Confession of a Songwriting, Empty Nester!

Now that my girls are young women, I have become a songwriting, empty nester. All my girls live in other states, and I am the only one here in Nashville. Geography makes teachable moments very rare. But they can still come when you least expect them.

A few weeks ago my daughter, Bethany, drove me to a very extended appointment with my neurologists. We had just gotten settled when a beautiful young woman walked over to me and said, “I know you probably do not remember me, but I will never forget you!” 

“Sharika,” I cried, “of course I remembered you!”  

My co-writer and I sat hovered over our lyrics with all the chatting and giggles of an ASCAP writing session.

My co-writer and I sat hovered over our lyrics with all the chatting and giggles of an ASCAP writing session.

Just a few months ago, Sharika and I had shared this same waiting room. It was a Botox Friday when all we migraine sufferers crowd in for a very long wait. One of my co-writers and I often use these long Friday waits as a writing session time. She and I sat hovered over our lyrics with all the chatting and giggles of an ASCAP writing session. We worked as though we were the only ones in the waiting room.

Suddenly I notice a young woman, Sharika, wrapped tightly in hoodie, seated in front of a blaring TV. I asked the receptionist to please lower the TV volume because Sharika appeared to be in terrible pain. As Sharika looked at me, she tried to smile. Then suddenly she went into a full migraine-related seizure!  I yelled, “Help! STAT!” and in a few minutes the young lady was whirled into the treatment room! It turned out that she had a rare form of migraines that was provoked by a vascular malformation in her brain. Her only cure was a very dangerous operation to correct the problem inside her brain. My co-writer and I both promised to pray for her, and we had lost touch with her over the months.

My beautiful daughter, Bethany, who is also an artist.

My beautiful daughter, Bethany, who is also an artist.

Now Sharika bounced over to me and she was glowing! She said to me, “I don’t know what that song you were writing was about, but I am sure it was about healing—cause now I am healed!” I had looked up from my songwriting long enough to share a moment of kindness with Sharika. In other words, I had stopped writing just long enough to be kind.

As Sharika talked with me, I realized my daughter was also glowing too. What a teachable moment for all three of us! Even though my daughter, Bethany, is now an adult, we still could share in a teachable moment!

What about you?  What teachable moments have you had when you looked up from your songwriting?

Living the Songs I Write

The tranquil view outside my office window.

The tranquil view outside my office window.

God often sends me the heart message: “If you write it: you have to live it.” That is what makes writing Christian songs unique to all other genres of songwriting—we are called to live it. Just as I completed my last song, “Pain Beyond Your Prayers”, I found myself living out a situation that left me with pain way beyond my personal prayer power.

Several weeks ago, I was preparing for a fiddle session with my dear friend Susan Brown. The practice piece had been exhausting and very high-pitched—a certain way to aggravate my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Suddenly, I awoke on the floor in acute pain. I had no memory of what had happened! After a number of tests, my neurologist suspected that my MS had developed into a seizure disorder. If this were true, I would have to surrender my driver’s license! She also told me to consider moving into the center of Nashville, where public transportation would be more accessible.   

My first reaction was: “Lord, I already have to fight MS!  Wasn’t that enough? Now you are sending me seizures too!” My heart was too full of fear, to know how to pray. All I could do was just sit there and beg for God to understand my silent fears. The only words I could speak were tears.  

My dear friends Joe and Alice Beam.

My dear friends Joe and Alice Beam.

Not only was I facing a loss of independence, but I was also facing the possible loss of the beautiful place I call home? Moving away, from the tranquility of the mountain views and the garden pond outside my office window? Moving away from my dear friends, Joe and Alice Beam, who had cared for me like their own family? Moving away, from my cul-de-sac where my next-door neighbors include: a psychologist, a medical doctor, and my pastor? Every time I thought of moving, my heart was broken to tears.

The weeks I awaited the tests results were weeks spent in spells of prayers filled with silent tears. Each time I cried, God comforted me with my own song:

These same hands that made you,        
Will get you through this too.
I’m holding a bottle, to catch your every tear. 
Cause that’s how much I care.
When you got pain, 
Pain beyond your prayers.

After two long weeks of waiting, I was declared seizure free. I had suffered a mild concussion that had caused the memory loss. And the fall was due to MS fatigue. 

We songwriters want to reach the world with our song lyrics. But right then, I was the world my song lyrics needed to reach! Once again God was teaching me: “If you write it; you have to live it!”

What about you?  Tell me about a time when you had to live your own song lyrics.  As always, I enjoy hearing your comments and stories.

Songwriting: Humbled by Gratitude?


Eight years ago I had to hang-up my ballroom dancing shoes due to my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Yet, I was so excited to be invited to a local ballroom dancing class just for “beginners—again”. In spite of my remaining physical weakness, from MS fatigue, I remain determined to reclaim my life! The idea of reclaiming my life seems like such a noble goal. But there are those times when I feel more like an awkward newborn calf trying to take its first steps — and ballroom dancing would be no exception!

As I tried to mimic the steps of the patient dance teacher, I felt as though I had grown several extra pairs of left feet! With each dance-step, I started to feel more like an insect than a human being. When the lady next to me commented that she felt like she was dancing with two left feet, I exclaimed, “Be thankful for just two, I am sure I have at least six!”

My pride was melting into tears, when God reminded me of the days I spent in a wheelchair just a year before. He reminded of the times I sat and begged for a chance to walk again. My heart sank from my shame; I was humbled by gratitude. Not only had God answered my cries to walk again, He was now allowing me to dance not with precision, but with gratitude!


Often when I face the empty page of a new song, I feel again like that night on the dance floor. Each new hook shows promise, but a new song needs me to put more on the page than just a hook; I need to write a full lyric. At that moment of writer’s fear of the blank page (AKA writer’s block), my pride must again be melted. When I remember that my talents are God’s performing through me and not my own talents alone, I am humbled by gratitude for His working through me. He knows how each song will be used and only He can form my clumsy words into a song that can bless another’s life.  When someone writes me with a story of how my lyrics have touched their lives, I am again humbled by gratitude! I know then that my songs are not mine. They belong to Him. For He is the Holy Author of every Song!

Have you had times that gratitude transformed your work as songwriters? Tell me about times when you were “Humbled By Gratitude.” Please write me and share your stories! Tell me about it.

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Songwriting Made Simple: Ask as a Child

a-childs-prayer copy.jpg

During the last few weeks, my co-writer and I have been working on a children’s song. We have re-written the same chorus lyrics at least a half dozen times! We had hoped to be finished by now, but we were blocked.

Then, I went to my childhood journals and found the simple phrases needed to complete the chorus. Since most of my childhood (my school years) was spent in an abusive foster home, I would stay quiet by writing to Jesus in my journals. Here are examples of what I wrote to Jesus:

  • Help my heart fly like a butterfly.
  • Please bring Joy To my World everyday!
  • Bring Peace on Earth…my home is on the earth…so bring peace to my home.
  • I like being one of the children in of the world.
  • You love me; help me love others.
  • You make all my days special.
  • Thank you for making each day just for me.
  • You are my Momma kisses and Daddy smiles.
  • I love to play with friends.  Please find me some.
  • Please know my name.
  • Let me touch your smile.
  • I am sad.  Help me smile.
  • Help me to be good not bad.
  • Help my home be happy.
  • Let me hold your hand.
  • Make me safe.  I always feel lost.
  • Help me sleep.  I hate the dark.
  • Help me know some songs.

Those prayers were spoken to Jesus when I was a child, and I still say them now—‘cause I’m still His child!

What about you?  Where to you go to find simple phrases for your lyrics?  What simple, childhood prayers do you still say now?