New Melody for “God Moves In A Mysterious Way” by Cowper

Singing truth as a family. It’s something I grew up loving and now, in God’s kindness, I get to continue the practice with my husband and kids. Whether it be hymns, worship songs, catechism songs or Scripture memory songs from GT and the Halo Express, we love singing them here. We’re so thankful for the Church’s heritage of rich compositions as well as for many new resources available to believers today.

One such new resource is a ministry called Happy Hymnody (https://happyhymnody.wordpress.com). As a family, we’ve been using their hymn lists for a little over a year now. The ministry provides helpful direction and resources for those wanting to regularly learn and sing beautiful, truth-filled hymns (both old and new). With a new hymn to practice each month, they facilitate a community of worshipers by providing such things as the history behind the hymns, free printables, and videos with which to sing along.

Their hymn listed for the month of October this year is one of my favorites: “God Moves In A Mysterious Way” by William Cowper (pronounced “KOO-per”). In yesterday’s Instagram post, @happyhymnody mentioned that there are many tunes to which this hymn has been sung. While the traditional setting is a tune called “Dundee,” many people have felt this melody to be unsuited to the depth of emotion conveyed in Cowper’s text. I myself thought this several years ago when I was introduced to the hymn, and I decided to write my own melody—one that was straightforward and sing-able, but one that also captured more emotion (at least for a Western ear). I also added a very simple chorus of “Hallelujahs” to break up the short verses and give time for reflection and praise.

Happy Hymnody officially selected the tune called “St. Peter” for their community to use this month, but they encouraged their followers to feel free to use others melodies. Last night, Daniel and I made a quick recording of my version of the hymn for our fellow Happy Hymnody singers to use if they’re interested. And, for anyone else—please enjoy listening to and using this version for personal purposes. Since the melody is original and copyrighted, please don’t use it for profit. I will try to get a PDF chord chart posted up here in the next few days!

For your joy, Christina

P.S. A huge thank you to my husband for offering to play guitar for me so that I could sing in a range more suited to my voice; I only know a handful of chords on guitar and this video is much better than it would have been with me trying to sing and play solo!

God Moves In A Mysterious Way (Cowper/Soukup) (Copyright 2019 by Christina Faye Soukup) from Christina Soukup on Vimeo.

2018 Year in Review

Happy 2019, family and friends! We enjoyed getting Christmas cards and updates from many of you and wanted to share a flyover recap of our own past year here.

We’re thankful for God’s grace on us in 2018 as we began year two (of four) of seminary for Daniel, made a couple job changes, joined a community group at our current church campus at Bethlehem (saying bittersweet goodbyes to those in our previous group), celebrated four years of happy marriage, and clocked all the parenting hours available in a given year.

Elizabeth is 3 and full of ideas, questions, ponderings, songs and a dance or two (per minute). She loves to look at books and be read to, play piano and on her trainer violin (made of foam but sized like a real instrument), cook in her pretend kitchen, do her school workbook and play with her little brother. Lately, they are fond of 1) sliding down their mattresses (that I prop up at an angle), 2) standing side by side on the toddler bed, backs against the wall, singing at the top of their lungs, and 3) feeding each other pretend food off pretend utensils and wiping each others’ faces afterward with a rag.

William, at 16 months, is a delightful ham and the sweetest little boy. He refuses to try walking but is proficient at crawling, climbing, and wrestling. He likes to look at books and be read to, play outside (or even just look out the window), say hello to Dusty the dog, and be part of whatever Elizabeth is doing. He loves to laugh and make us laugh and recently started saying “Peek-a-boo” as he bops up from whatever is near him to catch our smiles.

A few highlights from our summer include the Scobbie reunion with Daniel’s extended family, a trip to Lily Bay with my family, my youngest sisters staying with us for several days at the end of summer, and vacationing as a family at a cabin at Camp Lebanon.

Our Christmas last month was sweet with the remembrance of the richness of God’s love displayed in that little life in the manger—Immanuel, God with us. He came to be with us, and he came to be for us, his life given in sacrifice that we might live. As the carol says, “Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this! He has opened heaven’s door, and we are blessed forevermore.” May each of you know the blessedness of Christ’s friendship in this coming year.

Love,

Daniel, Christina, Elizabeth and William Soukup

40080809_2340898475937807_7663636332391956480_n

2017 Year In Review

Happy New Year, family and friends!

We enjoyed receiving your cards, letters and pictures over Christmas. Here’s our year in review from our family to yours!

Last Christmas Eve (2016), we found out we were expecting baby number two, so 2017 started out in anticipation of his arrival in August. In March, we received the exciting news that Daniel was accepted into the four-year master’s program at Bethlehem College & Seminary (our alma mater), which was a fulfilment of our hopes for him to be further equipped for Christian ministry.

We visited my sister and brother-in-law in California at the end of March for a week and rejuvenated with them through conversation, walks at the park, great food, and excursions to watch horse racing, drink Boba tea, and feel the ocean air on our jet-lagged but happy faces. Elizabeth (at 18 months) got her first pony ride at a farmer’s market. Her expression: “What are you looking at? This is no big deal; I and the beast are one.”

Summer began with a ministry trip to Cass Lake, MN, to help run Vacation Bible School for Native American children on a reservation there. Daniel wrapped up his two-year employment with MN Adult & Teen Challenge as an administrative assistant in June and began working a security job at General Mills World Headquarters in Golden Valley in July. This new job has been a blessing as it accommodates his seminary schedule (still being full-time) and allows him to do homework during lulls on his shifts.

I (Christina) ran my small private music studio during the spring semester and through the middle of summer. Daniel started seminary classes on August 21st, and our son, William Bradley, was born on August 25th, being a week and five days overdue. Elizabeth welcomed her brother with wonder and every mothering instinct. These days, she can get her four-month-old devotee to laugh with the simplest antic. My sister Nikkia stayed with us for several days shortly after Will was born, which was special and eased our transition.

This fall, Elizabeth turned two (and got to whack a butterfly piñata), Daniel started a diet called Auto Immune Protocol (AIP) to address a suspected autoimmune condition (he feels so much better now!), I began teaching music again, and William has increased in chub, personality, and energy…like energizer-bunny, don’t-stop-moving-your-limbs-ever energy.

In conclusion and reflection, we’re thankful for the adventures, challenges and growth this past year brought us, but even more so we’re thankful for the God whose comforting love and supporting grace was our hope and stay in every ordinary, epic, good, ugly, blissful, comedic, tender, sorrowful, and happy moment of 2017. We really recommend Jesus to each one of you. We recommend him like we recommend breathing, only more.

May your 2018 be filled with more of Him.

Love, the Soukups

Daniel, Christina, Elizabeth (2) & William (4 months)

IMG_7205 (3).JPG

Musings for Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and tonight is getting late. So, this won’t be long, but I’m wanting to get back into writing (and publishing that writing), so I’m determined to post something here before I sleep.

Consider this the slightest glimpse into what my heart thinks of my two little ones right now. It feels truncated, but that is sometimes how musings go in the life of a mom.

Elizabeth Elaine. She’s my near 20-month-old girl, whose precise conversation (mostly not English) and imagination have me utterly delighted with her. She is mine, yet so much not. How am I supposed to mother a first-born? I wonder. Me, a second-born, with my stop-and-smell-the-roses, abstract-thinking bent and weaknesses to rub a ducks-in-a-row girl raw?

“Baby Boy Soukup” is my in uterto second child, and I am very curious about him. About what he’ll look like and what his leanings and mannerisms will be. He has a name I love to use (the rest of the world has to wait to know it), and his hello kicks and stretches are my daily window into his world. His world is about to change, and I can’t wait.

We went to a ballet the other night to watch my sisters dance. The colors and movements were thrilling, but it was a line from one of the songs played that still has my attention. “And though you never know all the steps, you must learn to join the dance; you must learn to join the dance” (from “Through Heaven’s Eyes” from the movie Prince of Egypt).

This is how I feel about motherhood right now. At least, this is how God is pressing me to feel about motherhood right now. I feel pressed to jump in fully, each day, each moment, trusting Him to hold me and to tend my imperfect efforts toward His glory. To believe that He has good mothering works for me to walk in, though I daily fall short of Good. I feel pressed to join the dance, though I’ll surely stumble. To lay hold of freedom by laying hold of Christ by faith. To go to Him. To go to Him as instinctively as I go to Elizabeth in the middle of the night when she cries. But not because I have something to offer Him. To go because I have a need for His presence, because in this relationship I am the daughter and He is the Father who knows and loves me perfectly.

My heart has been turning to God’s words from Isaiah 30:15 over and over this past week. They challenge me in the same way the song lyrics from last night do. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” May this be increasingly true for me, Lord, in my mothering and everywhere else.

Advent

I wrote this short acrostic poem last night with thoughts freshly stirred by the morning’s first-day-of-Advent worship service. Specifically, I had a melody sounding in my head as I wrote these lines—the tune to which a new Advent hymn has been set by my worship pastor, Matthew Westerholm. The new hymn is called “Tiny Infant, Meek and Holy,” and its tune is that of “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.” This tune’s meter and voice guided my poem. Besides this melody, some of the concepts in the poem came from the new hymn, as well as from Pastor Jason’s sermon on Psalm 38 (“darkened eyes” corresponds to Psalm 38:10—”and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me”).

Advent
by Christina Faye Soukup

Answering dreams where sighs had only
Deadened hope and darkened eyes,
Visits now the infant holy,
Every pure heart’s longed-for prize.
Never fear, my soul, though slowly
The dawn comes, God satisfies.

Happy First Birthday, Elizabeth (A Poem)

You’re ONE today, dear ‘Lizabeth!
9 months plus 12 and here we are,
Looking back in thankfulness
At God’s good gift of life thus far.

I’m thankful that he’s given you
To me and daddy; how we feel
Blessed to get to love and lead
An image-bearer, bright and real.

I’m thankful for your morning smiles,
Your bed-head hair that’s growing long,
Your healthy, hungry morning cries,
Your joy in happy morning song.

I’m thankful for your love of play,
Of books, your lamb, and Captain Blue;
For how your curiosity
Dubs all things worth getting into.

I’m thankful for your heart and mind,
For how you’re growing day by day,
For unseen work that’s done inside
When you choose to trust, obey.

I’m thankful that you know you’re loved;
You know my gentle, safe embrace—
And that, in God’s sweet providence,
You’re growing in a home of grace.

Now, on your birthday it’s my prayer
That God will take your life and mold
Your heart and mind to make you new
Until, next year, you’re two years old.

IMG_3128.JPG

Thank You, Father, for the Old Testament

IMG_20160831_141730

I’ve been recently musing on my growing affection for that 75% of our Bibles we call the “OT.” The more time I spend in the Old Testament, the more I am convinced of its incalculable profit to my soul. The diversity of topics, situations, people, and emotions addressed there offers an expansively wide-scope view of God, his world, and his people; and that view ballasts this blade of grass in the twenty-first century. What’s more, that view includes the cross, the resurrection, and eternal life, for I see, more than ever, Jesus in the Old Testament.

There is still so much of the Old Testament that I do not understand, but one thing is clear—like a message written in huge letters across billboards posted every few miles: God is intent on redeeming a sinful people and making them his own through the strength and righteousness of his own hand so that his people might sing and live in humble, delighted praise of his glorious grace, forever. And, he’s done it—is doing it—through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Father, for the Old Testament.

Friendship (NPM #16)

Here’s my last poem for National Poetry Month 2016. While I didn’t make my goal of 30 poems this month, I did set a new personal record with 16. I’m thankful to God for that and for the ability to write at all. Until next year!

Friendship

What is it to be a friend,
One on whom I can depend?
I will tell you what it is,
What I seek of you is this:

Share my laughter in the light,
Share my weeping in the night.
Share my fight for hope until
Hope compels my mind and will.

Gently tell me what you think;
Do not falsely nod and wink.
Sing your heart song, sing it clear—
Not the tune I’d like to hear.

Take sincere delight in me,
Press me toward what I might be.
Love me for Another’s sake,
Love me when your life’s at stake.

Will you be a friend to me?
Love me with a love that’s free?
Would you if you surely knew
I would be a friend to you?

We all long to have a friend,
One on whom we can depend.
And we long to be a friend,
But we fail and oft offend.

There is One who came to be
Best of every friend to me,
And with mercy, patiently,
Works in me His love that’s free.

Come, let’s learn of friendship from
Him who suffered to become
Sympathetic, faithful, meek
To all those who friendship seek.

Confidence (NPM #15)

Confidence
Inspired by Hebrews 10:19–39

Sanctified from insincere
Hearts and base conscience,
With a Priest who casts out fear,
We have confidence—
Confidence because of blood
Cleansing us from stain.

Don’t shrink back into the mud:
Knowledge held in vain—
Knowledge of His sacrifice,
Yet you count it vile;
Deeming it will not suffice,
You live as Gentile.

No, instead, trust Him who saith,
“It is finished”—Christ.
Cast yourself headlong in faith
On the Sacrificed;
Confidence will be sustained
By His promise true.

Draw near boldly; He ordained
Grace to come to you.
His own Spirit, full of grace,
Lives in you to show
That, “The just shall live by faith”
As in grace you grow.