Mama, Sing!

Today, I'm linking up with Kate Motaung's Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Sing.

Sing 600x600

One of the worst weeks in my professional life occurred when I attended a “Music Makes Community” conference with several of my colleagues. While the fellowship was great, the conference was my own version of hell.

In it, we were forced to publicly (and individually) sing in front of other people – which is definitely not my cup of tea.

I'm happy to sing during the music on Sunday morning worship. Occasionally, I even sing along to Broadway musicals when I'm alone in my car.

But a soloist I am not.

I don't have a good voice. I'm pitchy. And incredibly self-conscious.

Nevertheless, I know that singing to your child is developmentally important.

So ever since Hope was born, as long as no one else has been within hearing distance, I've sung to her – usually hymns, but occasionally made-up songs.

A few months ago, I attended a gathering of women by She Loves Magazine. There, one of the women, Fiona, shared how she regularly sings He's Got The Whole World In His Hands to her kids as a prayer, as a way of lifting up people they've seen during the day.

Immediately, I loved this idea.

I loved it even more when Fiona said she'd switched the pronoun to “she's.”

After returning home, I began singing this to my daughter every night: She's Got The Whole World In Her Hands.

We do all sorts of verses.

She's got mama and dada in her hands;
She's got little baby Hope, Grandma and Grandpa, Mimi and Lindsey, Great Uncle Ken, Great Auntie Pattie, and Dave and Allison in her hands.

The first time I sang this to Hope, I cried the entire time, overwhelmed by the sacredness of the moment.

Eventually, I got over my self-consciousness enough to let my husband join in our ritual as well.

Now, Hope demands this as part of our bedtime routine.

We lay down together and she turns to me, often resting her little hand on my cheek. She looks me in the eyes and squeals, “Mama, Sing!”

And so I do.

She's Got The Whole World In Her Hands.

If I try to sing something else, Hope cries, “No Mama! Stop! Sing!”

There's exactly one song she wants: She's Got The Whole World In Her Hands.

Often, Hope joins in as well, chiming in with the people we're praying for and an occasional “world” or “hands”.

Every single time she does, I cry.

This is, after all, our first act of prayer together.

That's holy. 

And extraordinary.

And maybe even a little redemptive.

Because when I look in Hope's eyes and sing, I see nothing but love.

I suspect that's the same thing I'd see if I could look into God's eyes at that moment – not judgment over my pitch but love and joy over the fact that I'm making a joyful noise... And teaching my daughter to do the same.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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