On October 15th, 2019 we released our latest ministry piece entitled Before We Said Hello: Finding Hope after Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss.
The project has a 30-day devotional book with space for journaling. The author of the book is also the singer of two songs – Before We Said Hello and Heaven’s Playground – that both come as free downloads with the book. In addition the book contains guest contributions in the form of stories by thirteen women and men sharing their experiences with this “invisible grief.”
People always ask me, “How do you choose your projects?” The truth is I don’t choose them. God has a way of making it very clear what’s next and after doing this ministry for almost 20 years I’ve learned to trust that.
In September of 2017 I attended the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) world conference in Nashville, TN, a bi-annual event that attracts somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 Christian therapists to four days of workshops and plenary sessions. There is also an exhibit hall where various ministries can share their resources with attendees.
I was in the Music for the Soul booth by myself when a woman came up and began looking at our project Drink Deep: A Musical Journey through Grief. She told me that she was a bereavement coordinator at a hospice. Before long our conversation somehow led to her to share that she had experienced two miscarriages. Tears came to her eyes and by the time she walked away from our table suffice it to say I was in no condition to be a sales person.
I turned my back on the conference foot traffic, dug around in my bag for a pad and a pencil, and then began to process what I’d just heard in the way that songwriters do. About an hour later I had written a lyric entitled Before We Said Hello. The week following the conference I sat down at my piano and created the melody and harmony to accompany the lyric.
I made a rough piano/vocal recording of the song and sent it by email to Deena, the woman who had poured out her heart to me at the conference. She wrote back that it was beautiful. And for the time being that was that.
A Song Finds a Singer
Seven months later I was in Grand Rapids on a beautiful early May evening to play a home concert to raise funds for what I thought was going to be our next project. A mutual friend had invited a woman named Becky Nordquist to attend. As we were visiting somehow the topic of miscarriage came up. Becky had experienced five miscarriages and the stillbirth of a son, Niklas. I mentioned what had happened at AACC and the song. Our friend wasted no time in telling me that Becky was “a wonderful singer.”
I thought to myself, “Maybe.” (In my experience friends and family often tend to be overly generous in their evaluation of vocal talent.) But I gave Becky my email address and invited her to send me a sample of her singing.
The sound file showed up in my inbox during a layover at the Midway airport. It was wonderful. A few minutes later I was on the phone and we were talking about the possibility of a recording.
At first it was just going to be the one song. But then Becky told me about an idea she had for a song called Heaven’s Playground that came from her imagining her son Niklas at play with Jesus. So when she came to Nashville to record Before We Said Hello, I set up a co-writing session for us with Tony Wood, a superbly gifted and highly successful lyricist in the Nashville Christian songwriting community.
By the end of the evening it was apparent that we needed another recoding session.
How to Present?
As we began to think and talk with others about how to share these songs the idea emerged for a devotional book. Becky had already done some writing on the subject and quickly set to work creating a book that would “bind up the wounds” of those who, like herself, had suffered such a devastating loss.
We decided it would be meaningful to have several voices of those who had experienced the same type of loss – both women and men – and so we opened up the process to others who graciously shared their stories.
Rather than creating a packaged single for the two songs we decided to include the lyrics in the book and make the songs available through a QR code and hyperlink at no additional charge.
As of this writing we have just begun to have the opportunity to share Becky’s story of overcoming loss through Christian radio, podcasts, and television programs as well as through print and online publications.
The footprints on the cover are those of Becky’s son Niklas. In a poignant moment Becky observed to me, “Niklas’ feet never got to touch the earth. But now they are going to go all around the world.”
I pray that is true because I believe God has helped us create something that will comfort and encourage, bringing hope and healing to those who’ve felt isolated and alone in their grief.
If this is your story I hope you will find Before We Said Hello a blessing. If it is the story of someone you know I hope you will share this project with them.
As Becky says, “Your baby’s life matters. And you are not alone.”