Growing up, I had one primary desire in life: to be a wife and mother. Even deeper than that, though, my heart longed to live out God’s purpose for my life, whatever the cost. After I married the man of my dreams, he voiced fundamental spiritual questions, and I thought God hadn’t been faithful to give me the desires of my heart. Disappointed, I placed my happiness in having a good marriage and pursued higher education and a professional career with its resulting money and prestige. Seven years later, in an unwanted divorce, I had a second chance at processing through whether or not I would believe God’s goodness and word. After trying every tactic I knew of resistance and control to change my circumstances (and failing), I chose absolute surrender to God instead of suicide. Since then, my life has been a journey of growing in love, grace, and joy.
In the healing process, I wrote some songs to the Lord, of raw heart cries. Also in seeking him, I had the idea to set whole chapters of scripture to music, and what a blessing it was to me, to have those tunes and texts playing through my head! When my heart was grieving about how sad and sorry I was, and hurt and fear would have swallowed me up, I determined to think scripture. This was life-giving to me! How can I be depressed when God is telling me he has thoughts of peace toward me, that he has loved me with an everlasting love, and that he will work all things together for my good?! It built my faith! “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Ro 10:17).
Tirzah Joy (Tears of Joy) is the pseudonym I chose in a dark valley to reflect both the painful work God was doing in my life and my heart’s longing. God used this music to sanctify and cleanse my mind with the washing of water by the word and worked his healing in me. I sent out one CD each year to family and friends in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. These CDs were recorded at a recording studio, but in 2009, it seemed God was halting the work. In 2013, I was able to release one more CD, singing with my sons and finishing the edits on prior-recorded Psalms. In the spring of 2014, a friend offered to me to borrow her recording equipment to try recording from home. In 2015, God opened the door for me to continue by giving me time to get back into it more consistently.
When I want to set scriptures to music, I start with a piece of staff paper with the scriptures written beneath each staff. Then I pencil in a melody line with the rhythm and pitch as I hear it in my head. When that is done, I take it to the piano and work it out, writing in chord symbols and making changes to the melody as needed. After that, I am ready to type it up on my music notation software.