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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dr. Candy at your service

No offense to male nurses, but there is one that I work with that (in his defense) unwittingly does something that drives me nuts. He calls me Dr. Candy. He's so nice, I haven't had the heart to correct the error of his ways. But I'm serious when I say that it makes me cringe every time I hear it. We were in a meeting today and he kept calling me and it took someone else to get my attention because I wasn't responding. But (thank the good Lord) this is not my name.

Names carry strong connotations and perceptions. When Jack and I named our children, we did it purposefully and with a serious consideration of not only what we liked, but what we felt like God was saying about our children and what their role in this world was to be.

Anna, in Hebrew, means "grace." So perhaps she's to proclaim God's grace as the prophetess Anna did of Luke 2:36-38. We know that she is to be a blessing to others- especially through her creative gifts. A double portion of grace.

Ezekiel, in Hebrew, means "strength of God." For his infant dedication at church, Jack wrote a prayer that read: "We pray that the Lord uses you to bring His people back to Him, just as the Lord used the prophet Ezekiel. We pray that you grow up to be a lovesick worshipper of God and a warrior for the Lord, just as King David was. Above all, we pray that when people look at you, they will see Jesus living through you, and Christ's light will be as bright in your life as it is in your great grandfather Zeke's life and as it was in your granfather David's life."

I feel pretty strongly about names. That's always the first question I have for a new mom after she has that revealing ultrasound. What's the name? (My friend Lauren drove me crazy with that one, but I still love her. She made us wait.)

So you can see how this Dr. Candy business drives me absolutely mad. I just typed in "candy" in the google search engine to get a picture and all kinds of filth came up. I would hate to see what Dr. Candy would produce.

I think it's in Breakfast at Tiffany's when Audrey Hepburn (as Holly Golightly) is lamenting about the gifts men have given her. She says something about how the gift says a lot about what the perception of the woman is. Then she holds up a pair of gaudy, horrible earrings and says, "how the mind reels."

I'm keeping Candace and trying to avoid Candy at all costs. I don't want any minds reeling. And maybe I'll "eliminate Candy" ala Elaine (for you Seinfeld fans).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

He's a winner, people.

As trivial as it may seem, this is big time around the Chaney house. With Tim Tebow leading him to victory, Jack is officially the LCANCAAFFA Fantasy Football Champion for the 2007 season. Congrats, hubbie.

He and his college buddies started the LCANCAAFFA (an acronym for his fraternity + NCAA + fantasy football association - of course) eleven years ago and it's been going strong ever since. They have come to pronounce it as "lack-a-naca-fafa". Fun to say, difficult to live with. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the game consists of each guy "drafting" a team of players from various college teams, then pitting them against each other, and then adding up points for touchdowns, rushing yards, and extra points of their respective players. It's complicated and there are spreadsheets involved.

But the good thing is that it keeps him in touch with his buddies who are far away geographically and Jack thoroughly enjoys every exciting new season. It's amazing how long he and his friend Dennis can talk about the statistics, politics, strategies, line ups, traditions, and fashions (yes, fashions) of college football. It's truly amazing.

I balk at times at the whole thing, but as far as hubandly hobbies go, it could be worse. He's learning to keep it in check and I'm learning to cheer for the Ray Rices and Tim Tebows of Jack's fantasy world. I love Jack and I'm still learning that loving Jack may involve watching a "really awesome" replay when I really would rather not or listening to the animated recap of a player's stellar performance when I'd rather discuss anything but. So, go Jack, go. I'm still and always your #1 cheerleader. (Super cheesy, I know, and I'm no cheerleader, but you know what I mean. I love my man.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday night fun

Big sister is a little rough, but Zeke doesn't mind. Typical Friday night at the Chaney house- pizza store, kiddy play, bathtime, and bed. Fun stuff.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My portion

I had such a bad day on Tuesday. Just bad all around. And today was so good. My husband declared me officially unstable this morning. Giddy today, inconsolable two days ago. A lot of it, I'm sure, has to do with trying to deal with tough situations on my own.

My (super awesome) sister-in-law recently referred me to Crosswalk. I signed up for their newsletter for women- sent daily to my email inbox. The devotional for yesterday talked about how important it is for us to spend time with the Lord and daily ask for "our portion" - strength from the Lord to meet all the imminent challenges that will arise in the next 24 hours. The question posed at the end was convicting.

On the days that I don't seek God for my portion, how is that working for me?

Frankly, it wasn't working. It was dismal.
It was the kindness of the Lord to bring me back to Him.

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Supermarket therapy

Tonight, I am so thankful for grocery shopping. This household chore can be loathsome (or as my husband puts it- a beating), but if you do it just right, it can be a time to cherish. I like to go after the kids go to bed- at about eight o'clock. Tonight, I went to our Super Target, plugged in my ipod and roamed up and down the isles. It really was relaxing. Do I want to make a spice cake this week? No, maybe cookies. Look at all the salad dressings. Maybe I'll try this... And on and on.

How, where, and when do you like to do the grocery shopping thing?

(I enjoyed the interactive comments on the toddler talk- thanks, friends!)

The immertate, confusion, staph, and opposites

Jack and I were amusing ourselves by reviewing some of the funny things our three year old has been saying lately. Here are some of the highlights...

She often requests to see her cousin Cavett on the "immertate." This is her word for internet.

Also, she often says that she or others are "confused" when they don't come up with the correct answer to a question.

Jack told her the other night (for whatever reason) about the recent outbreaks of MRSA- the staph bacteria that's resistant to antibiotics. Now she often says- out of the blue- "I hope you don't have that super bug." Then she laughs. I'm glad it's funny for her.

But the best is that Anna Grace and her daddy have an "opposites game" that they like to play- particularly in the car. What's the opposite of red? Green. It starts out obvious. Then it turns colorful. Anna Grace then asks what's the opposite of a house, a tree, a man...
When we got home, Jack asked her what the opposite of a dinosaur was. She excitedly replied, "baby!" "That's right," her daddy smiled. Laughter ensued and they enjoyed their silly game.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's only a moment

I think that maybe God is speaking to me about Zeke through Anna Grace.

Lately, it's just struck me that she is growing up. And quickly. Last night when I was putting her to bed, she told me that she, "loved me, too." It was just so grown up and matter-of-fact. Tonight, she was using the computer mouse for the first time to navigate through Starfall (toddler mommies, you'll love it). Jack came behind her to watch her new skills and she told him to leave because he was "making her nervous."

As for Zeke, I know way too much about early childhood development (having worked in early intervention) to sit back casually and patiently watch him learn and grow in due time. He seems to be taking his time with things and I know that he'll ultimately be fine, but as mommies do, I worry.

But with Anna Grace acting so precociously, I think the Lord is speaking to my heart to treasure all the special moments of babyhood- the eruption of a cackling laugh at his sister, the "da, da, da" talk, the happy, drooling, smile of recognition of mommy when I walk into the room. I think He's telling me just to trust Him and savor thumb-sucking cuddler that Zeke is. He'll be telling me I make him nervous in only a moment.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A vernacular transformed

Jack and I were talking about it this morning and here's our list.

Previously obscure, now frequently used words after having become a parent:

1. Silly
2. No, no, no (in rapid succession)
3. One, two, three (slowly and ominously)
4. That's what happens...
5. Oh, dear
6. Uh-Oh
7. All done!
8. What do you say? (most often to solicit some sort of etiquette)
9. You have to put on your shoes if you want to go outside.

Anybody got a number 10?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lights, camera...

There's absolutely no parking at my house. Nikki Blonsky and her crew and cast have set up right outside and the headquarters seem to be right at my front yard. The film is to be called "Queen Sized" and it's shooting at Jack's alma mater, C.E. Byrd Highschool. The problem is that we can see Byrd's athletic scoreboard out our kitchen window (that's how close we are), so it's been action central at my house. It's a strange mix of annoyance and intrigue. We can barely exit our driveway and as we speak, the hum of large trucks, trailers, and generators are serenading our night. I've seen costumes, food, props, and a wide variety of people jetting up and down our street all day.

Shreveport has recently become a movie-making mecca (for whatever reason- I can't understand it). The Guardian, Mr. Brooks, and Premonition are just some of the recent movies that I can think of that were filmed in my hometown. Kevin Costner lived next door to my aunt during Mr. Brooks and Jack's mom ran into Meg Ryan at the gym. Sandra Bullock's movie was filmed about a half mile from our house. It's crazy. Like I said, annoyance and intrigue...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In honor of Dadoo

Lots of Christian types have a hard time knowing what to do with Halloween. With its roots in a Celtic festival of Samhain in which participants dress up as other-worldly figures for appeasement of the dead, this hesitation is justifiable. Especially because all types of sorcery and witchcraft are an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronmy 18:11) and especially because some sects of our secular culture have cultivated their understanding of this holiday as inherently evil. But even the name "Halloween" is meant to be holy. Dennis Rupert notes in his insightful essay on the history of this holiday that, "Halloween, like any other day, is only as evil as one cares to make it."

After looking into it a bit, I found that the early church often celebrated annually the death of a martyr. During the persecution of the Roman Empire, especially during Diocletian's reign, the number of Christian martyrs became so great that it necessitated some sort of collective commemoration of these saints, which became known as "All Saint's Day." Originally celebrated in May, "All Hallow's Day" was moved to November 1st by Popes Gregory III and IV (circa 700's A.D.) to enable missionaries in an incarnational way to redeem the native Celtic autumn holiday for Christ. The night was to be ordained for a vigil and a fast to honor those who have gone on to be present with the Lord, hence "All Hallow's Eve."

The origins of trick or treating and costumes is questionable at best. I found many different theories.

So what does all this mean for believers attempting to love our neighbors, but not conform to the ways of this world?

For me, this time of year has taken on a new and mysterious significance. Five years ago tonight, on All Saints Day, my dad went to be with Jesus. There seems to be a sort of "before-and-after" feel to that event. I guess there are certain seminal events in one's life that sort of turn the tide of life. This was one of those. The next Halloween, The Lord really spoke to me, comforted me, and in a really awesome way, Jack and I felt the God's call for us to step out in faith to become parents. The next Halloween, we had a nine-day-old baby girl. So this time of year is sort of a bitter-sweet mix of memories. I miss my daddy and I'm sad and yet I know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That's what I hold onto. When you lean on Him, He is so faithful to speak words of life.

So, all that to say, this year's reflection upon the origins of this time of year and what it is and what it isn't makes me realize what a unique opportunity I have to define this day's meaning for me and my family. Last night, we went to church and had silly-type fun in costumes with friends. Tonight, we went to my mom's best friend's house (Miss Kathy) and had dinner with my dad's five best friends. As I was rounding up the kids and walking out the door, I looked back on the tiki-torch lit, screened-in back porch and smiled at my mom enjoying the company of old friends. A celebration of David Dent. I intend for that to become my family's tradition- honoring those who have gone before us. Maybe a reading of Hebrews 11 and 12, maybe telling stories of memories of those we love who are with the Lord. Anna Grace isn't quite old enough yet, but hopefully I can implement these traditions, replacing tears with smiles and loneliness with love. I don't know how well I have helped my mom navigate through the tough waters of widowhood, but maybe we can do even better this coming year. And maybe next year we'll have an even bigger party.