Things have been so crazy lately I’m not even sure where to start! The great thing is, it’s been crazy because so much has been happening (which is why it’s kinda long, folks)! By now you know that this is wonderful news because there’s been so few times that we’ve actually been able to get in to the studio and you also know that I don’t write a newsletter when there’s no news, sooo… Studio Time October 31st was the last time you heard from me; when we were able to get into the studio and get the piano tracks laid for both albums.
Over the last several months, I’ve been trying to find time, between holidays and school starting up again, to sit down and actually listen to those tracks, sing along with them, critique them, and figure out whether any of them need to be re-done. I finally got the chance to do just that for a couple hours straight on the drive Dan and I had to Minocqua for the Youth Pastor and Wives’ retreat at the end of January. I found only four piano tracks that needed to be re-done, so when we got back from the retreat we began trying to find a time to get into the studio again when I wasn’t sick. As you probably have experienced in your families, this time of year is very prominent with cold and flu rotations and our household was not the exception! J Soon, after waiting for so long for symptoms to go away, God finally put it on my heart to just make an appointment and let Him keep me well for it. So I did, and it was just about a week ago on Saturday February 20th that we were able to go in and begin work on what we had done and try to move forward. Once again God went before us with amazing blessing and efficiency and I was able to re-do not only the four songs that needed new piano tracks laid down, but was also able to start laying the vocal tracks down on top! It was amazing and everything I’d ever pictured and imagined and hoped for! It was incredible to just stand there and sing my lungs out into that mic and know that God was putting this together more and more, step by step…wow, words escape me to let you know what it was all like…maybe surreal? It was definitely surreal… By the time four hours had passed and we needed to leave, we took a look at all the songs we had gotten done and were once again amazed at His goodness…we were able to not only fix the four songs that needed new piano tracks, but were able to be DONE with the vocals for 12 of the songs!!! YES! Crazy huh?! It was an amazing drive home as Dan and I just sat and marveled at God’s blessing! It was in that excitement and God preparing the way for us, that we pressed forward with finding another date to come in. Wednesday of that week, the 24th, was free for both us and Randy so we made the appointment! Yes, it was just as exciting as before! We felt God continue to go before us in blessing and efficiency, so much so that Randy told Dan that he’s never seen any project go this smooth and this fast and with such excellent quality. This was truly exciting to us to see that God had used our time in the studio thus far to show His glory and so, of course, Dan replied to him that it was because we know that God is asking us to do this and it’s in obedience to Him that we are being blessed by Him; it is going this well only because of Him! Randy quickly replied that it must be God’s blessing, because He’d never seen anything like it and saw no other explanation…pretty awesome to hear from a non-believer that has spent 35 years doing this! Needless to say, we were really encouraged and excited to see what God had done not only for us, but for Randy! In the three hours we were there that Wednesday, we ended up, by God’s grace, being able to finish the remaining 12 vocal tracks! It was again surreal in so many ways…the drive home was again spent just praising the Lord for how and when and what HE has accomplished so far! Prayer Requests — As I’m in the studio recording, you’ve probably already guessed that Dan is there, giving Randy a (loving) earful of who God is and what He’s done for us and so my FIRST prayer request for our time at the studio is that God would continue to draw Randy to Himself and that he would ultimately surrender himself to the Lord! God has provided so many amazing conversations already between him and Dan (never mind the fact that the lyrics he has to pay such close attention to are a huge dose of God’s love and purposes) and He has given such natural ways of bringing up the reason of the hope that is in us and so this is a praise as much as it is a prayer request! –At this point our biggest prayer request is for the Lord to CONTINUE in what He’s doing already (Praise the Lord!!): provision, efficiency, blessing, and discernment for future decisions! –The last things I’d like to share with you are two praises, HUGE praises! The enemy has been working overtime to discourage and distract and yet God continues to go before us! Throughout sickness, scheduling conflicts, and the flesh that wars within us, He has proven Himself not only faithful, but victorious! God has once again shown us His provision for this project and so many more things that need to come! 1. We have started a non-profit org. that will be the source and recipient of funds for this CD project and many other areas of ministry that God is asking Dan and I to begin doing more of. The more Dan speaks and the more I am asked to sing, the more we are going to need a legitimate resource for the provision and receiving of funds for and from these areas of ministry. So, about a year ago, God put what we now call Apprentice Ministries on our hearts and now we are in the last week of paper-signing for full government approval of Apprentice Ministries Inc.!! We are also praising the Lord because everything was put together for us by a lawyer (again, a non-believer who’s getting an earful J) in Madison absolutely free of charge! His statement to us was that the whole reason he was approving our application and wanting to put all the paperwork together for free was because he saw that we were not only passionate about what we were doing, but we were going to be doing something through this ministry that isn’t often done…and to find out more about all that we’ll be doing, just ask, it’s too long to fit in this already-too-long newsletter! 2. Just about a month ago I received our first check for Apprentice Ministries for $1000! God provided another advertisement radio-spot jingle-writing opportunity and it was a huge success!! We are so thankful for the ways God keeps letting us know that we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing and that we get to praise Him with you for these blessings! Interesting Tidbits We are in the process of needing to put together the inserts for the CDs and the website, and although that sounds like next steps, it is in my “Interesting Tidbits” section just for the fact that it’s not really a step until the snow melts and we can get pictures ready for both of those things. We are seeking God’s guidance for what He wants us to have/do for these projects and are just in the planning/drawing stages for both. They are going to be seen quite a bit, so we want to make sure that they are true representations of not only us but Christ. With that in mind, God has surrounded us with such a wonderful support group (YOU!) so we would actually really love your insights, experience in these areas, and/or ideas so that we can begin what we can and move forward as much as we can without photos. Keep us in your prayers regarding what the final decisions are and keep in mind that ultimately the final decisions will be based on how God moves us, so don’t be disappointed if we DON’T use a suggestion or idea, we really do appreciate your prayers and input and it’s probably from your brainstorming with us that we will derive what God wants us to do! One idea that God also recently gave me is the making of soundtrack CDs of certain songs so that other singers can use them for special music in church or whatever. When I ran it by Randy, he was really excited about their potential for use and also for the fact that, based on what we’re doing for the two CDs already, the work required to put together soundtrack CDs will already be done, it’s just a matter of putting together and taking away the right parts so that different keys and options for background vocals can be used; just one more thing to add to your prayers for us! Next Steps We’re planning on going back in this Wednesday, which hopefully means that you’ll get a much shorter update-newsletter sometime next week! While there, we will begin my most anticipated part: laying down the background vocal tracks!! So we’ll see how that goes, but this truly is the last big chunk that we’ll have to do in the studio before Randy puts the pieces together…yeah, I still don’t believe it either! J We are sooooo close to being done!! Following the completion of all these details, the ones I’ve alluded to and much more, we’ll be setting up a CD-release concert that will be pretty much just that: a concert at which the CDs will be sold for the first time…again, very surreal, but also so exciting and true to what God has done so far! Keep praying, keep asking me how it’s going; you’ll never know how much it means to me! We know that by His grace and blessing He will be faithful to complete the work He has started… Gretchen Jester and Family