In Which I Bid Adieu……

This is probably one of the most difficult blog posts I’ve ever written.  How, exactly, does one say “good-bye” to something that has composed one of the biggest parts of one’s life for the past seven years?  I don’t know.  So I’m going to start at the beginning….and include lots of photos from days gone by.

People I meet on the road always ask “how did you all meet?” and while each member of the band has a (VERY) different story of how they ended up on the road with Ronnie, I like to think that mine might be the most random of them all.  In January of 2005, I was living in Jackson, MS, and I got the call to fill in last minute as a chaperone on a youth retreat for my church’s youth group.  (someone had gotten sick.)  I was thrilled to go spend a weekend with some of my favorite girls, so off I went.

My Resonate girls group.  They were there when it all started and permanently etched in my story

My Resonate girls group. They were there when it all started and permanently etched in my story.  (Can you tell which are the teens and which is the chaperone? I’m looking pretty young in my Jackson Academy t-shirt.  Incidentally, they taught me how to wear eyeliner that weekend as well)

The speaker for that weekend was a guy named Travis Crim.  I was a recent law-school dropout and was desperately seeking direction in my life.  Travis’ sermon on life-purpose hit home for me and I knew that it was no accident that the Lord had brought me to this youth-retreat.  I might have been a chaperone, but I think I needed to hear from the Lord just as much as my sweet high-school girls did.  I pulled Travis aside afterwards to share my story and how the Lord was pulling my heart towards music and at the end of our conversation, Travis mentioned he “had a worship leader friend” that maybe I could play for.  He got my phone number, and I walked away encouraged, but confident that this crazy speaker guy would never actually call me to play violin on the road with his musician friend.  Sadly, I don’t have a photo of Travis from that retreat weekend, but the photo below was taken only a year later…and pretty much sums up the chaos.

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Mobile Spring Outback 2006 – Can’t believe we’d been friends for over a year at this point!

But Travis would prove me wrong two weeks later when he called on a Monday night to “see what I was doing that Thursday-Sunday.”  He and his “musician friend Ronnie Freeman” were playing at a Disciple Now event in San Antonio, Texas.  Did I want to come play?  He couldn’t pay me, but he could cover my travel….thirty minutes later, my flight was booked and four days later I hopped on a plane to SanAntonio.  My seatmate was an elderly African American pastor who read his Bible and prayed for me as I listened to Charlie Hall’s “Marvelous Light” on repeat play the entire flight.  I truly felt that the Lord was calling me into something Marvelous.  That I was running (or flying!) into exactly the direction the Lord had pointed me in.  I have a vivid memory of standing on the curb at baggage claim in my jeans and Lilly Pulitzer pink puffy vest with sweaty palms and my violin, praying fervently, as a van pulled up and Travis and his friend Earl hopped out to help me with my bags.  As we drove away I thought, “This is it…I’ve either willingly walked into some kidnapping plot, or the greatest adventure of my life has begun.”  Thankfully, it was the latter of the two.

Earl....who wore his trenchcoat to the airport to pick me up from that first gig.  You may recognize him as the guy from the Wal-Mart commercials!

Earl….who wore his trenchcoat to the airport to pick me up for that first gig. You may recognize him as the guy from the Wal-Mart commercials!

I should backtrack here and mention that for the 3 days in between booking my flight and getting on the plane, I’d called Travis several times and asked if he could please have Ronnie call me so we could talk about what songs he would be playing that weekend.  Each time, Travis brushed me off saying that if I played at my church regularly (which I did) that I’d be totally fine and he was sure I’d know most of the music.  (Side note: Travis is NOT a musician and had never heard me actually play.)  As we pulled into the hotel parking lot, Travis dropped a bomb on me: Ronnie, the worship leader that I was there to play with, didn’t even know I was coming.  He’d told Ronnie he was going to pick up his “surprise.”  (Side note: Ronnie HATES surprises.)  The hotel room door swung open and inside, the entire band was gathered….waiting in suspense for “Ronnie’s surprise.”  The look of confusion on everyone’s faces when Travis pushed me forward and said with tantamount glee, “Ta-Da!  She plays the violin!” was priceless.  Everyone was confused.  Who was this random girl with a violin?  Ronnie cleared his throat nervously, turned to me and said, “hello…i’m sorry….” and then to Travis, “can I talk to you outside?”  They disappeared outside for a conference while the rest of us were left in one of the most awkward moments of my life.  Finally, after about 10 seconds (or eternity…whichever), Kourtnie Heying asked, “So who are you?  How do you know Travis?”

[Side note: the band on that very first gig was Levi Mueller (older brother of current band member Trenton Muller) on guitar, Matt Minor on Drums, Matt Whittle on bass? (I think?), Kourtney Heying and Charity Mulhearn on vocals and Ronnie.]

In effort to release Ronnie from the uncomfortable spot he’d been put in, I quickly volunteered to sell his CDs, lead a small group, be the errand girl…whatever…and assured him that I did not have to play violin once that weekend if he wasn’t comfortable with it.  He kindly suggested that maybe we should just go try a few songs during the few hour break we had.  We all loaded up in the van and headed to the church where we started with “Amazing Grace” and then worked out way through the entire set-list for the weekend one by one adding in the rest of the band and ending up with something that didn’t sound too bad, considering we’d just met.  The weekend ended up being amazing.  Ronnie was gracious enough to let me play with them the whole time and that Sunday before we flew out, we sat down with our day planners (remember this was 2005….in the era before either of us had iCal!) and he booked me for several more gigs, including something called Outback America.  (I just tried to count up all the Outback America gigs I’ve done since the first one and the number totaled somewhere around 46, give or take 1 or 2).  I spent the next few months driving back and forth from Jackson, Mississippi to various places around the south where Ronnie was booked to lead worship.

On August 29th, 2005, (just two weeks after my 23rd birthday…and the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall) we were hired to play at a festival in South Alabama called En Fuego.  As I stood backstage, I struck up a conversation with a man named Mike Weaver, who was the lead singer for the band Big Daddy Weave.  Mike asked me if I’d ever thought about moving to Nashville and encouraged me that if I was serious about music, that it would be a good thing to think about. I mentioned it to Ronnie, and thus began a season of driving back and forth from Jackson to Nashville almost once as month, leading worship with Ronnie at Fellowship Bible Church, recording on his “We Believe” and “God Speaking” albums and getting to know the city.  I had a good job at a hospital in Jackson, a boyfriend, a great roommate, and an entire comfortable life so it was a difficult decision to make the move.  But on August 20th, 2006….9 days shy of a year after Mike first planted the idea in my heart…I made the drive to Nashville with all of my worldly belongings to move into my new apartment.

Me with Mike Weaver backstage at EnFuego- 8/29/05.

Me with Mike Weaver backstage at EnFuego- 8/29/05.

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Ronnie at soundcheck at Enfuego. Just thought you’d all enjoy this photo.

I cannot possible chronicle all the things that have happened on the road over the past 7 years.  I have grown up on the road.  I’m thankful for all the friendships that have been forged, experiences I’ve had, places I’ve been, concerts I’ve played…etc.  I thought I’d post a few more old photos for your viewing pleasure….because otherwise I’d get sappy…and no one really wants that.

L to R: Rachel Whittle, Kourtney Heying, Me, Adam Mortiz, Sarah Rush and Charity Mulhern at Mobile Outback spring 2006. These girls taught me how to dress.  :)

L to R: Rachel Whittle, Kourtney Heying, Me, Adam Mortiz, Sarah Rush and Charity Mulhern at Mobile Outback spring 2006. These girls taught me how to dress. :)

L to R: Adam Moritz, Sal Oliveri, me and Ronnie in the studio recording "Abide With Me" on Ronnie's We Believe worship album....spring 2006

L to R: Adam Moritz, Sal Oliveri, me and Ronnie in the studio recording “Abide With Me” on Ronnie’s We Believe worship album….spring 2006

Not quite sure when this was taken (I'm thinking circa 2007 or 2008?) but I do know we were in Ronnie's mom's kitchen, we had a bowl full of grapes stuffed in our cheeks, and Trenton was 17.

Not quite sure when this was taken (I’m thinking circa 2007 or 2008?) but I do know we were in Ronnie’s mom’s kitchen, we had a bowl full of grapes stuffed in our cheeks, and Trenton was 17.

L to R: Trenton, Ronnie, Me, Ben Phillips (drums) and Glen Kimberlin (bass) at a church in Montgomery, AL

L to R: Trenton, Ronnie, Me, Ben Phillips (drums) and Glen Kimberlin (bass) at a church in Montgomery, AL

THEE Camp in Missouri 2008.  Kevin Jones (drums) Trenton, Ronnie, Me and Wes Willet (bass).  Playing the "smile as hard as you can game" in the green room.

THEE Camp in Missouri 2008. Kevin Jones (drums) Trenton, Ronnie, Me and Wes Willet (bass). Playing the “smile as hard as you can game” in the green room.

My first (of many) shows at The Underground in Cincinnati!  (Adam, Me, Kevin, Jon Newell on bass and Ronnie.)  Confession time: I ate 4 Klondike bars out of the green room fridge before the show....Mike Volette, I owe you some icecream.

My first (of many) shows at The Underground in Cincinnati! (Adam, Me, Kevin, Jon Newell on bass and Ronnie.) Confession time: I ate 4 Klondike bars out of the green room fridge before the show….Mike Volette, I owe you some ice cream.

Trenton, Ronnie, Jamie, me, Kevin, Wes at one of our many shows at Crossroads Church in Mequon, Wisconsin.  Thankful for the role this special church played in my season on the road!

Trenton, Ronnie, Jamie, me, Kevin, Wes at one of our many shows at Crossroads Church in Mequon, Wisconsin. Thankful for the role this special church played in my season on the road!

Adam, Ronnie, me, Trenton, Jamie and Matt King (drums) at a church just outside Asheville, NC in October 2009.  Keith had surprised me by picking me up from a gig that morning, taking me to the Overlook at The Cove and PROPOSING!!!!  It was so fun to have my "band family" there...although I confess I don't remember much about the show that night!  I love that I'd been engaged for about 4 hours when this photo was taken!

Adam, Ronnie, me, Trenton, Jamie and Matt King (drums) at a church just outside Asheville, NC in October 2009. Keith had surprised me by picking me up from a gig that morning, taking me to the Overlook at The Cove and PROPOSING!!!! It was so fun to have my “band family” there…although I confess I don’t remember much about the show that night! I love that I’d been engaged for about 4 hours when this photo was taken!

A week ago today, I played my final show with Ronnie Freeman and the Band.  We started off the weekend at The Underground in Cinci where I felt so loved!  The sweet community in Cinci presented me with a dozen beautiful roses and a collection of affirmation letters and kind words from the stage.  Then Sunday night in Birmingham we returned once again to Mountainbrook Community Church for a Christmas concert.  It was a bit surreal for me, kind of “Bethany Daniel Bordeaux: This is Your Life” as my parents and friends from each season of life starting with highschool, college, past Ronnie band members, friends of my husband and I, Ranch folks…so so many people there to support me.  I am humbled beyond words at the love and encouragement everyone offered.  I even had two sweet girls from the group I chaperoned on that youth retreat where it all began show up!

Cinci show - Roses, my pretty violin, festive Christmas trees, and the band rocking out on stage

Cinci show – Roses, my pretty violin, festive Christmas trees, and the band rocking out on stage

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Trenton, Ronnie, Me, Jamie, Adam, Matt and Colton….the current gang ready to rock out one last time.

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Clockwise from Top Left: Kourtnie and I have a reunion, Hannah Freeman (Ronnie’s oldest daughter who was 5 when I first met her!) and I dressed like twinsies, the O’Leary twins, Erica and Hannah who have been there to witness day one….and day last, and my dear college friend Sarah who saved the day helping at the merchandise table.

I’m excited for what the Lord has for me next.  To answer the two most popular questions, NO, I’m not putting down my fiddle and NO, Keith and I are not pregnant! :) I am in need of a season of less travel, more time at home, time to pour into a new job I’ve taken on, and I felt that the Lord was telling me it was time to close the door on one beautiful season so I can begin a new one.  It’s scary to step from one thing to another.  But I treasure all the memories I’ve made, lessons I’ve learned, growth I’ve experienced and experiences I’ve had in the past seven years and I’m thankful that those will always be mine to have.  And I trust that He who brought me such a good thing will bring me even greater good.  My Heavenly Father who guides me is loving and kind and I trust what He has for me.  To all of you who have loved me well over the past seven years, thank you.  You have each had a small part in making this girl who she is today.

Last night I listened to my friend and bandmate Adam pray a Hebrew prayer.  The translation struck me to the core as the summation of my heart-cry.  “Praise to the Lord who gave me life, sustained me, and brought me to this season.”  I’ll leave that with you as a benediction: It is my prayer in this moment and one I hope you too can utter.

Middle school

We’ve been in the van since 4:00 AM when we left Nashville for Houston. I’m proud to say that we arrived in record time. Safely. And happy. A win/win all around.

But we didn’t head straight to the hotel and crash…instead we went to middle school. That’s right. We are so excited to have been invited to play for the middle schoolers at St. Francis Episcopal school in Houston in the morning so we headed there to load in and soundcheck for our concert in the morning.

We can’t wait to play in the morning….after a good night’s sleep!

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Go Fish!

We had an amazing weekend this past weekend leading worship at the Outback America event in Mobile, AL. We are so thankful to have such a family there and it’s always fun to see folks each season.

One of our favorite parts besides the community if folks involved, is how beautiful the property is! We’ve always loved looking at the lake, but this time, the boys took the lake appreciation to a whole new level and fished in it during all their free time. They started out catching lots of little brim, but then started reeling in the big ones as the weekend went on. There was even a big one that got away several times. I thought you might enjoy some photos of their prize catches!

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Matt and Trenton hard at work!

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Matt’s bass!

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Trenton pulls in the first of the really big ones.

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Matt lands the giant one!

Paying homage to St. Arbucks

So we’re on the road again! This time we’re back in a town that we’ve all come to call home: Mobile, AL.

We all have a bit of a coffee habit and we like to stop at every Starbucks we pass. Today, we got to town an entire hour and 15 minutes early (a first, for sure!) and so we decided to find the closest Starbucks for a cup ‘o joe and some down time. Colton took advantage of the opportunity to try out his panoramic ap and took the very cool photo below.

We’re looking forward to an amazing weekend!

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Happy Birthday, Colton!!!

Yesterday, our newest band member Colton, had a birthday.  So I’m taking this opportunity to do something that’s a few months overdue anyway….which is introduce him to all of you!

Colton’s first gig with the band was back in August at a service project in Franklin, TN.  Since then, he’s done a few concerts and two weekends ago, experienced his first “Outback America” in Huntsville, Alabama.  He also spent the summer at JH Ranch leading worship with the band there.

He’s taken over the role as the youngest of the group, so we’re prone to tease him alot, but we love having him around.  He makes us laugh, he’s super nice…and he plays a mean bass.  So without further adieu, I introduce to you….Colton Hammond….bass player, and birthday boy.

A little bit about him…..

“I began playing bass four years ago, right around the same time my little brother began getting serious about drums, so I’ve had the benefit of always having a drummer to play with. Since I first picked up the bass four years ago I’ve been helping with worship. I’ve also played just about every genre you can imagine, including jazz, country, folk, RNB, and funk.

I’ve always viewed an instrument as like a second language. When someone plays their instrument, they are actually speaking without having to use words. Music has been called the universal language, and I have to agree; music itself tears social barriers and connects people in a very unique, unseen way.”

 

We “heart” you, Colton!

A Weekend at The Cove

This past weekend Ronnie, Bethany, Jamie and Adam were so excited to have the opportunity to lead worship at the volunteer retreat for Samaritan’s Purse, a disaster relief organization affiliated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  The retreat was held at The Cove, a retreat space near Asheville, North Carolina owned by the BGEA as a place to hold conferences, retreats and concerts with the ultimate goal of equipping pastors, lay people and volunteers to better spread the Word of the Gospel.

Friday night we had the extreme privilege of hearing Dr. Robert J. Bentley, the current Governor of the State of Alabama, speak on the task of managing and re-building in the state of Alabama after the tornadoes that hit a year ago and killed over 200 people, particularly in the Tuscaloosa area.  Dr. Bentley was a humble and gracious man whose love for the Lord and his state were apparent.  We were excited to take a photo with him afterwards….this one is a tad fuzzy (thanks to my iPhone) but I’ll swap it out with the one taken on the “good camera” as soon as I get it emailed to me.  :)

From Left to Right: Adam, Ronnie, Gov. Bentley, Jamie and Bethany

We were also thrilled to have some free time on Saturday, so we kicked it off with a hike.  There is a beautiful space at the top of the mountain at The Cove called “The Overlook.”  The round trip 6 mile hike is a treacherous one  (Jamie would argue it’s more of a climb than a hike..haha) but well worth the effort as the view from the top is amazing.  (Bethany actually got engaged to her husband at the top of the Overlook nearly 3 years ago on a previous Ronnie-and-the-band gig in Asheville, so it was special for her to get to return to that very spot!)

And because there have already been comments flying on Facebook to the tune of “if there aren’t photos, it didn’t happen,”  I’ve posted some photos here for you to enjoy the view….and to prove that we did, in fact, make it to the top! (and in near-record time, I might add.)

Adam, Ronnie and Jamie take time for a rest and snack before heading the 3 miles back down the mountain!

Bethany, at the same spot she said “YES” in October of 2009!

A short video clip of the view from the top!

After our hike we headed into Asheville for a little lunch and a cup of sipping chocolate at French Broad Chocolates, which is a must-see if you are ever in the area.  The worship service that night was wonderful.  It was so great to hear the volunteers sing (They could have been a choir! It was awesome!) and to get to hear Will Graham, Billy’s grandson and Director of The Cove, preach about how God can use us, even if we don’t feel equipped.

From Left to Right: Ronnie, Will Graham, Bethany, Jamie and Adam.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend!  Great speakers, so much encouragement from new friends, and even perfect weather as a bonus.  We always enjoy our time with Samaritans Purse folks and this weekend was no exception.  Thank you one and all for your gracious hospitality!  We were blessed to be with you!