Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moon blue, Year new

Look up tonight and take in the blue moon lighting up your New Year's sky. It seems as though the occasion is pretty rare. Props go to my first college roommate for the heads up (pun intended).

Speaking of, not only is blue moon a lunar event and a brewing company, it's also one of my favorite songs. Fortunately, I do actually have a dream in my heart and a love of my own and I don't pray to the moon, but still... it's a great song. The Cowboy Junkies version may be even better.

Just thought you should know.

And continuing on lunar themes, they've found water on the moon. Where did it come from? See Walt Brown's hydroplate theory. Hmmm...

Also- don't miss Carpoolqueen's thoughts on the New Year. Good thoughts as we enter another trip around the sun.

Happy New Year, my friends. Here's to the trials and triumphs of 2010!

Houston, this is this little light of mine, signing out for 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To the little one in my belly

When we found out on Christmas morning that a baby boy was joining our family, we were all surprised- Anna Grace especially. I was thrilled, but truthfully, your sister was really sad. I think she really was expecting to have a sister.

But what we know is that God knew exactly what our family needed. He has made you for Himself and has lent you to us. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Anna Grace may have been thrown for a loop for a moment, but today, she decorated the house in blue streamers to celebrate you. She can't wait to transform her room in shades of green, yellow, and blue to welcome you into the world. She can't wait to hold you and love you in a tangible way. Neither can I. Neither can the rest of the family who loves you.

Our days have been filled with thoughts of you. As your daddy and I felt you squirm in my belly tonight, we wondered about you- what you'd look like, what personality you'd bring to the mix, and even if you'd like the "Batman" game that Zeke likes to play. I'm Bat-Mommy, and you've got a Bat-Daddy and a Bat-Sister, and you're Bat-Baby, you know.

We may not know much about you yet, but you are already known by your God who created you.

Today marks the halfway point in my pregnancy. In less than 20 weeks, we will welcome you into the world. I keep thinking about how much I love you already. Like my friend has perfectly described this love- I feel like I'm growing a whole heart just for you.

The really striking, amazing, unfathomable thing about all this is that this love I feel for you is only a glimpse of how the Lord feels about you. His is love that surpasses knowledge. (Eph. 3:19)

And that is my prayer for you tonight. For all my children. And for my family and friends. And even for strangers.

Ephesians 3:17-19 "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."

You're only halfway through gestation and already the Lord is using your life to speak. Blessings precede you, my son.

May it always be.

For Kathy

Isaiah 44:2-5 "This what the LORD says-- he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, 'I belong to the LORD'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The LORD's,' and will take the name Israel."

My Skyping (is that a word?) buddy, Kathy, posed this question several weeks back and I haven't stopped thinking about it:

What would we do with our hands if we saw them for what they were? For whose they are?

Are they my hands or His?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Mozart in the making

Lately, my little composer has included creating sheet music during her frequent episodes of creative songwriting.

Today's song was sung to me pianissimo and started off with "I love you with all my heart" and ended with "...the hills are weeping, but I love you... (dramatic pause)... forever."

And this is part of a Monday at home with my children.

It makes all the shower-less days and piles of laundry and impatient fits of anger (on both our parts) totally worth it.

These children of mine knock my socks off.

Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My new lens on life!

That Jack Chaney is one great husband. I've had my eye behind my new camera for the past couple of days and it has been a blast! I'm telling you, people, he did GOOD this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If you do nothing else this Christmas...

... do this:

Meditate on what it means that the Word became flesh.

It's easy to get lost in everything. It's trite, but true.

There are a couple of hymns that have struck my heart a little bit differently this season. Songs are always a good and easy place to start as no doubt many of us will find ourselves in pews tomorrow belting out these familiar tunes.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
-William Dix

Mild He lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.
-Charles Wesley

The silent Word pleading. Born that man no more may die.

Praise God this Christmas for He is humble. Praise God this Christmas because He has done so much- including the incarnation in which He became a man forever- so that we could live in relationship with Him forever.

The celebration of Christmas is so familiar, but so mysterious.

Like I said, if you do nothing else this Christmas...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My warriors and their roaring hearts

I went to see Avatar with Jack on Sunday night. I was totally lost on why everyone in the theater clapped at the end and why the lady next to me remarked that she was "speechless" regarding how good it was. I was checking my watch and trying to catch a snooze through the whole thing, but Jack liked it. And that's what counts, right?

Zeke's new favorite book is the classic Where the Wild Things Are. He roars his terrible roars and bares his terrible teeth with all those funny monsters and just loves it.

It makes me think I need to get out my copy of Wild at Heart and actually finish it. Especially if I've got another man-to-be entering the Chaney equation.

The guys in my life love a good, deep roar (against evil, I like to think).

Maybe one day, I'll understand.

But probably not.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The glorious gifts of my fruity friends

Living in a little community believers is just fun. On top of that, experiencing the fruits of everyone using their own gifts as parts of the Body of Christ is both interesting and joyful.

A friend of mine (whose name starts with an "R" and sounds like "Bendi") has been given the gift of administration. With this being a gift I know little about, I really appreciate it in her. Not only does she have and use this gift, but she uses it in the context of her compassionate heart and intercessory spirit. It's no wonder she spends her days defending people.

Yesterday's caroling hayride was a perfect example of how this woman of God uses her gifts to serve. First, there was the list of about thirty people to call on our route through South Highlands to determine who still lived where, whether or not they were available, and whether or not they were interested in a group of 15 adults and as many kids singing carols on their front steps. Then there were the logistics of the hayride (props to Bob for the trailer and to Nora for the hay hook-up) and the announcements and the reminders of this and that.

I'm sure it was quite an effort, but the results were fabulous.

We're not exactly sure if allowing small children to ride in the back of a trailer is exactly legal in city limits, and at one point, I heard Eric making sure that the kids hadn't stolen Baby Jesus out of a nativity scene, but still...


Not only did we have a great time bundling our kids up and ringing bells and singing "Joy to the World" through the streets surrounding our church, but the people we visited were blessed (one sweet older gentleman even cried) as we spread the love of Christ through the simple gift of a song and a visit.

(That's not to mention Bethany's fabulous baked goodies- that's one of her many gifts).

Of course, Rendi got some degree of rejection. When asked if he would like carolers, one older person she had called told her, "Honey, I'd rather you not."

And in some ways, Rendi also got herself more than she had bargained for. After she had committed to singing to one lady, she learned that this wasn't even close to our route and so my friend and her husband had to go solo to that one after we had finished. "I hope you can carry a tune," the visited lady pronounced upon their arrival. Yikes.

Still, Rendi presses on unscathed, using her gifts for the glory of God without hindrance, without fear.

What are my gifts? Am I using them fearlessly?

Seeing and experiencing the fruit of my friend's gifts makes me wonder.

It also gives me more resolve.

So thanks, my friend, and to all of you who are living life with me. The Lord has blessed me beyond measure through His people.

May our children learn about community and the benefits of being the Body of Christ through the examples that surround them.

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Intersecting with God

I haven't always been in the right place at the right time. On my journey through life, I've made some wrong turns and ended up in dark places.

It's a good thing our God is in the business of redemption.

I haven't always been in the right place at the right time, but just this week, I experienced the right place/right time phenomenon firsthand.

And then, in the course of small-talk-type-Christmas- party banter, someone told Jack that he was in the right place at the right time in his current station in life. Which is very true but also very interesting considering his station in life has been really hard lately.

It made me think that maybe being in the right place at the right time doesn't just happen. Maybe there is Someone behind it.

Anna Grace and I huddled on the couch this morning in our pajamas and watched The Nativity Story. This story that I've known my whole life is captivating my attention more and more. When it happened, how it happened, and to whom it happened are all facets of the heart of God that amaze me.

And I guess you could say that Mary was in the right place at the right time.

In all the fullness of time, Mary was the one to bring forth the Messiah, the One that would crush Satan's head as spoken by God in Genesis 3:15. Prophecy and prayer had focused on this One ever since. And Mary was then called to respond in faith and obedience to carry the Creator of the universe in her womb. Wow.

I don't think Mary's task was particularly easy, but it was certainly huge. Angelic visitations and a Holy Spirit conception and celestial signs and visits from Eastern kings were part of the package, but what must have been thrilling about the experience was also not free from difficulty. Mary and Joseph had to protect Jesus from Herod's threat as they fled to Egypt and Mary's heart must have been crushed at the sight of her son and her King being tortured and killed on a Roman cross. Of course, the roller coaster of emotion continued with the unspeakable joy of seeing her son resurrected.

Still, Mary will be forever blessed by responding in obedience to the word of the Lord. The boundary lines of living a life of faith fell in good places for Mary. She was and forever is in the right place at the right time.

As we pursue God and a life worthy of our calling, our path may not be trouble free, but it will certainly be full of peace in knowing that we're where we need to be when we need to be there.

I thank Mary for her example of faith and God for the good and loving ways He leads us.

Lead on, Lord.

I'm ready.

Chocolate covered something

I'm not sure what we made more effectively today. Chocolate covered pretzels...

Or a chocolate covered Anna Grace!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Feet- Chaney Edition

What better activity to pass the time than to dance around like a crazy penguin?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Such as these

Kids can teach you a lot of things.

Just recently, my five-year-old taught me that even though God's love and redemption may be too mysterious for anyone to fully grasp, it's still not out of reach for even the youngest among us to begin to understand.

We've been through a lot of devotional-type Bible story books for children. Our nighttime routine has always involved one to three books, then a "Bible story," then prayers, then lights out (almost always followed by request for light or milk or Favorite Blanket or you know... anything to delay the inevitable). We finished our most recent children's Bible story book of the day and I decided to branch out and dig in deeply, reading to my children out of the Bible. Straight up. No glossing over anything. Just the Bible.

We went through the creation account over a few days, the Fall, and then came to the account of Cain and Abel. One night was just for a Cain and Abel introduction, the next was the story of what happened. Anna Grace listened intently and asked two great questions about what had happened- one I could answer, one I couldn't.

First: Why didn't God like Cain's offering?

Although it's not spelled out in the Genesis account, I'm convinced that Cain and Abel (and Adam and Eve for that matter) were either told or inherently understood the blood covenant.

Hebrews 9:22 "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

So, I explained that when Adam and Eve sinned, the fig leaves weren't enough to cover them. God had to kill animals to make a covering for them, just like Jesus had to die and shed His blood so that our sins could be forgiven. Cain's offering wasn't okay because God's law required death for sin and that involved the shedding of blood.

I know. It's kind of a lot for a five-year-old to get- sometimes it's a lot for me to get- but that seemed to answer her question.

In short, Abel did what God wanted- what was right. Cain did it his own way.

Second: What did Cain and Abel look like?

This, I told her, I couldn't answer. Maybe I could find something on the computer in the morning.

It was the best I could do, so we went to bed and that was that.

Until the morning.

A groggy Anna Grace came to me the next morning with news that she had had a dream about Cain and Abel. Cain was skinny and wore glasses, Abel was big and had a brown beard. Cain was drawing on an easel and he was angry. Abel approached him and asked why he was so angry and
why he wouldn't do what was right. Then Cain and Abel were walking in the snow. Cain was holding Abel's hand but suddenly let go. Abel's lips turned blue and he then stopped living. An angel came to Cain and asked Cain if he knew that Abel had died. Cain said he didn't know, but really, he did. He just didn't want the angel to find out.

That was her dream.

After she told me the dream, she added that she thought God must have heard her question about what Cain and Abel looked like and so He showed her in a dream.

I think sometimes there's a point in which it stops being cute and it starts being really heavy.

In retrospect, the lesson for me is that I need not underestimate what my children can understand and what the Lord wants to say to and through them.

Time after time, Anna Grace has been my exhibit A.

Matthew 19:14 "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"

(And in case you need a translation of what Anna Grace wrote, it says, "I love you, God, because I really do. And mom dad." She wrote this during a church service several weeks ago. Our writing is great, but we still need a little translating every now and again.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking Joy

"The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, for now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

Fra Giovanni
A.D. 1513

In expectation, three stockings have been hung at the Chaney house. Wow. Three kids. What joy indeed!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

I don't know what was more entertaining.

The dancing star...

...or how Anna Grace froze on stage even when prompted. All she could do was nod her head (to her credit, all she was waiting on was the microphone to be handed to her like they had practiced in rehearsal)...

Or little Gracie Greer, piggy in hand, who decided to take her robe off on stage. Or the part where she wandered around for a while and almost got bulldozed by the cast.

Or the part where the scenery fell down drawing gasps from the audience. (Or if you're me or Nora, you're laughing so hard you're face is red and your stomach hurts).

It may have not gone off without a hitch, but it truly was the Best Christmas pageant ever.

With the best looking Reverend Hopkins ever.

No doubt.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

All aboard!

Tonight, we picked up Nana and headed to Texas for a ride on the Christmas Train.

Zeke kept telling me he was "so excited."

Anna Grace sang "Joy to the World" at the top of her lungs.

So yeah... we had a good time. Thank you Jefferson, TX, and thank you Rebecca for the great recommendation!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A small rendition of glory

Luke 1:26-33 "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

My heart was greatly moved at the scene of St. Mark Cathedral School's Billionth Annual Christmas Sing. Anna Grace was Gabriel, bringing news to "Mary," then waving the Star of Bethlehem above the 5-year-old version of Jesus' birth. Cameras were snapping all over the place and the kids were squirming in their designated costumes, but it was a scene of such beauty and such truth. Between the glow of the Christmas lights and the smiles on everyone's face and the smell of hot coffee, it was a Christmas moment to remember. It was awesome.

I'm vowing to take it all in this year- all that the Lord is speaking through the celebration of the incarnation. I don't want to miss the significance, the new revelation of what it all means, the wonder and the mystery of the Word becoming flesh.

Joy to the world!

(In case you're a Pop Pop or a Be Be or a Nana and you want to get the whole picture, the link to more pics is here. You may be interested in image number 132.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What child is this?

This Christmas, we'll open a really special present. When box is opened and the envelope unsealed, we'll know more about the baby growing inside my womb. Boy or girl. We'll know her name. Or we'll know his name.

I think there's something about being pregnant at Christmas. To identify, in part, with Mary.

Of course, Mary's experience was wildly different. And Mary amazes me. Gabriel's terrifying angelic visitation simply results in one very good question and devoted obedience. Wow. And a song of worship.

Mary had no ultrasounds, no lab tests, and no amniocentesis, and yet throughout the pregnancy, she knew she was carrying a boy. The Messiah. The One. And she knew His name.

What a gift- to know, at least in part, Who she was carrying. With the incarnation of the Word made Flesh at hand, it was important for Mary and Joseph to KNOW what was happening. The Savior of the world was going to be born into their family.

It blows my mind- I can only imagine what Mary must have thought.

And I can't decide if I'm being totally self-centered in my comparison by remembering Mary with my own pregnancy or if the comparison is valid. But as I've struggled through understanding the reason why I really want to know if I'm having a boy or a girl in May- why I don't want to wait until the birth to find out- I've come to the understanding that it's because one of the longings of the human heart is to know and to be known. Just as I want to be known, I want to know my child. The longing is fulfilled in knowing the One who made us, but we seek to fill that longing in so many other ways.

1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Aren't you looking forward to knowing fully and being fully known? Doesn't that make your heart feel alive?

It's why we do so many of the things we do. We write, we call, we befriend, we serve, we love, we talk, we pursue, we interact. All these things we do, whether for evil or for good, are in part driven by this hold intimacy has on our hearts.

What child is this?

The wonder of Mary began even before that Holy conception and I'm sure was even greater as she wrapped her son in cloths and laid him in a manger.

Maybe my desire to know this child that is in my womb is derived from my desire to know the One who was born of Mary 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. I know a little bit about Him. I know why He came and I know that He is the ultimate expression of what is good, faithful, just, strong, wise, dedicated, holy, beautiful, and loving, but there's so much more to learn. He has spoken to my heart and as I've sought to know Him, He has revealed Himself to me. But I want more. I want to know Him fully, how He feels about me, what He thinks, what He wants, who He is. I can't help but be filled with awe and wonder and worship when I think God becoming a man, forever, so that I could live with Him, forever, because He loves me.

What child is this?

I really want to know. Fully.

And I'm determined to find Him out.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

With them in the waiting

If you can, say a quick prayer for the Harrigans today as they wait on the Lord for the adoption of their baby girl.

Maybe there will be another beautiful addition to this little family of God by Christmas...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The boy and his Mac truck

With a little Rascal Flatts in the mix...

To die is gain

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to yesterday's events. Another funeral. More small talk at a reception full of people I don't know. More time away from the things I need to get done. It's a very ugly truth, but my bad attitude was as self-centered as it gets.


In His great kindness and mercy, the Lord broke through yesterday through the words my grandmother left to her children and grandchildren.

The graveside service resonated with the words of Isaiah, striking my heart with renewed hope and perspective. The message at the memorial service was lovingly and carefully crafted by both my grandmother's selfless wishes and her old friend's heartfelt delivery despite a nasty cold. The songs of worship lifted spirits and my sister's voice boldly proclaimed "To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing... And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on..."

My grandmother, Eleanor, left us with a final word. "Be happy with me for the promises Heaven holds."

To die is gain, Dr. Webb reminded us.

I probably never knew the true Eleanor Brown Greve. I never knew her as a young woman who rode in airplanes (pictured). I never knew her brown curly hair or her youthful energy. I never knew her as carefree, throwing her head back in unhindered laughter. I never even knew she had an art degree much less did I know she painted.

I knew her as a devoted wife, a faithful choir member, a proficient homemaker, a doting grandmother and great-grandmother, and a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

I can't wait until the Day that I meet her again, post-resurrection. What a difference it will be.

She'll still be devoted, faithful, proficient, doting, and committed, but she'll also be adventurous, youthful, carefree, and creative once again. And probably even more.

The memorial service of yesterday was a reminder to me that to die is gain. Gran reminded me of that. Certainly its ultimate expression is the transition to being in the presence of God as my grandmother has already made, but dying to my own agenda and my own selfish wants and desires is a part of that. The blessings of taking the day to be with my family in collective rememberance and love was immeasurable.

It was not about me and it was good.

I was able to squeeze a run in between the service and our (very large) family gathering last night. I ran to a song of hope that just happened to come up on my ipod's shuffle.

"You make all things beautiful... it's just a matter of time. So I will wait for You. It's just a matter of time."

Just a matter of time.

I hope I can continue to learn how to truly love and how to more fully lay down my life, day by day, in the meantime.

And today, my meantime, my heart is full of love and gratitude for Eleanor Greve and the words of life she left to future generations as well as for the Word himself that spoke them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sarah's shots

I love pictures.

I always have. I have stacks and stacks of old pictures of all kinds of nothing. I don't know what it is that is so captivating to me. I don't know. I can't even post something to my blog without a picture.

In any case, my cousin Sarah shared some pictures from my cousin Leah's bridesmaid luncheon a few weeks ago.

Of course, I loved them.
This is cousin Leah, the bride, with my 88 year old grandmother who later that night cut a rug to "Brickhouse." I don't know what the caption should be here, but I know there's got to be a good one.
And this one is Anna Grace proudly entertaining everyone at our end of the table with the skill she most wanted to share with everyone: counting to one hundred. I think Aunt Robin, leaning in to carefully listen to each number, was in a codeine-induced happy place which makes this picture even more funny to me. To be fair, she did have a seriously nasty bruise and some cracked ribs after a recent fall. But still. Funny.

So there you have it. Pictures of the day.

And speaking of pictures, the ultrasound of Baby Chaney is being postponed probably to December 21st due to insurance reasons. But the more exciting news is that we're going to have the technician write the sex of the baby on a sheet of paper to be saved for us all to open as a family on Christmas morning. Including Jack. Yay for compromise!

The Doodlebugs meet Santa

I just loved the little girl in the white cheesing for the camera and I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In which I actually get to meet the one, the only- Carpoolqueen

There is this friend of a friend of mine that I had never met in real life before today. We'd never met before, but, strangely, I feel like she's been a friend of mine for a long, long time. Actually, it was a strange emotion as I pulled up to our rendezvous restaurant- a mix of excited anticipation of seeing an old friend and nervous jitters of meeting a celebrity.

Because Carpoolqueen has one of the best blogs on the web. As far as I'm concerned, she far surpasses Taylor Swift or Oprah or Michelle Obama in her famous awesomeness.

And here we are, me beautiful and pregnant (not how I feel but what I'm saying about myself) and Carpoolqueen, beautiful and famous.

She was even so kind as to send me off with an autograph for Jack who is also a big CPQ fan.

And did I mention she brought her triplet boys, aka Joyful, Cute, and Charming? I had some serious fun meeting this fabulous crew and seeing CPQ in her mothering element. She's a good one, people.

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I got to sit next to a 5'6" ten-year-old who explained and expounded on all manner of wonders.

He even left me with his own autograph with an indication that he enjoyed the meeting, too.
So, thank you CPQ, for making time for your little pregnant friend.

I had a nice day.