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.