Saturday, December 12, 2015

on brotherhood

Today I am proud to introduce Mr. Gryce as our guest blogger!

This post is near and dear to his heart; 
he has been passionate about the importance of 
Godly masculinity, true brotherhood and raising up men
for as long as I have known him.

As his wife, 
I am profoundly grateful for the few good men 
who have mentored, counselled, and walked him through
many difficult times in his life,
and for those who have helped shape him into the
amazing man he is today.
He gave the following speech at the men's breakfast 
at our church this morning, 
and I thought it was too good not to share.

For most of my life I have lived in adoration towards my uncle.  At home I did not have a lot of masculinity bestowed upon me, but ever since I can remember I was drawn towards it. 

My Uncle Glenn was the guy I longed for in my childhood.  He was a man’s man.  He did most of his life alone.  He was profoundly gifted at craftsmanship.  He renovated his house himself; he built everything himself.  He would go to the lumber yard and grab a chunk of Walnut and carve out a stock for a .358 Winchester which is now in my gun vault which I take out and play with from time to time.  He taught me what he knew, showed me how to ride a dirt bike, operate a chainsaw , renovate a house, shoot a gun, enjoy episodes of The Lone Ranger and to love God.

He was my hero.  He introduced me to Christ when I was 12 and I have been a Christian ever since.  If he said anything then I would believe it.  He was a very broken man who drank a lot. It consumed him.  He was conceived before the war and then after the war his father abandoned him.  He never lived it down.  It haunted him every day of his life and he hated his father with a passion even though he died a long time ago in 1979.  Over time his relationship with God had eroded and he began to hate Him too because every time he called upon His name all he received was silence just like the times he called to his earthly father.  He tried counselling but his mantra was always, “I tried counselling but I couldn’t help them”.  He mocked them and continued to live alone.  He turned into an angry old drunk and didn’t give a damn what you thought about it.

He died on September 27th of this year.  He starved himself to death and we spread his ashes where I shot my first partridge.  I did nothing but cry quietly and console my wife.
I have learned the hard way that Lone Rangers don’t survive.

This pang is only one of many.  I would love to stand here and tell you that I’m alive in Christ, that I’m strong enough to handle anything that comes my way but I cannot.  Even though I do have places within me that are of that calibre, there are also other parts of me that are lonely, afraid and really pissed off.  I usually hide those parts because as a man I am ashamed of them. I know that when I’m in an environment where these broken parts come to the forefront of who I am, the probability of me being good drops to zero.  It’s just a matter of time.  I want to honor God, my wife and the men standing next to me, but I can’t do it alone.

When I was courting my wife, I loved her very much and I was dead set on showing her that.   So I studied her. I watched her every move.  I learned what she loved and hated; I saw what made her smile and frown.  I looked at what pleased her and then I did my best to become it.  That wasn’t too hard.  

I love God too.  The problem with this is that when I study what makes him happy, it’s a standard I can’t meet in and of myself.  If I want to get even close to where God wants me I need both the vertical relationship with him and the horizontally relationship with his people. 

Men’s Groups have saved me from a world of pain.  They have given me clarity of thought by listening to multiple perspectives, support when I faced things bigger than myself, they challenged me when I was proud and they have held me accountable when I made excuses.
I’m in a group that is loaded with old guys and it’s one of the best groups I’ve ever been in.  I value their wisdom and understanding.  I shared some things in the group and I genuinely believed I was the only one going through what I was going through, but when I heard the other men speak I was amazed how I wasn’t alone in my struggle.  They were going through something similar and often felt the same way I did.  

I don’t fully understand why, but there is something within that camaraderie that makes me come fully alive.  That piece of me that loves life which I thought had been long abandoned shows itself to me and  it’s in those times that I know that my place is not with those tired and lonely souls who know neither the value of community nor brotherhood. 

 "We few. We happy few. We band of brothers." -- Shakespeare

Friday, October 9, 2015

our house: before & after

We've come a LONG way, baby! Our house has undergone massive renovations over the course of these past five years. You're all seen the previous posts detailing the step-by-step process that each room underwent, but as we celebrate the five year mark in our renovation journey, here is a quick look at never-before-seen BEFORE pictures, side-by-side with the AFTER photos.

Kitchen Renovations:

Living Room Renovations:

Downstairs Hallway Renovations:

Downstairs Bathroom Renovations:

Office/Den Renovations:


Master Bedroom Renovations:

Spare Bedroom Renovations:

Upstairs Bathroom Renovations:

Exterior Renovations:

Here's to the next five years!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

garage renovation - part 2

Our garage renovation has slowly been progressing. (You can read about how it all began in part 1.)

I am learning all about fascia, soffit, j-trim, and vinyl siding. It looks really easy to install but there are a lot of little details required to get it done right.

And - oh, my...! Have you ever seen so many ladders on one jobsite?

The siding on the dormers was finally finished today!

Isn't it pretty?!

Mr. Gryce did all the electrical wiring of course. Lots of lights and outlets....just the way he likes it!

I organized everything...

...including thousands of nuts, bolts, and screws, along with all Mr. Gryce's tools.
We saved Pake Dykstra's original workbench and Mr. Gryce built the handy little kindling holder beside it.

We started our winter's wood pile, which should still leave room for us to park both cars in the garage over the winter months.

We plan to leave the loft upstairs temporarily unfinished. (Charlie and Chester will just have to share a bedroom in the meantime!)

In closing, I can't say enough good things about our contractor, Walt Schaly. After working with some average, some below average, and some down-right awful contractors in the past, we were pleasantly surprised by Walt.  Because he is also a designer, hiring him eliminated the need for us to hire a private designer to draw up the plans ($1200 savings!) 
He was very easy to work with, listening to all our ideas and understanding our vision to maintain the old style and feel of our home. 
Walt is one of the hardest working contractors we've met and is extremely knowledgeable. We had no problems with any inspections because everything was done right the first time. Not only did we find his initial estimate comparable (if not lower) than some of the other contractors, our garage came in under budget (say what??!!) so he essentially re-did the roof on our existing house for free. By having us pay most of the sub-contractors directly, he also saved us hundreds of dollars in HST. 
Our only regret is that he wasn't living in our area five years ago when we started renovating.

We are hoping he can get the whole house re-sided to match the garage before the snow flies...stay tuned!

Friday, September 25, 2015

our growing family

It's official--Charlie got himself a little brother! (Before you get all excited, let me clarify that this is a brother of the furry, 4-legged nature, and not the human variety.) 

It was never our plan for us to be a multi-cat household. (In fact, Mr. Gryce has always wanted a dog.) In my case, however, had Mr. Gryce not come along when he did, I probably would have been doomed to become the spinster, cat-lady of the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, as cute as each litter of barn kittens were, none of the kittens really ever seemed like house-cat material.  However, this year, one little gaffer won our hearts over...

This is Chester. 

(If he looks familar, it's because you've already met him in another post.)

Chester's mother left him when he was about a month old. We never knew if he had any litter-mates; one day he just showed up in the barn. He was "adopted" by another barn cat who already had a  litter of 4. Chester's exact age was unknown, but his new litter-mates were about twice his size. So, after a few weeks, his new mama grew tired of her large brood.    At this time, Chester was taken under the wing of yet a third mama cat. 

Then Chester got sick. Feline distemper (also known as the Feline Panleukopenia virus) is common in kittens and highly contagious. Chester and a few of the other barn cats contracted it. Between his sniffling, sneezing, runny eyes, and weight loss, he was pretty pathetic-looking. 

I started feeding him extra meals, in order to help him overcome his illness. Another kitten had already succumbed to the virus and I hated to lose another. Research suggested lots of loving, fresh air and sunshine, plus plenty of good food would go a long way towards his recovery.

I frequently went to the barn to check on his well-being. He always greeted me with a squeaky "mew" followed by a loud rumbling purr and of course, half a dozen sneezes. Although he'd had no human contact for his first few weeks, and then very limited contact after that, he followed me around like a lost puppy dog and was absolutely delighted to be carried around in my arms.

Then he found out where we lived, and started hanging out on the front porch.

A couple times, he managed to get into the house when the door opened. He was absolutely fearless. Household noises didn't phase him. Neither did Charlie.

Much to Charlie's chagrin, Chester walked around like he owned the place and made himself right at home. 

He quickly found the best seat in the house....

...and all the good toys!

Mr. Gryce was glad to have found a cat to keep him company while he watched TV...

...even if Chester has really stinky farts.

Mr. Gryce was smitten and asked, "Can we keep him?"

I was reluctant at first. Chester was not litter-trained. He would probably destroy our new leather couch. He was still sick. Besides, Charlie did not get along with other cats. 

I had lots of reasons to say no, but how could I say no to this cute little furry face? And so it was, that two weeks ago, Chester came to stay. 

I can't complain. He's a smart little whipper-snapper. After 2 accidents, he was fully litter-trained in one day. He hardly ever wakes us up in the night. (There may have been one incident where Mr. Gryce woke up to something gnawing on his nose...) :S He loves his big brother Charlie and play wrestles with him everyday.

Charlie has realized that Chester is here to stay--and even though he sometimes pretends not to like him...

...I think they will be best buddies soon enough.