Donna Leigh's Blog

NO FEAR! 

I've always been one who boldly says, "I don't walk in fear". But if I'm REALLY honest, there are just a few things that make me shake in my boots: 1) Snakes; 2) The possibility of getting stuck on railroad tracks with a train coming; and 3) The thought of falling off a bridge into deep bodies of water (okay, so I've watched one too many movies!!!).

My calling is that of a contemporary gospel singer - but I also have a "day job" that takes me 22 miles from home each day. This includes crossing Lake Jessup, which is a mile-and-a-half wide, twice a day. Oh, and did I mention this lake is known for having more alligators than any other lake in Florida?!  =P 

A couple of months into this daily drive, the anxiety subsided and I began to actually enjoy glancing over at the water each day as I cruised across. I've been driving this route for almost two years now. Then today - the fear returned.   

Tropical Storm Colin is in the Gulf of Mexico and, as a result, we're getting some pretty hefty winds and heavy rains here in Central Florida. I was on my way home from work and a couple of miles before approaching "the bridge", the thought suddenly popped into my head: "These winds are crazy. The rain is so thick I can barely see the car in front of me. WHAT IF a tornado hits, just as I'm crossing the bridge, and blows me into the water?!"   

And then I remembered 2 Timothy 1:7 -- "For God has not given ME the spirit of fear - but of power, love and a sound mind!" I turned up the worship music and started singing along. Before I knew it, the fear was gone (take THAT, devil!) and I was home. 

I'm so grateful for God's promises, and for His Word that I can hide in my heart! Be bold, saints! His angels are standing guard for you! <3

SHOW 'EM SOME LOVE!!! 

If you're plugged into a church family (and I hope you are!), I KNOW you're praying for your Pastors (right?!) -- but don't forget to also pray for your Worship Leaders!  Most people think the only thing there is to leading worship is walking onto the platform, taking a mic in your hand, standing in front and singing the loudest.  Ha!!!  Well, let me just tell you -- there is sooooooo much more to it!  

Although I've been singing for more than four decades, I've only been singing on worship teams for less than half of those years.  Once in awhile, I've had the opportunity to be a guest Worship Leader (when a church's WL was on vacation or had the flu), but this summer, the Lord has just flung open the doors of opportunity for me in this area.  It's been scary, but it's been EXCITING!  In June, I stepped in for five weeks at my home church, to give my Worship Leader (who is also my friend/pastor's wife) a MUCH needed break.  A couple of weeks after that, I was asked to lead worship at another church for six weeks (thankfully, I have pastors who realize God's calling on my life and never try to stand in the way of it!).  

I can tell you that I absolutely LOVE leading God's people into His presence through worship . . . but it ain't easy, people!!!  What you see on any given Sunday morning is someone who has spent HOURS preparing set lists, securing musicians, downloading and distributing chord charts, printing extra chord charts (for those musicians who will undoubtedly forget to bring their's with them), preparing overhead lyrics for the congregation (and possibly learning a whole new software program to do so, if you're guest leading at a place that has different software than what you're used to), finding replacements when musicians can't make it at the last minute, and praying -- LOTS and LOTS of praying!!!  

Do Worship Leaders begrudge this responsibility?  I can only speak for those I know (and they are plenty), and the answer is an overwhelming "absolutely NOT!"  Worship Leaders are a breed of people, like most in ministry, who don't just choose to do what they do -- they're CALLED to do it.  And because of that calling -- when they walk onto that platform, take the mic in their hand, stand in front and sing the loudest -- they experience an immeasurable level of JOY that makes it all worthwhile -- because they know that the Father dwells (lives in) the praises of His people!!! 

So the next time you see your Worship Leader -- give 'em a little extra measure of love and let them know how much you appreciate them.  I guarantee, it'll make 'em smile!  <3

 

HE FITS THE PIECES TOGETHER! 

I love how God so wonderfully orchestrates things in our lives! Almost two years ago (August 2013), I witnessed a pretty ugly car accident, where a guy ran a red light and t-boned another. I stopped to make sure the victim was okay, and gave him my card, in case he needed a witness. More than six months later (after the case was settled), that victim's wife sought me out after finding my card, and wanted to thank me (her hubby was fine, by the way). Turns out AmyGrace is an awesome God's girl and we instantly became friends! I started attending a monthly ladies prayer group at AmyGrace's home, where I met sweet Cindy. Cindy and I found out we had soooooo many things in common that we just had to laugh about it. I adored her! Awhile later, God gave me Steel Grace and Cindy's husband, Brandon, is now my drummer! I've just fallen in love with this family -- almost feel like Brandon is becoming a second son to me (and yes - I am old enough to be his mama! LOL.). I just love how God sees our future and fits all the puzzle pieces together juuuuuuuust right. He's so awesome like that!

Cindy, Ashlyn, Brandon & Taylor

"LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE!!!!!" 

Remember that old song?  It's one of my Pastor's favorites!  And my best friend says that when the Lord brings my forever love to me, she's gonna run laps around the church singing it at my wedding!!!  LOL.  

But wow -- do I ever have exciting news to share!!!  If you've been following my ministry for any time, you know that for soooooooo many years, my dad played piano for me when I sang, and for a few years we were blessed with the "Something To Believe In" band who traveled with us.  Since Daddy's "relocation" to Heaven in '05, I've been goin' it solo with accompaniment tracks.  Sure -- I've dreamed about having a band.  It's ALWAYS nicer to sing with live musicians.  It's sweet when you can allow the Holy Spirit to flow and not have to end a song just because the track ended.  And it's WAY easier to "share" in between songs when you have some soft music playing in the background, rather than that awful, awkward silence!  LOL.  But.  There's that word.  But.  I was fearful (there's THAT word again!) of many things -- dealing with various personalities, schedules, etc.  I just figured I'd stay in my safe little "comfort zone" forever. After all -- it's worked!  And then . . .

This past October, I was leading worship at Trinity Assembly of God in Chuluota, FL, while their regular worship leader was at home with the flu.  After the service, a kind gentleman with a big smile on his face approached me and introduced himself.  "Hi, I'm Ray," he said in his very Southern accent.  He told me, "You really ought to pray about forming a band to play for you.  I'll be the first person to join."  I was flattered and I was encouraged.  But one musician does not a band make!  I later discovered that RAY MANN is an accomplished guitarist from Nashville who has played for the likes of George Jones, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride and Keith Urban.  WHAT?!  And now he was playing for Jesus, and wanted to play for me, too?!  < GULP. >  

Since October, Ray and his beautiful wife, Susan, have become tremendous friends and supporters of this ministry.
 

RAY MANN (Rhythm Guitar)


Two months passed.  After a Sunday morning service at my home church (shout out to The Praise Place in Winter Park!), one of the musicians on our worship team approached me and said ALMOST WORD-FOR-WORD the very same thing that Ray had said to me in October -- except the accent was very different. MARCELLO GIL is a multi-talented musician AND minister of the gospel.  He and his family moved here from Brazil just a year or so ago and have the biggest hearts for Jesus!  Knowing Marcello's reputation in the Christian music industry in Brazil, I was blown away that he would OFFER to play for me.  Again, I was flattered and encouraged.  But two musicians does not a band make!
 

MARCELLO GIL (Lead Guitar)


On Easter Sunday of this year, Marcello approached me again, with his very heavy Portuguese accent:  "So -- when do we begin rehearsals?"  LOL.  I said, "You're serious, aren't you?!"  He was very serious when he replied, "YES!"  So I began to get serious myself.  Okay, God -- what are You trying to tell me???

I started praying and seeking God.  Lord, if this is from You, then YOU are going to have to bring me the remaining musicians!  Like He wasn't already on it.

I posted on Facebook that I was looking for musicians.  I asked my friend, Tanya (who is also the keyboard player at TPP), if she'd be interested in playing keys for me.  She hadn't seen the Facebook post, but immediately said, "yes!"  TANYA McHALE (whose last name will be changing on June 6, by the way!) is an incredibly anointed and talented keyboard player and singer in her own right.  When she leads worship, you know you're in the presence of the Almighty.  Wow -- this thing is coming together.  

Ray, Marcello, Tanya and I decided we would begin rehearsals, with or without anyone else.  But God wasn't finished.
 

TANYA McHALE (Keys)


The night before our first scheduled rehearsal, I got a Facebook message from a friend I'd only known for a few months, saying, "My hubby is a drummer and is willing to help -- and He loves Jesus!"  Before the night was over, BRANDON WOODHOUSE and I had texted back and forth a dozen or so times and I think we were sold on each other instantly!  LOL.  After watching a few YouTube videos and more texting with this former biker and former Marine, I knew this guy was going to be a tremendous blessing.  Aside from being a phenomenal drummer, he's also quite the techie, which is gonna come in VERY handy!  LOL.
 

BRANDON WOODHOUSE (Drums) - better pic to come, we promise!


One of my dad's most popular sermons was called, 'The Last Minute Belongs to God'.  So here we were, the day of our first rehearsal, scheduled for 7 p.m.  The band was coming together, but we were still missing a bass player.  At 3:50 p.m., I got a Facebook message from Jack.  'Hey, this is Jack from True Gain.  Got word that you're looking for a bass player.  I'm available.'  I'd known and become friends with True Gain over the past couple of years, traveling and ministering in some of the same Christian music circles.  JACK COUNELIS is an incredible bass player!  How can he be available?!?!  I learned that True Gain was taking a one-year sabbatical.  While they'd be continuing to write music together, they wouldn't be 'playing out' for that time.  So he was available.  Wow.

 JACK COUNELIS (bass)

To say I was floored at how God pulled this whole thing together is an understatement.  I'm always ashamed when God answers prayer and I act like I'm shocked.  LOL!!!  Oh, our flesh can be so ridiculous.  

So there ya have it!!!  LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE!!!  No more 'buts'.  BUT GOD!!!

 

 

I'M A MAMA -- AGAIN!!! 

Okay, before anyone passes out from that post title, I'm a "mama-in-love" (what some might call a mother-in-law)!  My baby boy got married last week, and he is one happy man, I tell ya!  I'm so grateful that God brought such a beautiful, loving and supportive woman into his life.  Our sweet Jenny makes him smile in a way that I haven't seen him smile in 27 years!!!  Right now they're on their honeymoon in Costa Rica and periodically sending me texts, pics and videos of their adventures there (thank God for iMessage!).  Can't wait 'til they get back and I can hug their necks (Jordan has already mentioned that he's ready for some American food at an American restaurant! LOL.)!

NEW PROJECT!!! 

I know, I know -- I REALLY need to work on blogging more consistently.  But I did want to let you know (if you don't already) that a new CD is in the works!!!  Yay!!!!  It's called "HOW HE LOVES - the Hymns Project", and it's a project mostly based on old hymns of the church.  Fundraising is underway for the production of the project, so your help would be GREATLY appreciated!!!  Just go click on the DONATE button on the CONTACT page of this site.  And . . . THANK YOU for making a difference!!!  Be blessed!

STICKS AND STONES? 

Good morning!!!  God used a friend yesterday to open my eyes to a very important truth!  We all know the scripture that tells us "No weapon formed against us shall prosper." (Isaiah 54:17) 
I learned a long time ago that the tongue can be the most important weapon anyone has -- it has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21)!!!  So when someone is speaking negativity into your life?  Speak this truth: "No WORD formed against me shall prosper!!!"  That's good stuff, right? Be blessed today, in Jesus' name!!!

TOP TEN PREDICTIONS FOR THIS YEAR (100% ACCURATE!) 

We hear so much bad news these days (which is why I, personally, don't watch or listen to "the news"!) -- it's so great to be reminded of this good news which has not and never will change, because, after all -- He's the same YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVERMORE! So here they are . . .
  • The Bible will still have all the answers.
  • Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth..
  • The Holy Spirit will still move.
  • God will still honor the praises of His people.
  • There will still be God-anointed preaching.
  • There will still be singing of praise to God.
  • God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
  • There will still be room at the Cross.
  • Jesus will still love you.
  • Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.
Isn't it great to remember who is really in control, and that; "the Word of the Lord endures forever" (1 Peter 1:25 )?!  I hope you found this encouraging!  I sure did. Sometimes we need the reminder of just "WHO" is really in control. ♥

Be blessed!

Walking in His freedom --
donna leigh

Letting Go (but just for a little while!) 

We were going over some new songs tonight at praise & worship practice, when I got the shocking text from a dear friend: “Mom had heart attack. More shortly. Please pray.” Gene and I were long-time friends from high school. Forty-five minutes later, another text: “Mom didn’t make it.” My heart just broke for him. I knew the ache in one’s soul all too well, since I’d lost my precious daddy to a sudden heart attack a little less than five years ago. A little while later, a third text: “Praise God, she is with Jesus.” YES!

I’ve often wondered how people deal with such an intense loss if they don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. How do they handle the realization that they really won’t see that person they care so much about, ever again? I just can’t imagine!!! When we lost Dad on December 19, 2005, our world just seemed to crumble. I use the word seemed, because of course, we continued on with our daily “normal” lives. We wouldn’t have been able to do that, though, had it not been for the Holy Spirit carrying us through it. He does that, ya know. We’re just humans. Flesh and blood. It’s only in HIS strength that we can do what we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I continue with “life as we know it” every day – laundry, traffic, the dog, etc. – because I know that one day I’ll see Jesus, and my daddy will be standing right behind Him, with the biggest grin on his face and the tightest hug, and I’ll hear him whisper in my ear again, “Hey, baby girl.”

I sure hope you know Jesus. If you don’t, you should give it some serious thought (and quick – ‘cause when He’s ready to come back, He’s not giving a heads up!) – even if you’re sitting there in your ratty old pajamas, reading this.

This is a REALLY simple prayer I recently lead a friend through. Feel free to make it your own:

Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me more than anyone has EVER loved me before, or ever will!!! Lord, I want to follow You, to learn more about You, and to love You. You know my heart and the things I’ve struggled with, and I'm asking You please to forgive me of my sin, come into my heart, and increase my faith! Help me to understand those things that I don't, and to trust You. Thank you in advance for this incredible journey I'm stepping into. Help me to love You -- to learn to love You. Make Yourself real to me. In Your name I pray -- AMEN!!!

I’d love to hear from you. I’m praying for You.

In His freedom –
donna leigh
This entry is dedicated to Mrs. Kathryn Hedge,
who went to be with Jesus on Oct. 18, 2010,
and who I look forward to seeing one day!

What's New? 

It's Saturday afternoon, and I've been sitting here in the Lake Mary Starbucks with friend Kathleen Robinson (www.nevaehonline.com) for five hours, designing this website!!! I'm forever grateful for Kathleen's incredible expertise AND her heart to help me! Bless you, girlfriend!