Monday, December 27, 2010

Paul's Sunset

Music was one of my earliest memories and most enduring connections between me and my Dad. One of my favorite pictures is of me at about 8-months old sitting on Dad’s lap between him and his guitar, me peaking over the top to watch his fingers. There was always music in the house growing up. Sometimes we would just sit around in the living room with one of Dad’s favorite song books and play and sing together.

Music is an emotional vehicle for me. It’s a way for me to interpret and process my life so it meant a great deal to me to be able to sing at his funeral. Although I felt my voice shaking as I sang the songs I chose, the lyrics of each would steward the story well and I believe Dad would have been pleased.

Thanks to the talents, generosity and help of my friend Joel Slater I was able to record the songs as a Christmas gift as a permanent memory of Dad. Each of the 4 songs I recorded reflect a different part of my relationship with Dad and although I’m no great vocalist, it gave me great closure to put it all together.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - by Chris Tomlin (listen here)

Amazing Grace is my all-time favorite hymn. When I asked if my dad had a favorite hymn I could sing at his funeral, I didn’t expect that we would share this classic as our favorite. My father’s funeral was actually the forth that I’ve sung Amazing Grace at, but each time has been an entirely different rendition or version. It’s remarkable how this song can be so timeless and consistent yet so different from arrangement to arrangement, unique for each person and situation.

When I Get Where I'm Going - Brad Paisley (listen here)

When I first heard this song two years ago, I immediately knew this would be the anthem of my dad’s passing when that time came. In my mind, though, that time would not come for another 15 or more years, so I expected to have plenty of time to teach the song to my son to play and sing at the funeral, and I would merely accompany and harmonize. Though I enjoyed singing it, I regret not only that Dad’s time was cut way too short for my young musician to have prepared it, but that the boys never got the chance to know him well enough to know how appropriate this song was for him.

Finally Home – MercyMe (listen here)

This song is a truer reflection of my own heart in dad’s passing and is more my personal anthem for him. It took many rehearsals to get through the second line without getting choked up as I think every child wonders and hopes they have made their parents proud in whatever the path they’ve chosen in life, but it also reflects the security I have in an eternity with our Lord.

Better Than A Hallelujah - Amy Grant (listen here)

This song is for the hurting who remain – the survivors, if you will – those left behind in their grief. It came out this summer and it immediately spoke to me about the trials and suffering my family had endured in the last year – my own cancer, my husband’s health challenges, the financial struggles of one income - and how so very blessed I was by the prayers of others and how much closer I was drawn to God through those trials. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

I want to say thank you, again, to Joel Slater who recorded and edited these songs and made me sound pretty good. A worship leader and Christian recording artist, check out some of Joel’s original music and buy his CD “Scattered” at

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