Of this past week, 6 of the 7 days included something having to do with HeartSong (so brace yourself; it's going to be a long post!). From the very beginning, through all the rough spots, I have LOVED being a part of HeartSong. People have been asking me if I plan to do it again next year, and I tell them I can't picture myself as a college student NOT on HeartSong anymore. A huge part of who I am now would be gone if I wasn't on HeartSong... After thinking this thought a couple of times, I began to get uneasy, almost fearing that this was true. Is it wrong to love HeartSong as much as I do? No, I don't think so. The problem comes when I begin loving this gift more than I love the Giver.
Last Monday and Tuesday, the three HeartSong teams got to be a part of the Momentum Conference at Cedarville. Of the four session times, each of us played one or two of them. My team, plus Hayden from Blue Team, played the third session on Monday night, and for the fourth session on Tuesday I played with Grant, Joellyn, Dani and Tim from Blue Team, Zac from Orange Team, and Matt, our project and event manager. Getting all dressed up and committing one and a half hours of my life to each of these sessions for rehearsing, sound-check, and the actual session time may sound annoying to some people, but I didn't mind, because I loved it. If I'd been allowed, I would have played all the sessions!
On Wednesday I was having a little problem with pain in my wrists. I was accompanying a flute recital on Friday and was doing some extra hard practicing to get the pieces up to tempo. After about a hour or two of practicing in a day they would start to hurt, and I would always stop when they did, which kept them from really hurting. Wednesday night I took it easy as all of the teams took inventory before four of the teams left for the weekend. In the midst of our organizing, Erin from Blue Team found my Korg's volume pedal in her stuff, and I was also able to get a new direct box for my Yamaha! Because I am so OCD, any kind of organizing makes me happy; I was even happier to do it with my HeartSong team.
Thursday night we had team dinner before our rehearsal, which was so much fun! But in the middle of rehearsal, my wrists began to hurt really bad. I always hate to be the person who complains about their voice or their hands hurting as an excuse to not rehearse, so I tried to push through it. Eventually I was just playing the essential things instead of full chords, and soon after that I just stopped. That was partly because Joellyn told me to stop and jumped behind the Korg to play the synth pad that started the next song. When rehearsal was over, Tommy gave me a ride back to my dorm because it was raining. It was so encouraging to know that my team was praying for me and that they care about me so much. Another reason I love being on HeartSong is because it is like having a family, sort of like how working at camp was; there's something about ministering together that brings you closer than just going to school together.
Friday, I played in the flute recital and it went really well; my wrists survived up until the very last page! Thank You God for that! Because I couldn't practice any more after that, I went to the library to work on a paper that was due Monday. I finished all the research and had it in an outline and planned to take it with me over the weekend. I went to the ALT night at Cedarville with my music major friends. The 10 of us watched Tangled, played Buzz Word, and then a few of us went upstairs and watched the boys play Just Dance 2 on the Wii. I had a great time with them; it was a nice break from school, and even a nice change of pace from HeartSong. After that I came back to my room to finish the rest of Monday's homework, thin my hair with my new thinning shears, and pack for the weekend. By God's grace I was able to get everything done before the weekend tour.
Saturday morning I got up early and went to eat breakfast at Chuck's (my dad was so proud!). After a few texts to Rachel and Joellyn to make sure they were awake (and a visit to Jo's room because she didn't answer her phone), I finished getting ready, then Rachel picked us up and drove us to the DMC to pack the trailer and leave. When we arrived at our first church four hours later in West Virginia, we set up, had a sound check, and ran through a few songs before it was time for us to head over to our evening event. The church we played for was having a fundraiser for the school that they sponsor, and Grant, Rachel, Joellyn, and Tommy played an acoustic set at the banquet before the auction. At the end of the evening, we went to our host homes. The girls got to all be together again at the home of two Cedarville parents, whose son and daughter were still at school. I took some Advil for my wrists and we all changed into comfortable clothes and came back downstairs, and the mom suggested that we play the Wii. The four of us put in Just Dance 2, and we had so much fun! We also played Mario Kart, which I was NOT good at, but it was fun anyway. Yet another thing I love about HeartSong: every host home experience is so unique and so awesome; I love to spend time with my hosts and talk about each other's lives. When we went back upstairs I used my thinning shears to thin Rachel's hair a little bit (Joellyn took pictures because some of the faces Rae was making were hilarious!). Then Joellyn went to the daughter's room to sleep, and Rachel and I stayed up for a little while in the son's room doing homework. We both finished our papers before we went to bed, and even then we stayed up talking for a while.
Sunday morning was great; my wrists were feeling much better, and the weather was so nice we didn't even bring our coats to church! After a great breakfast, we went to the church for a final rehearsal before the service. Our full program went really well; it was the first time we'd done a full church program in a while, and I was excited about how well it went. Afterwards I had a great talk with a church member who is a music major from Appalachian Bible College; we talked about our different programs and what we liked and didn't like about them. Soon after we tore down, then went back to our host home for lunch and some relaxing time before we headed to our Sunday night church (we made all of the boys take a turn at Just Dance 2 before we left!).
After an hour drive we came to our next church. As we were setting up, the pastor took orders for Chinese food that we would have after the service. I was SO happy! We played the same set, and even though the congregation was smaller this time, it went really well; Dane was especially happy with how it sounded in the house, even with the carpet-floors/cement-block-walls combination. After some mingling with the people in the church, we ate our Chinese food and packed up to leave. We had a great lightening storm coming back! Well, great for me because I love watching lightening storms, plus I wasn't the one driving... way to go Grant and Will for keeping us safe! When we got back it had stopped raining; we unloaded in record time to make room for the other teams unloading. Joellyn and I walked back to our dorm after our final team prayer like we always do, and I walked into my room and shortly after went to bed. I did not want to wake up Monday morning; it is always really sad for me coming back from tour, back to real life.
These typical after-tour thoughts really make me wonder; if I'm so sad to leave, am I really serving God, or am I serving HeartSong? I love to be able to get up on stage with my team and lead worship together; I love to talk about life and spiritual things with them, and I really miss it when I'm not spending time with them (this is why I love van rides so much; we are forced to spend time together, even if we're all asleep...). It seems like when I'm away from this HeartSong setting, my passion for God dims a little bit. Could I be worshipping HeartSong, the music and the people in it, instead of the One who gave me this gift in the first place? It's like worshipping the sun, the creation, instead of the Creator.
Sometimes I get depressed when a rehearsal ends and Tommy says, "See you next week!" because it means that I might not see anyone from my team for a whole week! Sometimes I get really excited when we run over in rehearsal because it means I'm spending more time with my team. I'll spend more time than necessary going over music, rewriting chord charts, planning what to pack for the next weekend, or deciding what to write in my next encouragement cards to my team. All of these things are good things; but if I'm using these things to find fulfillment, I'm doing them for the wrong reasons, and they just leave me feeling empty. I should be doing these things because I'm already so full of God that His grace and power overflow in my life so that I can't help but write encouragement cards and make helpful chord charts and get my teammates transfer meals! When God's love overflows in my life, I don't need to find fulfillment in anything but Him; I don't need HeartSong for my life to be full of joy. I will worship my God, the One who chose me for HeartSong in the beginning, full of joy and wonder at the glories of the sun, in awe of its Creator.