Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Why You Can't See My 10-Year Challenge...

By now, we're all familiar with the infamous 10-Year Challenge:

"Let's see how much you've aged! 
Post a photo of yourself from 10 years ago and one from today."

Some are funny - people posting their crazy teenage hairstyles, or folks substituting their face for a celebrity doppelgänger.

A few are inspiring - men and women celebrating a substantial weight loss or surviving a challenging illness.

Some groups are using the challenge to show the lack of change in important areas of our world, such as race relations, gender representation, or the environment.

But for the most part, it's people either complaining about their own aging or, even worse, people sharing highly photoshopped versions of their current faces.

Ugh, do we really need to create more opportunities to competitively obsess on appearance?

As I looked at these posts, I couldn't help but think back to where I was 10 years ago - living in Nashville with my still-relatively-new husband, making music, and about to go through some of the most vibrant years of my life.

I thought about what picture I could find to capture who I was then, 
and how I could even encapsulate who I am now.  

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it couldn't be done.

Because, you see, you can't see my 10-Year Challenge.

There's no way a photo can show you how much I've changed in 10 years.

You can't see how Gerald and I were almost killed by an 18-wheeler, ten years ago this May, and the pain, grace, courage, and healing I experienced in the years that followed.

You can't see every time I've chosen faith over frustration, and how that choice has shaped my heart and my patience.

You can't see the way both my literal and my creative voices have become stronger, more authentic, and more expressive.

You can't see how I'm surrounded by friends and family who really know and love me, and how their love makes me a better person.

You can't see the thousands of kilometres I've driven on our Infinitely More tours, and how I've fallen so deeply in love with this country, our churches, and the diverse people of faith who fill the pews.

You can't see the time I was hurt by people I loved, and the immense struggle it took to forgive friends who never asked for my forgiveness.

You can't see the times I've had to stretch my skills outside my comfort zone, and the way that's made me a better manager and administrator.

You can't see the hundreds of times I've tried and failed and tried and failed, and yet somehow become even more eager to try and fail again.

You can't see the way I've grown into my marriage, working through the challenges, dancing through the good stuff, revelling in the blessings, and loving my husband more and more each year.

I've changed a lot in 10 years. You might not see it. But I can. 

And for me, I'm more beautiful and more interesting than ever.

Covered in battle scars you can't see. 
Filled with more love and gratitude than I could ever express.

And most of us are probably the same. 

The world may see your wrinkles, weight gain, or the way bodies just change over time.
But I hope you see your true strength and beauty.

Forget the photos. 
Look at You.

You've lived. You've survived. You've risked. You've grown.

You. Are. Awesome!

So, forget the 10-Year Challenge. 

Instead, I hope you have 10-Year Celebration of all the wonder of you.

You've earned it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

I Have Laryngitis ... and I'm Thankful!


What singer wants to hear their doctor say this word?

I was tired yesterday, and after our busy December, that just made sense. But this morning, when I woke up with that telltale grip on my throat, I knew something was wrong. Gerald called our doctor. He saw me right away, and sent me home with the diagnosis.


Ugh. Not from overuse or mistreatment of the vocal chords. This is a straight up proper infection. Germs on parade. Symptoms include sore throat, loss of voice, and, if you're a singer, potential crankiness (or at least, that's what Gerald diagnosed...)

I need to sing by the weekend, so I went to bed this afternoon with tea, honey,
 and my own personal pity party.

I was listing my various and well-earned complaints, when
I started to feel a little tug on my heart ...

I remembered a friend of mine, about my age, who just today shared news about his ever-worsening cancer diagnosis.

And my thoughts went to my friends in Nashville, who just last night, lost a sister and cousin who was far too young.

"Well," I thought, "Maybe my complaints are starting to sound a bit selfish..."

Don't get me wrong, vocal problems are terrifying for singers. They can get us into all kinds of fits and worries. (And right about now, I'll take all the prayers I can get for a swift and complete healing!)

But as things fell into perspective, 
a whole new wave of gratitude started to wash over me:

Yes, I have laryngitis, but I also have the self-employment power of flexibility that will give me time to rest.

I have a loving husband to care for me, puppies to cuddle, and money to buy medication.

I'm too sick to celebrate my Mom's birthday, but I have my Mom, she's healthy, and we have a fantastic relationship.

Not only was I able to see my doctor today, but I live in a country where my healthcare isn't tied into my job or my bank account.

As my voice suffers, I'm reminded how blessed I am to be able to make a living in music, a rare feat in our industry.

And in a world, or let's face it, in a country, province, or city, where many people don't know if they'll eat tonight, I was able to find all the ingredients in my fridge to make nourishing chicken noodle soup - the exact meal I want right now.

So, I won't go so far as to say I'm thankful for my laryngitis, 
but the pity party is over.

Instead, I'm sipping my tea and honey, 
awash in gratitude, 
and excited to sing again ...