Friday, February 29, 2008

Why we're hooked

This is my confession. Every Thursday night Jack and I gear ourselves up for the latest episode of ABC's Lost. We're hooked.

It's a strange phenomenon. I really don't like feeling compelled to spend time each week following a TV show, but the unfolding of the plot, the plight, struggle, and redemption of the characters, and the mystery of it all keeps me tuned in.

For those of you who are not well versed on the ins and out of this TV vice of mine, Lost is about forty-eight people who crash on an island in the South Pacific and encounter black-smoke monsters, polar bears, civilized natives, the ruins of a 1970's cult-like psychological commune, and- in the latest episode- time travel. Crazy, I know.

But that's the thing. The mystery and the adventure reel you in and you have to know the story and really pay attention to truly enjoy the show. There are details that reveal themselves as clues. Everything has meaning. Every encounter, every exchange, every coincidence... It's all adding up to the big picture and will be part of the grand revelation at that final episode.

I think it appeals to us so much because it's so analogous to Kingdom living. We, as Christians, were not meant to live a Sunday-morning-only life with Jesus. We were meant to live knowing that every encounter, every exchange, every coincidence is part of a big picture. That feeling you got that you were supposed to call someone and then you find out that they were in a crisis- that feeling had meaning. That smile you gave the worn-out cashier at Kroger- that had meaning. That advice you got that struck a cord inside your heart and ended up being really important- that had meaning. Your meetings, your conversations, your yearnings, your failures, your mistakes, your lucky streaks- they all have meaning.

The adventure of living that kind of life- of knowing that there is Someone who has things under control, Someone who has answers, Someone who is mysterious and completely other but good and loving is adventure. Living your life with Him and partnering with Him in giving away your love, your ambitions, your money, and your very life is exciting. Counter cultural and maybe even counter intuitive, but exciting nonetheless. There is a narrative that is astounding and that is real and that will blow your mind if you choose to really dive in and attempt to wrap your mind around it. The majesty that must have been the newly created world, the depths of the grief after created people rejected the Creator, the hope offered by the One who would come to redeem and atone, and the unfathomable joy that is to come when He makes all things new- it really will make your mind spin if you think about it. And there is so much more...

I just hope I can be as faithful in tuning into the Spirit of it all as I am with Lost- a dim and dull shadow of the adventure that awaits us.

"... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Eye Ball

Jack's parents took us out to a fancy-schmancy dinner tonight for Jack's birthday (with Aunt KiKi) and my mom and sister babysat. It was a great time and very much appreciated. It's amazing how you appreciate a nice, quiet dinner after you have had two kids.

Anyway- when I got home, I had this waiting on me- a note from Aunt KK (Karen) chronicling the entertainment of the night. It went like this:

KK: We have to watch American Idol tonight!
AG: American Eye Ball?
KK: No. American Idol. All the girls will sing a song and we decide which one is best.

AG: KK, you are the best in the choir.
KK: I am? That is so nice!
AG: Well, God loves you- He loves you the best of anybody.
KK: God does love us the best of anybody.
AG: Yeah, if your neck is warm, your whole body is warm. Do you know, KK?
KK: Yes, I do.
AG: Look what she(Aunt KiKi) gave me! (Brings in T-shirt that says I "heart" NY)
KK: Wow- I love New York!
AG: That's where Katie Ku-rik (emphasis on the rik) plays the news!
KK: That is so nice.

The world through the eyes of a three year old. If only we could all sustain the wonder and enthusiasm...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thirty One

Thank you, God for creating him. Thank you Barbara and Bill, for bringing him into the world and doing such a good job raising him.

For tomorrow, here's wishing you a really big coke, a really good birthday CD, and a sunny day. For your thirty first year, I wish you a year blessed with revelation, adventure, provision, health, and abundant sports.
Happy sports birthday, Sports Husband.
I love you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

He is radiant and ruddy- part four

Maybe one day, I'll move on to the next description of Jesus- that He is outstanding among ten thousand- as in Song of Songs, chapter 5, but for now I seem to be stuck on this whole radiant and ruddy bit.

I recently joined a small group of women who meet on Thursday mornings. We are engaged in a book club of sorts studying Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. The author sets out to reveal the inner longings of the heart and soul of a man which can help in understanding a husband but is equally important for those of us who are raising boys. I highly recommend the read. It's a good book, but what struck me as we were sitting around the kitchen table was the heart of God that is elemental and foundational in the heart of a man. Men are at heart wild and savage and fierce (in many different incarnations and expressions) because they were made in the image of God. "The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name." (Exodus 15:3). This is why they derive so much pleasure out of things that they do- hunting, fishing, camping, shoot-em-up westerns, war movies, or just deep groaning, grunting, and screaming at the TV when Arsenal (their favorite soccer team) misses a corner kick. Ok, that last one was from personal experience...

At the outset of "discovering the secret of a man's soul," Eldredge discusses the origin of man and "the wild One whose image we bear." So often we think of Jesus as meek and mild- an image that is unbalanced at best. But our Bridegroom being radiant and ruddy speaks of him having completeness, wholeness, and a healthy balance of righteous attributes. Mike Bickle puts it this way, "He is both the lion and the lamb at the same exact time. He perfectly expresses all the elements of his personality without any contradiction. He serves in the meekness of a lamb and the authority of a lion." Eldredge similarly says, "Now- is Jesus more like Mother Theresa or William Wallace? The answer is... it depends. If you're a leper, and outcast, a pariah of society whom no one has ever touched because you are 'unclean,' if all you have ever longed for is just one kind word, then Christ is the incarnation of tender mercy. He reaches out and touches you. On the other hand, if you're a Pharisee, one of those self-appointed doctrine police... watch out." Jesus is gentle and humble in heart as in Matthew 11:29, but he is also the warrior God of Revelation 19:11-13. There is no contradiction. He is the Lion and the Lamb. He is justice and mercy. He is strength and beauty.

"One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, Oh Lord, are loving." Psalm 62:11-12

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

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's a movement

One of Jack and my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is spending the fifteen or so minutes it takes to enjoy Arlo Guthrie's 1967 version of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree." You can probably find it on You Tube, but basically it's a ballad- really kind of funny- that ends with a joining of voices in what Guthrie describes as "a revolution-" people walking around in large masses singing a catchy refrain about getting anything you want at Alice's Restaurant (excepting Alice). A revolution, a movement...

That's exactly what Jack compared Obama's latest "Yes, We Can," You Tube video to. A catchy refrain, masses of people joining in. Obama's momentum and appeal to the masses is phenomenal. His eloquence and his charisma will, I believe, catapult him squarely into the White House next January. I see it as an inevitability. Just compare this video to Hillary's latest. Laughable.

Although a lot of people view Obama as a messianic figure that will swoop into power and save the day, I have my doubts and concerns about his impending presidency. Maybe that's an understatement. His "Yes We Can" seems to be a tag line for humanism at its finest. No one candidate has all the answers, a quick fix, incorruptible character, or infinite wisdom. I have my own set of doubts and concerns (albeit fewer) about McCain. I know some of you would take issue with my views and I encourage a healthy debate, so feel free to leave a juicy comment- I know that I don't have a corner on the wisdom market either. But my little sister wrote today about an inspiring perspective to live by. May we all remember who is really calling the shots. Thanks, Karen.

Psalm 3:8 "From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people." Yes, HE can.


Jack has noticed in the past couple of months that his change compartment in the Honda has been mysteriously emptied. Today when we were loading up the cars, Jack realized that our mystery has been taken to new levels- the MP3/CD player in our car was gone. The scary thing is that the car was parked in the driveway right next to our bedroom and fifty feet from the children. Jack came to my window to tell me about it as I was driving off to take Anna Grace to school. As we pulled out, our conversation went something like this:

AG: Who stole Daddy's things?
Me: I don't know, Honey.
AG: Somebody who doesn't love God?
Me: Yeah, somebody who probably doesn't love God.
AG: That makes Jesus sad when somebody doesn't love Him.
Me: Yes, Sweetheart.
AG: Mommy, when is Jesus coming back?

Justice. She really gets it.
Pray for safety for the Chaney house.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I've recently had a couple of different people direct me to this article in on Time magazine's website about heaven. It's a great article and it combines two of my husband's favorites- Time magazine (a periodical we both enjoy like the nerds we are) and N.T. Wright. Good ole N.T. is one of Jack's favorite authors and I know he would highly recommend Simply Christianity although I haven't had a chance to pick it up.

In the article, Wright states,"What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here." Awesome. I can't wait to see a renewed Shreveport, a renewed America, a renewed Jerusalem, and a renewed world.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

One year

It's been a year since you made your entrance into our world, little Z man. What a year it has been. Your sweet smile has melted my heart and your gentle spirit has blessed our family in unspeakable ways. Even as a new baby, I could tell that you were a super laid back little dude which is a welcome addition to our Chaney clan. You have your daddy's chilling-out gift. You love your big sister and you smile as you take in every move she makes. You have such patience with her as she yanks you around and rolls you around on the floor. You sit back and take it all in.

Happy birthday, Ezekiel David. We sure do love you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Hearts

Anna Grace wore her Aunt KiKi's Valentine's Day dress circa 1985 today and was beautiful.

Zeke enjoyed his chocolate bear. Thanks Nana! It helped divert attention from his yucky double ear infection. Hopefully he'll be all smiles for the big birthday tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My funny valentine

One of the things I have always loved about Jack is his sense of humor. Sometimes his antics border on irritating, but he really has a knack for always knowing how to make me laugh no matter what the situation.

I'm still not feeling well and seem to have some sort of mystery ailment, but today I was thankful for my funny valentines bringing laughter and joy to otherwise mundane and sometimes difficult life circumstances.

As I was coughing last night, Anna Grace asked me for a "cough blah." She needed one, she said, because she was coughing too. She meant a cough drop. But she kept calling it a "cough blah" and Jack and I were rolling.

Lately, I've had violent coughing fits. Jack just sits there and tells me to stop. "Stop." "That's ridiculous," he says in a montone, condescending way. It's so demeaning that it is hilarious to me and it actually makes my coughing worse as I try to hold back the laughter.

So this one's for you funny valentine. Sweet comic valentine. You make me smile with my heart.

(You tube video courtesy Chaka Khan. Sweet! They're no Billy Holiday, but entertaining nonetheless...)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


It was kind of a dreary February day- stormy with wind, heavy rain, and hail in the morning. But with the afternoon came a nice surprise- I looked out the window and saw some color in my backyard. The daffodils are blooming! Spring is just around the corner.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The pregnant belly

No, I am not pregnant (thank the Lord)! But my old friend Jennifer (aka JennO) is and I just found out that she's having a girl! They're naming her Lucy. Sweet little Lucy.

I got an email from JennO today with an exposition on the rude comments she's already received from the proverbial peanut gallery. So I'm climbing on my soap box. What is it that people think when they make these kinds of comments? I got all kinds. I'll never forget walking into church at 40 weeks pregnant wearing a burnt orange cotton pancho. "You look just like a pumpkin!" one astonished woman said with eyes glaring. Maybe I did, but really...

So here's my advice. It's a principle to live by. Don't ever tell a pregnant lady anything about her appearance except to comment on her radiant beauty. I know some of you are so tempted at times, but just don't do it. Just tell her she's gorgeous and move on. The very last thing a waddling, uncomfortable, large-tummied lady wants to hear is just how large she really is.

So this one's for you, JennO. Remember that you are beautiful no matter how little Lucy grows and treat yourself to a pedicure throughout. It's my pregnancy prescription.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Joshua Project

Jack taught today at church on the Olivet Discourse - Mark 13.

His synopsis ( I wasn't there, but was at home recovering from the flu and with a sick baby): In the passage, Jesus discuses the end of the age. Jesus warns his disciples that they will know the season that he is returning because there will be famine, earthquakes, false messiahs, and widespread war. Before the end comes, Jesus says, the Gospel will be preached to ALL the nations. (Mark 13:10) The Greek word that we translate as nations is "ethnos". Ethnos is the root for our English word "ethnicity". So its probable that Jesus was talking about ethnic people groups rather than our modern understanding of geo-political nation-states. It's interesting to note that of the signs that Jesus mentions, the only one that is really objectively verifiable is the proclamation of the Gospel to all of the world.

In his preparation for his lesson, Jack ran across this site. I've added a new page element from the Joshua Project on my blog page (lower left side). It should change daily with a short description of an unreached people group. Hopefully, it will keep our hearts and prayer lists sensitive to those people around the world without easy access to God's word.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Here she comes to save the day

So we had the flu. Influenza A. Horrible, horrible pain. As I was lying in bed on Friday morning with a high fever envisioning my impending hospitalization, intubation, mechanical ventilation, and death, my wonderful mother-in-law walked through the door to save the day. She took care of my children- got them dressed and ready for the day and took them to school. She then came back through my door loaded down with a litany of items for the ill including:
1. orange Gatorade (per Jack's request)
2. frozen limeade popsicles and two kinds of Italian ice
3. red jello
4. DayQuil and NyQuil
5. ibuprophen
6. Diet Sprite
7. Nasal spray- two varieties
She then proceeded to the kitchen and made homemade chicken noodle soup for the two sickies in bed. The real kind with the huge chunks of chicken and the veggies and everything.
We were totally set up. Thank you, God, for sending Barbara through our door Friday morning.
Thank you, Lord, for putting in her the gift of mercy- seeing a need and caring and providing a way to meet that need. Thank you for the way You work in Barbara.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sicky sick sick

The Chaneys- except Zeke thankfully- have some sort of nasty bug. The silver lining: Anna Grace and I curled up on the couch together for a long afternoon nap. It was sweet.
The freaky thing: Jack said he walked in and Anna Grace's eyes were wide open. She was clearly asleep, but with eyelids retracted. Strange.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My money, my heart

God has been speaking to my heart on several fronts about "my" money lately.

I recently started reading a book by Gospel for Asia's K.P. Yohannan- a native Indian and founder of one of the world's largest mission organizations. In it, he speaks about the first time he came to the United States. Strikingly, he writes, "Americans are more than just unaware of their affluence- they almost seem to despise it at times... As I would discover again and again, this nation routinely takes its astonishing wealth for granted."

It's so easy for us to forget that we are blessed with wealth. Abundant running water, ubiquitous electricity, closets full of clothes, more than enough to eat. Yohannan didn't own a pair of shoes until he was 17. I had probably owned and discarded over a hundred pairs by that time in my life.

As a Christian and especially an affluent American Christian, it's imperative that we constantly remind ourselves that the wealth we have is not our own. It is God's. We are the managers, but He is the Giver and Owner of it all. He releases it where He will. Romans 11:35-36 asserts, "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." To that end, we need to seek God and ask Him what is our daily bread (money to use and spend) and what is our seed (money to give, that will bear fruit). Mike Bickle calls tithing (giving 10% of your income to your local church) Christianity 101. A basic obligation of every Christian. The fun comes when you break into an over-and-above heart of giving. We should not despise our wealth, but rather leverage it for the Kingdom.

I'm writing this for myself more than anything, because I want my heart to be transformed through the process of radically giving my money away to join in God's kingdom work throughout the world. It's about social justice (food for the hungry, education for the illiterate, water for the thirsty), but it's about more than that, too. It's about bringing the Good News to the world- that Jesus has come to bring freedom from sin and eternal life in Him.

Yohannan wisely states, "The secret of following God's will, I discovered, usually is wrapped up in rejecting the good for God's best."

This is a paradigm I want to pervade the way I think about the money with which I am entrusted. A new pair of jeans seems good, but God's best may be a check to an orphanage in Ecuador. And I have a feeling that as we let God's best guide our checkbook, we will be blown away by what it does to our hearts and our very lives.

Addendum: If you want to start giving to the Harrigans, intercessory missionaries through the International House of Prayer, the Rupps, evangelists to East Asia through Campus Crusade for Christ, or the Klepacs, servants among the poor in Romania through the Word Made Flesh, let me know ( I would love to connect you.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Trash Wife

I have a wonderful husband and a great family and I am very blessed. Let me just start with that. Jack is an awesome dad and husband, but sometimes, we- or maybe just I- like to joke about my being the "trash wife."

Sometimes it seems as if I am in the lowest caste our little Chaney family. Somewhere at the top rank the children, followed closely by the daddy, and then mommy ranks somewhere among the untouchables. It doesn't matter that mommy hasn't gone to the bathroom or needs to unwind, or needs to change clothes- there are immediate and pressing needs! "Juice in a big girl cup, please!" "What's for dinner?" "Whaaaa!!!!"

Tonight was a typical work day- picking up the kids, getting home, making three different dinners, giving two different baths, dressing children, changing children, putting children to bed, rocking crying baby, cleaning up after it all...

So then Jack sees me surveying what to do next and requests a piece of chocolate and a Diet Coke as he sits on the couch watching soccer. "Trash wife", I add with a smirk.

But really, I know how good I have it. Truly- if you want to be great, you have to be a servant of all. I'm a happy trash wife.

Addendum: The trash wife has spoken! (A reference to my much beloved childhood HBO series, Fraggle Rock- this one's for Jenny, Karen, and Jonathan- love ya'll!)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dancing Queen

We went to Lafayette today to visit Jack's grandparents, aunts, and uncle. A great time was had by all- especially AG and Z. I was so remorseful for not bringing the video camera. The dance moves Anna Grace came up with were hilarious. So, when we came home, the directions given were to do some dancing, twirling, clapping, and singing (thinking she would do the crazy steps she did this afternoon). The funny thing is that what she came up with was much more literal than this afternoon's antics. At least she was listening and obeying! This one's for you, Aunt Linda. Thanks for the boa and crown!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The best cake ever

We all have our favorite desserts, but I think Julie Anne's Pralines and Cream King Cake tops my list. It cannot be beat. Although the theological underpinnings of Mardi Gras are questionable at best, we will hopefully always get our February fix of this Louisiana treat.

For those of you non-Shreveportians, I'm sad to say that this yumminess cannot be shipped. But if you're in the mood, I hear the Dough Basket makes a pretty good king cake as well and they'll deliver it via Fed Ex next day mail.

As we sliced one up after dinner last night, Jack's thought was that maybe we'll all celebrate with a King cake when Jesus comes back. Sounds good to me.

PS- My friend Emily has just informed me that Julie Ann's does ship. Sorry about the misinformation. Order and enjoy!

Four months later

Anna Grace had her birthday celebration at school today- four
months after her real October birthday. It was quite a touching little ceremony with pictures and narration from each year of our little one's life. Quite fun.

Mommy lesson of the day: Don't not have a school birthday party thinking that your child won't notice or care.

Anna Grace has been asking her teacher for quite a while now about her celebration. Lesson learned.