THE WORSHIP OF MY LIFE

I don’t know how it goes in your life, but in my family’s, plans go awry. 

And they go awry often.

This makes me feel crazy to say the least. 

But with five children, two parents and one dog, it seems inevitable that plans change. Sometimes, they change moment by moment, depending on the need and the circumstances that either slowly bubble up or explode, volcano-style. 

Take last weekend, for example. Our whole family, all seven of us, had intended to spend the weekend at my in-law’s family cottage. 

But because a lot of life happened, and I’ll leave it at that because you know what that means, we ended up splitting up and going separate ways. Our youngest daughter went with my mom and step dad. Our small and medium boys went to the lake as scheduled with their grandparents. My husband and I stayed home with our teenagers. 

My initial reaction to this change of plans was frustration, sadness and longing. I’d really wanted to go to the cabin and enjoy the lake with our family. 

But that’s not what was happening. In that moment I stood at an emotional crossroads. 

The disappointment and frustration were building inside of me and threatening to overcome while at the same time the Holy Spirit was whispering, “Maybe you didn’t see this all coming, but God knew. You can either sink into a pity party or you can respond in worship.”

“Worship?!” I snorted as the inner dialogue continued. The Spirit began then bringing to my mind words that He was inviting us to embrace that weekend. 

Words like rest, beauty, celebration, creation, feasting, connecting, laughing, growing and enjoying flooded my mind.

Worship. 

And so as I began processing those words, I also began praying that God would help us enter into a weekend of worship despite the fizzling of our best laid plans. 

We brainstormed with the teens how we would play out rest, beauty, celebration, creation, feasting, connecting, laughing, growing and enjoying that weekend, and one of the ways we chose to connect, grow and enjoy was through taking turns picking songs that meant something to our hearts while we were driving to destinations through out the weekend. 

As we each picked, listened and appreciated, we grew to know each other on a deeper level and understand each other a little bit better. 

Some songs were of love. 

Some were of loss.

Some songs were heartbreakingly sad. 

Some were of joy and overcoming. 

Some, a mixture of it all. 

And some were just plain hilarious, ones that made us laugh. {You just haven’t lived until you’ve rocked out to What Does the Fox Say? with teenagers!}

Each of them revealed a little bit about the song picker, though, helping us to know more about each other. 

We were all a little surprised when we walked into Immanuel Sunday morning and the message was about worship having spent the weekend intent on living out worship. 

When Josh likened our lives to songs on Sunday, I realized then that each of our lives are essentially a song of expression that tell a great deal about each of us — just like the songs each of us picked during our weekend together were small reflections of each of our own hearts. 

As I pondered living life as a response to God — living a life of worship — I asked myself what I wanted the song of my life to say. 

Do I want to the song of my life to be a reflection of my circumstances?

A reflection of my emotions?

A reflection of my heart?

A reflection of my God?

Yes. 

The answer to all of those is yes. Well actually, the answer is “yes and.”

I want the song of my life to accurately reflect my circumstances, my emotions, my heart, and I want it all to be in response to who God is. 

Yes, some of my circumstances are hard pressing, and God is there and bigger. 

Yes, many of my emotions are big and difficult to navigate, and God is strong enough to walk with me through each one. 

Yes, my heart is equal parts joy and mess, and God can take it all and make something good of it. 

I want my life-song to accurately reflect my life, and I want it to sing a song of the God who came so we could have life and have it to the fullest. 

I want my life to sing that when my plans go awry, it’s ok. Because God is over it and in it and permeating through every space. 

May He remain the chorus of praise in the worship of my life. 


IMG_2528

Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

CLOUDED EYES

My eyes have not been working well this past week. I woke up Tuesday morning with so much gunk covering my contacts that I could barely make out which of my kids climbed into bed with us at 4 am. The next night I slept without my high prescription contacts, meaning that when I awoke again with goopy eyes – I was literally blind.

This got me thinking about eyes and how we use them. We can see a clock to tell the time. We can see our child or wife and let them know how nice they look today. We can even use them to successfully navigate rush-hour traffic on the interstate. However, they can just as easily lead us into danger and hurt if we aren’t careful. They can linger on an attractive woman’s body or internally criticize how someone is dressed. They can draw us toward the newest and shiniest or to covet something owned by our neighbor.

Eyes can also go bad and not work well anymore. Things don’t look quite as bright, we miss some of the details – maybe even all the details if you are like me with no contacts and clouded eyes! These eyes can miss the beauty God created and just as easily not see clearly injustice happening right in front of us.

Something hit me: we treat someones as somethings all the time when we don’t clearly see people as being children created by God. We choose so often to instead focus on the external look of things or, worse, miss seeing them all together. People on the street become everyday objects that we simply pass by. People at the airport become obstacles to avoid crashing into. An acquaintance sending a Facebook message can feel like browsing spam mail.

But what if we asked for the eyes of God in order to see people as he sees them? What might happen? Instead of “undressing” someone with our eyes, we could see a hurting heart; instead of being disgusted by a man with a cardboard sign, we could see his pain. This change of mindset and establishment of new neuropathways that are needed in my own mind will continue to take time to develop. In the meantime, though, I am going to practice remembering a few things and I encourage you all to do the same.

The woman on the internet you were fantasizing about last night by yourself with the door shut, her name is Anne and she is a person created uniquely by God.

The man you had your eye on at the gas station because he wore very different clothes than you and had dark skin, his name is Marcus and he is a human being uniquely knit together by God for a purpose.

The child’s picture you saw featured in a post on Facebook during orphan awareness week, she lives in Ukraine, her name is Vita and she is a princess of the King.

My prayer tonight is this: “God, please help me see people as you see them. Help me to remember that there are no ordinary people. Father, help me to see with your eyes and love with your heart. Please help me to never view a someone as a something.”


 

 John Worth is a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John and Hy are parents of four ranging in age from 4 to 14. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.

 

RICH OR POOR MATTERS LITTLE

I grew up poor.

The kind of poor where we scraped coins together to buy milk or bread some weeks; the kind of poor where our small country church brought our quaint family of three boxes filled with food.

At age 8, I remember feeling awed as our pastor and his wife unloaded the bounty given by others onto our kitchen table.

I was grateful for the sharing of blessing because I knew even at that young age how hard my mother worked to provide for my sister and me. (And, honestly, I was pretty elated because they brought the brand of cereal I’d only ever had at my grandparent’s or friends’ houses.)

While my mom cried and thanked them, I remember feeling not only grateful but also inspired; I wanted to be like the pastors. I wanted to give, too.

After the pastor and his wife left and my mom thanked them, she threw my little mind through a major loop when she almost promptly started dividing the food into two piles.

“One pile,” she’d explained, “is for my friend Joy and her two girls because really, I think they need it just as much, if not even more.”

I believe she introduced me to a new term that day; if we were poor, they were dirt poor.

I didn’t quite get the saying (and I still don’t), but I got the concept loud and clear: what’s “ours” is meant to be shared. So really none of it is mine anyway.


This past Sunday, Pastor Josh asked us to become temporary stewards of our neighbors’ wallet or purse.

As I sat there holding two wallets from two people sitting near me, I felt the weight of responsibility to attend well to their belongings.

I didn’t want anything foolish or malicious or irresponsible to happen to their belongings while I was holding them.

In the holding of these wallets, I grasped even more so that with privilege, there is always responsibility. And what will we as believers — believers who believe we are not dictators of an empire we are creating; rather we are citizens in a kingdom that already has a king — what will we do with that responsibility to steward well that which comes to us?

Will we shoulder it well, remembering to do with it what the Rightful Owner would move us to do or will we mistake ourselves as the owners and do with it what would serve only us as owners?

My mind wandered to that scene in my kitchen from childhood.

Who would have ever given to the family in need – my family, Joy’s family – had they sought to only serve themselves?


At 33, I am no longer poor.

I haven’t been poor in quite some time; my husband and I have both had opportunity after opportunity that have afforded him the privilege to establish a solid career and me to launch my own organization.

But, I remember.

I remember vividly.

I remember in the shear emotion of lingering reactions to everyday situations like trying to decide if I have enough money to buy a new package of underwear (and let me assure you we do!); it’s a gut-level reaction every time.

Being poor has imprinted on my brain a reaction that says almost always, “do you need it, and are you sure you have enough to meet this need?”

I remember what it is like to have little to nothing.

But the Holy Spirit has imprinted on my heart that being rich or poor has little to do with good stewardship because with God there is never a lack; there is always abundance.

So, are we being good stewards? Are we listening well enough to know what to do with what He’s given us?

Are we hearing Him when He tells us to meet others’ needs?

Are we spreading what we have – the very great of it or the very little – to where He’s directing?

I’ve had little, and I’ve had much, and none of that matters a whole lot when we’re talking about being stewards because whether rich or poor, because none of it is ours to keep.

So the question becomes not “Do I have enough?” but rather “Will I steward well what God has given to me? ”

Because with God there is always enough; it all belongs to Him anyway.


 

IMG_2528

Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

BEING SOUGHT

A few years ago, I called my grandmother, seeking her advice and her listening ear on a most difficult matter. Funny thing it is, I don’t remember the most difficult matter or what exactly she said but I remember the feeling of being in over my head at the beginning of the call and feeling like I finally had ground beneath my feet by the end of it.

During that conversation, I shared with her how grateful I was to have her in my life – an older wiser woman who could weigh in with her experience wisdom and love. How priceless, I told her.

It was then that she said something that’s stuck with me: “Yes, she said. That’s the hardest thing about being the oldest generation she said; you dearly miss having someone with that kind of wisdom and experience.”

That perspective, it changed me. It helped me realize the very beautiful gift of having someone who could walk beside me, listening, asking perplexing questions and then placing in my hands gems of truth about life, like small diamonds that were excavated from the intensely hard and rocky places of life and then lovingly shared.

While for a long while, this perspective fueled me to seek out older, wiser people in the older generations with whom to be in relationship, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the life-giving beauty of not only seeking but also in being sought.

God gave me a teenage daughter last year. Talking about placing gems in my hands, this child is among the most precious.

Through her and our developing relationship as mother and daughter, I’ve also come to know the joy of giving pieces of my own hard-fought for wisdom to another who is collecting experiences along the rugged path of the teenage years.

And in that giving of myself and my gems of wisdom about life to her, I have come to understand the value of not only giving but also listening to her and seeing life through her perceptive eyes. There is gift in this, too.

This past Sunday, the ever-emerging theme of story came roaring to the forefront of my mind as I pieced together these unique life experiences of hearing and being heard, and I remembered anew that each of us is a living story God is writing as a piece of His greater story.

If that isn’t enough to slow us to a more careful amble rather than a full-force brisk step during interactions, I’m not sure what would.

What if we approached each other as such?

How would that change the way we listen, the way we respond, the way we work together?

If we really believed we were a part of one body, how would that play out in our everyday lives?

For me, it would look like slowing down, letting go of my own agenda, really listening instead of only hearing and then taking note of the holy ground into which I stepped before opening my mouth to speak.


IMG_2528

Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother.