The Gift of Life

I always loved Christmas, and we enjoyed each one every year when I was growing up by going to my grandparents and having a wonderful dinner cooked by my grandma (MeMe), listening to my grandfather (PaPa) recite poetry, stories and bad jokes…Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha,

“On the shores of Gitche Gumi, of the shining big sea water…”

football on the t.v. in the den, listening to the Christmas music in the background,

“Come, they told me, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum…a newborn King to see…pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”

and opening presents under the tree with dessert and coffee afterwards. My grandparent’s home was the typical “Leave it to Beaver” home, and my MeMe was June Cleaver. Things were always consistent, predictable and orderly. I thrived in this setting.

I loved listening to the banter at the dining room table, staring and listening to my PaPa who was larger than life. The hutch behind him that held my MeMe’s beautiful china, wrapping paper, and the decks of cards that would get pulled out later by us grandkids. MeMe would always get after PaPa when he would start picking at the food in the main dishes and eating just a little more, instead of adding it to his plate first.

I also loved walking around in the den, looking at the magical nativity scene in the darkness with the Christmas lights highlighting it. It sat above the t.v. I loved the story of Baby Jesus.

What if there was a drummer boy? I mean…maybe there was a poor shepherd boy that used to get bored out in the field as he helped his daddy, and for fun he would tap out rhythms and sing to God while watching the sheep? What boy doesn’t like tapping out beats? The Shepherds didn’t have a gift for the newborn Jesus…would make sense that the drummer boy didn’t have one either. But they brought their hearts. They adored and worshiped the newborn King. Their future Savior.

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Listen to a memory of my childhood – click on the photo

I have always loved the the little drummer boy and that song. I identified with him. I felt bankrupt emotionally in my heart as a little girl. My parents divorced when I was almost 4.

My sweet, sensitive spirit just ached so much and longed for an intact family. That’s why I always adored being at my grandparents and experiencing those memories. The abuse I later grew up with made those memories even bigger and more cherished.

But that drummer boy…it was just him before Jesus. He was alone. He felt like he had nothing to give, but what was in his heart (through his drum). That’s how I felt. I had nothing to give Jesus. But I was present, before him. I could offer him my heart and that was all. Yet, that was all that He wanted. It was more than enough. And his grace was sufficient to carry the rest of the brokenness.

2 years ago, this January I lost my PaPa on this side of heaven. And 2 weeks ago, my MeMe went to join him. I rejoice that there is now no more pain for my MeMe. Even though we lived so far apart in our latter years, I always made a point to go spend time with her (and my grandpa) and help be respite care with my older aunt as my youngest aunt and her husband would go on vacation. As my grandmother went into a care facility this last year, my last 2 visits were the hardest ever, as I watched her decline quickly. I have some very sad memories of those visits. But I also have happy moments in them, too.

MeMeChristmasVeteran2I couldn’t understand why God would let her suffer and remain, when she was so depressed and wanted to be with my PaPa. I believe it was because of one more thing she had to do. It was to write a Christmas greeting to a veteran somewhere in the world who needed a message of hope. On December 12, my grandmother breathed her last breath with loved ones around her and then took her first breath and opened her eyes in Heaven with Jesus and her loving husband, my PaPa. She is free of her pain and suffering. She is free of her Alzheimer’s. She can see and think clearly and rejoice! She is humming in heaven and I can hear her now.

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We are eternal beings. We have a choice. God sent Himself in the form of man, a lowly babe…Jesus, Emmanuel (God with us), so that we might have life…and have it abundantly. Will you come before him, this Christmas, with nothing but yourself? You and Jesus, alone…and give Him your heart? Sing a song, rejoice. Your suffering and pain here on this earth is only temporary in light of the eternal joy and happiness you will experience in eternity as a result of this Gift of Life.

I will miss my grandparents here on earth this Christmas as a chapter of MeMeChristmasTableNativitythe greatest generation has come to a close in our family. But I will rejoice in knowing I will get to see them again one day soon. The same dining room table and huMeMeChristmasOrnamentstch now sits in my Great Room. The same nativity scene is now sitting above the hutch each Christmas. And now we have just added the last of MeMe’s Christmas ornaments (which us grandchildren selected one by one the day of the funeral), to our Christmas tree. MeMeCousinsChristmasOrnamentsLife is but a vapor on earth: a mist. But where it goes…is someplace incredible and yet to behold. I can’t wait…

Maybe Christmas is a hard time for you? I know this is a hard Christmas for me and my family as we all wrestle with our loss PaPaMeMeKisshere on earth. Yet I also know, that if I can keep an eternal perspective of what is yet to come,  I will rejoice in God’s goodness all my life, regardless of my circumstances.

Thank you God for your gift of life this Christmas to me, to my grandma and all my family and friends. Thank you Jesus for coming.

Receive the gift of life.

 

A Still and Quiet Night - Cover

God’s peace to you this Christmas 2015!

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

   “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

-Luke 2:8-20, ESV

Love, Jen

 

 

 

Las Vegas Christmas Radio Show

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A Still and Quiet Night co-written with my producer Eric Copeland of Creative Soul Records is going to get more spin time (x 2) on a Jazz Christmas radio show out of Las Vegas Christmas morning! What will be special about this one, is that my grownup kids: Jessica (Haugland) Sampson and Rachel (Haugland) Sallee, will be featured in a couple of voiceovers from when they were little (4-1/2 y.o. and 1-1/2 y.o.) when I used to co-host AM Jazz in the Four Corners with my friend Ric Gould back in 1992.

FYI: “Rambies” = Reindeer Bambi’s…tune in and you will see what I mean! 😉

16th Annual Ric & Jackie Christmas Day Show (6 a.m. – 12 p.m. PT)
Playlist for THURSDAY, DEC 25TH:

They will spin the song twice. These times could change +/- a couple of minutes on either side the schedule. So be sure to listen in a little bit ahead of time. The second spin will have my interview, the kids and then the song…you REALLY want to hear that one!

7:55 a.m. PT (A Still and Quiet Night only)

9:20 a.m. PT (Interview, 1992 voice overs from kids, A Still and Quiet Night)

http://www.point97.com/ (Live radio in Vegas, or online anywhere else!)

Behind The Songs – A Still and Quiet Night

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:

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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)

 

Frequency.FM Interview – A Still and Quiet Night

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

An NRT Christmas – Volume One

I am so very thankful to be a part of a special New Release Tuesday Christmas Sampler now available by FREE download on NoiseTrade! It’s called An NRT Christmas – Volume One and I am featured along with other great Christian artists! If you give just a small amount, NRT will donate the proceeds to charity this Christmas!

Various Artists

Various Artists

What is this Gray Divorce?

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:

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