Apr 2013 03

12_02_McCollough-375-Edit-2-Edit-Edit-Edit

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. Although I have lived many cities, Ames is where I consider home.  I have lived here longer than any other place.

I was born in Fort Dodge, IA and grew up on a farm near Eagle Grove, IA. When I was in elementary school my father was diagnosed with cancer.  God spared my father’s life and through his illness and recovery changed the course of our family.  Dad sold the farm after his treatments and for the rest of my childhood he did what was necessary to support his family.

My father used the money from the farm and bought a carnival (yes, you read that correctly). He brought the family on the road with him for a few years.  During the warmer months we operated the carnival throughout the midwest at county fairs and city festivals. We migrated south to New Orleans for the winter season.

After our carnie years came to an end we ended up back in the midwest in western Illinois and finally I graduated high school in Armstrong, IA in north Central Iowa.

I came to Ames to study at ISU where II studied Mechanical Engineering and met my wife Christy. After undergraduate school, Christy moved to Omaha, NE to study Physical Therapy in graduate school. I followed quickly after her and took a job as an Engineer in Council Bluffs, IA.  We were married and for the next few years Christy studied long hours and I worked long hours pursuing my career. When we had our first child, Christy stopped working out of the home, and I was still working long hours.

I resigned from a demanding career path and we moved back to Ames so I could slow down, possibly do some higher education at ISU and be a present father. We now have three children and I am happily working for the City of Ames as an engineer.

Q. When did you start to follow Christ?

A. Since we moved often growing up, we were constantly changing churches. We attended various churches: Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical Free, and now Cornerstone. I heard most all of the bible stories growing up.  I first understood the gospel as a pre-teen and was saved and baptised.

My high school youth pastor was very influential in my spiritual life.  He challenged me to die to myself and pursue Christ.  After high school I worked as a camp counselor at an Evangelical Free church camp in Minnesota.  While studying at ISU I was very involved with The Salt Company.  I had the opportunity to serve on TSC music team and even study a semester overseas in Istanbul, Turkey.

Q. When did you first start to follow your passion for music?

A. Music has been a passion of mine for as long as I could remember. Growing up my mother was the church organist and my father sang in the choir. I started going to choir practice with them as soon as I could walk.

I sang and played instruments through grade school.  I considered two paths when choosing my degree at ISU: Fine arts in music or Engineering. Even though I choose engineering over music as a college degree, God provided an outlet for music through TSC and cornerstone.

Q. How has worship impacted your life?

A. I can so easily fool myself into believing that I only worship on Sunday morning during church when I am singing behind the microphone. At times I’ve been a terrible husband and been angry with my children on Saturday and I show up on Sunday expecting to worship God through singing. 

I didn’t understand how that might sound to God until I became a father myself.  My children love to sing.  Loudly.  Sometimes their singing is pleasant to me as a father.  Sometimes I want to put in earplugs because the sound of my children singing in the midst of their disobedience is worse than nails across a chalkboard.

Worship must be more than music and singing.  Worship is defined in Romans 12.  The apostle Paul writes that our spiritual act of worship is to present our bodies as living sacrifices.  To worship to me means living sacrificially.  Christ is the perfect example.  Although he was God, he humbled himself and sacrificed himself on the cross for our sake.  As a follower of Christ, I then worship by following in his example.

Ok, now what does that mean? Paul continues in Romans 12 to describe that God has gifted us all in different ways.  I believe that worship in my life will look different than in someone else’s life because God has gifted us differently.  Ultimately I believe that worship can be summed up as identifying what gifts God has given you and then using those gifts sacrificially for his Glory.

Therefore, for me, worship can be something as simple as unloading the dishwasher to serve my wife when I really want to sit down and relax at the end of the day.  Or helping a friend fix a car late into the evening when I would rather go to bed. Or using the big house God has given us to give someone in need a place to stay.  Worship is so simple and yet profoundly hard.

Feb 2012 13
Dsc07969

 

Q.   Where did you grow up?
A.  I was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, CA and lived there and many other places in the southwest for the first 11 years of my life.  I had a very rough childhood as my father was very irresponsible so we had to keep running from collectors.  I have counted over 10 different elementary (prek-6th grade) schools that I attended during that time.  I lived in several different towns in southern California, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.  My parents however in the early years of my life did serve God and taught me at a young age to follow Jesus, before they fell away from God.  So I held on to Him with all my might as a child.  After my parents divorced, my mother remarried a very abusive man, and after being beaten very badly by him they sent me to live with my father who had recently moved to Ottumwa, Iowa from LA, to marry his girlfriend in her home town.  That is how I find myself in the Midwest.

 

Q.   When did you start following Christ?
A.  As a young child  my parents introduced me to Jesus.  Of course I followed him as much as I could even though my parents rarely took me to church.  It wasn’t until after the big fight between me and my stepfather that I really saw God at work in my life.  At age 11, I was beaten and abandoned at a truck stop after the fight and God sent a truck driver to tell me of His promises never to leave me or forsake me, as my parents had done.  It meant so much to me to know that I wasn’t alone.  After a few years of trying to find my feet in life, at age 14 I fully committed my life to God.  At age 15 I promised not to fill my mind with crushes on boys and for a year worked on my relationship with God.  Shortly after I fulfilled this promise I met my husband Seth whom I began to date with God as the center of our relationship.

 

Q.   When did you first start following your passion for music?
A.  After I had moved to Iowa I became good friends with friend who loved to play piano and sing.  We became very close and sang together all the time.  At age 14, we started going to the same church and became involved with our youth group.  I had always liked to sing, but found that I absolutely loved singing praises to our Creator.  We became worship leaders in our youth group and sang on the worship team in the main service also.  Seth, my husband, was my sound guy during that time.  After we married, we moved and became leaders in our college ministry in Sioux Falls, SD, where I led worship for 4 yrs.  After a sister church was starting from our home church we were asked to be part of that ministry.  I sang on the worship team for a couple of years before becoming the Worship Leader for Crosswalk Community Church where I led for over 2 years, before moving back to Iowa because of Seth’s job change in 2009.

 

Q.  How has worship impacted your life?
A.  There have been times in my walk that I have struggled with God, and for a while my joy was cut off and I didn’t sing for a year.  I was angry with God, and cut myself off from Him.  It was the hardest time in my life.  My husband still wanted to go to church, and wanted me to go with him, even in my bitterness, and I did out of obedience to him, although begrudgingly.  I listened to the worship songs for months, trying to disconnect myself from God, but He still called to me.  Then I remembered that I promised I would praise Him no matter my situation, because He was God and He deserved my praise.  I started to open my mouth in song to Him again, and his Spirit totally brought me back to God.  I saw the fulfillment of His word in my life that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3).  So worship has healed me so many times through His Spirit.

 

Q. What does your life look like now?
A.  I am a stay at home mom for the most part, but just started my own business this last May as a face and body artist.  I have been very busy since starting up working for ISU for many sporting events, and other events at the college.  I also do birthday parties and events all over central Iowa.  I have 2 children Lia(9) and Ethan(5) and have been married for 14 years to my high school sweetheart.  God brought Seth and I to this area 2 ½ years ago from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  We have been so blessed by Cornerstone since we started coming faithfully for about a year now.  What a great cloud of witnesses to be surrounded by!  We look forward to the future and what God is doing in this church and so glad to be a part of it!
Nov 2011 23
Dsc_7237

 

Q.  Where did you grow up?
A.  I grew up in Jefferson, IA.  I was raised in a Christian home, and attended an Open Bible church.  As a kid I had the general knowledge of faith, but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.  During high school I lived for myself and I knew that I was running from God.  I even remember telling a friend at a party in high school that I heard the “God phone ringing”, but I was not ready to “answer the call”.  God, in His mercy, let me go down the road that I chose for myself, which ultimately led me to the end of myself. It was then that my will was broken and my heart was softened towards Him. 
Q.  When did you start to follow Christ?
A.  I surrendered my heart to God’s will when I learned that I had become pregnant.  20 years old, unmarried, ashamed, and broken I knew that I couldn’t live this life anymore in my own strength.  God, in His mercy, began transforming my life. He set me free from a life of sin and shame. When my son, E.J. was 5 months old, the opportunity arose for me to attend Bible school in Ladispolli, Italy, (30 miles north of Rome).  By that time God had already started to change the desires of my heart. I sold all that I owned (which wasn’t much), bought a plane ticket, and my baby and I flew off to Italy. There I attended Domata School of Missions. Domata was founded by Mark Brazee Ministries (a Rhema grad.) out of Tulsa, Ok.  My time in Bible school is the most precious time that God blessed me with. I had time to be with my infant son, time to be in the Word of God, and there were many people in my life to disciple me and demonstrate what being a true Christ follower looks like.  It was during that time that I counted the cost of following Christ. I can totally relate to what the apostle Peter said in response to Jesus’ question “Are you going to leave me too?  My answer is the same…“Where else would I go Lord?” I’ve tasted what the world has to offer and I know that everything is empty and unsatisfying when God is left out of it. Loving God and serving Him with my life is the only option. Nothing else will ever be enough.”

 

Q.  When did you first start following your passion for music?
A.  My parents made me take piano lessons for several years as a kid, but my first musical love was for playing the drums. As a child, Karen Carpenter was the woman I wanted to grow up to be. (Minus the not eating food part). She was a huge inspiration to me. I have yet to master singing and playing the drums at the same time.  Maybe in Heaven? I played the drums on the worship team in Italy for the 2 years I was there. When I returned to the States in 2004, I briefly took private voice lessons from a professor at ISU. I served as a vocalist on the worship team at Abundant Life Ministries church in Jefferson for 6 years. I met my husband Russ in 2007. We married in 2008 and added our 2nd son, Max to our family in 2010. We started attending Cornerstone Church, also in early 2010.  I was fully prepared to be a “normal church goer” and had no idea that I would be getting the opportunity to serve as a vocalist again.  I am both humbled and grateful to be a part of the Cornerstone music team. It has stretched me vocally and spiritually. I take leading Gods church in worship very seriously and I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Him this way. 

 

Q.  How has worship impacted your life?
A.  Worship is my short-cut to getting right smack dab in the presence of God. I realize that Gods presence is always with me, I am just very aware of it when I am engaged in worship. To me, worship is a heart condition and music is a tool that can be used to get our focus on what is truly worthy of our worship. Music has the ability of directing our feelings, thoughts, and even mood. God specifically designed us all to worship. We all worship something and are all moved emotionally by music. I would encourage anyone to consciously make a decision to live a life of worship. Be determined to make moments in every day to outwardly give glory to God.  Be it belting out your favorite worship song in your car or sitting quietly telling God how wonderful He is. Worship can even look like picking up a piece of paper off of the floor instead of walking by it. Anything that is done unto God with a right heart is worship and we are made to serve and worship our King…forever! God is so good to give us the gift of music to express our love towards Him.  Not much gives me greater pleasure on this side of Heaven than singing praises to our God.