When you visit Jody’s website, one of the first things you learn about her is that she is deeply devoted to God and has a heart to serve Him. Jody believes in telling the whole world (and each person that she meets) that they have a purpose in God’s hands. I totally find that inspiring because that’s exactly what TBAP is all about! Join me and Jody below and get to know her a little more.
Me: Hello Jody! Happy to have you visit To Be A Person Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Jody – Hi Miranda! Having been involved in worship and creative arts ministries for almost two decades, I lead worship, dance, perform dramas, teach and write. I am the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within. I have also recently released a devotional album entitled Song of the Beloved.
Me: Great! All great!
You have a passion for music. When did you first realize that you’d use it for God?
Jody – I’ve always loved to sing. Many years ago our church started a new worship service, and they were looking for people to help with worship. I raised my hand to volunteer. God used my obedience to quickly accelerate my learning curve. I went from “loving to sing” to understanding the depth of how worship not only blesses God, but blesses us as we worship and honor Him. I am continually amazed that despite my faults and failures, worship draws me close to Him, and I am overwhelmed by His outlandish grace and tender mercy.
Me: Wow! “I am continually amazed that despite my faults and failures, worship draws me close to Him, and I am overwhelmed by His outlandish grace and tender mercy.” So true!
When you sing/dance, what message do you hope to pass across to the people who’re watching?
Jody – When I sing or dance, I want people to know that God loves them lavishly and abundantly, that He wants to touch the deepest places of their hearts, and that He wants to bind their every wound and take away their every burden. I want to be a mouthpiece for God’s love, mercy and healing. I want Him to shine through me so that they no longer see me, but HIM!
Me: Oh, my goodness! That is so lovely! I pray God continues to give you the strength to keep doing this!
How has music affected your personal walk with God throughout the years?
Jody – When life is hard or my soul is dry or my faith is faltering, music is the one thing that draws me back. In the darkest valleys and the highest mountains, the Holy Spirit speaks to the deep places within, giving me exactly what I need for today. Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers wash over me.” To me, worship is my waterfall.
Me: That is so deep and poetic! I’ve never thought of that verse that way. Thank you for sharing that!
Apart from the guitar, do you play any other instruments? If you do, which one(s)?
Jody – I also play the traditional flute and a little bit of Native American flute. My mother tried to teach me piano when I was young. It wasn’t much of a success. She did however, pass on her love of music.
Me: Haha!! I’m glad your mother passed on her love for music! Look at you now!
Where do you hope to be in music in the next five to ten years?
Jody – In terms of music, I feel as though I am doing exactly what He’s called me to do in this moment. The devotional album was the only thing musically God had set in my heart to do, and unless He wants me to go further, I will continue to lead worship and encourage others to grow as worshipers and mentor worship leaders. He has called me to write another book to address the healing journey of the creative Christian and the artist as healer which is currently only in the research phase. That is the next project God has placed in my heart, so that’s where I am focusing my attention.
Me: Being in the moment, in God’s plan, is such a wise decision. Thank you for reminding me!
You authored a book, God’s Creative Gift. What led you to write this book?
Jody – I wrote God’s Creative Gift in obedience to Him. At the time I was leading a worship dance ministry, and I wanted them to have a strong Biblical understanding of their roles as dancers and, more importantly, as worshipers. As I began to write, God opened my eyes to see that the things He wanted me to write about where for all areas of the creative arts, not just dance. God expanded my vision to be much larger than I had originally envisioned. He is good that way—so patient until we catch up with Him. At the time, I didn’t really see myself as a writer, but as a scribe—writing the things He helped me discover in studying the Bible, so that artist and creatives could hear His voice directly to them in scripture. I write because God really gives me no choice.
Me: Your answer is so humbling in many ways, I can’t help but be wowed. Thank you, again!
What do you hope to accomplish through this book?
Jody – I want creatives, artists, writers and musicians to understand what God’s Word has to say to them as children created in the image of a creative God, to understand that He has placed creative gifts inside each of us, and that He wants to speak through those creative gifts. Wow! I said “creative” a lot there, didn’t I? Ultimately God’s Word starts with this: “In the beginning God created…” and I believe He has called us to continue to make Him known through beauty, artistry and creativity. I really dug into God’s Word to see what it had to say about those things, and the scriptures have much to say. My hope is that others would know all that God has intended for them as they, too, dig into His Word.
Me: I, too, pray with you, Jody, that people will come to know that they can be great vessels in God’s hand. This is the reason for T0 Be A Person. Hence the name … becoming the person God wants you to be.
When you write songs, who’re the people you write for?—the lost, broken-hearted etc?
Jody – I write for the weary. This world has a tendency to weigh us down and tire us out, but Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” My devotional album is intended to draw people into quiet rest in the arms of their Savior.
Me: Wonderful! That’s a theme I rarely see people go for. And, isn’t great that God has every area covered? While He sends some to go for the lost, and some to be encouragers to His children; and others, still, to preach about hope, here you are with a message for the weary! God truly is faithful!
Do you write all your songs by yourself? If no, who do you write with?
Jody – It’s a mix. Many of my songs come out of quiet times of worship with God. Several times I’ve taken songs to my friend Aaron Wardle, and he has worked with me to craft them into better songs—songs that not only speak to me, but to others, as well. One of the songs on my album was written by Nate Bebout: the first time I heard it, I fell in love with it and knew it was to be a part of the project. Jeremy Harrison also has an ear and a God-given talent for communicating God’s Spirit through his piano playing, and I believe that is evident on the album.
Me: I’ve always believed that coming together to work with other children of God is a blessing in itself. This is why God created us to be social beings. Reading your answer shows this! Well done to you and your friends!
In your opinion, why should Christians go into music/writing? How do you believe they can affect the world?
Jody – I believe God has placed a creative gift inside each of us—in some folks to a higher degree and level of skill. I believe He has placed those gifts within us not to be hidden under a bush but to be shared and to let His beautiful light shine to others. God needs us to be His priests and prophets in this world of darkness and despair. As we share the gifts He has entrusted to us, we give Him voice. We help others see and hear and know the abundance of His grace, love and mercy.
Me: Absolutely true! This is why it is important not to be afraid of being exactly whom God had called you to be.
In becoming a professional music artist/published author, are they different than what you thought they’d be?
Jody – I must confess: I’m not sure I yet see myself in these ways. I am very passionate about worship and creativity so I tend to see myself rather as a proponent of the arts, creativity and beauty. My music and writing are simply the means by which God uses me to make Himself more known, more real, more visible on earth. So perhaps, to answer your question, it’s different because I didn’t see myself as an artist or writer, when in fact, I am.
Me: I understand. It does take some getting used to. Haha!
As a music artist, what has been the most trying time for you? How did you overcome it? What lesson stayed with you afterwards?
Jody – About a decade ago I began to have trouble with my voice. Eventually they found and removed a cyst from my vocal chord, and my voice is, in fact, better than it has ever been. Having trouble with your vocal chords, and the inability to sing, is quite a frightening thing for a singer and worship leader. Part of my identity was wrapped up in that title “worship leader,” and God used this time to help strip that from my identity so He could help me see myself as a worshiper of Jesus Christ. At the lowest point I feared I would never be able to worship Him through song again, but it was in that time He began to teach me how to express my worship through movement. I had danced but didn’t know how to worship Him through dance. This time of silence gave me understanding to speak though a new voice of dance, movement and drama. To this day my “prayer closet” is a place where I go to dance.
Me: Hallelujah! What a testimony! In recent times, I’ve been reminded over and over again that trying times are door-openers to higher levels of worship. Your testimony proves that! Amen!
What one moment in your life can you say was the most inspiring? What happened? How did it shape your life forever?
Jody – When my friend Dana Mapson graduated from Ashland Theological Seminary, the professor in charge of worship asked her to dance for the graduation ceremony. She asked me if I’d assist her, and we joined her team from Cleveland, Ohio with some dancers from rural Ohio that I worked with. Together we created a very powerful piece that kept building from a single dancer to a room filled with worshipers, praise dancers, flaggers and one very powerful prophetic dancer. As I watched people of different colors, ages and backgrounds worshiping our One True God together with such mighty exuberance, I was so overwhelmed by the intense power of the worship. Afterwards while we all sat together over dinner, there was a tornado warning so we had to stay put for a while. We had such a great time of fellowship together while the storm passed outside. And isn’t that a picture of how it should be? In this world there is great turbulence and storm, but inside our fellowship and worship, there can be great safety and assurance. We need to work together, to live together, to worship together, regardless of culture, race, age and up-bringing.
Me: This is the most inspiring thing I’ve heard in a long time. Forgive me if I can’t explain why … there’s a lot going on in my head right now …
Who are the people that have influenced you in music? How did their ministry affect your life?
Jody – My influences have been Rita Springer, Misty Edwards, and more recently, my friend Steffany Gretzinger. Also I led worship for many years with Aaron Wardle, so his music (as well as his leadership) has also had an influence on me. I love the intimacy with the Father of all of their music reflects, and hope to reveal that same intimacy with my music, as well as my writing.
Me: I’m glad these people have impacted you this way! I pray for you that you, too, will influence others in greater ways. Amen!
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in music?
Jody – I would tell you to sing for God first, and He will open the path before you. Always be obedient to what HE has for you and your ministry: do not follow your own plan. Pray, pray, pray! Study the Bible. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. For me personally, as my ministry got started, I felt God wanted me to accept almost every invitation to minister, but as my ministry has progressed, He has asked me to prayerfully consider each invitation and allows me to only accept a few.
Me: I understand what you’re saying, because I’ve learned the same as well.
Is there anything you’d like to say—anything word of wisdom at all!—that wasn’t covered by the questions above?
Jody – First, everything we do must be rooted in our identity in Christ and in Christ alone. Ultimately, our identity in Christ needs to precede everything we do, or accomplish, or envision. And the things we do, we accomplish and we envision need to be rooted in that identity and need to speak to Him, of Him and for Him. We’re created to be in relationship with Christ. We develop relationship through worship, reading His Word, and always seeking His will and His ways. Our “doing” should always be an overflow of our “being.”
Me: Well said! Thank you for that!
THIS or THAT
Ice cream or Shakes? Shakes.
Vanilla or Chocolate? Chocolate.
Fruits or Salad? Fruits.
Cooking or Cleaning? Neither! Haha!! I understand. Believe me, I do!
Flats or Heels? Flats.
Rain or Snow? Snow.
Boots or Sandals? Sandals.
Spring or Fall? Fall.
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast. Really? Wow!
Thank you, Jody, for stopping by!
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About Jody Thomae
Jody Thomae has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as worship arts ministry pastor, worship leader and creative arts director. She has coordinated artistic involvement in church services and regional worship events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts. She has had the opportunity to perform, teach, choreograph, preach, coordinate and lead workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer throughout the region and also in Barcelona, Spain. She also leads worship at local seminars, retreats and women’s events.
Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the way in which God uses the arts to bring formational development and healing to His people. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.
She is a graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary and lives in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and two children.
Her book, God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You: Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within, is available through Wipf & Stock Publishers, Amazon and in Kindle format. She has recently released a devotional CD entitled Song of the Beloved, which is available on iTunes and through CDBaby.
For more information on her ministry, her book or music visit http://www.jodythomae.com.