Thursday, December 28, 2017

What Six Months Can Do

Every time I sit down to write about my life lately, I immediately feel so overwhelmed with the sheer amount of change that's happened in the last several months that I just stare blankly at my laptop for a few minutes before closing it.

Where do I even start? How do I even attempt to do this story justice?

 Good news for you guys: I'm exhausted today and exhaustion is often the cure for my perfectionism (ha!). So here I go:

I love this quote:

 Trust the wait.
Embrace the uncertainty.
 Enjoy the beauty of becoming.
When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
--Mandy Hale

 Earlier this year I was a single, full-time mom living in my Dad's basement. I was working two jobs - one in a urology office (which tested my ability to answer the phones/questions and maintain a professional demeanor on a daily basis haha) and as a singer/songwriter for Deseret Book. I had never dreamed that I'd get a divorce. Never anticipated living in my Dad's basement in my thirties. I was writing for my third album (and struggling through every moment of it). I'd been dating a really nice guy for several months and was thinking we might move forward...when...nope. We broke up.



Fast forward to July. Just some random Saturday, doing what I always do...wake up, play with Violet, wonder if/when Dad is going to kick me out of his basement, respond to emails. The usual.

(Just for the record - reading emails/messages is one of my favorite things. Even when I'm super busy and terrible at responding, every single message that I read is like a tiny reassurance that I'm doing the right thing with music. The stories vary - but the main theme is that music helps people connect with God and it's so humbling and fulfilling and beautiful to be just a tiny part of that.)


On this Saturday, one message struck me in particular. This message came from a follower on Facebook - his profile picture showed him with two young boys on his knees. They all looked so sweet and happy...and the message was heartbreaking. The man wrote about losing his wife suddenly and very unexpectedly earlier this year - and thanked me for releasing Lead Kindly Light (a super rough live video release on my Facebook page). That song had meant a lot to him through his grieving process and the arrangement I put together with Stephen Nelson (Gentri) touched him deeply.

I remember staring at his profile picture, looking at the little boys, and wondering why the world has to be so unfair. Who would raise those tiny babies? What did their life look like in the wake of such an unimaginable loss? How does it make sense for God to take a mother of young children? What on earth would *I* do if I knew I was going to die and leave Violet in her infancy? How would this man with his kids ever continue with any shred of normalcy?

I responded with a heartfelt "thank you for your kind message" and told him that stories like his are why I make music...because I know what it feels like to have the rug pulled out from under your faith and endlessly ask a silent God "why?".

I remember shaking my head as I set my phone down and sending up a little prayer for that guy in the picture and his two little boys. I always pray for people who send me messages.

I checked my emails later that day (I don't usually do that - but for some reason I did?) and - much to my surprise - that guy had messaged me again.

It wasn't flirty.

It wasn't awkward.

He had an eight year old. She sings, too, he told me.

"He probably needs a friend," I told myself.

I responded.

He responded.

I responded.

It took me a couple of hours before I realized I had been chatting with him basically all afternoon via Facebook. I couldn't believe it - how on earth was this dude THAT engaging? I felt like I was talking to a friend that I'd known for years. Funny, easy, quick, kind. Emphasis on easy. So easy to talk to him. It was bizarre.

He asked me out.

"Nope." I thought in my brain.

But do you know what my fingers typed..?

"When?" (enter face slap emoji.)

"What's the worst that could happen?" I thought. "I end up falling in love with him and he's emotionally unavailable? Meh. I've had it worse. Besides, he's funny and fun and I *really* like sushi. So."

I told him I had events (and dates! ha!) scheduled for the next two weeks straight except the very next night - so he asked if I could meet in Salt Lake.

I remember walking down the sidewalk to meet him. We'd been texting nonstop. "There's no way he's this handsome and charming in person," I thought.

But you know what?

He was.

Seriously. So handsome and so unbelievably charming.

And...unassuming? Genuine? No ego. Just...Jon.

** If you've been dating for any period of time (especially in Utah, IMO) then you understand how indescribably refreshing that kind of attitude and approach is. **

By the end of the night he told me to cancel all of my other dates for that week and just go out with him instead.

I laughed.

He wasn't joking.

I told him no way because I'm a normal human who doesn't just stop dating other humans who I've been dating and have relationships with just because I meet someone who seems perfect for me because I'm way too cynical to believe that anyone actually IS perfect for me.

ESPECIALLY after one date.

I went out on four other dates that week (Jon snuck in a lunch date haha).

By that Friday, I just couldn't do it anymore.

I didn't want to date anyone else. He knew it. I knew it.

I just wanted to date Jon.

(Please feel free to throw up now. I throw up when I read peoples' stories that go like this. My brain yells,"THIS KIND OF STUFF DOESN'T HAPPEN. IT JUST DOESN'T. DATING IS AWFUL AND PEOPLE ARE THE WORST AND JUST NO. NOPE. NO." and I roll my eyes until they're falling out of my head. Go ahead and do it. I won't be offended.)

Things escalated so quickly. All of the rules I've had for myself about dating - the hard and fast "date for a year before engagement" went *right* out the window. I met his kids. He met Vi. I actually met his whole family. I met his deceased wife's family. Meeting her Mom and getting a huge, warm hug and a "I'm so happy to meet you" whispered in my ear will remain one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I met her sisters. He met mine.

Every single time I'd start freaking out because of the endlessly unknowable things involved here - a calm, quiet reassurance would come into my heart.

There are so many stories I could tell. I probably will tell them eventually haha - because I can't NOT tell you guys things. Things welcoming, loving, and accepting this entire family has been. It's shocking. My brain can hardly comprehend it. Things like how it took less than 6 days for our sealing approval to come back once it was submitted (I guess this generally takes 6 weeks to 6 months??). Things like how I have an almost 2-year old who readily calls me Mama, and a crew of siblings who encourage her to, even when they still choose to call me Calee most of the time. Things like how the perfect house fell into our laps, our wedding happened seamlessly in the middle of an insanely busy season, we've had answered prayers and love and support from so many people and sources that it's felt like I've been floating for six months straight (full disclosure: Jon is buoyancy incarnate - and has lifted me each time my heart and/or brain get a little sideways in all of this).

I'll end with just this one (because I'm tired and need to go to sleep bc you all *know* V is going to wake this whole house up at 5:30AM). One of the earliest experiences I had with the kiddos that I now call my own:

The first time we went to church together, I was nervous. Going to church together is a big deal in my world - and we had all of the kids and I was half expecting it to go so horribly that we'd just break up and never speak again afterward haha.

About halfway through the service, one of the twin six year old boys (from that original profile picture) was sitting next to me, nestled under my arm.

He looked up and whispered, "Do you know where my Mommy is..?"

My mama heart wrenched inside of my chest as I said,"Yeah, buddy... She's in heaven."

We sat in silence for a moment.

"Do you know who she's with?" I whispered.


"My Mommy," I said. He smiled.

The love that I felt as I looked down at that little boy was so overwhelming that I had to quickly wipe away the tears. A Christian song that I know and love came into my mind and these lyrics rang in my ears:

"Love like a hurricane, I am the tree...
Bending beneath the weight of it's wind and mercy."

That was the perfect way to describe it - the love I felt in that moment. This love. A hurricane. A massive, unquantifiable explosion of love for him. For them. That's what this has felt like for me.

I feel like I've treading water for so long...waiting to feel like I was where God wanted me to be. Aspects of my life have felt like that along the way, you know? Signing with Deseret Book and performing with Time Out for Women has been a big one of those. Having Violet was another. I just knew I was supposed to be having this baby (little did I know the adventure I was setting out on haha). Overall, though? I feel like I've just been...waiting. Waiting for things to fall into place. Working so hard to try to make things (ew. dating is the literal worst.), trying to magnify my callings at church, focusing on self-improvement and getting closer to God...and nothing seemed to be happening.

And then all of a sudden? Everything happened.


Trust the wait.
Embrace the uncertainty.
Enjoy the beauty of becoming.
When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
--Mandy Hale


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