Aslan’s Claws

aslan

Have you read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader? It’s part of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S.Lewis. I remember reading the Narnia series for the first time in second grade, but to be honest, I didn’t absorb much. I read it again in my teens, and it made so much more sense to me. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, after Eustace is turned into a dragon because of his greed, there is a scene that made such a vivid impression on me that I’ve never forgotten it. Eustace has been trying to turn himself back into a boy unsuccessfully for quite some time, and now, at the end of his rope, Aslan the Lion has come to him. Here’s an excerpt from the story.

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

I had to go look up the actual words of this scene, because although I could remember its impact on me, I couldn’t remember how it actually went. In my mind, I could picture the great Aslan slowly digging his long, gleaming claws into Eustace’s dragon-skinned chest, and tediously, painfully, tearing the skin off him in one awful piece.

To me, this has always been a picture of the work that Christ does in us as he transforms us. Some sins are easily let go of. Sometimes we are convicted and we see how we have done wrong and we are so eager to stop sinning against our Creator. We let go of that particular sin and we don’t struggle with it again.

Other times, we struggle against sins that are so entrenched in us, so intertwined into the fabric of who we are, that getting victory over them seems an impossible task. Like a stubborn ivy that particular sin has worked its way all throughout us, leaving offshoots and deep roots and tangled strands all over.

For me, fear is that way. For just about any issue I’m dealing with, it seems, when I sit down and really think about what the root issue is, I realize that it’s fear. One of my biggest fears is to be known. Really, truly, known. My natural tendency is to close myself off to others, keeping them at a safe distance and therefore protecting myself from whatever ways they may, knowingly or unknowingly, try to hurt me. It’s easier for me to go through life not letting people see me vulnerable, see me failing, see me hurting.

Letting myself be known feels like allowing a lion to sink his sharp claws into my heart and pry me open. It’s painful, yucky, messy and uncomfortable. I fight it hard, I fight with my whole being. I try to do it myself, try to convince myself that whatever the struggle is, I can face it on my own without help. I hate asking for help.

Letting my husband get to know me, the real me, who I truly am, is as hard as letting the Father in to the deepest parts of my heart to shine His light and transform me into a person who more resembles His Son. They are the parts that we struggle to admit we even have, the sins and failings we lock away in the basements of our souls in the hopes that we can hide them forever.

Letting my husband get to know me, and understand me scares me.  Fear stands in the way of that too. Fear plants its feet, digs in its heels and braces its arms against the door frame of my heart, saying “you’re not getting in here, you’re not welcome here.”

And yet, all throughout the Scriptures, we are commanded not to fear. To be brave and courageous. We are reminded, encouraged and compelled to trust in God and lay down our fears. Over and over,  verse after beautiful verse  exhorts us to exchange our fear for trust. One of my favorites is Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Opening myself up in my marriage means opening myself up to possible hurts. We’re both humans, which means that we both make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. We have bad days. We have bad attitudes and we blame each other for our problems. When I live in fear, I react in fear, and that damages our relationship. But when I live with faith, courage and trust, I react with love and vulnerability. It’s a daily task, and although it gets easier, it never gets easy.   But my deepest desire is to live a life that honors my Father, and my second most important desire is to have a thriving, healthy, demonstrative marriage.

The last line of Lover’s wedding vows to me says “All these things I promise, asking for God’s help.” Oh how true that is! When I ask for God’s help I can accomplish the impossible. I can be strong and courageous, open and vulnerable. I can shed that dragon skin of fear and instead trust in the Lion of Judah to be my light and my salvation.

I encourage you today to examine your heart and ask if there are any sins that you need the Savior’s help shedding. Our Lord is faithful and true, and if you ask, He will do it.

jenny

Want more thoughts on how I’m learning to live with courage? Check out this post I wrote two years ago about my word for the year.

 

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Posted in 2016, life, marriage | Leave a comment

Friday Favs Vol. 25

Happy July 1st! June was another busy month for us, it seemed like it just flew by in a haze of hot summer days, little projects and preparations for family vacation.
The botanic gardens here in Denver had a free day and we met up with some friends to explore the gardens. We chatted about how last year this time I was hugely pregnant with Declan and how much can change in a year! Last year the kids wanted to ride in the bucket train pulled by a John Deere but I said no since I was pretty sure I would get stuck in one of the buckets. This year we rode them, which thrilled the kids to no end, and we took our little friend along whose mom was taking a turn being the pregnant one!

 

We’ve been garage saleing like crazy this month, taking advantage of all of the rock bottom prices for kids’ clothes, shoes, and kitchen gadgets. I also found some antique trucks that I am trying to sell on eBay, which I am pretty excited about. At one of the sales we found this huge cardboard castle for $1. We set it up in the garage and it provided hours of fun. It’s just about on its last leg now, but it was well worth the 100 pennies we spent on it!

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These three. Three peas in a pod, the three musketeers, three bundles of silliness. This is what happens when I tell them to smile for the camera. Stinkers.

 

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Declan started walking at the beginning of last month, but only a few steps here and there. His lightning fast crawl was still his preferred method of getting around. But this month everything clicked and his walking improved SO much. By the end of family vacation he was practically running. He’s still a little guy, so people are always shocked when they see him stand up and start running around! His birthday is next week and I have no idea where the last year has gone. He’s such a silly, funny, fiery little guy, and I’m so glad we get to have him!

Family Vacation! We drove overnight (terrible idea!) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the end of the month to see Lover’s family. Everyone was there except for his brother, and it was a fun week full of singing, food, noise and cousins! 11 of the 13 were there, and a good time was had by all. :)

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While we were in Wisconsin I got to sneak away for a couple of hours and tour the Pabst Mansion. It was awesome! The woodwork, the extravagance, the marble bathrooms… the hardware! Oh my goodness the hardware! I loved it all. :)

We’ve spent the last week unpacking, doing laundry and trying (and failing!) to catch up on sleep. Now we’re heading into July which promises to be another exciting month! Every day is an adventure around here!

 

Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment

The Guest Suite Befores

I’ve talked a lot in the last year about our living room, kitchen/dining room and the kids’ room. We’ve been working on the other rooms in the house too, but our focus has definitely been on making those three spaces really work for us.

One of the reasons this house was perfect for us is that it has a dedicated guest area that is very removed from the rest of the house. We’ve always had guest rooms or at least an extra bed for family and friends to crash on wherever we lived, and we wanted our house here in Colorado to be the same. At the same time, we now have three little kids who are tons of fun and make tons of noise. So we were really hoping to find a house with an area for guests that was as removed as possible from the main spaces we live in on a day to day basis for their sanity.

Amherst is a bi-level, which means that you enter the front door to stairs going up on the right and down on the left. Upstairs is the main part of the house where we spend 90% of our time. Downstairs is the “guest suite”, along with the utility room, laundry room, half bathroom and then the garage. Basically the downstairs is two big rooms (garage and finished room) with the utilities, laundry and bathroom separating them. This is what the guest suite looked like when we bought the house.

It’s cool, right? Not gonna lie, one of the biggest reasons we bought this house was this space. Yes, having the separated dedicated guest area was a huge factor, but seriously how cool is this room? It’s like a little time capsule from the seventies! The paneling! The multiple flourescent lighting fixtures! The brick! The built in bar! The yellow paired with orange and brick red and more paneling! :) It’s so ugly it’s actually kinda cool.  Right? The only thing missing was some thick shag carpeting. We found a shag rake (yep, that’s a thing!) in the garage after we moved in, so my guess is that this room used to have shag, but fortunately had been replaced recently with some really nice stainmaster carpet.

Here’s a better picture of the bar area. Funny story, there are two old rotary phones up on that shelf, and the black one was apparently still connected to a real phone line when we bought the house. For the first week we lived here someone would call multiple times a day asking for Mike, and be extremely flustered when we told her that he didn’t live here anymore. Eventually they shut off the phone line and we never did find out if she found Mike or not.

The closet in the corner is cedar lined, which is super luxurious. It smells awesome and I love having that extra little touch for our guests.

Through the door to the right of the bar is the utility and laundry room. This is an ugly, hardworking little room. Laundry on the left, half bath in the corner, water heater and furnace straight ahead, and a little pantry/storage area under the stairs to the right. This is also the exit to the garage. The half bath has some more brick, a yellow toilet and a lot of scary spiders :)

 

 

So obviously our goal was to freshen things up a bit, bring in some comfy furniture and a few decorations. We decided to leave the orange paneling intact and just paint everything else. We’re about 75% done with the painting down there – I feel like this whole first year has mostly just been painting, more painting and even more painting! :)

Our plan was to tackle a complete remodel of the utility/laundry/half bath this summer and convert the half bath into a 3/4 with a stand up shower. But our sewer line issues used up all of those funds, so we’ve put that on the back burner for a bit. I’m currently brainstorming some low cost ideas to freshen things up a bit in there to make it a little nicer while we save up again!

So what do you think? Do you love it as much as we did? The retro thing is pretty cool, right? ;)

Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment