Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Final Day Of Recording

Thank you so much for the prayers, comments and messages concerning yesterday's studio session. You all are so kind!

Monday was a wonderfully exciting, yet somewhat stressful day. I'd been preparing for quite some time to record vocals. What I wasn't prepared for was waking up to a scratchy throat, a sinus headache and feeling like my chest was on fire...all of which continued throughout the day. In spite of my sudden yucky sinus issues, we recorded 3:33 {which turned out to be more amazing than I ever could've imagined}, as well as two other songs, Love Remains and Captured.

Today we're recording what I consider to be the two most vocally-challenging songs: All Things New and Morning. In my opinion, these two songs are the crux of the project. They're both lyrically strong songs with which people will be able to identify and apply their own stories. That being said, I know the enemy would like to use any means available to thwart these songs. So, once again, I'm asking for your prayers...for a healthy voice, for passionate emotion, for those involved in the recording process, and {most importantly} for God to be my stronghold.

Thank you in advance. I can't wait to see how today turns out and to share it with you all!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back In The Studio...3:33

Knees hit the floor as the world stops spinning while the minutes tick away
Today and tomorrow I'm back in the studio recording the vocals for my music project. The above line is from one of the pieces that will be included, 3:33.
3:33 is unusual: it's a monologue set to music. In fact, when my producer first mentioned the idea, I thought it was weird. The idea is fashioned after William Shatner's What Have You Done? 
But the more I thought about it, I knew I had to do it. I had to write and share about the day my world tipped on its axis.
However, repeatedly reliving that day through the writing process hasn't been easy. Today won't be an exception as I literally put my voice to the raw truth I've written.
I'm taking this opportunity to ask you, my readers, to take just a moment to pray that God would be honored today and tomorrow as I record. Please pray that the glory of God would be my stronghold...and that memories would not wreak havoc with my emotions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Learned From My Voice Lessons

Tuesday was my last voice lesson before recording next week. I left the lessons much more confident than I went into them.

I went into them worried about one song in particular because the style is a bit of a vocal stretch for me. It moves me out of my vocal comfort zone. I'd sing the song, then my vocal coach would ask me how I thought I sounded. Several times I replied that I felt like I was at my breaking point. He would encourage me by telling me that he couldn't hear what I felt, and no one else would either.

I've been thinking a lot about that comment. We are emotional beings created in God's image. Our feelings can range from anguish to joy. We usually have no problem expressing our feelings of joy and delight. But we're great at putting on bold and confident faces to hide our feelings of sadness and fear. We stuff and hide our feelings until we reach our breaking points. And so we go through life assuming that others don't struggle like we do. Often we're all left feeling a bit lonely because of our assumptions.

Just because we can't see or hear what someone else is feeling doesn't mean the feelings aren't there.

When we crack the door to vulnerability, people recognize that and begin to crack theirs. I know...I receive emails and messages from people expressing their feelings because they've identified with something I've said here. Some I know personally; some I've never met. Either way, it shows me that we so badly want to connect with someone who can identify with our feelings.

For years I thought feelings and emotions were to be stuffed inside...to the point that I often couldn't identify my own. I'm learning to identify them, and while I can often write about them, I still struggle to verbalize them. However, there's One who knows every feeling and emotion I experience, and He wants me to come to Him with them. After all, He created me. He can handle my anguish, my sadness, my frustrations, my anger, my disappointments, as well as my joy, my excitement, my delight!

Today I feel a little overwhelmed with life, but am thankful that God is faithful to provide new mercies every morning. What are you feeling today?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wounded and Abandoned Hearts

My photo shoot for the music project was a little over a week ago. We chose a location in downtown Birmingham that most people avoid...the homes of the homeless.

Amidst office buildings and loft apartments is a trench where the above bed stands. Graffiti brightens the dirty walls with a myriad of colors and words of hope. Broken glass and trash litters the ground beneath our feet.

And I wonder...

Why? What circumstances, what choices led them to this?

And I think, in answer to my own questions...

Wounded and abandoned hearts.

I don't know of a single child whose ambition in life is to end up homeless. So I wonder again what happened in the hearts of these people that cause them to exist in such dire situations.

The symptoms of wounded and abandoned hearts display themselves differently in different people. For the homeless, it's living in the shadows of what most of us call normal life. They've landed in desperation while most of us just live on the edge of it.

I silently hope for the courage to look beyond circumstances to hearts, and to share Love and Grace and Restoration...because no matter where we lay our heads each night, we all need healed hearts. We all need to be captured by Love that sets us free.

Photo by Synergy Photography

Friday, July 20, 2012


I started running several years ago and fell in love. I was never athletic in my younger years, so I didn't even consider running until a friend convinced me. Truth is, I just never liked to sweat. But something in me came to life when I started running...perseverance. And I couldn't leave well enough alone. I wanted to find out how much perseverance I had. So I kept running.

I ran my first half marathon in February, and was thrilled to know I had enough perseverance in me to finish. My goal for this year was to run at least one 5k every month, and had planned on an 8k and 10k.

But a few of months ago I started experiencing pain in my right leg as I ran. I'd run through the pain, take a pain reliever, and go again. I bought new shoes hoping to alleviate the problem. I gave myself a couple of weeks off, thinking I might just need to rest my leg. But as soon as I hit the pavement, I knew my leg was no better. In fact, it was worse. I tried to run through the pain again, but no such luck. I ended up walking. 

My husband suggested I go to the doctor, which I did. An x-ray didn't show anything, so he sent me for an MRI. It was about a three-week process from the first doctor's visit to the MRI results, during which time I didn't run at all due to the pain and a swollen ankle. Still I was holding out hope. So Tuesday when I went to the doctor to get the results, I didn't expect the news I received. I went in hoping he'd say the MRI was fine, that I probably just needed to change shoes, and I could get back to running.

Instead, he informed me that I have a stress fracture and have to wear a boot for 6-plus weeks. No running....for quite a while. To put it mildly, I was disheartened. But he was quick to remind me that it could be worse: I could have broken it and required surgery. So I left his office trying to see the silver lining. And I did okay until yesterday morning.

As I sat drinking my coffee, I looked out my front window to see a neighbor running down the street. Even in that moment, I held it together. But a little later, when I heard one of my favorite running songs, Good Morning by Mandisa, the tears came without warning. The realization that I wouldn't meet my goal for the year settled in. Sadness settled in with the idea that pain doesn't care about perseverance. So I had my pity party.

But perseverance is once again kicking in. I'm going to use this time to try something new {maybe I'll share later what it is}. I'm already finding that something different in me is coming to life in this new thing, and it's exciting!

While I'd prefer to avoid the pain and the healing process, and to just be able to run, I'm trusting that something great is going to come from it all. Something I might not have otherwise taken the time to pursue. I'm looking for some purpose in this painfully slow healing process.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Everybody Loves Love

Everybody loves love. You know, the fairytale kind...

My husband and I recently visited New York City for the first time. One of the first things we noticed upon our arrival was how everyone seemed to be in a hurry. We quickly learned to elbow our way through Times Square and to watch for crazy-fast taxi drivers before stepping off a curb. One thing we found funny was the constant horn blowing. Those drivers don't kid around! If someone got in their way, they were quick to blow the horn with impatience.

But something happened one night that took me by surprise. As we were pushing our way through the masses of people in Times Square, I noticed a bride and groom being photographed. We stopped to watch like so many other people had. They were a beautiful couple. Traffic had stopped at the nearby red light, and an antique car was in the midst. I saw the photographer lean into the window, apparently asking if he could photograph the newlyweds next to the car. The driver pulled out of traffic as much as possible, but was still blocking several cars. The photographer shot several photos, then waved the driver on his way. Much to my surprise, during that minute or two, I didn't hear a single horn blow. That's when it dawned on me...

Everybody loves love. We love storybook weddings and fairytale endings. We love the fruits of love. We imagine romance, intimacy and untainted love. We stand in awe to watch when we see it.

The truth is love is difficult. Anybody that's ever loved knows that. It's hard work. And while there may be storybook weddings and fairytale endings, the chapters between are often filled with grit and dirt...selfishness, betrayal, rejection. Those pages are where true love stories can be written...forgiveness, grace, mercy.

Still, there's an even greater love.

The ultimate Lover comes to us and beckons us with romance and intimacy. He knows our deepest desires and wants to talk with us about them. He forgave us before we ever even betrayed Him. He supplied grace and mercy before we ever knew we needed them. He takes our grit and dirt, and turns them into beauty. His love is immeasurable and unfailing.

Yet, somehow, we take His love for granted. We rarely stop to stand in awe, recognizing His is the greatest love of all, freely offered to us just as we are.

The thought occurs to me...maybe if we stand in awe of His love and allow it to transform us, we'd be the kind of true lovers we daydream about when we see a storybook wedding or a fairytale ending...

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Paradox

Rain falls hard as the sun shines bright
The perfect combination
A paradox resembling life

Dreams once forgotten now being met
Wonder meets the eyes
The heart finally rests

Years of fear and shame mock the grace
Too much or not enough
It's a never-ending chase

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Macy's: My Great {Unmet} Expectations

Expectations. I usually have very few. But I had great expectations for the Macy's in NYC. And I was sadly disappointed.

I was expecting some grand, pristine entrance beckoning me to spend every last penny I had. Instead, Mark and I almost missed the entrance from the sidewalk because there was nothing announcing, Macy's here! Come in...spend your money!!

Inside, a long, dirty hallway under construction guided the customers like cattle into the less-than-spectacular jewelry department. I was so disappointed with Macy's that Mark and I took the opportunity to use the restroom, then left. We didn't explore the store, nor did we spend one penny.

Macy's entrance
I've learned that expectations are often dangerous. I think it's why there are so many articles about surviving the holidays during November and December. We expect that somehow everything that's been wrong during the year will suddenly be made right over the holidays, when instead, stresses and tensions usually get worse.

In addition, we usually have expectations for every area of our lives:


We're left hurt and angry when our expectations go unmet. And I suppose some of you may be like me and look for the nearest exit when life doesn't turn out quite like you expected.

Had I moved past my unmet expectations and shopped in Macy's, I might've found something I just couldn't live without. But I didn't dare risk more disappointment. I gave up too easily and too quickly.

It's wise to sometimes set aside expectations and focus on having a positive attitude as life unfolds around us. It's wise to persevere when we do have expectations that go unmet. It's wise to trust that God is sovereign, and He is faithful.

Above all...in truth, there is only one in whom we should put our great expectations: Jesus...who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Part of the Scripture for the Sunday School lesson came from I Timothy 1, which I've read many times. But as a friend read the verses aloud, God emphasized verses 16 and 17 to me. I'd almost swear those verses have never been there before!

The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me... (NASB)

As I re-read those verses several times, my heart was crying a resounding Yes! I wish there were more people like Onesiphorus. Think of it: he searched for Paul, found him, wasn't ashamed of his chains, and often refreshed him. Isn't that being Jesus' hands and feet? Isn't that grace?

When I was in chains of my own making, there were two such people in my life. They called to check on me and encourage me, and they weren't ashamed to be my friends. Essentially, they helped sustain and refresh my life.

One of my deepest desires is to be like those friends...like Onesiphorus. I've felt the chains...and I've felt freedom from them. How could I possibly be ashamed of anyone else's?

May each of us seek and find those in chains and often refresh them with encouragement and prayer! May we never be ashamed of the chains, for without them, some of us never experience true freedom.