So…I wanted to blog a little about the “Thanks” video that we got to see during the live podcast for Passion White Flag last week. It was from many people on the receiving end of the generosity of the students of Passion 2012. First of all, I had no idea it was coming and then secondly, I had no idea they were going to use “Sing Along” for the video. My husband, Nathan and I stood there in the green room at church watching it and by the end of it, both of us had big tears in our eyes. It’s hard to explain what it’s like when you get a tune for a melody in your heart and it has these words attached to it that you just want to sing over and over…and then standing on the other side of something like this “Thanks” video and the whole song has just been set as the soundtrack to the very story for which it was written…it’s just mind blowing & beautiful.
I’m a suburban mom. Yes, I’m a lead worshiper for my generation and I travel the globe part of the time…but all in all, I live in a nice, quiet neighborhood outside of the city. When we go to bed at night, we hear things like crickets and frogs and in the summer our kids beg to stay out until after dark to catch the fireflies and put them in little jars. We have big, comfy beds and an air conditioner and we read stories and pray before we lay down and get a good night’s sleep. Problem is…I know too much. And when you know…you become responsible for what you know. So each night as I lay my head on my pillow, I’m not able to completely enjoy the comforts of my home. There’s always a rub against my heart. There’s the awareness that somewhere in the world little girls are being sold in duffle bags straight into the sex slave industry. It’s hard to breathe deep and lay back and enjoy everything when you know that. When I pondered these things in my heart…that’s when I started singing “Great God, wrap Your arms around this world tonight…and when You hear our cries, sing through the night so we can join in Your song and sing along.” It’s not a song to make myself feel better, but it’s literally a cry out to God to never let me lose sight of what I know and what I know can be done about it. It’s a prayer to know His heart well enough to hear the very song that He sings over us…even in the darkest of places…so that I too can sing along with my life.
I remember one day up in our playroom, it was the summer of 2010…I was watching my kids as they tumbled around on the floor and and it made me think of these little girls I had learned about who were literally born into brothels. Because the mothers still have to get back to work as soon as possible, they simply have no other choice but to put their babies under the beds while they work all day & night. This just floored me. I couldn’t even imagine it really, but I knew it was real and I needed to accept it as a reality in this world we live in. I also felt compelled to sing about it for some reason… I had the guitar upstairs and so I started to sing “From babies under beds in brothels, to the cities shining bright, there is One who hears us in the night”… and this flowed right into the chorus, “Great God, wrap Your arms around this world tonight.” For weeks and weeks I would just sing this little song, interchanging the lyrics here and there, but I couldn’t stop singing it.
When it came time to turn in ideas and songs for my record “Into The Glorious” (releasing this April) I brought “Sing Along” with me to the song meeting. It was now August of 2011. At that point, I had taken the song to some friends to help me with it. They helped me craft the lyrics and the melody on the chorus and the bridge some. One of the things though that we really went back and forth on was how literal do you get with this song? Do I really say, “babies under beds in brothels”? I wasn’t afraid to sing it in the sense of worrying what people would think of it… I was more afraid that people would have no reference as to what I was talking about and miss the whole point. I also wanted children to grasp this song. While I want my children to be very much aware of and understand the issue of human slavery, there is a gradual revealing of the enormity and severity of it. I don’t know too many American parents who are at a place where they are ready to explain what a brothel is to their 7 year old. So I wanted to have sensitivity there… We began to use a more poetic approach in order to include everyone. “From babies hidden in the shadows, to the cities shining bright”…. but still the song was generally about injustice…the verses went into not only slavery but poverty, hunger, etc… Something in me though kept being gripped by visions of people in captivity, with nowhere else to turn. I wanted to write more about it…but honestly I wasn’t sure what my record label was going to say about me writing a song about brothels…
In the song meeting that day, Louie, my pastor, spoke up after we had all sat and listened to “Sing Along”. He began to share about Passion 2012 and that the one cause that we were going to all wrap our hearts around was freedom for people trapped in human slavery. This was the first time I had heard that freedom was going to be the heart cry & theme of the conference. He shared how he could really hear this song being shaped completely around human slavery alone and I kid you not, he said, “I mean, you need to somehow convey that there are little babies who are shoved under beds in brothels while their moms are working”. I looked at him really funny, trying to remember if I had ever told him about the original first verse of the song, or even if I had told him about the song, period! I asked him if I had and he said “no, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this song..” It was just beautiful to me that a song that I had started singing the summer before that, was now being woven into the story of Passion 2012… and whether I said “brothel” or not…this song was about freedom for the captives.
I’m glad we were sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you how many parents have already written me, tweeted me or told me that “Sing Along” is their child’s favorite on the Passion White Flag record. This song is for children too…it’s a way they too can engage in the big story of Freedom. I just led it a few weeks ago in Passion Kids at Passion City Church and it was the most beautiful sound to hear those kids sing it with all their hearts. I recorded the song for my solo project “Into The Glorious” as well, with a little different ending that involves…you guessed it…children…my 2 daughters and 3 nieces.
In closing…someone once told me about this little thing called a “God-wink.” It’s something she either made up or had heard before…but she explained that it’s one of those moments when you get to do something you’ve always wanted to do…a dream come true, or you’ve gotten to be a part of something that you really believe in…and it’s as if God winks and says “you’re welcome”… Ever since then, I’ve often wondered what a “God-wink” moment would look like for me. I thought maybe I was going to have my moment not long ago… See, a friend of ours produces the parades for Disney all over the world. He was producing the music for a new, state of the art show for Disneyland in California. He asked me to come sing for the recording and I of course was SO excited… I’ve always secretly wanted to be the singing voice of a Disney Princess…shhh!. Anyway…we recorded the songs. I was kind of bummed because all the songs were in really weird keys for me and I had to sing really low and I just didn’t’ feel like “me” when I was singing. We called it a day and he said he’d let me know if any of the songs were going to be chosen for the show. I got an email a few weeks later and I was so excited to see that it was looking like one of the songs had indeed been chosen for the show. I was SO excited! But - in order to keep it on the down low, I only told my husband and my mom…just in case it all fell through. In my mind though, I was already planning our trip to Disneyland so that the kids could hear mommy singing over the loud speakers at the Princess water/laser light show! Well…it wasn’t but just a few days later that I got another email that said that they had decided to use the original song from the Disney movie instead of the random girl singing really low and un-Disney-ish (me) and that he was really sorry… Not my moment…and I’m actually really OK with that.
I went into all of that to tell you this…the other night when I was standing there in the green room watching the “Thanks” video… I was overcome with gladness, gratitude and awe of God really. I’m just a suburban mom who started singing a little lullaby one night. Next thing I know, I’m standing there watching it roll as the soundtrack to FREEDOM for these precious people. I can’t tell you all that I know of the little girls in sparkly dresses throwing flower pedals in the video. I can tell you this though…they are the very girls that I first heard about through some friends of mine. They are the little babies that were born into brothels…now smiling with hope. It was the first time I had ever gotten to see their faces…and I was getting to sing over them all at the same time. I had to walk away when it was over and get a tissue to wipe my eyes and as I did God said really sweetly to my heart, “there’s your God-wink, and you’re welcome”.