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



Mandy Williams said...

This story is just so beautiful. I've really enjoyed following you on instagram and I've been amazed at your story and taking in those sweet babies. I have 5 kids myself and I'm still constantly learning in the chaos, so I'm sure it's been wild for you! Thank you for being so real and genuine. Congratulations. ♡♡♡♡♡

Loucks 6 said...

I LOVE this story!! You really deserve the best!! Congratulations to you and your sweet family! God is good!

Melissa Sutton said...

And now i’m Bawling ❤️I have prayed that you would find someone worthy of you and everything you have to offer and wondered how that would be possible (because I think you are THAT wonderful! ) and after reading this I am in awe of how perfect Gods plan is for each one of us ❤️He found not only the perfect person for you but found in you the perfect person for him and his sweet children. Who better to help guide these Littles thru the path of losing their mom than you who, IMO has handled the loss of your sweet mom with so much grace. I love your mom and your family like family and hope you know how happy we are for you! ❤️❤️❤️ So happy❤️ Can’t wait to follow along as you make a beautiful life together!!! Love you❤️

Melissa Sutton said...

I just reread my comment and realized how that last part Let me rephrase that to I love you mom, you and your whole family! Hahaha I love you all! 😘

AmberLou said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful love story! I love following you on Instagram and I’m so happy for you and your sweet little family! Congratulations! :)

Colette Smith said...

That’s a really awesome story. My sister in laws husband died suddenly a few years back leaving her with 6 small children. She recently remarried and to see her happy again is priceless. So you are probably an answer to many prayers ❤️

Angie Peters said...

Didn’t puke. But literally smiled from ear to ear from start to finish. You know I love you and am seriously ridiculously happy for you. And thanks for sharing that quote, I’m going to print it off right now! ❤️ said...

tears. all day. divine intervention has played a huge part in my life and hearing this play out for you is the way it should be. sooo glad you had trust in the lord and that He prepared you both in the best way possible to be together. (waiting for the sealing experience �� #goosiesallover)

Day said...

Your story is beautiful and so touching.
I too have been through a nasty divorce, and custody eval, was single for 5 years and found the perfect man.
Lets face it, no matter where you are (geographically) dating in our "old age" is challenging. Options are limited. My BF and I lovingly referred to our "options" as being from "the Island of Misfit Toys"(did ya get the reference? Ha ha ha) Yet we still managed to find really wonderful men, but in Gods time, not ours.
With how seemless, everything has gone for you with your new love and family, you have to know that you offer so much to those sweet children. You have been where they have been and can relate to their feelings regarding their mom few could. What a blessisng for them and for him!
I am so happy for you for your new found adventure and love.

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing your message, your story and your truth. Life is rather surprising. I feel the spirit when I read your words and have my testimony strengthened that our father in heaven is truly at the helm and knows us so perfectly. Much love to you!

Andrea Larsen said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! It is so inspiring to hear how God works in our lives.

Olin Fam said...

Calee you are amazing!! I love reading about your journey. I met you at TOFW Spokane and couple years ago, and connected with you (at least I did, lol) about divorce and life. The heartbreak!! I cried like a baby. I just felt for you because I knew the pain of that. I also know the overcoming and the peace that comes. So happy you're happy and have that peace now.

Chris said...

Whooo - that part when your little guy asked if you knew where his mommy was... I lost it - just bawling
The spirit definitely encouraged the right words in that moment! I’m sure your mom hugged his mommy tight to see how happy you are & I bet she hugged back just as tight knowing how much love you have to give those kiddos! I’m so happy for you Calee ❤️Chris

Alisa said...

Hey, twinners! Exhaustion is the cure for my perfectionism, too!

LOVE this story. So, so much. Absolutely beautiful.

chelsea S said...

Oh my goodness... Thank you for this. Thank you for being so open and raw. As a single 26 year old hoping that one day my waiting will also come to an end, I’m grateful to hear stories of hope. And yes, dating in Utah is the worst. And yes I feel like I’m treading water with no direction to go. That story, of telling your six year old that your momma is also in heaven, is completely heart wrenching and beautiful! I have only followed you for a little less than a year but I am truly grateful for you! ❤️

Becky Maness said...

I'm so happy you found your happily ever after. I smile as I read this blog and see your pictures. I like the part where you say you had the rug pulled out from under you and you questioned 'why'. I like it because we all have questioned 'why' during whatever trial we are called to bear at the time. I know my 'why's' come in the night as I can't sleep yet again, pondering, praying, seeking guidance and comfort. I learned something recently that I would like to share. When we acknowledge we have learned something from our trials, only then can we move forward. Ask yourself 'what am I learning from this?' (What are the priciples, the successes, the positives. How have I grown? Am I a better, stronger person? Am I closer to my Savior and my Heavenly Father? Am I able to share my new strength with others?) Once we look at the positives we can see what Heavenly Father is teaching us and how we can help others.
Thanks for your songs that lift and inspire. Sincerely, Becky Maness

Jane said...

Thank you soo much for your beautiful presentation this evening at the Murrieta Stake Women’s Conference! Your spoken words were soo healing as we realized your pain and could see and understand from Your message that our Savior heals and invites us into his comforting and healing arms! And your beautiful voice pierced our hearts and souls with the emotions that taught comfort, healing and LOVE! And yes, I am a daughter of God!!! I’m soo excited to get your new album! Thanks again for sharing it all!!!

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My Everythings said...

Wow, your gift for language and writing is incredible. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Melinda said...

❤️ your beautiful story. I'm divorced and my ex-husband admitted to porn addiction and adultery. Ugly, I know! I will be patient and believe that I will have a beautiful story to tell as well. Thank you so much!

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