Tag Archives: church

A Good Friday Prayer

Tonight, I helped lead worship at my church’s Good Friday service, as I’ve done for the past few years. It’s a truly beautiful service, somber, quiet, slow… but not without hope. Our pastors do an incredible job of planning this evening full of dramatic lighting, powerful songs, and the last words of Jesus as he prepared to give his life, and as he hung on the cross. It’s haunting.

When I got home, I was still in the mood the service had left me in. I was lost in thought, as I had been on and off all day. Good Friday has always been a sobering day for me. But as I put my youngest son to bed, I started to sing him one of the songs we had sung in the service. It’s appropriately called “Passion Song”, written by some friends of our worship pastor. (Click that link. It will bless your soul to hear it.) It’s based on John’s view of how Jesus’s last week went down. The pastor who spoke just before the song presented it perfectly, emphasizing how Jesus was John’s very best friend, the only person who had ever known him so completely. Here are the words, so you can see the powerful emotion packed in them…

I was with Him when He rode into town
And the crowds gathered round Him like a King
Their smiling faces joined a sea of branches waving
Though they were masquerading in the end

And my heart rose in my throat
When I heard them sing
Hosanna in the highest
Oooh oooooh oh

We went upstairs broke the bread and drank the wine
From the only living vine that we would taste
And I watch them take Him up the mountainside
Where He was crucified though innocent
And they mocked Him and cursed Him with their mouths
And told Him to come down if He was God

And my heart broke in my chest
When I heard Him say
Forgive them it is finished
Oooh oooooh oh

I remember in the garden
When He sweat like drops of blood
And how He begged the Father
Just to let Him pass the cup
I can still feel the anguish
When they pierced Him in the side
And how the ground beneath us shook
Upon the very moment that He died
Oooh ooh oh oh oh

Three days later we found an empty grave
And the stone was rolled away where He had been

Tears of joy streamed down my face
When the angel said
Oh fear not He is risen
Oh fear not He is risen
Oooh ooh ooh oooh oh oh oooh

You can see how this song would be lingering in my psyche, right? So I’m singing it to my son, as I’m settling him in for bed. And when I finally wipe the (my) tears away, and get to his goodnight prayer, I began to pray like always, and for some reason, I was led to utter the words, “…and thank You for giving Your Son. I could never give my son.”

And I cried some more.

You see, the sacrifice is beyond what any one of us could do. In the Old Testament, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. Whether he would’ve (or could’ve) actually gone through with it we’ll never know. There was a ram in the thicket, and God was preparing, even then, to give His very own son to save the world. Jesus willingly gave his life to pave the way for us to enter into fellowship with his Father. One of our pastors this evening titled it “a beautiful exchange”. His life for ours. What else could possibly be a better exchange for us?

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

His Gentle, Firm Call

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus


Through most of the year, my Thursdays are hectic. They are involved. They are also worshipful, filled with women I love, and full of inspirational teaching, meaningful connections, encouragement to last me days. I pack my rambunctious preschoolers into the car at what feels like zero dark thirty. I bring breakfast and toys to keep them occupied until their school starts, 30 minutes after my work does. I plan all week, sending emails, choosing songs, communicating with leadership, and practicing my instrument. I am thoughtful and prayerful about Thursdays as often as I can be.
Each week, I lead musical worship and do behind-the-scenes tech work for a women’s ministry at my church. It’s a part of my job I didn’t realize I’d be doing until I jumped in. My scared, insecure, and unwilling self simply said “yes” to my pastors when I started my service to this ministry two years ago. I’ll be honest: when it began, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I didn’t know the people involved very well, and technology often makes me a nervous wreck (read: it doesn’t always work for me). I felt unenthusiastic and under-qualified for the ministry, being one of the youngest women involved, and not having led many services on my own yet. But y’all, the Lord knew what He was doing when He threw me into the fray anyway. His call to do the work, this very specific work, was gentle but firm.

Many mornings, there were (and still sometimes are) problems I couldn’t solve without help, and questions I deterred with a weary, “I don’t know.” But the Lord has been faithful, and grown not only my devotion to and love for the ministry, but also given me new friends and more confidence. He has softened my heart to the new duties. He has blessedly grown the worship team within the ministry. In short, I have seen Him SHOW UP. He is there each week, preparing the room, the team, and the atmosphere to change women’s hearts towards Him. He draws us to Himself through each detail of the morning, and we never leave discouraged.

You may think you’re being called to something that isn’t a good fit. You might be confused, uncertain, or even refusing to go where He’s leading you. But I’m here to tell you, His plan is so much better than yours. He will equip you and help you grow into the role that He’s got for you (Hebrews 13:21). He is FOR YOU, and therefore no one can be against you (Romans 8:31). He would never lead you somewhere you shouldn’t go, even if it’s somewhere that’s hard. Submit to His plan – I promise it will be great.

Getting the Picture Perfect

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Yesterday, I posted a picture (a collage, actually) on Instagram (@OnlyHsuman). It wasn’t your typical Easter post. There were no eggs or baskets, and the children weren’t lined up oldest to youngest on the church’s front steps. In fact, they weren’t even all smiling. Sundays for us aren’t a beautifully relaxing experience. Sometimes, I’d even call them stressful.  

For those of y’all that don’t know me that well, I’m a worship leader. That means I choose the music, sing the songs, and play a big part in executing the church service on Sunday mornings. I won’t say that I do those things by myself, or that I don’t have amazing people helping me and working with me. I do! But there’s a lot on my plate most Sundays.

In addition, I have three children under four years old, and a husband that’s also a musician. He plays with me lots of Sunday mornings, meaning our family of five is out the door and in the church by 8:45am. Some Sundays, he hasn’t gotten home until 2:00 or 3:00am, because he also plays many Saturday evenings/nights at other venues. I’m certainly not complaining – it is his passion and it helps pay our bills – but it doesn’t exactly make our mornings run more smoothly. But back to my Instagram post…

The collage above is comprised of each of my children, and my one attempt at getting them all in the same photo. (I know, you can’t even that tell my daughter is underneath my older son.) I had been up since 4:45am, because my first service had been a joyful celebration of a sunrise service at a sister church in our town. I yawned my way through the 6:00am rehearsal, and prayed that my voice would be warmed up by the time the service began at 7:00am. Our worship pastor had, earlier in the week, referred to this service as a “spiritual cup of coffee”, and indeed it was. It woke my brain, my voice and my spirit to the incredible elation that is Easter morning.

Upon finishing the earliest service, I drove back to my home church (by way of my favorite coffee spot, of course) to begin rehearsing and executing two more perfectly lovely worship services, where the Spirit moved, hearts were changed, love was experienced and joy abounded. Family, friends, acquaintances and strangers gathered together to hear the good news of a tomb found empty. My children played, sang and shared with their friends, and I hugged necks, shook hands, smiled till my cheeks hurt, and sang until I had no more voice. I couldn’t ask for a better church home and church family.

Just like most other Sundays, I got home to my family (who had left halfway through the second service to save everyone else from their meltdowns) who was nibbling on lunch and preparing for naps. Their Sunday best was wrinkled (and drooled upon, in the case of my youngest) and they were really exhausted. They had no interest in posing for a picture together (with our without me) or even looking at me as a waved my camera around, knowing I’d already missed their best moods of the day.

But instead of being frustrated because I’d not gotten an “official Easter Day picture”, I decided to let it rest. To let them rest. And to rest myself. Although Sunday is our day of early rising, quick breakfast, rushed departures and very little down time, Easter included, it’s my favorite morning of the week. I’m convinced I have the best job ever, at the best church ever, with the best bosses ever (hey, pastors!) and the best people surrounding me. On other days, I might struggle to arrive at preschool on time, and still be wearing half my pajamas while I’m working from home, figuring out dinner and wishing for bedtime. But on Sundays, if I do nothing else, I have donned my Sunday best, set my heart on the Creator, and let Him take care of the rest. The details might get lost, but the praises are sung. The Gospel is shared. Friends are encouraged. Lives are touched. Jesus’ death and resurrection have been celebrated, and his sacrifice is not wasted. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and we are forever changed by His glory. Motherhood for me is a song of praise in itself, and I am grateful to share my worship leader life with my children, even if it makes for a messy Sunday. Because this Sunday, like every Sunday, He is risen. He is risen, indeed! 

 

What It’s Like When “That Kid” in the Church Nursery Is Yours

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

  

I’m a worship leader at my church. I really, really love it. It’s a job that’s fulfilling for me, and I feel like it isn’t really “work” to do it. The only exception is when I’ve got both my tiny ones with me. A couple of weeks ago, Hubby played in the band with me at church, so we were there before 9:00am, with both kids in tow. That’s before the nursery starts, but both of us were setting up and starting rehearsal with the rest of the band. Naturally, I let them eat breakfast at church because that occupies a lot of their attention while I’m trying to get things rolling. But this particular morning, they just seemed to be finished too quickly, and needed to be under my feet. As in literally under my feet, playing with the keyboard pedal and my water bottle. It was not as bad as like Easter Sunday, where practice was a little more important than usual, my kids were a little more needy than usual, and they managed to spill 95% of my $5 latte all over the stage rug. Sorry about that, Pastor. Anyway….

EK managed to get a mic that wasn’t plugged in, and commenced an adorable dance party while she sang into the mic. It was pretty adorable to have that going on while we rehearsed. J, however, needed to be playing the keys from in between me and the keyboard – and at 33 weeks pregnant, ain’t nobody got room for that. So by the time we had set up, tried to play the first song, mostly failed, and I was starting to get frustrated, it was time enough to take the kids downstairs to their nursery rooms.

EK loves it. She’s got friends in both services (she literally asks to “go play with her friends now”), knows all the teachers on the rotation, and doesn’t even look back when we get to the door. It took us a long while to get there, though, and the start of preschool last year was really her landmark for getting over her nursery dislike.

J, however, is still in the throes of screaming right when we get onto the hallway. He knows I’m leaving him there, and he’s not happy about it. Typically, he ends up crying for a while and being okay for the rest of the time, but sometimes he’s angry the whole time I’m gone. I hate it for him. I hate it for me. I hate it for whoever’s in there with him. Everybody down there has done everything they can for him. He even stays in the room he was in last year because he’s slightly more comfortable in there than in the bigger kid room that he’s technically old enough for. He wants to be snuggled and coddled, I guess, and that happens more in the baby room. My 30lb, 18 month old baby. Poor guy, right?

I just keep leaving him thinking, “He’ll get over it.” but it’s been months and he’s not over it. He does start preschool for two mornings a week this fall, so maybe that will do for him what it did for EK, and push him over the hump of hating nursery. But I worry about it every Sunday, apologize when I drop him off, and feel even worse because I’m not like every other mom. I’m not available to run downstairs and snuggle him for a few minutes, or check on him during the service. I have to be upstairs, either leading worship, ready to hop up on stage at a moment’s notice, or available to troubleshoot technical difficulties they might have. I can’t go help him or make him feel better. I leave him in totally capable hands, I just feel terrible about having “that kid” that won’t stop crying, or “that kid” who has to be wheeled around for two hours in a stroller up and down the halls instead of playing nicely with the other kids.

As a mom, it’s like a trifecta of “Am I a bad mama?” It’s hard. It’s embarrassing. It’s sad to leave your kid screaming, week after week. Should I be leaving him like this, week after week? Are the other moms judging me because of how sad he is every time? Are the workers dreading when I walk in with my kid? Am I a bad mom? Could I be doing something different to make him happier? I don’t know. I just know that my kid can’t be the only one. Other kids cry when they’re in the nursery. I’ve seen it. Other moms have to pry their kids off when they leave, right? It’s all worth it for a few minutes of worship time and community with other people who love Jesus. I need that time. I need to make time for Him to be my focus every week. I have to let go of the guilt I feel leaving him unhappy, and hang on to the Father who can make us both feel safe and secure.

A Tool for the Gospel

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This keyboard is a tool (a darn good one at that). I use it to make music, to provide accompaniment or melody. As a worship leader, I am also a tool, to be used to lead those around me into worship, into the throne room, into the presence of my God. Sometimes I feel like a broken tool, hurt or jaded or so very needy that I could never lead others. Who am I to stand up there, an exhausted and sometimes frustrated mama who makes an embarrassing amount of mistakes, a too-busy friend, a distant stranger, and usher those sweet seekers of grace to the place of self-abandoning worship of the Most High? Who am I to hammer out the chords, sing someone else’s words, and put my heart out there, when others are surely more worthy?

But I guess that’s the beauty of it. Flawed people do great things. Everyone has a little work to do to further the Kingdom. Moses tried to tell the Lord that he wasn’t good enough. In Exodus, when God called Moses to set His people free, Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt? What if they ask me questions I can’t answer? What if they don’t believe me? ”  God simply says that He has the answers, He will provide the proof… “I will be with you.” Moses will be the tool God uses to do the work, the freedom work, the work for His Kingdom.

If He can do that, then Jesus can take my half-asleep-on-Sunday-morning self, who is insecure about her abilities and worrying about what people may think, and help me let go. He can take my meager gifts and turn them into something beautiful. He takes my simple singing and playing, and touches someone’s heart. Even on a morning that I feel unrehearsed, rushed, hoarse, and hectic, someone will tell me that they felt His spirit, that they were spoken to. If just one someone grows closer to Him, I know that He has used me for His good. What better purpose is there for a person – a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend – to have than to bring forth the Gospel? To bless others? To lead my precious brothers and sisters to adoration at His feet?

And who is changed? Me. I am most affected by His use of me. I am the one who is blessed by blessing others, who grows closer to Him each time I play a note or open my mouth to sing. I am growing and changing and marveling at His love. From there, I can spread that incredible, mind-boggling love to others.