Music

For as long as I can recall, music has been a part of my life; getting up in church at a child to sing a solo, participating in children’s choirs, geeking-it-out in JH & HS Show Choir, chorale in college, and you know, belting out songs in the car (that counts, right?). Aside from performing I remember the first cassette I bought, (Kriss-Kross…I know, I know..), and the first CD, (LIVE….total rebellious adolescent moment), and growing up as a teen in the 90s church youth group era, I was sucked into the DCTalk craze. As I grew I became more and more involved in theater and musical performance.....man did I LOVE the rush of the stage! It was a part of me. It was a community of people. It was an identity. 

By the time I hit college, God was stirring a fire in my heart, and turning me away from finding identity in musical performance, and into digging into His word and being open to vocational ministry. My love for music remained, but I remember feeling torn, as if I had to choose between “ministry” or the “life of a musician”.  The only options for music degrees at my school involved teaching music, or music performance. I didn’t have an interest in teaching (then), but I also didn’t sense that music performance was the most “practical major”. By that time Sam and I had started dating and were set on a trajectory for full-time ministry in the realm of camp ministry, (because that seemed so much more practical…HA!).  I told myself that I would just be involved in music no matter where God led us, (which was true and good and right).

I do believe in God’s sovereign hand guiding me through those years. He was present in my decision making. He was opening and closing doors.  But for years following marriage, joining staff at Forest Springs and starting a family, I felt a lump and fire in my chest whenever I thought about music.  I regretted not studying music in college or at least getting formal training in music theory or composition. I started feeling like I had missed the boat, my ship had sailed, and I just needed to accept that the life I had was the one I was given, and the life of a musician was not given to me. I truly did believe that and tried to be content. 

But every time I thought about writing and making music, hot tears began to well up.  Something was going on. And God would soon begin stirring it up to uncover what He was doing and revealing in me.

The summer of 2012 was a season II’ll never forget. I was coming off the heels of certain efforts I had been making that kept falling through the cracks.  The details of those efforts don’t matter here, but the message was clear as door after door kept slamming in my face. It was at this exact time I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I was rocked by the idea of living open-handedly and seeing every aspect of life - the big and mundane moments, as grace from God. God was showing me my heart and things I was making an altar of my worship.

And so the slow process began of un-clenching my fists on my life. God was helping me in the process of laying a lot of things down. Dreams, desires, the course of my day, control over my children, being known and understood, and discontent among other areas.

Simultaneously, I began reading a book called A Million Little Ways: Uncovering the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman.  The premise of this book is that God has placed within all of us ways He desires to reveal HIS glory.  We don't have to be handed a silver platter to step into this. As a follower of Jesus, He is calling us to live this out right now.

Surprising, I began sensing, (through several different avenues) God was nudging me to start spending what little extra effort, time, and energy I had on writing music and developing my musicianship. It was as if all of a sudden I was being given permission to be who He made me to be right in the midst of the life God had given me, with the tools, resources, and even limited training I found myself with. I could be a musician, a mom, a wife, a ministry worker, a cook, a launderer, a mentor, a servant all in one I had held "musician" up too high for too long, and it was time to bring it down from that lofty place and into the comfortable nooks and crannies of my every day life.

Playing and writing was at first something I needed for my own heart and soul.  Hours spent at the piano worshiping God and singing truth to my own soul was therapeutic in a season where I felt I was falling apart and struggling in every aspect of my life.  The music became an act of worship given back to the Lord.  I started pouring out my heart and writing my own songs. Never-mind that they were a little rough in the beginning, (I had no songwriting knowledge, only minimal musical knowledge and intuition at that point). But it didn’t matter because they were between the Lord and I.

But as I continued to allow myself time to write on the fringes of being a wife, mothering, and serving my community, I was motivated to keep honing this craft.  I took a songwriting class online and began practicing and brushing up on music theory and piano skills. I started carrying around a little notebook and recorder so that when a thought, lyric line, or melody came to me I could catch it in real-time. I realized that even in the journey of learning and making mistakes, I could be serving with music right now  - serving my family, my friends, my church, my community.

I’ve come to embrace this life of creating music not because I’m "living the life of a musician” but because God has given me a life, and He’s made me a musician.  I can do both.  It’s just a slice of me.  It’s not all of me.  I am first a Christ-follower, and I am called to lay down my life first, and then to allow God to take it back up for His purposes and His glory.  As a musician, I am not aiming for the platform of American Idol, nor am I seeking to land a record deal. I am keenly aware of the truth Emily Freeman communicates in her book Simply Tuesday that "our souls were not made for the stage". She also speaks of "embracing our smallness" and seeing our lives as a part of a bigger story for God's kingdom purposes.  I'm not building my own kingdom, but pointing to His. 

And goodness, I still have so much to learn and develop in. But as I’ve mentioned with writing words, it's simply no longer an option for me to not make and share music. I have songs inside me that need to come out. Some of them are still just for me and God. But since Jesus calls me to serve those around me with whatever I have, I offer the rest of them out, thinking they may be for some of you too. I count it a privilege.  A vulnerable-heart-exposing privilege, but a privilege none-the-less.  

On a practical sharing level, I plan to continue sharing posts regarding the story behind my songs, and also start including tid-bits on the actual songwriting process and what that looks like for me.  

NOTE: I have a SoundCloud account where you can free stream most of my songs.  I have currated a few playlists based on the genre.  

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