Monday, June 30, 2008

King of the castle

In his big sister's four day absence, Zeke is strutting around the house and jabbering like crazy. I never knew he had so much to say. It's so interesting to get to relive the relative calm of having just one pair of little feet running up and down the halls. It will all be over as we join Jack's parents and AG at the beach in a few days, but Zeke is enjoying his time having Mommy and Daddy all to himself for now. We miss Anna Grace for sure, but it's been a neat time to concentrate our energy and affections on this little pot bellied dude.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I am and He is

I was going through my post-shower routine today at the mirror and as I was thinking about this and that, I just kind of came under some condemnation over how much time I spend on just plain selfish things. From what I'm going to wear tomorrow to what groceries I need to stay fit to what movie we're going to watch tonight, I just kind of got down about how far I have to go in the grand scheme of becoming a selfless lover of God- seeking His kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). I started thinking about how many things of this world are vying for my heart- my own pride being first and foremost. There is a battle to be fought (Ephesians 6:12).

It made me think about something that happened not too long ago. I was talking with an early twenty something guy about (of all things) his love life. He was a friend of a friend and I hardly know him- too long of a story on how I was actually in this situation as I don't usually hang out with young single guys- but he was telling us about this girl who he was falling for and how he was going to lay it all on the table that night. The line he was thinking about using was, "I'm ready to fight for your heart." Good one. If that had come out of my husband's mouth, it would all be over right then.

The thing is-especially as women- our hearts long to be beautiful and captivating- so much so that we invoke a battle for our hearts. But so much of the time, we don't feel beautiful and we spin our wheels trying to find just the right pair of shoes or the most flattering dress in an effort to be beautiful when we already are. A pair of earrings or a designer handbag just can't fill that void and validate us enough to sustain our hearts in the long run. What we fail to remember is that our worth and our beauty is already established and sealed in Jesus.

So my next thought was "I am and He is." I am beautiful and He is ready to fight for my heart. My husband is really good at affirming and loving me, but even more than that, my Creator is head over heels and wages battles for my attention and affection that I may not even see. When I acknowledge my own brokenness and need for redemption, He imparts beauty for my ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3). Real beauty that does not fade or diminish over time (I Peter 3:3-4).

So I am and He is. You are and He is. As we meditate on the reality of His love, may it modify our daily choices and thoughts as we grow in love with the Beautiful One (Psalm 27:4) who so generously imparts His beauty.

Pictured at right is my beautiful mother. May she know the beauty that is hers.

This blogging universe

Seems as though I've been passed an award by my big sis. Thanks, Jenn. And seems as though I am required to pass along my favorites while mentioning the Arte Y Pico blog- the origin of this award. Award rules are as follows (it's a little chain-lettery to me, but I'll go with it since it's easy enough):

In receiving this award there are some rules. You must.....

1. Chose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4. The award winner and one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

My top 5 favorite blogs (I'm excluding immediate family here- and the Rupps since my sister already acknowledged their blogging prowess):

1. Luke 18 Project's Randy Bohlender's blog. Always edifying.

2. Monica Klepac's Small Things blog. Her perspective as a missionary with Word Made Flesh in Romania- living among the poorest of the poor while raising her two precious little boys is always good perspective for me. Keeps it real.

3. My old school friend Emily's Happy Days blog is a great example of a way for a mom to chronicle the life of her children and her photography is outstanding (not to mention the super cute subjects).

4. Lydia Harrigan's All Who Are Thirsty blog is next partly because she's my best friend and partly because she has started blogging about what moves her heart and that is always a powerful thing no matter how many comments you do or don't get.

5. Alison and Eric Brister's The Brister Bunch blog has a certain joie de vivre quality about it and it's especially fun if you're a dog lover.

Rife Life definitely needs an honorable mention, too, as tales from Hapeville, GA and Paris, France keep me up to date on this sweet family.

So there's my list. Enjoy. Here's to the technological wonder that is the blog...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On gratitude

On the days I'm home with the kids, it's nothing but busy until that beautiful time that is nap time. That's when I get my nap time shower. I'm sure many of you mommies can relate. I cannot take it for granted and I am mindfully thankful as I have this time to myself to do something as simple as take a shower. The refreshment that comes with the quiet time alone is so good. Thank you, Lord, for the way you work to refresh our hearts in those small moments of life. I love the busy excitement with kids, but I also love nap time. Thank you, God, for giving our children- and us mommies- a time to rest.

PS- The activity of the morning? Swimming with Aunt KK and cousin William! What fun!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lucy Katherine Powers

Little Lucy made her arrival on Sunday at 8 lbs, 4
oz. Is she cute or what???

There's nothing like the day your little one is born. What a great day. So many things for this little one to see, do, and learn...

Here's to a life full of love, grace, joy, and peace. And here's to some rest and sleep for mommy JennO (Powers). Love you Jenn!

Happy Birthday, Lucy!!!!

But I still love technology

Jack and I have entered the world of Facebook and have discovered the futuristic and really amazing new Firefox application (I think it's called PicLens) where you have all these moving images in a variety of categories that you can drag across a black screen. My favorite is using it for finding world news- like the tallest hotel in the world being built in Pyongyang, North Korea, or seeing a baby beluga being born with my three year old. It is really cool. It's the coolest technology thing I've seen in a while. And I think we're way behind the curve of the Facebook thing, but it's been kind of fun discovering all these new ways to connect with people. However- on the down side- it is a time monster, and a great way to loose track of a half an hour. Especially when you're playing a heated game of Scrabble online with your husband...

Monday, June 23, 2008

I love it, but I hate it

Having a 16-month-old is so fun and so maddening at the same time. It's so amusing to hear new words come out of their mouths and it's such drudgery to clean up such extensive messes over and over again. But the good far outweighs the bad. There's nothing like the one-year-old to two-year-old year. They soak up, process, and store so much information in that little brain of theirs. Fascinating and fun all rolled up into one little person.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

His hair is wavy and black as a raven

As our desktop's screen saver randomly scrolled through the Chaney family pictures the other day, Jack noticed a picture of me showing off our first package of diapers when I was newly pregnant with Anna Grace. It was only four years ago, but Jack quickly pointed out how young I looked. Thanks, a lot, I thought. And what exactly does that mean???

At thirty, I guess you kind of start to feel like you're getting old, but at the same time, thirty is kind of the prime of your life. Sometimes I kind of wish I could just cruise through the rest of my life in this condition- I feel good, have no major health issues, and I generally have enough energy to tackle a full week of taking care of two children under age four, working part-time, taking care of all the household stuff, maintaining a healthy marriage, staying in an exercise routine, serving as an active church member, and finding some time for play in spite of it all. I'm kind of in a groove.

There must have been wisdom and significance of Jesus beginning his ministry at age thirty. It seems to be a time in which you've gained enough life experience to have some discernment and yet not too much to be set in your ways or have significant degrees of cynicism.

Some of the mystery of this is, I think, hidden in the Song of Songs. Chapter 5, verse 11b describes the Bridegroom's hair as wavy, black as a raven. Kind of weird at first glance. What do you do with that? In Revelation 1:14, it talks about Jesus' hair being white and shining which kind of makes intuitive sense and goes along with his radiance, his divinity. But here we're talking about dark hair that is wavy or in other translations, bushy. It's like when Jack was talking about how young I looked. What does that mean?

In searching this out, I found James Durham's old school Puritan commentary to be a bit over my head, but helpful nonetheless. He points out that this expendable but embellishing part of one's body, the hair, is described here in a way to denote youth and vigor. The hair is only wavy or bushy (implying thick or full) and dark in one's younger days. As one ages, the hair thins and the color fades. His hair is neither thinning nor graying. He is perpetually youthful in his zeal and love. As Durham states, "his love is always green...he is a beloved that never decays, that never waxeth sick, weak, nor old; but is ever in youth, with his hair black, although he be eternal, and the Ancient of Days..." He is the beginning and the end and as the refrain of Psalm 136 repeats over and over, "His love endures forever." At the creation of the world, His love endures forever. At the cross, His love endures forever. As He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us until the day He returns to make all things new, His love endures forever. As we go through the joys and trials of this short life, His love endures forever.

He is ever pursuing us with undying energy and fervent devotion.

"... his hair is wavy and black as a raven." Song of Songs 5:11b

What a thought. Lord, teach me the reality of your eternally youthful pursuit of my heart.

See also Psalm 102:27; Psalm 89:2; Psalm 103:17; Psalm 121; Hebrews 1:11-12; Hebrews 13:8

PS- The picture is of a newly married Jack and Candace without even a twinkle in the eye of Anna Grace or Zeke...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our cool yet unfounded egg trick

I thought I was really teaching Anna Grace something about the astronomical phenonmenon that is today, but I was totally busted when I actually did a little research on the summer solstice and realized that the egg-standing-up-on-its-end trick as unique to this day on the solar calender is just an urban legend. And apparently the legend is for the spring solstice- not the summer one. Oh well. AG still thought it was pretty cool- even if you could do it just as well on any other day. In any case, enjoy your longest day of the year!

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Shuqulak blunder

Barbara and I took the kids to pick blueberries this morning at a local U-pick-em farm in DeSoto Parish. It was a tolerable 85 degrees with an occasional breeze that kept you going as you ducked and dug for the clusters of hidden berries. The huge live oak trees gave shade for the screened in porch of Shuqulak Farms where we got our instructions and came back to clean and sort our almost-full buckets. We sucked down our blueberry popsicles and visited with our friends the Fischers who happened to be out for a blueberry hunt of their own. It was a great time.

My blunder? No batteries in the camera. You can imagine my disappointment. I love a good photo-op especially in quaint locations like Shuqulak. But my friend Caroline was there to save the day. I think she got one picture of my kiddos with blueberry smiles. And maybe we'll just have to go back...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My right brained child

I have found that I am developing a profound appreciation for toddler art- both the abstract and the concrete. I find myself really looking and really appreciating the artist's use of color, the emotion expressed, the composition, the unity and the variety displayed...

The piece to the right is entitled "Me and Mommy and a Rainbow" by the artist (a common theme in AGC art). The piece to the top left is entitled "Coral Reef and fish with Red Log" (that was with some help of an advisor) and, finally, the last piece bottom left is Untitled. I like to call it "Life with Vivacious and Tenacious Three-Year-Old." There's some bright spots and some dark spots, a heart-looking spot in the middle, but generally just a lot going on at once. Definately captures the feeling of it all- life with my Anna Grace Chaney.


We had sick ones among us (as usual) and I'm afraid little Samuel bore the brunt of it this time, but Benjamin and Anna Grace had a blast together (as usual) this past weekend as we took a summer trip up to Kansas City to visit our Harrigan friends.

In an attempt to give a higher context to Anna Grace's love of dance, we took the kids to the prayer room to get their praise on- dancing style (not to be confused with Shreveport's misguided book burning rendition, mind you). I think Benjamin gave us more of a show this time.

We had so much fun at Loose Park, the Plaza, cooking out, exploring the impressive Harrigan orchard/garden, and belly laughing with our old friends.

I was thinking about it last night in bed when I couldn't quite go to sleep- how much fun our little ones have when they get together even though Anna Grace is girly girl and Benjamin is manly man and I came up with BenAnna. I know it's a ridiculous pop culture phenomenon to come up with amalgamations for famous couples, but I thought it was funny. And it sounds like banana.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Geography genius

About a year ago, when we got together with our friends from our time in Kentucky, I was amazed by Kayla and Daniel's 2-year-old geography buff. Again, Bright was only two years old and he amazed me as he sat at the table and delighted in answering his daddy's questions about countries like Lithuania, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Siberia. He smiled an adorable little squinty grin as he spouted off geography trivia and astounded me with his multisyllabic brilliance.

Daniel's recent post reminded me of our little geography-loving friend (and the picture of him on a pink bike is awesome), but it also reminded me that what we expose our children to is so formative and so powerful. Daniel and Kayla's map is an outward sign of the things that are on their heart. God has called them to move halfway around the world for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ. They have a visible reminder for themselves and a teaching tool for their children about what God has called them to as a family. So I shouldn't have been surprised about when little Bright knew the capital of South Africa. They have world map conversation around the breakfast table.

But it was something to think about for me. Much more than what I'm not exposing my children to, what is it that I am exposing my children to and how is that forming their perspective, their priorities, and their worldview? And also- what am I exposing myself to, day in and day out, that is forming and molding my perspective, my priorities, and my worldview? Made me think...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy Day

As we were driving back from the airport today, echoes of a college favorite streamed through the Dallas radio waves. It was Big Head Todd's "Bittersweet," and I'm realizing now that it's kind of the perfect song for today. I've always liked the song, but the lyrics don't mean much to me except the refrain: It's bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet...

Father's Day is always kind of sad for me. I find myself getting a twinge of jealously when someone tells me what they're doing to be with their dad. I miss my dad a lot, but especially on days like today. I grieve with profound hope, but I still grieve.

Father's Day has also taken on a new and sweet meaning for me, too. This man that God has given me to father my children is an amazing Dad. He loves his little ones. The way Jack and the kids joke around is sometimes maddening, but for the most part, it's so sweet. He's teaching them about the joy of the Lord and a love for life that I don't always emulate. Zeke's favorite word, of course, is "daddy." He must say it a hundred times a day. "No, no- MOMMY!" I try. But he won't have any of it. It's all about Daddy.

So it's bittersweet. Sometimes more sweet than bitter, and sometimes more bitter than sweet.

I'm so thankful for the twenty five years of Daddy time that I did have and for the Daddy that my children are so blessed with. There's just nothing like a good Daddy.

Feeding frenzy 2

You've come a long way, baby!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The name game

Instead of names like Molly or Sally, Anna Grace gives her stuffed animals names like Russia (pictured left). Admittedly, it's one of my favorite parts about a new baby or animal. We recently had a money lesson- counting up what she had saved in her piggy bank, we talked about giving some and spending some and so during our next trip out, she picked out a new baby doll. And much to my delight and amusement, she named her Diamond. I can't wait to see what she'll come up with next...

Update: As I was putting her down for a nap today, the new name for an old bear was "Mysteria." Not necessarily a word, but creative nonetheless.

Another update: We're in Kansas City with the Harrigans and saw a deer shoot across the front yard. The kids ran to the window, Benjamin was sent out to shoo it away, and Anna Grace named it "Vanessa." Of course.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Real life forever

I keep trying to wrap my brain around the fact that we will actually live- on Earth- with Jesus- forever. We have the influence of Greek thought and culture to thank for our wrong ideas that we're just going to float off on a cloud somewhere in blissful insubstantiality. The book I'm working through now is about the living hope we have in the resurrection. It's really provocative and challenging. So many paradigms to change, so little time...

"Resurrection is not the redescription of death; it is its overthrow..."

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Deep in the heart of Texas

Between the cotton candy, the popcorn, the cheers, and the enthusiastic chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," Anna Grace's first trip to a Houston Astro's game was a success. Making it all the way to the seventh inning stretch is quite an accomplishment and I think we could have made it to the end if we didn't have two baby boys to get home to.

It's always fun visiting my sister's sweet family and there's certainly no lack of excitement or silliness when you get four cousins under age four together. Thanks for the great visit, Hills!

Head first

Not all that exciting footage if you're not a Zeke-lover, but for all of you who know and love this little boy, he had a great time sliding yesterday. Head first, feet first, on his belly, on his bottom... what fun it is to watch a little one explore his world and learn along the way!

This afternoon, he climbed up into the arms of his soccer-watching daddy, turned his attention to the European football championship and emphatically cheered, "GO!" As his daddy echoed his sentiments, he looked up again at Jack and smiled a half-smile, hunching down in the cushions further to join in the testosterone of the moment. Our little man.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How he rolls

This is Daniel Rupp, pastor and missionary extraordinaire.

Kayla wrote me a note about something and included a 4X6 matte-finished-professional-looking photo of Daniel a la K-Fed. Or something. I love it because she knew I would love it and that it would make me laugh.

I just love it. Now all I need is to figure out the best place to display my gold chained, tatted out, tank top wearing friend...

Waves of grief

I get these email devotionals everyday and sometimes I read them, sometimes I don't. Sometimes it really speaks to me and sometimes not. But today, I was kind of taken aback at my reaction to this one. It came upon me like a wave of grief- like you're standing with your back to the ocean and you didn't see it coming, but a giant wave has just swept you off your feet.

I have a friend at work whose husband is in ICU, is ventilated, and is on dialysis. The doctors keep telling her he's not going to make it. She's got a three year old at home who she can't seem to face right now. She's on an exhausting roller coaster of resolute hope and deep grief. So maybe it's that situation and maybe it's the lingering loss of my dad, but I just was really affected by this message. I totally related to the happy meal scenario. How can everybody just smile and move on while all this death is happening all around us?

We all know that we weren't supposed to live like this- we feel it as we grieve and mourn the losses that we experience over and over and over. I'm so glad we have a God who didn't create it to be like this and won't let it go on like this forever. He will destroy death (I Corinthians 15:26). Thank you, God. Give us grace in the meantime...

El estudiante del Señor

I was praying for FBC's minister of Christian formation this morning as he is off preaching and serving in Guatemala and has suffered some sort of health issue with limited access to medical equipment (they have an MD with them, but none of the necessary equipment for assessment). When I checked my email, I got an improved report. Thank you, God. And then I read this article about him in the Shreveport Times. Made me smile. Vaya con Dios, amigo...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Pork of the Future"

As I make my nightly announcement that dinner is ready it never fails that my husband comes to the kitchen and pokes his head over the steaming dish of whatever and asks, "what do you call this?" Every time.

I usually see it as a mild annoyance- Jack's quirky attempt to cajole some sort of amusement, but last night's dinner title went over so well, I thought I would share. It was a winner- both a tasty treat and an amusing name. What more could a husband ask for? Now if only I could make broccoli of the future go over as well...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Human Race, anyone?

Kind of funny. Maybe some of you are not runners... yet.

BUT- I'm ready to assemble the RUN4HIM team for the Nike+ Human Race 10K on August 31, 2008. A million people will be tying their shoes and charging their ipods in 25 cities across the earth that day to traverse the 6.2 miles together. I'll be running in Austin, TX, and I'd love to have a group of Jesus-loving runners by my side, so let me know if you're interested. How awesome it could be to join together and run the Human Race as witnesses to the life-changing and life-giving Spirit of God!

(Karen, Kenny, Kathy, Lisa and Carrie... you're at the top of my list of recruits. And those of you less likely to participate- really consider it. Six miles is really an achievable goal in three months. It could be really fun! Maybe even better than wine...)