Archives for December 2012

For Songwriters!!! The Demo Version of a #1 Song

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One of my favorite things as a songwriter is to hear the demo version of someone’s song that was pitched, picked up and recorded by an artist or group, especially a song that ends up on a chart.

Thankfully, a song I wrote falls into this category. It’s called, “Unspoken Request,” and is on a CD called, “Precious Seeds” by the Southern Gospel group, The McKameys. It reached the #1 spot on the Singing News Magazine chart in the January ’13 issue. (See the full story on our “News” page.)

If you want to compare the recorded/released version to my “Garage Band” demo, first go to the following You Tube link and give The McKameys’ cut a listen.

Unspoken Request/The McKameys

After you hear it, come back and listen to the demo. Its the very first rendering of the song. Again, I find these comparisons very interesting. I hope you do, too!

Steve

 

The Mystery of the Season

According to Market Watch/The Wall Street Journal, this year approximately one third of the American population will travel by planes, trains, and automobiles to see family and friends. The motivation that “drives” travelers to endure everything from the dreaded and invasive TSA agents at airports to the budget busting gasoline prices to a backseat full of christmas-cd-coverscreaming kids is the same…somewhere inside is a mysteriously irresistible longing to reconnect with those we love.

Several years ago when our kids were still at home, Annie and I contemplated foregoing the annual nine-hour trip from Tennessee to West Virginia to see our family there. However, as December 25th drew near we both realized that resisting the urge to see everyone in The Mountain State was futile. We changed our plans, packed up and headed northeast.

On the way to Point Pleasant and Southside, West Virginia the song below was born. As you listen to it, you might hear some familiar emotions that you feel at this time of the year. If you’re thinking about staying home, maybe the words will motivate you to reconsider. If love drives you to pack up and go somewhere, may God give you a safe and enjoyable journey.

(Note: This song is now available only as a digital download. Click on the song title inside the box below to go to “Bandcamp” for downloading.)

 

Mystery of the Season

I don’t understand it, but it happens every year

It hits me in December, I get that longing to be here

It’s like I’m one of the wise men, and this house is like the star

Something inside me says, “Make that journey,” I can feel it in my heart

 

It sends me down the highway to feed a hunger in my soul

I drove all day to get here, as if I had control

And the cars out in the driveway tell me I am not alone

Its the mystery of the season, one by one, coming home

 

Some cross the street to get here, some come from distant shores

Some arrive in their latest success, some arrive in rusty Fords

One may come in anger, and one may choose to stay away

If they do I think I know how they’ll spend their holiday

 

And I believe the saddest day I’ll ever spend is yet to come

Its when its time to make this journey but all the reasons to are gone

file://localhost/Users/stevechapman/Desktop/CD%20Cover%20Scans%20copy/Christmas%20CD%20cover.jpeg

(Steve & Annie Chapman/Times & Seasons Music/BMI-from the CD, “Coming Home For Christmas“)

Best Christmas Gifts Ever

img_1711I want to tell you about my four favorite Christmas gifts of all time.

The first one was given to me by Steve.  As mentioned in an earlier post, Steve and I had virtually no money our first Christmas together.  So, we agreed to not exchange gifts.  However, when I awoke on Christmas morning, a little vase holding three roses was sitting in the middle of our tiny kitchen table.  The card said it all.  “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  May these roses represent our life… surrounded by Christ…the third strand.”  I took a picture of those roses. For that reason, they bloom year round.

My second favorite gift was given to me by our son, Nathan.  That particular year he was six years old.  We were into our first year of home schooling and he had learned to read.  His Christmas gift for me was a little basket with some dried flowers glued to the top.  As I opened the lid I saw a little card inside. In his six-year-old printing he had written, “Thank you for teaching me to read.”  I’ll never forget that feeling of love and pride, when I realized by teaching him to read, I had given him the world.  Now, he makes his living as a “word smith” creating songs and using his exceptional skill and love of language to reach the world.

My third favorite gift was from my mother.  We had a large family and one particular year we drew names for Christmas.  Mom got my name.  She asked me what I wanted.  I told her I wanted her to use a cassette recorder and to tell me all about herself.  I wanted her to tell me her secrets, to tell me things she had never told anyone.  She did it!!  And oh what a source of comfort that recording has been to me since her death to cancer in 1996.

Finally, my fourth favorite gift was given to me by our daughter, Heidi.  She was four years old that memorable Christmas and she had done her own shopping for everyone with the five dollars we gave her.  As she presented her gift to me, I fought back a chuckle.  She handed me a big ball of scotch tape.  “Oh, Heidi, a wad of scotch tape…I love it!  Thank you so much!”  (We mothers are so easy to please, don’t you think.)

Heidi stood there grinning as I graciously received her offering.  I started to go about my business when she said, “No, Mama, there’s something inside.”  Sure enough, as I peeled away about twenty feet of tape, I saw a little plastic bag.  It still had the .99 cent tag on it.  I opened up the bag and there it was, a little plastic baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  “Oh!  Heidi!”  I said, “Thank you.  I love this little nativity!”

However, Heidi didn’t budge.  She just stood there looking at me.  I could tell by the hurt look on her little face that I had failed to fully gasp the incredible value of her gift. She choked back her emotions and said, “Oh, Mama… Jesus glows in the dark!”

I could hardly speak. I knew Heidi’s words were a heaven-sent reminder of what Christmas is all about. With all the darkness in this world such as sickness, discouragement, loneliness, fear, financial stress, and for some, the loss of a loved one, how desperately we need Him to glow. I certainly need His light in my life… how about you?

We pray that your world will be illuminated by His hope this year. It’s why He came to this world. He can help you overcome a troubled past, strengthen your present day, and give you the courage to face an uncertain future. Remember, He glows in the dark!

Merry Christmas!

Annie Chapman

PS… Here’s a song that Steve wrote titled, “The Stable.” It contains a message of hope about the “Light of the World” whose birthday we celebrate at this time.

Me & Mr. Turkey

My thanks to Pastor Clint Ritchie and all the folks at First Baptist Church in Hampton, Arkansas for inviting me to keynote at their 2012 Wild Game Dinner. I promised the attendees I would post the video below that features a song from the event.

 

And…below is a live (audio only) rendition of “Me & Mr. Turkey.” This downloadable version was recorded at an event in Michigan a few years back and is on the CD, “First Winds of Autumn.”    

Gifts Your Kids Can’t Break

“Gifts Your Kids Can’t Break” Free with order over $50.00

 

The song featured here was written when our children were very young and is on our Christmas CD titled, Coming Home For Christmas. You can order the entire CD here at our site or you can download only the song (see below).

The idea for the lyric came on December 26th when Steve was in the middle of repairing a Christmas gift we had given one of the kids just 24 hours earlier!

So…what are some of the gifts that kids can’t break? We listed a few in the song. For an expanded look at the gifts that will last a lifetime you can order a copy of the book, Gifts Your Kids Can’t Break at our web store.

 

 

 


Gifts Your Kids Can’t Break

I walk for miles, upon and down the aisles…it’s a holiday routine

To find that special plastic, I know it seems a little drastic

But how I love that Christmas morning scene

 

When the kids tear through the wrapping, and they smile and look so happy

But somehow by the end of the day

We find the kids in tears and what we thought would last for years

Has to be repaired or thrown away

 

Where are the gifts kids can’t break

That will be there tomorrow when they awake

Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, that’s what I want to give

Something that will last as long as they live

Where are the gifts, kids can’t break

 

We can use December as a reason to remember there are gifts that really stand the test of time

Like a home that is a place where it’s warm and where it’s safe

And smile don’t even cost a single dime

Teach them how to love their neighbor, and the value of their labor

And how to say “I’m sorry” when they’re wrong

How to act out on a date, and tell them why we celebrate

The One we sing about in all those Christmas songs

 

These are the gifts kids can’t break

That will be there tomorrow when they awake

Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, that’s what I want to give

Something that will last as long as they live

These are the gifts, kids can’t break

They’re guaranteed to last, as long as they live

These are the gifts, kids can’t break

 

Words and Music:  Steve and Annie Chapman

 

Priceless Gifts Don’t Have to Be Expensive

Not long ago I was standing with my mother-in-law in her dining room looking inside a curio cabinet at a collection of some of her favorite treasures. There next to a 3X5 framed picture of Steve and me was a little basket

filled with a floral arrangement that I had made for her. The flowers were formed from a combination of flour, salt and water then shaped to look like roses. Time had faded the pink in the roses but the memory of when and why I made them was still fresh.

 

    The first year Steve and I were married we had virtually no money.  I recall our total income for the year was $3,000 gross.  That is gross, isn’t it?

When Christmas time came around it was assumed that we would participate in the traditional gift exchange.  However, our financial situation did not allow for any additional spending outside our regular budget.  We were left in an uncomfortable predicament.  After much thought, we made the only choice that made sense, and cents, to us.  Resisting the pressure (that we put on our selves) and the expectation we perceived others had, we did what we were able to do.

One particular friend of mine was very “crafty.”  I decided to put her talents to good use. Under her tutelage, I made several little baskets of miniature roses.  Among the dough flora I filled in the surrounding spaces with delicate Babies Breath flowers.  Now, I had something for everyone.

 

When the family gathered to exchange gifts I was worried, and also a bit embarrassed.  Would our gifts be perceived as pitiful and “not enough?”  Mostly I worried about what my mother-in-law would think.  Would she assume that I didn’t care enough to shop for something nicer?  Would she think that her son had failed as a provider because we had so little?

 

Now, these four decades later, I was standing with my mother-in-law, looking at the small basket of flowers.  I said to Lillian, “I see you still have the little roses I made for you our first Christmas?”

“Yes, I do.” She said, “I have always loved them.”

I told her how much it meant to me that she valued my simple gift and that she still considers it worthy of a spot in her cabinet of treasures.  She just looked at the flowers and smiled.

Consider the irony of this story.  If Steve and I had gone into debt and bought my mother-in-law a one of a kind, designer sweater, or if we had  purchased a bottle of expensive French perfume that Christmas, those gifts would have long ago been cast aside or used up.  But the little roses remain a reminder of a simpler time and a sincere love.

 

Some of you may have experienced a financial downturn these past few years.  Maybe you are facing retirement and wondering if the money you have carefully saved is going to be devalued and leave you with much less financial security than you planned. Or maybe you are just tired of the material glut that has become part of the Christmas celebration.  If that is the case, I would like to challenge you to look at your gift giving differently this year.

 

I have already told my grandgirls that they will be receiving one gift from Papa and DeDe this Christmas.  And I mean it!!  The older I get the more the peer pressure to over-spend and out-give leaves me determined to do it a different way.  If we can’t have a wonderful Christmas by being together, sharing a meal and celebrating the birth of our Savior, there’s something really wrong with our family.

 

Here are some gift giving guidelines we have implemented that helps us keep Christ in Christmas.

  • Shop with cash…or debit card.  No credit cards…no debt…no dread of January.
  • To lessen the burden of gift buying, draw names with family and friends.
  • Make the decision to buy only for the little ones and let the adults enjoy watching the gift opening.
  • Explain to whom you have exchanged gifts in the past that you would like to do something different.  For example:  Donate to a worthy cause in their name (such as their favorite mission organization…see the link for “Mission Aviation Fellowship/MAF” on our homepage) or give to a family that needs help with paying their bills.
  • Use the money to buy gas to go and see your family.  Or use the holiday funds to cook a Christmas meal for their visit.
  • Let your gift be something you make…baked goods, a meal to someone who can’t get out…cookies or pies for your neighbors…or even some little dough roses.

 

Do you have any suggestions on how to keep gift giving a part and not the center of your Christmas celebration?  Feel free to leave your comments and ideas.  May you enjoy a peace-filled and Christ-center Advent Season.

 

And when you’re in the store buying your gifts, wish those around you MERRY CHRISTMAS, not happy holidays.  Let’s do all we can to keep Christ in Christmas!

 

5 Steps to Overcoming Negative Emotions

The ability to feel emotions is a gift from God.  For instance, feeling fearful when you are placed in a vulnerable situation is a reaction that serves to warn you of impending danger and thus
allowing you to protect yourself. 

 Imagine, for example, stepping out on your front porch.  The sky is turning a greenish, gray.  The strong winds are tossing the lawn furniture around the yard.  Just beyond you property line you see a large funnel cloud forming.

The normal reaction to such a sight would be to experience terror, fear, or panic.   No doubt, you would run back into the house and find a safe place to hide.

At that point, fear has served you well.  However, what if you stepped outside and the weather was perfect? The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the birds were singing.  But instead of enjoying the beautiful day, you allow your emotions to take you on a “fear-trip” because in the distance you see a small, harmless cloud and you start to worry that it COULD turn into a tornado.

Now the emotion of fear is no longer your benefactor but it has pulled you into the cruel maze of negative emotions.

When you have thoughts and feelings that become more powerful than your trust in God, then they become emotional “bullies” and they  must be defeated. 

Here are five steps to overcoming negative emotions.

1.  Invite God into the situation.
Trust and worry, love and hate, peace and fear cannot exist in the same space.  When you allow your mind to be filled with troubling thoughts that hold you captive, you, in a practical sense, have crowded God out. 

2.  Run toward the problem, not away from it.
It is only when you are willing to admit how broken you really are that the healing process can begin.  2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”   If you are serious about achieving emotional health, then don’t pretend that everything is okay.  You must name the problem before you can solve it.

 3.     Turn your thoughts to prayers.
When scary, hateful, discouraging or shameful thoughts encroach on your mind, instead of hiding them, turn them into prayers.  For example, “Lord, I’m afraid…” or “God, you know I hate that person!” or, “Lord, I’m ashamed of my past.” Why pray like this? Because, the covering of denial provides the perfect breeding ground for “emotional infection,” but honestly exposing your thoughts to God through prayer for help is a way of cleaning the wound.  Exodus 22:27 says, “When he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious.”

4.      Devour God’s Word.
The only thing strong enough to silence the voice of negative emotions is the Word of God.  How do words that were written thousands of years ago help you deal with the destructive emotions that torment your mind today?  Because God’s Word is not just another book or a decoration for your coffee table. “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12,13)

5.      Put a guard over your mouth.
The most influential person you will ever listen to is not Dr. Phil, Sean Hannity or even Dr. James Dobson.  The person who has the most influence on how you think and how you feel about yourself is….you.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”   James chapter 3 offers the reminder that the very course of one’s life is set by the words they use.

From this point on make it your goal to let your words to the one you see in the mirror be statements of faith, trust, belief, forgiveness and courage.

 

Remember, invite God into your emotional life…courageously and without pretense, face your struggles…continue to commit your thoughts to God in prayer…saturate your mind with His Word…and speak the truth to yourself.

On a personal note, below are three truths that I remind myself of when a negative emotion threatens…

  • God loves me.  Therefore, He has my best interest in mind.
  • God is in control.  Nothing can touch me that does not come through His loving hand.
  • I can trust Him. Even when I don’t like what’s going on, I know that He has promised to works everything, ultimately for my good.

 

 

Mother/Daughter-in-Law Survival Guide | Part 1

 

Annie and Lilian Chapman

Annie and Lillian Chapman

Steve and I returned home from spending Thanksgiving weekend with his parents, my in-laws, P.J. and Lillian Chapman.  As we drove the eight-hour trek from West Virginia back to Tennessee, I was reminded, once again of how truly blessed I am to have a wonderful relationship with my mother-in-law.  Sadly enough, I know this advantage is not true for everyone.

Some of you are facing the possibility of many hours together with your in-laws.  In a nutshell, you dread being with people you are supposed to love but really don’t like all that much.

In the book, The Mother-in-Law Dance, I offer some practical ways to build a mutually satisfying and lasting relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.

This week I will offer three things a mother-in-law can do that will help avoid discord between her daughter-in-law and her son’s family. The insights below are adapted from my book, “The Mother-in-Law Dance / Can Two Women Love The Same Man and Still Get Along” available in the book section at this website.

(Next week, I will share three things the daughter-in-law can do to honor her husband’s mother and help keep Harmony in the Home.)

 For the mother-in-law…

  • Be flexible, not pitiful

There are a lot of demands on our adult children’s time.   While I value being with my children as much as any mother, I’ve decided I will not put additional pressure on them by requiring them to fit into my plans.   What does that look like?  It means the Chapman Thanksgiving dinner, for example, may be the week before the actual holiday or even the first week of December.  Or it may mean that our Christmas celebration is on the 18th instead of the 25th.

While this may seem unfair, and sometimes it feels that way, my ultimate goal is to make life for my children easier and less stressful.  Of all the people and situations in their lives that make it difficult, I don’t want to be one of them.

So, may I be so bold as to offer some of you moms a gift idea for your adult children?  How about giving your kids a guilt-free holiday?  If you are like me, it will cost you a lot to do it, but it may be just the gift they were hoping for.

  • Be careful to stay inside your boundaries

Like a beautiful river that gives pleasure and joy to a community, the same water source can bring destruction and sorrow when it leaves it bank and encroaches on the surrounding areas.

In a similar way, a mother-in-law is a wonderful asset to a family.  She can bring wisdom and help that is beneficial to her son’s family like no one else can.  However, when she steps over the line by interjecting her thoughts, opinions and presence without an invitation to do so she can do great harm.

Keep in mind, the same expressions of love that make an incredible mother to small children (the desire to nurture, guide, instruct and carefully watch over her young) are the same actions and attitudes that make a terrible mother to adult children.

  • Be encouraging with your words

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The truth of this proverb is especially applicable when it comes to the Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law relationship.  Affirming your daughter-in-law with positive words and an encouraging attitude will go along way to helping your son and his family to want to be around you.  The old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is true, but of course who wants to catch flies.  Also keep in mind that honey also attracts bears.  But I digress.

If you are ever tempted to have a heart to heart talk with your daughter-in-law in order to point out her faults or to correct something you find unacceptable…Please don’t do it!!  As a rule, the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is such that no good can come out of that kind of conversation. If you must express yourself, then tell your son and let him deal with it.  The following poem says it very well…

Power of Words

A careless word may kindle strife

A cruel word may wreck a life

A bitter word may hate instill

A brutal word may smite and kill

 

A gracious word may smooth the way

A joyous word may light the way

A timely word may lessen stress

A loving word may heal and bless

(Author unknown)

 

Do you have any practical advice you can share that has helped you in your relationship with your in-laws?  Feel free to leave a comment or prayer request so other’s can share in your wisdom or your burden.

If you know someone who could benefit from this information please share this web page with them. Thanks!

Annie Chapman

Winter Sale

Mother/Daughter-in-Law Survival Guide/ Part 2

Last week I shared three things a mother-in-law can do to keep harmony with her daughter-in-law.  Now, let’s look at what the daughter-in-law can do to promote peace and good-will in the relationship.

Acknowledge Her Sacrifice

Years ago, Steve wrote a song that captured the unspoken feelings of a groom’s mother following her son’s wedding. The chorus says…

But of all the words that were spoken on this his wedding day

No one thought about asking her, “Who gives this man away?”

Without question, the emotional impact of releasing a son to “another woman” can be painful. However, it’s a pain that can be healed with some understanding words. I know this from experience because my daughter-in-law of eleven years has said to me, and more than once, how much she appreciated the fact that I had invested lots of years into raising our son then graciously gave him up to be her husband.

Dealing with a Difficult Mother-in-Law

The reality is some mothers-in-law make it very hard to accept them because they are simply difficult people.

Romans 12:18 gives us the best advice when it comes to “getting along” with others.  “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”   Even the Lord knows there are some people who refuse to allow love to permeate their hearts.

In the book, The Mother-in-law Dance (in the chapter, Boxers Dance, Too) a daughter-in-law shared what she did to help build a bridge instead of erecting a wall between them.

  • “I kept my distance.”  Instead of going to visit my mother-in-law in her home, we met at a restaurant or park.  That way, neither of us had to worry about the children making a mess or breaking a valued treasure.
  • “I kept my tongue.”  Making sure my words were kind and respectful made it possible to live a life free of regret.  After my mother-in-law died, it helped knowing I had not let her bad behavior change me and make me into someone I could not be proud of.
  • “I kept smiling.”  From time to time I sent humorous quips and jokes along with funny cards to my mother-in-law.  Little by little, the bricks of resentment began to come down.  I learned that returning good for evil and a blessing instead of an insult kept life more pleasant for our family and I was able to maintain a clear conscience before God.

Show Affection 

Every person longs to be loved, including mother-in-laws. If you’d like to express your affection for her, here’s a wonderful old poem you could either copy and give or read to her.

Mother-in-Law

“Mother-in-law” they say, and yet somehow I simply can’t forget

‘Twas you who watched his baby ways, who taught him his first hymn of praise

Who smiled on him with loving pride when he first toddled by your side

“Mother-in-law” but oh, ‘twas you who taught him to be kind and true

When he was tired, almost asleep, ‘twas to your arms he used to creep

And when he bruised his tiny knee, ‘twas you who kissed it tenderly

“Mother-in-law” they say, and yet somehow I never shall forget

How much I owe to you, who taught him how to grow

You trained your son to look above; you made of him the man I love

And so I think of that today when with thankful heart I’ll say

“Our Mother”

(Author Unknown)

 

   If you have additional suggestions on how others can strengthen their relationship with a mother-in-law, please feel free to share them with us.

Blessings on you and yours

Annie Chapman