Women in Worship: Carly Voinski

Jun 22, 2016

I have to say, if you would have told me a few years ago that I would be asked to guest blog on the topic of being a woman in worship, I would have laughed in your face. Not because I didn’t love God, I did. Not because I wasn’t serving in a church, I was. But because I was left feeling that women in worship were somehow “less than”, that we weren’t as important, that we couldn’t be used by God to do as much as our counterparts and that frankly, no one cared. I am so thankful that Rachel asked me to write for you all, because it has reminded just how much God has worked in my life since that 

I’ve been serving on a worship team consistently for the past eight years. A lot can happen in eight years, and musically, everything can change in eight years. And so it has. I was around for the transition from hymns and 90’s praise band style to contemporary worship band. Not easy. I could get into the typical messiness of the transition for all involved but really, as a woman in worship, the effect on me is something I don’t think any of the men we serve with would understand.

I was a young wife at the time, a brand spanking new mom, and 22. I dressed “on trend”, I sang with a loud voice, and I chose not to stand still when I sang. I was a distraction. That’s the most appropriate word for how I was left to feel anyway. I was in a constant battle between being me and being who others thought I should be. Everyone had a comment. I was too dressy. I wasn’t dressy enough. I should wear flats. I should wear heels. I should wear baggier pants. I should look put together……..what?! 

By the way, no matter how much anyone says “it’s not personal”, it is. It’s very personal. The hurt goes deep. Here I was with both the heart and skill for this ministry, but all I was ever talked to about was how I could change myself into something someone else felt more comfortable with. And I was alone. There were zero other women to talk to about this. Most times I was the only woman at practices. My female peers didn’t know exactly what to say. The only difference between me and them was that they weren’t on a stage in front of hundreds of people each week. So, all of this to say that I was left feeling that the desire in my heart, to be used by God to lead others in worshipful response to his truth, would never be satisfied. 

There was something in me that kept going though. Looking back on it I see how the strength of the Lord carried me through the hurt, through the messiness. I think many young women would have quit and left “church” all together, living a life of hatred towards the church of their parent’s generation. I’ve seen it, our words can drastically pull a person away from God. Apparently God’s plan for me was different. His plan for me was to dig deep into understanding both who I am in Christ and what he has planned for me.

My confidence comes from Jesus, not myself. I know that I am a child of God. I am seen as righteous in his sight. I am forgiven, loved, and accepted. I am an heir of all things in heaven and will be higher than the angels. I have a strength that can do all things. I have a voice to praise God. I am a daughter of the High King and He has a plan for me. 

When God uses the people in your life to confirm his plans and promises, it’s amazing. I began to get asked to lead worship at other events. Not long after, the leader of the worship ministry had enough faith in me to talk to leadership and have me not just sing on a Sunday, but actually lead on a Sunday. I got connected to thechurchcollective.com and began writing for their site and connecting to other worship leaders all over the world. I wasn’t alone anymore. I was living out the desire that had burned in my heart for so long. The lies I believed; that I needed to be someone else, that I could never be effective, that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t take me seriously; they’ve vanished. The people in my life are supportive and encouraging. The people with which I serve and do life with know my heart and who I am. I’m not hurting. I’ve actually been very comfortable. Now that’s a scary word; comfortable. Guess what? God heals hurt, and he stretches comfort. 

The church that eight years ago made an uncomfortable transition has grown, has been blessed, and has cast a vision to plant churches all over our county in New Jersey. The first church plant will launch in early 2017 in Toms River, New Jersey, where I will be the worship leader. Scary. Exciting. Terrifying. Fulfilling. 

On the days when I was so hurt I would cry to my husband, or worse, cry by myself, the idea of launching a new church as the worship leader couldn’t have even entered my imagination. I was focused on the circumstances around me and ultimately the real distraction, which was the enemy trying to make me quit. The idea that God would fulfill my desire in such a way was beyond comprehension for me. 

Worship women, stay strong. Be confident in who you are. I can testify that it’s true, when you are aligned with God your desires match up to his will. You are not alone. It is easier, now more than ever, to connect with other women in our situation. Be a mentor to someone younger. Be an encourager. Worship the Lord with the voice he has given you. Follow his lead and enjoy the ride.

A lot can happen in eight years. 

Bring it On: Meredith Kinleigh

Jun 15, 2016

Hey, everyone!  My name is Meredith Kinleigh.  *insert lengthy, choreographed handshake here*  I’m a new artist in the Christian Music scene, and I just completed my first tour!  I was out with Jason Crabb and Natasha Owens in February, and then Natasha and I jumped over to the Bring It On Tour with Kutless and 7eventh Time Down.  I couldn’t have imagined this adventure that was awaiting me.

I’ll tell you what…my blog title is easier said (or typed) than done, and I’ll tell you why.  If you were to ask me to describe myself as a character in a book, I would say “’Bilbo Baggins’ from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.”  Ok so, no, I don’t have hairy feet, and I’m considered fairly tall as a person.  I’m like Bilbo in the way that I enjoy the comforts of home.  I like my daily routines.  I enjoy knowing where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing “tomorrow.”  Know what I mean?  I’ve never considered myself a huge adventurer or risk-taker.  I dislike saying “goodbye” to who and what I hold dear, and I’m not a huge fan of major change.  The Lord played the role as “Gandalf” in my life and called me on this grand adventure that is seemingly quite the opposite life for a person like me.  

See, on tour, you have no idea what “tomorrow” will bring or look like; some days you may not even get to shower, which isn’t awesome.  You might as well throw routine out the window...along with your shampoo...(totally kidding).  Overall, we had sufficient shower privileges, but little things like that can really stretch you as a person.  Being 1 of 4 girls on a tour of 25 people was quite adventurous, I’d say.  It was definitely “the land of the bros,” but all the guys were great.  The tour pranks were kept very much at bay, which I was grateful for.  :)  I wasn’t used to staying up so late, so that took some getting used to.  Sleeping on a bunk in a moving bus is an adventure in itself.  And so is trying to curl your hair in a bathroom on a moving bus (I really think that should be added as an Olympic sport.)  Furthermore, it was not an easy thing to say goodbye to my family and church for a month and a half, nor saying goodbye to dear friends on tour made in a short period of time not knowing when/if we’d ever cross paths again.  If I could have it my way, I’d have best friends forever and ever who would all be across the street all the time.  Hahaha.  I also have never been a huge fan of “the spotlight.”  I am an extrovert, but I’m one of those introverted extroverts.  In other words, I deal with a lot of shyness.  Putting myself out there and putting on a show on the stage is something that I have really had to work on.  I have literally had to practice “getting outside of myself” because if I don’t feel super “in the zone” during a performance, I’m tempted to “revert to form,” which in my case is just standing there and singing.  Ok...all this banter to say…TOUR LIFE = GOODBYE COMFORT ZONE.  

As hard as it was and is at times, I’m so grateful that God decided to call me into this kind of ministry and gently pull me out of my coveted zone of comfort.  Looking back, I see how His plan was completely flawless.  He has taught me SO many things on this journey, but I’d like to share two specific ones with you all.  The first truth He has shown me is that this journey has been propelled SOLEY by His sufficient and unending grace.  I’ve realized that my own strength is nowhere to be found, and that is pretty wonderful.  Now, I’m not saying that people who are totally adventurous and made for the road are at a disadvantage to receiving God’s grace if they’re called to tour life.  Not in the slightest!  They rock and roll and receive His grace in other ways.  My experience, however, has been quite different.  
This is a picture that I saw on Facebook right before I left for tour that really inspired me:

Awwww snap!  So much truth in that simple picture!!  God often calls us to a purpose that we can’t imagine ourselves being able to fulfill, but that’s a beautiful thing because God’s grace is able to SHINE through our successes and victories.  We don’t have a single chance to give credit to our own abilities.  Stepping out of our comfort zone where life stays ordinary gives God the opportunity to do extraordinary things in our life; it gives Him a chance to “show off.”  

The second truth God has revealed to me during this journey is that not only does He want me to step out of my comfort zone for my own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.  Now, hang with me for a second…I’m gonna bunny trail really quick.  I’ll make it back to the original point, I promise.  :D  Whatever reason that we are paralyzed to our comfort zones (fear, anxiety, worry, pride, inflexibility, stubbornness) stems from selfishness…whew, that’s heavy, I know.  You might be thinking, “How could being afraid come from selfishness?”  Well, who are we looking at and focusing on if we’re not looking at Jesus?  Ourselves!  We think we know exactly what will happen if we step outside our comfort zone; we worry about silly things and expect the worst, not even considering what God can do.  When we’re afraid, we’re not trusting in Him; we’re putting Him in a box and limiting His power.  Oftentimes, we think WE know what’s better for us than what GOD has in store for us to help us grow and mature.  As I reflect on when I took the somewhat nervous leap into this career 2 years ago, I can say without a doubt that I am not the same person that I was.  I cannot put a price on what God has allowed me to experience.  There have been hardships and struggles along the way, yes, but there has been SO MUCH fulfillment, joy, and victory- things I doubt I would have experienced at my desk doing children’s ministry at my church in my little hometown (AKA “comfort zone”).  I have overcome so much since then that wouldn’t have been possible staying in that comfort zone.  So, the best way to overcome selfishness and all the mess that it brings is looking at Jesus and loving Him so much that we desire to please Him.  What has He called us to do?  He has called us to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19)  Don’t you think that the heart of God is to bring joy to His children and then send us out to tell others about that joy?  In other words, His perfect plan will be for the benefit of our lives AND for the benefit of others’ lives.  This is your cue to say “Yessss, she finally brought that bunny trail back to her point!” ;)  

All comfort zones have a limit.  You can only advance the Kingdom of God so far by staying in one place.  I have found that the best antidote for overcoming any negative feeling that would keep me from stepping outside of my comfort zone is realizing that I have been given life to pour it out.  And that comes with the best fulfillment we could ever desire.  By first dedicating OUR heart to the Lord, He will then give us HIS heart for others.  But do not think that God won’t take care of you while you’re constantly pouring out.  He will constantly be pouring into you.  God has promised that He will be with you always.  Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  And we all know that there is nothing but perfect peace, perfect joy, and perfect love in His presence.  

Thank you all so much for reading!!  I hope this post was a fun break in your day and encouraging to your heart.  I had so much fun reliving some of my recent tour adventures with you.  And a big thanks to Mrs. Rachel Parrish for allowing me the privilege of sharing on her blog.  <3  If you would like to see some pictures from and hear details about the Bring It On Tour and keep up with me during future adventures, go follow me on my social media pages  Instagram: meredithkinleigh; Facebook fan page: Meredith Kinleigh; Twitter: @mkinleigh; Blog: meadowlarkmusic.weebly.com; Snapchat: mkinleighmusic.  Blessings and love to you guys!  -MKinleigh <3

Leaving Responsibility Behind

Jun 13, 2016

Hello everyone! So happy to blogging away on this foggy Napa valley morning. I feel like I really need to be soaking in every single one of these mornings, but more on that at a later time. I am finally on Summer vacation! Easter vacation was so early this year that it made the last 8 weeks of school absolutely unending. Normally we only have 4 or 5 weeks from easter to end, but wow... its amazing what those 3 weeks can do to a person. Anyways, how boring...sorry. But that's life right? Not always super cute and glamorous, and sometimes you don't wear make-up for two months, and you don't get your roots done on time.

Anyways, on to more fun stuff! Nate and I are beach people. We are California people to the core, and the past two summers didn't allow us much time to get to the beach, and it's looking like this summer might not be much different, so as we were laying bed Nate looked over and said "Do you wanna go to the beach tomorrow?" Music to my ears!

So here are some of our adventures. We went to Santa Cruz as we always do, and we definitely have our spots that we go to. "But first, coffee." That little buzz phrase just rings so true for me. We stopped by Verve Coffee (Nate isn't a coffee guy, but he insists we go to Verve every time. It's a major victory for me, but it really is that good). No pictures of coffee, but here are our gluten-donuts, that we probably the most delectable donuts ever (also, Nate posed for that picture on his own... He kills me with cuteness!).

Oh yeah, for those of you not following me on Insta, or Facebook (then how do you know this blog even exists?), I have pink hair now. I'm calling it my "Summer freedom" hair. If I've never bragged about my girl Amy James over at The Parlor in Napa, well, now I am. She is a master. I've been known to ask for some pretty crazy things on a whim... she's never phased. She's amazing, not to mention, she's a blast to be in the chair with. She's so fun and sweet, and adorable, and loves Jesus, and people. Seriously, She's a home-run. In fact, I've yet to meet a stylist at The Parlor I didn't want to be best friends with. They are all wonderful.
Parrish The Thought Blog
No waves today. I fact the beach was very very mellow, not a lot of people. I was able to read and soak up the 78 degree sun, and really just unwind. I'm currently reading Women of The Word by Jen Wilkins. It is seriously like sitting in coffee shop with someone telling you their journey of learning how to read scripture. It is just wonderful. Also, Matt Chandler writes the foreword, and even that is great. So, if you're looking for summer reading/study/practical advice on reading scripture, Women of the Word might be a good choice.
Parrish The Thought Blog
There are worse ways, and worse people to spend your day with.  I do love that man of mine. I've been recently reminded of how blessed I am to have someone to dream, and grow, and adventure with. It really was the most perfect day.
Parrish The Thought Blog

Stay tuned, more Women in Worship lined up, lot's of awesome news, it's going to be a great Summer! See you soon!
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