“So What.”


Those were the words he heard. He, being my brother, Rick. He got up late this morning, after a long night at the studio, finally getting to bed around 5 a.m. The house was quiet when Rick got up, so he walked over to his piano and sat down. He looked at the empty CD case, propped up there. It had a drawing on the front cover that God had me work on and send to Rick over a year ago. The CD case has been empty until now, waiting…for only God knew what.

Now we know…it was waiting to be filled with twelve songs of inspiration, hope, pain, loss, gain and great joy, and so much more. Songs and spoken words that will take a listener on the journey through brokenness and beyond, helping to clear a path through the destruction of the enemy into the comfort of God’s waiting arms and experiencing His healing power there. It is a journey that has been lived through, written about, put to music and now recorded. It is finished!

So why would Rick hear the words, “So what” this morning?
Shouldn’t we be celebrating?
Shouldn’t we be in awe of all that God has done?

Of course we should, and we are, but someone is not…our enemy, Satan—he is alive and well. He has not “left the building.” He is here, he is not happy, and after all the enemy has done to try and put a stop to what God has been calling us to do, he is the one defeated. He is the one now saying, “So what” to Rick, because after he has tried to say and do everything else, the victory is ours through the power of Jesus Christ, just like it’s been promised each day of our lives! The enemy is like a bully on the playground, having met his match--he is at a loss for words, with nothing left to say but, “So what,” when all his battle-tactics have failed to achieve the goal he was hoping they would accomplish.  

"Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid
of the king of Assyria or his mighty army,
for there is a power far greater on our side!”
2 Chronicles 32:7 (NLT)

Amen to that!

To tell you the truth, when this project started over a year ago, I wondered why no one else had done something similar--to my knowledge. Surely we are not the only ones to have a child living in heaven now, we are not the only ones who have moved from complete brokenness into experiencing the healing power of our Almighty God?
So why us?
Why now?
Why anything?

Now that it is finished and we have seen the battlefield, I have a better appreciation for the “why’s” in this endeavor. The recipe is a difficult one, the combination needs to be just right, the ingredients must work together perfectly or the “dough” will not rise in the warmth of God’s love. It will just sit there, never to be broken bread and poured out wine for the masses that may need to hear this message.

“Why were we called to do it?” It seems clearer now. All the “ingredients” were there, all we had to do was prayerfully mix them together and watch God work out the details.

I have cried until the tears no longer come.
My heart is broken, my spirit poured out…
Lamentation 2:11 (NLT)

Jim and I have lost a child, not lost really because we know where he is--Phil is in heaven. But, we have had to say, “good-bye” to him for now and live the rest of our days without him here on earth. In that loss, God has had me write until there was not much more I could write, and then continue to write even more. In that writing, songs started to evolve, as Rick, the composer in these ingredients, would get my e-mails and God would put a song on his heart right there at his desk at work. He would start to compose a song in his head, longing to get home to his piano to play the notes he was hearing. As this “dough” started to rise, other things started happening. Like the day I was drawing what I thought was a book cover for some future book, but God changed that very quickly by speaking to my heart that what I was working on was for an album cover. It seemed I was to send it to Rick so he could put it on his piano and keep that vision in front of him each day as he continued to write music, as I continued on with the words.

Then the day came last December when God said, “Leave.” And Jim and I left Colorado where Jim was working, and headed south, not knowing fully why. The trip led us to Chino, California where we started to work more intensely together with Rick on the music that seemed to be impressed on us from the Spirit of God.

Now that we had the story, the words, the music--and God had brought us together…it was time to meet Jeffery David, our producer. What a Godsend he is and was to us! Jeffery took the simple songs we had, our inability, our lack of knowledge of the music industry, and he walked us through each step of the process as gently as any person could. He is amazing and so, so patient!!

The first time Rick was recording his piano, Jeffery said, “Let’s punch that.” Rick said, “What?” We learned quickly that it meant, “Let’s do that part over,” and over and over and over, sometimes, until it was just right! By the time we finished the recording process, I was using terms like, “Split the difference.” Which means, take what you did last time and what you did this time, and do it somewhere in the middle. We were learning the lingo, and a whole lot more!

As the weeks and months passed by, Jeffery brought musicians into the project that showed us what true professionals are like in the recording process. It seems so much of the time we sat back and simply watched, as Jeffery would weave the musicians and singers together in ways we never imagined it could be done, and we were still not finished yet! There was still the final mixing to do!

In comes Jim Watts, a master at the whole mixing process. He worked for a week straight, sometimes 16 hours a day, sometimes longer, taking each minute piece of everything that had been recorded, and blending it into a delicious “meal” of savory delights! He could easily work five to eight hours on a single song, listening to each part over and over and over until he was satisfied with what he heard. Then he would call us all in to listen to it, and then go on to mix it even more, just to make sure it was everything it should be. It is a process that seems like it’s never really done, there just comes a time when you have to stop and let it rest in what it is--which is what you will hear now that the CD is finished…where we let each song rest in all it seemed it was meant to be.

The ingredients have been brought out, worked through, mixed together, and are ready to be “baked.” Let’s call the mastering of the CD the baking process. That is the next step, to make sure everything that has been put together is brought up to the highest quality possible. After that, it will be sent out for copies to be made, then packaged, sealed and finally shared with those in need of this “tool.”

So what?

Well, that remains to be seen by us, by you, by the world in general. We don’t know the plans God has for this as yet, but we know there is a great peace in allowing His will to be done and now being able to move on in confident assurance that with obedience there is great blessing. Not monetarily, although that is always a possibility, but even more importantly, the furtherance of God’s Kingdom work to help the hurting and the lost and the hopeless. Hearts need to be nourished with the joy that God promises us when we believe His Word. Maybe this music will help--we pray it will.

Why hasn’t this been done exactly like this before? Because, only God knows the exact ingredients needed to make this recipe come together. It takes heartache, and pain. It takes healing and joy. It takes listening and obedience. It takes perseverance and prayer, prayer, prayer! It takes resting in the call of God even when it doesn’t make sense, and hoping beyond all hope that we really heard the call and didn’t just imagine it all. But if we did, if we have chosen a wrong turn along the way, we can rest in the fact that God knows our hearts and that sometimes children make mistakes—when our intention is only to serve Him to the best of the ability He gives us each day, we should not fear a wrong turn now and then.

My last message said we were at mile 24 ½ and counting in a 26-mile “marathon.” We have crossed the finish line now! We are exhausted and happy--awed at what God has done and looking forward to all that still remains ahead. We have some bumps, some bruises, some healing and rest that are greatly needed. We will get that, because God lets us rest in green meadows and leads us beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23 NLT)

It’s in resting there that God brings all the beautiful pieces of the painting together into a beautiful landscape set before us. A beauty that we are starting to see already as we listen to all the songs, together, in order, and watch the story unfold before us--the story that we have lived through, not made up. The words you will hear, the struggles we will share, the joy that makes it complete, is not a fantasy, but a true-life drama—one we know all too well.

It will take just a few more weeks to get this mastered, and then re-produced and packaged up. When it is ready for all to hear, we look forward to sharing it with anyone who is interested. We will probably move on now, to other things, but we will take with us so many, many memories and lessons learned. We have now written new songs about getting through this whole process, and we have more than enough to begin a second, or even third musical CD somewhere down the road. Only God knows what is next….

Thank you for your prayers, your support and your encouragement, and even in your questioning us along the way. It is good to be held accountable when we lose our focus and veer off God’s chosen path from time to time. We pray we have not strayed too far, and that where we have, we will quickly come back asking for forgiveness, restoration and renewal to begin again when hearing God’s call again in the future.

Just an end-note here…on the last day of mixing, when we were mere hours from completion, Rick attended a funeral service for his boss’s son, age 25…he was killed in an auto-accident two blocks from home just this last week. Rick’s boss has been amazingly supportive of Rick’s time off from work, keeping his job available for him and always asking and interested in how things were going with the CD. Rick will now return to work this next week, making himself available in any way he can to help out around the office while Kieu mourns the loss of his much-loved son. Please keep Kieu and his family in your prayers. It is a clear call to Rick of where he needs to be right now.

Jim and I, on the other hand, do not know what is on the horizon. We will wait and pray and watch for God’s leading, just as He led us here six months ago. What an amazing time it has been--a challenging and faith-building process that we wouldn’t trade for anything!

We give all praise and glory to our Mighty God!!