Monday, August 30, 2010

Together 2010

You grow together in the love of Jesus when you can...

get away together

break bread together (or in this case, 115 lovingly handmade turkey meatballs)

have fun together

laugh together (the "H" is for "hunk" and not "Heather" just in case you were wondering)

marvel at the majesty of God together, study His word together

cry together, share your hearts around a fire together, and pray together.

Oh, and raise kids together.

If you're not in a small group of believers who get together regularly to study God's word and live in community, I really encourage you to do so. You can really experience Love in quite a profound way when you do.

Thanks, friends, for the way you've loved me and my husband and my children and the way you've encouraged me to press on in my walk with the Lord.

If this weekend was some sort of barometer for what the Lord might have in store for us this year, it's going to be good for sure.

I'm ready.

(and on a completely different but somehow related note, I wanted to convey that as I rejoiced with those that rejoiced this weekend, I'm mourning with those who mourn today. I love you, friends. You know who you are. Sending love across the miles.)

Because I couldn't choose just one

Goofy, I know.  But fun.  

And good for the heart to be with friends like this.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Even that

 I guess I hadn't been to the Aidan's Place Homemade Granola headquarters in quite some time because when I darkened its doors this week, I was amazed.  Bethany had taken Deuteronomy 6 to a whole other level.

I love it.

The Lord must really love it.

They're taking their Peanut Butter Bliss and Blueberry Dream and Cranberry Sunrise and dedicating themselves to the Lord as they bake and package and sell their granola.

It's such a good reminder to my heart that whether it's granola or laundry or homeschooling or blogging or selling soap to hospitals or cleaning house or praying or performing eye surgery or serving on a committee or changing a diaper preparing a deposition or negotiating pipeline right of ways, it all should be done as unto the Lord.  

Or even helping a three year old who got up screaming at 5:00 am.  

Even that.  (Insert repentance here)

Anyway, thanks for the reminder, my friend.  

Deuteronomy 6:4-9  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Setting my sights on the unseen

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

I don't know when I got my first camera, but I have memories of a love of photography that goes way back. In fact, somewhere in time there once was a group photo taken outside of the home of Juliette Low with a little Candace on the front row of a group of girls, sporting a Girl Scout uniform, a mouth full of braces, a bad haircut, and a rectangle-shaped camera around my neck. I probably even had extra flash cubes in my backpack.

I was in fourth grade and I was ready to capture every moment- every sight and sound of my trip through Savannah, Georgia.

I remember taking pictures everywhere I ever went. I also remember getting film developed. The photo center at the grocery store had the envelopes to fill out with the little box where you can check if you want "singles" or "doubles." And then there was the three to five day wait. I remember the disappointment when the stack of photos came back all overexposed or all blurry or all just plain bad. I remember arranging and rearranging pictures on the bulletin board above my bed.

I've always loved pictures.

I have yet to take a photography class. I know virtually nothing about aperture or shutter speeds or f stops, but I do know how my heart is moved by photographs. Whether it's images of my kids smiling or an expression of love or joy or peace or the brilliance of color in a sunset or an autumn leaf or even something mundane caught in an extraordinary moment, the reaction of my heart is often quite powerful.

Maybe those images move my heart because I was made for beauty. Maybe beauty reminds me of Beauty.

Psalm 27:4 "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple."

Maybe I really was made to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord- all the days of my life.

When I see my kids smile at me, I see how the Lord loves me as I love my children.

When I see a brilliant rainbow or an unusual flower in unusual light, I see the creative genius of the Lord.

When I see something mundane, like a doorknob, in a new light, I see hope- that the Lord will make all things new One Day.

And in seeing these things, I am actually moved to set my sights on what is unseen.

As in this picture, I see a sprinkler and a boy, but I'm moved to fix my eyes on this little boy's heart- his joy and his love of life. I'm moved to wonder at how the Lord must love him, how it is that the Lord created him, what the Lord will do with his life, how I can best teach him to serve and love the Lord and people.

And in this way, my focus isn't just the composition of the picture or how distracting the background might be, it's the heart of the matter.

The eternal part.

Because it's not what you can see, it's what you can't quite put your finger on that will last forever.

This morning, I was sitting with Anna Grace in her Kindergarten chapel service in the Episcopal cathedral where she goes to school (which was an amazing and precious experience that I get to do weekly and will certainly have to blog about soon). We sat in the much smaller side chapel, but as I was walking out through the empty but very grand and very beautiful main cathedral, I felt as if I was experiencing something of the holiness of God. The beauty of that place and its grandeur reminded me of the majesty and enormity and mystery and the complete HOLINESS of the Lord. Its beauty pointed me to true Beauty.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was true.

I'm always on the lookout and sometimes I have my camera- sometimes I don't. But when I see it, I'm hoping to recognize it- the nudge of the Spirit to worship the Beauty that I can't quite see with my eyes, but that I feel with all my heart.

I'll be looking.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Because sometimes you just need to hear it

You're a good momma. 

A really good momma.  And your kids are blessed by your love.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yay for school!

Whew... the emotions ran high this morning. I think Zeke's heart was just very full because it was a bit on the wild side at my house this morning before our very first day of preschool and our first day of Kindergarten. And not necessarily in a good way. Maybe it was the donuts that Jack surprised us with. In any case, we had to regroup a little bit and say a little prayer before we headed out the door.

So off we went, camera in hand. My little students were a little nervous, but mostly excited about their new adventures. Zeke was especially thrilled and he seems like he has a new lease on life.

"BYE MOM!" he said- very enthusiastically.

I guess we're all ready to say goodbye to summer and hello to our new friends, a new schedule, and a new school year.

Yay for school!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The work of God displayed

Our friends Haley and Gracie turned five today.

It feels strange to me that I wasn't there and that I didn't even really know my friend Nora on August 19, 2005. I didn't even live in Louisiana. On this day five years ago, I was completely oblivious to the struggle and the miracle of the birth of 24 week old baby girl twins that was taking place in the very hospital room that I would give birth to my youngest son with Nora at my side. It feels strange because I so love these girls. I can't believe I wasn't there to pray with Nora and her family. To be cry with them and celebrate with them and be there to love my friend as she would go through what must have been the most terrifying and overwhelming time of her life.

Maybe it's because we were born only six days apart or maybe because our little boys are best friends or maybe it's because we like to sing old school Amy Grant together or maybe it's because we've been through a lot of really good and really hard life stuff together over the last three years or so, but I just can't believe that I wasn't there when her girls were born.

I feel like I should have been.

But the really cool thing is that the Lord was. In fact, He created them, rescued them, delivered them, and continues to have His strong and loving hand upon them. And upon my friend Nora.

I read about the blind man today in John chapter nine. I couldn't help but think about the girls when Jesus said that this hardship had come upon this man not because he or his parents had sinned, but "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:3)

Certainly, Haley and Gracie's birthday will forever be a time for all those who know and love them to give glory to the One who created, delivered, and redeemed them. I know it is for Nora.

So, Haley and Gracie, as on that first birthday, may the work of God always be displayed in your lives- on the mountain tops and through the valleys of life. May you testify and display the glory and love of the God who WORKS in our lives in amazing ways.

We love you both and we can't wait to see what else our faithful and loving God has in store for you both.

It's sure to be amazing. I'm just glad I have a front row seat.

Happy birthday!!!!!

(Oh, and the fact that the doctor who delivered you was my second mom and spiritual mentor's husband is all kinds of crazy. The Lord has knit our hearts together in all kinds of ways. Wild.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To the moon

On Monday, we went to the moon. In our laundry basket spaceship.

Asher looked smashing in his tissue paper astronaut suit.

And maybe a little scared.

Good thing we had a fail safe button to get us back to earth. And no, it's not a glue bottle covered in foil. It's a spaceship button.

On Sunday, an older and wiser parent gave us younger type folk some advice over some Bible study. I'll never forget it. We were discussing children and how they know love and he said something like, "The fifteen minutes you sit down to play with your kids is greater than the hour of playing with them that you fear because you're so busy."

I really don't do well with the playing. I have laundry to fold and dinner to make and dishes to do. I'm busy. But I found that it really didn't hurt to sit down for a minute and just play. In fact, it is for my good- to grow in love by giving of my time even when I don't feel like it or when it's hard.

And it was even fun.

The best part was my little space girl singing "God of wonders beyond our galaxy..." in her mixing bowl helmet.

Maybe I'm just now getting the hang of being at home with three kids 24/7.

And school starts Friday.

Go figure.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beach 2010

Three things to love about a beach vacation:

1. Family togetherness

2. The sights and sounds of life at the water's edge

3. Those hilarious and precious memories that get seared in your brain forever

Beach 2010 was quite a success. I wish that we could bottle up these south winds that have refreshed our souls and take them with us, but the north winds of the trials of life will inevitably meet us Monday morning. Even so, we can have grateful hearts for our respite and aim to meet the challenges at hand with grace and strength. After all, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We'll venture to thank and praise him on the shoreline of the Gulf and in the first light of a new week.

In the meantime, I'm very grateful to have spent this week together as a family. Thank you, God. And thank you, Pop Pop and Be Be.

We had a great time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

1000 more

This is my one thousandth post on "this little light of mine."

Three years ago, I had no idea what this would become or how much I would enjoy it or how therapeutic it would be for my heart. I had no idea how much the Lord would speak to me through it or how He would use it.

Don't get me wrong. I have no delusions of grandeur here. I know that my corner of the world wide web is small. I know that I'm not the best writer or photographer or storyteller out there. I have a very small but extremely kind, encouraging, and loyal audience. But looking back on these past years of blogging, I am SO grateful for what the Lord has spoken to my heart and for the opportunity to have this venue of remembrance and community, all the while chronicling my little life.

In greater measure in the months and years to come, my hope and prayer for "this little light of mine" is that it would edify and encourage while glorifying the Lord- highlighting His beauty, love, and faithfulness.

Pope Benedict XVI has been encouraging priests and young Catholics to use new technologies, like blogs, to spread the Gospel. He says, "The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel' (1 Cor 9:16)" During World Communications Day last year, He purported, "Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds!"

I may not be Catholic, but Pope Benedict's words resonate within me. That is exactly what I intend for this blog- a venue to herald truth and love.

Make no mistake, I'll continue to post pictures of smiling babies and vacations and silly kids, but as I share my heart, I hope to communicate the beauty of life under the leadership of Jesus Christ.

A thousand more posts could not even begin to capture the wonders of His beauty, truth, and love, but I'll blog on, heralding it anyway.

Because Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men, and that's just what I intend to do.

Here's to 1000 more...

As the waters cover the sea

Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

Kathy and I Skyped our Bible study this morning and as part of it, reviewed Habakkuk. I then walked outside on our balcony to find an amazing scene- a beautiful rainbow over the expanse of water before me.

My God amazes me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vacation indulgences

We all have our vacation indulgences.  Zeke's is sleeping in his clothes. Anna Grace's is having a TV in her room.  Mine is having 24/7 help with the kids which translates to some alone time at the beach. And Jack's?  Well, Jack probably has more than one, but the freedom to sport the three day sale T-shirt may be one of them. 

The three day sale shirt came as a Christmas present five years ago from some of our dearest friends.  Actually, he got a whole stack of Goodwill T-shirts- all of which were awesome- but the three day sale just really stuck.  It's his favorite.  The best part is when he first puts it on, comes out, and declares with his goofiest grin:  "IT STARTS TODAY, PEOPLE!" 

Most of the time, our imaginary sale starts Friday, but in the case of vacation, it started Sunday.  

And it may restart some time this week.  

I just hope the tropical depression in the Gulf doesn't shut it down.  

Because let's face it- that would just be bad for the Chaney vacation bottom line.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our moonlit memory

Anna Grace, I'm so glad you fell asleep on the couch at 5:00 last night.  You may have had a hard time readjusting when you woke up at dinner time, but being able to stay up for our starlit walk on the beach was well worth it.  

I'll never forget it- me and you, hand in hand, star gazing, walking along the edge of the water, your constant song our soundtrack.  

I love you, sweet girl.  Thanks for the memory.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Supporting the shore

Day one and we're having a beachy blast.  No sign of tar balls- just sea shells and pelicans and hermit crabs and herons so far.  We're soldiering on, doing our part to support the Gulf Coast.  It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it, right?