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 23: Breaking the Radio Silence

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Disclaimer: I wrote this post a week ago but didn’t have time to finish and post it. Today I finally did.

I am usually not one for selfies. Especially not public selfies on a lazy, no-make-up-or-hair-done kind of day. But here you go. This is me on the other side of the furnace. I made it, by God’s grace, and I am stronger for it. Allow me to elaborate.

It has been a long, tough week. Magnolia started off last weekend with a fever. For about a week or so prior to this she hadn’t really been wanting to eat real food and I was lucky if I could get even just a few spoons in. Then the snot came, then the cough and then the vomiting. On Monday Michael got sick, a stomach bug that we figured might have been something he ate and that it would pass in a day or so. There was no improvement Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday.

Magnolia was impossible to put to bed because she would cough and cry and scream and cough whenever I put her down. So I slept with her in my arms on the couch, half sitting up for about 7 nights in a row.

I tried to get some laundry done, and dishes, just to keep some sense of normalcy but by Thursday I was so far behind that it wasn’t even possible to catch up, while also taking care of two sick family members. So I gave up. And I sat on the floor and I wept. Big, fat, salty tears streaming down my face. I had lost hope that it would ever get better. The Enemy had snuck in lies and convinced me that this was my life now and that there was no way I could handle it.

I spent time with my Mom on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, trying to get out of the house and not feel so weighed down by all the sickness and the overwhelming amount of laundry. And it worked for a little while, right until I got back home to the confinement of our house.

So what did this past week teach me?

I need to ask for help.

First and foremost I need to ask God for help. Help to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and self-controlled in those up-for-the-third-time-before-2am-moments. And trust that The Lord will stay faithful to his promises and see me through it all.

And I need to ask other people for help before I am so exhausted that I am slightly past the edge of despair. I have so many wonderful people in my life that are more than willing to help if only I would set aside my pride and be humble enough to ask for it. I need to realize that it’s okay if I can’t do it all on my own. Maybe it is true what they say after all, it takes a whole village to raise a child.

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 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 1: Shower Time

I bring to you my joy of the day: shower time.

Before telling you why, I have to preface with a few facts about our house.

We leave in an oldish house where we shower in the boiler room right next to the water heater. Under the water heater is a bucket with a piece of tube running water into it from the water heater (I assume maybe to get rid of condensation?) and once in a while you have to empty the bucket so it doesn’t overflow. Both Michael and I tend to forget to empty it, until one of us walk through the boiler room to get something in the freezer and end up with wet socks (it’s happened more than once).

The boiler room is also where our back door is, which is our primary entrance to the house, so as some of you can imagine, the floors get sandy (why they get sandy has to do with our drive way, which is a whole different story).

Lastly we don’t have a towel rack next to the shower, but since the boiler room doubles as the laundry room, the clothes line in the ceiling works pretty well for towel drying, all though they can be hard to reach.

This morning when I was done showering I reached out for my towel, which was close within reach, I wasn’t surprised, but it made me smile. After Michael is done with his shower he always makes sure to move my towel close to the shower so I don’t have to step out on the sandy floor with wet feet. Joy!

I looked at the bucket, for once remembering to check the water level before being reminded by stepping in a puddle of cold water, and it was empty. Michael had already emptied the bucket. Joy!

As I tiptoed through the room towards the kitchen, which I go through to get to Magnolia’s room where our closet is, I noticed that my feet didn’t get sandy. Michael had taken the mats out and made sure to shake all the sand out of them before my shower. Joy!

So today I am thankful for all the little things that Michael does to make my shower so much more enjoyable. He is working behind the scenes more than I realize to set me up for success, and avoid dumb frustrations, like stepping in puddles of water or on a sandy floor.

It’s the small things in life, people.

I used to write.

I used to write. I used to blog. And I used to enjoy it quite a bit. There is something profound about writing, letting your fingers do the talking rather than your tongue. I guess that it is the ‘more-well-paced-than-talking’, and that it requires a measure of self-control that I like to think I still possess, that is so compelling to me. I used to write and I want to write again.

This time I want it to be much more serious. I think. Back when Michael and I had just started dating, I had a blog that I would occasionally post on, and I once told him that I just ‘blurt out words’, I did very little if any editing and most of what ended up in a post was just flow of heart and letting my fingers do the work.

This time around, I still want to share my heart, but I want more purpose, more direction and less fluff. I want my posts to mean something, rather than just be a few paragraphs of random thoughts thrown out into the nothingness of the internet, with the faint hope that someone would read it (as it turns out, Michael always did) and that it somehow would mean something.

I want to share what I am learning about life, about God, about my walk with Jesus. I want to document my life, and our life as a family in word and in photograph. I want to recount the story of how Michael and I came to be, and every beautiful step of the journey since. I want to tell stories about and share pictures of my beautiful daughter Magnolia Rose, who is jut 5 months old. I want to be able to look back on the late nights, the frustrations and how, by God’s grace, I overcame them and were better for it. And I want to do it because I can, and because I want to, not because I think it makes me cool.

This will be my space. To share, encourage, maybe challenge and dream big. To display photos of all things lovely and beautiful; sunsets, leaves, coffee and smiles. To store memories as I am making them with Michael and Magnolia.

I used to write and now I am writing again.