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Thoughts of Paris…

As told to Kirk Noonan

Editor’s note: Twila Paris could be your neighbor. Despite five Dove Awards, three American Songwriter Awards, 32 No. 1 songs and more than 2 million albums sold, Paris drives an SUV around the small Arkansas town where she lives. She is a homebody who loves being with family and friends. And when she goes to town to shop she usually wears sweats or jeans. On most trips she has her 2-year-old son, J.P. (short for Jack Paris), in tow.

Welcome to the life of an extraordinarily ordinary woman who has dramatically influenced the way the church worships. But don’t expect any big surprises or shocking revelations as you get to know her — because she has none.

Twila on success …
My dad told me a long time ago that the true definition of success is God’s faithfulness plus my faithfulness equals true success. Since hearing that I have only worried about being successful in God’s eyes.

Twila talks straight about her struggle to have children …
Jack, my husband of 18 years, and I found ourselves married for 15 years and without children because of chronic illness. In the blueprint I had drawn for my life, children would have happened many years earlier in our marriage.

It was tough to deal with the uncertainty that we might never have children. But there came a point for me several years ago where I realized having children might not be just a matter of timing; it might just be that it was never going to happen. Having to confront that issue and make peace with that was difficult.

I had seen friends who had struggled to have children who went down the road of bitterness. I knew I couldn’t do that and I needed to answer the question, “Do I trust God with everything in my life or am I going to say this area is too important and I am not going to trust Him with it?” I decided to give my dreams of having children to God.

Several years passed, but having given God my desire for children I really felt I had made peace with whatever His will was for my life. Sometimes I would pray, “God if You ever give me children physically that is great. If not, I thank You for all the blessings in my life and who You are to me.”

I was sure I had given it all to God, but then He proved it to me when my sister, who is eight years younger than I am, had a baby. I was happy when I was able to celebrate with her without any hidden corners of sadness or anguish in my heart. That’s when I knew for sure I had opened my hand and given God my desire of having children.

A Different Kind of Strength
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But the story doesn’t end there.

I decided to make a children’s lullaby album. It was kind of ironic because I was a 41-year-old woman who had no children and I was writing lullabies for other people’s children. But I enjoyed writing and singing the lullabies because the Lord had given me a passion to write songs that would build foundational Christian principles in children’s hearts.

Four weeks after I had finished the album I found out that I was pregnant. I don’t want to make my pregnancy something that it wasn’t, but it certainly spoke to me of God’s goodness, kindness, generosity and the intimate way that He deals with us in the small and large areas of our lives.

In my case, not being able to get pregnant turned out to be a matter of timing. But for some people it’s not just a matter of timing, it may be God’s plan for their lives that they don’t have children. It’s hard to understand that, but as hard as it is, we have to come to a point where we accept that a pregnancy may never happen but we choose to trust God rather than be bitter.

That’s not easy to do and some people will say, “That’s easy for her to say because she has a baby now.” But seven years passed from the time I chose to trust God and the time J.P. was born.

Twila’s heart’s desire for J.P. …
I pray that he will know how much the Lord loves him and that he will love the Lord just as much in return.

Twila’s take on Mother’s Day …
It is wonderful and one more way God reminds me of His love.

Twila on her new album House of Worship
It is completely devoted to worship — I’ve only done that once before. I naturally tend to write worship songs, but usually they show up on my adult contemporary albums. But for this project I felt the Lord calling me to emphasize praise and worship throughout the project.

Twila’s passion for the ministry of music …
I love the fact that I get to co-create something with God. Each song is a gift from Him. God is a better songwriter than I am yet He’ll give me an idea for a song and allow me to put my hands on it and get involved in the process. It’s like letting your 2-year-old help make the cookies.

But songwriting is just one example of God letting me work with Him. We all have moments when God allows us to be involved in His creation or ministry or reaching out to others. Whatever our gift is, He wants to use all of us in a special way.

Twila speaks of the inspiration she receives from God …
I don’t know if I have ever sat down and consciously tried to write a worship song. Sometimes I will sit at the piano waiting for inspiration, but it never originates with me. To do something that really resonates with the Spirit and calls people to the Lord, it must be born of the Spirit. There is a moment of inspiration and that is the starting point of the song — it’s from the Holy Spirit. The idea has to come from the Lord. Then I use the gifts He has given me to write a song. That’s how He let’s me collaborate with Him on the songs I write. I have never lost the awe of being allowed to be involved in that process.

Twila shares the best aspect of doing what she does …
One of the most fulfilling aspects of what I do is to write worship songs that are used by the Body, especially when I am not in their presence. That feels like the most appropriate, eternal result of the gifts God has given me that I can imagine.

Twila talks about the significance of worship …
We worship God by the way we live our lives in obedience to the call He has given us and by using the gifts He has given us. To offer ourselves for His glory — whether that be through writing a song or doing the dishes or taking a meal to a sick neighbor — it’s all part of worshiping God. Obedience is the key. If I am worshiping Him with my life, that is what lends the most credibility to the worship I offer with my mouth.

Kirk Noonan is associate editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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