Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Happy Momr’s Day.

Sitting on my counter is a card that says, “Happy Momr’s Day.”  And I would make a joke here, but I’d be sure to offend most of my Fremont friends and family, so I’ll pass, and instead focus on the correct phonetics.

And the joy.

Of being a Mom.

And receiving a card that says Momr.

And there are drawings on the card. 

A tea bag. A Hershey’s bar. Two children. Two dogs. And the word Razorbacks.

He knows me well. Gotta say, I’m somewhat humbled that there’s nothing in there say, you know, about Jesus.

Or vegetables.

And it was.

8 years ago today.

Memorial Day. 2005

Unless you are an official from the Nighthawks baseball league, then for sure this all happened on May 1st, 2005.

Just randomly putting that out there.

My mid-wife (who, through infertility and later three pregnancies became my friend,) was scheduled to be on call Memorial Day Weekend. More than a week before my due date.

No-one goes early, they said.

It’s your first baby, they said.

Pie in the sky thinking, they said.

And I do love pie.

But for weeks and months even, I told everyone that we were going to deliver on Memorial Day.

And we did. Some 30 hours after my water broke.

In the driver’s seat of my husband’s car.

And I love that part of the story. 🙂

(Just to be clear, Coulter was not born in my husband’s car.)

And I love the part of the story where I chose to deliver without drugs and I love the part of the story where after 3 miserable hours of pushing (sorry Dad for the visual), Coulter was born. And I love the part of the story where I held him and fed him and sent my husband to find a diet coke.

A diet coke. In a can. That I hadn’t had in two years.

Do not judge me. I was really, really thirsty.

But then, they whisked him away.


A few hours later, a doctor who learned his beside manner—





Your son is sick. Well he might be sick. We don’t know. But by the time we do know, he could die.

And then he will be, you know—


I hadn’t slept in 48 hours. All the blood vessels in my face broke during labor so I looked like I had the measles and strangely enough—

I still looked pregnant.

And I’m not just saying that. On the long trek from our room (down the elevator, across a bridge type thing and basically into another building) to feed Coulter in the NICU, a women oooed and aaahhed over me. Oh! Looks like someone’s getting ready to have a baby.

And I wanted to hit her.

Because someone.

Had already had a baby.

I loved being pregnant (mostly). I loved looking pregnant (mostly). I loved that God chose this body, my body to knit together a miracle.

Oh, and I loved that my breast looked like they had been bought and paid for but now—

Now they are gone.

Just kidding.

Wait. I’m not really kidding that they are gone…they are, sadly,  gone— but that wasn’t really where I was going with the “but now”.

But Now.

All I wanted was to hold my baby. And I wanted everyone and everything (including my still pregnant belly)—





But no-one was leaving. Nurses in and out and Doctor-Personality-of-a-Rock was in and out and before I could even speak or ask or breathe they had taken him again.

There were needles.

In his hands.

In his feet.

In his head.

There were MRI’s.

And a spinal tap.

And he’s not eating enough.

And he’s yellow.

And you can’t go home.

And their dad said “This isn’t about you (our family). It’s about us.”

So we sent our families away.

And when we came home.

We were alone.

And I knew. Day one of coming home as a family.

I knew. The breaking.

Piece by piece.

Coulter turns 8 this week.

He works hard, plays hard, tries hard.

And each day, the spirit of joy rises up in him and he is the gift.

The redemption of a life gone wrong.

WAIT! No! Not a life, a marriage.

A marriage gone wrong.

And His mercies are new every morning and those who reap in tears will sow in joy and in this short life, Coulter knows words like separated and divorced and parenting time and words that I never meant for him to understand but glories of glories, this is know:

Above all and in all and besides all, he knows that he is loved.


From ashes.

Yesterday Coulter was drinking cranapple juice in front of the t.v., and we all know that cranapple juice is not really juice, but my parents are in town so, there you go.

Cranapple juice in front of the t.v.

And he spilled.

And cranberries are red.

And I said, “Coulter! Dude! Please be more careful.”

He looked up, didn’t miss a beat and said.

“I know, Mom. But the good thing is at least the carpet will smell good.”

But the good thing is.

A heart full of joy.

Full of hope.

And the good thing is that there is always the good thing.

And when I forget, he is the reminder.

A walking, talking, running, tumbling, hold-able, hug-able reminder of the everlasting faithfulness of God.

#beautyfromashes #birthdayblessings #healthychildren #joy

Military and Bell

When I was growing up, our doctor decided I was allergic to chocolate and caffeine. I don’t remember any actual tests to verify this and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why I never questioned it, but for a long time we thought it was true.

So, ever dutiful to doctor’s order, I abstained. Whenever we ate out and could order a special drink, I did what any child who was allergic to caffeine would do.

I ordered Mt. Dew.

Who knew?

It looked like sprite.

I also went on the slim fast diet where you mix up that powder stuff with milk, only we didn’t have skim milk.

So, in an effort to lose weight, I drank 24 ounces of whole milk.

Every day.

And tonight. Tonight I discover that my little green tea fizzy water that’s supposed to help me give up my diet cokes is more tea than water.

It’s mountain dew.

Lying in the bathtub, drinking the little fizzy stuff, I start to read. Hmm. Why is there a caffeine content on my water bottle.

And that could explain why I haven’t been sleeping.

And my apologies to  neighborhood parents whose children may or may not have been allowed several of these caffeine-waters during a rather hot day of  trampoline jumping last week.   

But that’s not what I’m really writing about. I’m writing to tell you there’s something else that’s a little weird about Fremont.

It’s flat.

Totally flat.

And for some reason this causes cracked sidewalks. I don’t exactly understand why but there’s probably some science-y explanation, so let’s just go with it.

But first a review for any new readers:

18 months ago: Military and Bell. Voice of the Lord. Do the hard the I’ve called you to do.

Sunday: Military and Bell. Voice of the Lord via redneck truck loud-speaker. Run, Momma, Run.

Today. Military and Bell.

No. I’m not kidding.

But this time He doesn’t speak. He trips me.

I don’t know, maybe He didn’t trip me. It’s possible I didn’t see the gigantic crack in the sidewalk and it’s possible that I didn’t get my feet up far enough and it’s possible that I’m just that uncoordinated. But still.

Military and Bell?


And I didn’t exactly trip. I flew. Superman style. Face plant, flat down on all fours. Blood starts pouring from both knees and because I reign from a very long line of weak stomachs, I start to get sick.

I’m trying to remember. Head between knees? Feet above head? Please God, I know you are here. Here at Military and Bell. Please don’t let me throw-up in front of all these cars.

All of these people.

And I just sit there. 1 minute. 2 minutes. 5 minutes.

And then I see it. And y’all probably think I’m going to get all emotional about how nobody stopped to help me, just like nobody stopped to help me in the torrential downpour a few weeks ago and if I spend too much time thinking about it, I do kind of wonder what all those people thought as they were passing by, but no. I’m not going to get emotional. I’m embracing the fact that some people just end up running in downpours and flying across sidewalks and those “some people” are me-people.

Anyway, I see it. Amidst all the pouring red and crumbly rocks, a hole.

In my lululemon.


And I did want to cry.

Later we’re at Emma Claire’s soccer game and she runs back and forth and round and round and she’s trying to keep up and stay up and I see her whisper to her coach and he stops the game and says, “OK. Hurry!”

She runs over for a hug and a hat. Mostly the hat, I guess.

And his coach yells to her, “Come on, ya little diva.”

And my heart smiled. She is totally a little diva. She thought nothing of stopping the game for her own comfort and style, and it was in watching her run and twirl and catch the eyes of  each parent, that I thought, “Oh honey. You will be there some day.”

Just like your Mom. Running, leaping, falling. Not because of flat Fremont and not because of cracked sidewalks and maybe not even because the Lord tripped you to get your attention.

It’s because you dream.

And what’s going on around and beside and behind is sometimes far more fascinating than following the ball that’s right in front of you.

After the game, a mom came up to me and said, “Did I see you at the corner of Bell and Military today?”

Uhm, yes. That is a possibility.

“Yes! Yes! I saw you sitting there with your head down. I would’ve stopped but the light had just turned green and I figured you were waiting on Mike (my client).

And you know, the more I think about it, that really makes for a better story, so I’m just gonna go with that.

I was waiting.

And dreaming.

Get outta the Truck

I saw a picture yesterday that read:

Redneck Divorce.

“Get outta the truck.”

And I laughed.

Out Loud.

Get outta the truck.

If only it were that easy.

And it reminds me of the time my brother was working  for Vice-President Gore and Mr. Gore looks at his boots; his signature cowboy boots that probably cost more than my entire shoe collection and Mr. Gore says to him,

“Where you from, boy?”

And it’s in that very same voice that I hear the man say, “Get outta the truck. Boy!”

And it makes me laugh.

Because looking back, I  thought it would be that kind of easy.

And one day it came to me. You don’t get divorced.

You go through divorce.

And so it should be.

It should be hard.

You  don’t get to jump outta the truck.

And I started wondering about other moms and other little ones and other stories and I wondered, how do you bring beauty from ashes? And my answer has been this:

To share the journey.

To tell the truth and show my  heart and be a witness to the realities of this messy, mis-stepped, beautiful, blessed life and that’s what I’m doing.

Mark Batterson writes in his book “The Circle Maker”, if you are called to write a book, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it; you write out of obedience.

I’m a people pleaser and I am ridiculously defensive when it comes to criticism, but the same truth holds. If I’ve been called to write this blog and to share my story then it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it-

or  understands it-

or likes it.  🙂

I write out of obedience.

But lately the feedback has been overwhelming and overbearing and I thought Lord, why are you having me do this? I make a joke about being alone on a Saturday night and a reader thinks “I’m above that”.  One of the greatest blessings of my life is that I can find humor in almost anything.  And I’m not above laughing at myself.

And this isn’t funny. Divorce isn’t funny. But being alone on a Saturday night unable to zip (and 3 hours later, unzip) your dress because you are alone is kind of funny. And running down the street knowing that the only people giving you a second glance are the type of people with loud speakers and yell “run, momma, run” is kind of funny. And wearing a running skirt to teach body pump only to realize there’s a reason it’s called a running skirt and not a sqatting skirt or a tricep-dip skirt and a chest press skirt; yes while wearing said skirt only to realize that Coulter’s friend’s dad (yall remember him) is RIGHT in front of me and I’m paranoid so I change directions only to be RIGHT in front of another man (a cuter one, a married one, but for some reason a safer one) and all I can hear above the noise of the music is my Mom’s voice when we were children, “Keep you legs together” and my face flushes red and—

Wait. I don’t really think I had shared that story.

Ok, so now I have.

And it was funny.

And it’s funny that mowing makes me cry and that I once announced to a class with the head of the YMCA that “Save a horse, ride a cowboy” was my new theme song and—


I’m sorry. If you can’t find the humor.

As Ann Voskamp says, “I’ve never been here before.”

And so, yes. I’m sorry when I get it wrong.

Say it wrong.

Write it wrong.

My only purpose is to show my faith in Christ, show what it looks like to lean hard on Him and laugh just a little along the way.

But dangit. I’m ready to give up. I’m so ready to quit.

And then this.

A letter. Like a real letter, with a stamp.

In my mailbox.

And she writes: “Somehow I tripped across your blog months ago.  I love your writing. You speak to my heart and I believe you are someone I would feel honored to call a friend. They (your blogs) make me feel and they make me laugh and they are a kind of poetry that allow the reader to experience it as well.”

And y’all know that if I think a loud speaker on Military and Bell is the voice of the Lord, then for sure this letter is from God.



And then she continues. I also read your blogs as a cautionary tale and they sometimes feel me with dread.

Uhm. Ok.  A little on the ouchy side.

She ends with this. That you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, fears and joy. It is a gift. I just wanted you to know.

And how would she have had any way of knowing that her letter would come on the very day I was ready to quit.

How could she have known what she “just wanted met to know” was what “I just needed to hear.”

And I need the hard stuff too. I need to know when what I’m writing offends or hurts or is messy and tangled. I need to listen to all the voices and not just those that ring so clearly in tune with mine.

And I’m trying.

And in the meantime, I’m just gonna run, momma, run until the Lord finally says to me.

Get outta the truck. Girl!”

And He will.





Run, Momma, Run

I skipped church. I turned on Pandora and sang.

You know, with the hairbrush mic.

I folded and hung and boxed-away the heavy; they dreary and the weary of winter and with just a touch of hope, I brought out spring.

White pants.

There is just something really happy about white pants.

And it’s ridiculous that I would wear them, because I’m not the kind of mom-chick who can pull off white pants. Emma Claire will have a spoonful of nutella on them before we even make it out the door and if by chance we are spared the nutella, Coulter will call out an impromptu game of tackle football and I’ll be on the ground, dirt smeared into the crisp white.

But right now, just hanging in my newly sorted closet (and by sorted, I just mean that for today everything’s on a hanger. There are no promises for tomorrow), but they call out for spring; they whisper hope that winter has passed.

They’re also whispering that they aren’t really mine and that I’d better hope my sister doesn’t remember that I have them.


Boxes put away, I lace up my shoes.

Pavement praying. Outdoor church.

As I head out the door, there’s a handyman working and he stops me.

“Oh! That’s too bad about the divorce.” And I think he might be smiling.

Like, you know, he doesn’t think it’s “too bad” after all. And I think this is such a weird town.

With weird people.

And I run and I walk and I circle this town. And I am draped with this overwhelming sense that I am a stranger. People don’t know me and I don’t know them and—

Here. In this town where I have lived for two years.

I am a stranger.

And it serves no greater good; no greater purpose but I allow myself to play the game of why and what ifs and what abouts and what the HALEs and maybe.

Just maybe.


You got it wrong.

This time. You got it wrong.

Why not Sioux Falls? 10 years of friendships, of knowing my heart. Why here? Fremont, where, ironically, there is no freedom.

At least I think that’s ironic. Y’all know I’m always a little iffy on some of the big literary words.

Why here where chaos ensued from the beginning and people didn’t know, couldn’t know and how could I show?

The before “me”.

So I literally say out loud, “Why? God! Why here?”

And y’all know I’m a little partial to freakin’ and it rolls off so easily and I think freakin’ Fremont!

Really, Lord?!?!

Why did you bring us and drop us and leave us and as I’m asking, the answer comes and I’ve never heard talking bushes or heavenly voices, but I recognize the small, still spirit within me and I’m expecting something great.

Something profound.

Something that the Lord seriously needs to apologize for, but instead.

I get this.

‘Cause you didn’t do it in Sioux Falls.

Oh. Alright, then. Yes, there’s that.

You waited. You thought you knew better and could do better and that by the sheer will of determination thought that everything would be better and—

And I don’t use this word and I especially wouldn’t think it’s appropriate while talking to God, but I kinda thought, deep in the dark chambers of my heart,

OK, Lord, you don’t have to be a smart-you-know-what about it.

I know it took me a while.

To hear. To follow. To do.

Several blogs back, I write about a moment when I was driving down Military Ave. and again, the still small voice.

“When are you going to do the hard thing that I’ve call you to do.”

And I remembering this and I’m playing my what-if game and I come to the very.



Military and Bell.

And this time the voice is not still.

Not small.

As a matter of fact, it comes through a loud-speaker. And this is what I hear.

“Run, MOMMA, run!”

Uhm, yeah. I’m not kidding.

And did I mention the weird people? I mean, like who has a loud-speaker?

On their truck?

And seriously?

How do they know I’m a mom? (Which I get, is really beside the point).

And I know this seems like a stretch and I get that it was probably just a redneck dude with loud-speaker on his truck but I have an amazing ability to turn pretty much anything around so for me.

For today.

I’m gonna listen.

And obey.

And one step in front of the other, this momma’s going to do her best to run with endurance the race that is set before me,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1)

Even if that race is in Fremont.

And if I could look back and go back and un-do and re-do.

I wouldn’t.

Because even though I feel like a stranger in a strange (and weird!) land and even though the nice but totally weird handyman next door is seriously not feeling “too bad” about my divorce and even though–

They didn’t see our start or even now, know my heart.

I wouldn’t.

Because in this place. I have friends who are running this race.

With me. Friends whom I’ve fallen quite in love with and friends who know I’m just a little bit weird, myself.

Weird (or, maybe we should go with faithful) enough to believe the Lord speaks to me at Military and Bell.

Sometimes in a still small voice.

Sometimes over a loud-speaker.

Run, Momma, Run!

About this time last year I had to sit across from a man who I have loved for most of my adult life.

And his attorney.

Whom I have never loved. 🙂

The one he promised not to hire.

And I had to listen to hard things.

And untrue things.

And if I’ve learned one thing from all of this (and good grief, God in heaven, hopefully I’ve learned more than just one thing) but if there was one, this would be it:

When I get sad.

I cry.

(OK, we already knew that).

When I get mad.

I cry.

(And that).

But. If I can’t cry. If I somehow manage NOT to cry by some amazing and uncharacteristic sense of control and shear will, yes if I cannot cry.

Then I get, just a little,

(and by little, I mean extremely,)


And it was across this table listening and answering and feeling an overwhelming sense of anger and betrayal and unbelievable sadness at the scene that surrounded me and I could not cry and I would not cry and God of all glories,  I did not cry, but I did say this:

“I have no job. I can’t find a job. It’s like I’m on some kind of permanent vacation or something.”

I think I also used the word freakin’.

And it was a stupid thing to say.

Not freakin, I kind of stand by that.

But, you know, the whole vacation thing.

Sarcastically and angrily and ashamed-ly (is that a word?) admitting that I hadn’t been wanted-

or hired.

or desired.


And sometimes feelings get tangled. And the rejection blurs between job and husband and, oh.

Never mind.

And I didn’t mean it.

This has been no vacation.

But hearing “no” gets old.

And hearing “it’s really for the best” gets even older.

And oldest of all is that it just wasn’t part of God’s plan.

And sometimes I just want my own plan!

Anyway. Finally. Somebody said yes.

Just before her 70th birthday, a cancer survivor with a heart for Jesus, she calls me and says yes.

To personal training.

bwhite julie laughing julie 1

And I panicked.

I mean, I took the tests.

I passed the tests.

And even with all the tricky math problems and sciency-words.

I passed.

The tests.

But the truth is I didn’t quite yet know what the HALE I was doing.

But she didn’t give up and together we got strong.

Together we pushed and pressed and we did not rest and together, we celebrate a year.

And because she said yes. Because she believed more in me than I did in myself-

I was ready.


For all of this.

A few weeks ago another woman on the eve of 70 walked into the gym and with each new thing she would say,

“I can’t do that”

And I would say.

“Well, we’re gonna try.”

And we did.

And last week she swatted my hand away from the controls on the bike. She gets cranky like that. 🙂

And then she saw a cute boy and she asked me about him and I got distracted and I kept pushing her treadmill speed higher and higher and well, too high

But, you know, whatever. I fixed it. And she didn’t fall off.

Just showing her that she’s faster than she thinks!

And it’s hard. Harder than I can really imagine but she’s putting in the work refusing to be “done” at 70 and her goals are braver and more admirable than a smaller tush or a new pant size.

Her goal is to walk independently.

To travel with  grandkids.

To bowl.

(And I don’t really understand the bowling thing, but I’m not here to judge. 🙂 )

And for the first time in more than 10 years.

Her goal is to live.


And I get to be a part of that journey!! HALE YEAH!

I stand in awe of a God who brought me to this place in this space and with incredible people who trust me to help them. And I think how many times did I almost give up, back up and screw it ALL up by trying to be someone I’m not.

I saw a picture recently that said, “I wonder if we ever give God a headache.”

I’m sure of it. He must have had like a God-sized freakin’ migraine the day I walked out of Duane Svec advertising thinking I could sell pens.

And I mean I was excited, right? They were really cool pens.

And I kept just a few.

Which is wrong.

I guess.

I’m kind of on the fence about that.

Anyway, we get out-of-the-way; and hand over our day

Look what He does.

Look what can happen!

I’m so proud of my team and humbled and grateful to be a part of their story!

Healthy 5K 056 Healthy 5K 058 Healthy 5K 070 Healthy 5K 055 Healthy 5K 066

And on this day, my kiddos got to join in on the fun.

Healthy 5K 078

And at the end of the day, as I went to hug a friend goodbye, I felt something squishy. Something soft.

Healthy 5K 080

It was this. Emma Claire’s sock. Stuck inside my tights from the laundry.

And that’s when you know you’re a working mom. You can run three miles with a bunched up kid sock stuck inside your pants. And not even know that it’s there.

And when I think of all it could’ve been

I’m pretty thankful for the sock.



Coulter was turning two and for weeks we had practiced.

“Thank you.”

We would pretend to open a gift. We would practice showing appreciation. We would even pretend to open a horrible gift.

Like socks.

Or a vegetable.

And we would  feign excitement.

The big day came and his Uncle Gregory was there. The box is big.

He unwraps. It’s a basketball goal. Coulter can hardly breathe. He just stares.

And stares.

I keep waiting. You know, for the manners that we have faithfully been working on.

I nudge him.

“Coulter, honey, what do you say?”

Then at a decibel level to shake the foundation of the earth we stood upon, he screamed,


Which was  as close to a “Thank you, Uncle Gregory,” as one could get.

That whole summer, he would shoot and shoot and shoot.

And miss and miss and miss.

And each time and I will never forget it, he would say.



He has this amazing spirit. He keeps going and he keeps trying and he says, watch one more time and one more time and yes, one more time and he knows he’s almost there.

And he knows he will  get there.


Last week he was playing Y baseball and he got ‘out’. And it was hard. And I saw his face crumple and bless his heart, he is my son and I breathe tears and they spring easy and often and what chance does he have? But I look at him.

I’m in the dug-out. You know, cause I’m a super cool mom-coach and by coach I mean, I’m wearing a 4-sizes too-small team t-shirt, holding a team roster telling kids when to bat and they yell at me, “Who’s next? Who’s next? Who’s after that?”

And I can’t take it.  I mean seriously, it’s not that hard. There are two spots.


And that on-deck guy.

And that is all you need to know. And it’s possible that I’m not really considered a super cool mom-coach, but Coulter is glad to see me and his blue eyes deep and longing stare hard into mom and I give him the look.

The look that says, “Chin up, young person.”

“Chin up and don’t you cry.”

Even though what I really wanted to do was scoop him up and take him home.

Home.  Away from ‘outs’ and back to ‘almosts’.

But he’s at that age. Where you learn.

That you give your best. You try your best.

You do.



But sometimes.

Your best?

Still gets you out.

And good grief, yes, I know—

This is 2nd grade Y-ball, but after that it was football and soccer and there were these super talented hispanic little ninja boys who were quick and well, what’s another word for quick, and they just kept running and scoring and running and scoring and you couldn’t tell who was a coach and who was a parent because they were all screaming from the sidelines, “Andale, Pablo! Andale! ” (And I’m not being disrespectful. They were like little running ninjas and the grown-ups were shouting Andale, Pablo!.”

Which reminds me of how I always know if my Dad’s speaking to a Hispanic person on the phone because for some reason his thick southern drawl takes on this hispanic accent and he starts speaking in clipped English and he’s not being disrespectful either.

He has no clue that he’s doing it. It’s like his way of bonding or something.


Yes, I get that it’s 2nd grade. I get that he’s 7. Unless we’re at the Y and he’s alone in the gym and then for sure he’s 8. You know, just for the record.

But it feels like we’re at a jumping-on place. And there’s that moment when you click the buckle and you realize that it’s too late to jump off. And there’s that click…..click…..click as you ascend and you know without a shadow of a doubt that you don’t have the stomach for what’s coming.

And I don’t have the stomach for what’s coming which was one of many reasons that I didn’t eat with Coulter and Emma Claire tonight, but I did pray with them and  as they blessed the food, they both gave thanks and I think that appreciation practice is finally paying off and then Emma Claire ended with, “And God I’m excited about soccer tonight and if you could help us win, that would be great.”

And I don’t know if we are supposed to pray for sports victories, (especially for 4 year olds) but now that we’re on this ride, rest assured that I will be.


Praying that Coulter never gives up and keeps showing up and that I can ride the coat-tails of his unfailing enthusiasm and his belief that we’re “Almost There.”

Because the truth is, we’ve had a lot of misses. And outs.


We are.





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