it is well

Stevenson, WA

I wake up every morning with a deep ache. My heart feels heavy, my stomach often ill-set, yet it is well with my soul. I go about my days wanting someone I can’t have; missing what could be and what was. Each week that passes I wonder, will I ever get used to living without him? Will I ever lay down my head and go to sleep feeling satisfied though I cannot kiss his cheek or tuck him into bed? No need to visit his room in the middle of the night and make sure he’s still breathing, because he has already drawn his last breath. With every sunrise my heart breaks over and over and over again, yet even in my brokenness it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

Every year that comes and goes just puts more space between us, allowing others to assume time is healing the wounds, when in actuality I wish he wasn’t such a distant memory. The further removed I am from his death, the more final and empty it seems. I will live the rest of my life navigating through the stages of grief as they repeat at random and without predictability – plunging me in and out of depression and then back into denial – but this is just me forever loving him with the same growing intensity as I do my living sons. When his 5th birthday passes uncelebrated, and there’s no discussion about where he will go to school, no teaching him how to ride a bike without training-wheels…. I will feel every missed milestone like a knife to the chest but it will STILL be well with my soul. I have no idea what eternity looks like – whether or not I will get to raise him and experience the things I long for with all my being – but even without knowing what’s to come, I trust that it will be better than my simple mind could ever fabricate and therefore, it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

I now have tangible proof that there was illegal practice involved with my son’s mistreatment, along with many warnings that I should not speak such things unless I want to be taken for all I’m worth, but somehow it is unexplainably well with my soul. I could place blame on the negligent individuals for their actions, letting anger and bitterness boil up inside like a smoldering mountain, but instead it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

Though sometimes it seems easier to go the way of hatred, I have found that forgiveness let’s me live more free. The emotional stress tends to be physically taxing, but letting my burdens lay at the feet of Jesus instead of dragging them behind me like a deadweight… well this allows my mind and body to find retrieve. Understanding that I can do all things though Christ, yet NOTHING without Him is a dependency that even my wildest-of-hearts gladly yields to. Like discovering a thought-to-be-mirage is in fact a REAL spring of water in the desert, I continue to soak up refreshing nourishment in the most dry places, and I’m reminded that it is miraculously well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

And to the naysayers that would challenge my choice of beliefs, you must know that even if all these things my faith-eyes see turn out to be nothing more that a fantastical idea that got me through the worst of my travels, the peace that goes beyond my comprehension would still make it worth it all — so, IT IS indeed WELL with my soul.

Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” after the death of his 2-year-old son, and the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. The Spaffords later had three more children, then on February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner died (the age of four) of scarlet fever. I plan on getting the words “it is well” tattooed on my arm soon, as it speaks to me in so many ways. If you’d like to buy this it is well tee (or any of the cute items from @ShopHelloGrace), she has kindly setup the code: MCR15 as a special discount for my readers! Love you ALL and thanks for stopping in ❤

XOXO,

 – Brittney

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
A song in the night, oh my soul!”

It is well, it is well, with my soul”

by Horatio Spafford


Advertisements

Remodel Therapy

Well guys, I’ve been working my butt off since coming back from Stanford, but my brain’s been on a major mental strike. “Don’t make me think, don’t make me think!” I’m maxed out. Emotionally spent. Writing’s been like… trying to draw water from an empty well – or –  maybe there are more words currently flowing than ever before but something is blocking them from forming on the page? I hope one day it’ll finally come spilling out in beautiful, glorious cohesion and not like a giant spew of vomit!

I’d like to start by thanking all of YOU for standing by as my husband and I continue to weather through the most difficult season of our lives. We’ve been absolutely blown away by this newfound, ever-growing support system of Instagrammers and bloggers! Our hearts still feel freshly wounded, the medical bills keep coming, and the bad news seems to just PILE on….. but your words, prayers, gifts, financial blessings ($23K+), and relationships, have carried us through; You have truly been His Hands and Feet.

I wondered if letting a whole year pass with just  o n e   single entry on this blog was going to plummet my readership, but I came back and discovered the exact opposite. I can’t believe how much activity this site has had, and I feel so, soooo honored (and flattered) that you’re still coming back to see what I have to say! (Oh the irony that NOW is when I’d experience Writer’s Block!) Starting on January 30th, the day Cruz died, My Colonial ReMODel had over 3,000 hits in just a few hours, and not a day has passed since that there hasn’t been people visiting from all over the world – 91 countries to be exact. I want to take the time to acknowledge my top ten, most-faithful foreign countries and say, “Hello, from little ol’ me in Portland!”  

U.S., of course, you’re at the tippy-top, my fellow ‘Mericans!

1. Canada – Hey! I have family and friends from BC… thanks for reading.

2.  Australia – G’day;) I have to thank IG for all 1,300+ of you!

3.  UK – Hello!

4. Switzerland – Hallo!

5. Germany – Hallo!

6. Sweden – Halla!

7. Mexico – Hola!

8.  Italy – Ciao!

9. Brazil – Ola!

10. France – Bonjour!

Interacting with ALL of you on Instagram is one of my favorite things to do in a day, and I try my best to keep up and respond to your comments/posts/tags (although I know I’ve also missed a ton, and for that I apologize). I’ve connected with many moms like myself, having buried one or more children, and I’ve even come across parents with surviving OTC deficient children. I’ve been in contact with bloggers and interior designers who I may have never networked with had it not been for this unfortunate situation. My small little social circle has expanded and exploded in a matter of months, and suddenly the world seems so much bigger (and my tragic loss doesn’t seem so unusual… most certainly not as unfair).

The occasional, unexpected run-ins have been the most fun, although it makes me think twice before running errands without any makeup on! It always starts with an awkward stare… at the mall, restaurants, (most surprising was at Skamania Lodge in Washington)! I can tell you’re trying to figure out why you recognize me, and then the question, “Are you Cruz’s mom?” usually follows. I am SO happy to answer yes, then within minutes we’re crying together, discussing how much he changed our whole perspective on parenting/raising kids; not taking them for granted, cherishing ALL the moments, having extended grace and patience… all because of my little fighter guy. + + +These interactions remind me that, though Cruz’s life on this earth was short, his purpose still lives on. + + +

I’m looking forward this new season (as strange as it may be)! I certainly never imagined being here. I’m so thankful I have something like My Colonial ReMODel to immerse myself in during my darkest moments.  I need big, in-my-face projects to distract me from my reality sometimes…. is that bad? I’ve never been someone to go with the grain, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve resorted to “remodel therapy” when the conventional thing in my situation would be grief counseling. There’s something to be said though, for everyone, about working with your hands. It’s SO THERAPEUTIC! On the days that I turn to TV or lying around thinking, “I just need a break”,  I only end up feeling depressed, exhausted, and anxious. Blue-collaring, as I call it, relieves stress, gives the mind something simple to focus on, and leaves you feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

I should probably tell you that, for a while there I was wrestling with this whole “remodel blogger” concept… feeling internal conflict over whether I should be wasting my time with things so materialistic and lacking all seriousness. I didn’t want to bag the blog all together, but what if I had lost my passion and vision for it? So…….. I finally have people reading and I’m just gonna walk away??? (Sidenote: Right after you lose someone you SWEAR you’ll never take interest in anything carnal EVER again, and you’re frustrated with those who still do. Then you eventually realize that if life is ALL serious ALL the time, it’s too hard, too stressful, too mundane; lacking joy, fun, excitement, variety, and flavor. You’re not really living. For some reason or another, you NEED the meaningless things to lighten the weight laying heavy on your heart.) While going back and forth with myself, I stumbled across this image in my phone, a screenshot I’d taken of my morning devotions while still in early months of pregnancy with Cruz:

months of pregnancy with Cruz

I know this verse is more metaphorical than literal, but it’s funny how Scripture can take on new meanings and interpretations depending on where we’re at in life, and it’s as though I had taken note of this KNOWING I’d need to read it again at a later time. As pastors, Jared and I have dedicated our lives to “rebuilding” ;  spiritually parenting the fatherless/motherless youth in our ministry… helping recovering users… intervening in hurting marriages… and as fulfilling as our job can be, we can also get discouraged when we put so much work into a non-tangible problem or situation and see it continue to fall apart. So, having a physical job to get our hands dirty with, i.e. My Colonial ReMODel, is exactly what we need to bring balance to our lives. It’s drastically different from what we do for a living, yet so cohesive because it all revolves around this concept of rebuilding – not building from the ground up – but REbuilding that which is broken. I’m so thankful for this verse, because without it I think I’d still be contemplating where to go from here.

As promised, I added a tab to my ^menu^ called #iheartcruz. This is a link to my new, personal blog, LOVE HURTS || LOVE HEALS. You can casually follow from here, or go and subscribe to be notified when I post – either way – it will now be the only place where I’ll make entries about Cruz, future family planning, adoption, test results, etc. For my sake and for yours, I did this because I needed to start compartmentalizing and keeping my messy life separate from the remodel. {{“Don’t mix business with pleasure” …or in my case… NOT-pleasure.}}  I’ve also redesigned a few pages, given you direct access to my NEW shop @B_ART_STUDIOS, and soon you’ll even see video tours coming to My Colonial ReMODel! (Yes, all the vlogging requests finally got to me, and I finally got over the nerves of talking in front of the camera… sorta…) Also, I’m collaborating with my sister-in-love (who happens to be an uh-mazing interior designer!) to build a “Dream with B” page… full of future 3D virtual designs for each room! This way you can grasp my vision room-by-room, and see the end goal behind all the little projects we have going on ’round here!

I’m super excited about what’s to come… Jared and I are just days out from starting on some MAJOR projects – the biggest projects we’ve done since the initial demolition! We’ve been saving for a while now, and thanks to some of YOU, the medical-money-pit hasn’t impacted our remodel reserves. The only sad news is, we found out we have to redo ALL the plumbing, which is gonna run about $6K and destroy our beautifully finished walls 😦 This will eat into our kitchen budget as well, so we have to wait for Spring to start on that now. BOO-HOO! But (there is a but), our contractor came out on Thursday to go over plans for our master on-suite and the downstairs bath, so we should be “breaking ground” (so to speak) on these projects by next week! EEEEEK!

Once again, WELCOME to all you newcomers, thank you EVERYONE for your friendship and LOVE – let’s do this thang.

 

XO,

– B

 

 

 

Death of a Thursday

but first, a little throwback to an unfinished entry titled, “Thankful Thursday”

=======================================================================

Thankful Thursday 

(Drafted November 16, 2013 (3 days before Cruz was born)

I know, I know… November is the cliché month to give thanks and recognize those things we often take for granted… but it’s in the midst of need that we’re suddenly aware of how much (or how little) support we have. From family to friends, I am blessed with SO many quality people in my life who truly-madly-deeply care about me. I haven’t always felt this way. I’ve gone through seasons of my life where I desperately needed what I have now, but felt like I had nowhere to turn. It’s comforting to know that the next time I experience trial, I won’t have to bear it alone.

So, how does a person adequately express their thankfulness towards someone when the generosity itself has left them at a loss for words??? I’m not quite acquainted with this sort of speechlessness , so I guess I’ll just jump off! –

Thanks to my sisters and some of my dearest friends, I had the BEST baby shower a girl could ask for! Not only was I pampered by ALL who came spoiling me with diapers, wipes, and gifts GALORE, I left feeling undeservingly blessed to have finally………..

(End of Draft) 11/16/13

=======================================================================

Death of a Thursday

……. And here I am, in the midst of another trial. Wow. If I only knew, blissfully driving home that night with a car-full of baby stuff, that I wasn’t going to need ANY of it. Now looking back at the past valleys I’ve walked through, I can see how every journey has taken me oh-so-slightly deeper into pain’s crevasse; each one just toughening me up a bit, bracing me for the day I’d eventually step in sinking sand. Sitting here, suffocating at the bottom of the pit, it’s frightening to recognize that this fractured ground could give way again, and I might find myself disoriented by an even greater fall.

For the past few years, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book on love. I have the title, the cover design, a general outline… but one thing was missing. Without running on with divulging details, I will just say, Cruz’s death finished the book. I had always wondered if losing someone is losing someone, is losing someone… and in fact, for me, it IS one-and-the-same. Whether losing someone to death, rejection, betrayal, unfaithfulness, what-have-you, the emotional-transcending-physical heartache feels the same, just at totally different dimensions.

I think we as humans were designed to be resilient; able to bounce back from major impacts by evolving and learning to move/live on with whatever our individual struggles may be. But – because of this ability to cope, we often gain a delusion of independence and underestimate our inherent need to be reliant.

There’s nothing quite like a humbling wound to the soul that sends us desperately seeking help from someone/something/somewhere beyond ourselves. We’re wired for relationship, we crave community, we live for love. But even (after trying psychological and physical solutions to aid the pain, or simply allowing enough time to pass) if I’ve truly had an encounter with my Creator, I find that I lean into Him jusssst long enough to regain my strength and wits about me, then I leave the nest regardless of whether my wings are still broken. Just because something’s no longer raw, doesn’t mean it’s cured; just because you’ve learned to ignore bloodiness, doesn’t mean you’ve stopped the bleeding and yet, well, you’d think I’d learn.

When answering the trite Christian-question, “how are you doing spiritually?”, I would honestly say I felt close to God……… but what does “close” really mean??? Any religious, disciplined person can read their Bible, pray, make all the “right” decisions, and still be absorbed and governed by their own feelings and selfish nature. There’s no other relationship in my life that would survive such narcissistic behavior, so I suppose that answers my question of closeness.

I feel like my priorities were so out of whack before this whole thing that I’m not quite sure how I ever justified it in my head. I was due for a wakeup call, I suppose. If I’ve somehow painted an image of a harlot or hypocrite in your mind, that’s not at all what I’m saying, I just mean I may have had other gods in my life, such as my children, home, and earthly treasures; I guess this is me pleading guilty of idolatry. I don’t think I brought this situation upon myself, nor do I believe that God is a God of vengeance, but sometimes bad things happen to good people, and I think our response to these “bad things” is what sheds light into the deepest places of one’s heart.

It’s hard to feel happy these days… but then that begs the question… was my previously-so-called happiness rising from a foundation of joy? Or, was my happiness subjective, suspended between ever-changing, unsecured circumstances? As children it’s pounded into our brains at Sunday School that “ I’VE GOT JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY, DOWN IN MY HEART – TO STAYYY!”, but we’re not taught how to practically live that song even if/when we grow up and find out that after generations of a hereditary disorder laying dormant, YOU are the one who was born with the defect that will someday kill your son.

If I’m honest, I’ve been dealing with thoughts and temptations so foreign to me there might as well be some stranger whispering terrible-nothings in my ear, in a language I hardly understand… and if I listen… the things that used to be black and white start to warp and meld into shades of gray, and the foundational belief system of my faith is called into question. Perhaps this is how Eve found herself allured by the snake? It’s easy to judge when she APPEARED to have everything she could ever want already, but let’s just say she too, had a nagging void within her rendering her vulnerable and susceptible to deception. If she could be convinced that God didn’t have her best interest at heart, I think that’s all it takes for anyone to begin questioning the difference between good and evil.

It’s disillusioning when your personal absolutes suddenly seem subjective. God is good. Evil is bad. But then many have implied that perhaps Cruz was chosen to be some modern-day sacrificial lamb that would lead many to Christ… as much as I try to see that as good, I CAN’T. The God I thought I knew provided Abraham with a lamb so that Isaac didn’t have to die. Where was my Shepherd as I watched Cruz drowning in his own fluids for his last what-seemed-endless hours, struggling for  e v e r y   s i n g l e    b r e a t h. “HE’S ONLY A BABY! JESUS, PLEASE!” My cries seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and for that whole night I felt…………… abandoned.

Multiple doctors were in his room, but one of them was standing over me as I fell to the floor having loss all color, my left arm numb, chest cavity so heavy I felt like death itself was clenching my lungs; I was dying on the inside AND out. I had heard multiple “adult code-blues” blaring over the intercom during my stay at the children’s hospital and I was sure, I was next. As my heart began to palpitate, my body violently shaking, it was as though I was preparing for the birth of something only I assure you, labor pains don’t even compare. Everything began to fade out, both sight and sound, but there was ONE thing that gave me the strength to hold onto my fading consciousness. His name, Ezekiel. “YOU CANNOT LEAVE HIM, BRITTNEY, GET IT TOGETHER! HE NEEDS YOU JUST AS MUCH AS CRUZ HAS NEEDED YOU!” Then I’d think about little Cruz (who was just handed off to his father by the mother who had always been near – never afraid, always holding his hands and cheering him on)… WHAT IF HE’S SCARED!? WHERE AM I IN HIS GREATEST TIME OF NEED!? GET UP AND GO OVER THERE! I had heard about females in the animal kingdom dying after the loss of their young, and part of me was afraid that if I held him again, as much as I ached to, my heart would go into cardiac arrest. || Even as I try to recount these all-too-fresh moments, the frightening, familiar, paralyzing pain is gripping hold, convulsive cries are making it hard to type, and tears are flooding my eyes, streaming down my chest. || I knew this was the last hour because it was getting harder and harder for me to function, and it was requiring so much medication to keep him comfortable that he would soon overdose. It took every ounce of my existence to lift myself from the disgusting blood-spattered floor, like going for that 100th and final push-up when muscles tremble and joints give out… but I willed myself to crawl over and sit at my husband’s feet. The closer I drew to Cruz, the closer I felt to death. I reached out, determined to make myself known to my suffering babe, touched his swollen hand and spoke as many words as I could mutter. I think I knew he was waiting for me; I knew the sooner he sensed my presence, Cruz would feel like he could stop fighting… and sure enough… moments after my voice touched his ears, I looked up at the monitor just in time to see his last two heartbeats before the flatline_________________________

 

Still filled with some bit of hope or perhaps denial, my adrenaline raged and I had a burst of strength pulse through my body, throwing myself overtop of him. I screamed his name loudly against his cheek, his body jolted, and my heart leaped, only to look up at the doctor to be informed this was “just a COMMON reflex”.  T.O.D. 7:44am, THURSDAY. I proceeded to vomit everything in my stomach until there was nothing left. I stood to my feet, took a deep breath, felt an unexplainable burden lift itself from my shoulders, then the words, “Well done, daughter” penetrated my spirit. Suddenly, this feeling of abandonment was replaced with nearness, and I felt as though my Father was standing next to me, smiling, with an empathy that only He knew. I did it. A piece of me was gone, and I was certainly not the Brittney I was even the day before, but I survived the impossible. I looked over at the body that once contained the soul of my precious, precious son, it was already so shockingly pale-green, but somehow I could separate the fact that he was no longer there, and my life-long fear of death was replaced with a calming peace beyond my understanding. As I watched them remove all of his needles and wires (for the first time in 2.5 months), some sort of freedom came over me, and I felt the same liberation I used to feel as I’d pass the baton at the end of an excruciating relay. He was out of my hands. We had fought the good fight. Now it was time to REST. This is when the Psalm 23 image of Cruz and Jesus walking hand-in-hand painted itself over my bleeding heart, and I felt healing, refreshment, cleansing – renewal. Cruz was alive!

Though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, Cruz wasn't afraid, because Jesus heard his cries and comforted him; led him to green pastures, still waters, prepared a feast in the presence of his enemies (for his starving little tummy), and now Cruz will live in the house of the Lord FOREVER.

Though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, Cruz wasn’t afraid, because Jesus heard his cries and comforted him; led him to green pastures, still waters, prepared a feast in the presence of his enemies (for his starving little tummy), and now he lives in the house of the Lord, FOREVER.

I don’t know what I think about God or the God I thought I knew… I struggle with feeling mad at Him but my love for Him has SOMEHOW increased. Did God plan such a tragedy? Isn’t He good ALL the time? Full of mercy, love, and grace? It comes down to the ongoing theological debate between predetermination vs. free will. Where I stand on this subject is neutral. To think it was premeditated and orchestrated ruins my belief that God answers prayer – without prayer I have no faith, without faith I lose hope… along with my ability to trust in anything. But to think God’s first design was for Cruz to live and that His plan got derailed by man’s sin-nature and the foolish mistakes/mistreatment in Portland, (although it takes the fault off God), it suggests that evil prevailed. So now God is the lesser of two powers at war??? I believe God could’ve intervened at any point and released Cruz of the ailments that bound him, but He didn’t. Why? It’s not like there wasn’t enough of us praying for him! I could entertain unknowns and what-ifs that’d eventually drive me straight to the psych ward, but correct treatment or not, thousands of prayers or none, this all started because he was formed with a failing liver, and that’s the part I struggle with. God intricately and purposefully formed him within my womb. He knew his every part. (Psalm 139:13)

I’ll admit I’m getting nervous as time goes on. My genetic screening was supposed to take 3-5 months (I think I’m down to 0-2) and although part of me is anxious to hear and get on with my life, part of me doesn’t want to know. Right now I can still have hope that the worst is over, and I don’t want ANYTHING to take away this hope. Now that the shock is beginning to wear off, the permanence of death is setting in. Cruz is gone. His cute little body I used to gaze upon is now rotting beneath the ground. His precious fingers that gripped mine so tight are now lifeless and cold. I COULD NEVER DO THIS AGAIN! I could never watch another one of my babies die… BUT, if I never try for another, how will I ever move on?! What will keep me from obsessing over what happened? I can’t get stuck here.

This goes without saying, but I’m obviously at a turning point in my life… we all get a few of those. Am I going to let circumstances destroy me or build me? Am I going to get bitter or better? Am I going to drown in self-pity or let the waves of grief spur my creativity? Am I going to thank God for His goodness and mercy regardless of my pending DNA results, or will I be overcome with anger and resentment if things don’t go the way I’d hoped? What if this isn’t an isolated one-time tragedy because the very fabric of my being is flawed!? This IS what will break me or make me; This has the potential and potency to imprison me or propel me down a road less-traveled.

I could easily live the rest of my life blaming God and overlooking all my many blessings because I feel shortchanged – but then I’d be just like Eve – forsaking all the other fruitFUL trees in my garden because I’m captivated with the one that I don’t understand; infatuated with the one I think I want/need most, the one God obviously set apart… and convinced that I know what-would-have-been best, distrusting that God could possibly have a better plan. I was blessed and chosen to be Cruz’s mother for the short time he was here, that IS good. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to meet Baby Cruz for anything.

The brutality and finality of death remains unmatched. If I didn’t believe in something eternal, the Brittney we all know would surely disappear, buried alive in this insurmountable heartache; but I’m a firm believer that this life isn’t all there is. Cruz is alive, happy, healthy, stronger than ever and better off than he would’ve been on this hell-of-an-earth… he’s just not with his mama. And that’s actually ok with me, somehow. I know that I know that I know, I WILL hold Cruz again someday, and that someday-moment is what gets me through my every waking hour.

 

Moving on from here:

I PLAN to get back into blogging, I just need to get past the new-found superficiality of it all. It seems so pointless to talk about design and decor, but then again, I have never been so thankful for My Colonial Remodel as I am now. Having the ability to lose myself in projects has been a healthy distraction as I go through the motions of mourning, plus, 10 months of pregnancy hormones preparing me for the busy life of “taking care of baby” have left me with all this extra energy that I need to spend somewhere! Someone once asked me if I was going to seek grief counseling, and as of now, working with my hands has been my preferred therapy. I hope everyone else can move on with me, obviously never forgetting Cruz, but helping me pick up where I left off here.

Thanks for all your love, support, prayers, endless gifts and happy-mail… every day is delivery day here at My Colonial ReMODel! I am surrounded with the best of the best and I love you ALL dearly!

 

TRULY MADLY DEEPLY,

– B

 

 

 

Belated Blogiversary!

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since I spontaneously decided to try this whole “blogger” thing. If you go back and read my very first post Hello World, you can hear the hesitancy behind my words as I mull over all my preconceived notions of blogging; After reading those words back to myself just now, I’m glad I acted on the whim to launch My Colonial Remodel that late Saturday evening, and thankful I continued to give it life to this day! It’s become my main creative outlet, one of my passions, plus it’s a lot more satisfactory to be writing to a small audience rather than penning songs in a journal (that may or may NEVER be heard)! What started as a means of keeping the family up-to-date on renovations is now my fondest brainchild, and my hope is that it would continue to grow beyond my normal social sphere.  Although… I find it quite humorous that I referred to myself as a “lightweight”, and was able to predict my “posting-inconsistency” even back then… I must know myself better than I realize!!!

As a sort of tribute to this pseudo-significant milestone in My Colonial Remodel‘s history, I had planned on doing a reFAB giveaway (one of my vintage furniture-upscale pieces), but long story short – I forgot; and now with a surprise joint giveaway scheduled for November’s end, I decided to forgo the whole thing and just accept that I let this momentous day pass me by. I had even warned myself before going away on vacay, “make sure you don’t miss your Blogiversary post while in Cali!”, but as if I lost my head at the border, I completely spaced it until NOW. August is looooong gone, and we’ve now reached the tip-tail of September, but I’m hoping a last-ditch-effort-entry will help me get over this very-anti-blogger-ish mistake I’ve made!

OH… and to make matters worse, SOMEHOW I had it in my mind that the “blogiversary” and the “yay, it’s officially been a year in the colonial” dates were one-and-the-same; but in reality, our official move-in date (August 28th) came much later than my first blog post, which actually went live June 17th, 2012. Those first couple months were spent writing about my grief over losing The Perfect House, feeling cramped by Our Newlywed Condo, and the beginning stages of the renno. When you look at it from this angle, I’m suddenly 3+ months beLATEd, and probably should’ve considered a completely different title for this post all together! PUNCH. ME. IN. THE. FACE.

With all ^that^ said, “THE” colonial remodel didn’t become “MY” colonial remodel until the day I could call this house my home – Tuesday, August 28, 2012. It’s hard to believe it’s been 13 months (to the day in fact), since we were driving the U-Haul back and forth, loading and unloading the friends-n-family-caravan! To coin the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun”, this fast-first-year is a tried-true-testament to how much FUN we’ve really been having!(?) The kind of fun where you rip your hair out in dire frustration at the end of the day, sleep-it-off, then wake up in the delusion that “TODAY will be nothing like yesterday”! #ain’tNOthing #timeflieswhenyourehavingfun #LIVINtheremodelLYFE #JT&JIMMYFALLONskit #WATCHit

What I’ve Learned This Year:

Patience: Slow progress is still progress. If I choose to be patient and focus on the task at hand (rather than the finished product), the process of taking the less-than-perfect and transforming it into something one-of-a-kind can be amply rewarding. Contentment: Thinking too much about what I want something to look like can start to drive me mad. As long as I remind myself of how fortunate I am to even have a home like this, and continually count my MANY other blessings, all the other day-to-day frustrations seem meaningless. Focusing on the Positive: One of the ways I’ve motivated myself when feeling swallowed whole by the glaring remodel responsibilities and endless journey ahead is by looking back at where we started. You quickly forget how things used to be, so you feel as though you’ve gotten nowhere. But then nothing puts progress into perspective quite like side-by-side comparisons! (Kind of like watching an underwhelming infomercial for weight-loss/acne/cleaning solutions… UNTIL they bust out those convincing before & afters!)

Highs & Lows:

With so many remodel blogs out there, you can start to feel like a pointless needle lost in a cyber haystack. But – I really felt like I had found my niche because of one distinct factor that set me apart from all the others: the fact that mine was a COLONIAL. I developed so much of my blogger’s identity from this ONE defining detail that I had a partial meltdown when I learned of the famous YOUNGHOUSELOVE‘s most recent renno project… an old colonial! Sherry Petersik started out just like me, posting updates of their remodel progress for close friends and family, but within a few years it blossomed into a full-time job for both her and her husband, and now they’re onto their 3rd house! I seized the opportunity to meet them this January while they were doing their first book tour, and it’s one of the most inspirational experiences I’ve ever had. I introduced myself as a remodel blogger and told them they were my “DIY paragons” (in a total non-sappy way), then John Petersik gave me the advice to “keep at it and never stop what I’m doing”. He later tweeted me in response to my IG post, and I of course had one of those embarrassing jumping-up-and-down-starstruck-freakout-moments:) Definitely a highlight of my year!!! Oh the irony of his advice that day now that they’ve started a colonial remodel… probably among the worst things that could happen to hinder my blog’s success. How do I even stand a chance? younghouselove signing younghouselove signing younghouselove tweet This hasn’t changed my admiration of YOUNGHOUSELOVE whatsoever, if anything it’s caused me to heed his advice even more and focus on the other things that make My Colonial Remodel unique. I’ll admit that at first there were the irrational thoughts of just giving up all together… it felt as though the entrepreneurial part of me sort of waved the white flag. But when push comes to shove, I’ve always known that the only thing capable of setting me apart, is ME. It’s good to have those “younghouseloves” in your life to challenge and inspire you, as long as you don’t change yourself to fit into any certain mould. I may not be married to my co-writer, I may not have the biggest budget, and I may never be mentioned in magazines or featured on HGTV (although that would be an unreal dream come true!), but I have always had a passion for fashion, decor, design, music, art, writing, anything that taps into my creative core.  Just meet the 18-mo-old version of me who refused to let an item enter her wardrobe that wasn’t pink and you’ll better understand where I’m coming from🙂  If I put my artistic personality and unconventional ideas at the forefront, staying true to who I am, no one can accuse me of trying to be like someone else… even if I am in the midst of renovating the same style house as the most successful DIY bloggers around!

Looking Forward:

I’ve been working on a whole new plan for My Colonial Remodel! New pages, new images, new formatting, and I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some guest features as well! A few months back (before the baby-bump was too obvious) I did a blog photo shoot with the multi-talented Chris Roe of croemedia.com. He recently sent me some finished images that I am SO excited about! Out of all the photographers I’ve worked with (when modeling years back), he is BY FAR superior. He was able to capture the essence of who I am with all his final editing skills, which I find to be the HARDEST thing to do in still photos. Many times you think you’ve adequately communicated the vibe you’re going for, but the end result still lacks the X-factor. Once I have redesigned my site with some of these images, the pages will clearly speak to my creative personality and immediately tell a person what to expect if they were to read my blog!

My Colonial Remodel Image

Isn’t this uh-mazing!?! SO ME!

I’m looking for some constructive opinions from my readers as well: What would you like to see more of? – More How-To’s? – More Pictures? – More Day-to-Day Projects? – More Design Ideas? – My aunt recently sent me a photo of her family room and asked me to help her decorate her wall – I LOVE doing things like this! Perhaps this is another component I could add somehow? You tell me what you want to read/see! This next year is going to seem much more productive than our first year. Rather than spending our money on behind-the-scene investments like laundry room plumbing, power-tools and a MUCH-NEEDED mattress… we are planning on doing a full kitchen re-design and spending more time on esthetics! Before I go… a Blogiversary post wouldn’t be complete without a look-back at 2012-2013’s progress! Check out my Before/After Collage of some (not all) of our biggest projects this year!

My Colonial Remodel 2012-2013:

Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal Front Porch Front Yard

Entry

Front Door Entryway Staircase

Boudoir

Living Room

Den

Office

Dining

Dining Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Family Room

Family Room

Deck (off family room)

Backyard

Garage

Garage

Bathrooms

Powder Room Kid's Bath Master Bathroom Master Closet

Ezekiel’s Room

Ezekiel's Room

Cruz’s Nursery (soon to be)

Cruz's Room

Top Faves:

My Colonial Remodel

Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to leave your constructive opinions for me in Comments!

– B

Sunday SALE

I previewed this Sunday Sale on Instagram yesterday thinking it would be good advertising, but I didn’t think I would sell every last item before the day was out! The only things left in ^this^ pic from my old condo bedroom is the set of leucite lamps… oh and that little white elephant! Poor guy got left behind😥

Acrylic Lamps (set of 2) $20

Hand Carved White Elephant $8

 

I do have a few more items that weren’t advertised yesterday…

Black/White Stripe Lamp Shade $7

SOLD

Vintage Refab Dining Table $375
(includes 2 antique cane chairs)

SOLD

Seats 8
54″x54″ Square (including leaf)

 

4 Flatware Drawers
Finished with Faux Crystal Knobs

 

Custom Rounded Corners

West Elm Capiz Pendant Light $150

Dining Room I could NOT find a better picture from when this pendant was hanging in the condo, so I posted one (below) that used to be on the WE website when they still carried the LONG pendant. Feel free to do a price comparison with their short Capiz by clicking here! I LOVE THIS THING… but our lower ceilings just don’t accommodate  😦

West Elm Capiz Chandelier

West Elm Capiz Pendant

“Find me a new home!”
This beauty deserves to be showcased… not in storage! 

West Elm Capiz Pendant

SOLD

 Email me or leave a comment to inquire about any of these items!

brittneylynne@icloud.com

Happy Sunday!

– B

Renovation Vacation

 

WANT to apologize for missing so many Wednesday Weekly posts while I’ve been away on vacay, but then again, it’s possible that I may have gained enough inspiration and rejuvenation from these last few weeks to spark the next umpteen posts… and for that I am not sorry!
I’m officially beyond my “blogger’s block” and full of things I want to share with the world (so prepare yourself to be blogged out, or bored, depending on how worthy-of-being-read my next words may be)!

Painting the Background

Every summer since Jared and I have been married, we’ve spent two weeks in Palm Springs, fully embracing the financial advantages of having parents with a Marriott timeshare! It’s always been the highlight of our year – the place where we recover from our annual youth summer camp and escape from all the emotional taxes of pastoral work.

That is until two years ago, when vacation for my husband became riddled with fear and anxiety; he began experiencing pain and discomfort so unusual and impossible to ignore that he decided it was time to give the ol’ “self exam”. Poor guy, even after discovering a lump, I kept telling him he needed to stop being such a hypochondriac and just enjoy his vacation while it lasted because I was SURE it was a common cyst and that he was totally fine. He called our physician who scheduled him a visit for the day after we arrived home, and from here everything progressed very quickly. We hadn’t even made it out of the hospital parking garage when he was called back in to review his test results with a specialist… then just two days later, I found myself sitting in a waiting room while my husband was having surgery to remove testicular cancer from his body.

LIVE STRONG

Being pregnant at the time, the surgeon warned us that we could have fertility problems in the future, but encouraged us to be thankful that we already had one on the way. The whole situation was so sudden and surreal that I found myself in denial of the words I was hearing. THIS HAD TO BE A DREAM; Just three days before I was laying in the desert sun, having a conversation with Jared about how it felt like we were FINALLY entering a season of rest in our lives after years of different trials, and we were so excited to be starting a family together. My… how life is unpredictable! Needless to say, that trip ended rather abruptly and two months later I entered the sleepless life of new-mommyville.

Last summer we tried the whole “stay-cation” thing… we had a 9 month old baby, still living in our cramped condo, and in the process of getting the newly purchased colonial move-in-ready. It seemed ridiculous to go out of town at such a time, so the whole idea of vacationing at home seemed to be the responsible thing to do. Now looking back, and taking into consideration the stress of the previous year, the wisest thing we could’ve done was get away and rest before taking on the HUGE task of a remodel! We used up all my hubby’s PTO, spent lots of money, and had nothing much to show for it besides exhaustion. Instead of shopping bags full of hot deals scored at the Desert Hills Outlets, we had not-so-hot bags under our eyes; Instead of using our two weeks of “extra” time making gobs of headway on the house as planned, we found ourselves quickly running out of steam (or rather discovering there was no steam left in our tanks to start with). We said, NEVER AGAIN!

Note: If you live in a remodel, you simply GOTTA GET AWAY, even if you don’t feel like you need it. Please hear me loud and clear, DIYers, I’m trying to save you from a burnout! #yourPOOFpoint

PALM PARADISE

Our Renovation Vacation 

Now that you have that bit of background, lets talk about the brutal irony of this year’s vacation from renovation…
I’ve always known that God has a real sense of humor, but now I’m asking myself, “What kind of humor is this anyway???” God! It’s cruel and unusual punishment is what it is! (Not really, but He gets my jest!)

There comes a time when even the most beautiful things need a little facelift in order to remain beauty-full, and THIS year, it was my palm paradise that was scheduled for upkeep. We ran away from the unfinished chaos we call home to be in a place that would bring some sorta “feeling of completion” or whatever, just to find ourselves amidst the renno of the decade! Totally stupid and ethereal sounding, but true…

 Imagine laying out at the pool that first morning of your highly anticipated getaway, tanning your sun-thirsty legs thinking, “Now this, THIS RIGHT HERE people, is what I’ve neeeeeeeeeeeeeded!!! But wait, before you finish that fantastic thought… CRASH! CLANK! CLATTER! BOOOOOM! Wait for it… EEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRK! TAP-TAP! BAMMM! And don’t ignore the super sexy bulldozer to your left that loves to back-it-up like BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEP! Then, the foul sound of **** swear words …………. “Oh sorry, is that coming from my face!?” Well ehhhemmm, excuse me, but maybe I wouldn’t have such a dirty mouth if there wasn’t a blankin’ work crew throwing windows and walls over the balcony into those eyesores called dumpsters right there! This is definitely NOT what I needed. If I hear one more drill I think I’m gonna lose my mind! WHAT’S THAT? Oh NBD, they’re just grinding out a giant hole in the concrete less than 5 feet away from my baby boy as he obliviously floats in the pool! “I appreciate the new safety railing, but in the meantime could you guys provide safety goggles for all the innocent bystanders too? Not professional, Mister Marriott!

We had hoped it wouldn’t last long, but it continued on through day 2, 3, 4… Everyday until the day when we had to move rooms because our suite was next in line for renovating! In the end, the move was good because although we lost an amazing view, the worker’s outhouses parked in front of our building were starting to get a little ripe in the extreme heat! #ihatehoneybuckets I know I sound high maintenance right now, but when paying to stay in a nice resort, you feel entitled to a certain level of snootiness! Am I right?
It’s really the small things that matter when you live without certain luxuries – actual countertops instead of chopped up makeshift surfaces, finished closets and flooring, functioning faucets with adequate water pressure… One of the conversations we had on the 17hr drive down there was seriously about how much we were looking forward to using a shower that actually drained! AND.THEN.IT.DIDN’T. Because not being ankle-deep in my dirty body water was just too much to ask, apparently“Yes, I WILL take some of that cheeeeese with my whine, thank YOU!” #notashamed

Being creatures of habit and tradition, it’s funny how dependent one can become on consistency and familiarity. There are a few things we do EVERY YEAR when in Palm Springs… but as I’ve been saying, this year things were just different.
Amuse me by reading some of these meaningless details:

The River – a development similar to Bridgeport Village that was built atop a manmade river, full of cute shops, nice restaurants, movie theatre, & more. This year, “The River” had no river. All the water had been emptied because they were fixing the drainage system and it felt like you were dining in an empty dam!

College of the Dessert Street Market – This is something we’ve always enjoyed doing on Sundays, usually full of 100’s of tents selling fun things like unique food/drink, clothing, accessories, knockoffs like Louis Vuitton & Chanel where I’ve found fake copies of designer purses and sunglasses for dirt cheap. This year… It was nothing but an empty parking lot with maybe 10-20 tents, none of which had anything worthy of buying… Unless you’re looking for some bad-smelling perfumes? Anybody???

Dessert Hills Outlets – Only the greatest outlets around!!! As if they weren’t big enough already, they were in the middle of expansion, so the walkways were all boarded up, much like being funneled through a rat race! But hey, at least they were still open! Actually, this was my favorite year of shopping to date! #deals&steals

Tanning – Normally there’s nothin’ but clear skies and blazin’ sun… This year there were days that were cloudy, rainy, and even a couple of flash floods! (thank goodness for iPhone emergency alerts!)

Sleeping In – Ezekiel normally sleeps from 8pm – 8am every night… But his California clock was set to go off every morning between 4a and 6:30a! I am NOT a morning person whatsoEVER!

Driving – Ok it doesn’t fall under “tradition” as much as necessity, but it seemed as though every major road to get from point A to point B was crawling with flaggers, cones, and gravel! Did the whole city get together and decide to have a giant work party!? The good thing is, next year should be better than ever! Right???

All things aside…  

… We still enjoyed every moment!

Digging Deeper

In a way, I feel like my life has been under construction… some sort of “spiritual renovation” if you will. Every which way I turn, there’s always some blaring reminder that I am far too reliant upon circumstances, environment, and experiences for my contentment and peace of mind. I often find that REALITY FALLS SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS, yet, I continue to set myself up for disappointment by letting myself romanticize and anticipate the unknown. Not a healthy strategy for happiness! (My dad tried to teach me this lesson after a few major letdowns I had growing up… Yet it continues to be one of my silly struggles in life, haha!) So, I’ve decided that from here on out I’m going to try and focus all my energy on TODAY… Not tomorrow, not the next big thing, not where I’m gonna be or where I want to be; I need to learn to find JOY in the here and now, EVEN IF THE HERE & NOW IS LESS THAN WHAT IT COULD BE. (PS: this includes health, finances, relationships, parenting, ministry, business, My Colonial Remodel, all my many goals & dreams… oh and next year’s vacation!) Matt. 6:25-34
There – that’s my deep insight for your coming weekend!

Stay tuned for Wednesday’s “WIBD” (what I’ve been doing) Hint: It involves some MAJOR nesting!

Enjoy your Friday, Friends!

– B

Reality Check

I went to write my Wednesday Weekly post when I realized I had temporarily lost the desire to blab about anything carnal. Although what I have to say might be kind of depressing in comparison to my normal blogging style, I’m not gonna fake it.

After hearing of the sudden death of a long-time family friend yesterday, I can’t help but notice the meaninglessness of certain things I do… Instagram, shopping, arguing with my husband over his LOADS of dirty laundry… what seemed important to me just moments beforehand, now seems futile; what problems I thought I had, now seem insignificant. I feel nothing but complete empathy for his surviving wife and family, and a sense of mortality as I reflect on the light-hearted conversation I had with him just two Sundays ago (about retirement plans and ice cream flavors). He was such a good man – so full of joy, humor, and love for people – I don’t think I ever heard ONE negative word come from his mouth throughout my entire childhood!

I’m not posting this to ruin everyone else’s day, but rather to return perspective where it may have gotten lost amidst culture’s trends. We often live like we’re invincible, giving our inanimate phones more attention than living/breathing things, and taking those closest to us for granted. Life is uncertain. Do we really need to understand this fragile reality by “learning the hard way”? Let’s look at things through this humble perspective: being thankful for what we DO have, and putting others’ needs way out in front of our own. Who cares if I’ve had to change FIVE poopy toddler diapers today? I’d change a HUNDRED n’ five if it meant I could be with my Z-boy just one more day!

In everything, give thanks” 1 Thes. 5:18a

*** *** ***

Man dies in fatal car accident:
Channel 2 news report

My heart goes out to you Holly…
You are loved more than you know and I pray that, somehow, God bears you the strength to walk through this terrible, unexpected valley of losing your 
hubby ❤

Edited with BlogPad Pro