Raising Magnolias

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

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

 

 

 

 

Happy-ish Birthday

I’m kind-of over happy.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want you to wish me a happy birthday.

Please.

I’m just over needing to feel happy.

On my birthday or any other day. I’ve decided happy was never the point.

Never the aim of Christ.

I have finished Jen’s book, “For the Love.”  I want to move to Austin and be her BFF.

Except I have beautiful friends here. Oh, and a husband.

And children.

Who, today are gone. Thus my being over the whole need to be happy thing.

*I kinda wanna tell you that I’ve given up a rather huge holiday every year because it falls on their Dad’s birthday. But if I told you that, and told you again how my kids are gone today, my birthday, then I would get sad.

And probably a little bit mad.

And nobody wishes anyone an angry birthday.

“Angry birthday, Myra Katherine!”

Plus I don’t like fireworks.

Fun-hater. I know.

Midwesterners love fireworks.

Love them. I’ve seen regular-ol people spend more on a night of sparkly fun then I make in an entire year.

So, while I feel very righteous and sanctimonious (I think I feel sanctimonious. I need to look that word up.), the truth is I know my kids will have more fun with their Dad.

On his birthday. Which just happens to be a major holiday.

With fireworks.

Anyway, the book. I finished it last night while pretending to watch football with my husband.

We had my birthday dinner at 4:30 so we could be home for kick-off. (My idea. He totally insisted he didn’t need to see the first kick-off. I am smarter than that. And I have no desire to be twice-divorced).

(For the Love, I can’t remember the new rule. Period inside the parenthesis or out? Please help.)

The only problem with dinner at 4:30 is that I pretty much looked fantastic and ya know, nobody else in the entire universe eats dinner at 4:30!

Earlier, birthday shopping and Razorback-football-game-day shopping (woo-pig), Mike was in the fancy chair that is reserved for Mothers and Husbands and I was behind the beautiful curtain that actually fully closes (note to Athleta: your curtains are too short. If I can see you, I know you can see me. Stop it. Get new curtains. It’s weird.)

Side note: The biggest differences between Big 10 football and SEC football is that Big 10 fans wear team apparel. Herby Husker t-shirts. Corn-on-the-cob hats. Sparkly N’s. This is the culture (more relaxed) and functional (it is either blazing hot or freeze-your-face-off cold.) And SEC fans, dress.

You many not be able to afford next month’s rent, and eating that week is optional, but you will be sporting a new game-day ensemble.

Ensemb. As Emma Claire would say.

She also says, “Totes. Adorbs.”

Jesus, help us. Mike is threatening to move to the garage.

Dressing Room. I hear this super high-pitched, “H-hi Mike.”

I have ninja ears. I got so tickled. Someone was way surprised to run into my husband in a women’s dressing room.

I don’t blame her. I can just imagine the feeling. Dang-it!! Why did I wear this herby husker t-shirt. Of all the days!

I tried on 2 or 3 more things. Added shoes. A belt. A purse. Cover the shoulders. Off the shoulders. Wrap it all up. Undress-re-dress. And this woman never came back out of the dressing room.

Does anyone else think this is weird? Maybe she’s a ninja too.

A ninja who apparently, at some point way long ago, had gone out with my husband.

Bless her heart.

I can’t remember what I planned to write about? Oh.

Jen’s book. What?

I am not obsessed.

The absolute funniest line in the book is not a line at all. It’s letters. Poking fun at something I have long poked-fun at.

(I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with at. DQ friends, ask my Mother where something is at. I dare you.

Or my sister. Or my cousins. Or my aunts. Or anyone who is anyway related to my Grandmother Pearl.

Between the a and the t.)

But you can see how we would immediately be BFF’s, yes? When you make fun of the same things.

The letters.

WWAVD? What would Ann Voskamp do?

I realize that you need to read Ann’s books and Jen’s books for this to be funny, but if you don’t have time for that (and you should so make time for that) then you’ll have to take my word for it.

It’s funny stuff.

She tells a fantastic story of awesome (read: not awesome) parenting and ends the chapter with:

TWJHWD.

That’s what Jen Hatmaker would do.

This is funny because Christians are obsessed with WWJD? And I’ve always thought that was the dumbest thing (no offense if you have the bumpersticker) ever.

I think I’ve written this before. We don’t ever, ever, ever, have to wonder what Jesus would do.

We have an entire History book that is true and living and it tells us what Jesus did.

He would do what He did do.

 

For the Love.

I can’t quit saying that.

Bless my heart.

 

I just noticed that I have a text. What?  It’s 6:00 a.m.

11:39 p.m. Last night.

“Happy Happy Birthday.”

That’s two happy’s

 

Raising a son who thinks to send his mom a text at 11:39 at night? Raising a son who remembers his moms birthday that late? Raising a son who was still awake at 11:30 p.m. and is so gonna be in so much trouble.

Kidding.

Not kidding.

My lil guy. My heart.

Perhaps it’s gonna be a happy birthday after all.

 

 

Settling.

Compromise.

That’s my word today.

Compromise is good. Compromise is necessary.

Compromise is understanding and listening and finding a way.

You know what else it is?

Settling and conceding and “accepting standards that are lower than is desirable.” (dictionary of some sort when you google compromise).

Compromise.

When do you do it? When is compromise life-giving, and soul-feeding, and relationship-building?

And when is it crushing, life-sucking, light-extinguishing yuk.

I couldn’t think of another word except yuk.

That’s the thing about words. Sometimes you grab hold of a sparkly word like BLESS! And sometimes you think of YUK.

I have compromised and I have defended the compromise and I have excused the compromise and I have celebrated the compromise.

And I have, more times than I’d care to acknowledge, accepted standards that were lower than desirable.

Far lower.

When it’s not give and take and it’s only take—that’s not compromise.

That’s wall-flower. I have paid my dues on the wall.

Sitting down. Staying back.

Yesterday Emma Claire wanted something. Needed something.

It was an emergency, y’all! Life was crashing in and panic ensued in the “I’m an impassioned and precious 8-year-old girl and my every need must be met” kind of a way.

But then she paused and there was an earth-shattering surprise.

She softened. She offered another suggestion. (I know, right? I’m thinking it was my super calm reaction and awesome parenting).

🙂

“Perfect!” I said. “What a good compromise!”

I’ll be 44 on Sunday.

Have I mentioned this?

And slowly, the Lord is teaching (well, more like slowly I am learning,) what it means to make a good compromise.

And likewise, what it means to do the hard thing and refuse compromise. Refuse a life “settled for.” To stand-up against  “standards that are lower than desirable.”

Nichole Nordeman sings, “Why did I take this vow of compromise?

Why did I settle?

And why do I continue to find myself there. Here. In the vow.

As if this is holy work.

It’s not.

The middle ground is not sacred ground.

Jesus did not skirt the middle.

 

And I’m searching for a example of when He compromised.

“Peter, it’s Me. Your Lord. Come on out into the water.”

“Uh, yeah. No thanks. Pretty good here in the boat.”

“Ok, no problem dear Peter. I’ll just walk to you. I don’t want to inconvenience you or make you do one bless-ed thing you don’t want to do.”

Keeping the peace.  Dang middle-child.

Keeping peace is not finding peace.

Keeping peace is not knowing peace.

Jesus says that we must lose our life to save it. Losing is not keeping.

This week I made hard choices.

I did hard things.

And the old demons of failure and rejection and not being good enough or smart enough or anything—

Enough—

Came circling ’round.

But here’s the thing, friends. I’m seeking peace.

I’m no longer seeking to keep it.

Yes?

True peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace.

And here’s what I know today.

It isn’t found in the middle ground. Because no-where in His Word can I find him there.

In the middle.

Yesterday, sitting on the deck with a dear friend, I noticed the first colors of fall.

Fall is coming. And the God who makes all things new is about to put on a grand display of just how beautiful change can be.

Just how beautiful letting go can be.

The leaves will fall and settle and land in the middle.

But I won’t.

 

 

 

 

“Do it Afraid”

My husband who wakes at 4:30 a.m. is out of town.

My children who wake at 6:00 a.m. are at their dads.

I don’t work until 9. You see the opportunity, yes?

Yes. It’s  4:15 in the morning.

Bless my own dang heart and tiny bladder.

When my husband and I were first married, he and Coulter were sitting on the couch watching football. Mike had this glazed look on his face as Coulter described a movie that he had seen over the weekend.

It wasn’t that Mike was bored.He was confused. And a little scared.

There were so many words. I’m guessing Coulter alone uses 3 times as many words as Mike and his youngest son from his second marriage, combined!  Add Emma Claire and I to the mix and Mike is confused by all the words.

All the talking.

Doesn’t anyone just sit quietly and watch football?

He joked in bed that night. “We could’ve watched the movie and it would’ve been quicker.”

I love all the words. I also love it when they are at school and there are less words.

On the short trip from the ladies’ room back to my bed, words started swirling.

That’s the real reason I’m awake.

And I say ladies room as an attempt to be polite about the massive amounts of water I’m supposed to be drinking and the havoc said water is having on my 6-hour nightly minimum.

8.

Ok, 9.

But it’s not a ladies room at all. It’s a family room. We have 4 bathrooms in this house and the only one anyone can find is mine.

Or as my husband strangely calls it, ours.

Always. With the words. And the not sleeping. Words from the weekend keep swirling in my head. The grab and tangle and wrestle and I’m like a 1st grade teacher, “OK, children. Let’s use this word in a sentence.”

I have to find a category for each word.

Like debris. From yesterday. I’m not finished with that word. I wrote selfishly how the debris scatters.

You can’t control it. It doesn’t hit just you.

My entire family probably needs therapy for the crazy I put them through. But therapy is expensive, so I recommend exercise.

And dogs.

And Mike. But he’s mine, so you can’t have him. Not that my family would take him, but in general if you, my readers, need therapy, I’m offering up exercise and dogs.

Not Mike.

Words have power. This makes sense.  The greatest Truth is called The Word. God used words. There’s art and music and dance and so many glorious ways to communicate and they are all gifts from Him, but he used words.

And he chose scared, broken, flawed people to write them.

They not only thought they didn’t have what it took to conquer kingdoms and lead armies and, ya know, birth a baby that would be the Savior of the world, they knew.

Fear. That’s one of my words.

What if they don’t like me? What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m raising entitled children? What if I’m not spending enough time with them? Too much time with them? What if they’ll have body-image issues because they are being raised in a gym.

Good grief, y’all! It’s not a gym. That’s another  of my words. I strongly dislike that word. Not for the word itself, but because we don’t have one.

We have a training studio.

Studio is much more cosmopolitan, yes? And yet, sometimes.

A lot of times.

I say gym. Our grand babies were here for the weekend and I told them we were going to visit Mimi and Papa’s gym.

All day, little #1 kept asking when we were going to see Jim?

Fear. It’s my word. And I’m not alone.

So here, my gift to you (even though it’s my birthday week,):

“Do it Afraid.”

Three glorious words that I hijacked from my word-porn weekend.

It turns out, I didn’t need Bible verses tossed around like confetti. I didn’t need flawed, sinful speakers’ own personal interpretations of Bible verses. I didn’t need theology. I didn’t need sinful, flawed speakers’ personal interpretations of theology.

I needed this.

“Do it afraid.”

 

I don’t have to swallow up, stomp down or crush out fear. Fear of getting right. Fear of getting wrong. Fear of looking stupid. Of not being liked. Of not being right—

I can simply, do it afraid.

Wifey afraid. Parent afraid. Build a business afraid. Write a book.

Afraid.

One day Perfect Love will return and cast out all fear. Woot!

Until then, I’ll sit back and listen as Coulter uses all his glorious words to explain to Mike how “Grover is Percy’s best friend even though he’s a goat. Well, not really a goat, but his feet are goat hooves and he has horns, but he has a brain like a human except that he can send dreams to Percy in his sleep, and regular humans can’t really do that. I mean we have dreams, but we can’t really send them to anyone. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

My heart will be happy as I watch the glossing-over and yes, the fear in Mike’s eyes wondering if his own dreams will be filled with goat boys and endless story telling and I’ll laugh out-loud at the blessing of this gloriously, scary life.

Do it afraid, y’all.

Do it afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A norwex mop for my heart.

Day Three.

I have a new mop.  And a new vacuum. And I clean.

All the time.

This is terribly confusing to my husband. He doesn’t understand what’s happening.

What is that sound? Where is all the dirt?

He doesn’t recognize his wife or his floors.

Yesterday I even took my mop (Norwex. Get one!) and I dry-mopped the living room walls.

Our super-cool corn-on-the-cob, vintage wall-paper was lightly dusted with a film of floor residue.

Did you know that you’re supposed to cover furniture and close off doors when you sand floors?

I didn’t.

Here’s how it went.

 

Step 1. Pull out carpet while your husband’s at work.

Step 2. Search “Finish hardwood floors” on pinterest.

Step 3. See the beautiful mom who is for sure a real person and not a model and read caption. “It’s so easy! 5 minutes to beautiful floors.”

Step 4-56. Menards, Mop, Sand, Stain. Walmart. Menards. Mop again, sand. Rental company. Bigger sander. Rental Company. Biggest sander. Buy bandaids.

Say bad words.

$54,000 and surprisingly more than 5 minutes later,  my floors are once again unfinished and I need  a rug.

When I finished un-finishing my floors I was done.

As in d-un! I didn’t put dishes away. I didn’t put furniture away. I went outside and planted flowers.

Yesterday I noticed this residue.

Debris.

Yes. I remember that word. I remember it catching in my throat. Nichole Nordeman used that word over the weekend with the 5000 women and their Jesus bags.

I “un-finished” this floor project back in March and now, in late August, there’s still this gunk. Debris.

On my walls.

And not just on my walls in that room but my walls throughout my house. I have tables and shoes and even sweaters in my fancy closets (so fancy that they actually have no room for sweaters,  however, I do have plenty of room for about 500 pairs of shoes that I don’t currently own).

(I’m a size 6. My birthday is Sunday).

 

Nichole sang the title track from her new album. The “Unmaking.”

The un-making of a marriage. The un-making of a home. The un-making of a life.

I have an obsession with un-making things. Pulling out carpet, knocking out walls and pulling up basement tiles.

I love to un-make. And I rarely ask first. I think it’s better to just rip it out.

Do it first. Apologize later.

But the after part I dislike.  I want my husband to come and carry the gunk away. Holding it up? Carrying it away?

Well, that is too heavy.

And I am too tired.

Of course it’s after the unmaking that the real work begins.

 

After the unmaking of my marriage, debris was everywhere. The big stones you deal with. The big piles, you clean.

But 5 years later I’m finding there’s still dust on my walls. A light film of un-forgivness residue that clings to this life.

My ex-husband sent me an email regarding a rather big decision that we needed to make. It was courteous and professional but as his words popped off the page, I felt my face grow red and hot and before I knew it, those little pieces of debris were surprisingly close and surprisingly large and I began to throw them.

Stones. Little stone-words.

Each one more powerful than the first.

I pushed send without thinking. I never think before I press send. Good grief. What is the point in that? To me the writing is my thinking. To me the words are my heart and my first reaction is always my purest, most honest reaction. This is what I wanted to say and I said it.

I know. Right?!? What is wrong with me? I send emails like I knock down walls. Just do it down already.

Y’all! Somebody needs to take my computer away.

And my hammer.

I need a bell or a siren, and when I start saying things—unforgiving crazy things—that should stay safely inside my head, it’ll just—ya know.

Ring.

Loudly.

Debris. It’s still falling.

I listen to the song.

“This is the unmaking. Beauty in the breaking….only when we’re broken are we whole….what happens now? When all that I’ve made is torn down.”

What happens now?

Mopping.

Forgiving.

Hauling.

Forgiving.

Cleaning.

Forgiving.

I thought I had. But like the little dust bunnies that grow under your bed in the most random of ways and look as if you are quite simply a complete slob and have never once-ever-cleaned your home. Yes, if you don’t nurture forgiveness and work at forgiveness and keep working toward forgiveness, then you have a big ol dust bunny on your soul.

And in your heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit with me.”

Unfortunately, I’m thinking this is gonna take a lot more than a Norwex mop.

******************************************************************

I’m trying to create a new writing space. Right now I’ve landed in our bedroom and I’m facing a blank wall. I need a small lamp and  inspirational art (my birthday’s on Sunday, just, ya know, fyi) that will inspire me towards my bestseller.

I mean, my book that I will faithfully write regardless of whether or not anyone reads it.

And now I have to go. Our bed’s not made (I know, like I said, complete slobs!) and the disgusting amount of dust underneath is driving me ever-living-crazy. And so.

I’m going to have to move the bed in order to mop.

And when I move the bed I’ll  be reminded that the floors are gross and need to be sanded and so I’ll rent the sander again but before I’ll start, I’ll remember that I never actually finished the other floors, so I’ll go to Menards for stain…

Gravy! When did my life become “If you give a mouse a cookie” book?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless!

I don’t read blogs.

The only post I remember reading recently was sent to me with some deluded hopes that I might follow the step-parenting advice within.

I haven’t.

And I likely won’t. Primarily because someone told me to.

Bless.

So when I kept hearing about Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author and speaker with several published books (that people besides her mother have actually read) and a television show (again, with actual viewers) I wanted nothing to do with her. I’m not sure why, but let’s say it was something fancy like she was too commercial.

 

Bless.

Anyway.

For Christmas, my sister-friend gave me a copy of her latest book.

So I read the sleeve.

Ugh. This woman has not only given birth to three children, but with a heart for the orphan crisis, she and her husband have also adopted two children from Ethiopia.

That’s five bodies, in her home, that she cares for.

With actual food. I know this because I skimmed through and there’s a recipe.

For food.

Don’t even.

I had to hate her, right?

But whatever. I wanted to be able to send my friend a thank-you note and how could I do that if I hadn’t read the book?

(Who am I kidding? I haven’t written a thank you note since 1998.)

Bless.

What? I also have a heart for the orphan crisis. There’s been no time to write thank yous. I have been too busy praying for Ethiopians, thank you very much.

So I started to read the book. Her first joke was annoying.

Yuk. She’s going to try and be funny.

I can’t take her seriously.  I have no idea what all of the fuss is about.

I refuse to read further. And I will cancel cable immediately.

(OK, side note: I don’t typically read blogs because I’m super paranoid about becoming a plagiarist. At one point in my writing I began to believe that Ann Voskamp was starting to sound a lot like me. Like perhaps she was reading my blog and stealing my thoughts. I can understand how this could happen. But remember I also believe that Mariah Carey is going to call any day and ask me to sing back-up.So I checked the dosage of my medication and quit reading her blog).

Bless.

Then something happened.

I went to see this Jen-lady. Me and about 5000 other women. And she was absolutely terrific.

Lovely.

Sincere.

Humble.

Funny. As in hysterical.

Self-deprecating.

Wise.

She started her comments with a  story about her daughter asking where babies come from? She was completely unprepared because her Mother had just given her a book back in the day and circled a what she deemed the important parts.

Oh my gosh! We are sisters! 

Bless. 🙂

She talked about running our race, finding our lane, putting ourselves out there. She reminded us that humility is not shrinking. That God doesn’t call us to be famous; only faithful. That our only requirement is that of obedience.  She talks about the books that nobody (except her mother) read, but she kept writing. “Do the next right thing,” she said. And then the next right thing after that. She reminded us that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.That it is not OK that she gets to Mother another woman’s babies simply because she can afford them and the birth mother can’t.

And as she spoke. As we laughed and took notes and tried to soak in each and every word, something occurred to me.

I hadn’t read her book, not because she was annoyingly perfect. Not because of her annoying plan to try and make us laugh. (Really? Humor and faith?) Not even because of her annoyingly awesome heart for people. For orphans. For humanity.

No.

I hadn’t read her book because she wrote it.

Yes.

Because she wrote it. She did the next right thing and the next hard thing and her five children weren’t an excuse and resources weren’t an excuse and her television show wasn’t an excuse and her age wasn’t an excuse and she did it.

She wrote it.

And I hadn’t.

I haven’t.

I opened that book and closed it because somewhere inside my head-space reading her book only served as a reminder of a promise I haven’t kept.

A story I haven’t told.

A book I haven’t written.

Bless!

***********************************************************************

(The bless comments will only be funny or even remotely intelligent for those who’ve read Jen’s latest book and those who know of my fear of plagiarism. Where I might put duh! Or good grief! She says “bless.” How great is that? It’s so perfect. It’s like bless-a-my-soul and bless-a-my-Mother’s-soul and bless-a-the-woman-in-the-pineapple-tights-soul and it’s just literary genius.)

I’m so glad I thought of it! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

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