Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Strong Mike

This man looks at us. Me and Big Mike. Small Mike as Emma Claire has started calling him because she sees the small.

In him.

He will get there. Someday.

And I only use his real name because he has told everyone in town that I’m his trainer. It’s not exactly a secret.

But this man. There’s this old man and we are in the gym and we are working and Mike is sweating and he is giving me everything and this old grouchy man says, “You’d better stop or Big Mike here won’t be able to walk home.”

OK, but I’m pretty sure he has a car.

I am so annoyed. I take a breath. “Yep!” I say, “He’s really workin’ hard.”

The old, grouchy man continues. “Yeah, but look at that tire around his belly. Gonna have to work a heck of lot harder to get rid of that.”

Uhm, OK. Pretty sure that’s what we’re doing.

Working hard.

At what point did we decide it was ok to talk about big people; overweight people, all-in-all fat people? In front of them? You know they can hear, right?

And I think. I’m not sure Emma Claire should call him Small Mike. We meant getting small. But this man is making him feel small.

I don’t like small. New name. Strong Mike.

I breathe again. Somehow hopeful that maybe in fact Strong Mike can’t hear and we move on. Away from old, grouchy man.

Old, grouchy man who needed a cane to walk out of the gym and I know y’all think I’m nicer than this, I’ve been “accused” recently of being “real religious” or maybe it was too religious? I don’t remember and that’s another blog entirely because I am in fact not religious at all, but I am faithful.

And I believe.

Just not very highly of this man. Anyway, I know y’all think I’m a nicer person than this, but evidently I’m not because as he walked out I looked at Strong Mike and said, “See? He can’t even walk with out a cane.”

Shame on me. I’m sure he is a sweet old man who doesn’t know better and probably calls black people “Colored folk.”

I let it go.

Seriously. I did.

And then today. A not very old, probably not very grouchy, in fact quite attractive younger woman with a beautiful smile looks at Strong Mike and says, “So, got yourself another trainer, hu?”

She turns to me.”He’s been through quite a string of trainers, just so you know.”

“Well, Mike and I are a team. I’m sticking with him.”

“Oh, it’s not the trainers it’s him. He can’t stick. He won’t stick.”

And HE. Is standing right there.

My face flushes hot and it’s one thing for friends to tease and friends to jab and friends to encourage and hold him accountable. It’s entirely different for random gym lady to think she gets a say.

I have to get away from her. I tell Strong Mike. Get some water and I walk away.

And as I walk, she thinks I don’t hear, but turns out strong and fit girls can also hear and she leans into Mike and says,

“She’s reeeeal pretty, Mike.”

And I’m not reeeeal pretty, but his last trainer was Josh, so maybe in comparison I’m a little bit pretty, but that’s not her point.

And Mike knows that. Knows what she’s getting at. And his face, already pouring sweat and red from exhaustion flushes even more brightly and he’s not embarrassed.

He’s mad.

And I’m mad.

And you know what I think? I think we should all. be. mad.

All. Get. Mad.

At social injustice and bigotry and hatred and all the phobias we carry around which are lame excuses to cover sexism and racism and fat-people-ism and all the other isms. And let’s get mad at people who speak unkindly and act unkindly and this week let’s speak up.

I will act in kindness but if you humiliate my client; my friend; right to his face, then I’m gonna speak up.

Well, maybe I’ll act in kindness. I will for sure tryΒ to act in kindness. I guess it depends on how many diet cokes I’ve had that day.

And knowing that I fall short and knowing that we are all broken and messy and heavy with weight, be it on our bodies or in our minds and heavy weighing down our shoulders and hearts and knowing all of this I will also watch my words and choose my words and lift up with my words.

“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

So come on, people! Let’s encourage one another! And pass the word that if you mess with Strong Mike, I’m gonna have to hurt you. And then of course, I will encourage you and build you up. πŸ™‚

Fear is not an excuse for hatred. And humor is a lousy camouflage for being cruel.

An Anniversary of Grace

Two years ago.


(Yes I know I started yesterday’s post the same way.)

Sorry. It just that it’s our “new beginning—turned fatal ending—turned new beginning” in Fremont anniversary and I’ve been reflecting.

About two years ago.

Two years of trying and crying and defending and pretending; running and rushing and filling and floundering and not wanting to be still; stand still; hold still, just wanting to move forward; wanting to be finished; yes after months of not eating and not sleeping and not knowing and not growing and yes, after all of that on Friday I stopped.

Because God made me. I swear it’s like he pinched me or something. My mom used to do that in church. We got a look and if the look didn’t work, we got a pinch.

Anyway, the pinch. Pretending to be 20 (something I will continue to do,) I squatted too low; too fast; too slow….I have no idea what, but I heard it.

I felt it.

I’ve felt it before.

Time to stop.

So for the past two days, I’ve gone slightly above the recommended dosage of advil (and by slightly I mean by quite a lot) and I’ve been in bed.

Occasionally I go downstairs for a diet coke.

And I did leave once to sit in a hot tub with my friend Beth.

And it feels like I have the flu. Only I don’t. I’m not sick.

I’m just weary.

In my bones.

I slept until 7:30 this morning.

And took a nap at 10:30.

And then I changed my profile picture on facebook.

And needed another nap.

I seriously cannot remember where I was going with this.

Yes, OK.

Two years ago.


I walk into the YMCA. Coulter notices some boys wearing Clarmar t-shirts. Clarmar, as in the school where he would start the very next day. They played basketball.

I see their Mom. She is doing side planks and for some reason I remember that.

And she was the first person I met. My first friend. And if I don’t write a book, she could because she knows a lot and she knows it from the beginning.

And she invited me to her spin class. And I thought I would die. I called my husband and said, “I can’t drive home.”

We started coming to the Y. To swim. To play basketball. To exercise.

And I met my second friend. And my third friend.

And the ladies at the front desk called Emma Claire, “Emma Claire”.

Each morning, we would go. Emma Claire would play and I would get stronger. I would listen to the music and feel the steel bar in my hand and I knew I was changing.

From the inside out.

And later, after the unraveling, and on nights when I had to be away from my house; away from my children, I would go to the Y.

It became a place of refuge. For me. For my children.

And it that place we would grow strong and be strong and play hard and play long and in that place I now have a way to provide for my family and in that place I have found a home.

Away from home.

Two years. Reflecting. Because when you stop to remember where you were—where you started—you remember to give a holy hallelujah that you’re not still there!

So there is grace in the pinch.

In the slowing.

In the stopping.

In the advil.


Even in the ice pack.

That Emma Claire is now eating out of. Which may sound gross, but I assure you it’s not as gross as the ice she picked up and ate off the ground in the Y parking lot.

I like anniversaries. I like remembering. No way in HALE that I’m going to be able to say “Happy Anniversary!” But I want to say something.

I want to say.

Thank you. To my first friend, to my faithful friends, to my Y family and my covenant family and my never leaving, always supporting Cece and Pop family and I want to say stop and get on my knees and say thank you.

For His Grace.

Two years ago. Today. And I celebrate.

An anniversary of Grace.

The End That Became the Beginning

Two years ago.

It was beautiful. And warm.

At least for February in Nebraska

And exciting.

Change can be exciting.

And we moved into the little yellow rent house.

And I knew. I believed. I hoped.

That this was a new begining.

And it was.

The beginning of the end.

And I remember how I hated. Really hated.

That little yellow house.

The way it smelled.

The way it looked.

The way it felt.

And then we found our house.

And we built a new kitchen.

A lovely home. With room to move and room to play and room to grow.

And I knew. This was it.

This was a new beginning.

And it was.

The beginning of the end.

And the end came.

And I started looking for jobs. And applying for jobs and interviewing for jobs. And I tried to be something I’m not and become something I can’t and in God’s grace I was told no and I was told no and—

Oh. My. Gosh! He kept saying no.

One year ago.

It wasn’t a beautiful day.

It was cold. Even for February in Nebraska.

And change was no longer exciting.

It was scary.

And I sat alone in our big, lovely home in my big leather chair and I sat.

And I sat.

And I sat.

Without smalls ones around; with small ones no-where to be found, I was paralyzed.

When you spend your days giving and loving and holding and singing and feeding; when your day is full and your heart is full because your job is wiping tears and bottoms and faces and hopefully not all with the same cloth and when you are the Mom, you don’t get to be alone.

Because in the becoming, you chose. A life with them and for them and yes, somehow in them.

And yet there I sat.

And I thought what can I do for them when they are gone? What I can do now—

For them? For then? For when?

And I know I’ve read it somewhere. “In a year from now, what will you wished you had started?”

And so I started.

And I learned words like vastus intermedius and trapezius pars transversa.

Which is a pretty big deal for someone who planned her entire future around not having to take science in college.

And I got this little card that said you are a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer.

And then I lost the card and now the Y really needs a copy of the card and it’s probably with my CPR certification card that I also can’t find, but what has me really frustrated is that I have a full Jimmy John’s card good for a free sandwich and I can’t find that either.

My husband would tell you they are tucked in Galations somewhere.

And again, he’s quite possibly right.

So here we are. Two years later. And it was the beginning of the end.

And in the end came a new beginning.

I have struggled and I have fumbled and tugged and torn and I think of Joseph or Isaac or who the heck was it that wrestled with God through the night and I felt like that has been me. Wrestling with God.

For two weeks I was a sales associate. That’s a fancy word for, “you will drive around in your car in the snow and the ice and you will walk into buildings where no one will want to see you and they will hide their face and shut their doors and….”


When you try to sell pens because you seriously just want to make a living for your children but you don’t give a flying flip about pens (and seriously, who does?) then it doesn’t work.

Then you seriously make like 18 cents in a day. Because seriously who the HALE cares about pens?

And seriously, I may have just discovered why Emma Claire says, “Seriously?”

All. the. time.

When you ignore the voice of the Lord and you ignore the gifts and you try to define who you are by what you do instead of letting who you are define what you do;

Then we wrestle.

I’m done wrestling.

Last week I wanted to run into the Y to pick up my paycheck. Well partly because I wanted to pick up my paycheck and partly because it was Valentine’s Day and I had actually showered, applied make-up and wasn’t wearing yoga pants. So in short, I wanted my check, but mostly I kinda just wanted my little Y family to know that occasionally I can kick it up a notch. I didn’t really run into anyone who cared, though, cause I still spent Valentine’s Day with my Mom.

And of course, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Anyway, Emma Claire was confused. “They pay you?”

“Well yes, honey. They pay Mom to help them get healthy.”

“You don’t pay them?”




And then, totally astonished that these people pay her Mother, she says—

“Alrighty, then! Let’s get this party rockin’!”

And then I opened up my check.

And I looked at the number.

And I looked again.

And I felt lighter. Literally.

(And yes, I know the difference between figuratively and literally.)

And I breathed quietly,

“I am a Personal Trainer.”

And then even more quietly, not audible for her, I whispered—

“HALE YEAH, Emma Claire! Let’s get this party rockin’!

Clear As Mud

Hi. My name is Myra Katherine. I’m sarcastic and I use self-deprecating humor both because it serves as a Defense Mechanism—

And because I’m funny.

But usually not on purpose.

I’m like a character from a children’s book who says something not meant to be funny and then says,

“And everybody laughed eventhough I didn’t say anything funny.”

Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes everybody laughs.

Eventhough I didn’t say anything funny.

If you follow my blog, you are probably aware of the sarcasm and the humor and the random way in which I flit and float from topic to topic and how I occasionaly lose my train of—

Wait. Where was I?

Clear as Mud.


It seems.

My writing.


Clear as Mud.

Last week in my attempt at humor I hurt someone that I care about.


It was in regards to Christian/Other.

I didn’t understand. I was making a joke, but it came across as judgement.

And I thought more about it.

And I thought about my High School sweetheart and I wondered what he would’ve checked. And I’m not sure. But it’s possible he would’ve checked Christian/Other.

And he loves the Lord.

And my aim is never to hurt or to offend.

You know, unless you have hurt or offended me and then of course that is totally my aim.

That was a joke.

And then more mud.

I got an email from a new reader. He says, “Oh, I know how you feel. During our divorce, I was mad at God, too.”

And I thought oh good grief. Is that what I’m projecting?

More mud.

I emailed him back.

I’m not mad at God. I’m mad at my husband.

And myself.

And then yesterday. Clear as mud, bless her heart.

I was not referring to the father of my children. That chapter is already written. I was just giving a fun little warning.

To other men.

To liars.

And I am learning. People lie.

A lot.

I’m looking out at the melting snow and how God says though our sins are like scarlet, He covers us and we are white as snow and I see the snow melting outside and underneath, layers and layers of soggy earth and the dogs come in and they are covered.

In mud.

Beneath the surface of the sparkling white is mud.

Muddy lies and anger and fear and hurt and you can hardly see the white or believe that He sees the white because everything is so dirty.


I don’t like mud.

I want crystal and diamonds and sparkly things.

I want clarity.

For my. For my children. For our future.

But sometimes we get mud.

And there is grace in the mud.

And we are called to be thankful for the mud.

God in my writing, provide clarity.

For my readers. πŸ™‚

May I be honest without hurting and as the words come; words filled with anger and forgivness and hurt and healing and fear and hope and joy and humor and yes, as the words spill, may you always be glorified.

And may You continue to wash away the mud.

Bless Your Heart.

Person A is angry with Person B.

Person A makes decisions based on anger with Person B but doesn’t want Person C to know.

Person C says to me, (I’m not sure who I am here….maybe person E?) and C says to me, “Why can’t A just say it. A and B need to talk about it.”

And I hear the heart of C.

And I know you’re confused. So I am.

Try to follow.

C is saying, “Just tell the truth, already.”

And I smile a little bit.

A, B, C and well, E. We were raised in the South.

In certain circumstances truth telling is actually frowned upon.

We say things like, “Bless her heart.”

That’s code for “Did you see how terrible she looks?”

Or, Bless her heart, “Can you believe how poorly behaved her children are?”

Or, Bless her heart, “I’m so glad I’m not turning 40 and single and trying to raise 2 children in a town where the average income for a single Mom is $18,000 a year and Winter lasts 9 months and the wind blows all. the. time. I just don’t know how she does it.

Bless her heart.

I think I strayed from the topic there for a second.

I smile and I laugh.

At person C.

A and B and you and me.

We aren’t wired for telling the truth.

Not really.

Not conflict truth and hard truth and ugly, I’m gonna make you cry, truth.

Remember the whole snake and Eve fiasco?

We lie to protect.


And ourselves.

I’m so tired of lying. Of liars.

And this has nothing to do with Person A or B.

This has to do with Person D.

No. That was a joke.

I’m weary of liars. Of cowards.

Whose truth is too hard.

Today a friend posted a blog called “Why I hate February.”

Uplifting? Inspriational? Motivating?

Not so much.

But she’s just trying to tell the truth (Bless her heart!) πŸ™‚

I know that we judge others for the.very.thing. that we ourselves do.

And I lied. For many years.

To my Mom. I am happy. All is well.

To my Dad. I am happy. All is well.

To my self. You can fake happy. You can fake feeling loved. You can fake that all is well.

All is grace, but all is not well.

Suck.It.Up. That’s the message, right?

No pain. No gain.

Just do it.

But God does not say suck it up. He says breathe it out.

I mean I think He says that. Somewhere for sure he says that.

Breathe it out.

Let it go. I already know the truth. So tell it to me. Fall onto Me and into Me and I won’t bless your heart.

I will bless you.

Telling the truth is hard and facing the truth is hard and we fall and we fail and we tell our children that the shots won’t hurt or the broccoli tastes good and we lie and yes knowing this, I am working towards grace.

For the liars.

I will work toward forgivness.

I will extend grace.

I will withhold judgement.

But know this. I’m writing a book. And if you lie to me and you hurt me and betray my trust and you make me question my the very essence of who I am because I do trust and because I do believe.

Yes, if you do this. Also know this.

I’m writing a book and there will be a chapter.

Just for you.

And I can hear the faint southern drawl of my faithful readers. Reading, reading, reading and—





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