Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lemon water... you know?


This morning, Anna Grace came to tell me that Jesus has lemon water. If you drink it, you won't be thirsty. Apparently her daddy had been talking to her about Jesus' living water. Easy mistake. Lemon water tastes good too, right? :)

Baby flips

video
Zeke's fun new trick. Too funny...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ah, Be Be!


While Jack and I enjoyed some mommy and daddy time off this past weekend, BeBe entertained, fed, changed, bathed, rocked, and loved our two little ones. No small feat. The amazing thing- she even sent them home with clean clothes in their suitcases. What a wonderful grandma and how we all love her!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Taken

I think everybody- especially women- can relate to how I felt when I looked in the mirror this morning. A critical spirit emerged as I was bombarded with negative thoughts about my haircut, my shape, my blemishes, my imperfections, and my general composition. Sometimes it feels almost like a wave of nausea combined with discouragement and disappointment. Maybe that's a little dramatic, but can you relate?

It's pretty much every morning for me. I don't know. Maybe some days, I avoid it to some extent, but for the most part, I can feel the battle raging. But I also have victory over it to varying extents each day which brings me to my point. As I gaze on the beauty of the Lord, He imparts beauty to me and, maybe more importantly, revelation about the beauty that is already mine. It's beauty for my ashes. (Isaiah 61:3) More and more, I can look in the mirror and truly see a beautiful woman who has a heart of love for God. I can start to hear the whisper of my Creator in my ear saying, "How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!" (Song of Songs 4:1)

Additionally, I can look at the people around me and see their beauty in ways I couldn't before. I can see the shocking beauty of Kayla's insight, Kathy's devotion, Lydia's vision, Nora's faith, Rendi's kindness, Karen's talent, Kate's joy, Barbara's generosity, Jenny's service, and my mom's gentleness as impartations of the Beautiful One.

In our culture, it's hard for us to break free from the American Idol and Entertainment Tonight inspired ideas of beauty and worth, but we must press on in redefining beauty in spirit and truth. It begins to transform, free, release, and comfort us as we renew our minds in the beauty of Jesus.

Yesterday when I was on the treadmill, I could really see the scars on my forehead that are usually faint. They were highlighted by the sweat of my brow as I bounced along mile after mile. But I felt like the Lord was telling me that He's going to use my imperfections for His glory- that I am His. The "T" that the scar forms stands for TAKEN. I am my beloved's- and my beloved is mine. Powerful stuff.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Meet the Brother and Sister-in-law

I got spat upon tonight. By Kate's new boyfriend. We just met him yesterday.

Jack and I came to Birmingham to visit his little sister, Kate, and to meet the new man in her life. Of course, it's inherently hard for dear Patrick who was quite the sport being the new kid on the block. I'm sure it was not quite as difficult for him as Ben Stiller's Gaylord in "Meet the Parents," (or in our case, meet the brother and his wife), but we nevertheless had some unforgettable moments. Which brings me back to the spitting.

Kate bought two games for our Saturday night entertainment- Quelf and Pop 5. We had a blast and I highly recommend both games, but two things will stick with Patrick Montgomery for quite a while, I'm afraid. The first was a high-speed expulsion of water from his mouth due to an unexpected burst of hilarity at just the wrong time in the drinking process. The second was an unforgettable performance of MC Hammer's smooth moves of his best work, "Can't touch this." The side to side shuffle was dead on.

It goes without saying that Patrick was a really good sport.

It is good for my heart to be able to leave Birmingham knowing Kate's new suitor is a really genuine, down-to-earth, good hearted guy. And most importantly, he clearly loves my beautiful sister-in-law. I love Kate and I feel really good about this one.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gettin my snooze on


I think I'm ready to announce to the world that Anna Grace is now officially sleeping through the night!!!!
For those of you who know me well, you know that this is a HUGE accomplishment for my three and a half year old and that it has been a LONG three plus years for nights on end in my household. I am so proud of my little sleeper.

Jack and I are in Birmingham as I type visiting Jack's sister. No kids. Barbara (Jack's mom) graciously volunteered to babysit for the weekend. So after I slowly woke up and stretched out at just before 8:00 this morning, I thanked God for the sound sleep and later for the report that Anna Grace and Zeke slept all night last night at their grandparent's house. What a huge, awesome, wonderful thing is a full night's sleep!

A small thing

Over the years, my life has intersected with children and their families deeply affected by the tragedy of autism. I'll never forget the little blond boy I worked with while I was still in college- the hours spent on my ABA training and the effort and time it took just to get some semblance of communication going between this precious little one and his disconnected world. During my time in Early Intervention, my spirit groaned for the struggle experienced by children and their families dealing with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. I was also inspired by their triumphs and touched by their dedication, perseverance, and love.
A friend has recently put a link on her blog to a site in which all you have to do is watch a video and a donation will be made to autism organizations.
Children should not have autism. Spend a minute or two if you can doing something small for this big problem.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bibbity Bobbity


Tonight, I was assigned the part of the mean stepsister while Anna Grace directed me to tear up her lovely dress. After I pretended to do the dirty work, the beautiful Cinderella laid her sobbing head on the coffee table and looked up in wistful anticipation as her fairy godmother arrived on the scene to save the day. We went the whole way through- from the bibbity bobbity boo, to the glass slipper, to the wedding dance and happily ever after. She is captivated by Cinderella's story. Sometimes she requests to wash the kitchen floor and then softly sings, "sweet sweet nightingale" in a never ending refrain as the small wet sponge circles the floor. Dramatic and endearing amalgamated into one sweet little girl. I love my little Cinderella.

Sisterly love vis a vis the internet

My little sister is now blogging! Love that KK! Check out Karen, Will, and sweet baby William out at their new site. How fun!

ps- Jack wanted to correct my usage of vis a vis. And maybe he's right, but it's still fun. I will try harder vis a vis your smartness, Jack.
Nonsensical? You decide. :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Only child for a day- or two

Zeke had quality mommy and daddy time this weekend while Anna Grace was away celebrating her cousin's third birthday in Texas. It was really fun to get one on one time with him. We realized that he can actually stand without assistance when there's not an overenthusiastic three year old to contend with. I was so happy to see her today and I missed my little girl, but it was nice to be able to give Zeke 100% this weekend.
video

Sunday, January 20, 2008

He is radiant and ruddy - part three

I recently found myself in a situation in which I came across a girl who- long story short- needed a ride. As I drove her the fifteen minutes to her ex-boyfriend's parents camper, she divulged the litany of woes plaguing her life. She has two children under age 3, but is unable to provide for them, so they live with her abusive ex-boyfriend's parents. And they live in a camper- not even a trailer- a camper. This girl doesn't have a car, so she mostly walks to work, but got let go from her last job at Picadilly because she had walked to work in the rain and was not presentable for service. Her mom died last July and she is estranged from her father. Her brother recently committed suicide. I didn't even know what to say. She just talked and talked and kept thanking me for the ride. How humiliating for me. It was the very least I could do.

When I dropped her off, she sheepishly joked that it was the "smallest house in town" and with a quick, "thanks again," she was gone.

My heart broke for this girl, but I didn't do anything. I didn't give her my number or give her money or pray for her or ask her how I could help. God put her in my car and I just let the opportunity to love her pass me by. Granted, I was overwhelmed with where to start with this poor girl, but still...

So I went out to the camper today and left her my number in the hopes that maybe she'll call. Maybe I'll get a second chance.

It is true that when you see another human- rich or poor, big or small, young or old- you see someone created in the image of God. C.S. Lewis wrote a book about this very thing- entitled, "The Weight of Glory." In it he writes, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."

When I think about this hurting girl's face, I see a young, struggling mom, but I also see the beauty of a God who is ruddy- who took on a human form and who knows our struggles because He became intimately familiar with them during his stay on the Earth. His beauty in being radiant and ruddy is in that he chose to descend to us, to become like us, to walk among us, so that He could save us. He is beautifully radiant and ruddy because of His gigantic heart for tiny people.

When Jesus speaks about judgment in Matthew 25: 35 he appplauds his sheep saying, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

I don't want to miss Him again. May our eyes be always open to the ruddy God who calls to us through the need of a friend, a secretary, a spouse, a cashier, a grandparent, a co-worker, a child, a patient, a client- or even a stranger who needs a ride.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On a roll

Most of the time, the closest Jack and I really get to a date is curling up on the couch after the kids have gone to bed and watching a 99 cent Blockbuster rental. Jack is currently on a roll with the picks. His line up has been as follows:

1. Hot Rod - Andy Samburg corners the ridiculous in this mindless comedy. Sort of Napolean Dynamite-esque. It was very funny and not very defiling which turns out to be a great combination.

2. The Kingdom - Quite violent, but interesting commentary on the current climate of geopolitics. And who doesn't like Jason Bateman for a little comic relief?

3. The Prestige - Enjoyed the surprise ending reminiscent of M. Night Shamalan's movies, but suspension of disbelief is a prerequisite. It's about magicians, but the magic is in the character development and storyline- not the smoke and mirrors. Thanks for the recommendation, Wiggins.

4. 3:10 to Yuma - Slow start, but if you can get past all the shoot-em-up, it ends up with quite an intriguing exchange between characters. I think we have the Rupps to thank for that one.

Jack continues to have movie selection rights until he strikes out. Any suggestions to help him out?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Waiting patiently

This is a picture of Anna Grace with my dad's beautiful mom, aka Memaw Dent. They share the same birthday- just 83 years apart. For an octagenarian, she is quite the spry and spunky one. My rosy-cheeked grandma swims three times a week, has adventures in hot air balloons, and is an avid internet enthusiast. And she looks great in red.
I love my Memaw and I pray for blessings over her.

But today, my spirit groans for those who haven't had such luck at defying the odds of aging. Just today, a good friend called for prayer for a grandfather- a mass was found in his colon. And today, I worked with a patient with terminal brain cancer. I silently prayed for him and his wife and his son as this man's strength and stamina has steadily deteriorated. I pushed and pulled and prodded, but I know my feeble attempts to strengthen will come to nothing in this case. Notwithstanding a miracle from God, recovery will not happen for this man. And I just can't get his wife's despondent face out of my head.
Working in a hospital, I very often get discouraged and depressed at the death all around me. It really gets to me. And I work on a rehab unit- where functionality and health is usually on the up and up.
But my hope comes from the One who created everything perfectly- without death- and the One who will restore all things. The thing is that death, disease, brokenness, and alienation were not part of God's good, created world. As sin entered the picture, it's ugly consequence death followed. But God's promise in Genesis 3:15 was a Redeemer and He was good to His word. Jesus came. The price was paid.
At this point, I surely don't fear the death of my need-to-lose-that-baby-belly body and I have great peace about people like my dad who are living in total bliss in an amazing place with the King. But at the same time, every time I encounter death in this world, it reminds me that things aren't as they should be. Newborn babies should not have brain bleeds. Grandmas should not get cancer. Grandpas should not have diabetes. Daddies should not die in car accidents. Mommas should not have rheumatiod arthritis.
For now, my job is to pray in faith for healing and restoration while"waiting patiently" as in Romans 8:22-27. For it is written, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." I Corinthians 15:26. It will happen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Seriously

video
What a stinker! But so sweet, too.
I've been fielding all kinds of questions lately- everything from how babies get out of their mommy's belly to whether or not bees get sick.
We were in the car yesterday when she asked me- out of the blue- how Jesus was doing in my heart. I told her that He's doing well and I'm learning more about him all the time. That was fine with her. She just sat there for a minute and then ended with the sweetest, "I love you, Mommy," of all time. Precious moments.

PS- She slept in her own bed all night long last night!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Movin and shakin

videoBless his little heart- his sister has so much energy.
Anna Grace's school was out today and on top of my not feeling well, my little duo really gave me a run for the money. Sometimes I don't have words to describe my frustration with all the little things that make me crazy. Things like: "Stop pulling on my shirt." "Stay in your highchair, please." "Danger!" (as he crawls off to play with the hot water heater...)
Despite the work, they are precious little lives. It's good at the end of a long day to have had a break (thanks Nana and First Baptist Church- Parent's night out!) and then to recount the blessings that are Anna Grace and Zeke. Beautiful, fun, and healthy kids. What a gift.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

He- my lover- is radiant and ruddy

When I first started these posts on the beauty of Jesus, I presupposed the primary tenet of the whole deal- that He is the Bridegroom, the lover of my soul, and the One who is searching for a Bride- voluntary lovers of Himself.

I just realized my overt omission as I was reading the text. There it was- "My lover is radiant"- not just "He is radiant."
I had to go back and correct some of my posts. Subtle, but important.

Louie Giglio asserts that God's glory is "the sum of His magnificent attributes." Preeminent among those attributes is clearly His love. God is love. (1 John 4:8) That God is a self-giving lover is His glory. It defines Him. It's who He is.

I had a dream several years ago in which I was at a church worshiping when Jesus pulled me backstage to explain something important to me. He knelt down and held out a wedding ring in his hand as he spoke the first four verses of John's gospel to me. (The part about "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God...") It was revelation to me that the whole point of creation was His love- to love Him and be loved by Him in a covenant relationship- forever.

So as I keep plugging along with my beauty posts, I'll try to keep it in context- that He is the lover of my/our souls. The Creator loves us and is beautiful. Amazing.

Don't you love a deal? Two

I know I've blogged about this type thing before, but I just can't get
past it. To the left is the embarrassment of a home office that graced
our home. The before, if you will. To the right is our re-do of the day. The after. We got a great deal on a used desk on Craig's List. We even organized our files and everything- our type A friends would be so proud! :)
(You know who you are...)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It was Jack Chaney's year


After the BCS National Championship game last night, Jack and I were mulling over LSU's remarkable win when it totally hit me- 2007 was probably the most amazingly blessed year of my husband's life. Here's a run-down of Jack's 2007 feats:

1. personal growth in the knowledge of God
2. the birth of our son, Ezekiel David
3. the celebration of his 30th birthday
4. vocational success, fulfillment, and advancement
5. a fantasy baseball championship
6. a salient ministry
7. a fantasy football championship
8. (and this one is kind of cheating because it happened in 2008, but still...) an LSU national championship

What a year for my husband!

It was certainly hard for me to get really excited for the outcome of an LSU victory, but I am really coming to appreciate what it means to my husband and support and love him in it. He will readily admit that he is a sports nerd (but at least a sports nerd champion, he jokes). The bottom line is that LSU is so fun for him that I was just really happy for him last night. What a great way to round out a great year for my man.

I can't wait to see to what heights the Lord will take him in 2008.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fun Friends and Philanthropic Fashion



Zeke and his buddy Sam Greer are gearing up for Mardi Gras. Way cute.

This afternoon, my mom and I went to a "bead party" put on by my childhood church, Noel UMC. To the right are beads made by Ugandan women deeply affected by atrocities of war, the AIDS epidemic, and abject poverty. Check out the Bead for Life website- it's a great program. The beads are made from colorful recycled paper- beautiful beads made by beautiful women. Buy some beads and support the hope offered by programs like these.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A cousin blast and a comfort blitz



My memories of little 2-year-old cousin Elena are so clear- babysitting in Atlanta on weekend excursions from Auburn. Jack and I will never forget taking her to Chili's as a toddler- we were amazed at the energy and attention it took to ensure that things went smoothly with a little one in tow. Now, here is all-grown-up teenager Elena and sweet brother Caleb. Our time on this peanut of an earth flies by. In the blink of an eye, I'm sure my little girl will be a beautiful teenager like Elena- contemplating the complexities of high school and riding beside me as we drive- sipping Starbucks and shooting the breeze. Sigh.

But it was great to see them. We had all kinds of Webkinz-related fun with our cousins- I'm so glad for their move from New Jersey to Nashville!

In other news, AG now has a new sleeping arrangement complete with a Tempurpedic mattress and down comforter. We figured that perhaps increasing our little one's comfort would correlate to increasing sleep. So far, she is doing great! Last night she only woke up at 4:00 am, had a short jaunt to our room, then put herself back to bed. HUGE SUCCESS!!!! Now if we can only sustain it...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Found somewhere on the internet

Jack and I got a kick out of this odd admonishment. We were looking for a picture to accompany my latest post and came across this gem. Ridiculous? Yes. But how true. (You know who you are). Resist the urge to swipe that tasty pastry...

Our little big guy

Our baby is growing up. He got his first haircut today. He did so well- he sat in my lap and just giggled and squinched up those shoulders when the razor touched his neck. He's such a happy little guy and such a good sleeper. Love that little Z man!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

He is radiant and ruddy- part two

"My lover is radiant and ruddy" (Song of Songs 5:10)

I was running the other day and as the blood rushed to my extremities and face I thought again about the ruddiness of my Savior (for context, see post on Jesus being ruddy). As my I felt my flushed cheeks radiating heat, it struck me that what physiologically makes Him ruddy is His blood. Without blood there would be no reddish coloring. It's what makes us alive. Awesome in it's implications. It's the very thing He spilled out in a great act of love for me and you.

At that moment, John Medeski's steel guitar rendition of "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" started playing on my ipod. What can take away my sin? What can make me whole again? This is all my hope and peace. This is all my righteousness.

That He became a man to provide a way for broken people to come to God is awesome and He did it by means of the shedding of His blood. He is radiant and ruddy. He is so beautiful.

Folk art by Nicholas Herrera.