Monday, August 27, 2007

BATTING IDEAS AROUND

Hey all,

Since I seem to be on a provision kick lately, I thought I'd toss this out there.

Some of you know my husband is very involved in the Christian music industry. He has played in bands as well as ran sound for nearly every major (and many underground) bands out there. He does some secular stuff too, but mostly Christian venues.

Anyway, recently one of the concert/festival promoters he works with mentioned I could sign my books at the concerts. This is so cool because it's like a merging of both of our ministries. Okay, my church hates that term, but I mean it in the sense that, If you’re a surrendered-to-God-Christian, you HAVE a ministry, meaning what outlet God is using you and your gifts to draw people to Himself. So ministry is about HIM, not US. Just so we’re clear in case anyone from my church is listening. LOL! I love my church by the way. Anyway, book signings would require travel, and so do sound gigs. So this merging would actually give our family time together rather than cause us time apart.


Another cool thing...he may also start running sound at NASCAR races for infield entertainment. So far, 12-24 races. The really cool thing about this is I was raised on the track practically. LOL! We went to the races as far back as I can remember and in fact, I may have been potty trained in Pit Row. LOL! Going to the races was one of the fondest times I remember with my family.

Except for that one time the tractor truck at the tractor pulls ended up with it's throttle stuck wide open and came out of the mud bog...crashed through the fence and nearly took out my entire family. I'm talking the first several rows of bleachers were splintered. It landed on us...my mom's glass makeup container crushed in her lap. I ended up shoved between the bleachers somehow, and my cousin's tennis shoes, which were seated on either side of me were shredded. They found my hair in the tires. God definitely had his hand on my entire family that day...aka another form of provision is God's protection. Other than getting scraped up, scared out of our wits and mighty muddy, no one was seriously hurt.

Anyway, back to the NASCAR thing. I started some racing (not "racy" Very Big Grin!)stories a few years back, one was titled Thrill of The Chase... The Chase is actually a NASCAR finaling race. Anyway, it would be so cool, if, after I set the artillery-leaden stories I'm currently writing aside, if I could pick up those racing stories again.

I love to write anything high adrenaline, and in fact have branded myself (writing-wise) on My Space, Shoutlife, etc. as "High Caliber Romance. High Octane Faith."

Harlequin (my publisher) currently has a merger with NASCAR for a line of stories. And while they won't launch that line with unknown/unproven authors, in a few years I will have hopefully built up my readership enough to maybe try for one of those if my editors are cool with it. The stories are commonly set in the Midwest where I live and have a Midwest feel. My agent at the time mentioned the NASCAR stories to me, and the information she obtained was that I could write low sensuality and include a faith element. Not sure if that'll be the case when and if I decide to pursue this with God and my editor's blessings but it's something for you all to pray about.

I've batted around a few Non-Fiction ideas. One on Impartation of Spiritual Gifts...and the other music and faith related. Basically I had this idea that, since I'm backstage with hubby before, during and after concerts, I usually get to interact with the bands. In fact, my children splashed around in a hot tub with one of Mercy Me's guitar players' children since the promoter put us up at the same hotel. It's these encounters where you meet the bands and get to see their hearts. Also, to be able to pray for them because life on the road is tough if their families aren't traveling with them.

I've heard so many stories about how songs came about, or how people were touched by certain songs, or how certain songs were inspired, I've started writing them down as a self-study about the kind of impact words can have to heal hearts and situations. Who knows if anything will come of the ideas book-wise. It's encouraging to me to see God's hand through music because I think He works through books (even fiction) much the same way. At the last sound gig we went to, Mercy Me headlined with several other bands. One of those bands was The Least of These. One of Ben Calhoun's (Photo Above) songs (on his solo album) was inspired by a friend of his. She prepared and worked hard and saved to be able to go on a missions trip. She organized concerts to raise money for it. She got the money, but was killed just a couple of days before her flight was to leave. One of the band members telling this story said he told God he didn't understand why God would take this girl's life. A life who served Him. He didn't know what to do or say, so he wrote a song. It's absolutely beautiful and titled Fall Like Rain. Check out Ben’s My Space Page here: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=193882378

Stories such as this inspire me.

I've often thought of writing a book about this sort of thing, but then I found out CCM does something similar called Behind the Song...or something like that. Probably similar to MTV's (I think) Behind the Music. So I set that idea aside, but still write the stories down because they remind me of God's provision in grief and in times of suffering. Music is healing, as is laughter. Anyway, at this concert, when Mercy Me got ready to go onstage, I had a tidal wave of compassion hit me for the people sitting directly behind me. I hadn't met them, didn't know them. All I knew was I was very nearly in tears during the entire set because my heart was squeezing with empathy for them. I had no idea why. I knew God knew though, so I spent the better part of the set just interceding silently for them. After the concert, my daughter turned around to them and casually mentioned that she's sad because Brownie (her guinea pig) died. The woman leaned forward, held my daughter's face in her hands so tenderly and said, "I'm so sorry about your pet. I know how you feel. My brother died two weeks ago."

My heart fell to my toes. I began to talk to her and she shared with me that he'd drowned two weeks prior. Her and her sister (sitting next to her at the concert, along with their other brother) were coming back from their brother's funeral and they were arguing. Things were tense between them. Then the radio came on and Mercy Me's song "Imagine" came on. If you haven't heard that, it basically is from the point of view of a man who is singing to God about what Heaven will be like. He asks Jesus (in the song) questions such as "Will I stand in your presence? Or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing Hallelujah? Will I be able to sing at all? (Etc, Etc.) I can only imagine, I can only imagine."

During the song in the car ride, the two sisters were stricken with remembrance that Mercy Me was their brother's (the one who drowned) favorite song and Imagine was his favorite song. She said they knew, just knew God intended them to hear that song. It caused them to patch things up and put better perspective on things. After the song, the radio announcer offered free tickets to the Mercy Me concert (where I met them). They called and won the tickets. It was like God wanted them there. (Provision in grief) So during the Mercy Me set, they played “Imagine” last...and that's probably why my heart was about to squeeze out of its chest for this family. They'd lost a loved one so very recently, but here's his favorite band playing his favorite song...and the song is about a man pondering what Heaven will be like. Only during the playing of that song I think they were realizing God was speaking to them about what their brother is experiencing in Heaven. http://www.mercyme.org/main/

So the words, for this family, became not only touching, but literally a balm from God's fingers pressed to the grief wounds in their hearts. And though they miss him, God gave them hope. Their story profoundly ministered to me, and that's the sort of thing I'd like to put in the NF book. God's provision or something about how He ministers through the creative arts...music, books, etc.

I'm just tossing this out there for feedback. Would this sort of thing be of interest to you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Come on y'all. Don't be shy!

Extremely ponderous today....Squirrel

3 comments:

Hope Chastain said...

Yes. Definitely.

Sometimes the Lord takes us somewhere, and we wonder, what on earth are we doing HERE? If we wait and listen, usually it's an opportunity to witness or to help someone. The other night after church, we were just going to to go home, because it was a really special and precious time, and we were tired from joy. However, glancing at the gas gauge, we decided we'd better stop by Wal-Mart for gas, and, since we were going anyway, to get a few groceries. On the way out, we saw that the greeter was someone we met a while back and had connected with on a spiritual level. It turned out her family needed all kinds of prayer, and she herself was suffering from either pneumonia or bronchitis. It helped her just to share her prayer needs with us, and to know that someone else would be praying with her, besides her church family. If the Lord hadn't sent us there, we wouldn't have known the desperate physical needs her family has right now.

God uses you and your family, Squirl. You are such a blessing to everyone who knows you, even those of us who only know you on-line and by telephone and e-mail! Your faith is a shining light. Yes, I know a lot of people would be interested in the stories behind the songs. Our drummer sang "I Can Only Imagine" last week, and it always makes us cry. Being a songwriter myself, I can tell you, there is almost always a story behind a song, even if it isn't directly related to something that has happened to me. Other people can inspire songs, too. Emotions. Places. It would be great to hear some of those stories.

Thanks so much for sharing all this with us. I'm still praying about the NASCAR things. Praise God that He took care of your family when the tractor pull could have killed you all! My blood ran cold when I read that about your hair being in the tires. Your angels worked overtime THAT day!

Bat some more ideas around! I'm sure others will respond when they get a minute to stop by! ;-)

Oh, I sent you a friend request in my real name over on myspace, so I hope to see you there soon!

Shauna said...

Wow! Squirel, those stories gave me goose bumps. I checked out the song and can only say, "Powerful."

I lead worship (I don't like that phrase) at our church every other week and I've sung Imagine a few times. It always brings tears to eyes and people to their knees. I have never written a song myself, but I have found that there are some songs that have a special annointing. Music is a powerful medium that helps us to connect with our Father. It gives those of us who aren't great "talkers" a way to express our hearts, whether through our songs or the music of gifted songwriters.

I had no idea that your husband does sound. Your family must be extremely musical as you mentioned being involved in music as well. My heart gave a leap when I read that. My hubby just decided to take a year off from playing guitar to run sound for our team. Tragic circumstances left us without a sound tech and opened a door for him to move into that area again. It's something he's extremely gifted at and has a passion and drive for. It's exciting to see him in an area where he shines, although I'm gonna miss having him on my team. He's still technically on "my" team, but it's hard adjusting to the change. We've been playing music together for almost 8 years and I'm balking at this. *sigh* On the flip side, our sound has never been so good. LOL!

I'm thrilled that opportunities are opening up for your family to travel together and serve together. I believe, as you do, that our ministry is whatever God places before us and calls us to do. He has called you to write and I know first hand (being a voracious reader) the impact that a fictional story can have on one's life. In fact, I got one of my favorite verses (which I've used for planning worship) from a book. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) the second half of the verse.

"He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

I think a book based on the origins of songs would be wonderful. Putting some personal experiences with the bands in it would add to reader interest and make it seem more intimate.

I've never been into NASCAR and have never seen a race, but you have me intrigued. I'll pray that you know God's leading in that decision.

Your post really touched me. The photos, the stories, the music. Thank you! God Bless!

ScrollSquirrel said...

Thanks, ladies!
I'm glad the post encouraged you. Your comments encouraged me. Thanks so much for sharing your stories and your hearts. Thanks for your prayers as well. It means so much.

Hugs,
Squirrel