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



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.


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


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!