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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Broken Together: My Husband Does Not Complete Me

Twelve years we've been married. Twelve years. Well, not yet, but in another couple of months. I was going to save this post for our anniversary, but I'm kind of an impatient person. 

A lot of people lost bets after we made it past the five year mark. We struggled mightily through year six. And seven. (and year one, and two, and...) And here we are, year 12. We've been together (more or less) for the last 14 years. That's a long time when you're as young and care-free as I am. And I'm pretty young. Like...pretty young. In my heart. 

I'm madly in love with my husband. He makes me laugh. He pretty much cracks me up. A lot. He holds me when I'm feeling down. He hugs me for no reason. He compliments my cooking. And my outfits. He gives me butterflies in my stomach. Either because he makes me giddy, or irate. We shuffle between those two reasons from time to time. He's super handsome, has a million dollar smile, and big strong arms. He was the only person I wanted by my side, every minute, after we lost Harlynn. I could not have survived life after losing her without him. My husband, in my eyes, is kind of a big deal. 

I love my husband more than I thought I could love any man. Ever.

But he does not complete me.

Wonderful as he is, my husband has flaws. He has shortcomings. He disappoints me from time to time. We argue. We disagree. We have bouts of intense fellowship. He screws up. He makes mistakes. He's even wrong once in a while. 

If I, as a greatly flawed individual trust that another greatly flawed individual will complete me, my hopes in that "you complete me" junk will leave me nothing more than a sour taste of brutal disappointment

Brent is a smart guy. Really smart. Sometimes he's so smart it makes me angry. Like when we're arguing about something and he's so busy making so much sense with his smartness, he doesn't understand that I just need a hug and some M&Ms. He's smart enough to know, though, that he cannot complete me. Nor does he want to even try. Can you imagine the burden of that responsibility? The overwhelming pressure and expectation of first, finding all my faults and flaws and then working overtime to compensate for those - all for me? Forget about fixing yourself or having any issues - you have to complete ME. My needs. My shortcomings. You have to make up the difference in whatever I lack.

No way. No. Way.

Relationships aren't easy. They aren't even romantic. There are sometimes, romantic things that happen within a relationship, but the relationship itself is not romantic. It's messy. And confusing. And a lot of work to maintain. You can take a walk in the park, which might be romantic, but you can't expect your relationship to function as if it, as its own entity, were a walk in the park. Come back down to earth here for a minute.

Brent and I have been together for a long time. I know he isn't perfect (no matter how close he may come at times.) We all know I'm not perfect. Both Brent and I know, appreciate, and understand that neither of us could complete the other. Please tell me you understand the same regarding your relationship?

There is only One perfect being - that being Jesus Christ - who could complete us. Yet we struggle so often when others disappoint us. When others let us down. Because they should love us enough to know better. They should have known how their words or actions would affect us. They're supposed to be our other (or better) half. Without this person, I am only half the person I would have been before I realized I needed another half a person to spend my time with.

Wait, what?

You've heard it said before that marriage isn't 50/50. It's 100/100. If two people each buy half a sandwich and mush them together, they don't have a whole sandwich. They still have two halves of sandwiches. If you're an incomplete person, mushing yourself together with another person isn't going to make a whole person. It's going to make your life complicated and insane and you're gonna have to understand a thing or two about communication, fighting fair, and what it means to commit. You can't just go mushing around with people expecting to be made whole. Stop the mushing.

There is going to be so much hurt, heartache, and suffering that you'll endure in life. Don't expect another person to complete you - in those times especially - but choose wisely who you'll allow to carry your heart for you in those moments when you can't. Choose who you'll want by your side when the only thing you see is pain. Choose who you'll allow to see you in your most vulnerable moments, and who will help you - not live for you, but help you - come out the other side of that tunnel. And if you have your person, stop expecting them to do the completing for you. Meet them in the middle. As much as you need support and understanding, they need twice as much. Well, Brent needs twice as much, because he's stuck with me. 

I love my husband. I would fight, die, and haunt someone for him. He has some weird different habits, and he doesn't do everything the way I do. He raps in his sleep. (Okay, it was one time, but it was hilarious.) He knows too much about things other than how to not shrink my brand new shirts. But I love him. To the moon and back. To the ends of the earth. I would eat a mushroom for him. *shudder* But he does not complete me.

This song - this awesome, captivating, amazing song - makes me cry. Of course, a lot of things make me cry. But listen to this song. And keep a tissue nearby just in case.

Brent and I are both broken people. That's why we have Jesus. And because we have Jesus, we're able to hold on tighter to each other. Loving Jesus together completes our marriage. Our family. Not because of anything we do on our own. But because of everything we're able to do through Him

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Taking Over The World One Science Lesson At A Time

An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. The law of inertia. Even more amazing than the scientific law itself, is that I remember it at all. High school wasn't all lost on me. What's super cool is sometimes we don't even realize something is in motion until we look back and see all the ripples leading back to the very first step of action.

In this case, it was a shortcoming of mine. For whatever reason, I didn't make it in to the local United Way's women's leadership 35 Under 35 program the first time I applied. I was crushed, to say the least, and didn't even want to apply again the next year. I didn't have anything to offer more than what I had showcased the year prior. Buckling under the encouragement of my boss, however, I begrudgingly sent my application in again. I wound up getting the call I had been accepted. Class of 2012 counted me as a participant. 

I met 34 other women who, with their unique and individual qualities and talents, propelled and inspired me to do, plan, and pursue goals I wouldn't have otherwise. When we lost Harlynn, they rallied around me and supported me in ways I still can't quite grasp, and will never be able to repay. So many awesome friendships came to be - and not even during the program. It was later when the buds of common interests started to bloom into the relationships they are today.

One of my fellow classmates, Kristin, invited me to a painting party last July. Paint and sip parties are such a trendy phenomenon right now, and I had been wanting to do one for quite a while. I was so excited to be able to go, and quickly submitted my RSVP. 

After I arrived, the first instruction given was to choose our paint colors. I almost had a panic attack. I am super creative... when I am given exact instructions to follow. This meant I had to come up with my own color scheme, and the mere thought gave me anxiety. After avoiding hyperventilating and taking my sweet time in arranging my colors just so, I was able to relax and enjoy myself as I painted the most morbid looking flower I've ever seen in my life. But oh my goodness, it was so much fun.

Within a day or so, I contacted the woman who led the painting party, and asked if I could talk to her more about becoming a guide. I am no artist, but I am really good at following instructions - and all instructions for the paintings are provided. I would just have to tell people which brush to use for which part of the painting, and we would all create our own masterpieces. Along with getting me out of the house every now and again, it would give me the opportunity to do what I love most: be the center of attention. Obviously, I had to sign up. Thus birthed my hobby-career as an Independent Gallery Guide with Gallery on the Go. (And I've gotten a lot better with a brush since then...)

Not more than a month later, my job was waning. Eventually, I was set free and left wondering how I could provide for my family without having to leave them behind every day. We stressed and struggled for a brief while, though God so powerfully provided for us in so many ways, I'm almost ashamed for feeling stressed to begin with. He has never left us or abandoned us, yet I woke every day questioning how we were going to survive from one financial crisis to the next. We didn't hit one crisis during that time. Not one. People followed God's nudging in so many ways, and we were always taken care of. Thank you, God. And sorry about that whole doubting thing...

Maria, founder of GOTG, gave me a call one afternoon to see how I was doing with my new-found painting business. I told her I had just lost my job, and painting parties were my only source of income. Not knowing anything about my work history, she offered up information on a business owned by a friend of hers. She told me if I looked into it, she would vouch for me. Not knowing anything about my work history. She just up and offered a resource and a reference. Seriously. She's nuts. (And I love her for it.)

I went to the website ( and filled out the application, knowing it was probably a long shot. I was in Corporate America my entire career, and this virtual stuff was surely beyond me. It didn't hurt to apply though, and get my resume spruced up. It would be super cool, though, doing the things they built their business on...

I've been a Virtual Assistant through PVA since November. I have three clients and I earn my living doing things I'm passionate about and enjoy doing. I write. I make fun pictures. I scour the internet for words of wisdom and content ideas. I make friends. I learn something new every day. I work for people I truly adore, and can't imagine not having as part of my life. It's a job that's been waiting for me since that acceptance letter was received, stating I was a participant of the 2012 35 Under 35 program. 

I met Kristin at the appointed time, we developed a friendship that blossomed when we both needed each other, and she invited me to a painting party. I signed up to be a guide. I spoke to Maria. She had a friend who owned a business. The business owner, Trivinia, not only called me, but showed such a display of confidence in my abilities, I now work for PVA. That single painting party shaped my entire career. Are you understanding how out-of-this-world-awesome this is?

God's plan tends to stay in motion until He carries it through to completion. It's not so much the law of inertia as it is the substance of His love and mercy for us. There are no coincidences. There is no happenstance. When things don't happen for a reason (like me not being in the 2011 class), it's because things are going to happen for a different, more purposeful reason. When plans don't go our way, it doesn't mean they aren't going to work out HIS way. For He knows the plans He has for us. (Jer. 29:11)

The ripple effect. The law of inertia. Whatever it is, whatever you want to attribute it to, everything has a starting point and that point not only got you to where you are today, but will guide you to where you'll be tomorrow. That starting point is His love and care of each of us. For you. Even for me.

A rejection letter. A painting party. An entire livelihood. He makes no mistakes. Dear God, help me remember you make no mistakes.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

If you know of anyone who is looking for help in their entrepreneurial venture, have them contact Trivinia. She has a God-given gift of placing clients with the VA who will help them further develop their platform, and launch their success. 

And if you want to paint, even if you're a neurotic perfectionist like me, let's chat

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Farewell 1005's done. The house is sold. We don't have to run over there for more of our belongings, or to make minor repairs or adjustments, or to clean, or to do anything. It's in the name of another owner and starting a new journey under new care. No more house.

As we stood in the kitchen one final time yesterday, I grabbed Brent and choked back tears saying, "I feel like we should pray. For the new owner, for the blessing this house has been to us, and for listening for God's leading in our next steps." So he prayed. And I cried as he prayed about the memories made within those walls. The kitties. The children. The laughter. The intense fellowship. The eight years of everything we had known, breathed, and woke for.

After his "Amen", I opened the door to the basement stairwell and pointed to the jamb that contained all the pencil ticks and dates marked for Little Miss' growth over the years. I said, "Please take a picture of that." and I turned and walked out of the house for the last time.

I headed to the front, my nose still red and splotchy from crying, and took one final snapshot. That No more.

More memories came flooding in. Those hedges were my project each spring and summer. It was my job to keep the front landscape looking nice. I loved it. A lot of sweat equity went into those plants. That doorstep, that my Dad helped us repair to aesthetic glory, is where I sat - in that same sweatshirt - to snap this picture that encapsulated everything I felt and experienced after losing Harlynn.

Once the tears started, it was hard to get them to stop. Don't get me wrong, we were relieved to be moving and freed from debt and the responsibilities of homeownership. It was a prayer I had been praying for the last five years at least, as I felt we were busting at the seams with Little Miss's arrival. Even still, that was our first house. Our first steps to raising a family. Our first yard. Our first check to a mortgage company instead of a landlord. For eight years, which at this point is 3/4 of our married life, we ate, slept, and breathed within those walls. It was tough to just walk away from it. So final.

At the closing, we were in the room autographing legal-speak papers for all of 10 minutes. We were handed the check, and we were done. So final.

We made the rounds in town paying off our loans and debts. We are debt-free. It hasn't sunk in yet, and I feel like I'm still just waiting for the bills to come in. But they won't. They're done. Paid off. We owe nothing. We owe no one. (Except I owe you your $5 change, Joy! I haven't forgotten!) It's so surreal. All of it.

Yesterday was such an emotionally taxing day and we were so spent. I asked Brent if he would just pick us up something "lazy" for dinner. We had celebratory Chinese food. Nothing says "I'm so done for the day" quite like chicken lo mein and pork won tons. 

We put the kids to bed, I picked up a few things around the apartment that don't quite have their place yet, and I got a text from my husband, sitting across the room.

Oh honey. The door jamb!! With Little Miss' growth marks! NOT THE STAIRWELL!! Spousal communication at its finest. This not only represents an era gone by, but it represents we still have a long way to go in being the perfect couple. Praise Jesus anyway.

*Sigh*  At least we have this picture to remember our daughter's life in that house... It is a pretty spectacular stairwell. God bless it...

And now, we turn the page. A new chapter is being written. And we patiently wait to read along and see how the story ends.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Double Life

Most people would love to own more than one home, right? Vacation in this one, live in that one, rent out this one... While the appearance of owning multiple homes is attractive, I'm not so sure it's something I'd ever look into should I have the means to afford the endeavor.

Right now, we're between two places. Our home sold, so we've moved into an apartment. We've been moving, I should say. Closing is tomorrow, but it's been an intense few weeks of getting things moved, stored, and fixing whatever we needed to at the house. While we're focusing on that, we're also focusing on making this new place our home, getting it comfortable, settled, and functional. We're stressed, a little testy, and burdened by the chore of it all.

It's a lot of work to keep up with two places! Both my husband and I have shared with one another that we will be incredibly relieved - elated, even - to have the sale of the house behind us and be able to spend our focus and energies on only one dwelling. Tomorrow morning, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, that will be our story. 

These last several days, I've realized I'm kind of caught in this place - stuck between two places - in my own life. The house, being representative of Harlynn, and the apartment, representative of the present and future.

The house was what we had planned on having. Our hopes, dreams, and ways to make them all happen, were strategically planned out from within those walls. 

The apartment is everything we have, after those plans didn't happen. Not a bad result, just one far different from what we anticipated, and after the only thing we kept holding on to was our faith, after letting go of our will.

I'm stuck between those two places.

We planned on having Harlynn, bringing her home, having her and her sister argue over princess dress up clothes and baby dolls. Her life did not go according to our plan.

We planned on buying another house. That also did not go according to our plan.

Here we are, in a three bedroom apartment, serenaded by sounds of hipster music (is that what the kids call it nowadays?) and backpacks. Lots of backpacks. And trucks. So many pick up trucks. Who knew apartment living was so attractive to the pick up types?

I'm muddling through. Truly muddling. Trying to find a new place for all of our old belongings. Unpacking box after box (after box, after box...) and questioning the significance of everything we've acquired over time. Having all of Harlynn's mementos here with us, but not having the faintest clue what to do with them. 

I'm finding papers and files from years gone by that give me pause in remembering what I thought my life would be at that point, and beyond.

I'm finding things I thought were lost, and not finding things I know I intended to keep (I'm not pointing fingers, but... Hubs?). I'm finding phone chargers. Tons and heaps of phone chargers.

And I'm finding that it's so much easier to just be in one place. I've been spending these last 23 months incorporating my life into Harlynn's legacy, and likewise, incorporating her legacy into my life, but never living as if the two were a part of the same me. 

Now I see, they are. It's far more fulfilling to have one life. One home. One place. 

As I enter this season - this one that's always mixed for me - I'm trying to bring everything together in one me. Not the grieving me, or the mothering me, or the wife me, but just me.

March brings the birthday of our firstborn, who had her own dramatic entrance into this world and spent the first month of her life in the NICU. I always go back to that trauma we experienced, and seeing her today just blows my mind. What a little lady - a Little Miss - she has become. 

April brings the anniversary of losing Harlynn, and the birthday of our Little Man. 

It's quite the season for me. And there will be lots of tears. But I'm not going to separate the emotions out into compartments (or boxes, sticking with the moving theme). Everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen later on is all a part of one me. One life. 

No more making things harder on myself than they have to be. I'm settling in and finding out how to live here. Now. It's far easier living in one place.