As we brace for another snow storm, the longing for spring is hitting me hard. That darn groundhog says there will be 6 more weeks of winter. I guess it is to be expected after the extremely mild winter we had last year. I cannot wait for the trees to start budding and the days to get longer and warmer.
The seasons of the year can be a lot like life. Sometimes we are going through tough times that seem to not want to let up. Those times can feel similar to the most harsh winter we feel will never end. Then, through the snow-covered ground, a tiny crocus appears to give us hope for spring and the rebirth it brings.
Worship leader Kari Jobe feels that even when our souls grow weary and dark in the thick of winter that God is always at work. The slow and unexpected green breaking through the frozen ground signaling the first signs of spring show us that. Kari Jobe who just released her fourth album, The Garden, invites listeners to drink of the wellspring of hope she’s found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.
This new album is rooted in a series of personal transition and remarkable grief for the singer and her family. Over the course of the last two years, Jobe got married, moved from her hometown of Dallas, Texas to Nashville where they bought their first home and had a baby.
Jobe was a four months pregnant when her sister, Kris gave birth to a stillborn daughter, James Ivy. Jobe says the loss shattered her heart and wrecked her. She tried to walk in peace when she did not feel peaceful. Aching for her sister, Jobe was also anxious about the safety of her unborn baby. She welcomed her son Canyon Carnes last February.
While she celebrated the birth of her son, her sister’s loss weighed heavy on her heart. As Jobe held her son, she looked out her kitchen window to see the first signs of spring. Taking a walk in the garden she noticed what only God could produce: thick, green ivy lacing its way overhead that quickly reminded 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.”
Her unanswered questions began to grow into songs. As Jobe declared God’s goodness over her own circumstances, He began to transform her heart. “These raw things were coming out of my mouth, so I just started writing,” she shares. “I Will Sing,” written while she was still pregnant, became the first song she penned for this album. Jobe spent the next several months pouring out her emotions one track at a time. She and her husband wrote together frequently, and Cody adds vocals on numerous tracks.
In addition, Jobe co-wrote with acclaimed songwriters, including Jacob and Amanda Cook of Bethel Music, Brooke Fraser Ligertwood, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram, Mia Fieldes, Martin Smith and Josh Silverburg, among others.
“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.”
Today, Jobe and her family continue to discover restoration through glimpses of God’s goodness. “The healing that He’s been bringing to my family and the way that He’s met us in our pain, it’s made me realize how many people are going through really intense pain and disappointments and trials,” Jobe offers. “There’s a lot of people who have lost babies or family members out of traumatic experiences. My eyes have been opened to that in a whole new way.”
“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.
This is a beautiful album that will remind you even through the dark times, that God is there working, even if you cannot see what that is yet. I think everyone will take something from this album and the beautiful music and songs are calming and give hope to our lives.
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