Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lent 2014

Today is Ash Wednesday, and thus marks the beginning of a sacred and important time in the Christian calendar.  Over the next 40 days, Christians are encouraged to remember and reflect on life of Christ, particularly the 40 days leading up to his death and resurrection.

This past Sunday we celebrated Transfiguration Sunday at church, and our pastor talked about the importance of remembering the light of Christ even amidst our darkest of days and moments . . . he pointed out that as Jesus and his select disciples descend from the Mount of Transfiguration (this crazy awesome experience . . . wherein Jesus in all his glory is shining so radiantly and brightly) the march toward Jerusalem, toward Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection officially begins.  I assume the disciples desperately needed that moment on the Mount of Transfiguration so as to hold onto hope in the dark days ahead as their beloved friend and Savior-King would be mocked and beaten by the world, slain for the sins of all of humanity.  I find myself in this story . . . I find myself in the confusion and terror of the disciples as their source of security, their light in the darkness, seems to slowly fade away.  "You can't leave me here; I can't do this alone; The pain is too much for me; I do not have the capacity in my head nor my heart to receive anymore bad news . . . to be faced with the reality of living in a broken world."

So, as I journey with Christ these next 40 days, I am thankful for his willingness to descend from heaven to earth and experience the human condition.  I am thankful I can relate with him.  I am thankful that the assault of the brokenness of the world on my head and heart is not something foreign to him.  And so, I choose to embrace this downward trajectory over the Lenten Season, holding onto the hope of Christ, the light of the world, and looking forward to the magnificent celebration that is EASTER SUNDAY!

Many blessings to you during this season,

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Talented Uncles

All of Eiley's uncles are ridiculously talented . . . Caleb, Will Franklin and T.J. all have a crazy creative side and are all particularly talented musicians. We love that Eiley will grow up around such creativity and with uncles who are passionate about their art form. My brothers, Caleb and Will Franklin, recently made a video with an impromptu performance of their song, "Learning How to Love." If you don't believe me that they got some made musical skills, check out this video for proof! I love how talented they are and am proud of how they are using such talent as they are currently on the road with The Red Bus Project raising awareness about the global orphan crisis.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Festive Weekend...

'Twas a festive weekend here on the Emerald Isle. Yesterday, Tan and I took our little lady into town for the St. Patrick's Day parade. Town was quite busy...and quite green! Prior to living in Ireland, all I associated with St. Patrick's Day was that it was the one day of the year every American somehow mysteriously became Irish . . . it was the day you ate Lucky Charms, wore green to school because you didn't want to get pinched, and ended the day asking your Mom if leprechauns were real. Perhaps you may already know this, but St. Pat's is a much bigger deal in America than it is here in Ireland. While there is a parade and yes, it is a bank holiday and so everyone gets a day off of work, it isn't what I expected. This past month, I spent a lot of time writing a paper on understanding the Church as community and for part of my research I looked into early Celtic Christianity. Of course, Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick's Day is really to celebrate the power of Jesus entering the lives of the Irish as a result of one man's obedience to follow God's call on his life. Now, that is something worth celebrating! Also, Sunday was Mother's Day here in the U.K. and Eiley and I got our picture taken in our back garden after Church. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to become the mother of princess Eiley this year. Enjoy the photos of our wee Irish shamrock ;)

Mother's Day 2012 - Belfast, N. Ireland

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Eiley - 4 Months of Life Together


This past weekend we celebrated you being in our lives for four wonderful months. We can't believe how quickly the time has flown by . . . I guess all those sleepless nights in the first few weeks make everything kind of a blur. But, here we are now . . . four months into this adventure together and your Dad and I are so grateful for you. You always know how to put a smile on our faces, even when you are fussy. You're personality is really starting to come to life and we can tell that you are a bit of a firecracker and we love it. You love to sing and scream . . . like the happy, giggly kind of scream. You love love LOVE to eat your hands (see photo below). I think the teething season (that I hear lasts kind of forever) is upon us as everything goes straight into your mouth for a wee nibble or gnaw these days.

We love you so much Princess Eiley Eliza and are so thankful to be your Mom and Dad!

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Red Bus Project Trailer

Hey guys...check out the Red Bus Project Trailer to view a sweet video with some clips of the REAL RED BUS!

Just click on "Red Bus Project Trailer" above and it will take you directly to the video. Please share this with ALL your friends.

- Em

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Red Bus Project . . . A Dream Come True

As cheesy as the title of this blog might sound . . . it is the truth. I can remember being at college in Texas (Baylor University...Sic 'Em Bears) and phoning back home and talking my Mom's ear off about how we had to somehow reach the college campus to care for orphans. When I came on staff with Show Hope in January 2008, I probably wore everyone out at Show Hope talking about a college tour or some sort of event that would have an impact and produce long-lasting change among college aged students to care for orphans . . . and perhaps even adopt someday! So, a conversation began back in 2007/2008 and it is becoming reality in just a few days time! I am sad I will miss the debut of Show Hope's college project, but I am so thrilled for all the hard work the team has put into making The Red Bus Project pretty much the most amazing thing EVER!

So, those of you who know my brother Caleb know that he is a goof and has really crazy, out there ideas sometimes (the Chapman family is full of crazy, big dreamers...I think we get it from our Mom). For instance, the other day I heard that when the tornadoes were about to hit TN, he was outside trying to mount his GoPro camera in a tree to catch footage of the storm. Not smart bro, not smart. Caleb and Chris Wheeler, the director of Student Initiatives at Show Hope were dreaming and scheming one day about this college tour idea . . . and they were trying to think of something that would draw attention of the college crowd . . . music, coffee, what would it be? And somewhere in Caleb's mind he thought, what if we got a double-decker bus like the ones you see in the movies shot in London and refurbish it on the inside to be a rolling thrift store from which all the profits go to help care for orphans and raise awareness of the more than 140 million motherless and fatherless children in our world? I mean, Caleb . . . a double decker bus . . . from England? Go big or go home, right? Well, there may or may not be a Red Bus in Franklin, TN that is about to hit to road and come visit a city near you! To make a long story short and to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering exactly what the Red Bus Project is . . . all I am going to say is if the Red Bus is coming ANYWHERE near you this spring on the college tour get there to see this incredibly crazy, out there idea that has come to life all for the purpose of raising awareness of the orphan crisis and engaging college kids to act now to care for these children. Plus, the band Caleb will be playing a live concert and lets be honest, their music is epic. I am so proud of the student initiative team at Show Hope (Caleb, Chris Wheeler, Jesse Blinn, Sarah Fess).

Can you tell I am excited???

PS - If the Red Bus Project comes near you, will you do me a favour and post any photos of the event to my Facebook? I will check them out once I am back on the Book in April.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What's in a name?

I had never quite pondered the great responsibility of naming a human being until Tanner and I found out we were pregnant with Eiley. I guess that is normal, but I became quickly overwhelmed at the thought of giving a little human life a name . . . that which they will be called for the entirety of their life. It is part, a major part, of this child’s identity . . . woah! So, immediately upon finding out we were pregnant (March 2011) we began discussing names we liked and, as it always seems to be the case, we had many boy names picked out, but only three girl names. Come June we found out that we were having a wee girl. We didn’t decide on a name until we met our daughter (November 10, 2011), and even then we didn’t give her a name for the first 24 hours. All throughout the pregnancy we referred to her as little lady Richards, and that is what she was called in the hospital before we decided on Eiley. Really, Eiley was the only contender in the “name competition,” but the birth experience was just a TINY BIT crazy (foreign country, my mom driving us to the hospital . . . on the left side of the road, laughing gas as my sole “pain killer”) that we sort-of needed to recover lest we name the baby, “What the heck just happened to us?”

So, we gave our daughter the name Eiley Eliza Richards. First, let me explain how we arrived at the name Eiley (pronounced I-lee). Just a few months prior to our move to Belfast in the fall of 2009, Tanner and I were introduced to a lovely girl named Eilidh Patterson who was in Nashville working on an album (you should totally check out her music, by the way)! Eilidh is originally from Northern Ireland and she was so kind to have lunch with us and tell us a bit about the place we would soon come to love and know so well – Belfast. Although Eilidh also pronounced her name I-lee, she spelled it the traditional Gaelic way and sometimes the name is pronounced A-lee (rhymes with Bailey). After that lunch with Eilidh, Tanner and I mentioned how much we LOVED the name but of course, kids were nowhere on the radar . . . especially while we were both in school and living in a foreign country.

Fast forward to the MOST SHOCKING SURPRISE OF MY LIFE . . . finding out we were pregnant. Eiley was the first girl name we mentioned . . . we remembered our friend, Eilidh, and thought it was an appropriate way to remember our daughter’s Irish heritage. We took the liberty to change the spelling, simply because we weren’t sure how our daughter’s first day of kindergarten would go if her teacher looked down and saw “Eilidh” on the class role . . . “Eye-lid, are you present?” So, we turned to the most reliable source (of course) . . . Facebook. We were curious to see if there were any Eileys, Eilys, Isleys, or Islys (all the variant spellings we had thought of). Out of all our searches, we only found 2 matches both spelling their name Eiley. So, Facebook confirmed the way I was at least spelling it in my mind all those months . . . Eiley it was.

We did a bit more research on the name to find that it means “Fair-skinned” or “Radiant One.” I’d like to think that people turn away from me sometimes during the summer because my skin is radiating, not because the sheer paleness of my skin blinds people. And lets be honest, with Tanner and mine genes combined, our child was destined to be about as fair as they come. However, I particularly liked the meaning, “Radiant One.” My very prayer for Eiley is summarized in her name. In Exodus 34:29, it is written that when Moses came down from meeting with God on Mt. Sinai “the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” I pray that Eiley’s conversation with God begins at an early age and that it continues all the days of her life. I pray that as she daily receives love and peace for her life’s journey, that the presence of the Holy Spirit will radiate in and through her, so much so that others will stop and stare to admire the beauty of God’s “Radiant One.”

As for her middle name . . . it may or may not have taken us a week to decide. We just couldn’t find the name we liked best . . . we thought for a while that we would call her Mary Eiley Richards, seeing as how both her grandmas are Marys – Mary Beth and Mary Jane (Janie). But, then she would have to put up with the whole my first name isn’t actually the name I go by thing . . . and Eiley Mary Richards just didn’t seem to flow. So, we continued circling around our options and as we were sitting in the parking lot of the civic centre where we had gone to register Eiley’s birth and obtain her birth certificate, we still didn’t know her middle name. Nearly simultaneously, we both suggested “Eliza.” This came from a tradition on my side of the family . . . my great-grandma was Mary Elizabeth, after whom my Mom was called Mary Beth. I, then, was given the Elizabeth back. So, I suggested Eliza and Tanner said he was just about to say Eliza as an option (which means “God is my promise”). I wrote it in on Eiley’s birth certificate application, walked into the civil service office, and ten minutes later she was forever Eiley Eliza Richards . . . our wee radiant one shining brightly because God is her promise.

Enjoy the photos!

(Little Tanner...)

(Little Emily...)