By Elizabeth Musser
I’m sitting on the couch in my parents’ den in Atlanta, Georgia, the home I grew up in; it’s the day after Thanksgiving. Amy Grant’s first Christmas album is playing in the background as I sort my mother’s sterling silver. I’m counting each piece to make sure none got accidentally thrown in the trash after our feast. Yesterday eighteen of us enjoyed the goodness of life, celebrating with Mom’s fine china, her linens, her silver, and her recipes, all the while missing Mom. I am doing what my mother used to do because Mom passed away last year, and now, I, the only daughter, have taken over her duties. Just for this year.
This year we’re ‘home’.
Amy is singing ‘Tender Tennessee Christmas’ and it takes me back, so far back, to my first Christmas as a missionary in a dried-up mining town in France. My dear teammate and I were staying at the house of the one French elder in the tiny Protestant church where we served. We were babysitting the elder’s five little kids while his dear wife was in the hospital birthing the sixth.
I was feeling so overwhelmed and homesick. Fortunately, the day before, I had received a package in the mail from my home church, finding inside Amy Grant’s brand-new Christmas album (as a cassette tape—this was 1983). Now I stood in the kitchen of that French family, bawling my eyes out as I listened and listened to Amy’s sweet voice singing of nostalgia and faith and home.
Amy came into my life when I was a college Freshman. I will never forget the night she visited our college fellowship group as a shy seventeen-year-old, guitar on her lap, singing of her love for Christ. I loved her music and her heart for God. She inspired me to want to use my writing ‘voice’ to reach others with hope in Christ, just as she was using her singing voice for the Lord. I prayed for this, often writing in my journal, “Lord, if there is something else You want me to do with this gift You’ve given me, please show me.”
I watched as Amy gained popularity and produced her first album.
I attended her first concerts. And always, Amy’s words echoed my heart. When I left for the mission field right after college, Amy’s songs went with me. And on that dreary December morning in France, her songs brought solace to my soul.
Over the course of these thirty-something years on the mission field, I have obtained each of her cassettes and CDs, laughed and cried with her, and dreamed. Her Christmas albums have filled my home in France with the wonder of Christmas back in the US. Oh, on how many a hard day has her music lifted my spirits and kept me going.
Today, as I listen to Amy, I reflect on the unique ways God ministers to each of us.
He used Amy’s voice to encourage me during all my years on the mission field. He also answered my far-flung prayers—that deep desire to be a writer.
I sit on this couch and read sweet emails from readers, telling me that my stories have encouraged their hearts, drawn them ever closer to Christ. Some have even been inspired to use their ‘voice’ after reading my ‘voice’, just as Amy inspired me.
As writers, may we always strive to use our ‘voice’ for His glory, even on those days when we wonder if our words are reaching anyone. Take courage. There may be a homesick soul with a big prayer and a little faith who happens on one of our stories and feels God’s hug and encouragement to keep pursuing the dream.
About Elizabeth Musser
To be closer to family, the Mussers have moved back to the Southeast for 2017-2018 school year and are living in the Chattanooga area near their son, daughter-in-law and three grandkids. But you can read about her humorous Thanksgiving experiences in France here. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.