Sunday, March 30, 2008

Victory in Jesus

Tonight, I took my giggling "sack of potatoes" off to bed and thought of my daddy and all the over-the-shoulder rides he gave us when we were little. It's been a really sweet thing to be able to talk to Anna Grace about "Dadoo" and to pick up on his silly signatures in dealing with little ones. Every once and a while, we go to "the going place," a much anticipated adventure that could have just as well landed you at the bank as Disneyworld itself. Anna Grace likes to hear the funny songs Dadoo used to sing like the "Java Jive" or John Denver's "Grandma's Featherbed." I overheard her yesterday singing some jumbled lyrics about not getting much sleep, but having a lot of fun...

I'm so sad that Dadoo isn't here to swing her over his shoulder or play those bouncing chords on the piano so that she can dance, but it's good to have something to hold on to- memories and traditions to pass along until that day.

The following verse was the anchor of this morning's sermon on the hope of the resurrection. Sometimes my heart yearns for the day that my Dad and I will sing together praises to the One who has overcome death. Victory in Jesus! (Also one of my dad's favorite hymns). That day will come.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.." 1 Peter 1:3

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Planting, watering, and expecting

I have a poor record as a gardener. I've had very little experience and very little success. But I'm trying again.

I've really been inspired by all the new life blooming everywhere I look. The azaleas are in full bloom all over town in their gorgeous hues of soft pinks to blazing reds. We drove by Norton Art Gallery today and it almost took my breath away- there are probably a million azaleas blooming in glorious, synchronized splendor.

I've been working hard on my petunias, Mexican heather, and day lilies in the front yard and today I cleaned out my flower bed out back to plant some blackberry vines. I have fond and distant childhood memories of picking blackberries that grew wild in the vacant lot across the street. So I dug in my dirt and planted my plants and we'll see what happens. I'll try to water diligently and maybe you can stop over sometime this summer for a blackberry cobbler.

Monica's gardening thought for the day: "I pray that whether or not you have a garden, you too are planting seeds of hope, watering with prayer and expecting new life."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sugary seeds of life lessons

My friend Lydia has recently started selling Once Upon a Family products
in an effort to both support her family's mission and to fund the Kingdom.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of network marketing, but I really love Lydia and believe in what the Lord has called her to do, so of course, I was going to do what I could to support this new effort of hers. So she made the trek down to Shreveport from Kansas City and I hosted a "Once Upon a Family" party. Although it was less than well attended, I was really impressed by the quality of the products and my mom, mother-in-law and I found some really helpful and valuable ways to augment and strengthen our family's traditions. To help create a daddy-daughter tradition, I got a "Dates with Daddy" memory book for Anna Grace and Jack. I could just imagine the sweetness of their reminiscing over it before Anna Grace gets married. Barbara and my mom got lots of other stuff and Barbara (in her usual generosity) gave me the "Lessons for Little Ones" set for the year.

Which brings me to the sugary seeds.

Each month, I'll get some ideas to foster character development and family values in my children through these "lessons." This month, Anna Grace was awarded the jellybeans for her acts of kindness, sharing, and obedience. Today we spent the afternoon baking a cake together and then covering it with icing topped with green food colored coconut. We talked about how "small acts of kindness can grow into something bigger" (as suggested in my materials) and then planted the jellybeans in the coconut grass. Tomorrow, the jellybeans will have grown into DumDum lollypops- and I'm sure she'll be delighted.

Just a small and simple thing, but something to remember and it was time well spent with my little girl. Thanks, Lyd. Good stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fine Art

I guess it's the normal progression of things, but we were really proud of Anna Grace coming out of random scribbles to big-head-no-body type people. She surprised us because we hadn't prompted her on it at all. She just showed up at my side with her new creation. The one to the right is Zeke. Of course.

Outsanding among ten thousand- part two

Lately, I've been amazed by what God has been doing all around me in response to the prayers of His people. It moves His heart to hear us cry out to Him and He alone is capable of redemption, deliverance, and renewal.

My grandpa being discharged home from the hospital, a friend
getting a new job, another friend's acceptance into the right school, Zeke's teetering down the hall on his feet, an acquaintance's story of miraculous healing for her little boy... the list goes on. It's been a season of praise for us lately.

There are also things that have come up even in the past hours that need urgent intervention- and my heart will cry out to the One who lives to intercede for us. But I think as we pray, it's important to remember the faithfulness and God's history of an immovable character of goodness. As I was thinking about and praying for a friend struggling with infertility, I thought about Hannah as she was also dealing with childlessness. So I read her prayer in an effort to join with her in worshiping the One who heard her cry for help and healing and will hear my friend's cry as well. After being blessed with a son, Hannah thanks God saying, "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God."(I Samuel 2:2) She knew the singularity, the unique power of the God who saves.

"He is the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD."
(Isaiah 55:8)
He is "mighty to save." (Zephaniah 3:17)
He is "the One and Only". (John1:18)
"...outstanding among ten thousand." Song of Songs 5:10

Art by Barbara Mendes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Must be nice...

With a three year old around, I find myself saying things like, "You are really good at putting on your own pajamas," and "Wow! You cleaned up your room all by yourself! Good job!" all the time.
Wouldn't it be nice if we all had someone to congratulate us on the menial tasks we perform every day?

"Wow, Jack, you are really good at that title work!"

"Look at the way you folded all those clothes, Candace. Good job!"

I think it might be kind of nice. Not to mention having someone to wash my hair, prepare my meals, do my shopping, do my laundry, and make sure I always had entertaining and educational experiences on a regular basis. Being a kid is not too bad of a deal.

The picture is AG and Z with their cousins Cavett and Kendrick, and my cousins Elena and Caleb. Fun times at Betty Virginia Park.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Making our Father smile

We get a CD every other month from the prayer room with a compilation of a variety of prophetic songs. My latest favorite is this 11 minute song that just jams about our relationship to the Father. It's actually my "power song" for my Nike+ ipod system (really cool and so worth it if you're a runner). It's got a bass jam long about minute 8 that is kickin...

Anyway- our little family had some quality time today while Jack was cheering his tarheels on to victory. Anna Grace and Zeke were literally bouncing off the walls and screeching in histerics
(in a good way) as my husband's March Madness ensued.

Jack and I were talking just the other day about how fun it is to watch our little ones enjoy themselves. Watching them giggle at each other and love each other melts our hearts. There's just something about watching your child learn something new, speak words of kindness, interact in love, or just spend time in your arms.

I wonder how much more does our Father smile when we do the same for Him?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Resurrection Day

Today as Anna Grace and I grubbed on our Three Musketeer snack on the way out of Wal-Mart, I glanced at the greeter and wished her a happy Easter. She enthusiastically corrected me. "No, No!" she said. "Happy Resurrection Day!!!! He's alive!!!"


And amen to that.

1 Corinthians 15:20 "But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again."

A big day

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pentatonic palpatations

We have had lots of fun with our cousin Cavett in town (and of course with Jenny, Stephen, and Kendrick, too)! We spent some of our afternoon at A.C. Steere Park which is a really neat accessible park with a sprayground (always a popular summer activity) and a new addition- outdoor musical instruments.

I thought that my sister Jenny was going to have a heart attack. She LOVED it. And it was really cool. Anna Grace and Cavett really had a great time making some neat sounds. It was probably the most interesting playground equipment I've ever seen.

So Jenny goes over to the great big xylophone with the special name that I don't know and says, "No, Stephen, it's not a scale, it's jazz chords." Another short test. "No, not jazz chords, it's a pentatonic." Then she hammers out Amazing Grace with little effort.

Just recently I was talking with someone about my being the "non-musical Dent." My siblings are all endowed with extensive musical gifts as they come from a line of talented musicians. (Karl is my uncle- dad's brother and their dad was a preacher who used to preach via his "Sermons in Song.") My family once attended a church talent show event and performed as the "Von Trapp Family Dents," or something equally as cheesy.

But nothing formal ever developed with me. For now, I just love and appreciate music, but have no real outlet in expressing it. But I think in my next thousand years, I'll be a guitarist.

There's no such thing as a non-musical Dent.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our first baby

Our dog became my mom's dog upon our move back to Shreveport. It is a good thing. I do well to take care of my human little ones and I'm afraid that my canine family member would get a little neglected if she had stayed with us. Nana's backyard is bigger and better for a dog and I think Georgia is happy in her current home.

But Georgia doesn't play so well with my sister's dogs, so when her family rolled into town today, we took her back to spend the night with us. It was really fun having her around for a while and both Anna Grace and Zeke approved. Zeke even consistently said "dog" with a big grin.

It's been a long time since we've really had her around, but seeing her walk around the house and find a cozy spot to curl up reminded me of old and quieter times. She'll always be my first baby and it's good to know I can always go down the road about a mile or so and say hello. And who knows- maybe one day, I'll have the time and energy to care for a canine again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This past Sunday, Zeke and his friend Samuel enjoyed rocks and other delicious gravel road delicacies at a local petting zoo slash alligator farm (Gators and Friends for you Shreveportians). I thought they deserved some recognition and thought so as not to be overlooked. I'm very sensitive to this as a second born myself.

With Samuel walking and Zeke still stuck to his hands and knees, they didn't interact too much, but oh the fun to come! In a few years, we'll be crashing and zooming and running with big boy feet. For now, we enjoyed loving on these sweet baby boys.

I hate to even admit it, but as I was taking this picture we realized that Zeke had picked up a cigarette butt to chew on (if you look closely, you can see it). It was so shocking and so disgusting I just had to share. Samuel ended up with rocks in his diaper that I later mistook for poop. I'm sure I'll have lots more yucky boy stuff to experience. Maybe Anna Grace would have wanted to throw and eat rocks at that age, but I sure don't remember it. This seems like a whole new deal...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Outstanding among ten thousand

One of my favorite films of all time is an adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel Contact. As an American astrophysicist and advocate of humanism, the late Sagan has purported that "We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself." I appreciate Sagan's contributions to his fields of expertise, but I couldn't disagree with him more. Ironically, the film that was patterned from his book about a partially fulfilled quest to find extraterrestrial life drew me closer to the Creator of the cosmos and the only way for the cosmos- me included- to know anything.

It kind of struck me tonight that the scene from this movie that moved my heart the most was a dim picture of what it will be when we really see and when we really know the beauty of the Creator. It's a little long and to be clear, what I'm really talking about really starts at 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the clip and runs for about a minute. The film's main character brilliantly portrayed by Jodi Foster is moved to babbling wonder as she gazes at beauty she could have never imagined. "I had no idea," is one of her only retorts.

I don't think I have any idea about the beauty of Jesus. He is so holy. So completely other.

"My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand." Song of Songs 5:10

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Patty Cake and Pavlov

We think that Anna Grace and Benjamin may have had the best day of their little lives. The morning brought pancakes with sprinkles followed by a live performance of Miss Patty Cake followed by an Easter egg hunt. Chick-fil-A for lunch with ice cream
cones to top it off was next and then a rough and tumble birthday party at a gymnastics facility with more ice cream and cake to follow. No naps, lots of playing, laughing, running, and general bliss.
How we love our friend Benjamin!

We were thinking that maybe if we just throw enough fun stuff at them whenever they get together, eventual love and marriage would be inevitable a la Pavlov's dogs. We're schemers. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's always something

Our friends the Harrigans are coming for a visit this weekend and I can't explain the strangeness that happens every time we try to get our families together. Every time. No matter what- someone is always sick and we end up pushing through, but having to deal with issues of contagion.

This time, Lydia has the stomach virus. No one else has it yet and we're praying that no one else will.

Anna Grace has her own issue. I've diagnosed her with congenital trigger thumb aka acquired thumb flexion contracture. On a positive note, it doesn't really bother her too much and it's not something she's going to pass around. We're going to meet with a hand doctor tomorrow, so we'll see what he says.

In the meantime, we'll pray that no one else gets attacked by this very weird phenomenon.

Addendum: Anna Grace was officially diagnosed with the aforementioned affliction by a hand surgeon. She'll have surgery sometime this spring at Shriner's Hospital for Children. It's a very simple procedure and no big deal. When Jack asked her about it when she got home from the doctor, she nonchalantly said, "Well, I'm going to have some more surgery..." (referring to her tonsillectomy last year). She's a funny one.

A spirit of prayer

While visiting my grandfather in the hospital on Tuesday, I was really moved by my grandfather's faith and the spiritual heritage which I have inherited.

My family- myself included- sometimes has a tendency to smile and nod when we're not sure if he's really coherent or not, but this time, my heart just knew that it was the outflow of my grandfather's heart and not just stream of consciousness type thoughts of a dozing patient.
He wanted to sing old hymns and he wanted to pray. That's all. It was difficult to discern his muffled words through the high-flow face mask delivering oxygen with a high squeal, but I caught a few phrases here and there. "Not my will, Lord, but yours." "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." His faith was a testimony and a blessing to me. He is living in submission to the authority of the King. He is living in the knowledge of a God who will come and make things right again- who will abolish death and suffering in all its forms. He is living with a spirit of prayer.

Grandpa has been moved to a long-term acute care unit and is doing better. I walked with him last night about 10 feet. It looks like God's will is for healing and restoration.

PS- The picture is my Gran, Granpa and a sweet little chunk of a baby Anna Grace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Zeke thinks of a sippy cup

Sometimes he'll cooperate if it's water or juice, but if the contents are milk- forget it.
It gives me visions of his first day of middle school with backpack and bottle in tow. I guess we'll get there...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Oil of Gladness

My grandfather is really sick and in the hospital this morning. I don't feel well and Zeke and I didn't get much sleep last night, but for the past couple of days I've been praying for the oil of gladness over my family and I can kind of see it.

It's my grandfather's glad heart in his hospital bed leading my grandmother, mom, and aunt in "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." It's having all my family together. It's my friend Rendi bringing dinner last night and my mom, sister, and brother laughing at the kids and just being a family. It's Anna Grace making her homogenous eight "get well" cards and picking out flowers just for Grandpa. It's getting to spend three hours alone with my Grandpa on Friday night. It's the coming together and the leaning on one another and the gladness amidst not-so-good circumstances imparted by God.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who morn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting for the Lord for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's the future

Haven't you ever been at the gym and thought about all the collective energy being expended there and at gyms all over America? I've often thought it's such a waste- there should at least be a way to power the lights or something with all those running feet and straining biceps. According to this article, seems like somebody was with me on that and has actually been working on it. Maybe one day I can run down the road and at least power my ipod as I go.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

One day soon

Can't say he's not trying...

Rha Rha Carolina-Lina

Not only did Jack agree to take the night to go out with me to Anna Grace's school's silent auction event, but he took me to Columbia Cafe afterward for a quiet dessert and coffee. Kahlua expresso creme brulee- yummy. All this while the UNC v. Duke basketball game was playing out. As I sit on the couch in my pj's watching the DVR'ed game with my sports enthusiast, my heart knows that this is love.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

These Things are good Things

I don't know these babies, but I found this picture and thought it was kind of funny. For those of you who aren't familiar with Thing One and Thing Two, they are crazy characters who fly kites and destroy dresses and make a mess in the story of Dr. Seuss' classic, The Cat in the Hat.

We spent the afternoon at Nana's house today and Anna Grace enjoyed the extensive collection of vintage Dr. Seuss. Nana has them all and more. Actually, she has sort of her own children's library. It's awesome. Her books all seem strangely familiar to me as I guess they should- they all have "Candace Dent" stamps or "Jennifer" in careful cursive or a make-shift "check out" slip homemade by the girls (and boy) who enjoyed them all.

I'm glad she didn't throw those books out or give them away. My mom is actually really good about that kind of stuff. Anna Grace has so many smocked and hand-made dresses that her aunts or I wore. Nana's house is full of vintage Fischer Price of all the classics and a huge trunk full of dress up clothes collected over years of Halloween costumes, school plays, and miscellaneous fashion oddities. I guess she had been preparing to be a grandmother all along. She's so smart, that Nana.

The Tree of Life

Okay, so I got my good news. Zeke and I are hanging out at mom's, he's taking a nap, so I log in to check out what my friends are up to. I had seen the Quinn's post about St. Patrick, but hadn't watched the video. I highly recommend that you do. It's so simple, but it was such a good reminder. Even though there is death and suffering all around me, there is hope. It just won't go on like this forever. Jesus will come and make all things new.

Revelation 22:2 contains a description of the new Jerusalem on the new earth- restored after Jesus has returned and reigned saying, "And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations."

Good news, indeed. Thanks, Quinns. And thanks commenters, for the encouragement.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Incoming golf balls

Last night I had a dream where I was in the middle of a street just kind of staring at a house for some reason when all of a sudden I started getting pelted with golf balls. I was dodging them pretty well and then I realized that they weren't coming from yonder golf course, but from some kids who were sitting on a front porch and aiming for me.

I think I'm feeling like I'm getting hit from all sides. First, I have some kind of mystery nausea and vomit illness that strikes when and where it pleases. Then, we find out our furnace is broken and needs replacing. Then, I find out that my grandmother's cancer is back. Then, my grandfather was admitted to the hospital today with pneumonia and some other cardiac complications. Then, daycare called and Zeke has a temperature of 103. Then, I found out that my uninsured next door neighbor has been in and out of the hospital and has two nodules in his lungs which may or may not be benign.

Is there any good news out there?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

Womb mates

Anna Grace and Zeke have really started to play together. Tonight, the madness that ensued on our family room floor had all four of us in stitches. Zeke was turning in constant circles almost like a cartwheel while Anna Grace rolled around with absolute glee. They have matching chairs now that Anna Grace sets up as the proverbial "fort" for the two of them to crawl through, climb on, and hide in. I find myself constantly reprimanding them that, "somebody's going to get hurt." I'm now that parent.

While I feel like it raises my blood pressure and turns my hair gray at times, my children's growing relationship makes my heart smile. I love it that they take pleasure in each other. I love to see them interact in love and concern- and even interact in crazy unadulterated wildness.

I am so thankful for brothers and sisters.

As a second-born child of four, I've been so thankful- especially lately- for my own sisters and brother. The four of us will always have a special connection- now augmented by the blogging community that has become the Dent family. My brother is the latest addition to the action and I'm so glad. His slant? "So while my sisters bring you the beautiful, profound, and precious in life, I'll endeavor to give you the strange, the obscure, and the mildly amusing." Bring it on, Bro.
(My little sister was telling me that as she got in Jonny's car the other day, she found that he was listening to hours of podcasts on the life and times of Napolean Bonaparte. If anyone can bring us the strange, obscure, and mildly amusing, it's Jonny.)

I think the sibling dynamic can be a microcosm of our functioning in the family of God. Knowing each other and loving each other anyway is how we are to function. We all have our gifts, our weaknesses, and our idiosyncrasies, but the bottom line should always be love- forgetting the hair pulling and the yelling and the hurts and always loving at the end of the day.

Maybe Anna Grace and Zeke will have another sibling and maybe they won't, but one thing's for sure- they'll always have each other.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Zeke's choice

Zeke enjoying his favorite piece of literature. And upside down at that.
He cackles and giggles every time I read about the colors and the babies.
I don't get the joke, but I'm so glad I have such a happy little man.

And as an aside, Z man sported his UNC shirt and saw the tarheels to victory today. Go heels! Love you, Daddy. :)