here in the power of Christ I stand.

1. I’ve started to help lead the music at church. One of the best parts about it so far is that during the bits when I’m not singing, I can listen to everyone else singing. And there’s something really beautiful about hearing your whole church confess together, “In Christ alone my hope is found / He is my light, my strength, my song.” Part of the beauty of congregational worship is that in singing together, in speaking and confessing our sinfulness together, and in proclaiming the Scriptures and the mystery of our faith together, we are not only speaking these things to the Lord, but to one another.

2. Also, I don’t refer to leading the music as “leading worship”, because the whole of a Sunday service is worship–the liturgy, listening to the sermon, and yes, the singing, too.

3. And if you know my story at all, you know that “In Christ Alone” has a really special place in my heart. God has used it to bring me back from the edge of losing it many a time. Including this morning. “No guilt in life, no fear in death / This is the power of Christ in me.”

4. And I’m sitting here writing this to remind myself; a blog post is one more way of underlining this place in God’s story of my life as I’m reading what He wrote down before time began. Still a lot of chapters to go (I hope), and I can’t really skip ahead in this one. But He has been good so far. And He will be good to the end.

lent, week 6: psalm 69.

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck
I sink in deep mire where there is no foothold
I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me
I am weary with my crying out
my throat is parched
My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God

I wasn’t there to watch you drown in the sea
of darkness, to hear you as you cried out
wondering why you’d been left to die the death
of a hardened rebel, you who had only ever kept
the law.

It’s so easy for me to hold you out at arms’ length;
that was millennia ago, and what do I really know
of you, anyway?

For zeal for your house has consumed me
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me
Reproaches have broken my heart
so that I am in despair
I looked for pity but there was none
and for comforters but I found none
They gave me poison for food
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink

I wasn’t there, but I can hear my voice shouting
both for your death and for your salvation,
supplication and curse pouring from the same lips;
I can feel the shaking of your dying breath
and the river of your blood,
and the darkness covering the whole earth
because how in the world could the world
be right while the word that created it falls silent?

Let heaven and earth praise him
the seas and everything that moves in them
For God will save Zion
and build up the cities of Judah
and people shall dwell there and possess it
the offspring of his servants shall inherit it
and those who love his name shall dwell in it

I wasn’t there. And so much of you remains
mystery to me. But at the day when you died,
I died, too, and I know all I need to know of you–
how much you would give to destroy your enemies,
and how much you would give to love them.

lent, week 5: wedding dress.

If you should love me as a wife
And for my wedding gift your life
Will that be all I’ll ever need
Or is there more I’m searching for

How easy is it for me to go chasing after
dreams, dreams I believe I was made to
fulfill, and forget that they are winds
meant to carry this ship into harbor.

Too often I want to steer against them;
too often you have to whisk them into
hurricanes to get me back on course.

And should I read between the lines
And look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want?

It’s not as though you want me to
just drift, but rather that the wind will
go where it wants to go, hovering
over the face of these waters like
a mother bird sheltering a baby that
cannot fly, cannot help herself.

I am a whore, I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle, run down the aisle

I’m a prodigal with no way home
But I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle, run down the aisle
To you

And when I raise my sails when I should
be still, or when I drop anchor when I ought
to be moving forward, help me see
that all the wind I’m chasing after
has been chasing after me all this time.

lent, week 4: light.

We need some light
First of all, we need some light

I have a lot of secrets that I am trying to keep
buried in my chest of earth, and am simultaneously
handing out keys and burning my maps.

I wish someone would come out with their
headlamps and come excavate all my
shame and sorrow, but at the same time
I feel like it’s up to me to take out the shovel

You can’t sit here in the dark
And all alone, it’s a sorry sight

Dust we all are, and to dust we shall return,
but I want to be made of iron, impenetrable
and bulletproof. But I am clay, and can crumble
into sharp edges, and I fear cutting the ones
who would pick me up to put me back together;
I fear them breaking me even more.

The price of love is loss
But still we pay
We love anyway

You were bought for the price of a field,
great treasure, so you could dig me up from
my earthen grave and crack me open,
turn my ashes into glory,
and turn on my sight to see my sisters
see my brothers
all your pearls of great price
and give all I have for them, too.

lent, week 3: baptize my mind.

Reaching, always reaching, never reaching solid ground
Seeking, always seeking, never seeking what I’ve found

My mind is flooded constantly with thought–
thoughts of grandeur, of lust, of pride, of frustration,
of hatred, of anger, of annoyance,
of despair, of trivialities. And it’s hard for me to
break through the surface sometimes
and breathe, and look at the sun.

Both my hands are filled with guilt
Both my eyes are blind with filth

So I go swimming deeper in pursuit of buried treasure,
while my tank slowly runs out of oxygen,
and the captain of my boat starts diving in after me.

Be my absolution, be my absolution
Hey, baptize my mind

I need even clearer waters to find my home in–
maybe the river that makes the city glad.
Pull me out of the chaotic deep and take me to
Jordan’s shores, and let me feel it peeling off my
wet suit for real skin.

lent, week 2: bad.

If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again

I wonder sometimes if I’m addicted to
sadness, to worry, to angst.
It feels safer because pursuing joy
sometimes seems like chasing after
the wind, all the while I don’t understand
that the wind chases after me.

If I could, you know I would
If I could I would let it go
Surrender, dislocate

As Taylor said, depression too is a kind of fire,
the one that lights up the spoon
that fills the needle that I inject straight to my heart,
the one that will eventually kill me unless
I can get clean, the one that
will set my whole house ablaze when I’m not paying attention.

So let it go and so not fade away
Let it go and so not fade away

I need You to pry open my fists,
and open up my windows to
the fire of the morning star that burns brighter
than my smoldering wick
Let me be able to love the ones whose sorrow
burns down their houses
without torching my own into oblivion

I’m wide awake
I’m not sleeping

Because You were set aflame
by all our shame and sin and suffering
so that You can take all these charred bones
and bring them to life again.

on father’s day.

for Hannah, Stephanie, and Lindsay

I will not say that I know how
you feel, because there’s a man
still breathing in the other room,
watching TV while his heart pumps blood
through his miles of veins.
I still have him, maybe for decades,
maybe for an hour. I don’t know.

And I will not say all the things
that are true, but ring hollow when they
drop to the ground: He’s in a better place.
You’re going to see him again.

Because while we believe
in the resurrection of the body,
the life everlasting,
that death is gain,
for you, here in time and matter,
there is still a space where he should be,
left empty like a loosened screw in
your machine. And sometimes it feels
like the whole thing could explode at any minute.

There’s so much I could say
but won’t, because it would just
be my vain attempt to piece things
back together with glue and scotch tape.

But what I can say is that
you are loved nonetheless,
by him (although he can’t show it anymore),
and by so, so many people–
all the people it takes to make up for him.

So miss him. Mourn him.
Set up a stone along Jordan’s shores
to remember him, tell generations his story
and your own. Stand there a while
and cry if you need to.

I’ll be here, holding the tissues,
hoping I can stand as firmly as you can
when it comes time for me to do the same.

a hymn to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost

This is a confession
that I do not understand You.

Not that I understand the other
two members of the Trinity, but
how do you wrap your mind around
wind, around fire, around breath?
Well, the answer is: You don’t.
It wraps itself around you.

Or rather, He, not it,
because You are a being of personal pronouns–
You are not peace, love, and groovy vibes,
You are the Lord, the Giver of life,
and You do what You want to do,
You go where You want to go,
and we can no more harness You
than stop a hurricane.

You are the breath that fills these lungs
and turns into praise;
You raise up these dry bones into an army
whose weapons are love, joy, and peace;
You tear down the tower of our sin,
but then You bring us in
to the one city whose Builder and Architect is God,
where a thousand tongues are sung,
but “alleluia, amen!” sounds the same in every one.

And this is a confession that
we do not understand You,
but we need You.
And we come here to honor You
in all we sing, all we do, all we hear,
so come open up our lips, our hands, our ears.

And we ask this in the name of the Father
and of the Son
and in Your name, Holy Spirit.

to the sunday afternoon patrons of the weekley family ymca

Who are all these people
walking out of the gym,
you wonder, all these folks
in totally workout-inappropriate clothes,
kids and purses and coffee in hand.

Well. It’s a long story, but
the short version is
we are wandering birds who have
nested in this tree awhile,
a motley flock of ravens and robins
and peacocks and parrots;

we are a rainbow not of
rebellion but of a promise
to renew the chaos around us;

we are the fruit of a seed planted
deep in the Texas soil.

We have been broken
we have been healed
we have been sent out
by the wind like dandelions
we are like no other family you know

so come a little early next Sunday.
come see what love has done
what He’s doing
what He can do in you
at His word heaven is unleashed on us
so come and join us
we’ll save you a spot

crush, part 4.

too long i have fallen for
words on a page
ideas in my brain

too long have i bowed down
and worshiped aphrodite
with Jehovah’s name on my lips

too long have i made idols
of the flesh and blood
who could not bear my shame for me

but you feel like home
because you are yourself
and somehow i cannot change you

as much as my language tries
to translate you from friend to lover
my heart reminds me you are brother

what i’m saying is
you deserve better than me
and if you find another who can love you better

i love you enough to love her too
and i love you enough to hold you loosely
because you were never mine to begin with