Thursday, March 25, 2010


For years, I’m talking decades now, I have slung my gig bag over my shoulder and trudged up into the mountains to spend a little time with the young women of our church at Girls Camp. I have loved teenage girls as a whole, since…well, I guess since I was a teenager. I love watching them evolve from knobby kneed sixth graders to beautiful mature graduates who are on the threshold of womanhood. They are all so unique and lovely in their own ways. The thing I love about working with them in the capacity of a church leader is that we are permitted, legally and lovingly, to communicate about their relationship with their Lord. Therefore, I am allowed to enter their hearts for moments, even minutes, and sometimes hours. They give me a gift when they let me in.
When Libby was Stake Camp Director, overseeing hundreds of girls, we worked together with gusto to make a fun, uplifting and educational week for the girls. Cindy Gardner and Mary Silver and Karen Madson, among other amazing women, joined us as we planned and executed. Dave and our brother George made things even sweeter up there on the mountain. We lashed together logs and built towers, we attached empty milk jugs to lashed rafts and had races on the lake. We threw minerals in the campfire that made the flame different colors, each representing a different Young Women’s value. We cooked, and hiked, and passed off requirements. We played games and told stories and testified. Each night I pulled the guitar out of the gig bag and sang with the girls around the camp fire.
One year the theme for Girls Camp was Stand a Little Taller. It was based on the words of our prophet, Gordon B Hinckley. He encouraged all of us, especially the youth, to do a little more, to work a little harder, to be a little better.

This is the song I wrote for camp that year:


When I was just a kid I was going to do big, big things
You know I had big, big dreams in my head
But I’ve grown a little older and I’ve lived a bit of life
And it’s full of lots of little things instead

Little drops can fill a bucket
Little seeds are going to grow
And step by little step will get you where you want to go
There’s a man who walked among us who knows what we can be
And he wants a little more from you and me

CHORUS: You’ve got to stand a little taller
Do a little better
Show a little more of what you’re worth
And with a little bit of courage
And a little human kindness
Bring a little bit of heaven to the earth

It’s a simple thing to do, maybe give one more smile
Maybe walk one more mile with a friend
The arithmetic is crazy, ‘cause the more you give away
The more you wind up having in the end

So if it seems a little darker
You can be a little light
There’s a generation rising that can see beyond the night
And if we’re going to have the power to stand for what is true
It’ll take a little more from me and you
We’ve got to stand a little taller….

By the last night of camp the girls had learned the song and were singing it with all their hearts. When we got to the chorus, the Junior Counselors, the oldest girls at camp, stood at the words “You’ve got to stand a little taller.” The younger girls, seeing them, stood as well, and they all stretched out their arms and locked them into each other as they swayed to the tune. The music rang through the trees while I stood there, picking my guitar and weeping, my lips trying to mouth the words because my throat was too choked up. How I love those girls!
Later that summer the Stake asked us if we would sing the song for a Standards Night. Someone at that meeting knew President Hinckley personally, and before we knew it we received an invitation to go to the church headquarters in Salt Lake City and sing the song for President Hinckley himself. So on a warm autumn afternoon the Junior Counselors and a few of us grown up leaders, dressed in our Sunday best, walked into the beautiful reception area outside President Hinckley’s chambers. When our prophet entered the room all the girls rose, and he sweetly greeted us. We stood in a circle around him and sang, many girls wiping tears as we sang, all of them smiling. President Hinckley was so loving, and so gracious, and he joked and smiled and talked with us for a little while. Then he greeted every girl personally and asked us to do another song.
It was a golden moment in our memory banks.
What I wanted the girls to get from the song, and hopefully this aligns with what our beloved prophet wanted us to get, was that little by little we rise. Not in giant leaps, though that can happen occasionally. But usually our improvement comes one little word; one little thought; one little step at a time. It’s a dark time in this old world. Lots of worry, lots of tragedy, lots and lots of temptation coming from all directions. The generation rising, both young men and young women, are blessed through their faith to see beyond the night. And through their worthiness they gain the strength to withstand all that pulls against them.
I am reminded, though I am no longer a “young woman”, that I must expect just a little more of myself. I must do, and be, a little more of some things and a little less of others.
President Hinckley passed away two years ago. He was 97 years old. His wisdom remains with us through his words and his legacy of good action.

My friend Craig Clifford and his partner, Jeff Goldman, produced a tribute album called “Man of Honor: Remembering Gordon B Hinckley.” This song was included on that project. We decided to have my friends Nancy Hanson and Sam Payne sing it, and they did a great job. My son John did the guitar work, and the gifted Clive Romney played accordion and mandolin, and recorded and mixed it. We all donated our services royalties to the Perpetual Education Fund President Hinckley established.

I’ll include both my original demo of the song and the finished product in the music box below. And I’ll reiterate the challenge from the man who walked among us who knew what we could be:

Do a little bit of good today.
Work a little harder than is comfortable.
Speak a little sweeter to the people you encounter.
Be a little more still.
Whisper one more little prayer.
Then standing a little taller, feeling the confidence of our Lord within us, will simply be the result of adding up all those little things.

1 comment:

  1. what fun, exhausting times. your words have the magic of making us all want to stand just a little taller!