Monday, December 30, 2013

The Christmas Solo

The Christmas Blessing of 2013

I hadn’t sang a solo in almost twenty years. There had been a time when I sang in front of our church at least once a month. But when I could no longer deal with the mental stress of my stupid pride, I decided that I would never sing alone again. Singing in a choir or with at least one other person was fine with me. That way my voice could just blend with the other voices and no one would be able to figure out which voice was mine. God has blessed me with a beautiful singing voice, but I was plagued by my self-talk and just couldn’t handle what my brain was saying to me whenever I sang a solo. I either got so puffed up when I did really well or crushed like a crumb when even the littlest thing went wrong.

I love to sing, always have. One of my favorite things to do is to sing praises to the Lord, especially when I am alone in my house or when driving alone in my van. That’s when I am able to let loose and belt out the feelings in my heart. There are also times when I am able to do this church when the choir is singing or on a congregational song when there is no-one in the row directly in front of me.

This ability to sing and the love for music was passed down from my mom. She was the first one to teach me about music and to lead the children’s choir at our church. She had a lovely voice and I can remember her singing from the time I was tiny. I remember when I was three years old and was at the daycare house. The “mom” had me lie down to take a nap, however, I did not want to take a nap nor did I want to stay in bed. So, she put on a record of lullabies to help me lie still. The woman singing on the record sounded just like my mom and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep. It wasn’t my mom, but I pretended it was and it greatly comforted my little heart.

So, this last October while I was listening to the CD of the cantata our choir would be performing for Christmas, I heard the most beautiful solo and the Holy Spirit said to me, “You are going to sing that solo.” The Lord was so clear in what He wanted me to do, that I never even questioned it. I made an agreement with God that if no one else volunteered to do the solo, then I would know that it was truly the will of the Lord. The song was perfect for me. The range is right smack in the middle of my vocal range and “comfort zone”. And the words conveyed exactly what I wished I could say to so many people…to come back home to Jesus.

As the choir practices began in earnest for the cantata, I did not say anything to the director about wanting to do the solo. I did tell my husband and asked him to just keep it quiet. The Holy Spirit continued to speak to my heart and confirm to me that I was to do the solo and that I was to invite my family to come. It would most likely be the last time on earth that my mom would be able to hear me sing a solo. For years she had been encouraging me to use my voice for the Lord. I figured I was by singing in the choir and in the congregation. But I knew deep down that God wanted me to do more. So in January of this year, I gave control of my singing to the Lord Jesus. Within a couple of days of doing so, I was asked by a friend to do a duet with her. I agreed and we sang at the piano while she played. Another friend also asked me to sing with her, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I was getting more and more excited and scared about doing this particular solo. When the director finally asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to sing the solo, the only hand that was raised was my own. Such peace and confirmation flooded my soul, that I was able to sing it right then with the choir. After practice, several ladies came to me with tears in their eyes and complimented me on my beautiful voice and for volunteering to do the song. We had a time of crying and of prayer that my mom would be able to come to the performance and so would the rest of my family and that the song would touch the hearts of many people.

A week and a half before the big day, I knew it was time to email my relatives and invite them to come and to make it a priority because of our mom. That same evening, I got the stomach flu so bad, I thought I would end up in the hospital. It lasted for almost a week, but mercifully, the Lord healed me and gave me the strength to make it to dress rehearsal. The week before the cantata was so strange. Not only was I sick, but my sister had a tooth crack that had to be completely removed, my niece’s boyfriend had a heart-attack and had surgery, and my mom had cancer removed from her arm and had mental deterioration.

Back in September, the new oncologist for my mom informed my parents that they would not be able to do chemotherapy again. They gave my mom three to six months before she went to be with our Savior and Lord. We have watched mom decline both physically and mentally over the last three months, but she has endured gracefully. More than anything, I wanted to be able to give her a tremendous blessing for Christmas. One that I knew would reach to the very core of her being. As a high-school senior, she had been offered a full-ride scholarship for music. She had turned it down, because she had really wanted to become a nurse. All her life she has been singing in choirs and doing solos, and using her lovely voice to be a blessing to others. And now, I wanted to do the same for her.

A couple days before the “big day”, I again emailed my family and told them that I would have seats reserved for everyone near the back of the church building. When I talked with my dad, he wasn’t sure that they could be there, because mom was doing so poorly. I almost cried right then and there, but was able to save my tears for when I got home. I poured out my heart to the Lord and gave the whole situation to Him. I dedicated my singing and this song in particular to His glory. I had peace that no matter who came, I could still be a blessing to those who listened.

The morning of dress rehearsal, my nerves got the better of me and I was so sick again. I cried out to God and He delivered me and brought calmness to my soul. Practice was not so great, but my trust was in the director and even more in the Lord. It was the first time that the whole choir was able to practice my song together as I hadn’t been at practice for two weeks due to illness. The whole song could have been a disaster because there are sections where the choir sang with me or were in the background. The first time through, it sounded really bad. But by the third time, it was getting better. There was much prayer that evening for the performance the next day.

On the morning of the cantata, I was so excited I could hardly sit still. We went to Bible study, but I left early because I wanted to be in the auditorium when my family arrived. It gave me time to once again pray with a friend for God to bless the whole worship service and for my voice to not shake or squeak. My sister Mary got there first and I gave her a hug (something we haven’t done in a long time). I showed her where I had reserved seats and where the restrooms were located. Within a few minutes, I saw my parents. Dad was showing my mom that I was there and that I was her daughter and that I would be singing for her soon. I gave them both hugs and my dad told me that he had to “force” my mom out of the house. I brought them over to our seats and Mary took over. Then, my brother Dan and his wife Pam came in the church. I also gave them hugs and was glad that they could be there. They were already familiar with several of the folks in our church because my brother used to work at the lumber store that our church uses. It was so nice of those folks to come over and say hi.

The morning service began with a congregational singing of a Christmas hymn. That song reached my mom and I could see from the choir loft that she was beginning to relax. Then, the children’s church came in and did a great job reciting a Christmas poem. My family loved it. And finally, it was time for the choir to perform. What an amazing blessing God gave. The whole choir was singing the best I have ever heard. Every now and then, I took a look at my family and could tell that they loved it. As the time got closer for my solo, my hands became more and more shaky. I prayed that it wouldn’t affect my voice and it didn’t. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. As I sang, I mostly looked at the director, but also tried to look at the crowd of people that filled the auditorium. I was singing to the Lord, but also to them. So many folks were emotionally touched. And then I looked at my family. All of them had tears in their eyes, Pam was hugging my mom’s shoulders, Mary was holding mom’s hand, and mom was trying so hard to keep it under control. The Lord had kept His promise and had used me to be a blessing to my family and to so many others. It was so wonderful!

Once I was finally able to get to my family, there were lots of hugs for my parents and tears with my mom. They left soon after as mom was so overwhelmed. She wanted to do a duet with me right then and there. It was so sweet. The rest of my family went out to lunch afterwards and I couldn’t believe how the cantata and my song had touched them. They said it was the best Christmas gift ever and loved it so much. All I can do is give all praise to God and thank Him.

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