I’ve Only Just Begun
It’s been said if you write, write about what you know. So, this is what I know – I used to be a singer for over 30 years. Singing was my identity, it was my life. Singing lifted me up, surprised me and when I turned my voice over to God, it led me places I never thought I could go. But, I don’t sing anymore. God changed my life halfway through and now at fifty years of age, my familiar comfortable life is gone and another one is taking its place. I am no longer a singer; I am of all things – a writer! At least, that is what I’m calling myself for want of a better word. It appears to be the direction the Lord is leading me in, even though I have questioned His judgement on several occasions. So why do I think I am now a writer? Well, in order to tell you that, you need to know where I’ve been.
I began singing at a very early age. Throughout my youth I involved myself in choirs, orchestras and musicals whenever I could. While I longed to make singing a career choice, I did not have the courage to stand in front of an audience and bare my soul. My family recognized that I needed to be pushed in order to sing in front of an audience, so at the age of 16 my cousin decided to nominate me as a contestant in our high school beauty pageant. It wasn’t that no one had heard me sing before, I often sang to songs on the radio when I was with my friends and of course I could be heard in our choir, so my cousin felt that I would represent the talent portion of the pageant fairly well.
In order to prepare for the pageant the music director at our high school counselled me to take some singing lessons, so that I would learn how to better control my voice. He sent me to the Ottawa Royal Conservatory of Music. There I trained with a woman, who unbeknownst to me was classically trained and famous in operatic circles. I of course, being a teenager had no idea who she was. I met with her twice a week until the pageant. She taught me breathing exercises, how to enunciate, project and gave me the confidence I needed in order to stand in front of an audience.
The day of the pageant arrived and although I was nervous, I was excited as well. My singing teacher was there, as were my parents, friends and extended family. My first performance was to a crowd of about five to six hundred people. I received a standing ovation and came in third place. After that, you couldn’t get me to stop singing! I was determined that music and singing would be my ticket to fame and fortune. However, God had other plans.
Not too many months had passed before my father informed me that we would be moving to Toronto. While I was devastated to be leaving my friends and my singing teacher, I knew that my chances for success as a singer would be greater in Toronto. Once there I immediately found another singing teacher, who was determined to get me a scholarship to Julliard’s School of Music in New York. She told me that my voice was that of a Coloratura Soprano. This type of soprano voice was very high and in my case I was able to reach above a high C on the musical scale.
But, something started to change in me during my months in Toronto and I soon found myself drawing closer to God. It wasn’t long before I had invited Christ into my life as my Saviour, much to my singing teacher’s chagrin. As I immersed myself in Bible Study and prayer, my desire to sing only for Him and not myself grew stronger. Dreams of Julliard’s were quickly replaced with dreams of a mission field that would somehow involve music. But not operatic music as I’d been studying, I was immediately drawn to Contemporary Christian music. When I told my singing teacher what I wanted to do, she was appalled. She said, “You mean you want to waste your life singing your silly little songs for God?” I remember nodding my head and saying, “Yes that is exactly what I want to do.” She didn’t want to teach me after that.
And so, for the next 33 years, I sang for the Lord and He blessed me in ways I could never have imagined. I travelled extensively, singing in various venues throughout Ontario. I appeared on 100 Huntley St., recorded an album and sang and shared the gospel with more people then I could count. And as quickly as it had begun, it was over – just like that.
A tumour was discovered in my abdomen several years ago and during the surgery to remove it something went wrong. A mistake was made resulting in another surgery two hours after the first surgery had been performed. I was intubated and subsequently my vocal chords were ruined. My life as a singer ended that day.
At first, I thought my voice would come back; all I needed was to rest it. Then I thought if I practised my scales that would improve my voice. Begging and pleading with God also had no effect. Every time I tried to sing, my voice would squeal or crack. I seemed to no longer have control over it and if you can’t control your voice, if you don’t know what it is going to do next, you can’t sing in front of an audience anymore. When I finally accepted that I would no longer sing, I was of course depressed, however I was not as distraught as I thought I would be. The Lord had not only taken my voice, but He took away my desire to sing as well. Our God is such a merciful God! He knew that if my desire to sing was still present within me, I would have mourned for the rest of my life. However, I still had one question for Him – what do you want me to do now?
It wasn’t long before I began to feel a desire to create something. So I prayed, asking God to reveal His will. Slowly, over the course of many months, a story came to mind. I could see the beginning and the end of a story about the Lord Jesus, as seen through his mother’s eyes. The feeling that I was to write about this was overwhelming. I argued with the Lord and told Him that I read books, I don’t write them. While I had written many songs over the course of my singing ministry and kept a journal for over 25 years, I did not equate that with the gift of writing. To me, writing was something someone was born with. Words to a writer were like music to a singer, it was their identity, their life – not mine.
The months passed and I found that I could no longer ignore the Lord’s promptings. While praying one day, the urge to write was so strong I could no longer ignore it. I sat down in front of my computer, placed my hands on the keys and offered them and myself to the Lord to use as He saw fit. Immediately, the words began to flow and I saw the story I was to write. From beginning to end I knew everything I was to say. Three months later I had written a novel. I was thrilled that I could be used that way, but unsure what to do with it. As a disciplined singer, I would settle for nothing less then perfection when I gave a performance. So, using the same formula I decided to rewrite and edit what I had written.
Which leads me to where I am today – I can say without hesitation, that I am a writer – no longer a singer. After finishing that first book entitled, “Come to Me”, which I self-published in December of 2007, I found more words flowing out from my fingertips. My head is now filled with story ideas that need to be expelled from my mind onto paper. It is as if the music that has resided in my soul since childhood has to find its way out in another creative form.
I am fifty years old and my life is starting all over again in a field I am completely unfamiliar with. I am learning new and different things each day, such as submitting manuscripts to a publisher before you go out and publish it yourself! I am and always will be, I expect – discovering something interesting in the world of writing. Where the Lord will take me in this new adventure, is something I am looking forward to finding out!