Monday, March 16, 2009


An Open Heart Journal
March 16, 2009

This may seem like a digression but it is as much as "from my heart" as anything I've written.

I remember I very first solo. I was in sixth grade and in the church youth choir and the director had gone to my mom telling her that I had a wonderful voice and she wanted to give me some voice lessons so I could sing a solo on Sunday morning. That first song was "Fairest Lord Jesus" and it started me on a road that I stayed on the rest of my life.

My singing was only in church and at the occasional women's luncheon. I stayed in band and orchestra as a last chair trumpet player but no one at school even had a clue I sang. The shock came when the Junior High Choir Director had open auditions for Gilbert and Sullivan's "Trial by Jury." I had literally grown up listening to my father's collection of Gilbert and Sullivan records and already knew every song of "Trial by Jury" so trying out just seemed natural. But little did I know I would start a historic battle. I was not in the choir but I successfully beat everyone in the audition for the lead role - including the pretty, rich and snobby president of the Ninth Grade choir. The furor was so bad that we had two more auditions - one in front of the choir parents club and one in front of the choir. I won both auditions. This girl and her parents were so angry the choir director ended up having two showings with two different leads. Then when we were invited to give the play to the entire school the choir had to choose who would have the lead and I once again won. That girl hated me all through high school.

Not only did I realize that this is what I wanted to do the rest of my life but everything I did was either focused on singing or swimming with band eventually falling to the bottom of my priorities.

The choir director gave me voice lessons for a year and then passed me onto HER voice teacher who had sung in the Met and personally knew Beverly Sills - my singing hero.

I sang in every contest I could enter from my Baptist Convention Nationals to School and radio contests. I learned to sing in every language operas came in and amazed judges with a large soprano voice from my then 98 pound frame. I sang every chance I had and even hummed my songs while swimming. Unlike my many years of piano and trumpet lessons I never had to be told to practice.

I went to college on a minimal scholarship and again had one of the most talented voice teachers in the country. She had actually completed her doctorate by participating in an autopsy to examine the diaphragm and how it works.

I didn't sing a single solo my freshman year - a big blow to my ego but finally got a part in a German version of Anna Bolen. In my fantasy world I was headed to sing at the Met - in reality I got married and headed to Bible College. I did finish my college education with a degrees in both Music and Biblical Education but the dream of singing on stage became the reality of singing in church with my husband, my gifted pianist and accompianist.

Three times I've stopped singing - once when illness took my voice and lowered my range a full octave. The second when my husband left the marriage and I couldn't bring myself to sing with another accompanist but returning when the idea of accompament tapes were introduced. The third time came in 2005 when histoplasmosis destroyed not only my lungs and voice but I found my hands could no longer play the guitar like I had been doing since 1991.

This morning I awoke from a dream where I was seeing myself playing my beautiful white guitar that right now sits in the corner of my bedroom unplayed since July. I remembered that I was so attached to my guitar in the 90's that I never went anywhere without it. I took it with me every time I left the house because I never knew when a new song was going to start going through my head or someone would ask me to go sing for a friend or family member in the hospital or at their home. My singing then had drastically changed from my operatic training to singing soft enough to sing in a hospital room. And all my songs were "original" to me at that time. They were simply Scriptures put to music with the goal of singing life and healing into the hearer.

It was nearly a year before I knew what this type of singing was but finally a prophetic music class introduced me to the concept of the Psalmist. I immediately identified with the teacher's definition of Psalmist - but still found it hard to explain to others who were just looking a Sunday Morning Soloist.

During the first five years of the 90's I recorded four full length music tapes - all recorded live at churches with intercessors in the "audience" to pray for me. It seemed like new songs were coming every single day - some even in Hebrew which I didn't even understand at the time.

One of the pluses of these songs is that they were quiet, encouraging and even relaxing. I got used to the listener falling asleep and even jokingly warned those who took my tapes to not listen to them in the car because it might put them to sleep while driving. At one church I sang for over 30 minutes and when I was going to stop I look over and the Pastor had fallen asleep sitting on the podium.

I continued to write songs, play the guitar and sing until 2005 and when I first discovered that my hands couldn't hold the strings down I cried. I haven't recorded any songs since 1996 but have dozens of new songs including two dozen songs written about and for Israel which had no written or recorded archive.

I sang for the first time since 2005 when I was able to give a portrayal of Anna in the Temple and sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Even though I had problems practicing at home my voice was strong that night and I began to feel "at home" in that place of music I had so missed.

Thinking about all of this as I woke up this morning caused me to weep and I asked the Lord to restore not only my voice but my hands so I could play the guitar once again. After fully waking up I turned on the TV looking for something encouraging and on the very first channel saw, of all people, Wynonna Judd. I'ver never been a real lover of country music but I do like Reba MacIntire and the Judds - mostly because of first seeing Wynonna on "Touched by an Angel."

Wynonna was introducing her newest CD "Sing - Chapter 1" She then sang the title song, "Sing" These are the words - yes, from a secular, country song - that pricked my heart and gave me hope that the Lord was going to give me back my voice and guitar so that the songs in my heart would be released once again.

[ Wynonna Judd Lyrics are found on ]

Sing your songs of truth and pain
All the things you can't explain

Sing the way you feel inside
Let the music be your guide
Sing your heart out

Sing it like you hear it
Like you have no need to fear it now
Sing it like you know it
Like you're not afraid to show us how

Sing from somewhere way down deep
Sing and make the angels weep
Sing and open heaven's door
Sing 'till you can't sing no more

Sing your songs of dark and light
Make your mark with all your might

Sing your songs of hope and fear
Sing the song that sent you here
Sing your heart out

Sing, sing, sing your heart out
Sing, sing your heart out

Now I might not agree with every single word here but there is a lot with which I do agree and I look forward to being reunited with my guitar and "singing the songs that brought me here"

I believe music can truly change a heart - physically, emotionally and spiritually. Years ago, when I was "hearing" new songs every day the Lord gave me this promise: "If you sing these I will heal." I began singing in hospital rooms, nursing homes and in church prayer meetings but never saw anyone jump out of bed because of my singing. But I did hear of people who were given a hope for life, an encouraging word and broken hearts mended. I don't take credit for any of those but believe that the Scriptures have a life that music brings forth true life.

So, today I will sing - if only inside my heart - and hope for the day I can once again sing my Father's of life.

From the Heart,