Thankful Thursday – Sunbathed

Sunlight always encourages me.

The way it shines every day, whether or not it is covered by clouds;

the way that it warms my face, and slows me down to simply

Be in the moment.

Today, I am thankful that whether or not people say the right words,

or show me love in a way that shouts

You matter to me!

do matter.

You do matter, too!

Our lives are valuable and precious!

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall.

Malachi 4:2

which connects us to

New American Standard Bible
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?

Psalm 27:1

“Fearing” the name of God just means to revere it, to hold Him in awe; to fix your eyes on him and know that without Him, you have no hope.

He may not work out life the way we wish, but he promises that we are not alone in the tragedies, the pain, the horrors of life.

He is here.

He loves you.

The sun reminds me of that.

Beloved, you matter!

You are loved.

Be loved.

Others matter, too.

Be love.

Sunbathed 3

Sunbathed 3

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Thankful Thursday – Rock “Island” Beauty

Ever have one of those days when you wrestle

with identity?

It’s a battle to keep your shoulders back and your face uplifted?

The days when you find yourself

comparing your insides

to other women’s

outer appearance?

In this shot I recently took,

nothing is smooth or perfect.

The beauty is found when the rugged and rough meets

the serenity

of the water.

Beloved,

Find your beauty

by

drawing near 

to the serenity.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4 ESV

Rock "Island"

Rock “Island”

I am thankful for His invitation…to simply gaze upon the beauty around me which reflects

His beauty.

I am thankful that He is worthy of my gaze,

and that somehow,

when my gaze is fixed on Him,

His beauty is reflected through me…

scars, rugged edges and all.

Thankful Thursday – To BE

     He waits. I scurry to and fro, busy doing this and that important thing for him. I pause long enough to read a quick thought from him, or to shoot him a quick message, but something is missing.
     So, a space is cleared, a table is made and the lights are carefully hung to aid with the ambience. Still, he waits. Once a week, I thoughtfully review that things that I appreciate, the things that I am thankful for.
     I would feel so….used if I was only appreciated for what I did, and not for who I am.
  Today, I am thankful that God is love. I am grateful that his name is called “I am”. He waits for me, as he waits for you…”be still, and know that He is God.” Psalm 46:10

image

©Gracie K Harold 2015

Today, I am thankful that it’s never too late to join him where He waits. God is love.  Take a moment, breathe in and out, and simply thank Him for being Him.

Blue Cake

IMG_4295.JPG

My friend made us dinner a few days after I was home from the hospital following my recent hysterectomy.
She came over to drop everything off, and on her way out (after visiting with James and I for a bit), she told us that there was a cake in one of the pans. Her son, who is the epitome of a curious, inquisitive “son of thunder”; and who I absolutely adore in all of his full/throttled (mis)adventures, took great pains in decorating the cake with sprinkles.

After we practically devoured the meal that evening, James brought me my slice of cake. Bright blue frosting was painstakingly dotted with polka dot sprinkles in a deliberately energizing way. It looked like a lively party was going on amidst blue waves.

I grinned, ate the cake, and we all took turns showing off our bluish teeth and lips. It was hilarious!

The pain meds do put my mind on a bit of a delay, but the next day I realized why she baked us a cake.

In one of my posts, “the Cake is old and moldy”https://adjustmentstonormal.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-cake-is-old-and-moldy/ I referred to my uterus as a piece of “old and moldy” cake that needed to be discarded. I explained my journey to acceptance, finally understanding that my identity as a mother doesn’t change simply because some of my organs are removed.

I opened the lid on the cake pan, and silently took in the festive cake in all of its polka dotted radiance. I broke off a corner piece and savored a bite. I thought about my other friend, Stacey, who hand wrote me a heart note with the reference of Jeremiah 29:11 as a reminder.

The verse says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

I grinned my biggest blue teeth grin and thought that a confetti cake was the perfect way to celebrate this newest chapter of my life… Motherhood sans uterus.

The Change

https://www.facebook.com/aplaceformom/photos/a.10152904374540109.1073741824.186222545108/10154560114560109/?type=1

Change, it is a-coming!  As I prepare for surgery, I will be posting only on Monday, Wednesday & Thursday in the next few weeks…unless I feel loopy enough to smuggle the laptop away from James and make y’all laugh at the outrageous, unedited and medicated reality that is Gracie on pain meds. 😉

I realized today that my humor is sometimes used as a defense mechanism.

Forgive me, dear readers.

This is hard.

It’s hard facing surgery that would not have been necessary if the correct test had been done sooner.

It’s hard knowing that I may not have miscarried had the correct test been done.

It’s aggravating to have literally no.control. over my emotions or my tears.

Humbling, hard, yet good.

The good has been evidenced in the care, the prayers, the concern, the love, and the many kindnesses that have been lavished on us.  Nurses, shopkeepers, friends, and family members have hugged me, reassured me…and listened.

I, Gracie K. Harold, am about to officially “lose” the part of me that has embraced five of my children.

That fact does not change who I am.

I am God’s beloved daughter.

I am Christ’s dearly beloved bride.

I am comforted by the Holy Spirit.

I am the wife of my beloved James.

I am the mother to all 8 of our precious children.

I am the wife of a college student.

I am passionate about justice, survivors, mercy, and LOVE.

My uterus may be taken, my pregnancy may have ended in miscarriage, yet I am still me.

I was made in God’s image…swollen belly, infected body, stretch marks and all.

I am HIS.

When you look up at HIM, do you see with His eyes?

Do you see HIS delight in you…simply because He made you?

He loves you.

Let Him.

Beloved, be. loved.

Love.

Lightbreak - Change (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightbreak – Change (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

R.I.P. Ovary

The following is an unfiltered, unedited quote from the monologue I recently spit out like an epithet at James (and we subsequently texted to a very patient friend…Stacey, you are.a.saint!)

“I think my ovary just died….seriously, it is way past the date of recommended daily use.  I am pretty sure that I just about birthed my uterus, so now I can officially walk like I rode a bucking bronco [yes I had the self control to say “bucking” and that’s what I meant 😉 ]  Now I sit like I am flippin’ pregnant even though I am not…unless you count that I am “pregnant” with a fallen uterus…which has to literally be on the chair with my legs sprawled out like a cheerleader mid-jump.  I am so HOT!  Seriously, did we mistakenly turn on the heat in here?  James, I am in a swimsuit, with a fan blowing on me and the air conditioner thermostat states it is at 71° but that has to be a lie!  No way!  Yes, I see that Rex is wearing a winter coat in the house….but the child has frail bones, maybe he should run around a bit.  Oh, you brought me more ice for my water?  Oh my…I don’t know why I am crying!!!  It is just so sweet of you.  *Sniff*  Yes, I know that I have eaten half  a jar of pickles and the entire block of cheddar cheese, but now I want to eat a raisin bagel with cheese and pickles on it.  *sniff* Will you please hug me?”

That poor man.

My friend Stacey had mentioned that she had some extra hot flash support in the form of a rhubarb extract.  We texted her the following message:

“Need rhubarb extract.  Ovary R.I.P. Cannot ride heat wave anymore. Help? Thanks, James”

R.I.P. Ovary (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

R.I.P. Ovary (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Dark humor? √

Sarcasm? √

Over it? √

Attempting to find a way to worship through the hormonal influx?  √  This is all I got.

 God, I am so thankful that you have a sense of humor!

Meanwhile, could you please send us a (mild) cold front over to my general vicinity?  Or maybe, provide us with a month’s supply of smoothies?

Love, Gracie.

editor’s note: The day after I wrote this, it rained unexpectedly and A COLD FRONT MOVED IN! Thank God…no more swimsuit in the kitchen! 😉

Pieces

Sometimes, glass has to be broken in order to make something new.

Occasionally, pieces are left looking jagged and rough.

Unexpectedly, though, the ARTIST solders and places each piece together in a complementary unity.

A new beauty emerges.

The lines aren’t always scars.

Sometimes, the lines are reminders that the ARTIST was here.

Intentionally Pieced Together (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Intentionally Pieced Together (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Today, may your eyes be opened to see the artistry.

Be loved.

Be. loved.

Remembrance 9/11

Remembrance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Remembrance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

“Remembrance”

by Gracie K. Harold

I remember horror as the 2nd plane crashed.

I remember panic and fear.

I remember swelling pride for our fellow brothers and sisters; the unafraid, the unflinching, the unselfish.

Those who ran in…never to walk out.

I remember a sleepless vigil, waiting by a phone that refused to ring.

I remember falling to my knees at the sound of my brother’s voice,

collapsing into relieved sobs as my pregnant belly heaved with every breath.

He had been there, a mere hours before.

He had changed plans at the last moment.

It took him two years to expose his own grief and tell us

how his best friend had died on September 11.

Now, I carry the memories of the acrid reality that lingered over the city…

months after the attacks.

I carry the deep respect and loyalty for the brave men and women who

choose daily to run in…whether or not they will ever walk out.

Remembrance 2 (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Remembrance 2 (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Shadow Steps

Yesterday’s post spoke about some of the new boundaries that we have established in our home.

Another adjustment has been for James and I to find the balance in spending time together but also to have time with our friends alone.

One of the challenges has been that I grew up with over 10 male cousins.  I am kind of a tomboy at heart.

When James and I became engaged, we agreed that we would hang out together with my guy friends, but that it just wasn’t wise for me to hang out alone with them.  This was mostly my insistence, not his.

My guy friends are very much like brothers to me, and we live in a world that often construes things exactly as it wishes.  My husband’s reputation, my friends’ reputations, and my reputation matter too much for me to carelessly find myself in a situation which could somehow defame a loved one’s character.

James and I feel a deep compassion to mentor young adults as they transition through college and into professional life.  Spending time with these brilliant young minds constantly stretches us and teaches us so many lessons!

We have decided to be über cautious  in our interactions with the young adults of the opposite sex, not out of fear or prudishness, but out of respect for our marriage, and a desire to demonstrate that out of every single person in the whole wide world, he picked me to be his best friend and lover; and I did the same.

When we are out with a group, we typically stay in close proximity to each other.  If a member of the opposite sex playfully reaches for James’ arm, he’ll typically excuse himself or call me over to join the conversation.

This isn’t because we are terrified of other people, it’s not our attempt at “looking religious”; it’s merely the way that we continue to communicate to each other that we are happy with the choice we made.

Sometimes, in communicating our preferences to others, I am sure that feelings have been hurt, egos may have been bruised, and occasionally, people have become ticked off at us.

My apologies for unintentional harm, but this is our preference.

This is our way of conveying our love to each other.

I understand that this may look like steps that lead through shadows to others; but to us, the shadows won’t hinder us as we continue to walk forward in our declaration of love for one another.

Shadow Steps (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Shadow Steps (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

We are not asking for universal agreement, we are merely asking for mutual respect of our preferences.

If you’re looking  to discuss this with us, chances are you’ll find us together. 😉

Groggy

blue haze (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

blue haze (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

We went for a series of three short walks yesterday.  By “short” I mean that we alternated covering the distance between our front door and the corner; swapping out three of our kiddos in succession.  I did the equivalent of  3/4 of a block in walking.  This was followed by a pain pill not long after.  I vaguely remember falling asleep on James after he started a “007” movie.

I love “James Bond”, and am rather frustrated that I fell asleep for the first time ever to one of these brilliant creations!

I am told that the movie started around 7 pm.  I woke up with James’ alarm, started coffee, hugged him, and fell asleep again until 10 am.

I had every intention of showering, starting supper and organizing my bedroom for the upcoming surgery.  Instead, I have a sweatshirt over my pjs, and despite the two cups of coffee and vitamins, I am still groggy.

I am learning that resting is part of healing.

Once upon a time I knew this.

Recently, though I think that I have donned the “superwife, supermom, superfriend, superbusy, superwriter” cape, and I have failed to simply be.

So, to fix it; I am snuggling into my favorite blanket…and taking a nap.

May you rest well, and be fully refreshed as you endeavor to be fully present…wherever you are.

Love, Gracie.