Thursday, August 29, 2013

there's a plan

There was a one hour window of time on Monday afternoon in which I got not one, not two, but three different texts about someone in our community having suddenly and tragically lost their life.  A nephew of a dear friend, a co-worker from my former outpatient clinic, and the little brother of another precious friend- all gone in an instant.   

I prayed.  Isn't that all you can do?  I knew my friends wouldn't be getting any sleep Monday night.  None at all.  I knew that they would be feeling that gut wrenching kind of grief that strikes you so suddenly that your brain absolutely cannot even begin to catch up with the emotions of your heart. Your eyes are wide and your tears come and go as you waver between the heart break and the total shock of the news.  I prayed.

What kept coming to my mind in the next few days, however, was God's sovereignty and how we should really press into that always, but especially when we grieve.  I'm teaching it to my third-fifth grade Sunday School class:  God has a plan. We're memorizing a general timeline over the next several weeks, tying together all of the characters and writings of the Bible, fitting them into what is a very coherent and well thought out and implemented plan- God's plan through history.

The comforting thing about looking back and remembering and learning this plan is that there is one.  And not only that, it's a plan yet to be completed.  We're living in an in-between kind of reality- one in which the plan of salvation is to be proclaimed and spread so that as many as possible can live with their Creator forever and ever in a world without phone calls of tragic and untimely deaths.

God has a plan.  It will come to fruition.  He will make all things new.

Until then, we know that He is very near to the brokenhearted.  We pray for that nearness to be very real to our friends who suffer.  And maybe it's trite, but it shouldn't be because it's so true:

Our faithful God? He has a plan. 

this whirlwind

The beautiful game, or soccer as we Americans call it, will be dominating our weekend line-up this fall.  With three kids on three different teams, it will be a cleats and shin guards and orange slice kind of season for us.  I wasn't sure how our youngest would take to the field- he's only three and so small- but our first practice showcased a little boy ready to kick and play with surprising skill.  He's ready!  Wow.

Seasons change and time passes and babies grow up to be big kids kicking soccer balls.  And so it goes, this whirlwind of life. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Same but different

a small sampling of YAT awesomeness
Some of us have moved- Texas has snatched up some of our favorite people.  Some are moving next year.  Colorado and Guatemala are snatching up more of our favorites.  But some are new.  Texas has, in turn, delivered some blessings.   Some have just joined us as we've gone along, doing what we do.  We aren't perfect, but we're pressing on, seeking to serve and learn and pray and grow in the Lord together.

Here's to another year, my beloved YAT of FBC!  High five!

("Young" Adult Two, First Baptist Church, of course)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A new song

"Those who sing pray twice."  -St. Augustine
Last week during our school's family chapel, we sang one of my old favorites, "For the Beauty of the Earth."
The grateful praise lifted fits well with this batch of photos that came not from a photo shoot, but just a regular weekend's evening.
Folliot S. Pierpoint's original lyrics in 1864:  
"For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,

Christ our Lord, to Thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light, 

Christ our Lord, to Thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and brain's delight,
for the mystic harmony
sinking sense to sound and sight, 

Christ our Lord, to Thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild, 

Christ our Lord, to Thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven, 

Christ our Lord, to Thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise."

There's even more to this Eucharistic hymn, but as Psalm 33, 40, and 96 (among others) encourage us to sing a new song to the Lord, I thought I would write a new verse.  

For the light of evening's start
For the sparkle in small eyes
Loyalty of canine hearts 
Kids at play, their joyful cries
Christ our Lord to thee we raise

This our sacrifice of praise!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Picking up the pen

"If you want to change the world, pick up your pen." Martin Luther

I don't know about the world, but this picking up of my pen to record the gifts continues to change my heart.  From keyboard to notebook, I'm making the transition but the list and the conversation continues and so does the transformation. 

1000 (more) gifts

Sunday, August 18, 2013

one thousand

995.  how You made it so that the earth yeilds food and we are sustained
996.  a gaggle of one-year-olds to snuggle during today's sermon
997.  Lauren O., her friendship and the light in her eyes
998.  spotting Jack's handwriting, almost like his face in a crowd (on three hole punched paper)
999.  a game of red light, green light, ninja light, bunny light with the kids
1000.  Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our Light, our Good Shephard

"How did I ever think there was another way to enter into His courts but with thanksgiving?"  A. Voskamp

coming soon - reflections on eucharisteo and One Thousand Gifts, a book report

Saturday, August 17, 2013

pow WOW

990. soft-hearted Stephen David, AG's classmate of six years who gave her a bracelet because, "she's a good person and she loves Jesus"
991.  lemons all yellow and tart
992.  a family pow wow and clean-up teamwork 
993.  the smell of smoke from the grill
994.  Jack's sleep apnea mouthpiece and Stephen's expertise

Friday, August 16, 2013

mazooki and more

978.  a hint of fall in the morning air
979.  familiar faces, so friendly and warm
980.  Ms. Kaye and her preschool class, Asher so happy and eager
981.  Your hand in giving me the opportunity and resources to do this photography thing, to freeze the moment for mommas who kind of wish it would do just that
982.  connecting over burgers and sweet potatoes with the small group
983.  Smink's prayer
984.  Rachel's mazooki (Assyrian cookie- amazingly delish!)
985.  family chapel with Zeke, his big hug and whispers
986.  the book of Colossians
987.  Eoin, another beautiful baby to photograph
988.  prayers via text
989.  kids running, playing in fresh air and tall grass

Thursday, August 15, 2013

yep, Duck Dynasty, too

972.  the joie de vivre of all three of my children
973.  knowing You are with Bethany while she gets poked and prodded, Your hand on her
974.  Nora and Jason off on an adventure together, what You are doing in and through them
975.  Clementine's great big hugs
976.  E.B. White's Charlotte's Web
977.  a family in West Monroe broadcasting their lives on TV, being hilarious and honoring Your name all at the same time

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Just for the record

I woke up and walked out of my bedroom at 5:55 am only to find Anna Grace and Zeke totally dressed for school from head to toe, backpacks packed and on.  And they had already finished one 22 minute cartoon.  Only God knows what time they actually woke up. I think they're a teensy weensy bit excited. 

Third and first grade here they come!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the bending low

967.  excitement building for the first day of school, uniforms and backpacks prepped and ready
968.  Zeke's new teacher, already  knowing him and bending down low to connect 
969.  time to watch the afternoon storm roll in with my weather loving boy
970.  spinach lasagna
971.  yoga pants and a t-shirt, such comfort

Monday, August 12, 2013

Because I always want to remember what she was like as an 8-year-old

Several weeks ago, she mourned her flip-flop's demise, recounting all the good times she had with those floppy pink pals of hers, so of course, her deeply felt grief for her beloved schnauzer has lingered on and on these past couple of months.   She has felt death's sting and she doesn't like it.  When will Jesus come back, she asks.  We wait and we pray. 

Whether it's a pencil holder for her locker or chocolate chip pumpkin muffins or a story in her journal, she's always cooking up something and often leaves all kinds of stickiness or clutter in her wake.  She needs reminders to clean up.  But details aren't important and instead she looks at the big picture and indeed, what she makes is usually pretty amazing.

Her imaginary friend Junior came and went half her lifetime ago, but her imagination still flourishes.  Carl, the largest freckle on the tip of her nose, can attest to that.   And yes, she has even named her freckle.  In her world, everything has a name. 

She has so so many words.  Thousands upon thousands a day.

She's funny like her daddy.  A little quirky even.  Quicker and quicker every day with her one liners, she loves to make people laugh.  

She loves to go and do and be around people- always people.   Kicking a soccer ball with boys or giggling at a sleepover with girls- she really enjoys both.  She is sensitive to social cues and empathetic and kind and her teacher this past year told me she saw it in her, too. 

She has no reservations about what she can accomplish or do and she is ready to try most anything as long as it doesn't involve eating avocados or cleaning her room.  She is confident and adventurous and though I know she loves us deeply, she doesn't need or want her parents to linger too long at school or camp or the like.  She's got this, her eyes will say.

She dotes on Asher like a little momma and she teaches and protects Zeke without prompting and although she is often annoyed by their boy ways, she loves them fully and can take care of them almost as well as I can.

She's a pleasure to walk along the beach with and even more so life.

Anna Grace, eight years old.

What a gem.

growing feet, girl-help

962.  new shoes for growing feet
963.  Asher's so-soft skin and propensity to snuggle
964.  Bibles, Bibles, all around!
965.  Asher on Anna Grace's hip through the store, a sick Zeke on mine (amazing girl-help)
966.  two hours with Jennifer V. and Nora, fellow soldiering, giving, serving, loving mothers and great friends

Sunday, August 11, 2013

a day for rest

956.  my much beloved mattress
957.  all Your promises that are eternal and sure 
958.  a visit with my mom, her smiles and upcoming adventures 
959.  a day for rest and naps all around
960.  brand new Coy and his big brother's smiles
961.  Isaiah 40:31 

my favorite place to worship

949.  a far-away friend so close in a dream
950.  a panoramic cathedral of clouds in shades of blue, purple, and pink
951.  worship on the beach
952.  beauty-of-creation hunters crowding the interstates of the South
953.  Kate's heart all full of love for her family
954.  Jack's hand on my back
955.  the feeling of home

Friday, August 9, 2013

wild and free

941.  thought collecting by the crashing waves
942.  dark grey skies that warn
943.  a boat ride, our last-day-at-the-beach diversion 
944.  dolphins jumping wild and free
945.  how we're learning our children, each so different
946. the smocking and talking- Caroline anticipated
947.  the depth of Anna Grace's questions- her yearning heart
948.  our children on the beach at sunset, running wild and free

laughing, splashing, bonding

935.  Asher's wonder (a crab! a momma bird! a baby bird! a feather!)
936.  siblings laughing, splashing, bonding
937.  the so-versatile chickpea
938.  sand castle building, feeling like a kid again
939.  the teriffic family I married into
940.  insomnia (midnight gift-counting, laundry-folding, book-reading)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

still waters to grace

923.  still waters
924.  all the different lines and colors and shapes of sea shells 
925.  a humbling horizon
926.  Barbara's comfort food and good memories of all her legendary recipes 
927.  Asher's dance moves

928.  home remedies
929.  paper helicopters and wind tunnels at Pensacola Mess Hall 
930.  Mellow Mushroom pizza
931.  a walk along the beach with Anna Grace, a kind of silent conversation
932.  shrimp boiled to perfection

933.  Your putting us together in a family, grace that keeps flowing even when we bump and annoy each other

Monday, August 5, 2013

indomitable hang out

915.  good conversation about real things over a cup of coffee at The Coffee Cup
916.  beautiful Sapna and her authentic friendship
917.  Abigail and Anna Grace reunited
918.  a Pensacola kayaking adventure
919.  Anna Grace's skill and determination (indomitable as Sapna put it)
920.  my boys' adventure with their BeBe and KiKi who love them so
921.  Bill's spaghetti night 
922.  a couple of hours to hang out on the couch with my favorite hang out expert (my hilarious husband of course)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

a holiday

909.  Jack's "mechanical engineering" skills, fixing the coffee maker
910.  Asher content, floating in the waves like smiling driftwood
911.  four generations at the edge of the ocean, together
912.  a nap- a luxurious nap
913.  dinner-making with only the ocean and my own thoughts for background noise
914.  laughing with the family so much my bladder could hardly contain it 

Saturday, August 3, 2013


901.  an airboat adventure through the beautiful, calm, brackish water of Mobile Bay
902.  blue dragonflies and tiny baby alligators
903.  broken flip flops replaced
904.  a time and place for the kids to express their energy and joy (bounce houses!  Slides! More Kathy-style fun!)
905.  the new doctor You brought to my friend and her commitment to figure things out for Bethany
906.  the impetus and sponsors of our annual Chaney family beach vacation (my amazing in-laws)
907.  Zeke's wild abandon in the waves
908.  the ineffable beauty of the ocean, a whisper (or maybe a shout) of the Beauty that is You

Friday, August 2, 2013

fried green goodness

896.  fried green tomatoes at a Mississippi buffet
897.  a safe 8 hours on the road
898.  Kathy's always loving, serving heart (Lord, heal her back)
899.  Kathy's parent's homegrown tomatoes and corn 
900.  an overnight visit with.... Kathy! (Eucharisteo!)