If you’ve read some of my other stories, you know that I rarely (almost never) sit down and say, “Today, I will write a song.” The song “In Your Eyes” is an exception. My sister commented that she thought it would be great if I wrote an original song for the wedding she hoped she would soon be planning. I was still struggling with the idea that I was writing faith-based songs. A love song?! That was a whole new territory I wasn’t sure I wanted to delve into.
Then I got the “brilliant” idea to write a song for my husband. The year was 2001. We were living in Grand Rapids, Michigan and he was working for UPS at the time. A promotion took him to Columbus, Ohio, for a couple weeks of training. He got to come home the weekend between but he was in Columbus Monday through Friday for two consecutive weeks. This trip just happened to occur right around Valentine’s Day so I decided the song would be his gift.
Once it was written, I realized I had inadvertently fulfilled my sister’s request with one condition – it was really “Jim’s song” so he had to say yes. I knew he would – he and I met when said sister was only 8 years old so he really thinks of her more as a sister than a sister-in-law – but I wanted him to know that the song was intended originally for him and I wouldn’t be tossing it out to brides on a whim.
It’s first audience was just him, in the front room of our home. That might have been one of the most nerve-wracking performances of my life! But thankfully he loved the song and two years later, when my baby sister got married, I shared that song as a part of their wedding. It’s been performed a couple of other times since then for special couples. But it will always be “his song”.
“In your eyes there is joy and there is laughter
A hope for happily ever after
And love’s unending song.”
Song of Solomon 8:6
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
I took my first piano lesson one week after I turned 4 ½ and I’ve been playing ever since. I was classically trained but my mother made sure that I learned some of the basic improv skills used by church pianists and I’ve played in services off and on since I was about 12. I began accompanying soloists and ensembles in 7th grade (right about 1980) and have been doing it ever since. I sang my first solo in church at the age of 12 and have sung in choirs at all levels of age and experience since then.
To say that music is a central piece of my life and my worship experience would be an understatement. It’s one of the ways that I cope with stress, express joy, work through sadness . . . it’s the cheapest therapy I know!
You can imagine my delight when my sister introduced me to a verse that talked about God singing over his children! The idea that my obedience and walking in faith delights God to the point that he sings over me?! This musician was delighted at the concept! Then there came a time where I had to seriously evaluate a ministry involvement that came close to tapping into my passion without going quite all the way. I was being asked to give preference to opinions of others over the leading of the Holy Spirit and it was beating me up spiritually. I was unsettled and lacking in peace. I realized, after some serious soul-searching and the gift of the lyrics that would become this song, that I needed to back away from that ministry. It was harder than you might think because it wasn’t a perfect fit with my passion, but it got close. Stepping away meant there would be nothing.
So I stepped away and the personal healing began almost immediately. When I start to struggle with choosing to follow man’s preferences or the Spirit’s leading, I go back to this song. There is only one audience who truly matters when all is said and done.
“Ev’ry melody I sing, ev’ry note of praise I bring
I lay humbly at the feet of my Savior and my king.
With ev’ry single rhyme, from now until the end of time
I seek nothing more than just to hear him sing
Sing over me.”
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
Christmas is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. I think I’ve even started to like it more than my own birthday! I love the decorations, the music, the gift-buying, the television specials . . . I love the whole crazy, busy, chaotic experience!
But I do have one small frustration – Christmas Eve Services. I didn’t grow up going to them even though I was a Pastor’s kid. Dad felt that Christmas Eve was for family so he never held one and if we were ever members of a church that held them, we never went. For much of my married life, we’ve been in churches that did, indeed, ask members to come out on Christmas Eve for a service. I’m still not a big fan of such things but I think a large part of it is due to the fact that every Christmas Eve service I’ve ever been in feels like a funeral. But we’re celebrating a birth, right?!
I guess you could say that “Fear Not” is the type of music I’d program into a Christmas Eve service if I was ever given free reign! A birth – especially the birth of the Messiah! – is a happy occasion, a reason to celebrate. No long faces or somber expressions at a baby shower! The story of the cross started in that little stable in Bethlehem, true. But I believe that all of heaven was excited that the process had begun and that God’s relationship with man was about to radically change forever.
”Fear not, I bring to you great
A message of hope to every
Man and woman girl and boy.
For unto you this day,
Over in King David’s town,
A Savior, Christ the Lord, is born
Heaven’s gift of love come down.”
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good new of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Over the last several years (since 1991 to be exact!) my sisters and I have given our parents nine grandchildren. Between three of the households (including my parents) we have hosted about the same number of exchange students with two more joining the family for the 2016/2017 school year. In my own experience, my work as a choral director, band staff member, and theatrical director has provided me with several honorary kids who call me mom. And there is one lesson that has become crystal clear to me over the years – every child/teen needs to know that there is someone in this world who is absolutely crazy about them. Preferably more than one someone.
My sisters and I have discussed – and even occasionally explored – the idea of foster parenting or adopting. I’ve met a number of students over the years who came from homes where mom and dad were too bogged down in their own “stuff” to be there for their kids so these young men and women were starving for someone to notice them, challenge them, push them to be better. I’ve discovered this world is full of kids who just need an adult to care enough to call them up to be the best possible version of themselves!
Right about the time my sister, Becki, found out she was pregnant with her first, I wrote this song. Yes, it was mostly for my biological children. But it was also for all of those I’ve sort of “adopted” over the years who needed to know that someone cared and was taking them before the throne on a regular basis. It means that the prayer list for “my kids” is getting pretty long but I’m okay with that!
The inspiration for the chorus of the song came from the Old Testament story of Hannah. She wanted to have a son but had remained barren for years. During a trip to the temple with her husband, she begged God for a son and promised to give the boy back to God. God heard her prayer and answered it with a resounding yes. After she had weaned the boy – most scholars figure he was about 3 or 4 – Hannah took him back to the temple and left him there in the care of the high priest.
“For this child I have prayed,
I have knelt before the Father,
Placing all my hope and trust in him
I set my heart on things above.
And now I know he heard my cry
For I have seen his answer
In this precious life before me
A priceless gift of love.”
I Samuel 1:27-28
“For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.