Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sanders Wiggins

Today we had a Sunday afternoon baby shower for my friend Rendi's baby, Sanders Thomas Wiggins. She's due in November. It was a really great time with the quintessential red punch, chicken salad, "congratulations" cake, and oooo's and ahhh's over baby gifts. But the best part was that we all got a chance to gather together and pray and thank God for this gift of life, for this little one and all that God has in store for him. For his health, for wisdom for his parents, for his heart for God, for his future wife...
What a blessing that this new little life is. I can't wait to meet this sweet baby boy.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:13-14

ps- the picture is newborn Zeke- isn't he precious?? :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fun with BB and Pop Pop

A precious little tea party ensued amidst an atmosphere of LSU football and abundant snacks. What a fun day.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Make Merry

This afternoon we took family pictures (hence the white dress). Because Anna Grace did very well smiling pretty and following all the "head this way" and "chin down" directions, we went to get TCBY- chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. After successfully avoiding the stains that seemed to be inevitable, Anna Grace and I played in the yard while Zeke took a snooze.
It wasn't anything that special, but I will always remember it. We were playing chase and "making merry" as Anna Grace called it. It was a beautiful late September afternoon- nothing but blue skies and that leisurely Friday afternoon feeling. I'm glad I got to spend it with my two year old. She won't be little forever.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Regular Kathy

This is Kathy Lewis at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
She came over for dinner tonight and graciously shared life with us as she has so many times before. I have been so blessed by this woman.
Kathy and her husband, David, had been friends of my parents and were living in Kentucky when we moved there for seminary. I had never really met her before, but she took me under her wing from the get-go and has loved me as her own ever since. When Kathy and David moved back to Shreveport, it just so happened that we weren't far behind. Anna Grace dubbed her "regular Kathy" since my mom's best friend is also a Kathy and is better known as Ms. Kathy. So there's Ms. Kathy and regular Kathy.
But this Kathy is, ironically, anything but regular.
She was there with me the night my dad died. She was there to make me french toast and rock a crying newborn at 3:00 am after I had my first baby. She looked at 30+ houses with me in Kentucky until we found the right one. She held hands with our realtor in Shreveport and prayed over this one. She arranged a viewing of my second baby at 16 weeks gestation so that we could sneak a peak on whether it was a boy or girl. I could go on and on. She has shared her home, her heart, her time, and her faith with me. She has the heart of a servant and is as close to Jesus as anyone I know.
How I love her and how I'm going to miss her. She and David are moving to Cincinnati this fall.
Look out, Cincinnati. I'm sure that the Lord will use her as mightily there as He has everywhere else. And I'm sure there's one lucky woman in Ohio who is about to meet an extraordinary new friend...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Onion Creek

Jack and I visited Arches National Park several years ago- one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places I've ever visited. This part of Utah is especially known for its mountain biking experiences, so we took along our bikes. One of the trails we went on, Onion Creek, was awesome. It winded around a red rock mountain and it was just really cool. I felt like I was on a different planet. I kept pushing us to keep going and keep going despite the fact that we were out of food, there was nowhere to hide from the afternoon sun, we didn't really know where we were going, and it had been quite a while since we had left that little black Honda at the trailhead. But I just knew it was going to be even better at the next turn...
Needless to say, it turned disastrous. After a flat bike tire, hungry and wiped-out Jack had to ride back alone, get the car, drive back on the dirt road, and save the day.
To this day, we still refer to the tendency I have to "onion creek" things. I tend to overdo it, bite of more than I can chew. I don't know what it is, really.
Tonight, Anna Grace was asking me to tell her a story about "a bird, a cat, a frog, and a dog."
This is a common and recurring request. I'll tell her whatever lame plot I can piece together off the top of my head, and when it's over, she protests that it's not over- that there is more that I'm leaving out. Maybe that's like my onion creek.
I think it's probably a yearning quality that all of us have. Yearning for beauty and adventure is something that God has put in all of our hearts and it just shows up differently and in different incarnations in all of us. And it's a yearning for His beauty and adventure in Him- something only He can satisfy.
In any case, whenever you hear Jack admonishing me not to "onion creek" myself, you'll know what he means...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sumb Thucker

One day last week my wide-eyed seven-month-old baby boy stared at his slowly rotating hands as if thinking, "oh my... one of these is different from the other four." It was like Columbus discovering the New World- he had found his thumb. Of course, it went straight to the mouth and has been there ever since. I ixed it mup and called him a sumb thucker tonight. Oops.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yum, yum, eat em up

Today's sermon at church was, in part, about the early church's devotion to scripture (Acts 2). John, our associate pastor, enlightened us about Menelik II, an Ethiopian king who had a (literal) hunger for scripture. He believed that literally eating the word of God was good for what ailed him. After suffering a stroke, he consumed the book of Kings (first and second or just one, I don't know- does it matter?) and then died. John joked he should have tried Jude instead.
As misguided as literally eating scripture is, digesting scripture is a concept that the Lord has used before. The prophets Ezekiel and John had supernatural encounters with the Lord commanding them to eat of a scroll. In a Jewish ceremony called upsherin, three year old boys are to lick honey off Hebrew letters, as the Torah should be "sweet to their tongues."
An article in the New York Times features a festival in which edible books are presented and feasted upon. Eskin notes Francis Bacon's thought, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
God's word is certainly something I should be chewing on and digesting daily. I pray for the sweetness of scripture to be my mainstay, the nutrition for my soul that metabolizes into an outflow of the love of God.
Picture by Douglas Yaney.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Our little friends

Anna Grace, as girly as she is, will be raised with mostly little boys. That's just the way it is. She has a couple of girl friends here and there (thank goodness for Jesse), but she has a brother and two new boy cousins (totaling 5 boys in the Dent family) and most of our little friends are boys, too.
Two of these little friends have inspired their parents for some really sweet blog entries today. Check out Cavett ("I wanna go there") and Bright ("Prayer Tunnel"). Amazing posts. They made me cry.
And don't forget our little drummer, Benjamin. These are Anna Grace's nearest and dearest friends. Either they'll have to learn how to plie and curtsie or Anna Grace will have to learn how to run and climb with the boys.
In any case, she'll always be blessed by having these sweet boys in her life.

ps- Our little friend, Bright, and his family will be moving to East Asia soon for a three year stint with Campus Crusade for Christ. Keep him and his mom and dad in your prayers as they prepare their hearts for the joys and trials that lay ahead...

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Pizza Store

On any given Friday night at 5:30, you can bet the Chaney family will be rolling into Pie Works (dubbed "the pizza store" by Anna Grace) for our weekly family tradition. Our waitress is always one step ahead of us- knowing the little things that help us through the meal like extra croutons for an excitable and chatty toddler. (And yes, she is wearing butterfly wings). Tonight was especially fun. As Jack and I drove the mile and a half down the road, we recounted all that was right in the world... a sunny Friday late afternoon, rested and happy children, an agenda-less weekend ahead of us. The salad days, we like to call it. The Lord has blessed us immeasurably. As I gave Jack a disapproving look for promising Anna Grace a sucker when we got back home, he reminded me that just like our Heavenly Father likes to lavish good things upon us- he enjoys loving on Anna Grace by giving her sugary treats. I don't know if the comparison totally holds up at the end of the day, but I am certainly grateful for the good thing he's done for me.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
1 John 3:1

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mixed veggie mahem

Most of the food went everywhere but his mouth, but we had fun. Zeke is at that messy eating stage- batting his arm at every spoonful of mush. It's hit or miss whether it flies across the room or not. It's so inconvenient, but it's so precious. I'll take the mess. It comes with a really sweet little person.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saute- it's a tiny little jump

Can you tell she's enjoying ballet? Tonight she prayed, "Lord, thank you for my fingers, my animals, and Miss Christy (her ballet teacher)."
And thanks for the prayers. She went to sleep in peace tonight. Praise Him!
We'll get some footage of little Z man soon...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Elderly Advisors

I have been working with a patient for the past couple of days who was born in 1912. That makes her 95 years old. Usually, people that age aren't appropriate candidates for inpatient rehab, but she is the most spry 95 year old I've ever known. Actually, I work with lots of old folks and we have time to talk about things they've learned over the years. They mostly like to tell me about their families and the things they are thankful for. As a whole, most of them have great wisdom and good perspective. We had one patient post stroke in her 80's not too long ago. As she strained and pushed herself to walk the 10 feet down the parallel bars, she chanted her mantra, "Don't quit it, keep wi't it, you'll get it." Good advice for us all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prayers for peace in the Chaney house

It's 9:23 (pm) as I blog and we started bedtime over two hours ago. Anna Grace has always wrestled against sleep but tonight has been particularly frustrating. That seems like an understatement. I go from being enraged about the unrelenting tears and screams to feeling so sorry for the red-eyed, yawning, despondent little girl who gets out of bed for the 100th time telling me she's "so sad she doesn't have anyone to hold her." I can't think of anything else as I sit here at the computer.
Many of you have prayed for Anna Grace before, but continue to pray that God gives peace to her heart as she goes to bed, that she will fall asleep quickly, and that she would have sweet dreams throughout the night. Anna Grace tends to make some progress with sleeping for a while, but then reverts again to previous levels of sleeplessness.
I've posted this picture before but it typifies our struggle in this arena.
So just pray for our little girl. God is able.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Renewing my strength

At the end of every day when everyone is finally in bed, my work begins. Picking up socks, toys, dishes, cups, shoes, trash, couch pillows, backpacks- the list goes on and on. A completed round of clean laundry is so elusive. Having two little ones is really quite exhausting. A mother's work is really never done. I sometimes marvel at my mom and how she managed everything with four kids and a husband who did very little housework.
We had a guest speaker today at church who spoke about not growing weary. Millard Fuller (a fellow Auburn grad) is the founder of Habitat for Humanity and now heads up the Fuller Center for Housing. He's in town for the blitz build they're doing in Shreveport- 10 new homes and 5 repair jobs in one week. The scripture that inspired his sermon was from Isaiah 40:28, "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength."
That's one of the beautiful things about our Lord. He doesn't grow weary, He's never tired, worn out, down and out, burned out. He is always dedicated to His purposes, motivated, on the move...
John the Baptist had it right. He said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30). Millard Fuller's example as an energetic 72 year old, traveling the country and working toward the goal of eliminating poverty housing in the name of Jesus is an inspiration. As long as I remain in Christ, I can do all things. As I decrease, I will "renew my strength... I shall run and not be weary; I shall walk and not faint." It's good stuff for me to ponder as I tackle my Monday morning and start the possibly busy and hectic, hopefully peaceful and manageable week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy Football Day

Something definitely redeemable from my day. This is Anna Grace doing her best Auburn cheer, commonly known as "Bodda Getta." It was another fun-filled football day for our toddler. She loves football day. It's pretty funny.

Tebow joke of the day: Tim Tebow can touch MC Hammer.
See 8/23/07 post.


Life is so busy. Even on a Saturday. I was thinking how fast today went by. We spent the day going here and there between feedings and working around varying napping schedules. We had a great time spending time with my brother, sweet Nana, and each other, but it went by quickly.
This blogging thing has really had me focus on what I can take away from the day that is redeemable. Some things in life you just have to throw away, but when I sit down at the computer, I try to think about what is worth something- what I can redeem from my day.
I love this picture. It is from Shane Bevel's blog- a blog about a historically down-and-out, drug-ridden, crime-filled neighborhood in Shreveport called Allendale and the current effort going on to redeem that community.
Redemption is such an awesome thing. I'm certainly grateful for my own redemption and for the work of the ultimate Redeemer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sweet Georgia Brown

The family decided to take an after dinner wagon ride and we took along our first child- Georgia. Our four-year-old lab mix went to live with my mom when we moved back home- it was a better home for her while we're busy with babies, and she's doing well in her big backyard while mom likes the company. I do miss her every now and then, though. Baby giggles after wet dog kisses and a little girl holding a leash commanding "sit" and "heel" will do that, I guess. But for now, she's better off with mom.
It just reminded me that there's something about a happy dog greeting you after a long day... happy wags of the tail, curling up at your feet, contentment with a belly rub... I heard today that having a pet can add up to seven years to your life. I can see it. Especially with dogs. Their unconditional love and undying devotion is good for what ails you.

Posted in memory of Madison "Mad Dog" Lewis.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Feeding Frenzy

While I was making dinner, I turned around and this was the scene. We haven't been so good at capturing baby life this time around, but we pulled out the video camera and caught the action. It may not totally appeal to my non-family readers, but these little ones are growing up and it's fun to share their antics. Props to Jack for helping me implement the video blog. It's a revolution...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A bay bay??

This weekend we were talking with some friends about how strange it's been to move back to our hometown. We left after highschool and had been away for 10 years, so when we moved back it was like starting over. It also opened my eyes to the problems we have, now having a different perspective having lived in several other places. Louisiana is a great state that I'm proud to be from, but I hail from Shreveport, so I'm not a south Louisianian which is an important distinction as you well know if you're from the pelican state. As a state, we certainly have a distinct and lively cultural heritage, but we are also second in the nation for public official convictions per capita. Hurricane Katrina notwithstanding, we have big educational problems, crime problems, and governmental spending problems- a few of the issues that top the list.
Moving back to Shreveport, aka "the Ratchet City," opened my eyes again to the culture of the racial divide, the plague of crime, and the glorification of the hip hop culture that goes on here. "A bay bay" is VERY entertaining, but it is also an incomprehensible song which presents an interesting commentary on the values of people in my town. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's just a song.
Maybe Bobby Jindal can help fix the problem. We've got a gubernatorial election coming up next year and I was really interested to read this article in the Wall Street Journal about his life and vision for the state- not to mention how he got the name "Bobby".
Maybe Jindal can't fix our problems, but I know that Jesus can. So that's why I'll continue to pray for our city, for our state, for our elected officials and most of all for revival to sweep across this state and turn the Mardi Gras mo-jo into a spirit of holiness unto the Lord. Louisiana sure does need some Jesus.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ansel Grace

Here are Anna Grace's best attempts at one of her favorite art forms- photography. You can see how she carefully set her daddy upon a background centered with a Diet Coke can- how she captured the very moment I plugged in our favorite form of technology. She's quite the artist...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Daddy returns

Jack went to Baton Rouge this weekend for the LSU v. Virginia Tech game. When he walked through the door this afternoon, Anna Grace's face lit up as did Zeke's when he heard the familiar voice calling his name. It was only a little more than 24 hours, but we sure did miss him.

I've been thinking about my own dad a lot lately. Maybe it's because we saw Memaw Dent this weekend and when I told Anna Grace who we were going to see, she quietly said to herself, "Dadoo's mommy." Maybe it's because it's that time of year- the last time I saw him was a September Sunday at the Louisville airport and he went to be with Jesus that November 1st. I had a dream recently that I walked into church and my dad was teaching my Sunday school class. After we laughed about being back together, he told me that he was on a mission with NASA that was top secret. We couldn't know about it, hence the faked death and all.

Daddies fill such an important role in everyone's heart that it's hard when they're away- whether that means for a day or so on a road trip or with Jesus for the rest of our earthly lives. I'm really thankful for the way my earthly father gave me a dim picture of our Heavenly Father- Abba- the ultimate Dad who generously provides for us, protects us, guides us, disciplines us, and loves us. It's a special thing to be a Daddy.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Most Valuable Family Member

MVFM of the night goes to Ezekiel David Chaney- sleeping all through the night and happily greeting us at 6:30. Way to go Zeke!

Helmet head is doing great- you'd never know she's the walking wounded. She's worn her helmet to Wal-Mart and out to eat and has enjoyed it, so no problems there. Jack and I can't help but giggle when we look at her nonchalantly coloring her menu or asking for Sprite with that over-sized top knocker on her head.

We're really grateful for the prayers and support of all of you out there who have been thinking of us. And praise the Lord for happy helmet heads and sleeping baby boys!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Silver Linings

We are back from the hospital! We got the results from the second CAT scan and there was no change, which is what we wanted. The pediatric ophthalmologist came and found a perfect cornea with no abrasions. Our pediatrician discharged us this afternoon with a follow up visit and a few restrictions- no school for a while, taking it easy on the running and climbing, and a follow up visit next week. Praise the Lord! We have a beautiful new helmet for Anna Grace to wear for a while while her skull heals and she was pleased with her new decoration.
Despite the drama and exhaustion, I can take a few good things away from it.
Anna Grace and I really made some memories... snuggling in a hospital bed way past her bedtime, telling each other silly stories involving various kinds of animals, and meowing in the CAT scan machine.
While I would have rather it not happened, we have survived and we are happily resuming normal life. Hopefully, we'll all get some good sleep tonight.

Prayer Request

This is Jack posting for Candace...

Anna Grace fell at school yesterday and hit her head. She wound up fracturing her skull (!) and tearing her cornea. She had a CAT scan last night. The initial diagnosis was good but they wanted to keep her through the night. The neurosurgeon came in this morning and said that he saw a little bit of bleeding, so she got another CAT scan this morning to see if they could see anything else. Everything is trending positive, but we're not 100% out of the woods yet.

Anna Grace is acting perfectly normal (although a little lethargic and cranky), so it's really weird to have this big thing hanging over her and she's just her everyday 2.11 year old self, bargaining with us for more movies and asking for suckers. We told her today that she cracked her head and she wanted to go look in the mirror because she didn't believe us.

Would you guys join us and pray that the Lord would heal Anna Grace? He's already healed her cornea (it was completely fine this morning!) We believe he will heal her head too and know that he delights in answering our prayers. Thanks to all of you who are already praying. Both Candace and I are (oddly) at peace about the whole situation, although we're a little bit tired... ;)

It's funny, right after I found out about the news, I was driving to Target to get Anna Grace Monsters Inc (her request) for a "special treat" for being a brave little girl at the doctor's office. Her CD, Psalty the Singing Psalm Book was playing in the car. The song was called "Sandyland". It was perfectly fitting for the situation and I really believe the Lord let me hear it just to let me know that we were all going to be ok, whatever the outcome may be.

Here's how it goes...

Don't build your house on the sandy land,
Don't build it too near the shore,
Well it might look kinda nice but you'll have to build it twice,
Oh, you'll have to build your house once more.
You've got to build your house on the rock,
make a good foundation on a solid spot,
Oh, the storms may come and go, but the peace of God you will know.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pressing on

Zeke didn't sleep at all today at daycare. For those of you who have never had a six month old baby, that's a big deal. And you'd think that that would mean that he will be so tired he will sleep all night, but for some weird reason, it doesn't work like that.
The thing is, he's not slept well there since he's started and I've had a hard times going through the emotions of it all. I'm tired and that doesn't help. Jack has counseled me to go to bed and to know that the Lord will take care of the situation. I should probably take his advice, but I guess in some way I'm throwing a pity party about it. It doesn't feel like anything good is going to come of the situation. It just feels bad. And sad. And wrong. But Jack's right. I was reading Monica Klepac's blog tonight. She is a missionary in Romania with the Word Made Flesh organization. We got connected with them through our church in Kentucky. She wrote a really insightful post about Mary. In it, she writes,

"Like Mary, Mother Teresas amazing witness came from the fact that she never let go. She never gave up. In the darkness of doubt and loneliness and questioning, she kept on loving Jesus in his distressing disguise.
And that is what gives me some light on my path. Maybe i can hang on too. Maybe God is bigger than my fears and worries. Maybe that same Spirit that is in Mary can dwell in me too."

So I don't feel like believing and pressing into God. But I know that if I do, He is faithful and He will see me through it. We'll see what He will do for my baby boy and me.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Kickin it in the ATL

Lauren and Carrie are some of my dearest friends. I was introduced this weekend as, "Lauren's sorority sister," which was kind of struck me as strange. It's accurate- that's how we met and we were fellow Pi Beta Phi-ers at Auburn, but our friendship goes so much deeper than that even. It was really fun to get together this weekend- this time with kids in tow as we strolled around Hapeville (where Matt and Lauren live) and cruised our old stomping grounds in Atlanta. We had a blast.
We really got to connect with Lauren and Matt, catching up on what's on their hearts and calenders. Lauren had baby Holly in October and it was good to finally get to love on her. We were able to get the low down on their upcoming trip to Paris this fall. They are going with a team to start to set up a Passion conference for Western Europe. It's very cool to see another set of friends of ours dedicated to mobilizing a new generation of young believers for Jesus.
Of course, a highlight of the weekend was the Auburn game. Carrie, our friends Brenda and Joe, Lauren and Matt, and Jack and I sat around the TV and laughed, caught up on life, and oh-so-quietly cheered as the kids slept in the next room. We jumped up and down and held back the screaming as Auburn squeezed out a victory over Kansas State. We laughed until it hurt at the best of You Tube as we shared our finds of the ridiculous, hilarious, and sweet.
But one of of the best parts of the weekend, apart from the Mellow Mushroom pizza, was being able to go to Northpoint- the church where Jack and I really got to start growing in our Christian walk right after we got married. As we rocked out- and I mean rocked out- to the old hymn "How marvelous, how wonderful," my heart was free and I was able to really worship and thank the Lord for all He has done for me. Jack and I have come so far since we first started making the trek up to Northpoint for church as newlyweds and it's so neat to look back and see how He- among other things- used these friends from college to keep me grounded through the hard times as well as the good times of life.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The friendly skies

Our trip to Atlanta was a success... that is, we made it safely. Anna Grace was comforted to know that Jesus was with us and kept us safe. But it wasn't all that easy. To make it worse, DFW isn't as user friendly as Atlanta or some of the other smaller airports that we're used to. Despite the craziness of flying with two little ones, it was still enjoyable to me to watch all the people. I especially like to survey what everybody's reading. College girl across the isle had "Harry Potter", career gal one row back had "Life is a Series of Presentations," and there were lots of USA Todays and Sky Magazines going around. It's just interesting to me. Life is a series of presentations. Hmm...
But the best of all was drunk guy coupled with nosy mom. Zeke had some trouble and was crying a lot, so nosy mom took me back to the back of the plane to give me pointers on how to soothe a crying baby. Had I tried a pacifier? So when she went back to her seat, I was rocking Zeke and when he was almost asleep, drunk guy came over and says, "I GOT TWO OF THOSE!" I tried to convey a need for silence, but he continued, "MAN... THIS PLANE IS FULL, WHERE YOU SITTIN'?" as he plowed through a handful of potato chips. I finally had to shoosh him. He then proceeded to tell me, very loudly, not to worry... one day I'll be dragging them out of bed to go to school. And that was supposed to make it better. At least it was interesting.