"Listen To The Birds!!!
While I look into the woods, the birds sing beautiful songs to me!!
Can you hear the sounds that the Lord has given to me?
Listen; shhh!!! Listen"
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These were words Almeta Vance penned while facing a difficult period in her life and contemplating how to get through it.
"I was going through some stuff that day, and I went out to sit on the porch and relax. All I could hear were the birds and the trees. It was like God was talking to me," she said.
It was through her journaling that she found comfort that day with words she hopes will now encourage others.
The Columbia poet and independent contractor's poem, "Listen to the Birds," is among a compilation of works featured in HillTop Record's newly published Praise and Worship Songbook. The songbook features more than 40 spiritual and inspirational poems and writings - each transformed into song - by independent poets and authors across the country.
This is Vance's second project with the record company. Her song "A Shock to Me" was released on CD by Hilltop in 2008.
"God has given me a gift that I really didn't start using until I started going through my own trials and tribulations," said the 53-year-old Columbia native. "I guess when he told me to never stop writing, this was why."
Vance has been writing professionally since 1986. Her first published poem was "The Pain," which The National Library of Poetry published as part of "The Drifting Sands" in 1999.
She initially became associated with HillTop Records after company researchers discovered "A Shock to Me," which was included in a compilation of her written works.
"They wrote and asked for permission to include my work if it passed the screening, and it did," she said.
For Vance, writing is the written expression of her life's experiences and the impressions left behind.
"Words just pop into my head, and I just start writing," she said. "Everything I write, it seems like it's fiction, but it's not."
Vance was named "Poet of the Year" in 2005 by famouspoets.com and has poetry listed with poetry.com, and poets.com.
Her varied background includes 28 years in the nursing field. She has a degree in social work and is pursuing a master's in counseling. In the meantime, she continues to tell stories of hope through words.
"Sometimes there is just a word that can be given to someone that will make them feel better," she said.
Vance said "Listen to the Birds" will also be part of an upcoming CD project by HillTop.
Works of other artists in the newly released songbook include "Smiling Face," "Sing Praises," "Wedding Prayer" and "Christmas has Come."
The HillTop Praise and Worship Songbook is available at music stores and online at www.hilltoprecords.com. Once at the main page, click the "Buy CD's and Songbooks" link and then insert songbook code BG-18.