My granddad is known for saying “What a time! What a time!” when something exiting, scary, or fun is happening. So basically, he says it all the time! Well, after this past weekend, the only thing I can think of to say is “What a time! What a time!”. What a time, indeed.
This girl traveled all the way to Indiana, to the tiny town of Alexandria, and met with about sixty other writers to celebrate words and music about a God who is just too big for words and song. For me to say it was a wonderful experience is just too inadequate to describe my time there…Oh yes, and I also got to sit at a table and glean from Bill and Gloria Gaither, Dony and Reba McGuire, Michael Kelly Blanchard, and Aaron Robinson, some of the greatest writers and composers of our time!
First of all, for anyone who read my last post and knows me at all, God answered my “friend” request almost immediately. I registered and had my usual moment of panic and pushing away the question of “But who will be my friend?” as I looked around at a large group of people who were mingling, reading through schedules and binders, and looking a lot like…me. Alone. A little nervous. Overwhelmed.
I took a moment to breathe deeply and felt the peace of God flow through me. He is my Friend. He is bigger than my weaknesses. I made eye contact with a lady who quickly became a sweet friend. God had given me a friend immediately. And then, as I looked up at the door I saw two close friends of mine from former writing conferences walk through the door. I jumped up and we three greeted each other like we hadn’t seen each other in ages (it had only been about six weeks)! Here’s the awesome thing about it…both ladies were not planning on coming to the Songwriting Intensive in Indiana. They both were able to come at the last minute by a string of circumstances that one of them called a miracle. And it was, even if it was only for me. He is my Friend.
I made so many new friends who are now like family to me! There is something about sharing a table, eating together, praying together, singing together, and writing together for the One who brought us together that builds an unbreakable bond. The tools that I gained and the knowledge that was imparted to me are invaluable. During breaks, we would gather around a piano and play our songs for each other and end up singing along. It was a sweet, sweet time.The opportunities that He provided over the weekend were things I couldn’t have dreamed up if I tried.
We came from all over the United States and even from Canada (and I was asked often if I was “from the South?”- How’d y’all know? ). We came from farms, cities, subdivisions, and apartments. We were teachers, pastors, business professionals, nurses, worship leaders…the list goes on. We were from huge churches and tiny churches. We were from all denominations. But when we all ended up together in the same room, we realized we had the same goal. As Christian writers, we are all striving to use words to describe Someone who just can’t be described with words and music alone.
What a time!
You know, I realized that there is a common bond that makes us all the same.
A few months ago, I was chatting with a friend about the song “Jesus Loves Me”. This song is a powerful part of her testimony, which is a glorious story of Christ bringing her from some very low places to the godly, wonderful woman she is today. She said to me “Sometimes I wish my testimony was more like yours but then I love it when I am reminded that it’s all about resting in His grace.” And that got me to thinking.
I’ve had moments when I thought my testimony wasn’t very exciting. It’s not very deep, or so I have foolishly thought. What makes one testimony better than another? Nothing! We are all beautiful examples of grace and redemption, no matter how our testimony starts and continues. The grace that has sheltered me my entire life is glorious! The fact that I was provided with parents and a church family that taught me about Christ at an early age and helped me to grow in Him is pretty glorious! But it’s no more glorious than the redemption that was handed so mercifully to my friend. And while I’m talking redemption, I will add that I needed redemption from my ugly sin just as much as she needed grace, which she is absolutely full of.
Friends, we have a bond that makes our stories the same. Oh, we all have different chapters. We have different plots to our stories, different characters, different settings, different choices… just like my new writing friends who met together last weekend. But no matter what our story involves, if we have chosen Jesus, we can shout that Grace is our story and Redemption is our song!
What a time!!!!!!
So…I wrote this song a few months ago after my conversation with my friend. What other name could I give it? This is Grace is My Story, Redemption’s My Song. Take a listen!