Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life!


WE HAVE LIFE!

Jack never really gets it when the double lines show up on the stick. He really gets it at that first ultrasound- which happened today.

At nine o'clock this morning, we sat in a dark room with an ultrasound tech who had the really cool job of revealing to us an amazing first glimpse of this littlest Chaney. We heard a heartbeat. One hundred nineteen beats per minute. It was amazing and awesome. I know it's my third time, but I think the wonder of it all only increases each time. I was captivated. This little person has already taken up residency in my heart. Forever.

I could choose discretion and keep it quiet for a while, but I've thought about it a lot and I choose vulnerability. I don't want to be motivated by fear, so I'm sharing with you and with friends and family because my heart is bursting with the joy of this news (even though my stomach may be revolting) and I want to share what's in my heart with transparency. If something happens to my baby, I won't be able to pretend that I'm not grieving.

When we told Anna Grace, she was ecstatic. The little wheels in her head started to turn and she immediately jumped to the possibilities- what if it's a girl? what if it's twins? I assured her that I would need lots of help either way and she couldn't have been more delighted at the idea. We told her that we weren't going to tell anybody quite yet, but that lasted for about a day. I found out later that not only did she tell her friends at school, but she made an announcement for all of the St. Mark's preschool children and teachers to know. Chaney #3 is on the way, she proudly pronounced.

Zeke doesn't quite get it. When we talk about the baby in my tummy, he lifts up my shirt and then just kind of moves on. I can imagine him thinking, "What is she talking about?" He'll find out soon enough. And despite his inability to comprehend the concept of pregnancy, I know he'll be a great big brother. He approaches other babies with the gentle spirit he possesses and shows great tenderness.

As a whole, we're all excited and all ready to add this one to the Chaney bunch. It's not going to be entirely convenient or tidy or easy, but that's not what it's all about anyway, right?

We have life and we have it abundantly.

Praise be to God.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things heard at my house this Tuesday night


"If it was a snake, it would bite you."
Anna Grace responding to Jack's question about where she put her sweatshirt. Yes, sweatshirt. It was actually cool this morning. Fall is coming!

"I am a robot! I am a robot!"
Zeke's most monotone chant after putting on his- you guessed it- robot pajamas.

"She spells like one of the Chick-fil-a cows."
Jack's epiphany of how Anna Grace creates cards and letters for all her friends and family. Tonight it was her teacher's birthday card. She put a warning note on the outside of her school bag that read: THERE IZ U SPRIZ IN THIS BAG.

"How do I describe myself? Three words. Hardworking, alpha male, jackhammer. Merciless. Insatiable."
Dwight Schrute, of course.

"I love God."
Zeke when I opened our bible story book at bed time. That one was my favorite.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The joy of the journey


Friday night, after we met up with some dear friends of ours, I had a dream.

I was traveling with my friend through what was supposed to be Tennessee, but you know how dreams go. It was more like southern Utah meets West Virginia- mountainous and rocky and wildly beautiful. We were following a trail that led us into a cave in which the passage became smaller and smaller and smaller until we had to squeeze through on our backs. It was painfully tight, but we made it. At the end of the trail with light at the end of the tunnel, my dad was waiting for us. He bought us a big dinner and we laughed as much as we celebrated completing the journey together.

I guess it's pretty clear. Going through the hard and the beautiful parts of life together is a singular blessing that is sometimes only fully appreciated on the other side.

And one Day, we'll celebrate with our Dad at the Dinner He's prepared for us.

Pretty awesome...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"A" for Effort

Let me translate.

"PES" = please

"KUM" = come

"TOO" = to

"MI" = my

"BRTHA"= birthday

"PRDE" = party

And it's not boob, it's double boo.

We decided to have AG's birthday party on Halloween Day.

Hearts and Jack-o-lanterns.

It's gonna be one kickin party, people.

Hide and Seek

One of our favorite pastimes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thanksgiving in September


"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

I've come to realize that guarding your heart really takes a lot of work.

Receiving teaching on the subject has opened my eyes to the motivations and movements of my heart and has given me really practical ways to effectively protect my heart against the everyday tendencies of jealousy, greed, anger, and pride. Jealous? Celebrate other's success and blessings. Greedy? Give generously. Angry? Forgive relentlessly.

What I've realized lately is that what I'm trying to guard my heart against in this season of my life is covetousness. Lately on my long runs as I run south through streets lined with houses that are bigger and more beautiful than mine, I look at garages (we don't have one) and lush backyards with green grass (don't have that either) and elaborate play places (nope, not that either) and I turn as green with envy as those fabulous yards I pass.

And so, I turn to Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

So I think that Thanksgiving is coming a little early for me this year, folks.

This afternoon, instead of focusing on what my house was not, I thought about everything that it is, and responded in thankfulness. Here's my list of all the things that are wonderful about the house God has given my little family.

1. It was built in the 20's and has great character- down to the hexagon pattern bathroom floor and glass doorknobs.
2. It is so close to everything. We live in a two mile radius of Jack's office, Anna Grace's school, our church, and my mom's house. A fifteen minute drive feels like a road trip.
3. It has a fabulous new kitchen with WAY more cabinet space than we started with.
4. Our breakfast room keeps us cozy for biscuit and orange juice breakfasts and dinners where we mull over our day. And it has some neat built-ins.
5. It has a history of Christian ministers. We bought the house from a Methodist minister and one of the ladies in my church told me that our house was occupied by one of the ministers of First Baptist Church while she was growing up. Kinda cool.
6. It's big enough not too feel too cramped, but small enough that we experience lots of togetherness. I like bumping into my little family members.
7. It's exactly where the Lord wants us.

A big ol' garage and a great backyard may be in my future someday, but for now, I'm called to be content. To be thankful. I am deluding myself if I don't recognize the goodness of God in what I've been given, especially considering that most people in the world could never dream of living in such conditions. I'm reminded that having Kingdom-centered priorities sometimes means having a lifestyle of less. And that less really is more.

Now to just keep that guard up...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rocking Reunion



The upside of a funeral?

Family togetherness.

My siblings assembled this afternoon for a little Rockband before the service. Nothing like a rousing rendition of "Eye of the Tiger" before celebrating your granpa's life.

One day.

One day, we'll all reunite with PawPaw and Granpa and Dadoo and everybody else and we'll all rock out together.

For real...

Saturday morning fun

It seemed that Anna Grace didn't know what to do with the emotion of being nervous. Right after kickoff, she cried for a few minutes and told me that she was "too shy kick the ball," but once we overcame (and we overcame with great triumph), our first soccer game was nothin' but awesomeness. She made three goals and had a blast. Saturday morning fun, indeed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday

In 1997, my friend Beth and I shared a loft apartment the summer before our junior year at Auburn. It was time with my friend that I'll never forget.

Beth was always stood out like an orchid in a field of Alabama wildflowers. She was always a wistful, quiet breeze of strength to me- one of about four friends in college who kept me grounded and who really knew me and loved me anyway.

I thought about Beth today because I happened to hear of her latest article in Europe's version of the Wall Street Journal. When I saw her name at the end of the article about London's fashion scene- how I could email her at the WSJ about the story- it struck me how different our lives must be. I haven't been to visit Beth, but I can imagine her in her London flat, making coffee, and then heading out to meet whomever at whatever high-fashion event to put together a story about the goings-on of European life.

Is my life more boring? Maybe. I spend my time in the town I grew up in, walking my little girl to school, putting together bunk beds, and scheduling play dates- lucky to get away for time with my husband and DEFINITELY not up on the latest in fashion.

BUT.

My faithful friend Beth and I may have very different lives, but we are sisters in Christ, forever joined at the heart level and whenever I see her again, we'll pick things up right where we left off. Don't you love friends like that?

We've recently reconnected and every now and then, usually when I need it the most, she sends me a paragraph of encouraging words- things that the Lord has put on her heart to share with me. So maybe our lives aren't so disparate after all. When the most important thing in your life is knowing God, I don't think it matters if you live in Asia or Europe or Kansas City or Atlanta or Kentucky or Charleston or Memphis or Shreveport- you're living life in tandem, toward a common end that trumps all the vain imaginations that the world has to offer.

I don't know if I'll make it over to see my friend any time soon, but despite the miles and despite the years that pass, the unbreakable cord of Love that joins our hearts is as strong as ever.

Love you all, my dear friends.

And War Eagle!
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gratitude

I don't know what works for you, but when I'm down, the best thing for me is to get alone and run. Add a little rain to the equation and I'm set.

In the midst of seeing patients and talking to parents yesterday, I got a voicemail from my mom. Granpa had died at 1:30. Because there was no time to process, I didn't. I just kept on keeping on. Sometimes you just do what you have to do when you have to do it.

But today was such a gift. With the kids at school, I had time to process and be alone. There will be more emotions to sort through certainly as we gather as a family to celebrate this life, but for today, I'm thankful for a rainy run, time to listen to music while I emptied the dishwasher, words and phone calls from my friends and family who love me so well, for my little ones that keep me smiling, and for dinner with my mom. Today, I'm thankful for wet pavement and for the comfort, grace, and peace that comes from God- falling like rain over hurting hearts. And I'm thankful for my Granpa.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So it begins
















Anna Grace was so excited that she slept in her new uniform and Jack was so excited that he was grinning all the way to soccer practice. They were both pretty cute.

Team Degeney... or Chagenhart




Karen, aka Aunt KK, aka Superwoman, helped me turn a box of Ikea wood into a beautiful bunk bed oasis of goodness.

I don't know who is more excited- me or my kids.

In any case, a super shout out of love goes to my little sister. I don't think anything would ever get done at my house if she didn't come to visit me and volunteer for projects. Thanks, sis!!!!

















Sunday, September 13, 2009

In the Last, a Victory


I did a lot of things today, but maybe nothing as heart wrenching or as strangely beautiful than stealing an hour with my little sister to sing hymns over my gentle-hearted Granpa. He's pale and motionless, with the plaid quilt my mom made gracing his otherwise sterile Hospice bed. He no longer opens his eyes to see or his mouth to speak, but I have to believe his ears and heart heard our songs- that the melodies of these anthems of faith were like a soothing balm over his weary soul.


We started with "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and ended with "Hymn of Promise" with lots of "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" and "I need Thee Every Hour" type songs in between.

There is a certain peace that comes with the full assurance you have in Jesus Christ. We grieve with hope. I may be saying goodbye to Granpa soon, but I will see him again as I am ushered into the presence of God by the astounding and amazing grace of Jesus. I'm so grateful for that undeserved and awesome grace that He pours out in love over those who put their trust in Him.

Do you know Him? He's good and He's calling you to Himself. He made you and He wants to extend this amazing grace to you as well.

I'm glad my Granpa knew Him. Knows Him. And WILL know Him even more fully very soon.

1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."


The last line we sang tonight was from Natalie Sleeth's Hymn of Promise: "In our death, a resurrection; in the last, a victory. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

As I mourn for my grandfather whose body is ravaged with disease, I wait and I hope for the victory realized. It's coming. And I am forever grateful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ice cream: Homecoming Parade Edition


Living with a high school practically in your backyard has its advantages and disadvantages.

C.E. Byrd had its annual homecoming parade which ends at the end of our street. For the first couple of years, I was completely surprised when I started hearing firetrucks and drums, but this year, we were prepared.

We ate al fresca and waited for the evening's events to begin.








We invited some friends who live close by and my sister and nephew from South Louisiana. Okay... so they didn't really come for the Byrd Homecoming Parade, but it was still fun to see her.






















"Did you see that?"












Some teenage kid ran up to Anna Grace at one point and screamed "ST. MARK'S IS THE COOLEST SCHOOL EVER!"

She didn't really know what to do with that.

But she took his candy.

Maybe she shouldn't have. Hmm...












So yes, we have a love/hate relationship with Jack's alma mater.

The verdict for living with Byrd High?

The good: The walks to football scrimmages, or running around like crazy on the football field in the spring, and even a pep rally to crash when the kids need a diversion.

The bad: The pesky kids who park in your grass. And the afternoon traffic.

The ice cream: The annual Homecoming parade. I've said it before and I'll say it again. There's nothing like sirens and drums to captivate a little boy in wide-eyed wonder.



PS- As I was looking for last year's parade post, I came across Anna Grace's pie video. If you're looking for a pick-me-up, watch it. You've got to be really down not to have this one make you crack a smile. It's seriously worth your time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

His hair is wavy and black as a raven: Part four


Within a week, I can feel such a range of emotions, visit such hopeless places, and experience such explosive joy, that it sometimes makes me tired.

Within the last few days, I've rejoiced in my little girl's brave heart as she has overcome her fears. I've laughed and laughed at the hilarious antics of my two-year-old son. I've cried with a broken heart for my grandfather who lies in a hospital bed in Hospice- cancer ravaging his brain. I've loved children who are being made strong and shared joys with parents who are experiencing victories in healing. I've cried with a friend who's heart is wounded. My heart has swollen with gratitude for an amazingly blessed life and I've struggled with things at work.

Today, I think that the Lord has given me some time today to process it all and to remember that in the midst of it, He is the same. He is good. He is faithful. Part of His beauty is His dedication to us. He never leaves us. He never gets tired of hearing our prayers and interceding for us. He never ever changes. He's with us in the joy and He's with us in the sorrows of life.

I think it's hard for us to understand this aspect of Jesus' beauty because none of us really know anyone who doesn't need to change and grow. We all need continual pruning of some areas of our lives and challenges to bear more good fruit. We don't know anyone fully righteous and fully good and fully kind all the time. And when we think we meet someone who is getting close to the mark, we admonish them to "never ever change."

But when my emotions are on the roller coaster ride of life and when I'm overcome on all sides by circumstances and situations that tend to throw me off course, I'm comforted by knowing that Jesus never changes. He's always there, always with more energy and more power to help me overcome the nausea of living this sometimes up, sometimes down life.

If I keep gazing upon this Beautiful One, I just might make it to the end of this ride with victory and joy. I just have to keep my eyes on Him- the Dedicated, Unchanging, Forever Faithful One who will see me through.

"...his hair is wavy and black as a raven." Song of Songs 5:11b

"But you remain the same, and your years will never end." Hebrews 1:12b


"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews 7:25

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20b


"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rollin on the River



Swimming, tubing, fishing, jumping, volleyball... we had a fun, fun, fun time on the Red River this Labor Day. Even my usually skiddish Anna Grace braved the waters on the tube. I was shocked when she laughed as we sailed full speed over the boat's wake, but she told me that God was the One who took her out there and let her have a good time. Of course He did. And I'm SO glad. It was a great day.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

War Tigers: For your gameday enjoyment



There was a frenzy of activity to kick off the Auburn game tonight which is kind of funny considering how much we've put football in its place around here (kudos, Jack Chaney). Notice Zeke's LSU gear as he goes crazy with War Eagles. That's how we roll around here.

When explaining penalities and flags to Anna Grace, we told her that sometimes players break the rules- sometimes they mean to and sometimes they don't mean to. She promptly broke out with a chant of "WE FORGIVE YOU, WE FORGIVE YOU!"

Kids...

Gotta love it.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Friendship Friday











Zeke has his buddy Sam are kickin off the weekend two-year-old style. (And in case you don't know what that means, it's a lot of car crashing and ball playing and coloring and Lighting McQueen watching).



These two have spent A LOT of time together (same daycare, same church) and they got me thinking today about all my friends. From my oldest friend Myles (my, how I wish I had a picture of the two of us circa 1979) to my newest friend Jennifer G., and all the ones in between- I love them all.

It's just plain cool how the Lord can knit your hearts together in love.

So here's to all my peeps far and near- you know who you are. I'm thanking God today for the love and friendship you've shown.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

THAT mom


When I dropped the kids off this morning wearing the same black pants and T-shirt I wore to bed last night, I wondered how often I am THAT mom to the other moms who are whispering and giggling behind my back.

You know THAT mom?

The mom who is too young to know what she's talking about or the mom who is too old to be wearing that?

The mom who is too overbearing or maybe too permissive?

The mom who is dressed to the nines or maybe stinks a little from her inability to find time for a shower?

The mom who talks too much or is maybe too shy or the mom who comes across as too cool for school?

The mom who sends their kids to school in uniforms from last year's dress code or the mom who
lets their kids eat Cocoa Puffs or pop tarts for breakfast?

The thing is, I really didn't know about THAT mom until about a year ago.

I was at a birthday party for one of Anna Grace's friends at her new school when I struck up a conversation with what turned out to be one of the sweetest moms on the planet. As we watched our little girls tumble around on the mats of Jill's Gymnastics, she kind of leaned in and turned the volume down a notch when she asked me something that I could tell had been plaguing her mind.

"Are you going to iron Anna Grace's uniform everyday?" she wanted to know.

It totally took me off guard. The thought had not ever entered the furthest depths of even my subconscious mind. I think I kind of let a little nervous laughter slip. I definitely smiled.

"Ummm... No?" (I was hoping this was the right response).

When she let out a sigh of relief, I knew we would be quick friends. She then let me know that another mom had informed her that she really needed to iron her daughter's uniform daily because you know... she didn't want to be... you guessed it... THAT mom.

Thankfully, my friend's run-in with condescending judgment is the only one I've experience so far at St. Marks. On the contrary, I've only met wonderful people who show great kindness and compassion. I've experienced only love and acceptance among this group of parents.

So why the worry? Why do I so often feel like THAT mom?

Just this morning, the Lord directed my meditation on His word to Isaiah 2:22:
"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?"
Too often, I look to others for validation. Too often, I let others judge my worth. Instead of worrying about being THAT mom in the eyes of man (or in this case, other women), my concern should be about what the Lord thinks. What does HE require? What does HE say about me? Who does HE want me to be?

In looking to Him, I find a challenge, but also strength. I find a standard of righteousness to live up to, but also the power to walk in a way that honors Him through the Spirit that He has so graciously sent. I find words that He speaks over me and about me that maybe aren't who I am now, but who He sees that I will become because of the work He's doing in me.

If I trust Him and Him alone, He will lift up my head and establish me in His love, bring my heart to a confidence that cannot be shaken, and sustain me in the knowledge that I am His and He is mine. He is my hiding place and as I abide in Him, I will bear much fruit.

Even with greasy hair and a day old coffee stained T-shirt, He's enthralled by my beauty.

I want to be THAT woman of God. The woman who does not give way to fear, but one who knows her place as a daughter of the King.

So I'm resolving to forget about worrying about being THAT mom and instead set my sights on being HIS daughter. No matter what.