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Into the Glorious with Christy Nockels

We chatted with Christy Nockels about music, ministry, and even her great hair.



“Turn on ‘Ever Lifting’!” 9-year-old Molly calls from the van seat behind me.

“Here,” I say, handing my iPhone back to her. “Can you find it? I can’t look while I drive.”

She scrolls through my music and gasps at the album cover of Into the Glorious. “Mom! Christy Nockels is so pretty!”

“She is, isn’t she?” I smile. “Look at her beautiful hair!”

The song begins, and we worship at the top of our lungs all the way to ballet class.

“You’re lifting my head so I know You’re near me! You’re lifting my eyes so I see You clearly. Where I belong … You are where I belong!”

I’ve been a fan of Christy Nockels ever since a friend gave me her song “Glory Baby” after my miscarriage several years ago. Nockels and her husband, Nathan, recorded “Glory Baby” with their duo, Watermark, in 2000. Into the Glorious is Christy’s second solo album. The first, Life Light Up, released in 2009.

When Into the Glorious released in April, it debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Charts. But Christy’s music, to me, goes beyond the rave reviews and her three Dove Award nominations. Something in the way Christy writes — heartfelt lyrics rich with scripture — and in the way she sings — with authenticity and depth — makes me feel as though she “gets” me. She understands my struggles, my love for God, and my soul’s desire to worship in the middle of life — even in a minivan, on the way to ballet class.

Christy Nockels, to put it simply, is the real deal.

And … she has fabulous hair.

Christy and I share a few things in common. We are both pastors’ daughters, and we were both raised in Oklahoma. Christy now lives in Atlanta with her husband/producer Nathan and their three kids. As one of the founding families of the Passion City Church there, Nathan and Christy lead worship at the Passion Conferences with Louie Giglio. Recently, I had the chance to ask Christy about it all … music, ministry, and even her great hair.

Into the Glorious is personal, worshipful. It feels as though you let us peek into your prayer journal — or that you’ve been peeking into ours. Talk about the journey of the album. What did God teach you as you wrote?

Well, I had a few stops and starts in the writing and recording process which at the time felt really discouraging, but now in hindsight it makes perfect sense to me. I initially started the writing process because it was technically time to start a new record, but the Lord quickly had me realize that He wanted to take me much deeper. I discovered that I was going to have to lay down my entire agenda and even give up the idea of releasing a record in order to go deeper with Him. Now I see His love and faithfulness through it all, but at the time it was a bit scary and painful.

I basically took about 3 months to just focus on my relationship with the Lord and to remember my original identity in Jesus Christ. I shed lots of tears, did a lot of journaling, discovering, and praying. I saw places in my heart where there was sin, that I didn’t even really know to call sin, and confessed it and laid it down. It was one of the sweetest times of my life.

Towards the end of that process, I couldn’t stop the songs, they were literally pouring out! One of the greatest things that God taught me through this writing process was that I could pray for the songs in their infancy. As soon as I would get an idea, concept, or theme for a song, I would begin praying, usually just while I was driving and going about my day, and asking God to use it to deeply minister and heal people when they hear the song. What was really sweet was that later, while I was singing the vocals for the songs, I would remember the prayers I had prayed before the song was even finished and I would just start weeping! We would have to stop recording for a minute, I’d gather my composure and then lift my hands and sing, believing with all my might that God would answer the prayers I had sown into the songs. I don’t think I’ll ever write and record the same after this album. It set the bar for me spiritually as one of the sweetest experiences of my life.

One of my favorite songs, “For Your Splendor,” references the Book of Ezekiel. Can you share the story behind it?

This song has been rolling around on my tongue for a few years, but it wasn’t until after that “pruning process” of having to lay every bit of my agenda and my heart down that I was able to finish it. It does have some Ezekiel 47 in it and some Isaiah 61, it’s the beautiful picture of our lives as trees, planted by streams of water … the water that flows from the Sanctuary. The first part of the song is the realization that it’s the roots, not the blooms, that grow the branch and bear the fruit … so it matters where we’re planted. Then it moves to the pruning. You’re bare and cold, but you know that the One who knows best has seen fit to cut away what doesn’t need to be there. It’s painful, but ultimately it’s His loving protection over us. You know His way is the best way, but it’s hard because everyone’s watching and it’s hard when people find out you don’t really have it all together. Then it moves to that joy when you first feel yourself sprouting new growth again … you get the visual of limbs growing out strong and bearing the best fruit you’ve ever tasted. This song is just about His process of growing us. His way truly is the best way, especially when we surrender to it. We truly become a display for His glory and His splender.

At Ungrind, we’re working women, wives, and moms like you. How do you balance everything, and still find time and motivation to be with the Lord — to come “out from the ordinary, into extraordinary?”

Isn’t this the question that we all secretly hope that some woman out there knows the answer to? I will say, it is a fight, the good fight that is. We have had to be as intentional as possible with the moments that we have. I think I’ve realized most of all that I cannot compartmentalize my life with three growing children. They are 11, 9, and 4 now and are moving into a place of truly needing to be mentored on top of being fed, clothed, and loved. I’ve also discovered that I can invite my children into my ministry more than I think I can. When I do, they absolutely light up! Before I wrote this record, I knew the task before me was going to be difficult to balance, so I sat all three kids down and just told them my predicament. I said, “Mommy has to write 12 songs.” They looked at me with blank stares at first. Then I asked them, “What are some ways you could help Mommy write songs?” Before I knew it, they were spouting off all these ideas about helping around the house, loving each other, giving me some alone time, etc. It sounds simple, but it was the sweetest moment. When we got the artwork for the record it was so fun to sit down with them and look at it together and they were so proud of it, which meant the world to me. They felt a part of it.

Most of the songs were written right in the mini-van, with them in tow, lifting up to God the very ordinary moments that I had and asking Him to make them extraordinary somehow. He was faithful to answer the prayers that I prayed. I think we can let the mundane absolutely suffocate us. I admit, sometimes I surrender to it … but it’s nothing short of miraculous what God can do when we hold up those moments to Him! This record is proof of that in my little world.

Last January’s Passion Conference raised over $3 million to fight human trafficking. As a worship leader for Passion, talk about this incredible ministry, and how we can “sing along” in our own areas of influence.

Being a part of the Passion Movement for the past 15 years is hands down one of the greatest joys of my life. What I love the most is that the heartbeat of Passion has not changed through the years, which is Isaiah 26:8, “Yes, Lord, walking in Your way of truth, we wait for You, for Your name and Your renown is the desire of our souls.” Through the years we have watched God unfold that truth even more in our hearts. If His name and His glory is our desire, that means we are about what He is about. We ask Him to break our hearts for what breaks His … we have come to believe that worship and justice must be wed together.

The privilege of worshiping Jesus comes with the tremendous calling of caring for those who cannot care for themselves. I wrote the song “Sing Along” not knowing that it would be woven into the Passion 2012 moment for students to rise up and stand against human trafficking in their lifetime. It was a prayer I was praying that became a song in the night, like a little lullaby. I’m always amazed how God can take our little songs in the night and turn them into anthems. Songs are one of the ways that I can embrace the responsibility of standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. For others, it might be making jewelry or baking goods to raise money or maybe starting a non-profit to benefit those in great need. Whatever it looks like, our lives can “sing along” with His song that is rising up all over the world.

On a recent webstream, you quoted Louie Giglio as saying, “Lead from who you are.” What does that look like?

This is something that God has really been teaching me lately, and Louie taught on it at our worship leader collective called “LIFT” at Passion City Church this past Spring. It was so good!

That concept really collided with this vision that God periodically has given me while leading people in worship. I see myself and it’s as if I’m leading people as a 7-year-old little girl, which is actually when I first gave my heart to Jesus. I feel like it’s God’s way of saying to me that my credibility to lead people comes from being His daughter and to always lead from that place and that identity. I think by saying, “lead from who you are,” it means that you are leading from that original place of being found in Him … that You are His daughter.

If God has you in a position of leadership, it’s so beautiful to lead from this place because you are able to identify that it’s nothing in and of yourself that got you there … it’s all about who you are in Him. I think that’s the importance of renewing our minds and our hearts of who we are in Him so that we can lead from that place all the time. I find it so loving of the Lord, particularly when I’m standing before 45,000 people leading them in worship, that He will give me that picture of me leading as a little girl. It’s like I’m standing there before all the people with my boyish haircut and my 7-year-old chubby cheeks, just completely vulnerable and humbled. It frees me though, in the sweetest way, to just be thankful I’m His and that He has allowed me to lead from that precious place.

Who are the biggest influences — musical and non-musical — on your life?

My parents have been really strong influences in my life. Although certainly flawed like me, they made some really great choices with me that I truly feel shaped my life in the sweetest way. From my earliest memories, I remember understanding that when I open my mouth to sing, it’s for Jesus. They instilled in me a love for God’s Word and a love for music that eventually would form this songwriting habit I have and love. They never forced singing or music on me, but rather just gave me amazing influences and great Christian music to fall in love with. My earliest influences were Sandy Patti, Amy Grant, Honeytree, Evie, The Imperials, and The Cruise Family … all musically and spiritually shaping me into the writer and singer I’ve become.

When my husband and I met, it might sound strange, but Nathan himself became one of the greatest influences in my life. I look up to him in so many ways … his integrity, his musicality, his creativity, and his work ethic. He is an amazing Dad to our children and continues to make such wise choices in life.

Beth Moore has also been a sweet friend to me throughout the years. I always say “I knew Beth Moore before she was Beth Moore.” I met Beth in my early 20’s, just fresh into music ministry, and she continues to be someone who inspires me and encourages me deeply. Of course, Louie and Shelley Giglio, founders of the Passion Movement and pastor of our church, Passion City Church … our lives have not been the same since the day we first met! It is such a joy to be on this journey with them.

Describe the perfect afternoon.

I love that you asked this … a Latte at a little cafe, then maybe hit a couple of antique flea markets … then meet up with Nathan for dinner and a movie.

What’s your favorite meal, and with whom would you share it?

Definitely “Lupe Tortilla” in Houston, Texas, with our kids and close family. I heart Tex Mex! We lived in Houston for a while and fell in love with it!

And most importantly, what’s the secret behind your fabulous hair?

Ha ha! The secret, I guess is genetics! I truly believe that God gave me good hair because He knew I’d never have time to deal with bad hair! Literally there are times I’ve rolled out of my bunk on the bus and have thrown a bit of make-up on and walked on stage! It’s naturally curly, but I do sometimes use a curling iron to define the curl … listen to me, I’m totally getting into styling procedures now! You were probably just being nice, so thanks!

For more on Christy and her album, Into the Glorious, visit her website.

Enter Our Giveaway!

We have one copy of Christy’s CD Into the Glorious to give away. For a chance to win it, leave a comment.

One additional entry can be earned for each of these:

  • Follow @ungrind on Twitter. Leave a comment to tell us you did.
  • Follow @christynockels on Twitter. Leave a comment to tell us you did.
  • Tweet about this contest and Christy’s CD. Leave a comment to tell us you did.
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This contest closes on Monday, May 30th, 2012, at 12 a.m. Our apologies to our international readers, but it’s only open to those residing in the United States.

This contest is now closed. We chose our winner using’s Integer Generator. Congratulations to our winner, Janice Barnard!

Amy Storms is a wife, mom, and writer in Joplin, Missouri. An Oklahoma girl at heart, she lives with her pastor-husband Andy, their kids Nathan, Anne, and Molly, and about a hundred other "sons" in a dorm at her beloved alma mater, Ozark Christian College. Along with guacamole and Dr. Pepper, words are some of her very favorite things. She loves to read words, craft them on the page, and, of course, say them. Too many of them.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Into the Glorious with Christy Nockels

by Amy Storms time to read: 11 min