This morning I woke up trying to get back to my daily routine. Routine can be good when it’s beneficial and positive. Sometimes we mistake routine from being stuck in a rut, especially as creatives or the entrepreneurial type.
For years I’ve been away from home working as a nurse for food and shelter and living as a singer/songwriter. To me it was practicality meets dreamer. I could work doubles on weekends as a nurse and song write Monday through Friday. This was the plan before I ever entered nursing school.
Leaving for Nashville
I left for Nashville on a Sunday five days after my 23rd birthday. I remember 30 miles before reaching Nashville with only $1,000 saved I thought what am I doing? After a little freaking out on Sunday night and fervent prayer, I got a job on Monday, went to the Bluebird Cafe Monday night, and got a place to live on a Wednesday. I was finally living my dream.
Fast forward about sixteen years and a lot of life has happened. I hadn’t achieved the “record deal” that I always dreamed of but I feel blessed by all the wonderful memories of touring, traveling, meeting interesting people, and collaborating with create folks along the way.
About four years ago my creative passion for songwriting was halted. It’s hard to be creative and write music, and perform out when everything around you is kind of in chaos. My fiance wanted to move to Texas to be with her Mom. I encouraged the move, because I know how important that relationship is. Her Mom at the time was taking care of her elderly husband who had, had a stroke and her sister who had also had a stroke and was bipolar. We moved in just to find a place nearby, not realizing how much help was needed around the house and with the care of the two. It was amazing to me that she was able to pull it off for as long as she did by herself.
Living there wasn’t easy, but I knew it was the right thing to do. We could have moved closer to my job where I could have gotten more hours at some other places nearby. I could have done the “work all the overtime I can possibly physically stand until I wear myself out” thing. I’ve done that before. I had once (in my late 20s of course) figured out that I could work 12 shifts in a row of 12 hour shifts at night before loosing my mind. But this wasn’t the time for cashing in on overtime. This wasn’t the time for that. It was time to do God’s work no matter how hard that was or what other people thought. God knew why we were there, even if (more often then I’d like to share) I questioned, cried, and got mad at the situation. Things got financially harder when Jen got hurt and unable to continue her extremely labor intensive job, but the blessings that came from that were worth how extremely hard it was.
All in God’s Plan
See God knew that in two years from living there that Alice, Jen’s Mom, would be diagnosed with cancer. He knew that she would need someone to drive her to her appointments so that she could stay at home and have home health. God knew that Jen needed those three years to be near her Mom and I know Jen will always be grateful for those years she spent with her Mom instead of seven hours away. Alice was like a second Mom to me. She always showed me nothing but love. Several mornings she would fry bacon and as the frying pan would simmer I would hear, “Sarah, want some bacon?” She knew I could never say no.
As hard as some of those times are to look back on, like radiation, chemo therapy, and hospital stays I know that looking back that God was growing us both to put away ourselves and put his perfect will first. No grandiose aspirations of a charting number one on billboard. No daydreaming of touring cross country in a million dollar tour bus. No platinum albums hanging on the wall. Just being selfless out of choice, desperation, or hopelessness, however I want to color it, it was God’s plan.
It Ain’t Over…
One of my favorite quotes is from Yogi Berra is (My Dad is a huge Yankees fan if you’re wondering why I’m quoting Yogi.) “The game ain’t over till it’s over”. I was miss determination growing up. No really I got a certificate to prove it. Even when things look dead, I don’t give up. It can look utterly impossible, no reasonable hope, I will start quoting Yogi.
I’ll be honest though. As of a few years ago, it was “game over”. “Sarah, you’re getting old”, I’d say to myself. “You’re in your late thirties. You’ll look like a dork getting on that stage. Nobody wants to listen to an old lady performing. You had your chance and you blew it. Time to find another dream, because this one’s gone, buddy.” These are the things that were rolling around in my head. And let’s be honest. In our youth centered society, nobody’s saying, “Did you hear that songwriter? She’s awesome! And she’s only 39 years old. Boy we better be on the lookout for her, she’s gonna be big time!”
So that was it. I would actually quit playing out. I wasn’t going to be that “lady” on stage who thought she was still in her early 20’s. I instead would start a blog that would help others reach there dreams. At least if I could help other people market their music, I could help some other musician to “get heard”.
After Alice passed away, September 20th, 2014 besides the overwhelming grief that we were feeling, especially for Jen, we now had new challenges. We were being threatened by so called extended family members in every sense of the word. I won’t go into details or share names, but it was a very scary time and with little time to actually grieve, our big concern was to find a place that was “safe and sound”.
Moving to Oklahoma
In December we packed up five cats (two of them Alice’s) and two dogs (most collected from living in the country were people drop off strays) moved from a Dallas suburb to Tulsa, about three miles from where I lived throughout my childhood and teenage years. We spent the next several months just recovering from the whirlwind of sorrow that 2014 brought, while God was wrapping his arms around us.
This past month God has been putting a stirring in my heart about performing out again. Subtly, he’s been placing things in my life. I’ll be honest, the desire was flat out gone. Things were way too heavy to be singing, especially in front of people. It started with the new church I’ve been attending that just started this past February.
We had just moved a couple months prior and got a flyer in the mail. On the cover it said something about life not always being as pretty as Facebook portrays it. It was a close up of a cute baby, and then the far away picture was of her with toilet paper all over the bathroom. It really resonated with me, and they looked like a nice young couple.
A few months later, Blaine, the worship leader, asked if anyone wanted to join the band because they were having trouble keeping people. I offered to play the acoustic guitar and next thing I knew I was playing every week. Playing for God is a different responsibility than just playing out and I take that very seriously. It’s not about show, but about heart and worship. To my surprise though, I forgot how much I really loved playing and that was totally God’s blessing.
Heard it on the Radio
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I just happened to step into a patient’s room that was playing a commercial on Christian radio. Let me tell you that this radio is pretty much never on. But as I walked in I heard a commercial for Nichole Nordeman (One of my songwriting heros) to be performing in town in about a week. I ended up buying two albums and a book she had, and wrote an article called, “The Unmaking, Beauty for Ashes, and The Stolen Guitar”, about how she signed my guitar again replacing the stolen one I had lost years ago.
Now that what was lost was now recovered. That a healing is taking place I felt even more the desire to perform. I prayed to God the other night,
“God if this is your will then I pray that opportunities arise for me to perform. I’m not going to try to do things like I used to on my own will. I’m too worn out from doing things that way. I need you to open the doors so that I know it’s your will and not mine.”
I believe that God wants to take us to this place, as strange as it may seem. Sometimes my “The game ain’t over till the game’s over” attitude is really me just holding tightly to my own will. I believe it’s why Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son to only in the last second have an angle swoop down and say “Stop!” God doesn’t need our talents. God needs our hearts. He needs us to be “all in”. We are not blessing God by how talented we are. He blesses us with our talents. Our stewardship is performing them, painting them, and directing them toward his will. Sometimes he takes those things away from us for a season or longer, because his desire is for us, not our gifts.
Today I was reading Nichole’s book and at the end of the chapter was John 3:17. Now many Christians know John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB
The Word “Believe”
Lately I’ve been reading out of my amplified bible. What’s cool about the amplified version is that it goes into great detail (sometimes too much detail). I think this is helpful because when things are being transcribed from one language to another things can get lost. For example, the word “believe”. That’s a pretty loaded word in the English language with several different meanings, anywhere from “I believe I’ll be the next President of the United States” to “I believe that I’ll have toast this morning.” When the amplified describes the translation of “believe” it says (trust in, clings to, relies on). Of course I decided to read the translation of John 3:17, not usually quoted and after reading I think I know why.
“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:17 AMP
What? No fire and brimstone? He was not sent to judge, but to save and for the world to be made safe and sound? Safe and sound is the part that stuck with me the most. Finding peace and rest in the Creator I find it the easiest to be creative and when I’m most inspired.
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ*), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.” John 1:1-3 AMP *aka Jesus
I worked in Nashville at a place called Trevecca that was on the same campus as the college. As you walked outside there was a sticker on the door that read something like this, “May your travels bring you back safe and sound”. I ended up writing a song called “Safe and Sound” while working there. Even funnier that I ended up reading that scripture, John 3:17 today. My hope is that after today you find yourself remaining “Safe and sound in Him” in the storms of life and the calm, sunny days.
The Song “Safe and Sound” ~ Recorded on my iphone :)
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