Chatting with Twila Paris (Part 1 of 2)
- Jill Bartlett Crosswalk.com Family Living Editor
- 2001 5 Sep
Jill: Tell us about your new son.
Twila: Well, he was born on April 29th, so he is a little older than 3 months, and Jack and I are having a ball! I told my sister-in-law earlier, "Well, we are not having enough sleep to keep a mouse alive, but we are having an absolute blast!" We're arranging things, and getting our little systems down. I said to my sister, "Is this going to get any easier?" She said, "No, but you get better at it." So, that's kind of what's happening, we're getting into a routine and we are starting to get a bit more sleep, and well, we're just having a ball. He's just really a delight.
Jill: How has becoming a mother changed your relationship with the Lord?
Twila: There are times when sometimes they (babies) really want to give you their attention, and others when they really want to look at the ceiling fan, or the white trim on the wall. You know they are fascinated with that (laughs)! And so, we are saying "JP! JP!" (which is what we call him, 'cause his name is Jack Paris). Right now he won't just look at me for anything! And that just really made me think of the Lord, and how God is so patient and so loving in pursuing us when we are so much like tiny babies sometimes, and how easily we can get distracted from what's truly important by what's truly insignificant. It just occurred to me that you hear parents talking about the fact that you understand how the Lord feels about you in a whole new way once you have kids. I'm just excited in thinking that I'm sure over the course of this lifetime, there will be moments like that along the way that God will use to give me a whole new revelation of His heart.
Jill: Do you think you are a different kind of mother having had your first child in your 40s as opposed to having a baby in your 20s?
Twila: Well, of course, it's hard to know, 'cause I didn't do that, so it's harder to have an actual A and B comparison. But I think that Jack and I both are different parents and I think you do have a different maturity level and a different focus and different priorities.
I do have the freedom to focus on him, and have blocks of time where I can really focus in a way. I have a little help, so that I can do things like talk to you (chuckles). But Jack and I are his primary caregivers and we want it to be that way. I think that's just wonderful to have the focus and the freedom to be able to do that and we are very blessed by that.
Jill: How did you make peace with the fact that you might never have a child?
Twila: You know, I think you make peace with that ... I made peace with that the same way any Christian makes peace with any personal dream or desire that we have that may not necessarily come true. I think we all have to submit all our things to the Lord. For me it was a process, then there was a process of starting to realize and acknowledge, like when you hit 32 years old, you think, "Wow! I would have thought I would have had a baby by now." Then you hit 35, and you think, "Hmmm ..." So then I thought, "Well, this might never happen." So, you kind of gradually turn to this realization that you can't assume that it's going to happen. And then it was a gradual process -- two steps forward and one step back! For me, it was coming to the place when you say, "Lord, whatever You have planned, I will choose to focus on ..." because there are pro's and con's both ways, "and I will choose to focus on the pro's -- on the freedom to be completely focused on the ministry, or whatever it is that you have for me if You choose for us not to have children. And I'll try to have Your heart for my life circumstances, and see it through Your eyes." And I tried to ask Him to give me the grace and the ability to do that. And even before we found out that we were expecting, I was praying that way, and I was actually finishing up writing songs for the Lullaby project that we released in the spring. I thought I was writing songs for other people's children. I had literally just finished writing that project, and it was just a few weeks later that we found out that we were expecting JP.
I don't even think that's a coincidence. It's just amazing how the Lord works in the little details of my life. It dawned on me during all this process that there had been times along the way where I had really consciously thought, "My life's calendar is getting behind. All my friends have kids that are like 7, 8, 9, 10 years old! And I'm really behind schedule here." I know a lot of people feel that way about getting married, or something in their career, or whatever it is. The Lord just said to me, "Your calendar is not behind schedule. You may have a calendar for yourself and you may have your life all planned out, and it doesn't happen that way. The thing is, I have a calendar for your life, too, and it is much bigger and much more accurate, and it never runs behind schedule." And so, of course, I would have never told you when I was 18, "Yes, and I think I'll have my first baby at 42!" (Laughs). But you know, God has our days numbered and our steps ordered and His plan is perfect, even if it isn't what we would have come up with on our own.
Jill: Did you have a relatively easy pregnancy with JP?
Twila: I did! It was kind of amazing. I walked everyday; I went on the Christmas tour, and recorded the Lullaby project and also the three new songs for the Best Of project. I was very active and it was uneventful. Obviously, you can't take that for granted at any age, especially not at 41 and 42, so I was just extremely grateful.
Jill: How has having JP changed your relationship with your husband?
Twila: Well, we've always seen ourselves as a team and we've talked about that, as I'm sure most married couples do. But you are a team in a whole new way, on a whole new level when you're suddenly carrying a little child together. Jack has been so involved and he just adores this baby. You see yourself in a new light. I had a friend, matter of fact it was Mike Harris who told me when we were on the Christmas tour, "You'll have a whole new love for yourself after you have children". Next time I see him, I'll tell him that he was really right! For me to see Jack as a dad, and for him to see me as a mom, it just brings on a new appreciation. Then of course, there are little moments when you have alone time together, and you don't take them for granted anymore, it's so much more valuable! You kind of savor them when they happen -- you have a few minutes at the end of the day when they've all gone to bed. So, in a lot of ways you are drawn closer together. And sometimes with the sleep deprivation, you have a little bit of a challenge not to get snappy with one another when you're tired, so you get to work on that too! It's a whole new area for the Lord to work on you!
Jill: You've been married for over 15 years?
Twila: 16 now.
Jill: And what do you think, in your experience, has been the key to a successful marriage?
Twila: Hmmm ... I wouldn't say any one thing. I think it's a lot of little things. One thing that occurred to me very early on in our marriage is that you can't let the little things get too big. An example of that is, I've seen a couple get into a knock-down, drag-out fight over which couch to buy for the living room. I think that is so insignificant and unimportant in light of your relationship. And when you think about it, if you didn't love one another to the degree that you decided to get married, you wouldn't have to agree on what couch to buy together, because you wouldn't be living in the same house! So, take a breath, back up and realize which thing is more important. It always grieves me to see a couple sacrificing the big things to the little things like that. And you see it much more often than would be good. So anytime I would be tempted to make something too big out of something too small in our relationship, I really just try to remember that concept and how the Lord revealed that to me and, I think, gave it to me as something to hold onto real early in our relationship.
Jill: Your private life seems to be very private. Has that played out in your marriage and your concept of having children?
Twila: Well, if people ask me about Jack (my husband), I'll talk about him. One thing a lot of people have been aware of over the years is that Jack has been ill with Hepatitis C. In the last two or three years, we've felt that the Lord has led us to a particular nutritionist, and Jack has really had great results with a new diet, exercise, and herbal supplements and vitamins. So we've talked to people about that and sometimes have even had the opportunity to share some of those things with people who are going through a similar thing. But yeah, my personal opinion is that there are certain things that ... whether you're in the public eyes or not ... should really be kept private. It's more appropriate ... and, um, more "classy" to keep private things private.
I think honesty is a good thing and that there are certain things that we can share to help other people if we are called to do that. But, I also think there really is a place for just the things that belong within this relationship, within this sphere, within these boundaries, within this level of trust that I have with "family." Then there are the things that belong in a circle a little bit wider and then on out from there. And I think there is something very appropriate about that. I don't know, I get tired of every little detail about things that go on in other people's lives ... but that's me.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 of our interview with Twila Paris, when she discusses her new release and upcoming tour!
Purchase Twila's Bedtime Prayers: Lullabies & Peaceful Worship at CBD.