Originally posted January 4, 2019.
I’ve recently learned that “Christmas Time” is technically Christmas Day and the 11 days that follow, hence the 12 days of Christmas, so this post isn’t entirely too late. Right? True, “Hope Has Come” is my first Christmas song, but I wasn’t able to record it and share it with you all until now because (dun dun da!!!) my computer had crashed! Thanks to an expert diagnosis, being able to order parts online, and trusting my husband to fix it (though I need to work on my “I trust you” face), my 2012 model laptop has been resurrected. I am thankful for this tool and the ability to share with you all.
This song actually flows out of my time in Nashville last September. I attended a breakout session led by Stuart Townend, on “The Art of Lyric Writing”, though I’m pretty sure he went rouge and decided to share instead what the Spirit led him to share that morning. He identified areas in the genre of Christian music where he saw “holes” or needs for more specific kinds of songs. Among his list were biblical narrative songs, which are basically songs based on stories from the Bible. From them, we not only learn the stories that shape our faiths, but we can memorize them! Music has a way latching on in our memories. Can you sing along to a song you loved over a decade ago? Yep! Music is a powerful memorization tool. I had just spent the whole summer writing Luke 6:20-49 to music, word for word, for our women’s ministry and congregation, so believe me…it works!
Long story short, we returned from Nashville with a lot of new ideas, and one of those was to hold an event to encourage the artistic talents in our church, which was originally scheduled for November 30, 2018 (I’ll explain in a minute). It was to be an Advent-themed event, and because I wanted to share that evening as well, I decided to tackle my first biblical narrative song based on portions of the Christmas story found in Luke 1 & 2. It was a really fun project, written mostly while watching basketball practices for my kids…ha! Creativity can truly happen anywhere I guess.
I remember talking to my friend, Amber Jefferson, about the event and what I was writing for it. “Oh I can’t wait to hear it”, she said. She was always such an encouraging friend. Always, no matter what was going on in her life. I was actually planning on recording the draft version for her and sending to her to see what she thought. Why didn’t I?
When I received the news that my dear friend Amber, a wife and young momma of 6 beautiful kids, had passed away, I cried…hard. I cried my self to sleep, my dear husband hugging me and trying to calm my shock and hurt. I felt numb for days. At times I still feel numb about it. Sadness comes in waves, in moments, in strange ways, and especially on Sunday mornings when I lead worship without her melodies to fit my harmonies against. I always sang better with her. Always.
But, I cling to hope. Even when a wave of sadness hits, I cling to hope. You see, I have full confidence that my friend is singing with the heavenly hosts. She was the definition of love and reflected God’s love in everything she did. Everything. My son had oral surgery when he was 20 months old…she brought dinner…like without warning. She was amazing, and I miss my friend. I want to love like she did. I cling to the hope we have in Christ, knowing that I will sing with her again. Praise God for the hope he sent us at Christmas!
Our 7.0 earthquake derailed the Advent-themed event the morning of November 30th. I was volunteering at my kids’ school when it hit. It was amazing to see the kids go into action and proceed as they had practiced for such an event. There were minimal injuries area wide. No deaths. Praise God! I had been planning on heading to the church after my time there to finish setting up. I instead took my kids home and helped my husband clean up broken glass and dirt from broken houseplant pots. Our house was fine and we were fine. Praise God!
So much work and planning had gone into the event, not to mention the offerings from dozens of participants in the form of art and the musical and literary talents to be shared that evening, but a water leak at the church and the feeling that we all needed to press pause made us postpone. Thankfully, we were able to hold the event the next night, and “Hope Has Come” was first shared with my church family. The whole event was amazing, a glimmer of hope and light in the midst of the chaos and aftershocks. We gathered, celebrated the season of waiting, and encouraged one another in our giftedness.
I’ll be honest though. I wasn’t myself that night. I felt very small. I hadn’t had a chance to grieve yet, to recover, to feel as if I was standing on solid ground. I was still quite shaken. I wasn’t in control of anything. Amber. The ground beneath my feet. I felt very small, powerless. Yet I still walked forward, clinging to hope in the one that DOES control it all. Our God knows and sees all. God hears our prayers and knows our hurts. He loved Amber more than anyone, and He called her home.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
~Angels to the shepherds, Luke 2:14, ESV
Who is like our God? Who would leave His heavenly home to dwell among us with the mission to die for us so that we can cling to the hope of His salvation? Jesus. He is the rock on which we can stand when all seems to shake around us. He is the giver of peace, strength, light. He is the Hope that came those many years ago. It is for His return that we hope in today. Merry Christmas everyone.
P.S. I continue to be thankful for the beautiful photos by my friends. Today’s post features photos from Ken Culberson, Kyle Moffat, Pam Spence, Pat Albert, and Igor Galloway. Thank you for capturing beauty in moments and places.