Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife ~ May 2009 ~ SGMRadio.com
Along with being a southern gospel wife, mom of four, freelancer of several things, I am a smart aleck a good part of the time. And while I realize this quality is decidedly not listed among the attributes of a godly woman in Proverbs 31, it is one I have a hard time crucifying… especially when a tool as easily accessible and open to quick sarcasm like Twitter exists. Why, just now, I vented a bit of a rant in less than 140 characters. What could be more satisfying? Hmmm…
Smarting off? It offers some shallow sense of vindication. It shows off the wits. Sometimes it’s funny, mostly just to the source. But alas, it is rarely if ever glorifying to God or edifying to anyone else, and so, I am working on it.
When I last wrote, the Family von Burton (that’s a whole other story, too!) was headed for SGM Fan Fair and I was challenging myself to focus on the reason we even bother with gospel music anyway. I think most seasoned believers know what happens when we ask God to take us to a higher place. I probably don’t have to spell it out, but my journey to that next level has been filled with a death in the family, stomach flu in the family, old family estrangements, new family drama, traumas and tragedies all around in my circle (‘circle’ defined below), and just to keep it interesting and new, ringworm.
Oh, but wait. That was all after we got back from Fan Fair. Must backtrack.
Southern Gospel Music Fan Fair in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this past March was a lovely experience. The traumas actually started before we got there, when I learned that not one but two women in the ‘circle’ (that is, circle of women I am connected to through friendship, friends of friends, blogs, Christ, geography, blood, motherhood, the news, or simply by being female) lost their precious babies: one in utero just months after her daughter was stillborn, and one in a horrific accident in the family’s driveway. These two bits of news came to me in a matter of minutes when my babies were sleeping and for that matter, so was my husband. I woke him up with my sobs, and he did what he could, but what I really needed was time with my Father. Shattered for these two families, I found myself a corner of the bus and told God something that still scares me: If You take them (meaning my Miranda or Kaity) from me, I will still believe. It still kind of shakes me to know that I said it, because you can’t say such words without meaning them, and I don’t even want to think about it, really. Abraham’s moment with Isaac was much tougher, but when it comes to my babies, I am a bit of a wimp.
Anyhow, two days later I witnessed my first concert moments at Fan Fair. I can’t even remember who was singing, but I remember they were singing about the promise of Heaven. And so did the next artist. And so did the next (who happened to be my husband Rod, and he was more open and passionate than I’d ever seen him. One of the wife’s jobs is to sit in the audience and pray, ‘Use him, Lord!’ and I know God did…). Then the next one sang a little-known Mindy Smith song that admonished, “Worry not my daughter… child, when life don’t seem worth living, come to Jesus and let Him hold you in His arms.”
It’s moments like those, and trust me, I had very few moments at all with my Toddler Entourage in the concert hall, that remind me Why We Do What We Do. It’s really not to travel the country or meet cool people or even to get to write about adventures for all you lovely readers. We proclaim the gospel musically or literally or in any other way because people NEED the Lord! I certainly did that night.
The rest of the week is a bit blurry now (check my Tweets for more… I was blasting them every few minutes), but there were many surreal moments, not the least of which was Mr. Jeff Easter helping me chase Runaway Miranda though the crowded aisle while inviting me to his & Sheri’s booth to meet their little one so they could play together. (Dude! You’re a Homecoming star! You talkin’ to me? Really?).
What I really took with me from our week at Fan Fair was how Church-like it was, and I hope you know I mean that in the best way. There were some big names performing during the week, but in the times I got to go in and hear the music, there was a freedom in the atmosphere that invited people to worship, and they were. I did not just see clapping and people rushing to get autographs. I saw people crying, raising hands, calling out to God, and getting blessed. I saw artists standing in the hall after their sets getting embraced by fans not just for who they were or what they sang but because they had allowed real ministry to happen during their minutes on the platform. (By the way, sorry for crying on you, Kirk Talley… You just bless my heart big time!)
As Rod and I prepare for ‘our’ own convention – Branson Gospel Music Convention – we are constantly challenging ourselves to stay true to our tagline: The Spotlight is on the Message. I did not get a chance to personally tell the Fan Fair organizers, so I will be sure to say it here: They did that. They recognized that their audience wanted to receive something more than a good show and their artists wanted to give more, and they not only let it happen but they invited it. Amen! May every event that does this be blessed and be a blessing!
I believe we in Southern Gospel – the artists, the professionals, the supporters – have the ability and the responsibility to do that. If we just want to have a good time, we can jam to a concert DVD in the player and save ourselves lots of money and travel time. But if we want to proclaim the gospel, we have to use these events to do it. Foster a spirit of worship. Take a few minutes of commercial time to preach the Word. Pray in the booths. (Thanks to those who did that for me as I shared the names of those who’d lost their precious angels that weekend).
We have a job to do that is higher. Today I am frustrated by backed up voice mails and misunderstood emails and the fact that to some people, no matter how much we do, it’s never enough. I even sent some Tweets about it! My dear husband, who I will admit here publicly is a better person than I am when it comes to dealing with frustrating people (and also points out to me when necessary that I frequently am a frustrating person), asked me a simple, kinda silly, and poignant question: ‘What would Jesus tweet?” Well, probably not the one I sent a few hours ago. I have to believe He might say something like, “‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled*..” I’m going to go send that one now.
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kellyburton. I promise to mostly be edifying…
*Originally stated in Luke 14:23 – this is from the New King James Version