Dave gave me a new cell phone yesterday at our family Birthday BBQ. A dandy new iPhone. It represents a rebirth of sorts, not just because its my birthday but because it was just over three years ago that he gave me my first smart phone. I had just been called as president of our church’s Young Women’s organization and I was overwhelmed with concern for my general lack of organizational skills as it related to my new position. Dave must have been inspired. I thought he was crazy. “We shouldn’t afford this thing! I don’t need it! I’m fine with my old flip phone.” But he insisted it would help, and he was right. It seriously changed my life to the degree that I would feel lost without it in the same way we feel lost when our computers crash or our cars break down. Just the texting alone was such a gift for me. I could communicate with my young women at any time. Little love notes, or reminders about activities, or cheers from the sidelines. And my smart phone reminded me of their birthdays, and their big tests, and recitals and games. Prayer reminders, if nothing else; alarms set on my calendars reminding me to pray for Ilyssa as she auditions, or for Grace on her trip to Lebanon…stuff like that. Besides being a dandy mode of communication, besides the obvious voice communication, I use it to tune my guitar, and to record little chunks of songs as I write them. I carry my scriptures on them. And pictures of my family. I make note of songs my guitar students want to learn and know where I can find them when I finally sit down to prepare for classes. You have to see my desk at home, strewn with little papers with scribbled notes on them, to understand the value of this little palm size computer holding all that info. When I enter something into my iPhone I always know where to find it, though I do need to get better at entering info there.
Yesterday my eternal friend and old singing partner, Merlyn, sent me a memo on my phone. It was a recording of her singing Happy Birthday to me. For my birthday today (my actual birthday, yesterday was just practice) my phone vibrated on my desk and there was another memo from her. This time she sang the harmony. These phones are really, really smart and I’m lucky lucky lucky to have one. It’s something we have chosen to afford because communication is such a big part of my life. Yay that smart phones were invented and made available in my lifetime!
I was released as YW president a few weeks ago. It is a difficult and sorrowful thing to leave my stewardship to these girls, whom I have planted soundly in my heart. But I understand and embrace our church’s lay ministry and feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity I had with them. The cool thing is that I still have their cell numbers in my phone! My very smart phone! So I can still connect with them in quiet and loving and humorous ways without interfering with the relationship they are building with their new YW leaders. “I love you’s” and “I’m thinking about you’s” are always welcome. I woke this morning, in fact, to the buzzing vibration of my phone on the nightstand. It was one of my Laurels sending happy wishes. How lucky can a person be?
So in a few minutes I will plug my old phone into my computer and let it transfer everything before I turn it off. And then I will plug my new phone into that same computer and upload all that good stuff. How amazing is THAT?! I’ve been trying to teach myself to communicate with the mother-board more often, so the exchange doesn’t take so long. Kind of like those prayers that fly on unpracticed lips to heaven when something is wrong. We only go to the motherboard when we worry we’ll lose something.
I was invited, with my counselors, to visit the Young Womens class in church yesterday, where they presented us with pretty little books full of sweet and tender messages from the girls and advisors. I laid on my bed after church, my tears dropping into my pillow as I read their words. A number of them had mentioned our Summer Girls Camp tradition. I’ve been going to Girls camp for many years. Decades, actually. Usually to lead the music around the campfire. But these last three years I’ve gone with a different stewardship, and while I have of course played guitar and sung with them around the campfire, I felt a tug at my heart to go further. In real life, down from the mountain of camp, I’m happy to share my music, but I am usually not one to just go pick up a guitar and start singing to people, presuming they’d want to hear what I had to say. It’s been an issue with me my whole life. I’ll sometimes sing if I’m asked, but I don’t feel comfortable the way many of my musician friends are…just picking up an instrument and starting to play and sing out of the blue. And more often than not if someone asks me to sing I’ll find a way to change the focus of the conversation so that it doesn’t happen. But at camp three years ago I felt a strong prompting to nurture my girls with song. They were tired, and many of them homesick, and I walked into the bunkhouse style cabin well after lights-out and asked them if I could sing to them. They were, of course, quite gracious. I unzipped my gigbag and drew my instrument against my chest with a prayer, that if they did not feel the warmth of God’s Spirit in the talks or the prayers or the great communal dance with nature that Girls Camp affords us, please bless them to feel the Peace of God in this music. I sang until my voice grew weary and my fingertips throbbed from clamping metal strings. Hours. I played until all I could hear was the steady buzzing warmth of their breath in slumber. And then I always ended with a hymn and a prayer; a grace upon them as I left them for my own bed in another cabin. They were asleep and wouldn’t even know I prayed for them. Like Calvin when I put him down for a nap and say a prayer over him in his crib. Slowly I returned my instrument to her sleeping bag and tiptoed out the door, walking softly, under a moonlit sky, down the hill to my own bunk, my heart so full of love it hurt.
I will cherish forever those nights in the mountains, when the whole large camp was silent, and I whispered my love, and God’s love, to my girls through song.
I won’t be with them this summer. That makes me sad. But Sarah is having her new baby and it’s a good thing that I’ll be down here in the valley with her.