Thursday, March 29, 2012

Numbering our days

Psalm 90
1Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.

 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days

 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eat your oatmeal a.k.a. easy vegan pancakes

I know I haven't expounded upon our vegan lifestyle changes, but the long and the short of it is that I really like my husband and I really don't want to see him with long term cardiac dysfunction or worse.  And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we've made the switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet to keep that ticker of his healthy and ticking away. 

Which brings me to my easy vegan pancakes.

As far as plants go, you probably know that none are better than oats to lower cholesterol levels, right?  Well... did you know that you can buy oat flour?  You probably did.  I didn't.  Heck... you can even make oat flour by grinding up your own whole grain oats if you have the right appliance, but I don't, so I buy oat flour and put it in pancakes, cookies, and muffins.

A few mornings a week, we make pancakes and eat our oats. 

1 cup oat flour
1 T sugar
2 T baking powder
1/8 t salt
1 cup almond milk
2 T applesauce


Top with a little maple syrup and you're good to go.

And so is your lowered-cholesterol blood running through your veins.

The pancake banner in orange crayon is strictly optional. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day Two

It's day two of our Spring Break.  It's 8:00 and the kids still haven't eaten breakfast and they're still in their pajamas, tucked into the pallet they made on the den floor where they slept last night.  On this second day we haven't done much but bounce balls, eat snacks, terrorize our local library, and wash the sidewalk chalk off of our clothes and hands.

It's a good thing we didn't do any driving yesterday, too, since insomnia robbed me of almost an entire night's sleep on Sunday night. But while I was wandering the house in the wee hours of Monday morning and saying some prayers for my children, I felt encouraged.

Asher has been very difficult opinionated lately (he's almost two, remember).  As I snuck a peek at his sweet little slumbering self, I remembered that we love because God first loved us.  Asher will learn love, but he first needs to be shown love.  Folly is indeed bound up in all of us.  Showing him how to love is my task at hand and I must not react in offense when he hits or throws his cereal bowl across the room, but stand my ground in love.

"We love because he first loved us."  I John 4:19

In general, all three of my kiddos are such a delight.  They're growing and saying funny things and exerting their imaginations at every turn.  I have more time with just me and them this week and my job this week is to delight in them- even to rejoice over them with gladness. 

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness..." Zephaniah 3:17

So as we enjoy the rest of our stay-cation, I'm focused on enjoying the three little lives that the Lord has entrusted to my care.

It's not a cake walk and it's not a piece of cake, but it has a cake-like sweetness to it that I don't want to miss.

Here's to day two.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

The big reveal

 My friends Sarah and Stephen will be welcoming their first baby into the world this summer and this past Saturday turned out to be the absolute PERFECT day for a party at the park to find out whether this would be a little girl baby or a little boy baby.  There were cupcakes and cookies and bubbles and everybody got their vote. 

 Like everything Sarah gets her hands on, it was picture perfect. 
 The big cardboard box held pink or blue balloons.  When they came out of the box, we'd all know.  It was absolutely thrilling.
 Here goes!

 It's a GIRL!!!!!!!

 There were hugs and smiles and happy friends. 
 And a very happy soon-to-be grandmother. 
 The next big reveal? 
Will it be a blue eyed or a brown eyed Anne Elizabeth?

We'll see!

We're so happy for you, Sarah and Stephen, and we love your little Annie Beth!  CONGRATS!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bashful, bold, and bound for great things

 Zeke: bashful

Zeke: bold

Ezekiel David, oh how I love you. 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, little love.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

What a privilege it is to know you and love you and help you grow into the strong man of God you were made to be.  



Friday, March 23, 2012

A good gift

 I was laughing so hard I cried in my 1920's era Municipal Auditorium seat as Jerry Seinfeld poked fun at Shreveport, our eating habits, our affinity for technology, marriage, and parenthood.  Apart from a few choice words (hopefully one day, he'll use the name of Jesus correctly), it was a great show.  Even this morning, I think about it and giggle. 

As I watched him do his thing (and he made it look completely fun and effortless), I was just struck by how Seinfeld's gift of humor is just that- an amazing GIFT.

Just like the tickets we were so generously given by a friend, gladness is a GIFT.  The ability to impart joy and gladness and laughter- that's a gift.

I see this play out so often in the life of my quick-witted husband and I am so thankful for this gift that can lighten hearts that are so often weighed down by the heaviness of this fallen world.

Thank you, Jesus, for gladness and laughter and a cheerful heart.  It's a good gift.  And I make no mistake in knowing that it is from you.

"A cheerful heart is a good medicine..." Proverbs 17:21

Rollin' on the River

We rolled in streetcars.

Rickshaws rolled past us.

We rolled with scavenger hunts

And yes, we rolled ourselves right on in to Cafe Du Monde as we said good-bye to interesting, beautiful, delicious, and stinky New Orleans. 

But best of all, we rolled with our family.

We're Chaneys. 

That's how we roll. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

My dream

 The Avett Brothers, who Jack and I went to see in Baton Rouge this past Thursday night, sing this song called "Kick Drum Heart-" it's my absolute favorite.  

Its quickness and fervor get me moving.  Its lyrics make me smile. 

Over and over, its refrain pronounces:

My, my heart like a kick drum.  My, my love like a voice.  

And then it has a piano echo and then you do a little dance and it slows way down and then it speeds way up and it thump, thump, thumps in your heart. 

There are a lot of things I really like about the Avett Brothers.  There's the banjo, the wild man playing the cello, their simple and true lyrics... not to mention the fact that they're brothers.

They sang "Just a Closer Walk with Thee"

I mean, they're brothers.  How awesome is that? 

I don't know what other moms dream for their kids, but for me, seeing my grown children on stage singing about Jesus is an absolute dream.

In fact, it's kind of a vision. 

I was raised in what you might call a musical home.  My mom and dad, in fact, fell in love exchanging glances over choral music. My dad played the stand up bass and the piano and the guitar.  He blasted all kinds of music on Saturday mornings. We sang in the car on family vacations. My siblings and I were all in choir and my sisters and brother are all musical phenoms in their own rite. And even though I sort of missed out on playing an instrument with any skill, music still resonates in every corner of my heart.

And then there's Jack.  Jack and I fell in love exchanging glances over a mix tape.  I still love those goosebumps he gets when he hears a song he especially loves on a Friday afternoon drive.  He was the leader of his boy choir, an experience he to this day describes as formative.  His mom can sing the paint off the wall, too.  

I don't know if my kids will have any desire to pursue musicality, but even though I don't know that they will, I have a pretty strong inkling that they will. How could they not? It's in their blood. 

After all, the Lord spoke to my heart about even having children in the first place on October 31, 2003 at a Jason Upton concert.

I traipsed through the mud at the Ichthus Music Festival when I was four months pregnant.  

And then I had a little girl who sang constantly.  She still does.

We took her to Jazz Fest in New Orleans at 18 months and laughed at the precocious way she said "live music!"

I sing over all of them.  They all have their own songs.

They listen to Psalty and Johnny Cash and Misty Edwards and Mumford and Sons. 

What I'm hoping for and what I'm starting to pray for in a more focused way is children who will worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and that the Lord would give them musical leadership towards that end. 

Again, I might be wrong.  Maybe this is just my dream. 

But on Friday night, I sat Anna Grace and Zeke down in front of a couple of AMAZING New Orleans street performers and I whispered in their ears about the music as we watched an inspiring Canon in D unfold.  I just feel like this kind of thing is important for them. 

I don't know if it's for you, kids, but if it is, GO FOR IT.

And if you do, you can absolutely count on your mom and dad to pray for you to lead a lost world to the truth and freedom found in Jesus through your songs. 
Jack and I joke this will one day be the inside cover art of their first album. 
And sweet kiddos, even if you decide that your love for the Lord expresses itself predominately through another vocation outside of the realm of music, I am certain that your heart will beat strong like a kick drum and your love will indeed be your voice. 

I and love and you.  

Two, three, four...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just be-CUZ

Playground, sunshine, and cousins:
 Does it get much better?

Our Hill family time this past week was fun-ness.

Fun, fun, fun-ness. 

All that fun-ness gets the best of my little Z man sometimes.  But after a quick time in his self-imposed solitary, he's good to go.   After all, his little brain needs time to process all the fun. 

It just cracks me up because I can completely identify.

Thanks for coming to visit, Hills!  We love you so!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My sister

In case you can't tell by the baby blues, no, this is not me with my mom.  It's my sister.

But I did get my haircut today and I think my new swing bangs will further confuse our children the sweet ladies at church who get us confused.

Despite the family resemblance, Jennifer and I are as different as our respective vegan and Atkins diets.  But what struck me the other day was something she said as she sat on my kitchen stool while I chopped and seasoned sweet potatoes.

She said that she hoped that we would always deeply value each other and our relationship.

She said that she hoped that we would always have open and clear lines of communication.

She said that she hoped that we would always openly and honestly love each other and each other's families even if and when it was hard.

Well...  she didn't actually say those words, but she'll know what I mean when I say that's what she meant. 

I'm so grateful for the time I've spent with her this week and for those moments nodding in agreement that yes... we would love each other.

No matter what. 

Three for Thursday

I realize today is Wednesday.

But chances are you're reading this on a Thursday. 

Chances are also good that you're reading this on a Friday or a Monday, but whatever.

The point is, I have three helpful life tips today that I thought I would share.

When faced with insurmountable tasks, I've found these three mantras to be helpful:

1.  Just do the next thing.  Jack likes to say "make the next right decision," but even simpler than that is to just do the next thing.

2.  When an unnecessary mess is made, I've found solace in the fact that it is an opportunity to leave things better off than they were before. Be it a kitchen floor or a relationship, look for the opportunity.

3.  Challenge yourself to see what you can get done in the next hour.  Or give yourself ten minutes. Or three days.  Set a goal like a totally clean kitchen (the rest of the house can look like a tornado) or a three-day streak of Bible study, but set a goal and go for it.

So there you go.

My three for Thursday.

Or Monday.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Retirement? More like reassignment.

We were all there- all her grandchildren and children and children-in-law.
Her friends from school and church and bible studies and work- they were there, too.
We were all there to celebrate my mom's recent retirement and to cheer her on to the next adventures the Lord has planned for her.
We were all there.

But the children scattered all over Northwest Louisiana who were forever impacted by my mother's tireless efforts to teach literacy with love- they weren't there. Of course, they couldn't be.  Who knows how many they numbered and how far-reaching their positive change. It's one of those things you just don't see on a spreadsheet and you can't calculate with a test or measure with a survey.  But the way my mom taught children and coached teachers on how to teach children- especially children who had all the odds stacked against them- is not only commendable, but it is the kind of work of a lifetime that should be highly honored and publicly celebrated.

So celebrate we did.

Happy retirement, mom!

Here's to new adventures! ONWARD!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A prayer

I think about what I'd like to post about all the time. I realize I might "blog" quite often by other people's standards, but the fact is that thoughts about the excellencies of Jesus and about my kids and about relationships and grief and joy and love and food and life all the time float around my head while I'm doing a load of laundry or I'm drying my hair or I'm in carpool line or when I'm cutting up a banana for little hands.  I sometimes wish I had more time to sit and think and process the thoughts and emotions of what is happening in my heart and in my life as the minutes and hours and days whiz past. 

But it seems the best I can do these days is just take out my camera every now and then and capture a little glimpse of life here and there. 

I'm busy with little people these days, but it is a high calling.

Lord, help us mommas stay faithful and content and sustained by your great love.