July 03, 2012

Name That Hymn!

An old hymn popped into my head this morning.  When I was growing up, my family was part of a church which sang tons of hymns.  By the age of 13 I was a regular pianist for the church and got to know the music (and lyrics) really well, so I know a LOT of hymns.  (I'm pretty sure my Mom knows more though!)

When I started my first post-college job as worship director at a church (14 years ago), they were using some hymns and some newer "choruses".  It bothered me that the language in the lyrics of the hymns was so antiquated that maybe the younger generations might not even know (or care) what it all meant, and maybe the older generations had sung them so long, they may be complacent as to the meaning, but just enjoyed the song for nostalgia.  So I occasionally published an insert for the bulletin called "Know What You Are Singing".  I would put into my own words what the lyrics meant.  One time I did a mini research project on what "bulwark" meant and wrote that up for "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".  After service that Sunday, a WWII veteran came up to me and explained what a bulwark was even better than what I had explained on paper.  (At least then I knew someone was reading my inserts!)

So it was funny when this song from years ago came to mind as I started this morning's laundry.  It occurred to me that I really only remembered the first verse and the chorus.  It also occurred to me how archaic and somewhat funny-sounding the lyrics are.  So once the laundry was sorted and started, I looked it up in my hymnal to review the other verses.  Then I wrote them down and studied their meaning.  Finally I came up with this prose rendition.  I think it is a great way to think about how a song expresses meaningful thoughts and feelings about my relationship with God and what He has done for me.  Maybe someday I'll have time and creativity and put this back into poetic form and write a modernized version of this hymn.

Can anyone guess which hymn this is?  I really don't think anyone, except maybe my parents, can get this one!

I've decided not to waste my time chasing after satisfaction and happiness through the pursuits this world has to offer.  Instead, I see clearly that what God offers to me now, and for eternity, brings true fulfillment and joy, and they are things of a higher and nobler quality.

Because of Jesus' free gift of forgiveness-- that beautiful saving grace, I am full of gladness and true freedom, so I run to Him, the greatest and highest One there is.

I've decided to turn my life around-- away from loving sin and being defeated by a life of worry.  I now fix my eyes on Jesus--the true One, the just One, the One who has the words of life.

I've decided to follow my Savior, being as faithful and true to Him as I can, every day.  I'll pay attention to what He says, and do what He wants me to do.  This is the way of life.

I've decided to accept God's generous invitation into His Kingdom by leaving behind the paths of sin.  My friends may oppose me, and my enemies may attack me, but I will still be given the rewards of Heaven for choosing Jesus as my Lord.

We'll see what everyone comes up with!

June 09, 2012

A New Kind of Summer

Well, we completed our school year near the end of May, and I'm so thankful for the break.  I really don't enjoy structure and routine (unless it's our daily hour of quiet time after lunch).  So Summer, to me, equals freedom and relaxation!  Except . . . there's one problem.  Last December my husband's Army job moved us to the desert Southwest.  It's June, and it's REALLY HOT!  It can be pleasant around 5:30 a.m., though, I discovered this morning.

But playing outside during the day - especially during the afternoon - requires forethought about sunscreen, water, proper clothing, proper shoes (because flip flops don't cut it for running around in the grass where there are thorny weeds ready to puncture or latch on anything that passes by).  The air is bone-sucking dry, which is really hard on the sinuses, and I have to ask myself, "Am I really willing to sacrifice my comfort in order to allow the children to play outside properly supervised by me?"  (They can play in the back yard without me, but usually they want to ride bikes in the front.)

So rather than freedom and relaxation, summer is feeling more like being a prisoner in my air-conditioned house for self-preservation, and more work for me in figuring out how to entertain these desperately bored children.  We're staying active with 2 weeks of day camps for the older two girls, swimming lessons twice a week for them all, and the library's summer reading program.  But we can't just go for a nice walk, hike, bike ride, or anything without the fear of the intense sun sucking the energy out of you and leaving you feeling radiated for the rest of the day.  We went for a hike this morning and the heat plus exertion has flattened me for the whole afternoon!

So I'm trying to make the best of it, as Army wives do, and dream up how to capitalize on our situation.  My first thought was to adopt the Mexican idea of an afternoon siesta during the hottest part of the day.  When we were stationed in Hawaii, this was also something we heard the natives did, or used to do.  Next, I observed that the neighbor kids tend to go outside to play while we're eating dinner, and stay out past the time we've been putting our girls to bed.  Putting two and two together, I realize that if we have a siesta, the girls could probably stay up a little later to enjoy the evening cooled down air with their friends.

I have a number of crafts, activities and games we don't have time for when we are schooling that we're beginning to do.  I set up a craft table in the main room where we can leave unfinished projects to work on over the course of several days.

I have stocked up on water play accessories and bubbles and located our sidewalk chalk.  We'll get outside as much as we can stand.  Hopefully soon I'll get over the fear of bugs and snakes coming out of the darkness and crawling outside at night so we can make use of our telescope.

I'm really looking forward to our trip "up north" to visit family in a couple weeks to escape this heat!