Life has been full lately. With the start of a new year, I have found myself going through a transitional time. I’ve noticed that within our family, the “seasons” are changing. I don’t have to bend down quite so far to hug my son anymore. My daughter is growing and changing and no longer a toddler, rather a “big kid like her brudder.” Soon-to-be kindergarten student.
I have filled my little and newfound free time (wait, what was that?) with coffee, planning vacations as a travel agent from home, and Gilmore Girls reruns-only if there is a moment to spare. I have also loved being able to get back into an actual quiet time with the Word. Refocusing and refreshing myself, something I have desperately been needing to do. I even chose a “word” for 2017- it is steadfast, in case you were curious. So far, I have only managed to steadfastly procrastinate and juggle daily life, but 2017 is still young. There is time. But the season is changing, and I feel it. Rather than let worry, sadness or anxiety feed the change, I hope to transition with it, just as we do from one earthly season to the next.
So, in perfect timing (as is always God’s way), I was offered the opportunity to review a copy of Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden. Already a huge fan of her previous music, I anticipated I would love what I heard, but what I didn’t anticipate was how amazingly appropriate the songs would apply to me and my life at this point, during this season.
I love every single song. So much!! “The Garden” and “Closer to Your Heart” are two of my favorites. But most notably for me, in “The Cause of Christ,” I love the lyrics,
He is all my soul will prize.
Regardless of the joy or trial
When agonizing questions rise
In Jesus all my hope abides
Seasons will change. Some will be good and others bad. But regardless, our hope is in Jesus, and this album depicts that perfectly.
I would greatly encourage you to give a listen to the wonderful songs on Kari Jobe’s new album. But be warned, your heart will be touched and your worship strengthened with each word of each song. You can purchase The Garden here. Or stream it here.
Here is a bit of background for The Garden
It’s said for everything there is a season. Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. One by one, we experience these seasons throughout our lives. Our souls grow dark and weary in the thick of winter, and just when we think we can’t endure another cold night, we recognize the first signs of spring. Slow and unexpected, welcome shades of green break through the frozen ground. Sometimes our Creator uses His own creation to remind us that even amidst winter’s chill He is always at work. For it’s in the unseen where life’s most beautiful moments take shape. Worship leader Kari Jobe knows this to be true in her own life, and on her fourth album, The Garden (Capitol CMG), she invites listeners to drink of the wellspring of hope she’s found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.
While The Garden planted the songwriter back in the studio following 2014’s critically-acclaimed live recording, Majestic—which won a GMA Dove Award for Praise and Worship Album of the Year—the new album is also rooted in a series of personal transition and remarkable grief for the singer and her family. In the past two years, Jobe married her husband Cody Carnes and moved from her hometown of Dallas, Texas, to Nashville, where the couple bought their first home and had a baby. With due dates three months apart, Jobe and her sister, Kris, were excited to be pregnant at the same time. Yet, in the midst of happy life changes, heartbreak struck. Seven-and-a-half months into her pregnancy, Kris gave birth to a stillborn daughter, James Ivy. Jobe, four months pregnant with her son at the time, was devastated.
“It just shattered my heart. It was so, so hard,” Jobe shares. “It wrecked me—just the weight of unanswered prayers. I was trying to walk in peace when I didn’t feel peaceful and find my rest when my spirit didn’t feel rested.”
Aching for her sister, Jobe was simultaneously anxious for the safety of her own child. On February 18, 2016, a healthy Canyon Carnes entered the world. “It’s hard to celebrate life, but to be grieving with your sister,” Jobe admits, adding that knowing Canyon’s name ahead of time gave her strength through the remainder of her pregnancy after the loss of her niece. “God gave us his name even before this whole thing took place,” she says. “Canyon means a deep ravine for water to flow through. Canyons are formed through storms, so the fact that God gave me his name was so peaceful to me… I was thankful He gave me his name for that season.”
While the birth of her son was undoubtedly a milestone to celebrate, her sister’s loss weighed heavy on her heart. Yet, a reminder of God’s kindness came in a surprising way. As Jobe held Canyon in her arms, she stood looking out the kitchen window of her new home. And there in her backyard, she glimpsed the first signs of spring. When she and her husband purchased the house, a garden that resided on the property was overgrown; and though they knew it needed to be tended, they were advised to wait and see what it produced. The result was a breathtaking bounty of harvest. That day, Jobe made her way through the garden—a stark reminder of God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. Looking up, interwoven in the archway, she couldn’t help but smile as she saw what only God could produce: thick, green ivy lacing its way overhead, immediately reminding her of her niece’s namesake.
“Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”
The experience yielded the title track for Jobe’s new album and fresh healing for her soul. “Those seeds were planted years ago for it to be the way that it was that day for me, because it wasn’t just last year that they planted all this beautiful ivy. That took years,” she observes. “Something in my spirit started to rustle. Life was coming back. What felt dead in my heart was starting to wake up. It was like I’d been in this place of being numb in my walk with the Lord, but something just started blooming in my heart.”
“The garden is true intimacy with the Father, and it’s a place where He intended for us as humankind to be surrounded with His creation. There’s life in things that He’s created,” she offers. “I want to lead people into intimacy with the Father. It’s something that’s so important as we walk through stuff in our lives.”
In the time leading up to The Garden, Jobe has experienced both indescribable joy and unimaginable pain. Life and death, side by side. Yet, through it all, she’s found God to be inextricably faithful because she’s learned to trust the Gardner and the beautiful, unseen ways He tends to our hearts.
“Everyone who’s seen something grow out of the dust realizes God was up to something in the midst of pain and questions. He never promised that it would be easy or that it would be pain-free, but that He would never leave us or forsake us,” Jobe offers, adding, “I’m more aware of His presence than I think I’ve ever been. God has surrounded us with things that will be life-giving if we take a moment to realize it. God’s always at work in our lives. He truly does go before us and prepares the way for the journey ahead.”
*I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. #TheGarden #FlyBy