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Please read Part One of this story here!
The road is filled with great surprises and beautiful stories. One of the most powerful stories was told to me at the first stop of my Hope of Christmas tour in Manchester, NH. Whitney Konz was just 26 when her 24-year-old husband was shot and killed last summer. This marks her second Christmas season without her beloved Kevin. I desire to honor Whitney & Kevin by telling their story, and by sharing how she’s found a way to survive in the midst of horrendous pain, hopefully helping someone else trapped in the prison of grief.
One of the best ways Whitney found to survive after Kevin died was to hunt for a support system. She found a non-profit organization called Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (sslf.org). In addition to providing a national network of support for anyone grieving the loss of someone they love — with a special emphasis on those who have been widowed — SSLF offers a variety of programs, including Camp Widow (www.campwidow.org), which Whitney reluctantly signed up for.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to be disappointed if the other widow/ers wouldn’t know how to connect with me because my story was too tragic or too sad. Boy, was I wrong! There are a multitude of tragic and sad stories and it was the first place in eight months that I had felt normal. I didn’t cringe when someone asked me how he died, I told my story and just felt the instant love, support, and acceptance that was so difficult to get from others who just didn’t understand.” Read more →
When I kicked off my Hope of Christmas Tour 2012 in Manchester, NH, I had no idea the gift I would receive. To be honest, I’m usually sufficiently surprised by what happens when I do concerts and the amazing stories people tell me. But this one was different. Whitney Konz helped me out at the CD table for the evening, but it wasn’t until after the concert I learned her story.
There’s a part of my concert where I talk about how Christmas is an extremely difficult time of the year for many people. While the whole world seems to be celebrating and decking the halls with family and friends, many are experiencing intense feelings of sadness and grief due to death of a loved one, distance in relationship, depression, discord…I could go on, right? Then I sing “Emmanuel (You Are With Me)” [watch the video here]. But when I heard Whitney’s story, I knew she could probably speak to this topic better than I ever could.
On June 24th, 2011 Whitney’s world was shattered when she got a phone call that her husband, Kevin, was dead. He had been mistaken as an intruder and shot. She was only 26 years old and the magnitude of not only his death, but the manner in which he died, was so unbelievable that she didn’t know if she was going to be able to survive.
“I stayed up nights crying and screaming. I couldn’t help thinking that it was my fault and that I should have done something, anything different so he would still be alive. It took months and months of support groups, individual therapy, and support from friends and family to finally realize that this was not my fault and that even though I was going through unimaginable pain, in time the pain would not be so bad and I would eventually smile at his memory instead of cry.”
I’m so looking forward to another year of the Hope of Christmas Tour! We had so much fun last year, and it was a very meaningful way to focus on the true meaning of the season. Here are the details of this year’s tour:
Nov. 24th – Manchester, NH – Gethsemane Lutheran – 4pm – FREE
Dec. 9th – Omaha, NE – Broadmoore Hills Clubhouse (Elkhorn) – 6pm – $5 donation at door
Dec. 12th – Blair, NE – First Lutheran Church – 7pm – FREE
Dec. 15th – Nisswa, MN – The Journey Church – 7pm – FREE
Dec. 16th – Nisswa, MN – The Journey Church – 10am service
Dec. 16th – Plymouth, MN (Private House Concert) – 6pm
Dec. 18th – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe – doors at 6pm – show at 7pm – $10 door (21+)
Dec. 21st – Rochester, MN – UTurn Event Center – doors at 6:30pm – show at 7pm – with Calvary Brass Ensemble & Amy Lindstrom
I look forward to seeing you on the road! Please have snow and mistletoe!
Please Come To A Concert! I’m heading to Florida on Monday for some concerts – and would love to see you – or have you invite people you know that live nearby. Please shoot me an email if you have any questions. Here’s what the schedule is looking like…
SAINT MARYS, GA - Tuesday, Oct 30 – 6:30pm – The Rock @ Lighthouse – Free
LAKELAND, FL - Thursday, Nov 1 – 7:00pm – First Community Church of Highland City – Free
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - Sunday, Nov 4 – 4:00pm – Hope Lutheran Church – Free
PALATKA, FL - Thursday Nov 8 – 7:00pm – First Assembly of God – Free
And then I have a couple definites on the Hope of Christmas tour schedule – if you’d like to come out for one of those shows, that’d be great. Please have snow.
MANCHESTER, NH - Saturday Nov 24 – 4:00pm – Gethsemane Lutheran Church – Free
BLAIR, NE - Wednesday Dec 12 – 7:00pm – First Lutheran Church – Free
I hope that this update finds you well. And that you’re seeing more and more clearly each day how incredibly LOVED you are by God, who made you and is with you, carrying you each step of the way on this beautiful journey.
Details of the latest and greatest...
I’m so thrilled by the response I’ve been getting to my newest project. I love hymns and have included several as I’ve done concerts over the past few years. I put these together with some great input from you all about what classic hymns really move you. It’s apparent to me that you all connect with these songs in ways that are completely different than any other music. I understand. Having grown up in the church, there’s a sense of honoring my heritage by recording these songs. But more than that, there is a richness to the lyrics that can’t be topped by anything I could come up with on my own. Click here to stream or download the whole project!
MORE NEWS UPDATES
To start off the new year, we are releasing a new single to Christian radio! It’s the first single taken from my new Hymns For The Journey project and it’s the one that I love jogging to. I always wonder if artists listen to their own music… Well, in my case, I can unashamedly say yes! It gives me energy and reminds of the beautiful story that God is writing with my life…with all of our lives. “Holy, Holy, Holy” is one of the original worship tunes, and celebrates the triune God. I hope you enjoy my new version. Please let your local radio station know that you’d like to hear it on their station. And let me know if you do!
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Thank you so much to everyone who came out to this year’s Hope of Christmas Tour. Each date was a different kind of show, unique as a um, snowflake? Seriously, every concert was in a different kind of venue, with a different experience for me and the audiences. Thanks to all the venues that hosted a show in Omaha, Blair, Nisswa, Plymouth, Minneapolis, and Rochester. I covered 2600 miles on the trek and loved that I got to spend some good time with my family up in Minnesota. Still honored that several TV stations continue to play “The Perfect Gift” – as more and more people are connecting with my song “Emmanuel (You Are With Me)” as a result.
Well, here’s something interesting from my past. This was one of the first on-camera jobs I got after moving to Nashville. It was a long, incredibly hot day in Nashville. I think I actually got a bit of heat stroke, if I remember right. And because of that, they put a crew guy under the hood of the car for that particular shot, while I sat inside with a cold washcloth on my forehead! Other than that, yep…it’s all me. Click here to watch!!