Thursday, October 23, 2014

my rare gift on Royal



It just occurred to me that I'll probably never have another photo-taking experience like this one.


It was a singular experience for sure.  It was almost two weeks ago now that we walked from a quiet lunch in the French Quarter past a street performer on Royal whose stringed instrument serenaded us the entire time we cooed over this newest addition to our family in our hotel room, just four stories up from the music.


Although we adore the other five children we have between us, this was time just for the three of us- me, my little sister, and my newest nephew- a rare gift.






Welcome to the family, Jackson! 


And thank you for the gift, Lord, giver of all good and perfect gifts.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3,650 and counting








I'm so grateful for our 3,650 days with Anna Grace!  While I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude and joy on her 10th birthday, I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't grieving the fact that these ten years are over.  But, like anything else, I'm choosing to take each day as it comes, recognizing it for the gift that it is.

Happy birthday to this funny, clever, strong-hearted, creative, beautiful girl who keeps me on my toes! May you continue to grow strong roots and bear much fruit as you grow in the wisdom and love of Jesus! 

Love you forever.

Mom


Saturday, October 18, 2014

nightmare off Texas Street



When Anna Grace and I swung back the photo booth's black curtain, we were giddy and there was no reason for us to feel otherwise. The weather was perfect, we were in birthday party planning mode, and the day was ours alone to share.  Girl's Day.  Why wouldn't we take pictures in a photo booth at the Boardwalk?  

But my giddy feeling soon gave way to distracted confusion.  For several reasons.  

1. Photo booths charge $5.00 now?  I don't know.  Seems like a lot.  
2.  Credit cards accepted.  Swipe here.  Where?  Which side does the strip go?  

While I'm processing this, we start to notice an odor.  But wait, I'm still focused on setting things up. 

3.   Get a code for the picture and you can post them instantly to Facebook, Twitter, or a number of other social media sites I don't recognize.  Of course.  

But man, it really smells bad.....

And then.....

SCREAMS!!!!

We rushed out into the open air and I embarrassed my tween daughter with my antics, but how could I not?  I had just been stepping in a huge, disgusting, disgusting pile of diarrhea!  In a photo booth!  What happened, person-who-didn't-make-it-to-the-potty-or-did-this-as-a-cruel-cruel-joke!?

I looked around for candid camera.  I really did.   

Horrific.  

We reported the incident to the appropriate authorities and cleaned our shoes but I don't think I'll we'll ever forget our photo booth nightmare.  

It was so so scary.  

We took selfies instead. 


under the sea



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

it matters

my parking lot portrait

"It matters, art does, so deeply.  It's one of the noblest things, because it can make us better, and one of the scariest things, because it comes from such a deep place inside of us...I know that life is busy and hard, and that there's crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut.  But don't.  Please don't.  Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art you make.  Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul... Do something creative every day, even if you work in a cubicle, even if you have a newborn, even if someone told you a long time ago that you're not an artist, or you can't sing, or you have nothing to say.... So to all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes.  Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel.  Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything.  Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it.  I need it.  Thank you, and keep going."  Shauna Niequist

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ain't nobody else




For the past couple of months, I've struggled.

I realize now I was speeding through life without a moment to process what was happening in my life and heart and I finally hit a wall a few weeks ago.

It wasn't pretty.

Many things in my life had changed in painful ways and many things had stayed painfully the same. I wasn't letting myself grieve or think about it too much and then one Saturday night, I found myself crying in the bathroom at a dinner party and I was so confused.  I had no idea what had happened.

After some time, I found that maybe my breakdown was more of a break-through.  I was able to finally realize that I was breaking- or broken- and I started to talk about it and process it and heal. (Some of our best and hardest moments are when we realize how broken we are, am I right?)

That's why this past weekend's little getaway was such a gift.  A faith tonic.


even the ceilings are interesting in New Orleans
Yesterday, I listened to Bill Hybels' sermon about speeding through life.  The message was under the umbrella of a series entitled "The God I wish You Knew."  In this particular sermon, the God that He wished you knew was specifically the God who speaks.  God spoke to Bill in powerful ways on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and Bill was faithful to tell the story.


I know Bill's God.  He's the God who spoke about a Messiah, just after Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  He's the God who spoke to Abraham, promising blessing and favor.  The same One in the burning bush, speaking to Moses.  He spoke to the prophets, spoke over His Son at his baptism, floored Saul on the rode to Damascus with his word, and the One who still speaks to His children when we choose to stop and listen.  




I know this God who speaks because He's spoken to my heart so many times before and He spoke again this weekend, over and over on point and true to a theme.  He spoke about my unique calling, about abiding in Him, about living for Him alone, and about slowing down, about His love and surrender to His control over my life- what Shauna Niequest calls "that wiggly, whatever-God-wants kind of life" that is sometimes so elusive.  (In fact, He used her book Cold Tangerines to speak to me over and over this weekend).  I'm still processing it all, but maybe when I have a clear cut, short version of what He said, I'll let you know.  Right now, it's still swirling around in my heart and mind like a gumbo stewing but not yet settled and rich and thick and itself.


What I do know is that God used this weekend to speak.  He used my husband's care and love to remind me that I am, in fact, loved.  Deeply and fully loved.


The Evangelist Linda Wright, as she was introduced at the House of Blue's Gospel Brunch, started Sunday's set with a refrain that made me cry.  It was a happy cry because it was so powerful and so true and delivered with such truth and such energy.  I was overwhelmed.

"Ain't nobody... gonna love you like Jesus"  ("ain't nobody!", the backup singers would echo)

"I love you sister" ("ain't nobody")
"but you can't do it" ("ain't nobody")
"I love you brother" ("ain't nobody")
"but you can't either" ("ain't nobody")
"you can try"  ("ain't nobody")
"but you just can't do it"  ("ain't nobody")
"cause there ain't nobody"  ("ain't nobody")
"gonna love you like Him"  ("ain't nobody")

"and there ain't nobody... gonna love you like Jesus"

The saxophone was wailing and the back up singers were grooving and I was wiping my eyes, thankful for such a gift.  For a God who speaks.

Even in the mundane, sameness of life.  Even in the change that makes us squirm.  And even at the House of Blues on a Sunday morning in New Orleans.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

37>16

Jack was determined.  For 21 years now, my 16th birthday has always been my favorite. I had scored a goal on the soccer field- it was a beautiful fall Saturday- and I just simply felt loved by my family and friends.  Not much more to it.  I've had some good ones since then no doubt but that one just particularly stands out.  

But this year, Jack was determined.  Maybe it was because of my recent malaise or maybe because he just wanted to, but he was dead set on this one thing- he even created and named a playlist after it: 37>16.  

My morning-after testimony is confirmation that my husband knows and loves me well and that yes, 37>16.  

October 10 fell on a Friday this year and it included...

- a before-dawn run and workout with friends, us circled, hand-held and prayed up at the end
- my daily snuggle from Asher even if I was sweaty and smelled badly
- Jack at the stove, him having arranged a day off work and able to make breakfast (butternut squash browns and eggs for me!)
- Zekes thick hair to tame and a huge hug- a rare treat
- my work at our school's big fourth grade event eased by help from Jack
- the privilege of capturing 36 precious and funny 9 and 10 year olds that I've come to know and love 
- an on stage performance by Anna Grace that made me proud 
- Superior chips and salsa
- a precious babysitter for the weekend whom my kids absolutely adore and I trust fully and completely
- a long rest, silence, rain, a good book in the back of our car as we headed to New Orleans, just us
- a time for uninterrupted thought and reflection
- texts, calls, emails, FB messages from friends and family who love me well
- Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, my birthday present to myself and my new favorite book (amazing)
- a playlist that made me laugh and cry and belt out song with my hand through the sunroof at sunset, us reliving our history through song
- Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street, charming and historical
- dinner and conversation and laughs with my best friend in the world as we sat at a little table on Oak Street at Jaque Imo's (my NOLA favorite)
- shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake (pictured above) (AMAZING) 
- a long streetcar ride that felt like a party, hilarious and entertaining as we sat relaxed with the wind in our hair, smiles on our faces, hand in hand

So yeah.... 

37>16

In my book, this one for the ages. Well played, Jack Chaney, and very well done. I have no idea what these next 37 years may hold, but today was a gift and I'm so blessed to face life with you by my side, making me laugh and reminding me of truth and loving me well. I'm one thankful birthday girl.  

*It should be noted that I was able to write this post because Jack is still snoozing beside me at 9:24 am!  Wow! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

approaching 10


Yesterday, in her most serious and stern voice, she told me, "When I grow up, I want to be a writer.  Period.  Right now I'm writing a book called Lily Pads."  

I have no doubts.

Almost ten years now and she still amazes me. I look at her making these expressions and jokes and talking my ear off and I WONDER how she can be almost ten.  I WONDER about who this little person is, all wound up all the time, so funny, so intuitive, so smart, so sensitive and yet sometimes a bit brash. How did we get here?  How is she ten?  Where is my baby who hoarded pacifiers and cried through all my nights but wooed me with her laugh and her round blue eyes?

Almost ten.  It's truly a wonder.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

thriving

"...There the hand of the Lord was on him."  Ezekiel 1:2

Thursday, October 2, 2014

grief, grace, and gratitude


So my work this morning was to edit a photo session of a sweet baby boy that I took on Saturday.  As I came to these pictures- the baby boy with his grandfather- I couldn't help but think of how I wish I had a picture like this of my dad and one of his grandkids.  This side of eternity, it will never happen.    


 But as I was thinking these thoughts, I was listening to Heath McNease's album "The Weight of Glory: Songs Inspired by CS Lewis"* and the lyrics struck home:

"These golden streets beneath my grandfather's feet are realer than the final breath he took before he told us all goodbye..."  and "How wicked would it be for you to wish her back now that she's passed through, to pray her here when she's passed through, a ray of light between right now and evermore... a grief observed."


The truth is, I believe my dad is really holding one of my babies in his arms for real- the one I miscarried nine months ago.  It's more real than I can ever really comprehend.

It's grief and it's grace and it's gratitude all wrapped up in a big wad of emotions in my heart that aches.

Grief, grace, gratitude observed.

*Please do yourself a favor and download Heath McNease's album here.  I am LOVING it.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 gifts orange

Words and time elude me these days but the exercise is therapeutic.  I'll try a photo version.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

one last September thanksgiving


Well wouldn't you know it, counting my gifts daily is just another thing I've failed at recently.  But even though I've fallen off the wagon for September, I'm crawling back on for this last day.  Barely.  But I'm making it.

*grace sufficient for me
*a beautiful leaf or two, like gifts on my front porch every day
*friends who love me well (so many)
*legs that can run
*my workhorse camera that helps me hunt for light
*coffee and prayer
*golden light of the sun setting on another day
*hope for October


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 gifts quiet


* nap time
* the hum of the dishwasher
* a little time to roam the aisles of the store alone

fairy tale character day at school- my Cinderella

Monday, September 22, 2014

3 gifts: rattling, receding, reclaimed (plus)

* rattling: the jingling of tags that is life with a dog
* receding: summer's relentless heat and humidity 
* reclaimed:  my work space- reclaimed from the piles of junk that's been piling up for months 

But today's biggest gift- 

Jackson Degenhart, my little sister's third son born today at a whopping 9 pounds and 12 ounces!  Eucharisteo! 

catching up



So I kind of lost track there for a little while.  Catching up:

3 gifts in conversation

*Asher's frequent use of the word "apparently"  (amusing)
*some conversations via text (encouraging, loving, and again amusing)
*catching up with my Dent family over amazing food (overdue)

happy birthday Jenny!

happy birthday David!
3 gifts in salvation

*adoption
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba,Father.'" 
Romans 8:15

*freedom
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:32

*eternal life 
 "...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  John 4:14




3 gifts in information
*tomorrow is the first day of fall- three cheers for the autumnal equinox
*soccer schedules distributed and organized, color-coordinated by Jack
*life information shared over taco soup at small group, brief but beautiful