Growing on the Slopes of Life

My Daily Question: Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us today?

Building or remodeling a home brings daily questions to the forefront of a family that require continual problem solving and decision making. I’m following Michelle’s story at Scribbit of their family’s major remodel with interest, including her latest experience in choosing and applying paint.

My husband is an architect and building a home together was always our dream. When we proceeded toward this goal four years ago, the reality looked a little more like a nightmare. I never realized the challenges involved.

Despite the imperfections in the process, we now have a beautiful home. Summer sun highlights one of my favorite parts—the garden and natural landscape that surround it. We even grow grass and vegetables in a garden on our roof, which is a whole series of posts in itself.

The negative side of that story or the positive photographs of the end result may present a false impression of life on opposite extremes—one filled with problems or the other as picture perfect. Right in the middle of these extremes is a rather ordinary but hideous hillside connecting our front yard to our back.

During home construction this hillside was a sandy slope that eroded away with the constant foot traffic and dropped off in an even steeper pitch down the side. When we landscaped our yard three years ago, I wanted to terrace it and Paul wanted sod. We chose sod in the end so the hillside could become a pathway for the lawn mower to the back lawn.

Still, the slope is steep, sandy and exposed to an unshaded southern exposure. The grass didn’t survive the faulty sprinkler spray, the poor soil or the harsh sun and is once again eroding. I could blame and insist that I was right. I could say, “We should have terraced it.” But I knew that wasn’t the right solution either.

Life’s problems never seem to cease, but trying hard to deal with the problems somehow makes you dig deep enough that you learn things you’d never understand without the digging. A happy life isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about the attitude you develop toward whatever happens to you, an attitude that lets you grow . . . There is something mellow and enriching about living this way as husband and wife; trying to discover what’s behind life’s problems, together, as a team.

Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts

My feelings and opinions were subdued enough to listen to Paul’s proposals to put down paving stones and his reasons behind it. In the course of proceeding on that plan, he replaced a part in the sprinkler and adjusted the spray. The slope received water from a new source for the first time ever and the grass began to grow again. On the day we scheduled to perform the work, we determined that we might resolve the problem if we reseeded and nurtured the lawn with consistent care.

With a new outlook on solving problems in marriage, we dug into that hillside together. It became our problem and our blessing.


  1. Rebecca
    Jul 10, 2008

    Good reminders all throughout this post! Let me see if I can remember everything that hit me: being careful to notice more than just the extremes in life- things don’t always fall into the categories of “Great” and “Bad,” avoiding the “I told you so” moments, working as a couple, and digging through problems in order to gain greater understanding.

    I hope I didn’t interpret something incorrectly, but all of those points are really great reminders for me right now! So thank you!

  2. Michelle at Scribbit
    Jul 10, 2008

    Oh my gosh what a trauma it’s suddenly become! And I haven’t posted this yet because we’re still trying to work some stuff out but basically the municipality denied our permit for set-back issues and made us redesign to fit their specifications. THe new design doesn’t look nearly as nice and cut so much space off the addition that we were frantic about the outcome. THen on top of that the cost has become astronomical. We were shooting for $80K but the first estimate came in at $145 then we’ve reworked and reworked and reworked until it’s still $30K over budget.

    We’re to the point where we’re saying do we really want to pay $17K for these custom windows and fabulous design that will still give us less room than we wanted–the whole point of the addition?

    I tell you this because of your experience with the area but it’s killed us. We’ve spent $11 on permits, designs and these fancy braces we ordered only to realize we could be in even worse trouble if we continue. I still love the design and we’re thinking of seeking a variance from the muni to see if they’ll give us an exception but that will take so much time it would push us back to next year’s season. Right now we’re thinking about taking the money we’ve already got for it and doing a major inside remodel–bathrooms, carpeting, shelving, lights, etc. and just waiting until next year to see if we can build it the way we really want it to be.

    I’m waiting to post on it because we’re still going to meet once more with the architect to make sure we’ve got the right handle on the situation (luckily Andrew didn’t start the roof demolition on Saturday as he’d planned to or we’d really be in trouble). But I’ll still post the pictures of the design and go from there. It’s been horribly disappointing.

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