Fear not, for thou art ENOUGH!

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The festivities of Advent have pulled me away from my blog temporarily, but not out of love with counting graces.

Thank you, dear Lord, for:

Surprise 50th Birthday Parties for the “baby” of our 57-member graduating class of Denton Senior High (even though Queen Tut had to be wheeled in due to a recent surgery!)

The sweet friends of old that we saw there.

Precious time with my special treasures, Sarah and Adam, creating art, making jewelry, singing Christmas carols, and finding “my fav’it” everything.

Nine bottles of wine, Dirty Santa Gifts, and a really fun group of friends (You know the tune, but without any partridges in pear trees!)

Family Christmas gatherings with aunts, uncles, and cousins… and their littles… and my mom exclaiming as we gathered (tightly) in my aunt and uncle’s great room for the gift exchange, “Wow! Our family is getting huge!”

Christmas Carols (Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban. Sarah McLaughlin, The Piano Guys, and Pentatonix.)

 

So, those of you who have been reading, you know about my passionate desire to honor and inspire creativity wherever I see it… to fearlessly claim and follow my heart’s desires as a “maker of lovelies”… to encourage others to see themselves as image-bearers of a Creator who delights in beauty and imperfection and glory and grace… and tonight a long-ago friend from my little high school left a “bloggish post” on Facebook that Simply. Lit. Me. Up. And I asked and she gave permission… so here it is. Carolyn Hill Hutton’s very beautiful words of advice for musical image-bearers, which are equally appropriate to the rest of us. Please enjoy.

 

Every once in a while I think I want to write a musical blog–I have a daydream of taking a trip across the United States one day, playing every night at an open mike in a different town and recording some of the musicians there. A cool way to see America, right?  Anyway, last year, a month after Mac died, I promised myself that I would commit to going to an open mike once a week. I was scared about this–I love to sing and play, but I am not at all confident about being a solo performer–I don’t think I have ENOUGH by myself.  Anyway, I began. As it turned out, I played alone just a little, but one thing led to another, as it always does, and I ended up playing with my dear friend Erin for a good bit of the year, and my dear friend Paul. But I learned some things this year, and if YOU are thinking about doing this sort of thing, maybe the following advice will encourage you a little–so here is my bloggish post:
1. Give yourself permission to not be good. Give yourself permission to enjoy something, no matter what. It is scary. And you will possibly feel intimidated. Someone will likely be better than you—have a better voice, play better, be more beautiful, more engaging to the audience, more, more, more. Let that happen. Tell yourself that’s okay. I remember my first open mike back in January at the Exeter Inn. I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. But when I went around the side door to the inn, I was transfixed. A small courtyard was quiet and snow covered and a lighted tree cast sparkles in the middle. It was snowing softly and the yellow light from inside the old inn beckoned. I stood there a minute, old guitar in hand, Mary-Poppins-like, I guess, and I remember thinking that no matter what the evening offered, this was a beautiful moment in a beautiful place. So I opened the door and went inside. The people were welcoming and friendly. I wasn’t great at all. I was nervous and sang everything in the wrong keys. But it didn’t matter. What did matter was a couple of things. One, I was early, so I met the man who set things up, and ended up singing some songs with him just for sound check. So I felt I made a friend, and when it came time to do my songs, he was friendly and accompanied me. Second, I stayed the whole time—and listened to everybody. And in this way I saw a lot of styles—a lot of good work and some okay work, but LOTS of courage. And I learned. I saw how when people look at the audience and smile it makes a difference. How when they don’t always look down at a songbook it makes a difference. And when I listened, I tried to think about what I liked about all the musicians. And I stayed ’til the end—so that I was able to talk with some of them and tell them specifically what I liked. Musicians really appreciate being genuinely listened to. Someone gave me a cd and took mine. I felt very welcomed and was urged to come back.
 
 
I look forward to the next installment of Carolyn’s advice, but I think this first one is just So Very Important for creative spirits everywhere. Whatever your gifts, however your creativity presents itself, give yourself permission to err. Get in there and make a mess. Relish mistakes. So much learning and growing happens when we “go out on a limb” and challenge ourselves to do the things that simultaneously intrigue and terrify us.
 
 
Carolyn, I know you miss your musical mentor. But I also know that Mac is tapping his foot and smiling every time you step up to that open mike. Let me know when you’re ready to take that road trip… I’ll come with! Play on, sweet friend!
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