I've taken my guitar and my set of preschool handbells up to Allison Little Lambs a few times in the last couple of weeks and three times this week.
I'm thinking maybe we should have practiced much, much more for this little musical endeavor.
I've never had the same group of kids playing the handbells. Not once. Sometimes I've had eight kids playing them. Sometimes I've had six. Some kids have played them one time, others have played them multiple times.
The practice sessions are peppered with comments like:
"George*, don't touch the inside of the bell."
"Fiona, try not to clang the bells together, honey."
"Stop ringing, everybody! Wait for the music to start."
"Sorry, Clyde, you can't play the red ones this time." (Clyde proceeds to pout and won't play the green ones I've put in front of him)
It's not difficult to play these bells, but it does take a bit of concentration. The kids have to watch the cards I hold in front of them and play their bell when they see their number.
For four and five year olds, it can be a little tricky. I tried to make it easier by coloring the top of the oval, but there are light green and dark green bells, and light blue and dark blue bells. Mistakes are made. It happens.
While the music plays, some kids play their hearts out when they see their number/color. Others set their bells down and watch the kids around them. Some hold their bells expectantly, but they don't play when their card comes up. Others ring randomly when they get tired of waiting.
The two and three year old class has been practicing singing Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for quite a while now. They sound great. I've been practicing with them the last couple of weeks with the guitar. Some of them sing along, but others stare in fascination at the wonderful instrument I'm holding and forget to sing.
We decided to try adding sign language to the chorus, but I'm afraid we started that too late. Some of them try, but others just smile sweetly when I raise my eyebrows and try to cue them to start the motions (very difficult when you're playing the guitar).
We didn't practice walking up to the front of church, picking up the bells, where they put them afterward. It could be mass chaos that day.
You know what? I'm not worried. I've enjoyed singing with these kids. I've sung the words to Amazing Grace (our bell song) and tried to explain what that means in words they can understand. I hope they've caught at least a little bit of that awesome gift of God. I hope they smile and play and sing with as much enthusiasm as they have at Allison Little Lambs. I hope the congregation is blessed as they watch their smiling faces and realize how much these kids are learning about God and His grace.
As I've led music and helped at the daycare, I've been reminded more than once of a friend back in Chandler, Minnesota who compared leading our kids choir to "herding cats" and "trying to nail jello to a tree." It is crazy at times, but it's so worth it. God loves these kids and so do I.
Great things can happen when we relax and enjoy a little chaos once in a while. (You can see how it goes on Sunday if you click here - live at 9 a.m. central or on demand later)
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." (Psalm 100:1-2 KJV)
Do you get uptight when you don't think things are going to go perfectly? How can focusing on God help you to relax and do your best, not worrying about every little detail?
*(The names were changed in this post so I don't embarrass any of my little musicians.)