Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | August 19, 2015

1,800 Minutes

For almost 12 years I led a children’s choir at my former church. For 45 minutes each week, approximately 40 weeks a year I hung out with a wild and wacky group of kiddos in 1st through 5th grade. I remember when they asked me to come on as a children’s choir leader I thought they were nuts.

I was a self-taught singer. Having attended private Catholic school, the arts were a distant second to core education so there were very little opportunities – no choir classes, no theatre. I always loved to sing and had dreams of acting, but there was no opportunity and I was terribly afraid of trying. In high school I contracted terrible vocal nodes and after my freshman year of college had to have surgery to correct them. It was a long slow trek back to any singing range beyond one octave. I did dabble in performing in college – a review show called Rock Chalk Revue; did some community theatre and Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. after graduation, but who was I to teach kids to sing? I knew nothing of music theory, couldn’t site read, am still a mess at trying to sing harmonies…

But each Wednesday, for most of the year, for 12 years there I was in the choir room, wrangling and leading a bunch of grade-schoolers. I figured out pretty quickly to stick to what I know – I love singing, love singing for God even more, the meaning of the songs matter, and we may as well have some fun. So that’s what I tried to instill in them. A love of worship through song and the belief that in the eyes of God they were and always would be excellent and exceptional.

For so long I thought I was leading and teaching them, but somewhere along the way I learned I was wrong. They were leading and teaching me. I watched young children overcome stage fright, learn to praise with reckless abandon, and openly pray for terminally sick family members and sick and lost pets (lots of sick cats). As I encouraged them to listen to Christian radio and then vote on the songs we’d sing, they pick out songs I’d never imagine would resonate with grade-schoolers – songs about overcoming the hurt of feuding parents and divorce, saying good bye to loved ones, taking care of the sick and hurting, following after Jesus with great passion. Some would wander in having not eaten much that day, or with no winter coat, or in shoes that barely fit with holes in the bottom. Those kids didn’t come because a parent made them, they came because they sought something on their own. Other were there with mom or dad, or a grandparent, coming from a loving home that was raising them in the church, but they were loving and accepting of each other no matter what they wore, how they dressed or the color of their skin.

Each week, no matter what I was facing in my own life – adult pain and drama, bills to pay, heavy workload, loss of job, death of my father – they lifted me up, refocused me on God and reminded me of what I was trying to teach them… That there is great joy and peace in worshiping a loving Father. That we all were made in the excellent image of a amazing God. That we each have an exceptional path mapped out for us if we only believe and trust where Jesus leads us. Those 1,800 minutes each year, in many ways, got me through the other 523,800 or at least made them richer.

I was reminded last week of how much they meant to me when I attended the funeral of one of the girls in my choir. Anna would have been a senior in high school this year, but for some reason, God called called her home. I remember her amazing voice, I remember her deep spirit when she sang and I remember her smile. When we celebrated her final year in choir, I bawled all through her solo. Last week, I cried all through her memorial. What an awesome privilege it was to know her and play some tiny role in her singing – which had already blossomed into a career that touched many. What a blessing she was to me and how sorely she will be missed.

I ‘graduated’ many a kiddo from my choir over the years, as they moved on from grade school to middle school and then high school. 1,800 minutes out of 523,800 a year doesn’t seem like much; its just 30 hours – not even the equivalent of one work week. But it was so much more to me. I can never repay all those amazing children and all they meant to me, all they did for me. They’ve moved on – those kids from my first year are in college now or starting careers and I am surely a distant memory – but they will all, each and every one of them, be forever engraved on my heart.

I am so thankful someone asked. I am so thankful I said yes, even when I felt so woefully inadequate. I am so amazed at what God did for me and for those kids in just 1,800 minutes a year. Sing on, Jammin’ with Jesus kids – you fill the world with your song and God delights in your praises. You are now and forever, most excellent and exceptional.

Love, Miss Leigh


 

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

 

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