Friday, May 29, 2015

Dent family reunion 2015

Death and strife and trouble and the whirlwind of modern life can shape a family system.  It can warp it, wound it, cripple it, or even cause it to implode and die. 

My dad's family system has seen it all.  We live all over the (mostly Texan) map, we're busy, we're all imperfect, and we've buried two of our most beloved patriarchs- dad and his dad.

But even so, we've let Grace shape us into a circle of voices, mostly singing with a heaping of laughter and gab, but mostly singing.  A reunion has happened for several years in a row now and while we're still imperfect, we're together, in a circle- singing- despite death and strife and trouble and demanding schedules.

And that, my friends, is a special and holy gift indeed. A bit of a miracle if you ask me. 

aunt Robin killing it with "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"

this was right before he fell off the back of the couch and ended up with 4 staples to his scalp  (#ashcrash2015)

Jennifer came up with a family trivia game- impressive and hilarious

my dad's brother and sister- love them both to pieces and so grateful for them both

this is not posed

karaoke, YES!!!!

and a hymn sing- of course

Jack Chaney bringing the Word on Sunday morning

our matriarch, Anita Dent singing with us

I'm grateful for the shape we've taken and I hope the experience is more than a scar to the back of the head, but a love deep and sacred, seared into the hearts of my children, a way to know the love and grace of God.


Love you, my people!  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

our Glue

I'm so thankful for these past fourteen years and for this big-hearted man with whom I have the privilege to share a life but maybe most of all, I'm thankful for the love of Jesus, our great and effective Glue.

We have adhered, bonded, become one flesh and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Happy anniversary, Jack Chaney.  You are my person, my favorite, my love, and I wouldn't want to be stuck in this beautiful and fallen world with anyone else. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

wild and free and five years old

It's still such an amazing reality that I found this man that I love, we get to spend the rest of our life together, and God gave us these kids that look a little like me and a little like him and we've got ourselves a family.  We were all piled in our bed yesterday- everybody including the dog- and sometimes my heart feels like it could burst it's so full.

ok, so maybe a lot like Jack

Our little family celebrates Asher Adam today- our wild and free Ash now five years old.

As he would say, "my mind is blowed up."

And wild and free seems just about right for this firecracker of a boy. 

I pray that his kind of wild isn't disobedience, but a wildness to love fully and with abandon- to run and splash through life with his little arms wide open as they so often are.  I pray for his freedom to be found in Christ- that he would be free indeed.  May he know the truth and boundaries that sets us free, that he may proclaim freedom with his life and his calling.

Asher Adam, happy man, wild and free with a song and a story to share with the world- you are loved. May your wild and free heart be ever strengthened by your Creator who loves you and made you as you are. Happy birthday. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jack, Jesus, and a good belly laugh

I've been a little surprised lately at the really earthy, tangible ways God can reveal parts of Himself.  This post was from the last week of April while I was on vacation- thoughts on God and laughter.  

I sat across from Jack enjoying the morning light and hot coffee when he said something- I don't even know what now- and it got me laughing.  I laughed and laughed until I cried.  He wasn't even trying too hard (if at all) to be funny, but he was and he is and that's life with my husband: frequent and hearty laughter. 

I'm reading Lauren Winner's book Wearing God and so I skip to the chapter on laughter because I'm curious.  Thanks in large part to my hilarious husband, I am well acquainted with smirks and chuckles and laughter of all kinds. 

Winner's thoughts and research are well put together and comprehensive ranging from Abraham and Sarah's Isaac-laughter to the fear envoking way God laughs at his enemies in the Psalms to Jesus' words about those who weep now will laugh later and vice versa.  It was a good and helpful exegesis on finding God in laughter.  Conclusively she purports, "Biblical laughter is not only about God's justice- it is also strongly eschatological; it is about redemption and restoration.  Or, perhaps more accurately, it is the first because it is the second; because biblical laughter is eschatological, because it is about God's redemption and God's final ordering of things, it is definitionally about justice and about mercy, too." 

I think about my four year old and how he told me one day, calmly and cheerfully, "I'm going to skip nap and watch a movie, okay?"  Smiling, it was all decided in his little mind.  I found it hilarious. And maybe God laughs like that, too. 

We just have no idea. 

We think we have it all figured out, that we know best, but in the end only God does.  He will redeem and restore and at the end of the day, maybe that's what's so funny. 

We recently had some plumbing issues at the house that resulted in... sewage... all over the bathroom floor.  Twice.  But Jack, expert tense situation diffuser, gathered up fodder like it was his job and we freaked out and complained but in the end, we laughed.

And maybe that is a good, trusting kind of laugh.  All is not lost.  Our hope is in God who will make all things new and this world is broken and bad and we weep and rightly so but we also laugh because after all, as Winner points out, it's God's comedy and if we trusts him enough we can, like the Proverbs 31 woman, laugh without fear of what's to come. 

So my husband's grin and his jokes can remind me of God's ways and His good plan and how things are going to shake out in the end. I'm so thankful for the good medicine of a hearty laugh compliments of Jack and for the life and hope and mercy that makes the laughs possible. 

I walk on the beach and I see litter and I pick up trash because I had put on Christ and I say to myself, "Humans always ruin everything." I can say it and laugh- I get the joke. 

"Lord, to laugh in the midst of trial and to rejoice in the darkest valley is another way of saying, 'Our hope is in you.'  Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for peace and strive for justice...  Help us to live so foolishly for you that we draw onlookers and those who would deride us.  And while they watch and mock, change all our hearts that we might learn to laugh at the foolishness this world calls normal and run away with the circus that is real life.  Amen."  
-Prayers for December 21 and January 27, Common Prayer:  A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

like a hurricane

Before I even took these pictures of my friend Meg's birth of her new baby Hall, I had a slideshow like this in mind.  But this wasn't the song.  I was going to use something else, but this song, David Crowder singing about how He loves us, seemed to insist on its application as I poured over the the new life, the little hands, and the eye-sparkling parental love.  This collection is truly a glimpse of how He loves us. 

"He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me...
And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His love is an ocean we're all sinking."   David Crowder

There are plenty of metaphors throughout scripture of God's love for us, but us as His children is one of the most profound.

Happy birth day, Hall!  May you always know how He loves you!  

Monday, May 11, 2015

a good gig

mothering: a good gig
I remember my first couple of Mother's Days but only vaguely as the adjustment to life with babies turns the mind quite cloudy.  But I remember wanting a Medal of Honor and a parade or something grand in my honor- the sleeplessness had been so great and the acts of service so lowly and difficult that I deserved it, right?

Of course, you adjust to life as a mother and as time has marched on, either I'm just used to it or it's gotten easier (probably both) so my thoughts on Mother's Day have turned back to my mom.  I think about her as my age with four kids and a full time job.  I think about all the trips to the grocery store and the nights she nursed us through a fever, the sibling squabbles she endured.  Mine is a work in progress, hers is done. 

"It is an archaic truth that we can never repay our mothers," Billy Collins says, and yes, we never can.  Even a Medal of Honor falls short.  

If you're a bleary eyed new mom, hang in there and just do the next thing.  It will get easier.  And if your mother work is done, thank you.  You did it! You have modeled sacrificial love to your children and I'll bet it has changed you as much as it has your kids. 

As for me, I consider my reward a snuggle and a smile, my children playing and dancing and learning and growing in God as the gift itself.

It's a good gig for sure- medal or not.

field day 2015
our church's production of "Down by the Creekbank"- a wonderful gift!

fourth grade Mexican hat dance Cinco de Mayo 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Kentucky Derby on the Harper Farm 2015

and happy 7th birthday Clementine!

well done, KRM!


Re-entry after vacation began with our third annual Kentucky Derby soiree, and while it was fun and full of light and beauty and friends, it should be said (although I'm sure you know) that I don't take pictures of my overwhelmingly messy house and I don't take pictures when I get the bad news from a friend and I don't take pictures when things are dark.  It's the light I want to capture and remember, but darkness still looms and though we don't let it consume because we fight back with perseverance and prayer, the suffering is real and like my friend Shauna reminds us, life is bitter and life is sweet and it is both but God is good through it all.  

Just so you know that my life is a lot like yours.  

Here's to basking in the light and praying our way through the dark.   Together.

And here's to another great Derby party and a sweet 7-year-old Clementine!  Fun times indeed.