Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Life is Messy. Clean it Up. (re-post from theselittlelights.blogpost.com)

11:30 p.m. I can’t sleep and we’re driving to Arkansas tomorrow. Scratch that. I am driving to Arkansas.

12:30 a.m. I’m thinking about my soon-to-be former husband. My stomach churns. I am nauseous. I have to go to sleep.

 1:30 a.m. I’m thinking about my future husband. You know, the one who loves me and adores me; who loves Jesus and dotes on my children; who will rub my feet and kiss me goodnight.

 2:30 a.m. Sigh. If I’m going to be awake, I might as well be driving.

 2:50 a.m. Kids are loaded and the journey begins.

 The first 3 hours, silence. I am amazed that other people drive at this time of night. I start to worry. Maybe they’re all drunk, just coming home from the bars. I mean who in their right mind would be driving at 3 o’clock in the morning. Oh wait. Never mind.

Tiger starts to whimper. Loudly. I start praying. Literally praying because hunger and poverty and world peace can wait, but right now I need a quiet dog and sleeping children. And God hears. He always does.

But then, I accidentally bump my keys. The children are awake. First question? How much further?

They eat. I eat again. Calories consumed between 3 and 6 a.m. do not count.

4 hours logged and we make our first stop. “No, you may not have a slushie. It’s 7:00 in the morning.”

Back in the car, Tiger is out of his kennel and in Coulter’s lap. They’re watching a movie on their dual-screen portable DVD player that cost $85. Who said money couldn’t buy happiness? But then Coulter starts FREAKING out! “Mom! He’s puking! He’s, uh, He’s, MOM! He’s doing it again! STOP THE CAR!” I pull off at the next exit and, yep, that’s doggy-puke all right. I open the door and Coulter bolts out. Sympathy vomit? Seriously? I look around. A 12 hour road trip and no paper towels. There is a cooler of diet coke and Gatorade, there are chips and cookies and chocolate and cheese sticks; there is white bread and wheat bread and two boxes of ZONE bars; there are movies and colors and dry erase boards and baby dolls but there is not one.single.paper.towel.

I look at the seat. At Coulter. At the seat belt. And I can only laugh. Once upon time, we had towels that covered the seats. Nice gray ones that matched the interior of my van. But I didn’t like the towels. They made me feel like the family whose couch is covered in plastic. Welcome to my home. Crunch.

So, out with the husband and out with the towels. And now there’s doggy puke on my non-leather seats. And while we don’t smile much together anymore, I can’t help but think this would make him smile. At the very least, an “I told you so” smile.

The movie’s over and the kids are playing. I am lost in my own random thoughts from the night before. Wait, this is the same day. Coulter, another one for random thoughts, breaks in and says:

“Mom? Do you remember when we were fighting for Texas?”

“What?” Is he talking about football?

“You know! When George Washington was the ruler and we were fighting for Texas?”

OK, sure, I mean, maybe. I wanted to elaborate about how my American Government teacher was a football coach and that’s the reason I can’t currently remember who the ruler, I mean president, was, but then I remembered that we probably covered the Texas thing during American History and I actually had a real teacher for that, so moving on…

“Well, man I am SO glad we won. I mean if we had lost, Logan and Micah would live in Mexico!” Logan and Micah are his cousins. They live in Texas. And boy are we glad they don’t live in Mexico.

The time passes. Emma Claire fusses. Her tummy hurts. Her back hurts. Her head hurts. She begins to cry and then, “Mom! She’s puking! She’s, uh, she’s, MOM! She’s doing it again! STOP THE CAR!”

And this is the moment. The moment when grace is all you need and it’s always enough. She’s sobbing. She doesn’t remember ever being sick like this. There are no words. I gently pull her clothes off and take out the car seat. I wrap her up and lay her back down. I kiss her. I cuddle her and these are the moments Mothers were made for. We drive to Walmart and buy a new seat. It’s not pink and it’s not pretty and it came in three parts and the Walmart lady kept saying that my credit card wasn’t working and I calmly looked at her and stood firm and try though she may, I did not back down. And I didn’t really care if my credit card worked or not. As we say in these parts, come hell or high water, I was leavin’ Walmart with a car seat.

And I did and then we made it. Home. I wanted to do a little happy dance right there in the driveway. I’m a single mom; I parent alone (well, except for the massive amounts of help from my parents); I sleep alone (ok, given the two children and dog, I guess that’s not true either), but, whatever, I can drive alone and I can clean up kid puke and doggy puke with beach towels. Alone.

Life is messy. Kids puke and dogs get car sick and marriages fail and you forget the paper towels but His grace is enough and when life gets messy, you clean it up. And what happens when the towel is too gross to clean? When the mess is too big? You toss it (and I’ll leave it to you, my faithful readers to decide on your own if I’m still talking about towels.)

His grace is enough. I don’t need him because I have Him.


Hope Floats

I almost forgot that I was an optimist. I’m sure by now yall have forgotten too, what with all my complaining and crying, seriously how would you know? And no doubt there will be more of that, but for tonight I remembered that I’m an optimist. I’m a plan A person (that’s way different than a type-A person, which I couldn’t be further from) I only make one plan. Plan A. There is no plan B because I don’t need it. I won’t have it. Tonight, there’s just one plan. Tonight, hope floats. (And, yes, whatever, I just stole that from Sandra Bullock). But it fits. Hope floats.

It happened last night while I was watching Brenda Lee Johnson (Kyra Sedwick) solve a riveting murder. She said, “Sometimes I pay more attention to murderers than I do the people most important to me.” And I thought, oh my gosh, Miss little Brenda Lee is right. I’m paying attention to the murderers.

I’m paying attention to the voices that don’t matter.

The voices that matter are the ones full of grace and full of mercy. They are the voices that point me to scripture and to a heavenly father. They are the voices that remind me that Jesus is enough and that He is bigger than divorce. They are the ones that remind me that my children need Jesus more than they need married parents; their heavenly father more than their earthly one. They are the voices, loud and strong that encourage and pray and send messages reminding me that He goes before us and that He’s already there….in November….ahead and making a plan; making a way for us. The voices that should be singing in my head are those of you who read and comment; those who have seen me mother and love on my children; those of you who send me messages of perserverance and hope and humor; those who know my heart and know without a doubt that there must’ve been a pretty good reason for the asking.

Oh, HALE yeah, there was.

But in case you were wondering; in case I made it fuzzy. I was the one who did the asking.

Reading through some of my posts, especially www.theselittlelights.blogspot.com, it dawns on me (always, with the dawning) that maybe I led you to believe otherwise and if so, I’m sorry. It’s a little bit confusing because I didn’t want a divorce, (seriously, who wants to be part of the single-mom sorority?) but I am the one who asked.

I started writing again this past spring after I had been accused of concealing my children (we drove to Arkansas together for Christmas….woooo-hooo look how sneaky I am…WHAT??? We freakin drove there together!) Uh-oh, there I go again. Anyway, I started writing after begin called an un-fit mom. I started writing after threats of police. I started writing after I had read letters that were full of lies; ridiculous lies that suggested I had never read to my children at night or given them baths. I started writing after friends that I’ve known my entire adult life abandoned me; chose him. And for what? They chose wrong.

Last November I was sad at the crumbling of a marriage. Come springtime, I was mad.

The lies that were told; and, ironically, the truths that were revealed; it is in that pit where I have been stuck and it took a ridiculous hour of mindless television to wake me up to the fact that I’ve been listening to the murderers. Being a murderer doesn’t just mean that you take someone’s life; it means that you don’t honor their life. I made a decision to honor life; his, my own and most importantly, our childrens’.

A friend reached out recently, sharing that his marriage had ended after 17 years. He was empathizing and said, quite obviously, that divorce is life-changing. It was several hours later that I really “got it.”

Well, DUH! Yes, it is.

Divorce is life changing. And isn’t that the point?

My life (our lives) our changing. Hope Floats.


Being an Atheist

My alarm rang loud at 3:45 this morning. I jumped with a start. I was surprised to have slept.

I moved quickly, only changing my shirt. I slept in my pants. Not a minute can be wasted on travel day. My hair is, well, let’s just say that I miss my pony. There’s not a lot you can do to hide the mess that is my hair, but seriously, what does it matter? It’s not like there’s someone at home waiting for me who actually cares about my hair.

Well, that’s not true. Coulter cares. He literally cried when I cut it.  “Coulter what’s wrong?” I pleaded? “I thought you said you liked it?” Tears rolling, he continued, “I did, but I was just trying to not hurt your feelings.”

Oh ok, well, at least you didn’t hurt my feelings.

I brush my teeth and catch a quick glance at myself in the mirror. Note to self for travel day: no more looking the mirror unless it’s the rearview kind. Kids are wrapped, pulled from their comfy beds and snug-tucked into their seats; puppy on his pillow; mom with steaming hot tea and tears running down.

We wave good bye. Little ones’ eyes close back shut. It’s 4:00 a.m. We are off. Again.

We will be back.

I drove in silence for almost 4 hours. I watched the sun rise over Old Main and remembered sisters and friends and roommates and dreams and hearts breaking young. I drove through mountains; hills and valleys. I drove past cows grazing and corn growing. I drove and I drove and I drove.


I prayed. I gave thanks.  I cried.

In God’s grace and mercy, we arrive back to Nebraska safely and without any good stories for my blog. No arguing; no puking; no nothing….we only needed one napkin for the entire trip and that was because Coulter wouldn’t let Emma Claire use his underwear as an eraser for the wipe board. I actually thought it was a good idea. The ink was black; the undies were black. Coulter felt differently.

 It was good. It was grace.

Stiff and tired and road-weary, we make our way slowly into the house. The house that seems so empty and less of a home than the one we just left.  My mail was on the counter. I open it.

A check from Momaha. $100

A check from AJ Manor. $140

A rejection letter from the latest interview. Sorry, you are good, but not quite good enough.

Wait. Are they talking about me the potential employee or me the wife?

You were good; just not quite good enough.

I can’t breathe. I open one last letter. It’s a calendar. Remember November? November that just weeks ago seemed so far off; too far off; November that felt a lifetime away? So far off that I cried out to my attorney as if to say, are you freakin’ kidding me?

Yes, that November.

It’s three months away. From tomorrow.

And I can’t breathe.

But then I remember. Ann Voskamp says that worrying is a form of atheism. I catch my breath. I speak to my fear and to my worry.

Tonight I’m gonna sleep. Tonight I’m going to rest in Him. (And I’m actually going to wear pj’s instead of, you know, my travel pants), because I know that He never sleeps and He never slumbers and I can cast all my cares on Him and I can lay my burden at His feet and I say to the fear, “you may go now, thank you very much” because here’s the thing.

I am no atheist.






“I did not go pee-pee in my swimsuit!”

I’m not sure if its a Southern thing or if it’s a Cindy (as in my mom) thing, but I grew up believing…I grew up knowing that it wasn’t enough just to do the right thing. People also had to think or to know that you were doing the right thing. Maybe it makes more sense to say it the opposite way. It wasn’t enough that you weren’t doing something wrong, you also had to make sure it didn’t look like you were doing something wrong. I had a serious fear of this when I was I younger. Well, and by younger I mean even now. Still. Today.

It’s not enough that I haven’t done anything wrong. I need you to know that I haven’t done anything wrong.

I remember driving around with a friend of mine one night in high school (seriously, why did we do that? Is that just a small-town thing because there’s no-where actually to go?) Anyway, we were driving and he starts toward “the line.” If you were a good girl, you never went to the line. Not only did you not go to the line, but you didn’t want people to even think you knew what the line was. And “the line” for those of you who don’t know, refers to the border between the God-fearing tee-totalers of southwest Arkansas (dry county) and the,well, less than god-fearing beer drinkers of Eagletown, Oklahoma. Anything could happen at the line and I knew the minute I crossed it that there would be a murder and I would be a witness and my name would be in the paper and the whole town would see in big black and white print “HALE girl eye-witness to murder at THE LINE.” It wouldn’t matter that I hadn’t done anything wrong; it wouldn’t matter that I was just along for the ride, all that would matter is what people would think.


And maybe it’s not just me. Yesterday, Emma Claire was stepping out of the pool, the warm water dripping off her hello kitty  ruffles and she looks at me, eyes wide and sincere; pleading, and she says, “Mom, I’m not going pee-pee in my swimsuit…that’s just from the swimming pool.”

Joy. Total joy.  I laugh loud and long and then I see. She is me. It’s not enough that she knows. She needs me to know, too. 

I need people to know.  

For the past ten months I’ve been walking around with water dripping off my suit, gushing to the point that I feel as though I may drown and I get these emails and people are praying for me and praying that I will change my mind and people that I hardly know tell me they “are concerned for me and my children because I am breaking God’s law” and people that I know very well and have loved and trusted for my entire adult life send me notes talking about losing respect and having no class and they think they know, but they don’t know and I want to get a microphone or a t-shirt or a freekin’ billboard and I want to scream, “It’s WATER, people. I’ts ONLY water.”


I want the judgers and the haters and the friends who actually know nothing about true friendship; I want them to know that I tried to clean it up. Towel after towel, prayer after prayer, I tried to stop the drip.

And you know it’s true. Some people really do go potty in the pool.  And they don’t care. And they are not sorry. And there are not enough towels.

Lost time. Wasted energy. Wrecked emotions. Worrying, wondering, wanting people to know that it’s only water. And I’m done. God, in your grace and mercy help me to be done. Judgers, friends who don’t love, I have two amazing children to raise and I don’t have time care what you think. Today it’s not about how it looks….it’s not about looking like I’ve done the right thing. For the sake of my chidlren, it’s about just doing the right thing. 

And I have.

And I am.





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