Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Outrun the Rain

Writing a song is an interesting thing.

I wrote Outrun the Rain as a prospective track for my second album - What Heaven Feels Like. It got cut in the final rounds of track choices and I was super sad about it. (I was thrilled when I pitched it for Believer and it made it all the way to the album!)

For anyone who doesn't remember what that phase of my life was like (when I was writing for What Heaven Feels Like): I was living in a tiny duplex with my ex-husband who was working two dead-end jobs and hating every moment of it. We were living paycheck to paycheck with a newborn who never slept, was sick and screamed constantly. I remember feeling so marriage was struggling, my baby was struggling, and it felt like my life was one, endless string of challenges with no ending in sight.

My team at Deseret Book had listened to my first round of demos and came back with the critique that I needed to focus on writing "happier, more upbeat" music haha.

I cried after that phone call.

I didn't feel happy or upbeat at that point in my life. I felt, unbelievably my body, my spirit.

I just wanted reprieve. I wanted rest. I wanted someone to come and tell me it was all going to work out and everything would be just fine - because I really couldn't see how that was possible.

(I wasn't wrong, either...I mean, things got a lot messier and harder before they got better. But I digress.)

As I sat up one night with Violet - who back then hardly ever slept (I wish I were exaggerating right now) - I felt such a desperation for sunrise. When morning came everyday, I could ask for help. I could call someone; I could feel more like a human instead of driving myself insane searching the internet for ways to calm my poor screaming baby all night long. I desperately, desperately wished and prayed for sunrise.

But it didn't matter HOW HARD I wished for the morning to come, would only come when it was time. I couldn't rush it. I couldn't make it happen a moment sooner or later, not with all the prayers and wishing in the world.

That's how this song came into existence. As I considered the metaphor behind my prayers for light to come, the imagery for the first verse came into my mind:

You can't rush the sunrise....
The brilliant color through the grey.
No matter how you ache for light...
You can't rush the sunrise.

I remember feeling quiet when I wrote that. I wouldn't say that I felt defeated...but I felt resolved. I felt certain that God was going to keep handing me difficult things until I learned whatever lesson it was that He was trying to teach me. A part of me had decided to stop fighting against life - I didn't want to feel frustrated and confused anymore. I felt acceptance - a sort of "Thy will be done" mentality permeated my heart.

The chorus came to me next:

You can't outrun the rain...
So lift your arms open wide.
Feel the cleansing that comes through the pain...
You can't outrun the rain.

(have you guys noticed that I write a lot of songs about/with water?? It's interesting that water can drown things, take life away...but it also GIVES life, it makes things grow. It cleanses, purifies, shapes even the hardest materials. Anyways. Water is cool. The end.)

I knew in my heart that there was no easy way out of the storm I was facing in my life right then. There was no easy path.

In my mind, I could see my heart being polished like a stone in a river. I could see myself standing in a torrential downpour with my face turned heavenward and my arms outstretched in complete acceptance of God's will in my life. The acceptance wouldn't take the pain away, I knew...but it would turn that pain into something useful...something helpful, positive even.

The rest of the words came less immediately than those two pieces of the song did. They took work to carve out of my mind/heart. The last verse came as a prayer...something I wish so deeply to believe more fervently:

So push through the ache...
Light waits around the bend.
He'll give more than He'll ever take,
so trust in His time, my friend.
Just trust in His time, my friend.

The 'friend' I was referring to was actually me. The last verse was written as a reminder to myself that I want to have hope that God makes things right; that He blesses us beyond measure in His own time...even when it's hard to keep that hope alive.

For what it's worth...for anyone who is currently in the middle of an emotional/spiritual hurricane in life...after many years of struggle and prayer and waiting, I can testify that I've seen God in action when it comes to compensatory blessings. I don't just HOPE that God will bless me beyond what I can even imagine - I'm living it. I am living proof that God hears prayers in His own time, and can reach down and help us change our lives. There is a plan. There is a path. It can take a LONG time for everything to fall into place...but oh, when it does...the happiness is almost indescribable.

I'm not saying my life is perfect - it's crazy and wild and unexpected and full of surprises (good and some not-as-good). What I AM saying, though, is that I finally feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be, sharing my life with who I'm meant to share it with, doing what I'm meant to be doing.

Jon always tells me that I'm 'refined' (haha stop laughing! anyone who knows me personally is imagining me telling fart jokes and laughing at YouTube videos of cats running into sliding glass doors. #superrefined) I think what he means is that the last decade of struggle wasn't a waste. He can see and feel the benefit of how those challenges shaped my heart; how they changed the way I think, the way I feel, the way I am. I'm so grateful for a partner who chooses to see the best in me - as imperfect as I am.

Ultimately, Outrun the Rain is a song about hope - and finding peace in the midst of our storms, instead of continually running away from them.

Here are the lyrics:

You can't rush the sunrise
The brilliant color through the grey
No matter how you ache for light
You can't rush the sunrise

The waves crash when they will
You can't keep stars in the sky
You try to stop them but
They will still - come
Crashing down when they will

You can't outrun the rain
So lift your arms open wide
and Feel the cleansing that comes through the pain
You can't outrun the rain

Cold and winter they come
Deaf to summer's dying cries
For good or ill, we pray for the sun
But cold and winter still come

We beg for time to stand still
Or plead for time to fly
But eons past and future pass
In perfect time til
The One who created time wills

You can't outrun the rain
So lift your arms open wife
and Feel the cleansing that comes through the pain
You can't outrun the rain

So push through the ache
Light waits around the bend
He'll give more than He'll ever take
So trust in His time, my friend
Just trust in His time, my friend

You can't outrun the rain
So lift your arms open wife
and Feel the cleansing that comes through the pain
You can't outrun the rain


Want to watch the lyric video?
Here you go:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Broken and Beautiful

I realized that the lyrics for Broken and Beautiful aren't available on the internet anywhere.

That, my friends, just won't do!!

So here they are.
(the story behind the song is below the lyrics...)

Broken and Beautiful
Calee Reed and Aaron Edson

When the light shines through me
All the broken pieces
Reflect His light
It's a beautiful sight

All the scars and spaces
Where the battles hurt me
Let more light in
Flood me with Him

You may see
Flaws in me
I'm not perfect
But I was never meant to be

Keep your view
of your perfect world
I was never meant to be that girl...

And I am beautiful
He'll use each piece
To make a masterpiece
From the ashes
He's creating me
I'm broken
Broken and beautiful

Every shade and color
All fit together
Each break designed
With me in mind

Every brilliant facet
Tells a different story
In every broken dream
His love is seen

Keep your view
of your perfect world
I was never meant to be that girl...

And I am beautiful
He'll use each piece
To make a masterpiece
From the ashes
He's creating me
I'm broken
Broken and beautiful

I'll give Him what's left of my shattered heart
He'll piece it together brand new
And each empty space that was damaged and dark
Will light up with His love and truth
Yes, that's what His healing can do...

Broken and I am beautiful
He'll use each piece
To make a masterpiece
From the ashes
He's creating me
I'm broken
Broken and beautiful

I wrote this song with Aaron Edson - the same person who produced The Waiting Place. Besides being fabulously talented, he's been through his fair share of difficulties...and I knew that sitting down with him to write a song about brokenness would yield something great. 

We played around with several ideas - but kept coming back to brokenness being a beautiful thing. Stained glass was a big part of that conversation - the facets and colors and each piece of glass contributing something different and beautiful to the piece as a whole. In my mind, I could see myself sitting in a sacred space...a church, maybe...with light streaming through beautiful pieces of stained glass all around me. That mental image transformed into ME being the glass...and Christ's light streaming through all of my brokenness to reveal something glorious and whole. Not broken at all.

As a person who has spent a decent amount of time feeling broken over the last decade, the idea that God's love and plan could ultimately make a masterpiece of all of my chipped pieces and emtpy spaces feels a little unreachable sometimes. I truly believe, though, that none of us were ever MEANT to get through this life without breaking at least a little. We are MEANT to be molded, changed...and if it takes breaking to get to the place where God can create something different - more, better - out of us, then so be it.

I'm sure most of you have seen the reference to kintsugi in the music video already, but in case you haven't:

kintsugi: (Noun) To repair with gold; The art of repairing metal with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

 As I discussed the treatment for the music video with my Deseret Book team, the parallel between kintsugi and Christ's atonement (being the gold that fills all of our brokenness and holds us together) was so powerful that we couldn't see any better way to illustrate the message behind the song.

I am so grateful for all of the artistic, wonderful people who helped create the song and video...from beginning to end it was truly a labor of love.

To all of my friends who are out there spending this season of your life feeling broken...consider for a moment that maybe God hasn't abandoned you. His intention isn't to leave you as a pile of rubble and broken dreams. He is CREATING you from the ashes. He has a plan. Work hard to understand what that plan is. Be patient as He shows you where the pieces go. Believe that He loves you enough to turn all of your messes into a masterpiece. And if you forget and feel discouraged? I wrote this song to help you remember :)


Monday, June 4, 2018

"...but what if I don't like the plan?"

Most of you know that the man I married last year is a widower.

I haven't gotten into the details of how and where and when with all of you lovely humans for a few different reasons. It isn't my story to tell, number one. Number two, I have a limit to HOW open I get with my life (haha shocking, right?? I have boundaries?! who knew?!).


I've done my best to provide a safe emotional space for the kids concerning that loss. I know what it feels like to lose your Mom...and it sucks. If they want to talk about it? Let's. If they don't want to? Let's not. Want to cry? Ok. Want to share funny memories? Cool. Whatever comes out that day, let's just roll with it and let it be.

Losing my Mom sucked as an adult - an adult who could understand the details of how bodies and cancer work, an adult who could process grief and loss and emotionally brace myself for the high probability of losing her.

Experiencing that kind of loss as a kid??? The shock? The inability to understand the logistics of how this thing even happened? I can't even imagine.

Last week one of my bonus babes sat me down in tears. Big, heartbroken tears. She asked me why. Why did Mommy have to die? I sat there on the bed and felt distinctly like I was floating outside of my body for a moment. Am I really sitting here having this conversation with this child? What do I even say? How do I explain this when I haven't made total peace with my own loss? 

I said a silent prayer that the words God wanted me to speak would come out...and that if they didn't/couldn't, that He would communicate in unspoken peace to her heart.

We talked for a long, long time.

I shared some of my feelings about my own Mom. She shared some of hers. We talked about grief being a cycle...sometimes it feels ok, and sometimes it feels VERY NOT ok. We talked about crying and how that's healthy, and we talked about distracting ourselves from the grief and how that can be ok, too.

At the end of it all, though, she still had the question...why?

I looked her square in the eyes and knew I couldn't lie to this kid.

"I don't know why...

...only God does."

Her emotional response told me that this was not the answer she was looking for.

Bear your testimony, came the thought into my head.

About what?? I don't know enough to say anything?? I responded to the voice in my own head.

Bear your testimony, the thought came again.

I took a deep breath, opened my mouth and these words came tumbling out:

"You know what I do know? I know that God loves us more than anything...and that means that when sad or scary things happen to us - there's a reason. There's a plan."

She thought about that for a moment. "But," she said through her tears,"...what if I don't like the plan?"

I have to admit that I laughed when she said that.

"I get it," I said. "I haven't always liked the plan, either."

We talked for a few more minutes before she suddenly transitioned into chatting about school and summer and things she wants to do when the weather is sunny everyday. She bounced out of the room and it was like nothing ever happened.


Fast forward to today.

I was sitting on a chair outside watching the kids on the trampoline.

The two year old came and sat on my lap.

"Mama! MAMA!" she yelled over and over again.

I was trying to listen to another kid who was telling me a story from the trampoline.

"Hang on, baby." I told her.

"CALEEEEEEE!" she squealed as she grabbed my cheeks and forced my face to look at her's.

I laughed and pulled her hands away. One of the twin boys came and sat next to me.

"She doesn't call you 'Mama' because of our other Mom. She remembers her. We show her pictures at Grandma's house and tell her that's her real Mom," he offered matter-of-factly.

My heart jumped clear up into my throat and I choked a little bit on the emotion. It felt like someone had sucker-punched me right in the stomach.

"Oh? Ok." I managed to say.

I took a deep breath and acknowledged that I had heard the rest of the story from the kid on the trampoline. I then turned my attention to the toddler who was halfway through telling me a story at a mile a minute.

I suddenly felt so tired. I tried my best to answer each child as they called out for me to watch them, or listen to their stories, or answer their questions...but I suddenly felt like a balloon that someone let all the air out of.

I thought about the late nights and early mornings transitioning that baby from crib to big girl bed. I thought of the messy snack times, the baths, the tantrums and endless kissing of ouchies. I thought about the hours Jon and I have spent talking and strategizing about each child and what they need and how to parent them the best way possible. I thought about teaching that littlest one how to talk, reading to her, singing her lullabies at night. I thought about the hard mornings with a grumpy two year old, the time outs (for me AND her haha), the negotiating shoes and clothes and yogurt flavors and nap times. I thought about all of the years of life ahead of me as a mother to not just her, but to all of those kids who were jumping happily on the trampoline. The endless school projects, worrying about whether our diets are healthy enough, praying for them at night and while they're away from me...the hours of conversation yet to be had about everything from grief to dating to the gospel to which college to choose.

I'm just the babysitter, I thought. I'll always just be their babysitter.

It isn't fair.

I chose them...and they might never choose me.

That thought brought hot, stinging tears to my eyes and I had to shift my mind away from it as quickly as possible so I didn't turn in to a huge mess right there in the back yard on the morning of the first official day of summer. Oh how that thought felt like a knife in my chest.

Then my mind shifted. I thought about the woman who carried these babies inside of her body the way I'm carrying this baby now. The way she must have worried about and loved and cared for these kids. The way she must have daydreamed about their lives and choices and who they'd grow up to be. I thought about the weight of that kind of love.

I thought about how unfair life must have felt for her as she contemplated her final few days and all of the life she was leaving behind.

"...but what if I don't like the plan..?" is the thought that came to my mind last. I could see that child's face in my mind - her big eyes full of tears.

"What if I don't like this plan..?" I thought.

I thought of what the Spirit had prompted me to share that day: "God loves us more than anything. There's a reason. There's a plan."

God loves us more than anything.


I'm sitting in my living room now. I'm surrounded by toys and clothes and groceries needing to be put away and hungry kids in the yard who are threatening to ransack the kitchen at any moment. The feeling of being so tired hasn't left yet. My heart feels weird and sad and I haven't decided yet whether I'm horrible and selfish or just human and figuring it all out. Maybe a combination? Haha. For the record, I don't really think I'm horrible. This is just really, REALLY hard sometimes and I don't know what on earth I'm doing most of the time except trying to love this family and be what they need and that, my friends, is a really tall order on some days.

I guess the point of this blog is to share some of the mess of my life...some of the unanswered questions - in case your life is a little messy, too, and it hurts and you feel alone. Sometimes it's nice to know that there are questions that other people have that they don't have all of the answers to. Sometimes it's nice to know that there are challenges and difficulties that follow other people around, too...that it isn't JUST you who can't figure everything out right this very second. That it's ok to only know that God loves us...and to not like the plan when it hurts.


For what it's worth, I do believe that God loves us more than anything - and even when that doesn't fix all of my problems or take all of the pain away, it does give me hope that someday He will make it all ok; that someday things will make sense.

If you're struggling with intense things, maybe start there...start with a testimony of God's love for you and see if it doesn't make all the difference.


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