Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Walking the Planks

So today was flu shot day. I would tell you that I had completely forgotten about flu shots, but that would obviously make me a terrible mother, so I will tell you assuredly, I did not forget about flu shots. Like any devoted mom, I delayed them as long as possible for the sake of my children.

And so we went. And I don’t do the trick thing. I say we are doing this. And it’s gonna hurt.

But only for a second.

We arrive at the clinic and several other devoted moms were there lining children, one by one; completing forms, two by two; and we are reassuring and we are loving and we are—


Bysounds horrific and loud and full of panic and they were the sounds of a child.


It was a movie. For five long minutes. Surreal. I looked at my children; at all of the children. Waiting, faces, ghost-white and frightened and I look at them lovingly, showing concern for their hearts beating fast and I—

Burst out laughing. Giggling, shaking, laughing, like I can. not. stop. The other moms look at me with horror. The nurses glance and I am telling you.

I could not quit laughing.

It was like a year-long release of tension and fear and anger and anxiety and maybe I wanted to be that kid, yelling at the top of his lungs, but grown-ups can’t yell. At least not in a clinic. At least not in a room full of children.

And so we laugh.

And all of a sudden, there were other nurses, different nurses, other screams, yes different ones and I was back in the maternity wing  and we were being ushered around by our “how to have a baby” teacher and I’m remembering how huge I was and remembering how people would say, “Oh you are so cute. You are just carrying that baby all up front” and how they were lying, sweet, precious liars because I am remembering and I am seeing pictures and I know I carried that baby everywhere. He was in my face and my hips and my tush and, oh thank heavens for all the sweet little liars, but we are walking and yes there are screams. You could hear the sounds of total agony echoing from the newly remodeled rooms and I looked at my husband and I thought—

“Well, that’s that. This baby’s stayin’ in”‘

Well first, I thought, why in the heck-o-la did they bring us here? Such not a good idea.

And then I thought, yep, baby’s stayin’ put because I am not. doing. that. That, you know, whatever that is that is causing the screaming.

But the baby came out. Two of them, in fact and without drugs. I’m not some crazy no-drug person, I’m just some crazy-don’t like the idea of someone sticking a foot-long needle into my spine person.

So anyway, I was laughing and yes I had this moment right there in the middle of a flu shot clinic and these moments are important and they make up our lives and they are the ones that remind us of  the better; they remind us of the joy and in this really messed up way, the poor kid screaming, wrestling, fighting, kicking made me happy.

Ann Voskamp says, “We can walk the planks of trust from known to unknown and know. He holds.”

And so here in this clinic, here today, I remember. I remember the better. I remember that He is faithful and that He held me during labor and He held my parents as they waited word on their baby,  and He held them when they were refused information and refused welcome and yes, I can list the ways of His faithfulness and I can walk the planks and it’s good to remember and it’s good to laugh and there is grace in flu shots and frightened children.

And frighened Mommies.

My children were brave. Stickers in hand, we head out for ice cream. And once upon a time, I remember that their Mommy was brave (and very fat and thankful for liars), and it’s a both-and.

Being brave doesn’t mean we’re not scared. It means we face the fear.

We walk the planks.

When There Are No Words

Somedays there are no words. No understanding. No great revelations or laugh-worthy mentionings (wait,  I don’t even think that’s a word.) And so here I am.

Making up words. Because somedays. There are no words.

The are questions. There is How? and Why? and What If? and no seriously, How? and Why? and What the    ?

Just kidding. I don’t say that word.

My mom texted me yesterday and said “Please call when you get a chance.”

And I texted back. “I don’t want to, but thanks anyway.”

And then I deleted it and texted back. “Sure thing.”

Because somedays there are no words. And it’s hard to talk and it’s hard to write and  that’s when you go to the Word and that’s when you go for a walk.

Emma Claire tight-bundled in her super-soft Christmas blanket. Coulter hooded up in Under Armour and shorts because that’s all he’ll wear and Tiger trying mightily to break free from the strains of being leashed.

And we head out.

And it’s not pretty. Tiger’s leash gets stuck in the stroller.

Messy-tangled, I sit on the sidewalk half-convinced that we’ll never get home.

But victory of victories, it comes free.

And then…

Emma Claire’s blanket gets caught in the stroller. I don’t notice the gradual dropping, lower, lower until WHAM! The stroller stops short and I go flying and Emma Claire goes flying and Tiger, un-leashed at last goes free-running.

Coulter turns back and looks at us as if he’s 37 instead of just 7, his eyes pleading as if to say, “Seriously, what am I going to do with y’all?”

But he doesn’t say a word. He turns on his heels and together, out little band of three, yes together, we untangle Christmas trees and ornaments and we brush off dirt and we brush off leaves and we wipe off tears and—

We catch the dog.

And then I look up.


The sky bursting and mingling and telling a story of so much God in our little piece of sky and it was a picture from the heavens.

A picture of hope.

Because somedays. There just aren’t any words.

Acting Four!

“You must become as little children….”

In line at the bookstore buying a gift for a special friend, Emma Claire starts to whine. But I want a present. I need a present.

Hu? You need a present?

Come again?

My heart starts to pulse quick as I gently remind her of the 4-day extravaganza that was her birthday. I remind her of the presents and parties and cakes and she looks at me and I remember. She’s four.

And as the books were sliding across the scanner, the Lord reminded me.

Somedays we all act like we’re four years old.

I was pulling into our driveway. Road-weary and travel weary and having to say goodbye to my children in a McDonald’s parking lot weary, and well, you know that feeling when you’ve had a wonderful time away and yet you are so very happy to be home again….

Yeah, well, it was the opposite of that feeling. Forgetting so quickly the joys (and gifts) of the weekend and brazenly, and bodly with a touch of whine (that’s whine; not wine) asking, pleading God for more.

Somedays we all act four.

And then I looked up and saw my neighbor in the backyard. And his wife. And the other neighbor. And the other neighbor’s wife.

Doing yard work. My yard work.

I flushed red; embarrassed that they think I need the help and it’s a big yard and I’ve never done yard work and I do need the help and I’m grateful for the help, and I walked around back and they are pulling down vines.

Wait, what? Not vines? Trees sprouting from fallen seeds? Weeds with posinous leaves?

Um, OK.

So they filled my garbage with sticks and posonious berries and trees growing wrong and I flush red again.

I should be doing this. No, wait. My husband should be doing this.

Women’s lib-stuff only goes so far with me. I think we’ve been through this before.

Men should open the door. Men should pay.

Men should mow.

The end.

But  since the only men around here are busy pulling vines and I since I will not be defeated by a little grass and well, sure,  I may have thought the poisonous berries where beautiful ivy vines, but, whatever, I’m a strong, independent single mom of two, and glory to God, I can learn to mow. 

I read the label that says “EASY START” and I think “easy start, my A#$,” and I pull.

And I pull again.

And I pull harder.

And it starts.

I push.

It dies.

And I pull again.

And I kick the mower. And I kick it again and I say under my breath (well, sorta under my breath and sorta out loud with a high-pitched squeal,) “ERRRRRRRRRRGH”!

Because somedays we all act four.

I feel tears spring up and I will not cry over grass, well, at least not again, so I go inside.

And I eat chocolate.

The next day, I ask my neighbor for help. He’s already sharpened the blades and oiled the puller-thingy and cleaned out some kind of box so I’m so embarrassed to ask, but he comes over and he smiles shy and asks, “Did you check the gas?”

And I laugh because my husband would’ve asked the same thing and it would’ve been a very fair question. And I remember quickly the joy and I remember calling him once because my car had broken down and I remember him coming to my rescue and bringing gas.

Whatever, men should also pump gas.

But I’m learning and I’m trying and I actually had remembered the gas.

And then I laugh harder, and I think enough already with the learning!

Last week, I was running. In the rain. In 4 inch heels. And this is shocking, but I fell.

Hard. And I bled.

A lot, a lot.

And my mom says to me, “I guess 40 is as good a time as any to learn that you shouldn’t run in heels.”

And I wanted to cross my arms and stomp my feet and I wanted to say, “Well, I’m tired of learning!”

Well, actually, I think I did say that, but  whatever,  I didn’t stomp my feet.

Eventhough I wanted to to. Eventhough that’s what you do when you’re four.

And that night (the night after the mowing, not the night after the falling,) I went to bed and I pulled out a box of scooby-doo band-aids and I pulled off the stickers and doctored-up my  ankles and my knees and my ego and I rubbed my hands sore from the easy-start mower and I gave thanks for the lessons.

I gave thanks for the growing and the learning and the teaching and the knowing and I know the most painful lessons learned; the most painful lessons still learning are the ones that bleed on the inside and that band-aids alone can’t touch and scooby can’t heal.

And then, missing my little ones, I went to Coulter’s room and took the blanket off his bed. And I curled up tight.

And I smiled remembering God’s word that we must “become as little children” and I thought Hallelujah!

Because somedays we all act four.

Birthdays, Spinning Wheels and Waiting for Prince Charming

We have this fairy tale book, you know the ones with pictures inserted for words—and I know that the pictures are supposed to help with pre-reading —but the illustrations are completely weird and it’s hard to read because Emma Claire keeps pointing out the weirdness and she wonders why the King from fairy tale #1 looks the same as the Prince from the fairy tale #2 and I don’t want to be ugly, so I don’t tell her it’s because the illustrations are terrible , when in fact, they are really, really terrible and I don’t tell her that I’m secretly thinking of throwing away this book and…

Anyway, Sleeping Beauty is her favorite. I’m not sure how I missed it, but I was 39 before I first read Sleeping Beauty and how she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel and went to sleep for 100 years. It all starts with the King  and how he forgets to invite the wicked fairy to a feast celebrating the birth of their daughter.

We read this story over and over and over. And, once again, over again. Emma Claire asks about the finger…which finger….where…..how did it prick….what is a spinning wheel…..why is the fairy wicked and I answer best that I can, but one day, out of the mouth of my babe, came this…

“Mom, I don’t get it. Sleep Beauty pricked her finger?”


“And she didn’t die, but she had to go to sleep?”

“Uh, hu.”

“But why did she get hurt? It was her Dad who forgot to invite the fairy.”

And I was speechless.  Now, OK, yes, I’m the mom and I just happen believe that my children are brilliant and yes, there’s a little bias here, but for a 4 year old to see the ripple; to see how we live in community; to see how the actions we take and the mistakes we make can prick the fingers of another; for Emma Claire to see the injustice (or the “it’s so not fair!”) of  having to pay for another’s mistake was, I thought, quite stunning.

Because, well,  I didn’t see it. I saw ugly pictures and a princess who got to take a big’ ol  nap and wake up kissing her prince. I saw myself in a beautiful ball-gown resting my eyes for a few short hours being awakened by a handsome…..oh never mind. 

I saw the fairy tale.

Because grown-ups (especially single at 40 with two children) need the fairy tale.

But Emma Claire saw the truth.

Because children. Always see the truth.

This past week we celebrated Emma Claire’s 4th birthday. And we celebrated BIG. Why not? Children are a gift from God and we are to celebrate His good gifts. We partied with cakes and candles and presents. With barbies and American Girl dolls and Hello Kitty. We partied with giggly little girls, hearts full of joy and we celebrated this life.

Picture by MegMc Studios and Andrea Espinoza

And stealing a few quiet moments, I celebrated with a heart full of joy and offered up the gift of praise and THANKSgiving. For I know too well, the God-controlled chaos that has circled her short life and I know too well, that if not for the grace of God, we’d be staring down our very own spinning wheel, and I know. All. Too. Well. the feeling of being pricked.

But God doesn’t leave us there. He doesn’t leave us at the wheel. He ‘s the King who invites us all.  His grace is enough and so we celebrate. And we give thanks. And we rest in the knowledge that our King is the King of Kings and our Prince is the Prince of Peace.

And well, how’s that for a fairy tale?

The Beauty All Around

As the ever faithful readers of my blog, you surely have noticed my absence over the past few weeks.


Ok,whatever, I haven’t been writing. It’s no fun to write when you have to ponder, pray over and pick-apart each and every word. I mean, yes, praying is good but praying over each word, I’m pretty sure borders on paranoia and no, I’m not paranoid, but I do know that others will be picking apart and placing wrong meanings and well…

I’m out of “p” words.

The break came for several reasons. First, I was accused of sounding angry and bitter and I am neither of those things so I started questioning my ability to write. 

I’m humbled. I’m grateful. I’m hopeful.

Second reason came during  dinner with friends. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but I mentioned having had a gift card (as opposed to, you know, using my own money) to buy “such and such”. My friend interjects, laughing, and says, “It’s OK, you don’t have to use disclaimers when you’re talking to us.”

And I thought, oh good grief. I do, do that. I have to stop doing that.

So,  I’m taking a break.

But in the meantime, where is the outlet? Creatively, I mean?  I parent, I work, I run, I lift, I study, I play, but all these words dancing in my head? Where do they go?

My family is all about creative outlets.  That’s why we’re all so lovely and well-adjusted. 🙂 And when we do something, we go, well, we go—BIG—

First it was the styrofoam balls. I think my mother saw it in Southern Living magazine, I’m not sure, but one Christmas we covered them, we glittered them, we ribboned and glued and hung them. There were kissing balls and hanging balls and we could’ve started a small college fund on what was spent on tulle, but this was pre-children. Pre-grandchildren.

Next came wreaths. Now, we still love a good wreath, I mean, who doesn’t, but this wasn’t a wreath. This was “let’s cut down a few trees from the bottoms, (or what midwesterners might call the pasture) cover the floor with sheets, ribbons and berries, ladies man your glue-guns, wreaths.”

Again, at this time, no babies.

Then there was the gold and silver spray-paint phase.  My mom spray painted e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Nothing was safe. One year, our little family of 30 all joined together for the Christmas feast when little bugs started marching out of these acorns that my mom had spray-painted. Forever and always, the lovely hostess that is my mother never panicked, but occasionally, I would look up to see her smacking the little critters with her napkin and then casually sliding them off the table.

Sorry, mom. You know that story had to be told.

Perhaps my favorite, was  our “Homemade Gourmet” phase. It was fall and we were preparing for our Holiday baking. (I don’t use the term Holiday to be weird about Christmas, I use the term Holiday because we also bake at Thanksgiving. Turns out there are actually a lot of holidays.) Anyway, my mom (and I’m still thinking this was pre-baby because seriously, who bakes anymore,)  yes, my mom ordered about 50 lbs of very exclusive lilly-southern-white-lilly flour (or something like that) and we had these industrial size bottles of baking soda and powder and cinnamon and nutmeg and we had funnels and baggies and measuring cups and spoons and we made an assembly line and my sister brought her way-cool-gotta-have-it-2:30 in the morning-bought if off the t.v.-bag sucker-uper and we sifted and stuffed and sucked and zipped and we all left home that weekend with enough ingredients for about 30 loaves of bread.

Seriously, I think I still have a few bags somewhere in my basement, which I shouldn’t write about because now no-one is gonna eat the bread I bring them for the holidays. I mean for Christmas.

And now it’s happening again. First I started making apple pies. I don’t really make pies, but Emma Claire was studying about apples and this seemed a perfect learning tool and we rolled out dough and we squeezed lemon and I gave some away, but then I kept one, and save for the small piece I shared with their Dad, I ate the whole thing.

By myself.

And then it was cards. This past week my friend gave a small presentation on making cards. That was on Monday. 


Today is Thursday.

As my children sleep (another disclaimer if you’re reading between the lines) I’ve started cutting and pasting and where in the SAM HILL  is my glue gun and I’m not writing and the words are spinning and the leaves are turning and there’s so much hope and so much glory and so much to be grateful for and I woke up this morning and I knew that I needed to write. Something.

I had to write before we ran out of paper. And glue. And apples.

Before my skinny jeans no longer fit; worse, before my fat jeans, become my skinny jeans.

Anyway, on my way to work this morning  (did yall know that I had a job ‘cause I do), I drove past, or rather  through,  what has to be the most beautiful spot in all of Fremont. By tomorrow or the next day, it will be gone, but today. Today it is glory. Today is miraculous. Today, I stop and I stare and I can’t take it all in and I wonder, why didn’t I see it before? Last year, I mean.

I lived on this very same street.

How is it that in one year’s time the black and white becomes color? How is it so much more beautiful? Is it because of the drought? Is it “just” science? Or is it “the telling of His glory,” kind of like the rainbow is a promise, maybe the colors are a promise? That He is here.


Still, I couldn’t see.

But now, after a year of falling completely on Him; a year of seeing the dark, and the gray and the brittle; a year of “truths that piss you off”, but that ultimately “set you free” after a year of chasing hope, running toward joy and giving thanks in all things (even the super yucky ones); yes, after a year of all of this. Now, I can see.

I see the beauty. And it is all around.


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