Ginny Owens: Singing In The Dark
Ginny Owens: Singing In The Dark

Living the Joy Filled Life Series

Host and author Mark S. Negley shares a very special conversation with Ginny Owens, a successful author, musician, and songwriter who has found a joy filled life despite living with blindness since she was 3 years old.

S3 : EP1

June 2021

Transcript:

Ginny Owens: The pathway is broken, and the signs aren’t there. I don’t know the reasons why you brought me here, and I’ll walk through the valley if you want me to.

Mark Negley: We understand that loss is not a one-size-fits-all. It comes in a million different forms and all of them hurt.

Melyn Galbreath: We want you to know whatever your situation, there’s hope, and you’re not alone.

Mark: That’s right, you will get through this. Please believe you can experience happiness and true joy again.

Melyn: Welcome to Survive Alive Thrive.

Mark: Navigating the journey from loss to hope to happiness. I’m Mark Negley, the host of Survive Alive Thrive, and I have a very special guest here with me today. Ms. Ginny Owens. Ginny, welcome.

Ginny: Thank you, so great to be here with you.

Mark: It’s great to be here. Do I catch you in New York or Nashville or where are we today?

Ginny: We are in New York today. In the thick of Spring seminary classes and so got to be at home right now.

Mark: That’s fantastic. For those listeners who are not familiar with Ginny, Ginny is a professional musician in the contemporary Christian music genre, who has inspired me many times when I personally needed it most. She’s a book author, Singing in the Dark, was released on May 1st, this year, very exciting. As you just mentioned, you’re in seminary, you’re a busy woman.

Ginny: I don’t get bored ever. That’s a good thing, I guess.

Mark: Of all the things you’re working on currently, what makes you smile the most?

Ginny: Oh, man. I just love the variety. I am so loving seminary and just getting to learn. I don’t love the papers so much, but I truly love just the opportunity to learn and grow in that way. Then also just getting to continue to create music. Getting to write a book was quite something of, when you’re used to listening to music mixes and critiquing those, and those are four and a half minutes long, the whole editing a book is quite long as you well know, takes a long time.

Just to have gotten through that process has brought me much joy just to know that I could do it and to just be able to share a message. Those are the things currently that are– and also just, I love New York. Being in New York and getting to thrive in the community here has been great.

Mark: There’s a few words that you’re using that I want to drill down on right now, but one of them is joy. It sounds like you have a joy-filled life. Is that how you feel?

Ginny: It is. I heard, I think he was maybe a monk, a guy named David Steindl-Rast. I think he was on the Krista Tippett Podcast one time, he said that, “Joy is happiness that does not depend on what happens.” I think that the joy in a sense is deeper than happiness, but it is that inner smile that’s always there, no matter the trial, it’s that, and so I do feel that. I feel like there’s a deep sense of happiness that is soul happiness that I’m very thankful to the experience.

Mark: I love that definition. In fact, in my book, Survive-Alive-Thrive in the chapter on pursuing joy, I quote Rick Warren’s wife who characterizes joy as the assurance that everything will be okay because you know that you’re in the hands of a grace-giving God. No matter your current life circumstances, the knowledge and assurance that everything will be okay allows you to live a joy-filled life. I thought that was beautiful.

Ginny: Absolutely.

Mark: Life is frequently not beautiful, smooth and easygoing. As you know, Survive Alive Thrive is designed to help people who have been through loss and challenging life circumstances navigate their way through that process, identify different ideas and steps and methods for rediscovering happiness and transcending that happiness with joy. In your case, your journey has not always been easy.

Ginny: It has not. There are perhaps a few folks in the world who maybe have had an easy journey, but I can’t say I really know any of them.

Mark: That’s true.

Ginny: No, it has not. For starters, I was born with a degenerative eye condition and lost my eyesight at age three after a surgery that was actually supposed to improve my vision and it turned out it did the opposite. I went in with enough sight to learn my colors, and apparently my favorite one was purple, and to see my family, and to see the things that I love most, and then I came out to not being able to see at all. That was something my parents knew could happen, but certainly hoped would not happen.

Mark: For your life now, thanks for sharing that part of your journey, do you have visual reminders of things when you were a little one that you have seen, do colors make more sense to you or is that memories of such a little girl that your life has effectively been one without eyesight?

Ginny: Oddly, I don’t remember anything that I could see except in dreams. A lot of times in dreams, I can vaguely remember the things that I could see, but when I wake up, all of that sense is gone. It’s very unusual, not sure why that happens. I don’t have a lot of visual memory. In fact, it’s probably been as an adult that I’ve learned the most about what the world looks like and what colors look like, and learned to understand even still very theoretical things like, blue is like cold, and the sky, just the various shades of– I have a theoretical perspective on all of it, but not true experience of it.

Mark: In the Survive Thrive Thrive model, the experience of going through loss, and of course, this is not your only loss, but I want to just drill down on this a bit, if you’re okay with that?

Ginny: Yes.

Mark: At the survive stage, it’s effectively in close proximity when you’ve suffered your loss experience. There’s a lot of different emotions that are swirling around at that time. Can you describe what it was like when you realized that you’d lost your eyesight?

Ginny: I barely remember losing my eyesight. In fact, actually I don’t remember that at all. What I do remember is, for the next few years, looking around the house and under the couch for my eyes thinking they were gone because they didn’t work anymore. Just my mom says that I went to bed for about six weeks when we got home from surgery. Then I went back out to play like everything was normal. I think for me, the real awakening to not being able to see happened over time, for instance, when I went to school, and realized that all the other kids in my preschool could see things that I couldn’t see. I think that was a little unsettling.

Then just even having further experiences in school where you are bullied by kids. I remember having multiple experiences in the lunchroom and in the cafeteria in 5th Grade where a group of girls that I really wanted to be friends with would steal my lunch out from under me, I was trying to eat it and they would laugh. They would just have a great time making fun of me, and I remember just the deep pain of that.

Mark: Kids can be tough.

Ginny: Absolutely, they can. There have been different moments in every growth season of my life where I’ve had to go, “Oh, I am different, than most everyone I know”. I’ve had to confront that, and figure out what that means, how to live with it.

Mark: Let’s put this in context. Where were you raised?

Ginny: I was raised in Jackson, Mississippi.

Mark: No stranger to heat.

Ginny: Definitely not. It doesn’t mean I enjoy it, but no stranger to it for sure.

Mark: What was your family life like?

Ginny: My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. I grew up living with my mom and my younger brother, JD, who– It was the three of us. For most years, I went part-time to a regular public school and then went part-time to a school for blind students where I could get resource training and braille training and got to participate in some fun things like cheerleading and track and field and different things.

Life was very full but it was also a bit challenging. My mom was a single-parent mom. She felt the weight of that as did we as kids. It was all in all, lots of joy, lots of time with grandparents and lots of good kid playing in the dirt stuff too.

Mark: Oh, absolutely. First of all, your book, Singing in the Dark is a beautiful and inspirational book. I’ve really enjoyed it myself and found inspiration there.

Ginny: Thanks. I feel the same about your book, so thank you.

Mark: [chuckles] Let me go to one of the stories in your book. You’re 12 years old and you’re super excited because now you get to put on makeup. This is an exciting time, right?

Ginny: So exciting.

Mark: It was hard, harder than you thought.

Ginny: It was.

Mark: Walk us through that. At some point, as the story tells us, you got to a point where you said, “Forget it, it’s too much trouble.”

Ginny: I did. Yes, and which my very wise mom knew that I would get to that point. I begged for a couple of years to be able to wear makeup and she finally allowed it. She said though, “If you want to learn how to put on makeup, you have to promise me you’re going to put it on regularly.” She knew that it was going to be hard to learn so she wanted me to commit like you would commit to anything you take lessons in, I suppose.

I said, “Of course, I’ll put it on five times a day just please, just let me do this.” We went to the house of a friend who sold Mary Kay or BeautiControl or something and she began to teach me how to put on the different layers of makeup just so that I would know. I took four hours, all of these swiping motions with brushes and sponges, and it was not enjoyable, especially when you’re 12 and you love the idea of looking cool and cute, you just don’t like the work that it takes.

I left with a made-up face and I was very happy about that though I was exhausted. Then every day for the next four or five days, I put on what makeup I could, and then mom would help me with the rest or sometimes, I ran out of time because I was getting up for school and I was tired and didn’t want to do it all. Finally, I told mom that I was really good to just go back to wearing lipstick. She said, “No, this is not how this works. You’ve got to learn because you’re going to need to know how to do this. If you don’t do it, people are going to think it’s because you can’t do it.”

She was right. She was wonderful about just being very candid with me about the way the world worked and the things that people think, and not allowing me to be a victim, and just insisting that I recognize, this is where you live, this is how people are going to think of you, and that’s just how it is.

Mark: One of the lines in your book that resonated with me relative to that particular story is you referred to it as the inner grit that you developed through being forced to persevere through some of these things. Is that at one of the earlier experiences you can recall of being challenged to not give up?

Ginny: Absolutely. My parents were wonderful about letting me have all kinds of experiences where I wouldn’t be allowed to give up. I took gymnastics when I was very young and learned how to walk on the balance beam, that takes a certain amount of inner grit but it’s more physical, I guess. Also, they just let me figure out how to do things like climb trees or ride my bike. All of those things were things that they just said, “Go, do it.”

Mark: Where other parents might’ve stepped in and said, “We need to protect you because of your eyesight so therefore, we’re going to shelter you and not–” You were encouraged to get out and explore.

Ginny: Absolutely. That was a tremendous blessing. Then I think when it came to things like makeup or learning how to clean the house or learning how to match clothes, those took a bit more skill, not just physical strength, but skill. Also, there was a narrative that I needed to understand around those things like you must be able to do these things in order to be accepted in the world.

You don’t have to, but this is how you will be treated if you don’t. Because I’m an artist type and sensitive, I think I had developed pretty early on just an awareness of the world around me, and that was a great thing that my mom also began the process of teaching me because if you are blind, you don’t know things like what you should do with your head or what you should do– there are all kinds of things you just don’t know about how you should do things in the world.

A simple example would be, look at a person when you’re talking to them. Those were the things that mom had to say, “Don’t look at your knee, look over here in the direction of my face.” Simple things like that, I had to learn. Those are great things to learn, but I think they also do give you insight into oh, the world is watching so how am I going to behave? That led to helping me develop my inner grit.

Mark: Oh, that’s wonderful. I love Christie Nichols’ foreword where she refers to the fact that she forgets that you’re blind and that you love that about her. Is that right?

Ginny: Yes, absolutely. I’m so thankful for that.

Mark: When did music come into the equation? Did you start the experimenting a little bit, was it an outlet, were you required to sit down, my folks made me sit down and play piano from kindergarten through seventh grade?

Ginny: Oh, man. Yes. Fun times. Actually, we had an old out-of-tune reject piano from our church that they were going to get rid of. My parents said, “No, no, we’ll take it.” I think I was probably two when it came to live at our house in our dining room, and I immediately found it and found that it made sounds and that you could play the songs that you heard at church or on the radio on it, and started playing by ear I think when I was two.

Not great, I was no genius, but I could definitely pick out the songs that I was used to hearing. After a few years of my mom hearing the same five songs over and over, she sent me to piano lessons. I thought piano lessons were dreadful because you had to sit for 30 minutes and do that whole concentrating and learning again. That was hard but I took them from five through college because God has a sense of humor.

They did get better. Really what happened as I went on in piano was that I would find during my practice times at home, I would actually start writing my own songs. I would sit and practice Minuet in G and then that would inspire some other idea. I would start writing about whatever was going on in my life. That was the beginning of music. I loved music, I was incredibly shy, so though I was always in every choir and I was in high school band and anything I could be a part of, I didn’t sing solos that often because when I did, I think it sounded so terrible, I was so nervous.

I didn’t do that well, but I did love doing music. When I was alone, it was my way of journaling, it was my way of processing the world. Writing songs became the way I would create conversations that I wished I was brave enough to have, but never actually would have those conversations.

Mark: You went to university and which university and what did you major in?

Ginny: I went to Belmont University. I think I was a psychology major for about a week, and then I was a music major from then on out.

Mark: Like 90% of Belmont students here in the Nashville area.

Ginny: Exactly, yes.

Mark: It’s wonderful. You came out with a teacher’s license. Is that right?

Ginny: A legal one. Yes, it actually happened. Go figure.

Mark: You wrote that you had three goals. One was to be an exceptional well-loved choral director. Secondly, to help students love both classical and current music. Then perhaps get a couple of your own songs sung by professionals. How did that plan work out?

Ginny: It didn’t work out too well.

[laughter]

Mark: Well, what happened?

Ginny: It actually worked out way, way better in the end, but my initial plan that I had designed for God to follow didn’t work out so well. Well, and backing up just a bit. Right before my senior year, I was a performance major and an education major. I thought, well, I can just hit two birds and just do it all. One of my voice teachers said, “Ginny, your voice is just weak so I don’t think you can ever expect to do music for a living.”

I’ve thought of that story. I wrote many songs about her in the beginning, but I’m now so thankful because she made my college time shorter. I finished in four years because I dropped my performance major, finished my education major in four years, did my student teaching during my final semester and got done, got out. I decided to put all my efforts into getting a job as a high school choral teacher, as you mentioned.

Again, this was one of those times where I didn’t realize how other people viewed blindness or how much of an obstacle it could potentially be. I had a decent resume. I had a pretty decent GPA in college and had been involved in lots of extracurricular activities. I sent my resume to different schools and administrators seemed excited to meet with me and then I would show up and they would just freak out.

You could just tell the intensity, the nerves, the awkwardness when I would walk into the room. They wouldn’t really know what to say. They didn’t feel comfortable asking how I would manage a classroom. There were many job rejections that I got and they’d say things like, well, you’re not a member of the Piano Teachers Guild, [laughs] or I don’t know, there are all kinds of unusual excuses. That was a really difficult time because I kept thinking if I just hold on long enough, something good is going to come out of this.

Mark: Well, it’s interesting that you could sense the awkwardness in the room and how often how our senses pick up on being uncomfortable in certain circumstances. It’s not always visual cues, you can feel that in a room, can’t you?

Ginny: Yes. Absolutely. You definitely can.

Mark: Let me ask. As one door shuts after another, there’s a requirement here that you’ve already started to learn through your life in perseverance. Many of our listeners have suffered challenging losses, setbacks.

As we know in the letter from James, as he writes it in the New Testament, he says, consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance but it sometimes doesn’t feel like that when the doors are getting shut in your face.

Ginny: No, it does not.

Mark: Can you think of maybe an example of some of the most frustrating low points in that experience?

Ginny: Wow. It is interesting, they all run together as one big awkward moments of closed doors. I just remember so many times often my friends were gracious enough to give me a ride to these interviews and these was the days before Uber and Lyft. Everyone, I would just leave and go, oh man, there’s no hope of getting that job. In a certain sense, there was just that over and over again. I remember during that time just really questioning God, not questioning, maybe is the wrong word. Well, maybe it’s not, I’m not sure. I remember though having this idea of okay, He’s teaching me patience. He’s teaching me to just trust. I had all these ideas of what He was doing.

Finally, I just was like, I don’t know what you mean for me to learn during this time and I don’t know how to learn it. I’m so frustrated. Once I got to that point, it was then that I think I began to learn it because what He began to subtly say to me or maybe not even subtly, powerfully say to me is this is about surrender. It is about you taking a step and not knowing what next step you’re going to take. This is how you learn to trust. You can’t anticipate the future. You would just have to walk along and allow me to lead. The older I get, the more I truly become a person that believes that God actually does lead us. He actually does care about every detail of our lives. That’s important.

If we think otherwise, I don’t know, it creates a– I know you talk a lot about God as our friend. I do think when we don’t think He cares about the details of our lives, it creates a void between us.

That was a pivotal moment of just learning that trust really does mean I surrender to the one who can see the big picture and actually does know what’s happening tomorrow and 10 years down the road. That was a huge change and I began to see the world with new eyes in a sense after that. There were subtle things that were going on around me that were really wonderful and beautiful, and I began to notice them. Life began to change once I was able to let go of what my agenda for God was.

Mark: That’s a beautiful way to characterize God’s journey with us. One of your songs that is something that has resonated with me that I’ve shared with you in the past, which has been so important to me through my journey, If You Want Me To. That has been something well before I started experiencing loss that resonated with me just conceptually.

The idea that no matter what, and it goes back to our earlier discussion about joy, no matter what life puts in our way, and whether that’s positive because we have some wonderful blessings in our lives or whether it’s tough stuff that we know no matter what I’m going through, I’ll go through it because I know that you want me to. When did that inspiration come to you?

Ginny: You know what, it came during that season when I finally did begin to let go and to trust that God must know what He was doing. He had been doing it for a very, very long infinite amount of time. Time is not infinite. I don’t know how that works, but for infinity, He had been God and I had not been. That song If You Want Me To was born out of that experience of just the one door after another closing, and finally just recognizing, okay, the point here is to surrender. The point here is to take a deep breath and take the next step and see what happens next.

Mark: That’s beautiful. Listeners, I would just tell you, if you are able to get on or if you’re already on a song list or a streaming service, If You Want Me To by Ginny Owens, the best of Ginny Owens is an incredibly inspiring and touching song. I can’t urge you enough to look in that direction.

Now, you know what’s interesting is when you were talking earlier about makeup and some of us might say, well, if you don’t have eyesight, what do you care about makeup? It’s a way that we all tend to think of how the world sees us.

In your mind’s eye, you’re thinking, boy, I want to look like I think I’m supposed to look and et cetera. Well, there’s a book that I refer to in Survive-Alive-Thrive written by Ken Boa, it’s called Conformed to His Image. One of the elements that I found to be, and it’s a big, thick, almost academic book, but effectively, he argues that until we start to see ourselves the way God sees us, that we’ll continue to not really understand who we are which is His children, and ultimately, that image shifting dynamic was very powerful to me and it sounds like you’re saying you had a paradigm shift in how you understood yourself.

Ginny: Absolutely. I have that paradigm shift fairly regularly. It continues to happen, it’s like, “Oh yes, this is the place where I need to live.” Yes, it is true and. We can’t totally see ourselves the way God sees us because He sees so differently but when we can know that we are dearly and deeply and constantly loved and that– I was reading this, actually in one of my systematic theology books the other day, we have His undivided attention.

It’s not like God’s given a little attention here and a little attention there to this person and that person and this person over here in this corner of the world. We have all of His attention and to know that and to know that He would then craft us in His image just is so life-giving I think, and also so inspiring for the work that we get to do and the way that we get to pour into other people’s lives.

If I truly believe I’m made in His image and if I truly can begin to even, I don’t know, have a taste of seeing myself the way He sees me then I can certainly see other people that way as well and love them and encourage them and have joy no matter what comes my way as well.

Interviewer: Yes. How does God see Ginny Owens?

Ginny: Well, I don’t claim to know all of those things but I do know that He sees me as His dearly loved daughter.

Interviewer: Amen.

Ginny: That’s what I know.

Interviewer: Well, as you’re familiar with Bert Mallard’s MercyMe song, I Can Only Imagine, the idea of the moment that we are in His presence, and it’s a crazy way to imagine our beginning of eternity with Christ. How do you envision that moment?

Ginny: Oh man, well, I think of it in several ways. One is I just can’t imagine what it will be like. I love the thought that the very next thing I get to see will be Jesus and I do wonder does that mean I gaze on His face? Does that mean He is so radiant that I fall down before Him or does it mean both? Also, I just think about how Paul talks about those things in 1st Corinthians 13 and realizing that this side of heaven, we’re all a little bit blind, we were all not seeing the picture clearly, we’re all seeing a reflection, but there will be a day. The next moment that we all see perfectly will be when we gaze on Jesus’s face or fall before Him because we’re gazing on His radiance.

Interviewer: I love that imagery, thank you and it’s particularly poignant in the context of your use of the word gaze because the blinders that we are stuck with on earth will be removed and we’ll have, as you say, perfect vision in His presence. Here’s an idea that I want to share with you. When people go through loss and experience brokenness particularly losing somebody that they love, whether it’s a parent or a friend or a sibling or a spouse or more and we know that 100% of us pass along.

That’s the part of the human condition here so we’re all going through this at some point in some way, but ultimately, many people will reflect on the last moments that they’ve had particularly if it’s traumatic and difficult as I’ve been through some tough stuff, but they look at that as the worst day of their life when in fact, the person that they’ve lost it’s arguably the best day of their life because we can only mention that moment as you stated.

I love your perspective on being able to think upon the loss of your eyesight and other challenges and setbacks that you’ve been through as steps along the path that have made you a better person.

Ginny: I think there’s so many reasons why like from the beginning to the end of the Bible we hear about suffering. All the Psalms are written by people who know and have experienced real suffering, whether it’s the suffering of war or the agony of loss or of enemies, but we hear like you mentioned earlier, then in the New Testament of people like James who are living in the era of early Christianity and of persecution and they’re saying things like, “Consider it pure joy when we face these trials,” and Peter’s saying the same.

You don’t get the feeling, well, it’s in the Bible, it’s not flippant, it’s not like all of these people they’re speaking from a place of having suffered deeply and having found true joy in the midst of that suffering, having found true sustained balance in the midst of that and true hope. I don’t know, I think our beauty, our wisdom, our strength, our character is made through that suffering.

Interviewer: Yes, I love that. You wrote in your book along that line that when we go through brokenness, suffering, we tend to block it out or try to turn up the noise and busy our lives, distract and cope and we pretend that the darkness doesn’t exist, and your quote is we choose not to sing. That’s a really interesting metaphorical point. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Ginny: Yes. I think when life gets particularly difficult, we don’t sing any kind of song. We just numb our hearts and therefore our voices. Maybe we watch a lot of Netflix, maybe for some of us, it’s a substance, maybe it’s a lot of Facebook which doesn’t numb anything in me so I don’t get on Facebook. To me, singing is something that we do to express our hearts. It’s something that we would do when we’re joyful, it’s a way of lamenting, it’s a way of pouring out her sadness. Often, what we choose to do instead is not sing at all, not be joyful, not be sad but live muddling through, trying to keep our hearts and our voices silent.

Interviewer: Yes, that’s beautiful. Let’s talk about your book and your new album, Singing In The Dark. What inspired some of the new music? I understand there’s two new individual releases that are part of the album that we’re going to hear a lot about, what’s happening in that area?

Ginny: Singing In The Dark: Finding Hope in the Songs of Scriptures is the book title and every chapter is parts of my personal story interwoven with a song, a literal song from the Bible. Well, okay, they’re not all literal songs but they’re all from the Bible. There’s a few that I might stretch the definition of song a bit like Philippians 4 where Paul’s probably not actually singing although it seems like he is. He did sing from prison so as he sings of having the secret of contentment I feel like that sounds like a song I want to sing all the time.

It’s literally looking at the scripture and saying, “How does this point us toward our own heart songs, and what do we learn about singing through our pain? Singing with hope, no matter what we’re facing?” That’s essentially what the book is about and at the end of every chapter there is an excerpt of a song lyric and then there’s an opportunity for folks to write their own songs of response based on what they have gained and learned from the chapter.

I wrote all the songs based on what the book was about, and the various songs that we talked about in the book. The album is called Sing Hope in the Darkness and there’s actually a song called Sing in the Dark. It’s really an album of songs that are songs for meditation, songs that you could sing together with others in a group or at a church, but there are songs that really reflect on God’s faithfulness in the midst of our suffering, essentially, is what the songs are about.

Whether our darkness, whether that darkness is always literal suffering, literal disability, something physical or if it’s just I feel like darkness living in the world is that we don’t have clarity always, right? There’s so many things we don’t completely understand. In that sense, there’s darkness the darkness of confusion, of mystery. I always think if you can sing something you can remember it. Every song tries to think about how we find hope in the midst of our darkness.

Mark: How do you advise somebody who’s not a songwriter to engage in trying to write a song while being inspired by the chapter?

Ginny Right. One thing that I love to do right now, this is a current practice of mine when I’m having Bible and prayer time in the morning, which I have to do in the morning or late at night or it won’t happen, usually it’s about 5:00 AM. After I’ve studied a passage, I will write a song of hope that I want to remember throughout the day. For me, that’s usually one succinct line that I would think of my heart singing all day. That’s not a literal song.

I tell people, you can write a line, you can write a prayer, you don’t have to write an exact song. I’m not trying to teach them how to write songs, but more just trying to encourage and inspire people to pour out their hearts into words to God on a page via writing.

Mark: Poetry, at some level is an expression of the heart. You’re looking for that opportunity to express what’s on your heart. The fact that God is always listening and always with you is the perfect audience to communicate with. In the thrive stage of the Survive Alive Thrive journey, you are living a joy filled life and experiencing the blessings while at the same time, the loss and setbacks and challenges of our life are woven into the fabric of our experience.

These don’t go away, they are part of who we are and has crafted us along the way. We talk about giving back as a great way to experience healing, and not only helping others which is the goal, but it’s also something that feels pretty good when you’re the one who is helping to provide healing and blessings to others.

Ginny: Absolutely, yes.

Mark: Is that part of your goal with this book?

Ginny: It is 100%. Its part of my goal and it’s definitely something that I have learned and very much resonate with. Some of my favorite experiences that come to mind is that as I was even reading about that is right before I moved from Nashville to New York, I helped one of my friends works with refugees, that’s her full time job and supporting them and I got to help her lead a middle school Bible study of girls from several different countries.

Just it was beautiful and humbling because I learned that these girls had inner grit I knew not of. Yet to sit around together and talk about their lives and their very adult problems in some sense, and then to hear them sing, at the top of their lungs a song like, Bless the Lord oh my Soul, there’s 10,000 reasons that I can praise was just, I was always like, okay, I can’t fall apart every time I play music, but I think just giving when you have been through certain suffering, and then you do move to a place of giving, I think giving always gives back to you too, right?

You’re able to see things that maybe you wouldn’t have seen before. For me, one of the ways and I don’t know that people always see this as giving, but I think as a songwriter, you tend to be pretty introverted or most of us are and you write a lot of songs about the things in your life or the things you’d like to say. I think over the last few years one of the things that I have begun to write about and really love writing about is helping give voice to the church on things that it is thinking about or things that different people are thinking about. Not just me.

It means I write songs for our church congregation to sing and for others to sing. Maybe just a sense of wanting to give some of the joy that I’ve been given, wanting to give that away has become very, very important.

Mark: Yes, well, thank you for that, on behalf of all of us out there. Let me ask you the following as we start getting closer to the end of this podcast. What advice do you have for people who are currently struggling with loss and difficulties in their life? What can you say to them that you think you’d be able to share that can bring them hope?

Ginny: I would say, for me, as a person who is blind but also a person who battles a degree of anxiety and depression and has had to work through that especially in more acute seasons of that at times, I think having habits of hope, having practices that we return to daily, I think memorizing scripture, reading scripture, but especially just memorizing, it is powerful.

Speaking words of truth over your life and speaking words that are beautiful and are hopeful over your life praying those words, you will be amazed how often they come to you. Even just having that time of prayer and reading and meditation that you return to each day, having a trusted friend even if it’s just one that you return to multiple times a week or once a week or as often as you can, having those songs that give you hope, maybe your playlist of hopeful songs that you continue to return to, but I think it really is about I don’t know.

I think in our fast paced world, we can just get tossed about by the wind if we don’t have these grounding practices that help us stay centered and can remind us that no matter what we’re facing, there is truth outside of us, there’s truth that can guide us and can strengthen us. Yes, I would say developing those habits will begin to build into you. That’s been my experience is that, the more I rely on those practices, the more they really do lift my heart and soul and give me joy when I need it.

When I’m not feeling so joyful, they just help maintain evenness. I am definitely a fan of that and also just having those people that you trust that you can tell your story to no matter what that story is, I think that’s so important as well.

Mark: Yes, sharing is such an incredible healing agent particularly with those that are empathetic and are good listeners, and most of us who have been through tough stuff, fit that category. As you share with others, there’s healing that takes place dynamically.

Ginny: Absolutely.

Mark: In fact, my wife is a board certified psych can mental health nurse practitioner with a PhD in nutrition and preventative health. Melyn, who is a featured expert on our nonprofit website survivealivethrive.org oftentimes talks about discipline and organization and healthy habits that can be very practical, such as sleep routines and eating properly and exercise and things that bring us order and routine. I love the fact that you’re adding the regular study of Scripture and time in the Word of God as part of that routine, very powerful.

Ginny: I couldn’t make it without that.

Mark: Amen. Ginny, thanks again for being a guest here on the Survive Alive Thrive podcast. Boy, what an incredible story and journey that you’ve been on as you’ve navigated loss to find yourself living a joy filled life. Thank you so much for blessing our listeners with your story.

Ginny: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, Mark. It’s been great to be with you and I’ve so enjoyed learning from you and hearing your story as well.

Mark: Well, you’ve been again, a great blessing to me. Thank you so much. Listeners, don’t forget Ginny’s books Singing in the Dark is available bookstores everywhere, Amazon and look for her new album Sing Hope in the Darkness. Just really inspirational stuff coming from an extraordinary woman and woman of God. Again, Ginny, thank you so much. God bless you. I’ll look forward to reconnecting again soon.

Ginny: Sounds super.

[music]

Melyn: I’m Dr. Melyn Galbreath, thank you for joining us on the journey to hope, happiness and joy. It’s our privilege to spend time with you.

Mark: I’m Mark Negley. Remember that no matter what your situation, you are not alone and you can experience a joy filled life. We’ll see you next time.

[music]

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