A word from (author) Erin Stevensâ€¦
My heart is so full as I write to you this month. As I was putting the final touches on what youâ€™re about to read, I realized how deeply touched you will be by my special guestâ€™s heart for Christ and her love for His people. Elena Cragun of the Craguns is that special someone for you to get to know a little better, whether youâ€™re an old or new Cragun fan. I know you will be blessed. Here goes â€¦
Erin: Growing up as a pastorâ€™s kid, what is your story of how you came to know Christ?
Elena: I was 13 years old when I became a Christ follower. I donâ€™t remember the details of the message that was delivered in the evening service of the family camp I was attending, but I do remember the conviction that gripped my soul. I have no story to tell of terrible sins committed, but I can tell you that my heart was cleansed when I confessed my need of a Savior and received His gift of salvation. Being a (preacherâ€™s kid), I had a lot of knowledge on what it meant to be saved and how to live a life for Christ. That night, head knowledge became heart knowledge. It was the best decision I ever made.
Erin: When did you begin singing with your sisters?
Elena:Â I began singing with my sisters when I was five years old. We sang for church services, camp meetings, and speaking engagements that my daddy held. We sang in both English and Spanish.
Erin: How did you and your husband Jordan Cragun meet?Â
Elena:Â Jordan andÂ I met the first time at a family church camp in Oklahoma. I hung out with his older sister, and he seemed to be always hanging around. He was 11, and I was 13. Our love story, however, didnâ€™t really begin until five years later when we met again at Jordanâ€™s cousinâ€™s wedding.
Erin: How do you juggle being a mommy, wife, psychosocial therapist and singer?
Elena:Â I no longer work as a psychosocial therapist. I loved working in the mental health field, but I became a full-time gospel singer in August of 2013. So itâ€™s juggling wife, mommy and singer. Basically, I survive by making lots of lists. I have two planners and a calendar that I live by, and I try to take it one day at a time. My favorite things to buy are Post-It notes, pens and notepads.
Erin: Congratulations on the latest edition to your family. How has Scarlett adjusted to life with her baby brother, Grant? Better yet, how have Mom and Dad adjusted?Â
Elena: Thank you. Grant is just the best. Scarlett took a few days to grasp that this was the baby (that) Mommy was talking about, but soon after we came home from the hospital, she was smitten. Now sheâ€™s extremely possessive. Iâ€™ve heard her exclaim on several different occasions, â€œHey, donâ€™t touch him. Dats my baby Nant.â€ Sheâ€™s adjusted quite well. Adjusting for Jordan and me hasnâ€™t been so bad either. We get less sleep and drink a lot more coffee, but Grant is really sweet and cuddly. Itâ€™s all worth it.
Erin: Are there any exciting happenings the fans can be expecting from The Craguns this year?
Elena:Â We have a new album in the works we are very excited about. (It) should be releasing later in the year.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Erin: Is there a particular Cragun concert in recent years that stands out as having a big impact on your life?
Elena:Â The Cragun concert that stands out to me the most was in Oregon. A dear friend of ours was in the crowd. She was battling cancer. She was past the time limit the doctors had given her to live. She didnâ€™t have much strength, but I remember her lifting her hands and praising the Lord with everything that she had left. Even at the very end, she was giving her all in praise and honor to the King. What an awesome testimony. That certainly impacted me. She went to heaven just a few weeks later.
Erin: Whatâ€™s a favorite blooper moment you can recall from being on the road?
Elena:Â The most memorable blooper moment would have to be when I had to leave the stage in the middle of a concert to take care of Scarlett when she was a newborn. The babysitter was struggling big-time that night and could not get her calmed down. The way the venue was set up, infant cries could be heard inside. As a new mom, I couldnâ€™t hardly handle it. It was not funny at the time, as I left the guys hanging for what I was told later was 20 minutes, but looking back itâ€™s quite hilarious.
Erin: Books or movies? Homemade or eat out? Heels or flats? Spring or fall? Coffee or tea? Night owl or early riser?
Elena:Â Books. Homemade, especially since we eat out so much.Â Heels, Iâ€™m 4-foot-11 and need all the help I can get. Spring. I love this time of year. All the new birth and growth makes my heart smile. Coffee. Itâ€™s mostly cream when I make it, but I love me some coffee. Definitely, early riser.
Erin: What is a Scripture that youâ€™ve held tightly to that means a lot to you personally? Why?
Elena:Â â€œThe Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him,â€ Psalm 28:7. Life is full of surprises and setbacks, and I know I could not navigate through it all in my own strength. I am a weak, fragile, finite being. This fact was made very clear when I suffered a mini stroke on Christmas Eve of last year. I was still pregnant with Grant, and I was terrified. I had to lean on the Lord like never before, and I found that, with Him, I am indeed strong. I found that in this particular instance, He was my shield as the outcome could have been so much worse. Four months later, I am as healthy as can be, and I am beyond grateful. So, I will sing His praises and tell everyone what Heâ€™s done for me and what He can do for them.
Erin: Is the Lord challenging you to deepen your walk with Him in 2017? If so, how?
Elena:Â Yes. I have been challenged to deepen my walk with Him by committing to memory more of His Word and to teach my kids His Word. Scarlett is like a sponge. She literally repeats everything she hears. Thereâ€™s no better time than now to teach her. I want more than anything for my kids to know what the Word of God says and for them to embrace it as the guideline for living this life.
Closing thoughts from Erinâ€¦
What did I tell you at the beginning? What a story this incredible woman of faith has to share. Thank you, Elena for challenging us and for being so vulnerable with our readers today. My prayer is that we will take the truth of Psalm 28:7 with us into these next hours, days and weeks. No matter the circumstance, no matter the struggle, may His praise be ever on our lips.
And thatâ€™s my take on it.
Until next month, Scoops fans â€¦
Connect with Erin on Twitter (@photosforkeeps) or on Instagram (@photos_for_keeps).
Who would you like to see Erin interview next?
By Erin Stevens
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in June 2017.
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