Monday, December 7, 2009

Up In The Attic

How many of you remember Amy Grant's "A Christmas Album"? It was one of my favorite Christmas albums of all time. Two songs stood out above all the rest - "Tennessee Christmas" and "Heirlooms". Matt and Sarah grew up listening to that album every year as we decorated the tree...just one of our die hard family traditions!

Now let's be many of you have cried as you listened to "Heirlooms"? I can still remember listening to it, trying to imagine what that must feel like - to be up in the attic, going through boxes of old things from generations past. I could "feel" the emotions it must resurrect, even though I never had an attic and had not experienced that activity myself.

Well, guess what? I still don't have an old attic, but I have boxes of things from generations past in a big closet upstairs...things I discovered, memories I wanted to hang onto, treasures I kept after my parents passed away. The song is very true - "some bringing laughter, some bringing tears." My dad passed away in January 2007 and my mother passed away in June 2008...not so long ago. But, I already go into that closet ever so often and pull things out of the boxes - now understanding the song in a way I never did before. I even have an article of clothing belonging to each of them in separate Ziploc bags. I open them up once in a while just to breathe in their "smell". That's always a "some bringing tears" moment. Finding the head of a hammer with a broken, splintered, hint of a handle left is a "some bringing laughter" Daddy's insistence that every little thing must be saved in case there was somehow a dire need for it in the future. (everyone needs at least one broken hammer at some point in their lives)

A few weeks ago, I was in "that mood" and I spent a little time in that closet, going through some things. I ran across an old VHS tape. Whoa...memories! In 1996, I purchased a CD called Sisters: Songs of Friendship, Joy & Encouragement for Women. It was a collection of songs by various artists, celebrating and embracing women, friendships, and relationships. On it was a song by Bonnie Keen/Tori Taff, "These Are the Women We Come From", which I immediately fell in love with. It was prefaced by a beautiful monologue, "Quilting", by Amy Gaither-Hayes. These two pieces really touched my heart and my wheels began turning. "Living pictures" began forming in my mind, which is what I've always done when I hear music...I create in my mind a story or video, if you will, to go along with it. Mother's Day was approaching, and I knew in my heart that God had given me these two incredible pieces for a reason. I met with our church's audio/visual tech, Todd Sanders, (one of the kindest, most talented men I know...and father of one of the girls in my vocal group) and asked if he would be interested in helping me put this together. We boldly went where neither one of us had ever gone before. After many hours of contacting all artists involved to obtain permission to use their material, and using clips of a Civil War re-enactment video, this video tribute to the "women we come from" was born. It was particularly a tribute to the mothers of my women's vocal group, Voices of Praise. We had so much fun doing this! Todd had a little studio behind his office, so we were able to pre-record the song. Then we loaded up and took a boom box with us to Petit Jean State Park, where we taped the video with no audio, but singing with our boom box. I'm sure visitors to the park thought we were nuts. Todd then put it all together in his studio. He is a true genius, as this was way less than "music video" technology. He did a fantastic job! Thank you Todd! It was such a great surprise to our mothers, as we had kept it all very secret.

Anyway, back to the closet - now I am sitting here, holding my mother's copy in my hands...powerful emotions rising up! Since VHS tapes are nearly obsolete now, I had this transferred to a DVD. (thank you Tommy May) To make this share-able, (is that a word?) I had to convert it to yet another mode - thus the less than perfect quality of this video. You can't imagine the memories this brings up. First of all, to be able to pay tribute to the "women we came from", especially now that so many of them have gone on to be with the Lord. I can hardly believe this was 13 years ago!

This is not to boast or brag over. We are really not great vocalists...well, the first one is! (Remember, this was for our own Mommies) I just wanted to share with you something deeply moving to me - I guess because the holiday season is kind of a bittersweet time for me now, with both of my parents gone.

But, it is also a very special Christmas this year because God has truly given us a miracle in Sarah's pregnancy! Praise God for He is faithful! And with Matt and Susan expecting too, it is quite an emotional season for us all! Please know that those of you out there who are still waiting for your "miracle" - my prayers go faithfully with you! God will be faithful to you too, in His time and in His will. Do not give up hope! And when you are hurting and feeling hopeless -reach deep down inside...Hopefully it will draw you nearer to God and to the "women YOU come from."

(don't forget to pause the playlist music at the bottom of the page and after you click on the video, pause it to let it download just a few minutes...its just not the same with all the stopping, and skipping, etc.)


Thank you Lord, for the strong, wonderful, amazing women I came from! I have been truly blessed! Mother, I love you and miss you so very much!


  1. if my emotions weren't out of control already! I listen to Amy Grant's album all the time and yes Heirlooms makes me bawl everytime! Loved the video. I have my copy in the house and watch it every now and then. Missing Grammie with you!

  2. Oh my gosh! Sandra that is beautiful I have never seen anything like that! All the mothers that the tribute was done for must have been absolutely blown away. I have teared up at that. It is made all the more special by the fact that your girl is going to be a mum soon and that cycle is about to be continued. Thanks so much for sharing this and also yes I love the Amy Grant Christmas album too. Love Paxton

  3. OHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYY! So LONG ago! Pics and overall message are STILL so moving though.

  4. Sandra, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing that beautiful tribute! You have just made my day. That song is so very special to Bonnie and I, and it means so much that it touched you, too.
    Blessings on you and your family this Christmas season.

  5. Tori,
    I can only hope you drop back by so you can read this - I tried to post a comment on your blog, but wordpress would not allow new users to register at this time???

    You can't imagine my shock to see that you had left a comment here. It was beyond kind of you to take the time to drop by, view the video and share your heart with me.

    "These Are The women We Come From" will forever be special to me! I knew the first time I heard it all those years ago, it was going to be one of those "wow" things. You will never know how much it has blessed me over the be reminded now and again of all the incredible women in my heritage who have shaped me into who I am.

    I'm so thankful God inspired you and Bonnie to write the song. And I'm especially grateful that you allowed us to use it for our Tribute to the women we came from!

    Now, if you would allow me this ridiculous moment of "HOLY COW! The-person-who-WROTE-the- song-AND-wife of Russ Taff, whom I first knew as a member of the Imperials-which was one of mine and Rick's favorite Christian groups back in the day-now a Gaither singer/solo artist (whom my deceased parents LOVED!!!)----found my blog, how????? She actually watched the video????? And she left a comment????? OMG!!!!!! There is so much I would like to tell you!

    Whew! Thanks, I feel better now.

    I am in awe and humbled that you stopped by. Thank you so, so much!


  6. Ok, talk about a walk down memory lane! I remember the making of this video. Seems so long ago! It was so special though. I remember how much Grannie loved it when she first saw it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go dry my tears and call my mom and make fun of her hair back then....... -Jasmin George McBride


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