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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

To Those With Angry Hearts:

I don't usually respond en masse to upset comments, but I'm making an exception this morning.

This is a group response to the obviously hurt/offended commenters from my last post - who I actually believe is, in reality, probably just one or two, really angry/hurt/struggling people.

This is for you:

Let me begin with the reminder that there is no requirement to read anyone's blog. You don't have to read my thoughts and experiences if they are upsetting to you. In fact, I think you should probably not read here if it causes you distress - and I say that sincerely and with love.

That having been said, continue reading at your own risk.

Anyone who thinks I'd want my kids to forget the woman who carried them and brought them into this world, who loved them first - their mother - cannot have read my other blogs on this subject with unbiased eyes. For me to say I want them to choose me - I mean I want them to choose to see me as a mother in every way. I want them to love me the way I love them. That doesn't mean erasing their first mother - it absolutely doesn't mean forgetting her. You realize that I lost my own mother, yes..? That I know firsthand how losing and remembering a mother feels..?

There's no possible way you could have read my posts about losing my OWN mother and the way that devastating loss changed me - how I felt when my own Dad remarried - with an unbiased heart. Also - it made me laugh out loud (before feeling very angry for a moment) to read that I won't allow pictures of their mother in my home. I didn't know I had that rule! (I'm glad I've been informed of it now, though, so I can remove those rule-breaking photos from my children immediately.)(come on, people - for real? have you ever had a conversation with me about that..?? been to my house? obviously not.) **I’ve figured out where this notion came from...my previous blog post where I tell a story about a specific picture at Grandma’s House. Let me remind you that just because I said grandma had a specific picture doesn’t mean that WE don’t have any. Why automatically assume that..?**

You haven't taken the time to clear the pain from your own heart to openly consider what this experience is like standing in someone else's shoes - in this case, mine. I realize that you might be a close friend or acquaintance/family member of my kid's Mom; I realize my openness about my experience might feel triggering or selfish to you.

Let me remind you, though, that this blog is, in fact, mine. Is everything on earth about me? Heavens no. But is this blog? Yes, haha. It's a blog about my experiences and thoughts and feelings. Again...if those things upset you...refer to the first paragraph.

I just needed to take a minute and lovingly remind people that I am just another person doing my best to work out the challenges in my life. I share openly to help other people. I love reading real, raw blogs. It helps me feel less alone in my imperfections. So I choose to share in the same way. That's all.

Let's all continue on with our lives now, shall we? I'm praying we can all face today with kindness, forgiveness and understanding in our hearts - myself included.

xo.

PS If you have more you'd like to say, I invite you to say it to me in person instead of in an anonymous set of comments.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Unrequited Love and Remembering What I Know

You know what hurts? Unrequited love.

I remember my first experience with that kind of hurt happened in third grade.

(haha! I actually just snorted laughing at how ridiculous that is! Oh heavens.)

Derek Simper.

He cared more about baseball at recess than he did about marrying me.

(actually I'm not even sure he knew who I was in the third grade. so, in all fairness maybe he WOULD have wanted to marry me if we had, in fact, been properly introduced.)

(see? this is why I blog. I wasn't expecting to make peace with that this morning, at yet here I am.)

Anyways.

It really hurt.

I wanted him to want to talk to me and chase me at recess and think I had pretty hair and tell me my backpack was cool.

He did none of those things. (rude.)

Lest you think that youthful experience with unrequited love was a solitary one confined only to my elementary school years...pick any of my older sister's boyfriends and I promise I felt that with them (except for the few that I ended up dating after her. I'm not sure why. Maybe I just was totally incapable of originality as a teenager? Maybe I just didn't trust my own judgement, so I just decided to like whoever she did? I'm not sure haha but I'm sure it was insanely annoying to her! Sorry, Nik!).

College was the same. Lots of dudes I liked didn't like me.

(who are these men?! did they even have eyeballs in college?!)

You know what I WASN'T expecting, though..?

The weirdness that is loving your children more than they love you.

Especially when that weirdness comes as a result of blending a family.

I had kind of hoped that my earlier blog on this subject would be the beginning and end of my need to talk to about this. Like the summer would just resolve all of the issues involved and it would be put to rest forever and we'd be seamlessly blended by the time the school year started again.

Wouldn't that have been lovely?

I think so, too.

Last week one of the kids was chatting with Violet and the conversation turned to wishing things were the way they were before.

'Before' meaning...before we were a family.

I wasn't there for the convo, so I can't say for certain what exactly was said...but the overall sentiment was that things were somehow better before.

(for clarity's sake: we just had a baby a few weeks ago and everyone is exhausted and running on fumes. I get why this conversation would be coming out in light of how the last month or so has gone. new babies mean the older kids don't get as much attention or exciting parent time...because the parents are usually in survival mode.)

Even knowing all of that ↑, though...hearing that the kids somehow prefer the way that it used to be over how awesome it is now? It made my chest hurt.

I get it. I really do. But it still really, really hurt.

It made me wish for time to fast forward ten years. In ten years from now, we'll have been a family for almost 11 years! Whoa! Hopefully I won't be blogging blogs on this subject anymore (enter nervous smiley emoji with the sweat drop on forehead). We'll have our oldest heading off the college (oooooook I had to take a break for a minute to cry postpartum hormonal tears of sadness thinking about the fourth grader leaving...), and Ava will be rioiweohtoheghuehoeiowiowrqiqhqh

Ok I can't type about how big our kids will be in 10 years because I'm crying too much and I have to finish this blog before Ava needs to eat again.

YOU GET THE PICTURE.

In ten years we'll have had a lot of time to BE together as a family.

But how do I make sure my heart doesn't hurt so much in the next few years of blending that I close off..? Sometimes it feels like I WANT to close off...step back somehow. Protect myself from the uncomfortable comments and unintentionally hurtful comparisons.

I'm not the way that it was. I'm the way it is now.

...and that's hard sometimes - for all of us.

****

When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought about canceling my Time Out for Women/Girls event in Sacramento this last weekend. I knew I'd have a five week old, and that I would be recovering from a c-section (and that recovering from my first c-section was an absolute nightmare). As I prayed about it, though, I felt like everything would be ok...that I should still do it.

I didn't feel particularly nervous about it until a few weeks ago when Ava first came. I looked and felt like I'd been hit by a bus and I wasn't particularly excited about getting up on stage in that condition haha. Again I prayed - and again I felt reassurance that everything would be ok...so I packed up my babe and husband and headed to CA on Friday morning.

The event was wonderful. I only missed my cues to be on stage twice (ha! ugh!!) (in my defense, I was nursing backstage for the second one and was truly caught off guard. my bad, guys.) and even though I was so, unbelievably tired, I felt so grateful to be back. Time Out feels like home in so many ways to me now - and I didn't realize how badly I needed to connect with that feeling.

As I was mulling all of the blending-family/unrequited-love-issues over in my head this morning,  I thought of Time Out for Women this weekend in Sacramento. I thought about standing on that stage in front of hundreds of girls (and thousands of women) and testifying that our worth lies in who we are - not what we do (or don't do). I thought about testifying about God's timing...that our hurts and pains and struggles are meant to SANCTIFY us, to perfect us...not to destroy us.

And then I thought about Elder Boyd K Packer teaching us that "a testimony is...found in the bearing of it."

I suddenly felt like my being at Time Out was just for me this weekend. I needed to remember those things. I needed to reconnect with that testimony that I learned and earned through years of struggle and questioning.

Even when I want my kids to love me as much as I love them - to want me and choose me and love me...but they don't? I still have (and will always have) God's love - and that is more than enough. It's ok for them to take their time. It's ok for it to not happen all at once. I am worthy of love, I am good enough, I am loved and seen and known by a God who chooses me every single day.

Even when the struggle of learning how to be a mom to all of my kiddos and this new baby (and try to continue building relationships with new family members and maintain relationships with my original family members and friends and callings and etc etc) feels overwhelming and like I'm failing WAY more than I'm succeeding...

Even when the weight of that failure feels heavy and I want to run away...

Even when all of those things are true/present - I believe that God's timing is perfect, and that all of these things are working together for my good (Romans 8:28).

The hurt? The struggle? It doesn't have to have a quick, easy resolution.

I know how to handle struggle.

And I bet you do, too.

****

I'm putting this blog out in to the universe today because I needed to remember something I already knew. I was forgetting to connect with what I'd already knew; and remembering feels like taking a breath of fresh air. So...maybe...hopefully...reading this will make you take a second to ask yourself what it is that YOU might need to reconnect with. What are the truths you have already learned in your life (that maybe you've forgotten) that could help you face your challenges today?

Sometimes all we want is to see the light at the end of the tunnel, right? To know the end of the struggle is coming soon?

I once read something really profound about the light at the end of the tunnel and wanted to leave it here at the end of this blog to wrap things up (so I googled it, duh). Before I found it, though, I came across these gems that I want to share first:

-The light at the end of the tunnel isn't an illusion; the tunnel is.
-The light at the end of the tunnel is your life; it's the tunnel that's temporary.
-I stopped waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and lit it up myself.

and my favorite:

-The light at the end of the tunnel might be an oncoming train.

(hahahaha just dark enough without being tooooo dark, right? ...right, guys..? ...guys?)

When I finally DID find the quote - I realized it actually doesn't reference a tunnel at all (oops) but it's still awesome:

"I'm not waiting for the sun to shine; the light, it comes from within me." - xan oku

Remember what you know.

Remember that the light comes from within you (a gift from God) when you find yourself in that deep, dark tunnel.

Stay strong, my friends. Have the best Monday. ♡



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 stuck...my 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 tired...so, unbelievably tired...in my body, my heart...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, though...it 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

xo.

Want to watch the lyric video?
Here you go:


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