Life at the Blue House

My 27th Year – Joy & Growing Pains

It was a year for growing pains. For getting the wind knocked right out of me. It was our best garden season ever. It was giving birth and the story of it being filled with God’s presence, power, and wonderfully woven work.

It was Heidi growing with the flowers. And me too. It was feeling more settled than ever in motherhood and gritting through the 1-2 kid transition. It was feeling so capable as I conquered my way through the challenges.

I asked God for the wherewithal to be a mom. Felt myself hanging on for dear life while not feeling much life at all. My prayers were a roller coaster. But I felt myself breathe in the garden again sometime in April.

in April breathing again❀ this was a pivotal moment in my postpartum journey

God gave clarity and help where I was desperate for it. I broke stale habits. I gave up Instagram. I lived right inside my life. I stopped trying to hold so many intimate stories and began living mine more intimately. I became present. Less morbid.

I spent evenings drawing my life. I baked apple pie with a vengeance. I successfully made my own pie crust and totally filled the kitchen with smoke at least once! I began writing our family recipe book with familial notes and precious anecdotes. I got lost in fiction books and made festive garlands with cookie cutters, amazon cardboard boxes, and paint pens.

I wrote poetry in longer form, began a project which is personal to me and powerful in its story. I spent many long, warm afternoons in the garden with my children. I taught Shasta how to lie in the grass for the simple enjoyment of it. This felt like magic to him and he kept inviting me to do for days afterward.

I bonded with Heidi so strongly after our whirlwind early postpartum days. I had a beautiful 5-month journey nursing my daughter.

I enjoyed gardening with my son. Our sunflowers towered effortlessly and filled our kitchen. I harvested them in my living room during November and stamped seed packets for friends and family. We hosted our 6th Thanksgiving, and I finally got my collection going of special occasion serving dishes through thrift store finds. I wrote meaningful and important letters.

I soaked up my life.

At times it was a great big cheer. In others it was gritting my teeth and drinking lots of water. In much I found great comfort in Hebrews. This verse being one of those which wrapped around my vulnerable heart,

Hebrews 13:7-Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

It was an intense year, and yet, so happy. You see it on my face in so many of these photos. . .genuine happiness. Not just joy, but happiness.

I don’t know how to fully express this year, but it was restless and radiant. It was growing with the flowers. It was screeching. It was dry. It was joy. And it was sun. I was dead on feet and dry in heart many times over, but I’ve also never had a year so vibrantly full of life!

And I think I want to remember year 27 for how it made my smile brighter than I’ve ever known it. I think that really says it all.

This is 27.

Garden Lullaby

Old Winter Prayer, God’s Blessing & the November Garden

November came with the bursting of my son’s flower. It was gifted to us when friends found out we were pregnant with our boy. It then had quite the story in the ground then trampled, then in a Lowe’s paint bucket where it recovered, and then in the ground again where it has bloomed to bursting and will stay! I love the vibrancy of these blooms. An accurate portrayal of the joy of my son and his love for life.

I came across a prayer in my journal from January 7. Part of it read,

“Lord, please bless my garden this year. I’ve never really prayed that way before, but only You can bless it.”

I don’t typically share my prayers like this, but I sat stunned after I read this from January 7. With Heidi on the way ahead of the spring season, we weren’t making the spring garden an elaborate thing. Truth be told we never have a detailed plan. We never get to all our seeds. It’s just Ben and I throwing seeds at the wind. Figuratively, of course. But really when I picture Ben and I as gardeners, we are just laughing out in the yard, throwing seeds at the wind.

We put seeds in rather haphazardly and see what happens. We offer so little expertise to it. Every year we get a little more established, a bit more nurturing, but far from the gardening crowd. This year we “threw the seeds in” and were going to just let the garden be whatever it was going to be. We’d put our hands to it, of course, but we were having a baby. That was going to be our spring!

In the midst of postpartum, newborn days, and life, the garden truly didn’t always get what we should have given to it. But the sunflowers towered effortlessly, anyway. The rose bushes thrived–blooming in May, June, October, and November. Mums changed from stark white to a beautiful tint of purple and even some becoming purple in full. We built a playhouse. I laid in grass for hours on end with the children growing, playing, and thriving right alongside the roses. The planted wildlfowers surprised me. The morning glories were glorious. The grape vine bore fruit. It was sour, but it was loads of fun! We had snow peas. We had green grass all through the summer! It was all the sweeter having planted many of our seeds a few days before Heidi’s birth.

all these zinnias were planted a few days before Heidi’s birthâ˜ș❀

This November I walk into the house on a cold Saturday with a pile of colorful zinnias. I sit on the living room floor harvesting hundreds of sunflower seeds. Later, I’ll sit at my desk stamping seed packets for family and friends. I’ll smile at zinnias leaning over their flower bed and looking as though they are saying “hello!”

“hello!💖”

That January 7 prayer I forgot, “Lord, please bless my garden this year,” was answered tenfold.

my son’s flower just bursting!!

I gave birth to a spring baby and my garden had the spring of its life.

I’ll never get over the gift of this year’s garden. November felt like its last hoorah. As we’ve turned into December, the roses die back. The grape vine leaves turn yellow. I am drawn to look down at the garden floor scattered with leaves across the stones and grass. It is stunning.

That red rose bush you’ve seen throughout is finally succumbing. It has carried the song “What a beautiful year, what a wonderful spring, the year of your daughter, God’s blessing over us, joy!”

As the garden quiets it is my turn to sing. To let the year of God’s abundance and blessing rest heavy on me until it is I who bursts into Thanksgiving.

And I do.

the garden Thanksgiving week💖

God answered my old winter prayer. He blessed the garden. And I experienced the entire stunning saga.

infertility · The Celebrating Soul

When Autumn Is Just a Moldy Pumpkin

Upon choosing a title for the email I send every Monday, I picked “It’s Okay If It Stinks.” So sophisticated, I know. While I’ve been basking in the autumn season and all the fall things, the photo below popped up on my memories last week, and regardless of it popping up, I think about it often enough.


This squashed pumpkin was Fall 2017 in every way. I don’t really have any other photos to mark that time, and honestly, this one says it all.

FALL 2017 STUNK.

This pumpkin was a result of my trying to host a fun little fall carving pumpkin get-together. You know, making the most of things and whatnot. It was fine and all, but I stabbed my thumb with a knife on accident and said thumb got really infected. . .turned green! Apart from that, our truck was a mess and blew a tire on the freeway on the way to church!!! We were officially a year+ into no baby. I was soaking my thumb in garlic, oil, and whatnot and it was one of the worst falls ever! I don’t have anything good to say about it. Okay, I don’t! It was hard. Bottom line. End of story.

But it didn’t stay hard.

Or I should say. . .it didn’t stay hard without hope & healing.

The next fall (2018) I was rolling out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of pumpkins to throw a harvest party. And it was a big deal to be in a place mentally and spiritually to throw a party. Just that spring we had rolled out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of flowers,  officially beginning our Porch Garden.

Fall 2019 would arrive and I’d be even more settled into life despite infertility. I’d be hosting a girl’s fall party with my friend, eating too many sweets, breaking out like a Junior Higher, thinking maybe I’d had too many sweets! BUT ACTUALLY IT WAS MY BABY BOY and the hormones were just raging! (I probably also had too many sweets, heheeeee, no regrets, but the breakout was totally baby-related!)

But Fall 2017 was just a moldy pumpkin.

It was nothing good. It was the season that marks where I used to be before healing, help, freedom, and LIFE. I love to look back now because I see what God has done, but I don’t kid myself into twisiting that season in and of itself into something beautiful. It wasn’t. What is beautiful? That God didn’t let me stay there. He didn’t let me stay consumed by my envy, jealousy, or anger. Didn’t let me stay stuck in grief. God answered my deep questioning of His goodness with Himself and I was satisfied! God heard me, saw me, helped me! WAS WITH ME. That is the beautiful thing. But not Fall 2017. Nothing beautiful about then.

So if you’re in a fall season that’s a squashed, moldy pumpkin,  you don’t have to try and make it anything different. It is hard. It is painful. It does stink. So bring all of that rawness to God. And whether or not you see the hoped-for change of season this side of heaven, you will know satisfaction in God, comfort in His Presence, amazement that even when pain stays the story it doesn’t stay the story.

I can’t tell you what you’ll get to look back on in a few years. I can’t say whether or not Fall 2022 is your beginning mark. But I can say with certainty life in God is not disappointing even when life itself is disappointing. God transforms, heals, teaches, grows, helps, sees, hears, IS WITH US. His Presence is everything, and we are made radiant as we seek Him with our life however life this side of heaven turns out, or doesn’t.

Rooting for you, trusting God with you, let’s live.

-S.V.F.

Garden Lullaby

Magic of California Autumn // The September Garden

It’s eating fresh-picked, late-summer blackberries on the first day it feels like autumn is in the air. It’s how you are soaking in the last vestiges of summer but enraptured by every gust of wind making a leaf flurry center stage. And you just there in the front seat.

It’s the first day you’re outside and the air around you has suddenly shifted. It’s the first huge rain that comes down in buckets and cats and dogs and every other rain idiom you can think of.

It’s the warmth of the sunshine, but the coolness of the shade. It’s how every last day in the garden is heightened in its enjoyment as the season slowly turns. It’s how long these lasts last.

This is the magic of California Autumn.

Summer hangs on tightly. Spring even seems to show itself. The bursts of life are so bright against the dying leaves now piling in the garden. Yet even these blooms, bright as they may be, have an older look to them.

The garden as a whole does not seem near as playful. California Autumn is a gentle thing. Not dramatc. Not rushed. Not swayed by our opinions or impatience. It changes when it does. Wraps us in sunshine. Finds us in the garden with a plethora of zinnias, barefeet, babies lying on colorful quilts and us lying in the grass.

The September Garden has been absolutely stunning. Even its abundance, it does not have the youthful blush of spring, but I wouldn’t want it too. It’s beautiful when framed by our little corner of the world about to storm. It holds its own as the year gets old and the leaves fall and gather.

Every color, every rose bloom carefully bursting, every last long and warm afternoon has an enchantment only to be tasted this time of year.

And we are full.

Full having spent a year wrapped in the blessings of the Lord, welcoming our second child, experiencing our best garden season to date, pushing our son in the swing for months on end, back and forth, watching him grow right before our eyes, cultivating life inside and outside the garden gate.

The magic of California Autumn is the beauty and excitement experienced within it despite the lack of pomp and circumstance. And the joy of autumn itself is gathering up the stories of your year and sitting within the goodness of God. Maybe not making sense of everything, but knowing with certainty that nothing makes sense without Him.

And here you are. Perhaps a bit like my September Garden.

Abundance and weariness. Blooming but not youthful. Radiant as you weather the storm and those yet to come. It’s beautiful here in a way spring can never attain. Beautiful in a way hard to explain.

So I’ll go barefoot in autumn and be smitten by the novelty of it.

A Happy Fall, indeed.