My friends Joy Bowen and Cara Martens encouraged me to tell this story, so here goes...
In the Fall of 2009 I read Think Orange by Reggie Joiner. The book sat on my nightstand for a few weeks as I slowly read and digested the amazing insight, vision, and ministry strategy ideas that Reggie offered. One night in particular, as I reached over to put the book down and turn off my lamp, I was struck by the subtitle of the book: imagine the impact when church and family collide. That night, when I read that subtitle, I heard a melody in my head with the words, “what if our worlds collide?”. I didn’t recognize the melody, but it played in my head over and over again until I finally fell asleep. In the week that followed I continued reading the book, but the new melody was forgotten.
Fast forward past the craziness of Thanksgiving and Christmas to January 10, 2010. This day will go down as one of the worst parenting mornings to date for me. One of those days when I feel like I don’t have the patience or grace needed in order to raise children who won’t end up in an insane asylum, if I don’t get there first. My husband Ben had left early for band rehearsal and the kids and I were following about an hour behind him. Getting ready for church was awful, and so was the ride to church. My (then) five-year-old son and I were having a really rough morning together; pushing each other’s buttons and arguing like two children. One of us should have been the calm and mature adult that day. I clearly wasn’t. I couldn’t wait to drop my kids off and just have a break from them for a few hours. I was at my wit’s end. I felt like a failure as a parent because all I wanted to do was put my kids in the care of their amazing Sunday School teachers and just not see them for awhile. I felt like a failure as a part of the Children and Family ministries staff. How am I supposed to teach and lead kids and their parents in worship when I can’t even model a Christ-like attitude to my own kids?
Thankfully after church my son and I talked, hugged, kissed, and “made up.” We went home and I asked both my son and the Lord for forgiveness.
Fast forward again to later that same January day, when I attended a leadership team meeting for the upcoming VBS at our church, Grace Presbyterian in Houston. Angela Wade Simpson, our fearless and amazing leader, was sharing the vision that God had placed on her heart for the major shift we were about to make to our VBS. After years of prayer, Holy Spirit nudging, and encouragement from others in ministry making the same transition, Angela and our staff decided to move from our kid-centered, daytime VBS, to a family-centered, evening program called PrimeTime. As the leadership team heard about the change, you could see the shock and awe on their faces. Some of them thought we were nuts. Some of them still do, but that’s okay. I’m proud to be part of a ministry team that is willing to stop doing something good (like teaching kids about Jesus), in order to do something better (like teaching kids AND their parents TOGETHER about the life-changing love of Jesus). I walked away from that meeting excited about what the next few months would unfold for our families at Grace.
As I got in bed that night, my mind was racing with excitement and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was thinking about the events of the day; from the two-hour fight with my son to the two-hour meeting with the team. After an hour of tossing and turning, I finally sat up and grabbed my song journal; it was then that the words of Collide, like a flood, came pouring out of me onto the paper. I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with the words that were coming to me. The melody that I had heard with the words “what if our worlds collide” suddenly had context for me as the first line of the chorus. My worlds of parenting and ministry collided that day, and thankfully the Holy Spirit wasn’t going to let me sleep until I realized it.
I finished the second verse a week later when our team attended the Orange tour in Dallas. As I frantically took notes in Sue Miller’s workshop, I was struck by her challenge to “set our ministry volunteers and parents up to win”. That night in the hotel, I finalized the lyrics and sang the song in its entirety to myself. Then I closed my song-writing journal, placed my hands on top of it, and prayed this prayer: “Lord I don’t know who, if anyone, will ever hear this song. Maybe this has just been song-writing practice for me, and that’s okay. But whatever happens, this song is yours. Amen.” Then I decided to do what everyone does after they finish praying, so I opened up the bag from the Orange tour to see what free goodies were inside! I found a flyer advertising the upcoming Orange Conference in Atlanta happening at the end of April. To my surprise, on the back of the flyer was the title of that year’s conference: Collide! No way. I had just written a song inspired by a book that amazingly connects my ministry and parenting struggles. Said song happened to share a name with that year’s Orange conference, inspired by the same book. Umm, this was crazy!
Two weeks later, with the help of the Yellow Fence production team, Angela Wade Simpson, Matt Hammon, and Michael Elliott, we recorded the song and used it for a PrimeTime promo video at Grace. I was so excited that our Grace family would hear the song, and hoped that it would inspire our families to jump on board with the significant change we were making to our summer program. Little did I know that soon, the song would move beyond the walls of Grace.
Two months later, three friends, unbeknownst to each other, sent the song to the reThink offices in Atlanta. Thanks to Joy Bowen, Trudi Barnes, and Stu Shelby, I received an email from Colette Taylor, the Production director at reThink, asking me to sing Collide at the closing session of the Orange Conference!
Friday April 30th ended up being one of the funnest days in my recent memory. The Conference was very well-organized, the band was phenomenal, and the crowd supported me the whole way. When the song was over, I rushed off the stage as the production assistant had instructed me to do; but Steve Thomason, the rockin electric guitar player, stopped me and told me to turn around to face the audience. He said, “Look! Take a bow, they love you!” The crowd was on their feet. Woah. I waved, took a bow, and the tears started flowing. Then I hurried off to hand the mic to the production assistant.
To say I flew back to Houston grateful and overwhelmed is the understatement of the century. What an amazing ride that I will not soon forget. To God be the glory!
Sittin’ in church Sunday morning
We’re all smilin’, we’re all singin’
Nobody knows we fought the whole way here
Unheard, unmet expectations
Now we’re here, now we’re fakin’
We’re family, supposed to be okay
But where’s the peace and restoration?
When do we get our vacation
From the stress, the fights, the pain, the fear
Will He even meet us when we’re here?
What if our worlds collide?
What if we stand side by side to make a difference?
What if we choose to try to let the rhythms of our lives
Tell the story of God’s redemption and glory
Imagine the impact and the ride!
What if we collide?
Settin’ up one more Sunday morning,
Is this worship or just work?
Am I invested in a race that never ends?
A call to love God and love neighbor,
A burning passion for a Savior,
And a deep desire to set you up to win
It takes a village on this journey
‘Cause we’re all broken, lost, and learning
With the heart of the family and the light of the church
We’ll come to find heaven on earth!