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.

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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.

Stained Glass Roses (NPM #11)

Stained Glass Roses

Stained glass roses grace the light
Flowing to my wearied sight—
Wearied by the cruel, mundane
Ubiquity of things profane.

Holding hope out like a shoot
Pressing up from muddy root—
Oh, this light that calls forth life
In the very heart of strife.

Strife in me, for rest eludes
The sanctuary sin intrudes,
But bud and thorn in glass aglow
Tell of where God’s mercies flow.

Pulsing with the Savior’s heart,
Rose-red wounds, trusted, impart
Peace with God, as does the thorn
For my freedom humbly borne.

Home (NPM #8)

Home

This world is not my final home;
I am a foreign exile here,
But though far from my land I roam,
I’ll yet invest within this sphere.

I’ll plant a crop and take a spouse,
I’ll vote for laws that serve this land;
Before I’m home I’ll have a house
And all these things are from God’s hand.

Yet, soul, take heed, your comfort find
Not in the fleeting things of earth,
But in your heavenly lot assigned:
A home to share your Savior’s mirth.

Jesus Is Alive!

I just had to write a poem for Easter. Jesus’ triumph that resurrection Sunday over two thousand years ago secured my joy for eternity. May my soul ever rise in praise to Him!

Jesus Is Alive!

Calls the bird on feathered wing,
says the warmth of tender spring,
shouts the Church as choirs sing,
“Jesus is alive!”

Wakened now from deepest sleep,
bringing joy to friends who weep,
promises of God to keep,
Jesus is alive!

Firstborn hope of every race,
Brother to each child of grace,
freeing His from Death’s embrace,
Jesus is alive!

O, my soul, this glory hear,
little faith, no longer fear,
longing heart, see Love appear –
Jesus is alive!

– Christina

Meditations on the Cross

Here is a poem I wrote last night after our church’s Maundy Thursday service, which deeply affected me. It is my first poem for National Poetry Month.

Meditations on the Cross

In the horror of his pain,
In the thorn and in the nail,
In their scorn and cruel disdain,
See my pride the Darkness hail.

In the dark and bitter grief,
In the dying, bleeding man,
In the hard and lonely tree,
See the guilt upon my hands.

In the curse upon I AM,
In the wrath upon the Son,
In the silence of the Lamb,
See my worthiness undone.

In the patient tenderness
Of the wounded Savior’s face,
In the passion in his breast,
See my utter need find grace.

“[F]ar be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

– Christina

His Love Is As Sure As the Dawn

Hosea 6:1-6 has been to me a passage of both comfort and conviction. The imagery is beautiful, and I distinctly remember the night when it awakened my soul to worship and my lips to song. Though I was without a comprehensive grip on the context of this passage (and thus, on the human author’s historical meaning), I could not help but hear the familiar themes of human weakness and gospel power. I could not help but see my own habit of half-hearted love and my God’s faithful practice of love through Christ to undeserving sinners like me.

Hosea 6 begins with a call and a promise to the wayward children of Israel:

(1) “’Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. (2) After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. (3) Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’”

It continues with God’s complaint against Israel and His explanation of His response:

(4) “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. (5) Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. (6) For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

It was these aspects (the call, the promise, the complaint, and the explanation of God’s response) that inspired my song. I pictured a father who, both deeply grieved and angered by sin in his son’s life, came urgently to that son with reproof. While never losing his burning intention to eradicate his son’s sin, his ultimate goal was to restore the pure and joyful fellowship he once knew with that son. His anger was real, but it only lasted for a moment. It was his desire for loving fellowship with his son that drove him to extreme measures in the removal of sin – it even motivated him to wound the very son he loved.

The gospel echo in Hosea 6 is clearest in the phrase, “on the third day he will raise us up” (v. 2). How can you read this and not think of Easter Sunday and the empty tomb? How can the Christian read this and not remember that our identification with Christ involves, in a very real sense, our spiritual resurrection with Him? Now, notice the purpose given in Hosea for our being raised up. It is so that we “may live before him.” But before who? Before God the Father. Christ’s mission was to reconcile us to the Father (1 Peter 3:18). Apart from Christ no one can truly experience God as Father (John 14:6-7). Consequently – and this is a truth that should devastate all those who reject Jesus – apart from Christ, God’s love for us is not “as sure as the dawn.”

Here, then, are the lyrics to my song. Before the lyrics is a link to an audio clip of me playing the music behind spoken lyrics. You will notice that, different from Hosea, it is all from God’s perspective. If you are in Christ, it is what the Father says to you.


My Love Is As Sure As the Dawn

“Your love is like the morning mist,
the dew that kissed the ground
and now has wandered away.
My love is as sure as the dawn.

And though I strike you down and take
what seems to be your very life
I’ll lift you, revive you, heal.

Don’t fear, don’t run.
My presence here is as a Father’s with a Son
beloved.
In Christ begun,
in Christ the rains will come and help you carry on.

Say, ‘Come, let us return to the Lord
that we might live before Him.
Press on to understand your God
and steadfastly adore Him.’

Do not grow weary when reproved;
I discipline you for your good
that you might be holy,
righteous and fruitful children.

So, strengthen feeble hands and let
the mind of Christ control you that
my name might be holy in the earth.

Don’t fear, don’t run.
My presence here is as a Father’s with a Son
beloved.
In Christ begun,
in Christ the rains will come and help you carry on.

Say, ‘Come, let us return to the Lord
that we might live before Him.
Press on to understand your God
and steadfastly adore Him.'”

May Christ be yours and may you know the Father’s life-giving love.

Help My Unbelief [Poem #4]

Here is a short poem-prayer for tonight. When doubts dim the eyes of my heart, I remember that the same Jesus who prayed for Peter, that his “faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32), prays for me. He is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

The beginning phrase of the poem, “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief!” is adapted from the lips of a father seeking healing from Jesus for his boy (see Mark 9). The man had qualified his request with a telling “if” (“if you can do anything…”), and Jesus had responded with rebuke. “‘If you can’!,” He quoted. “All things are possible for one who believes.” “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” I so often feel just like this man. I need rebuking, and I need help.

I believe;
Lord, help my unbelief!
I believe
Christ lives and pleads for me.

Oh wrestling soul, give up your fight –
surrender all to Him.
Forsake the darkness for the light
and walk by faith again.

Equilibrium [Poem #3]

I dream I walk a razor’s edge
of balancing between
extremes of gravest consequence
and phantom foes unseen.

I’m tripping and I cut myself –
my thoughts dart east and west.
My balance rod feels wobbly
and distant from my chest.

My sweaty hands, they twitch and grip
the center of the beam,
and quasi-equilibrium
returns within the dream.

“Relax, relax, and focus straight
ahead along the line,”
I tell myself and strain my eyes –
I’m searching for a sign.

“How will I balance in this dream
of freedom and of weight –
of joy and sorrow always linked,
of love affixed to hate?

Why is each step so treacherous
for both my heart and head?
Why are the options limitless
and yet my road a thread?

I’m called to peace and war at once;
I’m called to rest and work.
But where and how and with whom when?!”
And still the dangers lurk.

My tread is growing weak again,
my tired eyes despair,
when suddenly – “Look! See what comes
to meet my doubt-filled stare!

It comes – a sign!” It’s right before
my dim, short-sighted gaze;
there stands in front of me the Man
whose Name the ages praise.

His eyes assure my conscience as
His Spirit hears my plea.
He whispers, “Your obedience
is sure through faith in Me.

You’re walking on the razor’s edge
that God Himself has blessed.
That balance rod, it is His Word
you’re holding to your chest.

In peace be still, my child, and sleep –
you’ll persevering wake.
I’m Christ your Equilibrium
and I will ne’er forsake.”