Quiet Time

So, it’s 2008 . . . how are you doing? Me? Not so well. It’s interesting that when I hadn’t yet put out the “30 day challenge” for journaling, I was fairly consistent. Now that I’ve “encouraged” (and I use the term loosely) everyone, I’ve journaled perhaps 3 times since the beginning of the year. At this point, I can sit and list the various reasons why this would happen . . . not disciplined, made a resolution and now I’m under attack (that’s a lot of religious folks favorite one, huh?), too busy with work, kids and life.

Here’s the truth: I’ve not prioritized it. I’ve allowed basketball games, bike ride meetings, events, manager’s meetings, relatives visiting, sickness and everything else to take it’s place. It’s as if God phones me first thing in the morning, I answer and say, “God, hold on one second, let me jump in the shower – 10 minutes tops! Hey God, you still there? Give me 15 minutes to put my make-up on, and then I’ll have 5 to sit, read, and jot a few things down. Hey God, I’m so sorry, I have to check email really fast, there’s one email I have to respond to or this listener will think I don’t care. It’s all about being Jesus to them, right God?”

Fast forward to the end of the day. “God, I’m gonna put my jammies on, climb in bed and spend some time with you. OK, now I’m all comfy. God, it’s been a long day, I’m so tired. First thing in the morning, K? I’m sorry, God. Thank you for still loving me. Good-nite.”

Yep, that was my January. And now I’m 7 days into February and headed down the same road. So . . . when I got up this morning, I decided to take a U-Turn and the first thing I grabbed was my bible and my bible study. I opened up the scriptures and here’s the verse that brought me to my knees.

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.

Think about that for a moment – the God of the Universe, who spoke everything into being, knows the number of hairs on my head, who knows me by NAME wants to spend time with me? He’ll answer even before I call, while I’m still speaking -He will hear? The answer is “yes”.

And I’m cancelling on Him? Am I insane? (Don’t answer that!) Of course, God is all knowing, and He already knows what’s on our hearts . . . but one thing about God is that He is relational to the core! He wants to be engaged in conversation – a 2 way conversation with us. I believe prayer is more about orienting ourselves to our Father – daily – to help us become more sensitive to His voice.

As I think back over this last month, it occurs to me that we’ve spent a great amount of time with a lot of artists. Brandon Heath was here the beginning of the year, Matthew West came a couple of weeks later, Chris Tomlin was here last week, and Mark Schultz will be here on Thursday. All of these guys are great, and I love them all as my brothers. They’re fun, engaging, encouraging, and bring me new insights and wisdom. I wouldn’t trade a minute of the time that I’ve had with any of them. Nor would I have considered for a nano second cancelling our time together. Now while my job (and it’s only my job) that affords me the blessing of spending time with these guys . . . . you have people like this in your life as well. There are friends, family, and co-workers that you’d never dream of cancelling a lunch with or time spent together.

But isn’t that what we end up doing with God?

Oh, God forgive me . . . once again . . . for allowing everybody and everything to come before You. Forgive me for letting the calendar dictate my quiet time with You. Of everyone that I should NEVER cancel with, it is YOU!

Unsightly Foot Fungus – Compelling! No, Really!

Who knew that foot fungus could sound so good! I don’t think I’ve EVER laughed or had as good a time with an aritist as we did this morning with Matthew! He’s the best – no doubt about it! Matthew was in town for our invitation-only special event tonight to promote his new CD, Something To Say, as well as show his documentary that walked us through his recent vocal surgery.

Because Matthew is one of our friends, we decided to have a little fun with him (tho in reality, he ended up dishing it right back!) so, we told him our writers were on strike and we only had enough (lame) material to begin interviewing him after 8. Bill had written some “compelling content” regarding foot fungus. A listener called in and suggested that Matthew sing the story. And he did!

Listen here . . . .

To clip or NOT to clip . . .

That is the question. Here’s the deal. I’m really NOT a cyclist, I just play one on the radio. Dave is the one who has all the gear, scans the websites, and trains like your suppose to. He & Karen (a friend of the show who is helping us organize the ride) tell me that I really should think about getting clips. And for those of you – like me – who have no idea what clips are, they are these thingys that you install on the pedals of your bike that clip to the special shoes that you buy. Dave says it’ll make my riding more efficient. He also says that’ll give me more of a total leg workout. Karen agrees with both. But here’s one of the problems . . . she’s telling me this as she’s showing me her bloody knees from falling just a few days before. Of course, Dave follows up by saying . . . “it’s no big deal, everyone falls at least once”.

Ahhh, I feel so much better now. I’ve been told that the trick is to swing out when you’re stopping and that unclips you. However, if I see a MAC truck coming at me, I’m not so sure “swinging out” will be my initial thought.

Ironically, clipping . . . or not clipping is much like our faith sometimes. We want to be cyclist complete with all of the gear in order to maximize our sport. Our faith is much the same way. We want to “clip in” for God . . . fully emmersed in living our lives for Him . . . or better yet, receiving what He has for us. But somewhere along the way, fear takes over. Fear of “clipping in”. Thinking: “but what if I can’t swing out?; what if I get bloody knees? Maybe I’ll just buy the clips, install them, but not actually clip. That way if I need to stop, I can.”

The most miserable place to live as a Christian, is in the “in between” . . . sin isn’t fun anymore, but we’re also not experiencing all that God has for us. The reality is God wants us to clip in. He’s not asking us to believe in our ability to control the ride. He’s asking us to believe in His ability to control the ride. Yes, there will be times that it’ll be hard, and most likely we’ll experience bloody knees. But I’d rather be in the arms of Jesus having him wash away my wounds, than to continue riding unhurt – but with no purpose.

I’m headed out to buy those clips now. I’ll bring a camera to capture my first set of bloody knees.

I’m choosing to believe it’ll be worth it.

Broken by the things we run to . . .

Recently someone very close to me was broken. Broken into a thousand pieces. Immediately, I thought of the time when I was broken in much the same way. A time when the best way to describe me was a “pit dweller”. And we’re all pit-dwellers at some point. But then there comes the divine time . . . the time when God forces you to deal with your stuff. And I’m talking the “not so pretty” stuff. Of course, we all sin everyday . . . but I’m not talking about the day to day stuff . . . I’m talking about the thing that we run to. The thing that consumes our thoughts, the thing that one day we think we can master only to find out that we’re really a slave to it. It can take on any form – pride, addictions of all sorts – gambling, alcohol, painkillers, pornography, gluttony, inappropriate relationships, over-indulgence . . . you name it. Beth Moore calls them “shelters” . . . the places that we run to when we’re choosing not to run to the Father. We all have shelters. And eventually they all break us.

As I was watching and walking thru the initial hours and days of my friend’s public brokeness, my heart ached. There’s nothing more painful and gut wrenching in the world than for God to force you to deal with your sin. But praise God that He does! Praise Him that He loves us enough to force us to deal with it. Because it’s then that God lovingly and tenderly puts us back together again. When the Potter molds and refines his pottery. I can’t say that I would want to go through it again, but I can say that I am grateful that I was broken. It’s in our brokenness when we feel His love the most. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us. He came to give us life. John 10:10 says this: “The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destory; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I don’t necessarily consider myself a pit dweller anymore, but know for sure that if I breathe in deep enough I can still smell the smoke. And that’s exactly where I need to reside. To know that I must daily depend on Him to be my shelter.

Our God Reigns

I went and visited my friend, Melissa today in the hospital. Melissa broke her leg a couple of days ago and is waiting to have surgery. When I arrived at her room, I witnessed one of the most precious sites I’ve ever seen. Melissa, complete with headphones, was laying in her bed singing as best she could “Our God Reigns” . . .

Our God reigns over the heavens
Over the earth, Our God reigns
Praise His name, All still standing
All that was, all that remains
Our God reigns
So much Holy, So divine
Yours and so much mine

Clearly a picture of how God must feel when He looks down as we
sing praises to His name. She amazes me still. Melissa suffers from a neuro-degeneration with brain iron accumulation disease. But the disease that she suffers from has never reached her smile or her love of music. Melissa’s favorite aritist is Brandon Heath. That’s extra special for me because Brandon is a friend to Dave, Bill and me. As I entered the room, I paused for a few moments and inhaled the site (and sounds) of Melissa singing Brandon’s song. Tho the song is Brandon’s, she very much was singing it to our Father. For she knows that He does reign over the earth . . . and over her body. Admittedly, the thought that followed for me was, “God, why?” I’m sure that’s a question that Pat, Melissa’s mom has asked a thousand times. And the answer is probably one we’ll never know this side of heaven. But I do know this . . . God’s glory and love shows through Melissa Moore that rivals none. In Melissa’s words: “I am rich in love”. Boy, is she.

I walked over to Melissa’s bed and she grinned from ear to ear. She pulled her headphones down, but not off. We could still hear the music thru the foam covers. Melissa asked me several times that day to sing with her. We sang the words to “Red Sky”, “Lay You Down”, and Melissa’s favorite, “I’m Not Who I Was”.

How incredible to experience a touch of Heaven today at the time of year we celebrate Heaven coming to Earth.

The 2007 Morning Cruise Christmas Letter

I thought I’d share our well-written, well-thought out, well . . . I’m not sure.
Dear artist-friends, industry moguls and other persons of strategic influence (who happen to be our close, personal friends):

‘Tis the season for Christmas letters, and Carmen put me in charge of ours for The Morning Cruise. The reason for the delegation is, I suspect, that she keeps a very tight schedule – what, with repaving the parking lot, washing, waxing and changing the oil in the station vehicles, consulting with her agent, personal trainer, and vice president in charge of wardrobe . . . for Dave and me, of course. Meanwhile, Dave is busily carrying out the other half of Carmen’s to-do list. Although I don’t recall seeing “web research on LSU football” on the list, he says it’s a very important assignment and shuts the door. So, here I am with all this pretty stationery and lots of room to fill it with highlights of the year that many of you have shared with us. How shall I begin?

It was a dark and stormy night…

Okay, I ran that past the attorneys and they muttered something about “copyright infringement.” Let’s just start by saying that from the beginning of the year, Carmen, Dave and I knew 2007 was going to be special, and it was a lot of you that made it that way. Coach Tony Dungy and the Colts were OUR (adopted) team. Thousands of our listeners were rooting for our former Tampa Bay luminary. They put their encouragement in the form of hand-made notes, and Carmen and I delivered the collected album personally to the Dungys (as they were headed down the escalator surrounded by security) in Miami, Super Bowl weekend. Actually, Carmen delivered it. I got lost between the banquet room and the escalator.

Then there was Ron and Denver. Some of you have read their book, Same Kind of Different as Me. If you haven’t, then don’t tell Carmen unless you want a copy and a deadline. Meeting the authors and becoming their friends was one of the most profound experiences of the year. The picture I still have in my head is Denver, fedora in place, being chauffeured around in Carmen’s convertible. Keep in mind that this is the same homeless guy that lived on the streets for more than 30 years, and swore he’d never again speak to a “white woman” after almost being beaten to death for helping one change a tire. Priceless are the nuggets of wisdom he left us and our audience, like: “Just tell ‘em I’m a nobody that’s tryin’ to tell everybody ‘bout Somebody that can save anybody.”

Not all of you know this, but Dave Cruse is an avid cyclist, which means two things: He watches the Tour de France (while we’re on the air!) and he participates in long-distance road biking events. When Mark Schultz put together his cross-country tour for the James Fund, Dave just had to be part of it – the flat part – Kansas to be specific. The irony here is that, as Dave found out, much of Kansas isn’t flat. Clearly, Dave slowed Mark down. But Mark is a gracious host, and he agreed to help us with our “Bike Ride for the Homeless” in February, 2008. Dave, make him ride the hills!

Another artist-show partnership happened last summer, and it hasn’t ended yet. Brandon Heath joined us for “The Summer Cruise II” in July, obviously not having any idea what he was getting himself into. He was the perfect fit – young, single and clueless to our sneaky radio ways. Little did any of us know just how much impact that week of live morning shows and afternoon live-remotes would have. We’ve not heard the end of all the accolades from our listeners. But on a deeper level, there was a touch of heaven none of us expected in the form of two new friends: Tyler and Melissa.

Music-loving Tyler showed up in Pinellas Park one morning, looking tired in his wheelchair. Brandon noticed him as he was about to leave. Brandon pulled away from the crowd, knelt down and did a command performance of a song he just happened to have in his back pocket called “Tyler’s Lullabye.” For this young boy afflicted with crippling disease, it was a five-star event. For us, it was like seeing Jesus stop and minister to someone society would pass by, unnoticed.

Melissa loves music as much as Tyler does. We met her in Inverness, and again, Brandon, exhausted from the week, took the time to make a personal connection and encourage her. Her battle against a neuro-degenerative disease similar to ALS has not kept her smile from encouraging us right back. Melissa and Tyler, and both their moms have become friends of The Morning Cruise and of Brandon. God is using those friendships as a source of continual encouragement in a much wider circle.

I said I had lots of space, and now I’m running out! So, briefly, Mark Hall’s flying down to Florida to debut “The Altar and the Door” and Matthew West’s flying here to share his story of personal victory through vocal surgery were both major highlights for us. Bring Melanie / Emily next time! So many of you artist-types feel the call of God to come to the Florida gulf coast whenever you can, and we appreciate your willingness to so suffer for Jesus! We also suggest PABA-free sunscreen with SPF level of 15 or higher.

We wrapped the year by collecting and distributing over 7,000 frozen turkeys to food banks and ministries throughout our listening area, just in time for the holidays. “T-Shirts for Turkeys” was an appropriate way to connect faith and works, listeners and ministries, God and needy people. The overwhelming response was, no doubt, partly due to the involvement that folks like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (whoops… wrong list) Brandon, Denver, Ron, Tony and others allowed us to share with our listening family.

Actually, Scripture is appropriate to bring in at this point. Jesus said: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. We feel like, in all the fun we’ve had and the connections we’ve made, God’s will was done. Incarnating Christ to lost and broken people – people like us who are daily reminded of their need – is usually not flashy work. It’s not difficult either. It just requires a personal touch.

And that’s what we received from so many. And that’s what, by God’s grace, we gave.

I’m sure I speak for Carmen and Dave when I say, Let’s do it again next year! That, of course, means Dave’s to-do list just got bigger, Carmen will need more time to balance work, home, pedicures, root touch-ups, TJ Maxx delivery schedules, and keeping the two of us in line! And I’ll keep trying to find new ways to say thanks.

Merry Christmas!

Your Friends,
Dave, Bill and Carmen
The Morning Cruise

Mary, Did You Know?

Today has been about as perfect a day (minus the too hot temperatures!) as you could have leading into the Christmas season. I slept late, awoke to the smell of coffee that my sweet husband had made for me, and watched yesterday’s Oprah with Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill and Amy Grant. A GREAT morning. I quickly added some songs to my iPod that I wanted to intentionally listen to while riding my bike. I even placed them in the playlist on my iPod so they would begin as I turned into Flatwoods.

I told Dave & Bill yesterday that I wanted to tell the story of Jesus’ birth similar to how we told the Easter story this past April. I knew a few of the songs that I wanted to use . . . Breath of Heaven, O Holy Night, Born in Bethlehem, and of course . . . my FAVORITE . . . Mary, Did You Know? As I was riding along listening to the songs, I was writing verbiage in my head to coincide with the lyrics that I heard. As I was listening the lyrics from Mary, Did You Know . . .

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
When you kiss your little Baby you’ve kissed the face of God?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

I could barely hold back the tears!! I instantly went to one of my favorite verses found in Isaiah, Chapter 9, verse 6:

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

As I finished decorating the tree this evening, I looked for the 2nd of our two Nativity sets. Our first set was my mother’s that she has passed on to me. It’s very weathered and shows evidence of being stored underneath our trailer when I was a young girl. The 2nd set is one that I bought last year. It’s pewter, and absolutely gorgeous. I love both of them very much, and plan to pass them on to my girls when they are older. When I went to set up the 2nd a few moments ago, I couldn’t pull out Mary and Baby Jesus without hearing “Mary, did you know?”

Could Mary have possibly known? I don’t believe so. I don’t think she had any idea that the child she’d just delivered had been born to deliver her. To deliver us. To bring us life. No, I don’t believe she had any idea that one day she would see Him hang on a cross to cover her sins; our sins. No, I believe she was a young girl who was simply open to being used by God. And when God called, she answered, “Yes”.

It's Not About You!

That’s what I had to be told yet again this year. And I’m sure at some point, I’ll have to be gently told again next year. Here’s the deal . . .

I’m not a fan of playing Christmas music as early as we do. But here’s the reality – the numbers don’t lie. Each year, when we get the “numbers” back (term that measures “cume” – number of people listening and “TSL” – time spent listening – bet you didn’t know radio was that technical, huh?) we see – once again . . . in black and white . . . that our audience doubles (sometimes more than doubles) in the month of December. What we’ve come to see in the last several years is that people are searching for Christmas music. And the place that they’ve found it has been other mainstream radio stations. Now, please don’t hear me say that mainstream radio stations are bad. Many are not. But . . . if we are a Contemporary CHRISTIAN radio station – why should all these potential listeners have to find Christmas music at a station that doesn’t celebrate Christ’s birth the other 11 months of the year?

If our whole mission is about spreading the love of Christ, and celebrating His birth, and resurrection, then why wouldn’t we as Christians not want to offer them something that they are searching for? Perhaps the reason they are searching is because deep down they know that there is something much bigger than Christmas itself as just another holiday, but perhaps that there is a hope that can be found. A hope in the child. The child that was born to die. To die for our sins.

What it came down to was simply this: the ministry potential of playing Christmas music outweighs our own personal taste – in other words, this few weeks of Christmas celebration is not so much for US as for the documented thousands of folks who are not regular listeners who WILL listen during the holidays.

A couple of additional notes:

1. We are NOT in any way starting Christmas music early to keep up with retailers or merchandisers. THAT I can promise you!

2. We choose to play some of the classics mixed in with the sacred – Classics such as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, and others in hopes that new listeners will hear some of the songs that they recognize, and will perhaps “stick around” for a few more songs. No one likes to listen to all unfamiliar tunes.

3. This is a well thought out, prayed over decision.

For additional questions and answers, visit our website at http://www.thejoyfm.com/.

Think of it as giving up your seat at the 11 a.m. service at Easter, and attending the 8, so that those who don’t normally come to church will have a place to sit and hear the message at 11.

So – will you join me in letting it be about them . . . in hopes that they’ll hear about HIM?

Thanksgiving Vacation!

If Chevy Chase ever wants to get a jump on his Christmas vacation – he can always head over to my house around Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving in the Brown house this year . . .

Wednesday – call from my mom telling me that she won’t be over this year, because my step dad wants to go over to Daytona to be a part of the “Turkey Run”. I know it has something to do with cars and some other cool stuff, I’m sure. Keep in mind – my stepdad always does what my mom wants to do. He’s very accommodating, and loves her very, very much. Thanksgiving is my mom’s favorite holiday, so it was a little tough agreeing to go . . . but I’m sure the they found some turkey somewhere.

Thursday – my brother-in-law who is visiting from Ft. Lauderdale breaks the toilet seat in the guest bathroom. So . . . all weekend long, if you used the guest bath, you sat on a duct-taped wrapped seat. I’m sure this has to fall under, “you might be redneck . . . ” in at least one of Jeff Foxworthy’s one-liners. And here’s the best part – Pete and Vic (my brother-in-law) went to Home Depot and Lowe’s on Friday and could not find a match. Pete, being in real estate, just wouldn’t have it. Might devalue the house. The house that isn’t even on the market! Funny how dishes, sheets, or guests towels don’t have to match – but – toilet seats . . . Never! Vic left a $20 on the counter to cover the seat. I got a pedicure.

Thursday evening – Pete, Vic and I are watching the Colts game in the den. The rest of the gang are in the “front room” playing monopoly. My sister in law, who is an accountant, is beating everyone. My youngest, Abbey is pretty much bankrupt. All of the sudden, we hear belly laughs from everyone in the other room. Once I investigate, I discover that my brother has taught my youngest how to counterfeit money. Yes, you got it! We have a copier on our printer in the office. My brother has told Abbey to go and xerox the monopoly money. And she’s already cut it!! I told Abbey that I hope she landed on “Get out of jail free” ’cause that’s exactly where’s she’s going! And for any of you that are worried – yes, I have talked with Abbey about counterfeiting; yes, she knows it’s wrong; and no, I’m not worried about her. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
You can’t make this stuff up!!

About My Father's Business . . .

I’ve been doing T-Shirts for Turkeys for about as many years as I’ve been in radio. And it is -without a doubt – my FAVORITE promotion. It has all the right ingredients . . . fun, fellowship, (church word for hanging out), and food for those in need.

Last night, however, was my most memorable stop. And it wasn’t because of what happened during the stop. It was what happened afterwards. After the stop, Abbey & I delivered turkeys to River of Grace, a homeless mission in Tampa. Abbey has never been exposed to a shelter, and she was really eager to go. Her eyes lit up when I told her that we were delivering them that night. She asked a thousand questions on the way down there, and sat on the edge of her seat not knowing what she was going to see. I think there was a degree of curiosity, but that was outweighted by her child-like faith and desire to help.

When we arrived, we were greeted by what you would call the “least of these”. But the least of these were some of the most grateful, kind, and sweetest men I have ever met. In their brokeness, a simple frozen turkey was a blessing. At least a dozen men helped unload the turkeys . . . so many that no one had to make a second trip. As I looked at them in their tattered and dirty clothes, I was thrilled that I could ask them if they’d all like a new shirt. It instantly became Christmas morning. They lined up and received their new JOY FM T-shirt, as if they’d just been handed the new keys to a car. Abbey had jumped in the back of the van to personally see to it that they all had the size they had requested. (Tho, they would’ve taken anything that we would’ve given them).

As Abbey & I drove away, my heart was overflowing . . .

  • I was grateful that God had let me be a small part of His story.
  • I was proud of my daughter and her tender-heartedness towards the poor.
  • I was embarrassed at the things I fret over.

In Isaiah, chapter 1:17 , we’re told to encourage the homeless and oppressed. Defend the cause of the orphans, and plead the case of the widows.

Jesus, help me to be about my Father’s business. Not my own.


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