Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The hard part is the eyeliner

Big day for a little girl. Her ballet class got their recital costumes! Anna Grace was thrilled to be the model for the make-up demonstration. Of course, I had to share.

It's so interesting for me to watch her delight in all of this ballet fun, not having ever participated as a child in anything like this and not really being a "girly" girl myself. But she LOVES it. I found myself tearing up as she performed her dance so gracefully and purposefully in her new costume. I really am not the crying type, but something about watching your child enjoy something so immensely and really do well in it is powerfully moving.

You mommies (and daddies) know what I mean.

A good question

I've realized that I have had two prototypical patient types recently that tell a tale of life. Two patients demographically and diagnostically identical, but completely different attitudes and therefore outcomes.

It's a difficult job, sometimes, getting sick people back on their feet again especially when working with older people who are at the end of their lives- sometimes living on borrowed time and outliving many of their peers. At that point, what do you do? I sometimes think that if I were in my 90s and had had some sort of surgery or illness, I would just want to be left alone and would contentedly prefer to live out my days looking out the window waiting for my "day" to come.

But patient #1 has been an inspiration to me. She greets me everyday with a warm smile as her face lights up the way it probably has for years. She jokes and laughs at herself, working through the pain and she does all she can to get back to doing the stuff of life as a mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother. Her joy in spite of the circumstances is almost palpable and infectious.

Patient #2 tries to muster a congenial smile when we meet, but her demeanor quickly heads south upon mention of mobilization of any sort. Her pain consumes her, everyone is out to get her, and she doesn't care. She wants to die. (I've been told this several times by several patients). It's intense hopelessness.

Of course, I'm speaking from a total lack of experience. I've never been in their shoes and I've not experienced the pain. And I'm not trying to downplay the pain. Someone dear to me is in overwhelming pain as I type which burdens my heart tremendously. I think it's good to yearn for deliverance and freedom from the pain and certainly for the resurrection life to come.

But to give up all hope and all peace and all care for others is something quite different. It's almost palpable as well- a rage that spews out of listless helplessness.

I thank God that the joy of patient #1 is available to us because of Jesus' saving grace. I pray for patient #2, for physical healing as a sign of the renewal of life that is available through our gracious Messiah. I pray for joy, for revelation, and for a break-through in her life.

Like I said, it's not always an easy job, but it's probably really good for me on many levels- serving and learning at the feet of patient #1 while interceding for patient #2. I'm sure we all have these kinds of people in our lives whether we interact with them at the office or the clinic or the classroom or the play group- you name it.

One of the physical therapists I work with has a question above her desk that has convicted me almost every time I read it. "Have you prayed for your patients today?"

Good question.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Enormous praise

Video #1: Anna Grace's exclamation about the alligator spotted in Aunt KK's back pond.
Video #2: When asked how church was today, Zeke clapped his hands and put his hand up in the air. It became our "praise God!" sign. Too cute. Jack's comment? "He's charismatic."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An outing and a birthday

It was my nephew William's birthday this weekend, so we headed south for the festivities and squeezed in a trip to the Audobon Zoo in New Orleans.

I'm very glad we got to join in celebrating little William's life. Happy birthday little one! It's always great to head down to south Louisiana to see so much family. We got to see PawPaw Zeke, Jonny, Ginger, Amy, Will, KK, and William. And Anna Grace had original art ready for all. It was great.

A couple of thoughts linger:

1. How did God think of the drama of a peacock's feather-spread dance?

2. I don't know what the connection is, but when God created animals, He brought them to Adam to let him name them all. Kind of interesting that that is what captivates a child's interest at the genesis of their own little lives. Is that a coincidence?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lemonade stands fill the air?

You can tell that this is not off the cuff, but a requested performance. It's just funny because she has been enthralled by the Shirley Temple songs that I've found on YouTube. She loves it.
Of course she does. To my little girl, there's just nothing better than a good song and dance.

Moses with a blackberry

Randy Bohlender's blog was great encouragement for me yesterday- a reminder to walk by faith and not by sight. Thought I'd share...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day ruminations

As Christians, I think we come to Earth Day with slightly different motivations than our secular friends and neighbors- those motivations being more about stewardship than sustainability. Although sustainability really is good for consideration, ultimately we know that true sustainability comes only through the One who created everything in the first place.

It's interesting and strange to watch dialogue about global warming unfold among the Christian community. Why Earth care is not a major concern of the Church doesn't make sense to me. We believe (or at least I do) that Jesus will come back and restore and renew, but nevertheless, this Earth will remain (see Ephesians 1:9-10). Therefore, it's important that we are responsible with what God gives us- not just with relationships, talents, gifts, abilities, and time, but also with the physical resources with which He's blessed us.

All that being said, I admit that I have not done very well in doing my part. I like to talk about it, but it's so difficult for me to implement the things that I need to implement to be a more responsible Earthly resident.

So my Earth Day resolution is to go out and buy some fluorescent bulbs. I guess it's at least a start.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bad milk scenario

I don't know if you can see what's going on here in our refrigerator from this picture or not, but this is what Jack dubbed our "bad milk scenario." Frosty stalagmites of frozen milk. Lovely.

He gave it the funny name but didn't clean it up. At least he's always good for a laugh. It really is one of the reasons I love my husband- his sense of humor. He's a really funny guy. Turning something like this into something to laugh about isn't always easy- especially for me.

So thanks, honey, for making me smile this time and all the other times you've turned "bad scenarios" into laughable ones.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The next great city of the south?

Jack alerted me to the above slogan on Shreveport's official website. Although I really hope and pray that this affirmation is a prophetic utterance, I remain skeptical considering the current state of our city. Shreveport is more known for corruption and crime than culture and charisma. Next great city of the south? Maybe, but I'm still pondering that one...

All that being said, Shreveport really is a great city of the south for our little family. It may not have the diversity or diversions of a lot of other places, but I can't imagine raising our little ones anywhere else.

It was a clear, cool Saturday, so this afternoon, my mom and I sipped cokes and visited as we gently glided back and forth in the swing in her screened-in porch. After the kids woke up from a long nap, we went to BB and Pop-Pop's house and further enjoyed the weather and each other. Toddlers on tricycles, babies dancing, sausage on the grill, and cold drinks over conversation... it was great.

Shreveport may get nasty hot in August and it may not be the most beautiful, most attractive locale in the world, but it's home. And there's much to be said for popping in for dinner (or an afternoon chat) at grandma's house.

Ben Stein's movie

So we went to see Expelled last night. Of course, I loved it.

It wasn't really about scientific theories of intelligent design as much as it was about freedom of inquiry in the academic arena. And it was about the fear and rage that comes against anything that challenges Darwinian dogma.

At one point during an interview with a evolutionist, the interviewee adamantly railed repeatedly that he couldn't imagine anything more boring than a God creating the universe. It was just mind-blowingly boring. Seriously? What is that about?

Anyway, it's worth the time and money. Check it out.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

His head is purest gold- part two

As AG was bathing tonight, she decided it would be funny to suck up some water and spit it in my face. When I told her that was never okay and that she was to sit in time out after she got dressed, the crying and negotiating attempts began. When I didn't budge and she was headed to time out, she looked at me with a scowl and said, "Mommy, you always have bad ideas!"

I can understand. She doesn't want to sit in a corner by herself without entertainment, but what she doesn't really know is that I'm doing this for her good- because I love her. She needs to know that she's not going to get far in life without respecting and loving others and spitting in someone's face is neither respectful nor loving. I really want to teach her about consequences of such behavior and ultimately how to love other people.

But I can still understand. I know throughout my life, I've had circumstances when I don't understand the goodness in obedience to what God tells us is good. I didn't (and sometimes don't) understand what God is telling me to do. But I'm learning that His way is the best way. It leads to life abundant. It's better than anything I could conjure up on my own.

He's given us boundaries because He loves us- not because He wants to be mean or He wants us to miss out on some sort of fun. He really gives us boundaries because He wants what is best for us. His leadership is good. His head is purest gold.

"This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would flow like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

"My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is purest gold..." Song of Songs 5:10-11

See also Psalm 19:7-11, Proverbs 3:5-6, Joshua 1:8

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Treated at the Circle K

I went to pick up a caffeine free diet coke at the Circle K tonight. It was one of those times that I really wanted a coke, but I knew that if I drank a caffeinated beverage, I'd be up all night. So I went down the street.

My total was $1.35, so as I was searching deep in my change pocket for the nickels and dimes necessary, I missed what was going on. When I looked up, the guy behind me had already paid for me. So nice, you didn't have to do that, etc...

A quick I know and your welcome and that was it.

It's such a small thing, but a great way to put a smile in someone's heart. Maybe I'll give it a try sometime...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beware of gerbil

For the past couple of days, Anna Grace has been lamenting the passing of her class' pet gerbil, Raspberry. He died, she tells me. I haven't figured out the how or why part, but he is no longer with us and it's been bothering my little one.

This afternoon, Jack was recounting the ride to drop her off this morning. He said that she was again talking about Raspberry's death which led to her questioning her own mortality. When Jack told her that yes, we will all die, she became upset to the point of tears. He hastily explained, however, the hope that we have in Jesus, and that Jesus has overcome death and that if we believe in Him, we will live with Him in heaven until He returns to earth, etc...

She quietly pondered all this for a while.

A few minutes later, she grinned and warned her daddy, "When we get to heaven, don't pet Raspberry because he will bite you!"

I love it.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:15

Monday, April 14, 2008

Our bundle of joy

The video doesn't completely represent the joy that some of Zeke's favorite things bring to his life (i.e. his lovie and playing peek-a-boo), but you get the idea. He sometimes covers just one eye and half of his face to "hide." And as soon as he's handed his silky soft lovie, all sadness fades with contented thumb sucking. He's a walking, waving, clapping, signing bundle of joy at the Chaney house and it's so fun to watch him grow.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Celebrating Lucy

It's always a fun thing to celebrate new life!
Dearest Lucy: We wish you many blessings for a healthy delivery, an easy adjustment to life outside the womb, and a new life full of joy, peace, and love.
We love you already, little one!

His head is purest gold

"My lover is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand,
his head is purest gold..."
Song of Songs 5:10-11

The references in scripture to Jesus' headship- His governing role over His people are many. He is the Messiah- the One promised to crush the head of Satan as in Genesis 3:15 and he is the King of kings as in Revelation 19:6. This one theme of the Kingdom is found over and over everywhere in between. And His head is purest gold.

What does that really mean?

I've been thinking about it a lot- pondering the government of God. My friend, John Harrigan, has a vast amount of finished and unfinished teaching and revelation on the subject, and I've really come to see that the government of God is first of all real and second of all perfect. (So much of what to follow is thoughts and reflections on what the Lord has taught me through J. Harrigan. Thanks, friend.)

Our experience of government in this world is less than perfect. And by government, I mean the simplest kind that can be found in all relationships- from king and subjects to boss and employees to parent and child. We live, work, and relate within the context of governments with self-seeking leaders yeilding deleterious consequences all the way down the chain. For example, businesses look out for their bottom line instead of the good of it's employees and clients, parents seek ways in which their children can fulfill their hopes and dreams instead of discerning what is truly best for their kids, legislators fill bills with pork for their own gain, and marriages fall apart because a spouse is captive to another's self seeking agenda. The examples in our world are endless because without the knowledge of God, we are captive to sin.

However, the basic framework of all human government is based on the existential reality of the government of God because we were made in His image. We get this system from Him. In the beginning, He created and it was good. He put Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them tree of life- the free gift of living under His authority which brings life and perpetual well being. He also placed in the garden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of this tree, they essentially rejected the authority of God and instead trusted in themselves to make decisions on what is good and what is evil (moral autonomy is the Harriganism). And it all when downhill from there...

But, being the kind and good and awesomely merciful God that He is, the King died- gave up His life- so that justice could be served and grace could abound. John put it something like this- that the infinite damage that we have caused by our sins was atoned for by the death of God's Son of infinite worth.

Yes. He is the King of kings. And all praise be to God for that. I want that man ruling and reigning over me because He is good. He is love. He rules for the well being of the whole- even unto death. This King loves His subjects. His head is purest gold.

Psalm 10:16-18 “The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You hear, O Lord, the desire of the
you encourage them, and you listen
to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the
earth, may oppress no more.”

Ephesians 1:9-10
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

(see also Philippians 2:9-11)

Art by venita salnajs

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Three years

I was reading my friend Kayla's blog today about her son Bright's birthday. I'll never forget our small group in Kentucky invading the Rupp's hospital room as we celebrated the completion of our first round of baby blessings. It was one of those moments for me where you realize that life is whizzing by.

Three years ago, we were in Kentucky, had a six month old baby girl, and no had no idea that a move to Shreveport was in our future. We had no idea that Jack would be doing what he's doing now. We had no idea that we would have a baby boy, too. We just had no idea.

And now, here we are and we have no idea what we'll be up to in three more years- God only knows. But I do know that His plans are good. He is faithful. He has sustained us and He will sustain us. He's knocked our socks off with these past three...

So happy birthday, Bright! May the next three years be full of joy, peace and love. We love you!

Good for something

I was perusing Jack's Sporting News when I came across an article on Samaritan's Feet- an organization whose mission is to send shoes to impoverished children all over the world in the name of Jesus. The magazine was just sitting right next to me- they're all over the house and I pick one up every now and then and almost always put it right back down after a couple of flips. But it intrigued me today. This was a really neat article- a great example of someone leveraging their influence in the world for God's glory. The mission of the organization is "[to] bring shoes to the ends of the earth in the Name of Christ who changes lives." What a great way to spread His love.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank you Mr. Strauss

It's finally happened- I've found a replacement go-to pair of jeans. You know that pair that you just keep going back to? Not too small, not to big- just right. Comfortable. Like an old friend. I tend to have a pair that I wear as my go-to pair for about two years and then it's just over. My last go-to pair now has a hole in an inopportune place, so they're now retired. I bought a new pair not long ago and was unsure about how it was going to turn out. You never know. Even if you try them on, you never know. But after my third day of wear and wash, the comfort is unmatched and my affinity for this new pair is high. I have great plans for this pair of jeans. I have found them and it feels great. So you can go to bed tonight and sleep well knowing that I have found my new go-to jeans. I know you were concerned...

And PS- what's up with calling them a "pair" of jeans anyway?
It's just one jean. Isn't it??

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sweet eyes and scribbles

I had something to do tonight and came home to crayons and coloring pages strewn all over the dining room. Anna Grace is all about art right now. We went out tonight with Jack's parents and grandparents and Anna Grace just sat quietly (for the most part) at the table of the restaurant happily coloring with the four crayons provided. She loves it.

As anyone with a little one knows, this is not always the case. It's more often the case that the crayons have just a good of a chance ending up on the floor, in the mouth, or up the nose with a toddler. It's so fun to see Anna Grace enter this new fascination with art- bringing purpose and meaning to her strokes instead of the wildness of her younger days.

Now I know she's no Picasso (at least not yet), but I just marvel at the fun of watching your little one learn and grow.

I was blown away today when Zeke clearly pointed to his nose when his BB asked him where it was. I can't help but stare and smile when he gives her "sweet eyes" or mimics an expression. It baffles me that he's actually been listening to me when I've explained to him over and over what body part is which.

Parenting is so exhausting and so rewarding. It gives you such a clear picture of the love of the Father- his heart toward us, how He loves us. What an adventure...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mustard greens and banana smoothie anyone?

This is a "green smoothie" most likely made of some sort of combination of spinach, celery, bananas, and flaxseed oil. Sound enticing? To at least one toddler in America, apparently it does.

Every now and then, I check in on a recommended blog and got connected to this one. Apparently, this two year old is a raw vegan. Only fresh, uncooked fruits and veggies for this little guy. No crackers, no cookies- none of that. Green smoothies are apparently a treat.

I have no idea how his mom and dad pull it off, but I certainly applaud the passion and devotion to this way of life. I'm sure this little one is much better off without the french fries and cupcakes
that my children will inevitably consume throughout their childhood and beyond. I usually don't even attempt to fight the eating battle, choosing instead to save my energy for character development and lessons in values, but this got me thinking. Eating healthfully and taking care of our bodies is a value that we do want to instill in our children, so maybe I'll start making more of an effort. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't dream of getting anywhere close to a smoothie made of collard greens, but maybe I'll stand my ground on a bite or two of green beans with the spaghetti or serve up blueberries and bananas for dessert instead of ice cream. I guess if I can't serve up a "mock tuna salad" made of sunflower seeds and scallions, it's the least I can do...

I Corinthians 6:20 "... honor God with your body."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Outstanding among ten thousand- part three

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

"O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"
Psalm 8:1-4

When I was little, I remember on one of our camping trips to central Arkansas going out on Lake Greeson on my uncle's boat at night. My cousins and siblings all piled on the boat to go star gazing. I don't think I had ever before or ever since seen the stars that way. It was completely dark, completely serene, and completely awesome. The stars were so many and so vast that the white-blue glow of the stars became hazy at points in their glorious clusters.

How can the Creator care for us? How is it possible that we are the center of His affections? He is so big, so powerful and yet He is mindful of us. He's got the big picture and the details. He set the stars in their place and he knows the number of hairs on my head. Amazing.

I've been told that back in Jesus' day, people would sleep on the roofs of their houses. There must have been something powerful in that. Looking up at the heavens every night must have been a good nightly reminder of the beauty of God as well as our smallness and God's bigness.

He is truly outstanding among ten thousand.

Addendum: If you're an astronomy fan and are interested in more of what God has been up to in the heavens, there is a movie about the star of Bethlehem that is really interesting. It's worth your time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Therapy with bristles

I just realized that sweeping my front porch has become quite therapeutic for me- almost compulsive. Like a smoker going out for a cigarette, I grab my broom and make my escape to rid my walkway of the droppings of the Bradford Pear tree that looms large over my house. Sweep, sweep, brush, brush and my muscles relax into the smooth rhythm of the motion. I love it.

I made a full dinner tonight of pork tenderloin, green beans, scalloped potatoes, and cornbread literally single handed. If I put Zeke down at all this afternoon, the tears flowed and the screaming never stopped. So he stayed attached to my hip until 6:30 when he was quickly ushered into bed.

So when Jack took Anna Grace to the grocery store to get ice cream sandwiches, I grabbed my broom. With the warm breeze at my back and distant sounds of the Lady Jackets' softball game lulling the neighborhood to a quiet spring night, I was in sweeping heaven.

Is it just me? Does anybody else have strange stress relieving habits? Maybe I'm not quite as "type B" as I always thought...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Can you really teach an old dog a new trick?

After some reflection, I decided not to wait until my next thousand years. I thought that maybe I would call my brother and start my guitar lessons now. So I had my first lesson tonight with Jonny.

It was great.

I fumbled around, but with great concentration, I was arpeggioing (is that a word?), working out some scales, and even strumming a song or two. I really don't know where I'll find the time to practice, but this is good. Even tonight as I was processing things, I came across a simple word that spoke encouragement to my heart for this new venture of mine: "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19)- a mission statement for my musical labors.

Jonny and I had a great time and he is a really good, kind, talented, and patient teacher. It warmed my heart having him over to guide me through it all. He's so much like my dad that it's almost like he was there with us. Thanks, bro. You can say you knew me when... :)

Stirring the pot

The Bristers (Jack's cousin Alison and husband Erick) posted today about the raging dynamics of the evolutionism v. creationism debate while my sister posted about the delusions of a post-modern and anthropocentric worldview. Thanks for keeping it interesting, guys! Love the discussion.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood..." (Ephesians 6:12)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Weeble wobble

He's walking more than he's crawling now, so I guess we're on the verge of toddlerhood. Fun stuff!