He is Risen!

The truth that

Jesus is alive!

is helping me put things in perspective this morning. Anyone else find it next to impossible to make it church this morning with everyone dressed, fed and looking springy and cute? I think the kids have a sugar hangover from yesterday…


this guy is ready for Easter worship…

Here is a new take on an Easter classic to help you celebrate!


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Family Lent in Real Life…

About 5 weeks ago, I set out to observe Lent as a family. I had the following Lenten to-do list:

  • read weekly prayers as a family
  • put a candle on a bulletin board after reading the prayer
  • post on the blog
  • pray every morning as a family at breakfast
  • fast from buying toys
  • donate some toys and clothes
  • record and post some new Lenten hymns

Let’s just say we barely accomplished anything on that list. The few Lenten prayers I did read were usually me shouting over a cacophony of whining kids and baby squeals. I’m sure they had no idea what I was talking about. We did fill a baby bottle with change for a local crisis pregnancy center, but we did not manage to make it through the whole season without buying toys. I thought that would be the easy one. I don’t think we even once sat down together for breakfast, much less managed a family prayer during that time.  And nothing got posted on the blog. It wasn’t until last week that I realized the Lenten cross I made had 6 squares when it was supposed to have 7. We didn’t put a candle up last week and there wasn’t even a candle or a square for today.PicMonkey Collage.jpg

The best laid plans usually turn out about like this for me… half-finished and forgotten under piles of preschool crafts and kids drawings. Tonight we tried to make up for it by reading the story about Palm Sunday in the kids Bible, making some pathetic palm leaves out of construction paper and letting the kids run around the house with them saying, “hosanna!” I guess that was fun.

In my head, this family Lenten journey would have been building momentum the past 30-some days to a much anticipated and meaningful Holy Week. Fortunately, the rituals and readings and fasting and prayer are not the end in themselves, but means to the end of greater intimacy with Jesus. I’m not ready to abandon the rituals, but I also don’t want to be ruled by them. Real life happens, and God is just as present with our family whether we get around to reading our Lenten prayers or not. That’s good news for this tired mama tonight!

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. One more week til Easter means I still have time to post a few Lenten hymns here on the blog. Click below to listen to a Palm Sunday hymn I recorded last year. I won’t make any promises, but I might try to get around to posting a some more stuff later in the week.


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Love… Vast as the Ocean

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1a

Yesterday I was searching the pre-made Pandora stations for some Valentine’s Day music to play while we were making supper. There was the “Country Love Songs” station, the “Love Stinks” station, the “R&B Love Songs” station, the “Reggaeton Romantico” station (I have no idea what that means…). I decided on the “90s Love Songs” and soon the house was filled with the sounds of Boyz 2 Men, All 4 One, and Wilson Phillips. Takes me right back to Jr. High and High School. I love these love songs.

Today’s hymn is a love song of a different kind. Since the first Sunday of Lent falls on Valentine’s day this year, I thought of this hymn. I’m grateful today for the vast abundant love that Christ poured out on the cross.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


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Henkle Family Ash Wednesday

My daughter is 4 and a half, and she loves Easter like many kids love Christmas. I’m not really sure why, but I suppose it has something to do with her love for bunnies and candy. She asks at least once a week all year long when Easter is coming. I am hoping to give her (and our whole family) a little more context for Easter this year as we observe Lent together. I’m kind of making it up as I go, but we started yesterday with Ash Wednesday.

Since our church didn’t do anything special for Ash Wednesday, we had our own Ash Wednesday service in our living room yesterday. We used the Book of Common Prayer as a guide and simplified or defined words as we went along. The kids especially liked getting the cross of ashes on their heads.

Ash Wednesday, simply put, is about being sorry for our sins. The ashes on our foreheads remind us of our frailty and mortality. As we read through the Ash Wednesday “Litany of Penitence,” Raya interrupted several times to ask questions. We did our best to explain that we are all sinners, and we need Jesus to forgive us. I am learning that explaining things like sin and forgiveness to a 4-year-old makes me understand it even more fully.

Traditionally, Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As a family, we are going to keep it simple as we Pray, Fast and Give… We talked together about what we wanted to do and here’s what we came up with:

IMG_20160210_210625649Pray – we’re going to add a family prayer time at breakfast

Fast – Raya decided she would be willing to give up buying toys

Give – She also decided we would donate some toys and clothes. Her first idea was to give away her brother’s trucks. We’ll have to talk more about that one as we go! 🙂

This year for Lent, I’m hoping to post some Lenten hymns like I’ve done in the past. I’ll also keep you posted about what we come up to observe Lent as a family.


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Ash Wednesday Litany & Hymn

Something about the seasons of the church brings out the blogger in me. Here’s what we’re planning to this afternoon in lieu of an Ash Wednesday service. But let’s be honest… our kids are little. We’ll get through some of it, and then they’ll start running around the house! It’s worth a try, though…

Raya putting ashes on the Dad last year


Read Psalm 51

Ash Wednesday Hymn

Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes

Text: Rae E. Whitney

Tune: BEACH SPRING attr. to B.F. White


Litany of Penitence  (from the Book of Common Prayer)

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentence, Lord, for the wrongs we have done, for our blindess to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

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Two years ago last week, my Grandma Leone passed away. She was a woman of incredible faith. She was a voracious reader. She was a prayer warrior. She was lots of fun. She always had Nutty Bars at her house when we came to visit. I loved being around her and looked up to her my entire life. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma the past few days. One of her deepest desires was for her kids and grand-kids come to know Jesus Christ the way she knew him. As Lord of her life. As a constant companion and guide. As her Savior. She prayed… and she flooded us with an abundance of Christian books, movies and tapes that became the narrative and soundtrack of my childhood. Some people can quote lines from movies and are well versed in the pop music of their childhood. I am clueless about that stuff, but play the opening song from  Adventures in Odyssey and I am right there with you.

At some point, my grandma sent us a copy of GT and the Halo Express. Anyone else remember this? It’s a story of a quarreling brother and sister who are visited by angels who help them learn how to get along. Along the way, there are a bunch of Bible verses set to music. The theme song tells listeners that “memorizing can be fun!” This tape was probably purchased by lots of parents and grandparents who hoped the little people in their lives would hear and believe. And it totally worked on me. I loved this tape. I remember listening to it on my Walkman in the back of the van on family trips. I knew every word of the story and the songs.

I thought about GT last week as I was thinking about Grandma Leone and decided to look for it. It is still around, and I found it right away on YouTube. Take a listen here if you’re looking for some late 80s Christian entertainment. I still remember every single word and it was an instant hit with my kids. I was grooving along to the cheesy rendition of John 3:16… For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall no perish but have eternal life… Suddenly, my 4 year old stopped dancing and exclaimed “I believe in him!” She told me she wanted Jesus to live in her heart. 

Later that night, my husband and I prayed with her and she did the very thing my grandma, my parents, my husband and I had been praying about since before she was born. She asked Jesus into her heart. It was such a simple and beautiful moment that caught me by surprise. I can’t help but think of my Grandma Leone’s legacy. Of her prayers for her family. Of the tapes and books she sent to us hoping we would hear or read something that would stick. Of her life of faith that continues to impact generations who will never know her.

Grandma and Raya Praise meeting for the first time.

My grandma understood something that I am only beginning to realize. I spend so much time on things that have no eternal significance. But leaving a legacy of faith for my children, for their children, for their children’s children is something that will live on long after I am gone.

Below is a link to an arrangement of a hymn my cousin Sarah and I sang at her funeral. We miss you, Grandma Leone!

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Easter Hymns: Awake, Glad Soul

Words: John S. B. Monsell, 1857

Music: Rachel Henkle, 2015

Click to listen:

 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-24198G" data-link="(G)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 
Matthew 28:5-6

He is RISEN!

I hope you have a blessed day celebrating Jesus resurrection. We are looking forward to a morning at church and an afternoon with family. Looks like the weather is going to be beautiful and I am anticipating another epic Henkle Easter Egg Hunt!

I had an interesting thing happen to me on Thursday night at band practice for this morning’s service. We made a few changes to the song list for the day, and wanted to add one more worship song to our list. We flipped through our songs looking for something upbeat, familiar and fun and chose an old hymn that seemed to fit nicely. But as we sang through it, I realized that the song mentioned Jesus’ life on earth, his prayer in the garden, his walk to Calvary and his death on the cross, and then the glorious day when believers see Jesus face to face heaven. I have sung this song many times, but I never noticed what it doesn’t include. The song skips right over the resurrection. 

So, I went home and googled “Easter Hymns” and one of the first things I found on one of my favorite hymn websites was a list of no less than 312 Easter Hymns. I didn’t have to scroll down the list very far to find the song I posted today. It just might be my new favorite.

Traditionally, Easter marks the end of a six week period of fasting and preparation. My community prepared for Easter with services each day during Holy Week. I was moved by the chance to gather together and focus our attention on the cross. I have been immersed in Lenten hymns during my little project on the blog and I finished the season of Lent with a greater understanding of my certain death without Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the price for my sin. And that to has given me moments of worship and gratitude and awe for Jesus, my Savior.

But isn’t it strange that we prepare and fast and focus for six weeks on Jesus suffering and death, only to have Easter Sunday come and go like the 5-minute free-for-all egg hunt we attended this morning with our kids? When we were searching for an song to add to our worship set, I realized that our body of music is very focused on the cross, the death of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong – that is so important. But, it seems that we are not singing about the fact that JESUS IS ALIVE nearly as much as we are singing about him dying. 

I don’t know if your church has the same skew, but I believe that what we sing affects what we believe and know. Jesus’ death and resurrection must go hand in hand. One does not make sense without the other. As cheesy at it sounds, Christians should be celebrating, talking about, and living in light of Easter all year long. This is the event that changed the course of human history forever. 

It turns out that the church calendar helps us extend the celebration for more than just one day a year. Today marks the beginning of the Easter season, and it lasts for the next 50 days. If you have any influence over what your congregation sings, think about keeping the Easter hymns and songs in the rotation during the next 7 Sundays. Once you know a bunch of great Resurrection songs, keep singing them throughout the year. I am planning to post some more Easter hymns on the blog during the next 50 days as well.

If you went to church today, what songs did you sing? Do you have any favorite Easter hymns? Let me know in the comments below!


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