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Monday, October 31, 2011

Mommy-hood - My time, my days

I don’t want to be one of those people who looks back on the earlier days of mommy-hood and wistfully says, ‘I thought what I had to do with my days, my time, my energies were so important that I shoved my kids aside in favour of the things I wanted to accomplish…’ I’d like to realize that now, and willinginly give my time and attentions to the brood of kids that gather around me throughout my days. I was just raking leaves outside with Timo while waiting for his bus. I realized that every day I will have to take a few minutes of my day – my time – and do nothing but wait for his bus. I could ignore Timo while doing this and read a book instead. I could talk on the phone and try to keep him occupied while we wait. Or I can take up the rake, the crayon, or the little hand that still willingly holds mine and give him my full attention and time, and I can choose to reject all the other things calling for my attention. I just hope I do this more each day, and that slowly I won’t even recognize that I’m giving anything up, but that the greater joy, greater calling I have is a much better use of my time than even something as noble as folding the next pile of laundry. Yes, these other things need to get done, and in my case with ever increasing dilligence! But they don’t need to be in the forefront of my mind when a precious 5 year-old is willing to rake leaves alongside me (and in that case, also doing productive labour)! I hope to cherish these few years and times I have with my kids, so that I won’t be looking back, regretting that somehow the computer, the supper, the laundry, the phonecall, the clutter, the need to pick up, the schedule – that all these were somehow more important than looking into the darling faces of my children and willingly giving them myself – my attention, love, time, nurture, care and companionship.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Make Me a Captive Lord

This is probably familiar to most of you, but in case it isn't I want to share it here - one of my favourite hymns.

Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.
I
sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.

My
heart is weak and poor until it master find;
It has no spring of action sure, it varies with the
wind.
It cannot freely move till Thou has wrought its chain;
Enslave it with Thy matchless love, and deathless it shall reign.

My power is faint and low till I have learned to serve;
It lacks the needed fire to glow, it lacks the
breeze to nerve.
It cannot drive the world until itself be driven;
Its flag can only be unfurled when Thou shalt breathe from heaven.

My will is not my own till Thou hast made it Thine;
If it would reach a monarch’s throne, it must its
crown resign.
It only stands unbent amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leant, and found in Thee its life.

by George Matheson


Incidentally, another of my favourite hymns is 'O Love that Will Not let me go' which is also penned by Matheson. If anyone could speak to poverty and anguish of soul and a need for experiencing the healing, all embracing love of God, it was he. He had become engaged to be married to his sweetheart and at some point became ill. Before he was to be married, it was found that his illness would mean the loss of his eyesight - permanently. Upon hearing this news, and realizing her future spouse could not engage in meaningful, productive labour, his fiancee broke off their relationship.


Dealing with rejection is painful and difficult - I'm sure we all can attest to that. But I am inspired by the things Matheson wrote in the midst of deep pain. His words speak of heavenly, unfailing love. He tells first hand of God's embrace that is both bondage and freedom at the same time: 'Enslave it with Thy matchless love, and deathless it shall reign.' This sounds strange to unconverted ears, I suppose. But it was not a foreign concept to Paul who considered himself a bondslave of the Lord Jesus, and who also spoke of using our freedom to 'serve one another in love.'


Let Matheson inspire you too:


O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shepherd Hymn

Our Father God and Shepherd, Who guides us in Your ways,
Who tenderly directs us in paths of truth and grace -
Though often times we suffer, beset with many fears,
With patient hope and firm faith, help us to persevere.

In mercy love and patience, You hem our lives with peace!
Your rod and staff bring comfort though disconcerted we
Forget Your Father's heart is set on our holiness -
You draw us back to Your fold - to pastures of Your rest.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Appropriate Hymn for our times

I was just trying to sing Hannah to sleep.  (Yes, I've taken a hiatus from blogging - we added Hannah to our brood two months ago!) Regarding my absenteeism from this blog - I just thought I'd mention that I don't make it a goal to just fill space on here. If I have something significant enough to say, I will - believe me, I will! Often I have lots to say but would get in trouble if I said it all. So perhaps an anonymous blog will be started soon. I can't say. It seems Hannah has a bit of colic, so I don't anticipate any regularity with blogging though I intend to at least get back to it and finish the saga of meeting Sam.
I intend also to do a hymn of the day/week/whatever blog regularly, since there are so many gems fallen by the wayside that I'd like to highlight.
I regularly make comments about how I feel about hymns, music, and worship in general. I'll just throw this out quickly because it has irritated me and I finally figured out why. It is the old line that advocates of contempo-pop-worship music people throw at me: "Well,the really good hymns stick around, and the rest, well, there's a reason no-one sings them anymore - they weren't any good - if they were we'd still be singing them, so the good ones have stood the test of time."

It's best if I don't answer people who tell me this because my red-headed temper might get the better of me. I'd like to say, 'Oh, really? You mean that to make something worthwhile it must be popular and approved by a new generation whose ears have been tuned to the equivalent of modern art as far as music goes? Since Shakespeare is so hard to read and understand why don't we just chuck his works out too - you know, let them rest on a shelf somewhere...' I get irritated because I write music and words to old words and old music (I can't seem to write both words and music in the same song), and yet, because I am un-ambitious, anti-self-promotion, and in general not the driven type, no one will probably hear my music or read much of my words, and yet I don't feel that makes them less valuable. Popularity and wide exposure and acceptance cannot be our gauge for measuring value, even when it comes to something as delicate and personal as music/lyric preferences.
So much of what has become popular has become that way because of marketing, drivenness and opportunity. What I mean is, a fairly good musician writes and plays his music well - it gets noticed - he is driven to market and manufacture his stuff - he finds/comes across appropriate opportunity for such an endeavour - he learns the ropes or has agents who do it for him and voila - popular music on the rise. It is sometimes just a lot of luck combined with personality and opportunity. (You theologians out there know I don't believe in proverbial luck - just had to clarify). So that means a depressive type who doesn't get out there to manufacture his stuff isn't going to get much press. Does that make his music less worthy?! No, of course not. And so it is with older hymns that have fallen by the wayside. Some fall out of use for good reason - they weren't that great to begin with (think: 'Climb, climb up sunshine mountain' - doesn't get more fluff than that!) But that certainly can't be said for all the older, less-known, less-popular hymns. Think of 'Depth of mercy can there be mercy still reserved for me.' How many of you knew that before some group re-made it recently? Thanks to them more of you recognize these words and I applaud such efforts. How many of you knew that 'Before the throne of God above' came out of the little Believers Hymnal and was written over a hundred years ago? If I didn't have my calling to be fully present with my kids in the home, and had spare money, time, energy and effort I could be out there manufacturing re-written hymns too - and I'd get to pick which ones! And I'd have a personal staff of musicians and administrators to do all the stuff I can't. And I'd have time to do it, and drive and energy and all of the above. But that is in dream-world. I am not about to do such a thing. And yet that does not make the old forgotten hymns any less valuable, important or artistically worthy. So, be well informed folks, don't give me the line 'we only sing the ones that stood the test of time...' or you might get wolloped in the face. Yeah right. You only sing the ones made popular by the musicians you like and follow (and I'm glad some of them bring these to life again!)

Here is the hymn I just came across and think it is appropriate for all the OWS people, and the rest of us too who watch with wonder, curiosity and puzzlement.
Whew. Glad that's off my chest. One less bee in my bonnet.
Apparently Beethoven wrote the music for this. We know the tune to other words: 'Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness.'


Where cross the crowded ways of life, Where sound the cries of race and clan, Above the noise of selfish strife, We hear Thy voice, O Son of man!

In hands of wretchedness and need, On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lures of greed, We catch the vision of Thy tears.

The cup of water giv'n for Thee Still holds the freshness of Thy grace;
Yet long these multitudes to see The sweet compassion of Thy face.

O Master, from the mountainside, Make haste to heal these hearts of pain,
Among these restless throngs abide, O tread the city's streets again.

Till sons of men shall learn Thy love And follow where Thy feet have trod;
Till glorious from Thy Heav'n above Shall come the city of our God.

- F. Mason North