Wow! What a summer! We had so much fun this summer seeing old friends and making new ones, visiting some of our favorite camps, traveling across this great state of ours in Truck Norris, and worshiping with about 2500 people in 6 weeks of camps!
We kicked off the summer in Oklahoma at Camp Egan with the Stillwater District camp and had a blast! Especially with Josh and the mud pit!  Then we headed to Austin, TX to do the music at the Redeemer Lutheran VBS where we learned that "Anything is possible with God!". We love any excuse to hang out in Austin! Great food, great friends and just a cool vibe up there in ATX.  After that we actually had a couple of weeks off, which usually never happens in the summer! It was a nice break, though to catch our breath and gear up for the run of camps we had up next!
We then headed to Camp Zephyr. What a cool place! Figuratively not literally, although this year was much cooler than in past years. Zephyr is one of our favorite places! The staff there is absolutely amazing!  Kenny Conley was the speaker again this year and did such a great job! We love hanging out with Camp Kenny! We did 3 pre-teen camps there in 2 weeks! Yeah, sounds crazy huh?!? It was great, except for the fact that I completely lost my voice! I got a nasty sinus infection and my voice said 'Adios!' This hasn't happend in the 11 years we have been doing this! At first we didn't know what we were going to do, but then my amazing wife stepped up and sang like an angel! She sang so beautifully and lead the worship through music like she had been doing it all her life! Thankfully, I was able to get some medicine and my voice came back by the end of the second camp and I was able to finish out the summer strong!
After those wonderful weeks at Zephyr, we headed to Big Country Camp. Nothing like west Texas in the middle of the summer! We had a great time and the kids were so responsive and wonderful to be around! We also got to hang out with a great speaker and friend, Shane Pruitt. He always has a wonderful way to connect with the kids!
This summer we had some new additions to the JGB. We took a new drummer, Timothy, and added an acoustic guitar player, Chandler. They were such a great find! We were so excited to have them join us this summer, and look forward to woking with them again!
There was one thing that kept coming up at these camps. One thing that we had never discovered before this summer. Something we had always heard about, but never had tried...Chicken Express! Oh man! I think that this summer, camp speakers were being payed by Chicken Express to promote their product. We had never tried it, but after hearing so much about it we HAD to find one. We lead worship at San Angelo FUMC on Sunday morning on our way to Big Country Camp and we had to grab lunch on our way out of town and what do you know...there was a Chicken Express right there in San Angelo! We went in, ordered our Chicken Express chicken tenders and dove in! Let me just say...there is nothing like Chicken Express chicken tenders...they were DELICIOUS! Chicken Express, you have some new fans!
Over all it was an AMAZING summer! Now, we get ready for a fun filled fall! We will be releasing out new HYMNS CD this September. We will aslo be traveling and doing Family Worship Nights all across the country! If you would like us to get to your church be sure to contact Michelle 210-317-6453 or michelle@justingravesband.com ! We would love to share the songs and gifts God has given us with your community! I love that this is what God has called us to do! I have included some pics from the summer. You can see more on our Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/justingravesband.  Hope your summer was as wonderful as ours! See you soon!
Last day at Camp Egen
 FLY! Redeemer Lutheran VBS
Getting ready to hit the road with Timothy and Chandler!
Worship at Camp Zephyr
Camp Zephyr ROCKS!

Michelle rockin the mic when I lost my voice!

Chicken Express!



Big Country Camp!

Concert at Big Country Camp!

Worship at Big Country
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AuthorJustin Graves
Have you ever had one of those weeks where it feels like life is passing by you while you are looking in from the outside?  When it feels like everyone around you is moving at hyper-speed while you are stuck in slow motion, deep in a barrel of molasses? That kind of describes the week Michelle and I have had.

It all started last weekend when Michelle went with her parents to California for a funeral.  Their plane left at around 8:30am from Austin on Saturday, which ment that they needed to leave San Antonio about 6am, which in turn ment that we needed to wake up at 5am.  Whew! 

They arrived in California and were able to spent time with family and have a wonderful memorial service. Michelle, however, doesn't tend to adjust to different time zones very well.  Although she was in Pacific time, her body was operating on Central time, which ment she was waking up two hours early and ready to go to bed long before her California family. 

Now, one of the benefits of our job is that Michelle and I get to work together from home.  We basically spend all day, everyday, with each other.  It truly is wonderful! The down side of that is, when we are appart, life just seems a little off kilter.  I know that with Michelle gone I wont sleep very well, so I don't want to go to bed.  So for those 4 nights I stayed up till 3am or so and ended up cleaning the whole house! 


Gabi and I did have some great daddy-daughter time.  Being Mr. Mom went very well until Tuesday when I woke up late and failed to get Gabi to school on time, but that is a story for another time.


Michelle came home late Tuesday night.  Her plane landed in San Antonio at about 1am Wednesday morning.  Gabi and I went to pick her up and by the time we got home and un-wound a little it was almost 2:30am.  So needless to say we have been operating in catch-up mode the rest of the week.  It has been a good week, we just feel like we haven't fully recovered from so many late nights and early mornings.


I was able to spend some time writting in the studio on Friday where I came across the verse in Ephesians 6:10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  This was such a great reminder and encouragement to me. I don't have to rely on my own strength, God's power is ready and available at all times, I just have to choose to use it!  He is willing to give it to any who will ask!


Although we have drifted through this week half asleep with aching bodies and blurry eyes, we have enjoyed being back together as a family. It is so good to know that even when we feel like we have nothing left in the tank, we don't have to do this on our own. What a wonderful blessing! We can live in His strength! Be strong in the Lord! Live full of His mighty power! (but do make sure you get enough sleep!)


I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/justingravesband 

By the way...as luck would have it, this is the 2nd time I have written this blog.  I had it finished and ready to post when I hit the wrong button and erased it all. Just kind of goes along with the kind of week it has been! Just makes me chuckle a little!



Posted
AuthorJustin Graves

So, you may or may not know that I recently tried out for the TV show X-Factor. Yeah, that's right, reality TV, gotta love it! They held auditions in Austin a few weeks ago and Michelle and I talked about it and thought, why not! So, Michelle and I talked through song choices and finally landed on a few that we thought would work. Then I rehearsed and rehearsed and practiced in front of the mirror and in front of the video camera and in front of Michelle and worked and tweaked and rehearsed some more. As the audition date grew closer, we got more excited! Where would this take us? What would come out of this? Could I really make it on the show? What could this do for our career? Think of the potential this could have for our ministry!

There were a lot of steps that we had to take just to get the opportunity to audition. First, we had to register. We spent the night in Austin and woke up at 4am just to get to the Erwin Center to wait in line to get the wrist band and ticket in order to come back and audition. We got there about 5:30 in the pouring rain and got to wait in line for about three hours (inside thankfully). Standing, waiting, waiting, standing and then more standing, all the while the X-Factor people telling us, "It will be just a few more minutes" about every 20 minutes. After all that waiting and standing they finally said it was time and they were going to start registration. The crowed rushed forward to get to the registration table to present their ID and get the wrist band and ticket needed to audition. It took about 5 minutes to complete the registration process. Yeah, all that waiting for such a quick turn around. That was OK though because we got to go have brunch with some of our best friends at a cool place in Austin.

The auditions were held on Thursday at the Erwin Center and they had told us to be there and in line by 7am. So, again, we stayed in Austin the night before and get there about 6:30am, to find out we are waiting outside. Thankfully the weather was beautiful that day, no rain. As the TV cameras were being set up and positioned, we stood in line again. Waiting and standing, standing and waiting. We had actually met a couple on the day of registration and happened to run into them again on Thursday. As we stood, we talked to our new friends and the people around us, finding out where they were from, what they did and what their story was. We became fast friends with several people and quickly realized we were all Christ Followers. All from different places and backgrounds, but all connected by our love of God. It was amazing the stories that were shared and the encouragement that came out of that little group! It certainly helped the time pass easier having a group of friends to laugh with and talk to!

Finally, it was time to go in and start the auditions. Michelle and I go in and find our seats and we realize that the section we are seated in will be the first to audition. Now, I don't get nervous very often, and I can play it pretty cool most of the time, but for some reason the gravity of this started getting into my head a bit. I was trying to remember all that Michelle and I had talked about, what to emphasize, what to do with my hands (since I couldn't use my guitar), what to say to the judges. All of these thoughts running through my head at the same time as the lyrics to the songs.

I will spare you the details of the audition, which I think I really I rocked, but their answer was, "You're just not what we looking for at this time." Whoa! I was prepared for that, but to hear that come out of their mouth did sting a bit. I knew my odds of making it were slim and that they had a very specific thing they are looking for, but it still takes you back a little when you are told "no".

After coming home and reflecting on this whole process, Michelle and I have realized a few things. First, the process of preparing for the audition helped me see that I need to take every song I sing that serious. There are so many times I just sing a song and don't really think about it. I just get through it and don't feel it. So much of a song can be conveyed through the way it is sung. Second, we know what God has called us to do and are confident in that. He has called us to travel, sing the songs He has given us and trust that He is taking care of us. That could not have been made clearer through this process. In no way were we trying to say that what we have been doing is not good enough, but this was an opportunity that we thought would be great to explore.

So coming out of this I feel confident that God has us right where he wants us. He has great plans for us, even bigger than the X-Factor! We will continue to trust in Him and let Him lead us! Just like it says in Proverbs 3:5-7. Hey I think someone wrote a song about that!

Posted
AuthorJustin Graves
My heart has been heavy. This past week I was ready to give it all up. Yep, ready to quit music all together. I wanted nothing to do with it. I was ready to smash all my guitars and find some job that has nothing to do with music, singing or guitars. Then at the point of complete brokenness (and after I had chunked a guitar across the room) I felt Gods presence in the form of my incredible wife, Michelle.
She came in with love in her eyes and tears in her heart and just let me be real, honest and open with what was going on inside of me. She just listened. She didn't try to fix the problem or tell me I was wrong for feeling that way, she just was available. Whether she was conscious of the fact that God was using her or not, she made her self available to be used. She put aside her own agenda and allowed God to make Himself known through her. It wasn't what she said or anything she did specifically, it was just the fact that she was there, caring and loving no matter what.
I think that is what God asks all of us to do, just be available. You don't have to always know what to say, you may not know what to do, but if you are willing to let God use you, He will. You may not even be aware that God is using you to help heal a broken heart, encourage someone or just help someone laugh. What matters is that you are making yourself available to be used.

Yeah, things at the Graves' house got a little tense, but they are looking up! I am happy to tell you that I will not be giving up music! I know that God has called me for a purpose and that there are times when I get distracted, and focused on myself and live in my crisis instead of living in my calling (thanks Mike Daniel!).
God has a great plan for each of us! Let's live it out! Be available for Him to be used!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook fan page! www.facebook.com/justingravesband
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AuthorJustin Graves
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Some of you may know our song 'Strong and Courageous', but I want to tell you more of the story behind the song and why it is so special to us.
This song was originally born out of us leading worship on a Sunday morning at a local church for the kids Sunday School large group time. The theme verse one particular Sunday was Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. That week Michelle challenged me to write a song for the service that weekend based on the theme verse. So, I sat down and scratched out a simple little chorus and we used it that weekend. It was a hit! We liked it and the kids LOVED it so we decided to work on it some more and come up with some verses and a bridge and voila 'Strong and Courageous' was born! It is a hit with kids and adults, and it is so much fun to see everyone doing the brave, strong and courageous motions!

Well, that is not where the story ends. Our daughter, Gabriella, has a friend named Sadie whom she calls her 'best friend.' Whenever they are together they pretend that they are princesses or fairies or ballerinas, something very girly, it is so cute! A little over a year ago Sadie and her family found out that she had a giant tumor growing in her abdomen. She and her family have gone through so much in the last year with Sadie having multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation and being in and out of the hospital. However, long before anyone knew that Sadie had cancer, her family had adopted a family verse, and that verse is Joshua 1:9, the same verse we based our song 'Strong and Courageous' on.
As Sadie has gone through all of this she continues to hold on to the truth in Joshua 1:9, "God is always with you." She is brave and strong and courageous and does not let anything hold her down! She is an incredible testimony of God's love!

As we were recording our "Live to Love" CD, we asked if Sadie would come in and say the scripture at the beginning of the song, 'Strong and Courageous'. She was a little reluctant at first, but then when she heard her voice on the recording she was very excited! It is so beautiful to hear her say the verse and know that she is living it out! You can listen to the song by clicking on it below. Enjoy!


ComScore

There is one more part to this story that I don't want you to miss. For the last few years, instead of having a birthday party, Gabriella has wanted to do a fundraiser. She has such a compassionate heart, (just like her mother) and loves helping people. This years fundraiser is going to be on March 1st at Fralo's Art of Pizza in Leon Springs. Instead of bringing gifts, Gabi wants everyone to come out to Fralo's to eat pizza and enter the raffle to raise money for new bedding, art supplies and games for the kids receiving cancer treatments at the facility where Sadie gets her treatments. All of the details are below in the flyer. We would love to see you there! And remember....Be brave and strong and courageous, because God is ALWAYS with you!
Posted
AuthorJustin Graves

Yep...one of our favorite songs sung by the red headed stranger...On the road again! Just can't wait to get on the road again!

This was our first weekend back on the road in 2012 and we had such an amazing time! Michelle, Gabriella, and I headed up to Oklahoma and played in 3 towns in 2 days. Yeah it was fast and furious, but it was so much fun! There were multiple times that all three of us mentioned how fun it was to be back on the road. On the drive home we were trying to figure out what it was about being on the road that we all loved so much. We came up with a few different ideas as to what it is we love best about road life.

Is is the family time? We spend hours and hours in the truck together singing and playing and talking. We get to see and experience new places together making memories and growing our relationships.

Is it just being away from home? There is so much excitement about taking a road trip! You never know what you will come across along the way!

How about being with old friends? Because we travel so much we have formed some great relationships across the country. It is so much fun to see old friends, catch up on life, laugh, talk and and just hang out. In our opinion that is where a lot of ministry happens, in those one on one times over a nice juicy hamburger or hot cup of coffee. Some of our favorite memories are the times we get to just sit and talk and share stories about ministry.

Is it because we are always making new friends? It doesn't matter whether we are at a church or camp or just at a restaurant along the way, when you have someone as cute and friendly as our sweet Gabi new friends are made very easily!

Is it the fact that we get see so much of the country? Whenever we plan a trip we try to make it a learning experience for all of us. We look up and see what there is along the way that would be fun to visit. We have seen some great history, and experienced some very exciting things along the way!

Is it the fact that we get to stay in hotels? If it were up to Michelle we would live in a hotel. That is her dream. It is so much fun to stay in a fresh clean place and have breakfast waiting for you every morning when you wake up!

What we have discovered is that overwhelmingly the answer is D...all of the above! We are so excited to be on the road and and can not believe that God has called us to this incredible life!

We love our life on the road! Thank you God for continuing to bless us with new places and friends along the way!

Posted
AuthorJustin Graves
This week we are preparing to get back on the road! We head to Oklahoma this weekend for the first road trip of the year. We are so excited to visit old friends and make new ones along our journey! The holidays have been a nice break for us, being home, relaxing, re-grouping, preparing for another exciting year, but we miss being on the road.
I can say with absolute certainty that this is what we were created to do! It is so exciting to know that God has called us to this life of traveling and leading worship, and that He continues to bring us new opportunities and encourage us along the way! Sure there are times that it is hard. We have countless stories of the crazy things that have happened to us while on the road, but through it all, God has been right there with us!
It is amazing to look back at the past 10 years and see where we started and where God has brought us. We have made 7 full length CD's, traveled to 16 different states and 2 countries, played at countless churches, camps and retreats, and we are still going strong! God continues to bring us fresh ideas, new songs, and provide us with new places to play and new people to meet! It is so exciting!
Michelle and I have often sat down and wondered how in the world this all works. We know that we are nothing special. We have no magical powers or secret weapon, we just have faith that God will put us right where He wants us when He wants us there. He continues to bring people into our life that encourage, help, and motivate us to keep pressing on.
So I am excited about this new year! I am looking forward to loading up Truck Norris (yep that is our trucks name) and heading up I-35 this weekend! When you see us driving by, be sure to wave! We will be looking for you!
Look out Oklahoma, here we come!

Posted
AuthorJustin Graves
With this being the week of Thanksgiving I thought I would make a list of the things I am most thankful for. Hope you enjoy!

1. My Salvation
2. My amazing wife, Michelle
3. My sweet daughter Gabriella
4. Dr. Pepper
5. Freedom
6. Our home
7. Rock-n-Roll
8. My job
9. Our church
10. Pecan Pie

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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AuthorJustin Graves