The Original Claremore Road Trip Adventure {Steve Ladd, Jonathan Martin, and Michael English}

"This is the day I will walk in faith. 
This is the day I will not be afraid.
Be still my soul,
God is in control.
I will lift my hands to Him and say
This is the day the Lord has made."

Certain songs transport me back in time almost like a time machine.  Steve Ladd's "This is the Day" is one of those songs for me.  It takes me back to the summer of 2012, an exciting, but rather scary, time in our lives. 

If I go back to early June of that year, I'd never heard of Steve Ladd.  I also had no idea in early June of last year that God was about to take us on a brand new adventure. 

By mid-June, we were seeing glimpses of the adventure on the horizon.  God very suddenly and surprisingly began to lead us in the direction of leaving the church we'd loved for over 16 years for a tiny little mission church 40 minutes away from our home.  (If you have any idea how hard it is for 6 people...2 of them teenagers...to get ready for church in a one-bathroom house on Sunday morning, you know that the idea of increasing our Sunday morning drive time from 6 minutes...hitting all the red lights...to 40 minutes...seemed a bit crazy!)

I'm not sure of the exact date, but sometime in early July, I think, my friend Jodie (aka the concert fairy) was looking at Guy Penrod's concert calendar and noticed one just a couple of hours away in Claremore, Oklahoma.  Upon further investigation, Jodie discovered that this church in Claremore had a whole slew of southern gospel concerts.  In fact, there was one coming up very soon with Michael English, Jonathan Martin, and Steve Ladd.

Michael English and Jonathan Martin I was familiar with.  Steve Ladd, though, I had never heard of.  As Jodie and I discussed it further, I began looking up his music.  

"This is the Day" immediately resonated with me, and I did something I rarely do...immediately downloaded the mp3 from Amazon.  I played it so much I had the words memorized within a couple of days. 

As the story of our "adventure" tells, God was calling us to step out in obedience and faith, to leave behind the comfortable, to step away from what had been our "safe place" for years.  We wanted to make sure that this was truly His leading and His plan.  

We prayed hard, we studied the Word, we sought wise counsel, and over and over God confirmed that this was His leading.  He has continued to confirm that throughout this year.  

God eventually gave perfect peace about His leading, but in the process, I struggled.  I sang the words to this song over and over and over again. 
"This is the day I will walk in faith. 
This is the day I will not be afraid.
Be still my soul,
God is in control.
I will lift my hands to Him and say
This is the day the Lord has made."

Jodie is famous for "last-minute" road trips.  I don't even remember for sure when the decision was made to take this first road trip to Claremore, but that Sunday afternoon found us headed west. 

The trip itself was good for both of us.  It had been a crazy summer in many ways.  It was good to get out and just drive (or in my case, ride :)) and talk and laugh.  And laugh we did.  So hard in fact that on the way home we ended up with a windshield full of Diet Coke. :-D

We were a bit amazed at the concert itself.  "Claremore Naz", as it's often called, is not a large church.  We had already seen the schedule of upcoming and past concerts: the Isaacs, the Hoppers, the Booth Brothers, the Collingsworth Family, Jeff and Sheri Easter, and of course, our favorite, Guy Penrod.  How in the world did this relatively small church host such major Southern Gospel groups? 

We later learned that the secret behind Claremore Naz's long history of great concerts is Mrs. Shirley.  I described her in another Claremore Concert Road Trip post: 

She looked like someone's dear sweet grandmother (which we later discovered she is :)), not a concert promoter routinely hosting many of Gospel music's greatest (which we discovered she also is!)

We've since gotten to know Mrs. Shirley a little better, and heard more about her from others.  She is one amazing lady, and we are so thankful to have connected with her!

I've mentioned before that I take notes at concerts.  Weird, I know, but there are always things said that I don't want to forget, and I know I will if they aren't written down.  Unfortunately, my notes from this concert appear to be in the wind.

Although I don't have the specifics of the things I heard that night that impacted me so much, I do know that God used that concert mightily in my life.  Steve spoke about obedience, trusting God, and stepping out in faith.  Jonathan told about growing up in the backwoods of Arkansas with no electricity, and how God used that to prepare him and his sisters for their current ministry.  Michael shared his testimony of ruin and redemption.

I always seem to sit through at least one song per concert in tears.  (Fortunately, Jodie usually does too, so I don't embarrass her too much. :))  This time it was Steve's "This is the Day".  There's always something a little surreal about hearing someone sing their song in person that has ministered to you in such a deep way.

The trip home is really worth a whole blog post all its own.  This was my post on her Facebook wall the next day:

So...first...I thought you said you were building in an hour to get lost on the way TO Claremore, not on the way home...
And second...I thought you said *an* hour, not *three* hours.
Just sayin'! :-D

Jodie replied that we were only actually lost for two hours.  I responded that it just feels like three hours when you are in the middle-of-nowhere (Jenks, Oklahoma) and you've been driving around and around in circles forever in the dark. :-D

The important thing is that we did finally get back on the road toward Fort Smith, and I had my very first ever Jack-in-the-Box food for supper.  A very late supper. Is it weird that I can remember what Jodie ate, but I'm not sure what I had?  All I know is that it was really, really good.  (Perhaps more because it was really late and I'd spent two hours wondering if I was ever going to eat again than because of the actual quality of the food?)

This was my status the morning after the concert:

Not even sure where to start this morning! Last week was quite the roller-coaster week, and this week promises to be more of the same. So thankful that God already knows every step, and that He will guide us through each one if we will just follow. Excited to see exactly where that's going to take us right now!

One thing of which I am totally sure this morning, though...I saw more of Jenks, Oklahoma, last night than I ever wanted to see or ever hope to see again. (Of course, when I say "saw", that's somewhat misleading, as most of it was pitch dark and, as my daughter would say, "really creepy". And then my sweet husband called when we were in the middle-of-beyond-nowhere and started humming the theme from "Deliverance". If he only could have seen where we were at that exact moment! It was all well worth it, though...another exciting road trip adventure providing stories to tell our grandchildren from our rocking chairs!

I know that there is more I'd planned to say about this concert/road trip adventure, but I think I've already written a book!  I can't believe it's taken me a year to blog this concert...but in God's perfect timing, as always, I needed to be taken back to this time last year and be reminded of God's faithfulness and work in our lives.  Even today, I've had a heavy burden about a direction in which God seems to be leading that's a bit (well, maybe a LOT) out of my comfort zone.  So needed to be reminded of those words again today:

This is the day I will walk in faith. 
This is the day I will not be afraid.
Be still my soul 
God is in control. 
I will lift my hands to Him and say, 
This is the day the Lord has made. 

Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10 

 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. ~Psalm 1:1-2

For a peek at this concert, check out this video of Michael, Jonathan, and Steve singing "I'd Rather Have Jesus" a cappella.  Beautiful!!



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Linking up with Woman to Woman Word-Filled Wednesday today...


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