Grace Coleman

Privilege

 

A handful of people have asked me who "Privilege" is about, so….

I was waiting in the courtyard of our house in eager anticipation for a ride to art class. Mom had told me that another home school family that lived nearby would be picking us up.. so much mystery and anticipation for a 7-year old, only child!

I was also wearing really cool cowboy boots. But I digress...

I got in the car with my mom and sat next to a tiny girl with blonde hair holding a stuffed cat. "So…. your name's Leah?" I asked. She confirmed. I told her that was a really pretty name… because that's what grown-ups say, and since she was only 4, I was practically a grown-up. And
because it really is a nice name.

Little did I know, that the friendship started that day would help shape me into the person I am today… Take away my companionship with Leah, and my history is lopsided and incomplete, to say the least.

My eyes are already getting misty.

A year and a half ago, Leah moved to New York to go to college. I realize that's just how life goes sometimes, but I just didn't know how to deal with it. Eight semesters might as well have been eight eternities. I've had to say a few tough good-byes in my young life, but this was one of the hardest. I wanted to give her something as a going away gift and I needed some sort of consolation, so a song seemed fitting.

Some songs take a frustrating amount of time to gather content. But this time, everything was at my fingertips. The melody, the memories, the conflict between selfishly wanting her to stay, but also wanting what's best for her… it was all right there. And while it was one of the easiest songs to write, it was one of the most difficult songs to get through. I cried my way through writing, I cried my way through the production, and I cried my way through a performance of it.

I realize it can be a selfish and naive desire to wish someone would never leave, but it taught me a valuable lesson: friendship is a gift, not a given.

Aaand it's not like the friendship ended when I hugged her, got in the car and drove home. Our friendship is currently being tested by time and space, but by God's grace, I'd say we're passing rather well. We've had to make adjustments: we've made new (wonderful) friends since then and we obviously don't see each other or communicate as much as we used to, but we both share a young life time of memories that can't be replaced, and now time spent together is even more precious.

I'm so thankful for that.



Just the other day, I was in a panic at 2:00 A.M (first verse still proving true)… I knew she'd be up. She was.

She was still there for me. She still made me smile.

A couple weeks ago, as I was preparing to board a plane, coming home from an absolutely perfect visit with Leah in New York, the warm-fuzzy words of A.A. Milne came to mind: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

My friendship with Leah is one of God's greatest gifts to me… something I don't take lightly or for granted. I let the world in on "Privilege" because I know other people feel the way I do about a certain friend of theirs, and I wanted to provide a way to continue savoring that friendship--To recognize it as a tremendous gift, to revel in all that has made it what it is, and to keep on investing and nurturing it, even if it has to be… at a distance.

Ready

 

These have been exhaustively exciting days for my family and my church family. Putting in extra hours and sacrificing sleep to make sure everything was ready… and now here we are.

For those of you who don't know, my home church, New Life Baptist has been meeting in an elementary school for 20 years.  I was 2 years old when my dad pursued the call to plant a church in Davie, Fl, so this is where I've grown up. This is my family.

In 1998 we watched the Lord work mightily as we prayerfully purchased several acres of land so that one day we could have a home of our own.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago…. we had our ground breaking service to acknowledge the Lord together as the first shovel moved the first batch of dirt. About a week before hand, dad asked me to consider writing a song for the service. He laid out a few scriptures and other suggestions on the direction it could possibly go. 

Now, a week isn't a very long time to write a song, but I feel like the Lord was intimately involved in the whole process.  I studied the suggested scriptures for a while, took some notes, picked up my guitar and before I knew it, the song was done. I can only attribute that to the Lord's inspiration and sovereignty.  I recorded a (rather) rough draft, sent it to Craig, our worship pastor, who tweaked a couple chords and charted it, and within another day or two it was… well… Ready.

 


The first verse talks about breaking ground in a planting/harvesting sense. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." The whole point of getting a building of our own is so that more people can hear the Gospel--and not just hear it, but be changed by it as the seed of the God's Word grows in their hearts and in our hearts as well. THAT'S what it's all about: Planting Gospel seeds, watering, and harvesting.

The second verse speaks of an actual building being built--both spiritual and physical.  Yes, we were now building a physical building where God would be worshiped, but because we hadn't had a home of our own, we had learned first hand that the church is not a building, but that when Christ lives in us, WE are the church.  Our lives have to be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and in alignment with Him: the chief Cornerstone (Acts 4:11)

"So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic." - Isaiah 28:16

While studying different scriptures, the Lord lead me to Hosea 10:12 which says "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you." I kept coming back to that "break up your fallow ground" and while I didn't even fully know what that meant, there was an obvious parallel of breaking physical ground, preparing it for either a harvest or a building, and breaking up the fallow ground of our hearts, so that we would be ready, rich soil for whatever God had prepared for our lives, individually and as a body.

It feels appropriate to talk about this song now, because we just had the dedication service for the new building last Saturday. Once again, acknowledging the Lord together, thanking Him for what He has provided, and refocusing on why we have a building in the first place: so that people can learn about and worship God.  Craig (who also plays guitar and sings back up on the track) and I sang it again at the dedication service because in some ways, the message of the song had come full circle. It was written for a ground breaking service, and now there is a fully operational building in the same spot. But going even further of that, the ground breaking is just beginning… and I don't mean building 2 that we hope to build in the future. It was another chance to ask God to "break up the fallow ground" of our hearts, so that we could continue to be used for His glory.



The song may have been written for one (or two) services, but it's something to keep coming back to, which is why it's on the CD.  I've been personally challenged, especially lately, to have a ready heart. What does God want me to do? Am I willing to do it, whatever it is?

This has been an exciting time to clearly see God at work in our church as a whole and in our lives individually. I look forward to what God has in store for New Life, and for His church all around the world. May He be glorified!

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gracecoleman3/Ready

Shadow

 

O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:3-4

I had been tinkering around with a melody and, as usual, just starting singing whatever words came to mind.  I didn’t have a specific direction I wanted to take the song, but the words from Psalm 144 began to weave their way in. And while the phrase “who is man that You would aim Your thoughts toward him?” might not have the most natural wording, it stuck. 

Next came the verses... in general, verses take more intentionality. I had set aside some time to spend in Key Largo looking for some inspiration. I wanted to create a picture of the wretchedness of man and the holiness of God, and how in spite of both factors of the equation, God still loves man.  

It’s the conundrum found in Romans 5:7-8

“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.…”

Mix that in with the God of all eternity caring after something that lasts for only a moment... what kind of love is that?! It’d be like a successful CEO of a multi-billion dollar company taking interest in and loving a gastrotrich. What’s a gastrotrich? Exactly. 

The goal of this song is to not wallow in our short, here-today-gone-tomorrow life of helplessness... but to recognize the state we’re in and marvel at God’s eternal love for us despite our depravity. The God who has seen everything great and small, who existed before there was time, and who will still be on His throne of highest dominion after everything crumbles... yes, that God sees us. Even more, He loves us and is interested in us. And even more than that, He can identify with everything we feel. He wants to be involved in our lives. He wants to carry our burdens. He wants to be our joy. 

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! - Psalm 139:17

(Okay. I had to look it up myself... but a gastrotrich is a microscopic, worm-like marine animal with a lifespan of approximately 3 days... silly image, maybe, but it gives some perspective)

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gracecoleman3/Shadow 

Enough to Believe

 

It’s been three weeks since I picked up the CDs. In some ways life has gone back to normal and in other ways life will never be the same. Yes, day to day has its routine, which I am thankful for a tinge of normalcy, and all at the same time, now these songs are listenable, and there’s no going back (even though the songs are no longer on Spotify... sorry about that).  Someone at church said to me last Sunday “I leave your CD in the car and listen to you everywhere I go” and while I’m flattered by the compliment, it dawned on me, I’m communicating with people whether I realize it or not. There’s an ongoing accountability now. An ongoing message... and now that it’s out, I need to keep living it. Need to keep singing it to myself.  

As promised, I’m gonna start writing the backstories behind the songs on Point of View. Not to make much of the songs, but hopefully to point to the Giver of each one, and share what He was teaching me during the writing process. 

I’ve decided to go out of order (to leave some unpredictability in there) and start with Enough to Believe. 

From the technical side, one of the handful of ways I approach songwriting is occasionally I’ll sit at the piano and “doodle.”  80% of the time I’ll either end up playing a different song or giving up, but every now and then something worth coming back to will emerge from the keys. I don’t remember what I was aiming for at the time, but I hit just your average G major chord and began moving up the scale with 3rds, and before I knew it, I had a chord progression going with a swing 3/4 feel. I hummed a melody while I played, sang it into my phone, and threw in some improv words that half made sense. I didn’t have a direction I wanted to take the song, but I had “if the cross means surrender, then I wanna die... and something about the rocks not staying silent and I won’t either.” Once that was rearranged into a rhyming order, the song sat for a while. I’d jam out to it... more like, I’d work out to it, pounding the keys just about as hard as I could and would sing nonsense words to get through it, but nothing consistent was coming, and so it was for months. 

My Dad is on the State Board of Missions for South Florida and when they had their quarterly meeting at Lake Yale, I went along in hopes of having some down time to clear my head and write. I pull inspiration from a number of venues, but I’m a big believer in occasionally changing up the scenery to open up new senses and constantly be in a state of wonder, and Lake Yale is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet and marvel at the Lord’s handiwork. Plus they have a piano and a coffee shop...

I grabbed my notebook and sat at a table by the lake. A cross stood between me and the water... a perfect view. 

 

By this point, I knew I wanted the song to communicate the evidence of Truth, not only in a visible sense, but what God has revealed through His Word. Dad preached a sermon a while back about seeing things with the eyes of our hearts. This opens up the realm of believing strictly through faith... 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people... -Ephesians 1:18

I believe in God not because I can see Him, because I can’t. His spirit placed a seed in my heart of belief, and through the watering process of prayer and reading His Word and the pruning process of a burning conscience, my faith and conviction have grown. His Word gives life and His spirit communicates in a way that “rings true” in our hearts and minds. 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1

And that would be enough... the Word can speak for itself. However, God didn’t stop there. I started thinking through different points in history where God made His existence/presence unmistakably known. You have Moses and the Israelites being lead by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Countless visions throughout the Old and New Testament. And continuing today, the written Word is still speaking and that still small voice is constantly guiding. Even looking at creation points to something greater, a living Creator.  

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:20

It’s enough. 

However, for the times that I have thoughts of doubt or entertain the idea of it all being a made up story, recounting those times in History and in my own life... I’m instantly brought back to what I know is true. God has never not shown up or left me stranded, and I don’t think it’s wrong to continually ask Him to reveal Himself more and more... in fact, I think it’s only right. 

With all of that flowing through my thoughts, the song was finished by that afternoon. Every time a song is completed, even though a lot of time and concentration (and waiting in this case) went in to writing it, I’m astounded and wonder how it all ended up coming together, and I really believe that each song is a gift from God, in this case, to serve as a declaration to come back to in times of doubt or in times of absolute confidence, to recount the goodness and constant presence of God, and to acknowledge to Him through worship that what He’s done is enough to believe in Him.

Why Point of View?

 

I don't think it's fully hit me that Point of View is actually finished. For about a year now, I've been looking for those "last few bits of inspiration," recording major chunks of one instrument at a time, mistakes and all, and then going back and spending countless hours sitting with horrible posture playing a clip of music over and over making adjustments until it's just right--or at least as good as I can get it. Now that it's done, I'm in a little bit of a daze wondering what I'm gonna do with my time. Oh yeah, catch up on everything that got put aside while I was working on this :) 

Even though there were some moments of "what in the world have I gotten myself into" all the lessons I've learned in the process and all of the encouragement from my family and friends, even just in the last 24 hours, has made it all worth it. After all, it's not about me... it's about Who these songs are about, and that should be worth any “sacrifice.” And it wasn’t even much of a sacrifice... working on this was an absolute blast.  Every moment spent working on this project, even the hard ones, gave me a sense of purpose and drive to actually finish something of meaning.. and that is a joyous and blessed thing to experience. And I have to say, the happy times way out weighted the harder times.

So many incredible things happened during the making of "Point of View" that I can undoubtedly say the Lord's hand was on this whole project. He was holding it together when I couldn’t. He deserves ALL the glory. Left to my own, well, there would be nothing to listen to right now. I want to share some of those stories with you, which is what this here blog is for... I also want to tell you about what the Lord was doing in my life and teaching me while these songs were still in the process of being written. And if nothing else, I want to be able to look back and experience it all over again. 

Guess I’ll start this “blog series” off with the title... Point of View.  

As I was contemplating this motley batch of songs (10 at the time) written over a span of about five years, I was trying to find a common thread that tied them all together. Obviously a lot of water goes under the bridge in that amount of time. A lot of lessons are learned. A lot of feelings are felt. And that’s when it hit me--almost every song highlights a point in a Christian’s life--stages of searching, stages of overflowing gratitude, stages of suffering, stages of love-- and in all of it: worship. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time for everything. These songs highlight a certain time/feeling, state the earthly, sin-ridden struggle, then present a different perspective (point of view) on the situation--one that’s viewed in light of the cross. 

I needed one more song to “put the bow on it.” While I’ll write about the story behind it later, that’s when the actual song Point of View came along... almost out of nowhere. Also another story, Ready was added to the mix, and then there were 12.  

I hope that by God’s grace, these songs will relate to you and will offer a Gospel-centered point of view. It’s something I have to remind myself of daily. 

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