Tag: branson gmc

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.


grand bittersweetness

I love the social media trend of “Throwback Thursday.” Usually, rather than trying to find time to scan old pictures for uploading, it sends me Googling through my own online presence for what was just a few years ago.

Since our ventures in business and ministry, our moves, and our small children makes it seem like our lives change dramatically all the time, finding stark differences in recent history is not hard…

girls2009These two little girls existed in 2009. They are so OLD now in comparison to four years ago…


randa2009Also in 2009, they embraced The Sound of Music. This is 3 year old Miranda dancing and singing in the backyard as Maria Von Trapp. They were obsessed with the movie and the songs. I still am!


kkbday12009 was also full-on HOME OFFICE mode in our house as we prepared for the first Branson Gospel Music Convention. KK was newly two. She still likes to “work” at my desk (even though we got her one of her own). She will be a CEO, perhaps of the world, and look spectacular while doing so!


TheGrandTheatre.usShifting gears completely, today I am switching the website of The Grand Theatre to forward directly to our church website. The sun has set on The Grand. I have gone through my mourning period into one of peace and relief. It was a wonderful season, a wonderful set of little dreams come true in some of the concerts Rod and I got to promote together, a wonderful chance to work the family-friendly entertainment world, … and know that while it has many wonderful points, it’s probably not for me. My mind might be for business, but my heart is for relationship, and Jerry McGuire I am not. I am so grateful for the opportunities we had at The Grand, the connections and memories made. It truly was entertainment on a grander scale!

It doesn’t always look like this

Sometimes people look at my profile and say, WAHM? What’s that?

It makes me feel like an alien sometimes, being a Work At Home Mom, though I am finding more and more women who are doing just the same.

On a typical working day in my house, there are many moving pieces that range from efficient to crazy. The “work” is editing the magazine or doing one of a number of things for Branson GMR or Rod’s music ministry.. The “home” is our house, where the office is set up in the dining room but sometimes migrates to the kitchen counter. The “from” home means that usually, I am working while being with my kids (4 and nearly 3 years old), with the help of my husband, who is also currently working from home, our 17 year old daughter, who this year is schooling-from-home, my dad, who is retired and helps about one day a week, and, I somewhat guiltily add, a very extensive family DVD collection and fenced in yard!

Sometimes I talk to my publisher while I am making dinner. Laundry is often folded during conference calls. Once, during a radio phone interview, my kids broke a glass candle holder. Pretty much all the time I am working in jeans and t-shirts (and lipstick, of course). Cuddle time in the morning is typically accompanied by my HTC or a notebook. And coffee flows all day long.

I am thankful that I can work and be with my kids. The day I got pregnant with Miranda was also The Day I decided I’d be giving up my teaching job (though I let it stew for awhile before actually resigning). I can’t really imagine not being with my kids every day, though there are some days I’d gladly let one of their out of state relatives borrow them for a few weeks!

We’re currently in the process of considering what 2011 is going to look like for  us, whether it’s going to include one or both of us working outside the home, and the probability of that equating to some outside pre-school time for the girls. Though I admit I am attracted to the ritual organization of our time, I would/will miss flexibility and moments like this, which represent the very, very best of our WAH life:

A year ago was our first ever press conference for Branson GMR. We’ve had several more since then, but our  most recent was the best, because not only was Santa there (because Branson is just that great), but my kids were there, too. And my dear friend Wanda captured this picture, which is going to be framed on my desk somewhere, so that I can recall on frozen-pizza nights and guilt-ridden production weeks how happy we all are with this season of togetherness, even if the togetherness is wacky and disheveled.

For this moment and others like it, I wouldn’t trade for a big salary, a formal lunch break, or co-workers who don’t appreciate the fineness of Little Einsteins.

Where do we go now?

Back in the veryveryvery beginning of my knowing Rod, one day I sent him a barrage of emails with the words to Guns n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine.” You know, that vocal riff Axl does at the end that starts with “Where do we go now, where do we go?” Yeah. I typed that.

I’ll not be doing that again, but I find myself asking the question a lot these days.

Branson Gospel Music Convention 2010 came in whirl of activity… an extreme sport of highs and lows, victories and disappointments, love and resentment, surprises and plans fulfilled. It was a good time, a great success, actually, but for some reason I came home dejected, isolated, and kind of lost.

Meanwhile, we’ve had showing after showing on our house, with no offers yet. And while I am not in a hurry for the vast unknown of packing up and moving our family to a different state, I hate limbo. Hate. It. The fun of making the house “show ready” in the midst of our home office and two toddlers kind of gets stale after awhile as well.

And… the inevitable occurred, the end of Rod’s severance. And while we have downsized and saved and prepared for this time of true self-employment, it is scary to me. Scary! And yet I know good things, reliable things, better things are coming down the pike. I just can’t see them yet.

Honestly, the only thing I have been excited about lately is preparation for homeschooling. Paige, after 11 years of public school, has decided to take the leap this year. So I spend time shopping curriculum, planning applications, thinking it through, adding Miranda’s pre-school start-up to the mix. As usual, I like the New Thing aspect of a new adventure. I have no idea how we as a family will accomplish such a task in the midst of travel, moving, et al, but I know it’s the right thing for us.

So what is the problem, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I guess for the moment, it’s my own lack of vision. There are all these plates spinning in the world around me and while I can manage to keep them spinning, I don’t see an end game. There are words that have been spoken to us that I took to heart and believed, but I don’t see the actions to accompany them, yet. There are dreams and visions birthed in moments of true excitement that now seem like one more thing to do.

I am looking for my purpose, I guess. I had it, and now it feels lost.

One of the most amazing moments of the week in Branson, which feels so far right now, was a small opportunity I received to preach. The message I gave focused in part on my transformation from a person who always expected the worst to a person who believes so much in God’s best for me that I have come to look for it—

You know, one of those annoying people who looks for a rainbow whenever it rains?

You know what’s more annoying?

A person who believes the rainbow is coming but gets testy, impatient, even grossly ambivalent when it is delayed.

I am trying to keep from being that person, hoping it’s just an early-Halloween costume I’ve temporarily donned to cope with a passing season. Ambivalence and cynicism breed nothing productive, and a lack of productivity, above all else, is something I cannot tolerate.

So I will just keep chanting, singing, sending Rod messages: Where do we go now, ah-ha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a….?

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 :)