Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

A lovely home. A lovely neighborhood.

I was 21 when I first left Arkansas.

I was 25 when I first started praying that I could come back.


It doesn’t matter the quote you find. They all applied.

Home is where your story begins.

Home is where your mom is.

Home is where your heart is.

I wanted to go home.


From Nebraska, we moved to Minnesota. I loved my husband.

I did not love Minnesota.

I missed my family and I was cold.

All the time.

And so I prayed that we could move South.

3 years later, God said yes.

South Dakota.

Really, Lord?

I loved my husband.

I loved my friends and my neighbors and my job and the families and the schools and the trails—

But I did not love South Dakota.

I missed my family and I was cold.

All. The. Time.

And so I prayed.

And after 11 years, the Lord said yes.

You’re pretty caught up on the Fremont journey (more than you probably want to be) so I’ll jump ahead.

A friend was sitting on my couch. The Lord has crazy blessed me with amazing friends and I told her my story, the one I won’t blog about and I told her the scary (and exciting) truth.

I need to find a home to rent before November 1st.

Some wonderful friends had suggested an apartment. I didn’t want to live in an apartment.

Some wonderful friends suggested a different part of town. I didn’t want to move to a different part of town.

My mom had prayed. Specifically.

For a lovely home. In a lovely neighborhood.

And I had drawn the lines for that lovely neighborhood. It was a rectangle of property within which I wanted to live.

And my friend was listening and very casually and almost quietly said:

I know of a house. (And I’m paraphrasing only for the purposes of the entire world not knowing where I live). ūüôā

To rent.

I will skip the boring stuff. I will skip the calls to my realtor friend and the 3 way call with the landowner about my puppies and I will skip the tears that sprung up (and this time not from me, but from my friend who could totally see what was about to happen!) and well—I guess I didn’t really skip it, but trust me.

I could’ve made that story a lot longer.

The next day we went to see the house. The outside of the house is not beautiful. And the lots are so small that if I reach outside my bathroom window I could hold hands with my neighbor, Larry.

And if went to the other side of the house, and reached out of my garage, I could hold hands with my other neighbor, Larry.

Hi. I’m Larry and this is my brother Darrel. And my other brother Darrel.

And I’ve met both Larry’s and my new neighbors have a LOT to live up to because we are leaving amazing neighbors and that’s the sad part so I’m gonna skip it today and I think the Larry’s are also going to be good to us, but I won’t be holding their hands.

That was a joke.

About small lots.

I’ve been told my entire life and it’s true and it’s scriptural and yes—

We walk in.

To a lovely home. And I know it immediately.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

My mom turned to me later that day and said, “A lovely home in a lovely neighborhood.”

I called the realtor on Monday. Picked up the keys on Monday.

You know that story about the guy in the flood on top of his roof praying for the Lord to save him? And a passerby comes in a boat and offers him safety and the guy in the flood says, “That’s OK. I’m waiting on the Lord.” And then I forget the rest. There was a helicopter and he says no again and in the end he drowns and well I forget the whole story, but I remember the important part.

When God sends you a boat in a flood. You say yes.

Even if it hasn’t started raining yet. You say yes.

So, 2 months early—

We started moving.

My mom who pretends like she’s 45 instead of 65, driving back and forth and back and forth says she will stay—

And help.

And she thinks we are just going to pack up a few boxes and she thinks we are going to take the next couple of months and strategically and carefully and in a non-breaking our backs, killing ourselves kind of way that we are going to slowly.





We’re jumping into the gift.

No, not even jumping. It’s really more like that cannon-ball I did this summer for the kids.

Yes! We are doing a cannon-ball and not even plugging our noses.

And there are splashes of glory.

And waves of giving.

And we are crazy-blessed.

This morning I’m working, but my precious friend Jenny is being given free reign with a hammer and nails.

My mom will be packing and unpacking and lining the kitchen with shelf paper.

Between us, she’s a little obsessed with shelf paper. ūüôā

We custom built our kitchen two years ago and I look around my new cozy little kitchen and I can’t really figure out where the food is going to go and I can’t really figure out how I’m going to live without a pull out trash cabinet and I can’t really figure out how my kids are going to reach things from the freezer that now sits high above the refridgerator but I know that my shelves are going to be clean and freshly lined with shelf paper.


I love my friends. I love my covenant family. I love my job.

And Fremont’s growing on me.

Just kidding. I love Fremont. Because of the people, I love Fremont.

I love my children.

And their dad.

And I’m ready to jump in.

But the obviousy truth is that for the past 2 1/2 years I have prayed to moved South.

Because I miss my family.

And I am cold.

All. The. Time.

So yesterday, 3rd or 4th van load to the new house. It’s like 8 blocks from my house and it involves one street of travel.

I look down to check my fuel level and I see it.



8 blocks South.

I continue to ask and the Lord continues to answer and He must think He’s pretty clever.

And funny.

And this I know. He is faithful.

Tonight my rock-star heavy lifters will come and lift heavy stuff (and part of me really wants to use the other s-word) but only as a joke because the things they will be moving are important to me and not stuff or the s-word.

And by the weekend, one week after my friend said—I know of a house—we’ll be moved in.

To a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood.

And home is none of the things in the pinterest quotes. And home isn’t about journeys or hearts or plaques on a wall. It isn’t about custom made cabinetry or pull out trash receptacles, either.

I’m a mom.

Home is where my children are.

Coulter, Emma Claire and I are moving.

To a lovely home. In a lovely neighborhood.


(ps. I know this is no excuse, because today I’m not crying and I’m well-rested and I should really be able to spell but something is wrong with my spell check!!!)

(ps.s. Coulter and Emma Claire will also have a lovely home with their Dad and they will continue to enjoy the benefits of a pantry and a side by side refridgerator. And I only point this out (half joking about the kitchen benefits) to say that they are blessed by both of us and will have two lovely homes.

In one rectangle of a lovely neighborhood.

I’m not sure that I’m ready to actually write a “blog” about yesterday. Actually, I sure I’m not ready.

I never will be.

As much of an urgency and a conviction that I have to write and share my story and share my faith—

I have a similar conviction that what I experienced yesterday is something that I won’t be able to fully share. Is something that I


Fully share.

It was hard and freeing and broken and healing.

I was not at all prepared for the wave of emotion that would hit me—

Like a brick.

When it was over.

I held it together all day. But when the judge used the term “irrevocably broken” and I have no clue how to spell that and I don’t want to learn because I pray to God that I never have to hear it again—

When he used that term over and over and over the waves came and I was undone.

It was hard and freeing and broken and healing.

Because of Jesus, none of us are irrevocably broken.

Not even my family.

And now together, separately, but somehow, humbly by God’s grace—


Will we do what we have been chosen and called to do.

Love and nuture and protect and raise Coulter and Emma Claire up in the way that they should go.

I’ve told the story about how I called my attorney on a Monday that New Year’s Day was being obvserved.

I’ve told the story about how he answered and I want to say it out loud for my friends and family to hear that he answered my call so many times and I forever grateful to him. I was not an easy client.
I have made life-time friends in his wife and their children and I am overwhelmed by his committment to my and my kids.

After it was over, we agreed to talk and wrap things up later, so he put his hand out to shake as any professional man would do.

I said, “Good grief. I’m going to hug you.”

He said, “Uhm yeah. I’m not really comfortable with that.”

I guess I’m breaking client/lawyer confidentiality here, but—-

I hugged him anyway.


Hard and freeing and broken and healing.

I’m also humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of encouragement and prayers. Texts and calls and messages and packages left on my front steps and prayers and prayers and—


God used these two years to change my heart.

To change me.

I’m a nebraska girl for now and he used these two years to show me that I can do this.

And that I have a convenant family and a village of incredible friends who have stood up and shown up and yes—overwhelmed—is the only word I have.

And grateful.

My pastor called early and asked if he could come pray with us. My mom in her robe and me less-than-fully-dressed and we sat in my living room and we prayed and it was healing for my mom to see this man of God and know that he cares for my family. He then texted and said—-

“Your mom’s HILLARY bumper sticker scares me. No. Really. It scares me.”

And my mom loves him. Even though he makes fun of Hillary. And her bumper sticker.

Thanks y’all. As Ann Voskamp would say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

And now we move one. I’ll still be sharing my journey of faith and I’m guessing there will be some funny stories to come and some hard ones and I know that there is healing still to come and challenges and real life and yes. I will still be sharing my journey of faith. I’m off the gym and I’m crying too hard to see the screen, and my computer is being weird about spell check so my apologies in advance for typos and the fact that I really don’t give a sh*t how to spell irrevocable. ūüôā

Movin’ on.


Thankful. (Which I think is redundant and means the same as grateful.)


This is the Day!

I woke up early. It wasn’t even morning. I mean, yes, techincally it’s morning but I have a long day ahead and my mind is racing and I want to go back to sleep but all I can think about is a day last Decemeber when my friend stood in my driveway, frustrated and sad and worried and faithful and she said:

“They know it’s not cancer, but they can’t figure out what it is.”

Less than a week later, it was cancer.

And today she is a widow. A 30-something widow.

Too many 30-something widows. Too many fatherless children.

I’m missing the celebration of his life, and knowing my friend, it will be—Just That!—a celebration.

I will attending a burial of a different sort.

It will not be a celebration. Vows made. Vows broken.

And I grieve the death of my marriage.

And I am a 30-something widow.

Whatever. 40-something. I thought we needed a little joke.

At the beginning of the year I chose “Promise” as my word. I hadn’t thought about it in months. Life gets crazy like that and we forget. But yesterday, painting a mug with a bunch of beautiful little girls, I remembered.


And I’m nervous that people will think Emma Claire painted the mug because last fall when I couldn’t write and I became obssesed with glue guns, I made lots of crafts. And my friend said, “Oh! I love children’s art.”

Only, you know, my kids had been gone for the weekend. It was grown-up art.

It was Myra Katherine art.

I forgot about my word, but the Lord didn’t.

Last spring a friend of mine reccomended a book called the Circle Maker. Many take aways, but for me it was about circling the Promises of God.

Not praying for.

Praying through.

Not what do I want.


What God promises.




And I have circled His promises and I have circled the courthouse.


Day after day after day, I have walked around the courthouse praying and circling and singing (ya know, super quietly) and whatever, it’s pretty amazing that I was never approached by the police whose building is right next door and I remmeber this lady who walked around Sioux Falls with a parrott on her shoulder and we called her the crazy parrot lady and I feel terrible now, because maybe she was just praying and circling and I have this feeling there are some little office ladies at the courthosue who gather around the window like the FRIENDS used to do when Ugly Naked Man was in the apartment across the street and they’re all like,

“Time for a smoke break. Praying walking lady is back.”

And this morning I woke up remembering my word.

He (little h) broke his promises.

And everything is broken.

He (Big H) never will. And I watched my friend live it and I heard my friend cry it and even as death swallows up children and daddies and marriages—

He is still good.

Children are a gift from the Lord. Husbands who love you and adore you and care for you are a gift from the Lord.

And I think it’s OK to cry out, angry and raw and want the gift back.

But today I am not angry. I’m not anxious. I’m not scared. I’m not sad.

Oh my word! Of course! I am all of those things.

But greater is He that is in me. So while I’m angry and anxious and scared and sad, I


It’s different.

I am standing on the promises of God and here’s what I know.

He promises to work all things together for good for those who love the Lord and have been called according to His purpose.

I love the Lord.


I don’t love him enough. I don’t love him with my whole heart. I fall short and fall flat and I don’t.



But I don’t have to. Because another promise?

His grace is enough.

My prayer for today is that He will be exalted. Through my story.

Through our story.

Through the celebration of Scott’s life and Courtney’s faithfulness and as people see the faith of those who are suffering and the faith of those who still find reasons for rejoicing that today—

In Fremont.

The cloud will lift and He will be exalted.

God is a father to the fatherless.

He is the father of my children.

Today, Coulter will race off to 3rd grade. To his teacher Mr. Hamilton who totally rocks because “he gives candy whenever he feels like it.”

And Emma Claire will run into Mona’s house excited to see her friends and a little nervous that she’ll say the wrong thing because “Momma, I don’t go there all the time so sometimes I say the wrong things. Did you know that Mona doesn’t like the word mouse trap?”

Uhm, no. I didn’t really know that.

Anyway, they will race off. Obvlivious.

Just as it should be.

They won’t know that across town decisions are being made and tears are being cried and papers are being signed (I think I’ll have to sign papers?) and futures are being laid out.

For them.

And I have no reason to trust in him to do what’s best for our children.

And I have every reason to trust in Him to do what’s best for His children.

I will trust in the Lord and I will not be afraid. What can man (or she-lawyer) do to me? (Biblical translation, she-lawer added and I can assure that’s the nicest name I have used for her so far.)

Mums, Birds and a Message from Jesus. :)

Yesterday I ran quick into Wal-Mart before church.

And then I didn’t go to church.

So technically I went to Wal-Mart instead of going to church.

We needed bread.

And fruit chews.

Good moms are never without fruit chews.

And I’m a good mom.

Walking into Wal-Mart, I was distracted by the swirling, twirling thoughts running through my head.

I’d had a really hard weekend.

And a fantastic weekend.

And I’d spent hours and hours and hours on a project that I didn’t want to spend hours and hours and

Hours on.

But I’d also seen good friends, had a pedicure.

And Starbucks.

I’ve gained 5 lbs since giving up diet coke.

So, I’m re-thinking that.

I went tripping up the curb because I sometimes forget to look down, and I saw them.



Mums are worse than school supplies on the 4th of July.

Mums are worse than Christmas decorations during Halloween.

Mums come in their array of colors and they mock you.

Summer is over.

School is starting.

Within weeks, I will be all crumpled up, fading in color and you—


Will be freezing your tush off.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually kinda like mums.

I decorate my porch with mums.

And pumpkins.

But it’s like the¬†playground¬†rhyme. First comes love then comes marriage.

First comes mums.

Then comes the death of all living things in the frozen tundra that we call home.

And¬†it’s possible that I have some unresolved¬†issues considering that I just compared love and marriage with death and misery.

And I have precious friends (even more still as I write) that have faced and are facing REAL death.

And REAL misery.

But as I look to tell my story (and I try super hard to only tell my story¬†but sometimes I¬†forget and tell your story¬†¬†and if and when I forget, please know¬†it’s only because you’ve meant something¬†in my story.)


For me walking through and beside and looking in from outside, for me.

And for mine.

This is our story.

Of Summer.

Blessings rained down.

They were easier to see and easier to feel and I tried new things and learned new things and trusted new friends.

And opened.


And believed.

All is grace.

Because even though I write it. I don’t always believe it.

In a few days, this part of the journey will be over.

The journey through.

You go through it with faith and fear and fighting and trusting and crying out to God and crying out to friends and you get it right and you get it all so terribly wrong and you rush God and you push God and you fall.




And you go through it.

2 years going through.

And our day is Thursday.

And it’s humiliating to admit this, but, this going through?

It¬†wasn’t¬†2 years.

It was 8. 

8 years ago.

I knew.

I confided in one friend.

She listened.

Nearly 4 years later, I confided in my family.

They listened.

My sister-in-law gave me a print with a tiny little bird that read.

“Everyday is an opportunity for a happy ending.”

And I looked at that print for still another two years.

Wanting and waiting and praying.

For a happy ending.

Last year for my birthday (that is coming up on September 4th in case you were wondering), she gave me a bright, cheery wall hanging with a Momma bird and two baby birds that said shine your bright light.

And we are trying to Shine.


And I love those little birds and I told my mom recently, I’m feeling this weird connection with birds.


And free.

Just for the record, I really don’t like actual birds.

Especially in Fremont. They seriously will dive-bomb you looking for food. They think my friend Jenny’s hair is a nest and they’ve been known to go for my¬† headband flowers.


This past weekend, I needed help with the hours and hours and hours project and I asked my friends. They came and they came and they came.

And they stayed.

And they helped.

And they were the hands and feet of Jesus.

One morning after a group had been here, I noticed a little gift bag in my foyer.

I’m a total child. ¬†No way, can I not look inside the bag.

Maybe it’s for my birthday (September 4th, in case y’all forgot!)

Maybe it’s not for me at all.


Whatever.  I opened it.

It was a bird house.

A wonderfully pink, happy little bird house.

I set it right inside my grapevine wreath that I got from my neighbor who actually has grapevines growing in her backyard and I smiled.

And I laughed out loud.

Y’all know that Jesus talks to me.

And here He was. 5 O’clock¬†in the morning reminding me that He’s got us covered.

He will choose our home.

He will be our Shelter.

Momma bird and her little chicks.

first day 2013

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:25-34

Last Call

A friend of mine who refs basketball once told me that you’re only as good as your last call.

I don’t think he was trying to be deep

or meaningful

or metaphoric.

(Wait. is that a word?)

Actually, I¬†know he wasn’t trying to be deep

or meaningful

or metaphoric.

(And yes, I’m sure¬†that’s a word).

But I thought of it again last night.

We had broken my golden rule of travel.

We stopped along the way.

I never stop. There is one goal in traveling.

The destination.

Get there.

And this time getting there included an $85 speeding ticket for trying to get there a little too quickly.

And I told the officer, “I haven’t even been pulled over in almost 20 years.” And he said, “Well that’s wonderful but you were going 75 in a 65.”

In my defense, it had been 70. So technically, I was going 75 in a 70.

The officer didn’t see it that way.

Afterwards, I apologized to the kids and asked for their forgiveness. I told them Mom hadn’t seen the new sign, but that was no excuse and we talked about other ways we could’ve spent that $85 dollars.”

Lululemon, anyone?

And then I asked if anyone had remembered when their Dad gotten a ticket in Kansas City.

Just thought it was worth mentioning. ūüôā Ya know, for the record.

Coulter, sensing my frustration and embarrassment and being the ever optimist, says, “Well. At least maybe they can use that money to build new roads, here.”

Well, yes. There’s that.


Headed back to Nebraska.

I wanted to see my friend. I needed¬†a boost that only this girl can give and she’s the one who said, “Yes, life is too short, but sometimes life is too long,”

And life is not too long to pretend to love. I could’ve done that.

But life is WAY too long to pretend being loved.


I couldn’t do.


Anyway, we stopped. We played. And our¬†little ones¬†became instant BFF’s.


And my friend asks, “Who wants strawberry shortcake?’

Emma Claire, excited, says, “Yes! Please! Only, no strawberries, please.”

Ya know. Just the cake and whip cream.

I’m building a life based on health and wellness and my daughter is thrilled at the idea of strawberry shortcake.

Sans strawberries.

And I hear the whispers. Sleepover. Stay. Sleepover. Stay.

I delayed leaving by one hour.

I delayed leaving by two hours.

And then I hear it.

“She’ll say no. Just wait.”

Uhm. Yeah. Excuse me?¬†Anyone here¬†remember our summer of saying Yes! All summer long? Yes. Yes. Yes. And here he is? My precious son whispering to his new, fast friend—

“She’ll say no.”

Assuming the no?

And I thought about our vacation.

The whole past week.

We swam. We rode horses. We drove Rangers. We looked for hide-outs. We built things. I don’t know what kind of things, but ya know, things with sticks and we climbed hay bails and we went canoeing and we drove go-carts and we climbed ladders and jumped onto¬†rope¬†swings¬†(what? it’s totally safe!) and¬†we had sleepovers¬†with our Arkansas friends and we went to VBS at the little red-brick First United Methodist Church that I grew up in and was baptised in and was married in and I said “yes.”

A whole heck-of-a-lot!

Oh wait. I wasn’t baptized there. I was baptized in the Baptist church.

Long story.


The only time I remember saying no all week was when Eli, Coulter’s cousin, came up to the house asking for a BB gun. Evidently they wanted to be prepared should a snake invade their secret hideout.

And there were no BB guns.

And there were no snakes.

And technically, I didn’t have to even say no, because my sister said it first.

I said yes. All. Week. Long.

And his first thought is, “She’ll say no.”

So, ya know—

I did what any mature, capable, single Mother of two would do.

I said, “HALE YEAH! We can stay for a sleepover.”

I’m kidding.

Good grief.

But my feelings were hurt, and I thought back to my friend.

You’re only as good as your last call.”

A week of yes.

What the HALE? A SUMMER of yes!

And yet he we are and I know.

I’m only as good as my last call.

“Yes!” I say, barely audible.


And they scream! And they squeel!

And it won’t last long and you can’t always (and shouldn’t always) say yes, but for me this was an easy call.

Making new memories.

And remembering precious old ones.

The next morning our trip home was rough.



Like terrible alien children invaded the bodies of my sweet, well-mannered, normally awesome (except for the occasional bouts of throwing up) travelers.

They were tired and didn’t want to drive back.

I was tired and didn’t want to drive back.

Coulter said, “I want to stay in Arkansas.”

I said, “I want to stay in Arkansas.”

Emma Claire, piping up like Baby Bear from the Three Little Bears said, “I want to stay in Arkansas too, but I really miss my best friend, Elena.”

And she started to cry.

So we called Elena.

Only I think she talked to Elena’s Mom. But she thought it was Elena, so it was all good.

And we pulled off the interstate.

We took deep breaths.

We prayed.

I asked for their help.

Traveling alone isn’t for the faint of heart.

Chips. Gatorade. Tea.

Fruit chews.

Ice Cream.


More fruit chews.


We do whatever it takes.

Emma Claire soon fell asleep and Coulter and I did a silent celebration dance and the Lord carried us home.

Pulling onto our street, Coulter nudged his sister, “Emma Claire! We’re in Fremont! We’re in Fremont!”

She woke up out of a deep sleep and said, “ELENA!”

I said yes, honey. Momma’s right here.

“Uhm, Mom?” Coulter starts.¬† A little worried.

“She didn’t say momma. She said Elena.”

Oh, OK.

We pull into the driveway and Emma Claire says, “Thank you for getting us home safely.”

I know, right? So sweet.

“Oh, Emma Claire. Thank you for saying that.¬†That is so¬†kind of you.”

“I wasn’t talking to you, Mom. I was talking to Jesus.”

Uhm, yeah. OK.

You’re only as good as your last call.

And I’m sure I get plenty of them wrong, but considering that Emma Claire remembered to thank Jesus for His traveling mercies, I’m thinkin’ I get a few of ’em right too.

Ya know, humbly speaking.



Great things.

He has done.

And is doing.

And is gonna do.

And I could go on. ūüôā

The countdown is on!

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