BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#652 - "How Could I Ask for More" by Cindy Morgan
Legendary songwriter Cindy Morgan looks back to the story behind this classic song and looks forward to her new album Bows and Arrows.
 


Cindy Morgan has the legacy of a musical family behind her. Her mother was a songwriter, pianist and singer, and her father was a songwriter and guitarist, and together they nurtured Cindy's songwriting gift. As a result she signed with Word Records directly after high school, with her songwriting propelling her through twenty one number one singles, Dove and Grammy nominations and major tours. Despite all the accolades however, Cindy's heart remains one of honesty and humility in connecting with her listeners. 

Recently Cindy Morgan also released a book titled "How Could I Ask for More," featuring anecdotes about faith and life. The song "How Could I Ask for More" was originally released on Cindy's debut album, Real Life. With a nod to her new book, a highlight of her album Bows & Arrows, released September 4, is a duet with acclaimed singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson on a reimagined "How Could I Ask for More," one of Cindy's most beloved and requested songs of all time. I had the chance to speak with Cindy about her classic song.

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

It's hard to believe that I wrote this song over twenty years ago now. When I first came to Nashville and I was working as a waitress and working on songs to record for my first album, I was going through that process of trying to write a song that they would want to include on my first album. They knew I had writing skills, but they were having other writers give me songs to sing. 

My parents are both songwriters, and my dad was a guitarist. I started writing songs when I was six years old. When I was in Nashville, like most people, I realized that maybe I wasn't as good of a songwriter as I thought I was. I said to John Mays, who was at Word Records at the time, that I wanted to write a song that would be a piano ballad for my first album. He wanted me to write a song that expressed my heart and gave people insight into who I am and what I am all about. 

After many, many failed attempts, I took a trip back home to visit my family and friends. I was thinking "what if I don't make it and what if I don't end up making music? What will be left of my life that is meaningful?" I had a notebook and a pencil and I wrote down some thoughts, and those thoughts became the song "How Could I Ask for More." I think it was a good way to begin, to remind myself throughout it all that there are some things that matter, and some things that ultimately don't matter. This song has helped me remember those things over these past twenty years.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

James 4:14 (NJKV): "Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

James 1:2-4 (NIV): Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

What is the takeaway message of the song and album?

I haven't recorded a singer-songwriter album in ten years. My day job for the last many years has been to be a staff writer, and I've written songs for other people. That is something I love to do. I love to write songs. 

To do my own album has been something I've been thinking about doing again. For me to do another album which is a personal expression, I wanted to take the time to make sure the songs had enough merit to record them. The first song that I think about is the title track, "Bows & Arrows." We also live in Canada in the summer, and about three years ago in the evenings we would go for walks in the meadow and watch the sunset. Our two daughters were running off ahead of us, and my oldest daughter had just turned twelve. She was asking me all of these next level questions about boys and love and how the world works. I could see her getting to that next phase of life, where as a parent it's hard because you want to keep them little. That song started from that moment, and that's when I knew I was going to write that song about her. That began the process of writing for this album. 

"Breaking Heart" is a combination of my first encounter with my own depression and a visit to my family. When I went home to see my dad after I left (I was the youngest in the family), I came home and saw a sink full of dirty dishes. I knew something was wrong because he was always so neat and tidy. That depression and anxiety has certainly not skipped over me, and I think a lot of people struggle with that. The song is about being aware of people around you who might be going through that. 

The song "Do You Know Jesus?" is based on my mother. She was a Pentecostal preacher, and she was a very strong evangelist. I tend to not be as bold about witnessing. I've always been more subtle. The song reminds me that sometimes it is important to take a step of faith and be a witness.

Lyrics:
There's nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon
Waking to the sunlight, being cradled by the moon
Catching fireflies at night, building castles in the sand
Kissing mama's face goodnight and holding daddy's hand
Thank you, Lord, how could I ask for more?

Running barefoot through the grass, a little hide and go seek
Being so in love that you can hardly eat
Dancing in the dark when there's no one else around
Being bundled 'neath the covers, watching snow fall to the ground
Thank you, Lord, how could I ask for more?

So many things I thought would bring me happiness
Some dreams that are realities today
Such an irony the things that mean the most to me
Are the memories that I've made along the way

So if there's anything I've learned from this journey I am on
Simple truths will keep you going, simple love will keep you strong
Cause there are questions without answers and flames that never die
And heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise
So thank You, Lord, oh thank You, Lord
And yeah, how could I ask for more? Ooh


Like Laura Story's award winning song "Blessings," sometimes it's hard to comprehend, but maybe God really is guiding us in our trials and heartaches. Maybe they're working towards something bigger. Maybe God is blessing us through the hard parts in our lives. The Christian life is about making a decision to live for Christ and not for myself.  

It is convicting and comforting to know that God doesn't want us to be anxious about anything or have fear or worry. The key to the freedom from those things is to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," which this song beautifully captures. Matthew 6:34 reminds us, "So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today." 

Our blessing as her listeners is to join in and share in Cindy's sincere prayer to God. This song represents the truth of the Christian walk. We know our lives here on earth are only temporary, and our real home is heaven. So it's possible that the pain has a purpose. As Cindy tenderly sings in this "gourmet" offering of praise--"Cause there are questions without answers and flames that never die, and heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise. So thank You, Lord, oh thank You, Lord, and yeah, how could I ask for more?"

Sometimes, we need the suffering and heartaches so God can shape us into who we need to be. Someday we'll see the purpose. Until then, remember God promises us His very best, and this song reminds you to count your blessings. Jesus doesn't ask us to cover our weaknesses. It's through our weakness that His power is made perfect and He makes us strong in Him. That's cause to count our blessings, singing "thank You Lord. How could I ask for more?" Amen to that!

(Listen to the song here.)
 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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