Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Blue 48, Green 23, Down, Set, HIKE!

      Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

It’s the line of scrimmage. Sweat is dripping, hearts are pounding. Tension is high. No-one dare moves. No room for penalties; no room for error.

The call is made.

Or given.

Or something like that.

Blue 48 Green 23 Razorback Red 12 43, no rushing, no dashing, no blitzing, HIKE!”

And we’re off. Well, he’s off.  I’m not allowed to rush or dash or blitz and I’m pretty sure that at least one of those is not even a real football word, but to sum it up, I can’t run toward him (rushing) and I can’t chase after him (dashing) and I can’t blitz (whatever the heck-0-la that means).

He’s the snapper (which is the guy they use when it’s close) and the center (the guy who snaps it when it’s far away) and he’s the quarterback and the receiver and the running back. He throws the ball high (to himself), catches it, runs and scores.

7-0. 7-6. 14-12. 21-18.

Are you catching the pattern? When he kicks, it’s a field goal. There are points involved. But for some reason my kicks are considered kick-off returns and I don’t get points.

???

Every afternoon, it’s football at the Hale-Fritz home. Emma Claire sometimes joins is, but mostly she  just pulls up a chair and becomes part of the “audience”. We pause for a half-time show and then it’s back to the game and I secretly wonder—

Whatever happened to just playing catch? I’m actually pretty good at catch.

4th quarter comes to an end. We collapse into the grass. Well, I collapse. Coulter is actually practicing his long jump. Over me. But lying in the grass, with its little dead spots where the sprinklers don’t reach and it’s little tall spots where I missed when the mower broke and the little spots of perfection few and far between and I’m lying there and I’m so confused because all this time I thought it was the football that mattered. I thought it was the catching and the running and the 1st downs and 2nd downs and I thought it was the time.

It’s actually a little hard to play football and take pictures at the same time. Just sayin’

But they say it’s the grass. It’s the house. It’s perfectly tucked sheets and hangers all hanging in the same direction and a floor free of toys and dolls and strollers and counters with no play dough and ice makers with no legos (OK, even I can admit that one’s a little weird) but we don’t just build legos and put them on a shelf. We play with them. We don’t just roll out play dough. We make ice cream and cupcakes and we put sprinkles on top and we serve them and we save them and I thought it was the time but  now you’re telling me it’s the grass.

Seriously, who THE HALE cares about the grass?

Well, maybe you care,  but ask my children.

Go ahead.

Ask my children if they care about the grass.

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Father Knows Best

OK, so yall remember when my dad called and I thought my mammaw was dead but she wasn’t dead, and she wasn’t even sick, although now she’s fallen again and back in the hospital, but still hangin’ in there for 108; and yes, y’all remember that my Dad cautioned me that some people might try to take bits and pieces of my blog and twist them and scew (how do u spell that?) and turn them and chop them beyond recognition for the sole purpose of using my own words against me?

Yes. Y’all remember that?

Well, it happened.  And I would say something clever like, yes, Father’s really do know best, but I can’t do that because it might end up in court papers as meaning something different, so let me be clear.

My father knows best. 

I wasn’t suprised. I knew my dad was right and I knew my brother was right and I knew…well, where does the list stop but I chose to write anyway and I chose to be careful with my words and I chose to tell my story because, well, this is America and, as I’ve said before, I’m tired of hiding.

Hide it under a bushel? NO!

It’s dark under bushels and your light can catch fire and it’s hot and you’ll burn and no more.

Anyway, you can twist and you can turn and you can cut and paste and you can take a funny little story about how I can’t mow and you make it sound like somehow that makes me a terrible mother or you can take a snippet from the blog about how my kids need me and how the paint is drying, cracking-hard, because I’m busy being a mom and not being a house keeper and again, make it sound like somehow that makes me a terrible mother and while the rest of us are trying to make beauty from ashes, as only the Lord can, there are some who would make ashes from beauty and go ahead but I like pretty things. I like beautiful.

I choose truth. 

And the truth is there are things a lot scarier and harder and uglier than the d-word and it’s known as the c-word.I saw it on facebook. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end and I became nauseous.  “You’ve got this, Betsy! If anyone can beat this, you can Betsy! We’re praying for you, Betsy. We love you, Betsy!” 

What? My Betsy? Our Betsy? What does Betsy need to beat? Why are we praying for Betsy?

And then the truth came. Cancer.

I do not say this lightly, but Betsy Lavender is one my very most favorite, favorite people. Ever. She is good. And my pastor would laugh at me and tell me that I’m wrong because we can’t see the hearts of others, but I am telling you. Betsy is good. And her heart is kind. And she makes you feel loved and important and she makes you feel that you are the only person in the room that matters and she is the cool, awesome chick that connects with other cool awesome chicks, but also with those of us a little less cool and not quite as awesome and she is good and she has a glow about her; a brightness that seriously radiates. She lights up a room and, yes, she actually glows.

She is good.

And now she has cancer.

And then the news came. It’s stage 2. And it hasn’t spread. And this is a miracle and her sister says, if you don’t believe in God there’s still time and can’t you see, and don’t you see, this is a miracle and the messages fired back with praises to God.

And it’s all for His glory.

Then a second message came. Now they’re not sure. Maybe stage 2; maybe stage 3. And either way she fights and either way she prays and either way her healing will be a miracle and either way, the glory is His.

Last week I read a quote by Gloria Steinham and she says, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

You have to know that it’s cancer. You have to know if it’s stage 2 or 3 and you have to know so that you can treat it, and they will tell you the truth and the truth is hard and first it will piss you off but then it will set you free.

God will use Betsy as an inspriation. The lives of nurses and doctors and oncologists and radiologist and all those smart people. They will be changed because of Betsy Lavender.

And one day soon, she will walk out victorious and healthy and God will be glorified, because here’s the thing. If it’s not hard we don’t need him. If it’s not hard, we don’t turn to Him and lean into Him and fall, completely onto Him.

But it is hard, the c-word and the d-word and lots of words and we do need Him and Betsy’s story has already helped me to see mine more clearly; to see my word as just a word.

And it has to be hard for the victory to be His.

And whether you are leaving a hospital or a courtroom or a place that fills whatever your word is, it has to be a miracle for us to proclaim His goodness and say, just as Julie said, to all who will listen. It’s not too late to believe!

Our Father  knows best.

We Are All One Crowd

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13

Every night after dinner we walk  past two houses and across one street and we enter a whole other world; a sub-culture of dog owners and dog enthusiasts and well, all things dog and the 1st time we went, I thought—

Uhm, OK, this is not really our crowd.

You know all those Wal-mart shopper photos that pop up on facebook with people wearing pajamas and  babies are in diapers (as in only their diapers)? Well the dog-park people remind me of that.

Not exactly our crowd.

I’ve felt this way before. When Coulter was three, our babysitter invited us to the car races. Think dirt track, loud cars, tatooed men drinking beer from dixie cups and eating frito chili pie (which midwesterners call walking tacos. so weird.) Anyway I look around and I say to my husband, “I don’t really think this is our crowd.” And then I look over and I see our pastor. And our pastor’s wife. And the worship leader. And a teacher friend. And of course our babysitter and I think, Oh. My gosh. This is our crowd!

Anyway, we arrive and Emma Claire chats up the dog people and I hear “Welcome Tiger! Good to see ya!” and once again, I think, Oh. My. Gosh. Maybe this IS our crowd.

If it were up to me, I would talk to no one.  I just go there in hopes of letting Tiger burn off some energy so that he will hopefully quit eating all of our shoes. But when you’re Emma Claire’s Mother, shy is not an option. This is the social event of the season. Or at least the day.

She approaches, hands on hips and says, “Hi! I’m Emma Claire. This is Tiger. He’s a yorkie and a SKIT-zoo.”

Meet Patty and that’s her dog Luke. She’s friendly but she once subbed as my dental hygienist and I have a hard time making small talk with someone who knows that much about my teeth.

Then there’s Jim. Jim who laments, “I can’t believe I paid $2800 for that damn dog. Supposed to be the smartest damn dog around and he can’t even fetch a ball. Damn dog.”

I stare. Stunned. $2800? For a dog? The guy looks like he doesn’t know where his next meal’s coming from and the dog, from all appearances, is a mut.

Next comes war-hero and pregnant wife.  They are angry. “Ellie don’t like small dogs. She’s skittish. (Meta-message: Ellie don’t like Tiger!) Paid $400 for her,$800 for pair, only I was still in Afganistan so my wife  fetched ’em but they’re pure bred. Momma’s pure bred and these babies are black as the day is night. (Wait, black as the DAY is night?!?) Crazy woman in here let her ‘ol mut jump up on Elllie and I said, ‘hey, My dog will take your dog down and I’m not kidding.’ He had 30 lbs on the mut. Plus she didn’t even have tags!”

Oh my gosh, we’re supposed to have tags? Note to self, get tags for Coulter. Wait, I mean Tiger.

Oh, and then there’s grouchy old woman. Now, I have a real heart for older people. I learned it from my mother. She takes seriously the command to care for the widows and orphans and anyway, I love the elderly. But here’s the thing. You don’t just turn sweet when you get old. If you’re a grouchy young woman, chances are great that you’re gonna be a grouchy OLD woman and this woman is grouchy.

She comes into the dog park but leaves her dog OUTSIDE. As in she leaves her dog alone in the grassy area where the slides and swings and children are. The dog tried to follow us in and she screamed , “SHUT THE DOOR!”

Uhm, OK. Please don’t yell at me.

And finally, there’s creepy guy.

Creepy guy makes my alarms go off. He has that look. That look that says, “I just got out of jail for molesting children and I don’t  have a dog and I don’t have a child, but I  like hanging out at parks.”

You know, that kind of look.

No surprise, Emma Claire likes creepy guy and starts a conversation. I see that he actually has a dog and I begin to relax. He tells me “you did good” after learning the very special “my mom’s 40” news and that helps his case. A little.

But not a lot, because it’s kinda creepy to tell a perfect stranger that “she did good.”

But then it hit me. My kids don’t judge. They don’t care that you paid $2800 for a dog and they don’t care that you’re wearing your pajamas and they don’t know that you’re kinda creepy. Because in fact you’re not creepy. You’re just a wal-mart dude out catching some balls with your dog.

Last night Coulter asked me about 9/11. How do you explain that kind of hate?  There are no words. There is no understanding.

I look around and it hits me that my children have  no crowds.

How do you explain 9/11 to a child? You say, they didn’t know Jesus and they were raised to believe “their crowd” was superior to “our crowd.” They were taught evil and hatred and in the simplist of terms they were bullies and they were arrogant and they believed that their crowd was better. And I wonder.

Where did they learn that?

Remembering

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident….I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27)

I’m not sure where to start; not sure how to put into words the way that I have been blessed over the past days-fleeting and even if I do find the words, they’ll never be enough.

Thank you, so hollow. Thank you, never enough.

But still, thank you!

Thank you for the cards and the notes; for the flowers and surprises; thank you for the sun and the warmth; the  music and books so thoughtful and cards so kind and thank you for remembering.

Because the one I had hoped would remember, forgot. Well, not so much forgot as ignored and that’s what I feared for two, three, even four years and it happened and it’s over and and now we move on. And joy always wins the day.

It wasn’t easy. To celebrate, I mean.  There’s a time to rejoice and a time to mourn but, Mr. Solomon, is there a time when we do both? A both-and?

I believe yes.

They tried to kill the joy. Tried to ruin the trip, ruin the day and crash the celebration.

They tried. To break me down.

And they failed.

From the instant my toes squished soft in the sand and my face warm to the sun; from doorbells ringing and flowers waiting, cards arriving and facebook buzzing; from a birthday morning spent reading and later, exercising with the “old people”, and from a birthday afternoon playing-park with friends and cupcakes and scavenger hunts; from a fake-meeting turned surprise party and a dinner with friends, full of prayers and laughter and tears. From all of this, God shows his grace; shows His face and again, joy wins the day.

Yummy b-day lunch. Pizza, baked beans and french fries. I’m not even kidding.

The number of my years, measured by sticks and leaves and rocks.

OK, so I realize that’s a heck-o-la-lot of pictures of yours truly but, you know, it was my birthday! 40 and Fabulous, isn’t that what they say? And I believe that. Except I gotta tell ya that ever since Tuesday there’s been this weird twitch in my hip….

and my knee kinda hurts….

and ever since I ran barefoot on the beach, my ankle hasn’t been quite right….

and I wonder if I’m going to need reading glasses ’cause I already have glasses and how do you wear two pair…..

and…oh never mind. Let’s just stick with 40 and fabulous because I’m forty and my children are, well, fabulous!

Thanks, sweet friends!

Life Too Short-AND-Life Too Long

My sister and I rarely agree on movies; as in whether or not they’re, you know, good. I was reminded of this as we were walking on Miami Beach in search of a cold diet coke. Not pepsi, not tap, but an actual diet coke. I found one at the busiest Walgreens on the face of the planet and it cost $1.99.

For 8 ounces.

Anyway, the movies. I mention that I had recently been to see Hope Springs. She cuts me off and says, “Oh my gosh, that was so funny.”

I don’t know why this surprises me. Four Weddings and a Funeral is in her top ten of all time. Also not funny.

Hope Springs was a lie. It was Hope Done Sprung. Hope is Dead. There. Is. No. Hope.

I have no idea why I thought seeing this movie would be a good idea. In terms of judgment it ranks right up there with taking Tiger to the nursing home. But then again, it’s not really my fault. They lied right there in the title.

But as always, there was one line that stuck with me. One line that keeps resounding in my head. Meryl Streep’s character says to a friend, “I think I would feel less lonely if I were actually alone.”

And that, I get.

A friend of mine once said that while people always say  life is too short; the real issue is that sometimes; sometimes life is too long. And watching Hope Springs reminded me of that.

Sometimes one more day of living a lie is life too long. The scriptures, though, talk about how fleeting life is and we whither as the grass and how many times, especially as parents, do we lament on how fast it all goes and I was having a hard time reconciling the life is too long; life is too short and then I remembered what my friend Jodi always says.

“It’s a both-and.”

Or maybe it’s a “yes-and.” I always forget. 

She’s a lot smarter than I and by smarter I mean wise and thoughtful and deep and caring and she has walked right beside me from day one and she has faithfully lived out Galations 6:2 and she has carried my burdens.

Anyway, it’s a yes-and. Yes, life is too short, AND it’s too long.

This is not, “life is too short, life is too long so let’s all go looking for some greener grass.” Grass is green where you water it and speaking of, I’m about to quit watering mine because it took 7 people and three mowers (two of which are now broken) to finish my yard. My, “I am woman, hear me roar” has it’s limits and not to set women back 50 years, but there are just some things we shouldn’t have to do and mowing is one of them.

I also don’t like putting gas in my car. I’m just sayin’.

No, this is not about greener grass. This is about yes-and. This is about both-and. This is about life too short AND life too long and about HOPE that actually springs.

And this morning, as  I rejoice in my children and look forward to a weekend of sleepovers and birthday parties; dinner with friends and time with the Lord and yes, this morning as I give thanks for all that is good, I know that yes, Hope really springs.

Disclaimers:

1. My sister paid for the diet coke.

2. My mother paid for Hope Springs (although I don’t think she knows that).

2. Coulter is the one having the sleepover. Just thought I should clarify. 🙂

Believing is Better.

It was our first full day on the beach and I see him. Well, first I hear him. He’s workin’ the beach; moving around; taking his message from group to group.

“Hey, hey, you ladies want to party tonight?”

“What’s up guys?! Come on out to Nikky beach tonight. It’s gonna be a party.”

(Said with a “we’re not in the Caribbean, but let’s pretend we are” kind of accent).

I look up from my book. There’s really no need to start reading again since he is so obviously headed our way. And so I wait. And then a most depressing thing happens.

He passes by.

Excuse me? What? Don’t I look like I want to party? I mean, I don’t, but how do you know that? My sister is beautiful and I’m wearing huge sunglasses that conceal the dark circles and cried too many tears this past year eyes and are you kidding me?

Hmph!

Oh well, his loss I think, and then I finish my book and move on to magazines. My sister has Bazaar and the NY Times, but fashion and politics and smart-people stuff is not exactly beach-bum worthy, so I turn to Women’s Health.  There’s an article on how sitting actually kills us and I think about the past 24 hours lying on this beach and it scares me into movement.

So I walk. Up and down the beach, I walk. I’ve left my cover-up on the chair, and I will neither confirm nor deny that this was done intentionally. And do you know what I got? For all my effort, 30 minutes of walking?  One “Hey.”

I mean yes, less likely of dying from sitting, but still….

One.

Later, having decided I’ve kept death by sitting (or lying) at bay, at least for the day, I start reading again.  I click onto Raising Magnolias and I try to answer the previously blogged about question, “do I or don’t I want my children to read this blog someday” and as I read I get a little tickled. It’s embarrassing to laugh at your own writing, but I wasn’t laughing at my humor, I was laughing at my life.

Do you realize how many times I refer to my future husband? Well, me either because I didn’t count, but it’s several. Who am I kidding? Where did all this confidence come from? I have two kids and a dog and I write about my life and he’s gonna know that I can’t cook and I don’t iron and I’ve never even turned on a lawn mower (well, I actually did just this very day, but it ended in a heap of tears and a broken mower and the back yard’s not done and the front yard looks like it was mowed by a 6 year old and I can’t help but think of  Ms. Annabelle and how I butchered her yard) and anyway he’s gonna know and the guy didn’t even ask if we wanted to party and I’m lying on the beach wearing a ridiculously small amount of clothing and I only get one “hey.”

I feel a little panic rising up in my throat and I turn to my sister. “Are you aware of the statistics concerning women over 40? You know, about marriage?” 

She smiles. “That’s not for you. They aren’t talking about you. That’s for other women.”

And for some reason I believed her.

Because believing is better.

I flip back to my magazine.  I try to figure out which pair of jeans is perfect for my body type and I find them but they’re listed at $285 so I’m thinking a slightly less perfect pair will have to do and then I hear him again.

“Hey, hey ladies, you want to party tonight?”

And once again he walks right past us and I look down at the sand and I notice a cup of tea. And I think, “Oh! That’s it.” Those girls have a cooler full of beer and I’m sitting next to a cup of tea and of course, that’s why he didn’t stop.”  I mean anyone who drinks rooibos tea on the beach at 2 o’clock in the afternoon is probably not the Nikky beach-type. Right?

And so I told myself, “It’s not that I look forty or act forty or that I give off some kind of ‘I’m a mom and way too old to party and even if I wasn’t a mom and way too old to party, I still wouldn’t want to party, vibe.’ No it wasn’t that at all.”

It was the tea.

And for some reason I believed myself.

Because, again, believing is better.

My Beautiful Sister

Safely Back To Shore

We arrive into Miami. Taxi to our hotel. It’s beautiful. As we’re checking in, my sister confirms that we have a balcony. “Oh, yes, Mrs. Harris.” Next she confirms in her “you may not know it, but I’m very important voice” that we are not on the elevator shaft. “Oh, no, Mrs. Harris. No elevator shaft.”

I don’t even know what that means, but I’m sure glad we’re not near it or on it or whatever it is that we don’t want.

I once stayed at a Super 8 next to the Omaha airport in which my children and I had to cross police tape to get to the breakfast bar.  So asking about elevator shafts isn’t always my first thought.

We arrive to our room and my sister is concerned because she hears an elevator. Maybe it’s the service elevator, she ponders. “Is this bothering you? We can move. I will call them. Are you sure?”

The long hallway between the aforementioned elevator shaft and our room

I don’t hear anything. She wants this weekend to be perfect. For me.

And it was.

There’s a beautiful pool, but we can’t figure out why anyone’s there since just beyond the boardwalk there’s, you know, an ocean. We make our way down to the beach (and along the way my sister notices that she’s wearing her house-shoes instead of her flip flops, which was very special, but because she also walks like she’s a very important person—and I mean, she is a very important person – nobody notices. We find our chairs (and by find, I mean my sister hands a lady her credit card) and we open our books and we feel the warmth of the sun burning down.

And I breathe.

And then I go running. Barefoot. On the beach.

And I run and I run and I run and I have no idea how far I’ve gone or when I should stop, so I think to myself I’ll just run to the end and turn around and then I remember this isn’t a lake; I mean where does it end? Does it ever end? And how is it round? The earth, I mean. Where does it start to curve and how do we not just fall out and, God of all Gods, this is awesome.

I look out and I think sorry y’all, but this wasn’t some random “bang.” And if you’re some scientist-type who’s thinks you’re a heck of a lot smarter than I, then I will quote Pastor Doug and say OK, keep your bang theory, but answer me this…

Who lit the spark?

For something to go bang, there has to be a spark; something, someOne had to light the match.

So, anyway, I make a mental note. The next time Emma Claire and Coulter and I argue about who loves whom the most and just how great and massive that love is, I’m going to remember the ocean. I love you to the moon and back is not enough love for us. We love past all the planets and we love more than all the legos and more than 100 million cheetos and we have a lot of love and suddenly I’m very lonely for them.

Yes, the next time I will tell them that I love them to the ends of the ocean; more than all the waves and seashells and kernels of sand. And one day, I will bring them here.

And I will show them.

The waves crash to the shore, pounding and relentless and I didn’t grow up around water (I mean I’m pretty sure the De Queen lake doesn’t count) and I didn’t grow up swimming. I quit swimming lessons because our teacher advanced Matthew Buffington to the next level and held me back all because I couldn’t so some stupid dive. Whatever.

But I love the water and the feel of sand under my feet and the sun shining hot. I love how the waves crash into you on the way out; all pushing and working and swimming yet somehow still standing; but on your way back, the waves carry you and you quit striving and you just allow yourself to be carried.

It’s when we quit fighting and pushing and controlling and holding fingers clenched-tight and we say, OK, Lord, I’m ready to be carried.

That He carries us. Safely back to shore.

 

 

 

 

My Story to Write

“Do you really want your children to read what you’re writing in five, say ten, fifteen years?”

That was the question before me.

Yes, no, maybe, of course, Hale no, Hale yeah, I don’t know.

What I want is for this—this story I’m writing—what I want, is for this to not be their story. For there to be nothing to read because there’s nothing to write.

But there is a story and it’s our story and whether or not I write about it, we will go through it. Not writing about it doesn’t make it not happen.

It’s happening.

And I get that I’m not the only one. You have your own story. And your story is different and it is harder and it is sadder and you are angrier and it is the story of chemo that’s no longer working and transplants that fail and babies that don’t wake up, and babies, longed for and prayed for, that do not show up and you have your own story.

I get that.

But mine is the only one I know how to write.  And I write not to be angry or resentful; I write to be hopeful; to be a witness of His grace and His mercy; the God of all comforts, comforting me. Comforting us. I write to be a witness of walking through the fire and not getting burned.

Walking through and not even smelling like smoke.                                                           

Life was much easier when I was pretending; when we were pretending.  It wasn’t joyful or real or fair or honest,  but it was easier. It was easier when the blessing of bath, bed and books was all mine; not something I had to share; it was easier when I didn’t know that our friends were really just his friends and it was easier when I didn’t have to read lies, lies, lying lies. About me. About my family.

Yes, pretending was easier. But I’m done pretending.

And hiding.

But the question was fair and so I re-read. this time I read through the eyes of a child and there are two. Two that I will erase. I’m not erasing them, dear attorney, because you frighten me. I know that you’ve already read them and printed them and highlighted them and I have nothing to hide which is the blessing of being a truth-teller, but as a Mom, I regret my Letter to Emma Claire. It was written in anger and haste and raw, un-filtered emotion. It was a “morning after” blog, one that I now regret.  He didn’t turn out to be “the one”, but he did turn out to be the father of my children.

Also not making the cut is my essay on the beach trip because I promised to only tell my story and in the process of celebrating my sister’s gift, I started to tell his story and his is not mine to tell.

Do I want them to read this in 5, 10, 15 years? Yes, I hope they do and I hope they see an example of courage and faithfullness and steadfastness; all lessons I long to teach; long to learn. I hope they see that I loved my husband. I still do. He’s their father (although currently not a very good one). I hope they see, not just when they read, but every day until then,  that I’m grateful and thankful and I would walk through this fire and a thousand beyond because they are the gift.

Coulter and Emma Claire are the beauty from ashes.

This is my story and they are my happily every after.

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