Day 27: Spring Cleaning

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I think it is about time I get back in the swing of things with my 365 Days project. I  did some simple math to try and see where we are at: I started the project on January 4th 2014 and I am currently on day 27, so if I continue at my current rate I will be done some time around mid August… 2016!

We have been so busy doing nothing in our house. Magnolia got sick with a stomach bug, then Michael was sick, and then I was and then Magnolia got sick again, but then she got better right until she got sick again. So between checking her temperature, seeing the doctor and giving medicine, somehow all of January and February disappeared. I didn’t even have time to realize that spring was on it’s way until it was here full force, with little flowers blooming, birds chirping in the trees and the sun shining in through the big (dirty) windows in the living room.

Our house is a work in progress, but little by little it is turning into more of a home and not just a house. We ripped out the carpet in two rooms and I finally hung my picture frames in the living room (though withour pictures as I still need to get the pictures printed). We have lived here just over 6 months now, it feels like forever and no time at all, all at once. And I think that’s when you know you are on the right track, and in the right place.

Last week it was sunny almost every day, so I (ahem my Dad) prepared the patch of the lawn that will be our vegetable garden, and now it’s just sitting there waiting for me to sow the seeds I got from my mom. But this week, it’s been raining everyday and although I like the outdoors and this season, I don’t think I would enjoy gardening in the rain. Maybe next week will be sunny. I have also been experimenting with some water colors for a couple of days (check out the photo up top.) So I guess it’s not completely true that we have been doing nothing, it just hasn’t felt like much and maybe it isn’t, but it’s a place to start.

All this to say, IT’S SPRING! And I think it is time for some spring cleaning. In my house, in my yard and most of all in my heart. Michael mentioned the other day that I have been (how did he put it?) “a lot happier lately”. I would have probably phrased it more like “not so cranky and emotional and up tight all the time”, but thankfully Michael is a vey gracious husband. I think what I have been and am still learning is that I need to let go; let go of my unhealthy desire to control every aspect of life, let go of feeling entitled to whatever thing I think I need and don’t have whether that be sleep, money or something else. I need to let go of my feelings instead of clinging to them as if they were the truth, when I know that the only true Truth is found in my Bible and not in my own heart.

So I am going to open the windows wide and let the fresh air of spring fill my house and my lungs. It’s a new season and I am ready to embrace it. And that right there, folks, that brings me joy.

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Acts of Love

Note: This was originally posted on an old blog of mine over 2 years ago. Today I rediscovered it and felt like reposting it to my current blog. I hope you enjoy. (I took the liberty of doing some editing, mostly for grammatical reasons.)

Love is a choice. I have stated this in a previous blog post, and I still believe it to be true. We decide whether or not we are going to share our love with the people we are surrounded by. Whether that be our friends, co-workers, family, boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. We can choose to be selfish or we can choose to die to ourselves in order to serve the people we love. That is our choice.

I have been reading a wonderful book called, ‘the Meaning of Marriage’ by Timothy Keller (it is also written by his wife, Kathy, in part) In this book he talks about acts of love, how we can love our partner, even when we don’t feel the love. Then by acting love towards them, our feelings are fueled, and we are somehow able to ‘feel’ the love again. When the feelings are lacking, we rely on our willful choice to still love the other person.

This also translates to our lives with God. We won’t always ‘feel’ God. We won’t always ‘feel’ like reading the Bible, but we do it as an act of love.

Because we love God, not so that he will love us, but because he already has loved us. Even before we loved him.

So we choose, consciously, willfully and with determination to show Him love, even when we don’t feel it. We do this by praying, not because we have to but because we want to talk to our Creator and show him our love. We do it by spending time in the word, not because we have to, but because we want to get to know Him more. We choose to seek him, not just when we feel like it, but even more so when we don’t feel like it, we decide to act out the love that we have for him.

And then in time, the Acts of Love will (most likely) bring back those warm feelings of nearness, love, and acceptance. All the things we ‘feel’ in his presence. Feelings are a fleeting thing, we can’t trust them. They will ebb and flow, just like feelings do. But we commit to walking hand in hand with God. Good and bad. And that it is where the most satisfying interactions are born. In relationship with God, and in relationship with each other.

The ultimate human example is most wondrously displayed in marriage. We let one other person into the inner courts and let them see all the dirty stuff. We decide to love them when we feel the warm and fuzzy stuff, when they do something sweet and we can see only how good they are.

But more importantly we decide to love them when they aren’t perfect. When they fail and need to have forgiveness extended to them. This is where the closest human thing to magic happens. Two people entering a covenant, not because they expect it to me easy all the time, but because they have decided that even when it’s not easy, they are still going to stick around and fight it out. A covenant relationship. Bound to succeed. An impossibility. Yet the truest reality.

Day 22: Saturdays

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Saturday is our family day, we try not to make too many plans and just take the day to enjoy each other’s company. This morning Michael made a pancake breakfast and afterwards he took me on a date to Starbucks, while my Mom took care of Magnolia. He brought Mr. Michael’s Magic Backpack of Surprises and I was excited to find out what that meant.

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Before we left Michael and Magnolia cleaned up after breakfast. Once we had gotten Magnolia to sleep and dropped her off at my parents’ house,  we were in the car on our way and Michael revealed the first surprise: the camera, so we could take pictures all day. We like to do that.

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At Starbucks Michael got a Venti Winter Blend brewed coffee and I had a Grande Skinny White Chocolate Mocha – mine was delicious, Michaels was a little too bitter, at least for me. We sat down and talked like grown-ups without trying to figure out naps or meals. And talked about the future and what we hope for and dream about, in the years to come.

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And we laughed at my silly milkstach.

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We were still at Starbucks when Michael pulled out surprise #2 from Mr. Michaels Magic Backpack of Surprises: two books. The one I am currently reading and one of the many that Michael is currently reading. He set a timer for 30 mins and we just sat and read, uninterrupted by anything but our own desire to share quotes from what we were reading. Pure bliss!

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After that it was time for surprise #3: A Letter. I have at least a dozen handwritten letters from Michael that he has written over the years, and then there are all the blogs and emails. Words are important, and words from the one you love has a special weight to them. Always full of love, dreams and hope for what will one day be.

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We went to our favorite baby clothing store ‘Next’ and spent a gift card Magnolia got at her Baby Dedication last week, and took a selfie.

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After picking Magnolia back up we went through my parents’ backyard to cross over the cemetery and head home. Somehow this apple survived the fall and early winter, only to be eaten off the branch by birds.

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I also had to get a shot of ‘the little house’, because I think in spite of what it is it has a lot of charm. And it blends so well with the other colors.

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It really is.

Day 19 & 20 & 21: Social Interaction

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It’s been a busy week around these parts which makes it really hard to keep up with the blog, as made evident by the lack of posts. I do apologize for that, loyal reader.

It’s been a super social week and I have loved every minute of it. On sunday we had Magnolia’s Baby Dedication, about 30 people were there and we really enjoyed the day. Monday I had the bi-weekly meet up with the mothers group I am a part of through Københavner Kirken, we’ve only just started and are still getting to know each other and are having a great time doing so. Tuesday is Community Group night, we had a killer lasagna and great conversation.

Wednesday is dedicated to the mothers group I have through the county, which means lots of coffee, bread, cake and talking – and of course babies, 6 in total. That same evening our friend Emily made the trip to Greve, she brought wine, and I was even able to sneak a glass after the baby had been put down for the night. Although my plans with Julie fell through Thursday because of a yucky virus, I got to stop by my work and say hi, for the first time in months and then made spontaneous plans to have dinner at Ida and Bo’s place. Another great lasagna, and great company. I love having sisters that are also friends. And to top it all off, my Mom stopped by today for coffee and hangout with her daughter and favorite granddaughter.

How ever much I like to keep my schedule nice and low key, I really do enjoy the occasional ‘over-booked’ week. Very occasional though. I feel too stressed when I look in my calendar and all I see is yellow, where white once was. So if ever you are in the area or have a free evening and need somewhere to go, give me a call or shoot me a text, maybe you need to come to Greve and enjoy a home cooked meal and some warm conversation.

Day 16: Celebration

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Today was the day of Magnolia’s baby dedication. We had the privilege of committing to loving her, sacrificing for her and teaching her about Jesus. It was a great service where Kevin Morgan preached a beautiful sermon on Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, and what that means.

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Bodil and Kevin asked us a series of questions in both English and Danish to reflect our bilingual family and community culture.

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We as parents were excited to commit in front of friends and family to raising our daughter in the way of the gospel, treasuring God’s word above all else and keeping Jesus at the centre.

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This is our friend Sara and her sweet daughter Johanne.

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Sara is married to Jesper which is why he is also holding Johanne.

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Gustav, their 4 year old son, asked me to read a book to him, although he already knew the story and told it way ahead of me. I am a godparent to both Gustav and Johanne.

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On the left is my sister Sille and her son Theodor (believe it or not I am actually his godmother too). On the right is my good friend Anni and her son Kasper. So glad to have them all there today. Although we missed their husbands Martin and John.

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My cousin Sune also made it out with his parents, my Dad’s sister Marianne and her husband Søren (not pictured). He loves his little second cousins and always asks to hold them and play with them.

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My sister Ida, her boyfriend Bo and my cousin Kit were there to celebrate with us. Ida actually prepared a large amount of the food for the day and we are so thankful for her.

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My cousin Kit also brought her fiancée Michael. A fun fact about my family is that on my mother’s side I only have girl cousins and it so happens that we are 5 girls who ended up with the following men; Michael, Michael, Martin, Martin and Bo. I’ll let you decide who is the odd one out.

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We are so grateful for all the presents Magnolia got. For instance this beautiful (and fun) drawing made by one of my favorite people, Julie.

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I think Magnolia enjoyed the wrapping more than the presents themselves. But I am sure she will enjoy the pajamas she got when they keep her warm on a cold night. Or the warm clothes on a chilled-to-the-bone kind of winters day.

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She also quite obviously enjoyed getting some quality time with Anni.

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And last but not least, she enjoyed every second she got to spend on Mormor’s shoulders pulling her hair. My Mom really gets to take credit for making everything work out today with food and such, she is a powerful planner, an excellent executer and delightful delegator.

Day 15: Songs of Love

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When Michael and I first started dating, he sang me to sleep over Skype every night (If you look closely at the top of the picture you can see it says 2011-11-17, which was 10 days after we started dating). I would literally fall asleep while he was playing his guitar and singing all our favorite songs from Brooke Fraser and Tina Dico or even something he made up on the spot. Sometimes the songs made up on the spot were very touching, other times though they were very silly, like the following line “She works at the craft store, with all the stupid costumers asking for more of her than she gets paid to do”.

Since becoming parents to our beautiful little girl and being in the thick of it, there hasn’t been as much music in our house. Neither the kind that you just listen to or the kind that you make yourself. But last night Michael wrote a new song for me. I was in the kitchen making some hot chocolate for us, and Magnolia was asleep in her room, so Michael seized the moment, grabbed his guitar and started writing.

By the time I came back in the living room, Michael just looked at me and said “I wrote you a song”. He prefaced it by saying how it was all birthed out of  the realization that he doesn’t deserve me. Every day together is a gift and every breath grace. It is all grace. When we wake up together, when we go to sleep together, when we laugh together. Grace. He played the song for me, and it was beautiful.

One of the lines in the chorus of the song goes like this “How can I ever give you more than you’ve given me? How can I love you in the way I have been loved, so strong so unconditionally?”. After he played the song for me, I looked at him with tears in my eyes, and told him that he had it all wrong. He was clearly confused, so I had to clarify: “It’s the other way around, you have given me so much and I could never give you back what I have been given.”

We always said that we wanted a loud house in a quiet place. Whether that be loud with music or with laughter, we want a house that is full of love. Bursting at the seams, and hardly able to contain the joy, love and laughter. Songs bring me joy. Especially when they come from the bottom of the heart of my beloved.

Day 7: “I love you, Mama”

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I have a 7 month old daughter who wakes up a lot in the night, but at least she takes long naps in the day time. She has always been hard to tuck in at night. We have had to rock her to sleep for a while now, and she has been fighting off the sleep with every last fiber of her being. But at least she goes straight to sleep when you put her down for her naps.

Well, today was different. I got her all bundled up and packed up in her stroller. I rocked the stroller, offered the pacifier. Rocked the stroller, offered the pacifier. Like always. After a few tries she will take the pacifier, start blinking off, and go to sleep. Piece of cake. Except not today. She just cried and cried and cried. And it didn’t matter what I tried, she just cried and cried. And then I cried. And cried and cried and cried until I was sobbing.

I can’t stand it when she just cries and won’t be comforted, because I feel inadequate. So I just sat down on the couch and cried. I also texted Michael and he gave me a call, prayed for me, and encouraged me to take a walk with her.

I went back out with her, put her in the buggy and she (of course) lost it again. I got ready as fast as I could and started walking, still in the clothes I had slept in the night before and one of Michael’s button up shirts. It had also started raining a bit, so I borrowed Michael’s big coat (mine isn’t water proof). I was a sight for sore eyes.

About 10 minutes into the walk, she was asleep. So I started crying again. Why? Well, I looked down on her in the stroller and the above picture is what I saw. Almost like her little hand was saying to me “I love you, Mama. I’m sorry I am giving you so much trouble.” That, and then what Shane&Shane were singing in my head phones:

“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.”

What an appropriate reminder of where to look when I feel like I am drifting into hopelessness. Although this may not have been the author’s intent, these few lines spoke into my situation of sleeplessness. There is only one place I need to look when I am on the edge of despair. Upward to Him who made an end to all my sin.

It doesn’t matter if Magnolia sleeps through the night tomorrow or next month or when she is three. Jesus will see me through. He will see us through. Through the sleepless nights, through sobbing on the couch, through un-showered pajama days, he will be right next to me. Next to us.

He will be reminding me of how much he gave up for me, because he loved me. And somehow I will find the strength, not in myself, but in his sacrifice for me, to give up myself and love my daughter more fiercely than ever. Especially when He encourages me through these small glimpses of her love for me. Like little hands saying: “I love you, Mama.”