Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


2 Comments

You Throw, I’ll Roll (why losing my vision isn’t all about loss)

I’ve had some ups and down since January, when I learned I had the inherited eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa. You can read all about that experience here.

I have to admit that in my worst moments, what comes to mind is

what I’m losing.

On some level I’m losing:

• My ability to see, at some unknown time in the future.

• Eventually, my ability to drive.

• And ultimately, a large part of what one might think of as “independence.”

Along the way there are smaller losses, some of which I’ve already experienced. I haven’t had great night vision since around the age of ten. My eyes simply don’t adjust in the darkness (a problem with the RODS, not necessarily the CONES in my eyes). Through the years, that part has grown worse. I’ve been out on hikes as the sun began to set and I’ve felt a panic, needing to get back to the car (and a husband who could stand to stay out until well after the sun actually disappears.) 

Just this week I had one of those “I’ll remember this forever” moments, filled with the kind of emotion that can only emerge once you’re safely snug in bed with your husband. I didn’t even know I had to cry until I was in his arms.

Have you ever had tears sneak up on you like that? Just a few tears, not the torrent of waterworks that ALSO happen from time to time. Well, that’s what happened to me. And here is why.

It started with a great evening. It also ended with a great evening. One of those nights when everyone and everything smells like summer and the back door is slammed over and over with kids running back and forth to go outside. I cooked dinner and could see the kids playing basketball out the kitchen window. Then everyone ran in, ate dinner quickly, and got back out there. Warmth and sunshine is a commodity in these first weeks of spring. Dishes can wait.

But what happened was nothing more than a simple game of catch with one of my stepkids. We threw a green ball back and forth across the area behind the house. We laughed each time I had a terrible throw (too many to count, honestly) and said, “Nice one!” every time someone caught the ball. As evening crept up, I hadn’t noticed that the light was dimming outside.

It was EARLY evening. Not the part of evening where I feel the need to retreat. Not yet.

With each throw my way, I realized I could no longer see the green ball coming my way. I started ducking rather than catching. After a few throws like this, I said, “Wow, I cannot see that ball.”

And this, my friends, is when kids show you love and miracles and compassion. Simple, every-day moments like these is right where the magic happens.

Without batting an eye, my stepdaughter said, “Why don’t you throw it to me, and I’ll roll it back across the concrete to you.”

It was such a simple solution and one that allowed us to keep playing for a while. My step daughter probably won’t remember it, but I will never forget it.

ee6cec6c-003c-4c53-af97-0109ae04f760

In reality, this diagnosis has actually been a whole lot more about gaining than losing. 

I’m not actually losing much.

I’m gaining a perspective I would have NEVER had otherwise.

I’ve gained straightforward-problem-solving-insight of a ten year old and compassion from three kids- all under the age of 13.

I’ve been proven wrong about all that I thought I needed.

I’ve learned about love, and will think every day about when my husband told me “the blind years will be the best years”, and then continued on to talk about the kind of love most people don’t get to experience, but we will.

Each and every day I am gaining what my blind grandmother calls Meaningful Vision. I can still see, and I can still see what God is doing in my life. My vision is changing and it truly is becoming more meaningful.

Even the ten years or so I have left of “full vision” (if I’m lucky)…. that’s the ten years I have left with stepkids under the age of 18. As you can imagine, I viewed the end of that as a certain kind of freedom – much like parents view “empty nests”, but in a different sort of way that has almost nothing to do with the kids themselves, but everything that comes along with a messy and complicated two-household dynamic. Instead of wishing ANY part of the next ten years away, I now know I have to cherish every second. I’ve been seeing faces differently. I’ve been looking my family members in the eye and telling them I love them and that they are beautiful.

I’m seeing that having the ball rolled back to me actually makes the game just as fun, and a person can always improve on their grounder retrieval.

And not all cries are made equal… sometimes a few tears of realization, while in the arms of your spouse, is enough to process a moment you’ll never forget.

What have you seen lately that you might not have seen without a hardship? It’s worth paying attention to, trust me. <3

Love,

4ee4b50f-0e55-423a-b1f0-6400ce70eec6

Lou (who loves kissing with her eyes CLOSED anyway)

Advertisements


2 Comments

5 Reasons I’ll Make a Fantastic Blind Woman (laughter in the ruck)

This week I’ve been on the upswing of finding out some hard news: impending blindness on the horizon.

blindness, retinitis pigmentosa, rp, low vision, losing vision

dilated eyes at latest appointment

Though Retinitis Pigmentosa might be the diagnosis, I do know that hard things can become the New Normal and that God uses everything, everything, for good. This has been comforting to remember and as my husband had to grab hold of my face and remind me:

this is not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

(both good and bad news! ha) I’ve already conquered many of my personal mountains. I’ve learned to live with things I never thought I could possibly handle. I am stronger than the Melinda of the past. So overall, yes, this is very good news. It’s not the worst thing… both past and present.

And as always, laughter has taken a key role in the ruck (anyone else sick of calling every hard thing a “journey”?). I have found numerous reasons to laugh.

The first being the beautiful, hilarious innocence in which an 8 year old boy took in this news. We gathered the kids around and once again told them, “We have something to tell you.” I slowly and painfully told them about Retinitis Pigmentosa. They’ve met my grandmother, so I started with, “You know how when you met Grandmother Linda, she might have complimented your hair, but she also couldn’t see the entire room?” They all nodded yes… they remembered. I recapped what they’d already been told about RP and then said it: Well, that’s a genetic condition. And turns out, I also have it.

One of the first things my stepson did was make fists out of both hands and line them up in front of his eyes like a tube. “YOU MEAN THIS IS HOW YOU WILL SEE, MELINDA???” he said. He looked all around the room that way, through his makeshift tunnel. “Wow, that would be REALLY HARD!” He added.

zar and me

I could only smile and nod and say, “Yup! You got it! Sure will be!”

The hilarity continued the next day when his friend came over to play. He told his buddy right away, “My stepmom is going to be BLIND!” And both boys did the two-fist-tunnel-vision. Again: I smiled, nodded, and said, “Yup! Sure am!”

The way this kid was able to take in that information and do something no adult in their right mind would ever dare … well, it was comforting in ways I’m still smiling over.

Seriously – I highly recommend telling devastating, life altering news to a second grade boy. Just try it and let me know if their beautiful curiosity, blatant words of reality and thought process gives you any comfort.

There were many other reasons to laugh … I just didn’t know it yet when I sat in the chair and first heard the words “Yes, you have it” spoken out loud.

And here’s why, once I thought about it, I’m actually sort of cut out for this:

  1. I love to be near people. Starting at a very young age, I had very little concept of physical boundaries. I specifically remember, at around age 6, my mother saying very kindly and calmly in a shopping mall, “Melinda, could you please, for a few minutes, just try not bumping into me?” I always walked closely, and rarely in a straight line. When I told my husband this story he said, “Ummm… YEAH. I can relate to your mom.” What??? Yes, he assured me. I still have this tendency. So compared to someone who needs tons and tons of personal space and doesn’t have physical touch right at the top of their Love Language list… this is a plus! I can do that part! I can totally handle having someone right beside me to lead me through a room. Just ask my husband. side by side

2. I am not afraid to ask for help. If I have a struggle, I send the mass text out to my group of prayer warrior friends. If I need to cry, I know who will let me in their door with no questions asked – and I’ll head on over. I speak my failures out loud and I probably tell everyone around me more than they ever cared to know about all the ways I’m imperfect and need help. I’ve never EVER been a “suffer in silence” type… ohhh no. I’d have spontaneously-combusted by now. I know that for me, silence and seclusion are works of the devil (literally). I love my community and I thrive when supported by those I love. So many people have reached out and offered their help. I’ve mostly given the answer of, “You can drive me to the grocery store when I lose my license! That’ll help and it’ll give my poor husband a break!” I say this to laugh, and to remind myself that I’m not blind yet. Not by a long shot. (Shown below: just a small example of the people I’ll be calling up for said ride… including my beautiful step daughter, who will be an adult by then!) (if my progression is anything like I’ve seen in my family… which gives me another decade or so of “normal” things like driving)

friends

3. I have the grit and determination of my grandmother. (And sense of humor, I hope.) Seriously. If you read my last blog, you will see my grandmother’s full message to me about this diagnosis. But here is another small snippet: It’s what we need… strength! And by golly you showed me you’ve got it: that grit, that strength, that attitude, that faith, that can-do that has been handed down to us by our ancestors along with this RP. They had no choice over this RP thing but they DID have choices over how they would handle it. I give thanks for that. She is truly the most beautiful woman. She only has what I call “smile wrinkles” and she has aged gracefully. She does not let blindness win. And neither will I. Being that this RP gene has been traced all the way back to my great-great-great-great-great grandmother… (YES, FIVE “GREATS”)… I think I am in good hands. I think I can do this, too.

Right here is my grandmother and her other half (her eyes)… this is the woman who once sent the whole family a photograph of herself in the driver’s seat of a car with her cane sticking out the window. Laughter ALWAYS wins! grandmother linda and mitch

4. My other senses are huge in my life. Okay, you know that game we’ve all played in elementary school, Would You Rather? Anyone ever ask you the old classic: Which would you rather be, blind or deaf?

I ALWAYS ANSWERED DEAF.

But anyhow…

That’s not what was handed to me in this life. Therefore, my answer from elementary school has changed. I wouldn’t rather have either go away, but I would rather deal with my reality in a healthy way. Therefore, it’s the senses of smell and touch that I’m focusing on here. (And I really do love hearing and tasting as well.) I’m blessed enough to be someone who really does have so many things I love to smell. My husband being the #1 thing. Seriously. God gifted me someone who was 100% made for me, and just one way I know this is because he has never once smelled bad to me. His breath? I’d love to jar it up and take it with me. His smell after a long run? Might as well be wildflowers, and it doesn’t ever make me sneeze so it’s even better. It’s a little weird, but it’s a gift and I won’t ever stop being thankful. (It may look like I’m kissing his cheek here but I’m probably just breathing in as deeply as I can.)smelling

 

5. I have a God who will take care of my path. My favorite song growing up has always been “Thy Word.” Did you ever sing it during Sunday School?

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path …

Nothing will I fear as long as You are near …

I have a God who has lead me down each path I’ve walked. He led me to a town where I knew ZERO people and made it my home, filled with friends and love and family and experiences. God took a broken heart and made it laugh and smile. God took someone who would always be wondering aimlessly had it not been for guiding me into this very moment of my life, and though I may be blind in this life, I will never be lost. I have a God who promises me that “the light shines in the darkness, the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

I have a God who hand picked a family for me, though I never would have guessed in a million years it would be in a small town in Wisconsin.

family photo

So that being said, I think I’ll be okay. In fact, I think I’ll be more than okay. I think I might even thrive in whatever life throws at me, even if it’s “worse” than what was just handed to me. I have a new faith — surprising even to me.

Maybe next I’ll write about all of the reasons I am NOT cut out for this….

like the fact that I am the messiest person I know (I think minimalism and organization is pretty key for the blind)…

or the fact that I can in fact see myself swearing harshly in frustration with each glass I might break because I don’t see it…

or the fact that I love looking at my husband’s face and even before I found out I have RP, I’d always take one last look at him before turning off my lamp at night…

And that even in the face of all of THOSE reasons, still I will trust and still I will pray every day for the strength needed to face a future of uncertainty.

Honestly, what other kind of future is there, anyway?

IMG_1393

Love, Lou (who walked through Whole Foods like this after my eye appointment because my eyes were so dilated, I literally could not take those sunglasses off, even inside.)


10 Comments

When I Cannot See

I’ve been blind to many things in life.

I’ve been blind to true intentions when my own preconceived notions get in the way.

I’ve been blind to love when it was holding me.

I’ve been blind to God’s goodness when I could only see my own pain.

Now I’m having to ask myself: what will I do when I am actually blind? 

img_0849

I once wrote a poem in college called “Where I’m From” (you can read it here). It was an assignment and I felt like I did a pretty good job of describing myself, my life, my family. I ended this particular poem with this line:

I am from a family where blindness means seeing more than anyone else

Why did I write this? Why am I wondering what I will do when I am actually blind? Because a week ago, I found out I have an inherited genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa.

You’ve probably never heard of it.

But given the fact that my great grandpa Bob, my grandmother Linda and my uncle Shannon all have this condition, I’ve known about it my whole life. On my dad’s side of the family we call it “RP” for short. We are all aware of etiquette for the blind. I grew up with a grandmother who had to scan my face to see me. I knew to be acutely aware when she was around (though she needs very little help).

RP typically starts with night blindness. It did for me. I haven’t been able to see in the dark since middle school. I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve walked straight into doors, I’ve tripped over large objects… sometimes my husband will hold his hand in front of my face after the lamp goes off just to test it, because I’m sure for someone with great vision it’s hard to comprehend the fact that I just cannot see it (the same “game” my twin sister and I played when we shared a room). Nope, still can’t see it! 

Though I had this issue, I never chalked it up to having Retinitis Pigmentosa. That was always safely tucked away in the corner of, I love my blind family members so much and they’ve taught me so much about life, with the caveat of, but thank GOD that isn’t me. 

It’s just my rods that are screwy, thank you very much. My cones are fine. (Did you know that your eyes are made up of rods and cones? Rods for adjusting to light, cones for seeing color, to put it VERY simply.)

Knowing what I know about this condition, blindness has always been my worst fear. I couldn’t even finish the book “Blindness” because I had too many nightmares. If someone in a movie loses their vision, I weep. It’s just something that has always touched me deeply: having family members with RP caused my heart to grow and compassion to be known at a young age  – but with it also grew fear. Because I know what it looks like. I’ve seen it (ironically.)

I know that I am facing a tough road. I know that I am likely to be legally blind by the time I am 40, or if I am very lucky, 50 years old. I know my peripheral vision will gently fade until I am left seeing through very little tunnel vision. This has left me in a state of bouncing between mild panic attack and also a trust in God like I have never experienced.

I’ve now been faced with my two greatest fears in life: infertility and blindness. 

Come at me – ’cause I’m pretty sure I’m now invincible.

Because here is something else I know: I know that my great grandpa Bob might be the happiest human being to have ever walked the earth. I know that my grandmother walks into a room with more light and beauty and grace than any women I’ve ever seen in my life. I know that my uncle has a gentleness to him that I always admired and wanted to lean into.

I know that I will survive this, even though it’s the scariest road I’ve had to imagine walking.

When I sat in the chair at the eye doctor, I was pretty sure I already knew. My vision has been changing and I’ve noticed it. I’ve mentioned it to my husband and my parents in the last year. I’ve missed things in my periphery. The best I can do is describe this sensation as a cloudiness that isn’t cloudy at all… it’s just missing. There are things missing from my vision and my brain is making up for the blind spots. Literally.

So I wasn’t super surprised when I all but failed the peripheral eye test at the doctor. But I did feel a punch to my gut and a rise in adrenaline when the doctor said, “Yes, Melinda, your suspicions were right. There are bone spicules and clumps of pigment in your eye. You definitely have RP.”

I probably sat in that chair for ten years, in the split second it took for me to understand her words. I appreciate her response as I teared up and tried to bravely say, “Okay.” She said, “I’m so sorry. I’ve never had to tell someone this before.”

Probably because only about .028% of the population has it.

Which makes my family pretty rare and pretty special, don’t you think?

Oh! And to top it all off, my dad also has this condition. That’s why I finally honored my suspicion and made the appointment with the eye doctor. He called two weeks ago to let us know that he, too, has RP. He has “late onset”, which is practically unheard of. We don’t know when he will lose his vision, but he was told “Bruce, if you live to be 100, you’ll definitely be blind.” Okay then! My outside-every-day adventurous dad who loves to hunt and be independent is going to lose his vision too.

Needless to say, it’s been one hell of an emotional week.

What will we do when we cannot see?

I’ve wept for my dad. I’ve wept for Bob, Linda and Shannon. I’ve wept for myself and the way I’m having to rethink my future.

I mean, this changes everything. It changes everything for my husband, too. We probably won’t be climbing all of the very highest peaks in the world or living out in the middle of nowhere together when we become “empty-nesters” in ten years. My husband, who I can barely keep up with in the grocery store, who went snow shoeing last night in what felt like -40 degree weather, will have to slow down and help me along. (oh, the guilt.)

But like I said before, the goodness here is not lost on me. I am just a little bit blind to it right now. The goodness of God’s glory is hidden in my periphery momentarily as I soak in this news and this life changing information.

Can I be a badass blind woman? I believe I can.

Will it be harder than I ever thought life could possibly be? Most likely.

Will I find joy in places and ways I never would have discovered without this condition? Most certainly.

Will I have to battle negative thoughts and fear daily, from this point forth? 100% yes.

My very own blind grandmother can still see just a little bit. She is typically the one to find the hummingbird hovering in a nearby tree. She is likely to notice that you got a haircut before anyone else. She takes her time to scan a room and then slowly walks through it. She is the first person to make you laugh. I could listen to her talk for hours because she is the best storyteller on the planet. She is beautiful.

bowl cuts, short stories, ficiton

 

And the day I found out I have RP, she TEXTED ME! (Technology is a friend to the legally blind!) This is what she said:

“I am so proud of you. So so proud. I have never been so shocked as when your dad told me he has RP except today when he called me and told me that you have it, too. I was speechless. I finally said, “and now we move forward.” And he said, “YES!” A big and strong yes. It’s what we need… strength! And by golly you showed me you’ve got it: that grit, that strength, that attitude, that faith, that can-do that has been handed down to us by our ancestors along with this RP. They had no choice over this RP thing but they DID have choices over how they would handle it. I give thanks for that. Thanks that my sons have it and that it has also been passed on to my precious granddaughter…. I love you, you have given me hope and strength. You’re made of the right stuff! You make me proud to be your grandmother! And Grandpa Bob would be even prouder of you than he was, period.” 

I was so blessed by her words. I was comforted that yes, I have grit and strength and attitude and faith that have been handed down to me through blood.

I will write more soon, once more has been processed. I will write about what it was like to tell my stepkids about this (and the hilarious innocence of the way an eight year old boy takes information in). I will likely share more about how this week has been pure survival. I will write how my husband is helping me to be strong in new ways that I never knew were even possible. I will tell you about how my priorities have changed overnight and how I’m seeing what truly matters. I will tell you how I now read the Bible, because every metaphor about God’s path and direction and sight and light is different to me now. I will tell you about how hard I’ve cried (even though you’ve probably already guessed it – a LOT). I will tell you more about how I’m really sort of made for this (yes, it’s true.)

But today, I’ll end this here.

And now we move forward. 

Love,

advice, staying true, writing, young adult, short stories

 

Lou (who thinks this is the cutest photo ever taken: my twin sister, Bob, and me)


6 Comments

There’s Gonna Be a Darkness (and a thousand little funerals)

I’ve attended a thousand little funerals. It’s called infertility.

This month, I actually stood on the edge of the cemetery in town with my husband and cried tears that were the culmination of 29 years of hope, and then grief of the loss of that hope and dream. We’ve been the recipients of news that brings this kind of overwhelming devastation — I’ll let you use your imagination.

Actually, okay, I’ll tell you. (What a thing to talk about ALL THE TIME.) Sperm. I’ve been through a lot of different phases thinking about those little guys. I’ve been hopeful for sperm. I’ve been sad about sperm. I’ve been angry at sperm. I’ve been grieving over sperm. It’s the source of my emotions. It’s no small thing (although yes, it’s microscopic.)

I never wanted to know this much about them. Never wanted to see them through a microscope – I’m not even remotely into science or biology! I never wanted to experience what I’ve experienced in a doctor’s office.

I can’t explain why God has given me this path. I have three stepchildren. But now, my own biological children just doesn’t seem to be a possibility. God, I just can’t understand that. Feels like a cosmic joke. But then some days I can put the pieces together and see why, or at least begin to understand it.

I have almost no other way to explain this sort of loss: it feels like I’m grieving the death of my child. A child I never even got to hold, or see, or feel. I always imagined a little girl with wild hair that I scooped up into a ponytail, who would run toward me. I pictured little white tights (the kinds with Christmas trees on them, for the Christmas Eve service, of course). I have had vivid dreams of feeling this person in my arms. I have felt at times an overwhelming sense of this human being, so overwhelming that I felt sure of her existence – so sure that I was just waiting to meet her. So standing at that cemetery with my husband, wailing like a woman in the Bible, felt like a true funeral. I have half this person inside of me and she dies each month. All of my dreams die, too.

I never had many aspirations past: I want to be a mom. Not only that, but a mother of FIVE. Yup! You heard me. 

I held all of my hope and joy there.

Then when I became a stepmom to three, I had to change my dream: I have three kids now – guess I’ll only have to birth two of them! 

I could find hope and joy there. After a lot of hard work.

Soon my thoughts changed to: Okay, God, just give me one. One miracle baby, please. At this point, I’d take a monkey, as long as I could call it mine. So please. Haven’t I given up enough? 

And I could no longer find joy there.

So it’s no surprise: I haven’t been much of a joy. Day to day – yes, I laugh and I am friendly and I love being with my friends and I find much love and happiness in being surrounded by my stepkids and my husband and now our dog, Adak. I have a beautiful home and security. I am blessed beyond measure.

But I never had a child, and there is a good chance I never will.

The winter solstice this year, and this new reality, are just a few reasons why Gonna Be A Darkness by the Jayhawks has become my current anthem. I can’t stop listening to it.

This is a song about a funeral.

There’s gonna be roses and your picture in a frame
The women will be cryin’ and the men they will whisper your name
Umbrellas will be open on a hillside of graves
The children will be dressed up and chase each other in the rain

And there’s gonna be a darkness
It may be colder than you guessed
There may not be music, there may not be stairs
There may not be angels fillin’ the air
Your mother may be there
Your father may be there
There may not be voices sent from a throne
To carry you home

Now Heaven may not get you: the Devil may see you first
He’s hittin’ himself in both the beast and the birth
A stranger may have found you where the angels have lulled you to sleep
They swallow you whole like a whale from your head to your feet

And there’s gonna be a darkness
It may be colder than you guessed
There may not be music, there may not be stairs
There may not be angels fillin’ the air
Your mother may be there
Your father may be there
There may not be voices sent from a throne
To carry you home

Where you think there’s a place
Wide open and white
Where you think you’ll be safe
Where you think there’s a light

There’s gonna be a darkness
May be colder than you guessed
There may not be music, there may not be stairs
There may not be angels fillin’ the air
Your mother may be there
Your father may be there
There may not be voices sent from a throne
To carry you home

There may not be music, there may not be stairs
There may not be angels fillin’ the air
Your mother may be there
Your father may be there
There may not be voices sent from a throne
To carry you home

There’s gonna be roses and your picture in a frame
The women will be cryin’ and the men they will whisper your name

For all you out there totally worried about this song and the implication that there is no heaven: just remember, songs are made to be interpreted and to become your own.

For me, this song is about the life that never was. I am the mother. This is my funeral song – my infertility song. There may not be any of those things. But I have cried, I have whispered the name. This song is about the light and life and heaven I thought I’d experience with a child, and how there may not ever be a chance for that.

I follow this Instagram page called “Infertile Board.” Every once in a while I see a post in my feed and it actually makes me laugh. Things like “I’m just a girl sitting in front of a doctor asking him to impregnate me” or “‘This month flew by’ said no infert ever” or “Nothing will bring on a period faster than a pregnancy test.”

I’m now someone who can relate to all of these! My GOODNESS. I still can’t believe that. But I am thankful for the humor. I am thankful for the humor SO much.

The latest one said “Awesome, even Mary wasn’t trying.”

This one didn’t make me laugh – this one was like a reality check. I don’t think the maker of this IG page did anything wrong… but I didn’t think, “Yup, that’s right! Even she got to have a baby! Sheesh!”

No, not at all.

What I thought was: That is completely different. That was the biggest miracle of the entire universe and it is the reason I am going to be okay. Christmas might be about a miraculous conception and birth, but that has never ever been the source of my pain. Ever. (All of the other “miraculous” conceptions, heck yes.)

And here is another truth: the first half of my month was filled with thoughts that I’ve just mentioned. Death, funerals, the pain of grieving the loss of my child, my little girl (I always imagined a girl), sadness and anger in wondering, “why me?”, especially given my circumstance as a stepmother. The first half of this month I lost a bunch of weight, didn’t eat, and cried myself to sleep every night. I felt like a zombie.

Then, God spoke to me directly. And He worked through my friends and family, too.

I started to see something else. I started to see my husband – a man who deserves to be loved UNCONDITIONALLY. I heard God saying, “Don’t you know that I gave you this treasure? Israel is a gift. Love him, Melinda. Love him unconditionally. Find joy in your soul. Be with him. Love him like I love you both.” 

IMG_8959

I had to confess that my dear husband hasn’t seen the best of me. We’ve had a lot of horrific things thrown at us in our first 3 years. More than most. And we’ve had a LOT of fun. But I’ve never just relaxed, lived day to day, and found joy in the most important thing God gave me, which is my marriage.

I also started to see the love of my friends. Friendship is something I hold high. I love my friends. I know I am blessed beyond belief with the friends God has given me. They are wonderful. They are a huge reason I’m here and doing okay. And they showed up for me this month. They texted me, called me, invited me over, held me, checked in on me again, prayed for me, laughed with me, cried with me, and loved me for me : a Melinda who was in the darkness.

Family, too. I talked to my mom almost daily. I connected with my sisters and my incredible God given sisters-in-law. I felt support at every angle, holding me up when I was going to disappear.

I know it was that moment of God talking to me AND the prayers of my friends and family members that gave me the strength I’m feeling today. In the past week or so, I’ve found a new part of my soul. I’ve prayed almost non stop. I felt calm. I heard God saying to me again, “Love this man. Go ahead… you can do this. You need to do this. And I’ve got you.” 

My husband even mused one night in the last few days that he’s never seen me like this. Like what? Like… happy.

Talk about a wake up call.

And you know what else? I’ve had to do some digging. Jody Day’s book “Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children” helped with this big time. What are my other goals, other than just being a mom? I have a few. I am passionate about the environment, about women, about helping people (especially those going through divorce and stepmotherhood).

I realized for the first time that the time will pass either way. I can either be a miserable woman, defining herself with infertility, and crying at the drop of a hat, unable to attend baby showers or smile at the announcement of a pregnancy, withering away inside and holding onto anger. OR I can find delight in my life, love for my husband and stepkids, thankfulness for the beauty I see every day, true joy for my friends who have their own babies, and compassion for those same people, because they, too, have sorrows.

I can live a life like this. And just like in my OTHER favorite song, “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels, I can remember…

“Farther along we’ll know all about it/ Farther along we’ll understand why/ So cheer up my brothers/ Live in the sunshine/ We’ll understand this, all by and by”

One day I will be in heaven and I will understand all of this. In the meantime, I can find joy and thankfulness. God is with me, He is fighting my battles for me and He has not let me suffer. In fact, I look around, and I have won every battle. And when I say “I”, I mean the guardian angels I KNOW I have on extra duty most days.

So this Christmas Eve I am thankful for the fact that another woman was pregnant and wasn’t even trying…. I am thankful that God gave Mary such a task. I am so thankful and find another place of grief in my hart — that bleeds into thankfulness — that Mary’s son died an excruciating death for me. Christmas is about a birth, and Jesus’s birth is about sacrifice.

So there is always darkness, but even on the darkest days, it’s quite clear that things will get brighter. It doesn’t mean things will be easy, but the time will pass and only I can decide which Melinda to be.

IMG_9247

And as always…. it doesn’t hurt to throw on some sunglasses and feel a little badass, too.

Love,

Lou (who is glad December is almost over – because I am excited to see what the next month brings)


Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Good Timber

It’s my husband’s 41st birthday today. When I think of him, my eyes well up with tears – the kind that say I love you, I love who you are, I love who you help me to be, and I am so thankful for you in my life.

I read this poem today (actually, I looked it up because of a very sweet note my boss left on my desk for me) and I immediately knew who it was about: Israel.

He didn’t want anything for his birthday, so I’ll keep it short. But here is this poem. I didn’t write it, though I sure am glad someone did, because I’m not sure I could have found words like these to accurately describe my best friend, partner and love.

I am so thankful for good, strong trees. For a good man. For good timber.

israel

Good Timber

by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

 

 

Love, Lou


15 Comments

“Hi, I’m Melinda and I’m {insert current struggle here}.”

Hi, I’m Melinda and I’m currently struggling with the fact that I am not getting pregnant.

But let me explain…and take a few steps back…

One of the things that healed me the most after my divorce (5 years ago) was feeling pain in other new, fresh and difficult ways. Honestly – I know that might sound devastating. Like me saying, “Hey! No worries! It only keeps being terrible and shitty!” It’s a tough pill to swallow, but like my husband likes to say all the time (and much to my dismay): Reality is our friend.

The reality is that back then I thought I’d cried as hard as I’d ever cry. I thought my divorce was my big defining moment of life. Once I got through it, I thought my difficult chapter had closed. And though it felt for a long time like the rest of my chapters would consist of weirdly numb moments of passive, yet slightly enjoyable experiences of emotion, I realized eventually that any new sensation of pain I had was actually waking me up. THEN I thought that the new hope I felt in my soul during the wake up period would carry me forward indefinitely.

And the cycle of pain kept showing up.

I’d often use these cycles in my dialogue when meeting new people. If you know me, you know I am absolutely, 100% an open book. I love to connect with others. I love to share my joy. I love also to share my story of pain.

Now I will share with you my Chapters of Defining Pain. (starting with the first big one, as an adult)

Hi, I’m Melinda and I’m 25 and Divorced and Pretty Much a Total Failure and I’m Wondering What’s Wrong With My Body

Then: 

Hi, I’m Melinda and I’m Alone and Probably Will Be Forever and I Can Already See the Old Chicken Lady I Will Become but That’s Okay, Because I sort of FEEL Like a Badass

Once that became smaller and my focus changed, my next big Chapter of Defining Pain was called:

I’m in Love With a Man Who Might Be In A State of Sadness and Healing For the Rest of His Life and He Has Actually Denied Me Three Times When I Told Him We Should Be A Couple

(this was the waking up chapter, though) (and yes, when Israel and I met, we’d both tried dating other people after our divorces, we were both still healing, we became friends who understood one another deeply and THEN I knew we’d be together and waited patiently for him to realize it, too)

Once he saw the light and fell in love with me, too, my new Chapter of Defining Pain was called:

I’m a Stepmom and Living in My Husband’s Stupid House That I Didn’t Help Pick Out But Someone Else Did and I Never, Ever Would Have Picked Out (But At Least It Has a Giant Tub)

However, now we live in a new house, and I can truly see the beauty in the time we spent in our first home together. As usual, the timing was perfect (in hindsight) and worked out much better for our family. And the first year of figuring out how to navigate life as an official stepmom was painful in ways I can’t quite describe, but now, I can truly say it is JOYFUL and BRILLIANT and downright DELIGHTFUL. I love those kids. 

family

<3 <3 <3

So, the story is never over, right? Because I now live in what I would call my “soul mate home” with my awesome, fun, and exciting family and all that once was painful became a beautiful part of my life and even with all of that, the next big Chapter of Defining Pain was called:

Hi, I’m Melinda and I Desperately Want a Baby But My Husband Had a Vasectomy Long Before We Met 

And the next and most recent:

Hi, I’m Melinda and He Had A Vasectomy Reversal But I’m Not Getting Pregnant and It’s Been Nine Months

My point is, I have realized very VERY recently that I’ll probably keep crying. Life is hard. And I’m pretty sure the wailing sobs of my last “I’m not pregnant” moment were worse and deeper than when I cried over my divorce. In fact, my divorce itself feels like an old blip – like a different lifetime that yes, I remember, but no, I don’t feel emotion about anymore. I know I’ll keep having hard chapters. The next might be called: I Finally Got Pregnant But I Have Postpartum Depression OR Someone In My Immediate Family Has Died (God forbid) OR Something Even Worse That I Cannot Even Make Up.

Each of these chapters feels really awful when I’m in them. Yet now I see something I used to be blind to. I mean, I wish I had enjoyed the summer after my divorce a little bit more. I have great memories, but the entire experience – even the romance and fun and craziness I allowed myself to live out – is clouded by a heavy sadness. I remember my first “first date” as an adult, but I also remember going home after it and crying my eyes out alone in bed, wondering why that date was so wonderful and why that felt so strange to be treated like an actual queen. When I look back at my time alone and feeling like I just might end up an old chicken lady, I wish I had reveled in that reality and enjoyed it more. I wish I felt like a true badass in my singleness. When I felt out of place moving into a house that “wasn’t mine”, I wish I had been more able to see past that and enjoy aspects of it more. 

BASICALLY, I WISH I HAD LIVED LIFE JOYFULLY, WITH FAITH AND HOPE, IN EACH OF THESE CHAPTERS. 

Faith and Hope were both always in me, but they weren’t always “winning.”

I don’t want to meet a new person, go to coffee, and have my dialogue include: “I’m Melinda, and I’m divorced.” “I’m Melinda, and I’m alone.” or “I’m Melinda, and I’m currently not pregnant but it’s huge, and every month I’m disappointed.”

AND LUCKY ME, BECAUSE TURNS OUT, THESE CHAPTERS ALL HAVE SUBTITLES. YOU KNOW, THAT LITTLE SENTENCE UNDERNEATH THE TITLE THAT TELLS YOU WHAT THE STORY IS REALLY ABOUT. 

My divorce chapter: The summer I got out a lot of healthy tears and moved forward and took chances and trusted God to lead my path – Oh! And I had the gift of learning who my true friends were.

My alone chapter: I finally experienced some life that built my character and allowed me to be the person I needed to be to live my best life. And some of those nights were actually pretty darn peaceful.

My rejected-by-Israel chapter: The last time in my life when I’d be doing ONLY my OWN laundry and going to bed whenever I darn well please. ;) ;) 

The new stepmom/house chapter: When I finally learned to make a space my own – with others – and learn more about myself and life and strength and love due to these three children who are now my family.

The no-sperm-at-all phase: The time I wasn’t devastated each month, and still had hope in that future surgery. 

Which leads me to my current Defining Pain… the fact that it just feels like it won’t happen. I know that for many, 9 months is not that long. That’s what people keep telling me. However, I just thought that it would happen sooner. I was so hopeful – I’d told many people something along the lines of, “I just have a feeling. I bet it’ll happen right away. I am so excited!” And like many, embarrassment is an emotion that brings out my worst. I hate to admit it, but I’m a little bit embarrassed at this point to have nothing to show for that excitement I shared last year. I put a “Sperm Day!” notice on my calendar at work for the day I’d be out, driving my husband to and from his surgery. (Do you remember me telling you that I’m an open book? Words like sperm do not scare me.) The kids know as much as a kid can know about the whole thing… basically that “dad couldn’t have kids, and then he had surgery and he had to lie down for a week and now he can have kids…” and they’re excited, too. Which sort of makes me feel like I’m letting more than just myself down, too.

I’ve had some months when I was a few days late and the secret excitement I felt only caused me shame and devastation when the monthly reminder finally came. I’ve charted everything perfectly and even “still made it fun” despite sort of planning things out. It feels like each month I’ve done everything right. Yet, no baby.

So my own goal is to change this broken record I’ve created for myself. My goal is to trust, actually TRUST, that my future is taken care of. God knows my heart. Is He keeping children from me? I honestly don’t think that He would do that. He gave me three children to parent, so He obviously thinks I’m capable, right? But the youngest was 4 when I met them… Does God think I just am not good with BABIES? (I digress… but these are the thoughts!)

I’ll admit that so far, my life has been one giant, fantastic surprise after another. Things have turned out well for me THROUGH EVERY SINGLE STRUGGLE. Every. Single. One.

1 Samuel 7:12 can be paraphrased as this: Thus far the Lord has been good to us. 

When I remember that, the vasectomy reversal phase can easily become:

Just enjoy the process and trust that God’s timing is better than my own.

These are all easier to spot in hindsight. That’s the tricky part. I’m not writing this as someone who’s figured it out perfectly, either. I’m still crying every month I’m not pregnant. I am getting a little bit better with each round of pain, though. I’m bouncing back quicker. I’m truly enjoying the days, which are most of them, where I’m not actively feeling sadness. I’d challenge you to stop and think this through and to try to begin to see past your own pain, because I’m trying to do it, too, and I know it’s hard. I’m right there with you. 

Remember that more pain will come and that this current shittiness does not define you forever. Also remember that in the midst of this time, there is probably at least one good thing you (possibly) can’t open your eyes to – and that most likely, the very best moment of your life has not happened yet.

I want to meet people and simply say with a smile, “I’m Melinda.”

What about you?

melinda

Love,

Lou (who, baby or not, is lucky to have this man by my side for better or for worse)


2 Comments

I’ll Stay

Get ready for some thoughts on marriage. I’m no expert, but given that this is my second marriage and I’m well into year two of the rest of my life, I do have a perspective all of my own. I’ve been devastated and seen miracles. I’ve felt hopeless and also filled with more joy than I ever thought imaginable. This time around has already felt like a decade or more of shared experiences all jammed into a somewhat short period of time. Which is why I write.

Anyone who’s stuck with me on HeyLou knows: there was a time when I only listened to sad songs.

Then I moved on to love songs that were still just a little bit sad.

Now, I still prefer songs that might sound sad to some, but to me are actually full of hope. They’re beautiful. They’re restless. They’re wild. They’re not what you’d expect. (And ironically, this is often how my husband describes yours truly.) They’re also usually gentle and patient… which I swear I am, but my husband has yet to see what I’m really capable of there. ;)

Today my sister shared a song with me that cut right to my core. I sat at my desk at work, took a small brain break, and listened. I held back tears. I promptly sent the song to my husband via text (gotta love technology).

His response after listening: I’ll stay.


Do me a favor and listen to this song immediately. Close your eyes while you do it. Think of the one you love. Try not to bawl your eyes out.

My cup was pretty much filled up and it will be for a good while.

Because “I’ll stay” means everything. 

Something you should know: when it comes to romance or what people find attractive, I’m a bit of a weirdo.

I love smell. The other day my husband asked me to smell his shirt from the laundry pile to see if he could wear it  — I took a sniff and said, “It smells wonderful.” He looked at me like I was crazy. His breath smells like heaven. I just want to nuzzle my nose into his armpit. (kidding/NOT kidding)

I love sitting in silence. Some of our most romantic moments have been while sitting on our roof, watching the sunset and saying absolutely nothing.

I love having no plan and being led along by the person who SORT of made a plan. It actually drives me crazy to have a schedule. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised all the time. My mantras are: “Whatever works!” and “We’ll get there eventually!” Which I’m pretty sure the kids have grown to love, because they laugh every time we get kinda lost.

I love laughing. It FILLS ME UP. Just make me laugh and all will be okay.

… Unless I just need to cry and for my spouse to understand that. Luckily, I can roll up into a ball on Israel’s chest and get mascara all over his best shirt and he will just hold me. He now knows that saying something like, “It’ll all be okay” might just make things worse, so silence wins again in most cases.

When we first got together, he tried to be romantic once and bought me some chocolate. I generously ate it and let him know he didn’t need to do that – ever again. However, if he could learn to keep my sauerkraut juice right where it is and never throw it down the drain again, that’d be so amazing and would definitely speak to whatever my love language is. We’ve worked on our relationship and grown quite a bit. It’s those small things, like him growing to love sauerkraut juice, or me trying to close all of the cabinet doors (which I do MOST of the time now…) or all of those moments where we both say sorry just by looking across the room at one another a certain way… that tells me every day what he said over text: I’ll stay.

Now that I’m with someone who resonates with me on these levels and pretty much makes all of my wildest dreams come true simply by being himself, I finally understand this song. With that being said, I also know that nothing will ever be perfect. It’s knowing that this man is ALSO the person who can irk me like no other human on earth, who I love with that knowledge. It’s the acceptance of such that helps us truly win. After all, the opposite of love is not hate: it’s indifference. 

israel in nature

We all know that the guy who wrote this song does not actually mean going blind. He most likely means “if I get so lost in this world that I cannot see the light or find my way through it… if I lose sight of what’s important…”

We can also assume that he does not actually mean his hands getting amputated. But I’m sure we’ve all felt that outside-of-our-bodies sadness or depression. Sometimes human touch can’t fix us. Sometimes we are incapable of loving physically or loving well. Sometimes we can’t do what we need to do.

If I lost my mind… again, we all have our days. Or our seasons. Sometimes it’s YOUR job to keep things together. To build up your partner. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice everything because the one you love and are committed to cannot see the light, cannot feel their own body and cannot get into the right frame of mind.

And we will lift each other up during that time, because we all know (and, I think, especially know in a second marriage) that these times WILL exist and that oh-so-quickly, the tide will turn. We support and work hard and fill in the spaces and pray and lift up because we KNOW: someday my partner will do this for me.

The key is exactly what my husband says to me all of the time. “I’ll stay.” 

And I’ll admit: sometimes I leave. But guys, it’s only for like five-ten minutes. It’s kind of like in a movie. Sometimes I just need those few minutes to drive around the block, possibly beat up my dashboard in the process, and come back with what might be a hoarse voice, but a self that is ready to take a deep breath, straighten my hair and continue the conversation. And at first, this habit of mine was not good. I think deep down my husband thought I might not be coming back. It was a no-brainer for me. Don’t you know I just need a second? He had to learn that I’d stay, no matter what. I would never abandon him and drive AWAY away. Never disappear without him knowing where I was. And he knows it now fully. (And I do that five minutes in my car thing much less often.) Sometimes leaving also means walking out of the room, but my husband never does that either. He will tell me, as I turn to leave, that he isn’t going anywhere, that he is not walking away, and with that, he challenges me to be better and to stay right there in the difficult moment we find ourselves in. In marriage, staying means I will not leave. Both parties. Forever.

I sent the song to him, but more in confirmation–  more of a “this is what you show me all the time” sort of way. I sent it as a thank you, not as a request.

However: with all of this being said, the person I truly know will not leave is God. Yup, I’m going there. Because Israel is not supposed to be the one thing I can count on in this life. We are so imperfect and cannot always lead when we need to. We cannot always be the gracious hands of our spouse. We cannot always remain calm when we need to. And for that, and forever, and through everything, we need God in our lives. We need to pray. We need to know that when we have the strength to be THERE for our loved ones, it isn’t our amazing selves doing it. It’s God’s grace working through us. HE is our shepherd, not our spouses.

Which also kind of gives me clarity as to why I would leave and drive for a few minutes. I’d need to scream, but it would almost always be a prayer. I just needed to remove myself from the situation for a minute, have my real argument, and then reconciliation (in my heart), with God, and then return with the Holy Spirit I prayed to surround me and help me breathe.

We can only stay because of God who gives us that strength and who gives us more assurance and love than any human being ever could.

I sure am thankful for my partner. I’m thankful for each day we promise even deeper that we will in fact stay, and stay forever – at least as long as we are on this earth. 

kissin

It isn’t just how good he smells keeping me there, either. ;)

Love, Lou


Leave a comment

Know Your Heart, Know Your Truth

Number 13 in my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series can be answered in a short and sweet manner.

Do I know the sound of my own true voice?

The answer is yes, but it took a while to get there.

Literally, this is a funny one, because I have always hated hearing myself on a recording. Well, just the other day we were watching some fun family videos before bedtime (one where I am talking quite a bit) and one of my stepdaughters said, “Melinda, that is NOT how you usually sound!! Your voice is so different!” And the other kids agreed. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. 

So, also literally, I guess I have no idea what my voice really sounds like.

In a less literal, more spiritual sense, I do. I know what my voice sounds like. I know how I want to be and I know how I really am. There is a small rift between the two at times, but as I learn, it’s growing smaller and smaller.

There have been a few moments that have caused the rift to decrease. These moments include brutal and beautiful honesty between my husband and me. When I hear myself, true to my own heart and speaking with love, that’s when I know I’m there. When my husband speaks to me with love and honesty and gentleness (I’ll be honest, he is way more gentle-spirited than I am), I can see and hear my own voice better as well. We are one through marriage, so having that anchor helps bring me home.

These moments of rift-decreasing also include hearing what I say in difficult situations.

Not too long ago, we experienced what I would call a tragic moment in our own household. I held my oldest stepdaughter tight and repeated, “You know your heart. You know your truth,” as she cried and as I heard myself speak, I knew I had the Holy Spirit surrounding me and speaking through me. That connection will never go away and it is TRUTH, all around. I ask for it to shield me, give me wisdom and give me patience.

When I fall from this, which is often, I don’t really like the sound of my voice (though, in my own defense, when I’m angry, I tend to give the silent treatment.) I don’t like sounding irritated or short with those I love.

But as love in my life increases and security, support and graciousness abound, the sound of my own true voice grows louder and stronger. I especially hear myself in quiet, peaceful moments. Sometimes all I do is look into the eyes of my husband, and I feel like I am shouting my true self across the mountain tops.

And I can only thank God for that.

hair

Love, Lou (who likes quiet moments like these)

 

 


Leave a comment

Said No Little Girl Ever

Hey Lou Writes will always be my first love, as far as blogging goes.

However, I’ve expanded my world a bit, and am now writing regularly for my new blog, Said No Little Girl Ever… all about being a stepmom.

Hey Lou Writes will continue, and I hope both can thrive and reach people. Thank you all for your support so far!! Now I need to support all the stepmoms out there, because Lord knows, it’s a challenging and amazing adventure!!!

 

step mom

 

Love, Lou


Leave a comment

Dirt, Laughter, Love, Music, and Chickens (aka how to make a house a home)

As I look at this next question in my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series…..

12. What is beautiful to me and do I have some of that in my life right now?

I am grinning ear to ear because FINALLY…. I am seeing all the beauty around me.

Not that much has changed, guys. But I have had a change in heart.

This change is largely due to a whole ton of heartache. My heart ached for the dog my parents lost. For one of my best friends battling brain cancer. For my brother in law and his battle with Cystic Fibrosis. For my dear husband and the challenges that go along with the life we have. For my step-kids who have had to grow up faster than others in certain ways.

I cried so many tears, it almost became ridiculous. I prayed and prayed and then asked, “What do I pray for NOW??” But sure as others are being quietly comforted by the Holy Spirit, I was, too.

My heart ached, broke, and then was filled with light. Because you see, God is creating love in the midst of every one of these sad things. My parents adopted two new puppies and joy abounds. My friend Carmen has been filled with God’s love and calm, and she is thriving in the midst of pain and uncertainty. My brother in law was just outside at his son’s baseball game (a miracle!!!) AND he is continuing to change lives and bring people to the Lord. My husband and I are closer than ever, with trust, love and companionship flourishing. And my step-kids? They are having fun, being creative, laughing, smiling and being kids… in the midst of a life that could have stripped that from them completely.

But these aren’t the only aspects of my heart that have shifted.

I had sort of a “woe is me” mentality when it came to where I currently am physically. I didn’t want to stay in this house. I never would have picked it. Not in a million years.

 “I should be thankful I have a roof over my head…” I told myself over and over. “Focus on the bathtub. There is an amazing bathtub…” I would whisper when I found another landmine. And so, when the decision to stay in this house was finally, officially, made, I decided I had better leave my pity party and start making a house a home.

And that’s exactly what I did. (With the help of my amazing, project oriented husband.)

To make a house a home, I needed:

Dirt, Laughter, Love, Music and Chickens.

Dirt literally makes me happy. The more I’m surrounded by it, the way it smells, and little specs of it all over the house… I don’t think messy or “dirty” when I see it. I think fresh, clean, energy, life, magic and growth.

I DO sweep it up when it gets all over the floor inside. But not always right away. ;)

DIRT

Laughter is the gift that keeps on giving. If a family can find moments to laugh together, well… I think everything will be okay. Laughter happens when people develop humor only they understand because they’ve known each other long enough (aka the “inside joke”) and it happens when people are comfortable and joyful in that moment. I thought laughter was something my life had lost, but now I see laughter everywhere. In brushing teeth via piggy back ride, in making homemade pizzas, “tricks’ before bedtime, wondering how a picture can look so wonky, laughing at the mistake you made or wrong turn you took in the car (my specialty) and so so so much more.

DIRT 4

LOVE is something my husband is teaching me about. I thought I knew love. I thought I understood it. But with him by my side, I see a gentle, calm, loving, patient and forgiving man. It’s as though 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 flows through his very being. I now see that I had no idea how big love here on Earth could become.

I am a feisty, messy and sometimes impatient person. I’m not a planner. I love how organized and structured Israel truly is. He will plan an entire week’s worth of activity and all I have to do is hop in the car when it’s time to go. I AM SO THANKFUL!!! He’s a spreadsheet and I’m a spin-the-globe-and-see-where-I-land. The difference is that now I know I’ll always land safely.

DIRT 5DIRT 6

My eyes are being opened to how good that is and how perfect we are for one another. And that word: love. Not every woman gets to see a man love her this way. I am all too aware of this, and believe me, I’ve (of course) cried over this. “How did I get so blessed?”

Together, we’re making our little world thrive. He painted our gorgeous new chicken coop (and is currently, as I type, outside building the run for it). He expanded our garden and brought more DIRT into my life. He built a patio and created a beautiful space for eating and talking around a campfire. He knows me well enough to know that it’s my outdoor life that makes me feel comfort… not so much the inside of a home.

I am forgiven when I need to be. I am shown patience when I don’t deserve it. I am reminded of who I am when I need to hear it most. I am learning to give back that sort of love and I can feel my heart softening each day. I’m less defensive. But believe me, I still have a heck of a long way to go.

Music is a safe place and there’s almost nothing I love more to experience in life than live music. The kids are now familiar with Gregory Alan Isakov, Tom Waits, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Shovels & Rope and many more artists I adore. I have now seen a bunch of my favorite artists live, and the last few times it was with Israel. Welp, this past week I saw my NUMBER ONE FAVORITE MUSICIAN OF ALL TIME!!!! We were both dead tired, it was a Tuesday night, but we made it happen and I had a night I’ll never forget.

Behold: Justin Townes Earle. (And the silly couple who watched him from the very front of the room.)

 

Chickens are my favorite animal. They are so cute, I love how they walk and how they feel when you hold them. I love the little puff balls they start out as, and I love the awkward “teenager/dinosaur” phase. I love when they grow big and strong and start laying delicious eggs. There’s just something about chickens that brings peace to my soul. Now that we have them out back, I feel that this truly is a home.

DIRT 10

So the question was: What is beautiful to me and do I have some of that in my life right now?

The answer is an astounding and loud and vibrant DIRT, LAUGHTER, LOVE, MUSIC, CHICKENS and YES!!!!!!

What do you love? Go out and get it. OR find a way to make it a reality, even if you have to start outside the walls of your own home.

so much love,

DIRT 15

Lou (who ALSO LOVES gluten free eclaires from the co-op in Albuquerque)