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.

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 12.45.07 PM

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.

MeMeChristmasVeteran1

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

 

 

 

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

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

Chasing Answers – Part II

…(This is a continuation of Chasing Answers Part I).

In the intensity of the “not knowing” waiting for test results on your health to come back can be so stressful. Even when you try to turn the anxious thoughts over every day, every moment. Like I mentioned in the previous post, Part I, worrying about it doesn’t add a single hour to your life, in fact it does just the opposite, robs you of enjoying the moment, being in the present, is physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting, and weighs you down.

I didn’t realize how much my worry over what was going on in my body was weighing me down, until I received the phone call from the Hematologist/Oncologist to reassure me right after my CT scans on a Tuesday afternoon, that no other blood clots or major concerns showed up in them. The things that did show up were “unremarkable”. I was so relieved. I like being unremarkable in this instance. So grateful to the doctor for calling me. He wanted to reassure me so I wouldn’t worry until my follow-up appointment that Friday. Is that not the grace of God in a moment of need?

I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. As much as I thought I had been turning things over and letting go and trusting God, the worries were still heavy enough that I felt the release of them after the phone call. The tension in my body left and I breathed a big sigh of thankfulness.

On Friday the answers were vague. All the blood tests were with in normal ranges and negative for the things I was concerned about. Another huge relief, but yet no answers to why I clot except that I have a genetic predisposition for it. This in a sense is an answer. Ok, that’s it. I need to live with it. I was born with it. Accept it. Be diligent with my medication and my testing. Take my testing equipment with me whenever I travel. Doctor’s orders while on long road trips, especially as I was leaving for my tour, to get out of the car every two hours and move around for a few minutes. Inconvenient, since I like to get in the car and just drive, drive, drive…but I have to do it.

I am grateful to know that there are no more major concerns. I am content to know that I just clot and that is the worst of it (although I wish I didn’t). I am blessed with good doctors and medical care so that I can manage this medical condition and still do most the things I like to do, except play with sharp objects and do dangerous, adventurous activities (sometimes I still do, I’m just a little more cautious). 🙂

I honestly don’t think we will ever be immune to worry or anxieties in this world. But God has given us a remedy for it, to manage it well:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:4-7, NIV)

1. He is near. That is reassuring.

2. Bring your worry to Him – pray and petition Him with it.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for what you need. He longs to hear from you.

4. Rejoice that no matter what, He holds all your answers, hears your prayers, wants you to trust Him with whatever He thinks you can go through, because He is near and He will be with you.

5. Be thankful. You have a place to go to for everything you need, because of your salvation in Christ Jesus.

6. He will give you His perfect peace when nothing makes sense. His peace will keep you and help you to stay focused when the storms swirl around you.

7. Not knowing keeps you trusting in Him and challenges you to let go of your control issues of wanting to know and to accept His control and will for your life.

8. When you are anxious, you can be irritable with life and with others. If you practice continual turning over of your worry to Him, His peace that He gives to you will allow you to have more grace and to be gentle with others.

And don’t forget…you are here for a purpose, even to be a testimony through your trials. Don’t let them take you off course when you are anxious and afraid. He has conquered death. He holds you in the palm of His hand. He will never leave or forsake you!

I am not chasing my answers right now. I am accepting the unknown. I’ll journey with you in your unknowns as we keep plugging along! Don’t give up!

 

Compelled to Go

I can’t believe I’m doing this! I must be crazy!? I am just a semi-retired counselor and a mom and a worship leader and older and … who am I? My family says, “Just a little bit crazy!” (pun intended, but it’s true, that’s what they are saying). Why am I so compelled to go out there and do this? To take these songs I have written out on the road and share them? In one sense it’s frightening. In another sense, exhilarating. I liken it to when I did my first triathalon. Once I finished it, the sense of accomplishment was so overwhelming in a good way. At that moment I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do, if I put my mind to it and God’s will is in it. I am a child of God and I love Him. I want to BE His will in my life. I find my salvation in Christ alone. This is what my blog ministry stands for: “No Longer Opposed”.

Paul said these words to Timothy as he started his ministry and it is this scripture that I will cling to as I am now embarking on this journey with my official Where I Am Tour. I am compelled to follow God’s will in my life for everything He has done for me, including creating me for His good pleasure. I would rather fear Him due to His awesomeness and greatness than to ever look around me and fear what others may think of me. I am on earth for God’s purposes, not my own. Please pray for me to keep this front and center and pray for me while I am on the road ’til I return home.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:6-14 ESV)

God has entrusted a calling to my heart. I don’t know why He has chosen me to go forward with this, in my fear of facing the giant world out there I say, “Lord, I am too small!” but I know he has equipped me. Therefore I say, “here I am God, send me!” I somehow find His favor by His grace… “Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to serve you and your kingdom. I know you go with me…before me, behind me and beside me. The battle is Yours and I will stand. I will be strong and courageous because Your Spirit lives in me and makes me strong and courageous. I will share the hope that is within me with others. May Your love abound more and more in my heart, so that I will learn to love your people the way You love them.” Amen

The Great Adventure has begun! I am so excited to see what God will have in store for me. I will be traveling for nearly 6 weeks without my family, but will be seeing many friends and extended family along the journey! Please, if you think of me, pray for my safety and for God to do His will through me at every stop I make! See you on the the road! And if I don’t see you, be sure to pick up the new CD “Where I Am” through my store here on the website and be refreshed and inspired!

Love and blessings!

~Jen

 

New Music Video-Deep Into You-Live at Watershed Recording

Released my new music video today with Creative Soul Records for Deep Into You. It was a fun and mellow acoustic set with Dave Cleveland and Mark Burchfield at Mark’s Watershed Recording Studio, Nashville, TN. I was so honored to have the two of them play for me. Dave was instrumental (ha, no pun intended) in pulling the whole thing off! Thanks Dave! This is the first video of a series of 3. Two more will be released in the near future! 😉

Read the story behind the song at: Behind The Songs – Deep Into You

Blessings & Enjoy!

Being A Resilient Believer

There is an amazing strength that comes from within when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt whose you are: that you were created for a purpose and how much you are deeply loved.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3, ESV

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes say my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16, NIV

No lie from the Enemy can steal that truth away. You have to see it and really believe it, no matter what life seems to present you with. We may bend with the wind, but we won’t break.Bend in the Wind

It is the One who has carried you through every high gale and storm; He is the One who sings over you joyfully and holds you tenderly in the palm of His hand. The God from everlasting to everlasting!

Don’t you know, you are a child of God?

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:16-17, ESV

and 

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12, NIV

This is our positional and eternal truth! It is hard to be shaken from that reality once you get it!

God Shines Through Our Failures

Failure. Who wants to fail? None of us. But the truth of the matter is, we live in a fallen world and we have a sinful nature that wars against us. There is also an Enemy agent at work against us. As humans we are fragile. We are bound to fail. I fail, you fail, we fail each other. But our God NEVER fails us. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abPoppiesounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love towards those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103: 8-12, ESV

From everlasting to everlasting… He is God!

When you FEEL like you have failed, when you KNOW you have failed, remember this: “But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.'” Lamentations 3: 21-24, ESV

Do you cling to Him as Your portion? Then NEVER GIVE UP…NEVER!!!

A prayer of hope: We are so thankful, Lord, that even though we fail You and others, even ourselves, You never fail us. Everything you have said about yourself in Your word is true. You have given us Your gracious Holy Spirit, through our Savior, as a deposit on our hearts to mark us for the day of redemption. We wait for that with eager expectation and in the meantime, we pray that the acknowledgement of our failures and humility that comes from them, continues to reflect Your radiant glory in all Your goodness. Yes, Lord, Your mercies are new every morning! Amen

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!