In this interview with Homecoming Magazine Associate Editor Deb Patterson, Difference Media artists Aaron & Amanda Crabb discuss how the themes on their latest album, Restore, are reflective of the tremendous growth and change they have recently experienced. The interview took place during a special Difference Media event at the Cornerstone Church campus in San Antonio, Texas:

Deb Patterson with Homecoming Magazine:    I want to hear about some of the changes that have happened in your lives over the last couple years, since we last sat down to talk. I know you have a new baby, a new church, and a new album … all kinds of new stuff going on!
Aaron Crabb:    Yes, there has been huge transition in our life. We are talking with you here in San Antonio, where we lived for five years. We loved the time here and the ministry that we were doing. Now, God has called us back to Hendersonville, Tennessee, and that's home for us. We've planted a church there, Restoring Hope Church. For the last two years, that's been our main focus. We've been very dedicated to what God started there and now we have a lot of help, a lot of people who've come and just had the heart for ministry and outreach and community.

Deb:    How big is the church now?
Amanda Crabb:    We're running about 200-plus in the main sanctuary, with about 100 kids. God has blown our mind far above our expectations in the first two years. It's growing every week, so we're just thankful.
Aaron:    Yeah, it just keeps growing and going. The more it grows, the more you go!

Deb:    Are you preaching every week?
Aaron:    Preaching every week, yeah. I preach on Sundays and Wednesday nights.

Deb:    What's that been like for you, coming from years of music ministry and moving into that type of ministry?
Aaron:    It's been ... I've always enjoyed the word of God, always. I feel like even though I was a very backward and shy individual with the [Crabb] family when we first started — you probably remember me back playing the bass—but every time I would hear the Word, there was something inside that stirred in me.
To make a long story short, an individual came to me and said, "I want you to pray. I believe God wants to speak to you and He wants to show you something." As I was praying, it was almost like I had a vision of what is happening now, and that was 13 years ago.
I saw myself preaching and I saw my children at an older age, about the age that Eli is now, and he was actually laying hands on people and praying for them in the altar. And now, that is actually happening in our lives.
But at that time, I kind of thought, What did that mean, God? Will I have a church? Am I going to preach? No, it's just the music thing. I can stick to that because I'm comfortable with that. I've said this often, that God calls us to be obedient to His word. Sometimes it's to the uncomfortable places that He'll push us and propel us into His destiny.
Amanda:    That's the place He can really use you and His glory is revealed, because it's not us. It's not in our capability to do this, and so God is 100 percent in control of this and He gets all the glory.
Aaron:    Amen.

Deb:    Amanda, you are very active within the church now as well, right?
Amanda:    Yes, I minister as well and we have a wonderful women's group. I even minister one-on-one … a lot of counseling takes place.
Aaron:    She does everything, to be honest with you. This lady is the backbone of that church. I know God called us together in this ministry and to balance it all with the kids…. You've got to train your children before you train the saints. She helps me to balance all that as well. She keeps me together.

Deb:    Tell us about the kids — how old are they now?
Amanda:    Eli is 12, Eva is 9, and then there's Ean, who will be 6 next month, and then Eda is 8 months. She's our baby. We are completely full. We're a full house and I believe God says we're officially complete.
Aaron:    Yes, yes.
Amanda:    We are complete and finished. A family of six, and they are amazing. That's the thing about the church. A lot of people go, "How do you juggle it all?" When we get up in the morning now during the summer, we all get ready and get dressed and we all go to the church and we work and minister. They watch Mom and Dad pray for people and meet those people's needs, and they're so patient and understanding and sometimes will come right up and pray with us. Then when it's time to go home, we go home. That's the awesome thing, it's a family calling. They have an understanding for that.

Deb:    They have transitioned well, it sounds like.
Amanda:    They have transitioned very well and love it as much as we do. I said earlier that if it's a day that we are going to take off and don't go in the church, they're like, "Why are we not going to the church today?" It's their second home and we want that for them. It is. It's a family call.

Deb:    I'll have to come down there and see the church.
Amanda:    We would love to have you.
Aaron:    That'd be awesome.

Deb:    I want to ask you about the album. You said the name of the church is Restoring Hope and the album's title is Restore. I'm sure that's not a coincidence. Has the album kind of grown out of what you're doing now? Tell me about that.
Amanda:    It was interesting, the album process began when we still lived here in San Antonio. Although we knew that someday we felt like God was possibly calling us to that ministry, we didn't foresee it. We were here, making music, a part of Difference Media, a part of church worship. Life was going, so when we actually cut the tracks for this particular album, we were here living in San Antonio just doing another record and had nine of the songs. Obviously Restore had a plan within those nine songs, but it evolved from that. It has taken us over three years to finally get the finished product, and it is the perfect picture of restoring.
Aaron:    It's been puzzle pieces God has put together with the church and the whole thing that God has placed on our heart. Then these songs had that element of restoration, the things that we already had picked out, but then we actually were doing a photo shoot ...
Amanda:    Two years ago.
Aaron:    ... For really our church, just to have some new publicity, just to get the name out there and all that kind of stuff, and we did some field pictures and stuff in Nashville. That's some of the best shots—the field with the sky and all that. We were doing that and I told the photographer, "I'd love to have a broke-down house somewhere," because it's Restoring Hope Church. I said, "I'd like to find just a broke-down house if we could get close to it."
We started out in front of it and the pictures weren't turning out to be what I had in my mind. I told him, I said, "Can we get on the porch of that house?" He said, "Well, we probably could. We'll probably have to cut some trees down." We got out our machetes and started cutting down trees and a path and we got up on the porch and just praying that no snakes were around, you know? I sat down in the windowsill of that house and of course, Amanda had a little chair and she sat there … and the pictures just explained it. It was kind of like, OK, this is something God's doing.
Amanda:    This is an album cover.
Aaron:    This is an album cover. We've got tracks sitting there and we'll get to them. We'll get to those tracks when it's time. It's time. Now's the time for these songs.

Deb:    I'm just curious, it's obviously a very personal thing for you ... if you want to answer, if you don't want to answer it's OK … but is there a time of restoration in either of your lives that has, I guess, made it even more important for you to minister that to others?
Amanda:    Without a doubt. Our whole ministry has been restoration. I mean, even from 2007. We started our ministry that year. And having the church and putting the name over the door, Restoring Hope … you get the people who need hope restored and need restoration.
In our own lives, we have suffered hurts and had to go through a process. I said it earlier, you cannot put paint on a moldy wall. You have to tear it down because it will continue to come back up. Some things you have to remove and get rid of. That's been a process for us. We kind of go, OK God, we're going to set this aside. We're going to place this here. He has painted a beautiful picture at the end of it. It was a process in getting where we are today with the album. The church, I felt like, had to grow to a certain point. We had to have the baby and now we get to do this.
Aaron:    Yes.

Deb:    Can you tell me about one song on the album that is really important to you or you really just said, "Yes, we have to have that one"?
Aaron:    Yes, there's so many on this record, honestly. I know with most albums, you have that one song or there's maybe three or four and then those other are just what they call album fillers, you know. It might be fun, but there's those songs that minister to your spirit. One in particular we sang actually today is called “Back Together.” I love the message of the song. I love that it talks about how that God can take broken pieces and put it back together better than it ever was. That's the kind of God we serve.
Amanda:    That was the last song. We were not even looking for that style of song. We were looking for ...
Aaron:    We were looking for up-tempo. We needed two fast songs.
Amanda:    Yeah, and Kenna West sent several songs over in an email and she was like, "Hey, I know you're not looking for this, but oh my goodness, I just thought of y'all when I was listening."
Aaron:    She's not even heard it yet.
Amanda:    She's not even heard it yet. She was listening to songs to send us and she said, "Something in my spirit said to send this to you guys." She goes, "Y'all, this sounds like you." They had just written it that week and when she sent it, we both listened to it and bawled like babies. We were like, oh my goodness. We both came from a broken home. There were times we felt all alone. It's taken a while. We've got a little age on us. He's got a lot of wisdom (points to gray spots in Adam’s hair), and I'm sure I do too, it's just covered up. We finally learned that God is good at putting things back together. Even when we make a mess, even when we go to destroy things with our own hands, if we will give it to God and surrender it, He'll put it back together. He is the potter and we are the clay.
Aaron:    Amen.

Deb:    Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Aaron and Amanda: Thank you.