Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's the little things

I was less than pleased this morning when Zeke woke me up before six o'clock this morning- for the third day in a row.

Less than pleased.

After some caffeine and a pancake, however, I decided to check myself before I wrecked myself and shift the 'tude- if you know what I mean.

So while I was making up beds this morning, my short-sighted impatience gave way to gratitude.

We've really come a long way in the sleep department.

I remember the day that Anna Grace slept through the night for the first time. She had just turned three. It was November 14, 2007. My dad's birthday and our little buddy Sanders' birth day. I'll never forget it.

Since then, we've had so many ups and downs with our nighttime routines, that I hate to even think about the madness and frustration we've been through. I'll never forget sitting outside of Anna Grace's door as she screamed and screamed and screamed while I spoke to God with what I'm sure was an insane-looking glazed over look, rocking back and forth all the while repeating over and over- "Lord, you are long-suffering."

It was bad.


We made it. Now, we read books at 7:30, finish with a Bible story and some prayer time, we're tucked away into bed and lights are out by 8:15 most nights. No fussing, no coming out to tell me anything, no complaining, no crying- most of the time. My little girl just climbs onto her top bunk, gathers her Snuggie, three very large stuffed animals, three baby dolls, and her spelunking-type flashlight, and we're good to go.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

I'm truly grateful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Shine 2009

I love the Pumpkin Shine.




I love it. The above caterpillar was Anna Grace's class' contribution to this great event. She was very proud.

And we got wise this year and had a pizza post-party.

You know, I got to thinking about it and it's not just the event that is so fun. It's meeting at the Wiggin's house and walking together and having fun together every year. You know, together. I love the Pumpkin Shine or maybe I just love togetherness. Maybe both.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My little glimmer of hope

At the end of my doctor's appointment yesterday, my OB took an extra second to turn around as he walked out of the door.

"That's a big deal, you know." His light banter had grown sober. "Hearing that strong of a heartbeat. A really big deal." I assured him that I knew. Then he left.

He had no idea, but considering the circumstances- considering I had spent the morning in a funk of grief over so many people who I love who are mourning- it was a big deal. What my doctor meant was that it's a good sign that this baby is doing well and will continue to do so and that's important and miraculous. But even more than that, it shot a dose of life straight to my heart. It was a glimmer of hope.

So know that I'm praying for you, Jennifer and Stephen, and Karl and Robin, and Mom, and all of the rest of you that are mourning death's sting (you know who you are and that you're on my heart). Know that my prayer for you is that Hope and Light and Life would be injected to your hearts today.

Death sucks. Life is awesome.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I truly can't wait till the One overtakes the other.

Monday, October 26, 2009

If you can't beat em?

In case you didn't know, college football is a big deal in the South. And likewise, LSU football is a part of Chaney family life.

After this weekend, I've thought long and hard about the old adage, "if you can't beat em, join em." Trust me. Long and hard.

Even with Anna Grace and I sporting our orange and blue, our day in Baton Rouge was fun and overall, the fans were very kind to this Auburn momma and her Auburn girl.

After my sister took the kids and Jack and I went to the game (Auburn got pounded), what struck me most was what was going on in my own heart.

It struck me as kind of crazy that I couldn't be genuinely happy for my husband and his team's victory. Instead, I was really bothered by the score of a football game. I sulked and genuinely was angry at the 18-21 year old football players who happen to attend the school from which I graduated. It was crazy. I didn't even pass the very simple Auburn trivia quiz Jack gave me on the way down (like who the coach was- but don't judge me and my pregnant brain- I'm crazy).

I really would like to adopt the "if you can't beat em" philosophy. As I squirmed in my seat while my husband graciously held back his cheers, I looked longingly at the couples who cuddled up together under their purple and gold gear. I'd love to just take an about-face and abandon my allegiances all together.

I truly think my life would be easier. And maybe even better.

But what would really be the best of the best- and maybe this is why the Lord arranged this aspect of my Auburn/LSU marriage- is if I could be an Auburn Tiger (which is kind of irrevocable considering my experience and diploma) and yet genuinely rejoice in an LSU victory. Is that "pie in the sky?" I really think it's a level of righteousness and joy that I haven't even touched.

Walking out of the stadium Saturday night, my grief over the loss turned quickly to frustration over the struggle of my heart.

But, thankfully, the struggle is okay. Maybe even good. I'm so glad that Matthew 5:6 isn't a blessing for those who have attained perfect righteousness in and of themselves. I'm so glad that all we have to do is to hunger and thirst after righteousness to be filled.

Because I'm starving. And parched.

I'll keep working on it and with a lot of surrender, I think the Spirit can change me.

I've come a long way from the crazed Auburn fan I once was, but as a daughter of the King and with my ultimate allegiance to His Kingdom, I think He'll keep teaching me how to find joy in all the successes of those who belong to Him.

Because if you think about it like that, we're all on the same great Team.

Geaux Jesus.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tractors. Yes.

For all the little boys out there. Will and Karen introduced us to this gem of a You Tube find. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

On my little girl's birthday, I always find myself going back to that long, long labor and delivery. After 41 weeks gestation and 24 hours of labor, Anna Grace took her time to dramatically enter this world.

The drama continues. Anna Grace continues to add big emotion and adventure to all of life.

In honor of her five years with us and in gratitude to her Creator for loaning her out to us for a while, I'm posting my five favorite things about this special little girl.

1. The way she sings impromptu songs that flow out of her heart effortlessly and with great fervor and joy.
2. The way she prays and seeks to understand the deep things of God.
3. Her creativity. She named her new Littlest Pet Shop toy "Laka" today.
4. The way she loves her brother. I love it when she looks at me and smiles with that kind of grown-up look like "isn't he just too cute?"
5. Her sense of humor. She loves jokes and joking in general- I wonder where she gets that? Her latest joke: "Why did the bird cross the kitchen?" "To eat! To eat!"

Love you, my precious little girl. May you always know how beautiful and loved and special you are. May your life always reflect that Love and Light that I see in your smile- that imparted Love that flows straight from your heart.

***Just for fun- and posterity- we'd love to hear your favorite Anna Grace memories!***
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh, no I didn't!

I know.

It's bad.

All I could do was laugh after I realized that I had mistaken the number one setting for the number five setting on the clippers only AFTER I took a chunk off.

Down the middle of his head.


I salvaged it by cutting the rest on the number three setting, but we still have a subtle reverse mohawk going on.

As Jack likes to call it.

Maybe we'll look into some hats in the meantime.

It's a good thing he's only two. I fear that if he were a teenager, he'd never forgive me. Good thing I'm learning early.

Sorry, Z man!!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Left wanting

You know... I kind of scoffed at the update on my pregnancy widget today. "Your baby is growing so fast; take care of yourself for your baby's sake."


But the Chaney train doesn't stop for anything. Not nausea, not fatigue, not anything. The laundry piles up and the kids need attention and there's lots of work to be done. I'd love to take it easy. I really would. But I just don't have that option.

All that to say, today was quite the humdinger of a day, as Aunt Ginger would say. A true humdinger. After I hit level four (out of five) on my nausea scale (I'll have to post one of these days about the Candace Chaney Nausea Scale- I've put a lot of thought into it), I went to lay down for a minute. Then there was the screaming. And more screaming. So to stop the screaming, what did I do? I screamed. Then there was the crying at the grocery store. And the way I got completely bent out of shape because I felt like Kroger swindled me out of $16. (Are you paying attention, Kayla?) And then there was the potty accidents. Both children. And the tantrums (the kids). And the pouting (me). It was rough.

Momma said there'd be days like this...

But the bright spot of our day was an hour of relative peace at the park. I wasn't able to completely unwind and catch up with my friend (sorry, Lyd), but it was the one thing I can take away from a day that was otherwise downright hard.

And that one hour of fun I had with my kids is probably the part of this season of my life that I'll remember.

And that they'll remember.

At the end of our park outing, the fun activity of the day was to pick up rocks and throw them into the drainage ditch. I know all you mothers of boys know how much fun it is to chunk rocks into water.

I thought about the drainage ditch and how it was just less than what it could be or what it should be. Instead of a cool stream of clear fresh water rushing over rocks, we kind of had to settle on the stagnant water of the drainage ditch.

The time spent with my kids today was not unlike that. It was just less that what it could be or what it should be. Without my own sin or the sin of my children, it would be so much more. Don't get me wrong- there are glimpses of good and especially as we surrender to the will of our Father, we sometimes get it right, but today just left me wanting. The Curse we live under is so pervasive that we kind of forget that in the end, all things will be made new. We weren't meant to live like this- to struggle like this- and one Day, we won't. I treasure the time the Lord has given me and I want to sear the memory of the fun we had today under a beautiful clear blue sky in my mind forever. But I also yearn for the time when all things are new- when concrete drainage ditches are replaced by something better and the impatience in my heart is removed and the hearts of my children are completely righteous all the time.

Randy Alcorn's Heaven has taught me a lot about what I've always felt in my heart, but for which I'd never had words. I yearn for this newness of life and this renewal of all things and for this beauty that I've not quite ever seen because it's coming. On Earth as it is in Heaven.

I can't wait.

Revelation 21:3-5 "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long live the Camry

My friend Rendi had told me about this one, but I just recently saw it. This is SO us. We have high hopes of Anna Grace's first car being the black Camry that she's ridden around in since she was three years old, singing Psalty the Singing Songbook songs and chomping on Cheerios. Hard to believe we only have about eleven years until that's a reality. Wow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Zeke feeds the baby

...and then himself.

The Chaney Monster Mash

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

I can always count on JennO to get me on the Jib Jab train. I find it irresistibly funny. Thanks Jenn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The way He shines in the dark places

If you live in my corner of Louisiana, you know what I'm talking about when I say that it has been dark lately. Literally dark. When it's not raining, it's overcast and gloomy. I can't remember the last time I saw the sun. I miss it.

Not only has it been literally dark, but it seems like my life has been some kind of movie and I'm stuck in the part where the symbolic rain falls. I've had sick children and I'm carrying a child that makes me feel sick. I'm tired, run down, busy at work with little time for myself, and it's easy to start drumming up the pity party of the ages.

But then, His love breaks through- rays of sunshine to illuminate the corners of my heart that were growing dim.

Today started with a friend reminding me that God loves me for who I am and not what I do. That He sees me and knows me and loves me and delights in me. It was Light.

I went on to work with a little boy whose body was twisted and ravaged with disease, but the Light was in his smile. He lit up every room he entered.

The rays of warmth came next through pancakes and bacon and smoothies prepared by a friend who loves me well. And the love of my girl friends who all took time to come together for a lunch.

This day was getting brighter by the hour.

A little time of worship and a few things knocked off the to-do list, I was starting to bask in this Light.

It didn't end perfectly. There were still challenges to be met and the literal sun didn't ever shine, but Light was there to guide me and to beckon me to higher ground.

One day I hope to have a really good camera. I really appreciate and admire the way good photographers can capture and use light to make really beautiful works of art. In the same way- and maybe in the ultimate way- I'm in awe of the Radiant One who illuminates dark places, using His Light to make beautiful things that otherwise are not.

He is radiant. And I live for that Light.

May His light fall upon your dark places today.

"My lover is radiant..." Song of Songs 5:10

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." I John 1:5

"Arise, shine, for your light has come. And the glory of the Lord rises upon you." Isaiah 60:1

A lament in limerick

To my jeans I no longer can wear
It seems to be kinda not fair
To elastic I go
But, girl, don't you know
I got a bump that ain't goin nowhere.

It's beginning, I tell you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My three munchkins: baby Chaney

My littlest one is a one inch wonder at this point. Amazing, amazing stuff. Nine weeks and counting...

My three munchkins: Zeke

Zeke is so sweet, I just want to squeeze him. Anna Grace had Junior, Zeke now has Buddy (a bouncy ball that he has personified- video to come). What a funny one. He is a potty expert and quite a joker. We love our little Z dude.

My three munchkins: Anna Grace

She LOVES October for a variety of reasons, one of which is that her birthday is coming up. The other is decorations. Jack and I envision visiting her when she's grown up- her house all decked out for every holiday.

She took notes during LPB's documentary on raptors. She can't decide if she wants to be a scientist or an artist. Maybe both I tell her. In case you can't read it, her paper says, "Some baby birds are not like the others." Of course. Very good observation.

Due to being several men down on our soccer team, we had cousin Cavett come in and take up our soccer slack. Our two stars had a blast taking it down the field together. What a team.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What God gave me for my birthday

Other than His mercy that is new every morning?

And His unfathomable grace and love?

And the best family in the world?

And a husband who gave up the Florida v. LSU game to be with me?

And friends who love me no matter what?

And an afternoon of shopping with my mom?

And just the thing I wanted for my kitchen via my thoughtful mother-in-law?


Let me tell you the story.

It all started in 2002. I was about to graduate from Emory's physical therapy program in Atlanta and Jack was about to start his stint at seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. We were in transition and did not know a soul in Kentucky. We didn't know a soul, but my mom and dad did. My parents had been friends with Kathy and David for years and since they had moved to Lexington several years ago, she urged me to give her a call.

Just like you want to do- call people you barely know and ask them to show you around town.

But I did.

It ends up that it was one of the best decisions I've ever made with a blessing attached I could never have fathomed.

Kathy took my under her wing and has been my momma bird ever since.

I love this woman.

She was there to look at over 30 rental houses with me in one day. She was there when we moved in. She was there in the middle of the night when I got the news that my dad had died in the car accident. She was there when my first baby was only a few weeks old, taking the night shift. She was always there to pray, to talk, to laugh, and to help us in any way she could.

She has always been there.

Fast forward to 2006. Kathy and her husband had moved to Shreveport about a year before we knew we were headed south, too, and were there to help us through our Kentucky-to-Louisiana transition. Anna Grace, Jack, and I spent some of our transition time at Kathy's house.

Time with Kathy is always precious to me and we made some memories during that time, but one thing we'll always remember is our birds. When my little crew first came to stay, Kathy discovered a nest that a momma bird had built just outside her front door. Four little baby birds had hatched. Everyday, we'd show little Anna Grace the baby birds and listen to their tiny squeaks. About the time we moved out, the baby birds had spread their wings and flown away.

The four little birds flew out of the nest about the time we found out we were pregnant again. Four birds, four Chaneys flying out of the nest. It was kind of neat. We've been all about birds ever since.

Kathy has since flown the coup to Cincinnati and I miss her dearly. We had lunch a few weeks ago during one of her visits home and we decided to make it a priority to have weekly Skype dates to pray with and for each other and to dig deeper in to God's word together.

So Skype we have.

And we started in Isaiah.

So when I opened the birthday present sent from Ohio, I was blown away. Kathy had found a prayer journal for me with five birds on the front. And Isaiah 61:10 repeated about a thousand times in the front and back cover.

"My soul rejoices in my God."

It's what Kathy gave me for my birthday, but it's really what God gave me for my birthday. He sees the moves of my heart toward Him and responds in a tangible, detailed way. He sees me, He loves me, and He sings over me, wooing me and wowing me the whole time. He knew that there would now be five Chaneys and that Kathy and I would be digging into the prophecies of Isaiah in October 2009 and He put that journal right where it needed to be at just the right time.

Is the devil in the details? Maybe.

But more often than not, and in this case, my God was in them.

My soul rejoices in my God. For sure.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Relaxing Cool Admiring Station

We're feeling much better (thanks for all the prayers and love) and with only congestion and coughs to show for our swine flu, things have once again livened up at the Chaney household.

Case in point: Anna Grace and Zeke spent the evening air punching each other (that's where you punch NEAR your sibling, but not actually AT your sibling) and screaming "NEVER!!!!" intermittently. Then, they were "junglemongers," stranded in a jungle with no beds and nothing to eat but coconut milk. Then, they spent some time preparing a surprise in AG's room. Once it was ready, we were cordially invited to "The Relaxing Cool Admiring Station" with great enthusiasm. What all that means or what all that is, I can't tell you, but I have to say, whatever it was, it was truly delightful. I recommend it with a wink and a smile.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The place where love happens

I've spent the last four days trying to survive the swine flu that has turned our home into a 24 hour nursing unit. It tried to trick us into thinking that it was mild and easy as far as flu-strains go, but it turns out that this bug, at least for us, is as nasty as it is inconvenient. It has wandered from Anna Grace to Zeke and I'm hoping it stops there. As I was holding my fire-hot little boy last night, I prayed for protection from all the germs that inevitably get rocketed all over my face from a sneeze gone wrong. To top it all off, I'm going on about 75% energy capacity and trying to dodge those lovely waves of nausea that come with hosting a new little life in my belly. It hasn't been easy.

Since I've become a mom, I've had times when I've felt irrelevant, left out, miserable, and used up. It's not always easy managing healthy children, much less sick ones. But in the midst of all the cough medicine and sleepless nights, I feel like the Lord has been speaking to my heart about the holiness of these moments.

Zephaniah 3:17 speaks of the Lord's nearness, His salvation, the way He takes great delight in and quiets His people with His love, and the way He rejoices over us with singing.

Surely holding my coughing and exhausted little one close to my chest at 2:00 am, attending to him, loving him, and singing to him is a picture of how the Lord loves us. It's a picture of the WAY He loves us, a glimpse of the measure of what He would do for us.

The fact is, as hard is at may be, parenting is teaching me about my Father and His love. The more I die to my own agenda, my own needs, my own ideas about what would make me happy, the more I really SEE what love is.

Jesus told us in John 15:12 that: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Surely sacrificing the time and money and energy it takes to raise these little ones in love is one fraction of what He was talking about. The Spirit has quickened my heart to remind me that I am not irrelevant or missing out- this is the place where love happens: in laying down my life. And when I remember that, I find joy that shatters the darkness of the mundane and difficult. I rise above the circumstances and I'm able to bless the name of the Lord- whose Love has saved me.

Yet again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Snug in her Snuggie

The bad news? Anna Grace has the H1N1 flu.

The good news? Her BB found her a Snuggie.

For kids.

That was pink.

With matching socks.

Anna Grace has been asking for a Snuggie for over a year now and just yesterday, she told me how much she wished she had one. My snug bug in a rug is currently on the couch watching PBS Kids, happier than Jack on a Saturday morning in the fall.

Let's just hope she keeps those germs to herself.

PS- For all you snuggie fans and haters, here's an interesting web site. Who knew a blanket with sleeves could cause such a stir?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Red River Revel Risk

I felt good yesterday. So good, that I went on a run, took AG to her soccer game, and then decided to take my two kiddos plus my nephew William to the Revel all by myself. I was whipped by the end of the day, but with Jack out for the day on a quick excursion to Athens, GA, to see his Tigers play, I had to choose to try to not only get through the day, but to enjoy the time I was given. It was a bit of a calculated risk to take these three to the largest festival in Northwest Louisiana, but it paid off. First up, a shuttle bus ride.
It was hilarious how fun the kids thought it was to ride a bus. They loved it.

Before we even got out of the car, we talked a lot about holding hands and staying together. They listened.

The grocery store is always a Revel favorite.

Next up was face-painting. William tolerated it, but Zeke promptly wiped his football off. Not for him, I guess.

Anna Grace had an angel commissioned. It wasn't on the menu, but our high school face painter was very kind and did a great job.

Next up, the mock dig. As you can imagine, it was a huge, messy, dirty, hit.

What could be better after digging in dirt than digging into a snack?

Especially when it's storytime at the kids tent.

After the story, we found ourselves back on the bus, all of us totally satisfied with a day well spent. Maybe I can really do this three kid thing after all...

Tee tee of my little pee wee

If you notice the baby widget under Zeke's picture on the sidebar, you'll see that my baby's kidneys are starting to produce urine today. How crazy is that? Amazing stuff.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our neighbors in Indonesia

It's easy just to go about my day and forget about the people in the world who are crying out for help. A beautiful sunny day, a morning run, a soccer game, what to do for lunch... it all can kind of lull you to sleep if you're not careful.

I got an email from Campus Crusade and I have to admit, I didn't want to see the numbers- what it had to say about the devastation in Indonesia.

But certainly, caring for those in need is what we're called to do, so if you get a minute, take some time to sit and be vulnerable to the promptings of God- to grieve for these people, pray for them, give a little bit toward disaster relief. Here's your site.

Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

Friday, October 2, 2009

My guys

These two peas in a pod of manhood are so similar in so many ways. Hence...

My top ten list of ways Jack and Zeke are just alike:

1. They both love to joke around. Next time you see him, ask Zeke to give you five up high and then down low. He'll trick you with his "TOO SLOW!" in a second. And laugh about it.
2. They're both morning people. It drives me and Anna Grace crazy.
3. They both love to wear LSU shirts and chant L-S-U, L-S-U! They both love to chant in general- arm pumping included.
4. They both seem to be unable to live without me at times.
5. They both like to mow the grass. Not edging or weed-eating so much, but lawn-mowing is a favorite.
6. They're really good at just hanging out. They're laid-back, chillin', type B types.
7. They can both get pretty upset and then be really calm in a very short time frame (I call it a an "I'm mad lightswitch"). At least Jack doesn't throw things when he's mad. We're working on that one.
8. They both know how to tee tee on the potty.
9. They share a deep and passionate love of pizza.
10. They both have a heart sensitive to the prompting of God and a kindness that others always notice.

I love my guys- the ways they're the same and the ways they're different. And if Zeke turns out to be just like his daddy, I'll be one blessed and thankful momma. Come to think about it, I already am.