I just want to share with you from today’s sermon at church.  It was very inspiring and I was filled with gratitude and joy about my future generations to come. To me, there is no greater joy and as well, no greater heartache, than when it comes to being a mom. And I love being a mom. It’s the highest calling in this life besides our purpose in it.

We ALL have the same purpose in life – The Great Commission – to go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As a mom, we are called into partnership with God for this purpose. We can choose this partnership or not. Same thing with our spouses. We can choose to be in partnership with them or not. Sometimes that is beyond our control. But it is much harder without.

Then, we have been given a position of influence. When we utilize the position(s) of influence we are in, we are effective in our partnership with God. As a mom, this means accepting the position of motherhood (whether working at home with our kids or working outside the home): loving, teaching, equipping and disciplining our children in the way they should go, so that they will grow to love and know Jesus and then pro-create future generations of little disciples to do the same. Some mothers have chosen to accept their position of motherhood, some have chosen not to.

As a mom in partnership with our spouses and God, if we do these things, we will one day, successfully launch out these young “arrows” into the world and be blessed by the promises we have in God for our roles as godly moms. And I love what the pastor’s wife said about these arrows…they are our weapons we launch out into the world that make the Enemy of God very nervous, because they (our children) will continue to grow God’s kingdom here on earth.
 I have always believed that my most important job as a mother was to make sure that the children God blessed me with, grew up to know, love and serve Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind. They could be in whatever profession or position God called them to, but if they didn’t accept Christ, then I didn’t do my job well, while they were entrusted to my care.

Even if a child chooses to be wise in their own eyes and become a prodigal to all that they know to be true, if I have done my part in loving and training them well (without exasperating them), then I believe God’s word will not return void in their heart, no matter how long it takes.

Today as a mom I feel so blessed to know that all 3 of my adult children love Jesus, follow Him, and share Him in practical ways with everyone they come in contact with. I am even blessed by the inheritance of two more sons through their marriage to my daughters, and their love of Jesus as well!

I know that it is a very hard job to be a mom.  I believe it’s the hardest job in the whole world, because it is a job of sacrifice, of laying down your life and selfish desires, for that short period of time that they are on loan to you from God.

Be encouraged by grace that if you mess up, God can help you, all you need to do is ask. Also be willing to be a partner to your children’s dad. You were not meant to parent alone. But if you are alone, be sure to find support from others. Be a praying mom above all and seek God’s wisdom in how to be the best mom you can. There is room for failure. Be transparent and admit those failures at appropriate times, but never give up. Keep your wits about you and remain calm and in control of yourself as much as possible!

If you didn’t feel loved by the mom God gave you, be sure to be the mom that your children need. You can stop generations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment and the pain that it causes within one generation, with strength from God, perseverance and help from others.

If you always wanted to be a mom, but can’t be, find someone to be a “mom” to. There is someone out there who needs the love that you have to offer. Happy Mother’s Day dear friend and woman of God!

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭26-29‬ ESV)

Christmas Single – A Still and Quiet Night

One of the biggest (and I think), most difficult places to show the love of Christ is to our spouse: in which we have many opportunities to practice grace, allowing iron to sharpen iron to mature and prepare us for future glory.

In marriage, many couples face an unintentional drift as they prepare for the Empty Nest. For many years the focus of the union has been on the children and as they prepare to leave, and once the children are out the door husbands and wives have to rediscover each other once more. There may have been preconceived ideas of what the latter years were going to look like and once we are there, we find it is nothing like we had dreamed out. We may question, who is this person I live with? And sadly, over 50% become divorced. They even have a term for this kind of divorce in these latter years: Gray Divorce.

But there are ways to be intentional to try and close the gap as you transition into the next phase of your marriage relationship and to inoculate it against the “D word”. It is an intentional turning into one another, finding things in common, appreciating new direction for one another, etc.  A Still and Quiet Night is not only a song of memories of the way things were when the children were little and growing up at home, but also an acknowledgement of the loss of our grown babies. Christmas seems to be the time, as it comes at the end of a calendar year, where we take more account of our lives. Where are we in life? What happened? Where did the years go? We miss our kids! Now it’s just us and we aren’t sure we like each other right now!

Questions like these, can take us on a journey at Christmas to learn how to create new memories of what love is about. Times change, children leave, traditions change, we are older, it’s quieter in the house, we are more gray, balding or wrinkled, finding ourselves more lonely…but love always remains if we invite it in.

What greater time than at Christmas to reflect on the love that God has for us by sending Himself to us in the form of a baby, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, reconciling us to Himself. Christ reminds us of what love is and He brings His peace into our hearts through His Holy Spirit, giving us the ministry of reconciliation. It is the interpretation of this love, lived out in real life that finds us rediscovering each other in a new light; and therefore, making new memories for our future.
 
Production Notes:

IMG_9983
My producer Eric Copeland (Creative Soul Records) and I worked on this song as a co-write this last Summer of July 2014, as I was touring across the country with my new album project, Where I Am. We met up at Word Entertainment in one of the writing rooms and I shared my ideas of the first verse with him. He started to town on a melody idea for the arrangement and came up with a beautiful interlude of Silent Night, Holy Night in the middle of the song.

Eric didn’t know it, but Silent Night was one of the very first songs that my brother and I learned to sing in German for our German grandparents. We recorded it on a little tape recorder for our Oma and Opa when we were very young (possibly around 6 and 4) and when they received the cassette tape, they were overjoyed to hear their American grandchildren singing in their native tongue. So that is a very special part in the song for me, that holds wonderful memories of my own childhood and heritage.

We started the lyrics on the 2nd verse trying to be mindful of what it might look like to revive a marriage by bringing a little romance back into it at Christmastime. We finished up the second verse long distance and then sent it off for production. I love the creativity that all the players brought to this project and one of my most favorite parts in the song, is a bass part in “not a creature stirs or makes another sound”.

A Still and Quiet Night

Jen Haugland & Eric Copeland ©2014 Jen Haugland Music (ASCAP) & From the Moment Music (BMI)

V1

All the moments that we sit around the tree

Hold our memories of everything that used to be

To see our little ones their eyes so opened wide

As they stared at all the pretty bulbs so bright

 

PC

Oh where did the years go, now that they’ve all moved on

And it’s just the two of us in this big house all alone

 

Ch

Turn down the lights

Pull me closer to your side

We can make new memories

In a still and quiet night

Don’t be surprised

As I stare into your eyes

We can find ourselves in love

In a still and quiet night

 

V2

As we find ourselves here sitting by the fire

And an ember sparks a warmth of new desire

While the snow falls silent outside on the ground

Not a creature stirs or makes another sound

 

PC2

So this is our moment, now that they’ve all moved on

And it’s just the two of us in this big house all alone

 

Ch

Turn down the lights

Pull me closer to your side

We can make new memories

In a still and quiet night

Don’t be surprised

As I stare into your eyes

We can find ourselves in love

In a still and quiet night

 

Instrumental Interlude – Silent Night, Holy Night

 

PC2

So this is our moment, now that they’ve all moved on

And it’s just the two of us in this big house all alone

 

Ch

Turn down the lights

Pull me closer to your side

We can make new memories

In a still and quiet night

Don’t be surprised

As I stare into your eyes

We can find ourselves in love

In a still and quiet night

We can find ourselves in love

In a still and quiet night

 

*Honorable Mention, Cindy Wilt Colville Excellence in Songwriting Award – CMS NW 2014

 

Session Players (and, by the way, the guys behind Player A):

John Hammond (drums/percussion)

Gary Lunn (bass)

Mark Baldwin (guitar)

Eric Copeland (keys)

Ronnie Brookshire (Engineering & Mixing)

 

Last week I had an enjoyable Skype interview with Joe Brookhouse of Frequency.FM to talk about my new Christmas single, A Still and Quiet Night. I like to think of the meaning of Christmas as being an outpouring of God’s heart and love to us by sending us His Son, Jesus, God incarnate: to reconcile us to Himself and to one another by showing us what it means to love one another well, while we are here on this earth.

Here is the link to the podcast, article and additional links. Please share it with as many people as you can! You just never know when someone really needs to hear something that will really touch them. We also thought we were just a little funny in the interview…you might chuckle once or twice. Maybe. 😉

Frequency-Banner Frequency.FM Amp’d Interview – Jen Haugland

In 1990, 1 in 10 marriages in the over 50 year old Empty Nester category ended in divorce. In 2009 the numbers more than doubled to 1 in 4 (Statistics U.S. Census Bureau). This alarming trend has been steadily increasing during the past two decades that sociologists have been tracking it and they have now termed it “Gray Divorce” (see the March 2012 white paper, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” and current stats collected by researchers at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio). Surprisingly, infidelity was not the main reason why these older generations divorce, but rather a growing apart from one another, because the earlier years have been so focused around the children. And, as the culture of the individualist, self-seeking, Baby Boomers come to the forefront in their retirement years after launching their families, they continue to be the trend setters for future generations.

This gray divorce “revolution” is coming down the pike to us as younger married generations. How, as married Christians, do we safeguard against this growing trend while we still have our children in the home, before they launch? We can’t say this won’t happen to us. We live in this culture and we should be in the world but not of it. It would be ignorant to bury our heads in the sand. We need to be intentional. Current studies show that in order to support marriage in these latter years, prevention is the best intervention and an intentional “turning towards” your spouse in support of him or her as being pivotal. To keep this current upward trend of gray divorce in the Baby Boomer generation from happening, some Boomers have come up with new definitions of how to stay together and make it work, even unconventional ways of making it work. Can we say this is right or wrong?

While the Bible gives us many passages in how to love one another well, as a husband and wife, it doesn’t really paint a picture of how that looks in “real-life practice”. Hold on a second, I know some of your alarm bells might be going of, but don’t worry. I want to be careful in how I say that, because yes, there are ways we can objectively observe how a couple loves one another, but how that gets lived out logistically is another factor. Like the example of one couple in the article which I have included at the end of this blog, they actually bought another home for the wife to live in 5 miles down the road from their main home in order to stay married. They still spend time together on dates and such, but they have also given each other space and somehow they have found a way to make it work.

This seems very unconventional to me (call me old-fashioned). And yes, I believe there is selfishness involved, but I also see sacrifice in the big picture. The spouse, or husband in this example, showed grace and was willing to keep the marriage together by allowing for his wife to have the space she needed which actually encouraged more emotional closeness. The wife sacrificed by staying committed to her husband and the marriage by not seeking out another relationship and continues to come to the main home to spend time together.

But should we condemn them for finding an alternative solution to divorce? We want them to stay married, right? We know Christ is the answer. Can we look deeper at the big picture? Maybe in another 10-20 years they will be back under the same roof again as a result? Who can know? Certainly God knows. This couple will define the answer for us in time. But one thing is for sure, they are doing what it takes to survive. We don’t know all that they have been through with each other. They are keeping their marriage alive instead of giving up on one another. Its not how we think of traditional marriage. This is a marriage that either didn’t prepare ahead of time as the Empty Nest stage approached or were taken aback by the emotional toll the Empty Nest brought them (or most likely both).

Now, how will you keep your marriage alive? Other suggestions to support marriage in the latter years besides the turning towards your spouse include: allow the grieving of the children leaving the nest; discuss together how much you miss your children. Find new things to come together on such as a hobby or interest. Support one another in your dreams now that it is just the two of you. Most importantly, keep your faith in Christ alive. There are many more options to explore and I haven’t included them all here. But by blogging this, I wanted to raise the level of awareness, because, for me, hitting the Empty Nest is at my front door. We already have the signs and symptoms and ramifications of not being as intentional as we could have been. In all the years that we have been married and had our good times and bad, seeing through the lens more clearly now, these upcoming years are the hardest we have ever faced. As believers, though, my husband and I hold on to the hope that lives within us and cling to our faith in God that we can find new memories to keep our marriage alive: to allow an ember to spark a flame of new desire for one another. This is our moment to turn towards one another, again, like we have done so many times before.

This Christmas, I want to share with you a song that I wrote for the Empty Nesters, the Baby Boomers, and future marriages that have yet to hit the Empty Nest Syndrome. This phase of life and this generation, I think, get left out of real life Christmas songs. Yes, the coming of Christ is the reason for why we celebrate Christmas. Without Him we would not know love. He is Love. And God came to earth to show us what love looked like with skin on. We are real people with real hurts. We grieve one another in relationship. We grow apart unless we are intentional to turn towards each other and be selfless. We need a song to encourage us to stay together, to find a way to keep marriage alive.  What better time than at Christmastime as we reflect on how much God loves us by sending His one and only Son; especially during the holidays, when life can be hardest and we miss our kids so much that we start to wonder what else there is to life. Consider the courage it takes to stay together…to find a way back to loving one another this Christmas. Even if it looks unconventional, for the sake of our future generations.

The Loneliness of the Empty Nest (Elizabeth Bernstein, The Wall Street Journal. July 1, 2013)

A Still and Quiet Night, Single co-written by Jen Haugland & Eric Copeland and Produced by Creative Soul Records, Nashville, TN. Releasing November 11, 2014. You are going to love it! Stay Tuned…until then, here is a teaser promo:

still2

about-1-week-oldThey are the most precious inheritance we leave here on this earth in every generation. Do we really understand the depth of our investment and accountability in them in regards to their overall mental health and well being? When I worked for a non-profit as a mental health consultant for early childhood, I understood this to a deeper level than what I ever believed before. We need to invest in our babies from the very beginning and we need to guard them throughout their childhood stubbornly and fiercely. If we do not teach our children to love and fear the Lord in this lifetime, then we have failed in the job that God gave us for such a time as this. And if we allow any harm to come to them when we have every opportunity to protect them, woe to us. This is our time as Dad and Mom’s and Leaders. Never exploit the children, but teach them in the way they should go.

While these commands were given to the children of Israel and are still relevant, they are also relevant to those that have been grafted in: the church.

“Here O Israel: The Lord our God , the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on  your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down  and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NIV

and then Jesus refers to little ones in the faith or children:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.'”… Luke 17:1-3 NIV

The reason why these verses are so important is that is it shows how careful we need to be with those who are young and vulnerable who trust us as adults. Being an adult survivor of child abuse, I know the impact of it and how it can cause so much destruction in so many ways long into adulthood. As adults, we have a choice to stop generational sins and we can protect the threats of harm to little ones by not breaking their spirit and exasperating them. We can guard their mental health and their well-being, especially spiritually, by loving them well and honoring their preciousness before the Lord and letting them remain children. Crushing their spirit, allowing harm to them, contributing to their growing up before their time, can put them into harmful situations whether we intend it or not. Taking out our anger on them can damage them physically, emotionally and spiritually and set them up for later mental health issues as well as rebelliousness against us as parents and ultimately against God whom we are commanded to teach them how to love. This harm can unknowingly be done even with our best intentions as parents or leaders by putting them out there in the ‘limelight’ or giving them too much responsibility before they are ready or mature enough to handle it – we are always accountable. As adults we are too familiar with and know that harm comes, even unintentionally. What will be do to guard them so that doesn’t happen? Where is that fine line of letting them learn and protecting them?

It is truly important to love and obey God as an adult and to pass this on to your children in a LOVING way! How will you take responsibility of this in the life of your child? Or better yet, if you were a child that was embittered and harmed, how will you allow the spirit of God to re-parent you to learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind? If you let Him do it, it can happen and you will experience great freedom! Your next generation will live a freedom like you will have never imagined, but will yet to live yourself! Go for it!