Saturday, May 31, 2008

In Honor of Lottie Lee and James Allister

We spent a gorgeous East Texas summer day at a family reunion of my dad's mother's parents (my great grands). We gathered as nine extended families (each wearing a distinctive color) coming from the nine siblings of these two great-great grandparents of my own children.

It was a large gathering complete with BBQ and iced tea- hugs and nostalgia. We had to leave early with a little one who was long overdue for a nap, but I couldn't help but think as we drove down the gravel road toward town and then on to I-20 about Lottie and Al Morris- what they would have thought about the gathering of the day.

I know I would be so proud of my kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids. There was no contention, no strife and most importantly- there was a tangible Spirit of love. There were the twenty something cousins talking about how the Lord is leading them around the world for missions, the strong marriages of the families represented, the healthy and happy children running around in the front yard, the organized and beautiful granddaughter who had mobilized this effort to gather the family, and there was a group prayer offered with hands clasped, all giving thanks to God for the food and for each other out of sincere reverence and thankfulness to a faithful God throughout these generations.

What a thought that one day my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren would gather in my memory to celebrate the gift of family. What blessing, what success it would be to know that my children walked in the ways of God and knew Him.

What a legacy. Thanks, Lottie and Al Morris. And thank you, Lord, for your blessing and love that extends to a thousand generations to those who love you and keep your commandments. (Exodus 20:6)

Friday, May 30, 2008

His head is purest gold- part five

If you watch the movie, there is a more extensive scene on the inner-workings of a cell that is extraordinary. It reminded me of my college human physiology classes. I was every now and then struck with the wonder of the human body- the complexity and the genius of our function and form. My neurophysiology and neurotraumatology classes in grad school amazed me even further- of what we knew, but more than that- the extent to which we have yet to understand and discover the nerve center that is our brain.

When I think about His head being purest gold, I can't help but think of his thoughts being higher than our thoughts and His ways being higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8). It was creative brilliance that brought about this world that we have only begun to understand. I don't know that any Bible commentators have attributed this passage to His imagination, His processing, or His ideation, but it is truly gold. To have thought of the engineering of a mitochondria, the beauty of a live oak tree, and the efficiency of our kidneys is beyond our realm. It can boggle the mind.

"His head is purest gold." Song of Songs 5:11a

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seven years

It was seven years yesterday that I was standing in front of God and my witnesses, pledging my love and devotion- better or worse, sickness or health, good times or bad- to Jack Chaney.

How time flies.

We didn't really get to celebrate yesterday with it being a Tuesday after a busy weekend and after a busy day of work and the rigors of life. (Although we did go to lunch together at Monjuni's for an eggplant po-boy- does that count?) So today I'm taking the time to celebrate in my own blogging way the marriage that is ours.

Our story together actually began back in twelfth grade. In 1994. We kind of grew up together in a way and we more or less have been together ever since.

In these years with Jack, we've had our share-maybe more than our share- of hard times, but today I say that the leadership of the Lord is good. His head is purest gold. I'm so glad He led me down that isle to this man as my partner through life. Jack is so good for me in so many ways and I am so grateful for his love- even through the hard times.

On Monday, he bought a whole gob of bing cherries. In fact, I think he made a special trip to the grocery store for these cherries. As we usually save this pitted treat for a July 4th tradition, I inquired on the reasoning of the purchase. He responded in informing me that, "I'm expanding the role of the Bing cherry in your life, Candace. It's now a summer tradition. BING!!!!"

I'm so thankful for the way he expands my world.

Happy Anniversary, husband of mine. Here's to a lifetime of ups and downs (and bing cherries) shared together.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sure to become a summer favorite

Fountains in downtown Shreveport on the Red River

Kate Chaney

When Kate comes in town, you know that there is fun around the corner. It seems like my sister-in-law carries with her some sort of enigmatic surprise that will be revealed at her convenience. Whether she's trying on pink rhinestone cowgirl hats or striking a pose, she's sure to deliver on the fun factor. Armed with a babysitter, we enjoyed some time with Kate and Patrick downtown after dinner with the fam. After coaxing me and Jack to take a "crazy pic" (which will not be posted), she kind of muttered to herself, "see... I always bring the fun." (Or something like that). Love that Kate Chaney.

Mudbug Madness

With an emphasis on the madness on Friday night when we braved it with the kids. I am reminded every now and then that it's still a bit of a challenge managing a three year old and a one year old in large public events.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Passion in Paris

The fun thing for me and Jack about having lived in five different cities during our ten year Shreveport hiatus is that we've left a web of really great friends all over the country. Let me tell you about the Rifes.

Lauren and I were connected at Auburn early on in our freshman year and lived together pretty much throughout our Auburn experience. A Memphis native, she settled in Atlanta after graduating where she met her husband and has since had a beautiful little girl and now has one on the way. She's one of those friends. The kind who, even though you rarely get to catch up, when you do its like you haven't skipped a beat. Thankfully, our husbands have a great time together and we've enjoyed Chaney-Rife reunions that we try to create yearly. I snapped this picture of my friend as she rode off into the sunset with her new husband, Matt, four years ago. It's not the best picture, but I love these two and I wanted to share what God is doing with my friends and to share their prayer requests. And I think this picture is a type of what God wants to reveal to the world through them- passion. He is a Bridegroom who delights in and longs for his beautiful Bride and our response should be and will be passion for Him. (see Ephesians 5:31-32)

Lauren and Matt are really neat people who are joining in a move of God throughout the world and are giving of their time and energy to pursue Him wholeheartedly. So say a prayer for Lauren and Matt and the team who are bringing a Passion for God to Paris on June 3.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Its funny

Me and Jack have really enjoyed "pointing out" unusual and incorrect use's of quotation marks. Looks like these two guys find disdain in all kind's of punctuation errors. This ones real good.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

His head is purest gold- part four

As I was cleaning up and putting away all manner of things tonight, I noticed Anna Grace's purple flip-flops on the kitchen floor- the ones she had told me that she had put in her closet. Uh-oh (as Zeke would say).

So I had some choices. There's the easy way out. That is, not to say anything and quietly put them away for her. Then there's the hard way. To go through the rigmarole of time out and tears. I chose neither way. I chose mercy.

So I confronted AG with my disappointment. I impressed upon her the seriousness of lying and the detrimental effects it can bring. And in a moment that turned wide-eyed sadness into relief and hope, I told her that she deserved time out and no TV show, but instead if she put up her shoes quickly, this could serve as a warning.

Her response: "This time I get mercy?" I guess you can tell this has happened before.

Don't get me wrong. I will administer proper justice if she repeats her error and I don't know that this was the wisest choice for this fledgling momma to make, but there is something inside of me that loves mercy.

It may be partly selfish in avoiding the unpleasantness of time-out, but it may be part of the Father's heart in me. In Micah 6:8, we are commanded to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God," and in Ephesians 2:4, we are reminded that God has "great love" and is "rich in mercy." And then there's the goodness and mercy of Psalm 23 that comes from the Lord as our shepherd.

In meditating upon how the Lord leads us- that His head is purest gold (Song of Songs 5:11a)- I thought of Psalm 23. It's difficult for those of us who grew up in church (for obvious reasons), but if we can break through the sing-song meter of the words in our heads, we really get an idea about what His leadership is like.

Specifically, tonight I was thinking about the goodness and the mercy that follows us when we choose Him as our good shepherd. And the funny thing is that this "mercy" is translated differently in our English bibles. I am no etymological expert and am totally ignorant of Hebrew, but I can tell that there's something about this word because in the NIV it's translated as "love," the NLT uses "unfailing love," and the NAS inserts "lovingkindness" while the KJV and ESV use the "mercy" that we all learned in third grade Sunday school.

So it seems that His love and His mercy are somehow connected- all part of His big, beautiful, holy heart for us.

And I'm so glad to have a Shepherd who loves me and desires to show mercy to me. I need the mercy. I have no hope without it.

"His head is purest gold." Song of songs 5:11a

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It was amazing... in a bad way

When I walked in Zeke's room this morning, I heard happy sounds, but smelled oh-so-unhappy smells. When the lights came on, I froze up at the sight of poop covering my little one from head to toe. It was all over his pajamas and blankets- everything. It was even in his hair! It was as if a poop bomb had exploded in his crib.

It was one of those things where you just kind of have to laugh and move on and deal with it. We had to disinfect and clean and give our little guy a bath amidst exclamations of unbelief at the extent of the mess. I don't know that he's ever had a bath first thing in the morning, but there was no getting around it today.

It was absolutely disgusting. But kind of funny.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where's it going?

There was an article about Shreveport in the New York Times today (thanks for the link, John). Interesting stuff having been born in raised in this boom town of ours.

My family has strong roots in this town- my grandmother went to the same highschool whose softball field you can see from my kitchen window, my great grandparents lived about 1 mile away from where I live now (on Olive St.) in the 2o's, the members of my family who graduated from Centenary College may be too many to count, and even I, as my parents before me, tied my own knot with Jack in Brown Chapel on the campus of aforementioned college (named for my great-grandfather, Paul Brown).

I took a ten year break from my hometown for college, grad school, and my husband's seminary stint, but here I am again- and it seems like I'm here for the long haul. And I like it. Just Saturday, I was eating fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade and banana pudding cheesecake at Bella Fresca with my mom and siblings while singing the praises of Shreveport life. It certainly has its problems and it doesn't have it all, but it's home.

So it's just interesting to hear other people discuss Shreveport. It's interesting to have been here then and to be here now and to be a part of the future of this place.

David Carr, in his NY Times article said, "The backlot of Shreveport, already rich in lore, may be picking up a few new characters and a twist in the plot," in reference to the movie-making explosion and the Haynesville Shale gas-finding excitement.

What is going on in Shreveport? What is my role in it all? What is this plot-twisting that is going on? What is God doing in this place? How is He using it for His purposes? How will He use it in the future?

Carr also talks about an "air of expectation, as if the circus might suddenly crest a hill and bring all manner of hoopla."

I'm feeling the expectation, but not for the circus.

Like I said, it's just interesting...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Mistake

Jack's time-delayed birthday present included a trip to Dallas to see their major league soccer team (FC Dallas) take on David Beckham's LA Galaxy team. And no, I didn't see Posh Spice, but I did pick up some ultra-big sunglasses at Walgreens for $5.99 that were reminiscent of Mrs. Beckham. It was actually really fun. The video is the lively and enthusiastic fans behind us- my favorite part of the experience.

So on the way to the big D, Ira Glass' This American Life (a fabulous and always fascinating program, by the way) featured a piece entitled "Mistakes Were Made," in which William Carlos Williams' poem was parodied. So here's one for you, Jack. Happy Sports Birthday.

This Is Just To Say- FC Dallas in Frisco Style

I have forgotten
the sunblock
that was in our room

and which
you probably could have used
to shield yourself from
the glaring sun
on this cloudless day

Forgive me
it was so easy drive away without it
so cozy was I
in my passenger seat with
my Tempurpedic pillow

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The big debut

My little ballerina clapped her hands and jumped up and down with high pitched squeals when told that the day had finally come- today was her recital day. She performed beautifully- front and center- and seemed to enjoy everything about being on stage. She also enjoyed all the flowers and the pancakes and chocolate milkshake at Strawn's after the show. I think this was probably the first of many recitals for the Chaney family. Anna Grace was made a singing, dancing performer.

May she always dance for the her King and Creator- the One who loves her the most.
"Let them praise his name in dance..." Psalm 149:3

The video is of the dress rehearsal since no pictures were allowed during the actual performance. Anna Grace was the best... of course! :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Refrigerator Art

Me, in bed, Tuesday night at 7:15 pm. Very tired, feeling ill.

Pitter, patter come the little feet into the bedroom.

Silent eyes peer over the covers to assess mommy's state of mind.

A quiet minute passes.

Pitter, patter again. Out go the little feet.

The next morning a rainbow Aubie marks the exact spot my feet hit the floor each morning.

A quiet gesture of love for an Auburn mommy and a sweet yet silent "war eagle" as an encouraging note from my dedicated (albeit multi-committed) Tiger fan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Utmost for His Highest

Hello blog-o-sphere, Captain Jack here.

Candace went to bed early this evening, tonight's sports are less than compelling, it's the night before Lost-office-palooza, and I've got an hour to kill, so I decided to get a little crazy and post on the TLLOM (pronounced Tee-Lahm) without wife approval. Look out!

My favorite devotional is "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. There is something anointed about Chambers' work and almost weekly, I find that the Lord uses it to fine tune something in my life. Lately, I feel like God has been working on how often I feel "offended" when bad things happen to me. When something bad happens, my natural reaction is to get mad and feel like whatever is happening to me is something that I DO NOT deserve. I then lash out in anger at whoever is around me, causing a chain reaction of collateral damage.

Two weekends ago, our plumbing went out. The shower started backing up, the toilets wouldn't flush, and I literally spent 2 hours trying to fix the problem myself. After giving up in vain (because as you all know, the good Lord did not bless me with the "handyman gene"), I was really, really mad. I was mad at the situation, but my anger spilled over to Candace and the kids. The root of my anger was this - I didn't deserve the plumbing problem and I was mad that I had to fix it. After all, the plumbing problem wasn't really my fault. We live in an old house and somebody else had caused this problem and here I was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon spending two hours of my precious free time trying to fix the stupid toilet and shower. (I'm glad Anna Grace can't read yet, because I would have just been chastised for using one of her three bad words - "stupid". The other ones are "butt" and "hate" in case you were curious.)

This morning, Chambers devotional was called "The Habit of Enjoying the Disagreeable". Chambers writes the following:

"That life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." 2 Corinthians 4:10

We have to form habits to express what God's grace has done in us. It is not a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved in order to manifest the life of the Son of God in our mortal flesh, and it is the disagreeable things which make us exhibit whether or not we are manifesting His life. Do I manifest the essential sweetness of the Son of God, or the essential irritation of "myself" apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy the disagreeable is the keen enthusiasm of letting the life of the Son of God manifest itself in me. No matter how disagreeable a thing may be, say - "Lord, I am delighted to obey Thee in this matter," and instantly the Son of God will press to the front, and there will be manifested in my human life that which glorifies Jesus.

That's a pretty powerful statement from Chambers and it is SO right on. Every disagreeable thing that happens to me affords me the opportunity to manifest the essential sweetness of the Son of God in my mortal flesh. That kind of puts a fresh perspective on all those things that "offend" me throughout the day...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Llamas eating their pajamas?

Anna Grace and one of her BFFs, Madeline, gave us quite a performance Saturday night. I didn't quite capture the American Idol-esque solo that Madeline performed after I turned off the camera, but you can get the picture. There were all kinds of costume changes, ballerina dances, dramatic encounters, and silly songs involved and I think our little ones had a great time.

Oh, and we had six kids in the bathtub after all the playing in the backyard. So much fun and so much dirt!!! It was great! Haley and Gracie, Sam and Zeke, Madeline and Anna Grace- what fun we had...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Props to the moms

What a great day- I've had so much fun on this Mother's Day Saturday of mine. I started out at the Angel Run 5K, a benefit event for Holy Angels residential facility for the disabled, this morning which wound through the in-law's neighborhood. It was pancakes and fun for the kids and I really benefited from my family cheering me on (27:30 was my time for the 3.5 miles- tied my personal record). I was also treated to a new hibiscus plant and some other flowers for my garden by my very thoughtful husband and finished off the night with a cook out with some friends. I got some unexpected Mother's Day cards in the mail and generally had a great day. I don't know that tomorrow can live up to today, but if it doesn't that's okay. Today was just what I needed.

So here's to all the moms out there. Here's to all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into motherhood. Here's wishing you a day of rest, a day of smiles, and a day to know that you are loved and you are a strong and powerful influence upon those under your care. Not everyone may see your dedication and your sacrifice day after day, but God sees it. He knows your heart and in spite of your shortcomings, He loves you and He will be with you to overcome your weaknesses and to be your strength when you have none on your own.

Happy Mother's Day, friends.

(As a side note, I'm so sad I don't have pics of my Shreveport mom friends. So as a special shout out, happy mom's day to Nora, Rendi, and Elizabeth especially. And Lauren in Atlanta. I love you all!)

(Another side note- I got 3rd place in my age group for the race on Saturday! Woo-hoo! I guess it pays to be getting older...)

Sword v. gun

Jack and I are watching Indiana Jones and got a laugh out of this scene. It's totally an analogy of how we come against Satan- he doesn't stand a chance against the Holy Spirit. Sha-zam!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The cyclone

This latest cyclone and its aftermath really hit home last night when CNN's Anderson Cooper was comparing the number of people feared dead with the population of Lafayette, Louisiana, or Green Bay, Wisconsin.

I thought about the mass of humanity that gathers for a SEC football game- my college days in Jordan Hare stadium when 85,000 would gather to watch our Auburn tigers take on its rivals. All those people gone plus 15,000 more.

And the UN is reporting that 1.5 million people have been "severely affected" by the cyclone. I don't know what "severely affected" quite means, but it can't be good. And 1.5 million is about the population of San Antonio, Texas.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around. It's hard to understand the madness of a government unwilling to accept aid. It's hard- and it hurts- to know that there is are mothers and fathers who have lost their children, children who have become orphans, and to imagine the young and old who are displaced, hungry, homeless, and lost.

World Vision
seems to have had some success in getting through and providing aid. My blogging pastor at FBC Shreveport has also posted on the complexities of the issue.

Sometimes there's such a groan that comes up in your spirit that it's hard to even know how to pray. But for now, I'll try to wrap my mind around the desperate situation happening half-way around the world and I'll try to be in prayer for restoration, comfort, and provision over the lives of those "severely affected" in Myanmar. Even as heavy rains are predicted to make a bad situation worse, I will try to pray for God's grace to break out over a ravaged land- even as the rains come that redemption would come for the Burmese Bride.

My little doctor of love

Zeke has been so happy to be mobile. He's got some new kicks (just like daddy's) and he's now on the move. I took him and his sister to the park yesterday and I could actually sit on the bench and watch them go instead of having to hover over my new walker. It was so much fun to watch them go.

There was a gazebo at Columbia Park which AG and Z especially enjoyed. It was mostly just a big enclosed concrete circle with two sets of steps at each end. As AG danced and sang, Z laughed and ran and bounced his little toddler dance every now and then. And when he would get about 5 feet from the stairs, he would go down to a backwards belly crawl and scoot back like a retreating salamander until he was down the stairs safely. I guess he's a "safety first" kind of guy. I'm glad for any and all precautions he'll take considering the colorful bruises he's had on his noggin ever since he started walking.

The videos show his recent fascination with his sister's stethoscope and his "sweet eyes" trick compliments of his BB.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Knowing Smart

Jack and I went to a fund raiser breakfast for the VOA of North Louisiana yesterday.

The testimonies were moving, powerful witnesses to redemption found in Jesus. Amazing stuff.

One testimony came from an older woman who had found herself in a housing crisis. A mortgage rising at exponential rates that she was unable to afford was about to rend her homeless. But a staff member of the VOA helped her through it all and the video showed this older lady watering the flowers in her small country home as she recounted the whole situation. Her sassy remark was, "I can't do smart, but I know smart." It drew a laugh from the crowd. It was really profound, though.

On my own, I can't do smart either. I'm so glad I know Smart.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Song and dance de jour

We have a neighbor who likes to broadcast some smooth jazz. If you listen closely, you can hear it in the background of the second video. But it doesn't bother us- it only inspires brilliant dancing...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Consider Him

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My child birthing hero

Yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky, my dear friend, Korrie Harper, gave birth to an eight pound, one ounce baby girl without any drugs at all. The amazing part? It was her third natural birth in three years.

The way this happens for her blows me away. Her water breaks a few days before the due date, she waits at home for a while, heads to the hospital, and has a baby. Just like that. This latest addition was born during a soak in the tub.

Jack jokes that her spiritual gift is birthing babies. I know he's joking, but I do think that it is a gift and a blessing- a little glimpse of how the process is supposed to work. For so many of us, the process is wrought with complication and confusion and babies that either want to come too early or too late. I thank God for Korrie's baby birthing gift.

Welcome to the world, Clementine Elizabeth Harper! I can't wait to meet you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

His head is purest gold- part three

Jack and I rented Dan in Real Life tonight. What does that have to do with Jesus? I don't know- maybe I read too much into things, but I was just moved and felt compelled to make some connections.

Steve Carrell's portrayal of an advice columnist and widower-dad of three girls brought me glimpses of our future with a teenage daughter (for better or worse), a deep appreciation of family, and a reminder of the importance of parenting in self-sacrificial love.

In one heart-wrenching part of the movie, "Dan" finally asks for forgiveness at the feet of his three girls after having alienated himself and acting out of his own self-interest and fear instead of what was best for them. He sticks to his guns on what matters but reconciles himself to his daughters and is received with love and forgiveness on the part of the girls.

SO OFTEN I get frustrated, I loose my patience, I do what's convenient, I pursue my own agenda instead of remembering that I am to learn patience and love through the trials of parenthood.

I posted before about a child's frustration in understanding the parent. What impressed me tonight was the frustration that comes with discerning how to be the self-sacrificial parent that the child needs.

The hard yet comforting thing is that our God is our holy and perfect example. John the Baptist put it this way, "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30) Or maybe we could draw on mediation of Galatians 2:19, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me." "His head (leadership over me, the way He parents me, governs me) is purest gold." Song of Songs 5:11a

Anyway- it's a good movie. Worth a rental. And PS- I hope that my kids and grandkids do salsa and kickboxing and touch football in the yard at our huge old vacation home where we all eat dinner by candlelight and have talent shows. It just looked really fun.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Little things that bring me great pleasure

1. Running so fast on the treadmill you think you're going to fly off
2. The little green buds of fledgling fruit on my blackberry vines
3. My little boy always pointing to his head when I ask him to point out his nose
4. My favorite character on The Office shoving his face into wet cement while attempting to breath through a straw
5. This picture- Jack has had it on the computer as wallpaper for a couple months and every time I look at it , it just moves me. He googled "cool picture."
6. That very cold and very caustic first sip of a Diet Coke
7. That extended snuggly hug you get when your toddler first wakes up
8. The actual miracle that miracle grow that has performed on my geraniums
9. My husband's compulsion to always make sure dirty dishes don't linger
10. That little click sound that happens when you clip a fingernail