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, January 23, 2015

Creating Balance: Part II

If you read Part I, then you've been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to get around to posting the sequel. I'm sorry it's taken until now. 

I'm going to introduce - or, most likely, reintroduce - you to a woman who lived out the Greatest Command, and by doing so, balanced life like a champ. Readers, meet the Proverbs 31 Woman

I know, I know, no one likes her, we'll never live up to her, she did it all but we can't - give this friendship a chance here. Learn from her.

She loved God with all her heart (passions). Her marriage, her family, and her career, constantly drove her as motivation to be and give her best. (vs. 11, 12, 18, 24, 27)

She loved God with all her soul. She was building her eternal legacy. (vs. 28 - 30)

She loved God with all her mind. In verse 16, she "considers" (weighs pros and cons, thinks it through). Verse 21, she displays forward thinking and preparedness. Verse 26 uses the word wisdom!

She loved God with all her strength. I'm just guessing, she probably could have taken me if we went toe to toe. (vs. 17, 25)

She loved her neighbors. In verse 15, it mentions her taking care of her servant girls. I would like to point out here, that even the Proverbs 31 woman had help!! She cared for the poor. Her husband was well respected in the community because she was no gossip. She loved her neighbors in immeasurable ways. She didn't know any other way.

Here's what I need for you to take away from this: 

1. Love the Lord your God. Stop applying God's word to your life. (WHAT did I just say?!) Yes. Stop. Instead, start aligning your life to God's word. Don't look to see if what's important to you can be justified by scripture. Take scripture, and make it important to you.

2. With all your heart. Quit making to-do lists. Make lists of your goals that align with your God-given passions, then work toward those. Instead of those to-do lists, document how you spend your time. Identify where you can, or need to, make changes.

3. With all your soul. Make use of the "ME" in "TIME". Recharge and refresh your soul. It is the core of who you are. Feed it.

4. With all your mind. Don't let your obligations overrule your priorities. Use wisdom and discernment with your "yesses". Consider the benefits and consequences of the activities you have the opportunity to participate in.

5. With all your strength. Take your health seriously. Your body is a gift, and His dwelling place. What can you do to care for it? Implement incremental changes. Don't try to start every new habit all at once.

6. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be accountable in your relationships. Your spouse, kids, friends, family, colleagues, everyone! Be authentic and genuine and allow your relationships with others to mirror your relationship with God. Transparent. Honest. Committed. Invested.

The overall gist is this: In order to achieve and maintain balance, love God, then live out that love.                      


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Creating Balance: Part I

What areas in your life require balance? Typically, that question is met with answers like, "work/life", "mom/wife/friend/daughter", or other various roles we feel the need to separate from one circumstance to another. It could be things like schoolwork, time management, or our diet. Regardless of what you'd fill the blank in with, we all crave the "secrets" in creating balance. Great news - I can tell you how.

I'm going to introduce a breakdown of scripture to you in this post, and then in another post, I'm going to tie it all together by introducing you to a woman who balances life like a champ by implementing these principles and living these truths. Here we go.

Balance, defined by Mr. Webster, is "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions." In our lives, that translates to about two seconds of our day. The other 23 hours, 59 minutes and 58 seconds are spent juggling everything we have, live, do, say, want, need, and like, trying to get them into those equal or correct proportions. Balance in life - by our definitions and on our terms - is not maintainable.

It is, however, possible when we redefine, and realign with the appropriate terms and definition. Balance isn't something we achieve, it's something we acquire. With effort. With careful thought. With purpose. It doesn't just happen when we wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, or designate one night a week to four hours of exercise or eat shredded wheat bran for breakfast. It's a process, not a product.

In Mark 12, beginning in verse 29 Jesus is answering a question on the most important command.
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

So what does that mean, and most especially, what does that have to do with balance?

1. Love the Lord your God. Everything in our lives begins and ends with Him. He is the foundation of everything in life. He's not going anywhere. He has sent His Word (the Bible) to us, and many refer to it as "His love letter". To Love the Lord our God, we are to be in the Word, and speak to Him in prayer. (without ceasing)  When you love someone, you crave time with them. You marvel at the little things they do. You desire to be your best self around them. Love the Lord your God.

2. With all your heart. Your passions. What are your passions? How are you fostering them? Or are you still trying to determine those answers? Maybe, you don't know what your passion is. There was a time I didn't, and I felt like my peers all knew what they wanted to do and fight for and support in life, and I was wandering aimlessly around, dabbling here and there with help for good causes. I felt like a loser. Like I was missing out, or even lazy, because I couldn't determine what my passion or my purpose was. Thankfully, after hopeless searching, my passions (and you can have more than one) found me. God will fuel your passions according to the gifting He has given you. If you're still searching for what lights your fire, consider what Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 -
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." (underline mine)

3. With all your soul. Your soul is the very core of who, and what, you are. It is your life's fuel. It is eternal, and the direct link to your eternal home. How are you feeding your soul? Several times in scripture you read about the soul finding or needing rest. Let your soul recharge. Let it fill, so it can then fuel you. Nurture your soul and do not take the responsibility lightly. It works tirelessly to keep you connected to your eternal Father. Nurture it. Be in His word. Spend time with Him. Do what He has gifted you with in bringing joy to your life. Do you like to knit? Read? Paint? 

4. With all your mind. Don't use up precious space in your mind by over-thinking things. When you over-think, you lose sight of the purpose and start to focus on doubts, false perceptions, and feed fears. But how can you really love with your mind? Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Seek wisdom. Engage your intellect. Challenge your mind to stretch in knowledge, increase capacity, and grow boundaries in wisdom. Most importantly, to love the Lord your God with all your mind, exercise discernment and sound judgment. Make the right choices.

5. With all your strength. Proverbs 24:5 says "A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength." Wow. Repeatedly in the OT, you read "the Lord is my strength" or "my strength comes from Him." This represents and important cycle. God gives you strength, and you - in turn - love him by utilizing all of it. Keep going. He'll give you more. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 reads "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." Get/Be/Stay healthy. You are of minimal use, and certainly not able to balance anything in life, when you can't care for yourself. Do what you need to do to keep your strength. Move more. Eat less. Eat right. Take your vitamins. Get rest. Get sleep. Gain strength.

6. Love your neighbor as yourself. Plainly stated, this command is two-fold. First, foster and nurture meaningful relationships. Be mindful of the company you keep, and give your relationships your best. Do unto others - be genuine. Be authentic. Second, take care of one another. Serve with your time, talents, and tithes. Clothe the poor. Feed the hungry. Care for the widows and the orphans. (Which, by the way, the Bible partially defines religion as caring for the widows and the orphans. Read James 1:27!) Hebrews 13:2 says by showing hospitality to strangers, some have entertained angels! Love your neighbor as yourself.

Chew on this for a while, and stay tuned. I'll introduce you to a woman you've probably grown up knowing, and may not be very fond of. If you'll let me, though, I'll show you how she applied her life in each of these principles, and was able to essentially "do it all". She balanced life in ways most of us only dream of. Stick around...

(and sign up over here {--- for my email list so you never miss a post.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I have big hair. Naturally. Not by choice, not by accident, I was born with it, and I've carried it atop my head my entire life.

I wear gel, mostly, to tame the frizz. The curls look better with goop on them, and I feel better that my head is not tickling the noses of the nearest eight people. Sometimes, I'll even straighten my hair. This proves to have its own challenges, but I generally prefer sleek, controlled, near-to-my-head hair. This morning, I chose to go the straightened route, and Little Miss asked me if I could keep my hair "like this forever and ever?" No, kiddo, I can't. My hair doesn't always cooperate, nor do my mornings, so....thanks, though. I like hair that hugs my head. I don't like poof. I don't like big. 

I've noticed, however, not everyone shares this sentiment. I'm not saying it's wrong, or right. I'm just pointing out it's different from my personal preference.

I've known people who do their hair big on purpose. By choice. Who don't feel comfortable unless their hair is considerably apart from their head. I remember back in my previous life, two friends and I went downtown for a night out. This was before smartphones, and disposable cameras were still a thing. I pretty much always carried one with me, because I was cool like that. There was one gal we tried to take a picture of discreetly (it didn't work, however), who we soon dubbed "Shark Fin". It looked like she had one sticking straight out the back of her head. Upon closer inspection, I realized she had styled her hair to look that way. On purpose. She could have knocked people over by turning to the side, but seemed not to care. It was big. It was pointy. It was incredibly unnatural. And it was her hairstyle of choice.

I don't get it. As someone who has big hair, and who could make it bigger at the drop of a hat (see what I did there?) I don't understand the comfort or solace others take in styling their hair big. There are some ponytails that are half the length they could be, because they adopt a bump-it-on-steroids styling approach.

Call me old-fashioned, out-of-touch, whatever you will. I find such an interesting dichotomy in style choices. I have big hair, but by choice, I reign it in. Others have tame hair, but by choice, they make it big. Isn't it funny? 

{Does big hair make people more studious?}
I remember being a kid and people telling me, "People pay to have hair like yours," and I always thought, "Why on earth would people spend money on this?" It tangles. It mats. It will never be featured in a shampoo commercial. Of course, I did grow up in the 80's where the unwritten 11th commandment pertained to having big hair. I assume to compensate for the shoulder pads that were in every blouse and blazer, though I have no research to back that up.

If you're a big-hair-kind-of-gal, good on you. I don't understand you, but I admire you for finding your style and embracing it. I do what I can to keep things "tied down" with my hair. Letting it go au naturale drives me batty. It's in my face, and the faces of those around me. It gets in the way. It puts on a show. It tries to inhabit its own zip code. I can't handle it.

I'll go big with my dreams. I'll go big with my television screens. I'll go big with my pinochle bid. (Actually, that's a lie, I'm usually scared to bid high...) I just can't bring myself to go big with my hair. 

{I just can't do it!}
I'm not a big fan of big hair....but if you are, I'd love for you to chime in and share your big hair stories!

Friday, January 2, 2015

99 Questions

Hopefully you know how much I adore my friend, Her name is Tracy, obviously, but in our home, her site name translates to her real life name, and we call her Just roll with it. 

Anyway, she posted this fun little ditty, and I thought I would follow suit. For one, it will get me thinking about how my life aligns with my one resolution for the year. What about my life can I use to live out Mark 12:30? For two, it will get me typing. And I do love to type. I remember in the myspace days how these things were always being posted and answered by everyone. It's been quite a while since I've posted total random, and mostly meaningless answers to questions of the same stature, so why not?

I do quickly want to mention, however, if you haven't heard of the #documentyourdays project on Instagram, go give it a looksie. No prompts, just a call to document your days by snapping a photo. Easy-peasy, and gets you to look at your life through the lens of wanting to savor every moment. Check it out, participate, and get to documenting.

On to the questions!

99 Questions:

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?  Closed. Securely.

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels?  Often.

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?  Tucked in. Then hubs comes and does sleep-moshing in the nighttime, pulling them all out.

4. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?  No. Dad is the Streets Super in my hometown, and I would never dream of stealing a street sign because I know how much of a pain it is to replace them.

5. Do you like to use post-it notes?  Only for everything.

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?  I am guilty of saving them and not using them before they expire. I tear and don't cut, though.

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?  Ugh. A grizzly bear. Yes, I'm being specific as to which kind of bear.  #FormerGame&FishEmployee

8. Do you have freckles? A few.

9. Do you always smile for pictures?  Only the ones I'm in. Ha.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve?  The sad thing is I have so many pet peeves, I don't know which one is my biggest. #PrayForMe

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?  I do count stairs. #ocd

12. Have you ever peed in the woods?  Yes. And it was winter. Elk hunting was a trip.

13. What about pooped in the woods?  No, but I love telling a good poop story. (That was's answer, but I'm keeping it.)

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing? Yes.

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils? No, and if you do, I would encourage you to not.

16. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? Usually two.

17. What size is your bed? Queen.

18. What is your Song of the Week? He Knows My Name

19. Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Sure.

20. Do you still watch cartoons? I have a 4 yr old. Of course.

21. What's your least favorite movie? I'm not at all a fan of vulgarity in the verbal or physical sense.
     Also, may I prompt you to read this, and tuck it away in your heart?

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some? Wherever it would end up, I'd forget where it was.

23. What do you drink with dinner? Water

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in? Honey

25. What is your favorite food? Homemade cheeseburger

26. What movies could you watch over and over and still love? Elf, Tombstone, and Hercules (the Disney version)

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you? My son

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout? Nope.

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine? No way, Jose.

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? Just mailed a card today!

31. Can you change the oil on a car? Not without forgetting a thing or two.

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket? No.

33. Ever run out of gas? More times than I care to admit. Some of it I can blame on the gas gauge, however.

34. Favorite kind of sandwich? Grilled turkey and swiss with bacon from the SSH in Cody, WY.

35. Best thing to eat for breakfast? bacon and cheese omelette

36.  What is your usual bedtime? I need to get one. I've been staying up way too late.

37. Are you lazy? I have my moments.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? Rainbow Brite's horse.

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign? Monkey

40. How many languages can you speak? Two. English and Whine-ese.

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? No.

42. Which are better: legos or lincoln logs? Legos

43. Are you stubborn? Who have you been talking to?

44. Who is better...Fallon or Letterman? I really miss Jay Leno...

45. Ever watch soap operas? Nope. I used to watch Days as a teen/young adult. But soaps are so ridiculous, I had to stop watching.

46. Are you afraid of heights? Not afraid of heights so much as I'm afraid of falling off of them.

47. Do you sing in the car? Yes.

48. Do you sing in the shower? Yes.

49. Do you dance in the car? Yes, but only if the people in my car are the only ones who can see me dancing.

50. Ever used a gun? Several.

51. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer? October! I highly recommend you go check out my friend and entrepreneurial partner, MWP.

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy? No.

53. Is Christmas stressful? It certainly has its moments.

54. Ever eat a pierogi? I think Brent's aunt made some with cheese. Is this what they're called? It was many years ago.

55. Favorite type of fruit pie? Apple. But only the way I make it.

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid? Singer. Teacher. Talk show host.

57. Do you believe in ghosts? The Holy One.

58. Ever have a de-ja-vu feeling? All the time.

59. Take a vitamin daily? Yes. And that is's link, but I'm leaving it, and encouraging you to check out the vitamins.

60. Wear slippers? Wearing some right now!

61. Wear a bath robe? No.

62. What do you wear to bed? Comfy pants and a t-shirt.

63. First concert? John Anderson. He was at the mid-state fair, and I was somewhere around the age of six?

64. Wal-Mart, Target, or Kmart? Target is close and convenient.

65. Nike or Adidas? I have a cute little story about my first pair of name-brand shoes that my husband forced encouraged me to buy on our honeymoon. They were Adidas.

66. Cheetos or Fritos? Depends on what I'm eating with them.

67. Peanuts or sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds.

68. Ever hear of the group Tres Bien? No.

69. Ever take dance lessons? Yes! Jazz class as a kid.

70. Is there a profession you picture your spouse doing? I can't quite put my finger on it, but I believe he has some big changes coming up before he is in the profession he's meant to be in.

71. Can you curl your tongue? Yes

72. Ever won a spelling bee? Nope.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy? I cry all. the. time.

74. Own any record albums? Mom and Dad have them all.

75. Own a record player? See above.

76. Regularly burn incense? I have a Scentsy burner, but I don't turn it on often.

77. Ever been in love? Of course.

78. Who would you like to see in concert? I'm not so much a concert person as I am a "hey, let me sing for you in this quiet little coffee shop" person.

79. What was the last concert you saw? Oh gosh. Third Day? Clint Black? I don't remember which was the most recent.

80. Hot tea or cold tea? Hot with some honey.

81. Tea or coffee? Coffee. Specifically a vanilla latte.

82. Sugar cookie or snicker doodle? Snicker doodle

83. Can you swim well? No.

84. Can you hold your breath without holding your nose? Yes

85. Are you patient? Not really. This is definitely an area to work on!

86. DJ or band, at a wedding? I like both for different reasons.

87. Ever won a contest? If costume counts, then yes.

88. Ever have plastic surgery? No.

89. Which are better? Black or green olives? Black

90. Can you knit or crochet? Both! I love to do both!

91. Best room for a fireplace? Living room

92. Do you want to get married? It will be 12 years this year, and I want there to be a bazillion more. Love my hubs.

93. If married, how long have you been married? Well I got ahead of myself.

94. Who was your HS crush? Keith Urban

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way? No. But I deal with this behavior on a daily basis.

96. Do you have kids? Yes. Hence the answer above.

97. Do you want kids? Most of the time. (wink wink, nudge nudge) I love my kids. All three of them.

98. What's your favorite color? Red.

99. Do you miss anyone right now? Yes. Every moment of every day.