Wednesday, April 21

Easter Prayer

"Jesus, You are King:
Triumphant Lord and Master of all.

Death could not hold You nor contain You:
You broke its shackle, and You have released us from its curse.

Help us to remember that we are an Easter people,
A Resurrection people, and Alleluia is our cry, our song, our praise to You.

Free us from our graves,
Help us rise from them singing.

Help us to remember this is our time of resurrection too.
This is our new springtime.

You have said, BEHOLD: I do something new.
Help us to claim Your Resurrection.

Help us to go forth, Your empty vessels,
Heads held high, proudly proclaiming to the world:

For that world unbelieving will mock and scorn, "Where is your God now?"

We cry out in jubilation: He is not in the empty grave.

Roll away the stone, for He is ALIVE. He is here. He is risen."

Forever and ever, world without end, AMEN.  

Tuesday, April 20

Let This Cup Pass Me By...

Ever have "one of those days"?

You know the kind I mean... those days when the simplest thing can tinge your day with difficulty, can burden your soul, can reduce you to tears and doubts.

Today was one of those days for me. (I know, I know, reusing blog photos...)

Even though I know that my husband is probably my most consistent reader, having this blog still feels like a confessional, like I'm sending my spirit out into the world like a dove to find dry land. There's a degree of anonymity, of release, of freedom in sharing my humble thoughts with an audience that, regardless of what the truth might be, at least to me seems captive and engrossed in my day-to-day doings and musings.

And so I share with you my weaknesses, my fears, my wee difficulties, in the hopes that you might somehow understand, commiserate, or at least know. Knowing someone out there knows spreads some of the weight around.

I started this blog to chronicle my quest to balance my life as musician, as mother, and as minister. Lately (and by that, I really do mean the past few days), I've been struggling a bit with my role as mother.

Take today for example: Matthew generally takes a solid nap in the mornings, and I count (oh how much do I count!) on having that blissful, blessed time to myself to do the things that I WANT TO DO. Today was no exception: I cheered to myself as the baby went down oh-so-nicely for his nap, and thought to myself: "Ok, I can finally sit down and finish reading that book, well, AFTER I clean up the house, and exercise, and scarf down some lunch, and get those business emails done..."

I'll bet you can tell where this is going... I got done all the things that I HAD TO DO, but when that blissful, special time came for me to relax... I heard a not-so-musical cry from the baby room, and that was the end of that.

I can't tell you how many times that has happened over the last 11 months. But it got to me today. My heart literally sank, and I couldn't shake this feeling of disappointment.

I have to confess, I'm TERRIBLE at relaxing. I always would rather work, work, WORK for an intense hour, get everything done, and then settle in for some quiet, peaceful reading. Problem is, now that I have a wee man on my hands, my time for me shrinks weekly, and my need for it grows exponentially.

I love my lil man, but he is a demanding child who requires (read: commands) much of my attention and energy. It's hard not to feel smothered by a baby who just wants you 24/7 (although he is really cute). As a mother, you are never off duty. And it's definitely wearying.

I can promise you this: it's worth every second. My son is so unbelievably sweet and loving. But it is hard. And some days, I just need to get things out there and out of me. I don't have any answers or deep ponderings or wisdom to offer with this post. But I know I'm not alone. And I know I'm so blessed. And I know, above all, that I love my Matthew with every fiber of my being.

Wednesday, April 7

Empty Yet Satisfied

I read another Steady Mom blog post delving into the beauty of emptiness. Emptiness is a concept that our modern world shuns. And yet, surprise surprise, it is a lifestyle to which our Lord calls us, if we are to be ready to follow Him at a moment's notice (click here to read my thoughts on the immediacy of Christ's call).

I must confess, this idea of emptying myself, of decluttering, of untethering myself from the materially unnecessary is daunting and uncomfortable. I like the security provided by possessions, by financial success.

I like the comfort of going with the crowd, following convention. If there's anything that terrifies me, it's the thought of being judged, of being found wanting, of not meeting expectation or causing disappointment.

And who, might you ask, is that judge? Shamefacedly, I'll admit that too often my judges are the people around me, who in my mind are constantly evaluating my actions and reactions.

I forget a lot that in the end, His opinion and His alone is the one that truly matters.

And so I must empty myself of my preconceived notions, my baggage, my biases. I must set aside worldly ambitions and aspirations. I must loosen my grasp on material possessions, and be ready at a moment's notice simply to go where I am called.

For He does call, when we are open to listen. He gives us tasks and challenges so to spread the message of hope and love that only He can give to a world that is truly in need.

He needs us to be empty, so that His Love can better flow through us.

Only then can we truly be satisfied, never having anything of our own, but always full to the brim with purest Love. In giving that love away, we constantly receive more, and our capacity to give and receive increases. The gift of Love, given and received, never ends.

"The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite."

Monday, April 5

Ink and Pages

""Someone once said that reading is a dress rehearsal for life. Through a well-crafted story we experience the good, the bad, and the ugly without any of the consequences. We get to learn from others' mistakes."

 I read this quote on one of the blogs I currently follow: Steady Mom. It got me to thinking about the beauty of reading-the exciting journeys and adventures it inspires- and the incredible power of the imagination.

I am an avid reader... at least I used to be, before life happened and my son was born.
Now if I get 30 minutes of reading in, it's a fabulous day for "me" time.

Don't get me wrong, I relish every second spent with my little guy. But on those lovely days when he sleeps for three hours and I get the opportunity to delve back into reading, I am reminded of how very much I enjoy this activity and how grateful I am that my mother so strongly encouraged me to read. She opened up the world to me, and I intend to do that for my children. No endless hours in front of a TV for them! (A strong proclamation considering the only child I have right now is a 10-month old...)

I just finished two books that when juxtaposed reveal such interesting truths about love, relationships, and the appearance of perfection. The first, Perfect Life by Jessica Shattuck, is an examination of the friendships and relationships experienced by a group of college friends some years after graduation.

The second, Recipes For A Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty gives a portrayal of two marriages, that of a woman living in New York, and that of her grandmother in Ireland.

Both books, while the former is secular to the core and the latter full of spiritual wisdom, illustrate the principle of illusion: all that glitters is not gold, and what can appear to be a perfect relationship can be anything but. 

I often look at other people's relationships and wonder how they make it look so easy. I look at my own relationship, and sometimes miss the good in worrying about the difficult (but only sometimes: there's so much to be grateful for).

It's amazing how many times we can focus on the perfect, this illusive ideal that somehow manages to become the standard. I know in my head that perfect is impossible to accomplish. But my heart longs to be perfect, to have it all together, to be "that mother, that wife, that woman" that other women want to be more like. 

Sometimes I look at other women, and I want to be like them. I think to myself, "Man, she's got it so easy. Her kids ..., her husband ..., whereas my son ... and my husband ..." Or I could covet someone else's financial security, someone else's house, someone else's good fortune...

But that's where reading such books as Perfect Life and Recipes comes in handy. All that glitters is not gold. I may have my own crosses to bear, but I have no idea what someone else's challenges may be. We must be careful what we wish for. What appears to be perfect often times is anything but.

Many times, we can present a front of perfection to the world as a wall behind which to hide the reality of our problems and trials. If we could just appear to have it all together, maybe then everything would simply be okay.

I am so grateful for all that I have. I have a wonderful music ministry, which God continues to expand in His will and time. I have a beautiful marriage, which is not perfect, which is continuing to blossom, and which brings me joy unlike anything else. I have a wonderful son who teaches me unceasingly and calls me daily to sainthood. I have so many blessings. So what if life is still hard sometimes? The challenges keep me from complacency and stagnancy, keep me reaching to Jesus for the strength and grace to persevere.

Little by little, I'll learn from my own mistakes. I'll take what I can from other's mistakes. I'll keep moving forward, keep living life. Lord, keep my eyes focused on You, rather than on those around me. You alone are perfect, and can bring me to perfection. And that is good enough for me.
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