Surrendering Your Dreams to God
Christian singer and songwriter Laura Story talks about the song, "Indescribable," that launched her career and tells how she's found joy in her circumstances. Laura's husband, Martin, whom she's been married to since 2004, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lives with memory deficit.
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Laura Story talks about the song, “Indescribable,” that launched her career and tells how she’s found joy in her circumstances.
Surrendering Your Dreams to God
Bob: When singer/songwriter Laura Story’s husband, Martin, experienced a traumatic brain tumor more than a decade ago, things got very challenging on a practical level.
Laura: It's been a challenge, also, with our faith, just trying to understand how a God who loves us and has a good plan for our lives—why He would allow such hardship and why He wouldn't answer our prayers necessarily the way—you know, we've been praying for complete healing for Martin for 13 years now and have not seen that yet. We still believe God's capable of it, but we're learning what it looks like to trust His timing/to trust His plan above our own.
Just because He's not working the way that we think that He should, it doesn't mean that He's not at work in ways that are best for us and that bring Him the most glory.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 22nd. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We'll hear from Laura Story today about how she learned that sometimes blessings fall from raindrops. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I really think what we have for our listeners today is kind of an early Christmas present.
Ann: You’re right.
Bob: I so love Laura Story. When she was here, and we had a chance, with the staff, to interview her and to hear her sing, it was just a sweet time.
Dave: Well, it’s amazing she can sing like that after pulling up in a van with all her little kids, like hanging off her arms. [Laughter]
Bob: It was early—
Ann: —early in the morning.
Bob: —8:30/9:00 in the morning, and we got the whole staff together. For those who don’t know, Laura is a singer/songwriter from Nashville. She wrote the song, Indescribable/wrote the song, Blessings: “…what if your blessings come from raindrops?” She had just written a book called I Give Up, all about surrender, when she came here. We’re going to hear that conversation with Laura, which was recorded with our staff, here in just a minute.
But before we do, we’re hoping maybe some of our listeners might have an early Christmas present for us; [Laughter] because we’re a week-and-a-half from the end of the year. We just had some friends of the ministry, who came along and said, “We know you guys have a matching gift in place, and we’d like to add to that matching gift amount to really encourage FamilyLife Today listeners to get onboard and support the ministry.” Our matching gift has moved from $2 million to $2.7 million.
Ann: —which is an amazing gift!
Dave: It’s incredible!
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I’m looking through the radio waves, and through the podcasts, and saying, “Join us! We need you. We love you. Hopefully, you love us; and that means, you’re not going to just pray for us; you’re going to say, ‘Wow! You mean somebody’s going to double my gift?’ Yes, they are; so join us, and let’s make a difference this year.”
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Dave: And, one last thing—remember this: “There are some people who can’t give this year because of COVID—
Dave: —“they might have lost a job. If God has blessed you, please bless on their behalf, in a way that is, maybe, more than you ever thought you would give.”
Bob: Just last week, we got a very kind thank-you note from a mom, who said, “FamilyLife Today is a lifeline for me, for my marriage, for what I’m trying to do in raising my kids.” She is plugging in every day so that she can get the help and hope she needs as she tries to raise her children, according to the Scriptures, and keep her marriage focused on Him as well.
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28 years—it’s kind of a best of the best. Both of those are our way of saying, “Thank you for standing with us here at yearend.” You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a yearend donation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Now, it’s our turn to give you a Christmas gift; so here is the conversation that we had, not long ago, with singer/songwriter Laura Story.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Interview before FamilyLife® Staff]
[Cheers and applause]
Bob: You wrote a song—what was it?—2000 and—
Laura: It was back when I was in college, so it was 2000-something. Yes, Chris found my song, Indescribable, and recorded it. It was his first radio single.
Bob: So we've got to keep order. Would you play and lead us in Indescribable?
Bob: Okay; let's do that.
Laura: [Playing piano and singing Indescribable] [Applause]
Indescribable I wrote—I really was just driving down the interstate near Asheville, North Carolina, one day—and just a beautiful sunset. It was this gorgeous landscape I was looking at. I was reminded of, you know, in the Psalms, where David says, “The heavens are declaring the glory of God.” I was really awestruck by the beauty. There were no words to describe the beauty I was experiencing right there. It was just a reminder to me of the fact that He truly is indescribable; He's an indescribable God.
Bob: As I've talked to people about you and known you—
Laura: Oh, no.
Dave: Uh, oh.
Bob: —I've just found myself telling people: “Laura Story is one of those people who has faced an unusual amount of adversity in her life and reflects joy every time I see her.” I just want to know how you do that.
Laura: Bob, thank you. Man, that was overwhelming. We've known each other for—
Bob: —a while.
Laura: —quite a while now.
The adversity that Bob refers to—so I've been married to my husband, Martin, for
15 years now. Within the first two years of our marriage, Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The plan we had for our life; the plan that we had so graciously—
Ann: —planned for God?
Laura: Yes; [Laughter] we had drafted it up; we just needed Him to sign off on it. [Laughter] Very quickly, we realized that this was not the plan. This was not what our lives were going to look like.
Martin—you know, we have a wonderful life/four fantastic kids, but Martin still lives with a disability. He lives with a vision deficit and a memory deficit. It's a challenge to us, just in daily living. He faces a lot of challenges, and it's been a challenge, also, with our faith—trying to understand how a good and—a God who loves us and has a good plan for our lives—why He would allow such hardship, and why He wouldn't answer our prayers necessarily the way—you know, we've been praying for complete healing for Martin for 13 years now have not seen that yet.
We still believe God's capable of it, but we're learning what it looks like to trust His timing; to trust His plan above our own. Just because He's not working the way that we think that He should, it doesn't mean that He's not at work in ways that are best for us and that bring Him the most glory.
Ann: Did you ever go through a time that you struggled with that?—with what God was doing?—like, “God, what are You doing?”
Laura: Oh, every—[Laughter]—you're saying that in the past tense? [Laughter] Oh, man! We're always struggling with that on some level.
One of the neat things about the Scriptures is that they actually give space for that. I love the Psalms, because they remind us, as believers, that we don't have to always have this tidy, put-together faith. You see a guy like David—one of my favorite psalms is Psalm 13, where he says, “How long, O Lord. Will You forget me forever? How long are You going to hide from me?”
I was so comforted to see, not just that David said that, as a man after God's own heart, but that God included it. However that worked, with Him compiling this God-breathed Scripture together, He includes a guy who shows doubt/who is honest about feeling forsaken.
What I love about David is that he ends with this volitional decision: “I will trust in Your lovingkindness. My heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to You, because You've dealt bountifully with me.” He's saying, “I've looked back on Your track record of faithfulness in my life, and even though I don't understand what You're doing right now, I believe that You're a good God, and I'm going to continue to praise You.”
Bob: Think about this—that's not just a song David wrote out of his own personal experience, but it's in the hymnbook of Israel.
Laura: Oh, yes.
Bob: So, they say, “Everybody, get out your hymnbook and let's all sing”—
Laura: —“about David's bad day.” [Laughter]
Bob: Yes, which is our bad day—
Laura: Oh, absolutely!
Bob: —which is what all of us have gone through. The invitation God gives us to lament is part of God acknowledging, “I know you're frail. I know you're feeble; and in the process of being honest about what you're going through, you're going to find strength and even joy.” You've been able to find joy in your circumstances, even when it's been hard.
Did you think?—no, of course you didn't—[Laughter]—you couldn't have thought, in the midst of dealing with Martin's adversity—I know that songwriters often find their greatest inspiration in the midst of their deepest pain; but you couldn't have realized, “There's a Grammy award in the midst of this circumstance right here.” [Laughter]
Laura: Well, it's interesting how—you know, God's timing; because that's something that I've had to learn—to release my timetable and follow His. One of the things that happened to us—within 48 hours of Martin being diagnosed with his brain tumor—I was offered a record deal, which is just—
Laura: Yes, we had been going along just fine for however long, and I had submitted some songs, and no one seemed to like them. And then, all of a sudden, this one label called. It was this thing that I'd been praying for and really hoping for, and then all of a sudden, Martin gets this diagnosis. I immediately had to say to them, “Thank you, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but no. I'm not able to do this. I really need to focus on my husband's health right now.”
They came back, probably three months later, and then six months later, and then nine months later. Finally, about a year later, they came back, and I was kind of irritated. I remember saying to them, “We are more broken than we've ever been. I'm also this worship leader at my church, and we're walking through such a hard time.”
It was really tough getting up there and singing the How Great Is Our God songs when my life was falling apart. I remember my wonderful record label saying, “Laura, those are the songs we want you to write. We want you to write songs, not about how to worship God and praise Him when everything's going well, but how do you keep worshiping Him, and following Him, and pledging your life to Him when it's falling apart?” It was kind of an epiphany to me, and I thought, “Well, I'll try it.” [Laughter]
Bob: “Give that a whirl!” [Laughter]
Laura: Yes, “I'll give it a whirl.” And it was amazing—not just to see that it was a part of my processing what we were walking through was writing songs—but the more people that would hear those songs, they'd say, “Yeah, that's where we are.” I started to realize that so many people are living in that—
Laura: —yes—and in the midst of the trial rather than on the other side. And maybe, even, that's actually where faith happens; that's where praise needs to happen, not on the other side, when we see this wonderful ending.
I grew up thinking of giving testimony to God as like a Christian Saved by the Bell episode, where like: [Laughter] “Here’s this problem, and then God intervenes, and everything's great now! At the end, we can sing some fun song for the finale.”
Dave: —in 30 minutes!
Laura: Yes! All of it resolved in 30 minutes!
I think that's kind of what I thought about worship; that's what I thought about praise; and that's what I thought about giving testimony to God's goodness. The truth is—no; it happens in the midst of it—it's in the midst of that trial. If my faith requires the tidy bow or requires that ending, then I'm not quite sure if that's faith. Faith is praising Him when we don't see the ending/when we don't understand what He's up to.
Dave: And, obviously, your song that Bob is referring to, reminds all of us, as soon as we hear it—as soon as we hear that chorus—we're like, “Yes, you're right.”
Bob: So, you guys want to hear the song, Blessings, from Laura Story? [Applause]
Laura: [Playing piano and singing Blessings] [Applause]
Bob: How often do you find yourself reminding yourself of that?
Laura: [Laughter]God—He knew what I needed to sing over and over again. There are still nights that I sing that song—and I have to ask for grace from the audience—because I just sit there and weep. [Emotion in voice] It's a work that God is still doing in my life, very much so.
Bob: Well, we've been listening to a portion of a conversation we had with singer/songwriter, Laura Story, with our staff listening in on that conversation. There is something about biblical truth expressed in music that I think takes us to a different place and helps us think differently about God's Word.
Ann: I think you're exactly right, Bob. It goes down to the very soul. It brings out emotion/healing; it really goes to the very center of our being.
Dave: It's almost like there's a string—almost like a guitar string—between our brain and our heart. [Laughter] I'm sort of kidding, but it's like music connects those.
Dave: You know, I've often thought, as a pastor and preacher, that you can preach a message, and there's the power of the Word, which is powerful—
Dave: —but then, when you add music, it seems to go deeper.
Dave: Being with Laura was such a—I mean, I know that's the name of her song; I was going to say—blessing. [Laughter] But, it was. She was so real and authentic; but then, when she sang, it's like you got a view into her soul, and it connected into our soul.
Bob: Well, we're going to hear Part Two of our conversation with Laura tomorrow; but I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy of the book that she's written called I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life. Laura talks very candidly in this book, just as she did in the interview, about the challenges that she and her husband Martin have faced: his brain tumor, infertility, a child born with special needs, and recognizing that control is an illusion. We've got to surrender to God, who has a plan for what's going on in our lives.
Again, the title of the book is I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of the book, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, our website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that's 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, we want to say a quick “Thank you,” to those of you who have sent us Christmas cards this year. It’s always nice to get Christmas cards from FamilyLife Today listeners. Some of you have included an encouraging note about how God has used this program in your life, so thank you for your Christmas cards.
And thanks to those of you, who have heard about our yearend need, and have responded already this month, standing behind us financially as you make a yearend gift. Your donation has been matched, dollar for dollar, because of the money that’s available in the matching-gift fund that we’ve talked about this month. That gift fund, by the way, was increased last week. It’s up now to $2.7 million, and we’re hoping we can take full advantage of that matching gift between now and the end of December.
If you have not yet made a yearend donation—maybe you’ve been thinking about it and just haven’t done it yet—make today the day. Call us or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Not only will your donation be matched, dollar for dollar, but we’ll send you a couple of thank-you gifts. We’ll send you a copy of my book, Love Like You Mean It, and we’ll send you a flash drive that includes more than 100 of the best FamilyLife Today programs from the last 28 years: programs on marriage and parenting; programs featuring Dennis and Barbara Rainey/Dave and Ann Wilson; guests we’ve had on through the years; timeless content from FamilyLife Today. It’s our thank-you gift to you when you make a yearend donation. Again, donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a yearend donation.
And we hope you can join us, again, tomorrow when we’re going to talk more with Laura Story about some of the challenges she and her husband have faced over the years and how they’ve had to trust God’s goodness, His kindness, His sovereignty in the midst of dark days. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Artist: Laura Story
Album: Great God Who Saves ©2008, Laura Story Music
Artist: Laura Story
Album: Blessings ©2011, Laura Story Music
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