I am nearly in shock.
I hardly know how to articulate what is going on in my heart right now. We have seen a lot of miracles–large and small–in the course of our marriage and through the process of recording this album. They have always been right on time, right when we needed them most. When I look back over these last 10 years of trying to follow God’s leading–trying to make ends meet the best way we have known how, trying to keep our creative voices alive in the midst of jobs, responsibilities, starting and raising a family–I am reminded that more than anything else, these have been years of God’s kindness. He has always showing his strength when we are most weak, always showered us with riches when we have been most in need. His lovingkindness is just that. Loving. Kindness. I am overwhelmed.
We are entering into another miracle–one that is more unbelievable than any other we have experience up to this point in our life of faith.
Recording this album has been a great joy and a great struggle. We really started the process over years ago when we bought some equipment and Randy began teaching himself to record. The learning curve was steep, and it took about a year to record two songs–All the King’s Horses and Pitter Patter. But we were thrilled because we were able to record them ourselves and would hopefully be able to record all of our songs. Pitter Patter seemed like such an important song for this season in life, and so many people responded to its message, it was a great accomplishment for us. Through the course of several conversations over the next year, we decided to try to start a fundraising campaign for our project, which we named The Seven Year Scratch. (At this point, we had been married for seven years, and wanted to make this album a collection of songs that we had written to and for one another over the course of our relationship–3.5 years dating, 7 as husband and wife.) We had two children at this point and were expecting our third in June. We made a campaign video, wrote up our proposal, hit the “GO LIVE” button, and waited and prayed. That summer we raised about $7000 through so many generous donations. It was unbelievable. With the money, we were able to set up our studio in the living room, purchase good equipment, and dedicate the summer to recording the album. We hoped to finish by September. We had our baby. I took the three kids all over the world while Randy recorded. We had to leave every time he used mics. We were working hard, getting a lot done, but it became clear very quickly that this was going to take a lot longer than one summer to finish.
We have been steadily working on the cd for these last two years–in between jobs, in between feeding babies (Since that summer we have had another child!), in between all the other responsibilities of life–we have been working on it when we can. There have been huge obstacles to overcome, more equipment to purchase, more creative thinking to set in motion. For every need, there has been a God-given supply. When our computer quit working, a friend built us a super-computer to take its place and gave it to us as a gift. When leaving the house with three babies every day became too much for me, God supplied us with the money and an amazing deal on a vocal booth (which now takes up 1/3 of our living room!) so that we can record anytime day or night. When we felt most discouraged with how long it was taking, God used people to encourage us that our story is worth sharing.
We set out on this summer hoping to spend as much time as possible recording and trying to finish this thing. Summers are always a little scary for us, because as private music instructors, most of our students take the summer off, leaving us always wondering how we are going to pay our bills. We were spending a lot of mental energy on this problem–planning workshops we could teach, talking to people about side jobs, etc. I was expressing my frustration about this one evening after a concert, saying that if we could just concentrate on recording, we could get it done. We have already put hundreds, probably thousands of hours into this project. And it just seemed like at this rate, it could stretch on out forever.
The next day, I got a phone call that changed my life.
The gist of that phone call is this: There is someone who wants to support us through the summer, paying all of our monthly bills and covering all of the remaining expenses of this album and our cd release concert. She called and said that she feels this is what she is supposed to do. She asked me to figure up what we need and to let her know. She told us to concentrate on this cd and “just know that the money will be there.” She is not a wealthy person. She is a hard-working woman who lives frugally and supports causes she believes in. She is making a huge sacrifice to do this for us. It is so humbling and so overwhelming to receive a gift like this. We don’t even know how to say thank you except to finish this cd and make it as excellent as it can be. Once again, God has provided more magnificently than we ever hoped or dreamed, and once again, it was in a time of severe uncertainty. I am completely dumbstruck. He is able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
So, we are finishing this cd. We will be releasing it into the world in early November. It will be a wonderful Thanksgiving, and as our benefactress said, this year “we will have something extra juicy to be thankful for…”
Last year at this time, we had just learned that we were expecting our fourth child–Remy, whose name means “from the city of ravens.” The raven is a symbol to me of how God cares for us–Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! (Luke 12:24) We found out I was pregnant, and the next day, our Ford Taurus died on the highway. We didn’t have any money, and we couldn’t drive our three kids around, much less add a fourth. We borrowed my Dad’s car for about 4 weeks. If you have been following my blog, you know what happened–we were given an amazing van out of the blue. (That is another huge miracle story you can read here: Nightmares, Miracles, and Morning Sickness). But in the time of waiting–not knowing how we were going to overcome this HUGE hurdle, I wrote a post called A Modern Metaphor for Faith. I never published it, but I meant it. We have been walking by faith, one step at a time. This last year has been more uncertain than any other. But marked by the very first realization of Remy’s birth, we have seen God providing for us in ways that we never dreamed was possible, showing that he cares for us just as he cares for the little birds and the lilies of the field. I’d like to share that unpublished post with you now, knowing that though the metaphor may break down, God is always steadfast.
A Modern Metaphor for Faith
Metaphors always break down on some level, but they help me to understand and process life. This one has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks…
I have talked a lot about faith in the past couple of years. This summer has been a course for Randy and me in deepening faith–an experience that is painful, intense, humbling, and more valuable than any college degree. It has been a reminder that we are human–that ultimately, everything we have belongs to God, and everything we need truly comes from His hand alone. We have struggled more than ever to make ends meet this summer. There have been weeks where we have literally had less than $10 in the bank for several days at a time. It is a terrible way to live. Especially with children, when you want so much to give them every good thing in this world. On the other hand, I could make you a list of the miracles we have experienced on a weekly basis–a mystery check pinned under our windshield wipers, boxes of food given to us out of the blue–just when the cupboard was running low, an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach for our whole family–people who know nothing about our situation have reached out to us in the most timely of ways. There is no other explanation than God is taking care of us as we are trying our best to do His will for our lives. For this reason, it has been a beautiful season of life.
I will say again that there is a fine line between being full of faith and being foolish. We struggle to follow the leading of the Spirit, even though it takes us sometimes into very impractical territory. Sometimes, it is easy to wonder if we misunderstood the voice. But God’s faithfulness has been real and alive. He is showing us that He will take care of us. Just like he takes care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field.
When we went on vacation, we used a GPS app on our phone to get us to and from the beach. I was struck how much faith we immediately placed in the ability of that device to get us to our destination. I typed in the address, waited a moment for the directions to load, and then we started out. I couldn’t figure out how to find the alternate routes to compare them, so we just decided to go with the one google recommended. We headed out, not questioning for a moment that in 21.7 miles there would be a clearly-marked turn, we would take it and and make note of the next step in the list of instructions. And we got there. In about 5 hours and 46 minutes, just like we expected.
We had so much faith in the GPS that we didn’t have a map in the car. We followed whole-heartedly, because we had used it enough to know that it was going to get us there by the most direct route. There were times I didn’t even know what direction we were driving. We could have been going toward the west coast–I wouldn’t have known it. I trusted these things: We knew where we were supposed to go, we had clear directions that would get us there, and even though we couldn’t see very far ahead, we knew to follow one step at a time.
I consider this a modern metaphor for faith in God. This is what we trust: We know where we are supposed to go. Not exact coordinates, but we know that we want to end up in the center of His will. The location may be hard to determine, but His will goes beyond a final destination point. It is as much about every turn we make along the way. We trust we have directions that will get us there. One step at a time, we follow. We will probably pass through cities and states we weren’t expecting to enter. It may take longer than we expected. We may not know what direction we are headed. But we just go, one instruction at a time. Each turn leads to another, and there is just enough time to get off one road before we have to get on the next.
A metaphor always breaks down. Like our car did this week. Which throws the whole GPS comparison out the window. No one uses GPS for walking distance…
So for now, we walk… Still one step at a time. Still trusting that everything in this world belongs to God.
I have been so thankful to live in this season. God’s faithfulness has been the glow of these past few months. Everything we have is touched with the beauty of His gracious care. Every small pleasure becomes luxury–a surprise lunch at the pizza place, a picnic at the state park, new crayons, hand-me-down clothes, dark chocolate. Our children are so happy and content with small things. It is a joy to behold.
I have learned to cook creatively, using what we have. We are all cultivating more adventurous palates… This is another blessing.
I hope that one day I will look back on this time in my life, as I have heard my parents speak of their own hard times, and we will remember this as the season that God poured out his love and kindness over our lives and the lives of our children. Yes, it is hard. It is intense. It is overwhelming at times. But in this season He has shown us such tender care, allowing us to see that our lives are truly in His hands. He has reached out to us, through the hands of so many others. He has touched our hearts in a very real way and imprinted a lasting impression of his faithfulness there.
We will follow, by any mode of transportation, one step at a time.