And As For My Next Steps…

A few weeks ago, I graduated Summa Cum Laude and School of Business Class of 2016 Valedictorian from Howard University. I used to get really antsy when people would ask me my plans and next steps. I speculated they were anticipating I’d boast about a well-paying, full-time entry position in someone’s corporate office. “First,” I’d shrug with a half smile, “I’m going on vacation.” Which I certainly did…and it was absolute bliss!

Now, though I still feel that tug, at times, to be embarrassed like my unconventional path is somehow less-than (as much as I know otherwise), I take the opportunity to share how God has been growing my faith and allowing me opportunities to pursue my music. I employ my marketing degree for a shameless plug about my first single, Come Ye, and how people can show the love by buying it on iTunes and sharing the link to my website…hint hint.

Fighting through the doubts and the fears that come with not knowing for sure what tomorrow looks like has never been my forte. However, as I embrace life as a college graduate with just a dream and a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), and LOTS of support (that cannot be understated), this verse I wrote a couple months ago is my particular prayer for my new season:

 

Place me in a garden where

you’ve designed for my work

to help the flowers grow.

I want to be where my purpose lies

where the passion you’ve bestowed

drives my flow.

Bring the people in my life you desire.

Let them aid me on my path

to glorify You alone.

Lord, place me in your garden

so I can grow!

 

 

Words for a Fortune

I’d like to introduce you all to someone I love and admire. Chiereme is a sweet soul and a brilliant creative who also uses her gifts to impart healing truths.  You may not know her yet, but you’ll soon be giving thanks for her inspirational literary art, as I already am. Her message speaks to some incredible experiences women face, some universal insecurities, and some comforting realities about beauty. Having been privileged to hear and see her deliver such meaningful, original bars on more than one occasion, I’ve concluded I’d like to learn her perspective on writing lyrics, processing situations as an artist, identifying inspiration, and the like. Here’s what she had to say in the following mini-interveiw:

  1. When did you begin writing spoken word and/or songs? When did you discover your passion for writing? 

    I’ve been writing as long as I can remember! I’ve always had a passion/fascination with word(s), books and great stories. I got my first Barbie journal when I was about 6, and I have’t stopped journaling since then. I actually started doing spoken word on accident. A friend of mine had progressed from poetry to rap and initially wanted me to sing on one of his mix-tapes. As soon as I agreed, he change(d) his request to writing a verse to rap instead of sing. I kept telling him I wasn’t a rapper, though I was dabbling in poetry for the page. He referenced his journey from poet to rapper and challenged me to try. I tried and what came out was my first spoken word/song piece, You Are. I’ve been slightly obsessed with spoken word, intriguing word-play and the artist that create similar art forms ever since.

  2. What inspires you to write?

    My journey. The stress of life. The joys of life. Other poets. The Word of God and His presence throughout my everyday life.

  3. What kinds of emotions allow you to write most productively?

    The people, situations and experiences that cut me deep. Humbling experiences. Moments when I can’t stop smiling. And the scratch-my-head-moments that make me  wonder why in the world Jesus chose me.

  4. Whom are you hoping your art will impact most?

    Specifically, women in my season of life (16-35), learning to be still, learning when to move and learning themselves as they dig deeper into who God is – some for the first time. 

  5. About which subjects do you write most often? Why?

    I write mostly about my own experiences – loving, learning, living, winning and losing. My poems seem to always true back to ideas like identity, personal reflection and the contrast between what we do and how God responds.

  6. If you were to sum up everything you’ve written into one key theme/message, what would that theme/message be?

    Becoming the woman God created me to be one messy day, vulnerability hangover, question mark, season, and hallelujah at a time. 

    Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what inspires Chiereme’s art, I bet you want to check out some of her work… Here’s where you can find it:

Timbo’s at the Door

Sometimes doors fly open. Don’t let them hit you in the face and knock you down. Anticipate them and take advantage of chances to practice your approach and your delivery. I’m learning.

Last weekend, I navigated some inviting opportunities. I was supposed to perform Come Ye at a function on my campus, but other obligations conflicted with the rehearsal schedule. I wasn’t meant to walk through that door, and thankfully I didn’t bother picking the lock, because I would have been too preoccupied to notice another that swung right open.

Quick background before I explain door #2… When I was in high school, my dad introduced me to Leon Timbo‘s music. For those who are unfamiliar, I liken him to a male India.Arie, so to speak. His tone is enchanting. His sound is soothing. His acoustic guitar playing is masterful. Inspired, I bought and played his songs over…and over…and over.

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PC: 3lindvision photography

Okay, fast forward to last Friday… In addition to finally hearing Timbo live, one of my favorites was gracious enough to share his stage and let me open the show. Right… how Sway?

Well, a dear friend and sweet soul (Thanks boo!) introduced me to her connects, advocated on my behalf, and trusted me to show up prepared. And, to make a long story short, I just held onto resources, words of wisdom from lovely people, tons of support, and collected experiences & skills, and trusted God to walk me through the door He’d assigned. He’d been piecing together my path to that point all along.

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PC: 3lindvision photography

For instance, I’ve sung and played Come Ye so much that I should be sick of it. I’ve journaled, contemplated, drafted/redrafted web content, and hash tagged enough on social media that I’ve become comfortable introducing myself and communicating my main message succinctly. I carry my track and/or guitar with me wherever I go. When people ask how they can find me, I know exactly where to direct them. In fact, I was able to share with an eagerly receptive audience that night how they could search “Maya Elizabeth” and buy my first single on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and other online music distributors (I know I’m not slick…Shameless plug).

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PC: 3lindvision photography

Of course, I’ve got plenty of additional prep work and practice ahead of me. I’m learning as I go, but I’ve got to be ready to get going if I really intend to learn anything. This incredible opportunity has played a roll in my continued development, introduced me to more creatives with amazing talent, and (by faith) will lead to doors on doors on open doors.

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Timbo, Christen B, & Me

PC: 3lindvision photography 

My One Thing

 

There is nobody

who loves me the way

you love me.

Even though I’m just nobody

You chose ME to be somebody…

 

So…this cover is kind of old…but lyrically still relevant to my life. I adapted the tune from a familiar song (I’m more than positive you’ll pick up on it).

 

 

So take this offering.

I lay me down at your feet.

You were once

just a something,

but now You are

my one thing…

© Maya E. Hairston

 

You’re Lovable

Psalm 139 poetically describes the purest and most dynamic love any being could have for another. The writer’s tone conveys an unparalleled and incomprehensible intimacy between the Creator (the subject) and His workmanship (the voice). I’d encourage you to read the Psalm for yourself, but, from my reflections, here is a summary and proof that you are, indeed, lovable:

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  1. He knows you. He examines you as His flawless craftsmanship. You are a masterpiece. He studies your every move, watching as everything He foreknew comes to fruition. Yes, He knows you extremely well (1-6).
  2. He follows you. His presence envelops you even in your darkest moment. He, in fact, has conquered your darkness with His inextinguishable light (7-12). Yes, He is with you, no matter where you go.Image-1-2.jpg
  3. He anticipated your arrival. He watched carefully and patiently as your delicate intricacies developed. He saw everything you were, and everything you would become. Yes…even before you were aware (13-16).
  4. He thinks about you…fondly and often. Yes, just as He is ever-present in your life, your valuable life is ever-present in His mind (17-18).Image-1-3.jpg
  5. He woos you. He shows you His perspective. He unveils the truth about your surroundings and the habits they influence. He offers redemption. Yes, though you were once what you now despise, you cling to Him all the more because He opened your eyes (19-24).

You’re Lovable (Shine)

Don’t listen to them…

those lies in your head.

You’re lovable!

Don’t let ’em tell you,

“you’ll never be more.”

I know you will,

because I’ve spoken

and it’s written in my Word.

Check Psalm 139.

I made you so fine.

Yes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So, I’m gonna shine my light

into your dark place

and pull you out,

because I want to see you shine for me one day.

But you’ve gotta believe…

you’ve gotta receive the gift I gave

for you to live.

I love you…

© Maya E. Hairston, 2011

Here’s How You Know You’re Doing Exactly What You’re Supposed To

Last week I officially launched what I’m referring to as my music movement. I published my website (http://www.mayaelizabethmusic.com) and made my first single, Come Ye, available for listening. Several individuals have asked how I feel about this exciting new journey, and with everything else going on in my life, my most honest answer is simply that I’m overwhelmed. I’m starting to process what it means to finally begin releasing my music and exposing my magnum opus, so to speak (at least to this point in my life), and wanted to share two realities I believe confirm I’ve made the right decision in pursuing this path. Encountering the following factors strongly suggests you’re moving in exactly the direction you ought.

First, when your choices and actions align with your purpose, their outcomes positively, and, I’d dare say, divinely impact others’ lives. You can’t possibly know all that everyone within your immediate or extended reach might endure. When what you produce, share, represent, express, or reveal meets multiple people–all from varying backgrounds, circumstances, experiences, etc.–exactly where they are, at exactly the right time, with the exact message, revelation, or encouragement they need, there is no explanation apart from the Supernatural. In these instances, you can rest assured that you’re operating not just in your strengths, but, moreover, in your gift-guided, God-granted, duty-driven destiny. You’re totally tapped into your best offering to honor your Creator, and your most productive and fulfilling contribution to empower the rest of creation.

But, also, you know you’re succeeding in your life’s mission when you face unparalleled opposition. If doing what you’re supposed to was easy, everyone would choose wisely, but the road less traveled is exactly that… Whether you choose to believe it or not, destructive forces work continually and all the more diligently against your progress when you determine to let faith lead you. The day after I’d launched and supporters flooded my timeline and inbox with exciting affirmations, my elation began to subside and give itself over to discouragement. For every lovely thought, it seemed there were ten more negative, doubting, anxious lies screaming, “Defeat! You’ve done nothing of real worth. Busy yourself. Your work was in vain. You deserve no rest.” And the worst lie of all…”Fraud! You barely embrace the hope your lyrics boast.” That was the final straw… That’s when I knew my enemy was in full-fledged attack mode. That’s when I realized rehearsing the truth was even more relevant and necessary than before.

So I’ve resolved: Yes, it’s true. I don’t have it all together. No, I’m not worthy of my gift and its potential impact. However, I know, even beyond my doubts, that my Creator commands my courage (Joshua 1:9). He demands that I suit up for battle to withstand the spiritual forces that rattle my mind (Ephesians 6). And, finally, He has already empowered, equipped, and authorized me to rightfully claim victory (Psalm 118:14)! These are just facts, and they’ve never brought more comfort than they have this past week.

Perhaps you identify with the two realities I’ve just explained. Keep on pressing. You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to.

Come Ye

I’ve never been diagnosed as clinically depressed, but I can identify with the physical toll sadness and doubt take when they manifest. I naturally internalize my thoughts, busy myself unnecessarily, and place a lot of pressure on myself. As a result, I have struggled with acknowledging and addressing my emotions in a healthy manner instead of waiting until stress forces them to surface. Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I had just taken a long shower to try clearing my thoughts, shut off all the lights so that my dorm room was as dark as I felt, and was crying myself to sleep.

Growing up, my dad often encouraged me to overcome anxious and burdensome thoughts by pondering freeing truths. In my attempts to refocus my thinking that night, I very clearly heard my Creator whisper the lyrics that became Come Ye. That night lying in bed, this new tune was as plain and precise as a familiar melody, and the lyrics that accompanied it flowed with incredible ease. The moment was unquestionably divine. Weeks later, I stumbled upon this passage:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I was never meant to bear the burdens I place on myself. In order to live an abundant life, exercise my gifts to their fullest potential, and impact the world, I have to first resolve that I will be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6).

For me, this song provides healing, speaks truth, and boasts of the Creator’s unfailing love. And now, it is my absolute pleasure to announce that I’ve launched the #MayaElizabeth music movement, and Come Ye, my first single, is available for listening at http://www.mayaelizabethmusic.com.

Come Ye Cover

As always, my hope is that others will experience the same positivity and encouragement when they listen to and connect with my music. So, for a reminder of where to turn in the midst of weakness, overbearing doubt, emotional depletion, and/or all of the above, take a listen to  Come Ye as you meditate on these lyrics:

Chorus

Yes, I will be

Your protection from the enemy

he’s not ahead of me

 

and I will snatch you up

and hold you

when you’re falling and you’re

falling fast

 

Don’t loose your faith

But know that I can handle your doubts

You might not see it

But I’m already moving

Right here, right now