About tinapumfrey

I am a singer-songwriter and performing artist in southwestern Ontario. My first full-length album. "Where God Is" was officially released in January, 2015. Whether performing solo or with my band of amazingly talented musicians, I love meeting new people through sharing music. I have been making music for as long as I can remember. Through all the changes in my life, music has remained a constant. Being a wife, a mom and a full-time music educator makes my life pretty busy already, but I squeeze music into every hour I can. Writing, practicing, working with my amazing band members, putting on shows, meeting fans and hearing comments from people I've never met keeps me positive and energized. I love getting the music out there, and the messages it carries with it: God is always with us, ready to help us as long as we invite Him in!

A Fresh Coat of Paint

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The front door on our house has been left unpainted for nine years. It’s not quite as awful as it sounds–the factory primer was still in great shape, although in a uniform non-colour of almost-white. Every summer, I make a ridiculously long list of jobs to do around home, and every September, I’m disappointed by what I didn’t get finished. This summer, the exterior doors were at the top of the list, because I wished I had gotten them done last year.

Early on Monday morning, before taking three of our teens to work at a local greenhouse, I snapped this photo. On my way home, I stopped in at the hardware store in our small town and picked up the colour I had chosen. My body still aching from some much bigger tasks that I’d taken on last week, I was looking forward to checking a smaller job off my list.

One coat of primer and two coats of red later, 20170718_093538I was feeling pretty satisfied with my work, but then I started to notice some of the flaws. Although I’ve done quite a lot of painting over the years, it’s definitely been a while. Little things I should have remembered were causing me trouble; like, when I took the tape off, and a significant amount of paint started to peel off with it. Or when insects would fly onto the fresh surface and stick there until I came out to do the next coat. So now, I’m done, but not really done, because the touch-ups will take some time.

As I worked, I wondered if this is how God feels about us. Sometimes I think we all might as well hang a “Work in Progress” sign around our necks, because we are all ongoing, unfinished improvement projects. I’ve been given a fresh coat of paint, so to speak, more than once, only to mess it up, sometimes royally. I know I’ve had more touch-ups than I could even try to count. I wonder if God grumbles about my mess-ups the way I did when I noticed the almost-dried drip running down below the doorknob, just one more spot I will need to fix.

I hope he doesn’t. I still need a lot more work.

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A Song for Sunday–We Are

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We Are–James Tealy, Hillary McBride, Chuck Butler, Ed Cash

Every secret, every shame
Every fear, every pain
Live inside the dark
But that’s not who we are
We are children of the day

So wake up, sleeper, lift your head
We were meant for more than this
Fight the shadows, conquer death
Make the most of the time we have left

Today felt like one of “those” days, for no good reason. On the surface, all was well. I got to sleep in. My husband made breakfast for the family. We got to spend time together as we did a few things around the house and the yard. But in spite of how smoothly the day was going, I was a bit anxious and edgy, although I couldn’t say exactly why.

Since I am now the music director for the evening Mass every Sunday, I grabbed my phone and listened to “We Are” on YouTube while tackling the laundry and a few other chores. This was the new song for tonight. I know myself well enough to know that sometimes, the anxiety just needs to be pushed aside, so I worked away at the song and hoped that it would go well–not just for my sake, but for the people I would be leading.

Once we arrived at the church, I was finally able to calm my mind and settle into the prayerful atmosphere. As I listened to the readings, and as I led the music, I felt that wonderful, familiar peace come over me. In spite of all the worries that had been hanging over me all day–worries that I couldn’t quite identify, but still couldn’t chase away–I felt calm. As I played and sang, I felt like I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. I can’t say I always know that I am doing what God intends for me, but when I do, there’s nothing like it, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We are the light of the world
We are the city on a hill
We are the light of the world
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine

Whatever your light for the world is, don’t hide it. Push aside the uncertainty, the doubts, the obstacles that might be in your way. Let your light shine, because that’s how God’s work gets done. However small each of us might be, we can all make a difference in our own way, a way that no one else can quite duplicate.

And with all the challenges out there–watch the evening news for a few minutes, on the off chance that you don’t know what I mean–it would seem that the world really needs more light right now.

We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine

Reviving a Voice

About eighteen months ago, I realized that I was having trouble with my voice. I chalked it up to my job, and tried to be careful with it for the last six weeks of the school year. I figured that taking the summer to rest it should do the trick. A few higher-profile gigs went well, so I thought things were going fine.

Then school started again. I went into the first day feeling optimistic. I finished the day in tears. I called my doctor before I even left the building to go home. A small knot of fear began to grow in my mind, but I tried to push it back.

My doctor referred me to a specialist. That specialist assured me I had no vocal nodes (yay!) and referred me to a speech pathologist. She, in turn, gave me some vocal exercises, as well as some tips to better manage my voice: drink more water, get more sleep, stress less. She also said that my jaw was misaligned, and that I needed to get that looked at.

Now I understood why my mouth sloped noticeably in my passport picture and driver’s license photo, but I didn’t know what to do about it or who to see. My dentist referred me to a TMJ specialist, which led to the decision to get braces on my teeth.

bracesYes, it’s true. The underlying problem with my voice turned out to be my crooked teeth and uneven bite. But I had no idea just how many other things were tied into that situation. Part of the assessment involved answering a series of questions about aches and pains here and there, and strange things like watering eyes (yes, I had that) and numbness in my fingers (yes, I had that, too). When the specialist asked me how many days out of 30 I experienced pain, I said “Thirty”. My husband looked surprised, and sad for me. I honestly hadn’t thought about it much–it had crept up gradually, and I think I assumed that everyone felt the way I did, so there was no point in complaining.

During that first appointment, I was given a simple silicone appliance to wear between my upper and bottom teeth. Within MINUTES, my headache began to dissipate. The knotted muscles in my upper back began to relax. The pain across the front of my shoulders actually WENT AWAY. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I hadn’t been in pain.

My voice soon began to improve as well. After six months of cancelling gigs, and being unable to make it through a few songs, I called a band practice and got back at it! I don’t want to take any chances with my restored voice. I have been seeing a voice teacher to correct any bad habits, and to give me new ways to keep my voice strong. I’ve been taking bookings, writing, and practicing with enthusiasm. It feels great to be back, and I’m confident that it will be better than ever! If God had wanted me to be silent, I was determined to accept it, but it would have been very difficult. I’m not foolish enough to think there are no surprises ahead. Life has a way of throwing curves, but for now, I am so thankful to have my voice back!

microphonePhoto credits: wisegeekhealth.com and commons.wikimedia.com

 

A Song for Sunday–The River

The River — Jordan Feliz

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside
A current that moves and makes it come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

Plenty of songs go right by me when I have the radio on. If I were asked 10 minutes later what I’d just heard, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Every once in a while, though, something grabs my attention, and in those cases, Shazam is my favourite tool. It identifies songs for me, and then saves them so I can look them up later.

This is one of those songs. It didn’t just go by, it struck me as authentic, worth a careful listen, because I could hear something genuine in his singing. Curious, I checked out Jordan Feliz’s official site. This comes straight from his About page:

Some years from now, the name Jordan Feliz might be the obvious answer to a trivia question that goes something like this:

 

What artist launched his career as a hard-touring heavy metal singer, then switched gears to become a church worship leader, before finally signing a Nashville record deal and making his mark as a songwriter and soulful R&B-groove-pop artist?

Well, if the question comes up some day, you’ll already know the answer: Jordan Feliz.

So that’s where the authenticity comes from: he’s lived it. Switching gears like that means redefining yourself, first of all within yourself, then to the people around you. This takes courage, conviction, perseverance. This takes faith. I don’t know the details of Jordan’s story, and what made him do a U-turn. What matters is that he did it, and through his music, he is sharing his story and acting a witness for others.

The most inspiring U-turn in the Bible is arguably the story of St. Paul. He is one of my favourite saints, just because of the sheer nerve I believe it would have required to change direction as he did. He was one of the fiercest persecutors of the new Christians, actively tracking down believers in order to have them arrested and imprisoned. (Summary here, Bible passage here). His powerful encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus led him to change his entire life. He became an apostle himself, bringing the gospel to the gentiles. In the process, the former persecutor became persecuted himself. He was a very powerful and effective witness for God because of the change he lived out in his own life.

It’s obvious that God chose St. Paul for a special mission, but what about us? We can all be witnesses to our faith, and it doesn’t have to be in spectacular ways. The way we live our lives every day can be powerful, because

There is only one type of person God has used powerfully throughout history: He does incredible things with the people who make themselves available to him; it is the prerequisite for mission.

— Matthew Kelly, Beautiful Mercy

If we think we aren’t good enough in some way, if we worry about what others might think or say, or if we listen to any number of possible excuses, fear can hold us back. Maybe a U-turn is needed in your life–I’ve been through a couple of my own–and you wonder if you have the courage to embrace it. That’s where prayer comes in. Instead of listening to the fear, we can choose to be hopeful. We can think about what we are able to do, rather than what we think we can’t do. We can choose to be open to God’s lead, instead of relying only on ourselves. When we make ourselves available, incredible things happen!

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

Mountains and Cornfields

Mountain / Daily Prompt

20160615_200142(1)This is a picture of my backyard, sort of. Our home is bordered by fields, and a few scattered wind turbines off in the distance. Not a mountain in sight!

 

 

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When I was working in Japan, I could see Mount Fuji on clear days as I walked around the Yazaki Danchi where I was living. This photo was taken from the window of a flight back from Hong Kong. I couldn’t resist capturing it as it thrust its mighty volcanic shoulders above the clouds, while its smaller, more weathered neighbours stayed hidden below.

 

pic ski 2Here in Canada, I have skied down a few mountains, from the tiny resort near Trois-Rivières where I first learned to go downhill without breaking anything, to the more intimidating Mont Ste-Anne.These pictures show a trip to Stoneham, during an exchange spent with a wonderfully welcoming host family in Quebec while I was in high school. I paid a surprise visit to my exchange parents last summer, after (gasp!) 27 years, and then visited with Nancy herself the following weekend. We enjoyed catching up, sharing stories about our children, nieces and nephews, our careers, and do-you-remember-so-and-so, all while helping to translate back and forth for our non-bilingual families. I was saddened to learn that her brother Steve, the one on the right on the photo, passed away suddenly ten years ago from a brain tumour. I remember him as being so full of life, always smiling, forever joking about my novice skiing skills as he expertly navigated the slopes. His favourite: “Je te donne 10!” As if I would ever get 10 out of 10 from a ski judge! I’m thankful that I got to spend those three months in grade 12 near the mountains, because learning to ski was definitely one of the best things about my exchange to Quebec, right up there after learning French.

Mom's Pictures 827In the summer of 2013, we drove to the east coast of Canada–all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland, with our kids. We surveyed the Laurentians of Quebec in the distance, and in the easternmost provinces, we winced as our truck and trailer laboured their way up seemingly endless slopes. We enjoyed our trip, but on our way back home, the sight of our familiar, non-rolling landscape was more than welcome.

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Mountains are beautiful, I can’t deny it, but for me, mountains have only ever been to visit. This flat–make that very flat–landscape where I grew up is the place I have chosen to come back to, and I count myself blessed to have relatively unobstructed sunset views almost every night of the week.

 

 

For Diane, With Love – The Other Side

In March of 2015, Diane Van Bommel, a beloved friend and relative, suspected the return of her cancer. Soon after, this was confirmed, and while still hopeful, she started to prepare, not knowing how much time she would have left. She asked me to write a song for her funeral, to celebrate her new life on “the other side”, and to comfort her family and friends with the knowledge that she was safe and not so far away. She passed away on December 26, 2015. It was an honour and a privilege to sing for her. For those who have asked, here is the video, along with the lyrics.

The Other Side                                                  (c) Tina Pumfrey, SOCAN, 2015

I’m on the other side, no need to cry for me, I’m safe and I’m sound, I’m home

My suffering is done, my forever just begun, and you know that I’m here singin’ praise

In God’s goodness and faithfulness, He never turned His back on me,

I spent my days in His hand

Now I’m singin’ Hallelujah with saints and angels all around

I’m on the other side, yeah, I’m on the other side

He measured out my days, He sure did make them full, poured out so many blessings over me

No one’s future can be told, trust in Him, let it unfold,

and thank Him for the love along the way

In God’s goodness and faithfulness, He never turned His back on me,

I spent my days in His hand

Now I’m singin’ Hallelujah with saints and angels all around

I’m on the other side, yeah, I’m on the other side

And you know, He kept me safe, I never lost my way,

And no matter how lonely the valley, He’ll bring you home

I’m on the other side, no need to cry for me, I’m safe and I’m sound, I’m home

My suffering is done, my forever just begun, and you know that I’m here singin’ praise

In God’s goodness and faithfulness, He never turned His back on me,

I spent my days in His hand

Now I’m singin’ Hallelujah with saints and angels all around

I’m on the other side, yeah, I’m on the other side

And I’m singin’ Amen, Amen, Hallelu – u – jah!

To read Diane’s many words of wisdom, visit http://www.divbblog.wordpress.com and http://www.godgivesblessings.wordpress.com.  Her legacy will live on through her writings.