Best Band Ever!


In the mid 1990’s Mark and I had the opportunity of living in Houston working with Mission X a ministry aimed to reach Generation X through music. Part of the Mission X ministry wasa band called the Friendly’s of which Mark was the guitarist, Tim Bisagno was singer, Marty Durlam was drummer and later Stephen Pether joined us as bass player but at the beginning we had quite a few temporary bass players.  In the early days of establishing Mission X and getting the band known, they played a gig at First Baptist Church Houston, where Tim’s father was the senior pastor.

The Friendlys in action

The Friendlys in action

It was a gig to raise awareness and funding for the band and Mission X. Our mission was to use music as a medium to tell others about Jesus and take this music and message to the world; in particular to pubs, clubs, festivals and prisons.  The band played well and gave it all they could. The music was loud and quite heavy and definitely not the typical music heard at First Baptist Church.

What made this gig a lasting memory was the response at the end of the show. People were coming up to us and saying things like, “Wow, you guys are the best band I have ever heard!” “That was

The Friendlys  L to R  Marty Durlam, Stephen Pether, Tim Bisagno, & Mark Holmes

The Friendlys L to R Marty Durlam, Stephen Pether, Tim Bisagno, & Mark Holmes

awesome; you are going to make it so big!” “Can’t wait for you to put an album out!”

Mark and I were taken by surprise by this incredible encouragement (but of course didn’t believe a word of it). However, it was still super exciting to hear and super encouraging.

I remember thinking that maybe this is why Americans do so well at everything they set their minds and hands to. Maybe it’s inbred in them to be each other’s cheerleaders and to inspire each other to go bigger and do better and to constantly praise successes no matter how small.  We left that gig that evening thinking we could do anything and go anywhere, that this band could actually conquer the world for Jesus.

This memory has never left me, and as much as I can I have tried to be like those Texans that night. One of my dear friends is a natural cheerleader. To her everyone is amazing, looks fantastic and is brilliant at all they do. It has been a true blessing to be on the receiving end of that sort of friendship.

 Jesus said;

And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them.

Luke 6:31 (Amplified Bible)

We all want to be told; you’re are doing a great job, or that painting you did was beautiful, that song you sang was amazing, that university paper you got a B in was a fantastic effort or that outfit you just bought is stunning.

No one wants to hear; that painting has too many dark colours, you sang a bit out of key, an A would have been better, or that shirt is too bright.

I have learnt there is incredible lifegiving power in our words and when we speak them into others’ lives we actually have the ability to make or break a person.

As the bible says,

“Words kill, words give life.
They’re poison or fruit – you choose.”
Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Isn’t that the truth!

My parents in law, David and Val, have just spent three months in Austin Texas staying with Mark’s brother and his family. One day David was talking to a neighbour about his future plans and he said to David without any pride and very matter of fact that he was studying so one day he could become President.

David said what impressed him about this statement was he actually believed he could. This young man had been brought up to believe he could do anything he had set his mind to. He had been encouraged to aim for his dreams.

This blog and my book (which is in the process of being edited) are acts of obedience to what I believe God has asked of me, but I can tell you now they would not have even got started without the constant encouragement of friends and family who kept saying that I could do it and that I did have something to share with the world.

Being a cheer leader and an encourager does not come naturally to this Kiwi girl, but the more I have practiced it the better I have become at it and the more natural it has become. Also the bonus of encouraging people comes when I see their faces light up.

Bonnie at Cheerleading Champs.

Bonnie at Cheerleading Champs.

I want to be the mum who tells her girls they are amazing and can do anything they want. I want to be the friend who says, ‘you look gorgeous’. I want to be the church member who tells the pastor their message was great or tells the youth pastor they are doing a great job. I want to encourage family, friends, and even acquaintances to go for their dreams, and to make life happen.

Let’s all follow Jesus’ suggestion and “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”But let’s do it with our words because all of us really do want to be encouraged and praised.

And maybe, just maybe, that word of encouragement or praise will spur another on to be obedient to what God has asked of them.  How awesome to give someone that much needed boost to take a step towards their dream and purpose.


Not Cutey Cute

I have four beautiful daughters.  Misha is 21 this month, Bonnie is 19, Jasmine is 17 and Emerald is 15.

Mark and his darling daughters.

Mark and his darling daughters.

I am a solo parent to these four girls.   Mark died when they were 16, 15, 13 and 11.  For nearly five years I have been officially parenting alone but, because of Mark’s long and severe illness, I was essentially doing the job on my own before that.

I remember when my youngest was born, holding her and saying quietly to her, “You are going to have the coolest dad when you’re a teenager.”  I could totally see Mark with his dreads, piercings and tattoos (which were in the planning stage) taking his four girls to rock concerts.

However, my youngest never got to have any memories of her dad before his first brain tumour was discovered and took us on a ten-year journey through terrible sickness.

So here I am, doing something I never, ever thought I would do when Mark and I first started our family – bringing up my girls all by myself.

I love my girls more than anything.  I tell others, having children is like having bits of your own heart walking around in the world.  The love of a parent towards its own child is something no words can ever explain.

But, parenting them on my own has been exhausting – especially through the teenage years.  My friends will attest to the naïve dream I had of looking forward to the teenage years, when my girls would be growing up and we would go shopping together, drink coffees at cafés and have deep, meaningful conversations about all the things going on.

Misha, Mark & Bonnie at Houston Zoo, Texas.

Misha, Mark & Bonnie at Houston Zoo, Texas.

Yes, I can hear you laughing as you read that.  Because, of course, it hasn’t all been raindrops and roses.  Don’t get me wrong – my girls are great.  They are funny and full of life.  Our house is loud, with lots of dancing and singing.  And often we do have amazingly deep conversations, solving the world’s problems or discussing verses in the Bible. 

But there have been great big chunks of the teenage years that I have downright hated, and I have voiced loudly that I actually hate teenagers.  It got to the point where, whenever I saw cute little babies I would think, “You are not really cutey cute.  You are just a big trick, because you are going to grow up and be a horrible teenager.”

But there has been some amazing learning during all this …

I have learned to let go of my girls and totally leave them in their heavenly Father’s hands. 

This was a hard lesson learned, because at 18 my eldest took off (the first time) for six weeks and I scarcely heard from her.  She was in a very bad place and just left one day.  She was legally old enough to go and I had no say.  What could I do?  Nothing!  So I gave her over to Jesus.

He looked after her and has continued to do so.

As the girls all journeyed through their teenage years, God has had to train me to let go and let Him be their protection and their guard. 

There are many nights when I go to bed and none of my girls are at home.  I lay my head on my pillow and pray, “God, I’m going to sleep now.  Please look after my girls, wherever they are and whatever they are doing.  You will do a better job of this than I could, so I trust them to You because You love them.”  And then I go straight to sleep without a second thought.

My Girls.

My Girls.

An extension of this trust is leaving God to work in their lives to bring them into a relationship with Him, because it actually all comes back to this:  the most important thing in the world is that each of my four daughters grasps hold of, falls in love with, and has her own heart set on fire for Jesus.  They cannot live on my relationship with Jesus.  It has to be their own.  Because I cannot live their lives, I cannot be their faith.  They, as individuals, have to make the decision to let Jesus be their Lord.

So, although the teenage years have not being my favourites, in many ways, they have taught me to let go and let God.  And this, in turn, has taught me to pray for others and then relax that God is now doing His thing in their lives, too. 

I have learned that I serve a very big God, who is totally trustworthy.  I have trusted him with my most precious possessions – my girls – and He has not let me down.

Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion,which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.

Psalm 125:1 Amplified Bible (AMP)