MORE: Counting the Cost

I am a firm believer in seasons. Looking back over my life thus far, I can see over and over how months and even years have looked like seasons… Seasons of joy and blessing, of challenge and faith, seasons of pain and loss.

In all of it I can see the mighty hand of God and how He has prepared and pruned me for the next chapter in the story. I love and have been clinging to this hope…

“By His divine power, God has given us EVERYTHING we need to live a Godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3).

He promises that in all things he is more and more equipping and shaping us into His likeness for his glory. If that was it and that was all that summed up my life in the end, what an amazing story, right?

I say all of this to hopefully bring you up to speed on what the Lord has been forming in us. It’s been a while since you’ve heard from us and in that time the Lord has been imparting greater vision and great excitement for the road ahead. With that we see that the days and weeks ahead will require more of us. More faith. More trust. More time and energy. So much MORE! But I can look back and see how God was preparing us in season for what He has in store for us now. I cling to that truth again that ALL I need is in Him. His strength and grace is sufficient, yes even in my abounding weakness and even when i think i’m not cut out for the job. Even still He is enough!

I was reading a few weeks ago in the gospel of Luke and reminded and affirmed of this “more” that is being asked of me through a very familiar passage. If you have some time, go and read Luke 14:25-35. Here Jesus is explaining what is required if you want to be a true & fully abandoned disciple. Taking up a cross, leaving behind all that you love and hold close. And then Jesus says this,

“But don’t begin until you count the cost.”

Those words hit me hard and I feel like I have settled there and for good purpose. I have never really been one to rush into things and almost to a fault I am cautious and careful to determine each step. But this time it has been important for me to consider a greater cost and the real worth behind this call of Jesus. If there is no cost, then what real value does it hold on my life. It’s so easy to live day in and day out so comfortable and content with a label –“Christian” “worship leader” — and yet it having no real deep costly impact on my life. Trust me, that is my natural tendency. I love comfortable and I want to run from those things that will disrupt it.

But the more I know and see my Jesus, the more uncomfortable I want to become because I know the more I will see and identify with him. In this moment in Luke 14, Jesus is not saying that everyone will choose to follow him in this way and I’m sure the majority of those listening to these words chose not to and I get it. It’s much easier to stay comfortable.

Can I be completely candid with you? — I am overwhelmed by the cost. I see God asking for more of me and part of me wants to ignore it and run and hide or maybe convince God that I am inadequate to be a truly abandoned follower. That kind of life is for those radical adventurous spirits, and that’s just not me. But like I mentioned at the beginning — the seasons where he has proven Himself over and over to me, the faith that He has been building, the trust that I have in who HE IS, the sweetness of his presence, all of it is so much greater than any fear I have about the cost. When I consider Jesus and all that he endured to offer us the cross, oh how it stirs and ignites my spirit. Courage begins to well up within me and I know that it is the MORE of his Spirit that enables the MORE!

I hope you can follow my heart on this and I hope that you can take some time to remember the seasons of your life. Remember and see how the Lord has revealed himself to you over and over and given you “everything you need!” I also hope that you will consider the cost of being a follower of Jesus. In this new year I believe God is calling his people closer than ever before. The enemy is putting up his best fight and trying desperately to take as many with him as he can and we must stay close to our Defender and Victor! Don’t let fear keep you from trusting and leaning into Jesus more. It is the best way and he is faithful.

I hope that you will embark on this journey of MORE with us. I am excited to keep you updated this year on all that God is doing and is going to do in the band. Again, we beg you to pray for us when God brings us to mind. There is such power in intercession and more than ever we need to be lifting up kingdom prayers for one another.

We hope this will be a rich year and full of the “MORE” that God has for you! Keep checking back for updates!

That’s all for now…


Welcome To Our New Home

IT'S HERE!!!!!!

Welcome to the new site! We are so excited to have a new online "home" to share stories & photos and to keep you up to date on all the happenings with the band as we travel and play. Our hope is that this would truly be an extension of us and a way for you to stay connected but also find encouragement in your own journey. 

I (Ally) am so excited to start writing again about what the Lord is speaking into my life, how He is continually challenging me and constantly pushing me to know Him more. God is constantly pouring new dreams and ideas into this band of Jesus lovers and it will be so fun to share that with you along the way. 

SO.....keep checking back with us, SIGN UP for EMAIL updates and when God brings us to mind please PRAY for us! We are so grateful for all of you and look forward to the next time we get to see you in person. But until that day comes, we hope that you will enjoy this new home!

Love & Blessings,


A New Van & a Blessing

Bear with me this time friends -- this is a long one for me :)

Faith is such a common word in our Christian language. I grew up hearing about it all the time, at home and in Sunday school, and until recently I thought I had a pretty good dose of it in my life. I think my understanding of what it means to have faith in God really was a definition much too small. I don't know what caused this sudden stirring afresh in me, but I have been challenged deeply to have greater and greater faith in my God. Maybe it's just the fact that the more I know him the bigger He is becoming.

I grew up praying a lot of prayers that were asking God for protection and asking him to be with me and my family - all true and sincere. I have known the Lord for a long time and walked closely with Him but this area of faith has honestly gone untouched without even realizing it. A few years ago, I began hearing stories of how others were seeing God move in incredible miraculous ways in their lives and I started asking myself why I wasn't experiencing God in this way. As this truth began to sink deeper into my soul I began to slowly pursue Jesus in a whole new way... asking him for things that ONLY God could do, things that were so far beyond my ability that in the end God and God alone could only get the glory.

To be completely honest, He didn't respond with great flashes of lightning or in miraculous signs and wonders... but he did begin changing my heart and shifting my mind to see him Greater. Friends, though He hasn't always responded in tangible ways my faith has increased and He is revealing himself anew as I have just said, "God I want to see a great move of YOU in my life and around me. I want to know this part of you that brings you great joy because of my great faith in you!" Hebrews 11: 5-6

I could tell you so many stories that have come since this change in my thinking but I want to share one specific and recent moment. Many of you that follow the band probably know of our great need for a van. When "Big Blue" went to automobile heaven a few months ago we knew that we were dependent on the Lord to provide. Thankfully our summer schedule happened to be quiet and we didn't really need for another van until the end of July. So we prayed and searched and prayed and asked and nothing was really happening. And my friends, this is when you can or at least I can start to feel like God doesn't really care about this stuff or that we already were blessed with a van and this time we needed to make it happen ourselves. The enemy is so good at messing with my mind... Still I kept fighting and putting it before God. I really wanted Him to have another opportunity to show up in our story!

I believe it was a Tuesday afternoon and we had about a month before we REALLY needed to have a van. I was driving around town just talking to the Lord and specifically about this situation. My heart was simple and just asked,"God we really don't need you to give us a van but we do need you to guide us. There are so many vans but would you just direct us to the right one. We don't need it to be free or anything, just the right one. We need your help in this God. It is beyond us." That was it. My heart was really trusting and confident! That night Stephen was sitting on the couch searching again and he told me he thought he might have found something.. It wasn't pretty or anything to write home about but it had low miles and looked to be in decent shape and a great price. (For those of you who don't know we have deemed Stephen as our transportation manager and we are so thankful for his knowledge in this area. Truly a gift from God!)

The next morning he called the number and the first words uttered on the other end were truly incredible. He barely had the chance to say hello before the guy on the other end told Stephen very directly that he was really praying this van would remain in ministry and that whoever had the van next would be able to keep using it to serve the kingdom. He went on to let us know that his son had struggled with addictions and it was purchased for a program to help him get his life back in order. Already this was enough to convince me that God was moving and providing in an amazing way! After the conversation Stephen was convinced that we needed to walk through this opened door.

Ben, Stephen and I traveled a few hours south to check out this potential new home on the road. To be honest, she was not a beautiful sight to behold as we pulled up the drive but we took her for a spin up and down the hills of a small middle of nowhere Indiana town. It just felt right and as we handed the money over we got the chance to hear a little more of his story. He told us that the night before, about the same time that I was praying, he was crying out to the Lord. They really needed the money and he was literally pleading with God to come through in a supernatural way. He started to tear up and you could see on his face that this whole situation was truly an answer to prayer for him too.

We had the chance to pray for this couple before we left that God would continue to bless them and use them to serve his kingdom. As we traveled home it all hit me how God not only answered my prayer and his, but more he used the whole circumstance to be a blessing in all of our lives. Isn't that God! So often I am not even aware of Him and I can't imagine all that I miss because I'm not asking, not seeking, unaware of His presence and movement all around me.

That verse that says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," came rushing into my mind and the next few days I kept repeating it and meditating deeply on the simple but vast truth. Why is it so hard for me to have faith in God. I wish it was natural for me but I guess there in lies the challenge for us all. I love how this same verse reads in the message. It says (and may this really sink in)... "It's impossible to please God apart from faith. Any why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."

That part about believing that he will "respond to those who seek him" might be the hardest part for me. I struggle and have struggled with issues of self worth for as long as I can remember. It's just a place where the enemy knows I am weak. That being said sometimes I think I am convinced by lies that tell me God doesn't really care about this or don't bother him with that little issue or he has already blessed my life so much I should let him take a break on this one. But friends, I am CONVINCED more than ever that God DOES care and what He is after is not the specific requests or perfect prayers but He wants our confidence in Him. Friends, in the end God is after His glory and name going out into all the world. And how does that happen? FAITH! I believe faith is the greatest means for God to get the greatest glory for us and for those in our path.

Do we really trust Him to be all that He claims to be or are we content to just go about our self-centered lives and mediocrity that it often brings day in and day out? Or, are you ready for a life of true risky life altering FAITH? What abundance and joy is found in this kind of living!

I promise you, your days will change and your perspective will be dramatically different when we really begin to believe that our God is great and "able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we are able to ask, think or imagine and all to the GLORY of God!"

May your faith continue to you grow as you seek Him!


Removing The Veil

As many of you may know, we are in season of Sabbath and stillness.  It is so good to take time to just "be" and give true space for the Lord to fill me up.  I'll be honest, it takes me a good amount of time to unwind and settle but I am finally-- after a few weeks-- and finding myself really letting down and experiencing fresh revelations of the Lord.

The other day I was browsing through my sisters book shelf hoping to find a title that would inspire me.  I non-chalantly grabbed a book called "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer in hopes that it would satisfy my craving for a compelling and challenging read (often I am disappointed after a few chapters and stop reading).  I am sure some of you are reading this and laughing because you know this classic is all this goodness and more.

To my great delight this book has already, just 3 chapters in, been extremely life giving, challenging to my spirit and stirred up so much passion and love for the Presence of the Lord.

Going back a few months...I found myself feeling a little barren in my soul.  It's not to say that I haven't been walking with the Lord and He has surely been speaking and moving in and around me yet somehow beneath it all I still sensed a distance -- a coolness in my passion for the Him. Have you ever been there?  There was no "thing" that I could pin point, just a general feeling of stillness in my Spirit.

I am grateful for the words of this Christ follower tonight.  They have stirred up such desire and a greater understanding of our Great God.  I can already sense Him beginning to uncover new things.

I love that the beginning of experiencing more and more of Jesus is so simple--- desire.  I think too often I expect His movement in my life will depend on something I "do" instead of allowing the Lord to work as I draw near to Him.

I have been meditating on the verse in James 4: 8 a lot lately that says "draw near to God and He will draw near to you."  So simple and yet so profound.  Often I find myself in desolate places because I put forth no effort to come towards Him. But over and over in scripture the Lord says come!  And in our coming He responds! Again, the DESIRE is the beginning.

In addition to that desire I have been reminded over and over in my quiet time with the Lord to continually remember His presence is with me and to focus on that in every situation.  It is amazing how life changing that has been -- to constantly be aware of the Presence of God in every moment.  It changes everything!

Tonight, I was particularly challenged as I was reading, about what hinders our awareness of His endless ceaseless Presence with us.  Just as the veil was torn in the temple and the Holy Spirit was unleashed to roam about the earth and dwell in man - -  there is still a veil that comes between us and His presence and it is only the light shining on it that will bring it's very existence to our attention.  It is what Tozer calls "self-life" and it is so faint and unnoticeable that we often have trouble identifying it -- I know that I do and have.

He goes on to say that "they are not something we do, they are something we are and therein lies their subtlety and their power...self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self sufficiency, self-admiration...they dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our nature to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them."

I think I was taught to believe it is what we "do" that will come between us and the presence of the Lord in my life not the subtle things that are a part of our flesh and a natural tendency to live for myself.  Yet, I am finding it IS my very, subtle, nature that can create the greatest chasm of all.  Daily I must die to the "self-life" that comes so naturally and choose to pursue a life in the Presence and for the glory of God.  Though that is my true identity -- I must fight for it and be awakened to the gentle veil that arises in my heart separating me from the Holy of Holies.

I desperately want His presence abiding with me, unveiled and unhindered.  Afterall, that is what our God fought with for with everything, right?  That His presence might return and we might live in oneness with him.  I love how Tozer puts it...

"The whole work of God in redemption is to undo the tragic effects of that foul revolt, and to bring us back again into right and eternal relationship with Himself."

What an amazing God to give us another chance for oneness with Him.  It is available.  His presence is with us always.  The fight will be to keep the veil lifted and for our lives to continually reflect and give Glory.  Even in writing this I am in awe of how God created us.  To be a part in reflecting His glory, all wrapped up in His grace and love with joy and passion shining through.  I hope it excites your Spirit as it does mine.

I'll leave you with one last quote and may this remind you of your entire life's purpose...

"Man's chief end is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

May that be the pursuit and desire of our hearts!


At Home With The Girls - French Toast and Strawberry Jam

I wanted to invite you into a special memory and one that continues to live on for each of us girls -- for those of you that didn't know we have an older sister too!

I remember growing up that Saturday was always sort of a special day in our home.  Yes, we had a list of chores to do which often included cleaning our room (Anna and I shared so we got to tag-team it), picking up pine cones so that dad could mow the yard without destroying our John Deer Tractor and a few other random things that mom would throw on the list week to week.

But before all of this got underway, Saturdays in the Long household always began with "hot breakfast".  My husband makes fun of me now because still to this day I like to distinguish between "hot" and regular breakfast.  Mom would usually ask us what we were feeling... pancakes, waffles, bacon & eggs... but when dad was cooking it was very likely that we would have french toast!

Maybe you're wondering why I'm boring you with all of these details about our Saturday morning breakfast traditions.  Well, dad has a certain way of, how do you say, doctoring up his french toast.  He taught us that the best way to eat french toast was not with syrup and a fork but to spread mom's homemade strawberry freezer jam on one side -- a hefty portion I might add because it's sooooo good!-- and fold it up and eat it like a sandwich.  Soooo messy and so delish!

Just typing it right now takes me back to all 4 of us kids sitting around the kitchen table eating with dad our little french toast sandwiches in hand dripping with jam.  Such sweet times together.

Because we love this strawberry jam so much, we make it a tradition or maybe more a priority to take a day and go out to strawberry fields and gather buckets of strawberry to stock our own freezers now with a few jars to last us the year!  I wanted to share the recipe and some photos with you of our adventure to the strawberry patch this year!  Ben even decided to join us though I think he left with small red bumps and some sort of allergic reaction happening on both forearms, I think we convinced him it was fun and worth it!



What You Need:

  • 2 cups  crushed strawberries (buy 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries)
  • 4 cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl
  • 3/4 cup  water
  • 1 pkg.  SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin

RINSE 5 (1-cup) plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly. Discard stems. Crush strawberries thoroughly, 1 cup at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally.

MIX water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 min. Add to fruit mixture; stir 3 min. or until most the sugar is dissolved. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

FILL containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. (If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.)