Before we Say Goodbye: “The Lord’s Prayer” Song Story

The Summer of 2016 brought a great deal of unknown as I faced my first season without directing Camp. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the change, but God knew what I needed. He had been preparing my heart even as I had resigned from my position the previous September. I hadn’t wanted to go, but my mental and physical health demanded I take a step back and regain perspective. I also needed to refocus my attention on my work as a worship leader. My pastor was preparing to take a three-month sabbatical and I wanted to be present for my congregation and concentrate on my leadership role.
I wasn’t prepared for the leadership role that came upon me early that Summer, almost before my pastor’s sabbatical truly began. A good friend called me one day and proceeded to tell me about her aging mother-in-law. She was a resident of the local care facility, and my friend wondered if I might be willing to visit her now and then. She told me that her mother-in-law didn’t have a connection with a church, and she was hoping for a pastoral call of sorts. I quickly reminded my friend I was a worship leader and not a pastor, but my words didn’t seem to register. My friend was convinced I would be the perfect person to call on her mother-in-law and she was quick to set up the first visit.
To say I felt largely unqualified would be an understatement. I was overwhelmed at the reality that I would be this woman’s pastoral contact. Sure, I could handle some friendly conversation and a visit now and then, but I had never filled the shoes of a calling pastor. I had taken a training course to serve as a hospice volunteer, but that had been nearly ten years in the past. I brushed up on the curriculum even as I reminded myself that God would carry me through this. I was comforted that for the first few visits, my friend and her family would be present, and I wouldn’t be on my own completely. The family also didn’t set any core expectations. As long as I visited their loved one on occasion, they would be okay with the arrangement.
I learned a great deal from my interaction with this sweet, elderly woman. We had a lot in common and our interaction was fairly effortless. At the end of each visit, I would say goodbye and tell her I would return soon. Before I could make my exit, she would say to me, “Before we say goodbye, could we say the Lord’s Prayer?” I readily agreed, quickly being reminded of the difference between our denominational backgrounds; I would say “debts” and debtors” and she would say “trespasses.” Our first few attempts were fumbling, but we soon made it a regular occurrence to say the Lord’s Prayer before I would leave her room.
I envisioned myself calling on my elderly friend throughout the Summer and even into the Fall. But little did I know, much more would be required of me and far sooner than any of us expected. It was early August when I got the call that made my mouth go dry and my hands tremble. My friend called to say that her mother-in-law was unresponsive and asked if I would go see her as soon as possible. I didn’t delay— hurrying over to the Care Center on my tricycle. I was relieved to learn that my elderly friend had awakened and was talking again, but she was certainly weakened. I sat and talked with her, occasionally reading Scripture and praying.
Eventually, I sensed that it was time to go. I stood to my feet, told the woman I loved her, and backed away from the bed.
“Wait… before you go…” came her weak voice.
I knew what was coming and I choked on unexpected tears. “Yes,” I said. “Let’s say the Lord’s Prayer.” And so we prayed together one more time.
When I left the care facility a few moments later, my heart was heavy. I had evening plans and I needed to run through the music for the service the next day. I went through the motions of rehearsal and I went forward with my evening plans, but I was distracted. I was constantly praying for my friend and her family. I had told only a few others of my pastoral calling, so I carried the burden of my worries and fears alone.
I returned home late in the evening, knowing that I needed to sleep but unable to find a peaceful state of rest. I went into my home office to retrieve my hymnbook. I didn’t know what I was looking for until I stumbled upon the musical arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Immediately, I was swarmed with memories. I had sung the piece at several funerals over the years, often with piano accompaniment. The song had always been too intricate for me to replicate on the piano, so I had always enlisted the help of another accompanist. Over the past few years, I had managed to craft an acapella arrangement of the song so I could eliminate needing to ask for help on the piano.
With hymnbook and cell phone in hand, I knew what I needed to do. I turned off all of the lights in the house and made my way to the garage. I closed myself inside the empty space (my parents’ vehicle was not parked there). I placed my phone in the basket of my tricycle and hit record. Then without rehearsal or any prior run-through, I sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” It was raw, emotional, and a worshipful moment I will never forget.
I could have edited the recording; in fact, some editing was probably in order because the air conditioning was running in the background and it created a high-pitched hiss. But I knew I couldn’t sing it any better or differently, and I saved the track to my phone.
Over the next few days, I returned to the care facility. My friend was unresponsive once again, and as I sat by her bedside lost for words, I thought of something. I placed my cell phone on the bed next to her pillow and played my sung version of “The Lord’s Prayer.” It was all I could offer her as she slowly slipped away to meet her Savior.
When my friend left this life to join the Lord in eternity, her family asked me to officiate at her funeral service. I was honored to fulfill the request but terrified as well. I had never fulfilled such duties before, and I was overwhelmed with the reality. But the family was kind and considerate; they allowed me to journey with them in their time of loss, and I gave their loved one the best memorial I could as I relied on the strength of the Lord.
Never before had the words of the Lord’s Prayer resonated so clearly in my mind and heart. A co-worker had always said to me: “If ever you can’t sleep or don’t have the words to pray, just say the Lord’s Prayer.” The Lord taught us how to pray, after all, and what better example than to speak the words He provides for us in the Scriptures.
When it came time to record The Dawn, there was no question how the album would end. But there was a great deal to consider if we were going to record this anthem acapella. The producer told me that it might mean several takes in the studio without a clear, usable version. We both knew how challenging it would be to punch in and out to perfect the vocals when pitch and phrasing would have to be on point. There was no margin for error, and we needed the right settings in place on the microphone if we were going to make it happen.
On vocal day, I powered through the first ten songs. Some required multiple takes; some were a bit more straightforward. By the time we got to track eleven, I knew my voice was fatigued. For a moment, I debated scrapping the whole idea for “The Lord’s Prayer.” Only the producer and I would really know the difference— whether it was on the album or not. But then I thought of my sweet, elderly friend and her parting words: “Before we say goodbye…”
It was then I knew that I had to try. So I took a deep breath and gave it my best effort, just as I had done when I officiated at the funeral. Three takes later, we had a promising recording and vocal day was complete. It seemed fitting to conclude the recording process with the timeless message of “The Lord’s Prayer.” I truly believe it was the best way to commemorate a project rooted in God’s promises and His faithfulness through suffering. As the “Amen” is uttered at its conclusion, it brings closure to the entire album. From the first track of high praise to the final “Amen,” The Dawn is a prayer— a longing for hope and peace.
“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

 

It will not Let me Go: “Let the Music Linger” Song Story

February, 2017 began uneventfully. The middle of winter has never been my favorite time of year, and so as you might expect, I was longing for Spring. I was planning out The Dawn, but there was nothing pressing on the horizon. I was scheduled to play at a few funerals, so I was kept busy with music memorization and piecing together routine Sunday morning services. Everything was typical… pretty ordinary.
Until February 15…
I returned home from providing music at a funeral and went through the motions of practicing for the upcoming Sunday service. Then I made my way into the kitchen to prepare dinner. It was while I was waiting for my meal to finish cooking that I checked Facebook. And that’s when the world came to a devastating stand-still.
I was scrolling through friends’ posts when I saw something that stole my breath. There were several posts regarding my friend, John. I scrolled down his timeline, reading things like: “RIP,” “You will be missed,” “I love you…” The posts went on and on, and I began to shake. This couldn’t be real. But the more I read, the more I began to comprehend that it must be real. All of these people were mourning the loss of my dear friend, and I didn’t know anything.
What had happened? Had he been ill? Where was he when he died? These may not seem like questions a close friend would be asking, but the truth was, I didn’t know a lot about John’s activities. He was a concert organist, and quite often, he was traveling. Although we stayed connected through Facebook, email, texts, and phone calls, we didn’t see each other in person very frequently. He lived in New York, and I was in Wisconsin. Throughout our seven-year friendship, we had only been together in person on two occasions.
We may not have connected often, but when we interacted, it was meaningful and memorable. John was one of those people who made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. Music brought us together, and he was my cheerleader of sorts. When he learned I was a songwriter, he made it his mission to ask about my creative process.
“Have you written any songs lately?” he would ask early on in many of our conversations.
“No,” I would often respond. “I’ve been really busy.”
Sometimes, I would make other excuses: I hadn’t been inspired, it was too difficult, I didn’t have any ideas, etc. But John didn’t accept those excuses. “You’re a songwriter,” he would tell me. “Songwriters write songs. So go write something.”
I’ve said it before. Songwriting doesn’t come easily to me. I really have to be intentional to make it happen. In the seven years that I knew John, I only wrote a handful of songs, and you’ve probably guessed it by now, but the excuses continued. When I started leading worship at FRC, crafting arrangements and memorizing songs took priority, and songwriting was shoved to the back burner.
When I learned that John had passed away, I trembled at the reality. I had never made any contact with John’s family, so I had to rely on the posts from friends to piece everything together. It was weeks before I saw an obituary, and it wasn’t until I read the words “funeral” and “in memory,” that it began to sink in. It was hard to imagine that my songwriting cheerleader would no longer call me again and encourage me to create. The loss was staggering.
It was a week after reading those initial Facebook posts when I woke up in the middle of the night to a striking, haunting melody. The lyrics “Please, will you stay with me” were a constant refrain in my consciousness as well, and I found I couldn’t sleep any longer. Frustrated, I rolled over and willed my mind to calm so I could get some rest. I think I dozed off, but it wasn’t long before the melody and lyrics returned again. I recognized that this was probably a song that needed to be written, but I was tired and I longed to sleep. I told myself that there was no way I could forget a lyric that practically begged to be remembered: “Please, will you stay with me.” I rolled over again and tried to sleep.
At 7:00 a.m., I could no longer fight it. Sleep had eluded me, and the melody had etched itself so deeply into my heart that I didn’t need to record it to retain it. I stumbled into my home office and forced myself to put pen to paper. It was the typical songwriting process for me— messy and meticulous, but I stuck with it. Somehow, I knew this song was a gift, and John wasn’t far from my thoughts as I crafted the lyrics.
“Let the Music Linger” was unlike anything I had ever composed before. It was a song of longing— missing and loving someone deeply. It wasn’t a worship song, nor was it rooted in my typical lyrical style. In a way, it served to give me the encouragement to carry on, to write again, and sing— even as tears streamed down my face. It was startling to think that even in death, John had cheered me on to compose something so special that I longed for him to hear it.
In the coming months, I worked on the album at a feverish pace. “Let the Music Linger” was the fourth song we tackled in the studio, and it was set aside pretty early on so we could focus on the songs that needed more immediate attention. It wasn’t until August, 2018 that we started working on final mixes, and I heard “Let the Music Linger” in its completed state for the first time in months.
I was alone in my living room, multi-tasking because the Packers were playing pre-season football and I had an album to finalize. The TV was muted and my noise-cancelling headphones were in place. The song began to play, and I was transfixed. I was concentrating on the details: balance, volume, reverb, etc… But when I heard the organ enter as the final chorus began, I was reduced to tears. I sobbed for a long time. You see, I hadn’t grieved John’s passing in a healthy way for months. I had been so busy, so focused on the album, that I had forgotten how to embrace the music and the gift that this song had given me.
“Let the Music Linger” was a song that needed to be written. It wouldn’t let me go that first night in my bedroom, and as we finalized the album it still had a grip on me. As I dried my tears, I played the song again on repeat. I found myself smiling, and suddenly, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I had hope that the songs contained on the album would have an impact— that somehow my lyrics and lines could offer comfort and share God’s love from the depths of my own loss.
“Make the melody a memory. Let it never fade away. Let the music linger. Let it live. Let it stay.”

Sent: “Send me” Song Story

The late Summer and early Fall of 2017 was like a whirlwind for me. I started recording at Bailey Park in late August, and then headed off to the state fair with friends to catch a concert. Then I spent the week surrounding Labor Day with my family in Minnesota. I watched the Packers play, went shopping with my sister, cuddled my little nieces and nephews, and began considering music for my pastor’s upcoming sermon series. All the while, creativity flowed through me like I had rarely experienced before. I composed the lyrics to “Hope is Waking” and made changes to “We will Sing.” I also crafted arrangements for some of our worship songs, and it seemed like I couldn’t get enough of arranging and composing at that time. Then came “Send me.”
I returned home after my week-long vacation to hear the first sermon in my pastor’s new series called “Sent,” based on John 20:21: “…As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
We were given bracelets that day in a variety of colors, bearing the name of the series and Scripture reference. I wasn’t leading worship that day, so I sat in the sanctuary among the congregation. One of my team members invited me to sit with her and her family and I accepted. To this day, I can’t recall exactly what was said as Pastor shared his message. I latched onto a catch phrase of sorts that Pastor used when he introduced the series: “Sent every day, everywhere, everyone.” The key question was “What does it mean to be a sent people and followers of Christ?”
My team member apologized to me after the service, marveling that I could even pay attention when her grandkids were noisily playing beside us in the pew. I quickly assured her that the children hadn’t bothered me; in fact, I had managed to tune them out completely. I was focused on one thing only— the chorus for what would eventually be called “Send me.”
I longed to hurry home and finish the song, but I had commitments. I had agreed to attend a housewarming party at noon, and then I would be back to church to offer special music at a funeral service. There was also the Packer game later that afternoon, but that would have to wait until my commitments were fulfilled.
When church ended a little bit earlier than usual, I took off for home without a moment to lose. Maybe I could carve out a few moments before heading to the housewarming. Thankfully, I managed to write the verse in about 15 minutes, just as a melody began to come together. I hummed the tune into my cell phone voice recorder even as I ran out the door.
Once the housewarming and funeral were complete, I hurried home again. I was ready for some football! But I found that I couldn’t concentrate on the game. The lyrics and melody to “Send me” were swirling around in my head and they wouldn’t let go of my heart. During commercial breaks, my focus was glued to my composition book, and as soon as the game was over, I was at the piano crafting the arrangement.
As the song came together in a sudden flurry of lyrics and lines, I couldn’t help but correlate it to the nature of its message. To be sent is certainly an urgent calling— to share the hope and salvation that exists in Christ is the most time-sensitive task there will ever be, and I felt that drive to finish as if I were sharing the Gospel with a dear loved one.
I had no idea what the next few weeks would hold for me. I never imagined my songwriting and worship leading would be on hold as I recovered from emergency eye surgery. I didn’t know the road ahead would cost me my creativity and independence. But as I removed my watch and “Sent” bracelet before surgery, I said a quick prayer that no matter what happened, He would still use me to spread His message.
My prayer was quickly answered. As an OR nurse administered eye drops before I was wheeled into surgery, she remarked on my upbeat attitude and joking remarks. “You’re a breath of fresh air,” she said. “I would think you would be nervous and scared right now, so good for you. What’s your secret?”
“Oh, I’m definitely scared,” I told her quickly, even as I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I willed them away and took a deep breath. “But there’s a lot of people praying for me, and I know I’ll be okay.”
“Praying, huh?” she said as she gave me another drop. “That’s good, I guess.”
I couldn’t tell from her response if she shared my faith or if she was simply being polite. But just in case she had little exposure to Christian faith, I figured the least I could do was plant a seed. I didn’t have time to share anything deeper because moments later they were wheeling me into surgery. But I think of that OR nurse even still today a year later. Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if we had been given more time to talk. Had God sent me to her at just that time to give her even a glimpse into eternal salvation?
I could beat myself up with words like: “You didn’t say enough. You could have told your story. You could have asked her if she believed.” But today, I’m going to choose to believe that God is faithful, and he can use my fumbling witness to make a difference. I may not know the future for that OR nurse, but I can pray for her and leave her salvation to the One who loves her with an everlasting love.
“Every day that I awake, everywhere— each step I take, to everyone this vow I make to listen, follow, and to go.”

Beauty from Pain: “It is Well with my Soul” Song Story

“I’m making Christmas gifts,” one of my sisters told me a few years ago. “I just need to know your favorite hymn or worship song.”

“How can you even ask that of me?” I remember saying. “I’m a worship leader! I like too many songs to count!”

But if I was honest with myself, there was one song that had always resonated with me. It had been a favorite because of its rich harmonies and equally rich lyrics. In fact, I can remember raving about its depth while having lunch with a co-worker one day.

“I love “It is Well,” I said when asked about the hymn. “I mean the poetry of the lyrics: ‘When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll…’ Nobody writes like that anymore…”

My co-worker agreed. There was just something about the beauty of the lyrics and melody that melded into a song that had touched both of our hearts. And once I learned of the circumstances that inspired its writing, I was even more drawn to its message of hope.

I included “It is Well with my Soul” on The Dawn because I couldn’t imagine the project without it. Since the song is Public Domain, I knew I could record it without worrying about copyright infringement, and I would be free to put my own spin on this classic favorite. When Jenny agreed to play violin for the project, I knew this song had to be arranged to showcase her skill. There is something about piano and violin that grips at my emotions, and it was a combination that lent itself well to the track.

Most of the songs on The Dawn detail my journey to finding hope in the midst of sorrow. Although I didn’t write “It is Well,” I take ownership of the lyrics because I feel as if I have lived them and believe them beyond a shadow of a doubt. I may not have walked through the trials that Horatio Spafford experienced prior to writing “It is Well,” but I have found that I can identify with his sentiments. Yes, life can be filled with suffering and unimaginable grief, but no matter what, God is good, and we can say with full confidence that it is well.

Let me share with you the story of “It is Well with my Soul” and its writer, Horatio Gates Spafford.

Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna lived in the Chicago area in the 1860s. Spafford was a successful lawyer, prosperous businessman, and an investor in real-estate along Lake Michigan. He and his wife were blessed with five children, and he was a devout Christian.

In 1871, Spafford’s investments and business dealings were ruined as a result of the great Chicago fire. In light of these significant losses, Spafford and his wife agreed to travel to Europe. But just as the family was about to depart, Spafford was delayed by some business transactions. He sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him, promising to meet them in England later.
While onboard the SS Ville du Havre, Spafford’s wife and daughters encountered great tragedy. The ship was struck by another vessel and quickly sank, resulting in the worst naval disaster to take place until the sinking of the Titanic almost forty years later. Spafford received a telegram from his wife Anna, conveying these simple words: “Saved alone.”

Soon after, Spafford boarded a ship to Europe in order that he might be with his grieving wife. It was as the ship passed over the place where the SS Ville du Havre had gone down that Spafford was inspired to pen the lyrics to “It is Well with my Soul.”

The Spafford family was later blessed with three more children, although they were not free from sorrow. Their only son contracted scarlet fever and later died. Life was certainly not perfect for Horatio Spafford and his family. In fact, one could easily say that they faced their fair share of unimaginable grief and pain. But from deep sorrow came a beautiful song that would later resonate with generation after generation. I am grateful for this timeless reminder that “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

A Work of the Heart: “Letting Go” Song Story

There is a constant struggle in my life as a worship leader— a persistent drive to do all and be all to everyone and everything. When I formally became a worship leader in 2011, a co-worker made an observation: “You didn’t realize when you accepted this job that you would be doing more than just playing music. You are going to have to work with others, collaborate, and embrace different personalities.” This same person later approached me to impart some tough-love advice. “Sometimes you may have to sacrifice perfectionism for compassion.”
In my early days as a worship leader, I quickly learned that I was indeed a perfectionist. I was blessed with like-minded female vocalists to make up my first worship team, and we called ourselves OneVoice because we truly sounded like one voice— a pleasant-sounding unison that blended seamlessly. Singing with OneVoice was easy and low on the stress scale.
But then less-than-perfect dynamics began to bump into my music-making. I struggled to collaborate with one of the other worship teams. I fumbled through the summer of 2014 when all of our teams were mixed up and in chaos. We began to welcome new members into our teams who changed the easy and once in sync sound we had established. Instead of simple unison, we branched into harmony. New songs were being introduced frequently. I was creating new arrangements and trying to keep up with piano accompaniment. All of it was rewarding, but it was hard too.
Then one day, I was too critical of a fellow musician, and not-so-gentle words were exchanged. I felt lower than low and as far from being Christ-like as I could possibly be portrayed. I doubted my role as a worship leader who was prominently visible on Sunday mornings. In many ways, I felt like a fraud because of the conflict that sprang up in our department. Another team member pulled me aside and wanted me to explain how worship team members were selected. Were there standards that needed to be upheld in order to participate in ministry? I felt crushed that someone would even question those standards. Again, I felt like a fraud because obviously something was wrong with me and my leadership of our teams. I began to wonder if we were even effective. Were we fulfilling our mission to lead others in worship and bring our congregation into His presence? When others saw me on the stage did they see Christ reflected in me? Or did they see someone who was failing miserably?
I thought back to when I had just graduated from college. I performed anywhere I had an invitation as long as someone was willing to drive me there. I was confident in my abilities. I had a voice and I knew I was talented. When I was asked to provide special music for a Sunday morning service, I usually chose a song that was flattering to my voice and would showcase my skills well. I was pretty egotistical, and leading worship was definitely not on my radar.
Then to my absolute horror, my pride and joy (my voice), was taken from me. I battled through nearly eighteen months of debilitating sickness and weakened breathing. I coughed and wheezed to such a degree that I no longer had the breath support to sing, and my voice was raspy and fatigued.
I cried out to God, devastated that the one thing I loved so dearly— singing— was clearly not going to be a part of my future. I questioned my gifts and talent, my calling, and purpose. I spiraled down into deep depression. My world was shaken, and my once intimate relationship with my Savior was now strained.
I was a mess, but little by little, God began to love me back to life. Those dark days between 2009 and 2011 taught me that I was never too far gone to be deserving of His compassion and mercy. My voice gradually returned to full strength, although I still relied on medications to keep my breathing clear and calm. As my physical healing took place, God also worked in my heart. Spiritual healing did not materialize overnight; instead, it has continued to be an ongoing process, as I witnessed in my interactions with my worship teams. As the dynamics changed, I had to make room for the new and unknown. I couldn’t be afraid of the questions and potential conflict. In the end, I wasn’t leading worship for my own glory or notoriety. I was leading worship to do just what my title implies: lead worship. With leadership would come struggle and challenging circumstances, but it didn’t mean I was a failure. I needed to realize that the most important factor in all of this was that I simply needed to let the Lord into my life. I had to embrace imperfect progress and move forward. I had to let go of all of my intentions and let Him work through me.
“I’m letting go to let You in.”

It Almost Didn’t Make the Cut: “Jesus is your Friend” Song Story

The arranging and recording process is not for the faint of heart. I learned that rather early on as we made progress on The Dawn. Although I enjoyed hearing my songs come together, there were just some pieces that weren’t evolving in the way I had imagined. As the end of June, 2018 approached, I realized we were at a realistic point in the production process where I could see the end in sight. The only problem was that I only had nine songs that were coming together, and I had anticipated an album with ten tracks. Something was missing but I wasn’t quite sure what that could be.
It wasn’t until I was rehearsing for an upcoming performance that I found clarity. I went back into the archives, so to speak, and stumbled upon one of the first songs I had ever written. I had put pen to paper at age seventeen, composing the music in my living room during a quiet afternoon when I was finally alone. When you grow up in a household with parents and three younger siblings, it is rarely quiet, so I was taking full advantage of the solitude when I wrote “Jesus is Your Friend.”
The song was inspired by a difficult sophomore year in high school. I didn’t have many friends, and I was lonely. I observed as many of my classmates learned to drive, started dating, and planned to go to the prom. I witnessed break-ups and catty drama; it seemed like relationships changed in an instant during my high school days.
“Jesus is your Friend” was probably the easiest song I have ever written. It flowed from my heart in probably twenty minutes, but I wasn’t keeping track of the time. Once I finished the song, I was proud of it, but I was reluctant to play it for an audience because I was so emotionally attached to it. But once I played it for my mother, I found that maybe performing it live wasn’t going to be so difficult after all.
Over the next few years, I performed “Jesus is Your Friend” at our family concerts. The Lokker family was occasionally invited to share music and testimony at area churches, and although my parents took lead on most of our songs, they encouraged me to do a few songs on my own, and that served to boost my confidence.
In the Summer before my senior year, I was commissioned to write a song for a local Relay for Life team in support of the American Cancer Society. I was unable to attend the Relay and perform the song live, so I made contact with someone who offered to record me in their home studio. “Beam of Hope” turned out so well that I ended up adding three other songs to create a four-song demo. “Jesus is Your Friend” was the first track.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to record again, and this time, I self-produced a full album at a local studio. The album opened up with “Jesus is your Friend,” which I felt was one of my strongest songs at the time. So when it came to recording again ten years later, it only seemed fitting to include the song that had been on my other two projects. It isn’t the first track on the album this time around, but its there and its reimagined. From the rain and thunder to the countermelodies from Jenny’s violin, the song has taken on new perspective.
I’m no longer that lonely seventeen-year-old, but I still resonate with the lyrics, because loneliness comes in adulthood too. On those dark days when nothing makes sense and I’m feeling unloved, I only have to remind myself of the simple but incredible truth; even though others may let me down, there is Someone who will always be my friend. In fact, I have often referred to Jesus as my best friend, and its His friendship that I cling to when I need an anchor.
I already know the impact this song has had on my audience. I have heard stories that have detailed depression, anxiety, and despair, but I have reveled in the hope that this simple message has conveyed. The love of Jesus and His presence doesn’t solve the world’s problems. In fact, it was Jesus who told us in His Word, that we would have trouble in this world. But He also told us to take heart, because He had overcome the world! To have Jesus as your close and personal friend is a pretty powerful reality, and He’s one friend you want to have in your corner. Even when life gives the impression that its not okay, we can know that we are okay because He is holding the world in His hands. A true friend cares for those he loves, and as the Scriptures say, if He cares for the sparrows He can certainly care for you and me.
“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Jesus is your friend.”

Just a Stepping Stone: “Adore” Song Story

I’ve written about it already— about the fact that 2009 was a difficult season for me and many of my friends. In the fall of that year, our church family learned that a dear friend had received the diagnosis of terminal cancer. It was heartbreaking to watch this vibrant and fun-loving man be forced to comprehend the realities of impending pain and eventual death. Just days after his diagnosis, he seemed to come to terms with what awaited him on the horizon. I asked him if he was okay. He told me that he had lived his life with one goal— to glorify God and to share His story— and he felt he had done that to the best of his ability. It didn’t seem fair that his days were now limited, but it didn’t change his purpose and perspective. He had his eyes on eternity and nothing else.
I was so inspired by his hope for eternity, that I felt the first stirrings of a new song. I was running errands with a friend a few days later, and I could no longer ignore the lyrics spinning around in my head. The radio was cranked up as we drove along, and I asked my friend to turn it down. I fumbled in my purse for something I could write on, and the lyrics spilled out so quickly it was difficult getting it all down on paper before they slipped away.
“This world is not my own.
It’s just a stepping stone to Your glory.
I lift my hands and pray that I can live each day
Just to tell Your story…”
There was no melody— just the lyrics. But I didn’t despair at the unfinished song. I knew the music would follow soon. I just needed to sit with the lyric for awhile until it came together.
That evening, I couldn’t concentrate. I had grad school homework due the next day, but the crisp breeze and fall colors drew me outside. I went for a long walk, repeating the lyrics in my head over and over again. With each step on the pavement, I found a tempo. A melody began to weave its way into my heart, but it wasn’t anything like I expected. I was saddened at the impending loss of my good friend, so I had in mind something more introspective with a depth that would reflect the nature of the circumstances. But what emerged was something upbeat, almost bouncy— an almost happy anthem about love, life, and eternity.
It was so different from my typical writing style that I set it aside for awhile— not because I didn’t like it but because I didn’t know how to bring it all together into a cohesive whole. Little by little, “Adore” found its sound. It started on the piano with my sister Becca lending her harmony. Then we took it to the studio as I prepared for the trip to Nashville. I did my best to create a full sound with synthesized drum tracks, guitar, and strings. It turned out all right, but it didn’t resonate as anything special. Perhaps I was just too close to the project.
When I was considering the songs I wanted to include on “The Dawn” album, I knew “Adore” had to be a part of it. But I was stuck. I needed new vision for the song, so I turned it over to the producer to work his magic. The track began to take shape with electronic drums, a rhythmic bass line, and of course, the piano. The vocals layered over the top with some added effects and reverb. It certainly wasn’t something I would have come up with on my own, and in the end, I liked the vibe. As I cranked it up in my kitchen one day, I recalled the afternoon I had written the lyrics while cruising down the interstate in my friend’s car. It wasn’t hard to imagine “Adore” blaring over the speakers with the windows down and the wind blowing in our hair. I don’t know what you think, but when I hear “Adore,” I picture a sunny Summer day on the highway, and this song blasting through the speakers on repeat.
“And to all who hear, I will proclaim the saving power of Your glorious name.”