Sunday, January 31, 2010

Because we just wanted to party


Anna Grace's Recipe for a Fabulous Family Fiesta:

One bag of tortilla chips
One package of shredded cheese
One pound of ground turkey
One package of taco seasoning
One pint of sour cream
One jar of jalapenos




One dangling welcome sign








One "ola" (aka hola) greeting banner














One colorful fruit chain




And one enthusiastic senorita



Mix and serve.


Ole!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Not forgetting

Clearly, it's still on Anna Grace's heart.

She created this at school on Wednesday.

Harmony, hockey, and hot donuts

As strange as it may seem, my Louisiana hometown has a hockey team. So instead of our regular Friday night movie rental, my husband declared it "Family Fun Night" and off to the hockey game we went.


It was an interesting slice of my region's culture for sure. I saw lots of camo, lots of jerseys, heard lots of country music, and I actually saw a guy with a huge belt buckle wearing a t-shirt that said "I [heart] beer." No lie.



It was Zeke's first live sporting event. His little feet barely did the job of counterbalancing his weight on the folding chair, but he was not deterred. He was wide-eyed and kept declaring his excitement.

"I'm SO excited!" he kept repeating over and over.


Of course, there were mudbugs in costume that made their rounds but Zeke preferred Dodge's Ram, which he enthusiastically referred to as a reindeer. Repeatedly.

And our little crew also made the big screen. I guess that's a perk of a small crowd and having a little girl waving her arms in wild abandonment- hoping to get noticed. And get noticed she did.



I think the little guy and the big guy had the most fun.



Especially the little guy.

We all had fun just being together.

Family Fun Night was a raging success (and I didn't even mention the dozen hot Southern Maid Donuts that topped off the night). I don't think a hockey game will always be the activity of choice, but it really doesn't matter what we do. It's the being together that counts.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another limerick: my diversionary blogging



My pregnancy arsenal reminds me
That gestation ain't always that easy
But my sweet boy's wild antics
And his sister's semantics
Lift me up and point to what will be








Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our LemonAID leader

At church on Sunday, Aidan sat in the pew in front of me with his parents. In red ink, he had written on a fat envelope full of bills and coins: "For Haiti. From Anna Grace and Aidan. $196.10"

One of the best things about living in community with other believers is being a part of their kids' lives- celebrating with them, encouraging them, investing in them, loving them, and watching them grow in amazing ways. In the past few months, I've watched my seven-year-old friend profess his own, personal relationship in Christ in front of our congregation. I've watched him, week after week, sit with his parents in church and read his Bible. I've seen him roller skate and play ping-pong and make silly faces and get excited about his Nintendo DS, but most striking has been the move of the Spirit on this little boy's heart. Sunday, I watched him give a wad of cash with absolute joy in his heart.

He inspires me.

His mother told me that he was building with some blocks the other night and he built a church. He then told her that when he grew up, he wanted to go around the world and build churches.

From the overflow of love and enthusiasm I've seen in this little one's heart lately, I don't doubt that he will do exactly that.

He's a little Nehemiah already, sitting outside on his front lawn, day after day, giving out lemonade and asking for donations for the poor of the earth. Working for his King.

So I'm shouting out to Aidan today. Visit his blog and give him a shout out, too. It may seem like a small investment, but this young man has already and is going to do great and mighty things for God.

A little encouragement never hurts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Because you're part of this, too


Somewhere in Kansas tonight, there is a mother who is within days- maybe hours- of giving birth. The baby inside her belly will make its debut into this world and will be loved beyond measure by two really fantastic adoptive parents: my friends John and Lydia. This baby will also be loved by her birth mother as the very act of letting her go is a tremendous act of love.

Tremendous.

It seems like I've been on the sidelines watching this intense drama unfold. The ups and downs, the hopes and the fears, the uncertainty of it all has been tugging on my own heart- I can only imagine what it must be like for Lydia- or for the birth mother.

But what I've been struck with today, as I got the 4,652nd update on this adoptive story, was that this is not only this baby's story, or Lydia's story, but if you've prayed for this baby or if you've given money toward the immense cost of her adoption (as I know some of you have), you're part of this, too.

The cast of characters in this drama includes you.

So don't stop now.

Pray for a safe and healthy delivery of this little one into this world. Pray for this birth mother to be blessed with strength and health and comfort- physically, emotionally, and spiritually- as she gives her baby to the Harrigans. Pray for Lydia and John and Benjamin and Samuel as they prepare to welcome this baby into their hearts and home. Pray for financial provision (they still need to raise about $4000 more and you can donate through Pay Pal on their blog).

Because like I've said before, it matters. The Lord wants us in the game. He's arranging this adoption. His hand upon this process, upon this baby and all of the hearts involved, but He wants us in the game, too. He wants us to cry out to Him so that our hearts can be engaged. Maybe He even wants to speak to our hearts about how He feels about us as we continue to pray for this baby and this adoption drama.

Lord, protect, bless, prepare, provide, and speak.

We're in.

Ephesians 1:4-6 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."




Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday's This and Saturday's That

I took about a hundred pictures on our short little day trip to Dallas for my nephew Cavett's fifth birthday. The highlights...

There was the birthday boy and his self-proclaimed "birthday assistant"


my sister and her awesome cake-making skills



and Zeke and his partner in crime... I mean... his sweet cousin Kendrick



Cavett and his many expressions



our kids and all their boots


reactions to being able to pet a soft rabbit and a prickly komodo dragon



a marmalade sunset and a vertical rainbow

Happy Birthday, Cavett! We can't wait to celebrate many more with you and watch you grow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

LemonAID for Haiti



KTBS 3 News | Shreveport, LA: ArkLaTex News - LemonAID for earthquake relief

We held hands and prayed before we started selling our goodies today and the Lord has blessed our efforts. Over a hundred dollars to help the people of Haiti!

Word got out and the news crew even came by- all you locals will have to tune into the 5 and 6 o'clock news to see our little ones at work!












"...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10

May the Light of Jesus break through the darkness in Haiti.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beautiful things I've seen lately


1. My mom and I went through some of my grandmother's clothes this past Sunday. I brought home about six vintage dresses that I can't wait to wear post-baby. (Sisters and cousins, I'm happy to share if you want to pick one out!)


2. Grapefruit. A ten-pound bag of this fruit is absolutely no match for the likes of a pregnant me.


3. Anna Grace's picture of Jesus on His throne.


4. My little boys eyes and his mouth full of goldfish.

It's been a tough week. I'm trying to find the beauty around me when and where I can.

I'm finding it's there when I look.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just beautiful

A beautiful sight: marvelous Melissa, chocolate milk in hand, having crossed the finish line, victorious in completing her first marathon.

Twenty-six point two miles, people.

I'm shoutin' out to you today, my friend.

Over a cinammon dolce latte yesterday morning, I listened and smiled as my friend described her incredible experience at the Houston Marathon this past weekend. She was all grins.

So was I.

Especially as we were leaving and she turned around to go down the stairs backwards.

Very slowly.


What a victory.

One of the beautiful things about my friend Melissa is her vulnerability. She is as real as it gets. From puking and port-o-lets to struggles and sorrows to triumphs and trials, you get it all as she has chronicled the struggle of training and the ups and downs of her journey through life.

Galatians 6:2 tells us to "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Not only does Melissa carry others' burdens on a daily basis through her job at the hospital and through her friendships in which she freely gives her support and love, but she allows you a peek into her heart as she struggles through her journey, sharing her burdens with you. And in this way, I know so many people are rejoicing with Melissa right now.

Because they knew she struggled with a debilitating injury, they celebrate a pain-free run with her like it was their own.

Because they know she took up running after she quit smoking, they celebrate her accomplishment gaining inspiration from her tenacity.

Because they know that she wasn't always confident that she could do this, they share in the joy of her victory.

Because they knew her heart in it all and she allowed them to pray for her through the journey, they are able to thank God with her for His sustaining presence in her life.

And maybe by "they," I mean me. But I know so many others have to feel the same way.

So go congratulate Runrgirl today.

Because nothing says "accomplishment" like running 26.2 miles with a nasty case of tendinitis.

Way to go, Melissa!!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My twenty-two-week-old miracle


He's a mover and a shaker, but he's perfectly healthy and right on track. To say I'm grateful seems like an understatement. What an awesome, awesome blessing. Thank you, Jesus.

Does it matter?

Yesterday, I sat quietly as our pastor led us in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the Haitian earthquake. I'm sure you might have done the same thing. And you may have felt like I have over the past few days- giving what you can and praying what you can, but being left with an unsatisfied sense of helplessness thinking that my little money can't do much and my little prayers probably don't do much either.

But in that moment of silent prayer, I felt led to pray for a little girl. A hurting, lonely little girl. I prayed for her comfort. I prayed for provision. I prayed for her to know the love of God. I didn't have a vision and I didn't hear a voice, but I had received a hint of insight that I perceived in my spirit. I don't know why, but I prayed for this little girl.

That was yesterday.

This morning, my little boy came into my room at the crack of dawn like he always does and I turned on the TV to search for Mickey Mouse like we always do, but the TV had been left on CNN from the night before and I happened to linger for a moment before hunting down the Disney Channel.

And what was the story?

A little girl being rescued after five days of being trapped in the rubble. She was alive, well, and had been delivered into the arms of her daddy.

Coincidence?

I didn't know. But after I reached for my Bible, I thought maybe not.

My friend and I have been studying Isaiah for the past few months and my passage for today landed on Isaiah 62- the same passage I had read the previous morning in church. The great highlighter that is the Holy Spirit seemed to especially direct me to verses six and seven:

"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth." Isaiah 62:6-7

It matters that we engage. It matters that my heart cries out for the people of Haiti. It matters that your heart cries out for the people of Haiti. Like the persistent widow of Luke 18, we MUST cry out for justice.

The Creator of the Universe hears us.

The King of Kings responds.

Our Mighty God is moved.

He wants us in the game.

It matters.

So the next time you hear someone asking you to pray, do it. It makes a difference.

There are lots of ways to help the people of Haiti and giving is of paramount importance, but don't forget that we, as a praying Church and the Bride of Christ, are called to be watchmen who persist in prayer and who call on the Lord day and night until He establishes His Kingdom of perfect righteousness and justice on this earth.

Don't forget it.

It matters.

Just ask that little girl in Haiti.


For more on how you can help, visit Randy Bohlender's blog.




And for all you locals, you have another chance to support Aidan and Anna Grace's LemonAID for Haiti venture. Friday. On the corner of Line and Stephenson. Lunchtime. See you there!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

A time to see, a time to trust

Finally.

Tomorrow, we get a look inside to see the magic going on inside my belly. Because varied and sundry insurance complications, this visit has been delayed for over a month. Tomorrow will be no quick peek (although I am VERY grateful for the quick peek I received before Christmas), but a review of all his little parts to make sure we're all in working order.

I can't wait to lay eyes on this little one.


And speaking of laying eyes on little ones, keep praying for Lydia and her baby girl. I talked to my friend yesterday and was so amazed and grateful for the place of peace and trust in which the Harrigans are standing as they ride the wild and crazy adoption roller coaster.

So here's to new life! We're trusting the Lord to take care of His little ones as He brings them forth.

In His perfect time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Have you seen this?



The reporter's words: "...a beautiful, beautiful moment in these trying times."

Amen.

Love them through: Compassion International or Crisis Response International or Samaritan's Purse.

And don't miss the Luke 18 School of Politics.

That quiet place

My sister's recent genealogy post and Carpoolqueen's throwback post of her glory days put me in reflective mode.

I'm glad my sister can do it, but nothing makes me more crazy than details, so I could never get into the whole trace-your-family-back-to-Pocahontas thing. And I have more than enough pictures in my attic of the Candace of yesteryear to put me to shame. But what I did think about, however, was this picture that sits on my nightstand.

My husband thinks it's kind of weird that I've grown such an attachment to this picture, but I've had it framed and with me for years now. Maybe it's a little narcissistic to have a picture of yourself on your nightstand, but it draws me back to the past in a way that genealogy might for my sister. It reminds me of who I am.

With my favorite E.T. shoes and plenty of grass on which to sit and think, this very young Candace was in a place of comfort and strength. It reminds me how important this time is for me- to sit and be still in the presence of my Maker who is always with me and never leaves me. It's the place where I am refreshed and sustained. Even at eight years old, I think this was true.

It's five fifteen in the morning. Zeke's been up and down crying since three o'clock for reasons that are beyond me. But as I was lying in bed with my baby's kicks making sure I didn't go back to sleep, I thought that maybe the Lord was speaking encouragement to me and to those of you who have resolved to spend more time in this quiet, reflective mode- alone with your Creator and Sustainer.

These days, most of my quiet times aren't so quiet. I usually have to tune out Mickey Mouse or Curious George in the background and every now and then interject to make sure somebody's not kicking somebody else, but I'm telling you-

It's worth it.

I let this picture sit on my nightstand next to my Bible and journal and the couple of other books that I pretend like I'll get to someday to remind me of that quiet place and the words that are spoken to my heart there.

So be encouraged. Press on. Don't give up. You haven't failed.

Go back to that place and listen. Let the music of God's heart wash over your soul and be refreshed.

Life's too hard not to.

Psalm 59:16-17 "But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AG, the American Girl

My little songbird's spontaneous prayer melodies range from profound to hilarious. Tonight's song (which, by the way, was chocked full of resounding vibrato) expounded on loving God with all her heart and how God created her and created the whole world.

From Arkansas to China.

From Louisiana to New York.

Even Texas.

I don't know- it just struck me as amusing. Can you tell where she lives? And where most of her family lives? She's all about the Ark-La-Tex, people.

At least we got one international location in there.

Like I said, from profound to hilarious- all in one song.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Visiting my happy place

After a full day's work, I came home to two energetic children and one very sick husband. My pity party was kickin' like the little one in my belly.

And did I mention that there's something in the area of my kitchen sink that smells like a dirty diaper?

Awesome.

In any case, I'm now on the couch, cuddled up with some work files, ready, in the spirit of Philipians 4:6-8, to dwell on true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things as I hammer out some more work. Or maybe I'll just call it a day and go to bed.

Either way, I thought I'd share some of the fun I've had with my camera lately and leave you with some faces that make my heart happy.

Because I kind of need a diversion.

Happy Haley

Sleeping Sanders

Sweet Sarah Grace

Endearing Elijah


Zany Zeke

Fun diversion. At least I enjoyed it.

Now where was I?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trinkets and Travels

When the shiny glass dolphin trinket caught Anna Grace's eye and the 99 cent price tag caught her daddy's, it happened.

Ka-ching!

Another Chinese export was successfully sold by our local drug store.

When she proudly brought home this wonderful little token of her daddy's love, all I could do was smile.

"That's really something, honey!"

It was all I could come up with.

And it was certainly a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

The whole incident made me realize that I love having her little perspective around. To my little girl, glass dolphins are beautiful.

It's interesting to let her gauge what is beautiful, but we both are on a journey to learn what is truly beautiful and I'm realizing that she's my little traveling partner.

My journey for now has taken me a little bit beyond what I've said before: We're only as beautiful as the Love we possess. It's true, but it has been difficult to wedge down into my heart.

Now, the Lord is using Anna Grace's little nautical treasure to teach me about perspective.

Just like Anna Grace's perspective is not my own, neither is God's- and His is what really counts.

His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9)

He's refining and reorienting my thoughts on beauty from a good figure and the right clothes to a spirit that perseveres in love- even when it's hard, painful, offensive, and costly.

Is there anything more beautiful to Him than when we forgive someone who has wronged us? Or when we give up our own comforts and conveniences to help someone? Don't we show our hearts to be full of beauty when we patiently endure trials, all the while trusting Him with everything we can muster?

Even in the small places, I think He finds us beautiful. The hundred millionth diaper change, the dinner for a friend, the word of encouragement, the 10 minutes you gave to seek Him- He sees it and counts it beautiful.

This is the place to which I aspire- the heights of His thoughts on what is beautiful.

With His help, we'll travel on.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Special parties: a good way to ride out the cold


On our Saturday morning, "SPEHLL MOM PRDE" means "Special Mom Party."

So get your ticket and come along for the ride.

















It turns out that a special mom party includes three costume changes with the grand finale of daddy jumping rope which sends you all into hysterics.


And it turns out, special mom parties are really fun- a good way to ride out a chilly Saturday morning in January.