Journey to the Conservatory

Saturday January 4, 2020

Part One.

What. A. Whirlwind! If you were to take a peek at my vision book you would see page after page of excitedly written thoughts. What I wanted the school to look like, what type of instructors, who we would teach and what instruments to teach them. You’d see one-year goals, five and ten-year goals too! But my goodness….it’s been a wild ride and one that I really didn’t envision in the beginning.

Our last blog post invited you onto the path of God’s promise for my life. Many have responded with praise. Not just for my journey, but for God’s promise. When that blog post initially went up, there wasn’t even a desire for what Grow Your Gift has grown into in just a little over a year.

When this story is told, a usual response is “It’s a God thing”. And that couldn’t be more spot on! I hope you have some time to settle into this journey because it’s definitely one to follow!

Grow Your Gift Services, LLC started out as a two-sided business for both music lessons and operations management. For months, I scrapped and fought to stay faithful and diligent to my business clients. One business client, in particular, asked several times if I would ever teach music full time. My response was always “nah”. I wouldn’t be able to do that full time and make a decent living. Looking back, and although in the midst of my own business journey, this client was sowing seed. She planted a seed of encouragement even though I didn’t receive it as such at the time.

As life continued to happen, a battle ensued between music and business services. More and more students began to fill the waiting list for music lessons. More and more prospective clients continued to contact me. A fork in the road appeared and I had to make a decision. Ironically, it wasn’t the decision about which road I should take. It was much deeper than that.

It was during prayer at one of my church services when I received a word that God said to “let “it” go and trust Him. There’s a decision to be made and if you just trust Him, He will order your steps.” I knew immediately what it meant….what it was referring to…but still didn’t know which direction to go. It was time to listen to God. In my own prayer time, I heard God say, “You’ll open a music school”. I interpreted that as finding a location with a couple more office suites (3 suites) and a lobby area for people to wait. I had a budget in mind and casually set out to find a location. I wasn’t really diligent in my search, meaning I didn’t think it would actually happen, but I put my feet in motion anyway. While searching, I started reading up on and listening to podcasts about building a company. Not necessarily a music school, but a company in general. I came across The Rule Breakers Club ( and fell in love with their content. There was a document called the “Package Your Passion Workbook”. Never have I really put my thoughts, plans, and goals to paper but I figured, “Why Not”? When I finished, I had eight pages of my vision for a music school. Most of the information was a pipe dream, but I wrote it down nonetheless.

Let’s get back to the journey to find a location. I called several realty companies to inquire about locations. I was blown off by almost all of them. Just before I was going to make the decision to stay on the same path despite the fork in the road, I happened upon a realty company that was available on the first call and met me at a location. The location had five rooms and space for guests to wait. However, it was on a row with offices on either side. This wouldn’t be an ideal location for a music school because of the noise. After sharing the vision with the realtor, he suggested another location in town so off we went!

Grab your tissues.

I followed the realtor down the road (not far, I might add) and pulled into the parking lot. The building I arrived at is one that’s been on that corner for over 50 years. (So I’m told) I never paid attention to the “For Lease” sign and I certainly never thought about wanting to be in that building for any reason…….Except that building was a very important part of my life. It’s a building that I recalled wanting to have one day….a pie in the sky dream some years back. But more on that in a little while. (So it will all make sense!)

Let’s rewind about 25 years. I was a clarinetist at the Fort Walton Beach High School Band under the direction of Mr. Ernest Hebson and then Mr. Randy Folsom during my senior year. So many life lessons were instilled in me during those years: how to be responsible, how to go after what you want, and how to perform at your highest level of ability. Over four years, I earned over 20 awards not including Section Leader, Band Captain, and Bandswoman of the year. As incredible as Mr. Hebson and Mr. Folsom are, it’s not possible for them to reach the depths of their students required to bring to a particularly high-performance level. Top performing students relied on private instructors for that.

My parents invested in a private instructor by the name of Ms. Sylvia Franklin. See, Ms. Franklin had a little cylinder block building on the north end of Beal Parkway. I would spend every Saturday morning for years chiseling away at any performance imperfections. It was in this building I would study alongside many top performers and go on to earn the Annie C. Shelton Scholarship which awarded one year of free tuition. See, it’s in this building where the fire for music was put into my belly. Little did I know it would take years to manifest…..only showing back up when I pulled into the parking lot behind that realtor. Let me make this absolutely clear…This is the SAME building I took private lessons in when I was a teenager. Now I’m back sharing the same excitement about music with people in our community. Talk about FULL CIRCLE!

The realtor and I went into the building that had been vacant for several years. It was EVERYTHING I didn’t know I needed. There were three rooms already walled in and with doors. There was an open area that would serve as my office. There was another open area near the large picture window that would serve as the Musician’s Lounge. And as if that wasn’t enough…..there was a large open area and….you ready?….. A STAGE!!!!! This property was P.E.R.F.E.C.T. It was a testament to how God moves. When He calls us to do a thing, He perfects it. HE absolutely blew my mind with this one.

We finished looking around and I went back to my car and cried. I balled my eyes out. I cried I praised, I worshipped, and I cried some more. Just typing this out is sending me back to that very moment. My God! I called my husband and was almost too excited to tell him about what just happened. He was just as excited as I was and asked that we call the realtor back to meet him at the property again, the three of us. When it was all said and done, we signed the rental contract and began the planning process to get the building to fit the newly formed vision that would be Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music.

Check back later for more of our story. It is jam-packed with great moments, tricky moments, and decisions that had to be made. We are now seven months into this journey and there is so much to share! If nothing else, I hope our story encourages you to go after your dreams. If you pray, let God lead you. He will provide you with everything, every person, and every resource to perfect His will for your life!

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    • Thank you so much! I must give credit to God first, and then people like you who have spoken into my life. You have ministered to me in ways that might only be understood by the fruits God has seen fit to bless me with. Thank you for always encouraging me! I love you, my sister!

    • Praise God and thank you, thank you, thank you!! If my story can encourage just one person, it’s done what it was meant to do. Your journey has further put me in awe of God. You are truly a living testimony! Praise God for your life! You let me know when you’re ready for lessons and we will get started!

  • What an awesome story! I’ve heard it before in our Facebook group but it inspired me all over again reading it here! I am so happy that you’re my church-sister and I am immensely proud of you:) And this year, I’m looking forward to taking music lessons with you:) God bless you and much success to you in 2020 and beyond!