So, I know the Leave Your Mark series is usually a Friday thing, but with the craziness that is my life these days, who knows what Friday holds. It seemed best to put the post up while it was on my mind. So anywho, my church celebrates its birthday every fall with a "homecoming" celebration. Part of the celebration includes a potluck (we love our potlucks) and a concert. People who used to attend the church but have since moved come back to mark the occasion with us. It's quite a festivity.
This year was the church's 114th birthday. I hadn't heard of the group who was playing, and I have to admit I toyed with the idea of not sticking around for the music because I was tired and busy, but since our numbers were sorta puny, I felt guilty slipping out. So I stayed and - despite my lousy attitude - I found myself completely swept away by their talent.
If you've been following my blog for long, then you know that if I could be anything besides I writer, I'd be a singer. After seeing Crawford & Co that day, my boys have started trying to convince me that we should take our show on the road. Considering it took us weeks to practice one song to sing for our little-bitty church, I think I'm content to sit in the audience and sing along softly for the moment. But that doesn't mean I'm not at least a little envious of their talent.
Crawford & Co is a Southern Gospel group that currently consists of three family members - Gary, Peggy and their son Justin - along with a newly-added bass singer, Jerod. The group was founded in 1982, and if I remember correctly, their founder couldn't even read music when he felt called into this ministry. (But maybe I'm just imagining that.) Since then he's written more than 100 songs. The group uses their talents to share the message of salvation through Jesus, and to encourage, to comfort, to bring smiles. I went into the concert that Sunday feeling stressed and busy and overwhelmed by life. While I was there, I laughed, I cried, I clapped (sometimes even on the beat) and I sang. I left feeling joyful - like a weight had been lifted.
A couple of days ago, I went to see them in concert again. This time I drove two hours to do it. My oldest son insisted on going, too. We picked up my aunt, and even sweet-talked my parents into going. Once again, I went into the concert feeling tired and overwhelmed, and I left feeling joyful. I will always treasure the memory of watching my 15-year-old son laugh and sing with his grandpa, or of watching the tears roll down my aunt's cheeks as she listened to the quartet sing "All that Heaven Must Be." (Which, by the way, was the same reaction I had the first time I listened to it.)
The group has been performing a lot lately, so their voices were tired. They weren't feeling quite as "on" as they had the first time I'd seen them. But that didn't temper their talent - or if it did, it was more than compensated for by the obvious joy they took in doing what they were made for.
And that's what the Leave Your Mark series is about: People from all walks of life doing what they were uniquely made to do so the world is a better place. Crawford & Co loves to make people smile, to tell them they aren't alone in a sorrow, to help them find their way when they're lost.
They've found a new fan in me. As long as Crawford & Co can find the voice to sing, I'll cheer them on. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next time I can make the trek to see them, and in the meantime, I'm wearing my new CD out.
If you'd like to check them out for yourselves, here's how to find them online:
@crawford_and_co on Twitter
Crawford & Co on Facebook
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.