A few years ago I was asked for an Artist Statement to go with artwork I was submitting for an exhibit. Being a musician I never thought displaying a piece of art would be something I’d ever do. I realized putting my personal story down on paper, along with my 2 framed CDs I recorded, would count as a piece of visual art. I had to give it a shot! The theme was “Second Chances”…a perfect match for my story.
Here is what I wrote:
Artist Statement: “Second Chances”
Music has always been my passion, my language. It is how I most comfortably communicate that which is nearest and dearest to my heart. My guitar has always been my partner in this process. Having lost the ability to play for 5 years I struggled with things I’d never imagined: constant pain, depression, great loss. God showed me mercy by introducing me to myself. I discovered I was skilled at songwriting! God knew I needed my guitar out of the picture so I wouldn’t be distracted by it. He then showed me amazing grace by providing me a “Second Chance”. I can play again! Now I write, play and sing!! So, I rejoice and am glad in it!
I encourage you to spend time figuring out what your story is! It matters! When you do I encourage you to write it down. Of course there will be more to write as each day passes but write it down, at least up to this point. You just might find some insights into what God has been doing in your life. Looking back will also cause you to slow down, reflect, and see all the blessings He has already given you. Who knows it might give you some hints into what He might be up to in the future.
However, it might leave you with a lot more questions. Hang on though! You’ll get another piece to your life’s puzzle. Who knows, you just may start to see how your stories become interconnected, one leading into another. Hmmm…it’s almost like someone is orchestrating your life.
One of the best things I have discovered from getting to know my own story is that it is the KEY to being able to naturally and more comfortably share God’s love with other people. God is in our everyday stuff. He is truly the co-author of our story. He has given us the freedom to make our own choices but you can know He is still weaving Himself into our lives in ways we don’t realize. If we look hard enough though, we can sometimes see His handy work.
If you were to write an artist statement for your life what would it be? In other words, what’s your story…so far?
Maybe there’s a new story in your life you still want to “write”. What would that look like?
Please share and add to the conversation. We would love to learn your story!
Recently I saw a young man riding his bicycle down a busy arterial. Since the town I live in is consistently rated one of the “Best Places To Live In The Outdoors” this is not unusual. Lots of people ride. Unfortunately, it was also not unusual that he was riding without a helmet. Freedom of choice is great until those people inevitably crash, frequently sustaining major head trauma. It’s not like falling over while walking, but that truth seems to not matter when weighed in the balance of freedom. Even freedom to be stupid.
And Then There’s More…
This young man–who looked to be in his late 20s–doubled down on stupid. He was riding with no hands. This too, sadly, isn’t unusual. Sure, a moving bicycle is sort of like a gyroscope and “wants” to stay upright as long as its moving. It’s just that no one tells this to the rocks and other junk sitting in the roadways of the world.
What made this intrepid outdoorsman stand out from all others was that his hands, and especially his thumbs, were busy texting on his “smart phone.” Deathwish by technology.
So, he’s totally doomed…at some point. There will be a rock or some other impediment to his bike’s forward motion. The bike will be deflected from its path. And he will go down, his hands providing nothing since they’ll clutch his smarter-than-he-is phone all the way into the pavement. Or tree. Or car.
Questions I wish I could ask this guy:
Is this text so urgent you can’t stop and get off your bike?
Are you willing to subsidize my life like you are asking everyone else to subsidize yours after you crash?
Did you know your smart phone is, well, a phone…from which you can make calls?
Have you considered that texting while driving is banned all over the place because people get killed…by the one texting?
What would be the worst that could happen if you just waited to talk to the person you’re texting?
What would be the best?
Sometimes, freedom is overrated.
Engage here. What’s your peeve? Is there a point at which someone’s freedom becomes a problem for others? Is there a texter in your life that needs a wee bit of truth gently fanned into their face?
This is a song I wrote for my sister, Catherine, and her husband, FJ, for their wedding day (Catherine & FJ Abaya). At the time I had to sing it acapella because my hands still hurt so much. This made me very nervous, but after singing acapella on the cruise ship, I was determined to do it! I hoped it would be a blessings for their ceremony, as well as a chance for me to pray out loud my hope for their life together.
When it came time to record this song I was ecstatic to surprise them with me accompanying myself on the guitar.
This song underlines the importance of having God woven into your marriage, “three cords combined.” Life can provide you with joyful times but also many challenges and disappointments. Sometimes circumstances around you can get so bad that it can use up everything you’ve got! When two people who love each other are both dealing with their own difficult situations at the same time it can get really rocky. God can be that third cord to keep you strong and keep from breaking apart.
If you ever find yourself wondering who it is you are living with and even questioning whether you like them.
You are just normal!
We all unknowingly bring so much of our past experiences into our lives that we don’t always see the other for who they are but either who they remind us of or even who we wish they would be. It’s important to stop and recognize this.
We need to get our heads wrapped around the fact that we are all broken doing the best we can with the tools we were given.
It’s also important to be open to the fact that we could learn more through counseling.
Counseling has been a helpful tool we have referred to off and on throughout our marriage. It’s part of the reason we have made it this far.
I encourage you to embrace your spouse and the fact that you are both imperfect and can still learn and grown no matter how long you have been married.
Ultimately though, welcome God into your marriage every day. He can give us compassionate ears that can listen to our spouse when we really don’t want to. He can give us self control when all we want to do is scream about our own boss, or our own relational situations. It is purely by the strength of God that we can have what it takes to care for each other in the midst of our own stuff.
Seriously, let God give you what you need to be there for each other. Don’t turn your pain into a competition, where you compare who has the worst situation. Everyone’s feelings count. We normally know this but when we are hurting it’s hard to think clearly. Remember you are a team. You two are one, but you don’t need to do it alone! Praise God!!
Can you relate? What are some tips that have been helpful in your marriage?
“I may be unstrung but I’m not undone. I’m praising the Lord and I’m having fun!”
Unstrung by Pain
I wrote this song during a 5 year period of time when I was unable to play my guitar due to chronic pain in my hands. This was a very difficult time for me. Not only did it feel like I had lost a part of me (I had played the guitar since I was 8 years old), but the never-ending pain soaked up all my energy.
Becoming more and more depressed about life, I finally decided to write an acapella song. I needed to feel empowered to sing a song on my own without any instruments required. In my Orcadians Choir and Chansons Jazz Choir, at Shorecrest High school (Go Scots!!), I learned how to sing many acapella songs and knew I could do it. So, I wrote this song as a gift for myself to lift my spirits up when the pain in my hands would bring me down.
In the past the guitar had become my way of communicating my feelings. Without the guitar, but with a friend, I was able to discover that I could be very musical through writing and singing songs. The inability to play guitar forced me to stretch and discover my song writing skills. After 5 years of writing songs without the guitar, my husband encouraged me to try playing again just a little bit to see how it would go.
At first I was resistant because I didn’t think I could survive the disappointment if I couldn’t play. However, the desire to play again ran so deep within, I just had to give it a try! After a few minutes of playing–and then a few minutes more–I just about fell over. It seemed that there was a chance I could play again! Over time I gradually built up my little hand muscles enough to be able to play multiple songs again. Now I can play for a couple hours!
Restrung by Hope
I am so grateful to all those who prayed for me over the years when I had run out of hope, myself. Sometimes we need to keep hope alive for others until they are able to hope again! My story reminds me of the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him through the roof down to Jesus so he could be healed. My friends and family raised my prayers up to God continuously for me when I couldn’t.
Even though my hands are not fully recovered I am incredibly grateful! I have been given a second chance to do my favorite thing – accompany myself on the guitar while singing for myself and others.
The most important things I learned from this experience is, be grateful for each day and that no matter how bad things get it isn’t necessarily the end of the story!
Have you ever experienced having something very important “taken away” from you? Have you ever got to the point of feeling hopeless? Did you share your burden with someone else so they could help you? How did it go? Are you still hanging on?
Add to the conversation below. We’ll be glad you did.
This is a love song I wrote for my hubby several years ago. It was either an anniversary gift or a valentine, I can’t quite remember. Anyway, although it is a “love song,” it wasn’t written during a time when we were really feeling especially connected or even romantic. Things were actually very difficult!
The chronic pain in my hands was at its worst. It forced me to end my Youth Ministry career. It was only then that I realized how much of my identity was tied in my job. Rediscovering my value as a person and a stay-at-home mom was a challenge. Especially since some of my job required me to do things I couldn’t do very well anymore. I felt useless.
Living with me was like riding a roller coaster, moment to moment. I would be exceptionally depressed and then become overjoyed when I would write part of a new song. Poor guy never knew what I was going to be like. Frankly, I didn’t either.
Joel also had to carry the great burden of being the sole bread winner after almost 7 years of sharing it. Plus, I was spending money on doctors appointments often, trying to figure what was wrong with me.
To top it off our precious little lady, whom we love and adore, saved her terrible two’s for the thrashing threes. She was very big and strong and I was not! Oi!
In the midst of all this, I felt compelled to write Joel a love song. Somehow, in the midst of all the stress and tears I was able to see what was still good and true about our relationship.
Even in the Midst of Pain
The first verse is about how I experience his love at its finest. When we would have a brief break from parenting and enjoy a shared giggle…or if we were really lucky, when we would go on an actual “date”! Thank goodness, we had those moments often enough to weather the tough stuff.
The second verse is about how I long for him to experience me at my finest. Every day it is my hope that I can cheer Joel on into his new day feeling supported and loved. He’s the love of my life, why wouldn’t I want to cheer him on? Unfortunately, my own pain and resentment about the pain would often spill into my interactions with Joel, tainting all that was good. It was difficult.
In the midst of all this I chose to find hope, truth and love.
Singing this song helps me remember how much we’ve been through and I thank God for helping us make it to the other side…together! More than once.
Have you and your spouse experienced some painful times? Where did you go to find strength and encouragement? What helped you two make it through? Prayer can make a difference. Give it a whirl sometime. You just might be surprised.
Add to the conversation below. We’ll be glad you did.