It was an unlikely and thoroughly enjoyable encounter with musician Amy Grant that launched me on this life-changing mission to bring music I love to you. The experience began in October, 2013, when I found myself traveling to Franklin, Tennessee for a “Tennessee Weekend” of music, where guests were invited to spend their day on Amy Grant and Vince Gill’s farm, sharing music and stories, faith and fellowship, while making friends and memories for a lifetime. What drew me was the release of Amy’s album How Mercy Looks from Here in May of that same year. Her music had been healing for me in my teen years, and that album was especially timely for me, as it iterated much of what I had been through up to that point and was dealing with at the time.
She has experienced – and expresses so poignantly through her music – love, loss, disappointment, plans that haven’t worked out in the way she hoped or anticipated. This album was no exception. I have faced each of those too, not only in my own life, but also with my husband and through each of my children, in their joys and struggles, accomplishments and shortcomings. When I heard the album and learned about the weekend, I felt a heart-tugging pull from the Holy Spirit, and I knew somehow that He would be present in a special way that weekend too.
Not only did the album draw me to Tennessee, but it provided another opportunity for me to answer a call – a call to attend to and more deeply embrace God’s mercy in my life. I was to learn to really receive it, to be changed by it, and to give it to others.
On Saturday night, we had dinner at the farm and were entertained by songwriters- in -the- round, guests handpicked by Amy. One of her guests was Beth Nielsen Chapman, an inspired hit-songwriter, breast cancer survivor, teacher of creative workshops, who has a story of loss, and – as is so often the case for those who seek and see God through their struggles – unbelievable blessing. When Beth began singing and telling the story behind her songs, the Spirit deeply moved and touched me. I met Beth later in the evening, and instantly knew that it was not going to be our last encounter.
I left Tennessee grateful for the many blessings received during that relatively short period of time, but the blessings did not stop there! When I returned home, I found myself singing Beth’s songs. Her music gave me a peace, clarity, and freedom that is empowering and confirming as I continue to recognize how I can be a channel of healing for myself and others. I began to long to record her songs myself. But when would I have the chance to ask her? Again the Spirit was at work... On April 14, 2014, that opportunity came via e-mail – an invitation to attend a creative workshop in Tuscany…led by Beth! I instinctively knew that the invitation was something I needed to take seriously, and I am so glad I went.
Our time in Tuscany was an experience that I will always carry with me. The deep orange sky at dusk, illuminating the majestic cypress trees that seem to reach to the heavens [which suggest my familial roots], assured me that I really was in Italy! The quest to intensify the fragile songwriting process whether you are a hit songwriter or new to the craft; to cultivate new friendships through cooking together, sharing meals and fine wine, perusing art galleries, hiking, lots of laughter; and the opportunity to get to know Beth who has an exceptional ability to share her expertise with such bounteousness-my songwriting soul was completely refreshed and inspired.
Most of all, that trip confirmed in me the desire to launch this website and share music that inspires and engenders hope. “How We Love” is the first song of Beth’s that really resonated with me and has helped to give me a renewed purpose, and a renewed commitment to love as I tend to my many responsibilities as daughter, wife, mother, aunt, sister, cousin, and friend.
In a world that is so caught up in accomplishments, it gives me pause to consider how we love, but what truly helps me understand how to love is recognizing God’s love for me – for each one of us – through the many opportunities He provides. With Divine Mercy Sunday just behind us, and with the graces that flow from it always abounding, I would be remiss not to mention the thread of Divine Mercy that has so obviously been woven throughout my creative and spiritual process. One hardly has to look to see it. God has shown me His endless, most generous love in more ways than I can count, and far more deeply than I could recount here. He has been with me in my struggles and guided me on this path. That is how He loves – mercilessly and without merit. In being able to receive His most perfect love, I am better able to receive love from others. And it is only by His perfect example that we can fully learn How to Love.