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It’s a Beautiful Day

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

Eleven years ago, it was bitter cold in Denver, Colorado. 2 or 3 degrees, if I remember right. The chill is still part of my memory, though most of me felt numb.

Jason went out to the parking garage of Children’s Hospital to pull up the car and let it warm up for a few minutes. I stayed behind on the 4th floor where I bundled up our 7 month old son, Noah, for a short drive across town. He had only gone outside one time during his 5 month stay at the hospital… [Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]

Growing Up With Bobby and Bebe: A Series

Agree to Disagree

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When my parents moved to Colorado 6 years ago, they drove in from Phoenix and walked in my front door into the kitchen where I was standing at the sink. I heard in my heart (when God tells me something, it’s something smarter than I could have thought of…), “They are here for the rest of their lives and your job is simply to love them, not try to change them.”

I think I literally glanced up at the ceiling trying to get eye contact with God, as well as position my ear better to hear the response to my rebuttal, “Even my Dad?!”   [Read more…]

I Choose Life

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Me and Bobby circa 1978-ish

Oh my, God! I just did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I took a baton that felt prematurely passed, and I’m going forward with it, because retreating isn’t an option. Stopping and raising my fist to the sky and screaming, “WHY?!” won’t alter time or the impending outcome, it won’t make this pain disappear or life suddenly make sense.

So I’ll embrace the pain, kind of walk through the side ache, so to speak…and I will press on.

This morning I soaked my Dad’s t-shirt for the last time with tears mixed with deep grief and appreciation that he has been my Dad on this earth. [Read more…]

Hospice: An Interview, Part 3

Thoughts on marriage and cancer…

As we’ve emailed back and forth, Mandy and Jay and I have talked about how “cancer” is definitely something woven throughout their love story and how it’s affected choices they have made as it relates to their marriage, friendship, and commitment to one another. Today’s interview is a glimpse into the part where “in sickness and in health” has been put to the test. How do marriages survive hardship, disappointment and tragedy? Can they make it through?! The wisdom and insight Mandy and Jay share is priceless advice whether a terminal illness is part of the recipe or not! We’d all be the wiser for putting into practice some of the examples of unconditional love these guys display. [Read more…]

Hospice: An Interview, Part 2

On Tuesday, my sweet doctor made the call we didn’t want to make – she called hospice. Within a few hours of returning home, hospice was calling us. We scheduled the admission for Thursday. My case nurse and an administrator arrived at our home with sweet smiles and soft spirits. At the kitchen tablewhere all important discussions are required to take place – we talked about the ins and outs of all things hospice.” – Mandy Smith, from her blog post on August 19th, 2016

This is what true love looks like on some days.

This is what true love looks like on some days.

Merriam-Webster defines hospice as:

  • : a place that provides care for people who are dying

  • : a place where travelers can stay; especially : an inn kept by people in a religious organization

  • :  a facility or program designed to provide a caring environment for meeting the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill

The word “travelers” is truly sacred here as I am reminded we are on a journey, and Earth is one of the stops on the itinerary. Personally, my experience with hospice caregivers is, if they aren’t angels among us, they are indeed miracle workers who somehow breathe life and nurture love into end of life situations. The depth of emotional care hospice caregivers provide is so profound, it’s not just for the patient but for all who are affected by the death of their loved one, too. I wonder why health care in America doesn’t first start out with them (maybe under an alias title without the premise of nearing death), solely for the miraculous nurturing they offer rather than all the scary tests and what if’s most people face in routine medicine? [Read more…]

Hospice: An Interview, Part 1

My dream job, like if I could do ANYTHING on this earth, is to hear the story of every person I come in contact with…no one is a stranger to me and everyone matters. It would be kind of like Brandon Stanton, founder of HONY, except I’d just be myself, obviously, and it would be humans of wherever (HOW?), asking questions and listening, even when, and maybe especially when, it’s hard. We would exchange stories, and in doing so, further make known God’s love, first because of what Jesus did for mankind, second because we defied the darkness and went ahead and shared our stories, all the messes included.

I always say if a smarter thought pops into your head than you could think of, that was God talking. Well, over the last few years that’s been the case with a friend from high school and his wife. I will be driving along and their names or faces will come to mind, so I pray. Some of those times I’ve reached out to his wife to just let her know she was on my heart. So, when I found myself driving around our new city of Nashville recently, coming up with full interview questions for them, I first thought, “Well, maybe Jay and Mandy don’t really want to talk about their journey, or her cancer diagnosis, or the fact that hospice is just around the bend…” Then I remembered my dad’s words, “It never hurts to ask,” and so I reached out to them… [Read more…]

Happy Blog-o-versary to ME!

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WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

TEN YEARS! 10 YEARS, guys!

. . .

I started blogging in 2006, first at noahsteven.blogspot.com named after my son who passed away. For a season I blogged about my journey with food, being a latchkey kid, and self-image over at “Confessions of a 2nd Grade Closet Eater,”  Now I mainly write here at www.adriennegraves.com

For my 10 year blog-o-versary I have decided to share some video blog posts of things that have been on my heart for a long, long time. And by “a long time” let’s just say, if I keep them inside any longer I may implode. 

Written words are beautiful, but one thing I’ve learned whether it’s having hard conversations in relationships, media, religion, politics, and education, among others, we can often miss the written intention of the author when we haven’t also gained eye contact, voice inflection, or facial expressions, to name a few. Part of my goal in posting these video blogs is to create a space where readers can learn more about my heart around the words I’ve shared here for 10 years. Also, I’d love to hear how others are also encouraged to start engaging candidly with the people in their own lives, as a result.

. . .

This particular video is my intro. Some of the “vlogs” will be recorded in my car since I spend a good amount of time in it, so just a heads up to please send me feedback on the sound, if you’d be willing?

I started a YouTube channel because I don’t really know any other way to do this (again, feedback on that would be great, too). The channel address is my name. On this channel I’ll be sharing several segments, a lot of my personal story, my journey as a peacemaker and advocate for women of every age, experiences with theology/scripture/church culture, marriage, friendship, relationships, parenting, exposing fears, insights, mentoring and leadership direction, as well as my unique perspective and story coaching.

Sooooo…here you go…

. . .

I’d love to have you join me for this 10th Blog-o-versary party! You can subscribe to the vlogs on YouTube here or for photos and more narrative, I’ll always post the vlogs here on my blog. You can subscribe to my blog on the right side of this blog’s front page under my photo.

. . .

 

photo courtesy: pixabay user/MB-fotografie/carnival

I’m the New HGTV Star

Okay, before you read further, I jest. I’m not the new HGTV star, but I have recently put on a new hat, a hard hat at that, and have kind of naturally slid into the role of General Contractor on a remodel. Blue prints are in my DNA and I think I might have a new itch…

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“Knock out that wall. Knock out that wall. And knock out that farging wall…” – name that movie?! First one to list the name of the movie in the comments, I’ll ship you a tape measure key chain.

Let me share more details…

So, as some of you know, we “ran away from home” what is now almost a year and a half ago. And by “ran away” I mean, we, the “Graveswolds” as we sometimes ridiculously refer to ourselves, decided that because Jason worked from home, and “home” is wherever the 4 of us are, it would be an awesome idea to sell most of our belongings, house included, and spend a season in “flexibility.” This time has included stays in Colorado, California, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, France, Hawaii, Australia, an overnight in Nebraska where I got to hear and meet the raw-thentic Glennon Doyle Melton, and an upcoming trip for me (the #loneviajera) for the first time ever to Nashville, TN, for some serious girlfriend time and a hunormous Bevy brainstorm with our new CEO (details on that later…). This doesn’t include all the trips Jason’s taken on his own for work, but it’s at least given us the opportunity as a family to tag along once in a while and be together.

Anyway, part of our time in SD has been to reconnect with old friends, apparently make great new ones, and hang out with Jason’s mom, who has been a widow now for 18 years, as she retires. Prior to her leaving for what will be most of this semester to be with one of Jason’s sisters and her family in a time of need, she invited me to meet her for coffee at Caribou, aka, my office.

She has been wanting to update some things in her home for several years, to make it less maintenance for when we all gather in the summer and as she travels more, but she worked full-time and has been on the go quite a bit as bonus grandma of the century, so hasn’t had time to do it. Having known me for 25 years now, and knowing I’m the daughter of a builder and LOVE remodeling and design, she asked me at the coffee shop if I’d go ahead and remodel her house while she was out of town. She told me she trusted me and to go for it!

WHAT KIND OF AWESOME MOTHER-IN-LAW DOES THAT?! 

MINE!

(NAH, nah, NAH, NAH, nah!) (Just joking…)

So, I called a local contractor in January to see if he had some time to do a few minor structural things…because, I knock out and rearrange walls in my head all the time when I walk into spaces. It must be in my genetic makeup…Anyway, we emailed back and forth, crunched some numbers, and he lined up a few sub-contractors for some of the jobs, but I told him I also had a few subs I had learned about in town and would be contacting them for references and price comparisons.

Can I just tell you, I’m KIND OF having a blast!!!!

I now know a great tile guy, an incredible taper, sheetrocker, painter, hard working contractors and carpenters and gas-line guys. As the daughter of a builder, I watched and observed the process over the years. Our dad would take us to his job sites once in a while and it would be fascinating to see a home, resort, neighborhood, or commercial property go from ground break to foundation to plumbing to lumber and electrical to sheetrock to finishes, etc, etc. I loved my dad’s big pale green drafting board and the rolls of old blue prints stacked in the corner. My sisters and I grew up sketching floor plans and flipping through Architectural Digest and appreciating the beautiful design and construction of landmarks, rather than necessarily paying attention to where or what we were visiting.

I loved, then, watching my mom walk in and choose finishes and design elements, then see all of it come together. Decorating and staging was one of my mom’s favorite jobs, so seeing a place my dad had built eventually transform into a home, either for us or for sale, was simply part of my upbringing. As I look back at memories of my childhood I can trace my lifeline according to which house we lived in, in which city or state, and by the decor. Much of it traveled with us, like my mom’s blue and white china, my antique sleigh bed, and the old hutch that was my parents first piece of furniture. But one reason this season of travel and uprooting was an easy idea for me was that, no matter where we lived and which things made it to the next house or not, my family was always there.

Anyway, I’m waxing nostalgic and what I meant for this post was to share a bit of show and tell of the process of what I’ve been up to over the last 2 months. The job should wrap up in the next month, fingers crossed, but this is kind of why I haven’t been faithful to my other love, writing, as of recent…

(*Disclaimer: I have moved around 30x and have become quite efficient at purging and packing up rooms, and, as a result, didn’t take pictures BEFORE, before, where the house looked all pretty the way my MIL usually has it decorated. I had already packed up breakables and artwork from the wall, but you can get the gist of it…)

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My MIL LOVES the ocean/water/sunlight like no other woman I’ve ever known, so the vision behind the transformation you will see is to bring in as much light space as possible. Watch the walls and ceiling progress…

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Life at Nana’s has been fun for these two. Living on a lake? Yes, please!

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See the cold air return on that wall to the left. Well, that’s the place I thought it would be perfect to smash through and make the new entrance to the hallway/bathroom/bedroom area, rather than through the kitchen where it was previously.

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A little tough to tell because I had emptied the fridge already and the doors are open, but there is a doorway to the right of the fridge, as well as a short wall behind it. My vision was to eliminate the soffits in the kitchen to create ceiling height/space. Also, the fireplace had a wood burning insert in it that hadn’t been used for almost 20 years, so the vision was to convert it to gas and modernize the brick facade.

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Graveswold family dog pile heap of exhaustion and the night we moved down the lake to a friend’s cabin.

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One of my favorite things on a job site! Evidence of sweat and hard work!

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I asked my MIL what her dream was for her space. Her DREAM, dream kind of included a whole new roof. BUT, instead we created light and height and space by cutting in a second skylight, removing soffits and that small wall behind the fridge, and opening up the space between kitchen and great room. (Prouty Construction, South Dakota)

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Jason was savvy selling even the cabinets to someone else in town who was able to use them. New to you!

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You can see on the far left of the photo where we created a new hallway.

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Where you see the two new sheets of drywall is where there was once the back of a closet and a doorway to the hall. Also, yep, under the ladder which was where the former apartment sized dishwasher was, we replaced sub-flooring.

Be sure to tune in again…there’s more progress to see!

My Mid-Life Crisis, Part 1 of Many

I’ve been wrestling a little lately, though it’s not unfamiliar. To say it was foreign would be false, because drifting, floating, uprootedness, wandering and wondering, going from place to place, and being curious about this and that isn’t new to me. I’ve moved 30 times in my 43 years and 11 months and 3 weeks. That’s included different cities, states, suburbs, churches, states, and dorms, apartments, and houses.

The last year since we sold our house and most of our stuff hasn’t been all I thought it would be, but also has been, on some levels. My dreams was to get rid of it all…I’m an extremist that way. I wanted the four of us to load up one carry-on each and walk out the front door of our previous lives, out into whatever and wherever God was leading. Jesus told the rich young man it would be difficult…I guess He was right...since my dad’s basement is filled with our boxes and some chairs and beds. Looking back, I wanted to run away from the reality of my mom’s absence…

The steps have only come one at a time. This is fine for my free-flow spirit, but it’s dark and discouraging and heavy for my HSP-ness, for my eyes that want to look ahead and plan for the future, to have a thumb on my “passion and pursuit” without all the unknowns. In a split second I can go from being grateful and content for where God has us, to being frustrated and distraught with zero answers to why are we “here” and “where” is next and, mostly, what the heck is my purpose, like, why did God make me?

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(A great chart and article about “Highly Sensitive People”-click here for link for a great quiz and insight into, likely, someone in your life.)

Problem is: I realize I am often waiting for my circumstance to dictate my action or obedience, when that was the point of most of the stuff Jesus said in the first place, simply, “Follow Me.”

Most days I’m selfish.

I haven’t been obedient.

I could blame not knowing HOW to do something I feel passionately about with not doing anything at all.

But I don’t want to make excuses anymore.

I’m just simply sorry.

I could write a list and check off a long page worth of excuses that carry truth in my own eyes, but the Truth is, I’ve been designed by God for this day and age, regardless of circumstance, in spite of influences and obstacles, and all He designed me to “do” is BE the woman He made me to BE, right here, wherever “here” is, right now, accountable to the one in the mirror and actively loving to the ones I encounter every day…living the Kingdom, sharing the Good News.

We just got back from a 2-week trip to Australia. The jet-lag bites and the postpartum from daylight and sunshine and warmth and sand and salty air and great food, coupled with hormones, has had me in tears off and on for a couple of weeks. Did I mention we came home to a snow storm?

Anyway, when I got back I had some messages to catch up on, a few of which included encouragement from friends to watch a 1/2 hour video clip from Elizabeth Gilbert titled, “Flight of the Hummingbird.” I sat in my office in Caribou bawling, tears streaming, muttering, “Holy cow! This. Is. Me…all of it…thank you, thank you, thank YOU, Lord…bless this woman for her faithfulness in speaking truth in the face of fear, for living without shackles, outside the box…bless Liz for throwing me this life-line, without all the cliches…bless her for doing what I know I’ve been designed to do…” I’m including the video at the bottom for you to come back to when you have a bit of time. It’s not something you’ll want to miss. Share it with friends, male and female, dad’s of daughters, brothers of sisters, too, who come to mind when you listen. Besides the fact that every word spoke to my heart; the Facebook letter from the Australian woman, Liz’s husband’s life of uprootedness, and the whole idea of a hummingbird, the specificity for me was mind-blowing.

Well, one of the squares on my check list of half-assedness living has been momless-ness. I miss my mom. I want my mom. I really could use MY mom in my life. I want to hear her wisdom spoken fresh again. I want to have her in my corner, praying over me. I want to hold her hand and watch her facial expressions, to hear her voice and prophetic heart. A great chasm has been left in me since her departure and there have been days of flailing, still.

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So when Liz referenced a hummingbird, I kind of freaked…my mom’s favorite bird in the world was a hummingbird (a close second being the sweet Gambel’s desert quail of the Southwest)…wherever we lived, she always had the feeder filled for the curious little beauties…and as long as she had food for them, they returned faithfully.

So, Lord, open my eyes to see…
I’ve been self-absorbed, worried about opinions,
wondering if I’m qualified…
questioning Your creativity,
asking, “How can I leave a legacy or step out boldly when I’m not rooted, not planted, not grown-up enough?”
I’ve looked into the mirror, but mostly at my thighs…
measuring my worth in a toxic, twisted way, rather than
greeting myself in the eyes, face to face, in the mirror, Your daughter, Beloved. Holy. Sacred.
I’ve been busy, so “busy,” I’ve allowed the concrete to set up,
and the fears begin to creep in,
and the lies, to bear rotten fruit.
It’s painful.
You don’t need my permission,
though my admission may be part of the unlocking, unleashing,
cage-opening, branch-trimming…
trim my branches, Father…
graft me into Your Tree of Life.
Open my cage, Lord…
free me from the lies I’ve believed, the un-truths I’ve told myself.
Lord, You put that man to sleep after a time in order to hand-craft woman…
that must mean You had something special in mind for Your daughters, as well…
all of us, me, and her, and every other girl, also made in Your likeness.
Illuminate the path, Lord, as You see fit, what You know is best, and and I will walk in it,
everlasting…here I am…I’m stepping out into the unknown…the place where I’m free to be me…a butterfly, a curious soul, like a hummingbird, led by Your Spirit, for Your glory, discovering Your beautiful creativity in the day to day.

Come.

 

hummingbird photo courtesy: pixabay user/omissivart