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My little Christmas project

There are 2 things I am really passionate about – making music and encouraging the lives of teens, especially when those teens are walking a difficult road.

A few years ago, I decided that since singing isn’t my main job, I want to give it away so that others can give to teenagers in need – and started a little endeavor called Songs for the Cause.  I sing for corporate, family and community gatherings at no charge, and the host donates to the cause I support.

This year, I met Ashley Walker who is the leader of Launch Ministry, and heard her dream of establishing a multi-house group home for teen girls who will probably finish high school in foster care.  She has started phase one and Project Manna Girls’ Home is giving 4-6 girls hope for their future and tangible help in life skills a lot of foster children miss out on because they lack a stable home.

The girls at Project Manna Girls’ Home have lived in multiple foster care placements before coming to Project Manna. This incredible place is their chance for a stable, enduring home to finish high school and look towards a hopeful future instead of always being reminded of a troubled childhood.

I am honored to support Project Manna Girls’ Home and give them the benefits of any singing I do.  At Christmas, Songs for the Cause becomes Songs for the Claus!  I try to book 2-3 events to provide holiday music in return for a donation to the amazing girls at Project Manna.

If you would like to know more about Ashley Walker’s heart for this crucial and life-changing ministry, you can visit

to learn more and get involved.  If you’d like to support Project Manna and give your holiday party guests a little music treat, go to to listen to a demo and submit a booking inquiry.

I believe with everything that I am that life is much if God is in it, and Songs for the Claus is my small way of living that out for foster children and giving to those who are most near to God’s heart.

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A good word from one of my favorites: CS Lewis

Some mornings, I read a daily reflection from A Year with CS Lewis and this morning’s reading struck me with a deeper appreciation for what a veteran may have lived and experienced.  It’s a day late, but still so good:

For let us make no mistake. All that we fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active service.

Like sickness, it threatens pain and death.

Like poverty, it threatens ill lodging, cold, heat, thirst, and hunger.

Like slavery, it threatens toil, humiliation, injustice, and arbitrary rule.

Like exile, it separates you from all you love.

Like the gallies, it imprisons you at close quarters with uncongenial companions.

It threatens every temporal evil—every evil except dishonour…. 

Excerpt From: C. S. Lewis. “A Year with C. S. Lewis.” HarperCollins. iBooks. 

Check out this book on the iBooks Store:

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Standout moments with Dad

There are so many memories my dad has given me that are imbedded in the fibers of my heart – the simple moments most defined by his love for us and his joie de vivre.  Here a few moments that stand out for me:

  • A trip into the city at age 4 to visit him working at Hallmark Cards.  He wanted everyone to meet his little girl.
  • Singing my first solo in a talent show in 6th grade.  He started the standing ovation.
  • Riding shotgun with him on all night vacation drives across Wyoming & Nebraska.  We’d sing along with country radio and talk about life and faith.
  • His contagious love of living out west.  I felt like my whole childhood was an adventure.
  • His booming voice that demanded our attention when we were in trouble and left no doubt that he loved us when we were having a bad day.
  • Chopsticks in his ears and a boyish smile on his face in an Asian restaurant – for no reason but the sheer joy of hearing us giggle and drawing verbal fire from Mom.
  • His deep devotion to his wife and mother.
  • One week in Estes Park, CO and he knew everyone in our little motel on a first name basis.  People would drive up on their Harleys and ask me, “Have you seen Bob?”!!!
  • Annual phone calls at 6:00 am to sing Happy Birthday to his kids.
  • Countless acts of spontaneous generosity to family, friends and even strangers.

This is the standout father’s love that has been given in my life every time it has mattered.  Thanks Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

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Gifts my mom has given


So as I celebrate Mother’s Day, my love and gratitude for Dee Moore wells up for things I can’t seem to find described in greeting cards.  These gifts still run with a strong current in my daily life.  Here is a sample list of the remarkable gifts my mom has given that mean the most:

  • stubborn determination
  • passion for rescuing children birthed out of her own childhood pain and loss
  • insistence that I take care of the things entrusted to me
  • tireless energy as her love language
  • nothing but frank, candid words
  • meals that were feasts
  • courage and resilience against chronic, sometimes debilitating physical pain
  • friendship with her grown children marked by tenderness and encouragement
  • and finally, an unstoppable and sometimes unnerving adventurous spirit!

These gifts have shaped and stretched much of my identity.  I am grateful for a mom whose greatest example to me was to be wholly and unapologetically, herself.

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Lament for Nepal

I wrote this several years ago for Haiti.  Today we mourn for the people of Nepal and ask God these questions on their behalf –  an honest lament for their suffering, too.

I’m weary and broken

I don’t recognize this place

There is nothing left

I’m struggling for even a remnant of faith


My stomach begs for just a taste

My throat cries out for water

How do I hold on and believe

When I feel let go by the hand of my Father?


Where are you God?

Please, please show me your face.

Are you digging through the rubble with me?

Can these ashes reveal your grace?

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A Simple Advent Reflection

A repost of an advent reflection I wrote a few years ago. My heart for my own journey toward Christmas and for yours. – Denise

Denise McKinney's Blog

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light WILL shine. Isaiah 9:2

     The journey to Christmas is about hope.

     Hope that God has not forgotten us,

     hope that we will see him show up in a real way.

But God had so much loving-kindness. He loved us with such a great love. Even when we were dead because of our sins, He made us alive by what Christ did for us. Ephesians 2:4,5

     The journey is also about love;

     God’s deep, purposeful love for all of his

     creation and everyone throughout history,

     but also right now – today – for you and me.

Be full of joy, O people of Zion! Call out in a loud voice, O people of Jerusalem! See, your King is coming to you…

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If I never sang another note

So this weekend my sweet daughter, Lanie, submitted a simple music video to a talent search contest. She accompanied herself on guitar and her friend with awesome video making skills helped her add harmony on a split screen.

All I can say is…if I never sang another note, my joy in watching her grow into a creative musician would be enough to fill this artistic soul!


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