The Family Juggle

Marlon and Desiree Grant have been able to make life simple by adhering to certain big, important priorities. Desiree says, “If the big, important things are a constant, when the peripheral things careen out of control, we don’t crumble as a family.” What are their “big, important things”?

Desiree’s husband, Marlon, a Jamaican immigrant, grew up in Philadelphia. At age 40 his priorities are clear: God, family, church—in that order. He has fond memories of when his grandmother took him and his cousins to church—every service, every church activity. His parents divorced when he was 14, so for Marlon, making “family” a priority is not negotiable. This highly motivated Temple University graduate worked a trail of odd jobs to achieve a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During that time he returned to the church of his youth to renew his commitment to God.

Outgoing, bubbly Desiree, born and raised in Philadelphia as well, is four years Marlon’s junior. She scolded Marlon after his first Sunday service back at the church for not seeking her out to say hello. That conversation sparked this couple’s “ever after” story. Their four-year dating journey taught them the strength and value of maintaining relationships selflessly. Desiree renewed her commitment to God following her stormy teen years. Their shared desire? Love God and have a loving family.

Tears flow freely as Desiree shares that when she when floundering, Marlon asked her about her dreams for the future. Her dream was to become a nurse, but she thought “only smart people became nurses,” and that would not be a reality for her. What she lacked in confidence, Marlon made up for in encouragement. He drove her right over to register for classes. He said she just needed to get started with one class. With each college course she completed, Desiree gained confidence and saw her dream gradually become a reality. She’s now a pediatric nurse at a nearby hospital. Desiree recently cut her hours to part time when the youngest child entered K4; Desiree wanted to be home for the children when they returned after school. She is mother to “little mommy” Kaela, 12; Kenneth, 11, who is introverted and athletic; the love bug, Keith, 7; Kynnedy, 6, extrovert extraordinaire; and little Kingston, 5, who is his daddy all over.

TEAMWORK best describes the Grants’ approach to, well, everything. If their life were represented by a wheel, God/Family/Church would be the hub. Marlon leads the routine, rising at 5 a.m. to meet with God first to order his day, then gets the children up and fed. Desiree, who “sleeps in” until 6 a.m. each day, finishes getting the children ready and off to school. Family is a “big, important thing” in the Grant home. Marlon opted for an alternating split shift so that he could spend more time with the family. He works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., comes home to spend time with the family, then returns to work from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Desiree starts dinner as all the kids gather around the table for homework time after school.

If you were to drop in for the Grants’ bedtime routine, you’d find Marlon leading the family in time around the Scriptures. Their family practice, now that the kids are older, is for each child to journal this special time. Desiree prefers the quietness of the evening for time with God after the children are asleep.

Because Sunday worship is one of the “big, important things,” this family of seven rises at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for worship. Marlon insists on making a big breakfast for the family every Sunday morning. He says that one of his odd jobs during college paid off big time when he learned to cook; Desiree puts the finishing touches on the feast. Why go to all that trouble? Because worship and church are “big, important things.”

To fan the flame of their 16-year marriage, Marlon and Desiree invest creatively—another “big, important thing”—by loving “along the way.” It’s so simple…so powerful. They have a little dry-erase board in the master bath that reads, “I love you because ____________.” They take turns filling in the blank, writing love messages back and forth. Desiree’s favorite “date” is to order takeout after they put the children to bed. No babysitter needed!

Marlon recently finished an 18-month nursing program, which meant he had to spend two nights a week and every other weekend in furthering his education. Desiree tracked the countdown to his graduation with fervency as she temporarily carried the heavier load in the family. Only God gets you through those times when the entire family pulls together for the success of one of its members, Desiree states matter-of-factly. She wanted to encourage Marlon the same way he’d supported her years earlier. Marlon is now a case manager at a nearby hospital.

One dream Marlon and Desiree shared early on was to adopt children. They opted to become foster parents while Desiree was in college. Tilting her head back and breathing out a sigh, Desiree recounts five crazy years of social worker home inspections and checkups with placement of six foster children. It was a constant stream of occupational, speech, and physical therapy sessions, doctor appointments, caseworker visits, and evaluation dates. Desiree was not to be seen without her “mommy” bag of fun and snacks for the remaining four small children in tow. It was all worth it to them, as two of the Grants’ five children are adopted, a dream come true.

Each child makes an equally precious contribution to the Grant home. Chores are assigned just as equally, as everyone shares in the load. Again, the family uses a team approach. How do Marlon and Desiree find quality time for all five children? They love their children “along the way” as well. Whichever parent runs an errand, he or she always has a child along for some much-desired one-on-one time, even if it’s just a quick run to the store for milk. The Grants keep a tight rein on peripheral activities to ensure that the “big, important things” are being supported. The boys are in the same community sport, so the family is not pulled in two different directions. If practices or games interfere with worship on Sunday or Wednesday, guess which activity gets the priority? Yes, church. Why? It’s simple—because worship is one of the “big, important things.”

Your family may be much smaller than the Grants’, perhaps your children are grown, or you may even be single. Even so, the Grant family’s philosophy of a well-balanced life can translate to every household the same: simply love God and family—first.

Author: Editor

Community Connection is an outreach magazine and blog from Valley Forge Baptist to provide relevant and uplifting articles for the families and homes of Collegeville, PA and area residents. Articles are not just from staff but from other community members who’s lives have been touched by Jesus Christ. If we have been an encouragement to you please let us know at

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