By Kim Kirkland Allen
Laying It All Down
Dreams are funny things. Sometimes, they seem to be tangible, real, and reachable—sometimes, completely elusive. When we are young, we dream big. We believe that nothing is impossible.
Then we grow up and learn a little bit about limits—physical, financial, emotional. We learn about disappointment and disapproval. Dreams, sometimes, can die a slow, agonizing death.
However, God plants some dreams so deeply in our hearts that we still hold on to them, even if it seems like there is no way for those dreams to come true.
From the time I was a little girl of four years old, singing solos in church, I knew I wanted music to be a big part of my life. Specifically, I wanted to be a Christian artist. As I grew older and became a teenager, I was told I would not be allowed to sing solos in church any longer. I guess the “cute” factor was over. This hurt my fragile self-esteem, and I figured I was not a good enough singer. My father, a musician and orchestral worship leader in our church, was adamant about me taking piano lessons, then learning to play the flute, becoming a part of middle school and high school band. These were great musical outlets for me, and I loved being part of a larger group. However, writing songs became a private pleasure. As much as I enjoyed it, I did not share my songs, as I was so afraid of being criticized again.
In college, I received the gift of a portable keyboard and tried to write songs in earnest that I shared with my roommates. With their encouragement, I tried out for the talent show, but was again told that I was not good enough; my audition didn’t earn a spot.
Then I started dating a special young man named Keith, who would eventually become my husband. I did not want to share my songwriting with him at first, but then I allowed him to hear one that I thought was not terrible. He acted amazed! He said that I was so talented and wanted me to share that gift with others. I explained that this was a private thing, no one really wanted to hear this, but he would not let me off the hook. He called the leader of our college and career department that evening to tell him I would be singing for them on Sunday! I was concerned. I didn’t want them to laugh at me or think I was an awful musician.
God was very kind in the moment I shared my song, as I received a wonderful response from my friends at church. They all told me the song was great, keep writing, you have such a pretty voice, etc. It was my turn to be amazed! I began to think that maybe this could be something I could do.
Flashing forward, there have been incredible opportunities—writing lyrics for a song with a major recording artist, and being mentored by the head of a publishing group in Nashville; to terrible disappointments—being publicly criticized again, feeling discouraged and wanting to give up. But I learned through it all that God is the one who gave me whatever gifts or abilities I have, and it is He who decides how I need to use them.
I am staring down the road at my 50th birthday this year. God has allowed me to sing in our praise team at Holy Trinity in Madison, and I have been blessed to write songs that we can sing congregationally or for special occasions. I have been loved and accepted and encouraged by our precious church, and contented myself to be used in my local church and community.
My grandfather passed on to Heaven earlier this year after 101 years of faithful living to His Savior. His was a life well lived. He left an inheritance, both financially and spiritually, to my father. As my dad was praying about how to honor my grandfather in the way he used those funds, he decided to produce an album of my own songs for me. This was going to be a small project that would be digital and accessible to others who wanted to hear it.
The last week of June, I traveled to Nashville and had the opportunity to record songs from my own heart; songs that were arranged by an incredible musician, songs born of pain and joy and waiting. My father and brother produced the album, and we had such a blessed time sharing and singing together.
We were on the last day of recording when my dad turned to me and said, “This needs to be a CD. People need to hear your music.” It wells up so much emotion in me that my father believes in me, and loves me enough to grant all of this to me so generously.
And yet, our Heavenly Father is the Giver of Dreams. He plants gifts, talents, abilities, and gives us opportunities to use them in His way, in His time. He believes in us because He made us and knows us intimately, and knows the plans He has. He does abundantly more than we can ask or think, and our dreams can become realities that are much bigger than us. Our dreams can make a greater impact than our intentions can imagine.
Dreams do come true. Dreams can be revived, and given new life, new direction. I am amazed at the faithfulness of God, to give that little girl a glimpse of what was ahead. It was in the laying down of the dream that He worked His will to make His glory known.
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
For knowing You, Jesus
You’re all I need
You’re all I need
~ “Lay It All Down” by Kim Kirkland Allen