Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Lessons of the Dandelion

consider the lilies of the field… (matthew 6:28)

When our children play; they learn. Play is their work. You see it when they build towers and tracks and they line up dominoes and cups; they dig in the sand and build castles and ditches; they explore and discover and when we, boring old grown-ups watch our children play, we learn about life; theirs and ours. And for those moments when we’re totally dialed in, there is magic around the corner and we are changed.

We were walking home from the park when Emma Claire started searching for the last remaining dandelions.  I was getting frustrated because it was bath time and bed time and there were stories to read and teeth to brush and just come on already. But then I remembered. And then I stopped.

The yellow had long since faded. These were just tiny balls of puff. She takes one huge, long breath, cheeks chubby and red with air and she blows.

Long and hard and the seeds fly and the puff goes poof and there is glory in her eyes. It is magic. And the Lord speaks to me right then and there and I heard him.

“I make all things beautiful.”

The ugly people; the ugly hearts; the ugly weeds. All things. Redeemed.

Beauty from ashes.  

I wish I had a picture of all those seeds flying back into the earth; a picture of her eyes wide and grateful and so clearly aware of the beauty around her, but I don’t. And it’s just as well because behind the camera lens, I might have missed it.

I did however, snap a few shots from earlier in the day. Celebrating with friends, the start of school. They worked; they played; they danced for the camera and how blessed am I to have been invited to the party.

“When the dust has cleared, we will see the house that Love rebuilds.”


“In the way that you always love me, I rememeber He does too.”

“I remember. He does, too.”


Paul Ryan, Miss America and a Good, Good Sleep

OK, so something happened this past week that hasn’t happened in a  long, long time. As I think on it, the last time it happened really well was since before Coulter was born and you can’t really do it while you’re pregnant so all told it’s been about 8 years.

I slept. Hard.

I had been traveling alone for a couple of days and normally a strange bed without little hands slapped across my body and toes intermingled and puppy fur keeping me warm; well, normally that would ensure a restless night but for some reason, I slept.

I slept so hard and so deep that I woke up totally disoriented with no clue or remembrance of where I was or why I was there and with a momentary panic of where are the children kind of feeling. And then I remembered my dream.

I don’t dream very often, or at least I don’t remember my dreams. Scientists tell us that we dream every night and I suppose they know more than I, but whatever. I had a dream and as soon as I realized where I was, I was so happy to be awake and to realize, it had all been a bad dream.

I was interviewing for Miss America. Kristi Yamaguchi was one of the judges.  She says to me, “Myra Katherine, we know about your family and their political involvement over the years and what we want to know is what do you think of  Paul Ryan’s financial plan.”

Paul, who?

I go blank. And to be honest, this part probably isn’t just the dream. Not only have I not slept in 8 years (among other things,) I haven’t read a newspaper in 8 years. And in terms of watching the news, well, not so much. It’s depressing. People are mean and hateful and they speak of Jesus but they don’t act like Jesus and they shoot each other and they abuse each other and so I don’t watch the news. If they had asked me about the season finale of Grey’s and my opinion on what’s going to happen now that Lexi is dead and her lover is heartbroken, well then I would’ve had an answer.

But Paul, Ryan? I think quickly. Does he have a financial plan? What if this is trick question (kind of the like price of peaches) and then I think to myself why do I always think people are trying to trick me.

Hmmm…..yes, why would I think that. (That, my readers, was sarcasm).

Anyway, I am good at interviews. I think fast on my feet, as they say and so I can do this.

“Well, here’s the deal. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers always tell the truth. You can’t hide the truth with numbers so in the end the numbers will tell the truth and the truth will be revealed.”

Super smart answer, like, don’t you think?? If this had been real life, I would’ve been that girl who ended up on youtube with her life in ruins because she gave one bad answer. Anyway, I was so happy to wake up and I promise myself that I will do better.

I will start reading the newspaper. I will learn more about the candidates (and those of you who k now my family, know that my Aunt Ida just rattled her grave at the thought that a.) I don’t already know these things and b.) that it would even matter since as a Coulter (as in the family name, not as in my son)  I should just be a party-line voter. And the fact that she is already with Jesus is the only reason that I’m still alive because if she were here, she would’ve surely killed me after learning that I am not even registered to vote in the state of Nebraska. Maybe I could drive to Sioux Falls?

Last week I was shopping with my mom (and by shopping, I mean my mom bought me a birthday gift, we had lunch and got Emma Claire a hair cut. My mom paid for the outing, including the gas and no personal funds nor any measly child support monies were used for this excursion.) Anyway, there was a bumper sticker with the word KERREY on it. I said, “Good grief. Let’s move on. I can’t believe that guy still has a John Kerry sticker on his car.”  My mom, who from Arkansas, obviously knows more about Nebraska politics than I, said, “Well, it could be for Bob Kerrey, you know, who’s running for Senator.”

Oh. Maybe so.

So back to my dream. Once my own nightmare is over, I vow to do better. I look on my calendar and I realize that the election is one day before the dissolution of my marriage. And then again, all motivation to care about this election, all energy to learn about financial plans and educational plans and the future of our country dissipates.

Anger and sadness make us selfish. I try hard to overcome it, but I know it’s there. I am very selfish right now. And more important to me than Romney or Ryan and Obama or (good grief, I just forgot the name of our VP) anyway, my children trump them all. How arrogant, right? My child’s future is exceedingly more important than theirs. If it doesn’t involve my little beauties, then I simply don’t care. (And yes, I get that this election affects them…..just go with me on this…)

One day, I will care again. One day I will read a newspaper and I will learn and I will be intelligent and well spoken on current issues but for today all I care about,  all I pray for is the day that we can wake up from this nightmare and start living the good kind a dream. You know, the kind where you never want to wake up….

In the meantime, just remember my friends. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers always tell the truth. You can’t hide the truth with numbers.

Good Grief. 🙂

Exceedingly, Abundantly Above….Myrna, Tiger and my 99 cent peaches.

Yesterday a friend posted, “My life is so much more interesting inside my head.”   I giggled and thought how true and then I stopped laughing and thought, So. Not. True.

Currently real life is pretty darn intersting, but just to show you that I’m capable of writing about something other than the big “D”, or “him” (and I mean “him” as in the father of my children not Him as in capital H-i-m;  did you catch that? How cool am I that I know a Katy Perry song or  wait, was it Brittany?) Where was I?

Oh right, showing you that I can write without using the word divorce and without any anger, sarcasm or sadness (well, the sarcasm might be hard) but I’m feeling pretty confident about the others. So here goes. 

A day in the life (7 hours on a Thursday, to be precise….)

First, the bank. I have a fear of banks. It’s kind of like getting your car tags for the first time. You’re always missing something. Last summer it took me five trips to the clerk’s office; two trips to the police station and three phone calls to the Sioux Falls Credit Union before I was handed Nebraska plates. All I want to do is cash a check. I also want to know the balance on my account because the computer keeps shutting me out and while I don’t balance to the penny, I do try to keep a running number in my head because sometimes, well, the number runs lower than it should and then I have to call my friend Jennifer who works, you know, at the bank.

Anyway,  I hand her the check and my driver’s license.  She smiles. She leaves. She comes back.

“Ma’am, this check is made out to Myrna Hale and your driver’s license says Myra Katherine Fritz.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m getting divorced.  But it actually says Myra Hale.”  I have enough names to worry about without adding Myrna to the mix. (And just to be clear that mention of the “D” word doesn’t count here. It was an important part of the story).

“Well, if you’re taking your maiden name you should really get a new driver’s license.” Right, OK. Thanks.

She smiles. She leaves. She comes back.

“Ma’am the address on your checks say Nebraska; the address on your account says Arizona and the address on your driver’s license says South Dakota.”

“Uhm, yeah, actually that’s Arkansas not Arizona and that’s a mistake and we moved from South Dakota but now I live in Nebraska.”

 She smiles. She leaves. She, you know, comes back.

“About your balance. Ma’am, there seems to be three accounts; one with your name first, one with your husband’s name first and one with just your name. Do you know which one it is?”

“Hmmm, I guessing the one with least amount of money.”

And now I’m finished at the bank and all I can think about is that my driver’s license is expiring in less than two weeks and I’ll probably have to take a test and they’re probably going to want my social security card but  it’s in a cornfield in Southeastern South Dakota (and I’m actually not kidding about that), and do you think they’ll let me put Hale instead of Fritz so that I don’t have to come back again in two months?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Next stop, music therapy. Emma Claire is coming along because the truth is they love her more than they love me  and Emma Claire says, “Mom! I have a great idea! Let’s bring Tiger.”

And she’s three and there are other therapy dogs at the manor and why wouldn’t that be a great idea so I say yes! Let’s bring Tiger. I don’t know what I was expecting or why I thought this would end well but I was wrong. Half way through my session, a nurse comes running in to tell me that Tiger has gotten outside and is headed up Clarkson street toward one of the busiest intersections in Fremont.

 Not really such a great idea, Emma Claire.

Next stop, Hy Vee.  The Colorado peaches are here. They aren’t southern peaches but they’re the best we can get.  I walk in and there’s a sign. 99 cents for a pound or $15.99 for a lug. I call the produce guy over and I said “OK, is this a trick? Am I supposed to think that buying in bulk is a better deal when really it’s like $2.99 a pound or something?”

He looks at me like I’m Steve Martin from Father of the Bride going  nuts-o over the hot dog buns and I decide to just take the lug and be on my way. Then I run into a Y-buddy.

“Look at all those peaches! Looks like someone’s gonna be doing some baking!” She says in a sing-songy voice.

Uhm, ok. I was actually thinking I would just eat them, but whatever.  Is that what you do when you turn 40? Start making pies?

Next to my peaches there are 12 breakfast cookies. I’m checking out when a woman walks over and says to the checker quietly, “Man, she must really like those because she’s always buying them.”

Hello. I’m right here. I can hear you. And “always” is a little harsh….try every 12 days.

“Do you eat them every morning?”

“Yes. I toast them.” (Not exactly sure why I felt the need to add the bit about toasting.)

“With coffee or tea?

“No, just diet coke.”

“Oh. Well they say that one-a-day’s OK.”

One a day. Yes. Let’s just go with that.

And we come home and Emma Claire sets up a karaoke band in the neighbor’s garage and Tiger walks around sheepishly knowing he has fallen from my good graces and I eat a peach and we watch the clock tick-tock past and we wait for Coulter to get home from school and I just smile.

I smile in the knowledge that my life is way more interesting than what’s in my head; it’s better and harder and  fuller and scarier and this I know, that God’s plans are so much bigger than the ones I have for myself and He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) and I smile knowing that, Lord willing,  tomorrow morning I will wake up little ones and bring out the “I am special today” plate because Coulter doesn’t seem to understand that it’s for special occasions, but then I guess every morning is special and I’ll watch them eat, all sleepy with crazy bed hair, and I’ll toast my cookie and drink my diet coke of the day and I will breathe a sweet, sweet prayer of thanks for this very interesting life.

Hale, yeah!

The Words We Speak

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight,

O lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

My dad called last weekend and not being a man for idle phone chats, I knew something was up.“Is it Mammaw? Did Mammaw die?” (Anytime my dad calls or anytime I can’t get a hold of my parents, you know, at the very instant that I want to talk to them, then I always assume that my Mammaw is dead.)

But she’s not. She’s 98 and will likely make it to 108. I think my dad should start texting me first. Something along the lines of, “OK, I’m going to call you now, but just so you know Mammaw’s all good.”

Anyway, he called and I know that it breaks his heart to see my broken heart and he just wants this to be over for me; for all of us, but I think he worries that some people, some less-than-honorable (and oh, I don’t know this is a totally random example but maybe say someone’s attorney) might try to twist my words and make my blog into something that it isn’t and in his own way, my Dad reminded me that our words matter.

And it struck me. Reading my blog is hard work if you’re the dad. It’s hard work if you’re the mom who was right all along. Because here’s the thing; they aren’t used to way-too-honest, little-bit-angry, Myra Katherine. In my family, I’m the sweet one. I’m happy, glass spilling over, peace-maker of the family, sweet. I think my parents pushed for sweet when they realized I wasn’t going to be as smart as my sister or as charismatic as my brother. And I’m good at sweet. I love on babies and I hug children (even dirty, smelly ones) and say things like “Bless her heart” and I don’t use bad language but somewhere along the way sweet turned into wall-flower and let me just say, I don’t like wall-flower girl.

Some days I just want to be the smart one; the one who finished her Ph.D. and has a chandelier hanging in her closet, not because there’s a chandelier but because before she got married she told her husband that she would never move above the mason-dixon line and I wonder, why didn’t I think of that? (Of course she also told him she doesn’t mow and he thought it was because she didn’t know how so he offered to teach her and at that point she made it clear, the difference between, “I won’t and I can’t.”

And she doesn’t. And while we’re on the subject, neither do I.

And some days I want to be the guy who travels all over the world with heads of state and rock stars turned philanthropist and not because I really want to do that, but because I just want to be the one who thinks of the right thing to say at the right time and not, you know, 10 minutes later. One time when my brother was first getting started in politics, he was on his phone and he said, “I don’t care how, just fix it cause if y’all don’t somebody’s gonna spend the rest of their life cuttin’ heads off chickens.” (If you’re from the midwest, re-read that last line using your best southern accent).

And they believed him.

I will always love on babies and hug smelly children and be the one whose lap is always open for as many kiddos that it can hold and I don’t want to lose my cup runneth over spirit because that’s who I am, but maybe; just maybe I can have all of that and still find the courage to say what I’m thinking and today I’m thinking that if he doesn’t quit putting his dirty socks and underwear in my laundry that I’m freakin’ gonna lose it, and by lose it I mean that I will say, in my sweetest Miss America voice, WASH YOUR OWN DAMN LAUNDRY. (And whatever, please don’t send me an email reminding me that I wasn’t Miss America. Trust me, I still have the voice).

But yes, Lord, I am listening and this I know, our words matter.

Last week it was my dad and today from a friend. I open my inbox and there are beautiful words that I needed to hear and at just the moment I needed to hear them. Sometimes God just shows off, right? I mean I am so in awe of how He uses our friends and our family  and sometimes even perfect strangers to speak right. to. our. hearts and how He inspires even the words of this tiny little blog; how he uses the humble and the contrite and, yes, the broken hearted.

Our words matter and for those of you who are so precious to read raising magnolias, I want you to know that I choose them carefully.

Each one.

The House That Annabelle Built

It’s been one year. One year since we began our new life on Teakwod Drive. One year since we ripped out sinks and carpets and paneling and one year since I blogged about Ms. Annabelle’s house where I promised her that we would fill her halls with music; that there would be Bibles on our shelves and they would be opened and read; that we would plant flowers and keep the grass green; that we would swing at the nearby park and live together and love together and that we would laugh and play and grow.Image

And we have and while it hasn’t looked like the painting in my head, this house has been our shelter and our refuge and living here has changed me and changed us and  if these walls could speak they would share not only of the sorrow, but of so many triumphs as well.

How do you measure? I give you a year.

August  2011: The kids and I move in. It is beautiful and spacious and we can walk to school and we are welcomed by neighbors and we meet Ross, the 5th grader next door who knows everything, and we begin to settle.

September 2011: I turn 39. I realize that a new home, a new city cannot save a dying marriage and I secretly wonder if we’ll be happy by the time I turn 40. I had asked myself this same question at 37 and 38.

Later, September 2011: I watch Moneyball. It’s baseball. It’s Brad Pitt.  And I have an “aha” moment. Well, duh! Of course I do. It’s baseball and Brad Pitt. Together. In one movie. I take away this quote, “I hate losing more than I love winning.” 


I tell my sister. I finally understand. He hates losing more than he loves winning.

October 2011: Emma Claire turns 3. There is a tea party and there are presents are there is joy in this house.

Later, October 2011: I feel a lump in my breast. I have a mammogram; I have an ultra sound and two days later I meet with a surgeon. A few days after that there are drugs and surgeons and, you know, knives for cutting, and the lump is removed. Again, I wait two days and the surgeon calls. I am healthy. I give thanks.

November 2011: I am driving down Military avenue and I hear the voice of the Lord as clearly and as audibly as I may ever hear it and He says, “When are you going to do the hard thing that I’ve called you to do.”

And so I did.

November 2011: My husband and I separate and by separate, I mean still living together here in Annabelle’s house. This house that I promised to fill with love and music is now home to a crumbling marriage. It is within these walls that we tell Coulter. There are no words for a moment like that and even if there were, that is Coulter’s moment and not something I would ever write about. It is a moment I will remember forever and one that I pray he will someday forget.

December 2011: We continue to share a home. We drive as a family to Arkansas for Christmas. We all stay together at my parent’s house. Together. At. my. parents. house.

Fun, right?

Anyway, Santa comes because we believe. And speaking of believing, Santa is already vastly concerned for the upcoming Christmas. Coulter wants a Mario Brothers 2 for his DS, only we discovered that  they don’t make them for his DS; only for the DS-3D (and I silently curse the DS people and I wonder why bother because the minute we buy a 3D there will be a 4D) and anyway, Coulter is not worried. He simply plans to ask Santa to make Mario Brothers 2 for his DS. Just because the stores don’t make it, doesn’t mean Santa can’t. Duh, mom!


January, March, April; We continue to share a home (I know, right?!?) But time passes and this I know. God is faithful.

May: Coulter turns 7. Ages 3 ½  and 7 and I wonder what happened to my babies?

June and July: There is swimming and playing and road-tripping and outdoor concerts (and by outdoor concerts, I mean Emma Claire singing into her Barbie microphone); smells of sunblock and burnt marshmallows and horses and sweaty children and it is miraculous how God redeems and provides and hides us from the storm; under His wing and beneath His shelter.


August: Ann Voskamp says that thanksgiving always preceeds the miracle. And I do give thanks. I give thanks for the bumpy road and the lumpy breast. I give thanks for Brad Pitt and baseball and knowing that I actually like winning more than losing and I give thanks for the friends and the strangers and the neighbors and all those that God has called into our village, and I give thanks that though much has been loss, though much has been taken, our home still rings with joy and giggles and whose foundation is one of faith and while these won’t always be the halls that we’re running through, we will be running, chasing, racing wherever He leads us and yes. We will laugh and play and grow. And we will give thanks.

And wait for our miracle.

Why I Don’t Iron

A few years ago a SAHM friend of mine commented on how much time I spent with my kids.  She was home full-time and I was working part-time at three different jobs.  I think she was taken aback at how I carved out so much time to play; to be a mom.  I say this with a great deal of humility, for she was a far better house manager than I, but for me it was easy. I was a teacher at work and a mom at home.

One day, one beautiful, glorious day that absolutely demanded your presence outside, she was ironing. Outside. She brought the ironing board and her laundry and watched her kids play while ironing. Friends, are you listening? She was ironing outside. I don’t even iron inside. The only time iron is when we do those melty-bead craft things.

She also made lunch for her husband. Sometimes she even made lunch for me. I was in awe. The thought of making lunch for my husband seemed hysterical. Before we had children I didn’t even make him supper.

Of course, she is still happily married so for the future I may re-think the lunch thing.

Anyway, I’m obviously not a perfect mom (although for any lawyers who may be reading this, I am a totally perfect mom) but I’m a get my hands dirty, spill paint on my dry clean-only pants, race you to the end of the block, mom. I build legos and block towers; I babysit dolls and play pre-school; I swim and I bike and I play kick-ball. And I am tired. And a little bit sore.

And I am thankful.  I know I’m blessed. I know that all is grace and today that grace is the opportunity to build into my children. To invest in them.  Today was Coulter’s last day of summer break.  I offered the zoo; I offered the pool; I offered whatever he wanted.

He chose home. Hanging out with mom and sister.  Later, we decided to take Tiger to the dog-park (and by park, I mean large fenced-in grassy area). I am always amazed at how brave my kids are around other dogs and even more amazed at how brave Tiger is. He weighs in at a hefty 10 pounds and yet he goes after these big dogs.  He stares them down and rolls and snips and runs and he has no idea, none at all, that he is —  quite literally — the under-dog.


It’s a mental picture that I will hold onto. For myself.

Emma Claire makes friends with a dog-owner. She is so confident in herself, it’s amazing to watch. She walks around these days with one hand high in the air as if doing a gymnastics pose at the end of a tumbling run and she just goes up to people and starts talking, knowing and believing that she is important; worth being heard. Anyway, she is off making friends and Coulter is throwing the ball and we are running with Tiger, back and forth and back and forth and it occurs to me that we are running sprints and this will totally count as my exercise for the day and I think, seriously, how smart am I?

Next we stop at the actual park and play robot mom (that’s where I chase blond children and try to eat them) and lava monster (which, I still don’t fully understand) and some game where you could only get on the play equipment if you were holding rocks, which in retrospect is probably one we should re-think.

We make our way back home; the kids play with some neighbor friends and I quickly send out a resume for a job opening in Fremont. (And again for an attorney who may be wondering, I will not be looking for a job in Omaha and for reasons being you may refer to the above paragraphs.)

We finished out our day by visiting friends at their lemonade stand; a fundraiser for their son with type 1 diabetes and we make signs for friend who is mourning the loss of family and we remember that our grief is not the only kind and we run through sprinklers  and we go on a hunt for the perfect pencil box because the one I previously purchased will simply not do and I open my purse and my wallet is gone; my wallet that my dad filled with a “little” traveling cash last week is gone and I panic and then I find it and I say, as if I’m 85 years old, “Coulter! That scared the living daylights out of me!” and Coulter laughed and laughed and all day kept repeating, “Mom!That scared the living daylights out of me!” and and we spend a day, fully, fully together.

Vacuuming can wait; laundry can wait; even the paintbrushes getting hard and cracked because we haven’t cleaned them can wait. But my children?  They need me now.

Who Won the Draft? (re-post)

And there it was. A break from real life; a break from the hard life. Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe this was real life and all the other, you know, “stuff” isn’t real at all; just an unfortunate distraction. Whatever, whichever, it was a break in my thought pattern and a welcome one.

We picked up Coulter’s friend; Coulter’s friend whose dad helps coach basketball and football and knows, well lots of sports stuff. Coulter’s friend, who knows what ESPN is and the difference between college sports and professional sports. This is all stuff that we don’t know.

Immediately he starts talking.

“Coulter!” What did you think about “So and So Such and Such” moving from the Sox to the other Sox.” Coulter plays it cool. He has a mom who watches the Razorbacks. That’s it. If they’re not playing, there’s no need to be watching. Coulter is clueless.

C: “Wow! What happened?”

Friend: “Dude! He moved from the Red Sox to the White Sox and he wasn’t doing to so hot, but now he’s doing great.”

C: “Wow. Uhm, yeah. Cool”

I feel his pain. He doesn’t want his friend to know that they might as well be talking about chemistry. In fact, Coulter probably knows more about chemistry than either Sox. So I do what any good mom does. I step in.

M: That’s great! What position does he play?

Friend: Uhm, (insert silent DUH, here) Third Base. Just like always.

I was trying to help. I didn’t. But the Friend seems undeterred.

Friend: (Ignoring lame mom and with great excitement says,) “Coulter! Did you see the NBA draft?”

Coulter: “Oh, man! I so wanted to see it, but we were out of town. Who won?”

Mom: (silently of course, this is painful). I’m sorry son for never turning on ESPN; for choosing instead Dancing with the Stars.

What? They’re athletes.

Friend: (Totally confused) What? It’s not a game! Nobody won.

He continues. Explaining. Trying. Doesn’t anyone understand how great this is?

Emma Claire has had enough. She is bored.

“Friend! Friend! Friend!”

 Friend: “WHAT, Emma Claire?” (He has his own little sister. He is not amused by her charm).

Emma Claire: “Did you know that some animals suck your blood? Really, they do. I read it in a book.”

And that was it. All is grace. And this day, it was baseball players and who won the draft “game” and animals sucking blood and a son who was pretending and trying and hanging in there as best as he could. That’s what we do. We hang in there as best as we can. And we fail, but it’s o.k.

And that was my grace. That was how God chose to bring me out of myself; out of my thoughts, wandering and lost in a swirling, confusing sea of what was real and was any of it real and I don’t know. 

But being a mom? This is real. Shuffling children to the pool and the park; to camp and to swim team and now back home because we forgot our goggles and next to Scheels because we lost our goggles and then back yet once again because the dog ate our goggles. This is real. Adding ketchup when there’s too little and scraping it off when there’s too much. Cutting crusts off of white bread for one child and using a round cookie cutter on wheat bread for the other. Inching into the freezing water so little feet can swim and onto scary, nausea-inducing roller coasters so big boys can ride and yes, this is being a mom. This is real.

This is grace. This is “who won the draft, blood-sucking animals” grace.

 Because at the end of the day? The end of grown-up stuff? Marriage and  divorce? Yeah, because at the end of the day (and wee early in the morning) they call me Mom.

And that I know is real.


How do Babies come out and how does Jesus get in (repost from theselittlelights)

We were driving home when out of the clear blue (and I so want to add the word yonder,) Emma Claire asked how babies come out.

Not where do they come from, but how do they come out.

“Well, pumpkin, there’s a special opening.” I say, wishing for the 1st time ever, that I’d have a c-section.

“But where?”

 “In a special place. It’s a special opening.” It’s seriously all I can think of. You know, how special it is.

“But WHERE is the special opening?”

I’m corned. She doesn’t give up. Ever. This is the same child, who, after days of frustration, trying to figure out how Jesus lives in our hearts, pulled up her dress (sorry for the visual) bent her knees, pointed upward and said, “Mom, did He come in through there?”

Finally I gave her some lame answer about how it’s close to your knees. Don’t judge, I mean the knees are somewhat involved. They’re bent; they’re high; they’re; oh, never mind, my Dad is reading this.

Anyway, last week Emma Claire announced that she wanted a baby sister. Of course she does. I mean what little girl doesn’t want a baby sister? We’ve established that she knows where they come out, but for the record, she also knows where they come from. Duh! God grows them. “God, please put a baby sister in Mommy’s tummy.” Wait for it….1….2…..3…. “MOM! He didn’t do it!” And then with no emotion whatsoever, Coulter says,

“Emma Claire, Mom’s too old to have a baby!”

Uhm, Ouch.

My heart ached. I’m not too old to have another baby. I suppose I’m too single to have a baby. I’m too alone to have a baby. I’m too un-employed to have a baby. But, whatever, I am not too old to have another baby.

Emma Claire is right. God grows. He knits, actually.

I remember sitting on the couch, holding Coulter as a newborn. I sat for hours, for days, and just held him. His dad said, “I can’t believe we made this.”

Uhm that’s because we didn’t.

Fast forward seven years. His dad, as if defending something that really didn’t need defending, says to me, “Our children were conceived in love.”

Eeewww. It was a very serious moment, but I kind of wanted to laugh. I don’t want to even think about it; you know, the conceiving part, and I sure as heck-o-la don’t want to talk about it.


Because the only truth that matters is the one that Emma Claire already knows. God grows. Coulter and Emma Claire are His workmanship (not ours) and they were “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance…” (Ephesians 2:10)

And He chose me to be their mom.

Today I ran 4 miles and biked 12. A dual-athon. I love that word, and not just because it means that I don’t have to swim. I love it, because as I’m riding along on my bike (which evidently is not a road bike and I’m totally confused because what else is there?) Anyway, I’m riding along dodging horse trailers and pig trailers and dead deer and the drunk people just now leaving Uncle Larry’s beer garden from last night; yes, as I’m riding along with Emma Claire’s seat bouncing empty in the back, it dawns on me that I’m not just in the middle of a divorce. I’m in the middle of a dual-athon. (Which, actually later dawned on me that it’s not a dualathon, it’s a du. As in du-atholon. Whatever. It felt like a dual.

I’m fighting for my children; my children whom God knit together inside of me. Me, this nothing of a person, this nothing of a body, so weak I only managed to come in 4th from last in said duatholon (just before the 6 year old and his mom and what appeared to be his grandma. Such a proud moment.) But even still, He chose me. I carried them. Humble and grateful.

It’s not conception. It’s creation. It’s a miracle. For some, we experience the miracle right there at our knees; for others through adoption, but whatever way God chooses, whatever way God uses, it’s a miracle to be called mom.

And so I fight. I fight for my children. I fight for our future. And like Emma Claire, I don’t give up.



Stupid Pigeon (re-post from theselittlelights

I am mad. Hot, sweaty, salty-tears mad. And sad. Hiccuping, gasping and that weird sound you make when you can’t catch your breath, sad.

I am mad and sad. And I’m rhyming like a Dr. Seuss book. Good grief.

Yesterday I met with a personal training client (who, as a side note trains dogs for a living, and I think it’s safe to assume she wasn’t impressed with Tiger. Or me. It’s possible she noticed all the bits of chewed plastic from toys gone by and the half-eaten $40 flip flops that my Mother simply had to buy Emma Claire for Easter, because looking around with wide and horrified eyes, she politely suggested that I buy some more dog-appropriate toys. And, thank you very much, I did. I spent $7 on a bone that he promptly buried in the backyard. I should’ve just given him $7 to chew. That would’ve at least saved me the trip to Wal-Mart).

Anyway, my client. She wants to be healthy. She wants to be strong. And she has about 100 extra lbs standing in her way. She’s a mom and a wife. We’ve all seen Oprah. We know the story: she forgot to take care of herself. Her battle is mental. She has to believe that she’s worth more and until she does, nothing will change. Our first session was scheduled for tomorrow. She just called to cancel. She doesn’t believe.

It’s easy to give advice. She deserves more.

And since everything, including dogs and bones and overweight clients, seem to point me back to the drama that is my life, it hits me. He doesn’t think I deserve “more”. I’m not hot, sweaty, salty-tears mad because we are divorcing; I’m not gasping for air, sad because I’m going to be 40 and single (well, maybe a little bit sad); I’m mad because I spent 14 plus years loving and trusting and giving and trying and now I see. I’m sad because we’re “that” family…sitting in two different sections at the swim meet; sitting alone in church because the “kids are with their dad.”

Seriously, how did we become “that” family?

I’m mad because I didn’t see. How did I not see before? How do eyes get so clouded?

Fuzzy and wet from tears?

He didn’t think I deserved more. He doesn’t think I deserve more. Me, the mother of his children so little in his eyes. And what you do to me, you do to them. Standing in line tonight at Jimmy John’s (I really know how to rock a Friday night) I noticed several wall plaques just bursting full with sub-sandwich wisdom. One read, “Not every day is going to be sunny; some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.”

Stupid pigeon.

He may not believe, but I do. Or at least I’m starting to. We deserve better. I mean, yes, without Jesus, we deserve, death, so Praise God for Jesus, but I was created in the image of the most high God and  while I can’t find it directly in scripture, I’m pretty sure that means I was NOT created to be the statue.


Captivated (re-post from theselittlelights)

This guy had the brightest smile that I had ever seen. And the whitest teeth. And somehow as he preached you could see them. All of them. His smile was that big. He had this way of looking right at you as if you were the only person in the room. I was fascinated by this man. I was captivated.

And, as it turns out, that’s what he wanted. He was preaching from the book of Mark about the friends who brought the paralytic through the roof to see Jesus. He challenged us. Are we still captivated by the stories of Jesus or have we forgotten that it’s kind of a big deal to make the lame walk and the blind to see. Come on! He calmed a storm. He walked on water. He freakin’ rose from the dead and this preacher is right. Am I still captivated by Jesus?

Or am I just held captive by circumstances and people and thoughts and fear?

And my children? Am I captivated by them? I love them; adore them; cherish them, but am I captivated?

After reading Good Night Moon 2,354 times over the past 7 years, I gotta say, I don’t get it. Is it a poem? It’s lost its magic. And The Three Bears? She ate the porridge, already. Let’s move on. And I seriously can’t explain how hard it is to feign interest in a star wars/ninja lego battle.

“Yes, that is wonderful, with the sword, oh it’s not a sword? Well, with the saber and, what his head came off? And they all died? You’re kidding. That’s wonderful, dear.”

In those brief moments, those gory, blood-filled, dead lego-men moments that string together to make a life, am I still captivated?

Some nights, I find myself, all snuggled together with little blond ones hanging on my arms trying to hold a book and scratch two itchy backs at the same time and, yes, I find myself or rather catch myself reading the words on the page while at the very same time reading the worries of my life. “Jack and Annie returned to the Magic Tree House and to their very great surprise, (how am I going to pay for health care in November? Where are we going to live in November?) there was a Dinasoaur waiting at the end of the path, (and how am I going to provide for my children?) but the Dinasoaur was a plant eater so Annie became his friend, (and how could their mom have been such an idiot?) and the Dinasours didn’t eat them and they all lived happily ever after.”

I read, but I am not captivated. I am lost. My thoughts wander. And am I equally disturbed and amazed at my ability to do this.

But then we had a play date. A new friend. She hadn’t been in the car 30 seconds when she started talking.“Those are our neighbors. She’s my friend. Sometimes I go play with them, but only when my mom says it’s okay. One day I went over there by myself, but my Dad said, “where in the world did that little girl go?’ And then they came to get me. My room is pink. I love pink. Pink is my favorite color. Is pink your favorite color? Wow. Look at that. That machine is pink. Emma Claire, do you like pink? What’s your address? Mine is 1234 Maple road. Is this your house, Emma Claire? I like your house. Is your room pink? Let’s make cupcakes. Can I take one for my mom? Oh and my dad, too? He is at his work.”

She was captivating.

All morning she and Emma Claire played house and dress-up and they held hands and they hugged and we were blessed and there was joy in this house and I was captivated.Captivated by two little girls whose smiles, much like that pastor, just radiated and whose giggles echoed though out the house.

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt.18:3 NIV)

I’ve always thought this verse meant that to enter the kingdom of heaven we needed to trust the way a child trusts. I don’t know, maybe I was taught that or maybe, in all of my theological wisdom, I just made it up. But after hearing smiley-man’s sermon, I now wonder if Jesus is talking about being captivated. Being in awe of Jesus the same way that our special friend was in awe of that pink machine. To be captivated by our children and their books and their toys and, oh my gosh, even the lego battles and the great big room with the red balloon.

And I’m starting to feel it. I will not be held captive. Not by him; not by my thoughts. I will be captivated. By Jesus; by my children; by this blessed life. I will be captivated and I will smile like preacher-man.

But first, I will go to Sephora. Because while I can’t find the exact verse, I’m sure that even Jesus knows a pretty smile; a captivating smile, needs new lipstick. And yes, pink is my favorite color, too.






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