February/March 2021 Media Picks

Of course, I have to plug my upcoming Proverbs book. It’s my excuse for not blogging lately. 🙂 It’s not necessarily the reason BUT it sounds better than my bed is so warm and my office is so cold. Or that it’s easier to edit my husband’s books than to write my own sometimes! But we are going on a vacation/writing retreat for a few days and I hope to finally finish my Pruning with Proverbs book while he starts his next Bible study. (He currently has The Book of James out while I’m editing his Book of 1st John. I’m also waiting on the illustrations to be completed for the sequel to Gumbo the Bayou Dog so we are enjoying our writing side careers very much!)

In the meantime, we are available for ministry 24/7. At first Covid slowed down some outreach but lately we have 8-9 people (some strangers; some we know) stopping by regularly for help, counseling, or prayer. We’ve done middle of the week weddings and last-minute funerals. We consider it all a blessing and I LOVE that we live and work next door to the church so that our home becomes an extension of it.

My song for this month comes from a couple of funerals we’ve done. It was released in 2015 but I heard it for the first time last year when we did a funeral for the daughter of church members. The family of another church member also selected that song for a funeral we did last week. It’s similar to I Can Only Imagine but told from the perspective of those left behind. It is a sweet song but definitely sob-inducing if you are grieving. Listen to Dancing in the Sky here or visit the Media Page:

The movie I chose is an upcoming Netflix release. It’s their first faith-based film and I’m excited to watch it while also being nervous about recommending a film I haven’t yet seen! Proceed with caution! Here’s the info listed for A Week Away:

Based on an original idea by Alan Powell and directed by Roman White, the pic centers around Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn), a troubled teen who has a run-in with the law that puts him at an important crossroad: go to juvenile detention or attend a Christian summer camp. At first a fish-out-of-water, Will opens his heart, discovers love with a camp regular (Bailee Madison), and a sense of belonging in the last place he expected to find it.

Additional cast includes Jahbril Cook, Kat Conner Sterling, and Iain Tucker. The film, which was shot in Nashville, will feature reimagined songs from some of the biggest hits in Contemporary Christian Music history as well as original music from the film’s music producer, Adam Watts. Paul Becker and Melena Rounis choreographed the dance numbers.

Music! Choreography! Romance! Redemption! This really does sound like my kind of movie!!

Back in the day you had Casey’s “Coast-to-Coast”. Today you have Gigi’s “From the Coast”. Pull up a chair and tune in….

Remember turning on that countdown with a fresh cassette tape in your boombox, ready to hit PLAY and RECORD simultaneously as soon as your favorite songs came on?!!

We’ve come a long way since those days with our music, now able to access songs with a push of a button or even a simple voice command. Once called piracy, now it’s streaming and it’s perfectly legal. (Sorry, Napster for taking the fall for us all.)

While Casey counted down America’s Top 40 in pop music each week, I will be counting down MY Top 10 in uplifting Christian music from the last 7 years along with some brief commentary. I’m embedding Youtube videos (with skip ads option available) instead of audio clips. Take that, Casey Kasem.

So click on the links, listen to some old favorites and maybe discover some new ones, and allow the music of the gospel to lift you up…

10. Freedom Hymn by Austin French (2018)

I just heard this song for the first time last week when we ministered at the Wings of Life. It reminded me of Chainbreaker by Zach Williams (also on this list) and it had a great message.

9. Move by Flame (2011)

The oldest on my list, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I personally prefer the audio version to this video one. I like the beat and the message but the delivery isn’t my favorite. Still, it’s a great workout song with a Madea-sounding intro.

8. Do Life Big by Jamie Grace (2014)

The opposite of the equally dynamic “Dream Small” by Josh Wilson, Jamie Grace wants to use the gifts and talents God gave her to “change the atmosphere.” This is where I am in my life, wanting to bloom where I’m planted but with Miracle-Gro.

7. Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave (2012)

The first time I heard this song, I was shook. I wished I had heard it years ago because the simple words took me back to a place where I had no idea how to lift up my head. Verse 2 is chock-full of hope for the hopeless and dejected: “All my life I have been called unworthy. Named by the voice of my shame and regret. But when I hear You whisper, ‘Child, lift up your head,’ I remember, O God, You’re not done with me yet….” Powerful.

6. Start Over by Flame featuring NF (2013)

Another Flame song (see #9) and one that I wish I could sing. I shared it with my nephew CJ. I don’t know how profound the song was to him but he sure got a good laugh trying to imagine his Aunt Gigi singing it!  The beginning just grabs you. “Everybody’s got a blank page, a story they are writing. Today, a wall that they are climbing..” Everyone. Even the preacher and the CEO. We get so caught up in our own stories we miss that everyone has their own struggles. Then comes the kicker. “You can carry the past on your shoulder or you can start over.”  Don’t be defined by your circumstances. With a new life in Christ, you CAN start over.

5. Overcomer by Mandisa (2013)

I discovered this song last summer when I searched my Amazon Music Unlimited app for “Hip Hop Gospel” to add to my workout mix. (That’s where I discovered a few of the hits listed here. Who knew I’d fall in love with this genre?) It’s a straightforward song with a great beat. No matter what you’re going through, you are an overcomer through Christ.

4. Old Church Choir by Zach Williams (2016)

This one has a special place in my heart because I’ve woken up many mornings to this song on Auto-Play in my spirit. I can’t explain it; it’s just there. I wake up and feel like I’ve interrupted a performance in my soul. Not-so-coincidentally, that is the premise of this song. “I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul….” It is being in that place of peace and worship even in your sleep. And as Williams sings, it IS beautiful.

3. Chainbreaker by Zach Williams (2016)

This song got Zach Williams signed to a label immediately. It’s no surprise. It is amazing and won many souls to the kingdom of Christ, some of my own family members included. Every time I’ve seen it performed in a service, I’ve literally seen chains being broken. It is a song of immeasurable hope.

While searching for the video to include, I came across this video of Williams singing live in a prison. The video moved me to tears. Not only are they receiving a message of hope, but of redemption.

2. Even If by MercyMe (2017)

Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe and author of the hit song I Can Only Imagine, explained the song’s premise. Sometimes it’s easy to sing (or minister) when things are going great, but what about when they aren’t? He wanted to be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…they knew God could deliver them, but even if He didn’t, they were going to keep praising Him.

I understood that immediately. When things got tough for me, I’d stop writing. How can I minister to others when my “feet are held to the flame” and I just feel empty? I was finally starting to learn that lesson, relying on faith even in the darkest times, when this song came out. It was just what I needed for confirmation that I was on the right track. No matter what happens, my hope is Christ alone.

And now, #1. Move (Keep Walkin’) by TobyMac (2015)

I love this song. Love it. My husband isn’t a fan. I attributed it to the age difference. But then we went to an advanced pastors’ screening of Indivisible, the inspirational true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and this song came on during the movie. Half the similarly-aged audience starting singing along. So I figured it was just him. But come to think of it, it was mostly just women singing so maybe T-Mac’s fan base is predominantly female. In any case, like many of the others, this was a “workout” find that I found uplifting and motivating and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites.