Raising Magnolias

Because it's never too late for happily ever after…

The Book

It’s ready.

From start to finish it took one full year.

And it took 15 years.

Or maybe 45.

I didn’t write a book because I got a divorce. I wrote a book because I’m a writer.

And I wanted to write a book.

I’ve always wanted to write a book.

The first book that I started was about fighting to save your marriage. Like that movie where the girl gets on the train, and where the girl doesn’t get on the train and it shows both of those lives. Yes, like that. I was going to be the Elizabeth Gilbert who didn’t get on the train. Who wept on the bathroom floor, crying out that there was nothing more impossible than staying and there was nothing more impossible than leaving and then I was going to stay.

And I did. Until I couldn’t.

The second book that I started was my tell-all. Anne Lamott says that we should tell our stories and Anne Lamott knows things. Important smart-people things and so I was going to tell my story.

All of it.

Looking back at my posts during that time, Lord have mercy. I was angry.

And if you had any opinion, any insight, any thought whatsoever that didn’t line up with my “I am the victim in this thing and just leave me alone already” theology well then bless.

Your.

Dang.

Heart.

I didn’t write this book as some form of therapy. Journaling is for therapy. Therapy is for therapy. Laying your soul bare and writing a book is—well, now that it’s out, I’m probably going to need therapy.

This book was censored in two ways and two ways only.

Coulter.

And Emma Claire.

Every word. Every confession. Every thought. Every page. I wrote with their little voices reading along. Not for today. Today’s too soon but for when they are older.

Several months ago, Coulter asked me what the book was about. I told him that there were sad parts and funny parts.

For the record, the funny parts are only funny if you have a sense of humor and understand a little something called sarcasm. If you don’t, well again..bless your—ya know—heart.

Coulter asked, what’s the funny part? I thought, trying to remember if there were actually any funny parts and I said, well I kind of make fun of Donald Trump. Well, not President Trump so much as his wall. I make fun of the wall. But I do it in a funny way. Like, maybe even hysterical way.

Maybe.

I can’t remember.

Oh. My Gosh. Men in black suites are totally going to come and take me away.

He laughs. Like maybe it’s “you had to be there” kind of funny and then he says, thoughtfully.

“Mom, the part about the wall? I wouldn’t put that on the cover.”

That is really good thinking, Coulter.

And I only mention the wall because Emma Claire has planned a book tour to Mexico.

Throughout this process I think people want to know why. Why are you writing a book? Sometimes it comes across with this weird “who are you to write a book” voice and sometimes it comes across with this weird “who are you that anyone would want to read your book” voice and the voice that was projected was always one of doubt. I wrestled and I tangled and I doubted myself and I doubted the process and then I finally landed on this. It was profound and deep and pivotal and it goes a little something like this—

Because I wanted to.

Because I’m a writer. Because I’m a storyteller. Because I’m a truth teller. Because life is really hard and really good and we need to laugh more and judge less.

Ok, so here’s the thing. Why should you buy my book? And not just one book, but several, several books. Like for your friends and your mother and your sister and your boss and , ya know just people in your life. I offer you the top three reasons.

  1. The book will sell for $16.95. That’s like 2 1/2 cups of coffee at Starbucks. And caffeine won’t make you laugh.
  2. I use 5 bad words. For those of you who’ve known me a long time, that’s worth the price of admission right there.
  3. I tell the truth. It was hard. My editor would call me out on stories where she sensed that details had been left out. Telling the truth is hard. We need to hear truth. Read truth and start telling the truth. If you don’t read my book, then find another author, another book that tells hard and real and good things. Facebook is fun but it’s the highlight reel. It’s impossible to celebrate “beauty from ashes” if we don’t acknowledge the fire.

Pearl acknowledges the fire. Whatever fire you’re walking through today my prayer is that you will come out of it and not even smell like smoke.

My prayer is that if you have a foolish, crazy dream that most people will think is ridiculous and you have no idea why you want it other than that you do want it, then what are you waiting for? Write your book. Tell your stories. Record that album. Take a painting class. Start an iPod. Wait. Not an iPod.

What’s that thing where you listen to people talking? I know it has pod in it. Or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I also can’t remember that Wednesdays are early outs. Every dang Wednesday, my poor C-man texts me. “Mom, where are you?”

Please buy my book.

Pretty please.

With a cherry on top.

*should be on amazon this week…I’ll keep you posted.

**thank you. really, really thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My life

Ok. So. Let’s play a game. A pretending game.

Let’s pretend that unbeknownst to you, someone has been following you around for say, the past 10 or 15 years.

Let’s say they’ve been listening and watching and well, spying.

And taking notes.

Yes. In this pretend story, it’s like a film crew for the Kardashians only you don’t know you’re on film and they aren’t actually filming you, they are writing about you.

And composing.

They are watching, writing, composing and singing.

A friend of my sister’s jokes that she’s going to make a musical about my family, about our lives but she is late to the party.

It’s already been written. Only not about my family.

About me.

Only what if we are not pretending. What if this really happened and one day, all spruced up to see a friend you haven’t seen in more than 20 years—well, spruced up would be a stretch given that you were running so late you didn’t even have time to shower and you were hungry so you did what any self-respecting southerner would do upon arrival into the motherland and you grab a whataburger and you spill mustard on your white shell and you forget to say “no onions” and while you could remove them, you really like the said onions so you eat them and then stop for gum. Yes. All gussied up.

For a night at the theatre.

About 5 minutes before I sat down, I noticed a message from my friend. “Are you familiar with the show?”

No. No I was not.

The show was being presented in what’s called a black box theatre. Small and extremely intimidate; “connecting people with performers in a purposeful and uninterrupted way.”

In other words, you can’t leave.

Not that I would’ve.

Well, I totally would’ve, but I couldn’t.

So I didn’t.

We are no longer pretending here, in case you’re confused.

I have mustard on my shirt. I have onion on my breath and I’m sitting next to one of my closest friends for the past 25 years getting ready to watch another of my closest friends and bar none, the most talented man I’ve ever known.

He walks out on stage and begins to sing. I think, I might cry a little bit. It’s emotional hearing this voice that I love.

Scene 1, 2, 3….I forget. Little weird. Little awkward. Little funny.

My friend leans over, “did you know what this show was about?”

Uhm, no. The only thing that matters is that I get to hear my friend.

Scenes 4, 5, 6. Little weirder. Little awkwarder. Less funny.

My friend leans over, “you didn’t read the playbill did you?”

I laughed. Like a nervous laugh. Like that laugh that’s followed by a little gulping sound and then I begin to cry. I think it’s going to be fast and precious and a little dab will do you but, no.

I was wrong.

Oh. So. Wrong.

I close my eyes. This is not real. This is just my friend. He’s singing to  me. I love to hear him sing.

More crying.

My friend leans over, “this is going to be the longest two hours ever.”

The man to my left looks at me with both concern and secondary embarrassment.

I’ve managed to embarrass a complete stranger.

This woman gets up and sings a song that I wrote. Dang plagiarist. This composer even won a tony.

My tony, thank you very much.

And I become un.freakin.done.

Un done.

So. so. so un-done.

She sings and I can’t catch my breath. I know that if I can just catch my breath this will be fine. All fine. Even funny perhaps. But I can’t catch my breath.

I ask my friend for a tissue. She hands me a suede glass case.

We are far beyond dabbing. I blow.

At one point the story becomes someone else’s. At some point the story becomes different. The woman who sang the song that I wrote that someone plagiarized and won a tony for, doesn’t get divorced. So at that point our stories diverge.

Drastically.

Her husband, the character played by my friend, has had all that he can endure and stands in front of a bus and takes his own life.

Outside the theatre, waiting for my friend, I notice that he is deeply emerged in a very serious conversation and I’m annoyed and impatient and still crying uncontrollably.

No-one could possibly need him as much as I do at this point. I will first hug him. I will then chew his you-know-what for not giving me a little heads up to the story-line. He looks at me, “I’m so sorry!”, his first words.

We walked to a local pub, my two friends and I and we shared and we laughed and we loved and we cried and it was all-shades of wonderful. At one point my actor-friend said, “I don’t want to one-up you or anything, but that couple I was talking to you before you walked up?”

Yes.

“Yeah, 20 years ago, her mother stood in front of a bus. I forgot to tell her the story line too.”

By now, my tears are all dried up and I’m left with this crying-hangover-headache.

We talked about college, marriages and divorces. We talked about passions and dreams and I showed everyone, even strangers, my book cover. My actor-friend is gay and toward the wee hours of what would soon be new morning, we talk about scripture and faith and religion and pig-skins and fat people and the gays.

Jen Hatmaker says in her new book that people will sometimes hate us because of Jesus, but they should never hate Jesus because of us. That our sanctuaries should be a place of grace and refuge and that our faith, and the sharing of our faith, should never leave those hurting, more hurt. Those wanting to be loved, less loved. Those wanting to be heard, less heard.

We want these gifts. These gifts of beauty and theatre and song and dance and we want there to be beauty. But so often we don’t want to acknowledge the package that delivers these gifts. These graces. I want to hear you sing, my friend, but please don’t tell me about your life.

I want to see the beauty of your dance but I don’t nothing else, thank you very much.

Y’all! What is wrong with us? What is wrong with Christians if we turn more people away than we welcome in. What if we want the gifts but nothing of the person who shares them.

Their talents, but not their friendships.

Their hearts (which they lay bare) but not their souls.

I left that night feeling hopeful and grateful and a little bit like, “Really, Lord?”

My friend, in her beautiful way said right after the show, “At first, I thought. Wow. This is going to pick a scab. Then I thought, no, this is like harvesting organs when the person is still alive.”

I felt like my insides had turned inside out. And I had the headache to match. I wondered as I drove back home that night what in the Hell the Lord had been thinking to send me to this particular show. I mean, it’s not like he was surprised. You probably aren’t supposed to say things like to God, but we have a special understanding.

So what’s the lesson, Lord?

To show me that the forgiving and the healing and the hoping are not over? To remind me that while all is well and all will be well, there is this rippling, this pulling of the thread that just won’t tear and ravels on?

Or was this not about me at all? Was this about seeing my friend and hearing my friend and being reminded that Jesus came because God loves us. To be reminded that the “greatest of these” is not judgement or correction or denial but love.

To love God. To love others.

The first time I heard my friend sing was in a pasture somewhere in Arkansas during and outdoor pageant. He sang:

“There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing, no I never heard them at all, ’till there was you. There was love all around but I never heard it singing, No I never heard it at all ’till there was you!”

Of course, I thought he was singing just to me; straight to me and only for me.

Turns out I was wrong. Occasionally this happens.

I think maybe, in the middle of the third row of that tiny black-box theatre. In the middle of the third row that I could in no way escape with the embarrassed man to my left and my “no longer owns a suede glass case” friend to my right, I heard the bells.

Ringing of understanding. Ringing of forgiveness. Ringing of hope.

Perhaps it wasn’t the crying that gave me the headache. Perhaps it was the all the ringing.

I love my actor-friend. I love that he chased dreams I forgot about. I love his kind heart and his generous spirit and his humor. And I love that after so many years and so many memories that it was him, God chose him, to tell and explain and love hard on the story that was my life.

This wasn’t a night of Oklahoma. This wasn’t the Music Man.

But it was real. And hard. And good.

 

 

 

 

Bouncing Balls

 

Here’s the deal. Full disclosure.

I have ICS. (Inappropriate crying syndrome).

I also have ILS. (Inappropriate laughter syndrome).

And occasionally, though not often, I have IFOS. (Illogical freak-out syndrome).

My doctor explains it by saying that the balls that bounce around in my head don’t bounce high enough. Or fast enough. Or maybe they’ve been left in a car in the winter in Nebraska. According to Coulter if this happens to your balls, they will for sure deflate and never be the same again. Not that we’ve ever left balls in the car or shoes or food or bras or —

What?

I take a tiny little pink pill with a very low dosage of the good stuff to combat ICS, ILS and worst of all, IFOS. And it works. It works so well that you decide you no longer need it.

This is much like a diabetic deciding one morning to stop taking insulin. Or someone with high blood pressure deciding he doesn’t like the way the blood pressure medicine makes him feel so one morning he just stops taking it. As if his blood pressure is all of a sudden, normal.

This is a random example, obviously.

So here’s a day in the life of a 40-some mom whose balls don’t bounce just right who one day decided she didn’t need her bouncy-ball-insulin. Or more like 10 days.

Day 1. I feel fine. I tell Mike that I’m going off my bouncy-ball-insulin and if I threaten to divorce him I don’t really mean it.

Day 2. I feel fine. There is no mention of divorce and only one mild episode of IFOS.

Day 3. I decide to send a chapter of my book to my mom to see if it is offensive. I quote Anne Lammot using the f-word, although I don’t say the f-word, I say, ya know, the word. Also have a tiny joke about liking vodka. Two things. 1. I should not have sent just one chapter out of context to my Mother. 2. I should’ve read the chapter during a family meeting with a therapist on-hand. 3. Yes, I know I only said two things. But the third thing is this, I wrote that chapter months ago. The sending of a hard chapter with no notice and no softening and no family meeting with a therapist only happened because of my balls. Ya know, not bouncing.

Later on Day 3. Mike and I are in-charge of the church potluck (dinner on the grounds!). And by in-charge, I mean we were supposed to put food out and then put food away. A lady hands me a box with a casserole dish wrapped in a towel. I take it out. She says she doesn’t want it out. I burst into tears and have to go home.

Literally. I went home. We left the kids in the sanctuary and went home.

Later, later Day 3. I go to bed.

Day 5. Training an in-home client I notice a small house for sale on the lake. It’s darling. It’s on a lake. I must buy this house. I call the realtor. It’s a neighborhood that would not come remotely close to our budget. I’m talking the number before the zeros would totally be the wrong number and yet I call again. And again. I say to Mike, I want to move to the lake. We need to go look at the house. I start looking for boats on pinterest.

Later Day 5. Coulter is confronted by a police officer at Greg’s house. Evidently he is (was) a suspect in a theft. Coulter. Right. The same kid who won’t let me enter through the exit door at Walmart has now started stealing credit cards. Coulter. The same kid who won’t let me use the bus lane for a 6:45 a.m. school drop-off  when there are no buses to be found because, and I quote, “it isn’t worth the risk”. Of course me not taking my insulin has nothing to do with Coulter being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but you can imagine how well I dealt with this.

Day 6. I tell my mother that no-one believes in me. Nobody thinks I can write a book. Nobody thinks I can run a business. Nobody thinks I can raise my children. I am done with this life.

Day 6. I text my friend, Come Lord Jesus. Like today. Let’s just do this thing already. And please take me with you the first time. I do not have a whole 7 year tribulation in me. I’m done. I am tired of being a grow-up.

Day 7. I have a terrible headache. Crazy-gross headache. I work all morning. From 1pm-4pm, that’s 3 hours if you needed help with that, I sit in the salon chair trying to become blonde. My head hurts so badly I think I will die on the spot. My talented colorist keeps coming over and peeking at my hair, then she makes a weird sound, squints her eyes and says confidently, “let’s just give it another 5 minutes.”

Ya know, how bout another 5 minutes.

Well, let’s just blow it out and see.

I think I’ll curl it just a touch and let’s see if that helps.

Well, I tell you what, stop by tomorrow and we’ll look then. The lighting isn’t great in here.

Maybe I’m not really a blond? Well then seriously, come Lord Jesus.

I have wrinkles and fine lines and my sister who’s almost 50 looks younger than I do and my mother who’s 70 has nicer skin than I do and I’m a grandmother with an 8 year-old (who is home alone throwing up after my friend’s husband picked her up from school because I couldn’t very well leave the salon with foil in my hair) and my biz partner with Rodan and Fields has like 4200 people on her team and I started the same year and have like 1. Well not, “like” 1. I actually have one.

My sister.

I am a failure. At everything. To everyone. This is how I feel.

I work all afternoon.

Later later, day 7. I think, I’ve actually lost track of time.

I’ve taken 4 children’s advil. My head still hurts.

I work until 7:15. My husband’s youngest son from his second marriage has a football scrimmage from which I’m picking him up and so I throw on my Bergan shirt and I stare into the sun and look at little people throw balls. I have no idea which one is my husband’s youngest son from his second marriage because I am blinded my the sun and my mind wanders to the solar eclipse. The scrimmage takes forever. Afterwards I see the players scatter and come find their moms.

My charge is no where to be found. I ask friends, I ask moms and walk through this dark tunnel where boys are eating hotdogs and I walk awkwardly close trying to see if I know any of them and I want to cry. God in heaven, how I want to cry but I don’t cry and I continue to look. It’s now almost 9 o’clock. If I ever make it home I will  never leave again. I’m never coming to another football game or basketball game and I just need to find my house. And advil.

I call Mike. IFO. Although this was not really irrational. I was mad. And scared. And starting to panic a little.

My husband’s youngest son from his second marriage beeps in. He had gone home with his mother.

I call Mike again. TJFOS (Totally Justified Freak Out Session).

Later Later Later Day 7. We talk about the difference between being respectful and being selfish. We talk about what it’s like to make a commitment and what it’s like to be scared and confused and embarrassed. We ask for the computer password.

Good times. Where’s the advil?

Day 6, 7, and 8. Mike has no idea how hard I am pursing the purchase of a new house. The realtor has not called me back. It’s as if my phone number or the sound of my voice has given him reason to believe I can’t afford this house. I can’t. But he doesn’t know that. And I’m highly offended that he’s assuming it.

My mother says that we are not to be highly offended.

Day 8. I tell my clients we are moving to the lake. One client has been in this particular house and since it’ll be a fixer-upper, she casually mentions that it’ll be great just as long as I don’t have a need to fix everything at once.

Hmmm. About that. I do love a good DYI project.

Wait. I mean DIY.

My friend, Misti looks at me and says, I’ve got one word for you. “Suburban.”

Come to think of it, I think I had tried to quit my insulin when I bought my suburban as well. You remember my suburban, yes? It’s so pretty and pristine and even though it’s 10 years old, you’d look at it and think it was brand new. A gentleman walking by the other day said, I love that color. It’s a beautiful truck. I replied, “Have you ever looked at a woman and just thought she is absolutely beautiful, what a gorgeous woman and then you got to know her? And she turns out to be a complete bitch? Yes, well, that’s my suburban.”

Did I just talk to a strange man about beautiful women and cars and b-words?

Later day 8. The realtor finally answers. The closing was that day. That day. The day that I was going to buy the house. It had sold. Closed.

Whatever, thank you Jesus.

Later, later, later day 8. I call my doctor. Bouncy-ball insulin, please.

I’ve never considered for a moment that I suffer from depression. I don’t. It’s different But my brain is a like a chemistry project that just didn’t quite work. Like maybe they were supposed to add H20 and instead added CO2. Which just happen to be the only symbols I can remember. My mother did not think I needed chemistry for college and so I didn’t take it. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it’s because she didn’t think I could pass it. 🙂

Mothers do know best.

I don’t like take medicine. But like Coulter, I prefer balls that haven’t been left out in the cold. I prefer my balls to bounce.

Pretty sure my family prefers it as well.

Now, just between us, if anyone hears of a house on the lake for sale will you please let me know.

 

 

 

Nothin Hurt.

4th of July.

This year, I celebrated our freedom with a nap, a Netflix binge and another nap.

I haven’t been home since last February.

Some people own their own business and they work 24-7-7 and they never take a vacation and they never take a nap.

I started my own business so I could go on vacations and take naps.

And most of the time, I remember to tell my clients.

Well, some of the time.

Sorry, JoAnn.

4th of July also marks the end of baseball season and for the record, Club Fitness will be closed next June 2018. Being a baseball mom is a tough gig.

I love baseball. I first fell in love with the game as a freshman in college.

The game.

#12.

I forget which.

My heart has since moved from the Razorback diamond to the Nighthawks.

I love watching these boys play. They are rock-stars, in my humble mom opinion.

And I love our team of moms and step-moms and lesbians who are getting married-moms. I love our awesome coach-dads and step-dads and ex-step dads and single dads and the all-american 2.2 kids with a dog and picket fence dads.

Coulter’s team is a picture of America and what I believe the land of the free actually represents.

Baseball is my favorite.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about how to be a good baseball mom.

Evidently it’s poor form to yell at the other team’s kid in the outfield to “Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!”

It’s also poor form to yell, “Crime in Italy, are you blind, ump?”

If you have young children, I’m sure you’ve read the blogs that have been posted and re-posted about our role as a youth-athlete parent.

Shut-up, clap and tell them how fun it is to watch them play is pretty much all we are supposed to do.

So boring.

What’s curious to me is that no such blog posts  circulate regarding the umps or the coaches. Or, gasp.

The players.

My number one goal is to encourage my son. I do tell him he’s fun to watch because he is. My number two goal is not to embarrass him.

Having said that, if the ump makes a jack-ass call, I’m probably gonna say something like, ‘’Come on blue!”

That’s it. I’m not gonna say, “Come on blue, that was a jack-ass call, you jack-ass.”

I wouldn’t say that. Because nice baseball moms don’t do that.

And it would embarrass my son and people know that I’m a Christian and Christians are not supposed to call people jack-asses.

I read that somewhere. Maybe Phillipians.

We drew the lottery when it comes to coaches. I could not be more grateful for the men who lead our boys.

That has not always been the case. One of Coulter’s first experiences was with a complete jack-ass of a coach and he once told Coulter not to bother showing up to the next game.

He was 8.

I emailed the coach that Coulter didn’t understand jack-ass sarcasm and therefore had taken the advice literally and would not be at the next game.

In the end Coulter decided to show up for his team. Not his jackass coach but his team.

I didn’t actually call him a jack-ass coach in the email, again because of the Christian thing.

I’ve read the posts. I understand my role.

I’ve learned that Coulter doesn’t like me to yell, “Come on darlin’ you’ve got this! Mommy knows you can do it, “ and that my husband prefers me to not yell, “sucker!” when we strike someone out.

Whatever. Message received. But I’ve got a little something to add.

For the moms who sit quietly behind the fence, knitting afghans and politely clapping, I offer this:

Dear Blue,

You are not volunteering, you are being paid. I know this, because I took out a second mortgage on my home to pay for your salary. I am happy to pay your salary so long as you know the rules.

So know them.

Next. Please make your calls audible. It helps the knitting go more quickly when we know if a pitch is a strike or a ball. Sometimes you sound like my 2 year-old grand daughter playing the quiet game.

Speak the hell up.

And know the rules. Wait, I already said that.

You are human. You won’t be perfect. I get that. But our kids are trying their best and so should you.

Speaking of kids.

Youth athletes.

Did I mention the second mortagage?

Try your best. Care. Show up.

Parents are investing in you. Not in your future career as a MLB pitcher but in your future, period.

I love watching Coulter play baseball. I love watching him become part of a team. Learning how to win and lose and fail and get back up and not give up and watching him play ball, baseball in particular, is fun.

But this isn’t a gift. It’s a contract. An investment.

And I think it’s fair to expect a return on my investment.

You aren’t six anymore. This isn’t t-ball. We aren’t going to yell “that’s OK buddy” when you miss a fly ball because you’re building sandcastles in the dirt.

And the cartwheel was cute when you were 6.

You’re coaches have invested crazy amounts of time and energy and their own second mortages to invest in you. You owe them. You don’t owe them perfect at-bats or perfect fielding or even a winning season. But you owe them your best.

You owe them passion and grit and determination.

And when you show up with that, then it’s easy to fall in line as the well-behaved baseball mom. Because when those kids show up, they are crazy-fun to watch.

Senator Sasse has written a book called the Vanishing American Adult. I haven’t read it yet, because I’m boycotting the big publishing companies who publish your book because, oh I don’t know, you’ve done the hard work of becoming an senator 🙂 and for some reason, owning your own fitness studio and being a baseball mom don’t seem to garner the same attention—whatever.

I’m teasing.

I will be reading said book.

The real reason I haven’t is because I’ve been very busy reading, “Stop dressing your 6-year-old like a skank”

I’m fairly certain they are pretty much the same book.

I think it’s OK to expect our kids to show up. To work hard. To try.

I know all the good baseball terms. I yell “OK, turn two, battle two,, strike two” like the best of them. One thing you’ll never hear me say is “OK, nothin’ hurt.”

Nothin hurt.

2 reasons.

Coulter hit a batter once last season and I yelled “Nothing hurt!” My husband looked at me and said, “Well except the batter”. I burst out laughing and then couldn’t quit.

ILS. (Inappropriate laughter syndrome)

Laughing when a player gets hurt is not considered proper baseball mom etiquette.

Also, If you strike out because you forgot to swing, I’m not gonna yell nothing hurt. If you forget to catch a ball because you were checking your snapchat, I’m not gonna yell nothing hurt and if you drop your iphone 5 on the concrete and shatter the screen, I am so not going to yell “Nothing hurt.”

I’m just going to yell. Or sing.

And when you want me to buy you a new phone before Friday because you are an American child and you need a phone like you need a hip, I’m going to quote from a book that I haven’t read about adults vanishing.

He doesn’t understand that I’m not buying him a phone because I want to teach him about hard work and delayed gratification. So I explained further. We had a lesson on entitlement and how that in this amazing land of the free, one must work first and get paid second. He still argued and debated and presented his case so finally I gave up. I’m like, look. It’s Mr. Ben’s fault. Some where in his book (after I read it, after I finish reading, “Bless your heart, Tramp”, ) I’m certain I’ll find strong evidence that I’m not supposed to buy you a new phone.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of a new phone. Wait. That doesn’t sound right.

Sorry darlin’. You can do this. You can do hard things and survive with a shattered phone. You can work to earn money. You can save it. You can do hard things. I believe in you.

Nothin’ hurt.

Unless you cut yourself on that shattered mess of a phone. In that case, I apologize in advance for laughing.

ILS. The struggle is real.

 

OK. So.

I have a new favorite author.

I stumbled onto a kitschy (kitchy?) little bookstore during our recent trip to Tropical Storm Cindy.

I mean, Florida.

I have been looking for a new fav.

Two of my three favorite authors have become lesbians and it’s not the lesbian part that bothers me. It’s the

They. Were. Married. Part.

Ya know, to men.

I know this makes me sound like a mean ‘ol judgy june-bug (no idea where that one came from) but it makes me mad.

That they were married.

They are still brilliant writers, of course, and if they write a book, say about how to survive a Tropical Storm when 5 kids want to swim in the ocean — I mean the gulf, then <em>for sure</em>, I will read it.

I’m just not going to read any more of their books on marriage.

For the record, my favorite lesbian cousin is a lesbian.

See what I did there? I have many, <em>many</em> amazing cousins.

So I guess I should say one of my favorite people <em>in all the world</em> is a lesbian for whom I have crazy amounts of love and respect.

Even though she did dunk my head in a trash-barrel full of water to get soap out of my head.

Cousins. Ah, the memories.

Anyway. Respect.

Why?

Because she didn’t forget that she was a lesbian and marry a man.

Please don’t write me mean letters.

And I totally get that saying I have a cousin who’s a lesbian is also a little like saying “I’m not racists because I have a black friend.”

Anyway.

 

My new author.

Celia Rivenbark.

Quit reading this blog and go get her books.

I’m currently reading “Rude Bitches Make Me Tired.”

And they do, yes?

Yesterday I read, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.”

Again, nailed it!

Maybe it’s not my authors that I’m mad at after all, maybe I just need to laugh more and think about failed marriages less.

Paul Tripp says that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about <em>yourself</em>, less.

I think that’s why I love the ocean.

You can’t help but forget yourself. Forget your failed marriage. Forget.

And instead, remember Him.

Like the tide comes up and washes away writings in the sand, He has washed my past clean.

Our first full day in what I will now be referring to as “My new <strong>very happy</strong> place,” it poured.

The kids found a place in Destin (about an hours drive from my new <strong>very happy</strong> place.

I will say nothing more about it’s location.

Wait. I put in on Facebook.

Dang.

Anyway, they found a place with laser tag and putt-putt golf and arcades.

In other words, hell.

I promised my husband an assortment of favors if I didn’t have to go.

He loves me that much.

After they left, I put on a bunch of clothes. I grabbed a big blue umbrella usually referred to as a sun umbrella and I set up camp on the beach.

Ocean air. Sand. Salt water.

Actually if it hadn’t been for the kiddos, it would’ve been perfect.

Wait. I don’t mean the trip would’ve been more perfect without kiddos. Good grief. What kind of mom would that make me. A trip to the beach with no children. Silly.

I meant the weather.

I was alone on the beach.

In Florida.

In June.

Ridiculously Awesome.

I struggled to get the umbrella deep enough into the sand so I was holding it (ya know, against hurricane force winds), when a big gust sent my umbrella (and me) sailing. Instead of retrieving the umbrella, I just moved my chair and towel (serving as a blanket) to it’s new location.

I’m smart like that.

When my husband got home (and by home, I mean our “framily’s” home. (that’s friends who are family in case you think that’s a typo.)

I never have typos. I alway proof my work.

Except when I don’t.

When he got home, he had this look on his face as if to say, “there are not enough favors in all the world…”

The next day was better. We couldn’t get into the water, but it wasn’t raining and the kids built sandcastles.

And dug holes.

And all I could think about was the documentary I had seen about kids getting sucked into the earth because they dug a hole too deep but I really didn’t want to be a total joy-kill so I sat there and silently prayed that no-one would get swallowed up.

Mike offered engineering advice and you could tell he was really getting into the whole fortress thing, but the kids weren’t interested.

I seriously think they hurt his feelings.

Next, the cousins rode their bikes a couple miles into the neighboring town.

I think they were looking for girls.

And snow-cones.

All I know is that I gave them (our 2) each a $50 bill and I didn’t see a dime back.

That’s a heck of a snow cone.

I have precious memories of time spent with my cousins and I’m so thankful for a week watching this generation of cousins do the same.

Looking at a picture of the 5 boys, I can’t help but think of the children’s song, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.”

We have half-brothers and step-brothers and but for the grace of God, never-would’ve-been brothers.

All. Precious in His sight.

Even lesbian authors who got married.

Twice.

Even authors who title their book, “We’re the same only prettier.”

Well, duh.

I’m headed to church now.

I need me some preachin’. I need me some church family. I need me a Jay Nemeck hug (I’m sorry that your church doesn’t come with that)—

Plus, I need to ask forgiveness for my weird anger issues regarding Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Single Mother. The Every Mother.

….the married, the divorced ,the widowed mother. The working mother. The working from home mother. The over-worked, out-of-work, forgot-to-go-to-work mother.

The childless mother.

The adoptive mother.

The “I placed my children up for adoption” mother.

Being a single mother is the hardest job on the planet. I see this. Hear this. All the time.

At first I agreed. And then I re-married and it was still hard.

Trust is, I’m still a single mom.

If Emma Claire’s sick, she’s not going to call out to her step-dad in the middle of the night.

And my guess is even if you’re married to the father of your children, if it’s 2 a.m. they’re calling for you.

The mom.

“Single mom,” I’ve come to understand is redundant.

You can lean on, rely on and run to their dad, a friend, or even (or especially!) your own mom but this mothering thing is a solo gig.

Last week, at our fake-book signing event, “Finding Pearls”, I sang a duet with my long-time friend and incredible vocalist, Rachel.

I also said the F-word. But it was on accident.

As in I accidentally told a story that used the f-word.

Most of my friends who had gathered, didn’t know I could sing. The laughed that my singing voice was so much different than my personal training voice. I offered to sing our workouts in the future.

I told them it was only because of Rachel that I sounded that way. I told them it’s like have blue eyes and wearing a blue shirt that makes your skin glow and your eyes pop.

Singing with Rachel is like me wearing pink. Pink makes me pretty and Rachel, or my sister, or anyone at all that is a better vocalist than I, makes me sound better than I really am.

Do y’all remember “Color Me Beautiful”? It was a program that helped you find the right colors. Some of my clients were laughing and remembering this the other day and I’m like it’s no joke, y’all. We had the book and the swatches and the color wheels and to this day, if I wear an “off” color, my mother will gently remind me that yellow or brown or whatever it is, is not “really your color, dear.”

But Rachel? She’s my color.

And I think mothering is a whole lot like singing with more talented vocalists. All we can do is surround ourselves with a village of friends and family and husbands (Plural. Don’t be jealous,) who support our singular work of mothering and make us better. Make us stronger. Make us see just how weak we really are and remind us to run to our single Father.

Grey’s Anatomy called it “your person.”

Moms must find their person. For me, it’s my husband. My person helps when the working-outside-the-home-mom and the working-inside-the-home-mom-crash.

Everyday I tell him three things.

“Getting married was the dumbest thing we ever could have done.”

“Never mind. The is the best decision we’ve ever made and I will love you forever. ”

And.

“I lost my wallet. And Margie’s check. And my keys. Wait. I found my keys and the check. But for sure the wallet is missing. Our bank accounts will be drained and Myra Katherine Hales will start popping up everywhere. Oh. And before I forget, someone stole my sunglasses. Well, probably not, but they are gone as well.”

My person. My husband. He found my wallet under the lawn mower and my glasses in the cereal cabinet.

We are all single mothers. Working mothers. Married, widowed, divorced, fighting for joy mothers.

And sometimes single, working, married, widowed, divorced, fighting for joy mothers write books. And they host fake-book signings.

 

Which for this single momma has been enlightening and scary and hurtful and ya know, a little bit amazing.

I though it was a totally normal thing to write a book and then talk about it.

Apparently, it’s not.

I also thought it was a totally normal thing to write a book, bring in your computer, and all your loose leaf papers and notes and re-writes to said event and host a fake book-signing.

Again, apparently it’s not.

And when things are not normal, you get asked a lot of questions.

So here, in no particular order are my responses to the top 3 questions I’ve been asked.

Whatever, you know there’s going to be more than three. I have no idea why I said that.

  1. Have you finished your book? Yes.
  2. Are you going to self-publish your book? No.
  3. This must be therapeutic for you. Uhm. OK. I guess. If you think reliving my failures and mistakes and sharing intimate details of said failures and mistakes is therapeutic then yes. I can thinking of nothing (except maybe a massage, an exotic island vacation, prayer, journaling, a private yacht, a personal chef wait, I digress)….no. You are right. I can thinking of nothing more therapeutic than reliving the past.
  4. Are you going to be careful about what you say? Uhm, well probably not so much. One must be considerate and forgiving and full of grace, but when you’re telling the truth, being careful is not necessary.
  5. Are there going to be bad words in your talk? Just kidding, no-one actually asked me this, but I’ll answer anyway. Three. There will be three bad words.. Actually one bad word was planned, but then I got annoyed (which rarely happens and is not at all a sinful issue of pride) and so I added two. But then I lost my notes and while I was talking, I remembered what a bitch the  opposing attorney had been and I accidentally called her amazon bitch lady lawer, which is not nice at all because calling names is not appropriate and calling out the fact that she was a woman is a little bit sexist and unnecessary, but for the record she was a girl.

An attorney.

And she was—well—

Pretty bitchy.

The best question and the hardest question and the easiest question is “Why?”

Why do you want to talk about, write about, and share about your story—

I don’t know.

Maybe because I once heard something about how water runs into the dead sea, but not out of the dead sea and so everything dies. And not sharing my story feels like letting the water flow to me, but not through me and it feels like death.

Maybe because I want Satan to know that when I get up, when I wake up,  I’m going to keep standing up to make sure women are heard and understood and believed. None of this crap that a woman’s testimony is not to be believed (sorry Biblical jewish culture people, but this is 2017.)

Because I want women to know that if their husband loves them and cares for them, then start watering your own dang grass because the grass next door is dead.

Plus it has dandelions. A lot of them. And you’d think if the grass was dead that the dandelions would also be dead, but not so. Those suckers will.

Not.

Die.

Because I want women to know that if your husband does not love you and does not care for you that there are options beyond a lifetime of “wow. this really sucks.”

Because I want the Lord to be glorified and honored and blessed. For others to hear of his grace and his mercy and his promises that he keeps.

Every.

Single.

Time.

Plus, I gotta tell you.

I really love microphones.

And I love re-telling this story about my attorney, my silver and the f-word. Because I love finding humor in the muck. Because I love making fun of myself and remembering that you can’t pour grapes.

Right?

As Oswald Chambers said, you can drink grapes. You have to smash ’em up. I’ve been smashed up. And my guess is, so have you.

So, What the Hell?! This Mother’s day,  let’s pour a little glass—big glass—whatever kind of glass—filled with smashed grapes. Lets love Jesus, love others and remember that whatever kind of momma—single, married or otherwise—this is a hard gig.

For all of us.

P.s. if you mother is living and you live away, I highly recommend calling on Saturday just to be safe. One year, the phones were jammed because it evidently has the highest number of phone calls then any other day in the year.

Come to think of it, that was before cell phones. You’ll probably be fine to wait for Sunday.

P.s.s. if you happen to mail your present to your mother, unwrapped, and you plan to ask your father to wrap it for you, keep in mind that men are not good with cell phones and he might accidentally send a picture of your gift to your mom. While that’s unlikely, since I’m sharing “Pearls of wisdom” I thought I’d pass that along. No reason for that pearl to end up in the dead sea. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Standing in my Circle

I read the most wonderful meditation this week. It was written by Alexandria Stoddard and was a gift from my Mother. Either this Christmas or 8 years ago.

I forget.

It takes me a long time to decide I’m going to read a book that someone else chose for me. Remember how long it took me to catch on to Jen?

For the Love!

Circle. Alexandria, in this devotion, gave the visual of a circle.

And we are in the middle. Well, I’m in the middle. You’ve got your own circle.

We used to say, “you’re in my space”.

Now we say, “you’re in my bubble.”

It really means the same thing. Stay in your own circle.

🙂

I’m a dot. In the middle of the circle. This is my life.

For much of the past few years, my dot has been bouncing all around, hitting the surface of my circle and re-acting to pretty much anything or anyone who annoys me.

She hurt my feelings.

Bounce.

Oh my gosh, that is so not true!

Boing.

I will not respond. I will not respond. Are you kidding me? I must respond!

Ping.

Did you see what she wrote on Facebook?

Pong.

That is me. A ping-pong ball.

“Be Still and know that I am God.” has got to be the most ridiculously unrealistic verse in the Bible. God had no idea what I’d be up against or this never would’ve been required!

Coulter recently learned to play beer pong. Thank you David Dykes.

(Which I get is a leap from what God is requiring of me.) Stay with me.

Fortunately, there was no beer involved, nor do I think Coulter knows that beer is usually involved. He thinks it just a funny name.

He’s also the kid who was scared to get a pina colada sucker because he had heard once that a pina colada was alcohol. I assured him the sucker was safe.

So for the past month, we’ve been bouncing balls into cups and while the sound is seriously disturbing, I at least get to sit.

Coulter doesn’t like to sit. Last week, he pleaded with me to jump on the trampoline.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think 44 year-old women should jump on trampolines. At some point this becomes dangerous.

I’m already super close to needing reading glasses. And by super close, I mean I actually need them.

Anyone who’s old enough to wear reading glasses should not be allowed on a trampoline.

So beer pong is the compromise. We even once played it on the trampoline.

It’s almost impossible to aim. To control. To plan. It’s dumb luck and I think my ball has made it into the cup twice.

But the sound. Oh my word, y’all. This jolting sound of the bouncing is horrible.

It’s like you’re on a fire truck, sirens blazing and on the inside of the truck there’s a super annoying kid, scratching his fingers on the chalkboard and the other super annoying kid, on the fire truck, with the chalkboard, is BOTTLE FLIPPING!

Bless my heart, the sounds.

I recently look a test that determined, surprisingly (not surprisingly) that I am a highly sensitive person.

I’ve written about this before. I love that it doesn’t say overly.

I’m not overly sensitive. I’m the perfect amount of sensitive for me.

My HSP (highly sensitive personality) test score was higher than my ACT score.

Never mind. I turned out fine.

Here’s my own test that you can take to determine your HSP numbers.

Number 1. If you were to commit a crime (accidentally of course) and the judge offered you two options for your punishment, which would you choose?

A.) A year in a private jail cell (with books, duh!) or

B.) 3 days of continuous bottle flipping.

Question number 2.

You are invited on an exotic vacation, the trip of an absolute lifetime, but the person who’s taking you eats loudly. Do you, A. go,  or B., politely decline with something lame about needing to clean your house that weekend.

Number 3 and Final question. You husband pulls out an empty cardboard container from the fridge that once held yogurt and sweetly teases, are we refrigerating our recyclables, now?

You A. Burst into tears. or B.

There is no B.  Of course you burst into tears. What kind of opposite of highly sensitive person are you, anyway?

Balls. Annoying sounds. Bouncing off the hard wood floors.

Annoying sounds. Bouncing off the circle that is my life.

What if I stood. Instead of bouncing, reacting to every annoying person, every hurt feeling, every offended sensibility and what if I stood.

In His Word? In the truth? In my cirle.

Two years ago, when Mike and I married, I wanted instant happy.

Happily ever after.

That day. I did not want to plant or grow or dig in or prune.

Lord have mercy, I did not want to be pruned either.

I wanted a flower garden. With butterflies. And children who sing and happily chase said butterflies.

Bahahahahaha!

We can bloom.

But first we plant.

Quit bouncing

Dig in.

Be still.

Know that He is God.

Know that He is good.

And pray that after bottle flipping passes, the next youtube craze will be blowing dandelions.

In my garden.

With butterflies and people who eat quietly. 🙂

 

10 Things I’ve Lost

I landed at DFW, gate B44. My flight to Texarkana on the tiny bounce-up-and-down-you-are-for-sure-going-to fall-to-your-death plane was leaving out of B2.

I exercise for a living so this should not be difficult.

But I was wearing my cute little shorty boots with 4-inch heels and these boots were actually not made for walking.

And I was wearing said heels because my jeans are too long and heels are necessary.

Apparently, I’m shrinking. The doctor’s office says 5’4, but my drivers license says 5’5 and drivers license never lie.

These are the jeans that cost more than my car, and to be honest, given the fact that I bought a LEMON from the GRETNA AUTO MALL, they are worth more than my car. These are my jeans that still fit. Not the jeans that became victim to my week-long experimentation with steroids.

By the way, my neck still hurts and Dr. Hynes is a jerk.

Which brings me to the first thing I’ve lost over the past 20 years.

My ability to keep my mouth shut.

 

And so I said to Dr. Hynes PA, “Your boss is an ass.”

And I said it because it was true.

Anyway. Jeans. Heels.

DFW airport.

In the 20-some years that I’ve lived in the midwest, I’ve flown into DFW dozens of times and I always see someone I know.

And I always look tired and hard, as if life has just beaten me right on down and I know they are thinking, “Yikes. Wonder what went wrong in her life!”

But today I was ready. I looked like a million—well, more like a couple hundred—bucks.

Whatever.

My feet hurt and my back hurt and we already know that my neck hurts and DFW is renovating so the entire walk was concrete. I made my way past anything and everything that resembled civilization. The arrows to B2 kept pointing straight ahead. I came to a corridor with not one.

Other.

Person.

In the Dallas airport, y’all. It’s got to be one of the busiest airports in the country and I was flippin’ alone!

And that’s when it happened. I was in the middle of an NCIS episode. And it was that part where’d you yell at the television, “You stupid woman! What are you doing? Don’t go in there!”

It was clear to me that at any minute the bad guy would appear and everyone would be all sad that I’d been abducted but secretly they’d wonder why I’d been so stupid as to walk down a creepy hallway, alone, past construction, past the very.

Last.

Starbucks.

“What was she thinking?” Y’all would’ve asked.

Number 2. My inability to understand that my life is not a television drama.

Although sometimes I’m certain I could have my own reality t.v. show.

 

I found my gate. I sat down at the little computer, plug-in kiosk thing and I take a breath. A gentleman sits down next to me, his, a fine southern-drawl, that reminds me I’m almost home and he says, “I hope I won’t bother you sittin’ here next to ya.”

“Not at all.” I lie.

Oh. My. Gosh. Walk away! Of course you’re bothering me. You are in my bubble. You have popped my bubble.

 

I can’t breathe.

Number 3. My natural southern-born-ability to make small-talk. Midwesterners, in general, are much more reserved and I seem to have adopted this, in sorts, and I do love people—sorta. I sorta love people—but not this man. Not now.

For the Love of God, please don’t make me talk to this nice man.

“Where ya headed?”

“De Queen.”

“You know Bud Gentry?”

Yes.

Everybody knows Bud.

And loves Bud.

Gentry Chevrolet. Where I should’ve bought my car.

My sister called. Thank you sweet Jesus.

I hesitated to answer because I’d forgotten to tell my siblings that I was coming home.

And I was certain that the overhead voices of “last call for flight 5782” would give me away.

#4. My memory.

And I blame my children.

It’s as if when the kiddos come out they hold tight to that piece of you that is able to remember things like telling your siblings you’re  coming home.

And food.

Last week, Emma Claire asked me at 8:00p.m. what we were having for supper.

Seriously? I need to remember to feed them every night? This feels completely unreasonable and over-the-top.

Speaking of.

Emma Claire, probably hungry because we also forgot to eat breakfast, could not begin to comprehend the idea that I was visiting her CeCe And Pop without her.

But I’m here. Without her. 🙂

They are my parents, I explained.

I still have parents! I still get to be the daughter!

And how can you not remember breakfast? I wake up thinking about food.

Over the last 12 years, (#5) I’ve lost the idea that I was a daughter before I became a Mother.

A daughter. Of my parents.

A daughter.

Of the King.

Daughters run off planes excited to see their parents.

Seriously, I forgot how fun that is.

And a daughter is not expected to have all the answers.

A daughter is not expected to understand that life is hard.

Daughters don’t have knots in their neck and knots in their legs and daughters don’t get knots.

Grown-ups do. Mothers do.

A daughter can cry to her mother, “that’s so unfair!”

Speaking of.

Yesterday the Mexican woman that has worked (legally) for my parents for the past 25 years spoke about her friends and family who are scared of today.

Mexicans, Hispanics, Mexican-Americans—people—that’s all that really matters, right? People—who are deeply rooted in this community. Mexicans who have revitalized a ghost town. Revitalized a downtown. Brought business and restaurants and bought houses (and paid cash) and the Catholic Church that was a relic? An empty museum that I drove by my entire life? Is now packed throughout the week.

With celebrations. With worship. With people who love Jesus.

And she says, “they’re fleeing”. They are selling their houses and pulling their children from our schools and they are leaving businesses  behind and since I’m feeling more like a rebellious daughter than a responsible Mother, I’d like to offer a challenge.

No. Wait. Daughter’s don’t challenge. They dare.

I dare the current administration to visit our little town in Southwest Arkansas. Immigration? Consolidation? The blending of faiths and cultures and languages—the blending of the ultimate step-family? Well. This town got it right. And before we go building walls and ripping apart families, somebody should visit.

And like a child in school, they should take notes.

Ok, where was I?

Number 6. I loss the ability to filter. Wait. Maybe we already covered it, but I’m guessing it bares (bears?) mentioning again.

Number 7. I lost people whom I loved with all my heart. My Grandmother Pearl. My Mammaw, my aunt Betty, my aunt Mooney, my aunt Ida, my aunt Ann. Incredibly strong women who are completely to blame for the aforementioned #6. 🙂

Number 8. I lost weight. And I gained weight. And I lost weight again. And I took steroids and my zipper broke. When my aunt Betty was a young mother, my Grandmother Pearl told her to “throw away the damn books.”

Trust your instincts.

Throw away the damn scales.

Eat healthy and trust your body.

(About half of my clients just rolled their eyes. I know. It’s OK. Keep the damn scales!) 🙂

Number 9. I lost my way. A thousand times, I lost my way. Not all who wander are lost, but I was.

Amazing grace. I once was lost but now I’m found.

Number 10. My keys. My shoes. My mind. My sunglasses.

I know. I know. If you buy cheap sunglasses you don’t care if you lose them, but after one summer of wearing those big black “over” sunglasses (the sunglasses you wear over regular glasses) I decided it was time to invest in nice shades or be alone forever.

The last time I lost them, I drove all over town retracing my steps only time find them in the cereal cupboard.

Because, duh. That’s where you’d put them if the first thing you thought about when you got home was cereal.

I also lost my wallet once. It was underneath the lawnmower.

Again, duh.

That’s all for now. I’d try to come up with something profound to end, but I’m at home (daughter!) My mom is making sweet treats while my Dad (who can no longer eat anything but dry barely) is at work. I will eat my sweet treats, have a pedicure and then my dad and I are spending the day at the farm.

Who knows what we’ll lose there.

Better yet.

Who knows what we’ll find!

 

 

 

 

 

My neck hurts. Like life is just literally a pain in the neck.

Well, not life so much.

Facebook. I think Facebook is making my neck hurt.

My neck hurts so terrifically that I just noticed I was spelling it with a K.

KNECK.

What is wrong with me?

Wait. Maybe that’s right.

I would like to preface this by reminding you dear readers that I’m obviously a very poor speller and I have a very high tolerance for pain.

Until I don’t.

I birthed both of my babies without an epidural.

Partially because I wanted to be able to say I had done it.

Partially because I was afraid of the giant needle.

Partially (ok mostly) because I remember the insurance lady at the hospital telling us that it was an additional $700.

So let’s review. High tolerance for pain. Low tolerance for a $700 needle.

It’s also the reason I don’t like going to the doctor. Because I don’t want to pay for their years of study and experience. I much prefer to pretend that I went to medical school.

I come by this very naturally. My family and I have great confidence in our abilities to diagnose.

My sister has diagnosed me with Asthma, GIRD and a loss of effervesce.

Oh wait. That wasn’t an illness. That was my life.

My neck.

It hurts.

So I broke down and went to the doctor. The minute I walked in, regret set in.

Do you know who goes to the doctor in January?

Sick people. Flu-contagious, sneezy, coughy, pukey, sick people.

And don’t get me started with their height and weight charts.

I tried not to panic, but as it became apparent that I was shrinking in my older age, I realized that my immune system was failing.

Did I mention that while having a high tolerance for pain, I can also be a raging hypochondriac.

I left there with the flu.

Not really.

But probably.

And a host of prescriptions.

For the record, I did not fill the pain meds. I am a closet drug-addict.

Meaning I’m not a drug-addict, but I could be. Let’s remember, I’ve been to medical school.

I know things.

I did fill the steroids.

Prednisone.

Oh. Good. Gravy, y’all. Steroids are terrifically awesome.

Until they weren’t.

Until they made my face puffy.

Until the zipper in favorite pair of jeans split right in two.

Into?

My favorite jeans that cost more than the epidural I was too cheap to have.

Kidding.

Sorta.

So I did the smart thing.

I quit taking said steroids.

In the middle. Evidently you’re not supposed to do that.

So now I’m nauseous and I’m tired.

And my neck (with an N) still hurts.

The puffiness in my face has gone down. Which I realized is probably not going to lift the depression of Betsy who knows nothing about education becoming the secretary of education, but it is still happy news for me.

And my face.

Just not for my children. Or their future.

Furthermore, I have a large bump on the side of my face. It is not a pimple. It is not a bug bite of any kind.

It is a “you’re face is already puffy and your favorite jeans don’t fit and Donald Trump is the president, so let’s just add a giant growth to the side of your face to add insult to injury” kind of bump.

Just kidding about Donald Trump. I don’t write about politics.

Not kidding about Betsy.

Or my neck.

We have a new member at club fitness who also happens to be a talented Chiropractor. We will call her Dr. Kate.

Because that’s her name.

Evidently she finds it distracting to see me training with a giant pain patch on my neck so she has taken me under her wing and pampered me and loved me.

And she cares that my neck hurts.

She even put an afghan on my feet during treatments.

Because I was cold.

Which, since I’m already on a Alexander’s having a very bad, horrible, rotten no-good kind of day, theme, I should just tell you that I’m always cold.

Until I’m not.

Until my Mother, God rest her soul, wait—

She’s not dead. 😉

Until my Mother, God bless her heart, projected onto my sister and me the worst peri-menopausal symptoms in the history of the world. And I think it secretly brings her joy.

Well, just joy. She’s not so secret about it. Evidently she doesn’t think we gave her enough sympathy during the Big-M days.

Afghan. Cold. Yes.

I’m always cold.

Until I’m not. Until I’m a raving lunatic, opening windows, shedding well beyond what would be considered an appropriate level of clothes—

Yes, until I’m not.

So. I was going to wrap this up all nice and everything.

That’s my thing, right? But I got nothin’.

Maybe I should  at least end with the acknowledgment that these are all  something I like to call 1st-world problems.

Meaning I’m fully aware that there are bigger issues right now than my jeans with a busted zipper.

Bigger as in the giant bump on my face that is not a pimple.

 

Just kidding.

Bigger as in hard.

Come, Lord Jesus, hard.

I don’t think the Lord is asking me to go out and change the world today which is good because I’m really tired.

Today I’m gonna pray for those of us who are suffering. For those of us who could not imagine the luxury of an entire afternoon to just sit around and write about the big ‘ol pain in their neck.

To sit around and look for pokey objects that might help rid herself of weird bumps.

To sit around with a heating pad and a bag of ice. Not for therapy but just for the massive swings between cold and hot.

It’s not in me today to change the world or even write something eloquently about wanting to change the world. Instead, I’ll remember what Ann Voskamp says.

Thanksgiving precedes the miracle.

And so today I give thanks.

And wait for miracles.

Your. Mine.

Ours.

And if y’all want to pray for my neck, well that’d be OK too.

 

Perfect Timing.

Several weeks ago, it came to me. I’m either gonna write this book.

Or I’m not.

I found out, through a dear friend, about a place specifically designed for writers.

I applied and was accepted.

One week.

Alone.

No children.

No husband.

No training.

One week later, I took a strengths-finder test from Gallup and 4 of my 5 top strengths suggest the following action item:

Scheduling time alone.

I love it when I’m right.

But then.

Everything went wrong.

My dad had a small stroke.

I bought a car. Because it was pretty and I wanted it. And evidently when your dad has a stroke, buying a car is just something that you have to do.

WT*?

My dad had another stroke. Or an extension or something.

I wanted to be in Arkansas.

With my dad.

We took my shiny new (used) car and headed south.

Within 60 miles there were sirens (literally!) and beeps and flashing lights and yada, yada, I still don’t have my car back from the maintenance shop (4 weeks later and an auto-shop and warranty company that can’t seem to agree on anything) and I am reminded of this truth.

You have to look deep inside to know if something or someone is beautiful. The shiny red coat does not tell the full story.

We drove back to Nebraska. For one day.

I wanted to be back with my dad.

We got a rental. A rental that the car company was supposed to pay, but, wait, no it was the warranty company that was supposed to pay, no wait!

Myra Katherine, you must pay. 🙂

And by Myra Katherine, I of course mean Mike.

No problemo! Not like I just bought a new car or anything.

And, again, by new I mean used.

We went back to Arkansas. Because that’s what I wanted to do.

The pattern in my life lately is just, ya know, doing what I want to do.

I returned to Nebraska. Still no car.

And it’s not so much that the car needs repair it’s the sinking feeling that nothing’s actually happening. That my car has been abandoned in some work-shop parking lot and oh wait.

That is actually what’s happening.

I’m not going to call out the dealership. God calls us to “be at peace with all men” so far as it is possible.

And so I’m trying.

Dang. They should really be happy that of the 50 or so scriptures I know by heart, the whole keep at peace with others is one of them.

I’ll admit, though that keeping peaceful hasn’t been easy and on two occasions the “Cindy” in me might have surfaced.

After the first Cindy, I was offered a loaner.

(My mother (aka Cindy) is the strongest woman I know,  and we tease her but my sister and I are ever grateful that we inherited a small portion of her moxie and  strength!!)

After the second Cindy, nothing much happened, but I suspect they won’t be calling me sweetheart again any.

Time.

Soon.

Seriously. This is 2016. I may be an idiot for buying a car from you, but I’m sure as hell not your sweetheart.

Praise be to God for that.

Anyway. A few things going on, which brings me to—

Perfect timing.

Right? I’ve been to Arkansas twice this month, took a trip to NYC (for my Mother and Dad who had planned, but were obviously unable, to take Coulter. I know. Such a sacrifice. I’m so giving like that! 😉 and I have no car.

So. As you can see, this is the perfect time to leave town.

And yet it has to be. This is the perfect time.

The Lord isn’t surprised by all of this.

He may be completely exhausted with his 44 year-old child who still sees shiny colors and wants what she wants—

Come to think of it, buying a used car is a little like the gross chocolates you get at valentines. So pretty and then you bite into it and there’s this pink goo.

Evidently, my engine is full of pink valentine goo.

For the record, my husband doesn’t buy me gross chocolates.

Good grief. This blog wasn’t supposed to be about my car.

It’s about my dad.

Nurses and therapists would come in. No-one looks their best in a hospital gown and my dad was no exception. Plus, he’d had a stroke so it was their job to see what all was going on inside.

They would take him through a series of cognitive tests. After a day or so, he started answering their questions before they even got in the door.

He gave me his bank account numbers from memory to pay a few on-line bills and when asked the following scenario,  “Mr. Hale, if you were to wake up at 1 minute before 8 a.m. and remember that you had a meeting across town at 8 a.m., what would you do?”, well. She had stumped him.

He looked at the therapist for minute and said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you because that’s never gonna happen.

My dad on day 2 did not look like a shiny red car, but rest assured.

There was no pink goo on the inside.

Tomorrow I’m leaving. Because it’s the perfect time to leave.

It’s the perfect time to write a book.

It’s not a vacation.

It’s an opportunity.

A gift.

I’m locking myself in a room with my Lord and my computer and we’re gonna see what He has to say.

I covet your prayers.

albert

 

 

 

 

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