In October 2017, Sydney spent 10 days at The Creak Studio, in Franklin, Tennessee, recording her first EP: Music Behind the Movement. (It was actually taken down last week, but one of the songs will be re-released under Be The Change Collective on July 19th!) Along with her friend, Caleb, Sydney spent those 10 days in a creative space like none other she had ever experienced. They watched her songs, some written with her Yamaha guitar when she was 14-years-old, evolve in a way she never dreamt possible. Not to mention, she was getting to work with one of her all-time favorite worship artists in the world. If the adventure ended right then and there… life would be have been complete.
But, the story most definitely didn’t end there.
David invited Sydney back to Nashville 10 days later to take part in a song writing intensive with Integrity Music. Forty song writers from all over the world come together for five days to write 120 songs. Sydney thought she was going to tag along with David to see what the songwriting process was like in Nashville. (A great opportunity on its own!) But, two days before heading back down, David called to let us know that she would be participating in the song writing sessions all by herself. (Side story: Her first session was at Gateway Church in Franklin. She was so incredibly nervous. Rightfully so. She asked me to pray for her while she was writing, so Brayden and I went into the sanctuary and prayed… FOR THREE HOURS! When we picked her up after the session was over, Brayden said, “That song better be good because we prayed over it for three stinkin’ hours… WITHOUT STOPPING.)
Her last writing session, on the final day of the week, was with two amazingly humble and talented songwriters: Matt Armstrong and Krissy Nordhoff. In a moment that doesn’t get talked about as much as it probably should, Sydney’s life was forever changed… because Matt, who has written for Christian artists like Chris Tomlin, asked this 16-year-old kid from Maine if she had any song writing ideas.
Sydney shared our story: how I found myself pregnant with her after my first semester of law school, unsure what to do and without a church home… because I was asked to leave for fear of the example I would be setting for the children in the church. I ended up at an abortion clinic in New Hampshire where the Lord placed the most kind, gentil-spirited human being I have ever met in my life. She listened to my story, taking in every word as I painfully explained the impossible decision I had to make. She then asked to speak to Sydney’s father, who also shared his reluctance to support a decision that would forever change our lives… no matter what we decided. This woman explained all of our options and then shared her personal opinion: we should go home. She then excused herself from the room and left the two of us to talk.
We were unable to definitively decide what our ultimate decision would be, but in that moment, we most assuredly knew what our decision would not be. Afterwards, as we began walking through the exit of the clinic, this same woman began running after us. Winded from the run, she confessed to having never shared her personal feelings to a couple before, because she could lose her job. But, she knew it was the right thing to do. Looking back on that moment now, I’m in awe of the story the Lord was already writing. In the depths of my heartache and isolation, He was present and had a purpose.
After sharing that story, Sydney went on to write a song with Matt and Krissy. But, that night, the Lord woke Krissy from a dream and gave her the words for a new song. Words she sent to David, asking him to forward on to Sydney… but he forgot. Months later, she found our contact information and asked if we ever received the song and then forwarded it to us herself. I remember reading over the words and instantly thinking this song needs to be the in hands of every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. But, the song also wasn’t finished and Krissy asked Sydney if she would help her with that task.
In January 2018, Sydney went to Krissy’s home and they finished the song Carry On, a plea for young mothers to see that the life inside them might have the power and purpose to change the world. But, it’s also an anthem for the church, calling Christians to surround these women with love and support, not condemnation. Our fourth and final post in this series starts on the day Sydney recorded Carry On at The Creak, so I’ll end this story here. BUT, you should know that part of our story on the road was created from this song.
Due to the kindness and generosity of some of the most amazing people we have met in the Christian recording industry (David Leonard, Krissy Nodhoff, and Integrity Music), we are giving away FREE downloads of Carry On to pregnancy care centers across the country. We’re calling it The Carry On Project. Sydney has been to clinics from Maine to Texas handing out the cards. To date, www.iwillcarryon.com is the most viewed page on our website! It’s so humbling to see our story shared with countless others across the country. But, even more, I’m in awe of how the Lord gave Sydney a heart and vision for encouraging children to use their gifts and talents to help others… and then gave her an opportunity to use hers in such a profound way.