Believing in Your gifts

I’m not sure exactly when it started. But, somewhere along the way I stopped believing I could sing.
I have been singing my entire life. I remember my mother telling me repeatedly that my elementary school choir teacher told her that I had a voice that would stay. I “would always be able to sing,” she said. She told me that over and over. I should have believed it. But, at some point, I stopped believing. I sang at special events in High School, one musical (which I auditioned for to be in the chorus and got one of the leads), talent shows, and the National Anthem anytime I was asked. But, I wasn’t in the school choir and didn’t get any additional singing training at that time. I didn’t sing much in college. All the girls that lived with me during that time would beg to differ. Because, I always had a song in my head and heart. And, if I was walking or moving, I was singing while I was doing it. But, I didn’t join the choir. I wasn’t a part of any University singing groups. I took one singing class toward my degree. And, I sang at my sorority house a lot. However, I never found a church home in college and kind of lost my voice along the way.
In Los Angeles, just after college, I pursued an acting career and worked in Public Relations (my degree Concentration at the University of Texas.) I sang karaoke with friends a number of times and was drawn to church communities where the worship music was amazing. And, I sang in the weddings of some of the most special and amazing friends anyone could ever hope to have on this earth. But, I still didn’t sing as a big part of my life.
After moving to Houston, getting married, and then having our first son, I felt drawn to sing at our church and be a part of worship leading as a background singer. I felt the calling, but I didn’t understand it. Even meeting with the worship leader at the time, I never would have expected him to ask me to sing with him and the team for the next two years. But, he did. That is when I began to sing, to really sing again. Nearly seven years ago. When the calling that God has on my life began to really become clear to me. I was a wife, a new mother of an infant and I was living in a new city. And, I finally started listening to the right voice.
Even at my high school reunion, I heard someone mock me. This wasn’t even someone that I graduated with or had ever met before. He/she said “oh, just wait, I bet she is about to start singing the National Anthem.” ha. ha. ha. I was hurt. I helped plan the reunion with several of my friends. I took time away from my new baby to work on planning. And, to hear that, my feelings were hurt. And, I heard them saying (in my mind) “she can’t sing. She should just go away.” But, those voices, the ones that said “I can’t” are not more powerful than the one that says “I can.” And, “I should” and “it’s not about me”  so “buck up and get out there and sing your heart out to the Glory of God, girl, because that is what you were made to do!”
God has a mighty plan for me. And, He has a mighty plan for You.
Even being asked to lead worship at my home church now over three years ago, I still believed it was my heart, and not my voice that put me in this position. I know that is true in part. It is my heart, but I can also sing well with my whole heart and voice.
Sunday night I was a part of a concert at our home church. This was a very special concert celebrating the gifts of our church community and many local Houstonians. All the works presented were arranged, composed or written by Houston composers. Many of whom were in the room. I had the honor of singing three of my songs. Three songs that I’ve written. Three songs that are going to be on my first album coming out this year. One of them, an updated arrangement of a hymn with an original chorus. Each of the songs I am proud of. Each of them I am inspired by. And each one I was blessed to share. Two of my talented friends accompanied me on piano and guitar. Making the fact that they were done acousticly (a departure from the record) really special. They came alive. I was happy. I felt the Holy Spirit through it all.
The talent on display that night was amazing. The classically-trained voices, the perfect harmonies, flawless melodies, the skill of the conductors and musicians. It was all very beautiful and moving. It is this kind of night in recent years when I would feel like I wasn’t a singer. I’m not trained. At least I haven’t had a voice lesson since I was in the Woodlands Youth Chorale many many moons ago. And, I don’t sing perfectly. At least it’s not what I consider perfect. I hear the perfect melodies of others, the way they sing with ease and hit high notes that give me chills. I’m amazed and I love it. It’s not me. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t sing.
God gave me a voice. He’s given me melodies to sing, lyrics to inspire and a heart that is willing and ready to share with others. I can sing. I am a singer. I have a God-given gift of song. Writing music is a huge part of that gift, but singing it and connecting to it and to others through it and to God through it and connecting others to God through it, that’s my gift. I know now that God has given me this gift and he’s given me amazing opportunities to use it. I am going to believe in Him. Believe in His plan, and the hope and future He has for me and my family.
In Romans 15, God’s word says ,”May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Listen to God’s voice. He has a plan for you. Gifts He wants you to use for His good. Maybe you haven’t tried it yet. Maybe you’ve been using your gift as a hobby for 28 years and now is time to live it! Be encouraged today. And, don’t be afraid to use your gifts and be who you were made to be.
with love,
Rebekah
to read more about Rebekah’s journey to make her debut studio album in Nashville with producer, Marshall Altman, visit www.rebekahme.com
It's not about me. It's all about YOU
Rebekah, Nashville, Tennessee, April 2012
Let us rejoice and be glad!

Home, next steps, family time and naming the record!

Family Fun with the Els
Coming home has been amazing. I’ve loved every second I’ve spent with my family. Especially the chaotic ones that remind me why I love being a mother and a wife and make me appreciate those brief moments of bliss and peace.
The first week I was home my littlest El- Leeland, was so sweet and clingy. Constantly asking me to hold him. “Hold you, Momma?” How can I resist that? But, he is over thirty pounds, so holding him while doing everything else can be a bit challenging. Making dinner, for example is nearly impossible. But, we’ve figured it out. This week he has asked me to hold him less and I think is feeling more and more confident that I’m sticking around.
Our daughter, Trinity, seemed to grow up a little while I was away. She says things like “actually” when correcting me. And, “perhaps” when suggesting an alternative way of doing something. She is delightful and I am so happy to spend so much time with her.
Maddux, our second oldest had pneumonia before I left for the first week. He was better before I left town and was able to attend school the entire time I was gone. This week, however, he seemed to be ill again and we confirmed a pretty serious ear infection at his doctor’s office on Tuesday. So, he missed school. He is getting better now. But, we’ve had many breathing treatments and lots of prayers for our Maddux.
Bakri, our oldest, is doing great. He adjusted well to me being gone, but he loves having me home. He is really opinionated on which songs he likes best. Loving certain lyrics or guitar parts and wanting to hear them over and over. It’s fun. We had a field trip with his first grade class this week. He was awesome on his field trip. First graders are a little wild and kooky. What a fun and crazy age. His teacher promises me that they are not like that at school. Bakri was just happy to see the Birds and the California Sea Lions. He knows what he loves at the Houston Zoo.
Rebekah & Audrey
Being in Nashville and recording with my producer and friend, Marshall Altman afforded me so many amazing opportunities. One of those was the people I got to meet and the people I worked with. The musicians that played on the record are so unbelievably talented. I can’t wait to share with you more about each of them and let you hear the amazing work they did on this record. I am really blown away!
In addition to amazing musicians working on my album, one of my favorite artists- Audrey Assad came by the studio on one of her days off from touring. http://audreyassad.com/desktop/
She was refreshing, smart and talked with me about my “project” telling me she couldn’t wait to hear it as she headed out the door. Awesome. I became a fan of Audrey’s after finding her through Marshall. He produced her first album- House You’re Building and her most recent release- Heart. Both are amazing. Just listening to them would make any artist want Marshall Altman to produce their record. I’m just saying. 🙂 Oh, and, many of the musicians who played on “Heart” played on my record. Which, by the way, is still nameless. I think naming this record should be about the body of work as a whole. At least that’s how I am feeling at the moment. And, I think having that as a title of a track on the record is even better. It reinforces the direction and my hope for others as they listen and hopefully encourage others to listen too. I’ll get there soon. And, share it with you all.
Marshall Altman, Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam and Audrey Assad
Until then, keep looking up. And, keep knowing that I am eternally grateful to all of you who care about me and my family and this project that God has laid on my heart to share with many.
love,
Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

After 2 weeks in Nashville, here’s my album update…family update to come later!

Dear Friends,
I just want to say ‘thank you” again to all of you and give you a quick update on album production! I am home and enjoying being with my precious family this week.
I spent much of the last two weeks working and recording my debut album in Nashville with producer, Marshall Altman. It has been such an amazing experience so far and it wouldn’t be happening without you. Thank you for your preorders, your support, your prayers and your friendship. I am so excited for all of you to hear this record!
If your preorder included a t-shirt, I’ll be sending out an email to you requesting info soon. The album is still in production. We did three days of preproduction, 2 days of tracking with the band at the House of Blues studios, and 5 days of tracking lead vocals at the Galt Line Studios. Background vocals and more instruments are being tracked this week and in the next couple of weeks the tracks will go to be mixed by the sound engineer. He will spend an entire day mixing each song. A very detailed and necessary job! Once the mixing takes place we will have final approval before the tracks get “mastered.” All this to say, the album will not be ready in April as we hoped when the kickstarter campaign began.
However, you will still receive the album before it is released to the public and available on iTunes. As soon as I have a firm date, I will update you with that.
Until then, I’ll keep posting updates at www.rebekahme.com and I’ll keep thanking God for you!
Love,
Rebekah
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” Philippians 1:3
Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam
Rebekah, vocal tracking
A funny moment…tracking vocals, day 4
Rebekah working with producer, Marshall Altman
the Galt Line, Nashville

Home with the Els for Easter!

I returned home from Nashville for the weekend on Good Friday. I had the best weekend with my sweet husband and lovely babies. I put a few pictures here. But, basically my relaxing weekend went like this:
Landed in Houston on Good Friday
Husband and 2 children picked me up from the airport
Met Grandmother (my momma) and 2 youngest children to pick them up
Went to Minute Maid Park for Opening Day of the Astros
Stayed for Friday Night Fireworks!
Put all the tired ones to bed…
Saturday morning I cooked a giant breakfast- homemade pancakes, eggs, bacon, the works
Then, oldest Els had a tee-ball game with their dad and I had Easter worship rehearsal with the youngest Els.
After rehearsal and the game, we had a family lunch at Pappadeaux.
Then, playtime and family time at home mixed in with all the laundry for the week…which kind of piles up for 6 people. And, my in-laws came by to see the kids for Easter with baskets of Easter presents.
That evening, we had a wedding celebration dinner for our friends who were in town from Hawaii
The next morning was EASTER morning! So, the Easter bunny visited Saturday night and Trinity and I headed off to church at 730am, while the other children slept a little more.
Our church service started at 845. It was a beautiful celebration of Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed! My parents- grandfather and grandmother and my sister, Aunt Melinda, joined us for the service and celebration.
Afterwards, there was a church family brunch, butterfly release in the courtyard and an Easter egg hunt.
We’ve hosted Easter for both of our families for the last three years. This year, because of my recording schedule, we couldn’t host. I didn’t have time to roll grape leaves on Saturday or make my house presentable for our large family. But, I feel really passionately about having Lebanese Lamb and Rice filled Grape Leaves on Easter. I also feel really passionate about tradition. Grape leaves are a middle eastern dish. The vine is a very significant point of imagery in the bible. Jesus said “I am the vine and You are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” I just love this verse. Knowing that we are called to be the branches, bearing fruit, reaching out, making a difference.
So, while we were still with our church family, I started hearing this voice that said ,”Go to Phoencia and make grape leaves today.” I’m not sure who was speaking, but I answered. As we left church, I leaned over to Moustapha and said ,”I want to make grape leaves today.” So, we left church and he drove me to Phoenicia (which is now conveniently located downtown). I picked up everything I needed- ground lamb, lamb shanks, 2 16 oz. jars of grape leaves, lemons, green onion (I forgot mint), rice and I grabbed Labneh, fresh arabic bread and chick peas (to make fresh hummus for the week).
The kids had lunch at home and I spent the next 3 hours doing more laundry and rolling grape leaves. Our small family of 6 gathered around the table at 7pm that evening and we had the most amazing dinner. We celebrated, we prayed, we thanked God for Jesus and we loved on each other.  The truth is, I felt completely recharged when I returned to Nashville on Monday. Being with my husband and children and family and keeping busy all weekend didn’t leave me feeling drained, but rejuvenated and excited to sing my heart out this week. So, that is what I am doing now. I am singing my heart out. I am Praising God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all week. What a blessed way to celebrate Easter!

My newest blogpost on Kickstarter, a momma’s love

Update #3 from my kickstarter page: Thank you to each of you! Please share my page with your friends!

Posted about 1 hour ago


Dear Friends and Beloved Backers,
We are half way to our kickstarter goal with just 11 days left. We would not be this far without you, the album backers. So, THANK YOU! Thank you to my family, my friends (old and new), friends of friends and lovers of great music.  Your generosity and support early on, is what makes this process, a bit daunting at times, possible. My hope is in the Lord. He has opened the door and I’m faithful He will provide.

Please take a moment to share my page with your Facebook friends, put the link on your walls and email your friends. If each one of you had one additional friend pre-order my album at any of the levels, we would meet our goal. So, please share with others and ask them to pre-order the album. Oh- and comment on my main kickstarter page, please! You are amazing. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

All things are possible with God!

At the suggestion of someone who I love dearly, I am sharing a little bit about my family of origin and particularly my mother.
My love of music:
I grew up in a family surrounded by music. This was, for the most part because of my Momma. My mom started playing the piano when she was a young girl. She quickly learned how to play by ear. As an adult, she taught herself how to play the guitar. She wrote many songs in the sixties and seventies. Her songs are folk songs; beautifully written stories of family, struggles, life experiences and the hope we find in the Lord. My brother and sister’s lives were both very inspirational to my mother’s songwriting, as well as her family, heartache of a dear friend, her nephew going to war, and her relationship with her father. My sister has down syndrome. She was born eight years before me, when our brother was five years old. My Momma wrote a powerful song called “Please Bring Her to Me” expressing her desire to hold her new baby girl and just love her completely after the hospital hesitated to bring her to her. This song still touches on something so powerful that so many parents can connect with, that desire to have your children close, to protect them and make everything okay just by loving them unconditionally.

By the time I came along, there was less songwriting, but still plenty of music being made around the house. She was busy raising us, my dad was working two jobs and our family did a lot of activities and therapy to help my sister. Momma often sat on the fireplace as we gathered around and we would sing. I’m sure this is how harmonies became second nature to me. It was just what we did. We sang together, often the original songs my momma had written.

One day when I was in college I had a song stuck in my head. I called her to ask if it was hers because I was sure I had heard it on the radio. It was, in fact, one of her songs.

Growing up, when I asked to take violin lessons, she made it happen. She put me in piano lessons too. So many of the skills that I rely on now, I learned as a young girl.

I’m thankful to my Momma. I’m thankful that she had a gift that she shared with her family. That when money was sparse, music was everywhere. It lived through us, in us, carrying us through some of the most challenging times. 

Thanks for the music, Momma. It lives on and on. I love you. -Bekah

There is a first time for everything

Even in my thirties, well actually, especially in my thirties, it is thrilling to get to do something for the first time. This was one of those experiences for me. On Sunday, I was asked to sing the “anthem” song for the traditional service. I chose the song “Forever Reign” written by Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to play a very simple accompaniment at the piano and sing from my heart. So, I did. I feel really blessed to have had this opportunity to play and sing. It was a real humbling and wonderful experience for me. I have been amazingly blessed throughout my entire life to be able to sing with some of the most talented and gifted pianists around. So, honestly, it is hardly ever necessary for me to play for myself. But, I enjoyed it and hope you will too. Moustapha (my husband) recorded it from the balcony.

http://youtu.be/znemJYGHPic

Writing A Special New Song inspired by Leeland’s Baptism and a Powerful Song by Chris Medina

Sunday was a pretty special day for our family. We baptised our youngest child at our home church amongst friends and family. I led worship on this very special morning as well. And, when preparing for the message, felt inspired to write a new song entitled “Your Promises.” I would describe it as a very simple, soulful song that expresses the way I feel about my walk with God in the simplest of terms. There are times I felt like I was alone and I was making all of the wrong choices and yet, now, looking back I know that I was never alone and God was with me and carrying me through even the hardest of times. God has promised His Blessings and He fulfilled and fulfills that promise through His son Jesus. I am walking proof of God’s promises and in this song I describe how I feel each day as I “hold tight to Your promises.”  Our pastor shared the story of American Idol contestant, Chris Medina and then played his video which tells of His continued love and commitment to his fiance after she suffered brain injury in an accident. Lyrics to Chris Medina- What are Words To view the video we saw this week click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQY4dIxY1H4

If you haven’t seen it and/or heard it, get ready with the kleenex. It is a tear-jerker.
So, it was pretty impossible to sing the song “Your Promises” after watching this unbelievably emotional video and listening to this beautiful song. But, I believe it was meant to be and part of God’s plan for our service. I hope that the congregation knew could feel that I was singing from my heart. It is impossible to commit to be with someone and support them in the way Chris sings about without God’s love coming through you and without clinging to His promises. I am thankful to have so much life to look forward to in front of me and to know that God will never leave me. I will forever hold tight to His promises.