Thursday, April 10, 2014

upcoming appearances

next week Izzi and I have the pleasure and honor of sharing the platform with a whole bunch of awesome people! 
we are hitting north, middle and south OC! 
we hope you can join us at least one event...

o n e . . .

when: Thursday, April 17 // 7pm
what: An Easter Together
where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 
Irvine CA
who: Crystal Lewis, Izzi Ray, Tim Timmons, Anthony Evans, Molly Jenson, Pawnshop Kings, Jadon Lavik, Dominic Balli, Gary Rea, Tully Wilkinson, Drew Bray, Aaron Blanton, Mike Erre, Buddy Owens

*An Easter Together is a two-night engagement. the first night is at Verizon, the second is in Redlands at the Packinghouse church. Izzi and i will only be at Verizon.

t w o . . .

when: Friday, April 18th // 7pm
what: ALIVE // 
Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano
where: J. Serra Highschool, San Juan Capistrano
who: music by Izzi Ray and I, message by pastor John Randall

t h r e e . . .

when: Sunday, April 20  
6:30am sunrise service, 9am, 11:30am
what: EASTER! 
where: Calvary Chapel Montebello
who: music by Crystal Lewis, Chris Lizotte, Izzi Ray and Robbie Nero; message by pastor Pancho Juarez

f o u r . . .

when: Saturday, April 26 // all day
what: Calvary Chapel Cornerstone 2014 Spring Women's Retreat
where: Murrieta Hot Springs
who: music by Crystal Lewis and Izzi Ray, Saturday night message by Crystal Lewis

f i v e . . .

when: Sunday, April 27 // 10am
what: Horizon Christian Fellowship post-Easter celebration
where: Horizon Christian Fellowship // out on the lawn!
who: Crystal Lewis

f i v e . . .

when: Sunday, April 27 // 10am
what: CitizensChurch
where: the Fox Event Center, Redlands, CA
who: Izzi Ray




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

silver







25 years ago today i got married.  we, got married. to each other.  i was 19.  my husband, Brian, was 25.  and even though we knew we'd be together forever, this massive, miraculous milestone, our SILVER wedding anniversary, still comes as a sort of surprise.  i will be crying my way through our wedding video this evening.  to relive those moments of commitment and promise and hear our own voices reiterate the vows will be a beautiful reminder of the passion and depth of young love.

and it's good because now we kind of have not-so-young love. it's not old love, yet, but a stronger, wiser, better love.  because it's been tarnished. and roughed up.  those vows we said 25 years ago today, those have been tested.  there have been days when we've pushed and shoved each other up against their walls.  and they've held. they've proven to be strong. not because the vows themselves were so tough but because the promises we made were uttered before God... and though we couldn't have known what 5, 10, 15 years worth of life and love would bring... we meant them. we meant them no matter what.  and the gravity of God's grace has maintained it's pull on us,  even on days when there seems to be so much tension it feels like the last little sliver of heart string might snap. here we are. happily.

we are having a family dinner celebration tonight.  my daughter and her boyfriend are cooking all the food (and presumably doing all the dishes) but i couldn't help get my hands in the mix and at least set the table.  i'm bringing out the china. THE china!  i love our china! we received it for our wedding and so, obviously it has extreme significance this evening... on multiple levels.  one being that it's SILVER!  as it's our SILVER anniversary, it's only perfectly apropos.  in addition to our SILVER-trimmed wedding china, i set out our heirloom set of Tiffany's silver.  SILVER.  and life stared me in the face.  look at the beautiful shine in the forks and knives:







and then... look at those sad spoons.  all tarnished and discolored.  i clearly dropped the ball in the maintenance department on those.  i mean, i suppose you could say they've got a nice patina. a lovely worn-in look.  but i think that's typically just an excuse for careless indifference.  the life lesson is glaring.  things get tarnished when left uncared for.  this extends to homes, clothing, cars, pets and most importantly people. relationships.  we can't let them go, we can't ignore the care they require.  putting off maintenance is the first step in eventual demise.  with anything.  it's always far more difficult to repair something that's been neglected than to just take great care of it from the beginning.  maintenance and care take time, effort, elbow grease, money, attention, putting your self aside and commitment.  

the obvious difference between maintaining things and relationships is that relationships involve human interaction. it requires 2 people working toward the same goal.  2 people caring, investing, trying, forgiving, letting go, holding on.   our hands have been weary and weak, but we hold on.  and the longer we hold on the stronger we get.   i pray today for God's grace to hold YOU.  for His mercy to strengthen your resolve.  for His love to infuse your heart and help you to hold on too.



















Tuesday, April 1, 2014

the STANDard // april

i'm not a huge fan of rushing.  i feel as though i've spent the majority of my life in a state of hurry.   from being late for school to running late for church to waiting till the last minute on homework or racing out the door to catch a flight i've done a lot of rushing over the years.   i do a lot of it, and yet i continue my non-fan status.  however....

i recently reread this passage in Romans 13:11-14 that says... in essence... be in a hurry.  and i realized: i've been rushing about for the wrong reasons.  i've been hurrying to pointless appointments.  i've been striving and sweating over things that won't matter a year from now. a week from now... if ever!  don't misunderstand me, i'm not saying that getting things done doesn't matter or we shouldn't try to be on time or finish projects in a timely manner.  being a good steward of our days and our time is right and important for establishing the foundation of good habits, for cultivating a sense of honor and respect (of other's time and efforts) and developing the groundwork for goal-reaching.   yes to all of that.   what i am saying is that we need a shift to occur in our thinking... a dramatic corner-turning needs to take place in the way we determine our priorities.  we need to take a hard right as we consider what is worth rushing around about.  an eternal perspective needs to pervade our planning.

today, April 1, is the anniversary of the home-going of one of my best friends daughters.  Yvette was just shy of her 11th birthday when she flew home to Heaven.  that was 14 years ago.  she has been in the presence of God the Father, experiencing fullness of joy and actual peace for 14 years.  i imagine her cheering me on from the sidelines as i run this race toward home.  oh to know what she knows!  that this life is temporary. that our time here is brief, but that our time here counts.  i wonder how she must long for us to realize the weight of our words, the bearing of our actions, the eternal significance of our minutes... and how we spend them.

we don't have as much time as we think.  i'm not trying to be miss doom and gloom, just the voice of reason and reality. even if we live to be 100, the Bible says our lives are but a breath.  and since we don't know at what age we get to go home, it's imperative that we use what time we do have wisely.  love your neighbors, so when you're gone they'll have seen Jesus.  be a light to your co-workers, so when they are sitting at your funeral they get it.  lay down your selfish desires for your husband or your wife, so that your heart is free in the knowledge that you've been obedient to God.  leave that lifestyle of sex on the side, binge drinking, gossip, and meanness, (the Bible calls it all sin; Romans 13:13)  and live like others are watching. because they are.   wear the name of Jesus with integrity and purpose.  wake up. hurry up. other peoples lives depend on it.

i've chosen Romans 13:12 to memorize this month as my STANDard verse, but i will be mediating on the whole passage, from verse 11 to verse 14.  it's serious.  and as Easter approaches, i want to take eternity seriously.  i want to live in light of the fact that Jesus died so i could live a life of peace and freedom here on Earth, but also so we can live forever with Him in Heaven.

 "...the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  the night is nearly over; the day is almost here. so let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  rather, clothe yourselves with the LORD Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:11-14

*STANDard cards are still available for purchase! they come in sets of 12, one for each month of the year, consisting of 9 different unique designs created by local artists here in Montana.   you can use them to write down a verse you'd like to memorize each month.  feel free to join me in the verse i've chosen, or choose one that God has laid on your heart.  simply send 10$ via PayPal to: officialcrystal@gmail.com (includes shipping)


Monday, March 31, 2014

music monday


// recording the Holiday album 2000 //


in the last week alone i've received emails/calls from 2 singer-friends asking for advice regarding sore throats, vocal fatigue and a lost voice.  so, while i'm not an educated instructor or certified coach, i do have 30+ years of experience, and i have lost my voice a time or two.  i thought i'd share a little bit about what i've learned on the subject.

Q: what do i do if i lose my voice?
A: if you lose your voice the very best thing you can do is
*STOP TALKING.  and, i assume it's obvious, but also STOP SINGING.  i suppose it stands to reason that if you've lost your voice, you CANT talk or sing, however i've been appalled by the number of people that love the sound of their own raspy, hoarse voice, and they'll continue to attempt to use it.  you will only worsen your situation by using your vocal chords when they are run-down. they are in need of rest.  note: nearly ALL restaurants are WAY louder than you think. which means you most often talk way louder than you think.  which puts unnecessary strain on your vocal chords.  the same is true with singing along with music in the car (either turn it down or stop singing along) or a party at someones house.  anywhere there are multiple voices being used at the same time, you are, without a doubt, talking several decibels louder than you need to be.  be careful.
another effective technique that helps a lost voice/sore throat enormously is
*STEAM.  if you have access to a steam room or steam shower either at home or a local gym, use it.
it helps with congestion, sore throat and relaxation.   i recently purchased a small, personal steam inhaler (similar to this) for both my daughter and myself.  i've had one for many years and finally had to buy a replacement.  they are small enough to travel with and come in handy for any singer/speaker.
*HOT WATER W/ HONEY is something you can find just about anywhere and it will soothe your pain and relax you.  i avoid tea, coffee, milk and even excessive amounts of lemon when dealing with vocal issues.  keep it plain and simple.
*WATER drink more water than you think you can! find a nice big water bottle and just keep drinking and refilling.  all day. every day.
*SLEEP get as much rest as your schedule will allow.  go to bed earlier than normal (although if you're like me that is still late) if you can, and do whatever it takes to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night.  consider using a humidifier to enhance the moisture level of the room. keep the heat down, and if possible the door open, to help with circulation.  excessive heat usually means excessive dryness, which is not ideal for your voice.  i've found that if my heater is too high i wake up with a scratchy voice.  many a show has been cancelled or postponed due to unstable air conditions on tour buses.
*TIME. there is no quick-fix. as with any injury, time will heal it.  yes these kinds of things throw major wrenches in the wheels of our plans... i've had to cancel shows and postpone projects due to vocal fatigue and sickness.  but God knows your deadline and your time frame.
HE gave you that voice of yours.  be patient. don't rush it.


this is by no means a comprehensive list of treatments, however it should help you if you're hurting. also... everything listed above is perfectly applicable to preventing the loss of your voice.  often, there is nothing we can do to stop it, especially when dealing with a cold or virus.  sometimes our bodies just shut things down to fight sickness off.  that is a clear sign that you need rest and quiet.  but you can prevent hoarseness or soreness often just with some good vocal hygiene and positive habits.




Saturday, March 29, 2014

eighteen



as i look through family photos spanning these 18 years since our daughter was born, i feel a bit like i'm in a dream.  it's surreal to remember life with newborns, toddlers and toothless first graders.  some of the memories are fuzzy while others are so vivid, it seems like they just happened yesterday.   and i think as parents, brian and i are simultaneously feeling really pretty great about the future... and utterly, overwhelmingly, unprepared for it.  how on earth did we get here so fast? when did life get away from us? where did all the time go? what if we forgot to tell her something vitally important!?

i think i may spend the next several months processing this! nothing really prepares you for any real life situation as does actually living through said situation.  so here we are... with one kid off and married and the second (the proverbial baby) on the precipice...wings spread...

and they are beautiful, beautiful wings.  the very last thing i ever want to do is clip them.  i'd be proud and excited and supportive of ANYTHING my kids felt deeply passionate about and desired to pursue... but i think it goes without saying that as each of our offspring have chosen music related ministry as their life's work, well, i'm sure you can imagine how i feel about that.

izzi has grown so much in such a short amount of time... as a young woman, a leader, a vocalist, a guitar player, a musician.   a pastor-friend of mine recently told me that "as parents our ceiling is our kid's floor".  in essence, they start where we leave off.  we pray that our opportunities and lessons will serve to pave the way for our kids. we hope that they will learn from our mistakes, and not make the same ones.   izzi is already so far ahead of where i was at her age... i know God has exponentially more to do in her and accomplish through her.  my job is to pray for her continued obedience and surrender.

it's an absolute joy to watch her unfurl her wings, getting a feel for them... watching as her wingspan extends and fans out.  i'm thrilled to get to fly next to her for a while as we explore LEGACY and go on the adventure of ministry to women together.  and then.... when the time comes for her to fly on ahead, faster and higher.... it will be my thrill to watch from the heights.

Isaiah 40:31
"...those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
 they will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

daughter


for all the laughing and clowning around we do, we have also had our share of tears.   i wrote the song 'daughter'...lyrics below... a few years ago at a time when Izzi was dealing with feelings of hurt and disappointment.  i decided to write her a letter that she could read and re-read, a reminder of how I feel about her,  a reminder of how the Bible says GOD feels about her.  in many ways it wound up a letter to myself... as i became aware of my frailty and fear i also became acutely aware of God's unconditional love towards me, his daughter.  so this song is for her, for my Isabella... who turns 18 today!  but it's also for you and me. 





daughter, if you only knew
the extent of my love for you
daughter, if you could see
just how much you mean to me

how my heart aches
o'er your sorrows and sighs
how my heart breaks
o'er your hurting and cries

how i long to comfort 
you with my
truth and tenderness

I want to hold your face in my hands
remind you that I
I AM that I AM
let my love wash away
the stains of the day
don't fret or fear
I'm here
daugher

daughter, I'm aware of your pain
I'm aware of your guilt and your shame
daughter, the reason I came
was to rescue, redeem and to save

I know that you've
been alone and confused
I know that you've
been angry, abused
I know that healing can only come through
sweet surrender

I want to hold your face in my hands
remind you that I
I AM that I AM
let my love wash away
the stains of the day
don't fret or fear
I'm here
daughter




Monday, March 24, 2014

music monday

look.... music is not one-size-fits-all. that is why so many genres exist.  and we get to choose as many different genres as apply on any given day.  yours and mine may overlap from time to time, or not. but that doesn't make us any less compatible as friends.  music is simultaneously for the individual and for the masses.  it all at once soothes our collective soul and amps up our collective agenda.  it brings us down and lifts us up.  weird that music can do that.  bridge gaps, mend fences, knit hearts.




in my opinion, one artist that contributes to this so beautifully is Propaganda.  based in the Los Angeles, CA area, Propaganda travels the country speaking life, spreading truth, building musical bridges that cover the distance of a great divide between races, classes and musically diverse opinions.  i asked him if he would answer some questions about music and the industry. and while busy wrapping up the loose ends of a new project, soon to be released, he kindly obliged.  

1// what part do you play within the music industry?
 Hip hop/poetry artist

2// briefly describe how you got where you are; tell us your story
fell in love with hip hop pretty young. being from a gang infested town, i was eager to find better things to do with my time than gang life.  i got into graffiti first, then breakdancing and around my freshman year of high school tried my hand at rap. through a series of countless freestyle sessions, demos, battle raps and shows where 10 people showed up... one day, it just started working. the phone rang, and never stopped ringing.

3// what advice would you give someone that wants to do what you do?
make sure this is really your call. there are so many things in music that some can do... promotions, production, management, etc.  if you are confident this is it, learn how [to work] and learn how to LOVE work!  be a fan of the art! you should be consuming art alllll the time. last i would say, you need to liiiiiive at open mics.  every time the mic is open, you should be on the list. hearing what other artists are writing and doing.

4// what's your take on the future of the industry? where do you see it going? will digital music take over the world?
digital music already took over. i don't think we will be able to sell a record in the near future.

5// in light of the current climate of the music business, would you advise an artist to seek support from a label or take the more independent, do-it-yourself route of social media driven outlets i.e. kickstarter? what would you say are the pros and cons of each?
i think it depends on your end goal. if you are trying to set next to Bey and Jay at the Grammys, i'd be hard pressed to say the indie route is the way to go.  but if you are cool with a slow cook, then remember it's much better to owe yourself money that someone else.

6// what is the best way for an aspiring artist to get their foot-in-the-door?
GRIND GRIND GRIND. if you make enough noise, people will notice (also, see answer to #3 above)

7// how does one get a demo heard by the right people?
demos are obsolete. make an album and hit the road.

8// what is the Christian industry looking for as far as future talent?
i have no clue. they never really liked me that much LOL

9// itunes or physical product you can hold in your hand?
yes

10// what artist(s)/music are you listening to and/or inspired by right now?
really digging Phanogram, Chvrches and Kendrick Lamar

check out Propaganda's music at Humblebeast.com