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I pulled in to the recording studio at the same time as Jessica Joy and her mom. Before we walked in, Jessica’s mom handed me a hot pomegranate tea. I’m not typically a hot beverage drinker, but let me tell you, that tea certainly set the tone for one of the most incredible afternoons of my life.

It was March 26, 2014. And I’d been blessed with the opportunity to join Jessica Joy in studio while she recorded one of the songs on her new CD, Nothing Wasted.

Once we were inside, Jessica introduced me to her producer, Luke Fredrickson, who’s also guitarist for Christian recording artist, Natalie Grant.

After a short trip down the stairs, we landed in the studio. I had no idea what to expect before I’d arrived, but the place was super chill, way more relaxed than you’d ever imagine. Jessica’s mom and I made ourselves comfortable on a couch facing the sound booth while Jessica and Luke chatted about the plan for the day.

Before I knew it, Jessica was headed for the sound booth where it was just her and the microphone. Jessica’s mom and I sat on the other side of a two-way mirror along with Luke, who was at the sound panel.

Jessica’s voice was piped into the room where we sat, and when discussion was necessary in between recording, Luke’s voice was piped into the sound booth.

They got to business right away.

Instrumentals for the album had been recorded during previous studio sessions, so the day’s task was to record Jessica’s angelic vocals for one song, “Run.”

The song was dark, deep, and a little mysterious. It was the kind of song I knew I’d play on repeat a thousand times in my car. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Jessica’s mom shared that this song is unique to the CD, artsy and somewhat open to interpretation. Perfect. Just what I like, I told her.

The process was smooth. Professional. Flawless as far as I was concerned.

As Jessica and her producer ran through phrases and portions of the song again and again, until they felt just right, my attention turned towards the lyrics…

You stare at your past in the face, ashamed of your masquerade. 

You’re searching for hope to hold onto.

You won’t take the truth that’s been given to you.

You just run, run, run away…

from the voices that taunt you each day.

Who you gunna turn to now, when everything else fails?

Don’t just run, run, run away.

Love is chasing you.

Those words. They were incredible.

Tears welled in my eyes as I sat quietly, sipping hot pomegranate tea.

When the lyrics became comfortable and familiar, my attention drifted towards other elements of the experience.

For example, I couldn’t get over the fact that Jessica and her producer, Luke, had landed such tailor-made jobs. As I watched them, I couldn’t help but wonder. Who in the world tells their child they could consider becoming a music producer someday? And who would ever guess their child would record an album when they’re 17 years old? What I loved most was that these two were tucked away in a recording studio, quietly, but powerfully using their God-given gifts. What a divine appointment this was. I couldn’t get over it. This was beautiful, purposeful living at its best. And it was ridiculously inspiring.

With that, I began to take special note of Luke. He clearly knew and loved what he was doing. There was no hesitancy in his words or actions at the sound panel. It was fascinating to watch his fingers work. One adjustment here, another there. He knew exactly when to start and when to stop recording. He knew what still needed tweaking and what was good to go. His skill as a producer was beyond evident. The peace and professionalism with which he executed his work was admirable.

soundpanelJessica and Luke had a recording studio language of their own. I was most fascinated by all of the starts and stops throughout the process. When they determined a portion of the song needed to be re-recorded, they quickly agreed on the exact place they’d start recording again, and before I knew it, Jessica kicked in with vocals and Luke was back working that sound panel. If it had been me in that sound booth, I’m pretty sure I’d have been a fumbling, bumbling mess trying to figure out where Luke wanted me to start singing again. But Jessica pulled it off like a pro.

As the recording process proceeded, Luke said a couple things to Jessica that captured my attention.

“Don’t think too much,” he said at one point. “Just sing.”

I wondered how many times I’ve overthought my life, my work, my mothering ability, my writing ability. I wondered how many times you’ve overthought your life. And I realized. We should all just forget the overthinking.

Sometimes all we need is a reminder.

Just sing.

Just live.

Just be in the moment.

Later in the recording session, when Jessica and Luke were discussing different ways they could end the song, Luke said this to Jessica…

“If we wanted to be really indie, we’d just end it there.”

These words captured my attention. It’s important to note that there’s room for great freedom and creativity, even while we’re actively seeking and engaging in God’s will for our lives.

I remembered wise counsel I’d recently received on this topic. God leads us to green pastures, gives us free will, allows us to make choices within our lives. He doesn’t dictate. Go here. Do That. Or else. There’s freedom to live boldly, beautifully, and courageously, all while staying within His parameters and plan for our lives.

As the recording session wrapped, I knew the absolute miracle this afternoon had been. God had blessed me with an experience of a lifetime. I’d watched a just-turned 17-year-old singer and songwriter professionally record her original song.


Every bit of the experience was miraculous, beautiful, incredibly amazing.

I wished everyone could see. This is what it looks like to live like anything is possible.

Sometimes we need to witness others living their purpose in order to realize our own purpose. When you discover and walk boldly in the purpose of your life, your heart beats one with the Living God. Life makes sense. It feels right. And you know…this is why I was made.

Right then and there, I knew. I’d been assigned this afternoon for a reason. To witness it myself, and then share with everyone I could. This story of living beautifully, right in the heart of your purpose? This discovering, uncovering who you are, who God created you to be? It’s phenomenal. Important. Noteworthy.

Jessica Joy was made to sing.

And you were made to fulfill a beautiful purpose, too.

So take the truth that’s been given to you.

Live in freedom. Walk boldly in the truth of your life. Embrace what’s already yours.

Love is chasing you.

This is the second of a three-post series featuring Jessica Joy. Last week, we looked back and dug deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. Today, I shared my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And on September 29th, I’m going to share insights and photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d also love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 



Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a 17-year-old young woman named Jessica Joy. She’s an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter and Christian recording artist. Jessica just recorded and released her first CD, Nothing Wasted. She’ll be performing her CD release concert on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Covenant Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. The concert is FREE, so come one, come all! If my intuition is right, Jessica is going to have a long career in the Christian music industry. Come witness this treasure of a young woman live out her life’s calling right in front of your eyes. Because years from now? You might have to pay big bucks to see her in concert.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of connecting with Jessica on several occasions. I met with Jessica and her mom in January 2014 to chat about Jessica’s call to music and ministry. Then, I had the great honor of joining Jessica in the recording studio in March. We met again last month for extended conversation about the events that led her to record and release an album.

This is the first of three blog posts I’ll be writing about Jessica. Today, we’re going to look back and dig deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. On September 22nd, I’m going to share my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And on September 29th, I’m going to share insights and photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. I hope you’ll catch all three posts. I guarantee it’ll be a joy to meet Jessica Joy.

Without further ado, let’s move right along!


When I sat down to talk with Jessica in January 2014, I’d prepared a whole series of questions for her…

“Do you ever doubt your gift?”

“What obstacles have gotten in the way of you recording this CD? How have those obstacles helped you grow?”

“This feels big, unknown, all about faith. How does it feel to know it’s in God’s hands? Do you ever just want to plan it out or change course to something more predictable?”

This is just a sampling of the questions I had for Jessica. But even this sampling makes me realize that perhaps my questions were more about my fears than Jessica’s. Hmmm…maybe this 38 year old has something to learn from a 17 year old?

I should’ve just started with these and left it at that…

“Tell me more about how God’s prompted you in the quiet to follow your dreams.”

“Do you believe this is God’s call on your life?”

It was then, when I put away all the fears and what ifs, that Jessica was able to lay out for me, very clearly, God’s call on her life to become a Christian singer and songwriter.


Jessica grew up in a household that was filled with music. Both of her parents are licensed ministers of music, so she heard her parents tell lots of stories about their music ministry. Jessica had a whole host of opportunities to perform and lead worship from a young age. In fact, she knew early on that her future was going to be in music and ministry. When Jessica was eight years old, she wrote an entry in her journal titled “Goals for my Music.” The third goal? “Record my original album by the time I am 17.” It was around this time that Jessica also began writing songs in her journal.


From then on, there was a “continual calling” on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. Jessica explained all the “little signs along the way” that were an affirmation of the calling. As each event unfolded, Jessica knew. God was calling. This is what she was meant to do with her life.


When Jessica was approximately 12 years old, she wanted to learn how to play the guitar. She kept telling her parents she wanted to play guitar, but her parents had been insisting for years that she learn piano first. So she learned some basic piano and chords, and then found an old guitar in the basement and taught herself enough so she could start putting chords to the songs she was writing. It was then that Jessica’s parents realized how serious she was about guitar. They got her a guitar for Christmas and signed her up for guitar lessons, which very quickly morphed into songwriting lessons as well.



In May of 2012, Jessica suddenly got very sick. That summer, she often used a wheelchair to get around because of all the pain and fatigue. After a year of many doctor visits and extensive tests, she was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

Jessica continues to battle this illness, so she’s had to learn how to manage her chronic Lyme. It has impacted her physical strength and support for singing and performing. She has pain in her hands, which makes it harder to play guitar. And pain in her feet, which makes it hard to stand for lengths of time or walk long distances. But as Jessica reminds us, God wastes nothing. Many of the songs she’s written have come from her battle with chronic Lyme disease. If you listen closely to some of her songs, you can, in fact, hear her pain and all the ways God’s helped her overcome it.


The week Jessica began treatment for chronic Lyme disease, she received a prophetic word from a friend’s mom. She prophesied many things God was speaking over Jessica Joy’s life, including this: “Worship is your weapon…I am giving you the ability and authority to prophetically sing over people – the enemy will release his grip on those I call you to sing over…I have given you an open door to usher in My Kingdom to the Nations.” She also wrote “You are chosen, anointed for such a time as this. I will waste nothing in your life.” This was before Jessica wrote the song “You Waste Nothing,” before she knew she’d record her first CD and it would be titled “Nothing Wasted.” God was speaking blessing into Jessica Joy’s life long before she knew what was to come.

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Jessica wrote her song, Beauty for Ashes, and recorded it as her first single in the summer of 2012. She was 15 years old. Remember, when Jessica was eight years old and wrote the journal entry titled “Goals for My Music,” her second goal was “Professionally record a single by the time I am 15.” On a whim, she decided to enter Beauty for Ashes in the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Music and Songwriting Competition, an annual national conference for professionals in the film, writing and music industry. She submitted the song in the last five days entries were accepted.


Jessica traveled to Tennessee to attend a youth convention with her church youth group in July 2012. She was experiencing a lot of pain due to her chronic Lyme disease, which at that time was still undiagnosed. Jessica had spent a lot of time in the wheelchair that summer, and the convention was no exception. In fact, Jessica says her “worst time managing [the chronic Lyme disease] emotionally” was during that Tennessee trip. Every night during the convention, she’d sing herself to sleep with one of her original songs, “Do You Hear Me?” Her singing was a way to cry out to God. “Do you hear me? Do you see my aching heart? Can you feel the pain that’s tearing me apart? This trial feels so long. Oh where have you gone? Do you hear me?” Then, by the grace of God, while Jessica was still in Tennessee, she got word from her mom that her song, Beauty For Ashes, had gotten her in to the Gideon Festival’s Top 10 for songwriting and performing! This was yet another confirmation of the call on Jessica’s life to use her gifts of singing and songwriting.


When Jessica got home from Tennessee, the clock was ticking. The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival was in just two weeks! Jessica didn’t have the funds to make the big trip to North Carolina, so her friends started a secret Facebook page to help raise support for her to make the trip. Funds were raised for Jessica’s travels. Someone even donated their frequent flyer miles so Jessica could book a flight at no cost.

At Gideon, she was still suffering and in her wheelchair the whole time. But she decided and felt assured that whether she won or not, she was going because God clearly had someone there who needed to hear her song. It turns out, there were several people who were greatly ministered to by “Beauty for Ashes.” Fears and pain aside, Jessica played her heart out. She won 1st place in the songwriting category and 3rd place in the artist performance category.



In the summer of 2013, Jessica’s guitar and songwriting teacher, Andre Rodriguez, suggested she should consider recording an EP. An Extended Play (EP) is a professional recording that includes more than a single, but doesn’t contain enough songs to be considered a full studio album. It’s usually comprised of five or six songs. So Jessica began putting together a portfolio of songs she could record for an EP. Keep in mind, Jessica was still 16 years old at this point. What were you doing when you were 16? Is this girl special or what?


Jessica knew that if she was ever going to record an EP, she’d need to raise funds. Because she was an unknown in the music industry and didn’t have a label or agent, it’d be up to her to fund the project. So in September 2013, she drafted a letter to family, close friends, and people who knew her well at church. In the letter, Jessica stated her goal to record the EP album, which made her feel particularly vulnerable since her dreams were now public. The first week, there was no response. Then, she received her first check in the mail. It was $600! Within a week or two, support was, according to Jessica, “insane.” It was then that she knew. She wanted to press forward and try to fund a full album. But God would need even more supporters to step forward for that dream to be accomplished.


With the EP funded, and a full album now a possibility, Jessica launched a Kickstarter Campaign in November 2013. Her goal? To raise an extra $5,000.00 to completely cover the costs of recording a full album. This was an all or nothing proposition. She’d meet her Kickstarter goal within the 30-day timeframe and receive the funds, or she wouldn’t meet the goal and wouldn’t receive any funds at all. So Jessica shared her Kickstarter page with hundreds, and asked family, friends and church members to spread the word. The Lord spoke. He continued to open doors for Jessica Joy. By the end of the 30-day time frame, her Kickstarter account was fully funded, thanks to the generous financial donations of her supporters. She exceeded her goal by over $1,000.00!

Jessica was well on her way to making another dream become reality. Her calling had been confirmed, yet again. And this time, in a big, big way. A full album, her first professionally recorded album, was now fully funded.



While Jessica was raising funds, God was putting together an incredible team of studio musicians. Her producer is from Nashville, and is guitarist for Christian artist, Natalie Grant. The rest of her band all tour professionally with renowned artists such as Owl City, Jeff Deyo, Jeremy Messersmith and Natalie Grant.

Everything was in place. Jessica was ready to record.

In February 2014, Jessica and her mother stepped foot into the recording studio for the first time.

She was just days from her 17th birthday.

She’d written this nine years prior…“Record my original album by the time I am 17.”

A friend’s mom had prophesied this a year and a half prior…“I will waste nothing in your life. You will bring down strongholds by your heart for worshipping me.”

Jessica’s album would be called Nothing Wasted.

Among the 11 original songs on the album? One of my favorites, You Waste Nothing.

God wasted nothing. Nothing. Jessica Joy’s journey was ordained from the beginning. And the journey’s just begun.

Will you join me next Monday, September 22, as I write about my day with Jessica in studio? It was one of the most amazing, incredible and inspiring days I’ve ever experienced. I’m so excited to share a bit of it with all of you. You’re invited, right here, to witness dreams come to life. God’s call on one young woman’s life has become reality, is becoming reality. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d also love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 

Jessica Joy_Screen Display



Aitkin Band

The fact that my dad’s lifelong career as band director was never celebrated properly bothered me for eight years straight. So one week ago, I took a leap of faith and wrote a post I hoped would rectify that wrong. When I hit publish, I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I did it anyway.

Today, I’m happy to announce that my hopes and dreams for that post came true. The response was greater than I imagined. The outpouring of support? Tremendous, amazing, absolutely incredible.

As of this afternoon…

7,200 people saw the post in their Facebook feed

615 people read the post on the blog

41 people “liked” the post on Facebook

38 people left a personal message for my dad on the blog

27 people shared the post on their personal Facebook page


1 person (my dad, aka Mr. Femling) left a note of thanks for all who made the week so special for him:

“Your comments have raised my spirits immeasurably! It’s easy to get down when you have pulmonary fibrosis and can’t play the trumpet like you used to. I wear oxygen tanks all of the time now so I can still get around and play golf. I always wanted to die directing the band when everything was clicking, as it did many times with you guys, or playing golf. I almost got my wish when I had a heart attack on hole #3 at the [golf course] about 6 weeks ago. As depression started to set in your comments lifted me up and made me want to fight on! The “wall of sound” you created gave me the “chills” many times as do the memories of those times do now. Thanks to my daughter Amy for this great retirement party and to all of my fantastic band students. [Mr. Femling]  JUNE 18, 2014 – 8:07 PM”

I have to admit, I’ve learned some lessons this week. Publishing that post and seeing the positive outcomes was eye opening for sure.

So what have I learned?

1) Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Sometimes there’s just no getting around it. When I published that post, I had NO idea what the response would be. I had no idea how it would “perform.” I had no proof, no evidence to suggest the post would be a success. For all I knew, the post could’ve died flat on its face. But something told me that wasn’t going to happen. I just had a feeling, a suspicion that it had the potential to produce the outcomes I desired for my dad. So I took a leap of faith. And it worked. Sometimes, in order to get the outcomes we desire, in order for God to produce the outcomes in our lives that He desires for us, we need to take leaps of faith.

2) People really can be amazing. And once in a while? They’ll not only meet, but greatly exceed all of your expectations. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve heard me talk about expectations. About four years ago, I became very aware of a fault I’ve carried for a lifetime. The expectations I have for myself and the expectations I have of others are simply way too high. Well, let me just say that all of my expectations were met and exceeded with this blog post for my dad! People showed up. They spent time leaving messages that were detailed, heartfelt, and kind. They acted when they could’ve sat idle. They cared when they could’ve chosen to care less. It was a true honor for me, my dad, and my entire family to read the messages people left on the blog. The outpouring of love and support was amazing, each and every perspective unique, and all together an honoring, perfect picture of my dad’s character and career as band director.

3) Words are powerful. I love words. And I take them seriously, probably more seriously than most. In fact, I’d say that when it boils down to it, words might just be the point of my life. Words can lift up, and words can tear down. We choose our words. Yes, we choose our words. We choose how and when to use them, and with whom to share them. If you go in to that blog post for my dad, dig deep in the comments, read each word, and ponder the true meaning of it all, you’ll be astounded, overwhelmed by the content that was communicated in that space. Words have immense power. Why are we careless with words, throwing them around as if they don’t mean anything, joking as if it won’t hurt anyone, blaming when maybe it’s nobody’s fault at all. Why do we withhold words when they have the power to heal, bring peace, joy, encouragement? Why don’t we love, lift each other up, tend to one another with words more often? Why don’t we consider the holy weight of words, every one important, every one filled with possibility?

Yes, these are just a few of the things I learned from the post I published in honor of my dad’s career as a band director. So today, I rest in peace, acknowledging publicly that the post was a success.

Together, we provided a little joy, a little hope, a little reassurance and blessing for my dad, Mr. Femling, in the midst of times that have been tough.

Words of gratitude are extended generously to those of you who read, responded, and replied to the post. You recognized and restored dignity to a man who deserved it.


**If you haven’t read the post I wrote in honor of my dad’s career as band director, I strongly encourage you to do so! You’ll find it here, at In Which I’m Throwing a Retirement Party for My Dad, Mr. Femling!

DSCN7140On June 12, 2013, I spent 1 hour 45 minutes drafting a blog post I wanted to publish for Father’s Day in honor of my dad, known to many of you as Mr. Femling. I had a plan in mind, a vision of what I wanted to do for my dad. But there came a time, even after all the effort I put into writing that draft, that I felt overwhelmed. This was too big of a task for one person to take on. Emotions and uncertainty stirred up in me as I got further into the post. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to complete the post, publish it, and execute my plan, but I just wasn’t sure. So I dropped it.

The blog post has been sitting in my draft archives for a year, but it hasn’t escaped my mind.

One month ago, I approached my husband and shared what I wanted to do for my dad. I considered the possibility of dedicating a chunk of time for it on the blog in June, maybe even make it a series. But the way I had it all planned out in my mind felt too big, required far too much planning, and the outcome wasn’t guaranteed. While my husband appreciated my thoughtfulness, he assured me that repairing this piece of history wasn’t my responsibility, so after much thought, I decided once again to drop the concept.

But the blog post still hasn’t escaped my mind.

I still feel compelled to act.

DSCN7138So let’s get right to it!

Father’s Day is in two days.

My dad has a rare lung disease and recently had a heart attack. He’s not felt well since.

My dad has been retired for eight years, but I think most people would agree that the end of his career as a public school band director was less than ideal. I won’t attempt to explain, but quite honestly, it was a challenging time for my dad and our family. We tried to help my dad process and manage an unexpected ending to his lifelong career as band director, but by the time he officially retired, we were also two years in to the worst of my sister’s battle with addiction and mental illness.

All of this to say that I believe my dad was not given a proper retirement celebration. None of us had an opportunity to celebrate and honor my dad’s awesome career!

Another thing I regret is that I never got to see him direct his last concert. Under normal circumstances, performing and attending his last concert would have been a big deal.

It’s been eight years since my dad’s retirement, so you’d think I would have gotten over this by now. But it’s always bothered me that he never got the celebration and acknowledgement he deserved for all the years he put in as a band director.

I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday having NEVER heard first hand the awesome ways he touched peoples’ lives through his role as band director. I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday with sadness remaining in his heart about the way his career ended. I’ve feared that there will never be true closure for my dad or our family. I’ve feared that I will regret having never done anything about it, that I’ll carry this burden to my own death bed, wishing I would’ve done something to honor and celebrate my dad’s career.

With that in mind, my dad deserves one gift and it’s long overdue.

So today, I’m taking action.

Today, I honor and celebrate my dad!

Today, I turn pain into peace, regrets into closure, make wrongs right.

Today, let’s open our hearts and celebrate a man who passionately pursued his career. Let’s recognize a man who showed up at work, with honor, every single day. Let’s give praise to a man who went above and beyond, a man who communicated without hesitation the integrity and excellence he expected from his students. Let’s let him know his passion was worth the pursuit.

Today, I’m throwing a belated retirement party for my dad! It’s happening right here, right now, in this place, on this space, right here on this blog.

Yes, it’s unconventional. Yes, some will most certainly think it’s odd.

Yes, it’s spontaneous and NOT the way I usually do things. I don’t know the outcome and I don’t know if word of this virtual retirement party will spread like I want it to.

But I’m taking the risk anyway – for my dad.

I can’t change the past, but I can change how I respond to it.

Today, I fight for justice, do what’s right for the sake of another human being who happens to be my dad.


So here’s how this is going to work!

1) Please share this blog post on your Facebook page so as many people can read the post and participate as possible. If you know my dad and/or live(d) in one of the three cities where he taught, take special note. I need you to spread the word. Simple word of mouth will work, but you’ll have to share the name and URL of my website, Divine In The Daily at Thank you in advance for your help. The more we get this post out, the more well wishes my dad will receive and the more fun memories he’ll be able to relive.

2) Please leave your messages and well wishes for my dad right here on the blog! Write what you would’ve written in a greeting card if you would’ve been invited to a retirement party for my dad. Be brave. Be bold. Be positive and encouraging, loving and kind. Share memories you have about my dad when he was your colleague, your band director, or your childrens’ band director. There are two ways to leave messages for my dad on the blog. (Scroll down a little further and you’ll find the comments below this post.) You can leave a message in the Facebook comments section of my blog. If you leave a message using that method, my dad will be able to see your picture and respond to you directly. If you don’t have a Facebook account and/or prefer to be more anonymous, you can also leave a wish for my dad in the regular comments section!

3) If you feel strongly about maintaining confidentiality, but would still like to send my dad a message, please feel free to email me your letters at and I will be sure to forward all messages to my dad.

4) I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to get some pictures from my dad’s years teaching band. If you have a picture of my dad (and you?!) at any point during his band directing years and are willing to give me permission to use it, I would love a digital copy to include on the blog. I realize my dad retired before digital photography became popular, so simply take a photograph of the photograph, and send it to me via email. All photographs can be emailed to *If you email me a photograph, I assume you also give me permission to share it publicly within the body of this blog post! I am looking for oldies, but goodies! Please send as many photographs as you’d like! This could be great fun for my dad. Marching band, pep band, concerts, solo and ensemble contests, jazz bands, staff or department parties, whatever!

5) If you have any other creative ideas for making this even more fun, please feel free to send me a message with your idea(s) at Want to make a cake and send it to my dad? Great idea. Want to bring dinner to my parents or send a gift card so they can go out to eat? Great idea. Want to send balloons and flowers? Great idea. Want to dig up some old VHS footage of concerts and transfer it to DVD so we can have it to view for a lifetime? Great! Have connections and know the person who has footage of the last concert my dad directed? AWESOME. WE WANT A COPY. Please share.

6) Return to the site throughout the week. I will leave this post at the top of my homepage for at least one week, so it will be easy to find. If all goes well, people will be posting new messages for my dad throughout the week. And I’ll be adding fun photographs you won’t want to miss! So come, mingle, peruse, share memories and enjoy the fun!

So that’s about it! As I type this, I admit, I’m more than a little nervous. There are no guaranteed outcomes. But I believe, whether five people respond or 50 respond, they have something to say that will bring my dad joy, peace and freedom.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you in advance for the kind words you’re about to leave for my dad. Because he deserves to hear how awesome he was, how awesome he is.

May this post be filled with words of encouragement, of blessing, of thanks and gratitude for a man whose career as band director was amazing, incredible and remarkable.

And before I leave this space to y’all, I’ll start us off on the right note! Our son started band lessons this week, and guess what he decided to play? Trumpet.

Amy (Mr. Femling’s daughter)



The Marvelous Mirage rock band, together after 42 years! Photo taken October 6, 2013. Submitted by Tiffany Femling.


Photographs of the 1988-89 school year! Submitted by Joel Kosman

Aitkin Band

Aitkin Pep Band

Aitkin Jazz Band





Yesterday was a little ridiculous.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. Left the house for work at 6:55 a.m. Conducted FIVE therapy home visits back to back, and returned home by 2:15 p.m. For the next 2 hours 45 minutes, I did laundry, cleaned up kids’ messes, unloaded a grocery bag full of one kid’s school stuff, did some finances, went to the park with three kids, made dinner for said three kids, cleaned it all up, and got the oldest ready for an out of town baseball game. At 5:00 p.m. daddy arrived home early. He kept the toddler at home, and I left with the two oldest for a half-hour drive to the baseball game. A train stopped dead in the tracks forced us to reroute, which caused us to be 18 minutes late for pre-game warmup. The 5-inning game started at 6:30 p.m., running long and late, not ending until 8:30 p.m. It was a great game for my son and we won, so of course, everybody planned to stop at Dairy Queen on the way home. One chicken tender basket, two small blizzards and a $13.84 receipt later, we took our seat to eat. Dear son refused to be the first to leave this time, so he escaped outside where all the boys were sitting. His two best friends were the first to leave. I finally convinced him to go after his second friend left, but not before he made a “dirty dinner” of ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper which caused desired outcome of friends laughing – and grabbed a ketchup packet and squished it to splatter all over his white baseball pants. Yay. We got home at 10:00 p.m. I informed the kids they needed to go to bed as quickly as they could, took a shower and crashed on the couch by 10:26 p.m. Forced myself to get quiet and in the Word for a few minutes, looking up passages on freedom. Began drafting a blog post, but literally fell asleep writing. Lugged my body up to bed by 11:30 a.m. Exhausted when I woke to toddler yelling “mommy mommy mommy” at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Frazzled yet?

In need of a lifeline?

I sure was.

While all my days aren’t as rigorous as yesterday, they all have some variety of busyness, craziness, or chaos. I’m in a season of busy, as I’m sure many of you are.

This season of busy requires us to be focused, disciplined and patient to not only survive, but thrive through it. First of all, we need knowledge and awareness of what makes us tick, keeps us sane, grounded and functioning properly. Second, we need discipline to implement the things that make us tick, keep us sane, grounded and functioning properly. It’s up to us to fight for those lifelines, those things that keep us healthy.

It’s taken me near 38 years to determine, very decisively, my lifelines.


In an ideal world, I’d have an opportunity to attend a worship service, Christian concert, or Christian speaking engagement every day. Worship and community centered on Christ centers me, grounds me, helps me remember there is greater purpose to this life. Unfortunately, attending one of those events on a daily basis isn’t possible. So I rely on other things to fill the gaps – prayer, listening to Christian music in the car and on my iPhone, reading scripture, engaging with a Christian community on Twitter, reading blogs written by Christians, and listening to faith talk radio in between speech therapy visits.


I’ve been exercising faithfully two to four times per week for more than eight years now. While I certainly exercised prior to that, I never did as faithfully as I have these eight years. What I’ve learned from eight years of exercising is this – I’m in desperate need of it. I exercise primarily for mental health purposes. Exercising makes me feel better 100% of the time. When I go 3-5 days, or worst case 7-9 days without exercising? I feel like crap. Yep. Just being honest. When I exercise, I feel free, empowered, strong and inspired to live better. And yes, maintaining my weight and losing a couple pounds here and there are side benefits.


Music is something I didn’t really realize I needed regularly in my life until this past year. I grew up in a musical family. My grandma was a master pianist. She taught lessons and played at church. She died when I was 10, but I’d give just about anything to have a moment to sit and listen to her play now. My parents met in college band, my dad was a band director, I was in choir and musicals in high school, and played flute through college. Music has always been a part of who I am. It’s not so much that I just need music. I need music that feeds my soul. At this point in my life, the best way for me to access music that feeds my soul is in the car on my way to work out and in-between speech therapy visits, or on my iPod when I’m working out. I’m an eclectic, preferences ranging from Eminem to Sara Groves, Elton John to Amy Grant – and everything else in-between.


I’ve been a faithful writer since early junior high. Writing is the way I process life. Writing is the way I make sense of the world around me. Writing is the way I get clarity. Yep, I’m the person that writes a sentence when one word would suffice, several paragraphs when one paragraph would suffice. When I started blogging two years ago, I realized something important. When I start a day writing, the whole day is much better than if I don’t. When I end a day writing, I feel much more peace than if I don’t. My brain automatically generates language around my life experiences. I draft sentences and paragraphs in my mind all day. If I don’t get them out, they remain stuck in my head, of use to nobody but me and my ruminating mind. It’s better if I grant myself freedom to get it all out. Focusing on whatever topic speaks to me most in the moment helps me remain true to myself, regardless of others’ response.

So why have I shared these lifelines with you today?

Because identifying what makes me tick, keeps me sane, grounded, and functioning properly has been crucial to my health and wellness as an individual.

Here’s the key…any day when I fight to fit in ALL FOUR lifelines is a much better day than when I miss one, some or all of them.

Today, while the oldest two were at basketball camp, I got in a workout first thing. I turned my music up loud. Writing this blog post was a welcomed, self-imposed activity during my daughter’s afternoon nap. And tonight? Some quiet time with God before bed. Today will be a much better day than yesterday because I’m intentionally including all four lifelines in my day.

I’m not sure if you’re the kind of person who thinks like me, but if you haven’t done so already, may I suggest thinking about your lifelines?

What do you need to function properly on a daily basis? Perhaps your lifelines aren’t activities or habits you need to keep, but people you need to engage in order to maintain wellness. I don’t know what it is that fuels your soul, what it is that keeps you going day by day, but whatever it is, find it.

And when you discover those lifelines?

Fight for them. Fight to fit them in your day.

Your life depends on it.


  1. Monica Anderson Palmer says:

    This was so needed! Thank you…this post is one of my top 5 🙂

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