Monday, April 8, 2013

Telling the Story--part 4, the infertility version

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  The next several blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

Part 1 found here
Part 2 found here.
Part 3 found here.

"Baby, It's Not Time"
words & music by Glenna Marshall

This story is a hard one to write.

Not because I have a hard time writing about infertility (if you've read this blog, you know I don't).
But because this song comes from a really honest, hopeful place in my heart that almost got extinguished in our waiting to be parents.

I actually wrote this song when William & I were still living in Tennessee.  One day in April of 2004, we decided--Hey, let's have some kids! 
I distinctly remember telling a friend that we would hopefully have good news to share by October.  I thought I was being us six months and all.  How long could it take, after all?

Turns out, it can take a real long time.

As month after month passed with no good news to share, my heart began to be filled with dread.  Several of my friends were expecting babies, a couple of them "on accident."  Before I knew it, my excitement about becoming pregnant someday turned into resentment that everyone else was having babies around me without the courtesy of waiting until I could get pregnant.  (I know.  It was ugly.)
My relationships with several close friends became strained as their bellies grew, and I faced negative test after negative test.  Looking back, almost a decade later, I have to say that these girls were absolutely patient and kind beyond belief.  I know I made our relationships difficult, and of all the things I struggled with during that time of my life, this is one of the most shameful of my memories.  I have been blessed with faithful friends who forgave freely and extended grace in hard moments.  Praise God for them.

I wrote "Baby, It's Not Time" during this time.  It was still early days, and there was still a lot of hope that we could get pregnant.  I remember sitting at the piano, bathed in sunlight from the windows at the back of our 80 year old house on West Grand, and the song just poured out of me.
I cried the entire time.
I could envision little feet learning to walk up and down the hallway of that house and running around the backyard with our basset hound.  It was a hot day--the end of summer--and when the sun set, the backyard would be filled with lightning bugs.

I was so hopeful.
And so sure that if I waited long enough, God would answer my prayers.
But, I had been taught so well about the Lord's sovereignty, and I knew that if it wasn't the Lord's plan for us to have a family the regular way, well, then...we'd be alright.  There's safety in His sovereignty.
But in the depths of my heart, I doubted that was the direction our life would take.  I felt like it would happen someday.



I played the song for my husband and was surprised to see tears roll down his cheeks.

A year later we packed up and moved out of that house just days after a doctor told us it would be unlikely that we ever got pregnant "on our own."  I packed dozens of moving boxes and stuffed my shattered emotions and dreams into quiet corners, hoping to leave my broken heart behind in that house.

Dark days.
I felt swallowed by my grief.

Fortunately, the tasks of moving to another state, beginning a brand new chapter in a new place where I knew no one served to distract me....and probably helped to keep me from totally succumbing to depression.

Years passed.

We tried again with a new doctor.

Sometimes I fought and won against my bitterness and sadness; sometimes I fought and lost.
Sometimes I refused to fight at all and just gave myself over to it, I'm ashamed to say.

And then one day we walked into a specialist's office.  The big guns.  Surely, he would have some helpful advice for us.
I'll spare you the drama of that appointment, but our hopes were completely dashed.

We drove home from St. Louis in silence, gripping one another's hands with all that we had.  We made difficult calls to our parents while our tears dripped unabated.  We knew adoption would be the next step, but it was just hard to visualize moving away from pregnancy. I thought women were supposed to have babies. I couldn't fathom this never, ever happening for me.
At the same time, I wasn't sure how to make the leap because I wanted adoption to be about the child we were adopting, not our infertility.  I never wanted our child to feel like we adopted only because we couldn't get pregnant. None of this Plan A and Plan B business.

Which is the beauty of what I believe is the Spirit's influence even over my silly song-writing.

"Baby, It's Not Time" is not about pregnancy and biological children necessarily.  I might have been thinking about that when I wrote it, but mostly I was just thinking about being a mom and having a little one to love and raise.  A lot of my songs evolve and change shape throughout their first days of existence.  But not this one. The lyrics you hear today are the lyrics I wrote in 2004. I am truly thankful that the Lord led me away from writing a song about pregnancy and biological children.  Not that that wouldn't have been a good song, but it just wasn't going to be this song. I think because it wasn't going to be my story. What I learned during that time is that no matter what the Lord had written our days to be (Psalm 139:16), He would be faithful and wise, and we could trust Him. 

In 2008, at the absolutely perfect time that only a perfectly wise God could orchestrate, we welcomed the most precious of gifts into our home and hearts:

Baby, it was time.

The other day, after we'd listened to our CD in the car (we're really not that vain, I promise.  Isaiah really does like our songs.), we pulled into our carport, and from his booster seat in the back, Isaiah pointed to the backyard and  shouted "Look! It's ready!  The backyard is ready for bare feet and fireflies!"

[Insert huge sobbing fit of thankfulness.]

*There is so much more to say on what the Lord has taught me through infertility.  Look for that in the post for the song "You Are Good".


Telling the Story--part 3

Our new album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  The next several blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

Part 1 found here
Part 2 found here.

"No Place I'd Rather Be"
(words & music by William Marshall)

I often struggle to be in the moment.  Normally when people confess this, they are referring to being distracted by something (troubles, worries, work, cell phones, you name it).  Yet, my struggle is not so much distraction as it is under-appreciation.  I have these great moments in life and I don’t realize just how great they are until afterwards.  I guess the right way to say it is that I struggle to always appreciate the moment.

Yet, in God’s kindness and grace, there are times when I do find joy in the moment.  This song is about those times.  In particular, it is about simply enjoying good moments with my wife.  I don’t want to always be looking ahead or looking behind.  I want to have those times when I am so thankful just to be with her.

A few years back we got a good snow one night in Sikeston (where it does not snow that much).  It came on kind of fast and left everything covered in white.  Glenna and I (this was before Isaiah) decided to take a walk around our neighborhood while it was still coming down.  When we got outside it was so quiet and still.  Very few cars, if any, were going down our street.  We were the first to leave tracks on the sidewalks.  It was like we stepped out of our busy lives into a Bronte novel (without all the conflict and drama, of course).  We laughed as our dog Gunther (the name of every dog according to Isaiah) struggled to keep his face out of the snow (it was not such a magical moment for him perhaps).  We walked, we felt the snow falling on us, we held hands.  It was a great time together.  And it was one of those moments where the Lord reminded me just how blessed and privileged I am.  Instead of giving me what I deserve, God has lavished His mercy on me in so many ways, one of them being my wife.

I want to be in those moments.  I want to appreciate them as I should.  I want my wife to know that there is absolutely nowhere else I would rather be.  I think this song came out of those desires.

For those interested in the recording process, I really struggled getting this song to sound like I wanted it to.  At first I simply had two acoustic guitar tracks and the vocals.  I decided to try an electric rhythm track and that changed the whole direction of the song.  It’s funny how one instrument or one track can have such an impact on a recording.  The overall sound of the song came out different than I thought it would when we first started.  Glenna wrote about how she struggled with recording, but I really enjoy it (at least for the most part).  It is another side to the creative process of music.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Telling the Story--part 2

Our new album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  The next several blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

"As Real as It is Strong"
(words and music by William Marshall)

-from William-
One thing that irks me a bit is the overuse of certain lines in songs about relationships (read 'love songs').  Particular genres of music (I'm looking at you, CMT) seem to struggle with this more than others, but across the board, it is common to hear lines about how far someone would walk or swim or climb to be with their significant other.  And I get it.  We use the language to symbolize how much we care.  My problem, aside from the overuse issue, is that the statements are not very realistic.  We just can't really walk that far or swim that much or climb that high.  And, even if we could, why would we ever need to actually do that?  It sounds good (and for the record I enjoy many songs that have used these tactics), but it's just not that real.

If marriage has taught me anything, it has taught me that love, true love between a man and a woman (there's my statement for the Supreme Court), is real.  It's not about thousand mile walks or ocean swims.  It's about getting up every day and loving your wife in real, practical ways.  It's about going to work and mowing the yard and trying to fix stuff (which I normally make worse).  It's about praying for her and asking for her forgiveness and trying to do better.  It's about listening and responding.  It's about learning how to love her better every day.  (Even as I write that, I am convicted about how much more I need to learn what I should probably already know.)

Trouble is, most love songs let me off the hook a little.  As long as I am willing to walk some unbelievable distance that I will never be asked to actually walk, I am fine.  I can talk a good game and never have to take a shot (had to work in my NCAA analogy, GO VOLS, at least next year).

So I wanted to write a song that celebrates the 'realness' of love.  I wanted to encourage myself to not take the easy way out, but to really work for and enjoy the every day blessings of marriage.   I may never be asked to lay down my life for my wife, but I am called to deny myself and take up my cross daily.  I am called to labor in fighting for her sanctification in the day to day battles of life.  I am called to treasure every day, every moment, as a gift.  These callings are way more difficult, and way more important and real, than climbing any mountains or swimming any seas.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Telling the Story: Part 1

Our new album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  The next several blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

"Only He Will Be Enough"
(words & music by Glenna Marshall)

A couple of years ago, William and I had a fight.
Well.  Maybe I should say argument because it has to be pretty serious for me to call it a fight, and I don't remember this being anything like that.

But, like all of our arguments and fights, I don't really remember what it was about.  Which makes me think--why did we waste our time arguing over it?


I might not remember the contents of our fight, but I do remember walking away from it thinking, "No matter what I do, I can't be everything he needs.  And he can't be everything I need. He will always fall short, no matter my expectations.  Only Christ can do and be all that."

As I often do when working something out in my head, I sat down at the piano and pieced my thoughts together into a song.

I will never be enough.  
I will never measure up.
I know all the things you need are things I cannot be.

The revelation that comes after all our disagreements is that I am selfish.  Like....incredibly selfish.  Like....I live like my husband exists to serve me.
How ugly.

There are corners of my heart that are always selfish and dark.
They will never open up or be safe for you. 

And I would be embarrassed to share this except that I feel like this is probably true of most married folks.  Be honest.  If you were less selfish, you'd fight less with your spouse.  Right?  Can I get an "Amen"?
My selfishness shows me that I will always fall short of what my husband needs.  I can't be perfect, I can't make everything right for him, I can't be the "end all" in his life.
But you know what?  I wasn't meant to be.

But I was never meant to be enough.
I was only meant to hold you up.

Paul says this in Ephesians:
"Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." (5:22-24)

And our being together is to point to the bigger picture
Of the Church and her Redeemer
So that we can show:
Only He will be enough, only He will be enough.

My role as William's wife is to submit to him, support him, and to be a reflection of the Church's role in her relationship with Christ.   
People, marriage is intended to point to the Gospel.  And our marriages can give a multitude of messages about the Gospel, whether it's positive or negative.  I wasn't meant to be everything that William needs--only Christ can do that--but I AM called to submit to him as unto the Lord.  Our marriage together is meant to mirror the relationship between Christ and the Church.  And in all the big and small show the world the we are desperate for Jesus Christ.  
I think this is the common thread in our story throughout the entire "Love & Family" album.  We are desperate for a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus Christ.  

That said, I don't need to expect my husband to be my Savior.  He will always fall short of the trumped up, illogical expectations I have in my head.  He can never meet this delusional standard we have set up for our spouses. I think marriages fail sometimes because one spouse feels the other one has failed to be what they wanted them to be.  (And maybe both feel this way.)

You will always come up short when it comes to expectations.
You will never fill my heart like they say you should.
The world says your soul mate should fill your heart should find all your satisfaction in them.  Don't get me wrong.  I am totally and completely satisfied with my husband.  I could not EVER ask for a better man.  I thank the Lord daily for the gift He has given me in William as my husband.  What we have in our marriage is such a precious gift.  
But it doesn't cover up or hide our need for Christ to sanctify us.  If anything, it highlights that need.

Even though we're satisfied, well, this love we have, it does not hide 
Our desperate need to be sanctified by the love of Christ.

Paul says to William and all husbands:
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body.  'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Eph. 5:25-33)

You were never meant to be enough.
You were only meant to lead and love.

This is William's charge: to love me like Christ loves His Church and gave Himself up for her.   So even though he takes the role of Christ here (and wow, what a serious, weighty charge this is!), he isn't Christ.  He is a husband who is following Christ's orders.  And I have to brag on him here...he does a fantastic job.  He, I believe, takes this charge seriously.  He fights for my sanctifcation, even if it hurts.  He is more concerned about my holiness and my becoming like Christ than he is about me getting all my "wants" met.  He also loves the Lord way more than he loves me.  That's so backwards in our culture, but it is the thing that enables him to be the kind of husband I need him to be.  Loving and obeying Christ more helps him to love me in this selfless, giving-himself-up-for-me, Ephesians 5 kind of way.  I praise God for this gift.  Because ultimately, this is what points to Jesus' selfless, life-laying-down, Gospel love for His Church.

And our being together is to point to the bigger picture
Of the Church and her Redeemer
So that we can show:
Only He will be enough, only He will be enough.

So the purpose of this song is twofold:
1. To remind myself that William is just a man, and that I am just a woman.  Sinful, selfish sinners who are striving to love and submit like Christ and the Church.  We were never meant to be perfection for each other. Only Christ meets the standard.  He is the standard.  But we all fall short. Extend grace to one another in your marriages.  As often as you extend it, you will also need it. 
2. Our marriages are intended to say something about the Gospel.  Who you are as husband and wife says something about Christ and His Bride.  Don't think your marriage is just about you. 

One last thing.
The beautiful by-product of being married for the purpose of the Gospel?
Married love that can be beautiful and refining.  It's a blessing that God included us in His plan.  He sure didn't have to.  

And this does not nullify that I love you more than my life.
We are blessed because we get to play a part of a beautiful mystery, 
Beautiful mystery. 

William Marshall, you are the sweetest of gifts to me.  I'm sorry we argued, but I'm thankful the Lord uses our feeble attempts for His glory and for our good.  He is faithful and good in His gifts to us.
I love you more than my life.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

::CD release::

After TWO YEARS of work (we're a little slow), our CD is finally FOR SALE!

We wrote and recorded 12 songs about our marriage, our longing for children, the Lord's goodness to us, and the blessing of the adoption of our son.

The sale of this CD will help fund our adoptions.

Please visit our BandCamp page to order.
Digital Downloads are $12.
Compact Discs (with a digital download) are $15.

We will also accept donations above the listed price as this is a fundraising endeavor.

We hope you enjoy our music!
 We are happy to share this part of our life with you.

There is a one song--track 4 "Baby, It's Not Time"--that is specific to infertility, so I wanted to draw your attention to that song and hope that it is encouraging to you.  Tracks 5 and 6 are also in response to infertility though it is not specifically mentioned.   Just FYI to my IF readers.  :)

Special thanks to those who donated their time and talents to this project:
*Brandon Blankenship (lead guitar, mandolin, banjo)
*Lacy Bennet (cello)
*Josh Govier (bass)
*Brett Gibson (recording assistance)
*Lauren Athalia (photography, cover art, graphic design)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

::a little plug::


I think I lost just about all of my readership. 

I guess that's what I get for not blogging for over a bad.  Sorry, friends!
I wanted to give you a heads-up for some up-coming news.
My husband and I are getting ready to release a self-made album to help fund our travel costs to Ethiopia (for whenever we do actually get a referral and have to will happen some day, right???).
We wrote and recorded 12 songs that will take you through our ten years of marriage, years of infertility, ministry, the adoption of our son, and our life as a family together. We each wrote 6 songs, and the songs are placed in an order that hopefully tells a story.  We sang, played our instruments, and pulled in a few other musician friends to help with bass, electric guitar, and cello.  My husband recorded everything on our laptop, mixed and mastered it all (hours upon hours of work!), and then sent it off for reproduction and copyrighting.  My sister is a talented graphic designer/photographer in the Nashville area (if you're looking for a photog in that area, look her up!) and she did a wonderful album cover/design work for us. took about 18 months, but it's finally done and the reproduction company told us they would start reproducing the CD on Monday.  We are building our bandcamp site, and the album should be available for ordering and/or downloading in about 2 weeks, Lord willing. 

The reason I'm plugging this here is that there are a few songs on the album that were born out our our pain during the dark days of our infertility. One is very specifically about infertility.  Seeing as how there is a shortage of songs on this particular topic, I thought it relevant to plug it here.  I hope, hope, hope that others who have walked this hard road will find great encouragement through our music.  We are NOT professionals, but we are pleased with our homespun project. 

Come back soon for ordering details! 
If you decide to order a copy and then actually don't hate it, and could possibly be coerced into promoting it on your blog, we'd think you were on drugs be so grateful! Just let me know and I can give you information for plugging it.  Hopefully our music will encourage others while also helping us bring our kiddos home from Africa. 

More to come!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

elusive contentment

Tap, tap. 

Is this thing on?

I know it's been a while. I feel a little rusty, but I've been thinking a lot about this little spot on the interwebs and wondering what to do with it.  Infertility, while still something I deal with--I supposed nothing has changed physically--well, it's not something I think about as often as I used to. 

A little update on me:
My son is almost five (gulp) years old.  Kindergarten is just around the corner which basically has me in hysterics every time I think about packing his cute little bum off to school.  Okay, I must stop thinking about that before I start crying (again).

We are still trying to adopt from Ethiopia, but the red tape just gets longer and longer and referrals seemed to have nearly come to a screeching halt.  Plus, we are far, far, far from from the top of our agency's list, so even though it's been a year since we submitted our dossier, we fully expect another year of waiting for a match.  It's completely frustrating, and for a fuller explanation, you can read more here.

We are doing well in church ministry (praise God), and it surprises me to no end that we've been here nearly eight years.  God is doing all kinds of new things in our life and in our life as a church, which is simultaneously so exciting and totally overwhelming.  But a good kind of overwhelming. 

My husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage this summer, which dumbfounds me.  WHAT.  I'm not 22 yrs old anymore?!  I'm coming up on 32.  When did that happen?  I'm starting to feel it when I creakily pull myself from bed in the mornings.  (Don't judge.  I have a bad back.)  Still, I look back ten years and think, gosh, we barely knew one another!  I know that's not entirely true, but sure does deepen and grow into something precious and strong after several years together.  I can only imagine what my marriage will be like ten years from now.  Can it really continue to be better than this?  I am so profoundly blessed with a compassionate, kind, patient husband who loves me with all of my quirks, ugly internal flaws, and self-centeredness.  I thank the Lord almost daily for making this man my husband.  I just wouldn't do with a different man. 
Ten years of marriage brings me full circle to this subject of infertility because ten years of marriage means roughly nine years of infertility for us.  And I would think that acknowledging the length of time would make me panic.  I mean, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to child-bearing years.  The clock is ticking faster than ever.  But, I guess I've just gotten to a place of normalcy with it. 
It just is what it is. 
And adoption is the path we have chosen and feel that God has called us to.  So, most of the time I can put infertility behind me.  It doesn't bother me like it used to, and I am so thankful for that. 

My main reason for this post today, besides testing the waters here--I'm not sure I have a whole lot to say about infertility anymore--is to share a book with you that I read recently. 

Recently my church went through Stephen Altrogge's book The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence.  This is an easy read (easy as in short, not easy as in easy to swallow), and Altrogge addresses the sometimes touchy subject of contentment for the Christian.  I would recommend it to many people in my life for a plethora of reasons--number one being that we all, yes ALL, struggle with contentment.  But my reason for recommending it here is that Altrogge refers to infertility several times throughout his book as being an area where people are prone to discontentment.  Infertility is definitely not a theme in this book, but it is used repeatedly in his examples of difficult situations wherein it is hard to find contentment. 

By taking us back to the Gospel over and over, Altrogge very carefully and compellingly points us to Jesus Christ, in whom contentment must be found.  He also reminds us that we live between two worlds, fighting for faith in a broken, fall world while longing for heaven.  His last chapter, "The End of Tears" was a sweet comfort to me, and another instance in which he makes reference to infertility, among other struggles:
         "Let's allow our current battles with discontentment to serve as reminders of heaven....When your heart is breaking because you can't conceive a baby, rest your broken heart in Jesus.  Then, through your tears, look to the day when Jesus will wipe away every tear and say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' " (Altrogge, p. 134)

I found this book to be a funny, practical, both lighthearted but heavy-weighted exhortation to look at Jesus for satisfaction.  Our hearts were made to find satisfaction in Him.

I hope you'll look this one up and be encouraged.