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.

Poetry

The Tree (Part 1)

Part 1 of The Tree in our fall collection, Ourselves and the Leaves. Tomorrow, I post Part 2 which is also the final poem in this collection. We always ignore the actual bare bones of the tree come fall. But oh, it does beautiful work! How steady and strong its presence. It’s the backbone of fall. Today, we notice.
The Celebrating Soul

The Complexity of “Still”

Even with all the ugly stuff that’s happened in my garden this summer (hello squirrels and bunnies), I still got a bouquet like this.

I still have a wild grape vine climbing high to make a beautiful trellis. I still have sunflowers daring to bloom in the midst of destruction. I still pick ripe tomatoes from my bare, eaten-up tomato plant. I still have rose bushes that bloom and some that tenaciously keep growing to get established despite repeated setbacks. Still. What a complicated word.

“I’m still here. . .”

“I’m still walking through this. . .”

“I’m still afraid. . .”

But also!

“I’m still growing here.”

“I’m still healing in the midst of this.”

“I’m still braver than I was yesterday.”

This 2020 slapped-together garden born from quarantine is all sorts of messy, but it holds the complicated concept of Still. Which is all of us. Go ahead and take Monday by the horns.

Because you can.

The Celebrating Soul

April | A Personal Journey through 2019

There are some new faces around here so I want to explain a bit about this year-long series. I decided this would be the year I taught + showed the value of writing life down. In 2016, I began intermittently writing a simple sentence on the calendar about my day. In 2017, it became more of a steady habit which would slowly develop into a lifeline for seeing good things. By 2020, it has become an important life rhythm. I’m honest about my tough days, but more often than not I’m consciously looking back on the day to find one lovely thing I want to remember and celebrate. Sometimes it’s as simple as the sound of leaves falling and other times it’s the miracle of a hoped-for & long-awaited pregnancy.

My favorite part of this life rhythm is reading through my calendar on New Year’s Day and recalling all the moments I’d forgotten, all the bits of life so important yet so easily buried beneath the noise, pain, and exhaustion.

Continue reading “April | A Personal Journey through 2019”