You can probably finish most of these quotes:
"Great minds..."
"When life gives you lemons..."
"Don't put off until tomorrow..."
"When you come to a fork in the road..."
"Stupid is as..."

We have a bunch of saying like that in the church, too:
"Hedge of protection."
"Walmart ain't the only Saving place."
"God answers Knee-mail."   

One that I have heard all my life is "Let go and Let God." It sounds so simple and so spiritual, but there is more truth to it than I first realized. I think that is what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians when he says "Gods strength is made perfect in my weakness." I have been becoming more and more aware of this idea lately. I get so caught up in trying to make sure I am in control and I have everything the way I want it, that I forget that God is the actually the one in control. If I would take all the energy I spend in trying to do things myself and let God use me for His glory, then things would probably go much smoother. I can try and try to be my best, the best husband, best father, best leader, best songwriter, but I will always come up short. Not just short by a little bit but like Grand Canyon short. But, if I let God work through me and get myself out of the way, then like Paul, God's strength will be made perfect in my weakness. Something I am learning and seeing more clearly every day. If I can live in God's love and grace and let that flow through me, I will be exactly who God created me to be.  

I hope this has encouraged you and made you smile a little today, remember..."Life is like a box of chocolates..." 

Thanks for hanging out with me today! I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment here or on our Facebook page!

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AuthorJustin Graves

I don't know about you but I love Sci-Fi. I'm always up for some crazy space adventure or futuristic movie. I have always been a big fan of Star Trek and I grew up in the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved the way Captain Picard ran the ship and used his memorable catch phrase, "Make it so." So when I stumbled on this gem of a video I had to share it with you! It combines two of my favorite things...Star Trek and Christmas music. Even if you have never seen Star Trek: The Next Generation you can still appreciate the effort and humor in this video. Enjoy! 

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AuthorJustin Graves

    We are always on the go. There is always something we are planning for or heading to. Thankfully, God has given us the opportunity to do what He has called us to do as a family! However, that does mean we are together 24/7. We all love that we get to spend every moment of every day together, but sometimes, if we are not careful, we can make every day, all day, a work day. With that in mind, Michelle has been making sure that we carve out some special family time just to hang out and do something fun. It is such a blessing to just escape for a while and focus on each other and having fun together.

    Last Friday we took some time to go see Kirk Cameron's new movie, “Saving Christmas.” We had seen so much publicity about it on Facebook and we have always enjoyed his movies, we decided that would be our family outing. Since Kirk had been personally posting videos about the movie, Michelle had a great idea to have Gabi do a video telling Mr. Cameron how excited she was to go see the movie and what she thought of it. BRILLIANT!!!! We took a quick video, Gabi did an amazing job, off the cuff, very articulate and we posted it on Facebook and tagged Kirk Cameron. We had no idea if he would ever see it, we just thought it was fun!

    Well, lo and behold, Monday afternoon Kirk Cameron posted Gabi's video on his page! WHAT!?! Kirk Cameron knows who Gabi is!?! Now, who knows if it is really him posting, but we are so proud of our Gabi girl! It is amazing what can happen when you take a chance and be bold! It has been so exciting to see what God is doing in and through our sweet Gabriella.

    So what is my take on this crazy 15 minutes of fame? Well, I want to encourage you to take some time as a family to do something that takes your mind off of work or gets out you out of your regular routine. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or playing a game as a family. There are some great family movies this time of year as well, so you could make some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and escape for a few hours. It is great to just enjoy each others company, hear each other laugh and listen to each others thoughts and dreams. Another take away from this crazy adventure is, that God has big plans for each and every one of us. We will never know what God has in store for us if we never take that first step. He wants us to be bold and confident through Him. He will be with us on the journey, but we have to trust His guidance!
    So go on, plan some time together with family or friends. Make time for the special people in your life and go have fun! I would love to hear what you do as a family or with friends to escape the “every day.” Post a comment here or on our Facebook page by clicking HERE. and incase you haven't seen Kirk Cameron's post about Gabi and want to check it out, click HERE. I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for hanging out with me today!

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AuthorJustin Graves
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 So, a funny thing happened on the way to dinner. Last week Michelle and I were gifted the opportunity to go have dinner at one of those fancy all you can eat Brazilian steakhouses. It was a gift and also a little reconnaissance mission because Michelle was supposed to be checking it out for the possibility of having a Chick-Fil-A Christmas party there. (She also works as the marketing director for a Chick-Fil-A store here in San Antonio.) We were very excited. Gabi was going to spend the night with Gigi and Hoot and Michelle and I were going to get to have an amazing dinner that we didn't have to pay for!

Michelle and her boss had talked about the restaurant so she knew what to expect. We looked it up online and made a reservation and when she told me the name of the place and basically where it was I said “Yeah, I know where that is! No problem!” 

As we headed to dinner Michelle asked if I knew for sure where it was, I said I did, and I was very confident. We arrived and told them we had a reservation for 6:30. They took us straight in and seated us and we were completely blown away! Michelle kept saying that this was nothing like her boss had described. Everything was bigger and better than he had said that it would be. We didn't think much of it and ate and ate and enjoyed every morsel we put in our mouth. It was an amazing experience!

About half way through dinner Michelle looked down at a place card on our table that had the name of the restaurant on it and asked “Is this the name of the place?” I confirmed and she suddenly looked panicked. “Uh-oh,” she said, “I don't think we are at the right place!” Very confused I asked “Where should we be?” She told me, we looked it up quickly and realized it has a very similar name and is only about a mile and a half down the road. We had made a reservation at the right place, but were definitely at the wrong place!

Needless to say, I started freaking out. Not only were we at the wrong place, that was more expensive, using someone else's credit card, I am the one that brought us here! How did this happen?!?! What were we going to do? After a bit more freaking out and trying to figure out how we were going to pay for this, we contacted Michelle's boss. Thankfully he said not to worry about it, just enjoy ourselves and relax.

So, what have I learned from this little escapade? Well, for starters, don't assume I know everything! As I am constantly searching and learning how to be a better leader, this helped me remember that a good leader doesn't have to know everything. It is ok to admit you don't know something. That doesn't show weakness and nobody expects anyone to know everything. Second, part of being a good leader is being a good listener. If I had listened to the name of the restaurant and actually looked up where it is, we would not have been in that situation! Third, something I already knew but that was again confirmed through this folly, I have an amazing wife. Michelle's could have been very upset and angry. Instead, she just looked at me and laughed. I am constantly doing stupid stuff like this and God has given me an amazing partner and friend that loves me in spite of myself.

There you have it. A day in the life of the Graves. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I would love to hear if you have any similar stories! Leave a comment here and don't forget to sign up for email updates!  

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AuthorJustin Graves

    I think one of the most awkward social exchanges is when you are talking with someone and half way through your conversation they offer you a mint. Whenever that happens to me, my first thought is “Great! What did I just eat?” or, “Oh no! Do I have awful breath and not know it?!?!” Then I begin to wonder who else I have offended that day with my “Breath of Death.” It's not that I don't like or believe in mints, I actually love them, I just don't like that feeling of embarrassment or insecurity that comes with being asked that question! I usually try to make sure I have gum or mints of some kind with me just so I am not on the receiving end of this kind of situation. Come on, you know we've all been there!

    I recently heard someone talk about this very experience and they suggested that instead of offering someone a mint, that you take one for yourself and then leave the box open on the table. Sounds easy enough, but how would that make a difference? Well, the speaker suggests that when you offer someone a mint you may put them on the defensive. You might mean well, and you are most likely just being kind and not wanting to look selfish, but the other person may now feel a bit embarrassed,  self conscious or even offended. However, if you just leave the mints open on the table without saying anything the other party will usually ask if they can have one or just take one on their own. You see, there is no need to force them to take one or shove it down their throat so that the world will smell a little more pleasant for a few minutes. Just making the mints available is all you need to do! Just because you like mints doesn't mean the rest of the world has to like them as well. Sure, life would smell a whole lot prettier if everyone always had mints with them, but everyone may not be as olfactory aware as you!

    Now, this may be a stretch, but let's apply this to our relationship with Christ. In the New Testament Jesus tells us that the most important thing to Him is to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to Love Others. No where in the the Bible does He say to go force others to think the way you do or shove your beliefs down someones throat. If we as Christ Followers want to be more like Christ, we should follow His example of living out what we believe. If someone ask you what you believe, by all means, tell them and be passionate about it, but let the way you live your life day to day, speak loudly of God's love way before your words do. People are more receptive to listen when they don't feel like they are being judged, and when you ask someone if they want a mint (i.e. Christ) instead of just making it available to them, they may feel like you are judging them. The New Testament is full of stories where Jesus showed love instead of judgment. He made His love available instead of forcing it on people. As Christ Followers, I think that is a good example to follow!

    So, give it a try! Set the mints out on the table and just see what happens next! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it goes! Thanks for hanging out with me today!  

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AuthorJustin Graves

Each year Michelle and I try to take a few days just for us. We take a trip just for fun. No work, all play! This year we chose to go to the beautiful city of Chicago. We got to play tourist, visit all the incredible sights and eat delicous local food! While we were there we had the opportunity to go to the Art Institute of Chicago. I love art and I can spend days in a museum, but I had no idea the treasures that were waiting for us inside. 

As we made our way around the MASSIVE building we saw history right before our eyes. We saw some things that were intriguing, some that were beautiful and some that made us scratch our head and say "Hmmmm." It made me realize that there is a wide interpretation of what we call art. Art in some peoples opinion looks like this...  

Classic, historic works of art. Beautiful works that represent life, look realistic but show someones view and interpretation of life at the time. For others art looks something like this...

Abstract, modern and unusual. The first is one persons view of the New Mexico landscape. The second is a Picasso sculpture of a womans face, and the third is the HUMOUNGOUS silver bean in the middle of the city. When you look at these works it makes you wonder what the inspiration was behind each piece, what the artist thought about while they worked on it and how they felt when it was completed. 

Walking through and seeing the drastic difference in style and what is considered art, this made me think about the different ways we worship God. Some like the more traditional style, more formal and structured. Others lean more toward the more abstract, no boundries, free form style. Some land somewhere in the middle. As I think about our amazing creator and the incredible art He has created all around us I am struck with the thought that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to worship God. He created us all different, with different likes and dislikes and He loves us all! What is art to one may be garbage to another, what is a worship to some may look strange and bizare to another. It doesn't mean that one is better than the other. All that God looks at is the heart. As we worship God He alows us to be as creative or conservitive as we want, all He wants is us to worship Him!  

So this week worship as you like...just be sure the focus of your worship is our amazing, creative and loving God!

These are my thoughts...I'd love to hear yours! Feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/JustinGravesBand

What an amazing journey to the Dakotas! A few weeks ago Michelle, Gabi and I loaded up in Truck Norris and headed north. We have been to the Dakotas before but never for an extended period of time. We were hired to do two weekend retreats so we decided to maximize our time up there and fill in the dates in between with Family Worship Nights and leading worship at churches. We had been looking forward to this trip for quite a while but had no idea how incredible it would be. I wanted to just give you a quick recap of our adventure. 

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We started out EARLY on a Wednesday morning and headed to Amarillo. Yep, just like the song says..."Amarillo by morning. Up from San Antone." That was our first stop on the way to the Dakotas. We were able to meet our friends, Billy and Cindy Foote, for dinner then go see the famous Cadillac Ranch! We took our spray paint and left our mark on several of the cars! What a blast!

We were then supposed to head straight north to Rapid City, SD for the 1st retreat, but since the camp had been without power for over a week, thanks to a massive snow storm, the retreat got moved to the other side of the state! So we then drove through Kansas and Nebraska seeing field after field of corn and soy beans being harvested. 12 hours in the truck seeing nothing but fields can make one a bit stir crazy! We landed in Omaha and stayed the night. 

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We got to the retreat and spent three days at Lake Poinsett, SD and had a great time! Beautiful place and wonderful people! Our next event was a Family Worship Night scheduled in Hettinger, ND, yeah all the way back on the other side of the state! Our goal was to be able to see Mt. Rushmore since we hadn't seen it  and it would be our first time in that area of the state. We packed our things at the camp jumped back into Truck Norris and flew back across South Dakota racing the setting sun. We were lucky enough to make a pit stop a the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD so Gabi could experience the beautiful art made out of corn cobs! We traveled down I-90 through the beautiful wilderness of corn fields and soy beans again and got to Rapid City with only moments to spare. We followed the signs and drove along the curvy mountain roads and then, as we rounded the last corner there it was in all its glory! Mr. Rushmore! It was beautiful! We were all screaming we were so excited! We found a place to pull over and were able to take a few pictures with the giant faces! It was incredible, and we just beat the sun set! 

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We spent the next week making our way back across the states being blessed beyond our wildest dreams! We did a few Family Worship Nights, a Worship Team workshop with several churches in the Sioux Falls area, met amazing new friends and experienced a very small bit of what life is like in the great frozen tundra of the north. We finished out the week with the 2nd retreat in at beautiful camp called Wesley Acres. 

We had the privilege of  leading worship at Valley City UMC on Sunday morning and doing a Family Worship Night that evening. We had a wonderful time in the City of Bridges and look forward to going back soon!

We headed to Omaha, NE for one last Family Worship Night and then began our trip home. We realized it would be about 13 or so hours in the truck if we drove straight through, but we were ready to be home, so up early and off we went! What a fun time we had listening to audio books, playing games and just reflecting on how amazing our trip was. We were able to make new friends, see new places and have a blast doing what God has called us to do as a family! 

We look forward to heading north again soon! Thank you to all our friends and churches who made this trip so memorable! There are so many more stories we wish we could share but we would be here all day if we did that! Thank you for taking time to find out what life on the road with the JGB is like. We hope to make it to your area soon! If you would like to bring the JGB to your church contact Tisha at tisha@justingravesband.com and we will see you soon! 

 

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AuthorJustin Graves

You have probably seen them. Those big, nasty, black birds sitting on the highway. As we were driving to camp last week we came across about six or seven of them having lunch. Yes, there was a large dead animal on the side of the road that they were feasting on. As we approached, Gabi mentioned that she did not like these birds because they are ugly and gross. As we talked about what they are and what purpose they serve we realized that there are some things in this world that we don't understand, but that we should be thankful for. Like the buzzards. Can you imagine if they didn't exist how much stinky road kill there would be just rotting on the side of the road! YUCK! 
Well, after that conversation I kept thinking about the buzzards and the other strange things in God's creation. I decided to write a song about it and this is what came out. Hope you enjoy!

 

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AuthorJustin Graves