Life at the Blue House

Broken Machinery, Barren Womb, Old Woman

If you’re feeling lost in these years. . .like an old woman in your early 20s, then this story is for you.

I don’t pretend that the way it happened for me is the way it will for you. But my history with God and the history I’ve witnessed in others proves to me there are beautiful, impossible things in store. That open hands toward God will never be disappointed even if they are, at the moment, bent with soul arthritis below a barely beating heart. May this story renew your resolve to keep weary hands wide open to God.

Before my garden and goats and long before my children, I was without hobbies. Sure as a child and in high school I wrote poetry and even won a few contests. Sure when I was a late teen and young adult, I drew some pictures and enjoyed myself, although my art style is not very clean or succinct.

But by the time I was in my early 20s and deep in the throes of infertility, I had no artistic expression or enjoyable pastimes that allowed me to be a person without performance or pressure. When I found myself struggling through the early pain of infertility, I was almost all grief and sadness and questions. This pain further stifled my creativity in a huge way. I was barely keeping my head above water.

It was a last minute decision to get the goats when we did. Christmas came in June that year! And perfect timing! And on Mother’s Day before those June goats, we dove head first into the porch garden. I suddenly found myself with pastimes that had been buried by my own drive to perform, life changes, chronic pain, growing into an adult, and abruptly hitting against infertility.

The garden was a place I could be without performance. I loved waitng for flowers to bloom. I loved being surprised by the life I found there. Meanwhile, I was also learning to enjoy life by observing the goats and spending time in the sun with them. It was so helpful to take care of things outside of myself. It sounds simplistic, but the goats and garden truly helped me unfreeze. When infertility came to play, my living like a machine didn’t work anymore.

I had to be a person.

God, of course, was the Giver of the garden and the goats. He made a way for me to fall apart safely and step into such a beautiful life from those broken pieces. I received gifts within the garden and aside the goats over and over and over again.

So, I finally had pastimes other than writing, but I had completely abandoned my love for poetry. My short stint of drawing (which I actually enjoyed, but never fully stepped into!) vanished into thin air too.

When my son was in the womb, I suddenly found I had the mental capacity and energy to write again. Though I had thrived in the garden and found such happiness in enjoying our goats, I couldn’t really write like I once did. In a good way, infertility removed me from the pressure and performance I had placed on myself to blog and do social media. I needed that removal.

But I also found myself in a place where I had to grieve constantly, and that took so much of me. When I did I write, I wrote to process and heal. (Or finish my first book! I did manage that in those dark years.) But these years of writing lacked so much of the creativity I used to have. I certainly wasn’t writing poetry anymore, and I had no plans whatsoever to bring that back into my life.

While driving home one day in 2020, I suddenly thought, “What if I wrote poetry again?”

And what if I did?

That thought came out of left field. Another gift straight from God.

Writing poetry again felt scary. I hadn’t done it in years. It’s not what people had come to expect from my blog or my social media. I was rusty at first, but writing poetry came back to me very fast. And I loved it. I found it especially poetic and beautiful that while a child grew in my womb, I was like a child again. . .doing the thing I loved by writing poetry.

It felt like my son and I got to be children together.

Fast forward to our son’s laughter-filled birth ,to a beautiful beginning of motherhood, to a published book of poems (Hope Gives a Eulogy),to the summer just weeks before his first birthday, to finding out I’m pregnant again. Miracles tenfold. The gift of the garden began a magnificent timeline of gifts that keep showing up as life whether those gifts be baby feet or rose petals.

I am 7 months pregnant now, and I recently realized with quite a pleasant jolt that I’m once again rediscovering art while I carrying a child. Totally unplanned and unexpected. Another gift!

I had been looking through old things and saw my past drawings. I actually liked what I saw. It wasn’t jaw-dropping or anything, but it was thoughtful. Maybe I could draw again. Maybe this was was a hobby I could pick up and enjoy. So I began. All over again. I’ve been taking pencils and crayons to paper and drawing my life and experiences. It has been a blast!

Rediscovering the art of my youth all while my children grow vibrant with life just seems like a deeply layered gift only God could give.

Being a child again.

Being children together.

I used to be an old woman, hands curled up, numb heart, machinery at work.

And then the garden.

And goats.

My son.

And daughter.

Poetry.

Art.

Always God.

Life burst out of broken machinery, a barren womb, an old woman.

God does life with life. In a thousand ways. Undeterred by the calendar we hang on our fridge. I had nothing, but God said, “Wait let me show you!”

And in the wait I saw.

And from the wait, I still see.

Hands open.

It ends well.

Life at the Blue House

BIG. . .That Was 26

Perhaps my 26th year was the ugly part of a butterfly escaping its cocoon. It was beautiful. I had wings. But it was a glorious mess in constant movement.

photo credit: Hannah A.R. Stories

So many huge things happened this year. Experiencing the fullness of my son’s first year. Planning his 1st birthday party. Putting my story of infertility and healing on social media. (Up until then, it was not secret but neither was it out there for the “world” to see.)

Our small blue house getting renovated which essentially doubled the house (maybe more, because we have an amazing loft now too!!!) All except a corner of my kitchen was gutted!

In that time we lived in a tired trailer down the way from our house. In the peak of gardening season and springtime, we had home things displaced everywhere. . .on the porch, in our bright yellow shed, in the garden itself. Not to mention us! We were “displaced” too. It was wild!

In those 7 weeks, I published my second book, Hope Gives a Eulogy. This is my first book of poetry, and I say first because I hope to write more. The 96 poems within these pages explore how infertility impacts faith, friendship, marriage, and womanhood. While infertility is a harsh pain, Hope Gives a Eulogy sheds light on the hope, resilience, and love that endures within this heartache! It is a personal testimony of the healing God did in my forever season.

I also finished weaning my 9-month-old son having followed his lead and putting no pressure on myself to keep it up. We had such a positive experience and making it to 9 months was a true dream!

Mother’s Day💓

With that said, I did have some major hormone crashes + our whole family faced prolonged sickness in the spring. We also got baby chicks during those 7 weeks which we kept warm and safe in that little trailer kitchen. There truly was a method to our madness, and I don’t regret it, but also WHY DID WE DO THAT.

Shortly before our 6th wedding anniversary, we moved back into our much bigger, bright blue house. It wasn’t fully completed, but it was fully able to move into!

Ever since that May day, we’ve been settling in more and more. We still have piles to work through and things to purge, but it’s starting to feel more like the home we’ve always known together.

I’m loving it!

This year’s garden was terrible and lovely. I planted seeds so many times and was almost always being disappointed in the end.

Entire sunflower heads were stolen by squirrels before they could bloom! My rose bushes got attacked more than once. It felt like my whole garden was on the brink of total death in August, but through some extra nurturing care, spring came in September. In October, I filled a vase with a bouquet of zinnias, geraniums, and a rose.

That single October vase of flowers felt like my only true harvest of the year. Still we did have beautiful May roses, scrawny, scraggly sunflowers, and one Mother’s Day geranium (out of the 3) thrive. All while our son’s flower came back to life, a once pitiful flower bed filled with bright pink blooms, and our mums grew back in after getting their tops and leaves eaten!

We think our garden especially suffered this year as the balance of nature and wildlife was so tossed and ruffled due to house renovations. Needless to say that our garden, while lovely, was a terrible time!

Well, let’s get this post moving by rewinding to July.

PREGNANT.

The day I found out I was shocked! I was about to call it negative when that line appeared, and then my jaw dropped. I was out and about that day (or just days after finding out) and one of my friends hilariously said, “Your hair looks crazy.” Bahahahahaaa! I mentioned being tired (which was true), but also I think my crazy hair had more to do with being absolutely flabbergasted by the news of being pregnant with another child already. What a miracle!! How loved she is!

halfway with baby girl! In the 3rd trimester January 7, day after my birthday!!

Pregnancy is a season I treasure with each child I’m given, but it is difficult, and I don’t enjoy or thrive for most of it. I think many women could say that! I am, however, so excited to give birth and hold her in my arms and watch her grow just as I do Shasta. He is a delight, and the word I use to describe my son is music. And he really is music! I can’t wait to discover the word my daughter already is.

My 26th year was one of change. Of settling into poetry, into motherhood, into our home. Of fumbling with these new wings. Of being in constant movement. Of watching my son grow and holding another miracle in my womb.

Of being afraid of this good season and these good gifts and learning to trust God with the vulnerability of happiness and joy. But my poetry in Girl with Good Bones best describes these last few years so tangled in grief and joy. (You can download and read for free here.)

The year 26 has been absolutely big. That’s the word for it. Big. Big gifts. Big surprises. Big changes. Big blessings. Big growth. Big life (minus the garden, that was scraggly, holding on for dear, beautiful life).

So, I’m going into 27 with a heart ready to step into the growth that has begun, to settle into life as it is now, to celebrate knowing I am safe with God.

Certain.

That is my prayer for 27.

Certain God is with me and will be with me always. Certain His presence will always be more than enough. Certain He will heal and hold me through whatever comes my way in the future. Certain of Who He is, growing absolutely deeper in that knowledge. Certain I am safe in Him to fearlessly enjoy this life from Him.

Certain of the freedom to live unafraid in all this goodness, because “You, O Lord are my hope and trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of You!” (Psalm 71:5-6, exclaimation added).

photo credit: Hannah A.R. Stories

So yes, a Happy Birthday, indeed.

Welcome, 27.

It is well with my soul!

Poetry

Summer on the Blog

Yesterday was the first time since May 14, 2021 that I posted a poem on my instagram feed and on the blog. And I am proud of myself! As we head into a summer of poetry (and my podcast where I’ll share BTS of my poems), I’m hoping to infuse humor, lightheartedness, and a real sense of freedom to enjoy what is working well in our lives.

Of course, I don’t believe in ignoring pain and you’ve read enough of my poetry to know that(!!), but I’m also exhuasted by the doomsday approach oversaturated in poetry. Maybe you are, too? I don’t know, but I think we need to laugh a little more. Notice the good things right in front of us. Let the happy things be happy. Be silly.

So, here’s to a summer of honing my craft, reminding you of the lighter stuff, making you smile and laugh, and giveing words to the good(!!) stories you’re living. I hope you fall in love with this humorous + lighter aproach to poetry.

I post the first of the summer poems on my blog tomorrow, but (inside scoop), I already posted it on my instagram, @sierravfpoetry!

Here’s to fun!

S.V.F.