To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Love My Life.

It has been a long week. I mean a really long week. Here I sit, on a Friday night, exhausted! Allow me to decompress some...

In all honesty, I kind of blanked out what happened on Monday. I don't remember it. I was really sick on Sunday, and went to work Monday and probably shouldn't have. I survived it, though! Phew!

Tuesday was a fairly productive day for me. I worked out after work, and really worked up a sweat. I was breathing heavy and wiping my brow, wondering how on earth people can do things like that on a regular basis. It was a really good workout, and I had started to feel so much better. Afterwards I called my husband and then my sister on my drive home. (Don't tell Mom I was talking and driving...) I went home, and somewhere between the garage and the door to my house, I lost my phone. It had disappeared. We tried calling it, I looked all over for it - it was gone. How does one lose a phone in that short span of time?!

Wednesday came and we had an extra pair of hands in the office trying to help us get our filing under control. I don't know who was in this position before me, but when I have to sort through several piles of paper, several inches high (some over one foot tall!), I would venture to say that she kind of stunk at filing. I saw notes that said, "Please file in xxxxxxx." And "Please place this in the xxxxxx file." Yet, there it was just tossed on to a flat surface. The notes I saw didn't say, "Hey just throw these on an available surface and let things pile up forever and ever." Inches and inches and inches. Feet of paper piles! It was horrible.

I had Bible study Wednesday night (Beth Moore's study on Esther - phenomenal!) and told everyone in the group I had to leave as soon as it was over because I needed to make a lasagna for the potluck at work the following day. The study ended and I was asked if I had any prayer requests. I answered, "This may seem pathetic, but please pray I find my phone." (I am leaving for a road trip next week, and it's the only phone I have, and it's hard to be without it!) They assured me they would pray. I left and headed home, having to be very careful because of all the ice on the streets. I forget ~ why do I live here, especially during the winter?? I finally made it home, walked inside, and took off my shoes. I glanced down and saw the boots I had worn the previous day.


Don't ask me why, but I felt compelled to reach inside one of my boots. Wouldn't you know it - there was my phone! My phone was in my boot! What in the world?! These boots were made for talkin'? I was so excited, and said a few "Thank you, Jesus!", while I ran downstairs to show Brent I had found my phone after I had specifically asked for prayer to find it! Brent was watching television so I sat down to join him while I went through my missed calls, texts, voicemails, etc. We started to watch some of the shows we had on DVR and get caught up on our goofy television. Soon enough it was 10:20, we were both exhausted and it was time for bed.

We went upstairs, said goodnight, and got settled in. The bed was nice and toasty and I could tell by the way Brent was breathing he was just falling asleep. I looked at the clock (and saw it was 10:38 pm), then suddenly sat straight up in bed and gasped. "CRAP!" A muffled, "wha?" from Brent was answered with, "I was supposed to make a lasagna!" I flew out of bed and ran downstairs. As my husband fumbled for his glasses and pulled back his covers he hollered, "Do you need help?" and within seconds was in the kitchen to help me.

I know what you're thinking. Why didn't I just buy something at the store the next morning? Well - I just don't operate like that. I had bought all of the ingredients special, specifically for this potluck, so I had to make it. I just had to. And my mother did a fantastic job raising me - I mean, obviously, right? - but after being raised on frozen food and take out, I just feel compelled to cook! I don't like the fast fix the majority of the time.

Brent was a rockstar. He helped me chop the onion and garlic, helped me make the cheese sauce, flipped the chicken in the skillet while I made an 11:00 p.m. run to the store for one thing I had forgotten, and helped me assemble the lasagna. (Chicken & Spinach lasagna, btw. Fabulous!) 11:30 I popped that thing in the oven, and kissed Brent goodnight while he sauntered back up to bed. I had to stay up for another 40 minutes while it baked, then let it cool a while before putting in the fridge. I got to bed at about 12:45.

Thursday's alarm came all too soon. I was tired. And boy was I crabby. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't shake of my tiredness, and it made it hard for me to be chipper. Helper-lady from out of town was back in the filing and I was really struggling to continue encouraging her. She did awesome and I'm so thankful for her time spent helping us. All that aside, there were some other things that went on throughout the day. I had my feelings hurt pretty badly, and it was just a really rough workday. I struggled all day to hold it together. I won't go in to detail, but trust me - you wouldn't have liked it either.

The lasagna was a big hit, by the way. If it hadn't have turned out, or if people didn't like it - I think I might have cried right there at lunch.

Thursday night was supposed to be workout night again. I changed my clothes and was ready to head down to the big room when one of the employees came back to tell me that we weren't going to workout after all. I wasn't mad at her. I wasn't. It was just one more thing on top of a cruddy day, and I just had to get out of there as soon as possible so I wouldn't start crying in front of her and make her feel bad.

Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry.

I held it back all the way home, but once I pulled in to the garage I just let loose. We're talking sobbing noises from deep within my soul. Gut-reeling-body-shaking sobs. Why do I have to put on a face for other people when all I want to do is poke somebody in the eye? Why is it my responsibility to maintain a cheerful environment for the sake of other people when I'm not granted the same luxury? Why, oh why, God, is my life so difficult?! So complicated?!

Sniffle. Deep breath. Wipe the runny mascara.

We all have our long days and our hard weeks and our difficult situations. Despite what my hotmail address implies, I really am not wonder woman. I sometimes don't hold it all together - especially during that special time we've labeled as "PMS". I fall apart once in a while. I collapse under pressure now and then. I sometimes am forced to take what is beyond my limits to put up with.

But I love my life ~ and I love the God who gave me life.

Despite the setbacks, and despite the need for a good hard cry now and again - I am so very blessed. After all, I make a killer lasagna and have the best husband in the universe. Thank you, Jesus!

Psalm 55:22 - Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What I Should Have Said

We all have those moments where we're blindsided by comments we're not expecting, events we never saw coming, or even opportunities that came knocking while we were out in the yard. I don't know about you, but usually when these things happen to me, I react in one of two ways.

1) I say/do nothing. I am so caught off guard, that I usually stare and stammer.

2) I say/do something I end up regretting later.

Once in a rare while, I will come up with something clever in response - but it's usually a day later. I always think, "What I SHOULD have said, was....." I have surprised myself on a few occasions by having the right (or just plain witty) response there on the spot. More often than not, though, you can take your pick from one of the two reactions above, and you've pegged me.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I am a very reactionary and very emotional person. I not only know what I think about something, I feel what I think. Sometimes to a fault!

I have been known to embarrass my husband a time or two from speaking my mind or acting on emotional impulse. Mostly these instances occur in the "customer service" situations in life. A grouchy server, an incompetent agent over the phone, a cashier who cares more about their conversation with another employee than about the customer who's forking money get the idea. I say something! I do! And I also commend those who do their customer service jobs excellently. I had a fantastic wake up call one day while working in Corral West Ranchwear.

I was crabby. (I know ~ hard to believe!) I had waited on these customers and wasn't very patient, or necessarily kind, to them. It was a couple, looking for some dress wear. We found a suit for the gentleman and a dress for the woman, and they came up to pay. The woman set the clothes on the counter and asked me, "Are you having a bad day?" I stopped. I stared. I stammered. "I'm so sorry..." I said, and I began to confess why my mood was downtrodden. I had no reason, no right, to treat them unfairly, and I was so glad she called me on it. They came back to the store and were repeat customers of mine. The husband was a pharmacist in WalMart and always stopped to chat whenever I was shopping for vitamins. They were some of the sweetest, most genuine people I ever came to meet - and I wouldn't have ever known it if she hadn't have brought my attitude to my attention.

More than once, however, my attitude has not been so easily corrected.

One day, Brent and I were in a very heated argument. I couldn't tell you about what, because I don't remember. (Isn't that always the way?) For whatever reason, we were in the car together, arguing, and we were both hungry. Not a good situation, regardless. Those of you who know me, know how I get when I don't eat! Give a sister some food! We went to the drive through in Burger King, made our order, and I drove up to the window. I had written a check for the total I was told at the speaker-thing. (Don't judge me for my lack of technical terms!) When we got the window, the employee informed me the shake-maker was down, and I couldn't get my strawberry shake. If I wanted something else, they would have to re-ring my total. I was clearly upset - it is never a question if you see my face and I am upset. She didn't know that my husband and I had been arguing in the car, but all she had to do was look at my face, and she would have known all was not right in my world. I started ripping up my check. Her mumbled retort was, "I could have given you change, but whatever."


I looked up at her. Picture this: Raised eyebrows, mouth open in disbelief, ripped check in hand. She shrugged. I turned my head forward, put the car in gear, and drove off. We didn't eat Burger King that day. How dare some clueless BK employee egg me on when I'm already clearly upset!!

What I should have said was, "I'm sorry." First, to Brent for our argument. Then, to the BK employee who had to deal with a cranky customer.

When I was younger, my dad used to always say that trying to get me to show affection was like trying to hug a porcupine. I was one of the ones who was always embarrassed to show my family members I cared for them at all - let alone that I actually loved them. I have definitely changed over the years. Sometimes I think I make others uncomfortable when I gush over them. There was a time, though, that my own dad thought of me as a porcupine.

My sister's birthday one year, our dog ended up with it's leg broken and my mom got a phone call that my grandpa was dying from cancer. Happy birthday to Veronica ~ everyone was a mess. I remember standing there, while Mom sat crying on the phone. It's no secret that Mom's and my relationship was "strained" to say the least, between the ages of 11 and 21. I was maybe 13, 14 at the oldest this particular instance. That night I stood there, not having any idea how to comfort my mother. I put my hand softly on her shoulder, and told her I was going to bed.


What I should have said was, "I love you. So much."

Things happen that we can't prepare for. Situations arise, and we will have no idea what to say. We will stare, and we will stammer. Sometimes we will say or do something we will end up regretting later. I know now, though, there are things I should always say.

"I'm Sorry." I will make mistakes, and I will need to take ownership of them. For the things I have done wrong, and for the feelings I have hurt along the way, I'm sorry.

"I Love You." For all of you ~ you who need to know, who may question, and who should never doubt. You are so very loved. I love you with the love of the Lord! Or as Buzz Lightyear puts it, "to infinity - and beyond!" I love you.

"I Forgive You." For everyone who's hurt me. I held a grudge. I probably even let you know it. Believe me when I say now, though, I forgive you.

"Will You Forgive Me?" To everyone I've wronged, and to those I've offended, and to those I've gone off on, yelled at, talked about ~ whether or not I know if I've hurt you...Will you forgive me?

I don't want my legacy to be one of things I said that I'm not proud of. I also don't want it to be empty of things I never said that I should have.

One more thing.

If I've never said it, if you've never heard me say it, or if I've never said it the way it needs to be said.....What I should have said was this ~ God loves you. He created you for a purpose, He is the sustainer of hope and a future, and He is calling for you and for me. Answer His call. Don't look back and ever feel like it's too late. Don't wait for your "yes Lord" to be what you should have said.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Sharing

One of the reasons I enjoy living here is because there is always something to do. No matter the time of year, or the time of day, there is never an excuse to be bored. Granted, my tastes may differ from that of a majority who live here, but I can still find plenty to keep me entertained. Last night was no exception.

We met our friends B, C, and D (oh how funny is that? Alphabetical order no less!) for a Bebo Norman/Jeremy Camp concert. WHAT A TREAT! We had such a great time and the music was awesome, the speaking was awesome, and the experience was totally worthwhile.

Brent actually "introduced" me to Bebo Norman one day while we were driving and running errands around town, several years ago. Brent has been a fan of him since 1999. He played a song for me called "The Hammer Holds". It's a song from the perspective of one of the nails that held Christ to the cross. Awesome, powerful song. I became a Bebo fan in an instant.

I received a Jeremy Camp CD as a gift from one of my Aunts, and have about worn the thing out from listening to it non-stop. (She is very in-tune with my tastes, and yes, I intended for the "in-tune" to have a musical reference.) She even reads this blog once in a while so Aunt D ~ thank you again for that CD!

Before I forget to mention - I have added Jeremy Camp and Bebo Norman songs to my playlist down below, so make sure you seek them out and give them a listen.

So last night, we're in this massive building and it's filled with people. We were singing along, jammin' out, even jumping up and down at one point. Note to self: Jumping on an incline is dangerous. (I hit the pew in front of me two or three times.) Bebo was first and he did his set. He sang one of my favorite songs of his, "I Have Nothing (Without You)". Before he sang the song, though, he told this story. He was in Africa, visiting this village (with Compassion International - more on that later) and speaking with this man who's family had given their lives to Christ. He asked the man, "What is it that you still wish for? That you wish you had?" The man's answer was this: "We have a tree we eat mangoes from. We have a stream we drink water from. We have a goat we get milk from. But now that we have Jesus, there is nothing else we are in need of."

Wow. And to think I stress about an oil change, or charging my cell phone, or getting new window coverings, or having to vacuum my three-level home..... But the reality of it is, those things will come and go. Jesus is my everything, and so long as I have Him, I'll have everything I need. (Does Matthew 6 come to mind for anyone?)

I also found out that Bebo Norman loves - as in LOVES - Krispy Kreme donuts. Can we say, "Man after my own heart"??

Jeremy Camp came out and he rocked that stage. He was all over the place. I was out of breath just watching him. I wanted so badly to be up on stage with him - I cannot even tell you how I had to restrain myself. I just thought of these men and their ministry and how every day they get to sing and glorify God, and bring massive crowds of people together. I will admit, I felt a tinge of envy.

At the very close of Jeremy's set, he sang "There Will Be A Day." I have heard that song a bazillion times. But last night it was like I heard it for the first time. There will be a day - with no more tears. No more pain. No more fears. There will be a day - where the burdens of this place, will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face. It just hit me. And I was really moved by that. You know me, I never cry (ha!) but I did a little bit during that song.

He (Jeremy Camp) left the stage and it was just such an incredible moment. When he came back out he closed with leading us all in "Here I am to Worship" and there I was to worship indeed!

Fantastic concert put on by two (well, more than two) fantastic men, and it was just such a treat.

Brent and I sponsored a child with Compassion International as well. Every month we'll be supporting an 11-year-old-boy from India. To learn more about this fantastic organization, visit

So...yeah. That was my night last night! I am so pumped up, I just want to start a band and travel around singing songs about how awesome God is. Who's in?? :o)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Listen Up!

Once upon a blog, I mentioned that I should've been a therapist. One skill that I would try to empower people with is teaching them how to be a good listener. Communicating is really effective when people learn how to listen. Let me assure you that I am about to once again prove how awesome my advice usually is, and what has happened when people have actually listened to me.

Once Brent offered to make me dinner when I wasn't feeling well. (Okay, I had cramps, and he was sick of hearing me whine.) I asked him to make me nachos with chili. I meant chips, with chili on them, and cheese. Brent brought me a bowl of chili, and a plate of chips covered with melted cheese. He was a good listener.

I taught sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in Wednesday night Bible school at church for a solid year. Those kids drove me batty. Every week they were pretty much always out of hand. Once I told the class they should "learn to hold your tongue". One kid reached into his mouth and grabbed his tongue. He was a good listener.

In my single days I used to always tell my friends to "call anytime". Wouldn't you know it, I would get phone calls between two and five in the morning almost every weekend? They were good listeners.

This one takes the cake, though. For sure. My sister is the best listener out of them all.

I don't know how old we were, but we were definitely much much younger than we are today. I want to say I was about 9 which would put her at about 6. Mom had taken us to Santa Maria for the day as she had some errands to run. We had just come from the mall where I had picked up some perfume-scented moist towelettes. Keep that piece of info filed in the back of your brain. I had big plans to use them in the days ahead whenever I felt the need to smell like I was 29 instead of only 9. She (Mom) had run in to the eye doctor (or something, I don't recall) and left my sister and me in the car. This was before the days of the Green Bean Chrysler Newport, when my parents drove a smokin-hot 1967 camaro, that my grandpa bought new in 1966. It was an amazing car, and one we always had to be careful inside, so as not to ruin the upholstery, etc.

The two of us were trying to keep ourselves entertained in the car as it sat in the parking lot. I was most likely dreaming of boys, and my sister was squirming around in the backseat. She started pestering me. "I have to go to the bathroom."

"Hold it." (I was such a compassionate older sister.)

"Valerie, I can't, I need to go."

"You can't. Just wait until Mom comes back." (I'm telling you, I exude mercy.)


"Valerie, I really need to go. I have to go to the bathroom."

By this point I was annoyed she was interrupting my daydreaming. I was definitely irritated and replied, "JUST GO!"

Mind you, by that comment, I meant get out of the car, walk into the nearest building, and use their facilities.


"*gasp* I think I went too much."

I thought she was joking. I asked, "What?" and turned around.

"I think I went too much."

There in the middle of the backseat was a puddle. A puddle of pee. My sister, well, just went. There in the car, she just went. She thought she could just relieve the pressure a bit. Take the edge off. SHE PEED IN THE CAR.

Begin panic mode.

Mom was not someone we ever enjoyed making angry, and I knew that having my sister pee in the backseat of the car would send her over the top. We had no napkins, no Kleenex - nothing to clean it up with.

I reached in to my purse and pulled out the packaged perfume-scented moist towelettes. We cleaned the puddle, and pretended nothing happened. I was so angry that I wouldn't get to smell grown-up later, because I had to clean up after my sister who just used the backseat for a toilet.

"Here comes Mom. Act natural."

Mom came back to the car and hesitated once she got inside. "Why does it smell like perfume in here?"

I tried to cover for my sister. I told Mom I wanted to use my perfume wipes. However, Veronica never could get away with much as a little girl. Her conscience always got the best of her. "I had to potty and Valerie told me to just go and so I did and I went too much and we had to clean it with her perfume wipes!"

She's right, I did tell her that. She was a good listener.