Recently, I received a seemingly random gift in the mail. It was a package with 2 CDs called Refuge. The note attached said was from a Natalie Wilson, saying she’d been encouraged by my blog and wanted to send me the album she and her husband had just released.
I was intrigued.
Then, we started to listen to the songs as a family, and I was impressed.
Then, I was able to see God minister to one of my kids through the music, and I was moved.
See, one of my children struggles with trauma from early life experiences and had just vocalized fear of being forgotten that same day. Music is therapy for this one. When I scanned the titles of this CD that afternoon, I saw #7 – You will Not Forget Me. And, I marveled at the hand of God who cares so deeply for His children, vulnerable and broken by life.
We put that song on almost immediately, and I was able to whisper to this little child that God had heard that fear and wanted to share His promise.
And, that’s when this grateful mama sat down and wrote Natalie, telling her I’d do whatever I can to help share their music…
So, friends, today I’d like to introduce you to the musicians behind this album, a young couple named Jason and Natalie Wilson. Below is an interview I did with them as well as a special Christmas GIVEAWAY of their new album, Refuge! Be sure to enter!
Psalm 91 speaks of God as our refuge. I have always loved that imagery but it often feels like an idea, not a reality. As Jason and I have had to navigate some difficult seasons of loss and illness together it became our prayer to understand what God as our refuge actually feels like. We understand more today than we did yesterday what it is for God to be our refuge, but it’s still something we have to encourage our souls to believe is real. We also hope that the music and lyrics of this album will be a refuge of sorts for the weary heart listening and singing along.
The Song Refuge has the line, “please let me feel you, please make me know, please send your mercy in a way this heart can grasp.” That lyric comes out of this ongoing prayer to the Lord, that He would reveal Himself to my heart and mind in a way that I can feel and understand. I believe He is my refuge, but I can’t always feel it. I want to feel Him as my refuge, the same way I feel stepping into my warm house on a cold rainy day. I can remove the cold, wet jacket and shoes, curl up on the couch under a blanket and feel warm and secure. I want God to feel that tangible to my soul as a refuge as I wrestle with the sadness and fear and doubt that rains in my heart. God gives me moments where He feels as close as that blanket on the couch, and I guess what I’m really longing for is heaven – to be in His presence every day, all the time; for us to be one.
What is it like, making music as a couple with young children? What are some challenges and some blessings?
In many ways it is a blessing to share this journey with our kids. Our daughter Amelia is 9 and our son Isaac is 6, and we are in a fun season as a family. The kids are much more independent than even 2 years ago, and that has made it much more realistic for us to more forward with our music dreams. We appreciate this experience as a way to show them the value of pursuing what you’re passions and giftings are even when it’s hard or inconvenient. In some ways this feels fairly normal to our kids because Jason and I have been leading worship at our church all of their lives! They’re the kids that feel as comfortable in the church building as they do at home because we are often there early setting up and rehearsing and they have to tag along. It was much harder when they were little bitties. It’s still challenging to make the time to write and record and it usually ends up happening late at night after the kids are in bed. Jason and I both work full-time so by 9:00pm I am usually pretty wiped out. Jason is a night owl and he can often lure me into writing and recording as it ends up being energizing and life-giving for us, even if we are more tired the next day. That’s why God created coffee!
Our joke to each other is that we’ve been trying to be “real grown-ups” for 10 years now and it’s just not working out. Jason is practicing law and I am a school nurse. We are thankful for our careers and all that the Lord has provided for us through our work. However, Jason and I found ourselves feeling like our Spirits were shriveling as we pursued music less and work more. We reached a point where leading worship for our congregation twice a month just wasn’t enough. We have both been writing songs since we were kids. I could sing before I could speak in full sentences! This is just what we were born to do so in many ways, we feel it would be so much easier to NOT pursue our musical ambitions, but our quality of life is just so much higher when we are. We just can’t ignore that.
What is your favorite song on Refuge? Why?
Is This All is my favorite because the words and melody come straight from my heart. It’s an honest expression of my doubts, questions and frustrations to the Lord with the expectation that He alone will be my hope. I am deeply discouraged by the way we humans treat each other and the pain and suffering we endure here on earth. This song reminds me my hope is in Christ alone, not in the world around me.
Jason’s favorite is Psalm 10, for similar reasons. We both grew up with a fear of expressing our doubts and frustrations to God. Psalm 10 is taken directly from the words of King David and although his cries came out of a different context than ours, it shows us that God invites us to share our hearts with Him – even when we’re questioning His faithfulness to those who are suffering in the world. Both of these songs give us a voice to bring our doubt and fears to the Lord as we wrestle with the injustice and suffering we see and hear about every single day. It’s overwhelming! These songs give us a place to go when we are overwhelmed.
What encouragement would you give to fellow artists taking steps of faith, as you have with recording your first album?
Don’t force things. When the time is right to take your next step, you will know it. Take one step at a time being true to your giftings and callings. Seek wise counsel and ask for people to be praying for you. Any time we pursue things we love and are passionate about we will face adversity and challenges. Sometimes the added stress of pursuing our artistic endeavors can interfere with the very work that we are striving to create. That’s why I say don’t force things, don’t give yourself an agenda. Pursue what you love in a way that works for you and commit the end results to God’s hands.
What is the process like – creating a song?
We commented often during the recording process that songs take on a life of their own. A song begins as a concept in your heart and mind – an emotion, an idea, a melody – and then you bring it to life by giving it voice out in the open. Once you let out the rough draft it’s almost as if the song begins to lead the way with what sounds it wants next and you continue listening and adding until its sound has reached the fulfillment of the feeling or concept it started with inside. It sounds mystical and magical every time I try to explain it, but in my experience it really is like the song comes to me and tells me what it wants to be! If I sit down and say, “I’m going to write a song right now”, that usually doesn’t work. Songs come in moments, in pieces, and if I can slow down to hear it, I can capture it and bring it to life.
Do you have plans for future albums?
We will definitely be recording again in the future. We are dreaming about another album of original songs and we would love to do an album of hymns and other covers that we love. We hope to be sharing our music this way for a long time.
Our deepest hope is that this album will meet each person who listens exactly where they are in their spiritual journey. Whether you’ve been a Christian for years or are still questioning faith, our prayer is that Refuge will give your heart a song to sing wherever you find yourself in the moment
How has God been working through this album? What stories are you hearing back from people?
We are hearing so many encouraging stories! The stories that bless my heart the most are when people tell me how much their kids are enjoying Refuge! Kids are asking to have it played in the car and are singing along and that fills me with incredible awe and joy.
How can we purchase Refuge?
GIVEAWAY: Enter to win the Refuge Album!
There are multiple ways to enter this giveaway. Take your pick or do them all to increase your chances of winning! The giveaway ends on Tuesday, December 22. On that day, a winner will be generated and will receive a free Refuge album.