I have never considered myself "musically inclined." I love to sing (just ask my kids!)but I am the first to admit that I am not very good at it. I teach music to the children at our church (Primary), but anyone can sing Primary songs! I can pick out a simple tune on the piano, but that is where my talent stops. This being said, you can imagine my shock when the bishop of my ward asked me if I would like to sing in the General Relief Society Choir. This choir gets to sing at the women's conference our church holds every September. They pick a few different towns here each year and all of the bishops in those towns get to pick three women to sing in the choir. I found out that some bishops had all of the interested women put their names in a hat and they drew out the names of the three women who would sing. For some reason our bishop selected the women from our ward himself. He asked me to look over the papers that told about when the practices would be and what we would have to wear and let him know if I would like to sing. I of course told him yes! What made it even cooler was that the day he asked me was my birthday!
I walked into the first practice not really sure what to expect. We started by warming up our voices and then we had a devotional. This was the part that was a surprise to me. At each practice several different people spoke for just a few minutes. They shared their testimonies, shared scriptures and told us inspiring stories. By the time the devotional was over the Spirit was so strong in the chapel! It was wonderful. After the devotional Sister Jolley, the choir director, took over and we practiced the music.
I almost don't have the words to describe Sis. Jolley. She is one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met. She radiates love, happiness and joy! She is SO talented! She teaches choir at a Jr. High School near here. I learned so much from her about how to sing well. Mostly though, I learned from her the gospel of Jesus Christ. We would be singing along and she would stop us and quote a scripture she felt inspired to share at that moment. Every week I left the practice feeling so spiritually fed, my testimony stronger and my determination to be a better person greater. I want to share a few things that really touched me that came from her.
1. Galatians 6:9 "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." I have been feeling weary and run down lately. I just can't find my grove! This scripture has really lifted my soul.
2. (From the Book of Mormon) Alma 26:12-16 "Yea, I know that I an nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." (There is more, but I don't want to type it all! You'll have to look it up!) The man saying this was a great missionary, yet he still felt like he was nothing! As I sat singing with the other 340 ladies, who all seemed to be VERY musically inclined, I often felt SO inadequate! I could hardly follow the tune at first. Even after several weeks of practice I kept thinking, "Oh! The Bishop should have picked someone else! I can't do this." It would be at those times that Sis. Jolley would quote a scripture like this and I would keep pushing along, trying to learn my part. She encouraged us to pray daily to be able to sing our parts. She also told us to love our husbands and children a little more and increase our scripture study time. The Lord would bless us in our efforts.
3. (From another book of scripture our church has)Doctrine and Covenants 25:12 (This is the Lord speaking) "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." Sis. Jolley pointed out that our songs needed to be the "song(s)of the righteous." Again she would encourage us to live righteously and we would be blessed. She told us that Satan did not want this choir to succeed. She warned us that the weeks we were practicing would be hard, we would face extra opposition in our lives. We had to fight it and strive to feel the Spirit working in our lives. She also told us we would be blessed for our efforts and sacrifices. (Our main sacrifice was TIME. We practiced every Sunday night from 6:30PM to 9PM from the end of August until the end of September. There was also a Saturday dress rehearsal and lot of time spent at home singing with the CD they made for us! My kids memorized almost as much music as I did! I would put a song on repeat and sing it over and over and over!)
4. The most memorable thing she said was a quote from Sheri Dew. I can't remember it exactly, but it was something like this - Live your lives so that each morning when you arise from sleep Satan groans and says, "Oh no, she's awake!" I still get teary eyed over that! It makes me think really hard about how I am living my life! I have SO MANY weaknesses and faults! I am short tempered, unforgiving, forgetful, unorganized, and unkind at times. AH!!! The first time Sis. Jolley said this I cried in my heart knowing that I am not the kind of person that I need to be. I know how I WANT to be, though, and Sis. Jolley helped give me the courage to make changes in my life. I want to make Satan shake in his boots when I get up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I don't know...bet he goes barefoot down there!)
The day of the performance we got to the Conference center at 2PM. All 340 of us were wearing white, long sleeved, collared, button-up shirts, and black skirts. (The choir organizers were VERY particular about what we could and couldn't wear.) We practiced in the choir loft for about and hour and then they served us a great meal and we had another devotional. It was great! All these ladies in more makeup than you can imagine, trying not to cry and mess up our faces! Sister Jolley shared with us that two of her inactive daughters were going to be watching in Arizona (Did I mention that this performance is broadcast around the WORLD!)and that she knew the Spirit would touch them as we sang.
We were seated in the choir loft by 5:45PM. The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, walked into the hall a few minutes later and the HUGE room FULL of 21,000 ladies got SILENT as he took his seat. The cameras started rolling and it was the fastest hour and a half of my life! There were several speakers and we sang 4 songs. It seemed like the talks were only a few minutes long and then we would sing. Another couple of speakers and then we would sing. In reality the talks were great and each speaker spoke for 15 minutes or so, I was just so anxious! I made it through the performance without messing up any words or singing the wrong notes! Yea! When it was all over the camera lights went out and we all stood as Pres. Monson left the building. He waved to all the sections in the hall and thousands of ladies waved back. It was like he was doing "the wave" with waves. So funny! I was so touched by this. He smiled so big as he waved and it really made me think. I told the kids in Primary the next day that Pres. Monson doing the wave reminded me of the scripture in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy." The gospel of Jesus Christ is about joy! Joy in our Savior and what He has done for us! I left the Conference Center that night full of joy!
I don't know exactly why the bishop asked me to sing in that choir, but I think it was because the Lord knew I needed to be uplifted, needed to be taught, needed to be changed! My life is crazy busy right now! Raising up 6 kids is hard! I think the Lord knew I was headed for trouble and he stepped in to change my course. My musical abilities didn't add to that choir AT ALL, but the Lord, working through others, added a peace to my life that I so desperately needed!
I know the Lord is mindful of my needs. I seem to constantly be praying that the Lord will still the storm that is tossing me around, but in His infinite wisdom, the Lord is letting the storm rage and trying to help STILL MY SOUL. I am trying to have faith in Heavenly Father and his plan for me. I believe in Jesus Christ and I know he suffered and died for me. I know he felt the pain in my heart as he knelt in the garden that night so long ago. I know there is a living prophet on the earth today who receives revelation from God. I HAVE SEEN THIS PROPHET and felt the Spirit radiating from him. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the earth and I am so thankful and feel so blessed to be a little part of it! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!