For this Valentine’s Day I Am Talking Trash

O’Connell Hockey Family Skate Night
December 2018
Hey friends and happy Valentine’s day. Yes it’s true – this year I am talking trash…. trash take out that is. You see at our house the trash can has to be pulled around from under the back deck to the front street to get picked up. One of the BEST things about post transplant that I never ever thought about when I was dreaming of date nights that Dan stayed awake through or building careers or having a family was the house management help. Yes Danny has always been good in the kitchen, but suddenly there was way more: laundry, cleaning, and the trash became his thing. Right now Danny is struggling in the low 40s of lung function and just going up the stairs leaves him winded. Dragging the trash around the house would lay him out. So last night he made a gift request…. can I please take out the trash?


All in all I wasn’t surprised…. house maintenance has come back to me pretty darn fast, but that is just life. We are in such a full season with big career moments for me,  some amazing blog opportunities, and Danny’s health declining by the week. The blessing being in this season we had already said we needed to pair down our world and simplify to focus – we just didn’t know it would include so much on health too. As always we remind ourselves that our family motto has basically been “wanna hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans” – and He always provides a way, so we just trust and keep walking. But even still taking the trash out in the early AM was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do period. And not at all what I had in mind for Valentine’s day. In fact I had a plan that involved a fun breakfast surprise and that I had already set to get up really early and make happen. Trash can dragging happens in our back field and I need light to get it done. There wasn’t a way to do both…. so I had to pick and my love had spoken, trash cans it was.


But truly I thought how important this act is. Danny and I have been talking about the 5 Love Languages and one of his most certainly is acts of service. And I have been thinking about how we are having such a low key holiday with him being sick and life being so busy, yet it has been our most amazing marital season that deserves celebration over the last 2 years, because we have become incredible partners in life. Not just romance, not just when life is happy, not just when things are going our way…. but in the times where it ain’t even close to 50/50 effort from all, in fact sometimes one of us is doing 150% and one of us is doing -5%. And honestly, we have thrived. It is CRAZY that struggle, disappointment, and really pain has given us moments of such clarity that we are each other’s best gift. If dragging the trashcans around (which is really hard thing for my damn OCD – don’t ask…. I just freak out about the yuck!) is what he is asking for then I will do it with all the love I can! While celebrating that we are in love because we are in life together and sometimes that means taking out the trash.


If you are feeling like your Valentine’s day isn’t romantic enough or your relationship just is not in a place for celebration, I have two things that can remind you of what true love is all about: hard work, sacrifice and choice to be in love.


On the blog Mint and Arrow this couple shared their journey through the husband’s pornography addiction. The part that struck me was how real healing could not begin until she stopped saying “if you love me, you would stop” and instead tried to walk with him through the healing. Understand it, be supportive, and love him through it – that was what was really needed. Now of course there are situations where this method does not work and if you are in need of help with that decision, I recommend a professional’s guidance, but for many of us if we top using love and guilt as a weapon, real healing can begin. When I stopped using the barometer of “if Danny loves me he will….” then I stoped judging, he stopped never measuring up and we both ended up being the best version of ourselves for one another. Then there was no question about the presence of love.


And second, the worst thing can happen to a relationship, and yet you can still survive, knowing it just looks a little different. On Jamie Ivey’s Happy Hour podcast this week she sits down with a man whose wife died unexpectedly this past year. He talks about this new normal and the joy and grief that can co-exist in life. One of my greatest fears in this life when folks say “you are so strong” is God is preparing me for some massive loss – and this podcast spoke to that fear in a way that is hard to describe. But certainly reminds us that life isn’t always how you plan it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be OK.


Wishing you all a day full of love for all of those who matter in your life. And for those in relationships, remember to not just measure by the size of your flower bouquet or box of chocolates – but by the number of times you choose to love every day in every moment (even the ones where you did not do it so well), because that is the true meaning….. and THAT is the one that needs to be celebrated.


Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!

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