Christine Dente
Christine Dente

My journey began where the sidewalks were straight and always led me safely home. But roots move and the stones shift because time won't leave well enough alone. This song is about a child's discovery that the pretty princess image didn't quite fit the girl. It's about how I tried to define myself with the sliding scales of acceptance and beauty and affirmation, how I tried to make the world work for me by building towers of self-protection and by running from the kind of love that won't settle for status quo. It's also about a grown-up discovery that true beauty is reflected in the eyes of my beholder. The Lord sent my husband, Scott, to show me the pursuing love of Christ. Scott truly loves me as Christ loves the church. Throughout these 16 years of marriage, he has given himself up for me, always coming in after me no matter how thick the thorns or how heavy the stones. My husband holds the mirror so I can see the relentless love that says I am beautiful. And I know I am becoming, what Jesus says I always was. I'm the girl in the mirror of His love.

"Bigger Story"
I can look back at my childhood and see the Lord's hand of protection and guidance every step of the way. Growing up with an alcoholic father and living through my parents' divorce exposed me to many pitfalls and heartaches along the way. Nevertheless, Jesus was there. I remember an after-school Good News Club that introduced me to the Savior (in those classic felt figures)! Then there were the occasional church visits with my grandparents. I was 13 when at a Christian camp I threw a stick into the fire, signifying giving my life to Christ. But I had no idea what to do with it after that. It wasn't until I was 18 that baptism marked my new life and college tested my professed faith. Now, 20 years later, the conversation continues, my part in the story becomes clearer yet there remains so much of the tale yet to be told.

"Gotta Go Through"
I have some friends who are struggling to save their marriage. They've committed to work it out and come through better on the other side, but it hurts beyond words, digging up the dirt and facing the ugly truth. So much of the human experience tempts us to turn and run. It goes against our nature to be broken so that we might be more fully healed. But this unfamiliar terrain forces us to cling and cry for help. Here at our worst we see Jesus at His best: the One who went through the unimaginable so that we might have life to the full!

"Take It From Here"
"Wake up, World!" I feel like screaming. "This is more than a wrong turn we've taken." I spend a lot of time perusing the news. I want to know what's going on. There's a lot we can do, like supporting the organizations on the front lines, making the phone calls and signing the petitions, getting our fingernails dirty. But it comes down to the hearts of people. Things will change only when the hearts change. My hope is that a humbled church will lead the way and the worldwide prayer will be, "Could You take it from here?"

Sandwiches and apple juice. And all you want to do is play. Ok, the dishes will wait. These moments won't. Childhood only lasts as long as a fleeting summer. So I'm wading right in and playing your games and savoring every moment.

"The Only Thing That Counts"
Galatians 5:6b(NIV) says, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." I wanted to write a simple song of encouragement and praise. The linear melody and recurring harmony add to the simplicity of the message. Love covers a multitude of sins. Our delight in Christ gives us the foundation to love others in this way. If we could boil it down to one thing in life, this is truly what counts. (Inspired by John Piper's book, Desiring God.)

"Sure Of All I Hope For"
We are so familiar with the definition of faith as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). Yet we have to remember that this is not a blind faith but rather an abandoned faith with a firm foundation. The basis is the One who lived, died and rose again. A faithful Savior who lives and promises to return again. I'm sure of all this because of who He is.

"How Far, How Much"
Sometimes the impact of what Christ suffered for us hits me afresh. Sometimes when I trace His leading in my life, I'm overwhelmed. I can only stand in wonder of this kind of love. I will never really understand the depth of who He is and what He's done. Sometimes I wonder how far I would go for Him, how much I would suffer for His sake. I will always stand in wonder how His love could be so strong. I will purpose to give Him all I am and trust that I will be able to do all things by the One who makes me able.

"Echoes Of Heaven"
I can see my little girl barefoot in the yard. I can embrace the twilight. I can almost taste the moment, if only it would last. But it's only a taste. Not the Thing itself. He calls us onward. We can't settle here, making idols of the icons. They point us to the source, echoes of the Ultimate.

One day is as usual then the unexpected comes. Someone we love is gone. And we are left to wrestle with the pain and loss. The death of a friend moved me to write this song. His wife's announcement of his passing ended with these simple words: "...and so with heavy hearts, yet a certain sense of joy, we say good-bye." How beautiful is the hope of those who know where they will go. How glorious the joy of those who go, they already know! Christ has destroyed the power of death over us. We are free to love and laugh and mourn and suffer for His sake. He knows the number of our days, and a believer's death loosens the reins of fear in our hearts. It is a bittersweet good-bye.  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.