September 30, 2013
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I'm so thrilled to get to talk to you again!
I'm excited about your new album coming out and I got to listen to one of the songs on it, Love of God. What a great song! I wish I had had the lyricss because I'm a visual person and really like to read the lyrics while I listen.
That's such a visual song. It talks about creation and God loving us so well through creation and reminding us that He's everywhere. We can't go anywhere - what does the Psalm say? "Where can I flee from Your presence?" Nowhere! He's everywherre.
And Romans 1 says that He's made Himself evident through the creation so that people know Him. I don't see how people can say there is not a God when they see creation.
And it's so sad that they see creation and begin to worship creation. God did all this for us, and they say let's worship it.
Your life has been quite a journey since you've been married but just since we talked last time, you've been on an award-winning streak, getting a Grammy and multiple Dove awards.
Yes, the past two years the synopsis would be: released the song Blessings, God used it in ways we could never have asked for or imagined, won some awards, which in our minds is really not about the awards but that God used them to get the message about His faithfulness out to people that wouldn't have heard it any other way. So that happened. I was going to release an album last fall and ended up having a baby—releasing a baby—instead. So she's nine months old now [at the time of the interview; she has now had her first birthday] and she's so much fun. Little Josie.
She is adorable! I stalk you on Twitter!
Oh, please do! Stalk me all day long! I'm addicted to posting pictures of my baby! We have a community of people who have been cheering us on. And I'll be releasing a CD this fall. So that's the last two and a half years in a nutshell. Husband's doing well, loving being a dad.
The last time he was starting to look at doing a little computer retraining. Has he been able to do that?
Yes, he did a little bit of that. It was very much a God thing this last December. He met someone at church who was coaching baseball for fourteen-year-olds. It's some sort of rec league. He got involved with that, and it has been a greater blessing than we could have ever imagined. It started off just being, "Well, come and we'll see how it goes" and he went to a couple of practices. He has a short-term memory deficit. He played baseball in college. He's a great baseball player. Because all that's long-term memory, he jumps into this and it all starts coming back to him. So he's been coaching baseball for about six months now, just part-time, but it's the first part-time job he's had in about seven years. It's been amazing.
It's a paid job?
Yes! It became a paying job just a few months ago. I know it means a lot to him to contribute to our family income and I feel like the Lord's going to provide and we don't need to worry about it. I know it meant so much to him, getting into the whole thing—not for payment, but it was just this added blessing. It wasn't a ton of money but it was so affirming for these men to want him. It's been a neat thing that God even did that. The way God is using Martin in these boys' lives is just amazing. One of them gave Martin a Father's Day card and said, "We know you're not our dad but you've been so much like a spiritual father to us." We were just blown away by it.
That's wonderful. So he's loving being a daddy?
Oh, he is a mess! They just love each other. She has his eyes. They are so cute together. They just laugh at each other! Even though he is unable to drive and probably will never be able to drive because of his vision deficit, on Tuesdays he'll pick her up. There's a day care that's in walking distance of our house and he'll pick her up on foot and take her out to lunch, and it's their Daddy/Daughter Date Day. It's been neat to see. I think he was a little bit worried about, what does it look like being a dad with a disability? I knew that he still would be fabulous. Obviously, there are some complications to it that we've had to figure out and work through. But for the most part [it's worked out great]. I think that little girls need fathers that just adore them and listen to them and spend time with them. I think that's what the heart of a little girl needs. They don't need a dad that can drive. They don't need a dad that has a full-time job. Those aren't things that little girls care about or even notice! So he's just been the best dad. It's been good.
I know you alluded to things you had to work through. Are the memory issues not a concern with him caring for her?
I work two miles from our house at the church and he watches her between ten and fifteen hours a week, usually three or four hours at a time, maybe not even that much. But he can do most anything in a routine. On the road, it's not as easy and I have someone who travels with me to help with Josie because there are so many new surroundings. But at home he does really well. If he has questions about anything, he calls or texts. A lot of times we'll all just pack up and go to the church for the day so I'll see them between meetings. My office has the Pack 'n Play, the toys, and all that kind of stuff. And I'm finding more and more moms, for financial reasons, are having to return to work, and at least my employer has been so gracious with the whole thing. I can't have my baby screaming her head off in a meeting but for the most part, my boss just loves having her around and knows that's a big part of who I am. I know everyone doesn't have that luxury but it's been a great thing for us.
You're still the worship leader at the same church you were the last time we talked?
I am! Perimeter Church. I've been there almost eight years and they've been such a sweet community for us. It was such a God thing they that we were able to even have Josie. Then when we got pregnant, it was like, "Oh gracious, how are we going to be able to do this?" And the church has come alongside us, not just in giving us hand-me-downs. Someone gave us their old crib. You look at how much stuff you have to get for a baby and think "This is going to break the bank before they're even born!" But our church has not only helped us with all of that but in the wisdom of so many moms who have gone before me. People I have on speed-dial to say "she just did this, is that normal?" It's been great.
Talk to me about your new album. Did you write most of the songs on it?
I have written or co-written most of the songs. Sometimes I write songs by myself, moments just between the Lord and me, and sometimes I'll get together with friends, fellow writers, and we'll look at the scriptures together and say, what might God have us sing about Him today? What could we write about that would really be a blessing to the church or to someone? But most of them were inspired by how the scriptures interact with me and with others on a daily basis, where God's word and God's promises and God's truth intersect with our daily lives.
There is a lot on the album about God's love. Now that I'm a mom, I'm beginning to understand God's love in a new way. In a richer, in a deeper way. I knew that God as a father delighted in me but there is something about becoming a parent that no one could have told me. I knew I was going to like my baby. Most days! I never knew how much I would love her and that my heart can't even contain the love I have for her. And I think if that's how I as an imperfect, selfish human being is—because I'm pretty selfish at the core—I can't even imagine how much a perfect, holy, selfless God loves me! It awes me to think about it. So I've written a lot of songs about that, this newfound understanding of it. And even that, with my newfound understanding, I'm probably not even scratching the surface.
So God's love is probably the theme of this album?
Probably so, and how that love manifests itself. You look at our lives, and it's a story that we not only did not write for ourselves but would not have written. It's not as comfortable of a story as I would have written for us! But it's a story of God's faithfulness. It's a story of God's love and giving us the things that we need rather than the things that we want. And as a parent, even just this morning, Josie was trying to crawl into the toilet because she likes water, and there's a big ol' bowl of water that she thinks she can swim in. Trust me, honey! You do not want to swim in that big bowl of water! I continue to pull her away from it and she fights me tooth and nail, just bawling. And I'm thinking, "God, how do I handle this child that does not understand that what I'm doing is all for her good?" And He goes, "Yeah, I know! Been there, done that!"
I don't want you to think the album is all about what I'm learning about being a mom but it all intersects. Everything about our lives, whatever season we're in—whether it's a season of singleness, or a season of being a parent, or having a disabled husband, whatever it is—it's all an opportunity to learn. God has something He longs to show us about Himself and teach us about ourselves in whatever season of life we're in. If we're just so impatient to get out of this season to the next one, I think we miss the blessing of character lessons about ourselves. And also the blessing of experiencing God. I'd say, as a mom, some days I'm not as patient as I know I need to be. I was just reading about the fact that God gives us the Holy Spirit as our helper. He calls Him the Spirit of Truth. I was thinking about this and some days I have to call upon the God of patience to be patience in my stead. I need that. I need Him to be patience through me, and that's a way that I'm experiencing God that I've never experienced Him before. I feel like regardless of what it is we're going through, when we come to the end of ourselves, that's when we're the most aware of how much we need Him. And the good news is, I talk about us needing Him but we already have Him, Christ in us. If we're trying to do life in our own strength, then we're really missing out on allowing that Christ that rose from the grave, we're missing out on that power working through us.
Sorry, I'm just going on and on!
You're great! I love this. And I experienced the same thing you did when I became a parent but another aspect as well. Maybe it's because I had a boy first, but I also had a totally new view of God sacrificing His Son for us. Because there was no friend that I would sacrifice my child for, much less an enemy who hated me! I was not expecting that aspect to hit me that hard.
Oh, I can't even go there yet. Even considering that, I get a lump in my throat. On so many levels, understanding God's love in a much deeper and richer way. And as a worship leader, that's such a great thing. I love having these new and fresh encounters with the love of God because it just spurs me on to worship. That's the only response to it, is just worship. Just gratitude, throwing my hands up in the air saying, "I don't get it! How can You love me so much?" I don't have to understand it. I love getting to be part of something that's too big for me to understand! And all I can do is respond in worship.
As a worship leader—and I don't know what the makeup of your church is—how do you deal with choosing music? There are the hymns, which I grew up on and just love. And I love a lot of the new songs, too but sometimes songs can focus more on us and our feelings than on God.
We live in such a consumeristic age right now that it is all about us. We can pretty much get everything that we want, when we want it, how we want it. Every slogan is Have It Your Way, Do It Your Way. I think, as worship leaders, we have to push back on that.
When I listen to your songs, I feel like you "get" that. How do you deal with it as a worship leader and be relevant without giving people just what they want to hear?
Yeah, I totally agree. I'd say two things. First of all, I shy away from songs that talk about how I feel toward God or that maybe even talk about my faithful response toward God. Because I know that on any given Sunday when I show up to lead worship, that might not be the state of my heart. BUT, I show up to lead worship because God is always worthy. And if we sing His praises about who He is, then we can never go wrong, no matter what kind of day we're having. That's really what we need to focus on.
The other thing is, I serve in a church that is so grounded in Biblical truth. So grounded in who God is and what He's done, and it's such a Christ-centric service. We use a lot of old hymns. We use a lot of new hymns. We still use praise songs but we really want it to be doctrine—and when I use the word doctrine, it's who God is—and be sure our congregation isn't just having an emotional experience, but that the truth of scripture is seeping into their heart, whether it's through the sermon or through the music. It should be all one big message of who God is and how we should respond according to scripture. So we'll use a ton of old hymns but we've figured out, whether it's new tunes or new styles, ways to engage that younger generation. But engaging the younger generation doesn't mean just giving them fluff. It means giving them the same truths the church has been built on since the day that Jesus left and said, "Here you go, Peter! I'm about to build my church!" Hopefully the message never changes even though the sound of it might change, which I think is a good thing. I don't think, necessarily, that they should always do church music the way that I do. That's one of the hard things. We have these young kids at our church who love God and I find myself wanting to say, "no, no, no, you should do it this way" and I remind myself that it's not supposed to sound like me. I'm supposed to instill in them the truth of scripture and the values of worship-leading, and then I'm supposed to help them explore what their new sound is supposed to be. And that's a tough thing. Because I want to tell them what I think! I realize I've become that person that I fought so hard against when I came to our church!
What would you say is your favorite song on this new CD, if you have one?
Probably my favorite new song is one called I Can Just Be Me. It's about learning to let God be God and me be me. Not that God needs my permission to be God! But I realize how much of my life I spend just kinda spinning my wheels. There is so much that I'm responsible for, with my jobs and my roles and my husband and my child. For some crazy reason, I also try to take on these added responsibilities of controlling every situation and manipulating things and people. I'm learning that it's not only blasphemous, I think it's just futile. I'm learning that the more I just acknowledge Him as God, and Him as being in control, and His plans being good, the more I can be the best me I can be. I get so caught up in my own story and forget sometimes that my story only finds its greater purpose and context in His story.
This was great. Thank you so much, Laura!
Learn more about Laura on her website, www.laurastorymusic.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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