Voice Lessons

“A new song for a new day rises up in me…” Psalm 40:3

Years ago I shared the story of how I lost my singing voice to steroids when I was young (and dumb). It was this self-inflicted wound that scarred me with depression, anxiety and loss of identity for years. And it was this same deep wound that would draw me into a deeper relationship with my Savior and ultimately be healed– not by human standards- but by a loving Heavenly Father who would whisper my true name and call me into his healing light.

Now I see the beauty in the pain and I can tell my story without sadness, but gratitude.

One way I know he has healed my heart is that music is JOY again. It speaks to me, it moves through me, and it has been regifted to me through my children who love music. I sing all time by myself, in the car, and at home with my family.

My voice is not the same. I cannot sing the same songs I used to. But lately I’ve wondered if that is the point: to grow and change and evolve and sing a new song entirely from when you began.

Amera started voice lessons this year, and it’s been surreal listening and observing. She has a beautiful singing voice. About a month ago her throat was hurting and so I texted her voice instructor to reschedule her lesson. And then out of nowhere, I sent another text: “Can I take Amera’s lesson?”

It was a quick response: “Absolutely!”

Then I panicked. What am I doing? I don’t sing anymore. Why would I put myself out there like that?

I emailed her instructor to share a little of my backstory. When it was time I had a major case of butterflies. I felt awkward and nervous but she was very encouraging and kind.

I told her that I had no agenda, I didn’t want to be a “singer” again, but that I was curious. Curious about this voice. My voice now. My voice that had been neglected for over 20 years because it was compared to a previous version. And held to the standard of my old songs.

I wanted to know.

And so I sang. I did warm-ups waaaaay out of my comfort zone and I apologized every time my voice cracked. (She told me to stop doing that.) And when she asked me to sing her a song, I chose Losing my Religion by Lauren Daigle and pushed play on the karaoke track…

I’ve been an actor on a stage
Playing a role I have to play
I’m getting tired to say the same
Living behind a masquerade

No more performing out of fear

I’m trying to keep my conscience clear
It all seems so insincere

I’d trade it all to meet You here

My voice cracked, but I kept going…

I’m losing my religion
I’m losing my religion…

Light a match and watch it burn
To Your heart, I will return
No one can love me like You do
So why would I want a substitute?

I’m losing my religion
I’m losing my religion
I’m losing my religion
I’m losing my religion
To find You

I’m losing my religion
In finding something new
‘Cause I need something different
And different looks like You

I couldn’t get through the song because the tears started falling.


Different is scary, but it’s also good. This different voice was coming from a different Bonnie than the one who sang 20 years ago. This new Bonnie had lived enough life to know who she was and who she wasn’t. She learned to sing with her whole life and wasn’t afraid of different. No, I can’t sing the old songs that I used to…but I don’t want to anymore. I have a new song. And I’m free to sing it- however it comes out.

I’ve had a few lessons now and I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to get through the songs without crying. I still have no agenda other that to feel the joy of singing again and honoring the voice I have today. And trusting that The Storyteller is still writing my story…

This week as I was looking for a family verse to draw on the chalkboard, He showed me this:

“The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come.” – Song of Solomon 2:12

Yes it has.

The Smudge

For about a month now, I’ve had a weird smudge on the outside glass of my writing room window. I can’t open the window and I can’t get to it from the outside without a very tall ladder. So, I’ve just been staring at it.

It’s streaky and I can’t figure out how it got there. I assume if it was water it would have evaporated or washed off by the rain? Maybe the kids threw something sticky at the window?

Anyway, it’s getting to be very distracting. When I sit in my chair in the mornings before the rest of the house is awake, the first beams of sunrise start to break through over my neighbors house and through the trees. Just as I am soaking in the pleasure of the light my eyes are drawn to it…the smudge.

The trees outside the window are threatening to bloom, but when I look to admire them…smudge.

I hear my kids playing outside and turn my head to witness their joy…smudge.

I need a break from my computer screen and glance up for earth’s inspiration…smudge.

I have GOT to get that cleaned off of the window!

The eyes are the window to the soul. Be careful then to keep the glass clean.

We were all designed to hold God’s glory and shine his Radiant Light out into the world, but if the glass is dirty all people will see is a smudge.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

My bookshelves are filled with books from many authors who I admire and many who have let me down with their choices and their words. On one hand I have consumed and digested their wisdom. Like, food the substance of their life-giving words have nourished my soul and made me grow. But almost every one of those humans have eventually let me down and disappointed me.

I’m not talking about differences of opinions. No one shares the exact same values and opinions AND I would be blatantly wrong to seek out wisdom from a clone of myself. There is not learning or growth there. But when someone I admire falls from the pedestal I’ve put them on- it hurts. Should I throw out all of their words because their behavior? Probably not, but I’m human too and I’m tempted to have a book burning.  

My emotions remind me of TWO things:

  1. Jesus is the only ONE who will never let me down.
  2. I can take exactly what I need from others and graciously leave the rest behind.

And the deeper lesson for me is this: As I write to hopefully encourage others, I must remind myself to keep the glass clean. I’m sure there are lots of people who will disagree with my opinions, but I don’t want my poor choices/words or behavior to distract them from seeing the LIGHT in me. I need to work to keep the smudges off.

The idea sort of reminds me of the writer’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:2 the Bonnie paraphrase:

If I have incredible insight and knowledge and faith and impressive talents, but I don’t have love- so what?

A smudge can take you right on out of influence. It can distract others from Truth to the point that they turn away. Keep your eyes clean- filtering what goes in so that the bright light inside you can be seen- radiant and unblemished. You will be a bright hope for someone.

“Do not make it difficult for those who are turning to Christ.”

OR Don’t be a smudge.