Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “June, 2013”

Just Believe

5 months ago I was being told no.

Over and over and over again.

And then I hit a new low and I began selling pens.

You’ve heard that part of the story.

So I sat across from my friend.  And I told her about the pens. And I told her the way people look at you when you walk down the hall, in their office, to their desk.

They look away.

And, confidence level not in peak condition, I told her I need a job where people love me.

Or at least like me.

I cannot handle any more rejection.

Even if it is from the overweight-smoked for too many years-used to be a car salesman-but now’s in charge of buying pens-guy.

I even need that guy to like me.

And he didn’t.

And I felt like the Lord had forgotten about me.

And I felt like He had gotten it all wrong.

And I felt and still struggle with feeling abandoned.


In this place.

Where the Lord forgot—

About me.

So first, my friend laughed about the pens.

She prayed for me.

She prayed with me.

She believed for me.

She believed in me.

And I left that coffee shop with a new plan.


We met with her husband. There were charts and ipads and drop box things and numbers and hours and he said “the plan” a lot.

A whole lot.

So much, in fact, that I kept thinking what a fun drinking game this would be!

And for the record, I’ve never played a drinking game. I’m  just saying in theory, it sounded fun.

The plan.

And in brainstorming the plan, she came up with the idea of a girls’ running group.

And her girls are runners

And her son was a runner.

And her son was taken. Shaken off the mountain.

And today, we celebrated 12 weeks of her idea; of girls runnning strong. And we missed her girls and I missed my friend, the brainstormin’ momma, but today was a reminder that even in divorce and even in loss and yes, even or perhaps most epecially in death, there is life—

And it marches.

And Ann says, we have to fight hard for the joy or it’s our children who suffer.

So we fight.

And we march.

And today, we ran.

Timothy Keller said, “Worrying is believing that God won’t get it right and bitterness is believing that God got it wrong.”

And I have both.

And I can be a stupid aetheist.

But today, I did not worry.

Today, I am not bitter.


I’m grateful for friendship. My friend who created ideas. Created plans.

And my faithful friends who signed up their daughters and said.



12 weeks of learning about each other.

fun with girls just believe chalk just blieve chalk 2 team work

And team work.

just believe team work 004johnson lake

And serving.

just believe 009

And the whole big journey was a complete surprise.

I fell in love with these girls.

But I will make this confession.

I didn’t fully believe.

Today I planned a route where they could stop.

After one lap.

Two laps.

And I would’ve been just as proud. Really.

But their belief was greater than mine.

And no-one quit.

And they, each and everyone,  finished.

Because they had mommas and daddies and mentors running along side of them.

They finished.

Just Because.

They believed.

she believed


She ran with her momma. Precious and little and I have carried her on my back and skipped along sidewalks and she crossed the finish and her mom fell into me with a hug that was big.

And real.

And y’all know how I love hugs.

And she cried.

And she said thank you.

And the journey to here?



And really, really sad.

But in that moment, I thought Yes, Lord!

I believe.

In your goodness.

I believe.

That Your ways are higher and that your plans are greater.

And building into people?

So much better than pushing into pens.

And besides, these little people are a HALE of a lot cuter than the rude, fat, car-guy in charge of buying pens. 🙂

And I think they like me a little more, too. 🙂


My kiddos are in Arkansas. This feels right. Lonely, but right. Emma Claire calls and she talks to me like she’s 16 and if I close my eyes for a second too long—

She will be.

But I miss them and tonight I can’t help but wonder.

What the HALE was I thinking?

Why did I not go? Why am I here.


I didn’t go because grandparents deserve time alone with grandchildren.

I didn’t go because I have a committment to my growing (albeit ever so slowly) team.

I didn’t go because I was afraid Strong Mike would freak out about a change in schedule and he would and he did and I’m only telling you that because he would tell you the same.

I didn’t go because I was afraid they would call me lazy.

And I’m not lazy. And I work hard. But it’s never enough.

For them.

And so.

That’s why I didn’t go.

But if you see Mike,  please say it was because of him.


I’ve been reading a book. A short book. A horrible book. A look-at-death book and I can say with a great amount of confidence, it was the worst.



And yet.

Full of hope.

The only book that made me cry harder was a book written by Karen Kingsbury called “Let me Hold You Longer” about how we remember to cherish all the “firsts” but we never recognize or know or understand or see how can it be

“The last.”

One of my dearest friends gave that book to me on Mother’s Day.

She no longer speaks to me. And the last time we spoke? Well, how was I to know it would be the last?

And tonight I’m thinking of her. She makes wonderful chocolate chip cookies.

And salads.

And I don’t remember the last time—

Anyway, in Lament of a Son, this horrible, hopeful book, a father talks about losing his son in a mountain climbing accident. He says:

“My son did not slip. God shook the mountain.”

Yesterday my bed started shaking. Early. Buzzing.

And at first I panic. Someone else has died.

Who died? Who needs me? What did I miss? Why am I not a better friend?

And then I see an email. “I think you’ve been hacked.”

And the hackers come.

And the hackers came.




“You are not good enough.”

“Or smart enough.”

“Or trying ever-so hard enough.”

It’s not enough.

And in the not enough, it becomes too much.

And it’s never enough.

Till fill the hole. To make you whole.

Dang hackers. Hacking. And for those of us who don’t put up the brick and mortar?

There’s no place to hide.



I open my email. Line after line. From the hackers.

Failure notice.

OK, yahoo. I get it!

Till death do us part?

Failure notice!

In good times and bad?

Failure notice!

So I read my emails and I read my book and I visit my friend whose son was taken and I think, God why do You shake the mountains?

And he says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

But how can we be still when you are shaking the mountains? Shaking the very foundation from our feet? And I want to cry back, “OK, Lord, well YOU be still. And show us that You are God.”

And I sound like Coulter trying to think of a cool comeback for ugly friends.

Yeah. So. You know. Come on, Lord. How ’bout that?

And  in my prayers I can be a total child.

And He loves me anyway.

Because that is grace.

Later in the day, I try to clean up the mess. I need to change my password which seriously complicates my life so while most days I think about the looming realities of being a single mom, a working mom, a be-in-the-moment-for-each-of-these-moments-mom; yes while most days I’m focused on children and work and insurance and car payments and breathing, tonight I’m thinking about this dang password. Do I change one? Do I change them all? Do I come up with another favorite word and another favorite number and I can’t decide so I don’t do anything. I just start deleting.




And then I see a real email. You know, one that doesn’t announce to all my friends that I’m taking raspberry energy drops and that I’ve lost 25lbs in the past 9 days.

And I’m surprised. And I love surprises.

And that is a hint for anyone who would like to surprise me. Maybe, say, a trip to the beach?

Or a surprise coffee? (Remember, I like the fake kind with lots of chocolate).

Or even a text. Unexpected.

And kind.

How are you?

How’s your day?

Which totally makes me think of Joey. How YOU doin’?

And it’s possible that in my loneliness, I’ve been watching too many Friends reruns.

Anyway. The email.

It said.

I see you.

It said.

Thank you.

I read it again.

And again.

And there is joy in the surprise.

And in the shaking and the taking—

There is still joy.

And hope.

And some days those hopes are big and bright and they fill the sky and some days those hopes are small and light and not nearly as high. But it is there.

Today Coulter sent me an email from Arkansas. He caught a fish. A fish so small that I struggled to see it.  He’s not a dude of many words and he says simply,

“Look at this!”

Yes. Look at this! And in his face and in his eyes and in her voice and the southern-sized joy that spills over phone lines, I look.

And I can see it.

And hear it.

And the hackers can’t take it. And there’s no way to fake it.


It really does float.

“Dancing with Jesus”

I’m not sure how to write.

Being funny or sarcastic or sad about stupid stuff, just seems.


Kinda stupid.

A week ago today. I sat across from her. 453 questions in, she asks.

“You write a blog?”

(And it’s so super annoying when people ask questions that they already know the answer to, but so it goes with divorce).

Yes. I write a blog.

And it’s public?  And you are planning to write a book?

And. And. And.

And, yes.

Someday. One day.


My bucket list.

And what is your book about?

And I’m writing, pencil to paper. It calms me to scribble and write “the sky is blue. the sky is blue. the sky is blue.”

I’m suprised I don’t accidentally answer out loud, “The sky is blue.”

I mean, it usually is, but if I had blurted that out, it would’ve been a little weird.

But I circle and I write and I answer, honestly.

I don’t know. God hasn’t told me yet.

And your blog? What’s it about it?

Hmmm….thinking you’ve read it, but OK, I’ll play along.

It’s my journey of faith.

My story.

And this week, writing is hard, because my story is your story and their story and we have been in this story–-a super hard—wake up from the bad dream—story, together.

(For my out of town readers, the little town of Fremont has been shaken to the core after a car crash took the lives of 3 young boys). I only knew one. Most knew all.

But this is not the story of Fremont. Or these boys. Or their fanilies.

As I told her. Omaha-lady-lawyer with 453 questions. I only blog my story.

My journey of faith.

And this week.

My journey got sadder.

And my faith stronger.

And Higher.





I woke up to middle of the night texts. Missed in my sleep. Which I find amazing since I rarely sleep. I scroll top to bottom and bottom to top and there.



My friend.

Her son.


The kids are sleeping with me and they stir. I panicked. I had to get there. I had to see her and hold her and, yes the kids stir and I blurt it—

Right out, no filter.

Jackson has gone to be with Jesus!!!  He is with Jesus!! Mommy has to go.

And my neighbor came and my neighbors always come and I make a mental note to pick up the pieces of such a poor parenting moment.


I have to get there.

To my friend.

My friend who has faithfully walked on this journey through divorce. She, the first to hear my news. My news that felt like a death.

Until there was actually a death.

She  listened and offered grace and in her home and on her couch and across from countless coffee cups, she offered me a place.  

Although she drinks real coffee.

And I drink sugar. With a little chocolate. Heated up.

But whatever, I usually say, “Hold the whip cream.”

No I don’t. It’s dairy. Calcium, vitamin D? Why would anyone hold the whip cream?

My friend who has hidden the Word in her heart and it’s on her tongue and she does her part.

Her part.

In the body of Christ.

Arms that hold.

She listens and prays and lets me talk  for days.

About ridiculous things and about ridiculous people and stupid things—

And stupid people. 🙂

And one day I told her this story. A mortifingly (is that a word)and embarrasing and humbling story, but one that wouldl make you laugh.



And we did laugh. A lot.

And she has sown in tears.

And joy.

And my friend got to hear that story. The one you will have to read in my book.

The one I haven’t written, am not currently writing and will not be about you.

Unless you’re part of my story. 🙂

My friend.

She k nows my story. She knows.



And she has been my friend when being my friend wasn’t easy.

Being my Fremont friend, was not.

Is not.


But she stayed. And now I will stay.

And her part? Her part in the body? Just this.

As her friend, I am useless and helpless and when I walk away from our time together, I realize, still, that I’m an utter failure, for once again, it’s she that has just comforted me. She, in her loss, in her faithfulness, in her steadfast belief that God is good.

In her steadfast belief in His faithfulness, she shines a light—

And He is glorified.

And we are comforted.

And only He knew that the friend she was teaching me to be

Would, in His goodness—

Be the friend that she now needs.

But I need help.

As my dear friend Ann would say (you know the Ann that I don’t actually know, but I’m so totally sure that we would be BFF’s along with my Fremont friend), yes as Ann would say.

“I’ve never been here before.”


Have never been here before.

God in heaven! Help us to be the friend that she has been to us; the friend that she now needs.

So you might already know this. Emma Claire talks a lot.

Like, really alot. Alot.

And she asks about the sadness; the fallen faces and the quiet voices.

Answering is hard, but I choose the joy.

I say, “Emma Claire! It’s amazing. Jackson got to see Jesus today! Jackson is in glory dancing with Jesus!”

She replied simply, “You don’t know that.” (With a fair amount of attitude that makes me want to get on my knees this very instant in preparation for the teen years).

And stooping to the behavior of a 4 year old, offended at her comment and with the best amount of  my own little “attitude” said, “Well, I know that he’s with Jesus.”

“Yeah. But you don’t know he’s dancing.”

I said, “You’re right, Emma Claire (remembering that perhaps my theology was a little off about the dancing), but I bet he’s running.”

And drumming.

And I hear the pit pit patter of the drums. The ones from the start of  the service. And I hear the drum beat, still. The rhythm of our hearts.

The rhythm of of our days.


And counted.

And in glory.

Marching on.

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