In 1997 I heard Hilary Weeks sing for the first time. Her debut solo CD had just been previously released, and she was performing at a fireside at my stake center in Mesa, Arizona. Her husband, Tim, was with her, and he did most of the speaking, with songs throughout sung by his wife. Next to Hilary, sat her little daughter, McKenzie, right up there on the bench next to her mommy, as good as gold. I thought to myself, 'what a lucky little girl to get to listen to this all the time!'
I became an ardent fan. I bought each CD as soon as I could get my hands on it, and learned the words to each song, most of them written by Hilary too. I was grateful that I had been in a place in 1997 where I could be introduced to her music, and I acknowledge God's hand in that blessing, because since then He has spoken to me many times through the words of her songs.
One particular time, in 2002, I was driving down a winding, mountain road coming back from my estranged husband's house, where I had just dropped off my three young children for the weekend. I had never felt so empty as I did driving back in the dark that night. I remember praying, frantically pleading with God to intervene in my life and help me to make sense of it all. It wasn't right that my babies were sleeping across town without me! It wasn't right that they now had Daddy's house and Mommy's house. None of this was right! And with an expression of my complete trust and reliance on Him, but a pleading for his strength to endure, suddenly, this song began from Hilary's CD:
"Why did this happen
Do you know what's happened to me
And heaven were you watching
Were you watching over me
'Cause the way that I've been feeling
Well I'm feeling so low
If You hear this prayer
And if I'm not alone
I need to know
I need to know You're there
I need something to hold on to
I need someone who will care
Carry me on
And carry me through somehow
Make sense of this pain
And show me the way
'Cause when the darkness comes
'Cause when the darkness comes
I'm a prisoner to my fears
Although I'm listening
The doubt is all I hear
But then I reach for Your hand
And feel You reaching back
And the light returns
And I begin
And I begin
I begin to understand
My soul can feel the mercy
And love in Your plan
When I let go
And turn all the hurt and sorrow over to You
The burden is light
And trusting I find
Though the storms roll in
And the winds of change may blow
I know You let them come
So that I can learn and grow
And when I reach for Your hand
I feel You reaching back
And that's how I know
I am never alone.
It was a pivotal answer for me. I pulled the minivan over and wept. I could tell that God wasn't denying the hurt and the pain that I was feeling, but He was offering to carry it for me, walk with me, and that I wasn't alone, though I was driving by myself and going home to an empty house where my family should have been.
So, I loved Hilary even more. Many of her songs have touched me in similar ways. Through acts of the divine, I was able to meet her once at a Time Out for Women performance shortly after that experience, and share it with her, thank her for her gift. And then a few years after that, I had another opportunity to meet her again. She and her husband, Tim, invited me to their hotel room to talk, which we did for hours. She wanted to know me. And I came to love her even more. She is as genuine as she is talented. As beautiful inside, as she is out.
Since then, I've been able to attend, as her guest, several more Time Out's, to watch her work behind the scenes, to meet the other incredible speakers and performers, to eat with them, to talk with them, to learn from them. And I am more and more impressed with not only Hilary's music, but with the caliber of woman that she is. And funny to boot. So funny. So real.
Hilary's newest CD came out just recently. When our mutual friend, Angela, came out to CA on business, she brought me a signed copy from Hilary, and I was overjoyed. This is Hilary at her best. Her expression of gratitude in the front of the cover is so humble and touching. She knows from where her gift comes, and she truly seeks to be an instrument. I believe she is. It is so fun to get to know her newest "babies". I like to imagine the inspiration behind each song, and never fail to be amazed at how relevant each message is to my life too. She sings, and I feel it all.
The title song, "If I Only Had Today," expresses so poignantly what the important things to do would be, if today was all there was.
"I'd hold you and listen
And I'd let the dishes sit in the sink
I'd tell you I loved you over and over
And for once I'd just let the phone ring. . ."
Or, there's the beautiful "Just Let Me Cry", which if you're not already, you certainly will be crying by the end of it. (We girls always have something in our hearts to cry about! And crying feels good, and we need it!) I love the line that she wrote that says:
"When I agreed that God could put this heart inside me
I understood that there was a chance that it would break. . ."
I believe that. I believe we took it all, knowingly, because we knew it would be necessary. And worth it.
Oh, my gosh, nobody writes or sings more beautifully or personally about the Savior than does Hilary. Every time she writes a song about Christ, I think, well, she certainly can't top that. How will she ever find another way to say all those amazing things about Him? But she does. Every time. Which tells me she must know Him, and have the relationship with Him that comes from experience. "Tender Behind the Mercy" is so beautiful:
"He's the tender behind the mercy
The unconditional in love
And when I need forgiveness
He's the Redeeming in Son. . ."
There are so many gems! I love them all! I can't wait to hear her sing them live, because you think the CD's are good? You should be there to hear her sing them in person any and every chance you get.
Well, so here's the deal. You can tell I adore Hilary. I want more people to love her and to be blessed by her talent and her spirit. I asked her if she'd be willing to let me give away an autographed copy of her latest CD and she was all for it! (Because she's generous and cool like that, and she loves to party!), so if you'd like to be entered into the drawing this week, leave me a comment on this post, and on Sunday I'll draw a name for the winner of "If I Only Had Today", signed just to you. You lucky, lucky duck!
Also, please hop on over to Hilary's website, where you'll find all kinds of good things and her blog too! Say hi! And good luck!