Sunday, August 31, 2008

My own personal Human Race

Due to a myriad of logistical hindrances, I didn't get to go to Austin for the Nike+ Human Race 10K.

But despite my disappointment, I ran my own 10K this morning. As I took off, I was thinking about how it was probably good that I stayed home instead. One of those things where God knows best, I guess. And as I turned the corner on my first mile, the way that God was using this run for a recharge of my heart and a quiet and powerful time of prayer lifted me up like a sumo wrestler taking flight. It was awesome.

Of course, I almost had a heat stroke at the end and felt like I was going to throw up after my 6+ mile run, but I got my own little race in. And I won- first place in my age group and first place overall. It's good odds when you're the only one running...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How I'm taking care of Hurricane Gustav Evacuees


I make them work.

My little sister and her family live in greater New Orleans and wisely got out of town on Friday. So we painted my living room today. It was so good to have the help and many of you know the disdain I hold for doing things like this. As we were seeing the results of our efforts, I smiled and told Karen that she was "the best."

She didn't even turn around or stop painting. She just dryly and matter-of-factly told me, "No, I'm not- I'm just bored."

I love that she said that and I love her. So Karen.

So Alison and Erick- you can have dibbs on painting my dining room and Amy- consider yourself invited to re-tile my kitchen floor. Karen found it very effective in keeping her from sitting in front of continuous loops of Weather Channel coverage and worrying... (kidding of course)

But in all seriousness, our prayers will continue to be with our South Louisiana friends and family as they weather the storm.

Psalm 5:11-12 11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The anomaly


This almost never happens at my house. So this morning, after about fifteen minutes of cleaning up after breakfast and getting ready for the day in peace, I grabbed the camera and filmed my children playing quietly and nicely in Z's room. Like I said, this almost never happens. Someone always wants to be read to or held or a needs a drink or a diaper change or needs protection from the other. Needless to say, I was really excited with my fifteen minutes this morning...

And moms who have this happening at your house frequently, please share your secrets!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gee and E-lo


Of course, he's not going to perform for the camera, but the other day he surprised us by reciting his colors ("geee" for green, "e-lo" for yellow, "ur-ul" for purple). I'm so glad he's actually listening to me and I'm not just saying the same things over and over again for nothing. Good to know. And fun to hear.

Awesome blog alert

Check out my little sister's thoughts on humility. Good stuff.

And while you're at it, say a prayer for our neighbors on the Gulf Coast- for peace and safety in the face of Gustav.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Junior's adventures


Junior has been out and about and on the move. On Saturday night, she was running a race (as we were watching the Olympic men's marathon). She's been camping, shopping, traveling, painting... you name it- she's done it in the past couple of weeks.

The other day as Anna Grace was talking about all that Junior was up to, her daddy told her that Junior is quite a stinker. She replied, "Yeah, daddy, Junior IS a stinker. But we don't have to worry about her. She's out of town this weekend."

That Junior...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Love is kind


"...love is kind..." I Corinthians 13:4
So as I mentioned earlier, I'm recovering from a virus that had me incapacitated for the better part of a day. Despite the unpleasantries of the whole debacle, it always amazes me the love that is expressed in acts of kindness when your down and out.

So my thanks go out to...

-Jack, who really held it together and took care of the kids and his sick wife with great perseverance
-my mom, who helped in the taking care of the kids both in a Saturday night bath and Sunday morning reprive
-Joshua Wiggins, MD, physician extraordinaire, who hooked me up with some awesome anti-emetics and took care of three year olds at church in my stead- how awesome is that???
-Jason Greer, chef extraordinaire, who made us some oh-so-tasty chicken noodle soup

I know I am well loved and I am so thankful. God is so good to bless me with such love.

Amber Dent?!?!


Johnny popped the question and Amber said yes!

I'm super excited for these two and I'm so happy to have Amber "officially" in the family now. When I told Anna Grace that Amber is now going to be Aunt Amber, she told me that she is already her Aunt Amber. Very true. But still, it's pretty fun.

Congrats, guys! Many blessings on your journey through life together.

Feliz cumpleanos, ninas!

Our sweet friends Haley and Gracie were born three years ago- way too early. Nora told me that you could hardly even tell she was pregnant when the girls were born. They were born in the heat of the summer, but weren't able to leave the NICU until the cold of winter had set in. They are little walking miracles.

We've come to know these little ones over the past couple of years and it has been so fun seeing these twins interact and grow (while at the same time driving their mommy crazy at times). Haley is the leader of the group (they also have a little brother, Sam, who is Zeke's buddy) and her tenacity and spunk keeps the party going. Gracie has a quiet sweet spirit. For a while there, during our grown up get togethers (we're in a small bible study group), Gracie would seek out Jack and just quietly sit on his lap for 30 minute stretches at a time. Always Jack. So sweet. (I guess she knows a good guy when she sees one).

I was lying in bed yesterday with a violent and vicious stomach virus. Having sent Anna Grace, Zeke, and Jack to the Dora the Explorer celebration that was Haley and Gracie's birthday party, all I could do was thank God for these sweet little girls. In the midst of my misery, I couldn't give birthday hugs or take pictures of the festivities, but I could pray for these little girls and their life's journey. I know God has big plans for these little ones. I'm so thankful I have a front row seat to watch it all unfold.

Happy birthday, girls! We love you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TGIW


I have been totally overwhelmed this week. There-are-not-enough-hours-in-the-day kind of week. Tonight as we pieced together a kind of make-shift meal with Tabasco, bananas, soy sauce, apple slices, yogurt, peanut butter, and chicken fingers littering the table (thank goodness BB bought us some food or we would have been in real trouble), I thought my thank-God-it's-Wednesday kind of thoughts and counted my blessings that I didn't have to drag myself to the hospital tomorrow. I am very careful to say that I don't have to work tomorrow, because I do (my mommy job), but it's a job that I'm very anxious to get back to.

The video is per sweet nephew Cavett's request. AG has been very into using her own form of sign language to communicate and then I have to guess what she's saying. Kind of funny sometimes, but it sure is hard to decipher.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Five things I loved about New York City


I really didn't have a great urgency in my heart to go to NYC. I'm usually drawn to more natural settings and I always try to avoid crowds at all cost. But one of Jack's best friends lives in the city and I felt like we needed to visit. We found a great deal on airfare and the trip just kind of fell into place.

I had no idea how much I would come to appreciate this city. So here's my list. Five things I loved about NYC:







1. Beauty
From Central Park at dawn to St. Patrick's Cathedral (above) to Grand Central Station to the backdrop of the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park- the city was filled with patches of beauty in the midst of it all. I was greatly impressed.

2. Intrigue
Just like I could barely skim the surface of the Egypt exhibit at the Met, I felt like I got a small taste of all there is to learn about in this city. Everything in the city was interesting to me- from John D. Rockefeller's declaration engraved at Rockefeller plaza to the meditation room at the UN- everything was interesting to me. I love to see and touch things that are old and unique and interesting and there was so much of that all over the place. I picked up a silk scarf and an eccentric looking skirt at a vintage store in Greenwhich Village on Bleeker. I'm probably romanticising it a bit- you can probably do that in Shreveport too- it just seems way more interesting in NYC.

3. Symbols
I felt very American as I leaned over the side of the Staten Island Ferry to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I appreciated the foldable slice of New York pizza at John's Pizzaria in Greenwich Village and I even appreciated the collective enthusiasm at Yankee's Stadium... well... until the obsenities starting flying like fast balls from Darrell Rasner's dirt mound. But even with a black spot on the afternoon, I can still look at that ubiquitous I heart NY T-shirt in a new light with a new appreciation for the contribution that NYC makes to the spirit of freedom that America strives to promote.


4. Diversity

One of our first stops on Friday was the United Nations. It was kind of a bummer that it didn't work out that we could take the tour, but it now makes total sense to me why the UN has NYC as its headquarters. It was really striking to me and Jack how many languages and how many cultures make up the tapestry of this city (especially considering where we're coming from). It seemed more like an international city than an American one at times- bringing together tastes (sometimes literally) of the best of cultures from around the world (the quaint little Cuban restaurant in the lower East side and Bianca's on Bleeker afforded me great pleasure in the deliciousness of world cuisine).
5. Our friends
Dennis and Jack have a great friendship with sports being the tie that binds. I think Dennis is the only one of Jack's friends that can match him fantasy football magazine for fantasy football magazine, game day excitement for game day excitement, and trivia knowledge for trivia knowledge. So Lauren and I also have a great bond in loving husbands with what I like to call a sports nerd mentality (no offense, guys).

But the Greenway-Chaney bond of friendship really does supercede sports and jokes. Lauren and Dennis are great friends who have really shown us the hospitality that comes from the heart. So thank you, friends, for introducing me to this beautiful, intriguing, symbolic, and diverse place. I do heart NYC. And I heart you, too...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Central Park Blunder

Eight o'clock on Friday morning I'm bopping down 86th in my ponytail and running skirt- feeling pretty good and pretty excited about my upcoming run in Central Park. It's a beautiful morning and as I turn onto 5th Avenue, I get even more excited as I see how many runners are out to join in the morning's activity, adding to the energy of the moment. So I enter the park and take off. Running at a good clip, I'm listening to my music, getting my praise on, and feeling great. I knew that the loop around the reservoir was about a mile and a half, so as I complete the first loop on the outer dirt/gravel track, I decide to enter the inner loop for my second time- trees and thick brush on one side and a wrought iron fence with a narrow concrete ledge on the other. It had been a little muddy, but it wasn't until I entered the inner track that I realized why this track was relatively deserted- several large mud puddles littered the next quarter mile. But the view was beautiful, I still felt great, and the Nike+ system was recording my every stride, so there was no stopping me. "Push through," I thought to myself. I danced around the puddles at first, finding small patches of safety but then was forced up onto the concrete ledge by a stretch of water that was too ominous to navigate around. It only took me two or three strides to realize that this precarious arrangement just wasn't going to work out for me. As I attempted to move from the narrow concrete to some kind of safety below, the next few half seconds took on a life of their own. Thoughts as the time went by:
First half second: "Am I going to make it? No, I'm going to fall."
Second half second: "No, maybe I won't. Pull it together, Candace."
Third half scond: "I'm definitely going to fall, but maybe it won't be that bad. Keep the ipod dry."
Fourth half second: "No way! "
At this point, my right butt cheek, right leg, and right hand had met the New York mud. Splat.
I pick myself up and my first concern is to look behind me. Sigh of relief. No witnesses. Second concern how I was going to clean up, but there was nothing to be done. All I had on me was a cell phone and an ipod- neither of which could do me any good in my current situation.
So I picked myself up and with no shame, I rejoined the outer pack of runners and ran another three miles to finish up my own personal Central Park 10K- my right side covered in mud from the waist down. It was great. I completed six miles in just under 50 minutes- a personal best. I had no shame as I bopped back down 86th in my ponytail and running skirt, this time sporting a good bit of mud.

Post dedicated to the great Melissa Palmer, runner extraordinaire. There's nothing like the sometimes crazy runner spirit!

This picture is the outer track during a run with Jack on the next morning (Saturday). Jack hung with it for three miles! I'm so proud of my trooper of a husband!

Friday, August 15, 2008

You take the good, you take the bad

Our vacation started the minute we sat down at the Shreveport airport. I was so ready for a little rest and some time to just sit in the quiet and read. It's like when the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then your child- I needed some fresh air and a time-out from the kids so that I could come back and take care of them with greater patience and energy. I was getting worn down.
So the minute I sat down to wait for our flight, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the wait. And it was great.
I bought a monster of a biography on Mao Tse-tung, so when we were in the air from Houston to NYC, the touchscreen revealed a needed break from the darkness of Mao's reign of terror. Among the many movie and TV options on our flight was a vintage episode of The Facts of Life- a gem of a show. It was so fun. And did you remember that George Clooney graced the show? It was great. You take the good, you take the bad, you take em both and there you have...



Coming soon: a Central Park blunder and more...

Monday, August 11, 2008

His head is purest gold- part six


I was at Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon when I got that oppressive Wal-Mart feeling. You know what I mean? Usually, I try to do my grocery shopping on Thursday mornings, but yesterday was Sunday and the kids were napping and I needed a few things, so I made the terrible decision to go out and make the trip. Sunday is a huge day for Wal-Mart apparently. There are so many people with baskets full clammoring for all the stuff that Wal-Mart sells. I was in a long line- waiting- when it dawned on me again. His head really is purest gold. And I'll try to explain...

At church that very morning, my favorite Sunday school teacher of all time (Jack Chaney) had used a video of one of my favorite preachers of all time (Andy Stanley) to discuss the Sabbath and, specifically, the fourth of the Ten Commandments as set forth in Exodus 20. The theme of the whole series was that the Ten Commandments are a set of rules to live by not as a condition for a relationship (i.e. not a list of rules to live up to so that we can come to him/be accepted by him), but instead exist as a confirmation of already being in a relationship with God. In other words, God gave us this set of rules to live by because He loves us and because, if followed, they lead to the highest level of well being possible.

So I'm in Wal-Mart and I'm frustrated and frazzled and everything else and it dawns on me that if I had really taken to heart that morning's message, I wouldn't be there. I would be at home, resting and refueling for the week ahead. Not that God expects me to do nothing on Sunday, but He really wants me to rest and not do things that make me crazy and stressed on a day that is holy and set apart. Not going would have been hard. It would have been an act of faith that I would have enough time on Monday to get done what I needed to get done- that things would have worked out without the extra milk or whatever. It would have been hard, but it would have been good and I wouldn't have been in that line with my blood pressure rising.

His leadership is good. His head is purest gold. Thank you, God, for your great patience with me. I know you were smiling as I had my little grocery cart revelation. Thank you for Sabbath rest and thank you for those other nine guidelines to live by that bring life and hope and peace. Thank you for Jesus and His fulfillment of the law so that we are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14) You are so good. So beautiful.

When I left home for college, my dad gave me a gift- a New Revised Standard version of the Bible with a concordance and my name embossed on the front corner of the cover. Dad took the time to write something in the front of my Bible that I will never forget- precious words from my now late father. He wrote, "In the first chapter of Joshua, Moses tells Joshua to 'observe to do according to all that is written in [this book]. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success,' I could give you no better advice. Love, Dad, Fall 1995" I could have avoided a lot of painful mistakes had I really taken his advice to heart, but I'm thankful that I've gained a little insight on the wisdom of these words. It's the love and kindness of a Father to give me instruction.


"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:1-6

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laughable


Some of the funny things that have been said around my house lately:

1. Me to Jack: It's strange... I've been seeing and reading so much about China lately. (Followed up by him letting me know that that was one of the dumbest things I've ever said.) Dumb and funny.

2. Jack to Me: Maybe if you did some chores around the house, you'd have some money [to go get a pedicure]. (Followed by a hearty laugh.) Rude and funny.

3. Jack to Me: What if Iran had a beach volleyball team? Do they? Can you play in a burka?
Ridiculous and funny.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What if?

The Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing was the most amazing show I have ever seen. Did you see it? It was awesome and amazing and interesting and, as Matt Lauer described it, a little bit intimidating as every one of the ten thousand fold volunteers moved in perfect step to showcase their country- flexing their collective communist muscle. My thought was a "what if" kind of thought. What if celebration of the human spirit was replaced by celebration of the Holy Spirit, glorification and promotion of the harmonious state was replaced by glorification of the one true and loving King, and what if the ushering in of athletes to idolize was replaced with the ushering in of a Savior to worship? An awe-inspiring show would have been replaced with a mind-blowing encounter. Just a thought. This is what goes through my mind when I see something like this.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?


I guess it's inevitable that if you have random tiaras laying around the house, your 18 month old boy is going to pick one up and it's going to land on his head. That didn't make it any less funny when it actually happened...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Loving our letters


AG has gained great proficiency in reading simple three letter words and of course, her mommy is very excited about this fun new skill. We've been working on it for a while and it's like a light switch has turned on for her.

I want to thank...
- God for the brilliant circuitry of the human brain
- Reading specialist Nana (she even gave me a tutorial the other day on asking reading comprehension questions as I read the three obligatory bedtime books)
- Our other grandma, BB, the great book giver
- The likes of Jane O'Conner and Dr. Seuss that make reading to little ones so much fun
- PBS' Word World and Super Why - I know TV for kids may be frowned upon, but I think
these shows have possibly done us more good than harm
- Sassy's Count and Spell Bath Appliques- who knew such an inexpensive bath toy would be
such a hit?

There is a world of reading ahead of us, but it's fun to see AG take this leap into the world of literacy. Just the other day, Zeke started saying "two" after I started to count with the "one." Like I said, it's so much fun to watch your kids learn and grow.

Survivor




I have one lonely daylily in my flowerbed surviving the heat of our dry Louisiana summer.

Beautiful.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Sending


Every year, we assemble our friends from our days in Kentucky for a weekend reunion. And every year it gets better and better. We started as a small group Bible study- four young married couples without kids- but we've since been fruitful and multiplied from eight to seventeen. This year was spent atop Mount Nebo in Arkansas and as I've been processing the trip, I realize that I experienced quite a range of emotion this past weekend.

Joy: The fun of watching your children laugh and play and run and love is just a really amazing thing. And enjoying it with some of the best friends that you've ever had is just icing on the cake. We always laugh so much when our families are together and this weekend was no exception.

Sorrow: Having to say goodbye to my friends knowing that I won't see some of them until next year is hard enough, but saying goodbye to our friends who are leaving was especially hard. They leave for East Asia in a couple of weeks and will be gone for three years (hence, "The Sending"- see also Romans 10:14-15). Knowing that I won't see the kids again until they are three years older makes me sad. It's a selfish emotion for sure, but it was there nonetheless.

Exhaustion: Is that an emotion? It felt like it was. As I alluded to in my earlier post, I didn't get much sleep this past weekend. The problem was that Zeke just would not close his eyes and there was nothing to be done about it. Had we been at home and not an open-air campground with lots of slumbering people nearby, I would have let him cry it out a little bit and we'd have been done with it. But I couldn't wake up the whole campground, so alternated I rocking him by a smoldering campfire while a fox scampered in the distance and letting him crawl around on our air mattress attempting to cuddle him but getting nowhere. When dawn was about to break, he went to give me a kiss on the cheek and instead of a kiss, I got a nice, strong bite. I couldn't scream or tell him no. All I could do was cry. It was rough. And it wasn't just the sleep. The work of camping with that many children was daunting. But again, well worth it.

Love: The best part of our get together- by far- happened after the kids went to bed. We shared our lives and our hearts well into the night as we laughed and cried and prayed for each couple in turn. To be joined at such a deep heart level is such a gift. I was thinking about my posts about the beauty of Jesus and specifically the description of Jesus' head being purest gold. One commentator that I've read has said that this description is referring to the Godhead- God's three-in-oneness. And it makes sense. The fact that God exists- albeit mysteriously- in three persons operating in self-sacrificial love is purest gold. He is nothing if not a relational God. He IS love. We love because God first loved us and these friends have really shown me and each other that God-imparted love. They really know me and despite myself, they really love me- and each other- and they give themselves to these relationships in a way that amazes me every time we're together.

We became a part of this group by what seemed like just serendipitous chance. A friend had invited me to BSF and I accepted the invitation. I was placed in a group where I met a girl whose husband was also in seminary at Asbury and after my dad died, she, with great compassion, invited me and Jack over for dinner. We immediately hit it off, but Jack and John really had divergent courses in seminary and would have probably never met had it not been for Lydia and I meeting when and where we did. We would have never entered in to the goodness of this group of people had it not been for that one "yes" to going deeper in the things of God. You never know what a difference a "yes" could make. You never know the blessings that hang in the balance of one decision. I pray for a continuous "yes" in my heart because I know that even though trouble will still come and life will still be hard at times, the blessings of His love are so good and will sustain me through it all.

Kiddie Top Ten


Call us crazy, but we met our friends to go camping in Arkansas in August with NINE kids in tow.
And when I say camping, I mean camping in tents with no air conditioning. Zeke was the only one who didn't think it was cool to sleep in a tent, so I think I made it on about 5 hours of sleep for the entire weekend, but other than that, the trip was extremely successful and totally worth the lack of sleep. I have some more thoughts for later, but I thought I'd start with the top ten fun things for kids to do when you're camping...

1. hiking




2. eating - from oreos and milk to hot dogs to stick biscuits, it was so yummy

3. swimming- a must in 95 degree heat


4. playing in the dirt


5. sparklers!!!

6. laughing and generally running around like crazy with your friends

7. coloring

8. cooling down with watermelon

9. playing with lanterns and flashlights



10. making smores

Despite the heat, I think the kids had a blast. After our wrap-up breakfast at Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning, we had to say our goodbyes. The four big kids had a big group hug that was so sweet it made me tear up. The moms and dads have very special friendships and it's neat to see the kids grow in love and friendship with one another, too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Jungle of Egypt


I'll bet you didn't know that there are jungles in Egypt, but this is Anna Grace's latest masterpiece aptly entitled "The Jungle of Egypt." Who knew.

And we're so excited because Junior is returning from "Mexican" tomorrow. Hurray.

More to come on our camping adventure. We had so much fun, but we are so tired...