So, in case you missed it, I’m releasing an album (WHAT!).
And in the process of getting everything ready for that, I’ve been chewing over a few things.
A big project like this looks like an "arrival". And I guess it is, in some ways. But mostly it feels more like another leg of the race, rather than the finish line. It's a dot in a series of dots that are slowly being connected together. There's so much more to do from here.
When vision is growing, there's tension. I think that's inescapable. We need a sense of pull towards something to want to actually get there. The sense of pull is uncomfortable. It creates motivation to get to the destination and relieve the tension.
But there's good tension and bad tension. There’s a “normal” tension of handling a call from God in a season of waiting or limitation - and then there’s an abnormal tension which our culture generates around what success should look like.
Even as Christians I think it can get so easy to tangle the two concepts together and not actually know the difference. "Becoming" something in ministry is a huge stumbling block for a lot of people. I've been in ministry a long time. I've seen it, and I've experienced that tension myself.
As I went along my own journey through the years, I began to feel really squashed by this cultural expectation to “become”, and it almost completely silenced my creativity. By mid-2015, I hadn’t written any songs in a couple of years. Confused and disillusioned, I had nearly given up on one of the things I love most dearly.
In May of 2015 I had the opportunity to attend the 18-inch journey retreat in North Carolina, led by Jonathan and Melissa Helser of Bethel Music (heroes of mine, for many reasons).
When I applied to go, I knew I felt compelled by it but I didn’t know why. I’m not typically drawn to events, but I just could not get it out of my head that I was supposed to be at this thing. I waited and waited and at the last minute, sent in my application. It turned out to be a completely life-changing time.
I came home feeling this sudden, strong pull to begin songwriting again - and not just that, but also to head to the studio with those songs.
It didn’t make any sense. We had no money - and I had no songs! It had been almost a decade since my first recording project and I hadn’t exactly made a career out of it. My twenties were predominantly spent running a business (music teaching) and parenting. Lots of kids. Kids everywhere. All the time. That's my context here. So you can understand why I kept my thoughts to myself for a while. They felt - well, silly, to be honest.
Finally, late one Saturday night, I got up the nerve to tell Josh. Just letting the words out of my mouth even with my own spouse felt like a huge deal.
I think often, God leaks vision into our hearts slowly over time. But sometimes, he does it suddenly.
After that conversation with Josh, quite literally the next day at church a friend approached me and said “I’ve been meaning to tell you - about 6 months ago I had a dream about you. And in the dream, you were recording a CD, and the songs were going out to people who thought they were beyond the reach of God’s love”.
I mean - !!! You can imagine my reaction.
God doesn’t do things the way we think he should. But when he calls us to do something, he lets us know. There were many other things that happened from that point to confirm the vision.
So, from there - what? When God speaks, how will we respond? What's step one?
Sometimes when taking steps of faith, the practical pieces don’t immediately fall into place. Sometimes we start with an engine but no vehicle and we have to wait for the vehicle to assemble.
And sometimes, God asks us to step out holding just a spark plug - just a tiny token of what we believe we’re supposed to do.
That’s what happened with this album. We stepped into it not having a penny to put towards it. And things definitely did NOT fall together right away. In fact, in the year following the initial crowd-funding campaign, Josh & I experienced more pressure on our finances and more anxiety and difficulty than we ever have. For a while we weren’t sure if we’d be able to pay our own bills, let alone complete this project.
My confidence has wobbled many times throughout this process. But God has provided, and we are so grateful for every person who sowed finance, friendship, and prayer into our family throughout this past season. You know who you are. Thank you.
This album isn’t about making money. It’s not about getting attention. It’s simply what I did when God spoke.
Josh & I have lived in these lyrics the past 18 months. I don’t say that flippantly. It’s one thing to write a nice song, but this process has taken me so far beyond simply exercising my creativity. We have literally sung these songs over our own hearts in some of our toughest, most faith-challenging moments, often with tears streaming down our faces. I feel like our story and these songs are one and the same. For that reason, I’m excited to let them loose and see what God wants to do.