Prince of Peace
Hi everyone! I hope and pray that you are doing well. We have been pretty busy lately with work, family, friends, and of course ministry opportunities. We thank God that He is opening up more doors for us. With the change of seasons, it seems like things just seem to pick up a bit. The weather here in Jacksonville has been absolutely gorgeous the past few days and I don’t know about you, but anytime I can get out and enjoy the sunshine I feel energized.
I am so thankful to God lately for some radio air play the song “Prince of Peace” has been getting all around the country. I received a call from a friend in Indiana several weeks ago who told us that he couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing my song being played several times a day. Then, we were given the opportunity to do my first telephone interview in Huntington, WV where the song is being played quite a bit. Later, we received notice that it is charting for the first time in Singing News Magazine’s Top 80 at # 68 and moving up the chart in Christian Voice Magazine’s Top 100 at #26. But, what really blesses my heart is that we’ve even had a few listeners request a copy of the song accompaniment track for them to perform it in their home churches. What an honor! I am amazed that God used me to write a song that others would want to minister with. But that’s what it’s all about! SPREADING the Gospel of Jesus Christ! If we keep what God has given us to ourselves, then we not only defeat the purpose of the blessing, we will lose it for ourselves. We must share what God has done for us, and we will be amazed at what He can do through us.
“Prince of Peace” is the first song I ever wrote, and was written in about 15 minutes. That is how I know for sure that it is nothing that I can boast about, but that God just gave for me to share. At the time I wrote the song, our family was in the midst of great sorrow and pain. With the success that song is having, I thought I’d share the story of it with you here as I share in concert. It is the foundation for the song.
The telephone ringing shattered the pre-dawn stillness of our home one fateful morning 3 years ago. On the other end of the line were the deep, gut wrenching sobs of my sister-in-law and without a word from her, we knew her husband had passed away after a long battle with cancer.
We quickly dressed and headed to her home. It was about 45 minutes away and as we drove, I began to pray “God use me however you can.” I had never been so close to death and I had no experience in comforting a grieving person, so I continued to pray, “Lord use me.”
When we arrived, we let ourselves in and made our way back to their bedroom where we found her curled up next to her husband’s lifeless body. She was sobbing, and gently stroking his hair and face, and I thought, “God what do I say? What can I do to help her?
I gently laid my hand on her shoulder and I began to softly speak the name of Jesus. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Almost immediately, a peace fell over her, she quieted, and I knew in that instant what God meant in the book of Isaiah when He said Jesus would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!
In this time of uncertainty and economic hardship so many are facing, I pray that whatever you are going through, you will find and know that Jesus is your Prince of Peace.
Inspired to Excellence (The Elijah Conference)
Hi everyone! What a beautiful time of year! Here in Jacksonville, the weather has been crisp and clear and it is so nice to have some relief from the heat. I pray all of you are enjoying this gorgeous season God has so wonderfully designed.
This month, I had the awesome privilege of being a part of a Christian Music Artist seminar in Nashville, Tennessee, called the Elijah Conference. It was created and hosted by Brian and Allison Durham Speer….some of you may know her from the Gaither Video series. To say that I learned a lot would be quite an understatement. It lasted 4 full days and could have gone on at least another week. I left wanting more, but energized and excited to continue this ministry. We received training in performance, booking techniques, the Nashville numbering system, pastor relationships, sound engineering, independent CD production, and most importantly, communication from the stage. We wrote and re-wrote segues and then presented them to the entire group along with our song relating to that segue. It is extremely humbling and nerve racking to be professionally critiqued in the presence of your peers, but a very rewarding experience. I kept diverting my eyes every time it came for the next presentation, as if I could avoid the critique! My turn came on Saturday, and I must say that I found it extremely helpful. Allison has an amazing way of examining your performance strategies and giving advice that you cannot help but be thankful for. She is extremely knowledgeable and very intuitive. I cannot say enough good things about Allison Durham Speer. If you are in music ministry, either in the local church or on a national level, I strongly recommend you consider attending one of the upcoming Elijah Conferences. www.elijahconference.com
What really impressed me the most, however, was the anointing that was on the entire conference. In an instructional setting you would not think the presence of the Lord could be felt so strongly. It was quite the opposite! From the very beginning, God was invited to attend and many times throughout the 4 days, the Holy Spirit moved, hearts were touched, revelation was given, and love was shared. I was honored to be a part of such a powerful learning experience. I have attended many conferences in my career path, both as a teacher and as a Gospel Singer. I have never before come away from one feeling like every single word spoken, person attending and action taken was blessed of God. The Elijah Conference was that to me.
I pray that you find experiences God has laid before you to be as inspiring as I have. I know it is only through His guidance that I was able to experience this wonderful time. God bless you all and remember that YOU ARE LOVED!
Hi everyone! We hope and pray all of you are well and feel blessed. We had an awesome week at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville. It is inspiring to be with fellow believers who use their talents to further the Kingdom of God. It is also incredibly uplifting to meet fans of gospel music. We made so many new friends and saw so many from last year. It makes me wonder what our homecoming in Heaven will be like! Won’t it be a great day when we can all be together praising our Savior! Hallelujah!!!
Our sweet little Isabella Grace travelled so well. She is amazing and I know God gave us a baby with the temperament we needed for long trips. She made so many friends. In fact, she sold more CDs than we ever could have just by being her adorable little self. People would stop to see her and then look at our products! There was a running joke among fellow artists who wanted to borrow the baby to draw people to their booths since it seemed to work for us! Seriously though, we were blessed to meet so many with whom we could share our testimony. We pray that those who heard of our miracle baby were encouraged to continue believing God for their answer. We know that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Please check out our schedule of events coming up. We are receiving more calls lately and are excited about sharing the Gospel in song. God is opening doors that we are glad to run through. Please pray for us that we will be worthy vessels and when people see us, they only see Jesus in us. It is not us who shines, but Him who is in us. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. That is our prayer. May God use us in the way He desires.
We love you all and thank you for your support of this ministry. We cannot do this without your prayers and love.
God Bless You!
Hallelujah! Isabella Grace is here! How amazing is our God! Words cannot express the joy we feel with the birth of our precious little angel. She was born Friday, April 25th at 12:40 p.m. weighing 8lbs. 6 oz. and 19 ¾ inches long. She is in perfect health and we could not be more blessed. As I wrote before, she is a miracle from our Father who is more powerful and loving than you can ever imagine. PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!
Psalm 62:5 says “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” In the many years of praying for a baby, there were times when I was so sad and desperate, I would simply not know what to do but cry out to God. Maybe you have been there before or are in that desert place now, where the only action you can take is a tear filled prayer. I know how you feel, but no matter what you may think, GOD HEARS YOUR CRY! He loves you and wants to give you the desires of your heart. What He also wants is for you to give Him praise when you don’t feel like it. If you will forget yourself and focus on how wonderful He is, you will find the rest your soul is seeking. Then, He will fill you with hope. God is faithful, and when you do see His hand move in your life, remember to give Him all the glory.
I pray that all of you find the joy God gives in not only His outward blessings, but most importantly in your soul. He wants to have a relationship with you, and He gave His only son Jesus to die for you so that He could have this relationship with you. Now more than ever, I cherish the price He paid for our sins. I could never give my child up for others, but I’m so glad our Father did! Praise Jesus!
We hope to see some of you soon at one of our upcoming events. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of this ministry.
We love you!
A husband’s perspective
The past few months have been quite an arduous journey for Cathy. Complications with the pregnancy rendered her home bound and on bed rest since mid-February after several anxious visits to the hospital. It seemed this blessed gift from the Lord was going to be a battle to keep. Cathy began having severe, early-labor contractions that were exacerbated by two very large tumors growing alongside the baby. The tumors are a rather common benign occurrence for many women, but for some, they create a multitude of painful complications, as was our case. It seemed the enemy was doing his best to steal the joy that this long awaited pregnancy had brought. But God is ever so faithful and the victory is ours indeed! She was able to go full term and deliver a healthy baby girl. Through a scheduled C-section the doctor was also able to remove those contemptible tumors that created so much pain for Cathy…again, God is good!
In those precious moments leading up to our baby girl’s grand entrance, the anticipation was almost palpable. It was as if you could hear our hearts beating through our very breath as the two of us quietly awaited an escort to the operating room. Within moments it seemed the windows of heaven were opening and pouring out the most amazing blessing either of us have ever received. Painted walls, assembled furniture, diaper bags and all the accoutrements a baby nursery could acquire, in addition to a waiting room full of family and friends, did little to prepare either of us for the overwhelming flood of emotion that so quickly consumed us both as we gazed upon our precious little angel for the first time. The immediate joy of witnessing sweet Isabella Grace’s birth is virtually indescribable. How great is our God! To say I’m thankful to God seems trite at best. I’ve no words to express the depth of gratitude I feel for the very life of our daughter as well as for the fulfillment of my wife’s dream of becoming a mother. And what a wonderful mother she already is. I am in awe of the magnitude of a Creator God who forms the very essence of our souls, weaves the fabric of our flesh and yet prepares our selfish hearts and minds to surge with an incomparable, selfless love for this new little life He has entrusted to our care. My heart is overjoyed and I am truly humbled to join the ranks of parenthood, and to share that triumph with such an inspiring and faithful woman of God. Thank you all for the support you’ve shown this ministry and for the faithful prayers you’ve offered up on our behalf. May the Peace of Christ be with you.
Trey (the help-mate) Perry
Hello Everyone! It’s been quite some time since I posted, and I apologize for the delay. As some of you might know, I’ve been a little pre-occupied with some very big changes. God has chosen to perform a huge miracle in our lives! Yes! We are expecting a baby girl this May! Words just cannot express the joy and excitement this pregnancy has brought to us….So, let me start at the beginning of this long journey.
Over seven years ago, Trey and I began trying to have a baby. As those of you who have experienced infertility can relate, you never expect to have problems in this area. As time passed, we began undergoing some infertility treatments. Then suddenly we found ourselves guardians of four nephews for a period of two years. They ranged from age 4 to 13. With our home full to the brim, we believed that God’s plan was revealed in that if we’d have had our own children, we wouldn’t have had room for our nephews. He knows every detail of our lives and is control of all. He sees what we can’t – and He alone knows our tomorrows.
Eventually the three youngest boys moved back home while the oldest, Mitchell decided to stay on with us. During that transition, my mom became very ill and moved in our home for a while. We continued to try and have our own child, but with no success. So back to the fertility specialist we went. Testing revealed I had endometriosis and I soon underwent surgery to remove it. After surgery, our fertility doctor told us that my blood work confirmed that I would enter early menopause within a year or so, and that without more advanced fertility treatments our chances of getting pregnant were improbable. We prayed about it, but just did not feel lead to seek more invasive treatments. Then, tragically, my mom passed away.
My mom was my best friend and I loved her so much. Losing her was devastating for me, and with her loss went my desire to conceive and be a mother myself. I just didn’t care anymore. I know that many people feel this way after losing someone close. As time passed however, my pain eased and thoughts of having a baby came back. I still didn’t want to talk about it anymore nor seek fertility help.
Trey and I both decided that ministry would be our focus and that whatever God had in store for us, children or not, we would do His work. There was a sweet peace in this decision, and we believed God was going to start a new chapter in our ministry. I even said to God, “Lord, this ministry You have given us is our baby, and we will nurture it for Your glory.” Soon, bookings began flowing in and doors began opening for us on a larger scale and have continued. We are still so excited to be doing this work for Him!
In August I began balancing the new school year with an increasingly busier ministry schedule. I started feeling extremely tired…beyond exhaustion. After one concert, I was so weary that I couldn’t even lift my arm to eat. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and I certainly didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then after leading worship one Wednesday night, three people in our congregation individually approached me and inquired if I might be expecting. I had not discussed anything with them and each one was sure that I was or would be soon. One couple even brought a prophetic message and prayed with me and told me that God knows my deepest desires and that He instructed them to tell me to “hold on to my dream, just hold on.” This couple did not know me or Trey personally and certainly didn’t know our struggle with infertility. Yet, they knew God was going to provide us with our dream of having children. I certainly believed this was of God but the fear of more disappointment made me feel I couldn’t hope anymore.
Feeling physically worse after two days and realizing that pregnancy could be a possibility I took another test…Positive!!!...Tears of joy flooded our home! I immediately woke Trey and all we could do was cry and praise the Lord. I could picture so clearly Jesus smiling on us that precious early morning. It was a true miracle that only He could have performed. His love is so great! It had been two years since our diagnosis from the specialist. So much for early menopause! As miraculous and wonderful as modern science is, God is our final authority.
Isabella Grace is due May 4th. Her name means “Consecrated to God” which is what she has been from the beginning. We ask for your prayers as delivery comes closer. Many of you have already sent us your well wishes and we are grateful for that. I know a few of you prayer warriors have been fervently praying and believing for us over the past few years. We thank you for all of your prayers through our fertility struggle. You are such a blessing to us. We know that she is definitely an answer to many prayers.
We love you and pray that this is a message of hope for you. No matter what you desire, God knows your heart and He wants the very best for you. Give Him glory in everything and He will bless you.
SUMMER BREAK IS OVER! Back to school and work! I don’t know about you, but after a few weeks off, it is nearly impossible to get up at 6:00 a.m. On top of that, I’m trying to cut down on my caffeine intake. I know what you’re thinking. “What is wrong with this girl?” My intentions are good, but my timing is a little off. Those of you who know me well know that I’m not exactly the most disciplined at anything that pertains to my health. I love to eat anything fattening. I don’t exercise, I don’t take vitamins, and I just recently, for the first time ever, started using appropriate skin-care products! I’m terrible about all that stuff. Thankfully, I have good friends who encourage me to do better, and love me even when I fail.
That makes me think of my best friend Jesus. Have you met Him? He epitomizes what a friend should be. Our earthly friends know our outward failures and still love us. But, Jesus knows all of those personal failures, those weaknesses that shame us. Those dark corners of our mind that we hide so well from others - He sees them all. And do you know what He chooses to do? He chooses to love us anyway! Romans 8:38 says: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not only does He continue to love us, He forgives us and creates in us a clean heart, so that we can stop living in shame. We can have a victorious life, but we have to believe and trust. That’s the key. If you want freedom in your mind and heart, you must trust that He can make the difference. It is a daily walk with Him.
We were at a church this morning and were fortunate enough to attend one of their Sunday school classes after getting set up for the concert. The topic of the lesson was what should we call God? After going through the Bible and examining different names of God, some of which include Elohim or God, our maker, Adonai or Lord, El-shaddai or God Almighty, Rock, Fortress, Shield, Mighty One, Lord of Hosts, Lord that heals, I Am, El-roi or God who sees, the question was asked, “ Why do you think God revealed himself by more than one name?” My response is that God is all things to all people and He wants us to know that no matter who or what or where we are - He Is!
I pray you find this truth for your life. Discover Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. They are the best friend you will ever have.
Delight Yourselves in the Lord
A song has been on my heart for some days now, “My Jesus I Love Thee”. It was written in 1862 by 16 year old William R. Featherston. Sixteen years old! Wow! To have the gift of song writing at such a young age and to have written what I feel almost 150 years later! “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine. To Thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious redeemer, my savior art Thou! If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now!” I was saved at 17 years old, truly giving my entire life to the Lord Jesus, and He changed me completely. From a selfish, self-centered, sarcastic, gossiping, brat, He made someone worth using. Ephesians 2:8-10 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Sure, I may have had a life had I not chosen to follow Jesus, but it would not have been the life God had prepared for me. You see, if we give our lives- our loves, hurts, careers, money, everything to God, we cannot ever boast nor brag about what we have become. Therein lays the beauty! We don’t have to worry about being anything or doing anything other than what God wants for us. The pressure is off! We do not have to live up to anyone’s expectations. And where God has a plan for your life, He will light the path! Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” My own journey is a good example of that very promise of God. There are so many fingerprints of the Lord on my life, but one that is clearly on my mind right now is when my mom introduced me to the music of Janet Paschal. For those of you who are not familiar with Janet, she is an anointed gospel singer who is very well known in Southern Gospel music to say the least. When I was 17 and beginning to sing in church, my mom gave me a tape of Janet Paschal and encouraged me to sing her songs. I was immediately hooked and for many years, her music was the focus of my repertoire. In fact, at the competition which opened doors for me to complete my own CD, it was with one of her songs that I was able to win. We have seen her numerous times in concert and basically -I am simply a Janet Paschal groupie! With my own debut CD now complete, I’m in a position to minister even more. Fast forward to next weekend, I will be singing at a women’s conference with none other than one of my role models, Janet Paschal! How amazing is God in His graciousness! Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Only God could orchestrate this wonderful experience! He loves us so much, that if we give our lives to Him, He will make known His path for us. I’ll close with Psalm 143:8 in which David cries to the Lord, “Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.” Dear friends, I encourage you to lift up your soul to God and let Him direct your path.
My Amish Adventure
Happy hot summer everyone! I just got back from Pennsylvania today! What a beautiful state! My friend, Staci and I went to Lancaster County to see how the Amish live. We have both been reading novels by the Christian author Beverly Lewis who uses the Amish as her main characters. We were curious to see what it is really like. IT IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL THERE! We had so much fun meeting nice people and our hosts at the Bed & Breakfast arranged for us to have dinner with two Amish families. They were so hospitable and the food! I can’t begin to describe the wonderful home-grown vegetables, fruits and homemade breads. As with any vacation, we had some very interesting things happen while we were there. While enjoying a drive in the country, we noticed a horse & buggy with no driver but carrying a group of women tourists stricken with somewhat frantic looking faces. Just as I was telling Staci that something seemed amiss with that buggy, we happened upon an Amish man lying in the road crying out for help. He had fallen from the buggy and sustained a broken leg as a result of the wheel running him over. After calling 911, I left Staci praying with him and jumped in the car after the buggy of panicked tourists. Fortunately a farmer brought the horses to a stop and we helped the women return to their lodging. As you may know, the Amish are very devout in there faith showing it outwardly as much as inwardly. They have traditional customs that they follow such as plain dress, no electricity and horse & buggy transportation. Well, on our first day visiting, we stopped in an Amish- owned quilt shop. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring home some authentic souvenirs! Of course, there was no electricity in the store, which was interesting. The store owner was a very sweet Amish woman who was extremely accommodating. She struck up a conversation about where we were from and what we do for a living. When I told her I am a gospel music singer, she got very excited and unexpectedly bought a CD! She does not own a CD player, but knew someone who did. Wow! I was so excited! I hope all of you have a wonderful, fun-filled summer.
Love in Christ,
I am getting ready to leave for Toronto, Canada this Sunday. I am going to a reading conference with my principal and three other teachers/friends. I am looking forward to seeing new sights, but apprehensive about leaving Trey and Mitch for a week. I know they will be alright, but who knows what the house will look like when I get back! Just kidding!
The sales of the CD have been going better than expected. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who have bought one and some of you who have sold some! The response has been wonderful and many have expressed how certain songs are ministering to them. THAT’S what it's all about! We pray every day that God will use the music to touch lives and draw the listener closer to Him.
What a gift God gave us in music! It can either bring the human spirit down or it can lift us up. It is a tool that should always be used to edify and glorify the One who gave it- God. If you aren’t familiar with other gospel music artists, I urge you to discover this wonderful genre! My life would not be what it is today if it had not been for gospel music. Janet Paschal, Bill and Gloria Gaither, CeCe Winans, The Happy Goodmans, Amy Grant, Crystal Lewis, Michael W. Smith, The Hoppers, Avalon, Michael English and so many more are wonderful, talented and anointed gospel artists that have touched me and influenced me over the years. Tune in to your local gospel radio station or visit the nearest Christian book store. You won’t be disappointed! Pray for me as I head to the great North! Looks like it’s a bit cooler in Toronto than here in Jacksonville.
Til next time- love in Christ,
More than Music
Praise the Lord! We have finally received the CD’s! Trey surprised me yesterday, waiting all day to let me be the one who opened the first box. I screamed so loud I was probably heard by all the neighbors. After a very long process and many obstacles, we finally have it. We sat down in the living room floor and put the first copy on and stared at the cover and insert. As we listened, I shed a few tears thinking of my mom and how much I wish she could share the moment with me. But, I know that in some way she must know because I feel comfort in thinking of her. God is good!
The dedication for the CD project was difficult to write because I wanted to give every person credit by name, but that would take up too much unavailable space. But when I say “family” and “friends” please know that you are all so loved and are included in my gratefulness. God has blessed us beyond measure with friends and family. I pray that each one of you is blessed in return when you listen to the music. It was written and recorded with all of you in mind and on my heart.
Love you all!
My Greatest Comfort
The past two weeks have been filled with many blessings. Last night, I lead worship at our church. What an awesome Lord we serve! God promises in His word that He inhabits the praises of His people. We worshipped and God showed up! As I looked out on the congregation I could see hurting hearts pouring out to God. He is so faithful to hear every cry we have and hold us in His arms of love. HE IS WORTHY OF PRAISE!!!
Speaking of hurting hearts, last Tuesday, the 6th, was the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing. I miss her more everyday, but God continues to comfort me. He has given me a wonderful family and friends that always know just when to call and say the right words. Trey and I took off work- thank you Ms. Johnson (my boss) for your understanding- and we went to the cemetery. I haven’t been able to go in several months because it’s just too painful. The day was beautiful, just like the day of her funeral. We took flowers and I just sat and cried while Trey gently and patiently waited. It is always good to let go of the pain, and I truly felt relief. We then went to a state park I had visited as a child with my parents. We sat on a lake so serene. Then we walked through a beautiful ravine on a hiking trail. It always amazes me how seeing the splendor of the earth, God's wonderful creation, can be so comforting. I often think that the beauty of our planet was a gift from God and that He knew when man would truly consider its greatness, he would see how much God loves him. Psalm 24:1 says The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
I believe that one day I will live in an even greater place and I will see my mom again. God also created a place called Heaven and it is just as real as earth, but its beauty cannot be fathomed by our minds. Jesus said in John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas asked the Lord, where are you going and how do we get there? Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” In knowing Christ as my personal savior, I know I will one day see my mom again! And she will hold my hand as I enter into the presence of our mighty God! This knowledge is where I find my greatest comfort. I pray that you have this same peace and assurance.
God bless you and remember- He is your Prince of Peace!