What if demolition serves a good purpose?

You think your kids are destructive, wait until you meet these boys—my two teenaged grandsons, dismantling and kicking things down.


All photos: Marlys

Perhaps I should explain.

I asked my fiancé, Dan, if I could invest in his house, if we could add on more living space for visits from kids and grands—a combined total of eighteen people. 

Before the remodeling and new construction, prep work needs to happen. And it’s usually destructive. Which is where the boys come in.

They tore out an old fence framing the hot tub area, pulled up the decking, and hauled off the defunct hot tub.



There was a second deck that had to go, and a raised garden bed to relocate. Not to mention the half acre of lawn to be mowed (which had nothing to do with prepping for construction but these boys know how to work and driving a lawn tractor is awfully fun work).



This quote by C.S. Lewis was used in my last post, but it’s appropriate for what I want to say here:

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.

Before improvements can unfold, demolition is oftentimes necessary.

I asked Dan how he would assess his season of demolition as he walked beside his first wife through cancer treatments, hoping the next one would be the cure and dealing with the disappointments:

You carry the weight of the world while hoping for the best. Those years changed me. You take more care for your spouse. You’re more attentive. More considerate.

My first husband and I faced our own knock-down season: his job lay-off—which eventually meant the sale of our home and our retirement investments. A live-in parent sinking into Alzheimer’s. A terminal cancer diagnosis. Widowhood. 

I’m grateful that God took the time to choreograph the hard events that helped demolish my lack of gratitude, discontentment, taking things for granted, living in the future too often: “When this happens, then I’ll be happy …”

Most of us are destined for greater things than we’re currently experiencing. 

And that might involve painful demolition to set the groundwork for larger, more inviting spaces.

It might mean knocking down the old us to be built back up to love other people well and speak courage into their broken places.

This ancient psalm: 

For you, God, tested us. You refined us like silver … we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. — Psalm 66

I didn’t much care for the refining while it was happening. But I’m living in a place of abundance as a result.

Abundant gratitude. An overflow of peace and contentment. A lavish new love.

All this is much more than even I—with my vivid imagination—could have conjured up.

What if?

What if the demolition serves a good purpose? 

What if we could count all that still stands, instead of all that has fallen?

And what if we could be grateful—despite the painful splintering—that we’re still alive, that there are still important things to live for?

I like how Mary Oliver put it:

It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” 

Side note

Lest you worry that Dan and I were breaking any child labor laws, we also took our workers fishing …



… and cycling …



… and Dan gave first lessons in manual shifting.




And fun was had by all.


Difference Maker: When small adds up to big


So you think you know what friendship is?


  1. Peggy Carey

    This is as usual simply stated raw but elegant truth. Love and best Marlys!

  2. Nasus

    YES, YES, Marlys! Thank you for the encouragement in this “broken world!” It’s a wonderful thing for your grandkidlets to be involved! God’s richest blessings to you, Dan and both clans!


    Marlys, you have spoken well into these fragile and difficult times. Thank you.

  4. Cyndi Barkley

    Hello my friend. I miss you and keep you in my prayers. You always inspire and encourage me. I couldn’t be happier for you and look forward to the opportunity to get together again one day!

    • Cyndi, thank you for your happiness on my behalf. (I couldn’t be happier, either!) Blessings to you, my friend. I’d love to see you again sometime!

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