The Mystery of “Greatness”

I had no idea that I would enjoy teaching voice lessons as much as I have. While at times the preparation can take up a lot of personal time and each student requires a different level of training and energy, it’s more rewarding than I could’ve ever known. I was so busy making excuses as to why I couldn’t do it, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to share my own experience with another creative soul who will in turn take what I’ve shared, add to it, and BLOSSOM.

There have been a couple moments over the last year of teaching that I’ve felt the “magic”. Through a particular vocal exercise or a moment of inspiration, I’ve watched various students come alive to their sound, their potential and their unique voice. My mantra is “Your voice matters”.

On Saturday I was working with a newer student who has really been struggling with her voice. What used to come easy has become a struggle as she’s sort of “boxed in” and forced to sing a certain type of music rather than the variation of genres she used to flow through easily. I showed her some techniques I use when singing a style of music that isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but necessary to master for my line of work. As she began to use each technique and allow her own voice to tell her how to weave through each note, she realized that she was in fact not only relaxed, but singing well. Her usually soft and laid back voice began to soar and filled up the room in which we were standing. When she finished she beamed with joy. “I DID IT,” she said. “Yes!!! You DID. And you did it WELL,” I said. She closed her eyes tightly and shimmied a swift dance and reached her hands out towards me, “YOU’RE A GENUIS!” she said to me.
I chuckled. In fact I laughed hysterically when I got in my car and thought about what she’d say. I’m so far from a genius that I’m not even certain that I’m spelling genius correctly. I just know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I have been given an ability to inspire, encourage, and often times equip.

A few months ago I was overwhelmed by the reality of the treasure that Mary the Mother of Jesus, was chosen to carry. Mary’s sole purpose in life was to carry, protect, give birth to, and care for greatness. While some religions may believe that Mary has some supernatural ability to hear and answer our prayers, I truly believe she was just Mary. An ordinary woman chosen for an extraordinary purpose.

Sometimes I feel like this is a large part of the purpose for which I’m on this earth. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve accomplished some great things in my life, and had many dreams come true. But I also have numerous goals I haven’t even begun to work on. I sometimes err…often deal with procrastination which leads to being unmotivated. If I am overwhelmed by the vastness of a task, I’ll just as soon back down from it and not even attempt to do it all. I know, I know. I’ve got to conquer that.

In this season….as I’m preparing to take on the honor and scary oh my gosh what am I thinking task of homeschooling my children; I am aware of this truth. I am an ordinary woman chosen to do extraordinary things. I am equipped to give greatness a VOICE.

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I have yet to listen to the message John Mark McMillan (songwriter) presented at Bethel Church last week during their “Worship U” conference. But I can almost guarantee that it was in reference to the art and gift of songwriting.

When I teach my students, I teach them that singing is just as much mental as it is vocal. We have to be able to paint the picture and tell the story of the lyrics and melodies when we sing. It’s imperative that we constantly polish the connecting between our imagination/emotions and our instrument , so that what comes out is not just a song, but a voice. We have the ability to give voice to a story, a break up, an encounter, a birth, an awakening. We are the bridge between a thought and a reality. What a gift!!!

In that same token, my every day life may not look like much. I’m a mommy. I’m always on mommy duty since my husband works full time. My children are energetic, inquisitive, and curious. It’s imperative that as their mother I am willing to not just teach them, but give them the ability to perceive and discern; so that the gifts that are already in them …can come alive and touch others. I do their laundry. I cook their meals. I read to them. I discipline them when I really don’t want to. I laugh with them. And sometimes I force them to spend time alone….with their thoughts, crayons, or books …because its necessary.

I may not be teaching music theory at an ivy league school. I may not be traveling the world as a motivational speaker or an evangelist. At this time I’m not even making a large income to take them on extravagant trips or buying them the latest electronics or fashions. But I’m here. And I’m all in, because I have been given the task and privilege of carrying, protecting, giving birth to and caring for GREATNESS. My children. My students. My writing. My life. None of it is wasted time. I have the mandate to give a voice to great things, great people, and great abilities that ultimately tell the praise of a GREAT GOD. Perhaps, this is true GREATNESS….to bring to life the GREATNESS in someone else.



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I’ve always sort of shied away from using the word BRAVE when describing myself.
Brave is reserved for people who zipline through the woods {I’d lose my voice from screaming so long and so loud} : or folks who ride those demon drop rides at amusement parks {I’ve actually had nightmares about having to ride one of those. I. would. die. }

I’m not much of a daredevil nor do I like the feeling of an adrenaline rush.

Last wednesday my sweet Aunt Marguerite died suddenly on her way to our family reunion in West Virginia. Despite the fact that we were planning on putting one of our cars in the body shop {for a much needed repair, thanks to the accident I was in 2 weeks ago} , and regardless of the unfortunate fact that my husband couldn’t take off from work, missing her funeral was not an option. After checking the prices of train and airline tickets which ranged fro $600-$1300, I decided the only way to get there was to drive.

With the help of Sara Bareilles, Michael Jackson, a Jennifer Weiner audiobook, and MaliMusic’s INCREDIBLE new cd, I drove 12.75 hours to Virginia by myself. I weathered the $40 in tolls, winding Pennsylvania roads, D.C. holiday weekend traffic , and only stopped to pee twice.

While sitting around with my mother, aunts, and cousins spanning varied generations; my 2nd cousin Lynn: whom I admire greatly, but had rarely had the opportunity to have much one on one time with; gently rubbed the back of my head and said, “You are a brave girl. What a lovely young woman you have become.”

Because I admire Lynn a great deal {for becoming such a successful lawyer without ever losing sight of what matters most}, and also because WORDS OF AFFIRMATION is my primary love language, I bit gently on my lip to keep from crying.

As I was driving the roadways of Virginia on my return trip home – windows rolled down, hair blowing wildly, and track #9 from “Mali Is” blaring loudly ; I realized that I am in fact brave. Brave is not just to jump from an airplane or to hike a mountain in freezing, life threatening conditions.

To be brave is to make up your mind to do something, and do it no matter what. Because in your heart, you know its the right thing to do.

I think of friends I know that have put their dreams and hopes on pause to allow a loved one to live with them and receive the care needed for the last of their life on this earth.
I think of a relative who stayed with their spouse even after learning of their affair, and standing with them even through the public embarrassment.
I think of Rachel at & her family, and their decision to literally alter their lifestyle in order to be together as a family and truly LIVE.

Find an adventure.
Face a fear.
Say something out loud that you’ve never said before.
Take a trip to a place you’ve never been.

Do it.