How are the ELS!?

Summer 2012 is almost here and we have been super busy this Spring. The kids are all doing really well. We had a spell with a couple of them struggling with respiratory issues, but all seems to be much better now. Here is an update on all of the ELS.
Trinity is 3 and a half years old. She is just finishing preschool. And, she had her dance recital last week. She is a wonderful dancer, full of energy and ideas. She loves to make new friends, tell stories and learn about family history. She still has a very low and unique sounding speaking voice. It’s fun to hear her talk. And, she talks with those big brown eyes too.

Leeland will turn 2 this Summer. He is so much fun. He loves his siblings so very much and enjoys doing everything that they do. He really loves baseball and has mastered his swing along with sound effects. He’ll also say “homerun” or “strike” when he (pretend) hits the ball. He was on breathing treatments for several weeks and as I would hold him in my lap he would point to the television with the remote control saying “baseball, baseball, baseball.” I would (sometimes) let him watch part of a game if I could find one on tv. He is a joy!

Trinity’s dance recital

Moustapha and I attended a friend’s wedding at the Hyatt Lost Pines. This is a pic from the golf cart ride to the wedding ceremony.

Listening to my album mixes has become a regular occurance for all of us. Luckily, the kids all really like the music. I’m hoping they are a good test market for the target audience. ūüôā If so, we’re making a really popular cd.

Bakri is nearly finished with first grade. It has been a wonderful year of growth for him. He has made some great friends. And, his reading abilities have amazed us. He loves to read big books and will spend hours reading. He is also great at spelling and art. Here he is on “all art day” doing a chalk painting on the sidewalk of his interpretation of Boats at Saintes-Marie. He still loves baseball and he and Maddux have enjoyed another year of playing on the same team.

Maddux, second from the left, is five and a half years old. He is graduating from pre-k soon and he will officially be a kindergartener. He loves his school and friends. Maddux learned to read and write this year. It helps to have an older child working along side other children. So, while Bakri was working on reading, Maddux was picking it up too. Now he can read everything. He will tell me when I’m in a left turn only lane or that I’m not supposed to cross a double white line¬†or read any sign on the side of the road. He keeps me on my toes and remembers everything!

Trinity at the water park

Leeland, Maddux and Bakri

We are looking forward to a fun Summer. My album will be finished soon, so I will have lots of work to do as far as marketing and delivering all the products to those that pre-ordered it. It’s an exciting time. We’ll try to swim a lot and play a lot this Summer too. Enjoy your Summer. Enjoy your life. It’s a gift. “Give thanks to the Lord. For He is good, so good to us!”

Many blessings,
-Rebekah

I was really encouraged by so many of you after my last post. Telling you that I’ve had doubts in my life, and that I’ve been discouraged, at times, by the words of others was difficult. It was humbling. But, it was honest. And, many of you said you have felt the same thing in your own lives and that it encouraged you to hear a little of my story.
So, that got me to thinking about the power that we have to encourage one another. When we see gifts in our friends, let’s tell them.
Do you have a friend who is an encourager? Tell him/her. Let them know what it means to you to see them encouraging others and how they are making a difference. Do you have a friend who has the gift of great counsel? Do they listen well and give great advice? Are they wise? Tell them. Are they a gifted photographer, artist, amazing mother or father, teacher, singer, community leader, blogger, friend, etc.? Tell them! I know that the negative words that are said can have such a powerful impact, almost crippling us from doing the things that we should do. But, I believe that we can overcome the negativity, and overcome those that just want to discourage us, by rising above and choosing to encourage others. I believe that God intends for us to do just that. Just a thought for this Friday.
Isaiah 40:28-31 says:
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The¬†Lord¬†is the everlasting God,¬†the creator of the ends of the earth.¬†He doesn‚Äôt grow tired or weary.¬†His understanding is beyond human reach,¬†giving power to the tired¬†and reviving the exhausted.¬†Youths will become tired and weary,¬†young men will certainly stumble;¬†but those who hope in the¬†Lord¬†will renew their strength;¬†they will fly up on wings like eagles;¬†they will run and not be tired;¬†they will walk and not be weary.”
And, below I share with you a photo of something I looked at everyday while in Nashville. It reminded me of several special ladies in my life who I love with all of my heart. Ladies that encouraged me every chance they got. I don’t believe this sign in this place was an accident. God is reminding me that He is with me. To wait. To be ready. To encourage others and to be encouraged. Be blessed, dear friends. Love, Rebekah
Thinking of Nannie
and Momma in Nashville

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!

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!

WHAT I WAS MADE TO DO….

How many times have you heard that said and wondered “how do you know?” “How do you really know what you were made to do?”

Here is how my calling (God’s calling on my life) came to be known by me:

The first gift. I began singing just after learning to whistle and before I could talk. I’ve witnessed this with a couple of my own children, an ability to sing the tune of “Ode to Joy” before ever uttering an understandable word. So, I believe this to be true.

A relationship that will never end. As I sat on the edge of my bed, at the age of 8. I heard Him call my name. And, I answered. I asked Him to come into my life. I asked Him to be Lord of my life and to live through me. On that day, in 1985, I asked Jesus into my heart. It was the start of something that would change me forever.

Opportunity. When asked to sing, I said yes. Even if my peers made fun of me. Or, I knew it was the 20th time I’d sung the National Anthem that year, I still said “yes.” And, I was happy to sing any chance I was given. This opportunity also started young. I was blessed to be able to sing at a young age and have adults in my life who recognized this gift and wanted to help me.

Falling in love. I always loved singing. It was a passion. It was a gift. But, it wasn’t until I fell in love with worship, true uninhibited worship, free before our God, that I learned to sing from my whole self, my whole heart, my entire me. While living in Los Angeles, in one of the most difficult times of my life, I found a little church in Eagle Rock. In that church, and by church, I mean in that group of Christ-loving people, I experienced true worship. The worship pastor, Tommy Walker, taught the congregation how to worship through his example. The music was some of the best I had ever heard. The message was tender and true and we experienced it fully. We used to sing a song “I Will Never Be.”¬†Some of the¬†lyrics that I will never forget,”I will never be the same again. I can never return. I’ve closed the door. I will walk the path. I will run the race. And, I will never be the same again.” Those lyrics were true to me then and they are still true now. Once I experienced worship in a true way and experienced God like never before, I will never return from that. I can’t go back and “unknow” what I know now. I know Him and I connect with Him in a very real way through worship in song.

More opportunity. When my husband and I moved to Houston we pretty quickly found a church home. We were busy with being a newly-married couple and soon we were expecting our first son. After his birth, our church began searching for a new worship leader for the contemporary service. I had no experience with this, so I just kept enjoying the guest worship leaders and prayed that God would bring the right person to lead worship. After a nine month search, the new worship leader was announced. He was coming from California with his brand new wife. Before he arrived, an announcement was made asking for volunteers for the worship band. I listened to the announcement and heard the call. “Do you have a musical gift?” “Please contact us.” “We would love to have you participate in worship leadership if you feel led.” That was me. I knew that I needed to call, email, respond. And, so I did. Soon after, the new worship leader arrived in Houston and he was arranging the band for his very first Sunday. He emailed me and we set a time for me to come to his office. He played guitar, sang the melody and I harmonized. He quickly asked me if I could join the team this Sunday. And, so began a two year journey of learning and leading and worshipping, and learning and leading. I sang every Sunday until the worship leader was called back to California. During the next search for a worship leader, my church gave me the opportunity to lead with our band. It was during this time that God gave me my first original worship song, “Hallelujah, I love you.” This, to date, is the only song I have recorded. And, that was just out of the kindness of our bassist’s heart. He had the equipment and offered to record the song.

One door closes and the gate opens to a new and clear path. When our friends were called back to California and our church brought in another worship leader, a door closed. It was clear. It was hard. It was hurtful. God kept bringing to mind the life of Joseph. In particular Genesis 50:19-21 (from The Message) “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now‚ÄĒlife for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart. ” I knew that God had a plan for me, a plan for good and not for harm. And, I knew that God was calling me to do more with worship, with music, with worship leading, with writing, with praising, with glorifying Him. When I no longer had a place to do that at my home church, my husband and I knew we were being called elsewhere. But, where? God made the path clear. We began visiting churches in the Summer of 2008. Most were churches we had heard about, driven by or found online. Our church home now, is a little over a mile from our home and at this time they had a VBS sign hanging on the iron fence along the main street. I saw this and thought it would be perfect to send our oldest son. And, we could visit this church around the same time we were bringing him to VBS, so he would be comfortable in a new environment. We enjoyed our visit. The people were kind, friendly and welcoming. But, it was change and change is hard. We didn’t know anybody and we were leaving a place where we had made many lasting friendships. Soon after our visit, I received an email from the pastor. He asked us of our thoughts on VBS and our experience as visitors and he mentioned that he heard about my singing and leading worship and he wanted to visit with me about possible opportunities there. I remember receiving that email and trying not to get too excited. Could this be the answer? Could God be providing the place for me to use the gifts He has given me?

Saying yes now. Well the answer was “yes!” Soon after, I began leading worship at St. Andrew’s and now I have been there for 3 years and 4 months. My job has been an amazing gift to me and to my family. I work half-time and I really believe that has offered me the space and time to write music. The band has been a huge help. As God has given me a new song, I am able to present it to the band with a scratched out chord chart, sing along and viola! we have a beautiful new worship song. And, to be affirmed in the gifts God has given me, over and over again. I know God has given me the gift of worship, the gift of worship-writing and now is the time. I have this gift right now. So, I am not going to take it for granted. I am going to use it. I am going to lift my praises high and encourage you to do so. I’m going to work so very hard to make an album that is true, genuine, heartfelt, beautiful and a reflection of God in me. I am thankful for you, my first album backers. I ask that you continue to pray for me, for my family and to pray with us for God to continue to direct more backers to kickstarter to make this album for Him a reality.

How do I know this is God’s calling? I have been affirmed in the gifts God has given me, over and over again. I know God has given me the gift of worship, the gift of worship-writing and now is the time. I have this gift right now. So, I am not going to take it for granted. I am going to use it. I am going to lift my praises high and encourage you to do so. I’m going to work so very hard to make an album that is true, genuine, heartfelt, beautiful and a reflection of God in me. I am thankful for you, my first album backers. I ask that you continue to pray for me, for my family and to pray with us for God to continue to direct more backers to kickstarter to make this album for Him a reality. Please share my page with your friends. And, thank you for being a part of God’s calling in my life. I am grateful for you.Much love,

Rebekah

2 Corinthians 4:6 Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rebekahme/help-rebekah-maddux-el-hakam-make-her-debut-10-son

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.