It started in sixth grade. Why don’t you just pretend to play?  Just move your fingers around, but don’t play.”  She was our new band teacher, and I, the young girl just learning to play the oboe.   Her words seeped down, wrapping their slimy fingers around my insecurities, and for the next year, I just pretended to play.  At our school concerts, I would sit there, reed in my mouth, fingers moving in the correct note patterns, but no sound coming out.  I stood up at the end with the rest of the band and gave my bow.  Why don’t I just keep pretending?  I’m apparently not good enough. People don’t even seem to notice.  I would sit in the practice room for my allotted time, not daring to make a squeak in case anyone heard the notes of imperfection. 

She was let go after that year, and in her place was a short, spunky woman who was determined to draw me out, to loosen the grip of those fingers that clung so tightly to my soul.  I was gripped with lies that I wasn’t good enough. That to hide my true self was better than possible rejection.

Six years later, I was able to get a small scholarship to play at a liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota. My new oboe instructor was a chain-smoking, eccentric woman.  Half way through the year, she said, “Danielle, you play like you’re scared. You play like you don’t want anyone to hear you.” She instructed me to fill the oboe with breath that came from down deep and blow out across to the very back corners of the room.  No hiding–fill the room with sound.  After taking a deep breath, I started, and sound sliced through the quietness of the room.  She stopped me, grabbed my shoulders, and said, “That’s what I’m talking about.  You don’t need to hide anymore.  That was beautiful.”

You don’t need to hide anymore. 

The following year, I was asked to accompany a Catholic girls’ school choir at the St. Paul Cathedral.  In this gorgeous, reverent place, there would be no room to hide.  What if I messed up?  What if they regretted asking me?

The choir was up in the balcony that sat at the back of the grand cathedral.  As they started singing, I waited until my section of the song came, a haunting oboe solo. The sound gathered in the domed ceiling and then poured out like from a bowl, and continued pouring out a glorious sound.  It was me, but amplified.  Could that sound be coming from this little oboe of mine?

This is the very picture of what Christ does in us. He wants to take our meager offerings, gather them in His bowl, and pour them out in a song grander than anything we could ever imagine or do on our own. The lies of our Enemy wrap tightly around us, trying to strangle any chance we have to make a noise.  The Devil would like us to believe that to hide is better than taking a step out.  That to fear our mistakes is better than actually making them.

Oh, but we’d be missing out on this glorious song of life that Christ has called us to!  How many times each day, do I have to take a deep breath and let Him blow out across the room, filling the spaces where I feel so lacking?  Those days when living in Cambodia, with the noise and the mess and the disastrous consequences of sin make me want to curl up in a ball.  When my language skills seem to be digressing instead of growing like so many of my teammates and I feel like a fool.  When my kids misbehave and I wonder how much of it is because I’m such a horrible mom.  When I can’t even serve my husband the way I know I need to.  When I feel the fear of rejection start to curl it’s way up my throat and seek to choke my joy.

I breathe.  I take that deep breath and blow out.  Letting Christ say, “You’re beautiful. You don’t need to hide.  Just keep going.”  It’s just me—amplified.

Where have you seen God amplify one of your meager offerings?

Photo Credit Miroslave Petrasko via compfigth 


  1. Ashley Felder January 13, 2014

    Love how you write, Danielle. I see myself in this story in so many ways! My meager offering was studying Chinese. God is funny, ya know? After undergrad, I said I was done studying. Done. I loved school as a kid, but beyond done as a 20-something. Then we moved to China and after 2 years of struggling to learn the numbers and colors (yep, I was that girl), my husband and others nudged me to study full-time. It was hard. I had to swallow so many other failures, including some big ones tied to learning (and failing) Spanish. But, He saw me through. He was there to comfort when I ran out of the classroom, bawling because I felt like the only idiot in the room. And He was there smiling when I had my first language victories. As said on here before, now I’m on the completely other side, ready to advocate for Mommas to study. So thankful for what seemed–and was at times–such a terrifying opportunity!

    1. Danielle January 15, 2014

      Way to go! I admire anyone who is able to study language full time.  So glad that people were there to encourage you in the right direction and that on the other side of a rather terrifying time, you can be thankful for it and see its worth.

      1. Danielle January 15, 2014

        I totally didn’t mean to paste a huge picture of myself on here. Ha ha.

        1. M'Lynn January 16, 2014

          that’s awesome 🙂

  2. Amy Young January 13, 2014

    Danielle, I love that one person can begin to undo the wrong done by another … or at leas open the door and invite us to live in a different way. As to one of my meager offerings. in just the last week, though I’m sitting here in Colorado, I have seen God take my willingness to skype with people in Indonesia and India and somehow use me to bless them. It’s all so bizarre how God can take and amplify and bless. Bizarre and humbling 🙂

    1. Amy Young January 13, 2014

      and beautiful! Didn’t mean to end on “bizarre!”

      1. Danielle January 15, 2014

        Thanks for continuing to let God use you wherever you live! I’m sure your experience and insight is so helpful for others.

  3. Kristi January 15, 2014

    These two sentences spoke to me “The Devil would like us to believe that to hide is better than taking a step out.  That to fear our mistakes is better than actually making them.”  Oh, how easily our thoughts get twisted.  I have thought that if I didn’t try that I couldn’t really fail.  Without trying we don’t learn.  Without trying we don’t grow. Without trying we miss out on being blessed and being a blessing.  Without trying we miss out on grace.  We miss out on seeing our Father work.  Without trying is the only we can actually fail.  We fail to experience the awe and wonder of the King of the Universe using us to build His Kingdom.

    1. Danielle January 15, 2014

      Good word, Kristi!  I needed this reminder today to really try something that is kind of freaking me out.  I hope that you continue to step out in faith and experience Him in new ways this year.

  4. M'Lynn January 16, 2014

    I read this this morning and I’ve been thinking about it all day.  Great piece, Danielle!  Not sure if this quite answers the question, but it’s what came to mind.  My helper is a sister and she is always serving her fellowship in amazing ways.  For Christmas, we gave her a huge block of cheese to use to make pizza for her fellowship (3.5 pounds of mozerella). I taught her how to make pizza and now they are crazy about it. That very day she showed up to a meeting, and without knowing about the huge block of cheese in her backpack the group was like “hey let’s make pizza today and share it with this group of blind guys who are visiting that we are sharing the news with. oh, but we don’t have any cheese!” and then my helper is like…look at this! I have a backpack full of cheese! They made 8 pizzas and still had 2/3 of the cheese left. 🙂  

    1. Danielle January 16, 2014

      I would have loved to have seen those women’s faces when she pulled out the huge block of cheese!  What a great story!

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