Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Inner Views of Brackin & Lindsay Kirkland of "Sounds Like Reign"

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise."
Psalm 98:4

It is no secret that my family and I dearly love music.
We always enjoy coming across a new musical group who has the ability to draw our hearts into a closer walk with Jesus, and when that group also includes the element of good harmony and an acoustic sound, well, it isn't too long until we are hooked.
Before I go any farther, I need to tell you how I heard about today's "Inner Views" guests.
I recently got a comforting email from dear friend and fellow blogger, Bettie
and this is a small portion of what she said,
"Today, when I heard this song, I just knew I had to stop what I was doing, and send it to you right now. It is such a beautiful rendition of this hymn, "Softly and Tenderly," one of my favorites.   And, I just kept thinking of your loved ones that the Lord has called home this past year.  When He calls, we can't help but go with Him!  Oh may He comfort you in the missing and the longing, though!!"
Attached to the email was a video (you will find it below) of this old, beloved hymn sung by the couple I am interviewing today.
I hope you enjoy getting to know them and hearing them share their amazing musical gifts!

"Sounds Like Reign" Husband and Wife Duo,
Brackin and Lindsay Kirkland

Cheryl:  Please introduce yourselves, and tell us who you are and what you do.  

Brackin & Lindsay:  Hi. We are Brackin and Lindsay Kirkland. We have five boys. We've been married for 12 years, and we live in North Carolina. We write and record music called "Sounds Like Reign", and we have a weekly vlog (video-blog) on YouTube called "Tiny Notes From Home".

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about each of your individual testimonies and spiritual journeys.  When did you become a Christian?  What life events led you to the cross?  Were either of you raised in a Christian home?  

Brackin: I was raised in a Christian home, but strayed from the faith in my teenage years. The Lord drew me to Himself in my 20's after years of wandering in the wilderness.

Lindsay: I grew up in a Unitarian Universalist home, but I knew as a young child that Jesus was the only way to the Father. I made a profession of faith in high school, and the Lord has been my guide ever since.

Cheryl:  Who do you consider to be your strongest spiritual mentor(s)?  Who has most helped you to draw close to Jesus throughout life?  Is there a particular person who has prayed for you, individually?

Brackin & Lindsay:  We look up to a number of strong, unnamed brothers. Just God-fearing, Christ-honoring folks in our church who are humble in spirit and would otherwise go unnoticed in their genuine walk with God. 

Cheryl:  How did the two of you meet?  We'd love to hear your love story.

Brackin & Lindsay:  We met at a mutual friend's house in PA in our late high school years. We were immediately drawn to each other. We dated for a couple years and were married during our college years.

Cheryl:  What is your favorite part of being parents? 

Brackin & Lindsay:  We love working together as a team to train our children. We love having separate but equal roles in the home, which gives us freedom to explore our God-given abilities as "mom" and "dad". 

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite things to do together as a family?

Brackin & Lindsay:  We enjoy playing music together, and spending time outdoors. And who doesn't love a good road trip. We LOVE travelling together :) 

Cheryl:  Tell us about "Sounds Like Reign".  What is the significance of the name? 

Brackin & Lindsay:  We describe "Sounds Like Reign" this way: These are the sounds of the reign of God in our hearts. These are songs born out of adversity, trials and triumphs in our walk as followers of Jesus.

Cheryl:  What instruments do each of you play, and what is your history with each instrument?   

Brackin & Lindsay:  We both grew up in musical homes. Lindsay played the guitar from an early age, and Brackin has learned a variety of instruments over the years.

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite songs to sing together?  Why?

Brackin & Lindsay:  We like to sing old hymns and contemporary worship songs. Really anything that can strengthen and encourage our hearts. 

Cheryl:  Who has most influenced each of you, musically?  Who are some of your favorite artists and musicians?

Brackin & Lindsay:  Lindsay prefers acoustic folk music, like the Forbes Family. Whereas Brackin listens to a WIDE variety of instrumental music from around the world. Together these styles have become the style of "Sounds Like Reign". 

Cheryl:  How can we buy your music?  Are there other ways we can support your ministry?

Brackin & Lindsay:  Our music is available for free download (or you can purchase CDs) at our website, Sounds Like Reign.

You can also show your monthly support on our Patreon page, and join a community of over 100 people who are invested in our music and videos. 

Cheryl:  Please tell us about your tiny house.  What led you to choose living in a tiny home?

Brackin & Lindsay:  We have been living in "Tiny Houses" for about 9 years. We started out in a mini-van, and slowly moved up to the 14x40 shed that we dwell in now. Our approach to life is to only have the basic necessities to take care of our family and do the work/ministry that the Lord has placed on our hearts. Everything else must GO!

Cheryl:  If you were speaking to someone who is considering downsizing their lives, what advice would you share?

Brackin & Lindsay:  Just do it! It's never too late to simplify your life for the sake of the Gospel. Just keep in mind WHY you should downsize. Jesus said that we should live our lives for the sake of others. And Paul said that if we sell all we have and give to the poor, but we don't have love, then we're just making noise. Downsizing can be motivated my selfishness, but we should have love for others and live a simple life so that we can GIVE our resources to those in need.

Cheryl:  What do you define as one of the darkest times of your life?  How did your faith in God sustain you and give you hope?  

Lindsay:  Brackin's darkest time was when I tried to end my life due to anxiety and depression. This was around the age of 18. God was merciful to sustain my life and give me a second chance. So now I give every breath to Him for His service and glory! 

Cheryl:  We are living in the perilous times prophesied about in God's Word.  It seems that the culture that surrounds us is becoming increasingly hostile towards God, His Word, and His people.  How do you stay encouraged in these dark days?  Are there particular Scriptures, songs, books, or other resources that you turn to in times of discouragement?

Brackin & Lindsay:  Yes, we draw inspiration and encouragement from the early Christian testimonies of martyrs and those who have stood strong in the face of great evil. One story of particular interest is that of Michael Sattler from the 1500's. He was being chased across an icy pond by an assailant who plunged into the icy water. Instead of leaving his "enemy" there to drown, he heeded the words of Jesus to LOVE his enemies, and so he turned around and lifted the man from certain death. As a result he was apprehended and thrown into prison, but he lived in peace knowing that he had done what our Lord, Savior and Master would have wanted him to do. Love always prevails!

Cheryl:  What advice would you give to a person reading this who has lost hope and is desperate, even to the point of considering taking their own life?  

Brackin & Lindsay:  Talk. Find someone to talk to. Don't hold it in. God cares, and He has provided His BODY (friends, family, even strangers) to help you. Don't give up hope. This is just a short season in what WILL BE an AWESOME life! 

Cheryl:  At the end of your lives, what legacy do you most hope to leave?  How do you want to be remembered?

Brackin & Lindsay:  Our desire is for Christ to magnified in all that we do, so that when our lives fade away, only His glory remains! 

Cheryl:  How can we connect with you?

Brackin & Lindsay:  You can find us on 
YouTube Music ChannelTiny Notes from HomeFacebookInstagram, and our website.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you and your family?  

Brackin & Lindsay:  We are always in need of prayer to discern the Lord's will for our family and ministry. It's a lot to take on, and we want to stay focused on the most important things. 

Thank you, Brackin and Lindsay, for taking the time to answer our questions and share your hearts with us!
May God richly bless you and your family and ministry!
And, thank you to Bettie for making the introduction and sharing this video by "Sounds Like Reign"!

In closing, here are a couple more of my favorite "Sounds Like Reign" videos.
Enjoy, and be blessed!

To read previous
click the links below.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Onward, Upward ~ Pressing Ahead ~ One Word for 2018

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14

It is hard to believe, but it has been almost three weeks since the Lord called my brother-in-law, LD, home to Heaven.
Our hearts remain broken over the loss of LD, Dad Smith, and so many other deep heartaches from 2017 and years past.

As deep hurts from the old year linger fresh in our minds, and we try to put one foot in front of the other in this new year, I find hope as the words to this dear, old hymn come often to mind.

Onward, Upward
Written by Daniel O. Teasley

Onward, upward, Christian soldier,
Bravely push the battle on;
There’s a great reward before us,
Soon the conflict will be won.

Hallelujah! shout the chorus,
Onward, upward is our song;
Crowns of vict’ry lie before us,
Boldly march against the wrong.

Grasp the sword, then go with courage,
Ever humbly watch and pray;
Never, never be discouraged,
Never falter by the way.

Go the captives to deliver,
Leaving all the world behind;
Hoping, trusting—doubting never—
Crowns in heaven we shall find.

Onward, upward is the watchword,
Till the King of saints we see;
Then before His throne in glory,
We shall reign eternally.

We will always be touched by the things that happened in 2017 and past years, 
and our lives will nevermore be the same.
BUT, this is a new day...a new year.
Untouched, except for the overwhelming grief that we had no choice but to carry into the new year.

Starting a new year always feels like turning a corner to me.
It always reminds me of a "Magic Slate".
Remember these?

I used to love to play with mine when I was a little girl, and if I remember correctly,
mine looked very similar to the one pictured above.
I loved Raggedy Ann & Andy, and I loved my magic slate!
I loved the fact that I could draw anything I wanted on it,
then when I tired of that picture, I could easily and gently lift the plastic sheet covering,
and, just like magic, the whole thing would just disappear.
After that, I had a brand, new, clean slate that was open to limitless possibilities.
This could be done countless times, simply by lifting that film to start completely over.

A new year is sort of like get the chance for a complete do-over.
You are offered the opportunity to leave the past right where it happened, and move on.
Onward to the new things God has in store,
upward ever closer to Him and His perfect will,
and forward into the future that only He can see.

At the start of a new year, we have a choice.
We can futilely try to keep reliving the past and longing for what used to be,
or we can look ahead and embrace the life God is continuing to give.
After all, at the end of the day, regardless who is no longer with us,
life does have a way of going on, doesn't it?

As we press ahead, trying to come to terms with the past and eager to grasp on to the good things God has for us this year, my heart is encouraged to know that the same God who consistently brought us through yesterday's heartaches, is the same God who leads us forward.
One thing I have learned during my years serving the Lord, is that
God never leads backwards.

As we approached this new year, Kevin, Zach, and I began to seek God's face about our "One Word" of the year for 2018.
Right away, Kevin got his word.
It was "Answers", not in a questioning sort of way, but as in he hopes that this year will hold many answers to our prayers and the fulfillment of God's promises to us.
At the same, exact time Kevin got his word, Zach was given his word, "Revelation".
(Neither of them knew what God had revealed to the other, until later.)
We were amazed at how closely the two words related and how their meanings and their individual, personalized interpretations of them intertwined.
So, that left three remaining questions....
what was my "one word" for 2018, how could we tie the three of our words into one, and would the Lord give us a word that would serve as an acronym, as He has done in years past?
I felt like I was late to the party, since all I could seem to accomplish in prayer was a lot of crying over the deep, remaining grief, and feeling too spent to dig very deep concerning one, special word that God wants my little family and me to focus on in this brand, new year.

Then, all at once, out of the blue, I realized that what I seek most right now is a sense of clarity going forward.
SO much has changed and is now in the process of changing in our lives.
To be honest, I feel very lost.
Just so bewildered and uncertain concerning things that are no longer the same and so unclear as to how we are to move forward and approach daily life and decisions that are being forced upon us.
What is our new "normal" to be, and how do I let go of what was "normal" for so long?

Just as soon as the word "clarity" came to mind, I realized Kevin's word, "answers", and Zach's word, "revelation" were all a part of the wrapped-up mystery that lies in the "clarity" we all three seek for this season of life.
When the three of us sat down to discuss it all, it just clicked, and the acronym was apparent.

C   - Clearness
L    - Leading
A    - Answers
- Revelation
I - Illumination
T       - Truth
Y    - Yearning

Clearness - lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity

Leading - guidance, direction

Answers - materialization, resolution, fulfillment, affirmation, results, accomplishment, realization, satisfaction, returns

Revelation - epiphany, discovery, inspiration, prophecy, uncovering, advisement, intelligence, explanation

Illumination - enlightenment, insight, perception, understanding, unraveling, instruction, knowledge, wisdom, awakening, vision, comprehension, interpretation

Truth - certainty, constancy, dependability, solidity, validity, reliability, stability, factuality

Yearning - fervent, earnest, zealous, eager

I think God allows new years to come, so we don't get "new" is forced upon us,
and we have no choice but to walk forward.

"Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.
And the LORD spake unto me, saying,
Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward."
Deuteronomy 2:1-3

God doesn't want us to become stale and complacent,
compassing the same mountain in our lives over and over and over again.
There comes a time when He wants us to "turn northward", up and out of our sense of "the same".

He wants to make all things new, ever propelling us onward and upward.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18,19

Comfort zones eventually become places of stagnation in our lives.

I learned from Dennis Rowan's book, called "Sheep Tracks", (which is a GREAT read, by the way, written by a true, modern-day shepherd and available to purchase by clicking on the highlighted link), if sheep linger too long in the same pasture, they overgraze and become parasite-infested.

God loves us too much to allow us to remain comfortable in a spiritually unhealthy environment,
so He compels us onward and brings "new" into our lives.
He knows us...intimately, individually, and fully, and He knows what is absolutely best for us.
He knows where we need to be in order for us to grow and thrive and become our best for Him.
So, He leads on, gently, but firmly, in spite of our tendency to resist change and our desire to "settle".

"I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand."
John 10:14,27,28

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."
Psalm 23:1-4

The "valley of the shadow of death" not only overwhelms and engulfs the one who is passing over, but it casts its dark shadow over all who love them and feel the weight of their absence.
What a consolation to know that Jesus is our Shepherd, and He walks the valley road with us.
Even when He sends the rod of correction, it is for our benefit,
and when His staff leads in a direction that we would rather not go, He walks before us and sees things we do not see, and He is often sparing us from something worse.

I remind myself of these facts, as we walk a very uncertain path into the brand, new year,
resting in the assurance that our Shepherd not only leads the way, but He winnows our path, leaving only what He knows will work together for our good.

He is the doing the same for you, my friend.
I pray you are feeling the comfort of His presence with you each new day,
and may 2018 be filled with many spiritual blessings.
If God spares time and life, may we all look back over this year, and rejoice together.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your many emails, comments, sympathy cards, and other kind deeds during our sadness and difficulties throughout not only 2017, but in prior years, also.
Kevin, Zach, and I are eternally grateful to each one of you,
and your presence in our lives is an enormous blessing.
At the onset of this blogging journey, I never dreamed how many amazing, precious friends God would bring into our lives through this platform, and I cherish each one of you with all my heart.
You prove to us, time and time again, what true Christian fellowship and friendship is all about.
We love you all and appreciate you so very much.

Your continued prayers for my sister, Debbie, nephew, Mark, and all of my family during the coming days are appreciated more than I could ever put into words.
Reality is setting in, and it is so hard to deal with and accept.
We lean hard on our Shepherd for healing, restoration, and strength.
He is ever faithful.