Thursday, December 9, 2010

Created to Sing- Part 8, Days of Light

She asks what form of creativity or expression makes my breath quicken and my knuckles grip white.  She questions if I force myself to overcome, or do I hide within myself, unexpressed?

I don't have to think long.  I love to sing!

I grew up with music all around.  My mom whistles like a songbird, sometimes so piercingly high it hurts the ears.  My sisters and I complained when we were small.  We had no appreciation for her gift, at times were embarrassed.  Now I worship when I listen, and wonder at the brilliance of a sound she has perfected over the years, but must surely come from heavenly places.

Mom sings with her vocals too.  Like she was born to.  We laughed when she said she dreamed of being a soprano in the opera one day.  We couldn't imagine our hard-working, floor-scrubbing, bread-baking, Bible-reading, fun-loving mother dressed in velvets belting drama in a foreign language.

Her love for singing was a gift from my grandfather who continually crooned old-timey melodies while he worked his garden or drove the logs he cut to the mill.  My favorite was, Down by the Old Cherry Orchard.  Sometimes I get lost in the light of childhood days and soak warm in words stretched wide across a whiskery smile.  

It was a happy day when Pap-pap yodeled.  Oh, could he yodel!  We giggled, and begged him to, "Do it again!" until his voiced would crack and he had to rest up for another time. 

I learned to play piano, and my grandfather turned family visits into old-fashioned hymn sings.  He stood looking over, resting one lumber-rough hand on my shoulder and the other turning pages while he sang in a beautiful tenor the songs he grew up on.  He didn't mind when I stumbled over the keys choppy, or hit a note awry.  His honeyed croons covered my mistakes, and together we made beautiful music--harmonies that linger sweet in my archives.

I tried to sing too, at the piano, in my room, outside under the trees and in car-rides with the family, all four of us girls crammed together in the back seat of our Pontiac, or sometimes in the front beside my mom because I was the oldest. 

I sang.  And she laughed.  She said I couldn't hit the notes or stay on key.  My sister 18 months younger chimed agreement.  Glad to find a flaw in my drive for perfection, she had no problem gliding along mom's melodies.

I learned early to stay quiet.  To be seen and not heard.  To stuff my songs in the dark places of my heart where I stood guard militantly lest one should escape and bring shame.  I believed I couldn't, shouldn't sing.  So I didn't.  I just mouthed the words silent and sullen. 

Years later, I found a friend, another songbird who poured love songs to Jesus.  She encouraged me to do the same.  For five years a group of us came together like a family to worship.  We praised the King with our laughter, our fellowship, our prayers and our voices. 

At first, I was petrified, white-knuckled and gasping for breath, hopelessly trying to catch the notes, struggling just to hear them, and not knowing how to translate or speak what was buried so deep within.  But God.

He sent light into those dark places through the love of friends, through the love of His Son.  I learned to soak full in His Spirit.  I learned to listen quiet for His voice.  I learned I was created to sing the song He had written inside. 

And I discovered that as soon as I turned from me, from my insecurity and all the lies I had believed, to focus on the One who loved me so well, who made me unique to give Him glory just by being, singing--when I sang for Him--I could sing! 

I sing!  My girls still make fun of me.  They don't like my music.  They don't like my songs.  They don't like my devotion to Someone they can't see.  But they are young.  And I have been assured that one day their songs will break free and give glory to the King.

I have it on good Authority as well, that He likes my offerings.  (smile)

Whatever it is that causes your breath to quicken and your knuckles to grip white give it to God, and let Him make something beautiful.  You were born to shine His light.  You were created to sing!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

~ The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

Today is the final day in my Days of Light series.  Thank you for joining me to light candles in words to highlight the Coming of our Lord as celebrated by some in Advent and The Festival of Lights.

Previous Posts:

Day 1:  Walk in Light
Day 2:  Almond Tree
Day 3:  Incandescence
Day 4:  Guest Post - Love Still Follows the Star
Day 5:  This Night
Day 6:  Gift of Light
Day 7:  Your Face

I am joining Emily and other singers today for Imperfect Prose.  Won't you join us?

Also, please consider visiting Exquisite Grace where I got my inspiration for this post, and where the light of God's beauty and grace abound.

It's not too late to visit L.L. Barkat and other ready writers who share about their place at Seedlings in Stone
On In Around button

Photo Courtesy:  flikr - Kassia


  1. so lovely and touching as always. My mum had the voice of an angel...I would wake up every morning to the sounds of her song comming from the kitchen, it was truly a gift from God.

  2. This really got to me. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your voice shines through the beauty of your words. Keep singing!

  3. I am so glad you have found your voice! Praise God for your Song.

  4. oh girl, this is raw and honest and good. we need to trust, he made us with these gifts, and others will learn to believe in them too, with time. all that matters is we use our gifts for him. thank you. (btw, this is the last imperfect prose before the new year. merry christmas!)

  5. i could not imagine my life without music . this post resonated with me deeply

  6. what a gifted writer you are! a full spectrum of emotions here... warm nostalgia, cold dejection, hope-filled light!

    this made me think of some of the most beautiful expressions of worship i've ever man in particular. his name was Ray. he was in the church choir, and truly, he couldn't sing. but it was clear, from his joyous offerings of discordant note after discordant note, that he was alone with the Lord, singing only for an audience of One. it always made me so happy to see and hear him. even though i was only a child, i somehow knew that Father God took great delight in his unabashed praise, and it shaped the worshiper in me. God sees the heart and that is where the beauty lies...and when it's there, what spills out is pure beauty. (my thoughts could ramble've got me thinking!) thank you for bringing this memory back for me.

    and thank you for sharing this beautiful exhortation to be beautiful for the King in even the things that scare us most.

    you bless!!! ~ amy

  7. What a beautiful singing story. I cannot imagine anyone not liking to sing or listen to it. My mother like yours always sang. She had a beautiful soprano voice and coming home from school she would be doing the weekly wash or sewing and singing.. Somehow it gives a child reassurance that all is well and happy. I did it also and still do sometimes. At church I raise my voice. My daughters attend different churches but when we are all together we are very strong. One of my daughter was the lead soprano at her school and sang at the opera house. (I was very proud of that) I sing best in church. It is the strangest thing but I seem to go into the Heavenlies then.
    God bless you heaps

  8. I almost started crying when you described how you "stuffed your songs". I have a very unique voice and people have a hard time understanding my speech but I still love to sing praised to our Father. I am so glad you found encouragement to find your voice again!

  9. This is so so sweet, Melissa. Haven't we all tried to hide from fear at some time? Girl, I wish we could get together and sing some praises! All for an audience of One.

  10. such beautiful memories! and such a beautiful challenge to praise God no matter what others think.

  11. I loved this...and it made me sad too...both for myself when I had a boyfriend in college and other people who 'could sing' tell me I was off key...I learned that I could do pretty well and just as you say that when I sing for Him it is beautiful.

    Now, I feel like I do the same with my husband, and it's terrible...he sings with such a full heart (i just don't like the falsetto;)...pray for me Melissa, I need it:)

    And thanks too for your sweetest of hearts and words of encouragement to me as 'an intercessor'. I have said to Him, "you can have all other gifts, but please keep me an intercessor..." it means a lot that you could see that...trusting you have a blessed Christmas if I don't 'see' you til then:)

  12. Thank you for sharing, all you songbirds! I so appreciate you, your songs, your gifts to the Lord. I have been blessed and inspired by every one of you. Yes! let's keep singing, every one of us! Praises to the King!

    And may we continue to encourage those who haven't yet found their voices. I lift them to you today, Lord.


  13. Writing comes naturally to me, playing the violin almost as naturally. But sometimes, performing with the fiddle, I get stage fright. Most of my performing has been very casual, acoustic, no stage or lights. It's the stage and lights and equipment that get to me. I'll have to start thinking of my performance as you do your singing --- as an offering. Thanks.

  14. lovely...i love to sing as well..i tend to dance a bit in worship too...and how cool that breaking of those insecurities...

  15. Thank you for the encouragement on my post! Glad to join in the singing this advent season! I sometimes light the Menorah candles as well along with advent, for the Menorah we do each candle as a fruit of the Spirit, this year I narrowed things down a bit due to a new job so we are lighting the advent candles for Sunday, I am finally getting my writers breath back again and able to write and blog more, which is part of my singing ;-)

  16. Such a Christian heritage you have Melissa. I’m jealous. I think; what if I had this? What if I knew of Our Lord earlier than 25? What if I hadn’t gone so far down that road of the world without him, compiling so much garbage, and covering so much distance away from him – before coming to him. It is true that the ONLY thing I regret about my relationship with Our Lord is that it didn’t happen sooner.

    As for me, I think he likes my words better than my voice, I’ll stick to lip syncing and scribbling out words. :)

    Thank you Melissa


I welcome and appreciate your kind words and comments.