001 - Why Grit & Glory, Songs & Stories

In this first episode, singer/songwriter, Mark Alewine, introduces himself and the podcast, explaining his passion for telling God-stories and encouraging you with a story of his own. Leave inspired to resist letting fear keep you from something amazing.

Transcript: Today is Episode 1. I am so excited to be doing this. My wife Cindy and I will be on this together periodically telling stories of how God has worked in our lives. Other times it will just be me talking about songs I’ve written and then perhaps the next week interviewing the person that was the inspiration for the song and hearing their story.  You’ll hear other people’s God stories as well that will also encourage and inspire you. Again, my name is Mark Alewine and I’ve been in the worship world full-time and part-time for over 40 years. I stepped away from that Easter Sunday 2020 and have moved into a new calling and love of writing and releasing music filled with hope and help to whoever will listen. 

Why Grit & Glory, Songs & Stories? (Let’s call it GGSS for short.) God has walked with me through some of the darkest times imaginable. He used other people’s stories of grit, determination, and faith to inspire hope in me so I could take the next small step into the beautiful glory He had waiting for me on the other side…closer to God, able to help others, excited and ready for whatever the future might hold. The way God works…in good times and in bad…is amazing! 

This podcast is all about sharing God-stories that inspire songs. I want to encourage you by the stories behind the music and I want to inspire you by the courage that others have shown. Be motivated to press on as you hear these stories. And you can do this in just a few minutes each week.  Like I said earlier, “music makes stuff stick” and I believe the stories help with that. 

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear can keep us from doing something stupid and fear can keep us from doing something amazing. 

I got saved my junior year of high school. God was very creative in the way that He got through to me! But that’s a story for another day. After I got saved, I started hanging out at my local church right there in Lavonia Georgia.  

The pastor of the church was Reverend Furman Lewis. His daughter and I went to school together and we were good friends. One day I shared with her a song I wrote. I suppose that was my first song as a Christian that I wrote. She liked it and I thought that was it. A couple days later I get a call from the pastor. Back then we didn’t have cell phones. We had regular phones that were on the wall. I answered the phone and Reverend Lewis said “Mark, Laura told me about the song you wrote and I’d like you to sing it in church on Sunday.” I’m sure there was a very long pause and he could hear the nerves in my voice as I stammered to say OK. 

My knees were shaking and my hand was shaking. I’d never sung in front of people, well at least more than one or two people. Now I’d be singing in front of 200 people. He could tell I was nervous and he said, “It’ll be OK. I’ll help you get through it.” So I trusted him. I wanted to call him back and cancel but I didn’t. 

That morning I got to church a few minutes before it started. I didn’t even get a chance to work with the sound guy. It was soon my turn to sing and I remember walking up in front of everybody holding my guitar. I didn’t even have a strap. I had to have a stool and a music stand because even though I wrote the song, I still needed those words! I really really really needed those words. I’m talking to everybody as I’m move my music stand around and get my stool set up and finally sit down. I never looked anybody in the eyes. I just started singing and I finish the song and I’m sure it was horrible but I finished it. To my surprise, the church stood up and gave me a standing ovation! 

That was so impacting for my church to be behind me and supporting me as I was singing this song for them; hoping that it would mean something to somebody other than me. I had many opportunities after that to sing and I got better as I moved along. 

I didn’t know the impact of that day until much later in my life when I realized if I had let fear stand in my way, who knows what the path would have been. 

That same year I joined choir. My choir director at school, Beth, saw something in me and made me her assistant choir director. By all appearances, she made a huge mistake. I knew nothing about music other than singing. I didn’t know how to read music very well and I certainly didn’t know anything about directing and there were other people that were far above me. 

She chose me because she saw something in me. She surrounded me with a few people from choir to help me when I get stuck while directing, not know what to do. One of them would speak up about what to do. It was very encouraging. I didn’t feel alone when Beth wasn’t there, but I did feel in charge. 

She was one of those people along the way that helped shape me and make me what I am today. Her confidence in me helped me press through fear to realize what God had put inside me. I’ve been in front of thousands of people since, and I’ve sung for one person.  I always have a little bit of nervousness before I get in front of a crowd, but I never let the nerves get the better of me. I believe the nerves sharpen me and keep me humble. That’s a good kind of fear! 

I want to encourage you to not let bad fear direct your life. Reach out for help. Cry out to Jesus, reach out to your pastor, reach out to a friend that can support you. But don’t let fear guide you 

Someone asked me recently, what do I love most about songwriting? I love the stories behind the songs. I love the inspiration of others that helps me craft a song that tells that story. I started co-writing more and more over the last three years. I’ve written with people from Portland Oregon to Delaware down to Nashville and Knoxville all the way down to Florida and many places in between. The thing I love about that is that there’s more stories, more expertise, more friendships and more relationships built in this process. It’s absolutely amazing writing a song with others. And I get to sing their stories. That makes me smile.

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