It all started when I was diagnosed with a severe case of mononucleosis in the 7th grade. I missed the last six weeks of school and got more and more bored as I began to feel better. When summer vacation rolled around my sisters started swim lessons and my family started taking trips to the lake to water ski. The doctor told my mother that getting in the water was not allowed for me that summer. Watching the other kids swim and ski was not amusing. Even the dog got to go in the water.
My mother sympathized with my plight and called a friend who agreed to give me organ lessons in her home that summer. Lillian had a nice two manual organ with 12 pedals and she had decent organ technique. I had started piano lessons when I was 5 so my keyboard ability was good. I had played the piano for Sunday School opening since 4th grade. The first hymn I learned was “This is My Father’s World”. While attending the Baptist youth camp on Casper Mountain I loved the way their pianist could play the hymns with all her heart and soul.
We had relatives who owned one of the local funeral homes and they agreed to let me practice on their Hammond organ when they were not busy. I would ride my bike down there and if the drapes were open I knew I could go in and practice. A few times I did walk by an open casket which was a little scary for a 12-year-old. The next summer I started taking lessons from the organist at the big Episcopal church in town and practiced on a real church organ with a full pedal board. I started learning real organ finger and pedal technique and learning the art of playing hymns. That spring my teacher called my mother and told her that Grace Lutheran Church really needed a full time organist and he thought I could handle it. It was my grandparents’ church and I was thrilled although a little apprehensive about the challenge and the commitment.
I played at Grace Lutheran for four years until I went to college. The pastor and choir director were important spiritual role models in my life and I loved taking my grandfather to our home after church for Sunday dinner. I don’t think that I realized at that time that music was such a great way to serve the Lord; it was just what I did. Over the years as I served as organist, choir accompanist and choir director in several churches, I finally realized that music was my gift from God. It was a gift to be used for His glory.
As a church musician I have been able to work with so many dedicated and gifted musicians. One of my favorite experiences was directing the youth choir in Wyoming when my two daughters were members. Those kids were such an inspiration and came through time after time with great performances. I was blessed to have some gifted singers in that group and some of them are still giving of their talents. The Lord blessed me with a daughter who is a gifted singer and I have so enjoyed playing for her since she was five. Her best singing has been in church and she continues to sing regularly in San Diego. I’ve also worked with several inspirational choir directors who have truly made singing in the choir a great way to connect with the Lord.
I feel so blessed to be a part of the music here and to be able to work with Christine Vogelsang and all the musicians here who give of their talents. The music program at Community is one that gives people of all ages the opportunity to perform every week to the Glory of God. We can be thankful that there is so much talent in our church and that they provide such beautiful music week after week. We can also be so thankful that our choir directors and accompanists give us such uplifting musical offerings week after week. The music department at Community is a true blessing to all of us.