Everyday Liturgy Episode Three: A Hymn of Praise at the End of a Year

(I’ve been writing my prayers in poetic form in a google doc. Episode Two was a little too personal to publish online for all to see, but I think some of the episodes might be more relatable and meaningful to others, so I’ll be publishing them here every once in a while.)

Lord, I am overwhelmed
That you’ve given me another year.
A full year with you,
In the glory of the life you’ve given
With such potent and beautiful gifts
That I can’t help but notice.

You are with me in the smallest ways
In tiny baby smiles
In a helpful woman at church when my son throws a fit
In a full tank of gas and open road

You are with me in the biggest ways
In a supportive husband
In kind-hearted, loving family
In gracious long-term friendships I inherited through marriage
In a wonderful home
In jobs that provide much more than what we need
In gracious gift-giving family

I look back over this year
And I see your hand,
Just like I see your hand in every year
Guiding, directing, goading, nudging, moving me
To do your will.
Even in the conundrum of uncertainty
I can know that you’ll guide me again and again
Like you’ve done before and before

You
Hem
Me
In

Elsa in a burp cloth

Like a tiny doll
Snuggled in her blanket

Like a little action figure
That clips perfectly into his car

Like Tommee Tippee pacifiers
In a certain little 6-month-old mouth

How is it that you are so great a God
And can somehow be small enough to see me?

And how is it that in your holy, perfect majesty
Way too good to care about little ole’ peasant me
You can look with kind eyes and grant me so many wishes?

And how in the world is it
That I can miss your gifts and your kind eyes and your care?
How truly impressive it is that I can be so easily distracted!
How truly impressive it is that you remain staid
With love for me

Even as a three-year-old, I talked about my elementary understanding of your greatness
“You are so big
That I can’t even see you”

Yet your bigness didn’t stop you
From becoming small
The smallest
The meekest
The lowliest

Oh Lord, help me to see myself as lowly
Meek
Small

How funny that the biggest, greatest God had such an easy time making Himself small enough for me
But I have such a difficult time making myself think that I’m as small as I actually am!

Last shall be first
First shall be last
Lowly shall be great
Great shall be lowly

Oh God, I praise you for your backwards kingdom.
Somehow, you’ve made my life so great.
So undeserved.
Such favor.

Your grace is so much more than enough.

Everyday Liturgy: Episode One – on Christmas Day, 2018

A Hymn for a Parent Who Is Sorting and Assembling a Plethora of Christmas Gifts

It’s 11pm, and we just got home from a whirlwind of holiday festivities, and Lord, you know them
Last week, Ryan worked a closing shift on Monday, so I single-parented
Tuesday was my Christmas concert
Wednesday I taught until 3:45 and then had 2 rehearsals immediately following
Thursday I attended the school board meeting since we’ve been negotiating since April with no results and then did all of my Christmas shopping
Friday I tried to pack
Saturday we had Kneezel family Christmas
Sunday I was on team for 3 services conducting the children’s choir and then
Back for Kneezel Christmas, cont.
Monday was 3 services for Christmas Eve, but I woke at 3:30am with a horribly sore throat.
After the three services, I was running fever, but we went to Hamrick family Christmas
Tuesday, we returned immediately in the morning for Hamrick family Christmas, not really feeling better
Our house, as usual, is a heap of rubbish that stresses me out to look upon
Dirty dishes, piles of wrapping, tons of garbage, 2 dirty diapers randomly lying around instead of thrown away
This is how I live, Lord Jesus, and I am overcome with shame.
I live nearly every moment filled with shame and embarrassment that my family lives like this
I am filled to the brim with heart sickness over how I yell at my kids
And lose patience with them – their tender little souls that are just learning for the first time
And I’m learning for the millionth time and somehow am no better

I told the kids in choir on Sunday that grown-ups need to see them up there singing for Jesus
Because it reminds us of when we were children, and we first met the Lord
I knew how desperately I needed you then,
And I forget, so very often, that I need you just as much now.
Probably more
For I think that I’m competent
But I know that I am not
And I set ridiculous, unrealistic, and unfair standards about how I should be
Based on the expectations and pressure that I feel from society
“You can do it all” doesn’t mean that – it means “you have to do it all”
And then when I can’t,
I feel pressure and shame and unworthy and not good enough and not enough

And then.

And then, Lord Jesus.

I begin sorting through our gifts.
During that crazy week at school, kids brought me little things
“Mrs. Kneezel – you’re a great teacher”…”I love you”…”thank you”
On Saturday at Kneezel family Christmas
Toys and clothes and gift cards and beautiful books
Smiles and hymns and desserts and joy
On Tuesday at Hamrick family Christmas
Toys and clothes and gift cards and jewelry
Laughter and hymns and honey ham and games

Oh, Lord, these precious people that you’ve made mine
And the time they took to think of me
And Ryan
And my kids

I am not enough – not good enough
Terribly incompetent
Always wishing for time I don’t have
Always aching to be somewhere else
Always dreaming of life – different

IMG_1404

In front of me,
Filling my table
Is the way-over-the-top provision from You
That I readily forget as I strive and strive and strive and strive
And strive and strive and strive
And try to control
And try to do do do do do do do
Oh Lord, help my unbelief.

You left
Perfect Glory.
Perfect union with your Father
The Perfect One
To come down
In the humblest form
With basically nothing
To be with us.
Emmanuel

You left
Perfect Light
To come down
Into the darkness
To be with us.
Light of the World.

And I
Forget
That you are still here.

And I
Forget
That you have given me the most incredible life
While I sit dreaming of a different one

You, sweet Jesus,
You came to the lowest.
Glory to God in the highest
And on earth,
Peace.