Monday, December 31, 2007

This time around the sun

Jack and I agreed that our little boy's birth would have to be our best memory/best day of 2007. It was too easy. What was yours?

Now that I think about it, 2007 was the year of the boy for us. Cousins William and Kendrick were born along with friends Samuel H., Zion, Sam G. and Sanders. What a blessing of boys!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winners and losers

I woke up from my cuddled heap in the front seat- warm sun making me a little uncomfortable in my layered jackets. 11:47 the clock says. Almost back to Shreveport. The drive from Dallas' Love Field to Shreveport is not too bad- just long enough for a good nap and a little reflection on a weekend well spent.

I kept thinking about the winners and the losers of the weekend...

Losers: This unfortunate distinction goes to the babies- Samuel and Zeke. Zeke came down with an ear infection and what turned out to be respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) just before our trip. This is oddly typical of Harrigan-Chaney get-togethers. We invariably pass nasty bugs between us. But Lydia still gave the green light for us to come- for better or worse- and with antibiotics and Motrin in tow, we made the trek with our sick baby. So, at best, it was a weekend of separate play areas, lots of Lysol, and "BREECH!" alerts laughingly announced as one baby made his way around the cardboard-and-luggage barricade. At worst, Samuel will come down with the virus. Only time will tell. In either case, they will still be the sad little losers of the weekend.

Winners: The prize goes to the little people- Anna Grace and Benjamin. There was so much dancing, chasing, playing, running, screaming, and music-making fun that my little girl could hardly contain herself. Benjamin played the drums and Anna Grace arabesqued. She kept asking if she could stay "all night long?" And of course, on par with my little girl's obsession with weddings, marriage, and family, Anna Grace made Benjamin the "groom" while she was the "bride" and they danced and the grown-ups laughed and laughed (see Harrigan post for more). Nothing would make these two moms happier than such a wedding, but at this point it is just cuteness. They had a ball.

I guess us grown-ups landed somewhere in the middle. With no available babysitters because of One Thing and lots of energy spent on managing sicknesses (Benjamin had an ear infection as well) and spirited toddlers, there was little time and energy left for adult conversation and interface. But despite all odds, the blessing of being around friends who know you well and love you well was well worth it. God has truly knit our hearts together and it always refreshes my worn-down spirit to laugh and enjoy our deep-rooted friendship.

Thank goodness for good friends.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A winter wonderland

Kansas City is covered in snow.

We're here visiting our friends the Harrigans and having so much fun. Anna Grace and I had prayed that we would see snow while we were here. There just isn't a chance that Shreveport is going to see any, but now that I think about it- I guess we could have prayed for that, too. I just wanted Anna Grace to know that snow really exists and experience some winter fun. In any case, AG and Benjamin had a short jaunt in the powdery white stuff (it is REALLY cold) and it is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The best Christmas yet!

I highly recommend having a three-year-old around for Christmas. It was so much fun! From the family to the food to the giving and receiving, it was a great time and our best Christmas yet! Here's wishing you all a happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

He is radiant and ruddy

We rented The Nativity Story last week or so. Great movie.

The whole thing was really moving, but what struck me the most was this scene pictured to the right. As Mary gave birth, light from the star denoting the King breaks through the dark cave and radiates around the new life. Joseph delivers the holy baby as the Word takes His first breath. Amazing. What a moment.

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

Webster defines "ruddy" as "having a healthy reddish color." In I Samuel 16:12 and 17:42, David is referred to as ruddy in connection to his physical beauty. I think of it as that feeling you have coming in from the beach on a sunny day and the opposite of lying sick on the couch for three days. This ruddy, handsome, young David was to be the King of Israel just as the Bridegroom in the Song of Songs is the King of Kings.

In effect, this description of Jesus indicates his humanity- that He is both fully man and fully God. He is radiant as He is divine. He is ruddy as He is human.

The incarnation of the uncreated God is amazing and mysterious. It is awesomely kind, merciful, and full of grace. He has made a way for relationship with Him.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

This Christmas, try to remember the awesome wonder of this- that your Creator was born in a cave in Bethlehem- in humility. He took on the form of a man- forever- because of His great love. Truly a thing to celebrate.

He is radiant and ruddy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Family fun

It has been great fun playing with Aunt KK and baby William these past few days. Aunt KiKi (Kate) and Aunt Jenny (and family) come tomorrow. Love those aunts. What fun to have everybody together!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Faith of Mary - by Jack

A couple of weeks ago, Anna Grace learned about John the Baptist leaping in Elizabeth's womb at the sound of Mary's voice. She was FASCINATED by this. She started taking a blanket, wrapping it around her head, and running up to Candace saying, "Elizabeth! Elizabeth! I'm going to have a baby!" To which Candace replied, "Blessed are you among women!" It was really quite sweet. Even after 30 plus times...

This afternoon I was preparing my Sunday School lesson on Luke 2. In order to gain the proper context, I was reading Luke 1, which is the story that Anna Grace is so fascinated with. As I was looking over Mary's conversation with Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38), a couple of things really struck me.

#1. Gabriel's greeting to Mary.

Luke 1:28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

How awesome is this? Gabriel shows up and immediately tells Mary that she is favored and that the Lord is presently with her. Mary is confused by this (it's not everyday that an angel appears to you) and the angel repeats himself. "Mary," he says "you have found favor with God."

What does it mean to be "find favor with God"? I'm no expert, but I believe that we mortals find favor with God in the following 3 basic ways:

A. We believe in Him.
B. We trust in Him.
C. We obey Him.

Scripture is filled with people who find favor with God by following the above three principles (Abraham, Daniel, and Nehemiah come to mind right off the top of my head). Gabriel's greeting towards Mary inspires and challenges me. I yearn to find favor with God. I yearn to wake up one morning to Gabriel standing at my bedpost saying "Greetings Jack! The Lord has found favor with you and He is presently WITH you! Now let me talk to you about this very important assignment that He has for you..."

As crazy as this sounds in the mundaneness of our modern day lives, I believe that this principle is true - the Lord DOES have very important missions for EACH of us. Most of us don't get the treat of having an angel show up at our prayer meetings (lucky Quinns), and most of us lose our own unique mission's sense of urgency in a dulling drumbeat of food, entertainment, and modern-day busyness, but we all have an assignment from the Most High. By believing in Him, trusting in Him, and obeying Him, we have found His favor. He has work for us to do.

#2 Mary's response.

Gabriel tells Mary that she will carry the Savior of the universe in her womb and she only has one question. She questions the logistics of the whole operation because of her virginity. That seems to be a pretty fair question. What about the questions that she didn't ask? She didn't ask "Why me?" or "How am I supposed to raise God's son?" or "What will our friends think about the fact that I'm pregnant and Joseph and I aren't married yet?". All too often, I find myself raising questions when I feel the Lord prompting me to do something.

Instead of raising more questions, Mary simply says, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

How awesome is THAT? With a response like that, you begin to see why the Lord picked her for the job. How great would it be if we could have this attitude in our hearts before the Lord every morning as we seek Him to do his will?

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lifting them up

We've never really met them, but we have some friends who work among the poorest of the poor in Romania. Her latest post broke my heart. Join me in praying for these precious lives to which Monica is ministering. That light and life would break through and that hope would abound in the saving knowledge of Jesus.

A few glimpses of our ballerina in action

Monday, December 17, 2007

His radiant smile

When was the last time you shared a good laugh with your Creator?

Tonight, Jack and I did.

This evening, my husband and I got together and met regarding the family budget. I need to give credit where credit is due- Jack is doing a great job with organizing and accounting all the debits and credits that flow through our household. We are on a Dave Ramsey type get-out-of-debt plan and these little meetings serve as mini-pep rallies to continue the offensive drive against the student loans plaguing our finances. It's great.

So after discussing all the details of "the plan for 2008," Jack and I lifted it all up to God. As we prayed about our financial needs and our hearts for managing His money, we asked for blessing over "the plan" and for discipline to stick to it. After a brief pause at the end, Jack added that if He wanted to just take care of it all at once in some magnificent display of His power, that would be great with us, too. If He wanted to just cut us a big check on the front end, that's okay with us. Maybe you had to be there, but we had a good laugh. And definitely not because He couldn't do that, because He totally can, but I don't know... It was just funny and I really felt the Lord among us getting a kick out of His kids...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fun on ice

My Kansas City friend and I really got a laugh out of the disparity of weather patterns between us. I mean, we still have green leaves on the tree in our front yard while she is in a frozen tundra of ice.

Nevertheless, Anna Grace and I went ice skating today.

Obviously, it was her first try and she spent much more time falling than actually skating, but it was so much fun and toward the end, she really got it. Not bad for a three year old. She would just pick herself up, laugh, and ask for more- never wanting to rest. I wish I had a picture. It reminded me of Bambi on ice.

We had a blast and took in the full experience- enjoying a funnel cake to top it all off. I know she'll think I'm a big dork soon enough, so I'm soaking it all in and loving every minute of moving around the rink at 0.001 mph, holding hands, and laughing at silly words like "Zamboni."

Friday, December 14, 2007

A velour hayride

Tonight we had our Sunday school Christmas party which turned out to be a very fun event (thanks for hosting- great party, Nora!). Our church is really good about providing childcare and tonight was no exception. While we had our grown-up time, the church had a Christmas extravaganza for the little ones from six to nine pm complete with pizza, a hayride, ornament decoration, and Veggie Tales. Fun stuff. Once monthly, "Parent's Night Out" is a really great ministry for us parents with very limited time to ourselves and we try to take full advantage of the service.

All that to say, as we were getting ready to head out the door, Anna Grace decided that her jeans and T-shirt were unacceptable attire for a Christmas party. "I don't want to wear boy clothes. I want to look pretty," she moaned, "I want to wear my party dress." Despite attempted negotiations, she was adamant. So a dress it was- and a fancy one at that. We dropped off our little girl ensconced in green velvet to play in glue, hay, and greasy pizza. Frankly, it was not a battle worth fighting, but the sentiment was duly noted. I think that all of us, women especially, can relate. One of our God-given heart's desires is a longing for beauty.

As my little one got all dressed up for her party, she asked her daddy if she looked pretty. Of course, Jack expounded upon the beauty that was Anna Grace. It was quite touching. My heart is for Anna Grace to always feel and know that she is beautiful, but most importantly, that her beauty is only found in the One who imparts it.

PS- Thanks to Nana for keeping the Z man- he definitely couldn't have made it until 8:30!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We're creepin and crawlin!!!

When you become a mom, your heart automatically becomes inexorably linked to the well-being of another little life. When something is not quite right or outright wrong for the good of your little person, a sense of unrest and anxiety can tug at a mother's heart- sometimes gently and sometimes in full force.

So, when my little boy was born in haste following vacuum extraction due to a nuchal cord and subsequent shoulder dystocia, my heart's tug never quite let go. The pediatrician remarked at his low muscle tone, his peers stayed ahead, and Zeke, meanwhile, took his time in developing his gross motor skills despite having a mom trained in the field of motor function.

When Zeke turned 9 months and was set on a belly crawl, not coming up to sitting on his own, and inconsistently pulling up, I finally caved into the tug and decided to get help. Turns out, I needed it much more than my little boy. In my five years of physical therapy practice, mostly in the pediatric arena, I had seen too much. Too many struggles. Too many heartbreaks. Too many tiny walkers and braces. I needed to know what I was up against. I needed an outside, objective professional to tell me to relax, to be the mom, and to know that he's okay.
No matter what.

We had our evaluation today and the occupational therapist assured me that Zeke is on target with his development and no intervention is warranted.

I'm glad to know that objectively, but even more than that, I'm glad I learned that it's okay to get help. It's okay to not be able to be everything for your child. It's okay to be concerned, but it's even more important to rest in the hope that even though things aren't always perfect for your children, there's purpose and redemption in the midst of the struggle.

At the next struggle, the next hurdle, the next mothering dilemma of the day, I hope I can remember to have the perspective of knowing that ultimately, these children of mine are the Lord's and I can trust Him to know what's best.

PS- Early intervention is a free and valuable resource for moms of children ages 0-3 who may have any kind of developmental delay. The program varies slightly from state to state, but you can find out more here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Lord is my Fortress - by Jack

I've been reading through the Psalms for the past month. One of the recurring themes that I've been meditating on and praying about is this idea that the Lord is our fortress. David says it over and over again throughout the Psalms, perhaps most clearly in Psalm 18:2...

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

What does it mean when we say that God is our fortress? What are the implications of this for our lives?

#1. We are under attack and we NEED a fortress.

Why would the Lord allow himself to be called our fortress if we had no need for a fortress? Whether we feel it or not, on good days and bad, we are under assault from an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. We are on the front lines of an epic, universal struggle and we are taking a barrage of fire. Satan knows our weaknesses better than we do and he seeks to exploit them everyday of our lives.

#2. A fortress does us little good if we do not USE it.

In order for the fortress to protect us from the enemy's assault, we have to ENTER in to the fortress. We must be seeking refuge in God every day, every hour, every moment. We must orient our lives around Him and He will give us shelter and allow us to live the abundant life that Satan wishes to steal from us.

#3. The fortress does the work FOR us.

When we are outside the fortress and the enemy is raining flaming arrows on us (think Braveheart), we have to use our own shield and our own power. Once we step inside the fortress, however, we trust the fortress' huge walls to protect us. We take refuge. We take rest. We stop trying to defend ourselves with our own power and we rely on the massive strength of the fortress. This is exactly what God is calling us to do. When the enemy's arrows come, we must not spend all of our energy flailing about with our own little shields. We must press in to the Lord and seek His shelter.

Psalm 62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

He is radiant- part three

After all was said and done today, I plugged myself into some itunes while I went about my nightly tidying duties. One of the songs that struck my spirit was from the prayer room. The placid tune calmed my soul as they repeated, "I can almost see you smiling, close my eyes and I can see you... smiling." And then later, "You are shining. Love's fire burning."

Hebrews 12:29 reiterates Deuteronomy 4:24 in stating that "Our God is a consuming fire."

I don't have a good grasp of what that really means, but I think that the source of His radiance is His burning love- the consuming fire that emulates from His very existence. Our God, in three Persons, is love. (see I John 4:16)

It's a good word for me tonight as I have spent the past several days in a worn-down state of impatience and selfishness. I'm so thankful for a God of love- a God who loves to show mercy, even in the midst of our weakness. I am so not deserving of the love He lavishes upon me.

His radiant love is a beautiful thing.

PS- I was looking for an image to accompany my words when I came across this awesome painting by Micheal O'Brien. It's entitled "Elijah and Elisha." O'Brien comments on the painting: "As the prophet Elijah is taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot, he bestows his cloak on the prophet Elisha, his young disciple. Elisha in his boldness has asked for a 'double portion' of Elijah’s spirit. (2 Kings 2:9-11). In our times, every disciple of Jesus is called to bear prophetic witness against the culture of death, be it a small piece of the cloak or a large one." Let this post act as a small piece of the cloak- a witness of the light of life that comes through the knowledge of Jesus.

Friday, December 7, 2007

He is radiant- part two

Tonight, we went to Bethlehem- a local church's rendition of it at least. It really was an impressive effort complete with angels, merchants, free roaming roosters, shephards, Roman soldiers on horseback- the works. Anna Grace, of course, was thrilled to be "traveling" to this ancient city. She got to pet camels, a donkey, and give alms to the street beggar. But what captivated her- her favorite part- was baby Jesus. The Jesus stand-in was far from a newborn, but she stood there in wide-eyed amazement at the scene. And the tears flowed when we had to go home.

To her, it was more than a 4 month old baby in blue light trying to fight off the six o'clock crankiness. It was her idea that this represented the Radiant One. The One to whom we are drawn by His light. The very Light that gives us life.

The prophet Ezekiel saw a lot of crazy-awesome things, but one of those things was the radiance of the Lord. He described it this way- "... and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him." (Ezekiel 1:27-28)
His radiance carries with it a certain kind of emotional charisma and invokes yearning for none other than Himself. A typical reaction to the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day is to gaze with wonder, with gratitude or relief that the rain is ending, but mostly to admire the beauty of the colors suspended in the sky. So will we gaze and admire Him at His appearing.

Until then, I want my life to be one of gazing at the beauty of this Radiant One- just as my little girl stood at the manger tonight. It is certain that as in Isaiah 9:2, I was walking in darkness, but have seen a great light; while living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

He is radiant.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Our newest trick

It's vigorous arm waving in response to the "bye, bye." Cute stuff.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Red light rest

Several years ago, right after Jack and I were married, I was driving home from work one day and I was at a red light. When the light turned green, the car in front of me didn't move. A few seconds went by, I honked, and still- nothing. I waited for a while, then drove around her, slowly, wondering what was going on. When I got a closer look, I realized that it was a mom who had two small sleeping children in the back. She was literally asleep at the wheel. I guess she had just laid her head back when she stopped and had a moment, but quickly dozed off. At the time, I thought it was kind of funny and kind of strange (albeit a little dangerous). But when I crawled into bed at 7:30 tonight, I thought about her and I can now completely understand the exhaustion. Of course, it's the good kind of exhaustion- I wouldn't have it any other way.

PS- Congrats to Jennifer (Owen) Powers (aka JennO) and hubby Andrew! She'll know the mommy-exhaustion feeling very soon! Blessings to this new little life!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Yuck Day

What can make a cold, busy, stressful, dreary Tuesday worth something? I've found that baby laughter in the bathtub every time a soapy loofah comes his way does the trick.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

He is radiant

So the Christmas tree is up, the stockings are hung, and everything is looking festively red and green. This time of year is always beautiful with all the decorations and the warmth and the lights. As I was sitting in our grandiose sanctuary today, it kind of struck me that it would be a good time for me to share about what God's been placing on my heart- the beauty of the Lord- over the course of this Christmas season. This will be the first post (I'm hoping of many) that I will share with you about what may be a calling on my life- to point you to Jesus' beauty as set forth in Song of Songs, chapter 5, verses 10-16. The subject is so vast that I'll just be skimming the surface, but still good to meditate upon as we grow in knowledge of the Bridegroom.

Song of Songs, verse 10 starts with "My lover is radiant..." (NIV). Other translations use the word "white" or "dazzling." It seems to speak to Jesus' divine nature, his glory, and a mysterious quality of light that envelopes this God-man. In John's gospel, he sets forth the context for the gospel by stating, "In the beginning was the Word... In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-5).

Certainly, the allusions to Jesus being the "light of the world"(John 8:12) are abundant throughout the scriptures. In 1 John 1:5, we are told that "God is light, in him there is no darkness at all." Ezekiel had an awesome vision of our Lord in which "brilliant light surrounded him." (Ezekiel 1:27) Upon being transfigured before Peter, James, and John, "[Jesus'] face shone as the sun, and his garments did become white as the light." (Matthew 17:2). In John's Revelation, he describes the New Jerusalem which has no need for a sun or moon, "for the glory of God gives its light, and the Lamb is its lamp." Hebrews 1:3 tells us that "The Son is the radiance of God's glory." The references go on and on...

He is beautiful in his brilliant, dazzling, radiant glory.

One of my very favorite Christmas traditions is lighting my candle during the Christmas Eve service while the congregation and choir join in singing "Silent Night." I remember as a child holding that small, waxy, white candle with anticipation of the light coming my way. Tears invariably come to my eyes as the whole darkened room lights up with the soft light coming from the collective brilliance of small flames. "Silent night, holy night," is real and I feel the presence of the radiant One who has come to bring light to us all.

Mike Bickle has said, "The way to remove the darkness from our hearts isn't by focusing on darkness. It is by turning lights on." So every time you glance at your lighted Christmas tree, or light a candle, or turn on a lamp- remember the beautiful radiance of Jesus this Christmas season. And wish Him happy birthday.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Loving these moms

I had a chance to visit with some of these mommies lately and I sure have appreciated the perspective and wisdom of these wonderful friends. It's not always easy being a mom, but it's so encouraging to have friends to help you weather the storms and empathize, laugh, and cry with you along the way. So thanks, Lyd, for the love and the nudge, Emily for the long visit (where did the time go?), Karen and Jenny for the hospitality and memories, and Kayla for the insights. Wonderful women these are.

Don't you love a deal?

I found a treasure today. This little red number was $39 at my local antique shop (King's Ransom for you Shreveportians). All of our baby bibs, dish rags, place mats, cloth napkins, cookbooks, and tablecloths now have a home in our breakfast room. Love a deal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Girl Time

We have a three year old wild child on our hands. She has literally been climbing the walls and flailing around with a crazed look in her eyes with screams echoing through the entire house.

Okay, so maybe that's a little dramatic, but she has been quite unruly to say the least. And it's not malicious in intent, it's just the energy of a really enthusiastic toddler.

So a couple of nights ago, we instituted "girl time"- just me and her with two mugs of hot cocoa on the porch, "watching the world," as she likes to call it. It's just a few minutes under the stars- talking about this and that, but I see a really sweet change in her afterwards. She's ready for bed, content, spent, and most importantly- heard. It's a small thing, but a good step toward managing life with such a spirited child.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Heads-Up

So this new movie, The Golden Compass, is coming out in theaters soon.

Jack gave me a heads-up about a lot of the controversy (see these articles: 1, 2, 3, 4) surrounding the film and I've looked into it a bit. The movie is based on the first of a three-part trilogy of books by Phillip Pullman (pictured). Apparently, this first movie is quite innocuous and inconsequential, but it's the books' contents that are at the heart of the controversy. And it's quite chilling.

Of course, I have not seen the movie or read the books, but look into it yourself. The most important thing is not to be credulous about where this thing is going before buying into it or, perhaps more importantly, presenting it to your children. As far as I can tell, the "secret of the dust," as presented in this synopsis of Pullman's final book in the trilogy is that "God" was the first created being out of dust who lied to everything else that he was the creator. And in the end, God is killed.

I think we should join our Catholic brothers and sisters in voting with our wallets. The article sums it up well, "And remember, his [Pullman's] twin goals are to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity. To kids. " It's pretty serious stuff.

Psalm 53:1 - Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts; there is no one who does good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stream of consciousness in song

It's constant songs of jumbled and nonsensical phrases in my house. This one's for you, KK...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Entertainment CANNOT Hurt Me - by Jack

So I'm sure you might have heard, but LSU lost this past weekend to Arkansas. (Congratulations Rupps and Harrigans). I was there in person to see my Tigers' National Championship hopes get shot down in a big stinking pile of Darren McFadden's Woo-Pig-Sooie. I've been a little bummed and I've moped around a bit, but not as much as you would think. Why is that? Because I've taught myself how to deal with the emotional upheaval of losing. It's taken me 30 years, but I think I have finally discovered the art of losing.

I've been going to LSU games with my family since I was 5. LSU football is a big part of who I am. It represents much more than a game to me. In many ways, it's been my heritage, my family, and my identity. When I go down to Baton Rouge to see a game, I get to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins from both my mom and my dad's side of the family. For a brief time on Saturday nights in the fall, we all come together with a common vision and a common purpose - to cheer on the Tigers to victory.

I've always taken losing especially tough. When I was a kid, I would cry. When I was a teenager, I'd make excuses, and when I was in my early to mid-twenties, I would descend into a prolonged self-absorbed funk. Sometime after our national championship season of 2003 though, something clicked for me. We won it all and it was awesome, but nobody knocked on my door in Kentucky and handed me the national championship trophy. My day to day life remained significantly unchanged. At the apex of victory, I found myself still wanting something else.

So I created my "entertainment mantra". Yes, LSU football is important to me and yes it holds a special place in my life because of its ties to my family, but all that being said, at its core, it is simply entertainment. LSU football is NOT my identity. I watch LSU football because it's fun. It entertains me. And by entertainment's very definition, entertainment CANNOT hurt me. If it does so, it ceases to be entertainment and becomes something else. So this is how I deal with LSU football now:

When LSU plays well and we win, I eat it up. I talk about it with my friends, I read everything on the internet I can read about it, I re-watch the game in the middle of the week to see what we did right, and I listen to sportstalk radio ad nauseum to hear other people say how great we are. In short, I PRETEND like its the most important thing in the world and I bask in the sweet joy of victory.

When we lose, however, I quickly switch everything off. I don't read the paper, I don't watch TV, I don't read my internet sports sites, and I try to quickly avoid all conversations that deal with the loss. I acknowledge the loss, but I do so quickly and I move on. I tell myself that it's simply a game played by 18-22 year old young men who have no idea who I am. In short, I REMIND myself that in the grand scheme of things, it means nothing. It has little consequential significance to my everyday life. It is simply entertainment and entertainment cannot hurt me.

I realize that my approach makes me less of a "true fan". True fans take the agony of defeat along with the joy of victory. At this point in my life, I don't care about being a true fan anymore.

I honestly believe that the Lord has used my oftentimes misguided passion for LSU football for His purposes. He has taught me that I cannot find my identity in anything or anybody but HIM. I can try to do it, but ultimately it will cause me great pain and will yield me little benefit (even at the emotional zenith of the experience). Every LSU loss brings me back down to earth, realizing that my true identity is not as a LSU Tiger, but as a son of the most high, a warrior in the ranks of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Every loss sends me running back to Abba, crawling in his arms and asking Him to give me eternal perspective on my life.

So yeah, we lost. But I enjoyed a cloudless afternoon on a wonderfully cold November day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana sitting together with my dad, my mom, and my sister for the first time in over 10 years. I yelled and screamed and laughed with my little sister like we were kids again. When I got home to Paw Paw Zeke's house after the game, Anna Grace yelled. "DADDY!!!" and jumped in my arms, little Zeke gave me a big smile when he heard my raspy voice, and my wonderful wife told me how much fun she had taking the two kids by herself to the Audubon Zoo while I enjoyed the game.

Losing isn't so bad...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Blogging 1965 style

We just got back from our south Louisiana Thanksgiving holiday and time with Jack's extended family. While at Pawpaw Zeke's house, Jack's mom came across a letter written by Jack's great-great grandfather, Z.C. Rushing. Written in 1965, it was a synopsis of his life and much of his personal testimony of faith. Born in 1888, he grew up on a farm in Mississippi, had six children (lost three) and had the kind of life that we just imagine in movies or distant history. He was very transparent about his struggles with sin, his salvation, his calling, his powerful encounters with God, and his heartaches throughout life. Life was not easy for him. But the most salient point- the theme he emphasized over and over was that "God doesn't make mistakes." Despite the hard things we face in life, God is good and can and should be trusted. The best life is found in abandonment to the Lord.

It was a really neat thing to have him speak to Jack and me as we sat on the couch in his grandson's house, reading his letter, in 2007.

The whole time with Jack's family was good. It was good to connect with Jack's Aunt Susan from Illinois and cousin Emily in nursing school. It was fun to have the grandparents and aunts huddle around baby Zeke as he made funny faces while chewing on a lemon. Jack had a great time with more cousins, aunts, uncles at the tailgate party.

It's good to really connect with family, to share our lives, to grow in relationship despite the miles that separate us. That's been the neat thing about the blog- sharing my life, my thoughts, my story with family and friends... staying in and creating community.

And maybe one day my great great grandkids can marvel about my life in 2007 and find encouragement and edification from the archives of their old grandma's blog. Funny to think about. I don't know if the world as it is will make it that far, but it's still funny to think about.

Addendum: This picture is the actual ZC Rushing himself sitting with his wife Sarah Ettie Johnson Rushing in Springfield, LA, 1955. Picture courtesy Kenny Dunaway. Thanks, Uncle Kenny!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wolf v. anteater

The place to be today was the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Black Friday was nice and sunny for my sister, Karen, the kids, and me. The most interesting was an angry wolf heckling a huge anteater. Anna Grace has a really funny impersonation of the whole exchange. Very fun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Jack and I took Anna Grace to see Bee Movie today. It was our first movie-going experience with our little girl and it was really kind of special. Jack and I have long enjoyed the antics of Jerry Seinfeld, so it was fun for all of us.

I had heard so-so to bad reviews about the movie and its message, so I wasn't expecting much, but the evolutionary construct aside, I was pleasantly surprised. The whole point was about our roles in life and how all of our jobs, no matter how menial (e.g. crud picker), are valuable and purposeful. It truly makes you realize that everything was created perfectly. And it makes me appreciate cross pollination. Genius.

Giving thanks

So things worked out.

The lady who hit me showed up at my doorstep today with a check for even more than the estimate to fix it. Wow. There's no sign of Templeton, we have great Christmas pictures, and we had special Anna Grace time today that seemed to ease the toddler tension.

In the true spirit of thanksgiving, thank you, God, for working it all out.

Banged up and beaten down

Ever feel like you're being attacked?

Yesterday a little old lady backed her Tahoe straight into my Accord in the Brookshires parking lot. Everybody's fine and it was clearly the other lady's fault, but we can't get it fixed until Wednesday and even then it will take five days of work. We also have a little furry friend running around our house somewhere and we're working with Terminix to take care of that. We've been in a snafu with our local photography studio over some shady dealings of theirs. Anna Grace has been wild and crazy lately.

It's all trivial in the grand scheme of things, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Hopefully things will turn around soon...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts on a blessing

On the drive home from Houston yesterday, I got to thinking about the blessing that my dad spoke over Jack and I at the rehearsal dinner of our wedding. I was trying to find footage of it today to no avail. But it went something like this:

"May you be blessed with the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the children of Israel, and may your love be so close that when one of you cries, the other tastes salt."

I certainly have been blessed with these things- a strong marriage, children, growing wisdom, and God-imparted patience for enduring the hard things that have come up over the past 5 1/2 years. It got me thinking about how awesome it was that my dad spoke that over us. I can already see some of the fruits of those words.

Words carry a certain power that is sort of mysterious. God spoke the world into existence.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

Some of the first words that God spoke over mankind were that of blessing (Genesis 1:28).
Jacob manipulated circumstances and misled his dad to have the blessing of the firstborn son (Genesis 27:27-29). He later wrestled with God for additional blessing (Genesis 32:22-32). Jesus begins his sermon on the mount with an impartation of blessings (Matthew 5). Blessings are mentioned- and central- throughout the scriptures. They are not magic, but rather an impartation of the power of God for the believer to the glory of the Lord. (See the "incomparable great power for us who believe" in Ephesians 1:19).

So I was just thinking about my dad's blessing and how important it is to- in faith- bless my own children- in everyday ways and in important, formal ways. Blessings for peace as they sleep, blessings for health and wholeness, blessings for a heart to know God...

The Lord certainly honored my dad's faith as he blessed Jack and me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We gathered together

We celebrated the Dent family Thanksgiving this weekend (minus Jonny) at Jenny's house. It was complete with casseroles, turkey, dressing, pies, and bread in the shape of a turkey. My sister is amazing.

We had so much to be thankful for... time together, five healthy children, good relationships, strong marriages, and generally more than we need of everything. To top it off, my nephew Kendrick got baptized today and the Lord was very present in blessing this new little life. Great weekend.

(ps - I finally got the video working from yesterday's blog.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

But why?

This is from a CD called Bullfrogs and Butterflies. My siblings and I used to listen to it as kids, so it's been fun for me for her to enjoy all my old school favorites.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Milquetoast = timid person; caprine= goat like

Two cool places to go on this world wide web of ours (or as Anna Grace would say, the immertate): This site donates 10 grains of rice to the UN's world food program for every vocabulary word you correctly define. Fun and philanthropic. Jack and I had a "free rice" challenge which ended in a draw at 40. But it was fun. I thought Mike Huckabee was my man for the 2008 presidential race and it turns out that he really objectively is. You take a quiz on the proverbial issues and it matches you with your candidate much like an online dating site. Interesting.

Who's your candidate?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All good gifts

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Such a good day of good gifts from God.

Our little friend Sanders Wiggins was born this morning to proud parents, Rendi and Josh. Eight pounds, thirteen ounces of sweetness.

Also, we woke up this morning to find that our little girl had slept all night in her own bed! Yeah for Anna Grace and thank you, Lord!!! We sang happy birthday to Sanders and ate laffy taffy before breakfast. It makes for a great day.