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He has made everything beautiful in its time. He set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 

God knows our hearts intimately.

He created us, made us, fashioned us fine.

He knows what makes us tick, knows what makes us cry.

He knows all of us, every part of us, the beautiful, upside down, inside out bits of us.

When we step out in faith, He reveals His purpose, His best, His grand design for our lives on earth and into eternity, too.

This, I learned on one trip to Haiti, one trip to the Dominican Republic, and one Ginny Owens acoustic house show.

When you know, you just know – this moment is a gift from God, this opportunity is a gift from God, this place and this time is a gift from the only One who could give it.

So when we received confirmation that Ginny and two band members would, indeed, be spending the night at our home, I knew it was a gift. Sent from heaven alone.

God knows whose writing and singing heart matches mine most closely. Ann VoskampSara Groves. And Ginny Owens. So He sent one, the only one I needed now. Ginny Owens. To perform in our home, to be present, to give me a taste of heaven.

When everyone cleared the concert, she asked how she could help. A beautiful servant heart, indeed.

She loves washing dishes, so we stood side by side. She washed. I dried. It was simple, really. Whole. Lovely. Pure.

The concert was amazing. But this washing dishes together was the greatest gift, the quietest, most heavenly gift.

Depth of conversation came the next morn around the breakfast table. But this washing dishes together was one human heart plus one human heart doing life together.

Wash. Dry.

Wash. Dry.

Wash. Dry.

We chatted. Milk spilled and puddled around Ginny’s boots and I checked her dress for milk spots. Band members, Dave and Andrew, ate late night pizza at our kitchen table. I brought the kids to bed and came back down again.

Ginny and I washed and dried everything but the awkward glass beverage containers, then called it a night.

It was slow.




One of the greatest gifts I’ve received.

God says…I know you. I know both of you. I brought you together for such a time as this.

This washing and drying, this living side by side, this being God’s beautiful, holy creations complementing one another? This is a taste of heaven. Taste. Believe. Receive the gift. For it is given most kindly, most affectionately, most intimately.


It’s set in our hearts.

He speaks when the time is right, reminds us of the beauty before us.


No one can fathom the goodness.


window box

We’re hosting a Ginny’ Owens acoustic house show two weeks from tomorrow.

I’m outside wiping down the siding, railings, window sills and window boxes in our front porch. They’re full of dried up bugs and leaves from fall, crusty things, gross disgusting dirty things, caked on muddy things from barn swallows who attempted to nest on our front door. I want to wash it all away. I want to make it clean. I want to make all things new. For Ginny. For our guests. For my husband. For me. Make us new, Heavenly Father.

It feels good to wash and wipe surfaces. But it’s all surface, isn’t it? All this cleaning, all this preparing? This house show isn’t about that. Because we’ll never be clean, we’ll never be wholly pure, we’ll never be whole on earth.

So I stop.

The realization washes over me at the window box filled with coral geraniums and tiny, but sturdy multi-colored flowers I discovered at our nursery’s mid-season sale.

The only thing she’ll see is my heart.

window box 2

There’s grace in that realization.


Freedom to be me. Fully me.

The only thing she’ll see is my heart.

God’s preparing this moment, this concert, to help me see that life’s not about appearances. It’s about my heart. Where is your heart? Where is your soul? Where do you stand today? Are you all about appearances and making things look clean and sparkly on the surface, or are you working in deeper, hidden places?

window box 3

I stop and create. These words, they fill me. These words, they nourish my soul. My fingers fly like the wind. Because I was created to express God’s beauty, God’s truth, God’s wisdom.

Today, as I clean and make all things new on my front porch, I know one truth for sure.

The only thing Ginny will see is my heart.

The only thing God sees is my heart.

And the only thing people really need to see when they come to our house for that concert – is faith, hope, love and the sweet Spirit who will meet them here. Right where they are. Clean and unclean. Tended and untended. Always loved. As is.




You might have noticed I’ve been extra quiet on the blog the past two weeks. That’s because we hosted Christian singer/songwriter, Ginny Owens, for an acoustic house show three days ago!

From day one, the house show was in God’s hands. I sensed God was at work, that He wanted to do something through this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I needed to simply surrender to His plan. This was a true act of faith for me. But very early on and all throughout the journey, I experienced a spiritual battle of doubt and fear. Faith won. I knew it would. I knew it must.

I journaled my way through the experience of hosting the Ginny Owens acoustic house show. Today, I’m letting you in on my two-month journey of doubt, fear and God’s provision.


May 13, 2015

When I opened Twitter late this morning, a tweet from Ginny Owens popped up in the center of my feed. In-between Ginny’s performances at big Christian music festivals, she and her band were going to be performing intimate acoustic house shows. Ginny was in search of hosts. The thought of hosting Ginny Owens for a concert in my own home sounded AMAZING and I figured there was nothing to lose, so I took 60 minutes to complete the online application and an additional 15 minutes to send photographs of our home. I was convinced this was a pipe dream. I thought there was NO WAY we would EVER be selected to host a Ginny Owens house show. But after I sent the application and photos, I prayed anyway, asking God to make a way for our application to be accepted if this was His will and plan.

May 14, 2015

I received an email from the House Show Agency stating they would love to have a show at our house pending management’s final approval. I was completely shocked. In awe. I had no idea that this pipe dream would become reality. The House Show Agency proposed two potential concert dates, which meant this thing was for real and I’d need to share the news with my husband to see if we could confirm! But there was just one small problem…because I thought it was a total pipe dream, I never told my husband I applied. So when I called him that afternoon, I had to tell him that I had applied AND that we had been accepted and invited to host! My husband was surprised, but thankfully open to hosting the concert at our house with one caveat. He was going to be gone on a three-day business trip leading right up to the concert, so I’d be taking on all the concert preparations by myself. The tweet came through my feed randomly. I applied on a whim. I prayed after I sent the application. I couldn’t deny that God was at work and wanted this to happen, so I sent an email to the House Show Agency stating YES, we are interested. Let’s do this!

June 12, 2015

I didn’t hear back from the House Show Agency for quite a while. So much so that I began to doubt, to fear that maybe we hadn’t been selected after all, that maybe someone better, with a bigger house, more well suited to host had been chosen instead. So much so that I’d resigned myself to the show not being at our house, that it was meant to be, that God wanted to show me another glimpse of the awesome things He could do, but it simply wasn’t happening this time. Just as I’d surrendered, just as I’d doubted the house show wasn’t happening, I received an email asking if I was still saving the date we’d discussed a month prior!

I responded with seven questions, feared and doubted that our house wasn’t big enough to host a small band and 50-person house show. I asked my husband, counted out seats and imagined a bunch of folding chairs spread across our kitchen and living room. My husband assured me fearlessly and nonchalantly, “I don’t think you need to worry, we can make it work!”


June 19, 2015

The House Show Agency responded to all seven of my questions. They wanted to know if “we’re good to move forward” and “get this [concert] locked in.”

I was still in shock, I think. And I was fearing and doubting big time. Would tickets sell? Was our house really big enough?

I sent a friend a Facebook message. I shared all the insecurities I’d been feeling about life and myself, how there’s this very big event we could host at our house, but I’m just REALLY not sure. Maybe someone else would be well suited to host? Maybe I’m supposed to suggest another location? She affirmed me. Prayed for me. Reminded me that I applied and we were accepted. Told me I should leave the rest up to God. After reading her message, I knew we needed to move forward with the concert.

In addition to the message to my friend, I contacted a young Christian singer/songwriter, Jessica Joy, and asked if she happened to be available the night of the house show. She’d come to my mind so many times I felt prompted to involve her. She had the night of the house show wide open and was willing to open the concert pending management’s approval.

June 23, 2015

This afternoon, I signed a contract which means we’ll be hosting the Ginny Owens acoustic house show in less than three weeks! I also sent an email with a special request for Jessica Joy to open the concert (with Ginny and management’s approval, of course). By late afternoon, Ginny’s management sent me a ticket link to share with family and friends.

Tonight, I personally invited five friends to the concert via Facebook message. I wanted to give them first dibs on a small group of discounted concert tickets available to us as hosts. Two were able to attend. Three already had plans for the night. My mind got to worrying. What if everyone’s busy? What if tickets don’t sell? What if Ginny’s team is disappointed in the number of people who show up for the show? What if our house doesn’t live up to expectations? What if I don’t live up to expectations?


June 24, 2015

I sent a message and ticket link to a larger group of 20 people I thought might be interested in the concert. Trickles came in…”Sounds amazing! But so sorry, I’m unable to attend. We have ___ that night.” I was so grateful for the responses, but my mind continued to race with fear and doubt. What if the tickets don’t sell? What if somebody else would have been a better host? Why am I not good at rallying troops for things like this? Peoples’ availability and interest is totally out of my hands, but for some reason, I still feel responsible for ticket sales.

June 25, 2015

Today, we received a “fully executed contract!”

June 26, 2015

We we received first details about the concert and word that Ginny would “love for Jessica Joy to be a part of the house show.” I shared the awesome update with Jessica Joy and the group of 20 on Facebook, and had one party indicate interest in three tickets almost immediately!

June 27, 2015

Only two weeks remain until the Ginny Owens concert at our house! I decided to go ahead and share the news on my personal Facebook page. The post went wild fairly quickly. Within an hour, we sold out of all 20 discounted tickets and were directing people to the regular-priced ticket link. I felt great relief knowing that with one simple Facebook post, a nice little crowd had developed for Ginny’s performance at our house. I viewed it as confirmation that God was in control, that He was going to take care of these tickets I was so worried about, that He was going to orchestrate the details and that I didn’t have to fear and doubt so much.

Behind all my fear was the fact that I didn’t want to disappoint Ginny, her management, or her band. I wanted to make our house show worth their while. I wanted them to feel like they’d made the right decision in choosing us to host.

My ticket sale fears subsided for the moment, but I still didn’t feel secure. My fears circled right back around to the size of our house. Maybe there won’t be enough room for everyone. Maybe our house isn’t big enough. Maybe I shouldn’t have applied.

I decided that I MUST let this fear go. I must TRUST that God opened these doors for a reason, that He wants us to host this show, and that He has awesome things planned for Ginny Owens, Jessica Joy and all the people who will be attending. I decided to view this as a feeding of the 5,000. Jesus took little and made much. He performed a miracle and will do it again. There will be enough space in our house for everyone who comes. I must trust this is true.

June 29, 2015

Jessica Joy shared the ticket link on Facebook and received a nice response. I shared the link on Twitter. And Ginny shared a Facebook post about the concert, too.

July 1, 2015

Today, I started to freak out a bit about ticket sales again. I’m continuing to feel the weight of responsibility to ensure “enough” ticket sales for the concert to be a success. Logically speaking, I understand that it’s NOT our responsibility to ensure sale of the general public tickets. But emotionally and psychologically, I still feel the weight. So today, I sent more Facebook messages…to a group of six women who expressed interest in the ticket link four days ago, to one of the pastors at our church, to my dad’s cousin and her daughter.

July 6, 2015

I disengaged from all things concert for the 4th of July weekend. Today, I put a second notice of the concert on my personal Facebook page. Someone contacted me yesterday to let me know they can no longer attend, so that made two $15 tickets up for grabs again. This was the second time I shared the concert news, so the post received the moderate response I expected. An encouraging comment, another wishing they could attend, and a couple handfuls of “likes.”

As the evening progressed, I became more and more encouraged. Three shares of my post. And one person who said he’d take the two discounted tickets and eight more at regular price. I received his notification when I was at Target purchasing a cart load of water, pop and coffee for the concert. I breathed another sigh of relief. This concert has NEVER been in my hands. It is God’s doing. He has a plan and will make it happen in His own timing.


July 7, 2015

When we stopped by a boys baseball game tonight, a friend surprised me by letting me know she’d purchased a concert ticket. She asked if she should share the ticket link with a friend who might really enjoy the concert. “Go for it! Of course,” I said. God’s lining up everyone who needs to be at the concert. Of this, I am sure.

July 8, 2015

I’m continuing to prepare for the concert as I’m able. With three kids home for summer, my husband at work all day and heading out for a three-day business trip, nearly all of my “free time” this week has been spent doing intermittent concert prep. We have most of the beverages. My mom is making four varieties of bars. I’ve borrowed trays and ice buckets from neighbors, two sets of folding chairs from neighbors and more to come from my mom and aunt. Lining up a coffee percolator, bar stools, guitar stands and a music stand. The carpets have been cleaned. I found a cute caddy at an antique store over the 4th I’m going to fill with old books, vintage vases and delicate flowers for decor. I’m not an antiquey kind of girl, but it seems I have fresh vision.

Despite the forward progression, I’m still feeling a bit stressed. The baby isn’t taking her nap today. Our oldest daughter had a fit about oiling her trumpet valves and taking a bath. And the oldest isn’t being super helpful. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels with house and cleaning prep, but I can only trust that God will make a way, that He will provide time for me to get this place ready for the concert. It’s now 75 hours until Ginny arrives with her crew.


July 9, 2015

This afternoon was a bit anxiety ridden. So much to do, and three kids to mother at the same time. Anxiety was setting in just thinking of all the to dos. And my husband was getting ready to leave for a three-day business trip – Thursday, Friday, Saturday leading up to the concert. If all goes perfectly with his flights, he’ll be home two hours before Ginny & the band arrive. But I got some stuff done. I kept progressing towards the goal of hosting this thing that was God’s from the beginning anyway!

July 10, 2015

We dropped our youngest off with my mom this morning. My parents are caring for her Friday through Sunday so we can prepare for and host the concert. While I love our “baby” heaps, she’s very busy, so it’s tremendously helpful to have her away for the event. As the day progressed, I realized there’s absolutely NO WAY we would have been able to host this concert had we NOT had child care for our youngest. Thank you mom and dad. And oh yeah…did I mention my mom made five varieties of bars for concert refreshments? A life saver, for sure.

Cleaning started strong. We made our way fast – me, our son and our oldest daughter. When our oldest daughter left for an overnight birthday party, time continued to tick super fast, but our progress seemed to slow. At 4 pm, I was feeling good about things. By 8 pm when my mother-in-law checked in via text, I was feeling just okay about where we stood with the to-do list. Now at 11:42 p.m., I feel fine. I have peace. We’re not nearly as far as I’d like to be at this point, but we’ll get things done. It will work out. My in-laws are coming mid-day tomorrow and will help us close the loop. For now, we’ve done ALL we could and had fun doing it!

Ticket sales seem to be going well. 54 hours ago, management reported 18 online ticket sales plus our 20 discounted tickets equaled 38 guests. But since then, there’s been additional sales reported to me, so I know we’ll be near sold out. It WILL be a full house.

Which brings me back to doubt, worry and fear #1, the fear I had from the beginning – that we won’t have enough room for a full house of 40-50 guests + Ginny and her two band members. Despite my fear and doubt, everything has gone like clockwork. All the doors have been wide open. And I’m continuing to remember that I prayed about this, that God’s given us an incredible opportunity to host, that He will make a way. So I am trusting He will part the seas, trusting that everyone will fit, be able to see and partake in this ministry of music.





July 14, 2015

It’s been three days since the Ginny Owens’ house show. It was amazing. Went off without a hitch. With the continued help of our kids, my in-laws, and my husband for the last two hours, we got all the cleaning and preparations completed on time. Jessica Joy’s opening performance was beautifully executed. Ginny Owens’ performance was absolutely amazing! We had a full house of approximately 45 guests. Everyone fit just fine and enjoyed themselves tremendously. And we had the great honor of special one-on-one time with Ginny and her band after the concert.

Doubt and fear worked overtime to steal my hope, peace and joy throughout this two-month journey. But God proved to be faithful and fully in control the whole way through.


It’s a miracle.

Pure grace.

For me, you, and Ginny Owens too.



It was a work day for me. I’d made a quick stop at the mall to grab some mittens for my daughter and pay a bill at Sears, and was on my way out. Just seconds after I’d rejected the hair straightener dude who tried to sell me a hot iron as I passed, I walked briskly towards another kiosk where Pete was singing and playing guitar. I’m not sure what came over me, but I knew I needed to talk to this guy. Within a matter of 5-10 seconds, I got the gist of his brilliant business, grabbed his card, and told him I’d be back to chat another day. It was all a bit surreal, really. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to cross paths.

I didn’t have much time before I had to get to my appointment, but couldn’t wait to know more. I looked at the clock in my car and realized I had about five minutes before I really had to go. So I quickly typed Pete’s URL,, into my phone, pulled up his site, and confirmed, this dude is awesome! He has a music video (at the end of this post), a serenade store where he writes and records songs for people, and a happiness store where he’s working towards funding small, but fun random acts of kindness towards others.

My mind raced about the ways Pete and I could collaborate with his songwriting, my writing, and our joint love for philanthropy and sharing peoples’ stories. Later that night, I shared the story with my husband and showed him Pete’s website. Our whole family watched his music video and listened to sample serenades on his site.

One week later, I plugged Pete into my schedule and made a trip back to the mall!


I approached and engaged Pete in a straight forward manner. I figured there was nothing to lose, and at this point, I knew I wanted to share Pete’s story on the blog, assuming he was open to the idea.

So before I tell you more about Pete and his journey to singing and songwriting, let me share what he’s doing at the mall this holiday season! Pete’s rented a kiosk on the second floor of Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It’s called the Serenade Store. (Yes, I’m telling you this because you need to go meet him and hear him play for yourself!) For a reasonable fee, Pete will write and record a personalized song for your loved one! All you need to do is complete a short form with a few questions about the recipient of your song, and Pete will have a song ready for you in 15 minutes. You receive a CD and digital copy of the song, and there’s even an option to create an accompanying DVD slideshow and have Pete perform the song live on location if you wish! How awesome is that?! The dude is super creative. And there’s one thing you have to know – these aren’t cheesy songs, these are awesome, professional songs! Pete has three serenade samples on his website if you want to check them out. Based on everything I’ve heard and seen, I think this would be a GREAT Christmas gift for someone, how about you?!





Now that we’ve covered Pete’s Serenade Store, let’s move on to his story.

Pete says he was born with style and charisma, but growing up, he never considered himself a musician. He started playing guitar when he was 13 or 14 years old, and started singing in college. He began business school, but part way through, had an epiphany about life. Pete dropped out of business school and moved to Argentina. (Sound like a life-altering decision? Yep, it was.) While Pete was in Argentina, he sang, played guitar, and taught music and English.

When Pete returned to the United States, he re-enrolled in college and got his music degree. After obtaining his degree, he moved to California where he played and performed. It was then that Pete wrote a song for his girlfriend. The idea “exploded” more than he ever imagined.

Pete felt called to return home to Minnesota, but continued writing songs. He originally thought his songs would primarily be a gift given between husbands and wives, but it’s been much “bigger than that.” Pete’s even performed his original, customized songs at funerals, and his serenades have been given to recognize top-performing employees at corporations.

Pete shared that there are a few other people around the country who are doing what he’s doing (i.e., writing and performing personalized songs for people to give as gifts), but not many. “It’s very novel to write a song in 15 minutes,” Pete shared, so people think that’s cool. Typically, songs like these can run as high as $250. Pete’s most affordable option is $50 for a super cool customized song!

Pete’s “not where he wants to be yet” when it comes to music. Yet he’s slowly, but surely working towards BIG dreams. “When your priority is to do what you love,” said Pete, “you gotta figure out how to keep the dream going and give back.”

Pete gets asked a lot if he was born playing music. He actually thinks it’s more about work ethic than talent. Pete’s a firm believer in the 10,000 hour theory, that no one really becomes a master of their craft until they’ve put in at least 10,000 hours practicing. So he’s putting in the hours wherever he can, he’s doing what he loves, and he’s dreaming big with the hopes that one day, his music dreams will come true.

As we wrapped up our time together, Pete shared, “It’s the little things that make a huge difference.” So let’s take time to support Pete. Let’s love on a dude who’s following his dreams and doing awesome things with his gift of music. Check out his website, definitely visit him at the Ridgedale Mall if you’re local, and stay to chat a while. Maybe, just maybe, you have someone in your life who would LOVE one of Pete’s customized songs this Christmas!




The evening was beautiful, lovely and inspiring. Singer, songwriter and new Christian recording artist, Jessica Joy, performed her CD release concert. Perhaps the lyrics to one of Jessica’s original songs, Daughter of Mine, along with photographs from the concert, will tell the story best.

“As I wait in the quiet, Lord I long for your presence.

I know you’re here, singing over me with the sweetest melody.”



“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”



“I’m amazed at your ways God, how you bought me with your precious blood.

I can call you Abba Father. You’re so unlike any other.”




“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”



“You are a pearl of great price and your hands do the work of Christ.

Your laugh makes me smile, cause you are my beautiful child.”




“Singing daughter of mine, I’ll never let you go.

 Hold on tight, it won’t be an easy road.

But do you know how beautiful you are and the way you move my heart.

Daughter of mine, you are mine.”




This is the last of a three-post series featuring singer, songwriter, and new Christian recording artist, Jessica Joy. Two weeks ago, we looked back and dug deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. One week ago, I shared my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And today, it’s an honor and delight to share photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 


  1. Linda Johnson says:


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