Category: gospel wife

Four years and forever

A few lifetimes ago, in the fall of 2008, Rod and I were parents of four kids – two in high school, two in diapers, we would count.1924028_107157033521_2892837_n

Based on prompting from friends, our environment, and the Holy Spirit, we decided to have another baby. We named it Branson; short for Branson Gospel Music Convention.

During three and a half years of learning something new every day, many wins and losses, meeting all kinds of people (from pianist and cake-maker extraordinaire Dino to the Oak Ridge Boys, from Branson innkeepers who liked us to gospel bloggers who didn’t), working our tails off, and chasing with all our energy the dreams we felt God had given us, we were the proud parents of something that felt groundbreaking: a Spirit-led southern-ish gospel event that sought to unite and encourage artists and minister to the audience.

It felt like the world to us. And then all of a sudden, it was over.

The third convention, renamed “Revival” and moved to a perfect location, was a peak in several ways. We left that week feeling victorious and energized and grateful.

But it also come on the throes of Rod and I moving our family to Myrtle Beach, SC for what we though would be a “Branson every day” kind of experience that never actually came to be. So not long after, those feelings were replaced by fear, confusion, and defeat.

Rod hasn’t “had a concert” per se since that year. Our bus is gone. Currently, the only events we promote are dinners and holidays at our house. Life sure changed quickly.

Even with the ease of Facebook, we lost touch even with some of our closest of friends. While logic and embroidered pillows and memes tell us that “Friends come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime,” without so many people’s voices in my circle, I just felt alone.

And also, forgotten.

When we put our whole selves into obeying God, because we are human, we also have expectations. Part of me expected that once we started down the path of full time ministry/concert promotion/working in the music industry, we would remain there. It gave me a severe case of whiplash and then probably depression when I realized we did not. We were not. And we don’t know if we will go “back.”

But thanks to our loving Father, there are markers. There are monuments. There are reasons to believe that those three and a half years of toil and investment were not in vain.


If you are reading this, you are likely a reason.

– Because some people met their future spouses at Branson GMR.
– Some people made true, lifelong friends.
– Some people made business connections and therefore gained bookings, studio dates, and invitations.
– Some people were ministered to in such a way that the very direction of their lives changed – and the funny part of this is that most of those occurrences didn’t happen on stage, but behind it, in the exhibit hall, or in the parking lot.
– Some people were called into ministry, were set free from addictions, guilt, or oppression, or were healed.

This past week, as we mark 4 years since our last Branson GMR or even since we stepped foot in the town we loved, God has seen fit to remind me very tangibly about our time there and what it meant and what it means.

Every once in awhile, I feel so sad that it’s over. And I wonder if it mattered.

And just like the loving Father He is, God reminds me: it wasn’t about fortune (LOL!), fame (haha!), or anything fleeting. It was about uniting a family for a season and sending them back out…

It means the same things we dreamed about before we ever got to Branson, the same things we talked about in interviews and from the stage and in those hallways, and the same thing we still strive for now:


Connection with other people, encouraging one another in the grace and goodness of Jesus Christ.

Thank you to the people who have remained in our lives, whether for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. Thank you to the ones who share where you are and who you are with, because there are days, without you knowing, that you bless me because I look and say, “They met in Branson.” Thank you for those who encourage the Burton family as we still chase after God in a variety of ways, by raising our babies, working in our local church, opening our home as a safe haven of fellowship, and constantly asking Him, “What is next?”

Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity of a lifetime that, in spite of all odds, existed in Branson from 2009-2011.

May the spotlight continue to shine on that message. Amen.


Rod Burton

My sweet Carolina niece captured Rod on stage, Tuesday night of Branson GMR.

There are a lot of things that can and have been said about this man, the one I am blessed enough to have as a husband, best friend, and partner. He can be brief. He can be stubborn. Occasionally, he can be a royal pain in the rump :) But he is a wonderful daddy, a loyal friend, a smart and honest businessman, a creative mind, a beautiful singer, and as this pictures shows, a beautiful face attached to a heart that loves, obeys, and gives the glory to His Father.

Thanks for capturing this, Emma! I am proud.


Whole and on whatever row we want

Back in the ’80s, my parents, along with a million others, discovered Sandi Patty. They adored her music. I thought it was pretty, but I preferred Amy Grant’s “contemporary” style.

I remember hearing that Sandi “fell from grace.” It didn’t matter to me then. I felt bad, but I didn’t really get it or have reason to care.

Fast forward to 2003. I was sitting on my front porch one Sunday afternoon after church. I was newly married, and while not completing broken and shrinking into hiding, I was feeling enough guilt and shame to be intrigued and buy Sandi Patty’s book, Broken on the Back Row.

For several hours, I sat there mesmerized and weeping. Here was a story by someone who couldn’t seem more different than me. She sings for Presidents…and with Gaithers! But we shared a common shame, and I was both sad and soothed to know that I was not alone in my failures. I was also taught, perhaps for the first time, through Sandi’s experiences that God can and will forgive us all – and USE us all.

Today, Sandi is on the cover of the magazine of which I am editor-in-chief. While I have not yet gotten the privilege of interviewing her myself, I am so proud to spotlight her accomplishments and her spirit. She is currently touring the country with Women of Faith, likely touching many with her story as she did me.

Yesterday, at our church luncheon, I was also privileged to sit and dine with two people who have become personal role models to me. They have not sung for Presidents either, but what they have done is lived a life steady as a beating drum, raising their children, passing heritage to their grandchildren, staying at the same church for 50 years, teaching and serving there.

When we talked briefly about the subject of Pasts and Scandals, Mr. B – who spends some of his time ministering and befriending prison inmates – said simply, I don’t need to know what is in the past or what people did. I see them serving the Lord now.

And his wife, quiet and sharp-as-a-knife Mrs. B said, If God has forgiven it, there’s no need to bring it up anymore.

I have spent YEARS – about 16 of them at this point – continuing to make allowances for things in my past. Though I accept grace, though I believe with all my heart that “Jesus paid it all,” the human in me still clings to guilt like a security blanket. I have been learning, slowly, how to let go and forget those things, and the simple words from my 2 friends at lunch today has driven it home.

Thank you to them for their steadfast faith, thank you to Sandi for being brave to share a hard but needed testimony, and thank you, for reading this issue! Click on the SGN Scoops cover to download it!

On the road, day 21 of 26

So, on our home of metal and wheels,  far we have visited:

5 states

Dozens of friends, one set of grandparents, 5 aunts, 3 uncles, 2 cousins, one baby!cousin, and one ‘Aunt Jen’s Sister!’

(as well as Mary Poppins, Lilo, Stitch, Buzz, Woody, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, & Pluto).

2 Crackerbarrels, 1 Mexican restaurant – twice, and untold Walmarts

1 dog named Jake

4 churches

1 convention

1 historic city

1 favorite MOUSE HOUSE – where we’ve ridden horses/ponies, boats, trains, more buses, rollar coasters for the first time, and laughed ourselves silly.

We miss our beds, our car, and our FAMILY&FRIENDS at home.

(And I seriously miss my washer and dryer…like, I am going to pet them when I get home).

(OK, and what with the fall premieres, I do miss my DVR, too).

But we give thanks for a life that takes us the homes of people we love, churches that welcome us, little hidden diners, Flying J truck stops, beaches, mountains, places where the pace is slower, and … to adventurous unknowns, together!

A Monday moment

We are back to life today – back to working, cleaning, exercising, play-dating, message-answering, basking.

Branson Gospel Music Convention 2010 was amazing. There were some tough moments, some hard decisions, some unfortunate fall-out, but this weekend, with friends, we were able to reflect on the Good, and testify to the Great, and begin to look forward to the Next.

I am going to be writing more, of course, but my sweet friend Julie Groves shared a photo that for me, embodies the whole spirit & truth of what this event is about.

During the last concert of 9, on that Friday night, our friends McMillan and Life sacrificed most of their 20 minute set to pray. For us – for the Burtons, with an audience of a thousand or so. They prayed for God’s protection over our family, for His wisdom & guidance as we follow His call.

Jimmy, Liz, Devin, how can we ever thank you for this? We only hope God will bless you tenfold.

Now you may discuss how cutely I rock the ‘dress with boots’ look. kthanks :)