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.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day

I'm awake and can hear my multiple children running around the living room and kitchen.

I looked across our bedroom and noticed a new, beautiful gardenia bloom just opened on my potted gardenia near the window. Gardenia's were always my Mom's favorite, and having one growing in my house always makes me think of her and smile. I miss her this morning.

My husband told me to stay in bed (he usually gets up with the kids because morning is the best sleep time for pregnant-leg-cramping-Calee) (and also because he's an actual angel masquerading as a regular human). "Don't get up!" he insisted as he walked out into the fray.

It took me a minute to remember that today is Mother's Day.

I know what the kids are doing in the kitchen, and why I need to stay in bed. They're making me breakfast in bed and I'll ruin it if I get up.

I know because they've told me that's what they always did for their Mom who lives in heaven now on Mother's Day.

My heart hurts.

My heart hurts because I love them and knowing that they might be hurting this morning hurts me.

I know that they love another Mom - a Mom who I've heard endless stories about. It's so bizarre that there is a huge part of their life that I was absent for, because I feel so connected here. Like we've always been together.

But we haven't.

I think of all of the other stepmoms/bonus moms that I know. I wonder how many of them are hurting this morning...I think about the sacrifice that is letting new children have your whole heart, while knowing that you'll never be able to have 100% of their's. Don't get me wrong - there is SO much joy, too. So much. I never considered the painful part, least not until I felt it for myself.

I think of the adopted moms that I know. I think about their struggles...I think about that kind of mothering experience. I imagine it's a lot like building the connection that I have with my bonus kids...only their kids might not understand what love even is. These kids have no concept of a family. Permanence. Stability. There are so many foundational pieces to put into place before deep connectivity is even a possibility.

I think about the decade I spent wishing I were married and had children. I think about watching everyone I knew announce relationships and engagements and marriages and babies. I remember when one of the girls I used to babysit announced her engagement. It was like salt in an open wound. I think of the women my age (and older) that I know personally (or who I've met at events) who are in that space...just...waiting. Searching. Praying. Feeling the sting today.

I recently read a quote by Sheri Dew that I feel like I should share:

"Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve "the mother of all living" - and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born." -Sheri Dew (Are We Not All Mothers?)

(This talk is incredible and everyone should read it, btw.)

I'm running out of time before I have to run to speak in a sacrament meeting in Bountiful. Don't get me started on feeling like a bad Mom this's my first Mother's Day with my new kids and I totally spaced the MOTHERS DAY PROGRAM in church that's happening today. So I'll be missing it. Yes. Missing our very first one. Because I committed months ago to speaking in another ward that meets at the same time as ours. I may or may not have cried a little bit when I realized. They cried, too. I feel awful. Happy Mother's Day.


I want to put it out into the universe that I believe Sheri Dew is right. I believe that as women, we are each called to motherhood - even if the maternity part of motherhood doesn't happen to us in this life.

"While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord's language, the word 'mother' has layers of meaning. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. Some of us, then, must find simply find other ways to mother. And all around us those who need to be loved and led." Sheri Dew

As a testament to that truth...I want to share that one of the best mothers I've ever known is a woman who was never able to have children of her own. She lived through years of grief, struggling to understand the why. You know what, though? She didn't let that heartbreak stop her from developing her own divine characteristics of motherhood. She learned to serve, to love deeply, to give of herself wholly.

That woman is now who my children will grow up calling Grandma. She chose to take on a whole slew of adult stepchildren - including myself - and grandbabies when she married my Dad after Mom passed away.

She stepped up.

She didn't let the fact that her calling to motherhood looked different than she expected stop her from being an incredible mother.

I've experienced the power of unconventional mothers in so many aspects of my life since Mom died. I've needed Mom so deeply...through my divorce, trying to figure out my first baby. Heavens, I need her now to figure out ALL of these babies haha.

I am so, eternally grateful for the women in my life who have stepped up to mother me in her absence.

Some have had their own kids, some haven't.

ALL of them have fulfilled roles as mothers to me in my life.'s a shout out to YOU, my beloved mothers. Some of you conventional, some of you not.

I believe this day is for all of us. Today is for my Moms who are in the trenches of motherhood...sleepless nights, poopy diapers or struggling adult children, stress and schedules and exhaustion.

AND it is also for my sweet sisters with no babies (who aren't married, or struggle with infertility), to my friends who have chosen to not have children, for my empty-nesting-mothers, my fellow bonus Moms, adoptive mothers, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors who don't fit the mold of "ideal" motherhood.

We are ALL mothers. All of us.

I love you. Happy Mother's Day.


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