Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Eat. Pray. Love.

That was the book that started it all.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells her story.  And in ours,(in our two stories) there is nothing remotely similar.

Except that we both want out.

And that’s not true either. I didn’t want out.

I fought. To stay in.

But I fought for something that didn’t exist.

Gilbert says about romance, “Sometimes, I’m a victim of my own optimism.”

And that’s me.

I played hard. And with optimism.

But I’ve decided that I was playing basketball and he was playing soccer and no matter how hard you fight, or how hard you play you can’t win at soccer if you’re driblbling with your hands.

And did I seriously just try to create a sports metaphor?

I’m thinking it was actually nothing like that, except there were different rules.

And dang it! I really don’t like soccer.

And I’m out.

And I don’t want back in.

Anyway, she’s a writer. She gets an advance. She sets out.

To Eat.

To Pray.

To Love.

And as I read—

I could.



The honesty.

I kept thinking. Oh my gosh. Does she know that her Mother is going to read this? I mean, that’s what I always think. I will just tell you right now, there are days that I wish I had a no-moms-or-dads-allowed blog.

Or a girl’s only blog.

Yes! Just like the sign on Emma Claire’s door. “No BOYS allowed (except for friends).”

So basically, it’s a sign telling her brother to keep out.

But oh the stories I could tell if only my parents weren’t reading. And those darn boys.

A few weeks ago, I got word that I had missed a memo. I got the memo.

I tried to catch up to the memo.

I failed.

There was gauze and tape and  band aids and—

Oh! Wouldn’t you like to know, but I can’t tell you because of the boys.

And my mom. 🙂

But Elizabeth wrote and there were no keep-out signs. Everyone was welcome.

And I remember reading,  thinking I want to go to Italy and speak Italian (or at least speak with a little accent). I remember thinking, I want to eat my way through cafes and drink expensive wine (which, whatever, I don’t drink wine, but if I did, wouldn’t it be fun to do it in Italy?), and I remember thinking I want to wake up and pray and walk and pray and lie down and pray and after all the praying, I want to go to an exotic island and meet exotic men. 

And then perhaps more praying. You know, after said island.

And some days I feel like I’m on an island. Only without the men. And my mom says to me, did something happen? Did somebody hurt your feelings?

And she knows me.

And even if I had a no-parents-allowed blog, she would still know.

And she remembers the years (lots of them) where I hid the truth. It wasn’t just that I pretended to be happy. It’s that I pretended to be OK.

When I wasn’t.

When we weren’t.

And I remember this quote from Gilbert’s book:

 “All I could say was, “I don’t know what to do.” I remember her taking me by the shoulders and looking me in the eye with a calm smile and saying simply, “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

I’ve never played soccer. Or basketball. And I’ve never been to Italy. And there are days, quite simply, that I don’t know what to do.

But each day as we, Coulter, Emma Claire and I, yes as we learn better how to live in this place; how to grow in this space, I can show love and respect and I can nurture and protect and with each new phase, new questions are raised and all I have to do—

Is tell the truth.

Tell the truth.

Tell the truth.

Why I Write

So my friend says, “Why?”

Why do you feel the need to share every emotion?

I had never thought of it that way. I don’t feel the need to share emotions.

I feel the need to tell stories.

To tell the truth. Because for too long, I hid. And writers helped me to become brave. In the telling.

Ann Voskamp and Anne Lamotte and Elizabeth Gilbert and on and on and on and these women wrote and they shared and they told the hard truths and from their experiences I learned.

Am learning.

And I  laugh, because as transparent as you think I am,  there’s a heck-of-a-lot that you don’t know. Believe it or not. I do filter.

Occasionally, I lose the filter. Sharing over tea or lunch or late night talks—

Those words.

Which I could never.

Will never.


A few weeks ago I met a friend for lunch.

I tell my stories. The ones I can’t write about , and she responds.


Forget the book! You should write a screen-play.”

And we laughed and we laughed and I got in the car and cried and cried.


It’s not really all that funny. 🙂

And then the weekend came and I was headed to an event and I felt sorry for myself because there was no-one to zip my dress.

Ok, so I guess I do share emotions. Whatever.  I cried over my zipper. And once I started.

I could.



It’s the little things. And sometimes you just want help with the damn zipper. And I read something about how the Bible starts and ends with a marriage. And I read something about how we were created to live in community and created for relationship and God saw that Adam was alone and he created Eve.

And I don’t want to get married.

But I want someone to help with my zipper.

So I drive to my neighbor’s. She zips. She hugs. I cry some more.

And on Monday, I’m telling this story to a client. I talk entirely too much, and I know this, but when they’re struggling through workouts, I distract them. Sometimes with stories of zippers; sometimes with stories about kiddos and sometimes I pretend I’m the announcer at a race and we’re racing toward the finish line and people are cheering and screaming your name and today—-

My client told me to Shut Up.

But I know she loves me.

Oh! Oh!

I really should remember to tell her the story about how I once attended an air-force academy formal and how I waited in line for the restroom forever only to discover that I couldn’t get my dress up.

Or down.

I stood there for a few minutes. Took a deep breath. Opened the door and asked the stranger next in line to join me in the bathroom stall.

And she did. But I’m off topic.

So my 68-year-old client (the one getting the zipper story, not the one getting the cheering and clapping) is listening and we’re talking about hard things and children and sickness and sadness and she says to me “I wish I had had the presence of mind to just stop and look around” (when her kids were young).

Stop. And have the presence of mind to look around.

I forget to stop. I parent. I work. I play. I run. I try. But seldom do I remember.

To stop.

And dang-it! In the forgetting, I let a zipper steal my joy.

And there is joy. If we take it.

If we claim it.

If we choose it.

If we make it.

If we stop.

And look around.

So why do I write?

I don’t know. Because I can. Because I have to. Because of Elizabeth and the two Ann’s. And because I hope someone reading  will stop. And look around. That someone reading will get a little joy from my dang zipper (that, btw, a neighbor also had to help me get out of). That someone reading will get a little hope knowing there is life after a failed marriage.

That maybe God hates divorce.

But he doesn’t hate me.

That someone reading will start to feel brave. Brave enough to tell their own truth.

And did you read my last post? About dreams and hugging strangers? Yes, well, let’s face it. I write because some of my readers are REALLY, really good at giving hugs.

And just when I need them.

Waiting for Spring

I was in a room. With men.

A lot of men.

I knew only one of them.

Paul, my dear friend from college.

The other men I didn’t know.

They were huge and all  tatooed-up and I was walking up to these men and asking for  hugs.

Ack! I know, right?

All strangers except for Paul and I know that if I called Paul tomorrow he would fly to Nebraska to give this girl a hug.

I woke up in a cold sweat. So ever grateful that this had a been a dream. And slightly worried that I had just, at 40, had a hot flash. I said, out loud—

“Thank you Lord Jesus, that that did not just happen.”

But I kinda do need a hug.

As  moms, we hug and hold; we carry the load. On our hips; on our legs; on our backs. My children, like their momma, have the love language of touch. Which is just a fancy way of saying we like to be hugged. Coulter slept on my chest until he was so heavy that it became hard for me to breathe.  He still turns my hair as he’s falling asleep, which is why I’m feeling super conflicted about cutting it off.

And I did cut.



Emma Claire also speaks the language of touch. Each night her hand finds the back of my arms and she  lays her head, rubbing softly, until she’s asleep. 


We were created for it.

And then last night.

Another dream. And I was in a room and people were, again,  hugging me.

I woke up with 4 year-old legs and 8 year-old arms and blankets and alligators and puppies and a lady- bug pillow; somehow all intertwined and my stomach had that churning, turning, “I’m performing in front of thousands of people tonight and haven’t learned my music” kind of feeling. And I wanted to tell the kids it was a snow day and just let us all go back to bed.

I’m unsettled and I don’t know why. And then someone posted a link on youtube about eating your frog first thing in the morning and I’m trying to figure out what my frog is and grab onto the idea of eating it.


Maybe if I eat my frog, my icky tummy feeling will go away.

And maybe I will stop having hugging dreams.

And hot flashes.

And I think it was some sort of motivational type link, but all I can do is feel sorry for myself that my Frog—



Just a frog.

I leave the frog behind. Today was music with the “old people” day and usually I’m inspired but it was depressing and despairing and I looked at these bodies, soft and weary and ready; souls who think they are leaving “just as soon as the snow clears”; minds cluttered, yet hopeful—


Tomorrow will be better.

When maybe it won’t.

Maybe tomorrow won’t be better.

Spring hasn’t come. Is it coming, Lord?  Emotionally, spiritually, physically and for sure literally, did you forget about us? Do You really keep your promises? I believe Lord.

Help my unbelief.

Hearts are breaking. Piece by piece by piece and we are but scattered from dust to dust and there are those who are questioning God’s goodness and His providence and His promises. If God is the giver of all good things then why do fathers of babies get called home leaving behind widows to mourn and to mother, and why do these old bodies, babies all grown; bodies broken and suffering sit and wait for the call and Why, Lord?

And why do I keep ending up in a room full of strangers? Wanting. Needing.

A hug.

I know where the room is.

And I know where I am.

It came to me as Emma Claire and I were singing “How Great Thou Art” with Lottie.

Lottie who’s a cranky old thing, with eyes that sparkle and oh! To have known Lottie when she was young.

And why, Lord?

Why do husbands say “I will” when they won’t and they don’t?

One day, I’ll tell you where I am.

I’ll tell you about this room.

Full of men.

But for today,  my heart  feels the questions and I have no answers.

When is spring coming?

I need to feel the sunshine blaze warm on my face.

The  promise of new life and never-ending grace.

I need to feel Your arms, wrap-hold-strong. Steady me, God and don’t be long.

I need to wait. And so I do.

I wait. On his promise. For new strength. Strength to run and not get tired.

I wait. On his promise. To redeem and restore.

I wait.

For Spring.

I know that it comes.


In the meantime.

In the waiting.

If, you know, you just happen to see me walking by.

You can go ahead and assume that I’d really like a hug. 🙂

Looking up. Seeing the Crystal.

Usually I scroll; skim and scoop, but at this.

I stop.

My friend, Queen Cindy writes—

“I’m thinking and praying  about how well I will carry my load today and how will I help carry the load of others.”

How well will I carry my load ?



Heavy-burdened with shame and regret—


Yes! I’m just so dang mad!

But here’s the thing.

They know that I love Jesus.

They know that I believe in Him.


In Him

So what do they see?

It reminds me of my friend, Jenna. She never wanted to put one of those fishes (and yes, I know they have a name) on her car because her foot was a little heavy. She didn’t want to give Jesus a bad name.

And I’m sure there are times when Jesus cringes and has that gritting his teeth thing goin’ on….I’ll never leave you nor forsake you, but man, oh man, today, I’m kinda wishing people didn’t know you were in my family.

So how well do I carry my load? 


More importantly.

How will I help carry the load of others?

It makes me think of the whole WWJD “thing”, which has always just  annoyed me a little bit. If I think I’m getting on some sort of bandwagon, even a Jesus wagon, I tend to shy away. Of course looking back, I’m thinking a different wagon here or a different wagon there might of—OK, never mind.

WWJD? I’ve discovered.

Is not the question.


It doesn’t really have the same ring. Try it. Say it fast. WAIGD? As a matter of fact with the “G-D” at the end, it doesn’t sound very good.

Not good at all.

It’s not what would Jesus do? It’s we are the hands and the feet. We are the body.

So what are WE gonna do?

What Am I Gonna Do?


Seriously. I should never write past 10 p.m..

Last week a young man; a husband and father and friend and son and yes, a much-much too young man, died.

I didn’t know him, but I’ve watched over the past few days as those around me mourn his passing.

Mourn for their friend.

His family.

His children.

And then  today.


And I’m a runner.

Well sorta.

And I can’t imagine.

But all day, my friend Cindy’s words have swirled and spun and I’m taking in this and I’m taking in that and the Lord reminds me that we are to cry with those who cry; mourn with those that mourn.

And in a media saturated world, we focus on the big.

The tragic.

The shocking.

But here’s what I know. I’m in Fremont, Nebraska.

And I can not carry the burden of Boston.

I can not help them carry their load.

I can cry with them; mourn for them;pray for them; but can not help carry.

And when it’s too big—too hard—we do nothing.

I. Do. Nothing.

A man I didn’t know? How do I mourn him? It feels too big.

And I can’t and I shouldn’t but I can cry with those who cry.

Help carry the load of those who mourn.

So this week, I’m laying down my load. A load that in the light of true tragedy seems not quite so heavy.

And I’m giving thanks to a Jesus that will carry it for me.

And I’m going to ask myself over and over and over—

How can I help carry the load of others.

Because people are hurting.

In Boston.

In Fremont.

Down the street. Up the road. Across the tracks.

It doesn’t always make the news.

Sometimes. It doesn’t even make it to Facebook.

Our friends and our neighbors and our family and the very ones whose lives seem perfect and it is messy and hard and broken and right here in my own backyard—


To love on others.

And help carry their load.

I’m not sure.

But for starters, I’m gonna look up.

Because another quote from Queen Cindy?

“And then the sun came out….and God showed how easy it is to miss the crystal chandeliers if you’re looking down.”

Sioux Falls Ice Storm. Photos by Cindy Cummins

Sioux Falls Ice Storm. Photos by Cindy Cummins

ice pic #3 ice pice #2

And then the sun came out. I don’t feel it yet. I don’t feel warm and I don’t see the sun, but I know that it shines.

And if I’m going to help others carry their burdens then I’d better start looking up.

Giving thanks.

And seeing the crystal.


The mom debate and why I need my inhaler!

My words are scrambled and spinning and I will for SURE offend someone today.

And yet somehow.

I don’t care. 🙂

Moms work.

All day. All night.


Without end.

Exhaustingly, sacrificially, un-abandonly. Which may not be a word, but I’m a mom and I get to make up words.

When we moved to Nebraska two years ago, my husband and I had agreed that I could stay home.

For a while.

We could afford to do this.

Turns out we could’ve afforded this in South Dakota, but as the Mom who slept on floors and slept in cribs and sang and rocked and scratched and rubbed; as the mom who was up late, up early and who worked in and out of the home and yes as this mom, I was too sleep deprived to stand up for myself.

For my family.


The first night in Nebraska, my husband told me that I needed to get a job.

Not long after, a copy of “Working Mom” came in the mail.

It was a gift.

To me.

From my husband.

So sweet.

That was almost two years ago.

Yesterday I decided to read one.

First article made my skin crawl. A mom brags about catching up on emails during her son’s soccer games so that she could be “more present” with him later.  Uhm, yeah. OK.

She said “Come on, how many times can you yell ‘great kick’ before they tune you out?”

I need a trash can.

I don’t care if you work; why you work or when you work, but if you’re working at your son’s soccer game, I can assure you that he cares.

Then I hop onto Facebook.

There’s a link to a Huffington post blog about the “why”.

Her daughter  asks  if she loves her job more than she loves her children.

The mom blows it off .

She loses all credibility from the beginning. I don’t care why she works. This piece could’ve been a powerful statement  about LOVE.

Instead it was a pathetic attempt at defending her priorities.

And slamming those who don’t share in those priorities.

I scroll further.

Post from a fb friend.

“I could never be a stay at home mom. I’m pretty sure I would get tired of just organizing stuff all day.”

I need a trash can AND an inhaler.

I love my work inside the home and I’m grateful for my work outside the home. The truth is, I’ve never fit neatly into either category. I try to be both.

I have to be both.

I work while Emma Claire is at preschool.

I work while the kids have practice.

I work while they’re at AWANA.

I work while they’re with their Dad.

I would tell you that of course I don’t do it perfectly, but I can just hear it now.

“She admitted that she’s not perfect!”


Of course.

I’m perfect.

You know,  just for the record.


So, we were on our way home from school.

Coulter said, “Mom? Did you get my soccer ball?

april 2013 107

“Oh Shoot! Coulter,” I said with an inner frustration that perhaps perfection had passed me by just this once, “Mom was at work all day and I just. did. not. get. there. I am so sorry.”

“Oh, OK.

Wait! Where do you work?”


Should I tell this story?

I don’t know.

Will she say, you’re so lazy that your kids don’t even know where you work?

Yes, she will probably say that.

But she will be wrong.

And lazy is such a lazy word don’t you think?

I’m a mom. For Coulter—

Nothing else matters.

april 2013 103

I made it to Walmart the next day for the soccer ball.

He has a game on Saturday.

And I will be there.


And cheering.

And he’ll give me a look that says, “Mom! You’re embarrassing me”

But I’ll know  he’s faking.

And then, WHOA! There it is!

What? You missed it?

Reading emails?

Well, shoot!

Because it really was a great kick.


It was a great kick!

april 2013 104

August 15th

Today I saw a friend and I just blurted it out.

August 15th!

Uhm, OK.

Or as Coulter would say.

Mom! Random!

Because we weren’t talking about dates. Weren’t talking about August. Weren’t really even talking.

But it was in my head and I needed to say it out loud.

So I did.

Nobody wants to get divorced.

Unless you need to get divorced.

Unless you know that you are getting divorced.

Unless you’ve been trying to get divorced for almost 18 months and you find out it’s going to be another several months.

Nobody wants to get divorced.

Unless you  thought you’d be divorced in November. And January. And this spring. And this summer.

Ann Voskamp says that all is grace.

And we gave thanks in all things.

And all is grace.

So there is grace in August.

August 15th.

I let that date kill my joy for a day. And then I remembered that nothing has changed. All that mattered in November 2011 is all that matters today.

It’s all that matters tomorrow.

It’s all that will matter on August 16th. Whatever that day will bring.

I am a mom. And my children are all. that. matter.

Being a mom is all.that.matters. (I mean, you know, beyond loving Jesus. Don’t get all technical on me.)

Last week we were standing in the doorway to my parents’  kitchen. She jumped up into my arms and squeezed right-hard. She was laying it on thick—

“Mom, you are so pretty.”

“And so kind”

“And you are just the best Mom that I know.”

And then she stopped. What came next stunned me.

“And I’m so grateful.”

I looked at my mom. Did my 4 year old just say she was grateful? And no Nutella was invovled?

Raising a daughter who thinks your beautiful?


Raising a daughter who is grateful?

Hale Yes!

Because I know that children don’t become what you tell them. They become what you show them.

And somehow, by the grace of a loving God,  I am showing them gratitude.

Even when I don’t feel it.

Faith it till you make it. 🙂

August 15th? Who knows.

Who cares.

OK, I do.


I shouldn’t.

Spring is coming.

Summer is coming.

Coulter’s turning 8.

And his present is AwEsOmE!

And Emma Claire has her first dance recital.

And we will bike.

And play.

And swim.

And I will be warm.

Thank you, Jesus! I will be warm.

Everything is easier when you’re warm.

Actually, everything is easier when you’re grateful.

And I am.

August 15th?

bird i can do this


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