Friday, April 30, 2010

Reuniting

Mount Nebo, AR 2008: the last time we were all together
Mammoth Caves 2009



Snowball, Arkansas 2007

Zeke and Samuel Bunker 2007

Hot Springs 2006

Red River Gorge Kentucky 2005
Now for Caddo Lake 2010! We live so far apart (and in some cases, on the other side of the world), but it is so amazing that our little ever-growing group is able to meet up every year.  It all started with a small group bible study seven years ago and it has morphed into relationships resilient to the time and distance apart.  I can't wait to see what this year holds...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The game change

Some of my best encouragers
After my swollen feet hit the floor this morning, I was thinking to myself that maybe I was literally feeling the weight of the Curse. Through my squinted morning-eyes, I told Jack that probably Eve was much, much taller than me and that originally, we weren't meant to carry seven pound babies on a 5 foot, 1 inch frame.


Genesis 3:16 "To the woman he said, 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children...'"


It sure didn't feel right today.


It was just a rough kind of morning. On top of my lovely contractions, foul mood, general discomfort, and very long to-do list, my buddy Zeke cried and whined until 10:30 at which point, he asked to be put to bed.

And to bed he went.

Not too much later, after some of those, "Lord, help me" kind of quick prayers, I received the encouragement I really needed.


Via Facebook.

The message:

"Hold on to the knowledge that Jesus suffered and he understands your discomfort and pain and how you are feeling right now. Praying that you are filled with a spirit of peace, joy and hope as you anxiously await [the baby's] arrival."

You know how someone can say something like that to you and it can change everything?


That was totally the game-changer of my day.

I'm a really big believer in encouragement. I tend to think that as you encourage someone, you are actually entering into whatever life-giving work that person is doing. Whether it's a hug or a smile or a comment or an email or a gift, it is SO important that we move and act on those little things that build one another up because it helps to strengthen hearts that can become so weary in this fallen world.

As a recipient of such lavish edification today and in the days past, I want to thank you my friends and family for all they've done to help me and Jack welcome new life into the world.

And I want to learn from the love and encouragement around me, remembering to speak words that
build up and encourage into the lives of those around me.


I never know what hangs in the balance.

A simple word could be a game changer for someone else.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Monday, April 26, 2010

My little runners

On most Sundays, after we pick up our children and their truly inspired art from their most wonderful and amazing Sunday school teachers (shoutin' out to you, Ms. Terri!), my kids ask if they can "run to Jesus."


The long hallway with the glowing stained glass like the light at the end of a dark tunnel draws them in every time.

Of course, we have to look carefully not to mow down the elderly membership of our church, but come on... what could be better than running to Jesus?


It's a beautiful picture that I will always treasure until the day I die.


Running to Jesus.

With enthusiasm.


May we always run to Him


when we're tired and weary and when we feel invincible


when we're lonely and when we're busy


when we're hurt and when we're whole


when we get the good news and when we get the bad news


when we're obedient and when we've veered off course


even when we're 37 weeks pregnant uncomfortable and impatient,


may we always run to Him.


When Zeke woke up from his nap on Sunday, he told me with a groggy smile, "Jesus is in my heart, mommy."


I think I've found another running partner...


Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An engagement blessing - Bill Withers 1975 style

*To get the full effect, listen to the song here while you read*

To Kate and Patrick, upon your engagement. We had so much fun at your party and we can't wait for the upcoming holy union you are about to undertake. We wish you well!


"I wish you flowers, sunshine, and smiles. I wish you children that grow to make you proud.

I wish you pretty things to wear. Sweet things to smell. I wish you well...


I wish you good friends that always treat you fair, Wanna wish you ribbons to tie 'round your hair.


I wish you... truckloads of cheer


Many a happy year, I wish you well...

Wanna wish you freedom, to do all the things you love. Wanna wish you blessing. And kindness from above.


Wanna wish you sunlight,


through the clouds,


Hope you laugh out loud.

I wish you well, I, I wish you well.."

-Bill Withers

We love you both!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The DFO


DFO.

Done Fell Out.

I happen to know that at one of our local hospitals (I won't name my source), the ER doctors actually put this acronym in their charts.

Apparently, it's such a common occurrence to have a family member report that their loved one has "done fell out" as the chief complaint upon presenting to the emergency room, that the DFO thing just kind of stuck. Awesome, right?


And speaking of stuck, when a needle invaded my husband's very guarded circulatory system as a prep for his stress test this morning, poor Jack done fell out. He may have already been lying down, but he


done


fell


out.


He was as whiter than Casper the ghost and sweatier than Richard Simmons during one of his most fabulous workouts and as non-responsive as well... a non-responsive person. And it wasn't the only time it happened. In fact, he never made it onto the treadmill and instead had to have his stress chemically-induced.


As if he needed that.


We won't know for sure about Jack's heart health until we get the results of the test (maybe tomorrow) but we're not worried. We're pretty sure that he's fine- the cardiologist is just acting conservatively in light of some minor cardiac history.


I asked Jack if I could share his little experience on the world wide web and he consented in a "go-ahead-and-make-fun-of-me" kind of way, but really, what I want to convey is my respect and love for a man who would go through all of that to make sure he's healthy enough to take care of his family. He manned up. He didn't put it off and he didn't cancel, all the while knowing that as a trypanophobiac, he would probably DFO before it was all over.


So there you have it.


He DFO'ed.


And it was all for love.


Here's to your strong and healthy heart, Jack. The one you saw beating on the ultrasound machine today and the one the Lord has made courageous.


You're my hero.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Day


I notice noteworthy signs a lot.  There's a sign on one of the main streets in my town right now (King's Hwy) that has a sign outside that says, "CASSEROLES PRODUCE DESERTS" which I find rather amusing.  But this sign outside of the Magazine St. Poboy Shop in New Orleans I found really striking.  


I wondered who changed the "w" to a "d" and why.  I wonder if they just did it on a whim or if they were trying to make some kind of statement.  I'll never know.  But what I do know is that whatever the intentions of the creative vandal, the message of a sign pointing to "One Day" is quite profound.  


It was a good reminder to me that ..."he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6)   


And that "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [will have] passed away," on that Day.  (Rev. 21:4).  Because he will "[make] all things new!" (Rev. 21:5) 


It was a happy, carefree Saturday, when this sign spoke hope to my heart, but I think I'll do well to store it up for the days when I feel the weight of the darkness and struggle and death around me. 


They're sure to come, but I'll be ready.  I'll remember the sign. 


One Day...


John 16:33   "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheesin'


He likes to walk around the house and declare to anyone who will listen that he's an LSU fan. And somehow, "fan" becomes two syllables.

Fay-yun.

Love that Z.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Babymoon

Eggplant Parmesan PoBoy.  Mmmm...

On airplanes, they tell you to help yourself to oxygen first before you attempt to put the oxygen mask on your kids or those who need help.  You won't help anybody else if you yourself are incapacitated. 


I think the same kind of principle can apply to being a parent.  To be the parent you want and need to be, it's important to take some time to get away and refresh your relationship with your spouse and get some rest so that you can come back, ready to play board games and color on big sheets of paper on the floor and read books about chipmunks all with joy and energy with those little ones you love.  


And this was our weekend- our babymoon if you will.  


And it was as refreshing to my soul as the temperate breeze was to my always-feeling-rather-warm, pregnant self on our sunny Saturday in New Orleans.

Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse

Our anniversary will come a couple of weeks after the baby is born, so it was lots of fun celebrating a little early.  Jack and I ordered our traditional anniversary bananas foster, we danced at the Royal Senesta's little jazz joint to a cool rendition of "You Are My Sunshine," and we reminisced as we walked by the spot we had had a little picnic 15 years ago when we first started dating and drove down to New Orleans and stayed with Jack's grandparents for spring break.  


Fifteen years ago. 


Wow.


And I love him now more than ever.





Before


And speaking of amazing things, the fried okra, the eggplant parmesan po-boy, the shrimp Tchefuncte, the fried green tomatoes with crab meat, and the beignets were amazing.  




The food in south Louisiana NEVER disappoints.  


Not ever.  
After 
A beautiful lady who happens to be my sister


















Ponchatula Strawberries



I wish I could have sent you the one we had left over.  I'm pretty sure if I had eaten that last one, I would have sent myself into some sort of sugar-induced coma.  

  




We were also blessed with some really good company/hosts (my sister and brother in law) who know the Big Easy really well now, having turned into quite the South Louisianians that they are.  It was a blast hanging out with these two without having to worry about who needs to go potty or who is making who crazy or who wants more whatever.  We had a lovely grown-up visit which is pretty rare these days

I love this picture of a radiantly beautiful and pregnant Karen.  After prying about my condition, one of our waitresses learned that we were both pregnant with boys. She kept asking, astonished,"How did ya'll do that?!!!??"  She couldn't believe how we had coordinated such a feat.  I don't know, lady.  All I know is that it will be fun to have them grow up together.  

On our way home this morning, we stopped at a roadside strawberry stand off Hwy 190.        
It was the perfect end to our weekend.  As soon as I walked up to their pick-up truck, the couple selling berries almost fell out.  I guess they just couldn't believe their eyes that I had such a large baby growing on my short frame.  

"WOOO WEEEEEE!!!!! WHEN IS THAT BABY COMIN'????," says the wife.

"WHEN IS WATERMELON SEASON CAUSE I THINK YOU GOT A WATERMELON ABOUT READY TO COME OUT!!!!,"  says the husband.

"GIRL, TURN TO THE SIDE, LET ME LOOK AT CHOO.  MMMmmmm....  THAT BABY STILL GOTTA DROP,"  says the wife.  

They go on and on for a little while about all of this and give us lots of unsolicited advice, but their eyes are happy and kind and even though I was a little unsure of whether or not his cigarette was going to singe my hair as he put his arm around me, we smiled and appreciated their love and concern.  

Then, the old man grins widely- no front teeth, just incisors-  he grabs Jack and gives him a hug and a kiss on the neck to send him off. 

"KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!"  he enthusiastically says to my stunned husband.  

It was as if we had run into a side-of-the road prophet.  


The past several months have been challenging, but Jack has remained diligent and steadfast in the tasks the Lord has assigned him.  The weekend was a refreshing and sustaining kind of weekend and this man, with his dark skin and warm eyes, had spoken words of encouragement and life to my husband's heart.  

Monday's coming, but I think we're both ready now to keep up the good work and push on through.  We've got a lot ahead of us, but the Lord is good to give us a chance to put on our oxygen masks before we get back to the tasks at hand.  


Thank you, Lord, for the babymoon and for the words that you speak.  


Even on the side of the highway.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gettin skippy


I find it kind of amusing that I am skipping town with Jack on the day that my pregnancy widget says to "watch for signs of labor." What it doesn't know is the kind of coaxing that it takes for Chaney children to come out of my body. I've watched both of my other children's due dates come and go and although that doesn't guarantee a late delivery for my third, I'm not holding my breath for a pitocin-free delivery, either. My OB wasn't worried about my travels- neither am I.


So Jack and I are headed south today sans kids- off to New Orleans for our last weekend away before we welcome our number three into the world.


The Carpoolqueen recently asked her readers what makes them "skippy." Today is my skippy. This pregnant momma is looking forward to some R&R, some sunshine, good company, and good food.


Lese le bon temps roule! See ya on the flipside!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday


I wish I could attach a fragrance with this picture because the soothing smell of Dreft is spilling from my laundry room with all the baby clothes washing.  Ahhh....


My pregnancy shadow.  Jack assures me it's a little distorted.  A little.


On our afternoon cruise.


Sponge rollers.  We're asleep in them again tonight.  


Just some prettiness in my kitchen.

And what is this?  Something very special came in the mail.  
But I'm waiting for the big reveal.  In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you, my very talented and thoughtful friend!  I love you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

He has a surprise


This silly little dude always has a surprise.  In this case, it was a nativity set.  Surprise!  Christmas in April.

What I learned at the zoo

the zebra
the reaction upon seeing the zebra

A petting zoo full of horses and bunnies and roosters is a treat for the kids, but seeing a gloriously striped zebra in the middle of a pack of brown and white horses is truly extraordinary.  


Like my visit with a woman from South Africa on the very same day.


Like my joyful anticipation of welcoming my friend's baby Bethany and my other friend's sure-to-be beautiful Asian baby girl into the world with their differently colored skin.


Like getting to know women of all different denominations at BSF or reading about what's going on at other congregations in my community in my friend's local magazine.  




Like playing alongside kids at the park who might be at a different socio-economic demographic.  


Where I live, you have to seek out diversity.  It doesn't just happen. But in being deprived of the kind of diversity I've known in other places in which I've lived, I've realized that our hearts were made to revel in the glorious beauty of God's creative genius.  


As we studied"the great multitude" of saints gathered before the throne of God in Revelation with our small group a couple of weeks ago, we were asked "what people or nation do you particularly love to anticipate as participants in this great multitude?"  


And I don't know.  I think that for me, the "every nation and tribe and people and language" part is my favorite.  All of them (us), together, standing before the throne, worshiping in complete unity is absolutely thrilling in and of itself.  


I think we were made for it- to be a small yet unique and essential part of a huge tapestry of God's beautiful creation that loves and chooses Him.  It thrills my heart and it really is the inheritance of Jesus- the joy set before Him.  


So thanks, Mr. Zebra, for the reminder of the creative work of God and the inherent beauty of our differences.  


Revelation 7:9-10  After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands.  And they were shouting with a mighty shout, "Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb!" 

Monday, April 12, 2010

746 Edgemont

My friends Paul and Bethany have a huge amount of culinary know-how, a great entrepreneurial spirit, and a heart for the kingdom of God.  It's an amazing thing to watch their small business grow as they have just moved into their new location.  I love this family and I'm so glad to have a front row seat to see where the Lord is going to take them and their business in the years to come.  


A prayer for you, Paul and Bethany:


May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon [you]; establish the work of [your] hands for [you]-- yes, establish the work of [your] hands. Psalm 90:17 


Stop by their blog and drop them an encouraging comment.  And remember, if you need some scrumptious granola, Bethany's your girl!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three for three


A trip to Jubilee Zoo



A crawfish boil



And a baby shower



This weekend left me in a place of gratitude for the blessing of my children, the joy of knowing true friends, and the provision of the Lord who knows all of our needs.


I don't know why I've been given so much. I keep thinking about Nadia- caring for a newborn in Haiti with nothing but a sheet to separate her and her baby from the rain pouring from the night's sky. It doesn't seem fair. And there may just not be anything else to say about that.


But to whom much is given, much is expected, I guess. I'll just keep that in mind as I say my prayers and steward my resources and time and energy. And I'll try not to take a single gift for granted. Even the outstandingly good gifts that come from God have something to teach us- a challenge to our hearts. For me, this weekend, my challenge is to translate my gratitude to expressions of love pouring from the reservoir of my heart which has been so filled in the past days.


It's my very own opportunity to send a thank you note straight to the throne room of God.


And it's the very least I can do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

34 weeks

You're obviously growing, little one, and you're SO loved.  I can feel your elbows and knees and feet poking me all the time and even though I'm getting more uncomfortable, I know that you are well worth it all.  We washed and readied your car seats today and whew- what a puzzle of a job.  Your big brother and sister can't wait to meet you and they are practicing their newborn skills on any and every baby doll they can get their hands on.  


We love you, little one! 


Oh... and this is your Nora.  She really loves you, too.  In fact, you're a blessed little man.  A lot of people already know they love you. 


You'll see.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A thousand and more


The impetus of this look was the lightning and thunder of Wednesday's storm, but I've seen this look a thousand times. Uncertainty. Fear.

She comes to me to quell her anxieties and her insecurities and I've spoken comfort to her heart thousands of times. I've reminded her about the love of God and His presence which gives us true security.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

For me, this picture evokes a thousand feelings.

And the heart a mother has for her child teaches me a thousand things about the heart of God.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shelter from the storm

fun run postponed

Psalm 91:1-4 "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."


"Come in, she said, I'll give you, shelter from the storm."
-Bob Dylan