Meet my friend Josh. A few months ago, Josh was in town, and we were at a local coffee shop catching up on life, industry biz, and the things God has taught us in the last few years. Josh has always been one of my favorite colleagues. He’s been one of TMC’s BIGGEST cheerleaders since we were introduced many years ago. He regularly texts the 3 of us (me, Dave & Bill) encouraging messages, and lets us know that he’s listening. One of things I love most about Josh is that he really is a fan of the music. He’s not allowed life, failures, or jadedness to seep into his heart.

Over coffee, Josh challenged me to step it up on my blog. He told me what I already knew. “You could be doing so much more, Carmen!” And he is right. I don’t write nearly as often as I should. I have ideas in my head all the time; they just rarely make it to fingers & keyboard. But, being the opportunist that I am, I said to Josh, “Guest blog for me. Tell my friends everything you just told me. Oh, and throw in a recipe too.” Josh loves to cook. I also asked him to share a story behind a song he has worked. And yes, that last line is “industry speak.” Josh is what you call a “Record Promoter.” Record labels hire him to promote singles to radio stations. There is A LOT more that goes into it than just this. As a matter of fact, there’s SO MUCH MORE that goes into the music biz, way more than folks realize. One example: why you have singles (one chosen track on a record) promoted/released to radio in a systematic way, as opposed to every single song on the record all at once. And now with Pandora, Spotify, Streaming … the music business has changed dramatically in the last decade+. I’m getting a little to deep at this point, and most folks probably aren’t all that interested, but, suffice it to say, Josh champions music, artists, and fully believes that our genre can change people’s lives. Including his own.

So meet my friend, Josh. Oh, and one more note: For King & Country did not let Josh go. He was working for their label at the time. So, I just wanted to make that clarification. He actually still works with them (and their record label) quite a bit, independently now. Only God can do that. I’m going to share his story first, and then his soup. Josh is married to Amy and they have two children, Alex & Abby.

This isn’t as much a story behind a song as it is a story of how God used a song in my life exactly when I needed it…a lot like He does for you if you have ears to listen.

Someone recently asked me what my biggest failure in life was and what I learned from it. Have you ever reflected on that? It’s really tough to look back and remember what it all felt like, but I remember it like it was yesterday. For me, it’s important to look back because when I do, I can clearly see the faithfulness of God in my life.

I lost my job in July of 2013. It was my dream job. I worked with people I loved and respected and I had an opportunity to play a role in launching the careers of some incredible artists, including a band you might know called for KING & COUNTRY. A lot happened in this season of my life that’s not important for this post, but what is important is that I failed…big time. I didn’t handle the things that came against me the way I wanted to. The success that we had went to my head. I bought my own hype. I responded in pride way more often than I even realized. It all led to a moment where I found myself on the outside of this company I loved so much. I was so afraid.

My wife and I had an 8 month old at home (who’s 5 now). We were 600 miles from our families and we were freaking out. On top of that, the loss of this job hurt. It hurt much worse than I ever imagined it could hurt. My initial response was “I’ll show YOU”. I started my own company. I thought I was going to save the music business. I did a lot of things I’m proud of in those two years, but what I’m most fond of as I look back was the time I spent working through that hurt…examining it, exploring it, feeling it. I realized during that time that I was building my entire life on what I did for a living. It became my identity. It became the thing that made me feel like I mattered…like I was someone.

It was easy to see this in some ways because everything I worked on for two years completely failed. I’d start on a project or managing an artist’s career and would have success with it. I’d start thinking I was something again and then it would all change…and fail…or I’d lose the client. I joined forces with a dear friend of mine who was having great success and then he lost his biggest client. It was a crushing blow. Nothing was working. It was like God was stripping away every layer of pride in my life until all I had was Jesus. I spent so much time seeking after God during those months. I didn’t know what else to do.

There are a thousand layers to this story that I won’t expand on here. However, I will share this. There was a moment in January of 2015 where I realized clearly what the Lord was doing. You see, He wants US. He doesn’t need us to become “someone”. He made us in His image. We are special…precious and honored in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). My failure led me to surrender. My greatest fears and pain led me to seek after Jesus. I didn’t need a career or success and realized quickly that those things, at the expense of my kids, my family, my marriage…they aren’t worth it. No money or success in the world is worth my kids growing up without me around…or my marriage falling apart. Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.”

I spent months and months seeking God. I yielded my dreams to Him. I became willing to do anything to provide for my family…even to the point of packing up our lives and moving back home to live with my parents for 10 months. I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew this: God would provide. He would do it.

In this period of surrender, He brought a good friend into my path who wondered how I was doing. I shared with him that I was miserable and broke and broken and that I was quitting the music business to move back home and that I was done…but so good with that. God was working and I knew it would be ok. He wasn’t ok with me quitting so he asked if I’d be involved in promoting music to radio stations again (which is my foundation in the music business). I said yes…I’d do whatever…as long as God was in it.

I had just spent the previous 34 years of my life doing things MY way. Seeking after MY dreams. Building MY kingdom. If anything good was going to come in this new season of my life, it would be because God did it. Not me.

One of the very first songs I got to share with radio stations was from an artist named Lauren Daigle. The song was called “First” and it was my theme song during the darkest times of my life up to that point. I had listened to it every day just to remember that Jesus was truly all I needed. Reflecting back on this gives me a lot of joy. He’s really been in every detail of my life…and yours. He wrote the story (read Psalm 139).

This song that had been medicine to my soul was one of the first songs I got to work with in a new era of my life and it became of the biggest songs in all of 2015. God has continued to bring me songs that I need EVERY day of my life…”Trust In You” from Lauren Daigle, “Great Are You Lord” from One Sonic Society, “King of the World” from Natalie Grant, “O Come To The Altar” from Elevation Worship, “Have It All” from Brian Johnson, “It’s Gonna Be Ok” from Brian and Jenn Johnson, “Take Courage” from Kristene DiMarco, “Do It Again” from Elevation Worship, “Reckless Love” from Cory Asbury. I need these reminders of who God is, what He’s done for me and how He continues to be faithful.

If you’re in a place where you have nothing left. Seek after Jesus. He never fails. He is enough. He is faithful and He is good.

Here’s a playlist I made of the songs that carried me through my darkest moments:

This is Josh Part 1. – The Story. I think I resonated with Josh’s story more than I realized. I had my dream job in country radio. And then in a flash, I didn’t. I thought my career world was over. But then, God gave me exceedingly and abundantly more than I ever could have imagined. And in the process, I found Him again. Maybe I’ll share that story soon. But, in the meantime, Josh. Part 2 – The Soup. is coming next.

I often tease that I don’t believe my girlfriend, Becca, has ever sinned. Seriously. Becca is THE SWEETEST woman you will ever meet. Early on in our friendship, I would get this question the most about Becca: “Is she really that sweet?” I would laugh, and say, “YES! She really is!” But, she’s so much more than sweet. She’s wise. She’s loving. She’s fun. She’s loyal. She’s empathetic. She’s optimistic. And she’s one of my favorite people. EVER. I love her! Becca is the kind of friend everyone wants and needs. My favorite times with Becca have been curled up in her sunroom at her home in Nashville or on my back patio. Both places with a hot cup of coffee and hours of conversation about our faith, our marriages, our kids, our fears, our hopes, and what this journey God has called us to looks like. We both love Jesus with our whole hearts, but are upfront about insecurities that often creep in. Becca also happens to be married to one of your favorite CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) artists, Josh Wilson.

I texted Bec a few weeks ago, and asked her to blog about Motherhood. I told her to pick any aspect or topic that she wanted, and this is what she is sharing with us today!

Let’s hear it for all the Moms who are busting it every. single. day. Even though we can be dog-tired, emotionally-spent, and running in all directions, we love our babies and strive to do this Motherhood thing to the very best of our ability.

Meet my girlfriend, Becca:

Bec & Asher

 


Hello, my name is Becca Wilson. I am a wife and a mom, and I struggle with worry, pride, comparison, guilt that I’m not doing enough and the desire to be everyone’s best friend–ever, in the whole world! (Now you say, “Hello Becca!”)

Oh—we aren’t in a support group?! 😉

I struggled with these things big time before I became a mama, and as I was warned, motherhood has just intensified all my shortcomings.

I thought I knew what “stolen my heart” meant. I have the most wonderful, fun, loving, caring husband who I love so much and am in love with. But oh my goodness! Two years and four months ago, my heart went outside my body, and I became crazy about a boy named Asher. A boy who’s name literally means “happy.” He is joy and fun and LIFE and music and giggles (and typical toddler tears and tantrums). I now understand what I could have never understood before. You are just simply nuts in every way. Well, I guess I shouldn’t speak for you, so I AM SIMPLY NUTS IN EVERY WAY. I think that first year I was truly a crazy woman. Crazy in love. Crazy in worry. Crazy in insecurity. Crazy in comparison. Crazy overjoyed. I know every person is different as they enter motherhood, but I really felt like I entered it so very happily but so very ungracefully. I would hope I’m not alone in these feelings.

Bec & Josh

It certainly doesn’t help that we live in the age of social media. We watch others’ lives through filters and think they have it absolutely all together. We sit in our rocker holding our sleeping baby, feeling lonely, wondering if anyone is thinking about us, and we watch people be together in community. We see this mom who just gave birth to her twelfth child. She’s preparing healthy meals for her family for the entire month, posting about her favorite book she just read, with her perfect physique because she works out every day. (Some of these things happened, some of them didn’t, but you get the point!) These questions often pop into my head: Have I done something wrong? Does everyone else know something that I don’t about how to do this gig? Am I totally off track?

Being a follower of Jesus Christ, I also often worry that I’m not doing enough in His eyes and for His kingdom. I see others moving and grooving and accomplishing wonderful things (again, through social media…blah!), and I compare and regret that I am not doing enough as a person who longs to live and love as Jesus did.

Finally, it does NOT help that I am an extrovert and have learned more than ever before that I need connection with people to be energized. When you have a precious six month old that–just being completely transparent here–does not take a bottle and ONLY sleeps in your arms. . .you aren’t getting out and about much!

Motherhood threw me into the deep end, as it does with everyone who experiences it. Like I mentioned before, motherhood so magnified my shortcomings that I was close to crumbling emotionally and physically in every way. Leave it to loneliness, insecurity, comparison, and a torturous lack of sleep to bring you to your knees. Praise the Lord, at some point my heart and mind (and body) realized I needed to stop and REST. I needed to REST in the fact that I am not here to please any other person. I wrestled for so long about what “Becca’s purpose” was here on this planet. I would constantly go back, again and again, to the fact that my purpose (along with anyone else who says they are a Christian) is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). I cannot look to the left or the right and compare my story to anyone else’s.


Our world affirms and praises those who are doing grandiose things, and our culture wants to measure you by your accomplishments. You can’t measure a whole lot in my life except for the dust on my floor and the amount of blueberries in my kid’s belly. Motherhood is not glamorous. (Neither is Daddyhood.) It is mundane. It is hard. It is exhausting. It’s day in, day out. It can be lonely. But it’s also rich and eternal. And I believe my Savior, who I call King, Jesus, sees and cares and loves and provides for those that are doing this kind of work. And that’s really all that matters.

Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness. [emphasis added] (Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster)

Thank you, Jesus, for making this mama’s small work grand. I give it to You.

As I sit down to write this, it’s Valentine’s Day 2018. I was scrolling my Facebook notifications and came across this post from February 14, 2009.

Backstory:

We often tease in my family about how little I got in trouble growing up. This is not to say that I was a perfect kid, because I certainly was not, but I was much more scared about getting in trouble than tempted with the enjoyment of doing something wrong. Here was the line. . .and there was Haley, 20 feet behind it! I was the kid who grew up in church. I went to children’s church and Sunday school. I was the one who tried to talk to my friends about Jesus and invite them to youth group. I prayed every night and tried to represent Jesus as best I could. I was the classic “do all the right things and say all the right things” kind of kid.

I had one dream growing up: to attend the University of Florida! Having no connections to the school, I chose it in kindergarten because of a radio station bet my mom was involved with. (This was back in her country radio days.) For my entire academic career, UF was the school I worked toward. Throughout high school, I walked the halls saying things like ,“When I go to Florida. . .” or “When I get in.” Not “if,” but “when.” Not at all arrogant, right?

So February 13, 2009 came. I had applied to UF with an impressive high school transcript and a great SAT score. Everything was looking great, and all I had to do now was wait for their positive reply. I refreshed the computer, and to my disbelief I found a big, ugly, “We regret to inform you…” Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions that night. I felt like everything I had worked for and wanted my whole life – up to that point – had been taken away. To be very honest, I was mad at God. I remember going through each stage of grief with Him.

“God, you know this was the only thing I’ve ever wanted. Why would you not give this to me?”

“God, please! I’ll do anything if you let my appeal get through!”

These kinds of complaints went on and on and on in my prayers. Eventually, I even came to the point where I said—and I’m cringing as I write this—“You knew how important this was to me and you didn’t give it to me. I don’t want a relationship with you anymore.”  We swap pain for anger because it’s easier for a while.

Clearly, part of me saw God as my spiritual Santa Claus.

I realize now that getting into UF was an idol in my life. I felt like I needed to perform academically to be successful, and getting into the toughest school in our state was a way to measure how great I was. As the shy, overweight, insecure teenager I had been, getting into the toughest school in our state was a way for me to feel valued, like I was finally worthy of a great thing.

So, we filed an appeal. My mom and I skipped work and school one day and drove to Gainesville to try to talk to an administrator. My mom, who typically wouldn’t take personal liberties to this degree, even asked her Gainesville listeners if anyone knew of a way in for me. My desperation became my mom’s desperation and she so badly wanted to “fix” it for me. It just made no sense! My academic record was flawless. My test scores were high enough. My community service excelled. None of it helped. Not only did the door stay closed, but I’m pretty sure it was dead-bolted, with a brick wall built in front of it. The answer was very clearly “No.” God was allowing my dreams to be shattered, and in the process, shattering some of my false ideas about Him.

As it turned out (fortunately) God is not who I thought He was. He didn’t reject me, even though I had at my low point rejected Him. He pursued me hard, so that not even a year later I found myself sitting at a Passion conference in January 2010. Over three days, the messages and songs softened and healed my heart. I knew God was pulling me back to Him. And from that moment on, I never looked back.

For the next few years, the days around Valentine’s Day used to be so hard for me. Accepting God’s different plan for my life and seeing His goodness in drawing me back didn’t fully remove the sting. I still felt anger, resentment, embarrassment, rejection—all the things I thought I should be past, but wasn’t. It wasn’t until another Passion conference in 2015 that I felt like God was asking me to fully release it to Him, and by then I was finally ready to be obedient.

Now that I’ve come through this experience and graduated college (not UF – Go Bulls!), the thing I still think about is what I wish I could tell my 18 year old self, the very thing I’m now trying to tell my high school Young Life friends who are dealing with their own similar struggles.

Looking back to the devastated teenage Haley, I wish I could tell her about the God who is planning remarkable things for her life, things better than she could ever dream up herself!

I wish I could tell her that her value and worth is not even remotely based on the college she attends or where she ends up in her class.

I wish I could tell her that God loves her far more than she’ll ever comprehend.

I wish I could tell her that before she even knew what rejection was, she was chosen by God.

I wish I could tell her that God is not about crushing our emotions, dreams and goals. If it is a “no,” … it’s because there is a greater “yes!”

Postscript

I know that compared to the stories so many people carry, not getting into my first-choice college isn’t a “real” problem. It’s entirely a first world thing. But February 13 came and went this year, and I didn’t even think twice about it. That date doesn’t hang like a weight around my neck anymore. The lessons God taught me and the outpouring of grace and love He showed me, have changed me into a person that sees God for who is He is and loves God because He’s God. He’s my creator. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. His plans truly are good, and better than we can imagine.

USF Homecoming 2017