Sarah had just released " Gratitude," her first solo album six weeks before her husband died.
One of the songs on it, "Until the Very End," a beautiful love song sung to her love, was made more poignant and bittersweet by the reality of the tragic end of her personal love story. In the fall of 2007, the song garnered a lot of radio airplay on both Christian and secular radio. That led to a radio consultant who invited Sarah to the Gospel Music Week in Nashville the following April.
There, he introduced her to a new music producer, Paul Marino, a singer and musician who writes and produces music for many successful Nashville musicians.
Paul and Sarah immediately began a songwriting and recording partnership that has led to the creation of some amazing music.
It started with a song called "Christmas In Heaven."
Paul and his writing partner Jeremy Johnson had written the song during a time of grieving in Paul's own life.
Paul played Sarah that song in April and she knew it was HER song…and through a series of wondeful miracles, Sarah got to record the song in Nashville during September of 2008. Released to Christian radio in November 2008, it climbed to #15 on the national Soft AC/Inspirational chart published by Radio & Records, the industry's leading magazine. Sarah also sold nearly 4,000 copies of the CD single from her home. "This just doesn't happen!" says Wendell Gafford, a fifteen year radio promotions veteran and President of Creative Promotions, hired to promote "Christmas In Heaven." We've promoted over 200 national Top 20 singles and I don't ever remember a song having this kind of impact!"
Christmas in Heaven has continued to bless many people during the ensuing years and this last holiday season found the song ministering in a profound way to people all over the county in the aftermath of the devastation school shooting in Newtown, CT on Dec. 14, 2012. DJ Johnny Burke,WHNN-FM radio personality, had so many requests for the song that he put together a remix of Sarah's Christmas in Heaven with President Obama's reading of the victims names from the community interfaith service. The remix of the song was played all across the nation for the rest of the holiday season.
A music video of "Christmas in Heaven" was released at the same time and features the beautiful town of Midland, Michigan at Christmas time.
The healing in Sarah's heart and life has continued with the writing and recording of her next release.
Many of the songs on THE LONG OCTOBER ROAD were inspired by her journal she began writing the day Chad died. "These pages are so deep and full of emotion. They really open the window on a widow's journey," shares Sarah. Raw, gut-level songs like "My Beloved," "Box of Memories" and the title cut are intermingled with songs like "Wishin' Time Away," "Lead Me To the Rock" and "Not Today" that are filled with the hope only God can bring. Sarah and Paul spent hours pouring over the journals and the Word of God as they put this album together.
The balance of being honest and transparent about life's darkest valleys mixed with a message of God's hope and faithfulness are not only the recipe for THE LONG OCTOBER ROAD, it is also what makes a concert or event with Sarah so special. "I work very hard to make sure my concerts have a good balance of message and fun," says Sarah.
The message she shares has been refined by the fire of one of life's most difficult challenges. "As I walked through the months following Chad's death, I found out that God is big…He's huge!" exclaims Sarah. "He's so huge that he can handle my grieving, my depression, and He can handle me questioning Him."
She also discovered how important it is to build a foundation in Christ. "Mine is a message of hope to everyone! It encourages them to become deeply rooted in their relationship with Christ so that when that moment in life happens that they hope will never happen, they can stand.
It's about knowing that when that time comes, we can be assured that God is faithful and everything promised in His Word is there for you! I know because I've been there!"