I'm downstairs by the wood stove, my boys beside me, and Legos and toy cars strewn across the floor. It's minus 25 degrees outside. "You better put some more wood on the fire," Aiden says, pointing at the coals.
I nod to my son and say, "Yes, we better keep Daddy's fire going."
"You see that?" Aiden says to his brother Kasher, while they've got their legs tucked, sitting on the rug—a dance of flames on a cold winter's day. "It keeps us nice and warm."
He doesn't just mean the fire. He means the way his dad chops wood every day after school, fills up the old cracking blue tubs and hauls them in, me sweeping up the wood chips behind him, how I stoke it hour after hour while Trent's at school, how we keep the cast iron pot full of water on top so the air doesn't get too dry.
And I'm giving to the coals begging them to spark—sometimes I add some newspaper or cardboard, because every marriage needs this. Every marriage needs some romance, to keep the love breathing, pulsing, to keep the house warm.
Divorce is a cold draft through the cracks of every home's front door and we're not just stoking a fire. We're creating a safe place for the family, a place to hold them.
But it's war, friends.
And the shells, they're scattered on the ground around our bed, and we're wounded, but we rise because the one shield that protects us all . . . is grace.
There is nothing stronger than grace.
It's the thing that finds you sitting on the kitchen tile in your pajamas crying because you've just had a fight, the kind with wringing hands and rising voices and you're jet-lagged and emotional, having been around the world in nine days and him at home with the boys.
It finds you sitting there and it smiles, gently, and extends its hands—this grace in the form of a farm boy who read every single blog post while you were gone, who shared your videos with his class, who rose six times in one night to comfort your youngest son, who downloaded all of your favorite shows while you were away so you'd have something to watch when you got back.
This man who wrestles with your sons on the floor and reads them Winnie the Pooh and makes you cheesy nachos because you are too hungry to do anything but grab a plate.
There is no brighter light than a strong and vibrant marriage—and this doesn't mean it isn't messy or hard or that sometimes the feelings just aren't there.