WHAT'S YOUR GIFT?

Why I sing

November 1, 2010, Posted by Mela at 3:58 PM


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I sing now because I can no longer not.
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Two years ago, the Holy Spirit moved in such a way that I began getting pelted with lyrics, melodies and opportunities to share songs.
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At first, I held fear up like an umbrella to shield me from having to step out and embrace the gifts I was created with.
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Writing – the gift I proudly waved around, made me feel worthy and remarkable.
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All through my life, I wore that ability like a flashy coat – eager to tell others I got paid to put pen to paper. I thrived on deadlines and my ability to communicate with ease.
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The spotlight both suited me and seduced me.
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I had a love affair with music, but like most affairs, it was a secret, something I indulged in behind closed doors – away from eyes and ears that might ridicule.
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But, when my Grandma died when I was in college, I knew I had to sing at her funeral. She was one of the people who repeatedly asked me to sing in front of others … and I wouldn’t.
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I chose “His Eye is on the sparrow.”
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Standing up in front of church posed no challenge. After all, I was almost done with my journalism degree and being comfortable in front of others was a prerequisite for someone on the cusp of a public relations career.
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I stood to the right of my Grandma’s casket, gripped the gold heart locket she had bought me at Major Drug years earlier, and sang …
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“Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why does my heart feel lonely
and long for Heaven and Home.
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
and I know He watches me”

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Walking next to her grave, family and friends repeatedly told me they “had no idea I could sing like that.” I shrugged off the compliments, knowing writing and speaking, not singing, were going to sustain me.
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Then, I stopped singing.
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I graduated early, spoke at my commencement and started my career.
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My writing, editing and adventurous spirit took me from a small town in central Wisconsin to Milwaukee, then Los Angeles (following my college boyfriend) and back to the Midwest to Minneapolis. I got married to that boy I followed to California and after the birth of our daughter, I chose to stay home to raise her.
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Making that decision was easy for us, but not for those around us. Many people couldn’t understand my willingness to “give up” all I had worked so hard to achieve … at, what seemed to be, the very height of my career.
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I’ll be honest; it seemed easier than it was – many days were lonely and disarming. I was used to interaction, meetings, conference calls and travels. My days used to be filled with talking to media, writing speeches, press releases and making others look good. I got constant feedback for my actions, decisions and abilities.
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All that talent I had been drawing from, was not easily translated into homemaking and mothering.
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Though I looked happy and fulfilled on the outside, I felt oddly out of place in my own home.
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I lived many days at odds with what I thought I should be doing. Some moments I’d believe the lie that I wasn’t enough if I was at home.
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Still, I never quite figured out what I was missing. Was it the ability to create or the recognition?
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Or, was it something entirely different – something I hadn’t yet discovered? I began to feel like I didn’t know myself at all.
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Years later, death’s sting nudged me out of my safe silence when my Grandpa died. By now, I had begun attending church regularly and my voice had echoed through the halls of my home on more than one occasion.
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And, I decided to sing at his funeral.
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But, singing was something I still kept in my back pocket – great for times of mourning, singing in church and karaoke, but I wouldn’t dare tell anyone I thought myself much of a singer. I didn’t think I had the guts to back up that admission, if anyone asked me to prove it.
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Until it was God who did the asking …
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Cut to three kids and lots of creative pursuits later, as I still searched for “my thing.”
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A serendipitous meeting lead to a friendship … that lead to me admitting I had the desire to sing.
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That was a big step – a HUGE step.
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Even bigger was writing down that I wanted to … “sing a song I wrote in front of an audience.”
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Within days of that confession, I wrote a song that challenged how I saw myself, what I was doing with my gifts and why I was choosing to shy away from a gift I had been given.
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I knew at that moment, I was the servant who had buried his bag of gold in the ground. Matthew 25:14-30
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Within a week, I had an audience. I had been volunteering with my friend at a women’s shelter. During one of our gatherings, this friend asked me to sing that song. And, I did.
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For the first time in years – maybe ever – I saw who I was created to be.
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A passion bubbled to the surface. I envisioned God holding these songs in His mighty hands. Throughout my life, I had probably ducked out of the way or told him “maybe later,” or “surely not me.”
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But, once I said, “OK, Lord, I’m ready to use what you gave me,” He opened up His hands and I couldn’t hold all He showered me with.
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What astounded me through the writing process, was that I heard not only words strung together, but a tune. I didn’t know if I had heard the songs somewhere before, or if I was hearing the melodies from somewhere deep inside and just now had become able to let the music out.
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It both excited me and scared me. I remember sitting at the desk as words and tears poured out of me. My hands visibly shook as I tried to keep up with the transmission. I was hearing from God. When I stopped, I was breathless and wide-eyed, exhilarated and moved.
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I became a songwriter.
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I first wrote songs about me finding my gift – about God’s plans for our lives.
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I wrote songs for the me I was growing up, unsure of what I believed and thinking I wasn’t worthy of His love.
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I wrote songs in response to my fear, out of my desire to be bolder, and a girls’ anthem inspired by my hope to turn past pain into a promise of protection.
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At the beginning of this year, I wrote a song for orphans – and aren’t we all orphans here, trying to make our way in this messed up world, waiting for the day when we’ll finally be Home?
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I try to write songs about who God is, what we can do with His power and what He asks us to do in His name.
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And, as much as I dislike hearing myself, I sing with my own voice. I continue to open my mouth and pray the words are pleasing to Him.
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It took me more than 30 years, but I’m now comfortable saying …
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I AM A SINGER, not because I like the way my voice sounds, but because God chose to use it to bring me back to life … back to Him.
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He chose to have me tell my story this way.
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He took the confident parts of me – the writer, the commencement speaker, the stage hound and wove it with the broken, insecure parts.
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He took my trembling voice, my self consciousness, my fear of failure and comparison and did what only He could do …
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pull me toward Him, by faith and magnify Him through little, ordinary me – a most unlikely worship leader.
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With each step, I grew more confident – not in my ability, but in His.
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With each song, I let more of me coat the melodies.
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I began to realize that like our broken lives … our broken voices can sing just as sweet a song.
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“I sing because I’m happy.
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
and I know He watches me”

Currently have 10 Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    I followed this over from Shaun Groves site. :)

    I really appreciated this message, because I’ve been resisting singing for my whole life, even though it’s something I think I should be doing. But I left fear get in the way. The very few times I’ve given in, my stage fright (and subsequent shaky voice) has stopped me from trying again short of a year. Or longer!

    I tell myself that with enough experience, that will get better. But I’ve never pushed through and tested that theory. :)

    • Mela says:

      Jessica – thanks for coming over … I know that feeling well. I’ve started to pay better attention to those nudges and knowing sometimes the thing I need to do the most, is the hardest/scariest/most out of my comfort zone. Big dreams take great faith. Fear isn’t always bad – but it can be placed there by the enemy to halt what God is trying to do in and through us. I’m glad I pushed through. I don’t know what plans He has for you, but I will pray for you.

  2. I loved this. Your heart is epic. <3

  3. I loved getting to both hear you personally and now read in more detail how the Lord has brought you to sing unto Him! Sing on, sweet sister.

  4. Kelli says:

    I feel like you just wrote my story…with the ending that I desire but am afraid to pursue. Thanks for sharing this story. It really, truly blessed me. :)

  5. I LOVE hearing the stories behind why people do what they do. Ever since I saw you belt out Todd Smith’s Congalese song, I have had you on my heart and wondered about your story. You bless us by sharing it hear. I could watch that video of you guys singing at Relevant over and over again.

    Beautiful story and voice and woman.

  6. Oh that was beautiful! It’s amazing how God knits all of our pieces together for His greater plan. May He pour out His blessings on you as you walk in His plan.

    BTW, it was great to meet you at Relevant. And I’ve enjoyed your CD. Thanks for sharing!

  7. 43 years says:

    [...] same place I later stepped up and sang. [...]

  8. Wow-powerful story-Isn’t God funny? U know-I didn’t realize who u were when I responded to the tweet about ur son- my/ our family passion is bringing families closer together and connecting to God and each other in the great outdoors- my heart went out for any little boy injured (we have 3 boys) -camping hits close to home! I’m so glad I followed up and came over to read your story- God is up to something in our life- thank you for the inspiration to follow ur passions and talents for Him! Someday soon I’ll fill ya in on what He’s up to when He let’s me in on the whole plan! :) I’ll continue to pray for ur baby boy- God bless y’all!

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