Christian Living, music, Uncategorized

Friday Reflection – On a Hymn and a Prayer

Dear friends,

Wow! It’s been awhile! While my life is still super-ultra-mega busy, I’ve been busy working on my “word” for this year, which is discipline. One of the disciplines in which I had hoped to grow in 2019 was setting aside time to write, even if it was only a few moments, one day each week.

Well, since this is my first post on the good old “Shimmersome” blog in 2019, you can imagine how that’s gone. You know what, though? Writing, for me, is actually a spiritual discipline, and like every other spiritual discipline, the hardest part is setting aside the perceived needs of the moment and getting started. When I sit down to write, my heart is full, my mind is engaged, and I feel more like the person God created me to be than just about any other time. So, back to it! (If you want to read my other published work so far in 2019, you can check me out on the Revive Our Hearts “Authors” page here.)

As many of you know, one of my (many) passions is music, and one of the particularly nerdy ways that plays out in my life is in reflecting on the lyrics of the songs that pop into my head throughout the course of the day, particularly if they’re hymns or songs of worship. (I mean, if you want me to write a reflection on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, I suppose I could do that, but somehow I don’t think there’s much of a thirst for that among the minuscule masses of my readership.)

This week, while writing a post on my journey through depression and anxiety for ROH, the hymn that’s been on repeat in my mind is one that is based on Psalm 51, which is David’s song of repentance after the mess with Bathsheba. I don’t know that it had any direct connection with what I’d been writing about, except that it, like Psalm 51, majors on the theme of God’s great mercy for His people and it gives us an example of how a truly repentant heart might approach a supremely holy God and come away cleansed, forgiven, and comforted.

At the risk of losing my Baptist credentials, I have to say that our liturgically-minded brothers and sisters in the faith really have something when it comes corporate confession. I’m convinced that seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness together is a practice that would be a gift to every healthy church, and one that could be a first step toward health for a body that is ailing.

Alas, since many churches don’t have a format for practicing corporate confession, what better way to begin than in song? The words to “God be Merciful to Me”, originally from a Scottish Psalter, are poetic, poignant, and purposeful, and I’ve copied them below. For those who are familiar, perhaps there are a few additional verses you haven’t heard. As you read them, may they be the prayer of your heart, and lead you on the path of repentance, worship, and peace.

1 God, be merciful to me,
on thy grace I rest my plea;
plenteous in compassion thou,
blot out my transgressions now;
wash me, make me pure within,
cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

2 My transgressions I confess,
grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against thy grace
and provoked thee to thy face;
I confess thy judgment just,
speechless, I thy mercy trust.

3 I am evil, born in sin;
thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
teach thy wisdom to my heart;
make me pure, thy grace bestow,
wash me whiter than the snow.

4 Broken, humbled to the dust
by thy wrath and judgment just,
let my contrite heart rejoice
and in gladness hear thy voice;
from my sins O hide thy face,
blot them out in boundless grace.

5 Gracious God, my heart renew,
make my spirit right and true;
cast me not away from thee,
let thy Spirit dwell in me;
thy salvation’s joy impart,
steadfast make my willing heart.

6 Sinners then shall learn from me
and return, O God, to thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
and my tongue shall sing thy love;
touch my silent lips, O Lord,
and my mouth shall praise accord.

7 Not the formal sacrifice
hath acceptance in thine eyes;
broken hearts are in thy sight
more than sacrificial rite;
contrite spirit, pleading cries,
thou, O God, wilt not despise.

8 Prosper Zion in thy grace
and her broken walls replace;
then our righteous sacrifice
shall delight thy holy eyes;
free-will off’rings, gladly made,
on thine altar shall be laid.

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #51C

Accessed at: https://hymnary.org/text/god_be_merciful_to_me_on_thy_grace

Hey, you made it this far! I can’t believe someone’s still reading. Ha! Well, what did you think? Those are fabulous lyrics, are they not? If you’d like to explore further resources for this hymn, you can check out free sheet music for the traditional setting of the hymn, and then a couple of videos so you can hear both the old and a newer setting. Enjoy! Leave me some feedback on whether you’d like to see more hymn reflection posts in the future or any other feedback for the newly regenerated blog.

Grace and peace,

Laura

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Uncategorized

He Never Gave Us Any Stones (All of God’s Gifts are Good)

I wrote this in the first month or so after Alice’s diagnosis. Her family has traveled many miles, both figuratively and physically in the intervening months, but I know that this Christmas the words still ring true in their hearts—All of God’s gifts are good. Sometimes hard, but always, always good.

I will share the full text here after Christmas break, but for today, feel free to hop over to the Revive Our Hearts site to read it: All of God’s Gifts are Good.

Uncategorized, Words and Writings

This is Only a Test

I work at a university, and we’ve just had a test of our emergency alert system. Perhaps this should be a post about gun violence, mass killings, terror . . . but it’s not. It’s just me, writing a post about writing a post.

This is only a test. (Or perhaps the ravings of a mad writer. You decide.)

I know, I started this blog with the promise of regularly appearing words. I won’t make more promises, but I can tell you that I’ve been testing the waters of wordsmithery once again. I’ve just submitted my first actual piece in many months to my editor over at Revive Our Hearts.

Writing again was strange. Not writing has been stranger. The piece I just submitted was one I put off writing for at least a month. I felt paralyzed, you know? It was a story I had to tell, but not one I ever would have chosen. Who wants to write about a terminally ill child for Christmas?

Who???

Thankfully, the piece (I hope) is less about a terminally ill child and more about the only Truth that will get her friends and family through these days of darkness. One way or another, the post will appear in this space in due time, but for now, with no pomp and circumstance, you’re stuck with this lackluster post about writing a post.

This is only a test.

I’ll leave you with a limerick, because, why not?

In Silence Cell I’d lost my pen,

Now alas! I’ve found Home Keys again.

Writing’s joy is brought back,

Though cheery mirth hard Truth lacks,

Words in hand, Christ is King. Amen.

 

Grace and peace, friends.

-LJE

 

 

 

 

Christian Living, In the News, Uncategorized

Don’t Fall Prey: Brief thoughts on Trump and #takeaknee

So, the blog has been pretty quiet. I just thought I’d pop in and share a few brief thoughts on the uproar over Sunday’s “take a knee” controversy. I posted these thoughts on my personal Facebook page, but they seem to be resonating with my friends on both sides of the political spectrum, so I thought I would share them here. It’s not spectacular oration, just the earnest ramblings of a mid-western mom that would like to see things accomplished in Washington for the sake of America and in America for the sake of Christ.

 

Guys. The take a knee thing started a year ago. Trump is fanning the flame to be divisive, fire up the base, and distract from other issues. Don’t fall prey. Racial justice is important. Our national defense is important. Freedom of speech is important. So are affordable health care, tax reform, immigration reform, and the little matter of impulsive national figures vainly puffing their chests with nuclear weapons at their fingertips. Stick to the issues. Work toward compromise. Love your country. Love your neighbor. Honor our military. Stand for justice. Be mature. These things are NOT mutually exclusive.

Don’t fall prey.

And Christian, remember. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven. People are hurting. People are dying. People need the gospel. Stick to the issues.

Grace and peace, friends!

Uncategorized, Words and Writings

What’s Holding You Back?

holdbackpic

Previously published on the Revive Our Hearts True Woman blog, this post will give you a glimpse of how I moved from fear to joy as I began to write again after a decade-long break! Original content can be found here

While scrolling through my email inbox recently, the title of the latest True Woman blog post jumped off the screen and into my 6 a.m., early-morning, not-enough-coffee existence. It might as well have been flagged, “Important”; “Read Now”; “Urgent.” But it wasn’t, and I didn’t. I kept right on scrolling toward my latest credit card statement and the thirty-minute crockpot freezer-meal recipe of the day. I had no plans to read that post.

But it bugged me. It bugged me for nine hours, until grudgingly I resumed my position on the couch, tablet in hand, to read “Why I Write” by Erin Davis and to ask myself why I don’t. Now, the temptation here is to launch into a belabored litany of explanation of why I wasn’t writing—which happens to be my thing, but I’d rather reserve some space for exhortation as to why you should do your thing, whatever that is. So in brief, let me share with you three reasons why I wasn’t doing my thing: Continue reading “What’s Holding You Back?”

Uncategorized, Words and Writings

The Blog that Wasn’t

Morning coffee - Mock up set of smartphone with notebook and cup

The Blog that Wasn’t

I wasn’t planning to start a blog. I wasn’t planning to have a website. But awry I’ve gone, having found myself on the course of mice and men, by the grace of God and His inscrutable ways . . .

I’ve started a blog. I have a website. And here you are (for some inexplicable reason), reading! Here’s what I want you to know and what I want to remember:

  • It’s supposed to be fun. Creative. Relaxed. Whimsical. Fun! As Providence would have it, I went looking for a job that was less structured and number-y than my bookkeeping position (I deal more in words, you recall). Well, I found a great job in the business office of a local university where, you guessed it, I do a lot of numbers! There, I work. Here, I’m hoping to have some good, old-fashioned merriment.
  • I’m going to break some rules. Normally, I’m a rule-follower–big time! But when it comes to this creative space, I’m going to break the rules of blogging. I’m planning to cover too much ground: theology, the arts, politics, cooking, music, family, education, law, the sciences, entertainment, poetry, and one of my deepest passions, Biblical womanhood. Why so many things? See above. (It’s supposed to be fun.)
  • Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it won’t be serious. I’m an introvert and a thinker. I’ve heard it said that some people think as a means to write; some people write as a means to think. I’m of this latter variety. I’ll undoubtedly make some mistakes thinking with my fingers. I’ll say the wrong thing the wrong way to the wrong people. But I’d love to create a space where we can have a discussion–a dialogue–where grace and mercy and listening and reflection actually happen. A place where we can disagree and discuss without attacking one another.
  • My chief desire is that God would be glorified in this space. From Him and to Him and through Him are all things (Rom. 11:36)! That laundry list of categories I want to cover? They all belong to Him. That is so exciting to me! I hope it is to you. If not now, I hope that as you read you will see His hand and how His plan to redeem His creation touches every aspect of life.

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t planning to start a blog. I tried to take a break from writing. But after about a month of nudging words to the periphery of my mind, the words began to find me. While I was vacuuming. While I was showering. While I was at work, my fingers tapping the number pad with ever-increasing efficiency, regularity, at a measured tempo that begins in the business office and ends with an MBA.

Come what may, I’m starting a blog. Thank you, dear reader, for investing in this space.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:4 (ESV)