"Womens' events most often happen during the fall and spring," explained Trent by phone from her Nashville, TN home. "So now I'm full into my fall schedule and busy nearly every weekend up until Christmas."
A Grand Rapids area native (a mid-1980s Forest Hills Northern H.S. grad) the former Tammy Buffum's promising Christian music career was off and running more than 30 years ago. She and husband/manager Trent Lenderink moved to Nashville to be nearer the industry's recording and touring connections and growing community of Christian music artists.
But things took a tragic turn in 2001 when he was killed in a diving accident.
"That put me on a path I didn't look for and didn't want," she recalled as she slowly found the courage and space to share her story with others. "All of a sudden I was on a journey speaking at women's conferences and retreats."
The core of her message is love, loss and healing. Sprinkled with her music, Tammy's presentations reveal how God was faithful leading her from her loss into restoration and a new, adventurous life. And her testimony offers hope to her listeners who are facing their own life challenges.
She brings her story to a two-day event at Crossfire Ministries in Rockford, where her mother Judy Hemmila is co-pastor and also will lead a session (details below).
MUSIC HELPS TELL THE STORY
Recording new music, a priority in her earlier days, has taken a back seat in her recent ministry. And although it's been some time since she's had a "hit" on Christian radio, Trent is free from music industry expectations of a new album every couple of years. And during her presentations she can still pick from her song catalog to reinforce her message.
One of the centerpieces is "Edge of the Water," a ballad written from the place following her husband's death which still resonates in her story.
"That's the moment when I lost everything and asked....'God, what do I do now?'" she said.
"Welcome Home" is an invitation song which offers an embrace for those whose burdens need lifting. She'll often conclude with "Sunny Days," a bright, upbeat song which leans into a promising future.
"That one is danceable, and I even do a little 'rap' in it," she smiled.
Tammy is hopeful that next year she can begin work toward her next musical collection, perhaps with more worship-oriented songs.
PLATFORMS AND STAGES
The speaker/singer's changed career path has led her places where perhaps her music wouldn't have taken her. She was on the roster of the Extraordinary Women conferences and then the arena-sized "Women of Faith" events, sharing the platform with nationally-renowned names like Shelia Walsh and Patsy Clairmont.
Tammy has also detailed her personal story in book form: "Learning to Breathe Again" (Thomas Nelson Pub).
"My phone continues to ring – I still don't have a booking agent and we don't make calls out," she said of her approach to her ministry. "I feel like I don't have to convince anyone for me to come because I'm this great speaker or singer. It's like, 'Lord, I want to go where you want me to go' and for people to come with expectant hearts."
Next June she'll be part of a trip to Israel with speaker/author Carol Kent and teacher Jennifer Rothschild.
While sharing the story of her devastating loss – now 18 years ago – Tammy has the perspective of time and subsequent events that has re-shaped her outlook.
"As long as people want me to share that story, I'm happy to," she said. "But I don't share the same exact message every time – there are so many new nuggets beyond that to where I am today. Even though those things still sting, I want to help people search for that healing in their own lives."
And here's another heads-up. Tammy may be part of the 2020 line-up at the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon. The festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and guess who was one of the mainstage artists that very first year.
Her near term schedule allows her to return to her Grand Rapids roots to celebrate the holidays.
Meanwhile, Tammy continues to flourish in her current role. "I'm in such a place where I feel I was born for this," she said
Girls Getaway Weekend with Tammy Trent and Pastor Judy Hemmila
-Fri-Sat. Oct. 25-26, 2019; sessions begin at 7pm Fri and 9:30am Sat., ends at noon
-at Crossfire Ministries, 330 Rockford Park Dr. NE Rockford
-Advance tickets $25 online, $22.50 group rate for six or more, $30 day-of event.
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