“The Holy Spirit just so gently began to re-teach me about what [singing] was about, what this was for. So I have never looked back.”
Miki Earle had been singing for her entire life, and considered it part of her identity. But when she lost her voice completely after the birth of her first son, she began to look at music differently — and found a new perspective on worship.
Growing up, Miki’s family always attended church and she became involved in singing at an early age. Her passion for music led her to take voice lessons and join church choirs. When she directed her first choir at the young age of 16, she discovered another passion.
“What I loved the most about [choir directing] was the ability to pull multiple voices together and create one voice,” she remembers. “In the secular arena, that kind of choral work is for the beauty of music itself, but when we do it in the body of Christ, [it’s a] much deeper experience!”
With her love and natural talent for singing, Miki performed many solos and was even a vocal major for her first two years of college. But when her first son was born, an unknown condition affected her voice, and everything changed.
“I completely lost my voice,” she says. “I could not speak for six months, I could not sing over my new baby. My whole life had been spent singing, so that completely went away.”
With a heavy heart, Miki began to search for answers.
“[My husband and I] went on a 2-year medical journey trying to figure out what had happened,” she recalls, “[The doctors] were trying to decide if there were nodules on my voice, or what had happened that had taken the voice away. They took out my tonsils, they did all kinds of things trying to get it fixed… Nobody could come up with an answer.”
Miki couldn’t imagine life without her voice. After all, it was an integral part of her identity.
“I was pretty desperate for it to be fixed,” she says. “It was my gig. It was who I was. I was a singer and that is what was supposed to be present my whole life.”
Although her voice eventually began to heal, it was never the same. Miki explains that it dropped two octaves and “never came back to a soloist level.”
Finally, after a decade and a half of questions, Miki learned what caused the life-changing condition.
“My voice was damaged in the process [of giving birth to my son]. They gave me a medication; we didn‘t find out until about 15 years later that it was the medication that had done it.”
How Faith Carried Her Through
After accepting that her voice was permanently damaged, Miki struggled to define who she was, if not a singer. It was her faith in God’s purpose that helped carry her through.
“My experience with the Lord has never been one where I question what God does,” she explains. “When I realized [my voice] was not going to come back, I then had to grapple with ‘who am I then? – what is my value in the body of Christ?’”
A New Perspective On Worship
At first, Miki resigned herself to the thought that without her voice, she’d never sing or teach choir again. But the Holy Spirit gave her a new perspective, and God had other plans.
When an opportunity arose to direct once more, she rediscovered her passion and was able to view music in a new way: not as a soloist, but as a teacher to help guide worship through choral singing.
“I found so much more joy in [choir directing],” she says, describing it as a less self-elevating and truer experience of worship compared to solo singing. “He had given me the ability to not only direct chorally but to set an example for worship and to be able to instruct people and to have influence on people. Not everybody gets that chance.”
She adds, “Honestly, if the choirs that I directed never sang in public, that would be okay with me because the experience is the rehearsal itself. The joy of creating something beautiful just for the sake of bringing it to the Lord is just such a unique experience.”
Bringing People Together
Miki compares singing in a choir to corporate prayer (praying in a group): it’s a powerful way to praise God together. She loves working with singers of all levels, and from all walks of life.
“What is cool is I have 15-year-olds singing next to 65-year-olds,” she explains. “They are joking and teasing with each other and there are very few scenarios where that happens. The 65-year-old is not looking at the 15-year-old as a teenager, but rather [as] somebody singing in the choir with them, so there is the leveling effect that goes on there that is just really remarkable.”
Singing, she says, is for everyone, not just for those with a “soloist voice.”
“There is something about music that just opens up our hearts. Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you can still enjoy the musical experience … Every culture has music at some level, so to use it well for worship, and just get away from the whole entertainment aspect of it – that would be really good.”
Miki says she wasn’t planning on getting involved with worship at Eastpoint … but God had other plans.
“I remember it was in April of last year that the Lord gave me a dream about directing a choir,” she says. “In the dream, I was singing with all these people and had that feeling that I get with corporate worship and music came on me in the dream. I woke up and I thought ‘You know, Miki, you need to talk to somebody about that.’”
After contacting Eastpoint’s Worship Arts Director, Carey Yescott, she learned that the church needed leadership for that year’s Christmas choir, and everything fell into place.
“This experience has been tremendously unique for me,” she says of choir directing at Eastpoint, “but I trust the Lord with it. I have gotten good at just being a part of the whole and allowing the Lord to bring that to pass with all of us working together.
As of today, Miki has led Eastpoint’s two prior Christmas choirs and Easter Choir. Through this ministry, she not only helps share the gift of music, she helps other worshippers — as well as herself — become more in tune with Jesus.
“[As a choir director], to be able to instruct on the principles of worship and the principles of giving your life to the Lord, and to in a position of honor where [others] will receive that, it’s a pretty cool thing,” she says. “It is a fearful place to be but it is one that I am pleased the Lord has allowed me to do. “
After all, music is just one of the beautiful ways we can connect with the Lord on our spiritual journey, both on earth and in Heaven.
“One of the references in Revelation is about the song of the 144,000,” Miki points out. “The fact [is] that even when we are beyond this realm, music will be integral to our communication, it will be part of who we are. It speaks of the value that God places on us.”