Charmaine has been a good friend for about 6 years. I have watched a late teen become a beautiful young woman to an incredible wife to her hubby Jason. It has been a blessing to see her embrace the beautiful calling that God has had on her life and a joy to stand beside her in tears and in overwhelming joy. As those dreams have become clearer though the years it has been incredibly exciting to see the journey grow as Adam and I have gotten late night updates. As she heads into another brand new season I am praying favor to continue going before them working out all the details even before they know it needs to done.
Thank you Charmaine for putting these beautiful words together. It has encouraged me so much!!! And made me absolutely ecstatic to see the story unfold in Jason and your life!!! Know Adam and I will always be merely a phone call away, forever friends!!!!
Embracing God’s Calling
By Charmaine Brown
I’ve always found it hard to open up “the real me” with others, especially when it comes to the dreams inside of me. If I don’t share my hopes and dreams, then I won’t disappoint other people (and myself) if they don’t happen. I’m the person who secretly hopes for the best, but never lets on to others that it actually matters to me if things work out. I’m discovering this is not a way to live life.
Five years ago, I was approached by a producer who heard me sing at church, I recorded my first album, and somehow tumbled into the Christian music industry. Previous to that, I had no aspirations of becoming a singer, recording, etc.; it honestly hadn’t even crossed my mind. I had struggled for years thinking I had a terrible voice. But someone believed in me, and a dream suddenly sparked alive at that time in my life. A year later, I was signed to a small Christian record label and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where I recorded my second album, was nominated for a Christian Gospel Music Award, and went on tour for a year.
The tour was called “Beautiful Unique Girl”. I was the singer, speaker, and leader on a team of five, and we travelled across the country putting on events for teen girls and women to tell them about a God who loves them and wants them to walk in freedom, discover their beauty, and live a life of purpose.
Meanwhile, I was the one who desperately needed the very message I was preaching night after night. I still do.
It’s amazing that no matter how many people may believe in you and encourage you, the power of a few naysayers can override them. And I did have a few. A few very influential people in my life were surprisingly unsupportive of my foray into the music industry, and between that and some very difficult experiences out on tour, I gave up on my dreams.
I stopped songwriting. I stopped working on bettering my voice. I stopped dreaming and planning for more songs, albums, and performances. I dropped off the map musically. I focused on getting married, purchasing a house and making it home, etc. I finished up my post secondary schooling and focused on vocal coaching. I figured, here’s a career where no one’s going to judge if I “make” it or not. And that maybe, by coaching others to success in their voices and music careers, that I would find fulfillment. I told people I wasn’t interested in making my own music anymore.
This past year, as seemingly all my friends were already in the next stage or moving to the next stage of life — starting a family — I considered it myself, for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t fulfilled in my career, marriage, friendships or family relationships. Everyone had kids now and I didn’t fit in. So maybe a baby would solve all this?
Every once in a while, I would start to dream of more, but I would convince myself of a few things: I’m too old to start again in the music industry. People have forgotten I exist and they don’t care anymore. I have nothing to say as a songwriter. My voice isn’t good enough. I’ve lost so much time. I’m not beautiful enough.
Maybe now’s a good time to let you in on my secret. The dream that’s in my heart. And by saying it, I risk letting you down. I risk letting myself down. I risk it not happening. I risk your judgement. I risk people gossiping about me. I risk the naysayers all over again. But here it is... here is my dream: To write and record original songs. With top-notch producers who can convey the message in a beautiful way. And not just any songs. I want to make music that moves people. I want to sing on big stages, for big crowds. Not for the fame, although I’m not going to lie it would be nice to have success. But because I want and desire and believe that God has placed a calling on me, and specifically my voice and my songs, to bring healing. Emotionally, physically, inspirationally (is that a word?), whatever the listener needs. Whether this is in the Christian arena or mainstream, I don’t have a clear idea yet. Maybe both.
Where there is a calling and a dream, there will always be opposition. And I regret how much I let that affect me. But I will not let these regrets hold me back.
About a month ago, Jason and I decided to move to Nashville (“Music City”). We are selling almost everything we own and giving up almost every ounce of earthly stability we have to pursue God’s calling on our lives.
Since that decision, there have been a lot of tears. A lot of fears. A lot of God peeling away the layers I’ve built up. A lot of trust being built deeper and deeper with a God who I know loves me and wants me to bear fruit. And most exciting for me currently is the songs that are flowing out of this season of transition. A new song is writing itself on my piano and my voice almost every day. For a girl who hasn’t written in almost 3 years, this is a big deal.
For me, this is a season of preparation for what God wants to do in me and through me. I believe there will be many more songs written in upcoming days and months. There will be people who come alongside me to encourage and strengthen me. There will be connections made that only God could bring about.
There’s a song called “For Your Splendor” by Christy Nockels (Christian recording artist and worship leader) that has touched me in a deep way over the past few weeks. Here are the first bit of lyrics from the song (I’d encourage you to listen to it sometime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC_QCKCuAM8)
“I’m so concerned with what I look like on the outside / Will I blossom into what You hope I’ll be / Yet You’re so patient just to help me see / The blooms come from a deeper seed that you planted in me
Sometimes it’s hard to grow when everybody’s watching / To have your heart pruned by the one who knows best / And though I’m bare and cold I know my season’s coming / And I’ll spring up in Your endless faithfulness
With my roots deep in You / I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit / And though I’m small I’ll still be standing in the storm / Cause I am planted by the river, by Your streams of living water / And I’ll grow up strong and beautiful all for Your splendor Lord”
- Christy Nockels, “For Your Splendor”
The words of this song ring so true for me. It is hard to grow when everybody’s watching. And it’s hard to let others in on the pruning process when it feels like it would be much more easily done in private. It’s hard being a woman in this crazy culture. It’s hard to find the balance between family, career, and everything else. To find value when the world clearly doesn’t see value in you.
We all want blooms. We want others to perceive us as beautiful. As having it all together. As having an impressive spiritual life. But in Christy Nockel’s words, the most beautiful blooms come from a deeper seed. For those blooms, we have to plant ourselves by the banks of the river and stretch our roots deep down.
My commitment to God, to myself, and to those who have always believed in me and my music (thank you for your patience!), is to stretch my roots deep down and to let God have His way in growing me in order to bear the fruit He wants.
I hope and pray that something in the little bit of journey I have shared has spoken to you, wherever you’re at today in life and with God. No dream is too big or too small for God to work with. He just has to have you planted by His streams of living water. And He’ll make sure that all of us as women, through our journeys, our struggles, our tears, and victories... that we are beautiful for His splendor.