Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks for the Bread

On the way to grandma's house yesterday, I was watching the orange, gold, and crimson trees fly by as my thoughts turned, as they inevitably do the last Thursday in November, to giving thanks.

It's hard not to be cliche when discussing all of the many "things" we have to be thankful for in 21st century America.

Not only do I have enough to eat, I can pretty much think up something that I want to eat and have it ready for consumption in a matter of hours. "What do you want for dinner?" "I don't know, what do you want?"- It's a routine we go through almost daily and yet we fail to recognize the absurdity of it all. I never send my children to bed hungry, or cold, or without having had multiple educational opportunities throughout the day. I sometimes struggle to decide which pair of shoes to wear and yet I spend so much time shopping for more... Okay, maybe I don't spend that much time shopping anymore, but I might if I did have extra time.

And it's not only that. My family is in reasonably good health and when we do come down with something or we need medication for a chronic illness, we go to the doctor, get a script, and pick up our medicine that day. We don't even think twice about it. I lack for nothing.

So as we were driving and as I was recounting all the blessings of my life, I was grateful, very grateful, but I also let it serve as a sort of jolt to my soul that even if I didn't have health, wealth, and long life, I was going to be thankful for what truly matters- for the thing that transcends it all- Love Incarnate.

In my 31-year-old American life with all the blessings in the world, it's easy to sit back, eat the turkey and dressing, and think how I've got it made. But I want to at a very deep heart level, thank God for Himself first and foremost. And not in a light or flippant kind of way, but in a way that acknowledges my need. You see, without Him, I could be and probably would be either depressed, or angry, or sick, or bitter, or unsatisfied, or lonely, or lost somewhere in the depths of despair. It's only because of Him that I'm whole. Because of Him, I'm able to witness to the world about the Bread of Life- the one who imparts life- real life.

So now, the turkey has been eaten and the world's thoughts seem to have quickly turned to discounts and deals. But I'm still kind of lingering on what it means to really be thankful. On my rainy day after Thanksgiving, the kids are napping, the husband is out watching football, and the Lord drew me quietly to Himself. As I read John 6:25-71, my heart was full of thanks for the Bread of Life. Those Sister Schubert rolls are good no doubt, but the things of this world always leave you wanting more. So even if I never eat another tortilla chip and even if I never drink another Diet Coke, my prayer is that my heart remains resolutely thankful because of what is eternal. I believe in Him- the Bread of Life, the One who promises life eternal and the One who will raise us up on that last day and for that, I am thankful. Even if the economy collapses or if disaster strikes or if illness creeps in on me or those I love, I want to remain in a place of thankfulness. I don't want to just be thankful now in the midst of plenty, I want to remain thankful, even if, like Job, all that I have is stripped away.

Yesterday, I tried to get Anna Grace to memorize Psalm 100:4 with me. I don't think she ever really mastered it and wasn't 100% interested, but it did her mom some good. I want to remember, on Thanksgiving and every day, to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Every day, I want to give thanks to him and praise his name. Without Him, I'm just a lonely and hurt bag of bones- lost and alone in a world gone awry.

Thank you, God, for your mercy, your justice, your righteousness, your goodness, and most of all, your Love Incarnate. Thank you for the Bread of Life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Every morning

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:23

Jack took this picture this morning after a long night of rocking a sick baby in the wee hours of the night. As he flipped through the images on the digital screen, this verse came to mind. It seemed like a gracious word from Him to a weak and broken momma... so tired and worn out, but so loved...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good buys

Jack found these somewhere and we had a good laugh. Half eaten turkey, anyone?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wife of the future

Jack should probably be blogging this himself. It's a concept he loves so very much that he requested this very blog.

I got some new $6.oo sunglasses at Target since Zeke broke my last $6.00 pair. I thought that they were pretty normal looking, but apparently, I was wrong. At first glance of my new look, Jack dubbed me "wife of the future."

So, in the car, and now whether or not I have my futuristic shades on, he randomly asks me questions like:

"So is there traffic in the future?"

"Have you come back from the future to save me from my heart condition?"

"So what do people eat in the future?"

He laughs hysterically and he loves it. And I'm here to tell you that there is definitely more Jack Chaney joking in the future.

Addendum: He just read my blog, found a typo, and remarked that "obviously there isn't spell check in the future." Again, more laughing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shout out Sunday

Today's shout out goes to the best dentist in the world, my bro-in-law, Dr. Stephen Hill, who made AG's black front tooth white again. Anna Grace fell and bumped her front tooth a couple of months ago and it has since turned a nice shade of charcoal. Since it will be with us for another couple of years (and especially since we're taking some special ballet pictures tomorrow), we asked Stephen if there was anything he could do. He graciously helped us out, of course. Stephen was so good with my scared little girl- I was very impressed indeed. So thanks again, Uncle Stephen! This one's for you!

In the video AG will refer to the baby doll nursery which I promised that she would get for Christmas if she let us fix her tooth and was a brave girl through it all. Well, brave she was, so I guess we'll have to deliver on our promise...

We had a ton of fun hanging out with Aunt Jenny, Uncle Stephen, Cavett, and Kendrick in Houston this weekend. Jennifer covered it pretty well, so check out her "sibling time" post. Good stuff.

As we were driving through Houston on our way out of town, I asked Anna Grace what her favorite part of the trip was. "All of it," she whimpered. And I'd have to agree. From the cuddle time with my nephew Kendrick, to the workout and pedicure with my big sister, to the grown-up conversation over my oh-so-good red snapper and shrimp... I'd have to say that "all of it" was my favorite part, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Growing up together

At our small group's fellowship this weekend, we sat around a bonfire watching the moon rise over the Red River sharing smores, hot chili, and laughs. After a while, we shared at the heart level and went home to relieve the babysitters with a little piece of that riverside warmth lingering in our hearts.

I thought about it for a while and it makes sense, all the references to our being brothers and sisters in the Lord. And as you share your heart's dreams and hopes and struggles as you grow in the knowledge of Jesus, you really do grow up together. I'm so thankful for these friends.

My friend Lydia had a really good insight on the whole dynamic a while back. Because something rages against our gathering with other believers to grow together in God, it can be hard sometimes to get things going. There's always the kids, the housework, the family commitments, and the everything else holding us back from opening up time each week to get together to study the word, pray together, and gain revelation about the heart of our Father. But what Lydia said was that when you get a taste of what it is to grow together, to live in that kind of community, and to be in relationship with people who love you deeply and unconditionally, you fight for it. (Even if it means bringing nine kids together under age four to camp in tents on the top of a mountain in Arkansas in the sweltering August heat.)

As you share your heart with other believers and grow together in the Lord, you are joined in a way that transcends small talk and the usual social norms. You can live on the other side of the world or be busy with other things for a season, but you're still connected in a way that is just... transcendent.

I'm so thankful for all the brothers and sisters that have come up along side of Jack and I over the years. Like the warm glow of the fire from that chilly night on the Red River, I have so profoundly felt the love of God from their gatherings and prayers. I highly recommend connecting in this way- whether it's an organic development out of a shared yearning for greater knowledge of God and community or a more structured ministry in the context of a church, it's sure to bless you in ways you can only imagine.

Ephesians 4:15 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

1 Peter 1:22 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

A little mindless entertainment

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Before and After



It was so good for my heart to get to talk to my too-far-away-friend, Lydia tonight. How I miss her. But she asked about my kitchen and wanted pictures, so here you are Lyd. It now features, among other things, a full sized dishwasher, lots of added cabinet space, and (thank goodness) a pantry! As I was assembling the squash casserole I'm taking to work tomorrow for our Thanksgiving potluck, I was so thankful for such generous in-laws- making it all possible. Like I've said before, I really didn't know how bad it was. So thanks, Barbara and Bill, and thanks for asking, Lyd! It's great!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun Fact Monday - Einstein edition

Jack and I watched a history channel documentary on good ol Al tonight, so here you go...

1. He won his Nobel Prize not for his theory of relativity, but for his work on the photoelectric effect.

2. After his death, a Princeton pathologist removed his brain for preservation with hopes of the future of neuroscience unlocking the secret of Einstien's genius. So his brain is still out there somewhere, I guess?

3. After divorcing his first wife, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa.

4. Einstein's fame spread to America before WWII and people would often stop him on the street and ask him to explain "that theory." Pretty annoying, I'm sure.

5. Einstein's legacy lives on in the cartoon, Little Einsteins. June, Annie, Quincy, and Leo go on adventures in their beloved rocket to learn about music and art, mostly. It's good and AG loves it, but I wonder what Einstein would think of the gratuitous use of his name on everything from bagels to shows for children on Playhouse Disney. Hmmm....

Things lost and things gained

My wallet was stolen Saturday. At the park. At 9:30 in the morning.

My reaction was utter disbelief, then frustration, then anger. The kind of anger that makes you kind of tremble. In my rush to get home and start taking care of things, poor Zeke just cried- sensing something was wrong, but not understanding why I was so upset. But my mom and Karen called and helped calm me down, going back to the park to look for any trace of my stolen goods. After about 15 minutes of anger and frustration, I finally sat down and rocked a thumb-sucking Z man. It was in that quiet moment that I had to make the intentional choice to reject my knee-jerk reaction to the situation and turn to God- asking Him to change my heart, to use the situation for His glory, and even to bless the person who so desperately and/or cold-heartedly swiped my stuff. It was not easy.

A few days later, I can look back and see how God honored that prayer and how He does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I now see a little bit of the good that came: a gained perspective on things eternal v. things fleeting, time at the DMV to read and relax (crazy, I know), and the whole the situation leading me into a conversation with someone about how the Lord cares about the minutia of our lives.

Who knows how many other ways that the Lord is using this situation for good. And this is such a small thing. I think of Joseph being thrown in a deep pit by his brothers which started a chain of events that makes my experience of petty theft seem silly. After it's all said and done, Joseph tells his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." (Genesis 50:20).

I still long for justice and I wait for the Righteous Judge to come and establish His Kingdom in all its fullness, but until that Day, I pray that my eyes would be opened to what the Lord can do with what seems like dismal circumstances. And I pray that I would continue to stand in the place of praise and worship for the One who is more powerful than the evil of the world. And if He is for me, who can be against me? I'm safe with Him.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pamper Pancakes

After I change Zeke's diaper, I usually give it to him to throw away. Maybe he got confused when we changed the trash can location, because this is what I found one morning when I went to make pancakes. I guess I should have double checked his diligence...

What's your favorite color?

Anna Grace made this one up herself. And in case you can't really catch it all, it goes like this:
AG: Daddy, Daddy, what's your favorite color??!!!
Jack: Carolina blue, Carolina blue
AG: OH, OH, that's my favorite color, too! GOOOO TARHEELS!

Unfortunately, her enthusiasm couldn't inspire UNC to a victory, but you can't say she didn't try.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Turkeys on backyard fences

With a little bit of gained perspective, my Friday was challenging, but totally fun. On our way to Target to take Christmas pictures, Zeke decided to wear his sister's Fancy Nancy sunglasses. He wore them for a good ten minutes. Anna Grace was equally as entertaining, telling me a Halloween story about a mummy, a bat, a black cat, and an umpire. I couldn't understand why an umpire was in the mix until Jack made the connection that she probably heard vampire and not umpire. Very funny. And good for her... I don't know that I want my four-year-old thinking about vampires. An umpire is perfect.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For now

It was rough today.

While I'm at the hospital on Mon, Tues, and Wed, the to-do list grows- taking on a life of its own. Laundry piles up, the cabinets seem to empty themselves, and stuff just seems to be strung out everywhere. On Thursday, everything seems pressing. So today, I had quite an agenda. Zeke and I dropped Anna Grace off, swung by the dry cleaners and then headed to the gym. And that was fine. I am truly thankful for the workout.

But everything changed when I tried to get some groceries.

At 9:30, all of Target had the pleasure of experiencing a 21-month-old meltdown. Clearly, the mission for stocking the kitchen had to be aborted, so I quickly bought a snack which appeased my little one... for a while. Armed with food, I thought I could strap Z into the stroller to head to a boutique where I had a gift certificate leftover from my birthday. I was thinking that maybe this was my chance to use this month-old gift. I was wrong. Z was equally impossible and I ended up having to buy at $3.50 rubber duck (that's a whole other story in itself). So, I gave up and headed to the park. At the park, Zeke got completely wet in the puddles that had collected at the end of the slides and, of course, had a nasty stench exuding from his pants. I ran by my mom's house and changed a diaper, then picked up AG from school. Things slowly improved from then on (except for a napless Anna Grace), but it left me frustrated and spent.

In the midst of it all, the Lord was speaking to my heart. I complained and got frustrated and vented to my husband, but He was speaking and what He said was true. It started in the morning with Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I prayed this over my family this morning and, now that I think about it, today's struggles might have been an exercise in love.

During my work out, I listened to a podcast of Dana Chandler talking about a common IHOP theme- the first commandment of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 22:36-37, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." On the chin up and tricep dip machine, she talked about how this is our purpose- to love wholeheartedly as He is holy love. Once I got to the leg press, I was moved by the revelation she was given about what this really means.

She spoke of putting her three-year-old and one-year-old to bed one night, sitting down on the couch, and letting out one of those "glorious sighs." The kind when you look at your husband and you say, "It's done. We did it. We made it." You have a couple of hours of rest. And then in the course of conversation with her husband, he says to her, "You know... we can be wholehearted right now." She conceded that yes, it was a simple sentiment, but very profound.

Every one of us have a reason why we can't spare the time or the energy to love God fully. Right now, mine is the seemingly mundane tasks that I can't even seem to get done... the laundry, the groceries. But someone else might be in a season of regret- thinking that they missed their opportunity, or someone else in a season of pain or of fear or uncertainty. We all have our reasons and we all dream of some perfect time for us to grow into perfect maturity of love with our Creator.

But the point is, and I didn't even get a chance to finish the podcast, that now is the time.

" grace is sufficient for you..." 2 Corinthians 12:9

There are not enough hours in the day for this working mom, but I can rest, fully assured, that He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. When we turn to Him, He grants us the grace we need to pray and to seek Him and to love with all our hearts.

"...the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6

May we all be encouraged to persevere, to press on, even in the midst of the sometimes mundane, sometimes lonely, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes painful seasons of life.

His grace is sufficient.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Hygeine Review

At bathtime tonight, Jack noticed Anna Grace's stinkiness and sloppy bathing habits. So he, in all seriousness, reviewed the parts of the body that are to be carefully cleaned. "Be sure to wash your face and your booty. But I suggest you wash your face before you wash your booty," he remarked completely straight-faced.

"Why?" she asks.

"Just a tip," he says with a smile and a chuckle.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shout out Sunday

I got to participate in the obligatory game day phone call to our friend, Dennis, since we were on our way to LSU in Barbara's car talking bluetooth speaker phone style. Along with the witty banter, Scott Kummer (who was present with Dennis in their game-going, Tar Heel-cheering festivities), requested a TTLOM shout out. So a shout out it is. Thanks, guys, for the fun of crazy acronyms like LCANCAAFFA (pronounced lack-a-naffa-faffa and meaning the Lambda Chi Alpha National Collegiate Athletic Association Fantasy Football Association). And thank you for crazy alternate pronunciations of Dairy Queen and various other oddities. What fun are Dennis Greenway and Scott Kummer! And I thought other shout-outs were in order...

Here's to my sweet sister, Karen, who graciously volunteered to babysit so that I could enjoy some time away at the tailgate with family. You're the best, KK!

Here's to Amy Dunaway, booty-shaking expert!

Here's to Uncle Kenny, Bible-believing, marathon running ballerina. If only everyone knew crazy Uncle Kenny...

And to my husband who has lowered his cholesterol by 80 points in one month and for being LCANCAAFFA champion for the third time in four years.

And to Kate Chaney- always up for a good, hearty, belly laugh. Love her.

And to Patrick Montgomery, Kate's "special friend" and my ally in the Auburn Tiger cause amidst the LSU family revelry. I think Jack said that the caption of this picture should be "War Eagle???"

Not pictured, but equally as stellar are Johnny and Ginger for setting us up in their beautiful riverside home, Alison and Eric for a ride to my car and quite insightful conversing for a tailgate party, and to my mom who deserves a thank you shout out for painting my kitchen window sill while we were gone.
The cop who gave me a ticket in Springfield does not get a shout out. :) Oops.
Last, but not least, Barbara Chaney. Don't even know what to say, but how bout that Barbara? Awesome.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

His eyes are like doves- part three

Sometimes I like to peek in on the kids after they've gone to bed. There is just nothing like watching your little one sleep. Of course, after a good two and a half years of a sleeping nightmare scenario, watching a snoozing Anna Grace is especially sweet, but watching Zeke is just as stirring. Love for this sleeping child floods your heart as you dream about and pray for this little person with which God has entrusted you...

It's amazing to think that the Lord does the same. He has His eye on us all the time and He must really delight over us when we sleep, too. When we're sleeping we're not hurting anyone's feelings or loosing our tempers or making other bad choices- we're just His creation with a future and a hope in Him. I think that's what's so special about your sleeping child- they seem so innocent. And any parent of small children will tell you that they're not so innocent all the time. That's one of the beautiful things about our God: He sees it all and He still loves. It's a wonderful and amazing thing considering all the hurt and pain we inflict on each other all the time.

The Lord loves us and watches over us- and He never calls it a night. He always has His loving, devoted, focused eyes on us. His dove-like eyes are burning with love for His creation. What great security and peace to know that the Maker of heaven and earth not only sees us, but watches over us in love. Our coming and our going, our rejoicing and our mourning, our health and our sickness, our action and our complacency, our waking and our sleeping. He sees us in all of our victories and defeats and still loves us and responds to us in love. He has beautiful eyes like a dove.

Psalm 121

"I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

Song of Songs 5:12 "His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels."

(Baby Anna Grace pictured)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alternate uses for plastic bowls

... as a hat...
...or a chew toy...
... but don't get upset...
... we can always disrobe after dinner. In fact, we almost always do. Love that Z man.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun Fact Monday

* The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

* Licking a stamp leads to the consumption of 1/10 of a calorie.

* The average person laughs 15 times a day.

* The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 15 seconds.

* My mom took ukulele lessons at the pavilions of Betty Virginia Park when she was growing up.

A diversion from the constant and ubiquitous politics of today...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All things new

So many fun little things filled my day.

*Zeke's big and extended hug when he woke up from his nap.
*Tiger burgers a la Jack.
*So many friends showing up at my house to celebrate with me and to love my family.
*A cold Dr. Pepper
*Five crazy children just out of the bathtub running and jumping in my living room screaming a nonsensical chant while completely buck naked (Anna Grace said she'd never had so much fun in her entire life)
*Singing Weezer's "Say it Ain't So" while playing Rock Band with Jonny and Amber (kickin it Lisa Chesson style)

A butterfly flew into my house as my mom was leaving to go home after tonight's festivities. By some off chance, was able to catch it in a glass. Anna Grace named it "Rainbow Colaveea," and then we let it fly off into the chill of the night.

Anna Grace kept asking today if today was the day that Jesus comes back. I think she may have made the connection that we were having a party to celebrate my dad, and we're going to see my dad again when Jesus comes back, etc. So, of course, that Day has not come upon us and we're still waiting, but I'm so glad she's making that connection and she's living in the firm hope of Jesus righting wrongs and renewing the Earth- abolishing death. It's a good word for the heart of her nostalgic momma.

And that's just kind of how the day was. Small words throughout the day of love and comfort. God is so good and so faithful to speak through my friend's love and support, my child's hope in the coming King, and a beautiful butterfly fluttering my way.

I know I probably read too much into things sometimes, and I don't know what the butterfly could potentially symbolize, but if anything, I think it's a reminder of the beauty of the new creation. A trite symbol, maybe, but this new thing is coming and has already come in my heart. That is where my hope lies. That is where I put my trust. In the One that makes all things new.

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness through in providing comfort and hope. What a beautiful Savior we serve.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Time keeps on slippin... into the future






Of course, I was going to have a dog and a cat, but the cat changed her mind several times about what it was she needed to be. Like the title implies, my how we've grown... and so have our opinions! My personal favorite has been the cowgirl and the puppy dog. I've realized that Halloween is the most fun when you have little ones to dress up and watch enjoy the festivities. Watching Zeke waddle around with that puppy dog tail of his was priceless. We'll see what next year holds... (Props, ED, for the yearly picture idea.)