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.

Finding Home: A New Job

I’ve had so many sweet people asking me about my new job. Thank you for your love and support! I thought I’d give you all an update:
 
I have started teaching half days at Riverton High School. This semester, I have Concert Choir, Bella Vox (that’s the amazingly awesome name that the girls decided on for our freshman/sophomore girls choir), Music Appreciation, and American Music. I also have a smaller group called Chamber Choir that meets at 7:10am. Oh the things we do for music. It’s awesome that my job is only half days because I’m home the other half to run errands and be with my kiddos. As of now, Husband mostly works evenings, so I actually get home most days before he leaves, which means we don’t have to pay for consistent childcare. We have a wonderful babysitter who comes a couple days a week or when we need her to cover when one of us works a different shift or stays late. It is working out amazingly except that Husband and I don’t see a ton of each other.
 
I know I’m a true music nerd because I absolutely love every bit of my job. My general music classes are full of bright, inquisitive, non-jaded students, which is a true privilege. My choirs are small but mighty – they all love music so much and have great attitudes and work so hard. I’m so proud of the work they are already doing, only three weeks into the year. I am just in love with all these kids. My heart is going to break when my seniors graduate.
 
I realized that I wanted to be a high school choir director when I was 14. I went to the ACDA Southern Division Regional Honor Choir in Charlotte, NC under the direction of Anton Armstrong, and I knew right away that this was it for me. I am one of those weirdos who never really faltered. I always, always knew exactly what I was supposed to do. It has been 15 years since then, and I still always thought it was my calling. I started to doubt this calling or believe it would never happen for me, and I started to try to find joy in whatever I was called to in that moment. This was such an important learning and growing experience for me – as I tried to find joy in my waiting, I learned what contentment really is. I learned that joy is a quiet river. In the meantime, I did so many things I loved, too – like getting my masters, getting married and having babies, finding great love for elementary-aged kids, and learning so much about worship leading and worship arts.
 
But you guys, seriously. There is nothing like the joy that comes when you step into the place where you’ve always wanted to be. Like one of my favorite choir pieces says, “There is no such beauty as where you belong.” It seems even sweeter because I found joy in the waiting. The years weren’t wasted. They were full and beautiful.
One of my students said to me the first week of school: “I hope I can find something I love as much as you love music.” Oh, how I pray that for all of my students. Oh, how I pray that for all the people that I love. There is eternity to start right now on this earth. My eternal home is certainly going to involve singing, but I’m so moved that my earthly home can include it, too. When I’m singing with my kids, and with my own children, and with my church choir, and on my praise team, and with my congregation, I see a glimpse of heaven’s glory. Like in Chariots of Fire, I feel God’s pleasure when I’m teaching people to sing or singing with people. I pray that you can find something that feels like that for you, because “there is no such beauty as where you belong.”
Love you all! Thanks for your encouragement and support during this (amazingly awesome) life change for us. Please continue with your prayers and love. ❤ ❤