Everyone Should Have A Ukulele! … Hello weekend readers. Obviously you are wondering if I have lost my mind using a ukulele for a devotion! You may be right?! I love music and have been a musician since I sat on the piano when I was 3 years old and the rest is history. Outside of the piano, my folks got me a violin—I loved to play it. My thirst for music led me to reeds and horns—I would play them all except for the big tuba. I diddled with guitar but my love for piano, organ and saxophone reeled me in. So, when I read that our Arizona Musicfest was having a Ukulele Concert, I almost laughed. A ukulele—really? I always thought that tiny looking guitar was for little kids but guess what, I was dead wrong.

In Polynesian and Spanish culture, one of the most powerful gifts was a father who bought his son a ukulele—it was a ‘rite of passage’. The ukulele would be shared for generations. Why a ukulele? It was small; it was inexpensive; and it was music for the soul. Its history is unique. It originated from Portuguese immigrants in 19th century Hawaii, and quickly became a beloved instrument among the Hawaiians. They embraced it, molded its sound to fit their own style, and even gave it the name ‘ukulele’ which means ‘jumping flea’ referring to the lively movement of a player’s fingers on the strings. The ukulele’s journey to popularity in the United States began in the early 20th century. King David Kalakaua, a patron of the arts and a passionate lover of the ukulele, helped elevate it to a symbol of Hawaiian culture. During the 1920s and 1930s, the ukulele became the sound of the era! Its affordability, portability, and cheerful tone made it a beloved instrument but after World War II, its popularity waned. But it came back again in the 21st century. Artists like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Jake Shimabukuro reintroduced the instrument to wider audiences who embraced its charm. It seems that the ukulele’s journey is far from over, as it continues to capture the hearts of musicians and listeners alike. Today, the ukulele is a global phenomenon—who’d a thought?

What do you have that you have that has endured and given you joy—something that you treasure and take care of and you don’t want to lose it? In a society that rushes out for the latest thing, what do you hold on to? What gives you pleasure and encourages you when things are spiraling out of control? Do what King David did. Even though he spent years on the run from King Saul who wanted him dead, he found a way to soothe his soul by playing his harp. In fact, Saul had summoned David when he was young to come and play his harp to soothe his nightmares. Little did David realize he would need that for himself when Saul came after him! While hiding in the caves, that harp turned into the soothing sound David needed as well. So it’s no wonder that when he finally took his rightful throne as king, he wanted music—all kinds of music! In Psalm 32:2-3 [Voice] he declared: “Worship the Eternal with your instruments, strings offering their praise; write awe-filled songs to Him on the 10-stringed harp. Sing to Him a new song; play each the best way you can, and don’t be afraid to be bold with your joyful feelings.”  

 I just love this Scripture because, for me, when I am writing, or frustrated or upset about something, music is my ‘go-to’. It is God singing to me to calm me, fill me with joyful sounds, and remind me that I am God’s child who will be with me in every moment of my life no matter where I am. What a promise, what joy!

So, what ‘Ukulele’ do you have that gives you joy in the midst of trials? You’d be surprised how many people play the ukulele! Here’s a short list: George Clooney, President Obama, Marilyn Monroe, Warren Buffett, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Steve Carrell, Bette Midler, Taylor Swift, Pierce Brosnan, Ryan Gosling, Paul Anka, Elvis Presley, Cindy Crawford, Dick Van Dyke, Tony Danza—and this is just a few, really!

You know, in a world where things seem to change at the drop of a hat, I think the ukulele stands as a reminder that sometimes, the most unexpected things endure and thrive. The ukulele is not just an instrument—it’s a story of resilience, adaptation, and the sweet unifying power of music. I think King David would say “indeed” and God would say “I gave you the gift of music to calm you and give you joy and pleasure and peace of mind. So play on my child!” OK, I’m going to go “tingle the keys” and spend some time singing along with God and the angels—it always makes my day! AMEN.