Toni taught me ….

Last year on November 14th, I jumped in my car after work and headed to a casino concert hall just outside of Cleveland. I was nervous about enjoying the concert as a loner. My husband stayed behind with the kids and I stretched my budget and bought the last front row ticket to see TONI BRAXTON live in concert. Not only was it a bucket list item, it was a boost of adrenaline and inspiration as I headed back to reality. You see, at that time I was feeling a bag of mixed emotions. For 5 months I’d been in a groove. I’d been enjoying my job and my life immensely. I’d felt like “I’m in the right place at the right time doing the right thing”. That’s an amazing feeling. But, some changes were coming. Changes that would could possibly alter my job, my livelihood and my overall life. Being in that room that night as Toni’s rich, layered voice filled the room, I reflected on many things. My dreams. My faith. My fears. My creativity. It was very much a spiritual experience in the sense that I was very aware of the value of what I was experiencing.

1. Our voice has the power to reach, touch and lift people. Every corner of that room was filled with texture and depth that night. No one could escape the sound and echo of Toni’s voice. It was everywhere. It was impossible not to feel something. Some people danced. Some people sang along. Some people laughed with friends around them . I often found myself sitting with my eyes closed , allowing the melody and tone to carry me deeper into the music. But, everyone heard it and felt it.

2. Mediocrity is not humility. Once in the car after the concert, I stopped to pray and thank God for the blessing of being able to go. Sure, I needed the break from my kiddos as most moms do. But, it was more than that. I needed to see a woman, a vocalist, a mom – actively loving out her passion & purpose on stage. I needed to be reminded that living confidently in God’s gifting is not a sin. In fact, as I was driving – this thought dropped in my heart like a pin needle . “Being mediocre doesn’t mean you’re humble. Pretending not to be gifted or talented or dumbing down for the comfort of others is not humility. It’s offensive to the Ultimate Creator who intentionally made you , and gave you good gifts, to undermine or make less of what He’s given you. Accept your purpose. Live out your purpose. Be unapologetically thankful for and confident in your gifts.

3. Time will pass. Things will change. Soak in the lessons of today. They will carry you through tomorrow. My life did indeed change. A year later, I find myself in a place of uncertainty. I don’t feel as if I’m in the right place at the right time – but, I am doing the right thing. Taking care of my parents. It’s a blessing and a burden – that’s the real. I’ve lost a lot . My husband and kids have given up a lot to be in this place . We’ve passed up dreams and opportunities and lives with less. Some days it’s ok. Sometimes it’s better than ok. And some days it’s just downright hard. Today it is hard. But, I have this not so distant memory to carry me through today. A reminder to use my voice – do something nice for myself as soon as I can – believe in what God gave me – and fill up the world , right where I am , with purpose, inspiration, faith and love.

Thanks, Toni.

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