I was one of those kids who started out early discovering a love of music. My sisters and I used to listen to my mother’s old records – ancient as they were - and have loads of fun. The three of us would shut the door to our playroom, put on her old and scratched Chubby Checker album and do the twist, laughing and singing along as we danced. Sometimes we’d even choreograph our own little shows to my grandmother’s favorite guy, Lawrence Welk. If I had to describe our type of musical play, it was nothing short of joyful.
When I was old enough to join the children’s choir with my older sister, Mary Pat, I was so excited. I couldn’t read, but I was a good listener and caught on fast. Even now I can remember how it felt to walk over to the church after school with my sister, and enter the holy place that I felt so at home in. I looked forward to choir practice and church all week, not only because I loved music and singing, but because I especially loved the place where we sang – our country church, my second home. Somehow music and Jesus were always especially connected for me from the very start of my life. A couple of years later, my youngest sister, Cathy joined choir and it was just another wonderful playroom full of music for us, now in the church instead of our playroom, watched over by Jesus in that holy place.
One of my happiest memories is the day my parents finally gave in and bought a piano so that I could take lessons with my choir director, Patsy. I wanted to learn to play piano, and someday, the organ, so I could play at church, just like her. I remember how slow the day went by at school, and how, heart pounding with excitement, I raced home from the bus stop. It was like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one! I still remember it like it was yesterday. And there it was, in the living room, where I could practice to my heart’s content. My parents never had to remind me to practice, because I simply loved to play. And as the years went by and I learned the organ too, I was to begin to direct my own children’s choir when I started high school. I got my first real job at my own church and later was hired at a church 20 minutes away. My Dad would drive me to church (I wasn’t old enough to drive myself yet) and then he would take me out to Friendly’s for breakfast. I still love to think of those mornings we had together. I think he was a little sad when I was able to drive myself. I was to go on to study music and earn my degree in music education, so I could be a music teacher and music director.
And I’ve been an organist, choir director and cantor at church ever since. The children’s choir I direct at my church lets me step into the role I dreamed about as a little girl. A few years ago, one of the parents of three sisters in my choir told me the girls play “Mrs. Pam” at home and take turns being the music teacher. That really made me smile, since my sisters and I used to play choir at home too. It’s my greatest hope that I can give children the same joyful, holy experience of singing at church, bringing the message of the day to people in a special way. We learn songs, and talk about Jesus, and the world is as simple and beautiful as it was when I was a girl.
I find that prayer for me often involves music. I pray when I sing at church, and when I’m listening to favorite hymns or praise and worship music. That’s one of the reasons that I wanted music to be a part of Prayer Life. When you stop to read the lyrics to the songs, they are often poetry and prayer, put together with the added dimension of music. This kind of prayer helps me to feel close to God and I know it is one way He speaks to us. Finding the right song to listen to when I need encouragement or comfort, or to praise God and celebrate life feels like a gift from God to me. Whether you discover some new music here, or spend time with some old favorites, I hope they bring these same gifts to you.