When It’s Hard to Keep Going, God’s There: Rodney Atkins and Rope & Candice Myers
Rodney Atkins and Rope & Candice Myers join us to talk about their careers in music and Western sports, and why allowing God to guide their steps has help them celebrate success and heal from painful struggles. Rodney Atkins is a prolific artist who works to create music that connects with his fans. When we was just days old, Rodney was surrendered to the state by his birth mother. Today he tells us how he found his family, how he nurtured his love of music from a young age, and how his faith paved the long road to success in Nashville. Rope Myers came from a family of rodeo athletes and started competing at a young age. In 2001, Rope become the World Champion Steer Wrestler, breaking National Finals Rodeo records along the way. He and his wife Candice, a Christian singer and speaker, had the world at their feet until they were dealt a tough blow to their family and learned to rely on God new ways.
Narrator: This episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast is brought to you by James Avery Jewelry. Find gifts for everyone on your Christmas list at jamesavery.com.
Rodney Atkins: God takes the worst things that can happen to you, and turns them into the best things. And all those hardships turned into some pretty dang good songs.
When It’s Hard to Keep Going, God’s There: Rodney Atkins and Rope & Candice Myers – Episode #122
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we feature interviews from the country music world and the western sports world: singer Rodney Atkins, and World Champion Steer Wrestler, Rope Myers, and his wife Candice, who is also a musician.
First up, we have country singer Rodney Atkins. Rodney is a prolific singer and songwriter who strives to create music that connects with his fans. He grew up in East Tennessee, and when we was just days old, Rodney was surrendered to the state by his birth mother. Today he tells us how he found his family, how he nurtured his love of music from a young age, and how his faith paved the long road to success in Nashville.
Rodney Atkins: I’m Rodney Atkins. Country singer, father, husband, son, and all-around lucky guy.
I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Grew up in East Tennessee. So when I was born, I was surrendered and taken into a children’s home called Holston Home for Children. And from what I understand, my story getting started was I was adopted several times and pretty sick as an infant and returned twice, so taken home and returned. And then [I was] adopted by my adopted parents—it’s always strange to say “adopted parents.”
You know, the crazy thing about how that happened: so my adopted family had a son about six months before I was born. I had a respiratory staph infection when I was an infant, and he had the same thing to a more severe degree. He only lived a brief period of time, which is why [my parents] decided to apply to adopt.
They were told, “Well, there is a baby boy here.”
And due to complications from that birth, [my mom] said, “Well, there’s no way I could care for an infant right now.”
And in that time, I went through being adopted and returned, adopted and returned. And so when [my mom] had recovered, she called back and said, “Okay, I’m good. Let us know when a baby is available.”
“Well, that same little boy is still here.”
And so that’s how I wound up with my last name.
Playing Music That Connects People Everywhere
My dad’s a choir director. My mom is a nursery worker. She’s, like, manned every church nursery. So I was around gospel quartets and choirs—and never sang in the choir. I was always too shy. But it was just something that was always in our life.
My dad would direct Easter cantatas, and he was always singing at church and encouraging people that may not have thought they should be in the choir. He was famous for getting that person to get up and sing.
Early on where I grew up, there wasn’t much to do. It was Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, a lot of bluegrass. And I was around front porch picking kind of music, and that’s sort of how I started playing guitar was just somebody handed me a guitar and saying, “We’re in the gear of G, and let’s go!”
“Well, how do you make a G?”
So they’d take the time to show you.
And I just always loved music. My parents said when I was six years old, they were saying, “What do you want to be when you grow up?
And I said, “How do you get to be Charlie Daniels?”
“Early on, I wanted to do something in music. It seemed like a crazy dream. It always did, and it still does.” – Rodney Atkins
And so I started getting closer to Nashville. I went to junior college for a couple of years in East Tennessee, [to a school] called Walter State and played baseball. And then I went to Tennessee Tech—that’s in Cookeville, about an hour and a half from Nashville. I was always writing songs, just constantly. Even when I played baseball, I was carrying my guitar everywhere. We’d go to away games, and I’d take the guitar on the baseball bus, singing Hank Jr. and Charlie Daniels. I just kept writing songs. Struggled to get through classes because I was writing songs in the margins.
I wound up meeting a Mark Houser. He was pursuing songwriting also in Cookeville. And he said, “You’ve got to play a writers night.”
And so he made me get in the car and come down [to Nashville], and I played at a writers night. I got a little bit of interest. And all I wanted to do is write songs. I said, “I could not get up in front of people. That’s just not going to happen. That’s, I can’t do that.”
I even tried to play live a few times early on, and I would be so nervous, I would shake the water in the glass. I couldn’t even get a drink. It just wasn’t going to happen. And then after a couple of those experiences, I finally realized, Okay, it’s not about you. It’s not about you singing these songs. It’s about singing songs that people sing with you. And that has kind of been my goal all along is to have those songs, and I can do that. I can get up and take a little bit of watching my dad direct choirs, and and we can all sing together. And that’s when we found songs like “These Are My People.” And that’s the goal of everything, and it goes back to sitting on those porches and playing with friends and family.
“It’s not about you. It’s not about you singing these songs. It’s about singing songs that people sing with you.” – Rodney Atkins
The Song That Changed Everything
Narrator: After he got through school, Rodney signed a record deal in 1996. But one of his biggest hits, a song called “If You’re going Through Hell,” wouldn’t come out until ten years later.
Rodney Atkins: So I did a first album on on Curb Records, and I think it sold six copies. And you know, it was just a nod to Curb Records, the label, that they were encouraging me to figure out who I was and not just try to blend in, but to find a way to [ask me], “Where you’re going to stick your flag? What is it that you represent for folks?”
And “If You’re Going Through Hell” came along. Ted Hewitt has co-produced records with me and has forever, since day one. He was out doing it the old-school way of going into publishing companies, listening to songs over and over and over. And we listened to thousands, and that song came in.
What was crazy was, we got pitched two other “going through hell” titled songs at that time. This one was special, though. This one got me. It did something to me. It was just an unbelievable song, and we went in and we recorded it.
Narrator: Rodney is passionate about writing songs that his fans can connect to. Countless fans have reached out to him with all kinds of stories, and he shares a particularly special one to him about the power of music and a message of hope.
Rodney Atkins: I think the song had been out for a month, maybe. I got an email early on, I think one of the first emails that I ever got as an artist, and the message was that the guy said that he had just lost his job, his wife. I think one of his parents passed away, and he was just miserable. And he said that he was in the parking lot of his church. He had a pistol, and he was done. He said his radio was just barely on, and he started hearing a song play. And it’s “If You’re Going Through Hell.” And then he said, “That was 20 minutes ago. Now the pistol at the bottom of the river, and I’m home. And it’s going to be okay.”
And I think that changed everything for me.
Getting “Caught Up in the Country”
So I’ve been working on a new album in my really fast process of making new music of about four and a half years.
I had recently done an event with the Jubilee Singers for Fisk University—they had invited me to sing with them at an event they were doing at the Ryman. And when I went in to sing with them, I mean, it just it got me. It was just the Spirit. They were dancing singing. I sang a song with them [called] “Working on a Building” and it was just the Spirit. My wife went with me, actually, when I rehearsed with them. And I looked over at her one point, and she had tears in her eyes.
A few days later, I heard “Caught Up in the Country.” They sent me the work tape of the demo. And what that song did for me, it made me feel how [the Fisk Jubilee Singers] made me feel.
This song is about being outdoors. It’s that old expression of “Some people go to church and think about fishing. Some people go fishing and think about God.” And that’s a big spiritual connection for me, being outdoors. This song did that.
Things happen when they’re supposed to happen. I just had the crazy thought almost immediately: Man, if I could get those kids to come in and sing and do what they do, and I stay out of the way, then this could be something really cool. They agreed, and we went and recorded. It was a blast.
Trust the Right Things Will Come Along
I can’t imagine being in this business without faith. I’m a big believer in “if you go out and you want things in your time, it’s probably not going to work out.” I believe in working now, working on what you’re working on, you know, building that wall—if you start with one brick, get that brick level and square, then move to the next one and take your time putting pavers down. And you stand up, and suddenly you know you’ve made a whole driveway.
“I can’t imagine being in this business without faith.” – Rodney Atkins
That’s what faith is. It’s that if you work on this with all your heart for God—you know if I’m sweeping the floor, do it like I’m doing it for God.
“Any form of career success that I’ve had is simply because I feel like my faith is kind of pulled me back in and kept me level-headed and moving forward.” – Rodney Atkins
I think patience and faith go right together. Above any other quality I might have is being patient and having a work ethic. And that comes with trusting the right things will all come along. And yeah, setbacks happen, and you question decisions that you’ve made: Is this world where I’m supposed to be? Not to mention the discounters that you that you’re going to come in contact with in this career, and you just really can’t listen to that. If you have faith and you’re doing things for ultimately that reason . . . I guarantee I could not go out on stage every night if I thought it was all on my shoulders.
Narrator: While they’re on the road, Rodney and his wife Rose find strength and inspiration in Jesus Calling, and they carry this inspiration with them, thanks to the Jesus Calling app. He recalls the roundabout way the book began to speak into his life.
Rodney Atkins: You know my mom had the book, and I just saw it.
I asked, “What’s that little book?”
You flip through it, it’s pretty cool and you get lost in it. It’s a good thing.
My wife and I, you know, we try the best we can because we’re on the road. We have our own little devotionals a lot of time in the morning, and I didn’t realize she was using that book a lot of times, just to breathe something and talk about it and start the day.
We were actually on vacation, I think. I said something in the store—[the book] was in that store—and I said, “I see that little book everywhere.” And I didn’t even know what it was called.
And she said, “Oh, yeah, I love that book!”
And this is obviously a few years ago, and that’s how it opened the door for us to use it in our morning devotionals and stuff.
It’s just something that if you, if I just need a distraction for a moment anytime, you can just kind of open it up. A lot of times, I know folks do that with a Bible. They just go, “I’m going to open it, and it’s going to tell me what I need to hear right now.” And you know, that’s the great thing about Jesus Calling is it can take you and kind of reset—it’s a reset for the day.
Narrator: Rodney reads us one of his favorite Jesus Calling passages from February 9.
Rodney Atkins: Seek My Face more and more. You’re really just beginning your journey of intimacy with Me. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a delightful and privileged way: a treasure hunt. I am the Treasure and the Glory of My Presence glistens and shimmers along the way. Hardships are part of the journey too. I mete them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine. Do not recoil from afflictions since they are among my most favorite gifts. Trust Me and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song.
That’s my world. Obviously, songs are a major part of my life and how you express yourself and how you connect. Life’s about connections, life’s about relationships. I think at our core, the first thing God did was create. And I feel like when I’m at my best, I’m being creative. And when I can be creative to touch another life, that’s it. That’s as good as it gets. That’s success.
“When I can be creative to touch another life . . . That’s as good as it gets. That’s success.” – Rodney Atkins
Reuniting with the Past
So the way I found out I was adopted. My adoptive parents had a natural daughter [who] was [my] older sibling. And when I was little, 4 or 5, she came up and said, “You’re not theirs.” You know what kids do. “Somebody else didn’t want you.” You know, those kind of things. That’s how I found out.
To my mom, I said, “What’s adopted?”
So it’s something I kind of always knew, and chose to kind of forget about it from time to time. My adoptive parents are small folks. I’m not. And so you start wondering about those kind of things.
And then later on, I did find my birth mom, and found my birth father was kind of somebody that I didn’t really want to know. And I actually found out . . . talk about who you could have been. I found out that I have a couple of paternal brothers, also, and one serving life for murder. And it’s kind of one of those . . . you don’t want to entertain the thoughts of growing up in that world.
The way that I met my birth mom was: working with the children’s home opened up doors of working with the National Council for Adoption. We did some articles in some magazines promoting adoption awareness. And there was an article, I think Guideposts, that came out, so that’s how I pursued meeting my birth mom. And after that happened, when I met her, I realized why I needed to do that. She had been carrying this her whole life, and I just wanted to say, “Thank you.” And she just wanted to say, “I’m sorry.” And we spent the first ten times together, I’m saying, “Thank you,” she’s saying, “I’m sorry I’m sorry.” And having the opportunity to get past that and to know something, know her. And it’s been it’s been amazing.
And it’s just amazing to see her and what love can do. It’s awesome.
Narrator: To learn more about Rodney’s new album Caught Up in the Country, please visit RodneyAtkins.com.
Narrator: Hi, I’m Laura Neutzling, the host of the Jesus Calling Podcast. One of my favorite Christmas memories when I was growing up was the gift that I would get each year from my dad. I would smile, seeing that tiny box under the tree each year and couldn’t wait to open it. Removing the Christmas paper and opening that little coral box, I would always find a treasure, a piece of jewelry that was special, picked out by my dad for me from James Avery Artisan Jewelry. I cherish those pieces even today.
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Narrator: Our next guests are World Champion steer wrestler, Rope Myers, and his wife, musician Candice Myers.
Rope came from a family of rodeo athletes and started competing at a young age. In 2001, Rope followed his dreams to become the World Champion Steer Wrestler, breaking National Finals Rodeo records along the way. He and his wife Candice, who had a budding Christian music and speaking career of her own, had the world at their feet until they were dealt a tough blow to their family, and they began to have to rely on God new ways. They candidly share the joys of their life together and the pain of losing their baby—and how God shifted their lives into a new ministry together.
Rope Myers: Hi there, my name is Rope Myers. I’m the 2001 World Champion Steer Wrestler. I work at Sky Ranch Camps, and I do rodeo camps for kids of all ages, including adults. We take them from beginners or young riders camps to fully capable, fully qualified for the National Finals guys. That’s what I kind of get to do in my professional life.
Candice Myers: I’m Candice Myers. And I’m a mom, first and foremost. I’m his wife. I’m the vice president of sales and marketing at Sky Ranch Christian Camps. And I sing, I’m a singer. I’ve got three CDs, and I sing and speak a little bit.
Meeting Jesus in the Goat Pen
Rope: Rodeo’s kind of been an integral part of our life all the way through. My dad was was, you know, he rodeo’d amateur until I was about eight or nine years old, and then he joined the ranks of the PRCA and actually won a world title his first year in that association.
We followed the rodeo, he took us to the rodeos. He took us, he got us on horses. I was on a horse before I could walk. And I love that lot of the things about that, the family . . . you know, in this world oftentimes, the dad goes off and goes to work. In the rodeo world, the dad takes their kids with him to work. And that’s kind of a good thing that I’ve got to be a part of and grow up doing.
I always tell people that all little boys play cowboys and Indians, I just got to use real horses. I grew up in that world and loved it. From a very, very early age, I was saying that I was going to be a world champion someday. So when you grow up doing that, I was one of the fortunate people that gets to continue to do my childhood dreams.
“I was one of the fortunate people that gets to continue to do my childhood dreams.” – Rope Myers
We didn’t really have a background of church or background of of Christianity or religion or anything like that. And although some of that might be a negative, it’s also turned out to be a real positive too in the fact that I didn’t come in it with any baggage or any kind of misconceptions.
We were actually at a rodeo. We were at a rodeo in Skidmore Missouri. And I loved goat time. That was my thing. I was in the juniors, and I wanted to be the goat time champion. So I saw where they had staked the goats out, and I was going over really early in the morning like seven o’clock in the morning. I went over there to sneak over there to tie those goats to practice a little bit. But when I was over there, goats are not quiet. They are fixing to have a little church service up in the bleachers, and the goats are tied right behind the bleachers. I was like, Well, I can’t tie these goats now. So I crawled up in the stands and sat down, listened to what the preacher had to say, and it just rung true. So I received my salvation that morning, right there in the bleachers. And they gave us a little New Testament, little cowboy New Testament. I’ve never seen a Bible like that says but it had a Jesus words in italics, so I just kept looking for the italics. You know I didn’t know much about Him. I just kept looking for the italics and reading what He had to say.
And years later—like three, four, five years later—I looked back and I was like, Why was it so peaceful during that time? It was so such a peace that was in my life at that time. I didn’t realize back then I didn’t have the words to say what had happened. I had been called out of the pen. You know, Jesus calls all His sheep by name and He leads them out to the pasture. I’d been called out, and I had decided to go back in the pen and be the baddest bulldogging sheep in the pen, you know? And so I wasn’t walking with Jesus for a large period of that time, but there’s never been a time where I’ve ever doubted that was [when] God became real to me.
“There’s never been a time where I’ve ever doubted that was [when] God became real to me.” – Rope Myers
Finding Jesus Is Real in Our Lives
Candice: I grew up in western Kansas. My parents divorced when I was 3, but my biological dad was involved in rodeo. And so we grew up in the summers and at holidays kind of going with him, following a similar path, really traveling all over the United States with my dad. He was competitive in steer wrestling and team roping and bull riding, and so I grew up part-time in that world.
But when I left home and went to Texas to go to school—I went to school at West Texas A&M on a music scholarship—the culture there was, the Baptist Student Union was the biggest thing on campus, bigger than the regular student union. And there was so much activity, and they really began to put some language to the things that I think I already knew and began to talk about things like salvation and what that meant. And Jesus is a constant companion and Jesus as something very present, very real, very active in my daily life and in the details of what I was doing. And that kind of just changed my thinking and my perspective. And so I think that’s probably when I dove headfirst into really exploring that kind of relationship and understanding that my Bible was for more than just sticking things in. And so that probably was the beginning, probably sparked the beginning.
A Lifetime of Falling in Love and Growing Together
Candice: So we’ve known each other. Rope was actually born on my birthday, and so we’ve known each other since we were little.
And we started dating in January of 1995 and got married not too much later. We got engaged in June and got married October. I think we knew in February, probably by about Valentine’s Day. I think we probably knew that we were going to get married maybe about six weeks in. But we were living in the rodeo world, he was trying to make the NFR for the first time, and so we certainly don’t want to freak people out by thinking we’ve been dating for six weeks, now we’re going to get married. But we also had to really schedule the wedding in and around what he was doing. It would have been his first time to make the finals. I wanted to be a motivator because I love to do that. And so we have this conversation and it went sort of like, “Okay, if you have the NFR made by this day, by July 1st, we’ll get married in the fall. But if you’re still trying to make the finals, we’ll wait and get married next spring.” And so. So I feel fully responsible for motivating him to make his first NFR.
Rope: I’m smart enough to marry her, so I should be smart enough to listen to what she says.
Candice: No. Our life is full of compromise. We have four kids, and we’ve had careers and tragedy and hard things and beautiful things. And you can’t be married, we’ll be married for 23 years next month, you can’t be married that long without having compromise.
“Our life is full of compromise. We have four kids, and we’ve had careers and tragedy and hard things and beautiful things . . . and you can’t be married that long without having compromise.” – Candice Myers
Rope: The first year we were married, Candice was still flying for Southwest Airlines. And it was handy at first, because it allowed us to stay connected. Even she could do her job and work out our trips or she would be in the cities where I was going to be or I would get on a free flight and go see her, whatever she would work out her schedule to be, we could be together a lot of the time. It was fantastic, which is a great kind of first part of it.
And we had kind of intended for that to be a little longer than that, but we were not very far in. Here’s a lady that flies all around the country as a flight attendant up and down on planes all the time, and she’s on the flight out to Reno, she’s getting sick.
Candice: We’ve been married maybe nine months. At this time we had been married about nine months is all.
Rope: So a year later after I had proposed, a year later, she’s she’s pregnant and we are getting to have our first boy, Leighton.
Candice: Reno is a big rodeo for us. We got engaged the first time I went to Reno, I found out I was pregnant the second time I went to Reno, pretty sure I didn’t go to Reno the next year—I was opting out of Reno, because I don’t really want more news.
So we had we had a baby 18 months into our marriage, so we didn’t have a ton of time just the two of us. And then we had Holden shortly on the heels of that, just a couple of years later, I guess.
God Heals Broken Hearts
Candice: And I was, so it was in 2003, and it was probably at the height of when I was really really busy. I was just I was in the process of recording my third CD. I had two already that we were promoting and doing things. I was doing some radio stuff and being nominated for awards and doing award shows and those kind of things and feeling like, Wow, we are doing it. And he had won his world title in such a smashing way and then had taken some time off to go to Uganda. I mean, the Lord was just doing so much in our life. And we had a significant platform, at least in the world that we come from, right? We felt like we never said no to an opportunity, we’re doing all the things.
I found myself pregnant again and knew without you know without just weirding everybody out, just knew from a dream that I had that I was going to have a little girl, and we were excited about that. He was especially excited about it.
Rope: So when she went to the doctor, and the doctor said, “Something’s not right.” And she called me, and she’s in tears. And we’re going over for a sonogram, so we load up and we go over there for a sonogram.
The word that “Light is shown into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it,” was from John 1. And we just felt like that was from God. And so we just started proclaiming and standing upon that Word.
And we went in and sonogram [shows there] is not anything there. But we just kept staying in that place and just going, “Oh, we feel like this is what God has told us. And faith comes by hearing, and this is what we’ve heard.”
And so we kind of stayed in that place, and then so much so that we’ve now had to schedule the D&C. We go into the doctor and I ask him to go get the Doppler and listen one more time for the heartbeat.
And I remember her being wheeled back into the procedure, and I’m in the outpatient room and just waiting in there and just waiting and praying and having it in front of God and just going, “God, what in the world? I felt like that was you. I mean, I’m not hearing from you,” and all that kind of stuff. All those questions and doubt that kind of enters in.
And then they said, “Okay, you can come back now.” So I walk in there, and I’ll never forget it—I don’t even know that she remembers all of this. But as she started to come up from anesthesia and come out of it, she began to speak peace and light and love and grace over these nurses and over me and over our life and over what just happened. She was not even kind of fully aware but yet her spirit was.
“[Candice] began to speak peace and light and love and grace over these nurses and over me and over our life and over what just happened.” – Rope Myers
And it was such a deal. I was like going, Yeah, of course light shone in the darkness and darkness could not overcome it. It could not overcome it. It did not overcome, even in the way that we recognize it.
There was a lot of healing that came in there, and that wasn’t all of it. Still lots more healing to go. But there was a moment there that God showed us His grace in such a powerful and real and “put your hands on it” way.
Candice: There are moments in that time that I will never forget. Things that he said. Ways that he defended me. Ways that he surrounded and protected me that, I mean, I’ll just never forget it. It was so vital. Because tragedy can do different things in people’s relationships and in their marriage. And it just solidified something in us that . . . we would encounter lots of hard things after that, but there was something so solidifying in those times.
Rope: We as husbands and as men need to be there and be the rock that the surf can break against. And you know, as a sheep before its shearers is, open not our mouths. But on the same token, we have to let God help us and let God work on the inside of us and recover our own hurts and our own life. And so what a really powerful things that took place in there. I’ll never forget that recovery room.
“We as husbands and as men need to be there and be the rock that the surf can break against.” – Rope Myers
Candice: I really needed time to work it out. So I just shut it down. I canceled all my events and just came home and spent time with my boys that summer and sat by the pool and just let God deal with me and my heart and just did some healing work and spent a lot of time in the Word. It was awesome and horrible and terrible and beautiful and healing and revealing—all of the things that those times can be in your life.
About a year later, almost to the day, I found out I was pregnant with Tierney.
And she was just the healer of broken hearts. She didn’t take the place of Zoe. It wasn’t that. But she just healed my broken heart in a way that’s just really cool. And so her name is Tierney, after Paul Tierney. He was a world champion, an amazing cowboy and a guy that had been a friend for a long time. And her middle name is Faith because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. And so it was such a solidifying thing there with my faith too, and kind of God just closing the door on that chapter of like, Okay, walk on. And now you can tell your story.
And there have been so many, so many instances—too many of them to name since that time—where I know that this was an experience that I had that absolutely God’s gonna use it to love people, for me to bless people, for me to speak life into people, for me to encourage moms and dads. I just see God in all things, and I can hear Him in all things, and I’m looking for Him in all things.
Jesus Calling: a Way to Open Conversation with the Father
Candice: I had this rule from the time the boys were little that we don’t know, when they’re leaving for the day and I’m dropping them off at school, I have no idea what they’re going encounter. And so it’s always important to me that we’re praying on the way to school, even if they didn’t want to. They always had to say something, even if they were grumpy, like, “Good morning, God,” just so they could open up the line of conversation.
And so Jesus Calling has been a real sweet tool for me to use with my girls. “Okay, now you read what it says in your language.” And so they can read that on the way to school and that way we’ve opened the door to conversation with the Father that we can have all day long. And and that’s just been a really tool for us to use.
Rope: I go through different seasons of either reading the Bible all the way through or different things that God has me do. There for a while, it seemed like all the time, [Candice would say,] “Oh listen to this, this is so good. You’ve got to hear this.” And she still does. Like, all the time she was like going, “Oh, you’ve got to hear this word from Jesus Calling.”
Candice: Yeah, I do love that about it. As a mature believer, I realize these are not “the words” of God, right? It’s not someone adding to the Bible, but it sure sounds like something He would say.
I think you miss it if you only read what the author wrote. You have to read what the author wrote, and then read the Word that goes with that.
But when you read those words, you know, Huh, that’s a different perspective. That’s a new way of looking at it. That’s a good way of saying that, and then you finish that out with the scripture that goes with it, that’s where I think the power is.
Rope: This one here is one that just jumped off the pages at me pages at me. It’s from July 18th, and it says:
“I am nearer than you think, richly present in all your moments. You are connected to Me by Love-bonds that nothing can sever. However, you may sometimes feel alone because your union with Me is invisible. Ask Me to open your eyes so that you can find Me everywhere. The more aware you are of My Presence, the safer you feel. This is not some sort of escape from reality; it is tuning into ultimate reality. I am far more Real than the world you can see, hear, and touch. Faith is the confirmation of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.”
And that second part is from Hebrews 11:1 and also Acts 17:27–28.
“I’ll never leave you or forsake you,” is probably my favorite thing to remember about the Father. There’s something very powerful in knowing that whatever happens, no depth, no height, nor any created thing will keep us from the separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And I just. We need to be reminded of daily. Because the end of the day, He is not panicked. He is still asleep in the boat when we’re freaking out because the waves are getting high. And I love the fact that He’s like that, and that’s kind of calming certainty He is with us and He walks with us daily. The highs and the lows of times when we walk away or whatever, He will never leave us or forsake us. And so that was very encouraging.
New Chapter, New Ministry
Narration: Rope and Candice continue to answer God’s calling in their life, even as it has meant setting aside some things that have been important to them, and allowing God to use their talents and abilities in new ways, and in a new ministry.
Rope: As we continued to do this whole rodeo ministry thing, we had the opportunity to go several places. And so it came to a point where we were basically given the tide of our year to do these rodeo Bible camps. There’s one in Idaho, there’s one in western Oklahoma, one in South Texas, one in Colorado. We would go, and we would be there. We’d teach them how to rope and how to tie goats and how to steer wrestle and all that kind of stuff, and then get to share Jesus with them.
And lo and behold, Candice is invited to go see the FCA banquet. And I can let her tell you that story. But anyway, they invite her out to sing at Sky Ranch. And at the time, we didn’t know what Sky Ranch was. We thought it was, like, a boys home. She goes out there and she goes, “Oh, it’s great. They do all this stuff.”
She was out there singing and talking to them and they said, “Well, what’s your husband doing?” And it happened to be that I was in Idaho for one of those Bible camps at that time, and she goes and she goes, “Well, he’s doing a rodeo Bible camp.”
And they’re like, “We’re in the camping business. We’ve never heard of the rodeo Bible camp. What are you talking about?”
I called home that night and she says, “You’ll never guess what happened, and you’ll never guess. I went to Sky Ranch, and it’s a camp and they want to come talk to us about what we do.”
Candice: So we did. We went and talked. They had said, “Hey we’ve got 70 head of horses. And we don’t want to invest that kind of money to have just for an activity that needs to have a ministry component. Everything that we do is intentional has a ministry component. We don’t have any idea how to make these horses the ministry component, but we think you do.”
And so we did. We bailed in and said, “Sure, we can figure that out for you.”
We were at a good transition time in our life. We had three kids by then. It’s one of the things that I look back on and I find it interesting that he really still was extremely competitive. It wasn’t like he was nearing the end and not winning and not being competitive. He was still extremely competitive and probably could have been very actively competitive making the NFR for another ten years. But we were just in a different place spiritually, the Lord had us in a different place. And I think He had a new assignment for us.
Rope: They hired us. And my first day was November 1st that year, and the last NFR I went to is in December a month later, and the last steer I ran at NFR, I won the Go Around, so I guess we ended it on a pretty good note.
Rope: They literally said on the day they hired me, “Look, we’re just hiring you so that someday we can get your wife to come work here.” And of course now, she’s the vice president of sales and marketing, and leads all of that there, and does a lot of the things that people don’t realize. She sets people up for success when they come there with their kids they bring. Around 70,000 people come to Sky Ranch Camps across four locations every year. It’s a lot of work to get that many people from that many different places and that many different programs to come to Sky Ranch, and that’s what her team does. They fill the pipeline so that me and guys like me and other people that work at Sky Ranch have an opportunity to share with them the love that’s in Jesus Christ.
Narrator: To find out more about the work that Rope and Candice do with young people at Sky Ranch, visit SkyRanch.org.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we feature a return visit to the show from Texas country superstar Aaron Watson. We catch up with Aaron to hear about the latest opportunities God has given him to share his faith through music, including the release of his new album, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas, his tour, and an appearance at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this December. A frequent performer at Western sports events, Aaron shares why this community is near and dear to his heart.
Aaron Watson: I love anything and everything associated with the Western world. What I love about that culture is, in a world where everything is changing, these people are staying true to their roots, how they were raised. You know, it’s admirable. It sets a great example for me, okay, the rest of the world is doing their thing. We talk about Jesus Calling—I mean we’re called to be different.