Beautiful yet Awkward

Beautiful moments are more prevalent than tough ones lately…and it’s awkward.

Awkward because I don’t know how to simply be completely at ease in the beautiful moments.

I spent so many years being on “high alert” while hiding from my ex-husband (after fleeing from his abuse) and trying to fight the injustices that he and his family propagated, that I forgot what it felt like to simply just relax and enjoy the good things in life.

After the auto accident, as I wrestled migraines, I would hoard good moments, desperately trying to gather up a stockpile of them until a migraine hit again.

James and I have had a really good week.

We are learning to communicate lovingly and gently.

We are intentionally taking time for ourselves individually, and then for ourselves as a couple.

It’s good.

We’ve been intentional about having time with the kids as designated family time.

It’s good…and awkward.

I am awkward around easy goodness because I do well under pressure.

I spent years thriving through difficulty.

I am not currently grieving hard core, or persevering through health issues,

or struggling with relationships.

I haven’t had a migraine for well over a year.

It’s okay.

I have permission to simply enjoy this beautiful moment and the next; in an unhurried way.

I can lollygag in the beauty as long as I desire.

It may feel awkward, but I am no longer restless or afraid.

I no longer feel it’s necessary to run from the good, or earn the beautiful.

I can soak up beauty like a sponge.

Today, I am content to enjoy the beauty of life, as the awkwardness fades and I stand mesmerized.

Join me?

Beauty. Just beauty. (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

Beauty. Just beauty. (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

A blur(t)

Fast, rapid-fire words flow from my lips; often before I think them through.

I have been described as “having no filter” between my mind and my mouth.

I was nicknamed “Lippy” at a summer camp that I worked at.

I have been called “sassafras”, been accused of having “diarrhea of the mouth…it just runs…”,

and been told (my personal favorite in the echelons of ignorance) that

“a submissive wife is a quiet and unheard wife”.

That one garnered a quick-witted sarcastic retort which did not exactly produce a godly response.

I do some volunteer work which involves meeting in a Board Room to check in with executives.

In the last month, I have started to notice that within that setting, I have a “Professional Opinion” and a “Personal Opinion”.

I am truly grateful for the chance to serve in an environment where both opinions are valued highly.

At home lately, James and I have been caught up in a cycle of disagreements.

It was frustrating.  I felt that my opinions and feelings were being ignored, and he felt attacked by my opinions and feelings.

I met with a friend recently so that she could give me “outside” eyes into our struggle.

***Note of caution. This was NOT a bash-my-spouse meeting.  It was an intentional and heartfelt plea for someone who is not going to necessarily take my “side” in things.  I wanted an honest opinion and honest advice from a woman who would tell me directly and kindly if I was out of line.  I sincerely wanted to see what was causing the friction in my relationship with my husband.Because I sought an unbiased opinion, I avoided any family members, or anyone who I felt would be clouded by their loyalty to me.***

So, there we were.  I began to re-tell her some of the conversations that we had had, and also how dumbfounded I was that James felt hammered sometimes by my attempts to explain my perspective so that he could understand where I was coming from.

She looked at me and said, “Gracie, do you tell him everything about how you feel or do you tell him the main point about how you feel?”

I answered, “He’s my best friend.  I tell him everything so that I don’t hold anything back from him.”

She leaned forward a bit, and gently said, “Do you remember the story about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary the mother of Jesus?  Do you remember how it describes what Mary did after the angel had spoken to her? ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ “

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”

“It’s okay to hold things in your heart and pray them over, just you and God.  It’s not dishonest, it’s wise.”

Since that discussion, I apologized to James for not discerning what was important to tell him, for overwhelming him with an unintentional deluge of blinding emotions and opinions to sort through.

I began to pray through how I feel, to ask for wisdom in seeing why I feel that way, and also to ask for discernment about whether or not I truly need to feel heard about it…or if it’s simply a situation where I am grumpy and just want to wench about things.

When we were first dating, I was aware that a single man doesn’t want to spend time with a grumbling and negative woman.

Over time, I got comfortable with James.  It’s great that I trust him enough to tell him my thoughts; but I forgot to respect the fact that as a man who loves me, he deeply desires to see me happy.

When I complain, it can easily convey the message that he failed to keep me happy.

The truth is that I am overwhelmingly happy, I just wanted verbal affirmation that he hasn’t stopped cherishing my feelings.

So now, I write him a note and try to phrase it positively.

For example, instead of a paragraph about how I feel that our schedule is too packed for us to be alone together, I try to simply say something like, “I really enjoy being alone, just the two of us. We haven’t done that yet this week, I have free time on Tuesday after dinner…would you please take me out of the house so I can catch up with my hot husband?”

It seems a bit awkward at times, but he genuinely wants to spend time with me too, and this is a kind way for me to ask him for what I would like while also being aware of his feelings.

Additionally, writing down my thoughts has served to give me a filter for my words, so that I don’t unintentionally offend him.

It gives me time for clarity. so that I can define what the real issue is.

I love my James.

He matters to me.

It seems only natural that his feelings should matter to me as well.

a blur(t) defined (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

a blur(t) defined (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

Soldering and Fragments

Life’s experiences leave us jagged sometimes, don’t they?

Pain comes in like a renegade warrior, taking us by surprise.

Old wounds resurface with a resurgent flood of overwhelming emotion.

Recently, James and I had an EPIC FAIL

I mean EPIC.

We both reacted to each other in fear; not trust.

We each chose to filter the other person’s words through our past experiences

instead of submitting our conversation to the

present and new reality that we are in today.

One of us heard everything through the filter of rejection; resulting in words being transformed into daggers of unintended hurt and betrayal.

The other one of us heard everything through the filter of failure; resulting in words being transformed into spears of unintended accusation and blame.

It was the worst fight that we’ve ever had.

I kept fighting panic and dread, fearing that my past marriage was going to be repeated.

It wasn’t.

James is NOT my first husband.

I am NOT his first wife.

One of our “mantras” that we frequently repeat is,

“He’s not him, and she’s not her; this is a NEW marriage to the one who loves me”.

For those awful moments, we focused on viewing the present through our past.

The pain, rejection and failure from before obscured our vision and we failed to

listen to our beloved one.

Instead of showing care and concern for the spouse who loves us here in the present,

we stayed stuck in regret and hurt from the past…

and missed our opportunity to show love, care, and compassion for each other.

It’s taken days to haltingly repair the hurt that we caused each other.

It reminds me of stained glass art. Fragments of glass are placed next to one another in intricate designs, and then the thin

metal ribbon is placed between the fragments as the soldering gun warms up.

distant soldering (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

distant soldering (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

The soldering gun is hot!

The ribbons of metal that hold the fragments together have to melt first in order to form a strong adhesive.

I trust that as we learn to see past our hurts, we will see how the past contributed to who we are.

Instead of filtering through rejection and failure,

I know that we will begin to have our eyes opened to

the genuine love, care, concern and friendship

that is here right in this moment.

Our fragments may have jagged edges, but together, they fit in a larger pattern.

Sometimes, things will get hot, and emotions will run high.

Soldered Fragments (c) Gracie K Harold 2015

Soldered Fragments (c) Gracie K Harold 2015

My prayer is that we will see the beauty of the patterns that our trust and love are creating as we continue to learn how to listen to each other.

May you also leave the filter of your past, as your eyes focus on the love that is here for you

in the present.

I John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (NIV)

Raw Love

Grief had ripped through his soul, leaving his heart jagged and exposed.  He determined in that moment of pain that no one would ever again be allowed close enough to cause him harm.  Over the years, his determination only faltered once.  She was a beauty, one who captured his heart and imagination.  He fell for her, hopelessly and madly.  He left for his job on the railroad, promising to return at week’s end.  He kept his promise and was full of hope as he approached her door. The sickening kick-to-the-gut that betrayal and cheating always bring is what greeted him. Her flippancy is what ripped his heart into tatters, as she purred, “You were gone for a week, what did you expect me to do? Wait?”

He vowed to never let anyone get close to him again.  He took a vow of bachelorhood, buried himself in his work, accrued a savings account; and he determined to simply live a good life.  It all changed after his nephew and niece-in-law had a baby girl.  This little wisp of a youngster smiled at him and melted the icy fortress that he had carefully constructed around his heart.  To his surprise, the icy defenses now served to usher in a tenderness as the ice transformed into rivulets of love.  He was tickled to be her great uncle, and he took to calling her “wisp-girl” under his breath.

When she was just a toddler, the wisp-girl introduced him to the comingling of sweet with the bitter.  His brother-in-law (the child’s grandpa), was a former boxing champ who numbed his pain with the sedative of alcohol.  It caught up to him, and he was now dying of cancer.   The family had gathered together, saddened by the declining health and resolve of their patriarch.  That’s when the wisp-girl began twirling in the center of the living room.  She stopped breathlessly, and grinned winningly at her grandpa.  He laughed mirthfully, and the pattern repeated over and over until the room was filled with the peals of silver laughter.  Silver laughter is only heard when it’s offered from a heart that is heavy with affliction, yet somehow the soul breaks free from the pain and heaviness as it dances triumphantly in a joyful defiance. That day, the family embraced their silver laughter as they watched the antics of the wisp-girl and her dying grandfather.

That was the last weekend of the grandpa’s life, and the bachelor great-uncle resolved that the wisp-girl needed him to step up and into the void.  So, he did.  His sister accompanied him, and they moved in with their grief-stricken widow-sister (the wisp-girl’s granny). Grief is a jealous companion.  If it goes unchecked, it will soon push away everyone who seeks closeness with you.  That’s the unfortunate truth of what happened, and soon the grief-stricken granny widow demanded that her siblings move out.

The little wisp-girl came over to visit the new house of her great aunt and uncle a few times, and she lit up their hearts like a holiday tree.  Eventually, though, family loyalties were exploited, politics were bitterly played, and a division ensued.  The wisp-girl’s father determined to show loyalty to his widowed-mother; and the visits ended.

The wisp-girl sent secret letters to her beloved great-aunt and great-uncle, begging them to correspond.  The great-uncle sought to reply, but his sister was afraid of the repercussions that it would bring on the wisp-girl.  Her intent was to protect the wisp-girl, but instead, years of love and companionship were lost.  At the funeral for the beloved great-aunt, the bachelor great-uncle embraced his wisp-girl in a fierce hug.  They wept openly as he confessed, “I tried my damnedest to get her to respond to your letters, but she was so afraid of causing distance between you and your granny.  I thought of you every night and every day, and memorized every word of your letters.”

The wisp-girl’s father was so moved by the tender pain of his uncle and the deep sorrow of his daughter that he relented and the visits began again.  What an unlikely pair they were.  The wisp-girl shared her beloved great-uncle’s stubborn determination and strength; but she was akin to a bald eagle.  One moment, she could be gracefully soaring with a majestic air about her and the next, her talons would be exposed as she defended the ones that she loved.  They would sit side by side, close enough to let their elbows rub as they talked.  She would prattle on about life, boys, inner city injustice, her love of kids, and her desire to attend college and make a difference in the world.  He would smile at her enthusiasm, and wonder at the seemingly endless stores of energy that she possessed.  He would speak of his memories made on the railroad, of the Detroit Tigers roster, and eventually of his life growing up in rural Michigan.  Her words were often faster than an express train, his were peppered with “damn”s and “dammit”s.

She called him with the news of her acceptance into the private college of her choice, her squeals eliciting his words of, “I am damned proud of you, girl!” She called to sing him “Happy birthday” from her dorm room, and they would talk about life, boys, and The Tigers.  On summer breaks, she would weave her arm through his as they sat basking in the sunlight on his front stoop while her brother mowed his lawn.  One day, she told him of her desire to work with people who were poverty-stricken and he said, “You be careful.  It’s not work that I would have picked out for you, but I’ll be damned if I let anyone stop you from it.”

He checked himself into a nursing home the week before spring break of her Senior Year in college.  She found him in his room, basking in the sunlight, with his face uplifted towards the window.  Peace and joy radiated from him.  She kissed his cheek, and they said their goodbyes; both knowing that his 90+ years on earth were ending soon.

Days later, she stood tearfully at his funeral.

A while later, she burst into tears of gratefulness and love as realization sunk in.  He had paid her school bills out of his estate.  All those stolen years when they could not see each other, he was saving and making money and investing money.  He didn’t just do it for her, but there were kids from his neighborhood who had also managed to wiggle their way into his heart.  Despite the pain of losses that he had endured, despite his jagged heart, he learned the art of raw love.  No walls, no refinements, simply love for the ones that were placed in his life when his heart was raw.

The wisp-girl strives to embrace the lessons of her beloved great-uncle as she continually resists the fear-filled temptations to pull back into a fortress of pain from her past; instead opening up her jagged heart for those who have been placed into her life.

May we all be graced with raw love.

Waterplay (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Waterplay (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

A sneak peak into my (married) dating life

The kids were dropped off in a busy flurry on that Saturday morning.  James and I had gotten up extra early so that we could be dressed and ready by the time we brought the kids to their extra-curricular activity.  Success! We had no children for the next few hours, an almost-legally-binding-faux-contract that we would NOT run errands, discuss bills, worry, or take any cell phone calls; and we had already consumed most of our second cups of Simpatico coffee.

James had arranged a surprise for me; his father let me borrow his real life CANON camera!

(Can you hear me squeal as I type this?)

I do the majority of my blog pictures with my iPhone, and actually I have never been given the opportunity to go on a spontaneous photo shoot with a real camera.

James told me to pick our destination, and I picked the rustic wooden bridge in Zeeland, MI.  (Which is just a short drive from Holland, MI). The following collage shows some of  the shots that were captured…on my first ever authentic Canon photo shoot!  May they bring you comfort and joy!

#PureMichigan

The Kindness of an Atheist

friend (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

friend (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

**Please note that this post is about FRIENDSHIP and the kindness of an atheist and is NOT about dating an atheist…that’s a post for another day.**

I was still getting moved into our new apartment when I received the phone call that started our friendship.  I had been in a shelter for Domestic Violence survivors for the last few months, and my children were four, two and a half, and eight months old.  The conversation flowed easily on a variety of topics.  Although the call originated as a business call, it wasn’t long before we considered ourselves friends.  He was an adamant atheist and a devout environmentalist, I was just as adamantly a Theist. One of our first conversations consisted of the following debates:

Me: How can you be an environmentalist but not a creationist? What’s the point if you’re an atheist?

Him: How can you consider yourself a creationist if you care nothing about the environment? What’s the point?

He was right. I told him so, and apologized.  I started recycling more, and trying to consume less.  I became aware of my wasted energy and cut back on my carbon footprint.  Our lively discussions continued, and his friendship filled an emptiness inside of me.  I was so lonely.

I was attending every women’s Bible Study that was offered at my church.  I attended morning church, evening church and Sunday School.  I had good friends who intentionally had the kids and I over, or who cut our hair, or even watched the kids so I could escape for coffee…but I lacked a best friend.

Still reeling from the chronic abuse that I had endured for five years at the hands of what I call a “biblical psychopath” ( a man who had a degree in Theology but was mentally disturbed and abusive); I longed to connect with someone who I could debate and discuss life with.  My best friend from college lived in Indiana, and we made every effort to talk, but my heart ached for local companionship.  I longed to be listened to, appreciated as a wise woman, and have someone laugh at my jokes.  He did.

Before the inevitable judgments begin racing in your brain and start being slung into my comments section like stones in a stoning; know that I took faltering steps in courage to reach out for friendship at church with the young adults.  I soon discovered the “ooh and ahh” reality that exists when a single mom appears on the neat and tidy “Christian scene”.  Guys tended to either respond with (a sometimes literal) running to the hills as they seemed to scream, “Ahh….she’s a single mom!  I wonder if it’s contagious!” or they would seem to be purring, “Ooh…a single mom who obviously had sex…I wonder how long she’s gone…”  It’s vulgar but true.  Most of the young adult girls would literally (and possessively) grab the arm(s) of the closest guy(s) and plaster a “perma-grin” on their face, without ever making a real effort to know me.

From the church, I learned the conflicted dance of religious grace.  I received both patronizing glances and genuine compassion.  I received outpourings of financial assistance and gifts and food; along with slammed doors, condemnation, and hurtful, ignorant comments.  I often felt like the anomaly kept in the China hutch for certain guests to see on special occasions. “Oh, that’s our single mom…she has had it rough…whisper whisper whisper (gasp).  She is quite a dear, though…and we all do what we can to help her.  It’s so sad, isn’t it? (sigh)”

From my atheist friend, I learned that I had a voice, intelligence, and a good sense of humor.  I learned that real men see the beauty inside a woman…not that her appearance isn’t important; but a funny, witty, kind, intelligent woman has a lot to offer the world for it’s betterment.  He taught me how to navigate around and through red tape, while empowering me to learn how and when to cut through it.

He taught me that attractiveness is multifaceted.  Through our friendship, I relearned my confidence.  I found a safe place to vent and cry and grieve.  I was challenged to sidestep the very things that had tripped up and entangled my loved ones. I learned that even after one or both of us was a jerk to the other, our friendship continued.  I learned that my ex-husband was indeed an “Insert-expletive-of-your-choice-here”.

The kindness of an atheist is what prepared me for my dating relationships that eventually followed, and also for my marriage.

You read that correctly.

The kindness of an atheist prepared me for my marriage to my Jesus-loving, Bible-College-attending, Shepherd-hearted Man that is my best friend, lover, and husband.  My James challenges me, understands me, hugs me, loves me, fails me, apologizes to me, romances me, and encourages me to be more like Christ.  I love my James.  I thank God for him every night and every morning.  I do.

I like to think that in His Kindness, God saw my loneliness, and he heard the cry of my heart for a deep, visceral connection.  My atheist friend stepped up when no one else dared to.  My husband eventually entered my life, and took it from there.  I thank God for both of them.  Whether you like it or not, I tend to think that both offered a beautiful sacrifice of worship.  The first one had a heart stirred to compassion by an inexplicable desire to make a difference.  The second had the same compassionate heart, stirred to draw me in with loving kindness, as he committed to continue on loving me for life.

My belief is that God smiles on both of them.  Both of them showed me the heart of God, whether or not they were aware of it.  The kindness of an atheist drew me into the intimacy of a forever marriage with the man who chooses every morning to simply love me as God has loved him.

Please do not misunderstand; my heart is only fully devoted to my husband James.  I am my beloved’s and he is mine.  In looking back over the last decade of my life, though; I have realized that my Atheist friend was like one who tills the soil on a farm.  His
kindness prepared me for God’s goodness, and stopped me from running away from the thing I so desperately needed but was too terrified to be vulnerably available for.

I like to think that when James stepped in, he took the plow, and began to sow seeds of kindness and love in such an overwhelmingly tender way, that I couldn’t help but allow him past all of my defense mechanisms.  God be praised for seeing my heartache.  Where a Christian man wasn’t willing to courageously walk beside me, an atheist was moved to compassion for that season of preparation.  When the time was right, James entered my life and opened my eyes to what true Biblical love means, accompanied by an everlasting commitment to me as his wife.

If your heart is shattered as mine was, and you are terrified of allowing people past your defense mechanisms, may a Godly person have the courage to walk beside you.  If they fail or refuse, may you have the kindness of an atheist as a preparation for God’s overwhelming goodness and love.  Heal well. Rest well.  Commit yourself to your faithful Creator…and continue to do good.  (I Pet. 4:19)

If you are in any way aware of a hurting soul, in God’s name, gently and courageously reach out to them time and again in love!

Love and kindness,

Gracie

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.

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. 😉

Ornate Elegance

Ornate Elegance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Ornate Elegance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Ornate artistry speaks viscerally to my soul.

Beauty resonates with me in a way that fills me to overflowing.

I realized today that once upon a time, creative expression was poured into designing restraints and limitations.

The photograph above is part of an intricate railing that provides a delicate yet strong boundary in a turn-of-the-century hotel.

James and I have recently been debating and discussing what boundaries are going to look like for us as we go forward.  I balked when I was first told to “take it easy” as I heal and prepare for surgery.  I’ve been learning though that limitations can be beautiful if I use them as a tool that promotes safety and health.

We’ve also been deliberately and intentionally establishing boundaries within our marriage and our family.  They are not intended to be a barrier, but instead, our boundaries are designed to promote safety and beauty in our lives.

When I was younger, close friends of mine shared that they marked two black Xes on the calendar each week.  One X was the couple’s date night.  No kids, no business meetings, no distractions, simply being alone for at least 2 hours together.  The other X  was a time slot devoted exclusively to family time, the couple and their kids; uninterrupted, no distractions,  for at least 2 hours together.  I was told that sometimes the X gets moved due to a scheduling conflict, but the point is, that time was intentionally blocked off every single week.

James and I started doing this about 6 weeks ago, only he insisted that we have two nights a week for us alone, and also one X a week for us to spend with the kids.

It has radically changed our relationship and our family dynamics for the better.

Our dates range from super cheap to nominal, depending on the amount of money that we have on hand.  We’ve gone out for moderately priced appetizers, gone through a fast food drive-through, packed a meal, simply escaped for an ice cream cone, gone for walks, window shopped, driven through the country, gone to peruse paint color chips at the hardware store, rented a movie and ate supper in bed when I was too ill to leave the house, gone to a coffee shop, escaped to the beach, played mini-golf, played real golf,  gone to a book store, and looked through magazines over a cup of coffee.

The point is that we have been together, in a time block that is devoted simply for us and the growth of our relationship.

Security and trust are multiplied when you are shown that in all the world, time with you matters most.

What X do you need to mark on the calendar?

You can do it!  Add a little “ornate elegance”, or even, some “simple elegance” to your relationship. 😉

Simple Elegance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Simple Elegance (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

From Ruby

Ruby's Letter

Ruby’s Letter (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Translation: “Dear Mom,

My reading program says to [write] and send a letter to my favorite author. (That’s you).

I love you. Your book is a good book (well, the parts I’ve read, that is).

-Ruby”

Happy Tuesday!  This made my day!  🙂

The link to my book is here: “Across the Street From Normal”.

I have absolutely no regrets about leaving the abusive situation that we were in all those years ago.  Instead of seeing her mother as a victim, Ruby sees me as an author, an income earner, a society contributor, and a confident woman who is loved by God and her husband.  That’s all I ever wanted.

Today, I feel like I have what I wanted.

Love, faith, family, friends, and confidence.