Life and Music Happens

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!

Stay tuned!

Blessings, Jen

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:

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)

 

Who Gets the Praise?

It is tempting at the least to want to live your life for yourself, but the truth is the exact opposite. The praise of man is not where it is at. Please God and not yourself. Live a life that will glorify Him and then one day He will lift you up and you will be glorified as well when you see Him face to face. Praise God…do good things…lay up your treasures in Heaven.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)

Love Lifted Me

In a jOb Kind of Way

Rick Elias jObHave you ever been in a jOb kind of way?

Quite a few times in my life, I have been. Even the last couple of years have been quite a painful struggle to step forward in faith to God’s calling in my life. Sometimes I have brought my own suffering upon me. Other times it has been beyond my control. The latter have been my jOb moments. I can live life with my suffering more when I know I have caused it, but when someone or something else has caused harm to me…it can become unbearable.

“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4:6

We can get overly confident in our salvation at times and start to wear it as our badge of courage (or humilty, which in essence becomes pride), faltering towards being wise in our own eyes. At this time of year, I chose the theme of suffering because there are so many out in the world today that suffer. Especially during the Christmas season.  And it was our Savior, Christ Jesus, who came for those who are needy and suffering (even those that don’t know how needy they are).

Don’t you think God suffered by limiting Himself to a human form? The beautiful babe in the manger is our God with us in all His glory, humbling Himself to endure human physical limitations, to come to a lost and hurting world of people to redeem mankind by suffering on a cross. He endured it’s scorn and shame for all of our sins, once and for all.  And the beauty of it was, that He lifted Himself out of the depths of the earth to glorify Himself again (there you go, my Christmas sermon for you). In other words, God knows suffering more than any of us.

jOb suffers greatly as God allows Satan to approach him with tragedy after tragedy. So much so, jOb becomes extremely depressed and believes the only answer to his suffering and pain is death itself and he longs for it. In fact, jOb says he loathes his life because of his suffering. He questions God, “make me understand how I have gone astray”. jOb knows he has been righteous before God in following the laws and commands. He has been a man of integrity. He can’t figure out why God will allow this.

In the same way, we can question, “God, why did you allow this to happen to me? What did I do wrong that made me deserve this?” We can’t seem to find the answers for why. In fact, jOb even thinks he must have sinned in order to deserve such calamity to the point of feeling sorry for himself and having his own pity party. I have heard people say this about others who have suffered, but they couldn’t be any further from the truth. It’s wrong thinking to believe that bad things happen to godly people because they have sinned. Nope. God is sovereign. He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

In trying to understand why God would do this, jOb makes a decision to complain from the bitterness in his soul. He even goes so far as to try to liken God as a “joy killer” that any man would bring upon another man. And he begs God to leave him alone, so that he could find some happiness somewhere in the days that he has left.

“because God has loosed my cord and humbled me.” Job 30:11

No matter how humble or righteous through Christ we think we are…we can still be brought lower by a Sovereign God. Let pride bring us low every time. jOb was righteous in his own eyes, even though by our standards he would have seemed like a devout and humble believer of our day. When I find that I accept God as Sovereign in my life, it frees me up to stop worrying about things that seem so unfair to me and it silences my argument before God. I am quieted by His righteousness…and His love.

Maybe your lyre needs to be turned to mourning and your pipe to those who weep?

“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty that makes him understand.” Job 32:8

“God is mighty in strength of understanding.” Job 36:5b

Is there something we can learn by being in a jOb kind of way?

If you have been hanging in there with me by reading this long blog, let me get to why I was inspired to write it. There is a new CD out by Rick Elias that I just have to share with you. It’s called jOb. I love it. I love it even more so, as a mental health counselor, because hurting people need real music that can speak to their soul and human condition. It is raw in it’s musical talent and lyrics as it depicts the story of jOb. You can’t help but ache with jOb as you listen. It strikes a chord in my own heart for the times that it has ached and still aches. It is real music. Real pain. Real suffering. And I feel like I am crying out with jOb (or possibly even Rick), “Help Thou my unbelief, lest I fall away”. I, too, am in awe how He still loved me anyway.  God “undoes” us, so that He can finish His work in us. “Father you know me, the seed of your creation, made in your image with little indication of my poverty.” (Rick Elias, Help Thou My Unbelief). The moment we realize our depravity…is this not the way God shows us humility?

“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly.” Job 37:26-28

When It All Came Down has to be my most favorite song of the album (you’ll have to listen to it to see why) and I confess, I cried when I heard A Kind Of Brilliance. I think Rick had a kind of brilliance when he wrote it. It reminds me of myself and the woman at the well. Searching for water in broken cisterns. I need the water that is overflowing and full of life that will never leave me thirsty again. Quite frankly, I love all the songs on this CD and I want more of it. (Sidenote: you can purchase jOb at Rick’s website).

I like how God is spot on to ask jOb to step up to the plate as he questions jOb…be a man, and I will show you who is in charge! “Where were you, Job, when I laid the foundations of the earth?”, “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”…kind of wakes you up to reality.

I think God must love jOb’s honesty and boldness to tell him to even approach, even in his arrogance. It reminds me of Jacob wrestling with God and then God putting his hip out of alignment so that Jacob never forgets who is in control. Likewise, I think God asks us to step up to the plate and be bold enough to speak our minds so He can show us who He is and then we find out (we really have no argument at all).

To be sure, God, cares for the broken-hearted. He just has interesting ways of showing His compassion that is so unconventional to a worldly understanding.

“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.” Job 36:15

I am listening, God…

About Rick’s CD, jOb:

I think it’s important to have good music that speaks to the soul when it aches. “Mourn with those who mourn”. Romans 12:15b If you have been in a jOb kind of way, Rick’s new CD  jOb, will be a true comfort and balm for you. You are not alone. There truly are no strangers at the table of suffering: loss of a job, a home, loved ones, a marriage or significant relationship, searching to end the pain with whatever one can find…you can truly relate to jOb in this album and ache alongside him. This CD reminds me, I too, am not alone and it lifts me in a way that reminds me that the One who made me, knows me so well and knows how to reach me. Traveling with a person in their journey of suffering can help to bring them back to truth.

In evaluating the musical aspects of the album, I hear sounds of the Beach Boys, Joe Walsh, Billy Joel, and other classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s that I am wracking my brain over and can’t think of just off-hand. I guess you could say it is eclectic, which creates it’s own appeal to me. There is also some great acoustic guitar and really cool electric guitar distortions. I love Rick’s honest vocals and melodies; he is true to himself as a writer and musician.  I believe this album goes back to Rick’s time with Rich Mullins and it will make you miss Rich (well, it made me miss him). Such great Ragamuffins! Nothing like REAL music. I highly recommend this album and you have to get it! 😉 Thank you for your gift, Rick!

*Read another great comprehensive blog and review of Rick’s new CD here from Craig Daliessio: http://shinnyandshavings.blogspot.com/2013/11/rick-elias-job-re-posting-my-review.html

It was the reason why I bought the album!

May the Year 2014 reveal to you God’s Sovereign Grace!

Love, Jen

Sorrowful Even to Death

Sometimes our sorrows and griefs can be so overwhelming that we wish we could die or have contemplated taking our lives in suicide. This is sorrow at its worst, when we think we can’t go on anymore. And then the Enemy uses our thoughts to attack us in these lowest times. He is the deceiver and destroyer of life. Don’t listen to the lies, you are not alone.

On a night of intense sorrows, and after Jesus had shared Passover with His disciples He went to Gethsemane to pray. He took three of his closest friends with Him: Peter, James and John. Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled and He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little further he fell on his face and prayed saying. ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.” Matthew 26:36-40, ESV

Jesus was indeed sorrowful and anguished. Luke tells us that He even sweat drops of blood in that anguish. Even the grove itself was a place where olives were pressed. And Jesus was pressed here, in this moment; even before He experienced death on a cross for you and me. He suffered greatly. He was betrayed and then beaten and humiliated unto death. He bore it all. His purpose from before time, when He was in the Godhead was the way of the Cross.

Yes, He knows our deep sorrows and griefs that we suffer. He went to death so that we would be freed from the bondage of sin and death. No intense grief or sorrow that permeates our souls could ever be greater than what He bore in His body, because He bore it all, from all of us, for all of us. When all the sins of the world were laid upon His shoulders as the One and only perfect sacrifice, for that brief moment, He was all alone. Intense heaviness, through and through. Even in that moment, Satan thought he had defeated Jesus in death. But we know, on that third day, Christ raised Himself from the grave and He now lives. This is our hope for all humanity! Because He lives, we live!

Jesus has promised us, He is with us always – forever! He will never leave or forsake us. He is God with us and now His Holy Spirit lives in us as a deposit and guarantee that He is coming back for us! Lift your eyes up to the One who rescues you and forgives you of ALL your sins. He bears all of your burdens and sorrows. He mourns with those who mourn. He draws near to the broken-hearted. He is the forgiver of sins and He is the giver of all LIFE!

God is Near

Psalm 34:18, ESV

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

When you are struggling with depression and feel all alone, when you are in your deepest and darkest place and can’t find a way out you don’t have to go far to find your Jehovah God. He is right there with you; in fact, the word ‘near’ in its original Hebrew means ‘to approach, to draw near, to bring near, to offer, to join, to be ready, to stand’. God is being active to bring Himself near to you when you are so crushed and down in spirit and can’t even make that step towards Him. He is ready to stand with you and be with you right where you are at. He will comfort and save you; He will free you and keep you safe in Him. Mighty Rescuer!