Many of the songs on this album have a story behind them. "The Lord is My Shepherd" is based, of course, on the 23rd Psalm, and is a reworking of the old setting by James Montgomery that has been nudging me for quite some time. "God Will Provide a Lamb" was written in response to the Old Testament story of Abraham and the Lord's command that he sacrifice his son Isaac. "This is Holy Ground" came to me as I thought about the "Holy Land" -- and what exactly makes it holy. "Anthem of Praise" happened because I wanted a setting for "All Creatures of Our God and King" that was upbeat and joyful rather than stately. "The Painter's Hand" came about as a dear friend, Valarie Olson, and I worked together for the first and only time.
Perhaps the most unique story is that of "Because You Prayed for Me." In June of 2012, a wildfire of epic proportions, dubbed the "Waldo Canyon Fire," broke out in an area not far from my home. Four days later, low humidity, record heat, and high winds blew the fire into the inhabited areas of Colorado Springs like a roaring, voracious monster. I and my family were among over 30,000 people evacuated from our homes, not knowing when we would return or what we would return to. In the end, 346 homes would be consumed by the fire, and two lives would end.
I and my kids left dad in a hotel and headed for grandma's in Utah. We watched the news reports, the Twitter feeds, anything that would give us some indication what was happening. And as I read various social media, I was moved and humbled by the many comments that said, "I am praying for you." Family, friends, strangers... all coming together in prayer for our sake. The words came to me during the 10-hour drive home. (Ours was intact.) It wasn't the most convenient time to be writing lyrics, so I repeated them in my head until we stopped for lunch and I could scribble them on the back of a receipt.
Almost a year later, the song was just coming together-- an unusually slow process this time. Then, just as I was finishing up, another even more devastating fire broke out in an area just a bit farther from our neighborhood. The Black Forest Fire eclipsed the devastation of the previous fire by a wide margin, destroying more than 500 homes, and again claiming two lives. And again, as we watched and worried and prayed, friends and strangers from afar sent messages of love: "I am praying for you."
Prayers take many forms. Many of those prayers found their way into donated food and clothing, and shelter for both people and animals. It's amazing just how wonderful people can be... "and my heart is filled with gratitude because you prayed for me."