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Heavily, our eyelids droop closed.  The chilly room is quiet and dark.  Warm blankets are pulled up and close.

And then.

Then he remembers we forgot.

Should I admit it?  Once room is darkened, I’d accept our nightly routine to deviate just this one time.  But my strong shepherd-husband rolls over and clicks his lamp on.  Faithful.

Pupils, dilated by dark, suddenly trying to adjust to the light.

He reaches over for my hand, and we pray.  We pray for our families; we pray for friends that have rejected the Lord they once “knew;” we pray for our friends that are family in Christ.  We pray for the eyes of our hearts, that they adjust to the Light, to be able to see Truth.  We pray that we would understand with our minds and obey with our hearts.

He then reaches for the Word and reads to me.  Usually, we make our way through Proverbs, but tonight we “taste that the Lord is good” in 1 Peter.  After reading, we pray the passage.  That we would learn and apply the truths that we just read.

Even more heavily now, our eyelids droop closed.  The chilly room is quiet and dark yet again.  Warm blankets are pulled up and close.  And we fall asleep with God’s Words in our minds.

I am thankful for a hubby that is faithful.

While it is a command from God — and I am to do it regardless of how I feel — the Lord graciously gave me a husband that I eagerly respect.  One I find that I happily submit to his leading.

Especially when it means turning the light back on.

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Perhaps because there was a legitimate reason for the disarray, I was able to bring the camera to my one un-squinted eye and capture the chaos (and even chaos that didn’t have an excuse)…  Inspired by the occasionally-read Holy Experience blog, I wanted to look at the ugly around our house and, as Ann says “[examine] the weave, the texture, the shadows” noticing “it too is beautiful.”

It turned out to be a really fun project.  And I started to wonder if I didn’t want more than a point-and-shoot after all.

(Hubby?……..  I changed my mind.  I can do sewing and photography, right?  Insert sheepish smile with big, innocent puppy eyes.)


Our “pantry” for all to see, in all its visually-busy glory overlooking the living room…

blessings from our Father, that – even in our financial “student-status” straights – our pantry has overflow



Christmas decorations, still waiting on the sidelines to be put on the tree, even yet…

on the tree or off, Swedish decorations – sacrificially bought by Hubby – remind me of homeand husand’s love



Wrinkled sheets, straight out of the linen closet (which were perhaps not folded immediately after being dried)…

how inviting – smells fresh and feels rumpled AND crisp



Stacks of books, covering every available surface in our living room…

a row of bookshelves that went to grace another home!

~

These “ugly” scenes from around my house have their own shimmer of beauty.  It took a closer look to find it.  But I liked looking for it.

Anyone else?  Where have you seen lovely in the unlovely?

Doesn’t this pod look positively crunchable?!

image from C r u s a d e r

While walking to church yesterday, these pods were scattered all over the sidewalk.  Mmm, I loved smooshing every. single. one. under the heel of my boot.  Thankfully, we had arrived  a tad early, so we had the minute and a half to spare for my dawdling.

After teaching Sunday school, on our way back to our car, Hubby stopped abruptly.  He indicated towards the ground.  Separated from the rest of the bunch, a lone pod was pristine in its deliciously spiky crispness.

He had paused, purposefully, to point out and let me have the joy of crunching that one pod under foot.  A small gesture, but thoroughly endearing.  Swoon

Blink, blink.

It’s bright out here in the blogosphere!  I guess it would be as I finally emerge from the dark hole I’ve been burrowed into for the holidays.  (See Frog and Toad Are Still Friends for current holiday status–she knows of four times as many holidays than I knew existed!  Therefore, I feel justified to still call it “holidays.”)  And if I see my shadow, we can expect six more weeks of blogging.  I suppose one can only hope…

And now, where does one start?  How about where I left off.  The beginning of holiday season!  I was so excited for my first married Christmas: my own tree to decorate, my own home to make cozy and yuletide-y, new traditions to make with hubby.  The day before Thanksgiving, I begged hubby if we could get our tree.  He consented, and we got our sweet, little “Charlie Brown” tree from Target.  We got home and as I was bursting at the seams with excitment, I gave him a guilty look.  He knew what it meant.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I put our tree up…the day before Thanksgiving.  Only the late hour stopped the faux pas from getting out of hand–I donned it with ornaments after Thanksgiving.  It was lovely, decorated in Swedish straw and red ornaments with a strand of white lights.  I had Twila Paris’ Christmas CD blasting from the speakers whenever I could, and I scored big time with a 60% sale on Christmas decor at JoAnn’s.  Whenever I could sneak a peek on the blogosphere, I loved seeing everyone’s Christmas posts, pictures, stories.

I know Christmas posts are passe now; we’re moving on.

The beginning of the year brought with it–among many other sundry items that so easily overtake schedules–hubby’s new semester, my birthday, an attempt at physical therapy for my back (great massages with no lasting effect), a trip to Las Vegas to meet up with my sister- and brother-in-law visiting from Nanaimo.

And Valentine’s Day.  The first day of a week and a half being bed-ridden due to my back completely giving out.  Not what I’d consider romantic, unless you consider the literary connotation of the word (I did feel, on occasion, I should be part of a BBC mini-series set in the British Regency or Victorian eras as the bed-ridden invalid confined to perfecting the fine art of crocheting…granny squares?).  Tomorrow will be the final day of my first full week back at work.

While it seems Christmas has been only a few weeks past, it also feels like we are quite on the other end of the year so much has been packed into those few weeks.  I do beg your pardon for such a dreary and whirlwind summary of our “holiday season,” but now we may move forward and…

Is that a shadow I see?

Apparently, there is a new “reality” TV show up for bid for next season.  The only problem is the show is still lacking a name.  The premise of the show is that they will take two sinners, put them in one house and one bed, add 7 bajillion stressors…and all that before the first commercial break!  There’ll be only one Judge (not three), no voting each other off, and “I do” is the final answer.

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To any TV Exec. interesting in this show concept, my husband and I are the perfect candidates to be the main players in this reality TV show.  Please see below to view our qualifications.

Going into our eighth month of marriage, we are under no delusions: we are both wretched sinners.  That right there should be enough for us to meet the criteria, but we do have more going for us to place us in a good position for this show.  Among the many stressors we’ve amassed in our short time of marriage, hubby is in graduate school (and never got his year off) and is still learning how to balance his many hours of class- and homework-time with wife-time.  Being on a student visa, he is legally only allowed to 20 hours a week, which means I bring home the main chuck o’ bacon (for now).  And of course, living in Los Angeles-which is devastatingly expensive-on one and a half incomes makes everything really tight.  While I will still be working full-time, I am finally going back to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree.  Starting this Saturday.  While my parents and sisters are in town.

While all these stress-causing agents are in full play, we would provide the perfect twist at the end to bring about the conclusion to the program.  We may sometimes forget it, but we do not rely on our own strength to get through tough times.  When we are weak (and frazzled, and despairing–and if we relinquish our tight grasp on our want to be god), that is when God’s strength is shown through us.  Not only that, but James 1:3 and Hebrews 12:11 say that trials bring about positive change in growth (if we are trained by them).  So we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, knowing also that God will work all these things for His glory and our good.

My hope is that you will consider us as the main characters in this TV show, Mr. TV Channel Executive.  Thank you.

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For the rest of you non-TV Channel Executives, keep your eyes out for this novel and innovating new show!

During those (…rare…ahem) difficult moments (days?) of married life, I’ve found every insignificant addition to why I love Hubby vaporizes from my mind.  I forget his sweetness to me.  I am mindless of the abundant grace of God shown me through him.  These are not insignificant.  This morning, I awoke with thoughts running through my mind of all the little things he does for me, for which I want to be particularly thankful.  It’s such an effort–when the “big” things aren’t going the way I meticulously planned–to not take for granted Hubby’s considerate caring.

Self, take note.  Remember…

  • Hubby wakes up with me (oh so early in the morning).  Just so he can put the coffee on.  Just so I can go to work with a full traveler’s mug of joe.  He doesn’t even drink coffee himself.
  • He loves to buy me different flavors of coffee creamers.  Currently, my favorites are Coffee-Mate French Vanilla and International Delight Italian Sweet Cream.  And yes, I am Swedish.  And yes, it is a pride thing to drink my coffee black, but sometimes I just want a little fun in my java.  Don’t judge me.

(Please note:  I’m quite tired today, so my points are considerably coffee-centered.  But wait; there’s more!)

  • During this whole mess with my back, he has been so protective and has taken such good care of me.  He comes and strokes my arm at the scary doctor’s office.  He reminds me to do my stretches.  He gives me back rubs…
  • He gives me back rubs.

These may seem silly, but I’m thankful to God for my loving husband.  I’ll leave to Him the “big” things, while I praise Him for these Little Things.

Hold the jam.

On Saturday, while Lyndon and I were rocking out at a concert, we practiced our clapping routine. 

We are so metal.

Having only been married for a short time, I find myself incredulous at the amount of sanctification already evident as a result of two selfish sinners living together. Already our home has encountered many-a joyful day of sweet unity as well as sad, difficult days of warring pride and stubbornness. We’ve discovered that the “honeymoon state” of our newlywed status doesn’t obliterate our sinful tendencies.

This past week has been a showcase of such tendencies. Escalating events of wounded pride and misunderstandings lead to explosive battles for our respective positions. Through the course of the week, these battles took on a sort of ebb and flow pattern. We’d bicker, then recede to a semblance of peace, only to haul out the arsenal against some other infinitesimal offense the next evening. Most of these skirmishes were brought to an end due to a far more humble hubby.

I‘m not wrong, I fully insisted to myself. I refused to even consider being incorrect, much less sinful, in these occurrences. He’s aggravating me; he’s being inconsiderate… Et cetera. During every peace-making time, when he was repenting and asking forgiveness of me for what he had done wrong, I merely threw into the mix an apology for the manner in which I responded. I obviously had no part in the sinning. Obviously.

In “peace-time” last night, while hubby was working on homework, I perused our three-IKEA-bookshelf-wide library, and my eye caught on a title. I hesitated. Crap! I reached out and sheepishly pulled the book off the shelf. The self-righteousness in my heart recoiled in fear of the rebuking that was sure to come with any further action taken with this book. However, the Holy Spirit working in my heart won out, and I walked back to our loveseat with War of Words by Paul David Tripp.

The first chapter, God Speaks, addresses how “wordy” our lives are and how necessary words (and thereby, communication) are to our lives as humans created in God’s image. God first spoke, giving words their significance. He communicated to us Himself through words. Tripp uses Isaiah 40 as an example of God revealing Himself and His glory. In this chapter is found a quote, putting quite succinctly, how our words are not our own.

“…Words do not belong to us….They should echo the Great Speaker and reflect His glory. When we lose sight of this, our words lose their only shelter from difficulty. Talk was created by God for His purpose. Our words belong to Him.” (p. 15)

I will have to remember that: words have a “shelter from difficulty” if they are spoken within the guidelines for which they were created! As I continued, I felt the afore mentioned rebuke with every word read and a heart heavier and heavier with conviction. How haughty I had been! Speaking awful words (that I thought I owned) to my husband and then believing I was in the right. At the end of the first chapter, Tripp prompts you to honestly evaluate your talk by Galatians 5:22-23, to confess sin to God and others, and to “commit yourself to the work of change” while continuing through the book. He includes the following questions on page 16 to assist with the self-evaluation:

  • Does my talk with others lead to Biblical problem solving?
  • Does my talk have a “stand together” or a “me against him / her / them” posture?
  • Do my words encourage others to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings?
  • Am I approachable and teachable or defensive and self-protective when talking with others?
  • Is my communication healthy in the principal relationships in my life? (ie. husband-wife, body of Christ, neighbor-neighbor, employer-employee)
  • Does my talk encourage faith and personal spiritual growth in those around me?
  • Do I speak humble and honest words of confession when I sin and words of sincere forgiveness when others sin against me?
  • Do my words reflect a willingness to serve others or a demand that they serve me?

Ouch.

Let me tell ya, I didn’t do so well on that little pop quiz. Upon finishing the first chapter, I went in tears to my husband to repent and ask his forgiveness for my unwillingness to serve him and the sinful use of my words. Et cetera. It felt so good to both go before the Lord together in prayer.

I’m sure I’ve not seen the last of this lesson, but for now, I’m finishing this great book and wholly relying on God’s strength to use my words only for their intended purpose–to His glory.