Be thou my vision (new monthly feature w free printable)

I love hymns, I love words, I love it when old words still have everything to say about our very modern daily lives.

In the throes of modern culture we threw away so much tradition that we really ought to have redeemed.

We need to be using words that the average soul can grasp onto but we have to be always bridging our story to that of those who went before.  This struggle for faith, these issues, this pain… it’s nothing new.

There is beauty in the old practices, there is loveliness in the liturgy and the old songs and hymns still speak volumes to us if we to sit with them for a while.

Certainly there are thees and thous to work around, but for me, there is something deeply comforting about knowing that back in the 7th century the struggle was basically the same:  Faith is a hard won battle and at the end of it all we are prone to wander and focus on everything but the truth of God.  So we’d better keep on asking for help in this midst of the fray.  

At my current church, worship is a blend of old and new.  There are hymns done in contemporary style and there is liturgical, responsive reading but it’s done in modern language.

I believe in the old ways and I believe that the truth behind those words can bring us back, connect our now with the history of ages.

I need words, I believe in plastering the walls of my home with the truth that I am so prone to walk away from.  I believe in reminders, Ebenezers, things that ground me when I try to spin into madness.

So along those lines, I want to share hymns here on the 20th of the month, some sort of old school, blog worship.

I’ll provide the following:

  • Link to song on youtube (open in new tab)
  • Lyrics and reflections
  • Free 8×10 Printable for your home.

I hope you enjoy this, I know I’m going to love seeing words and truth that tell our story covering walls of our home.

Let’s start now, eh?  First up:  My Favorite Hymn of all time, likely because A) It’s awesome, B) It was my Dad and Rich Mullins’ favorites.

bethouprintable

guys this is my first printable, bear with me here.  I pulled out the lines of the song that I need to glance at the most.  When you click on it, it should be a nice, high resolution 8 x 10 that can easily be resized to a smaller frame if you’d like.  

Be Thou My Vision (I’d go play the song now… but that’s just me)

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Guys this song is a prayer, and those sort of songs are my favorite. The writer isn’t declaring himself as having achieved something lofty, he’s asking God to be his everything,  he isn’t claiming to be there.  This I can get on board with.

He’s asking God to filter the very way he sees the world and all the life humming around him.  My eyes are seeing all the wrong things Lord, will you enter into what my eyes gather of the world?

Dear Lord,  be our vision
Our Best Thought
Ever with us
Better than money and recognition is Jesus, the best thing we can think as we move through our day.

Yes please.  And Amen.

The Hands and Feet of Jesus are kind of Hairy (to me)

I rush around the kitchen. As I reach for bowls and plates, my chest tightens.  With every scream, nitpick or fight my children’s breakfast interactions grate on me as my adrenaline increases, like a slow burn.

Finally, one more: “Mom, I don’t wike dis food and I don’t wike dis pwate!”

And I’m done. I run off to the bedroom to scribble some notes on the cognitive distortions worksheet my therapist gave the previous day.

Because there isn’t a cell in my body that isn’t determined to unlearn the rhythms I use to survive, but there isn’t a chance I can stay another moment in the fray, fragile as I am.

When I return, all apologies I see him counting out twenties from our grocery / gas money stash, his lips moving as he does mental math. He walks around the table, into the kitchen where he holds me and presses two twenty dollar bills in my hand.

“One for Gas, One for you blow on whatever. When’s the last time you just had some time off? Not to work or produce. Just go be you.  I saw the your to do list and I’ve got it, I’ll get Noelle to school and I’ll clean the sinks and toilets. When you come home, dinner will be done. Just go baby, I got this.”

photo

He is the number two reason I will beat this thing, this anxiety, these inner lies.

He is my partner, supporter and very best friend. I didn’t know how deep love could go until I married Kel and every year?  It gets better.

He’s the one whispering God’s truth by proxy.

To me? The hands and feet of Jesus so often look like Kel’s hands and feet: strong, broad and kinda hairy.   Continue reading

Home Again (or Why I Need The Church)

There aren’t a lot of positives about losing your childhood home, losing the ability to “be home” for Christmas or whenever you crave it.

But, there is at least one and it is this: Home ceases to be a place and becomes something intangible, an elusive feeling that washes over you like warm sun through leaves.  Warm. Soft. Safe. Lovely. Held. 

There are moments in life where you take a breath and suddenly realize that you’ve come home.

I can’t perfectly plan these homegoings and I don’t fully understand them, but I know that it has everything to do with Soul nourishment and feeling safely known.

Yesterday was a home-going for me as I returned to the church of my twenties, the one where I began to make own my faith and grow into it.  Where it all came together and fell apart again.

For years I pulled my battered navy Saturn into the busy parking lot and walked through the doors to take my usual spot, near my friends, behind the drum pit.

Today I parked my aging mini-van into the same lot and walked through the same doors.  But this time, each of my hands held that of a small child and together navigated our way down the long hallways and through our first check-in with the children’s area.

As we walked, I ached for Kel, the missing soul in our Sunday quartet….

After settling them in their respective rooms I walked alone for once, completely thrilled at the prospect of sitting through church without my kids for the first time since April.

I didn’t even feel the smallest pang of guilt about not being a pew parent or desiring my children at my feet in worship.

I love that this concept is working so well for some of you, but every Sunday we’ve attempted it, I’ve returned to the van in tears after spending the entire service keeping my children entertained and hushed.

Our family likes to break up on Sundays, big church and kid’s church. We do life together all week and we have different learning styles on Sunday. We’ve accepted this fact and we’re done feeling guilty about it.

Okay, back to my story.

My eyes welled with tears the instant I settled into the plastic, gray chair.  Partly because I was available to meet God just as I was (a soul that extends beyond the parameters of motherhood) and partly because I felt like home.

As I waited for the service to start, the theater or my mind began to play my History in this place.

I saw myself with funky purple hair kneeling at the front with corduroy clad knees
Wearing a bandana and holding a guitar at a makeshift hoedown.
Walking slowly to the front in purple shorts and a T-shirt, being baptized alongside a new friend.
Praying with a pastor over my Mother’s illness and hospitalization.
Warming a similar gray chair the Sunday after we buried my father, weeping with grief.

This place has seen me lost, found, broken, pissed, smug and humble.

And now, here I am, back again to worship, my feet once again bare, naked and expectant on the gray, industrial carpet.

Back to join the community of the broken who gather together under a shared need for God.

A shared longing to serve him together as we lean on him to make sense of our lives and learn to live with him a rhythm of spirituality that was always meant to be more than just Sunday.

church

I thank God for this home-going and the faithful practice of finding me on Sunday mornings.  It’s not because I went to church, to a jesus-themed building, it’s because I stilled myself to meet with him, something I’m terrible at outside the parameters of church.

In the past, my lips have uttered phrases similar to: ” I don’t need church to find God

But these days?  I really do because without it, I dry up.  I’ve been burnt out and I’ve stayed away.  I’ve been cynical and scared and angry, I don’t need church to survive or be more religious. I need it for my soul and spirit in the least religious way imaginable.

I need the words and familiar melody.  I need the feeling of being in the midst of the people of God.  I need the truest reminders of who I really am and what on Earth I’m doing with my life.

I needed a flood of home today, replete with the nourishment my soul was hungering for.

Then later that night I gathered with my family to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday and you know what?  That was church too, home certainly.

Is your church home for you?  What expectedly brings you home?

Big, Exciting (Young Life) Announcement

A few months before we moved up to Michigan, an email popped up in my inbox. It was from my High School Youth Group Leader, Chris, and it was a job offer.

Chris is no longer a Youth Pastor but is now the Regional director for Western Great Lakes Young Life.  In his email he invited to come on board to help the region tell the stories of Young Life through blogging, social media and other communication avenues.

I was incredibly excited as I read through it, until I got to the end… the part where he filled me in that Young Life Staff raise their own support by partnering with people who believe in what they’re doing.

I shut my laptop and sighed, there was no way I could do that. I wasn’t brave enough, it would be too awkward and I didn’t have the time.

Yet, this invitation to work with Young Life, to do blogging and social media as a “for real” job always simmered on the surface of my thoughts.

I wanted to do it, to dive in… but I was terrified the money wouldn’t be there.

But at some point the idea of  working with an organization I love in a role that perfectly fit my passions overthrew my fear of money and I said: “Yes.  Yes, God I’m doing this.”

New-YL-logo Continue reading

A God Light Expert.

It was the end of the evening, after dinner but not quite bedtime, when I heard my four year old Noelle call to me from down the hall.

“Mom!  Come here, I have to show you something! It’s a surprise in your bedroom, you’ll love it so much!”

Outwardly I said: “Alright sweet girl, I’m coming!”

Inwardly I thought: “I wonder what mess she’s made this time.”

She was waiting for me on the khaki carpeted floor at the entrance to our bedroom, just sitting there grinning.

“Look Mom, it’s light.” she said with reverent awe.

And then I saw it, a beam of light that had made it’s way through the faux wood blinds of our bedroom and into the hallway, translucent-gold as the the dust of daily life passed through it.

My breath caught, this was not was I was expecting to be hauled down the hallway to see. Kitty games, forts, book towers… yup, expectable.  This golden stream of light?  It struck me as perfection.

I plopped down next to her and told her that it was light coming through the window, a focused beam of light shining on our floor.

“It reminds me of God.”  I told her, “the way his light streams into our lives and makes things beautiful and bright.”

 “So God is light?  That’s God?”  She asked me.

“Yes, and no” I told her. “That reminds me of God, the way his light always finds the cracks and comes into our lives.”

And that’s when she really popped my heart open: “Yeah, I know mom.  I’m a God-light Expert.”

God-light

I’m not sure what a God-light expert is guys, all I know for certain is that I want to be one.

An expert in seeing God-light in the unexpected places
In believing in it’s transformative power
An expert in being it, bringing it and letting it flow through me in all sorts of unlikely ways.

I’m sick of walking by the God light in all it’s many forms because I’m too occupied with busywork and worry.

I want to be stopped by the God light
I want to bring it where I’m going
I want the mini blinds of my heart to open wide to let in more than just cracks of it.

I want to swim in it, or at least realize that I already am swimming in it… and always have been.

I want see my children as the experts in God-Light and I, the novice as the they daily delight in the little bits of daily light.

I want my grown-up cynicism to crack like a breakfast egg and all the good stuff to run out and nourish another day of life on earth.

I want to be a God-Light expert too.  Don’t you?

How do your kids teach you about God-Light?  Where are you seeing it these days?

Late night closeness (and how I’m like a two year old boy)

I’m in the thick of parenting a two year old son, with all the awful drama and willful tantrums that accompany it.

He regularly walks up to his sister and smacks her on the head with a smile and he often grins at me while he runs toward the road, I running toward him on the wet grass screaming.

He’s also quite “type A” and so the wrong cup, fork, shirt or seatbelt routine can set him off and result in two minutes of screaming and a trip to time out.

Over. A. Fork… for the love.

All that is difficult to bear but what really causes my momma heart to ache is the pulling away that goes along with this independent streak.  He wants nothing to do with me.

Every request for a kiss or hug is met with an emphatic “no way momma!  no way!”

 

If I pick him up to kiss his face he wiggles and whines: “get me down!  No!”

When we go out and attempt to walk holding hands he refuses right out. He will just sit down in protest until I drag him away by both arms out of pure desperation.

When I buckle him into the shopping cart he screams for a solid three minutes because he wants to sit in the “big basket” so he can “eat all the foods.”  Which is exactly what he would do given the choice.

I’m sure so much of this comes along with the typical “quest for autonomy” that every two year old embarks on, but for me?  It feel like I’ve already lost him forever.  The snuggly sweetness is almost gone and I wonder if it will ever return or if I’ve already lost him to the “all grown up” place.

A few days back we had a particularly rough day with him, complete with defiance, dragging and tantrums.  To get through the insanity I picked up an afternoon iced coffee.

This was a mistake.

By the time we got everyone cleaned off and tucked in, my body was exhausted but my mind was buzzing, wide awake.

Hours after everyone had drifted off I sat at my keyboard, writing and crying, because life just seemed hard and you guys?  I was really tired and really low on little boy snuggles.

So I did the only logical thing I could think to do at 12:15 AM, I snuck into his room and sat next to his bed, rubbing his back through the slats in his crib.

The cat followed me in and began to sing his obnoxious song and woke up my “not so baby” boy.

I can’t say that I was sad about this.

We moved over to the rocking chair and I held him close to me for the first time in what felt like years.

I cried into his little shoulder as he wiggled on my chest, trying to get sleepy comfortable.

Then, from somewhere completely other a voice blew through my mind

Caedmon Pic

“Yes, I do love you this much.” Continue reading

Well Wanderers (the woman at the well, is me)

stockfreeimages.com

stockfreeimages.com

The woman at the well, I always imagine her with darting eyes and a determined jaw,  pure anxiety blanketed with a thin veil of composure.

She assumes that they’re watching her, they always are. Yet she wasn’t going to give them any more to talk about, she would get her water and get out of there.

I understand her game, that’s how I play it when I believe I’m in the presence of those who think and expect little of me.

But then Christ found her, and oh did he ever find her, right where she was.  He cut to the core of her and compelled her to do away with all of her needless trips to the well.

We all know that she would have to return to that well, the one dug by Jacob. She would be back time and time again, because humanity is full of ritual needs, like food and water.  They keeps us faithful, reliant, thankful if we allow them to.

No Christ was inviting her to end a different ritual, the one that found her running to different men for approval, obsessing about what the townsfolk thought of her, the one that binding her with insecurities and feelings of utter worthlessness.

Christ wanted to quench her thirst, to satisfy once and for all her questions of “am I good enough?” And “am I wanted?”

And his simple, profound words opened her eyes and cut to the core of her.  As she put it: “Here is a man who told me everything I ever did!

Between the lines I read “And he likes, probably loves me anyway!”

“Could this be the Messiah?”

Is this the one? Not because he performed miraculous signs or wonders, but because he knew her, yet still accepted and affirmed her. She was forever worthy because he found her, just as she was at that well one hot afternoon.

And today that’s the water I find myself desperate for.

An affirmation of who I am that lasts, a pronouncement of WHOSE I am that I don’t so easily forget.

Because more often than not, I drink at all the wrong wells. Continue reading

Kid Questions, Suicide & railing against a WalMart Christmas

courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/

Our family is experimenting with Paleo eating these days, mostly for medical and health related reasons, but also because we’re just plain sick of the American diet.

So earlier this week, Noelle and I set out to WalMart to hunt and gather what we would need to get by for the week.  I didn’t get to bring a caveman club to the store, although I sort of felt like it.  It’s probably good I don’t go into WalMart armed with a club, I get a little crazy in there.

If you’ve been in any retail store in America during November or December you’ll know that it’s rigged to persuade you to buy holiday M&Ms and vinyl snowman tablecloths.

Noelle was delighted with the whole business, the banners, the elves and the wreathes hanging over every checkout lane light.

She looked up at me from her perch on the front of the cart as asked “Is it Christmas mom?”

Uhhh… yes… no.. sort of? Continue reading

Unravelling a Relationship with Jesus

Ah the simplicity of flannel graph Jesus.

So I have a confession to make

I’m a pastor’s wife, a 27 year Christian, and I still don’t really understand what the phrase “Relationship with Jesus” truly means.

I know the part about modeling my life after him

I know the part about him saving me

I know the part about God loving us so much he sacrificed his only son, something I can’t ever fathom doing.

But the word, relationship keeps hanging me up.   We don’t have coffee face to face, we don’t text, we don’t do play dates.  I mean I know he’s there in all of those times but I don’t know the nuances of his face, his quirks or what makes him laugh.  I mean I don’t even know, what does he order at Starbucks?

There is something about questioning this phrase, that feels wrong, subversive or heretical.

I’ve been turning this question over like a rock in a tumbler over the weekend.  Trying to spin out the beauty and truth underneath the crusty phrase.

I may not be able to explain it for you, so I’ll tell you how I’m explaining it to myself

It’s one part rock star crush, the kind where you think you know someone personally even though you’ve never met face to face.

It’s one part meeting him in other people who show you who he is by modeling his way of doing things.

And It’s one part becoming him, acting him out the way my child models the actions of a chicken or a baby puppy.

These parts, the cumulative effect of all the small things sudden rush over you like a wave and realize that “relationship with Jesus” is confusing because the phrase itself cannot contain him.

He’s more than the New Testament Miracle Guy who died on a cross.

He’s the conductor of the creation symphony, the genius behind everything we touch.

He is the love I experience in my husband and children and the love I give away.

He is the one who takes my breath away in corporate worship, when I realize that I am standing in a room full of broken people who have a hope because of him.

He’s there when my son starts to echo my singing, “you can have all this world, give me Jesus.”  He is the song on a toddler’s lips.

Can you tell me, how could it be, any better than this?

Suddenly I get it, the word relationship is just a starter word, and perhaps even a hopeful prayer we can breathe over our person to person interactions.

Do you have a relationship with Jesus?  I’m starting to think I have more than that.

Have you gotten hung up on this phrase?  Did it make you feel naughty too?