I know you all haven’t heard from me in awhile, but I’m still around. This last year has been a year of pain and healing from a herniated disc with sciatica, relationships, and a recent huge career move, which was an arduous process in and of itself, while still working on new music projects.
If you have enjoyed my music and message I put out there, then I hope you’ll be excited to know that I have a new single that will be released soon, “Near”, and also a personal worship EP, “Sacred Space”, that includes a re-mix of Rest (sung by me), and three other new songs.
Near is about how God is near to the broken-hearted. Life happens and some things are just beyond what you ever thought you could go through or handle. When your spirit is crushed and you feel all hope is gone, He can give you just enough to go one breath farther.
I’m excited about Sacred Space because it’s a project compiled of songs from my time of co-writing with other talented Songwriters while I was living in Franklin, TN last year (2016).
You will enjoy the soft, inspirational and worshipful vocals as usual, along with some awesome instrumentals by amazingly talented Nashville session players, that will transport you to a higher place…a Sacred Space!
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.
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”.
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. 😉
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.
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:
In a recent Precepts Bible study, we were discussing what it meant as the church “to be the fullness in him (Christ) who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:23, NIV) The original Greek word for ‘fulness’ pleroma means to be replete or complete. Complete meaning completion, an object that is being filled with contents, or a container. And the root of that word came from the Greek word pleroo which also means to be replete or covered over. But the greatest word picture it gave me was the literal definition of which it meant ‘to cram’ as in a net. Hmmm…
I started to think of when Jesus was starting his ministry and was calling the first disciples. Early in the morning after they had been out all night fishing on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus approaches Simon & Co., as they start to clean their nets and close up shop. They had fished all night and not gotten a single fish! Jesus tells them to throw out their nets for a catch and Simon tries to explain to Jesus that there weren’t any fish to be caught out there, but then gives in and says he will do it. They put the nets down and then, “bam!” they are crammed so full of fish that the nets were starting to break. Another, hmmm…
I then looked up the definition of ‘replete’ and it stated that replete was not a synonym of ‘complete’ but rather meant to be abundantly supplied, abounding, filled to satiation, even gorged! Why did I ever think I was partially full: or like a glass of water, full to where I wouldn’t spill over, but short of completely full?
What if we truly began to believe as Christians that we are these vessels or containers that are crammed as full as those nets were, but in Christ, ready to burst with more than enough? As I pondered this profound word picture, I started to realize, I didn’t need to grasp at anything more to feel “filled up,” but thanks to my salvation in Christ, everything that I had was already enough – more than enough! I could finally understand the confidence I have in Him. No matter what hand life had dealt me, Jesus tells me I am replete and complete in Him! Crammed full!
If you are in Christ, you too, are crammed full! WOW! How exciting is that??!!
“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
Think on these two things:
1. He saves completely those who come to God through Him – not partially and not only if you do x, y, z just right. Completely doesn’t mean there is anything left unfinished. Your salvation is complete. It was complete at the cross when He sacrificed and offered Himself up for your sins once and for all. If you have come to God through Christ Jesus you are saved completely, entirely and to the uttermost. There is nothing more you have to do for it and no one can take your salvation away from you. Rest in that.
2. He always lives to intercede for those who are saved by Him. As you are struggling in your faith and walk, as life gets hard, as friends betray you, when you are tempted beyond what you think you can handle, as you lose your job, when you don’t know how you are going to feed your family or where you will find another job…as you struggle to see hope in dark times, as you wonder if anyone really cares about you anymore, as you find yourself tired and weary…. Jesus knows what you are facing in that very moment, He knows what you need and He LIVES to intercede on your behalf before the Father. What does it feel like to know that you have a Savior who approaches the Father on your behalf? Who stands ready to speak up for you. Would you keep going? Would you pass up that temptation? Would you do whatever it takes knowing that on the other side of eternity someone is working on your behalf?
In thinking about Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem, He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah so it would be complete “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.” Zech 9:9, ESV
When we think about his triumphal entry into our own hearts (when we first placed our faith in Him), did we hope that He would take all our suffering away, right then and there? Did we hope, like the Jews of His day, that trusted and believed in Him, that He would establish His kingdom right then and there and reign righteously, forever? That we wouldn’t experience any more suffering at the hands of others? Much to all of our earthly disappointments, He did not do what we thought He should do, but He did what was greater for us by establishing His kingdom eternally, which is yet to be seen here on earth – except in the body of His Church at this time. He has set an example of entry… a low and humble righteous king, not any different than the low and humble babe born in a stable with smelly animals and a feed trough not fit for a king…yet it was! Because it was all a part of prophecy being fulfilled. And there is still more to come. God’s word is true and He is faithful. Scripture proves scripture!
What if, our pain and suffering brings us down low in humility to learn how to be the same servant that washed the feet of those we love and those whom we know will betray us. Will they find out who He is as a result? What am I willing to allow in my life? Will you and I allow Jesus to cleanse the temple of our hearts? Because that is where He went next… and after He did, He healed the blind and the lame and the children praised Him. Will we see? Will we walk? Will we praise?
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” Saint Francis de Sales
When you are in the middle of the deepest darkest pit and feel like there is no way out, its not hard to believe that your vision is so narrowly focused that it is the only thing you can see. But there is a light that shines from Christ…where His truth is found, the darkness must flee. “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4b, NIV. Cry out to the One who can lift you up and out of your mire and muck, “God, help me!” You are right where you need to be, He is near to the broken-hearted. Every day is a new day to find your way out of the dark and into the hope that only His mercy can bring. If you don’t find your way out today, there is still tomorrow, and the next, and so on. His mercies are new every morning. Don’t give up!
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