The exuberant woman holding the strange pink wand...is my sister, Mz. Linda. This is the latest iteration of a children's choir of her creation called Praise Kidz. I'm not sure how many years she has been directing this choir, but I would guess close to 30 years. That's 30 years of helping elementary school kids fall in love with singing, 30 years of having way too much fun, and 30 years of musicals that never fail to choke me up.
I'm not exactly sure what inspired her to start this all those years ago. She teaches piano and she loves kids, so maybe that's it, but still...it's a lot of work. Over the years she has been aided by an army of volunteers, most of them grateful parents. And every year there's a musical. When my two kids were in the choir it was "The Secret to my Success." There were elaborate sets, crazy costumes and some memorable performances along the way, incredible solos sung by tiny little versions of what are now grown men and women. Little Andrew Hemby, now a hot shot millennial lawyer, singing his little heart out in a Christmas concert, Brittany Chapel's adorable turned up face looking for all the world like an angel. These are memories that everyone who attended Grove Avenue Baptist church for any length of time have been treated to by my sister's choirs.
This Sunday there will be another musical. Linda is putting in a wretched amount of hours getting it all together. She is frantic and exhausted. Yet, she still does it every year. It's part of her heart and her love of music and kids are in her blood. Although my church attendance has been spotty of late, you can bet that I'll be there. I have grown disturbingly cynical about church as I've gotten older, but there are two things that still have the power to break down that cynicism...a baptism, and a Praise Kidz concert. One because it serves as evidence that God is still in the business of changing lives, and the other because of the unbridled joy on the faces of children who sing not out of obligation but out of love for their Heavenly Father...and Mz. Linda.