy has been yet another reminder of my lack of control, my surrender to the workings of God and this child growing. I remember James this way, I remember his pregnancy as a turning point in my life and I feel I am a better person ever since the presence of him became known. I can’t describe the layers of pride that are stripped back by such a light in my life. And so... this next one. How do I welcome this again? How can I handle such a violent change in identity yet again?

I am more scared this time.

Maybe because I know what is coming, and I know how my heart will stretch and grow. Am I ready?

I recently saw this child on the screen of an ultrasound. I saw the legs curled up, those little toes. I saw the rib cage and the back bone, and a heart with 4 distinct chambers beating on and on like a promise. Arms stretching out over the head, hands opening and closing. I saw eyes, nose, mouth and ears, growing in their unique way into a face that I will kiss countless times in the months and years to come. I cried to see him/her for the first time. My two year old was upset to see me crying and almost started crying himself. If only I could tell him what a miracle he is, and how overwhelmed his mama is to witness such creation right here in her own womb.

This baby will not be perfect. No person is. But it is my child, a gift given to me by God himself. Woven together in my womb by a power so above my own that I bow down and worship this Creator.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139: 13-16 (new living translation)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Playing "Iowa" for the Iowa house

My dad is an Iowa House Representative and last month I got the chance to spend a day with him at the capitol in Des Moines. I played my song "Iowa" on the house floor at the beginning of the day. I also had the honor of playing at the Iowa prayer breakfast the next day. I am very proud of my dad and my time with him there was a great experience. He has made several videos during this years term and I made an appearance in this one so I thought I'd share it with you. At the end you even get to see me scared of heights at the top of the capitol dome!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Papa, Hold You?

Today I watched several episodes of Dinasour Train with my feverish two year old, who could not decide what he needed to make him feel better. One minute he wanted to play with his cars and trucks so I would set him by his toys, and then he wanted me to hold him. I would hold him and then he would want me to put him down. I would put him down and then he would want me to hold him again. Oh, the sweet delirium of a sick toddler. At the risk of taking every parenting happening and turning it into a sunday school lesson (which is easy to do, trust me) let me just say,

I do this with God ALL THE TIME. It is scary to trust God with everything. To let him hold me and just keep holding me. Even when I want to get down to see something closer or test out my legs. He must know I will turn right around and say, “Papa, hold you?” (this is James way of saying, pick me up!) And He always picks me back up again. But oh, for a heart that would not long to be set down, even for a minute.

There is nothing better than holding a child you love and having them lay on your shoulder, giving you all of their weight. Nothing better.

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Way He Saw Us

When my Grandpa died this past October, we spent a lot of time going through pictures. My grandpa loved photography and had a camera around his neck every chance he got. So while we did find some wonderful shots capturing his joyful, contented smile, what we mostly found were pictures of us.

*My grandma and her four daughters sitting around the patio laughing with each other. My mom is pregnant with my older brother and is wearing running shorts and a tube top, tan as can be! My beautiful grandma has her legs crossed and her arms dangling over the lawn chair. *Click* I can hear the camera as he snapped the shot of his girls relaxing together.

*My cousins and I hunting for Easter eggs in the backyard, I am wearing only a diaper and my blond curls hug my chubby cheeks. *Click* I can picture my grandpa bending down to capture my toddler smile.

*My younger brother on the sandbar of the Mississippi sitting under grandpas umbrella next to one of his metal pop holders stuck in the sand. He is smiling that devilishly cute grin that he still sports today. *Click* I’m sure minutes after this one was taken we were all sprayed with water by my dad, skiing into the shore.

My favorite is one grandpa took from the balcony of a condo in Orange Beach, AL. Grandpa and Grandma spent several winters down there and it has become a very peaceful place for me in a couple different anxious times of my life. The picture I now have is one that grandpa took of me standing on the beach on a cold morning. I am staring out at the water pondering something serious, I’m sure. In the photo you can see his camera strap dangling in the corner.

I like to picture him pulling the camera up to his eyes, squinting, aiming, *click* And then pulling back and watching me a minute longer before going inside to get warm.

I’ve been thinking of Grandpa a lot lately. Missing him. Surprised at every thought I have of him, that he will not be there next time I go home.

I watch James now, playing with his trucks and cars, busy discovering his world. I watch him bend down to pick up a handful of snow, the way I would pick up a shell on the beach, turning it over in my hands. *Click*