Thursday, December 18, 2014

wide eyed and mystified

Anna Grace's nativity scene, 2010

If you need some centering this season, "Wonder" by Bethel Music is just the ticket. 

Its truth and effect are awesome in the truest sense of the word. 

May we never lose our wonder... 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Louisiana light

The morning light through the North Louisianan trees gently lit our start.

A high noon 65th wedding anniversary in South Louisiana shined as our purpose.

The late afternoon in Louisiana's heart set a beautiful bookend.

Past the sunset, we careened down the interstate, working hard to catch the fireworks over the Cane River. We made it- just in time for the show to burn bright in the sky and in the eyes and hearts of our amazed little boys.

Thank you, Jesus, for your Light- in marriage tried and true, in the love of a family, in the sky and in the stars, and in our hearts as twinkling lights in darkness shine with Advent truth.  Amen.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

a truly inspired performance

Asher, playing a shepherd finding Jesus in a manger, gave one of the most joyful, inspiring performances ever.  Shouldn't we all rejoice, rejoice that Immaneul has come?!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I had the privilege of capturing part of a birth day today!  Little Nora Kate came into the world a little under six pounds while words like "miracle" and "amazing" and "perfect" flew around the room as she met her family for the first time.  Momma Nora, a friend-more-like-a-sister, is doing well and I was so thrilled to hold and capture her sweet baby girl.  

Katie, another friend-more-like-a-sister posted this today and it couldn't ring more true:

"The grace of God means something like:  Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't be complete without you."  Frederick Buechner

Happy birth day, Nora Kate!  Welcome to the party!

You are loved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Blessing of Tragedy at Christmas

Chaney family tree 2014

This morning we sipped coffee in the dark during our weekly morning prayer when my friend Sarah told us that she had written something but didn't know what to do with it. She had something to say, I have a little venue here, so....  introducing guest blogger Sarah Sherry!  Whether you're distracted by the joy and busy-ness of large family gatherings or if the quiet of the holidays deepens your sense of grief and loss, these words are for you.  Thankful for the encouragement today.  Come back any time, Sarah!

The Blessing of Tragedy at Christmas

As Christians, we are known for espousing the "True Meaning of Christmas." Let's not forget it's about Jesus, right? The lighting of the Advent candles remind us each week that Jesus brought Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. 

Now, over the years, Christmas-time has become synonymous with Family-time. I will be the first to sing the joys of Christmas with all of my family around! Parents, siblings, my husband, my children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews - the more the merrier, right!?! 

But, Christians beware! Even this noble and righteous pursuit of familial bliss is not what Christmas is about. If all goes right, it can increase our Joy and give us an opportunity to share our Love. Togetherness can give us a glimpse at the Kingdom. But, it isn't the main purpose. 

Now, to the title of my little rambling. How can tragedy at Christmas be a blessing? It seems SO particularly SAD when we have to deal with illness, strife, loneliness, and loss at Christmas. But, that's only if we see Family-time as the main purpose of the season. 

Let us remember the first two candles: Hope and Peace. Jesus brought the miracles of hope and peace to this world! And around the corner is Easter, when we remember the promise of hope and peace in the world to come. It is a certain future for those who believe!

There is hope in the midst of death. There is peace in the midst of war. There is joy in the midst of pain. There is love in the midst of loneliness. And Jesus is the reason. 

So why is tragedy a blessing at Christmas? Because at this time of year we are celebrating the birth of the one who brought us a future worthy of hope, worthy of peace, worthy of joy, and worthy of love. That future is there, regardless of what we are dealing with now. 

Sarah L. Sherry

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November's blur, December's prayer

November in a blur of joy and color and light and blessing and struggle.

I have a friend who is one of these people who can get up and sing with poise and grace, belting out notes like she belongs on one of those competition shows.  I can totally see her nodding her head and smiling, thanking the judges as they told her how great she was. 

But during this morning's service, she started singing it and it was hard:

breath of heaven
hold me together
be forever near me
breath of heaven
breath of heaven
lighten my darkness
pour over me your holiness
for you are holy
breath of heaven*

She suddenly stopped, choking on tears.  She tried starting again, starting again, stopping again.  Those of us who knew about her family's struggles with cancer knew why she couldn't get through it.  We were weeping, too.  But the congregation carried her on.  We sang it, we finished it.  She finished it.  Breath of heaven.

The song feels like such a desperate cry for Jesus- how could we not all weep with our friend?

We are struggling with cancer or we're not.  We have all our family together for Thanksgiving or we don't.  We have adorable children dressed as pilgrims or we don't.  We are rich or poor, we have small unimportant jobs or we're VIP's.  It doesn't matter.

We all need Jesus. 

Like, really need Him.  This world is far too broken and too hard and death looms too large for us.

We struggle, we're tired, we're scared and we need him.

So November was a blur- for me, mostly a good and full blur- but I'm hoping December is slower, more focused.  Maybe I'll be a better friend and a better mom and a better wife and offer more patient love.  Or maybe I'll fall flat on my face again.  But either way, this song is and will be a good prayer for the days ahead.



Breath of heaven, hold me together.  Hold her together.  Hold them together.  Be forever near us, breath of heaven....

*lyrics by Amy Grant and Chris Eaton