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SONGnotes: A Life Touched by Pain

April 20, 2012

As I continue to prepare for the release of my recording project, H2O, I thought it might be good to give my listeners, family, fans, and friends some background on the songs that I wrote for it. I am starting with “A Life Touched by Pain” because it has been the most difficult one for me. Here goes!

This song has been a long time coming for me, one that I never felt was finished until last month, one that drained me emotionally as I brought it back out to write an opening and record. The bulk of this song came to me as I sat by my father’s bedside during Summer 2002 at NorthEast Medical Center in Concord, North Carolina. My father, Monticello Jefferson Howell, had weathered a multitude of health crises and had bounced back repeatedly, prompting my sister and I to say that he had nine lives!

🙂

This time, he had emergency surgery after complaining of severe pain while on a stop with relatives made returning from a vacation at Martha’s Vineyard with my mother and sister. This surgery uncovered the bladder cancer that ultimately took his life. Because we were far from home, my siblings, mother, and I took turns staying with him while he recovered in preparation to move him closer to where we were.

It was in the midst of my three-week stretch that I began to realize that Daddy’s nine lives had run out and that he was not going to bounce back this time. As the weight of this realization began to bear down upon me, I penned these words:

“A life touched by pain can find the beauty in the rain, Helps us treasure what is real and speak the words we really feel.

Sometimes that’s where we really grow and when we finally come to know God is moving in our lives in the midst of the rain.

God is moving in our lives even when they’re touched by pain.

“So, lift your head and don’t you be discouraged. Just know wherever you are, God is nigh!

In all your disappointment and confusion, the Glorious Lord of Hope won’t pass you by!

God will give you courage to go on and fill your weary heart with song.

God is moving in your life even when it’s touched by pain.”

As I went into Perry Studios to record this last month, I found myself dreading the moment. It took some time to summon the strength I needed to speak these words aloud because of the difficult and painful memories associated with their origin. Nevertheless, I needed to say them, to sing them, to allow them to continue to help me heal all these years later.

It has been almost 10 years now since my process of letting Daddy go began, but I have found myself missing him and thinking of him more in this past year—sometimes wistfully. Yet more often, my remembrances come with smiles and joy knowing that he is present with me still in so many ways. I treasure what I have gained from my father and those pieces of him that live on in the lives of so many.

Along with this, I have found that mourning does end (Deuteronomy 34:7-8). I have experienced God filling my “weary heart with song” time and time again (Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 30:10-12). I have seen God moving “in [my] life even when it’s touched by pain.”

I leave you these words from Habakkuk 3:17-19 (New Living Translation, Holy Bible):

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.”

God will be your strength when you are weary!

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4 Comments
  1. Beautifully written. I’ve been with you (prayerfully) every step of the way. I remember sleeping on the floor with Glenda in your dad’s room in the hospital in Shreveport. I’ve watched you all grieve and recovery and cycle through. You are an inspiration! Love you, Doll!

  2. Greta, we appreciate you and the multitudes of others who have prayed us through and walked us through this journey. Love you, Grets!

  3. Good evening, readers!

    I just finished leading a group of women in morning meditation periods for the Phenomenal Women’s Summit in Birmingham, Alabama today. In this morning, I shared the song “A Life Touched by Pain” as part of my sharing this morning. Amina McIntyre, faithful blogger for the Summit, captured this song and posted on YouTube. Take a listen.

  4. Reblogged this on dmariesings and commented:

    Good evening, readers!

    I just finished leading a group of women in morning meditation periods for the Phenomenal Women’s Summit in Birmingham, Alabama today. I shared the song “A Life Touched by Pain” as part of my sharing this morning. Amina McIntyre, faithful blogger for the Summit, captured this song and posted on YouTube. Take a listen as you read the SONGnotes, the story behind the song!

    http://phenomenalwomenssummit.blogspot.com/2012/09/morning-meditation.html

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