Dig in: She Reads Truth

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Note: Our family was, up until just a few weeks ago, part of a small church plant called Anker Kirke, but through much prayer and outside wisdom and counsel, we made the difficult decision to stop planting for now and integrate with a local church Københavner Kirken in Copenhagen. Read more about the reasons here. I wrote this for our website over a year ago while we were still living in Malmö, Sweden, and I had just found out about an online community for women who want to be in God’s word. I have since then followed several “She Reads Truth” plans on the site, and sometimes even completed a few.

We have all tried it, and probably failed.

We set big goals for ourselves and try to live up to them. And when we don’t, we excuse it with busy lives or unrealistic goals. In January 2012 I started the one-year-Bible reading plan via my YouVersion Bible app. At first, I was excited to read my Bible daily and didn’t miss a day. After a while though, I started to forget and miss days, so I had to use the “catch me up” function, which brings the last finished day to the current day. Today, over a year later, I am currently on day 57 of the 365 day plan. That’s right, that’s how many times I have missed my reading and used the “catch me up” function.

What that means is that the reading plan has been working more as a weekly plan than a daily plan — on average at least. I haven’t read the one-year-Bible reading plan once for the last couple of months, and I realized that reading multiple chapters per day seems like a grueling task — like something I had to get through instead of something I looked forward to. So I started to look for a new Bible reading plan, hoping to find something that would seem more doable, practical, and appealing to me. And in the YouVersion Bible app, I came across the “She Reads Truth” reading plans, which sounded really interesting.

The “She Reads Truth” plans aren’t long or overwhelming — only 10 or 15 minutes every day. Now, spending daily time in the Bible is something I look forward to. Every reading has a short devotional, some with questions that have I used to examine my life, with notebook in hand. Jesus is speaking to me through it. I’m relating to the text, I’m learning and growing, and most importantly I’m in my Bible and enjoying it. Now, I can proudly say that I have completed my first reading plan through the YouVersion App. Granted, it was only 11 days long and it was Paul’s letter to Philippi (Philippians). Not too long, not too complicated, But very rich in content and something I could manage.

So if you are like me, and reading the whole Bible in a year seems like a daunting task, maybe you need to take it slow. Do smaller portions, a little bit each dayFind a reading plan that works for you. Most important of all; stay in the Word. Stay close to Jesus. And keep growing in to the wonderful identity you have received in Christ, knowing that his power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Jesus keeps pursuing you, even if all you ever bring is mess. He takes you by the hand and leads you by still waters (Psalm 23:2). Why? Because he loves you. He loves you so much that he died for you.

But he didn’t just die for you, he died in your place.

He took all your shortcomings, failures, and sin on himself, so that you could be with God — the King of the universe. Don’t you want to know him? He wants to know you, and he is calling you. So get out your Bible, or your smartphone app and dig in to God’s Word, the Bible. This is where he has revealed himself; and I promise, you will not be disappointed. I recommend starting with something like “She Reads Truth” on the YouVersion iPhone app or website app. They have reading plans for Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, and more, they take between 10-15 days to complete, and they all have daily devotions.

Dig in, start getting to know Him, or get to know Him better.

He’s waiting on you.

Day 24: 509(?) days of joy

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At the beginning of the year I started this project ‘365 days of joy’ and I thought I would be able to post a little something every day. And then I didn’t because I was too busy doing other things like wiping vomit off the floor, changing the bedding, changing Magnolia’s outfit again, feeding her, putting her down for a nap. The list goes on. All that to say, life as a mother is busy!

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of joy every day, there are plenty, I just don’t always have time to blog about them. Does this mean I am quitting the project? Absolutely not! I am just going to let it take the time it takes, maybe I will get to day 365 in 509 days, maybe it will be more, but I will get there.

Today’s photo is actually from yesterday. Magnolia fell asleep when we drove to church, we tried to keep her awake as the transfer from car to stroller rarely goes well, but she was so out of it, that it wasn’t a problem. Forget the sleepless nights, forget the sickness, forget the sore back from yet another night of holding her in my arms – that beauty right there is a miracle. And she is my miracle, absolutely stunning. I mean look at that face, how can you do anything but love her?

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 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 18: Neighborhood

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I feel so lucky to be able to walk just a few hundred meters and be surrounded by all of this. Enjoy these pictures from a walk I took with Maggie the other day when she refused to sleep. A sweet, sweet reminder of how richly God showers his affection on us, even in something as simple as being able to take walks here. Every day if I wanted to.

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Day 17: S-trains

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I want to preface this post by saying, that if you are reading along from somewhere outside of Denmark, you will be learning an insane amount of Danish town names in this post, including weird Danish letters like æ/Æ, ø/Ø and å/Å – so brace yourself.

I have a lot of experience with trains. Growing up I lived in Greve and took the E or A-train to Køge every day for five years to go to school. When I went to boarding school for two years I took the E-train from Greve to Hillerød (feel free to follow along on the map, it will make you realize how much time I have spent riding trains). Although to be quite honest I didn’t take the train too often those two years, my Dad usually picked me up and dropped be back off (for more on that read this post).

Then while I lived in Karlslunde and worked in Hvidovre, I took the train from Karlslunde to Friheden every day. So far we’ve still only been on the E and A line, but we will expand soon, don’t worry.

Then when I lived at Frankrigshusene on Amager I often chickened out of the 40 minute bike ride and took the B-train part of the way from the Central Station (eller Hovedbanegården) to Rødovre.

After I had lived in St. Louis for a few months I moved back home with my parents and started working in Lyngby. So I took the E-train from Greve to Lyngby and back, several times a week. Except sometimes it would be faster to get on the B-train on the way home and switch on the Central Station, don’t ask me why.

I switched jobs and started working in Rødovre again, so back on the B line, but this time from Høje Taastrup to Rødovre.

When Michael and I lived in Sweden I daily commuted across Øresund with the Øresund-trains from Malmö to Copenhagen only to get on a B-train to Rødovre.

These days riding trains is associated with much less stress and much more joy. Usually I get on the trains to go see someone I look forward to seeing, like this monday when I met up with a mothers group I have become part of through Københavner Kirken. That trip took me on a completely different route, with the E or A-train from Greve to Ny Ellebjerg and get on the F-train to Bispebjerg.

All that to say, I am really happy to live in a country that has an excellent public transportation system. So excellent in fact that the number of S-train passengers  (not counting passengers on the metro or busses but the S-train exclusively) reaches a stunning 125 million a year. Now that’s saying something about the quality of the service in a country with a population of only 5.5 million, of which only 1.9 million actually live in the S-train area.

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.