“Across the Street From Normal” Preview

The proof of my book has arrived! I am slipping out a sneak preview because I.cannot.keep.it.a.secret ūüôā 20140715-074238-27758244.jpg

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Lightplay

‚ÄúThe brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†George R.R. Martin,¬†A 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

Thankful Thursday – July 10

Life in Black & White @GracieKHarold 2014

Life in Black & White @GracieKHarold 2014

Today, I am thankful for the reminder that God is attentive to details.  He could have created one shade of green, or even worse, only black and white.

He didn’t. He created. He loves it when we create. ¬†Here’s my homage to his creation…even if it’s only a minuscule snapshot.

Feel free to comment your thankfulness below, or Facebook me: Gracie K Harold, or Twitter: @GracieKHarold

Thankful Thursday July 3

I am thankful for

#Freedom #Soldiers @GracieKHarold 2014

#ThankfulThursdays @GracieKHarold 2014

 

 

Love, plain and simple. @GracieKHarold 2014

 

Same Purpose, Different Appearance. @GracieKHarold 2014

Same Purpose, Different Appearance. @GracieKHarold 2014

If you are feeling thankful, share it!  #ThankfulThursday

Facebook: Gracie K Harold

Twitter #ThankfulThursday @GracieKHarold

or comment below =)

Opaque Windows

rustic reflection @GracieKHarold 2014

rustic reflection @GracieKHarold 2014

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as¬†we¬†are” – Anais Nin

Sometimes life is viewed through an opaque window.  Different things obscure our vision.  Many moments in our life recently have looked grimy, tumultuous, and overwhelming.

Two of our sons recently had appointments with a specialist team.  There have been some nagging symptoms that we have been monitoring for the last couple years, and one of our Doctors felt it was worth the consultation.

Pardon my lack of eloquence and please forgive my blunt way of proceeding.  Three of our children have at least a mild form of a connective tissue disorder.  It is genetic, it is carried by the female, and there is a 50% chance of developing the syndrome.

I am the carrier.  Our sons have it, as does our daughter.

The emotions that I have experienced run the gamut; no pattern, no rhyme or reason.

Guilt. ¬†I feel guilty in some very dark moments for carrying this and not knowing it. ¬†I was an athletic trainer, for God’s sake. ¬†How could I not have caught this sooner?

Anger.  I calmly yet sternly asked God why he would allow this so soon after finding out that two of our children have outgrown some allergies.

Dichotomy. ¬†I believe and trust that God is good. ¬†I now see that this reality is painful, hurtful, and far from perfect. ¬†Yet, I resolutely and deliberately (and even sometimes¬†intentionally)¬†declare that “[I will] give thanks to the LORD, for HE is good, for his¬†steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1 English Standard Version, emphasis mine).

Relief. We now know the why behind their symptoms.

Frustration.  New limitations are in place.  More caution is required with certain physical activities.

Anxiety. ¬†This is the beast that I must overcome most often. ¬†Keeping all of the “what if’s’ in check is only done when I stand fully aware of who God truly is. ¬†Until I direct my gaze to HIM, to His unchangeable Love and Acceptance, to His Goodness, I can’t move on in faith.

Grief and self-pity. ¬†This is often short-lived as I refuse to be an “Eeyore‚ĄĘ” of a person. ¬†A.A. Milne’s book, “Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner” features the glum character, Eeyore‚ĄĘ. ¬†The following sums up his outlook on life perfectly: “Eeyore,” said Owl, “Christopher Robin is giving a party.” ¬†“Very interesting,” said Eeyore. ¬†“I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. ¬†Not at all, don’t mention it.”

It would be easy to slip into that pity-filled existence; but honestly I don’t want to be stuck in the muck and mire of the “poor, poor me” mentality. ¬†If I did that, my gaze would have to be directed at myself.

No thank you.

I’m familiar with how I feel right now, and I would rather not be consumed with my feelings. ¬†In my previous post, “Wildflower Tenacity”,

https://adjustmentstonormal.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/wildflower-tenacity/

I explained how our grief is like a puppy on a leash. ¬†We need to walk the puppy instead of letting the puppy walk us. ¬†We’ve also expanded the illustration for our children so that it is used for their emotions and their hormones. ¬†The other day, I looked at our son David as he became caught up in an adolescent whirlwind and I said, “Walk the dog, bud. WALK. THE. DOG.” ¬†He quipped, “Mom, it’s a Great Dane!” ¬†James and I laughed, and James reassured him, “Yup, it is, son. ¬†That’s why you have a BIG God who gave you the Holy Spirit. ¬†The Holy Spirit is the leash. ¬†Let God walk the dog for you.”

It takes effort to “walk the dog”. ¬†It takes a deliberate decision to step forward in faith, even when the reality is not what we want to embrace.

“We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. ¬†We err because this is more comfortable.” – Alexander Solzhenitzyn.

He’s right. ¬†It’s easy to blame and stay angry at this reality. ¬†The truth, though, is that God did NOT cause this. ¬†The truth is that we live in a crooked, sinful world. ¬†Sin always causes brokenness. ¬†God is love. ¬†God is Holy. God is Whole. ¬†“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away, and look, new things have come” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ¬†(Holman Christian Standard).

If I believe in Christ, if I have made Him my “boss”, then I am not the same broken person anymore. ¬†I am made new by His sacrifice for me. ¬†I am now seen by God the Father as holy, whole, and complete. ¬†When God looks at me, He sees Jesus’ blood and perfection.

This is oftentimes a hard truth to embrace. ¬†In order to be made whole, I first need to admit that I am broken and stuck in a hopeless mess without Christ. ¬†Humility is never an easy decision. ¬†Pride is much more comfortable…until you truly turn your gaze to that nagging sickly feeling in the pit of your gut. ¬†That place where you feel that something is missing, that something is a little off-kilter.

When you stay in that off-kilter place, it’s as if you are attempting to look through an opaque window. ¬†You seek to see out of it, but the view is obscured.

Opaque Window @GracieKHarold 2014

Opaque Window @GracieKHarold 2014

When you surrender fully to Christ, and allow Him to make you new, your eyes are adjusted. ¬†You finally realize that the purpose of the opaque window isn’t for you to see out. ¬†The purpose of the opaque window is for the light to gloriously display the brilliant colors in a new way.

“Why let what you see get in the way?” – Joyce Kellock

Go ahead.  Let Him open your eyes.

 

 

Taboo Behavior

Taboo Behavior @GracieKHarold

Taboo Behavior @GracieKHarold

TRIGGER WORDS: funeral, grief, insensitivity

What NOT to say &/or do at a funeral, visitation, or in the weeks thereafter (these were unfortunately gleaned from friends’ and my own experiences):

1. Do NOT bring up a former dating relationship that you had with the deceased unless you were the last person that they dated right up until they died. Comments about how they loved you best or you were better for them are NOT helpful.

2. Do NOT show up inebriated or high or smelling higher than the moon.  Drown your sorrows after the funeral, if you must; but please remember that your loved ones want you alive.  Please be responsible. Besides, numbing the pain now does not deal with it, it only results in a headache as you attempt to deal with it later.

church3. Do NOT spew religious expletives like the horrific ones that follow:

a. If only s/he had lived a more righteous life, they would still be here….

b.Romans 8:28 has its place….IT IS NOT HELPFUL AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. ¬†Don’t do it!

c. Don’t you think that your spouse would have wanted you to dress up a bit more? ¬†How about some make-up?

d. You’re young. You’ll find another.

e. They wouldn’t want you to be sad…stop crying.

f. Oh! this is SO horrible! What are you going to do now?

g. I am sorry that ___________ died, but look on the bright side; pretty soon their spouse will die too and then they will be together again in Heaven!

4. When invited to share a positive memory of the deceased, DO NOT, Under any duress or circumstances, share a negative memory. 

5. Do NOT focus solely on your grief.  Others are grieving, too. Be NICE.

6. DO NOT USE YOUR GRIEF AS AN EXCUSE TO BE ABUSIVE AND CRUEL.

7. Do NOT hold onto bitterness, life is too short to not forgive.

8. DO NOT hit on someone at visitation….JUST DON’T! ¬†Seriously, just don’t.

Do not be religious, Be loving. @GracieKHarold

Do not be religious, Be loving. @GracieKHarold

What is helpful? ¬†A hug, a clean tissue, flowers, a flowering plant, or a card listing your favorite (KIND) memories of the deceased. ¬†Prayers. ¬†A verse that speaks about how near God is in our sorrow. ¬†A simple, “I am so sorry”…like you mean it. ¬†A genuine, “I don’t know what to say, but I am here.” ¬†An honest,¬†“God, I don’t know what to pray, but you know what we need. ¬†Please show us that you care.” ¬† Simply sit in silence, holding their hand, or merely just sitting. ¬†Make a meal that can be frozen. ¬†Ask if they need help with anything…and BE WILLING TO SCHEDULE TIME TO HELP.

Accept the different faces of their grief. ¬†I DO mean faces. ¬†Sometimes it’s an angry one, or a wenchy one, or sarcastic, bitter, exhausted, and maybe eventually, a half-hearted happy face. ¬†They are all okay.

My dear Dr. H. used to say, “People who cuss have limited vocabularies.” ¬†He is right. ¬†Sometimes, grief limits our vocabulary and we just need to string together a long line of expletives.

Please, avoid the religious vulgarities.

Interactive Thankful Thursday

Beautiful! @GracieKHarold

Beautiful!
@GracieKHarold

 

It’s Thursday! ¬†I would love to hear what y’all are thankful for today!

In my previous post, “Thankful Thursdays”

https://adjustmentstonormal.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/thankful-thursdays/

I explained how our family atmosphere is beginning to change into one of thankfulness.

We would love for y’all to join us!

Please reply below this post,

on Facebook , http://https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008050091185

Twitter,

&/or search for my pins on Pinterest. 

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.

Exhaust

The following are what have resonated with me this weekend, as I’ve wrestled and questioned and grieved through some things which are still a bit too raw to share just yet; instead, I want to let the pictures and the music speak:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc4F9PcvbqQ

 

chocolate expression

chocolate expression

enough said

enough said

 

new from the old

new from the old

suBtle cross through shadows

suBtle cross through shadows

 

sometimes, we simply step in IT

sometimes, we simply step in IT

Live in the NOW.  Be here.

Live in the NOW. Be here.

If you look closely, and read between the lines; you just may see a Girl-woman who is striving to confidently “trust in her faithful Creator and continue to do good”. (I Peter 4:19)

I wish I had an image of a woman shielding her heart like it is a fragile egg.  Sometimes, the wound cuts deep; the betrayal hurts; and the gossip slays.

Look past the surface

Look past the surface

Pain happens in life, and people mess up. ¬†That doesn’t change the fact that I am the beloved daughter of my God. ¬†I am accepted. ¬†I am unconditionally loved. ¬†People’s rejection of me does not equal a change in my identity. ¬†I am chosen by God with a very specific purpose to fulfill.

Look past the hurt

Look past the hurt

What about you?  You are not rejected by Him.

You are loved by Him.  Let Him love you.

¬†He said it best, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Open up again

Open up again



Appalling Treatment of both a Woman and her Child!

TRIGGER WORDS: Nausea inflicting lack of justice!

http://news.msn.com/world/sudan-judge-sentences-christian-woman-to-death-for-apostasy?gt1=51501

http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-sudan-court-sharia-christianity-20140515-story.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27424064

I read this story, and I can’t be silent. ¬†We live in the year 2014; and yet, this woman is sentenced to HANG while she carries her unborn child, all because she believes differently than the judge who sentenced her. ¬†Voltaire once said, “I may not agree with what you have to say; but I will die for your right to say it”.

Please, dear readers; be the change.  Share this story; stand beside me in the gap for our human sister and her unborn child.

Thank you,

Gracie