Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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What I Want (Spiritual Gifts Included)

I came across a list on my Pinterest page of 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself.

Therefore, my next twenty blog posts will be the answers to these questions. This isn’t because I think my answers are so important, but I do love the questions. I think my answers just might resonate with someone else, or make you answer them in your own, unique way.

Question One: What Do I Really Want In This Moment?

Well, in this very moment, I want to feel peace that isn’t necessarily there. It’s been one of those days, and I actually feel like writing is the only thing that will bring me to a place where I can sleep in a few hours.

But in the larger moment, that is this point in my life, I want to be able to use what I’ve experienced to help others. That’s why I write. When I look back on my very first blog, I see that I wasn’t sure where I was going with Hey Lou Writes. It was my 23rd birthday and I thought I was going to be a fictional writer primarily, yet years later, here I am, none of my fictional stories have been published, and I’m mostly writing about my life. My personal life. 

No life has been easy. I cannot think of a single person who hasn’t had a trial or good cry. Some people help others by sharing their stories with the youth group they help out with. Some people have babies and use their own story in order to propel their child’s life forward in a positive way. Some people are pastors and shout their stories out in the pulpit, sometimes even embarrassing their kids in the process (I loved it, dad.) My twin uses her life to write songs. I feel lucky enough to know the personal, detailed story behind almost every single one of her lyrics.

These are all spiritual gifts. God didn’t bless me with the amazing ability to teach, even though I have a degree for it. God didn’t (yet?) bless me with my own children, but he gave me three to help raise. And God didn’t bless me with the the perfect words… but for some reason I feel the urge from my heart all the way to my fingertips to write, write, write, and never stop writing. In fact, the only time I feel truly depressed or stuck is when the thought of no longer sharing my story crosses my mind.

When I faced cruelty in school (someday I’ll share all about why I shaved my armpits for the first time), mean girls (who still exist in the adult world) and relationships that made me question my own love for myself (body image, anyone?), there was a time when I had no idea how to rise above it and see the good. I couldn’t even be the one to speak up in a group of more than three people… unless it was at my family dinner table.

I’ve found that my story can be shared only through my spiritual gift, one that I am just recently realizing. Writing. And the way I have seen this pay off isn’t through money or fame or anything tangible, but through the few people (mostly women) who have contacted me to let me know that my story resonated with them. That something I once wrote helped them through a rough day. That something I’ve been through… they’ve been through it, too.

All I really want is for people to know that their life story is unique, but also connected to others. You are unique, but you aren’t alone. I searched and searched for the right blog post about divorce when I was going through one. I practically begged my google search box to show me how to be a good step parent. But you know what? These things didn’t exist — at least not for me. I had to create them by sharing my own journey and by sometimes embarrassingly telling the world (aka the few people who read this!) that everything was messed up. And then joyfully telling them that hey, things are looking up.

So that’s my answer. I want to help people, not because I think they need my help, but because I hope beyond hope that my trials can be for a reason. One thing I considered, was maybe that was a selfish hope. I don’t want all of the tears and pain I’ve felt to be in vain. I also know that if my story can make at least one person feel less alone, than perhaps my mission is complete. I’ve had this happen a few times, and it filled me with such peace and joy and calm, that I realized I could probably never stop. So… maybe the new goal is one person every so often. ;) 

That’s what I REALLY WANT! Your goals are your own. Your wants and wishes are your own, too. And we are all motivated by hope (even if you don’t think you have any).

May your spiritual gifts lead to somewhere… especially if you don’t yet know where that is.

makaria knows

Love, Lou (who can only help others because others have shown her the way)

27 seconds well used is a lifetime.

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The Awkward Prayer (and proof that it works)

On Prayer…and a Few More Wedding Pics :) 

prayer

I’ve talked about prayer in a few blogs lately. I can’t quite say it enough: Prayer has changed everything for me. It has worked. Plain as day, no “maybes” or “coincidences.”

Even when the answer to my prayers was NO.

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Here I am, hands clenched to my husband-of-about-twenty-seconds, smiling my way through our first prayer together. I have to admit, that although 90% of my prayers before this moment in time were NOT given to God with a smile, they all lead here.

In fact, most prayers that brought me up to this point in time weren’t even my own. Here, I’d like to point out, that if a person feels completely unequipped to pray for herself, she is ALLOWED to call upon the Prayer Warriors in her life and ask for help.

Now, I’m Lutheran. A PK, raised by PKs… I have been surrounded by prayers my entire life. Lots of really long, “Oh my gosh, Grandpa is praying… wish I wasn’t so hungry” style prayers, and then also lots of silly prayers from church camp. I knew at a young age that my conversations with God could look like almost anything. I could:

Stay silent

Get on my knees and fold my hands

Speak out loud

Give up an idea, rather than full words

Cry

Whisper one thing, like “Thanks”

Drive my car

Lay in bed

Eat a burrito

Bottom line: you can pray any time, any place, and under any circumstances! 

So why, knowing this, was I totally terrified and afraid? Well, I had a little grudge. Ever had one of those? My grudge went like this:

I tried reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Love is patient, love is kind….) with my ex-husband every single night for months. I also tried praying. In the end, those efforts didn’t work and we still wound up divorced. 

(insert W.T.F. prayer here)

So obviously prayer does nothing, my life is ruined, and I shouldn’t waste my time believing in love or patience or anything, really.

I showed up to my new home in the Midwest, a little prayer-shy and very uncomfortable with voicing anything out loud that had to do with God. I still prayed one-worded prayers occasionally, though. And I always asked my parents to pray for me, even knowing they already were.

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parents and in-laws…. we’re surrounded by love

My weapons were being tough, not needing anything or anyone, and writing. When I look back at these blogs, specifically, I remember what real pain feels like.

Parenthetical (Contradictions)

December is Darkest, In June There’s The Light

The Old Chicken Lady

The Matchstick Burning

It wasn’t until I met some true Prayer Warriors that things really began to change. One friend in particular pushed me past my limits. Ellie, I love you for this. She not only said she would pray for me, but she grabbed my hands, closed her eyes, and said a prayer out loud, right in front of me. with just the two of us there to hear it…..

ellie

We also go to concerts together ;)

The first time this happened, I felt awkward. I looked around the room a little… I felt moved, but way too embarrassed to let myself cry or really feel what was happening. I was amazed by the eloquence of her words. I thought, “Welp, this is exactly why I don’t do this. Now I see that my prayers are pretty lame. Hers are like poetry.”

But you know what happened? She kept offering to pray. I could never say no. And eventually, one day, I asked her to pray out loud for me. Instead of feeling inadequate and ashamed of my own fumbly words, I realized I could ask her to help me. I am so blessed to have people in my life who will pray whenever I ask. It’s like having a 911 emergency rescue squad available at all times. I’ve asked for prayers over text, in emails, in person.

I ASK FOR THEM ALL THE TIME. I even sent out an S.O.S. style message to my mom and dad one time, saying “I need allllll the people who do that group prayer thing every week at church to be prayer warriors right now. We really need help over here….”

And they did. And the miracles overflowed.

Lately, I’ve been asking God to instill forgiveness in my heart and patience in my soul. I have love (after not believing in it), which I’m so thankful for. It’s a downright miracle that I not only believe in marriage, but that I found someone who I know I will love forever, and who loves me too. Now, I don’t think God loves divorce… but I do believe that “What Satan uses for evil, God’s power can use for good” [what my sister-in-law Kendra sent me!]. I can see now why my requests so long ago “didn’t work.” It had to do with so much more than just me. Actually, four other human beings were involved. I had a future I was completely unaware of, and a man going through his own hardships at exactly the same time, waiting for me. I felt a stirring in my soul to go to the Midwest… and that was God. Three amazing step kids in my life, one strong and caring husband = yeah, Okay God, I get it. You were RIGHT.

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THANKFUL!!!

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my absolute favorite photos…. the type you cannot control & laughter abounds

I have so many blessings, it’s hard to look around each day and not feel overwhelmingly grateful. Those things way deep down, however, are the subjects of my prayer life. Even today, I talked to my mom on the phone and said, “I still really need prayers for some lingering anger I have inside. I want to forgive completely. I know I need to.”

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my dad. a warrior in so many ways.

I’ll end this here: I might not be the best at this, but  I want to let anyone who reads this know…. I will pray for you. I might already be, but if we haven’t met or I’ve only known you in your best stage of life, it’s quite possible that I don’t know what you need. You can ask me right here. Email me, call me, leave a comment. I’ll pray for you <3

I’ll try to be your Ellie ;) but don’t expect the beautiful poetic words to come as easily!

Love,

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Lou (who realizes how completely blessed she is and THANKS GOD in prayer every day for this life)

 

 

 


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When My Heart Slowed Down

Last Friday, July 29th, I was blessed enough to be surrounded by (most of) my loved ones, (most of) my best friends, and I felt the Holy Spirit practically carry me through the entire beautiful experience with a grace I can’t explain.

wedding noses

I had more than a few reasons to be on edge that day, yet I wasn’t. The officiator was (seemingly) indisposed, Israel’s ring was a pinch too small, the day was flying by… I even left my phone — the source of our first dance song — in my car. At some point during the day, after laying on my bed for five minutes, breathing deeply and praying, I got right back up and decided none of that mattered. What mattered was who I was marrying, what it meant, and that our loved ones were with us. Israel smiled, hugged me, and told me that he couldn’t care less about the extra stuff (though we are both very grateful for ALL of the extra stuff!), but that all he cared about was the fact that he was going to spend the rest of his life with me. On her wedding day, that’s just about all a gal needs to hear.

Miracles were happening all around. The friend officiating our wedding got there in time, Israel’s ring slipped on during the ceremony, and my car was even unlocked, so that my phone could be retrieved for our first dance… which actually worked out perfectly: it gave Israel a moment to say a few words to our guests. We had our guests standing around us, a symbolic gesture stating that these are the people we’d have had in our wedding party… these are the people who stood by us all along and we know will continue to do so. Plus, as Israel pointed out, it’s hard to choose anyone else when there are three amazing and beautiful kids there to be our wedding party ;)

I remember taking snapshots in my head all day long. And from the moment I walked down the aisle with my dad, up until falling asleep that night, the caption for those snapshots was this:

This is literally, absolutely, exactly what I wanted. This is perfect. This is my dream wedding, complete with a man I love and trust with every fiber of my being. 

The adrenaline rushes that so often accompany me during a stressful day were non existent. And rather than my heart beating faster when I saw Israel that day, my heart slowed down. There was that calm… that undefinable joy, that feeling in my very soul that all was exactly as it should be. I hugged my new family with love bursting out of my easy-going heart. I smiled at my parents and sister and said with my eyes, “Thank you for supporting me in everything.” I had already lucked out in life with a great family — but I truly won the jackpot with the family I just gained. The “in-loves.”

wedding inlaws

I’ve learned that love can survive anything and that God shows up every day. Even in these first few days of marriage, I’ve felt that same sense of calm, that same depth in my heart that everything will be okay. I’m sure the ultimate bliss I’m feeling now will temper down with real life and all that, but the marriage did something (you know, the whole point of marriage, ha) to solidify those feelings.

However, when you start with the messy wilderness Israel and I experienced since the day we first met, there never is and never will be a “honeymoon phase.” Life hit us pretty hard and quick, so there are no rose colored glasses to be found. We are raw, we are real, we are pure, we are dark in all the right places and illuminated by grace and love.

wedding dance

Plus, when you don’t go on an actual honeymoon, there are perks. Like hanging with all your girlfriends two nights later and feeling like a kid with them, laughing in the moonlight. It is such a blessing to have the life I do, with all the ups and downs. I try to take people as they are… flaws and all. And I remember every day that God loves me… which means he loves everyone else, too. I’m thankful He’s been with me, slowing down my heart, and allowing me to feel peace.

I’m excited for the new chapter. I’m thankful for the life I have been given.

I’m also thankful for any reader here… especially those of you who have been reading my blog for four years (yeah!!!! Yesterday was Hey Lou’s 4th birthday!). You’ve been with me through a lot. Some of my posts were all darkness. Some of them contained a hint of light. Some of them were sheepish grins, trying to fool even myself. Today the blog is still messy, still imperfect, but altogether honest, filled with hope and telling a new story.

Thanks for taking the ride with me.

Love,

wedding fav

Lou (who has decided that this is her very favorite picture — ever.)