Sunday, January 25, 2015

that healing kind of holding

The sun was bright and the kids were playing, sliding, and running, but three-year-old Jack just stood in the middle of the playground with his chin stuck to his chest, eyes down, bottom lip out.

I was working in our church nursery and I watched little Jack, waiting to see if he would come out of it or if he needed help.  And then, little Callie came over.  She was the prettiest thing you've ever seen in her pink smocked dress, her little gold necklace, and her back lit curly golden locks making her look like everything that's holy and good in the world.  She stood toe to toe to Jack without saying a word.  He didn't flinch or acknowledge her.  He just keep his eyes down, heart closed.  She tried bending down to meet his eyes.  She even tried mirroring his sad posture, but after she could tell it wasn't helping, she silently moved on to run and chase bubbles.  Sweet girl.  Jack looked over his shoulder a little bit as she ran away, but it was so brief and sad.  There he was again- head down, dejected.

It was then that I knew it was my turn.

I didn't want to confuse him with his twin brother so I double checked the name tag on his back and then I bent down and asked little Jack what was wrong.

His bottom lip quivered.  Tears burst out.

"I want my mommy and daddy" he said in the most familiar and sad way that kids say things like this.

I picked him up and he calmed down, melting into my arms.  I held him for the rest of the hour, telling him that it would be fine and that mommy and daddy would be back soon.

Some things like this don't change with age or time.  Sometimes we just need to be held and we just need someone to tell us that it's all going to be all right and that Jesus is going to come back and everything will be made right again.  Sometimes even the most beautiful and holy things of this world can't heal that place in our hearts that just plain ache.

This week, I'm thankful for my Jack that has held me with his arms and his words and his love, reminding me that it's all going to be all right.

Sometimes we just need to be held. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

enough

I don't think you can tell from the pic, but they were so so beautifully dirty!
 I wish I had thoughtfully and carefully planned ahead so that my children had something productive and altruistic to do on their day off for MLK Day, but I hadn't.  Lucky for me, our amazing babysitter- who sometimes seems more like a sweet superhero with her little red car, shining eyes, and unmistakable spunk- took the three of them to a work day at the MLK Health Center to plant flowers while I was out working.  I'll take it! 


Also, I wish I lived closer to somewhere perpetually sunny and warm and so close to the ocean you could smell it.  But watching five kids play from my friend's backporch while eating her homemade chocolate muffins was pretty great too.  The sun was in our hair and it was warm and I'll take it.

I wish a lot of things actually.  I always always wish my passport told a story of my world travels- that I knew what it was like to wander the streets of Madrid or see the sun rise in China while my time zone back home was sleepy and dark.  But I as I ran the same running route in my same neighborhood that I've run 1,000 times, I listened to Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See and I was a blind girl in France during World War II, exploring my uncle's six story house and I'll take it.  

All the time I'm wishing for something more but what I have is my daughter and I sipping hot tea and writing together and I know it's enough. 

Today was a good day and I'll take it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

every day a little more


This morning's convention of birds got me thinking.  I wondered if that momma bird out there ever gets all worn out and run down by flying back and forth all the time, foraging front yards and mud puddles to fill her babies' bellies.  I wondered if she gets frustrated when one of her babies doesn't like a particular variety of worm. 

"They never seem satisfied. It's always 'I'm hungry!' all the time."  I wonder if she thinks that. 

Also, does she consider the opinion of all the other birds? 

Probably not.  More likely, she functions out of instinctive certainty that her Creator loves and provides.  She doesn't worry and she doesn't strive.  She does what she can and her nest is enough. One day, her birds grow pectoral muscles and courage enough to fly on their own, singing the song they've been given and that's that.  

One Day I hope to be just like that and in the meantime, every day a little more. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

get real

Can you imagine? 
"The Gospel isn't a one time message for the unbeliever, but the constant miracle for the imperfect."  Ann Dahlhauser

I couldn't see her.  She was only a voice coming from my speaker phone as I folded freshly dried clothes (I was trying desperately to get warm), but she was as near as you can get considering the 568 miles that separate us.  This is my share-your-heart-and-soul friend, so the warmth came from the clothes and her encouraging wisdom and love.

After I shared and of course teared up about the ins and outs of my recent life mistakes and triumphs, we started exploring this cultural myth of having our worth tied to some pie-in-the-sky perfection. Maybe we wouldn't go so far these days as this 1949 lunacy (this seamstress most certainly did not have children underfoot), but still, we go about striving all the time, surprised and dejected when we mess up.

At least I am.

But here is the truth:

When we accept and share God's love, He loves us.

When we reject Him and hurt people, He loves us.

When our house is a mess and we yell at the kids, He loves us.

When we're disciplined and diligent, He loves us.

When we're provoking a fight or telling a lie, He loves us.

When we're kind and making peace, He loves us.

When we're a hot mess, He loves us.

When we're perfect... He call us out on that.  We're not perfect.  But still, He loves us and He wants us to draw near, not run away. 

You don't have to look good and have it all together.

He loves you. 

We would all do well to get real and share our struggles, bearing one another's burdens, forgiving one another and loving one another even with our loads of drama and mess.

Lipstick and french chalk?

Get real.

"We love because He first loved us."  1 John 4:19

Thank you for the love and encouragement, Lyd!  Love getting real with you!  xo

Monday, January 12, 2015

#lifetip


four stitches
I was leaning over and stirring a pot of steaming soup while calculating bread-warming times in my head when Jack walked in and said, "So... are you going to do anything with your hair before small group?"  I gave him my best pissed-off glare mixed with an amused grin while he tried to recover.

He backpedaled and said something like, "I mean... it's just kind of messed up.  I'm just giving you a life tip:  fix your hair before small group."

We both laughed at the rudeness.  Since then, we pull out the life tip card every now and then and I thought I'd share a few for you this dreary Monday morning.

Life tip:  Don't hold an avocado in your hand while you aim a knife at the pit and violently go for it.  You might miss the pit and cut your hand instead and spend your Saturday morning in the ER.  Life tip. 

Life tip:  If your daughter tells you she's found this genius idea on Pinterest that will make your hair grow faster that involves pouring olive oil on your head for several days in a row, skip it.  You'll only have to search for ways to get it out after it doesn't wash out and you try all kinds of things and you have to go several days with hair that looks like it's totally covered in oil.  Life tip.

Life tip:  Don't ask your wife if she's "going to do something with her hair."  Ever.  Life tip.

Wink, smile.  Love you, JLC! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

a Zeke peek


Fortunately enough, he has a grandfather who will be all about helping him with that last thing!

Monday, January 5, 2015

her pipe cleaner confetti


I have a girl with a crazy, strewn-out, single-minded (absent-minded?) propensity to make a mess.  I mean... to create.

Today, it was multicolored pipe cleaners all over- like she had picked up a handful and thrown them up in the air to land where they may.  I could tell that she had created some... things... with them but mostly it was just a mess.  And somehow she just walks away, unfazed. 

She has half written stories in so many notebooks, it's hard to keep track.  One day it's about someone named Shimmer in the lunch room at school, one day it's about a girl named Amelade who floats above the earth and only has clouds for friends.  I find videos and photos on my phone constantly- mostly videos though- that are a mix of stream of consciousness and 10-year-old comedic story.  I find notes and drawings with funny or sweet or or strange or profound things all the time like the one I found today that has a drawing of a woman on it- maybe me?- with a surprised look, she's saying, "You did WHAT?"

Trails of art by Anna Grace are everywhere.  

I ask her to help me clean up and she lays there on her bed talking to me non-stop about this or that, full of joy or frustration or laughter or anger or all of these at once while I nod and clean up, listening with part amusement, part irritation because unless I reminded her yet again, she would not think to help me.   

But even though it makes me crazy, I'm thankful for her pipe cleaner confetti.  Life would just be that much less colorful without it.  I love her art and I'm her biggest fan and she keeps things interesting albeit messy.  She inspires me to consume less and create more, seeing ingredients in the world with an eye to see what we can make out of it. 

So if you're ever reading this one day, my sweet AG, thank you for your art.   I adore it and I so love to see you grow into the creative girl that your creative God made you to be.  Thank you.

Now go clean your room.  (wink, smile). 

an exerpt from "The Adventures of Shimmer" by AGC:

There she was, about to wave her wand and turn Alex Mires into a frog for good.  
"Shimmer," said a voice that sounded old, and shaky.  "Put the wand down."  
Shimmer quickly put her pink, sparkly wand in her pink, sparkly case.  It was Mrs. Wilson.  
"We have told you many times, no magic in class."  
"Sorry Mrs. Wilson," said Shimmer.  "I was just-" started Shimmer, but was quickly interrupted by her teacher.
 "Save it." said Mrs. Wilson. 
 I should probably tell you about, well everything, before we go any further...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

a good start



Three good ways to start 2015:

1.  good prayer


This is a good one from Tim Challies.  (Thank you, Jack Chaney). 


2.  good perspective



"...So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Horribly, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own" And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or or on the 1st. Wow! And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says."  Ann Lamott
3. good, transformative reading
Although 2014 was not that great of a year for me and I'm kind of happy to see it go, 2014 was a really good year for me in the reading department.  I read a lot of good stuff.  I feel like Shauna Niequest and I are good friends by now for sure.  
I'm starting 2015 with Matt Papa's Look and Live (another stellar recommendation by Jack).  I've only read the forward and introduction and wow... I'm anticipating this read like the start of a really nutritious and delicious meal.  Can't wait.  
And maybe I'll get my hands on author Kayla Rupp's newest novel this year.  Hope so!  
4.  good music
Even as I type, Jack and I are at the table with the record player spinning Real Estate's "Atlas."  We've enjoyed a lot of spinning of the records this year and some of our favorites have been Band of Horses' live album (may be my favorite), Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Apache Relay, Vampire Weekend, and we had a soul-ful Christmas with Booker T and the MG's "In the Christmas Spirit."
So here's to a prayerful, perspective-filled, thoughtful, melodic 2015.  
I'm ready and grateful for the new start.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

there will come a time, you'll see


"And after the storm
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up
On my knees and out of luck, I look up


Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay


 But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot

 
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall


And remembered our own land
What we lived for


And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears
And love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears

Get over your hill and see what you find there


With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."

             -Mumford & Sons, from "After the Storm"
Mount Magazine, Arkansas

Thursday, December 25, 2014

shared together

"We have shared together the blessings of God."  Philippians 1:7  Perfect words for a beautiful day. 

Merry Christmas, friends! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Banjo's back





He went to boarding school for 4 weeks which was great but we're all pretty pumped to have him back for Christmas.  Obvi. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

the beginning of the end

January
Have you read Lois Lowry's book The Giver?  Anna Grace and I recently read it and *spoiler alert* we decided that really at its core, the book and movie are really about Christmas.

The dystopian society of the book is flat and colorless and void of all true emotion- certainly of love. When Jonas, the protagonist, discovers memories of life with love and hate, family and war, he is overwhelmed by its joy and floored its suffering.  Courage grows within him to return freedom to his people and in the end, though the author makes it a subtle truth ("Silent Night" plays at the end of the movie), it is BIG truth: CHRISTMAS is what makes the suffering bearable, the joy overcoming all the hate and all the suffering and all the death.  It is the hope and it is the beginning of salvation.

A couple of days ago, I made created our family's 2015 calendar on Shutterfly.  I pulled out some beautiful moments of our 2014 to illustrate the months, but it's not as though the year was devoid of suffering.  I've lived long enough to know that 2015, should we be given the gift of all 365 days, will dispense joy and pain, adventure and struggle- for all of us.  I hope it's a realism and not a cynicism- I am hopeful and I know Love holds us through it all.  But it makes Christmas that much greater.  We struggle for now, but it's true that "Christmas is the beginning of the end of all suffering," and isn't it so appropriate, so wonderful that our year ends with the beginning of this great truth, this great news? 

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December
I like it that my year ends like Jonas' triumph in The Giver- with the great hope, salvation, and good news of Christmas. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

watered by love, Chaneys in bloom

"At Christmas, we like to see things in their proper place.  We unwrap the ancient legends and the oldest truths.  We like our angels unchanged and our rituals familiar.  We like the right faces around the table, the right carols to be sung, the promise this is how it's always been and will always be.  Because that is Christmas- the one still point in a world forever turning.

while they grow and change each year, I'm so thankful to have these faces as my Christmas constant

Sometimes Christmas is not a still point.  Snow melts away and the day doesn't offer up the peace that we'd imagined.  But in the darkness, seeds awake, shoots unfurl toward the light.  Fate might shake us, but our roots run deep, and we have love to water them.  And so we bloom where we are planted, turning our faces toward the sun."  Heidi Thomas

Friday, December 19, 2014

note to self



My camera is broken, so I don't have a big collection of pictures this year.  But since I can't seem to remember details from year to year, I'm using this post as a note to my 2015 self.

This year, Korrie and I baked 32 loaves (and ate one) while listening to the Mother of All Christmas Playlists and U2's newest album.  We doubled the recipe then multiplied it times six and it took approximately five hours not including trips to the store.

The bread rises TWICE.  Don't forget that like you did in 2014, my dear 2015 self.

Happy Christmas Bread Day!