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. 😉
Can’t think of a better way to welcome in a release of a new album than to end Behind The Songs with Loved You Well! Releasing here on the West Coast on CD Baby in less than 15 minutes! Already released on iTunes!!! Woo hoo!
Track 10. Loved You Well
This was both a painful song to write and a liberating, healing song to write. Let me expound…
After 13 years of marriage (married August 1, 1987) and 3 children: 12, 9 & 3, we were divorced. A few months later saw us far away in the high desert of Colorado Springs, CO trying to see if we could put the pieces back together again. We had everything to gain and nothing to lose, since we had already lost everything. Let me say, that God’s grace is sufficient. He is a VERY BIG God and can do anything, including reconciling broken marriages, first by reconciling the two to Himself, and then to each other. Which is what God did for my husband and me.
It was the hardest thing we have ever done to allow Him to work in our hearts and to learn how to die to ourselves, removing any sense of entitlement of “it’s not fair”. Likewise, the cross wasn’t fair. But He (Christ Jesus), willingly laid down His life for us and then gloriously raised it back up again. It really is the hardest thing to lay down your life for another human being when you have been treated in a way that is poor. But in our instance it was mutual. We both were horrible at loving each other unconditionally. We had so much to learn about what Christ did at the cross for us. What true love meant. I learned in our counseling (it was quite the epiphany, although seems like a “no-brainer”), that the same God that died for me, also died for my husband and all his sins and failures.
A cloud of witnesses rejoiced along with our children and parents. We were re-married on August 16, 2000, making every wrong right, and our lives became sold out to Christ as a result. Our children made strong commitments to Christ and to purity, including our daughters who made vows to remain pure until marriage; they saved their first kiss for the altar with their husbands and greatly honored their father and me (their brother is following in their footsteps).
I realize that not every relationship can turn around and find a place of reconciliation like ours did. That is the reality of a fallen world. But God takes us where we are at, even when we fail and the other person gives up or we give up. Sometimes the damage is too great. It takes both partners to be willing to work through their pain and come back together again. This is what we chose, and our lives were never the same again, nor our children’s lives and we have no regrets when we have seen the outcomes.
On August 16, 2000 we re-married each other and it’s been another 13 and 1/2 years. It will be 27 years this August (we still count all the years), but the kids like to celebrate the first anniversary because then it means that they count. Craig and I like to celebrate the second one because it was the one we worked the hardest for. To simplify things, we celebrate from August 1 – August 16! 🙂
Here we are now, still plugging along. I’d like to say it get’s easier, sometimes it does, but other times, it gets just as challenging as we face milestones such as job changes, retirement, marrying off adult children and becoming empty nesters. Even stepping out in faith with this music ministry has been a great challenge to us. I know that the Enemy of God does not want to see us be successful for the Kingdom. So we dig our heels in a little deeper, cling on to our faith a bit tighter and try to trust Him through all the unknowns. He doesn’t guarantee that there will be no pain (in fact, He assures it) but He guarantees that He will never leave us and that He will carry us through the hard times…if we let Him.
What might it look like if we learned to love each other well? Not just our spouses, but even our family members, friends and then our enemies (those who are set against us). Will people that watch us, know that we are Christians because we choose to love each other well to the finish, or do we end up like those who have no hope? Where is our hope? Is our God big enough for us?
Well, then I got out of bed… It really was a blessing of a day to get to record the vocals on my first EP. Matt was really gracious with me. But it also happened to be one of the hottest days for the Puget Sound area and even hotter in Matt’s Garaffice! It was upper 90’s in there. Between songs, Matt would turn on the air-conditioning to pump cool air into the studio, but then that dried out my voice more. I was definitely feeling like a fish downing the water!
My husband wanted me to take our “Mr. Burban” (fondly nicknamed by our son when he was a toddler because he couldn’t say Suburban… we joke about it and people wonder why we talk about hard liquor when we are going places). The Honda had been recently having some problems and Craig was pretty sure it would not make the trip. The suburban was much more reliable for what I needed this day, so I lugged the beast down there with the back of it loaded up with a case of water (little did I know that the case of water was going to be for more than drinking).
As I was leaving Matt’s house after finishing the recording, I stopped to fuel up at a local gas station. A gentleman who had just finished fueling stopped me and asked me how much I wanted for my suburban…point blank! I was dumbfounded…”uhh, uhhhh… I don’t know if it’s for sale…you’d have to talk to my husband.” He said okay and asked for my husband’s number. It was quite comical to watch this stranger call my husband and ask Craig to name his price for Mr. Burban as this guy knew it was hard to find this model of suburban in such great condition with no problems. Ha! Little did any of us know (are you curious yet?)! Well, needless to say, Craig wasn’t sure he was ready to sell it yet… shoot, it was still a baby at 15 years old (I’m joking)! So the guy left his contact info with us in case we changed our minds.
I started the long drive home through rush hour traffic and then as I got on to our Olympic Peninsula for the last 45 minute stretch…Mr. Burban wasn’t quite so peppy or happy anymore (dang, should have sold it while I had the chance). That red engine light came on after I got up the first hill and then that farenheit thingy on the dashboard went way over into the red…hmmm… I thought this might be a good idea to pull over. Fortunately, I was right at the turn-off to Port Townsend by a park and ride and was able to pull in to the side of the parking lot and look inconspicuous, while I figured out what on earth was going on with the Suburban. Surely, God, you knew it was a long day for me and that I was trying to get home in time for Craig and I to celebrate our anniversary…right? Inconspicuous? Nope… could this possibly have anything to do with yielding?…
Be sure to read up on these though, because this will be a longer blog series that I want to share with you. This first part will reflect a portion of a testimony and story that I am writing in a book that I hope will be another important part of my ministry here at Jen Haugland Music.
As I went about a particular day in my week (last week), I think I may have experienced most of these different meanings of the word. I certainly yielded to my early morning schedule. I had to drop off my son with his sister early in Seattle, so I could get to the recording studio in time to lay down vocal tracks for my new EP starting at 10. That meant I had to leave the house by 5:15 to catch an early enough ferry (which I missed by the 4th car) and know my route to my daughter’s house (which I overshot by going a back way from downtown Seattle and ended up in a very wrong neighborhood of W. Seattle and consequently was late to my recording time).
But the morning had started off so good as I laid in bed, slowly waking up, reflecting in my mind these songs that I would be recording that day. They were worship songs and meditating on them, word by word, gave me solitude with my Heavenly Father. I prayed that He would be glorified in every song that I sang so that the listener on the receiving end of this upcoming EP project would hear whatever message God would have for them.
Then I turned over and looked at my husband of 25 years next to me still sleeping and remembered whom I yielded my life to in marriage, twice! I thought about my God of second, third, fourth (etc.) chances. This day was our 12th wedding anniversary of when Craig and I re-married each other after being divorced for 6 months (and married for 13 years previous to each other). On August 16, 2000, I chose to be brave that day, when I was so scared. I had thought about running away, even at that last moment before walking into that courtroom to go before the Justice of the Peace. My step-mom, whom I had just confessed my fears to, who was by my side said, “I am so proud of you honey, you are so brave” and she held my hand. I never forgot her words.
As I stood outside of that courtroom I thought about that word “brave”. I had no guarantee that life would be easier, or different from the previous 13 years that we struggled through, but then I heard a still small voice in my ear reminding me, that if I would yield, I had a guarantee that He would be with me every step of the way and carry me when I needed Him too. I yielded my life to Christ and remembered how much He yielded His life to me and also to my husband who very much needed the same forgiveness that I needed.
Apparently there is something to being brave…
Yes, I trusted my God that day, I chose to be brave and yield to Him and His will in my life (as did Craig), and our God has been faithful… these last 12 years have been the best ever and we count even the 13 before as a blessing as well. Yielding has produced much fruit in our lives. We stood against the forces of darkness that day that longed to destroy us and our little family. We stood against the societal norms of our times and the ‘lie of divorce’ as we stood inside that little room and we confessed to love one another forever with the love that Christ had shown us.
That day, we were surrounded by our small cloud of witnesses here on earth: our 3 beautiful children: Jessica, Rachel & Nathanael, Craig’s dad and mom and my dad and step-mom. I know our Heavenly Father, our Savior, the Spirit and a cloud of witnesses in the heavens were also rejoicing! It is a day we all highly treasure as a family. It changed our hearts, it strengthened our faith and it gave a solid foundation and future to our children who now understand a deeper meaning of what and who love is in their own lives. It has changed our lives forever in so many ways and we are so thankful for the cross!