The Mitten

I am a Michigander.  I don’t like being called a “Michiganian” because for some reason it causes me to think of “The Smithsonian” (which I hope to take the children to see someday)…and it sounds a bit pretentious.  “Michigander” makes me think of small towns, pristine lakes, cottages where bacon and eggs are frying, geese honking their morning hellos over the lake, and Blue Herons swooping in for breakfast while swans glide in the background.

No matter where I’ve lived or how far I’ve traveled; my home is where the trees stand tall, the flowers are fragrant, and the water is a short drive away.

I was delighted to find two highly talented editors in the West Michigan area, as well as an incredible photographer and a brilliant graphic designer.  We found a church where we are loved as we learn how to grow.

I’ve found a writing haven (or two), where I can diligently escape from the world until I need conversation to spark me back into my work.  Translation: thank you Simpatico!

Simpatico (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Simpatico (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

I’ve discovered a small town which offers parks, museums, artistic expression, and a slew of restaurants that we are determined to dine at!  The beach is a short ride away, and the walking paths are just outside our doorstep.

We are officially based on the lake shore now, and we are so happy to call Holland our home.

If you are ever in our area, prepare to slow down, enjoy the people that are next to you, and take time to smell the tulips.

(c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

(c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

 

If you’d like to read more about our adventures while living in Michigan, you can also purchase my book, “Across the Street From Normal”.

Advertisements

Lightplay

“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.”
― George R.R. MartinA Clash of Kings  

Lightplay 1. copyright Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 1. (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

 

Shapes and shadows speak to me.  My artist heart is easily drawn in by unexpected beauty.  I enjoy discovering how the light plays in the shadows.

I was delighted by the images that I captured the other day while the kids were playing.

Lightplay 2 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 2 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

lightplay 3

Lightplay 3 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

lightplay 4

Lightplay 4 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 5 (c) Gracie K Harold 2014

Lightplay 5 (c) Gracie K Harold 2014

I’m beginning to see the deep truth in the quote above.  If I only gaze at the darkness and shadow, I miss the point.  Life isn’t about being intimidated by the dark.  Life is about dancing and playing in the light.  Beauty is found where light overshadows the darkness.

The following song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor was played at our wedding, and it captures our story so eloquently:

My hope, desire, and prayer this week is that the LIGHT plays in real ways for you, and your eyes are opened to see the darkness being overshadowed by love.

Stunning Lightplay (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Stunning Lightplay (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Matthew’s Joke

stairs

Our son Matthew had a hard time accepting humor at first.  He would laugh at funny things on television or in movies; but he did not understand how to process teasing.  This brought on some very tense moments which required an extra dose of compassion and patience on our part.  We are, by nature, a family that thrives on practical jokes…and gentle teasing is one of our love languages.

By gentle teasing, I mean the following example: Rex walked into the house yesterday after playing out in the dirt.  I smiled widely, winked obviously and said, “So, mister man; were you going to wash the backyard off your legs?” He giggled, shook his head and said, “Ummmm, nope! Uh-uh. I wanted to keep it on me to remember the yard!”.  We laughed together as he walked out to clean up.

This whole interchange was a completely foreign concept to Matthew until a few months ago.  I remember one of the first “humor breakthroughs”.  I was driving alone in the car with Matthew and Marissa.  Matthew made an outrageous statement about something, and without thinking, I teasingly said, “Ohhhh, I see, Mr. Spoofer.  You are telling a Tall Tale!” as I winked at him in the rear view mirror.  *Cue tears.*  I felt awful.  He said, “My name is Matthew, not Mr. Spoofer!”.

I explained that Daddy and I called each other silly names just to show that we love each other…not mean names, but silly ones, like “Little Miss Pees a lot” or “Mr. I had Onions tonight”.  I explained that if the names change, the person still stays the same in their heart.  With a sinking feeling of dread in my gut, I asked him if he was starting to understand.  “*Sniff* I think so…since I was pretending to cry, Mom! I knew you were kidding!”

He got me.

About a week later, the five youngest kiddos were heading upstairs to bed.  It was a chilly night, so I hollered up to ask who needed an extra blanket.  3 little voices answered that they did.  I went all the way to the far corner of the basement to retrieve the warm layers.  My arms were heavy laden when I tromped back up the two flights of stairs.  I handed out two of the blankets, and went from room to room asking who requested the third one.  Total silence.  James said, “Are you sure that you counted right?”  I replied, “Three of the kids answered me.”  We heard snickering behind us, and turned to see the cherubic face of Matthew, dissolving into giggles. “Ha! I got you, MOM!  I asked for the blanket but then acted like I didn’t. I.TEASED.YOU!”

James and I shook our heads as we smiled.  “You sure did get me, buddy!  Way to go!”

That boy.  What a Spoofer!

Pigs in the Blanket

The humidity was high, the a.c. was cranked, and our house was packed with our 5 kids who ALL wanted some “date time” with mom…as I was attempting to finish the final edits on my book.  There is nothing like a deadline to bring out the insatiable, unquenchable desire in every family member for personal, uninterrupted attention.

I grabbed Marissa and Ruby, our daughters, and announced; “If you girls want to spend time with me before I start the final edits; please grab a pan and start greasing!”  They obliged, and we started pulling apart the pre-made dough and rolling up the breakfast sausages.  We giggled and teased each other as we worked, simply enjoying each other’s company.

Ruby whipped through her assignment quickly and hurried to take her turn with the video game controller.  Marissa and I continued wrapping the “pigs”, and then discovered that we had one extra chunk of dough left.  Marissa was quick to suggest that we give it to James, since he is the “Daddy who takes care of us all!”.

I agreed, and her next idea triggered a string of snickers from me.

“Let’s make it into a beer bottle, so he can have a biscuit and beer at the same time!”

We crafted our “beer biscuit”, and I obligingly carved into it with a knife so it read; “Dad only”.

beer biscuit

 

I love the creativity and imagination of children!

We placed the pans in the fridge, the girls snuggled in to watch a movie; and I was soon tapping away on the laptop right in between them.

James taught me a while back that headphones are indeed a gift of God.  I turned on my ‘get off your butt and write” playlist (seriously, that’s really what it’s called), and got to work.

I am not exaggerating when I say that every 90 seconds or so Marissa proceeded to air type over my keys, or say, “Mom!  Did you see that? Pretty cool movie, huh?”

Each time I would gently poke her or hug her or tickle her or mess up her hair and after answering her question I would say, “I see you , love.  I am right here.  Even though I have to work, I still love you and I am SO Glad that you are our daughter!  We are so glad that you are ours!”

There are a lot of different issues at play in her life right now.  She finally opened up to me a bit, and then after supper, James and I took her on a walk so we could dig deeper into what is bothering her.

Through our talk, we realized that adjustments take many different forms.  All parties involved need to consciously be aware of other people and their feelings.  One child may very well have needs that are completely different from another.  I need things that James doesn’t.

That’s okay; it’s all part of adjusting to normal.

Maybe I spent too much time yesterday in the air conditioning, but it seems to me that our individual needs are kind of like the pigs in the blanket.  Some of them had an extra thick blanket of dough wrapped around them, some were exactly symmetrical, some had barely any dough around them.  We all followed the same recipe and instructions, but our individual personalities shone through.

That’s what family is like.  We all are following the same guidelines, but we need to be aware that we will not all look the same, or share the same exact needs.  It’s been fun to rediscover that truth this week as we have learned how to serve and love one another individually.  I understand that there will be moments when it doesn’t seem like any forward progress is being made, moments when the kids forget that they are to think of each other first; but all in all, I think we are becoming a “pigs in the blanket” family! (Beer biscuits and all!)

Pigs in the blanket

Pigs in the blanket

 

Why being a man is better. A slightly sarcastic post by James.

The following is a guest post (in honor of Father’s day); by my husband James:

A quick something about me.  I love God (Yahweh), my beautiful wife Gracie, and our 6 children. I am a bit sarcastic and use lots of one-liner’s.  I like beer; dark is my favorite but I don’t discriminate against light beers.

@ShortsBrewing, @reformedpubcast, @foundersbrewing; @AngryOrchard, thank you for some deliciousness in life!

@ShortsBrewing, @reformedpubcast, @foundersbrewing; @AngryOrchard, thank you for some deliciousness in life!

I think God gave us beer for our enjoyment but not to abuse.  I like talking through theology while enjoying a good beer; that’s one of the reasons why we like @reformedpubcast on twitter.

One of my love languages is joking with people…just ask Gracie.  We have a constant running joke in our house, which consists of me saying, “Yet another reason why being a man is better than being a woman.”  I am totally joking with this, but I like to wait for a weird moment when we are together and just say a random number and give a reason.  Gracie laughs at me every time.

Some examples follow:

Reason #5: Have you ever walked down the hairspray aisle with the objective of finding the perfect product? Being a man is better.

Reason #67  why being a man is better; I can go to the bathroom by myself while in public settings.

Reason #55: As a man, I don’t have to try on 95 outfits in order to find 2 that fit.  This frees up lots of time for other things.  (Seriously, we need to find a store that serves beer to men while their wives try on clothes…I’m just sayin’…)

But all joking aside, I thank God for Gracie.  I couldn’t do life without her.  God knew us men.  We need help and partnership; otherwise known as relationship.  We are after all made in the image of a relational God.

I want to challenge you to take a moment to think of your relationships and be thankful for the people who are there to help, encourage, and cheer you on; as you continue on in your journey.

May God bless you and your relationships.  Whether it be marriage or friendship; HE always provides us with someone there to help us.

Lizards, Hamsters & Fish

Hamster (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Hamster (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Lizard (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Lizard (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Fish (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Fish (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

James and I have officially stepped over the edge of reason, and I am unsure yet if we packed a parachute.  We agreed to let our 5 (yes FIVE) youngest children each pick out a pet!  (Before the questions start rolling in; we were not on steroids or antihistamines or even under the influence of beer).  Seriously.

Here’s how we arrived at the new state of chaotic normal: Ruby approached me with a proposal.  Bear in mind that this girl wants to be president some day; and anyone who knows her for longer than 5 minutes can attest to the fact that she probably will be President.  She is “gifted” with her mom’s silver tongue, and she loves to debate. Fiercely.

As I said, she had a proposal for James and me.  She had done some preliminary math and research; and came with the request that in lieu of Birthday presents; she be allowed to use all of her birthday money to buy a pet, it’s habitat, and it’s food for the next months until Christmas.

I was utterly taken aback.  I mumbled that I would have to talk to James first; and then I shook my head in disbelief.  That girl has moxie!  James and I discussed it over the next few days, and decided the following:

1. Yes to a lizard, hamster, or a fish  IF

2. A report is prepared and research conducted to establish what is needed and how much the supplies will cost

3. All cleaning of the habitat falls solely on the pet owner, and it will be scheduled at least once or twice a week.

4. All feeding and watering of the pet is the child’s responsibilty

5. Pets will NOT sleep in bedrooms, but will have assigned places to reside

6. Some of the children’s Christmas money will also go towards food

This is the part of discussion when James and I realized that in order to be fair, we need to make the same offer to all FIVE of the youngest children…and by default; we were agreeing to take care of the animals when their owner is absent from our home.

Eh, we have a blended family of 6 kids, 2 parents, multiple allergies, and some grief….why not throw 5 animals into the mix?  Besides, I shall never be lacking in blog content =)

The Thirty Second Pregnancy

2014-04-23 10.41.56

“The 30 Second Pregnancy”

By Gracie K. Harold

Trigger word warning:  pregnancy, miscarriage, grief, expletive (bull$#*!), appalling lack of medical professionalism, hospital

My pregnancy test was positive…for a whopping thirty seconds before it faded to “not pregnant”.  This happened on a day when I was expected to be in meetings or appointments all day long.  So, I called my doctor; whose office ordered blood work at the local hospital.  I was assured that as long as I arrived before 7 pm that evening, they would receive the results as soon as possible.  We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 pm.  My lab order was nowhere to be found; and of course, it was a Friday night so the Dr.’s office was closed. We went home to wait until Monday, after being told that there was nothing else that could be done.

Meanwhile, I started spotting.  Monday morning, I called the Dr.’s office again; and the nurse asked why we hadn’t called the after-hours doctor on call.  No one had ever told me that was an option. I had asked about it at the lab in the hospital, but they informed me that they were unable to call and inquire about the lab order. So, I rushed back to the hospital for my blood work.  The lab tech was able to rush my results so that my Dr.’s office would have them within an hour.

After two hours, the office called to tell me that they wanted me to take another pregnancy test.  When I expressed my confusion after having just had blood drawn for the pregnancy test; she stumbled over her words and said, “Oh, now I see the test results. I will call you back after I read these to a Dr.”  So, I waited.  Remember that I had a miscarriage this past summer, so my fear of losing another child was palpable. A nurse called me back another hour later.

The following is a direct quote from her: “The Dr. thinks that you are getting ready to start your period, so please take some ibuprofen and rest.”  Insert Christian expletive here; no, on second thought, insert what I really said here: “This is Bull$#*!”

I had been spotting and cramping for 5 days, and had taken two different pregnancy tests which I was anxiously awaiting the results from.  Additionally, I can’t take Ibuprofen; it’s clearly documented in my chart. I re-explained the reason for the office to call me back; that I was waiting for the blood test results.  “Oh, well, the Dr. only said that you were starting your period.  Oh, wait a minute, I didn’t read the other notes from your phone calls this last week.”

Ok, time for a few sarcastic comments. I was under the impression that a professional office is expected to do all of their research BEFORE they pick up a telephone to answer a patient’s questions.  Perhaps I am anal and picky, but isn’t there a certain protocol to protect against liability? I thought that protocol usually called for a complete picture of the patient’s history and complaints.

At this point, I told the nurse that I would either drive the five minutes to their office in order to stay in the waiting room until I was seen; or she could schedule me with a provider in the next two minutes.  “Oh, I think there’s an opening.  I guess I don’t understand why you need to be seen if you’re not pregnant.”

That’s how I found out that I had a false positive on my pregnancy test.

I love my Dr., I really do.  However, as this is the second time I have experienced this gut-wrenching treatment and lack of sensitivity by the nursing staff; I can’t possibly fathom being willing to undergo this a third time. Call me a cock-eyed optimist; but I was under the impression that an Obstetrician’s office was in existence to compassionately walk alongside their patients throughout all phases of their journey to have a child; especially after the loss of a pregnancy.  Apparently I was sorely mistaken.

I curled up in my bed, and sobbed until I went to pick up James from work.  It hurt worse than a ‘hellish pain”. It was hell.  I knew all of the platitudes, all of the “reassurances”, all of the Bible verses. I hurt. I cried. I screamed and cussed. I journeyed through, accepting it as it was; how I felt right then.  It’s ok.  I am completely allowed to have a weekend of grieving over what I thought was a new life.  Likewise, I am also allowed to feel relief in alternating waves; and then come back to the grief again.

Needless to say, I now see a different Dr.  On my first visit, I told her about the false pregnancy test.  Her response was to say, “Oh my word!  That’s like…(at this point, she took her hand in an uphill motion while making an airplane-takeoff-type noise, then sharply brought it back down with a crashing noise).  I smiled through my tears and said, “That’s it exactly…and that was the absolute, most compassionate response that I have received in the last year from the medical community. Thank you for treating me as a grieving mother; and not just as another patient.”

Grief hurts, and that is ok. You have permission to grieve. Life brings joy sometimes, and that’s ok as well. You have permission to laugh. Both of them are part of the grief journey.  Every step may look different from the last; but no matter what, please know that you are not alone.  I railed at God; spewing expletives as if I were a nail gun and he were a new building under construction.  He listened.  His love for me is still here.

So even in my sadness and grief; somehow, I can cling to Him honestly through my exposed, jagged heart.  I know that He will continue to carry me on the days when it literally hurts like Hell.

Dueteronomy 33:27 states, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms.”  Go ahead, join me.

****As an incredible side note, I was hiding out in my favorite writing “cave”.  Behind me was a wall.  I set about taking pictures of the stopwatch screen on an old phone that I planned to use in this post.  Below is the gallery of the progression of the photos.  IN NO WAY DID I ALTER THESE OR SUPERIMPOSE THEM!  All I did was flip between filters.  I think it’s like God is reminding me that all of my grief is covered by the cross; and He’s here to walk me through it.****

 

“Exceptions”

snowy sunset (2)“Exceptions”

By: Gracie K. Harold

Trigger Word Warning: snow, blended family, blizzard.

 Michigan is to snow and cold as the desert is to sand and sunshine. Some of my earliest memories involve this reality.  My younger brother was born in one of the worst blizzards in Michigan history.  I distinctly remember staying at my aunt’s house, and how she pulled my cousins and me on a sled.  She bundled us up, led us up the narrow pathway of their freshly-shoveled driveway; and placed the sled up on the snowbank.  The remarkable thing was that we were up higher than her head (she’s 5’7”), and we were looking down onto the tops of mailboxes and the roofs of cars.  She led us up and down their street, and we received a front row seat to all of the neighbors’ snow removal efforts.  It was like a cartoon; watching people throw the snow up over their heads as it arced over onto the ever-growing snow hills.

My birthday always falls close to Easter, and I distinctly remember the eve of my fourth birthday.  For weeks, when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, I would answer, “snow.”  Up to this point, Michigan had experienced a rather mild spring; which explains why my mom and dad kept shaking their heads at each other incredulously; unsure how to answer my request.  Finally, my mom said, “Honey, you can pray about it; but you need to remember that it’s springtime in Michigan…the snow may be gone for now.”  So, I dutifully prayed before bedtime, asking God to “Please, please make it snow on my birthday.”  I awoke early the next morning, ran to my window, and looked out on a pristine blanket of snow shining in the first light of the sunrise.

I ran out of my room yelling, “It snowed! It snowed!  God gave me a birthday present!”  My poor dad!  He had to leave for work, and I remember him saying, “You’re the one who asked for this, huh?” as he winked at me and put on his snow clothes.  I spent quite some time making snow angels and sledding and playing contentedly in the snow that day.

For a few years until the current season, our winters have been unusually mild.  Last year in particular was extremely atypical.  One of our boys refers to it as “The year of the green Christmas…instead of the White Christmas”.    I was in a local store this last month, and a man began discussing how much he enjoyed riding his bicycle.  I expressed that my family and I enjoy the hobby; and also told him that I had seen a few diehard bicyclists out in the subzero temperatures. I giggled a little bit as I mentioned that I didn’t dare try to ride until I was positive all of the ice was gone; since I am rather accident-prone as it is.   He proceeded to tell me that they actually make wide snow tires now for bikes.  This launched him into a mini-tirade about his frustrations about not being able to ride his bike in the wintertime.  “Last year I was out every single week on my bicycle.  Now, I don’t think I’ve had it out once since November.  This is absolutely ridiculous!  I can’t believe the weather we are having!”

He left, and I was incredulous that he was so upset about the weather when he knows full well that he resides in MICHIGAN!  It’s not like winter weather is an anomaly in the lakeshore region; yet here he was complaining about the cold and snow.  James and I were discussing it later when it struck me what had happened. “Oh! He expects the exception to be the new normal.  The warm weather we experienced was the exception, and not the everyday common experience.”  James just looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

I blushed a bit, grinned, and said, “I know, love; I get it.  You and I tend to mentally reside in the past of our former relationships, and then we react out of those as if they were our new “normal”.  Instead, though, we need to realize that our past was the exception. This is a new thing. THIS is our new “normal”.  The old stuff that happened to us is not happening to us now.”

We’ve both been striving in the last few weeks to “live in the new normal”, and to move on from the exceptions.  We’ve decided to learn from the pain of our past, hope for our new future together, and live in the moment of our new relationship.

I love being at home in the new normal…no more “across the street from normal”; instead, I’m moving in.  It feels like home.

It is home.

“Repairs”

repairs photo

“Repairs”

By: Gracie K. Harold

Trigger Word Warning: cold drinks, $#*!, expletive.

I have very vivid memories of home improvement projects throughout my childhood. One of my favorite photos shows me at age 2 holding a hammer and beaming proudly as my father builds me a toy box. I was always that girl…you know, the one who could check her own oil, change her blinker bulb, and of course, unclog a toilet!

Growing up in our clan meant that if there was a deck to be built, uncles and aunts and cousins were sure to be on hand with their tools, cold drinks and a crockpot full of barbeque.  Over the years, though, our projects did not always go according to plan.  The home that I grew up in had a half wall, complete with wooden spindles. That wall lasted maybe 2 years tops after we moved in.

First, the spindles were removed.  Then, my parents decided to remove the half wall and open up the doorway.  Since they reasoned that this would be a “simple” project, only one uncle was called over to help.  The men started first thing in the morning that fateful Saturday.  My brother and I stood at a respectful distance as my father began to saw through the half wall.  The electric buzz resonated melodically through the air for the first few seconds, until the unmistakable zing of metal on saw blade was heard.  My father jerked the saw out of the wall, and a hasty demolition of the drywall ensued (by hand).

Apparently, the home builders had been possessed when they ran the water pipes from the upstairs bathroom down to the basement.  Instead of simply utilizing a straight line; they had installed a pair of 45˚ angled pipes, snaking right into the half wall before angling down to the basement.  So, my father, uncle and mother set to work hand demolishing the rest of the wall.  A plan was drawn up; and the work commenced.

Obviously, the water was turned off for most of the day while they re-routed the pipes.  Late that afternoon, the adults were celebrating their accomplishments when I went upstairs to use the bathroom.  I expected the bathroom to be very cold as it was wintertime.  I walked in, opened the toilet lid, and was greeted with a cloud of steam.  I attempted to wash my hands, but discovered only cold water in the sink.  Realization dawned, and I hurried downstairs to my parents.

“Guess what?” I asked with the triumph of one who has an important announcement. “There’s HOT water in the toilet and COLD water in the sink!”  The adults fell silent as their celebration stopped. “Gracie, that’s not funny.”  “It’s true! I opened the toilet lid and steam came out!”  I heard the pounding of my dad’s footsteps up the stairs, followed by a muttered, “Aww…$#*!”

The wall was torn back apart, the pipes were uncrossed; the wall was deemed to be “good enough” for now; and the sun was long set when I decided to get one more snack before heading to bed.  My father, in his fatigue; had left the power drill plugged into the freshly moved electrical outlet.  I opened the fridge at the same moment that my brother noticed the power drill unattended.

“Hey, Jay, look!   The refrigerator light won’t turn on!” At that moment, he had picked up the drill like a tool aficionado and pulled the trigger.  The drill bit spun, and the fridge light came on. We looked at each other and started giggling. He let go of the trigger, and the fridge went black again.  We were outright laughing as my mom turned the corner into the kitchen and asked what was so funny.  We demonstrated our discovery, and she exclaimed, “Oh, no! Oh, $#*!” My Father took one look at our new trick and silently went downstairs.

We sat there, stupidly running the drill in order to keep the fridge running.  Dad returned with a cardboard box and electrical tape. He removed the drill bit, taped the trigger down so it would stay on all night; and placed the drill into the box.  I don’t remember which one of us snickered first, but I do remember the stomachache from all the laughter.  I know we slept the blessed sleep of the exhausted that night.

The next day, my uncle dutifully returned, the wires were uncrossed and the wall was refinished.  The doorway was enlarged; and we had gained yet another funny story to share about our adventure as a family.  We wore our home improvement mishap as if it were a badge of honor.

Recently, when James and my brother-in-law set out to teach me how to change the brake pads on our car; I remembered the hot water in the toilet and I shared it as a means of encouragement. I have quite a knack for pep talks, huh?

We actually did quite well. Granted, we had to drive out a ways to gather all of the tools that we had forgotten; but I decided that helped us get into the brake-changing mindset.  Really, there was only one comic mishap that occurred when my brother-in-law was loosening the lug nuts with the 4way. Apparently when we bought the tires, they were put on with a LOT of torque! Well, he leaned into the 4way; put all of his weight into it…and promptly snapped it in two pieces!  He stood there wide-eyed in astonishment, opening and closing his mouth…completely speechless.

I tried to suppress my giggles, but I couldn’t. James was working on the other tire until he heard my laughter and noticed that his usually talkative brother had absolutely nothing to say.  He saw the newly renovated 4way, and we all chuckled.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon. We worked hard, but we had all had a good time simply enjoying one another’s company.  It means so much to me that James respects me enough to gently teach me how to participate in the projects that he takes on. In our marriage, we have been intentionally focusing on establishing the “we” first.

Since we each brought three into the marriage, this means that we have six little people who all think that they should be the first priority in our lives.  The last months have consisted of us gently yet firmly teaching and showing the children that the following are our priorities: 1st, our faith and love for God. 2nd, we the parents are a team; and we will function in unity and love. 3rd, we love our children so much that we will teach them that their choices have consequences. 4th, we want to love others around us as we have been loved.

Adjustments aren’t always easy and repairs don’t always go as planned.  We have hit some snags along the way, and we have our moments when we lose our cool, and maybe even *gasp* we’ve muttered an expletive or two…or five.  (Not in a way that demeans each other or attacks each other or insults, but as a means of describing a crappy situation.)  Overall, my hope is that someday, we can giggle together over our mishaps and eventually wear them as a “badge of honor”.