This devotional is written by Allison Fagerstadt. Allison is a worship leader, songwriter, teacher, wife, mother and more. She co-wrote the song “This Is The Day” on Laura Story’s latest album Blessings.
Sometimes I look around at the faces walking by and am amazed that each of these chosen people has an individual, beautiful story designed by God. We were created to bring unique worship before the Lord and live out the specific calling God has for our lives. Each of us is special gift belonging to the Lord with the task of making God famous right where we are, in the moment we are in.
From birth, my story has been centered on the love of singing to Jesus. I’m sure if you spoke with my mom, she would gladly tell you the stories of me singing into the microwave with a wooden spoon. I was on TV!! Or, my personal favorite, “Singing a song of the Lord” while telling my brother to “Shut it!” God put the love of music in my heart. Singing songs and entering in to praise and worship corporately has been an effortless passion and a gift that brings an immediate calm and joy to my spirit.
What hasn’t been as easy is walking out other areas of my life with that same passion, joy, and willing desire to please the Lord when it’s not as immediately gratifying, and sometimes, downright hard. Along with being a wife and mother of 3 beautiful school-aged children, I’m also a full-time public school teacher in a poverty-stricken district; I serve as a worship leader at my church and give voice lessons on the side. More recently, God has used me as a Psalmist. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Reflecting on those things, I can see how they all mold together to fit into my story nicely with one exception. Maybe you can see it too? The wild card for me has been my 11 years of teaching. At times I feel like David in all the various seasons of his life with God saying to Him, “Here, take your shepherding skills and use them to slay a giant or become a king”. But for me it has been, “Here take the love and mercy I have freely given to you, and give that away to these hearts needing to know the sweet fruits of My Spirit.”
Working with children can be enjoyable and rewarding, and in the same day, drain your energy tank well below empty. Positive change is present in the actions of my students, but I still find myself wondering, “Lord, am I following Your will right now? Is this what You want from me, or am I supposed to be going in a different direction?” My heart is to be a steward of every gift He has given to me. However, my tendency is to wait until I am 99.9% certain God has said, “Go!” even if the door is wide open. I am not a “pusher” and I love that God knows this about me.
Several years ago, a man by the name of Ruckins McKinley prophesied over me after a church service. I’d just given birth to my daughter Lauren and this was my first time back to church in several weeks. It’s also important to note that he had no way of knowing that I was a leader on the worship team. After the service was over, Ruckins came up to where I was seated and said, “You are a Psalmist. The song of the Lord is on your heart and you are going to write songs for Him that are going to be used for His glory.” Little did he know that writing songs for the Lord was something I’d always wanted to do, but fear held me back. I didn’t waste time. By that date the following year, I had written my first song, “Your Promise”, and we were singing it in church on a regular basis. A year after that, God had given me enough songs to record my first album. He also handed me a producer and team of musicians that were excited to work with me. The seventh song I’d written and last song on my cd was titled “This Is the Day.” In a last-minute decision, after all other songs were mixed and ready to be mastered, I begged my team to add this last song to the album. I felt strongly that it was the perfect song to end the season of my life that the cd represented. Little did I know, it actually better represented the beginning of a new season filled with hope, faith, and new foundations in Christ.
“This is the Day” was birthed during of painful transition in our church. Raw vulnerability was prevalent. We were ready for new beginnings and new vision. When joy was lost and hope seemed sparse, God said, “Come, celebrate Me! I am Your Salvation! Don’t look to man for your answer. Turn your eyes upon Me, and I will lead you out of this darkness.” Originally titled, “My Salvation”, the lyrics God put on my heart spoke the truth by faith of the radical transformation God our Savior was going to bring us through. He is our reason to celebrate even in darkness.
Soon after the cd was finished and released, I heard about an opportunity to mingle with other song writers, and receive feedback from professional artists on how to write songs that were sing able in congregational settings. My heart is to write for the local church, so I jumped at this opportunity to glean valuable wisdom from fellow worship leaders. “This Is the Day” seemed to be the happiest and most “polished” song on my cd. Without hesitation I chose that demo to be critiqued. I was very excited to meet and visit with some of my heroes in worship writing, Matt Redman, Brenton Brown, and Laura Story to name a few. Little did I know how much God had planned to develop out of this one moment in my life.
Laura Story was the artist critiquing the songs in my small group. A funny side note, I prayed that I would not be last because I knew my stomach couldn’t handle the pressure. It was the seventh song I’d written. That’s a lot of pressure!! Praise God I was second. After the listening part was over Laura gave me several comments, and then to my surprise said, “I think I hear a second verse to this song.” She asked for my email address and said she’d like to talk more about it later on. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and thankful that God would allow me to receive such positive validation that I was on the right track the first time around. But also thinking that, in reality, she would really probably never email and that was ok because I was so grateful for the positive feedback.
Two weeks later, my husband Joe called out, “Do you know someone by the name of Laura Story? She says she met you at the writing conference?” In that email, Laura, the most hospitably, kind soul you’ll ever meet, asked if I was still interested in doing some co-writing. I’d never co-written with anyone, but I knew what an honor and blessing it would be to co-write with a Dove award-winning songwriter. After agreeing on the revisions, I received another email that once again made me stand in awe of how big our God is. She told me that she’d played the song for her producer friend (Nathan Nockels) and that he thought it would be a good-fit for her new cd. “This is the Day” is the first track on Laura’s latest album “Blessings” and “Blessings” just won a Dove Award for Album of the Year. Wow God! Just by being available to the Lord, this is what He gave me. What a gift.
I’ve learned over time that pushing your way to your dreams really can set you up for failure if the timing is off and your dreams are not in full-alignment with the will of God. Seeking the will of God is a better plan. When doors open, I am working on walking through them. The other side of that is having a peace if the door closes knowing that God’s way is going to be so much better. From our view of David’s whole story, it is easy to see God’s miraculous hand in every step of his journey. When our souls leave this earth, I imagine our stories too will have become beautiful tapestries woven together with the finest crafting of the Holy Spirit.
If it’s meant to be, God will make a way. God’s timing is perfect. God has a plan. His plan becomes our stories. And the beautiful thing is that He gives us free will to choose the paths we follow. My heart is that all things will be done in love, for the glory of His name, knowing that He is with me and I am His gift.