New Year, New Opportunities

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas filled with love, family, and laughter… I know I did! God has done some amazing things in my life this holiday season (and this year in general), and I can’t wait to see what the new year has in store!

With that in mind, there’s one thing I want to say:

2015. What. A. Year!  It has been a crazy amazing year, to say the least. There have been highs and lows; victories and disappointments; but through it all, God has provided so much and He has remained so faithful.

This year, I started Rustic Christian Signs, and it has proven to be a major success! I also did my first trade show in November; it was so fun meeting people (and realizing how many individuals were actually interested in my signs :) ), and the hard work really paid off in the end. I’m really shy, and I usually have a hard time talking to people, but the trade show increased my confidence.

In 2015, I experienced some setbacks as well, and there were times when I recall asking the Lord, “Why? Is this all apart of Your plan for my life?” … but everything started turning around for the best and kept going forward from there. :) Now that I think about it, everything that happened this year– both good and bad– was all because of His timing. :)

For the year ahead, I have some exciting things planned. I’m doing something that will be an amazing business opportunity– I don’t really want to say anything more until all the details are finalized, but this is going to be incredible for both Christian Signs and the people I’m working with 😉 Like previously mentioned, it’s all apart of God’s incredible plan, and I can’t wait to share more info in the coming months.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! God Bless!

Anna-Marie

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My thoughts about TobyMac’s new music

For years, tobyMac has been recognized as a Christian music icon. From when he was in DCTalk in the 1990’s, to his debut solo album, Momentum, in 2001; and now his latest recording effort, This Is Not A Test, which was released earlier this month. But some of the new tracks (including his latest single, “Feel It“) are making me wonder about the direction his music is going in… as well as the direction of Contemporary Christian Music in general.

Upon first listen, I must admit “Feel It” is a catchy song. It’s very upbeat, and one of the few songs that I actually like from tobyMac’s new album. It doesn’t rely heavily on auto-tune (which is actually a good thing, for the most part… unless there’s too much of it used; in that case, it makes the singer sound like a robot :P). But I listened to it closer, and realized, “Hey, this sounds like something I’ve heard on the radio!”

Yes, I’m alluding to songs such as: Better To Be Loved” by Francesco Yates, Teacher” by Nick Jonas, Want To Want Me” (is that the right song title?) by Jason Derulo… and even Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. What do all these songs have in common? They are all new songs that you probably hear all the time on secular radio. And I’ve noticed that many Christian artists, in the past few years, are going mainstream.

From what I personally remember, it started in 2003 with Switchfoot. Their songs were featured in a movie, and they turned into a mainstream band shortly after. But in the past few years, I’ve seen artists like Britt Nicole and for KING & COUNTRY become more mainstream… and, as a result, their music has changed drastically… sometimes for the better (like For KING & COUNTRY), but sometimes the new songs can also be disappointing. (Now, I can’t say this is true for Britt Nicole, as her new music has yet to be released. But this is just an example)

Heck, even tobyMac– an artist whose music hasn’t been played on secular radio stations, but has reached a wider demographic than just a Christian audience– is starting to sound more like a mainstream artist. Auto-tune aside, there are many traits that secular and current Christian songs both appear to have: the repetitive lyrics… the occasional feeling of not knowing whether the singer is talking about Jesus or a more secular topic with their lyrics… I must admit, Christian music just isn’t the same anymore.

What happened to the days where Christian artists created music for one purpose– to praise God? In the early 2000’s, this was what CCM was all about. Sure, Bethany Dillon may have released a few innocent love songs (“For My Love“, “When You Love Someone“, and “The Way I See You“)… and even American Idol contestant Moriah Peters released a cute and innocent song entitled “Haven’t Even Kissed” on her debut album, about how she was waiting to save her first kiss for marriage! But most of the music was truly about serving Jesus and telling people about Him (as Bethany Dillon said in her 2009 hit single, “Everyone To Know“).

There are still some artists who write and perform music for God (examples include Shane and Shane, Josh Wilson, and Nichole Nordeman, among others), but, in my honest opinion, it’s a lot like Top 40 music now… it all sounds the same.