Marked by grief

by hollycombs

We had just celebrated our second anniversary when we lost Michael, my brother-in-law.

Marriage isn’t always smooth sailing, but ours was good and God provided and we were growing.

And then such a loss. Grief marked each and every day.

We just celebrated our fourth anniversary. And this weekend marks two years since losing Michael.

Half of our marriage has been marked by grief more than any other emotion — sadness more than happiness, pain more than joy.

And next year, it will be more than half. The percentage will grow with each passing year until we will have been married enduring the “after” Michael’s passing as compared to the happiness “before”.

I hope and pray that with each passing year while the longing doesn’t end, the pain will fade. The heartache will ease. Someday, maybe life will be marked by more good days than bad. By more joy than mourning.

It seems to be happening already, in fits and starts. But the reality of loss always comes crashing back into our life.

Sometimes I want to scream at God that it’s not fair. I didn’t sign up for this. This isn’t what life — marriage — was supposed to look like. I never agreed to this!

But the pain isn’t given at the hand of God, the comfort, the peace, the joy — those are the gifts of God.

We live in a broken world.

I’m ready for it to be healed. Yet it isn’t time yet. I long for it, but I wait.

I’m older than Michael now. 28. He was 27.

It’s a strange feeling, because he was a year older than me and now I am a year older than him.

Michael came into the world during Hurricane Gloria, and he left us amid Hurricane Sandy.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. – 1 Kings 19:11-12

The Lord isn’t in the storm, He is the still, small voice speaking comfort and peace.

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Weekend

by hollycombs

A little clip from my weekend…

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#janethegoat feeling playful

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{Moments of Inspiration}

by hollycombs

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday afternoon walk

Sunday afternoon walk

Sunday afternoon walk

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The good/The bad

by hollycombs

While I’m working on getting some more six month photos of the house, here’s a quick update:

The good:
My sister-in-law and her littlest came to stay for a night. Just one night, but it was wonderful to open our new home to family. It’s what we dreamed about when we first began looking for a home. No worries over the half-renovated mess in the kitchen — hospitality doesn’t require perfection. Oh, and we received the new chairs for our living room, looking forward to getting the room just how we want it.

New chairs

The bad:
Yet again, we hit a water issue recently. The breaker on our water heater kept flipping and leaving us with freezing water. After a few cold showers, I couldn’t take it anymore and we got a new breaker (after all, we already got a new water heater). Surprisingly, such a simple thing seemed to fix the problem. Yay for no more cold showers!

The ugly:
Um, the kitchen. It’s a mess. Enough said.

Current kitchen

The lovely:
The front porch. Oh, it still needs a coat of paint on the railings and the front door is still Williamsburg Blue, but it’s featuring a pretty red rocking chair and some budding mums as well as a few fun colored pumpkins and gourds from Trader Joes. My own little welcome to fall. Plus, my anniversary bouquet from Husband…

Anniversary flowers

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Six Month Progress: Guest Bath

by hollycombs

Like the guest room, the guest bath hasn’t gotten a ton of love since we moved in. Mainly, it’s functioning (which is an improvement).

A few before photos:

Hall Bath - before

Hall Bath - before

And a current update:

We have replaced the curtain rod, replaced the guts in the toilet tank (it no longer runs constantly!), took down the old hardware, hung up a few shelves and painted.

Guest Bathroom progress

Guest Bathroom progress

Guest Bathroom progress

Obviously, we have a ways to go in here. The blue toilet? That needs to go. And the swirly shell sink? So 80s. We have plans to paint the vanity, replace the counter/sink (possibly with granite, we have a lead on some remnants), install a new (white) toilet and down the road work on the shower/tub and tile. I’d also love to see a new light fixture in there, and we want to frame out that giant mirror.

Guest Bath Source List:
Wall Paint – Revere Pewter by BM
Trim Paint – White Dove by BM
Curtain Rod – Home Depot
Shower Curtain – Bed, Bath & Beyond
Bamboo shelves – Tuesday Morning
Striped rug – Walmart

Other Six Month Progress reports:
Big “before” post
Master Bedroom
Guest Room

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Six Month Progress: Guest Room

by hollycombs

The guest room hasn’t gotten much attention (I could say that about many of our rooms!), but we DO have a bed in there now, so we’re getting somewhere =).

Before…

Guest Bedroom - before

Progress:

Guest room at six months

Guest room at six months

Guest room at six months

Obviously, there is still some work to be done here, and the room has become a repository for furniture that we don’t have a place for anywhere else. The closet doors (and inside the closets) still need to be painted. I also have some great fabric to make curtains (ones that come all the way to the floor instead of stopping a foot off the ground!). And the ceiling fan doesn’t even have a globe on it, but we’ll get there one of these days!

Mostly, I’m just glad we can leave the door open without Ginger getting on the bed when we’re not home–the same cannot be said for our bedroom.

Guest Room Source List:
Wall Paint – Revere Pewter by BM
Trim Paint – White Dove by BM
Bed – craigslist, painted White Dove by BM
Rug – Tuesday Morning
Quilt – Antique store (Ohio)
Bookcase – Ikea
Chests of drawers – Ikea
Wardrobe – Hand-me-down

Other Six Month Progress reports:
Big “before” post
Master Bedroom

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Six Month Progress: Master Bedroom

by hollycombs

So I shared a big old post of “before” photos, and now I’d like to give some updates now that we’re six months in. The house is far from finished (I’ll give a sneak peak at what the kitchen looks like right now…), but we are making progress and I want to document this in-between stage.

So to start, the master before:

Master bedroom - before

And a few current photos:

Master bedroom - 6 month progress

Master bedroom - 6 month progress

Master bedroom - 6 month progress

Master bedroom - 6 month progress

Master bedroom - 6 month progress

The master bedroom is definitely the most “together” room in the house, and obviously it’s not finished. It’s still missing curtains on one window (I just found the hardware for the second curtain rod this week!), needs more art on the walls etc. But its the calmest room in the house for sure. I painted, placed furniture, hung a few things on the wall and even set out a few decorations.

And, since I want to be honest about how things are going, the before on the master bathroom:

Master Bath - before

And the current state of the master bath and closet (at least the gold sponge-painted stripes are gone, although the closet is an utter mess)…

Master bathroom - 6 month progress

Master bathroom - 6 month progress

Master closet - 6 month progress

And just to prove how much we really don’t have it together right now, the kitchen:

Current kitchen

Master Bedroom Source List:
Wall Paint – Revere Pewter by BM
Trim Paint – White Dove by BM
Comforter/pillows – Dillards
Rug – JCP
Headboard – local decor shop (it’s actually a room divider!)
Bedside tables – Craigslist
Blonde dressers – Antique store (Ohio)
Wooden dresser – Family heirloom
Coat tree – Family heirloom
Jewelry armoir – Estate sale (VA)
Trunk – Antique store (Ohio)
Sheepskin – Antique store (WV)
Hat/Scarf rack – Flea market
Pouf – TJ Maxx
Lamps – Ollies
Standing mirror – Hand-me-down from roommate
Chair – Antique store (WV)
Curtains/Rods – JCP
Hamper – Tuesday Morning

Master Bath/Closet Source List:
Wall Paint – Silver Gray by BM (definitely a blue tone)
Trim Paint – White Dove by BM
Mirror – Home Depot
Shower curtain – Kohl’s

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Slowing down

by hollycombs

We took some time to slow down amid a busy September last weekend.

Busy is just that, busy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are achieving, accomplishing. It doesn’t automatically mean that we are being productive or growing or stretching. It just means busy.

We’re still figuring out the balance. The rhythm. Of this new life, new home, new phase.

We walked down to the neighbor’s the other night and sat in their living room as the rain pounded down and just talked and talked for hours. Husband and I walked home in the dark, dodging the last of the rain drops. It was late, but it felt good to be making connections, making time, being, talking.

In an effort to make some of that time for ourselves, we took off for the mountains last weekend. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but our little mountain excursions help bring us a bit of sanity, of slowing, of breathing, of being. It’s good for us.

A few photos and a few thoughts from our trip…

Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

So green at the lakes

Thistle

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

The view from Humpback Rocks Trail

The pup made it to the top too

Enjoying the view, Blue Ridge Mountains

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Welcome, September

by hollycombs

It’s September and that makes me giddy. Here in Virginia Beach, we may have set a new heat record (99* on Sept. 2!), but in my heart I’m preparing for crisp nights and falling leaves. I stumbled across this printable that I thought quite appropriate as I’m reading George Eliot’s Silas Marner right now.
george eliot fall quote free printable

Source

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Too early?

by hollycombs

So I know it’s really a little too early to be getting into fall mode. But September does arrive on Monday, and it’s been cool enough to open the windows at night, and we are going camping next weekend, and I just got a new sweater, so I’m pretty much in fall mode at this point.

So I made myself some apple cinnamon oatmeal to go with my tea, and I’m making plans to hunt down a second red rocking chair from Cracker Barrel to match the first so we can sit and rock on the porch this fall. And I’m making lists of things I need to buy for our camping trip: charcoal, lighter fluid, hot chocolate (just the essentials, you can see).

It’s supposed to be back in the *90s this weekend, but I will not be deterred. I have requested Husband procure firewood in anticipation of the coming chill and I’m trying to figure out if I can afford a lovely pair of Muck Boots for the muddy season.

As I’ve been is house-remodel mode for months, I have been looking forward to fall, to slowing down, to enjoying owning a home in the country. This.

I guess I’d better get a move on refinishing those cabinets in the kitchen, and sealing the counter tops, because I can’t slow down until those are done. And I really, really want to whitewash the fireplace before we start using it. So here’s to buckling down and getting it done.

Refinishing cabinets

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