Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “October, 2013”


P.s….email followers. I seriously have no clue why everything is showing up in bold. I’m not trying to yell at y’all. Just maybe still learning about my new computer.

THanks for reading! For writing back! For your cards and notes and emails and prayers.

So. Grateful.

Living Quiet. Under His Hand.

I saw it again this week.

When the bottom falls out and you have no place to stand.

And your world is flipped and turned and crushed and burned and you find that it is your time to walk through the fire and those of us walking with you are helpless, but it is not hopeless and we can walk and we can pray and we can encourage and this was prayed for me and I now pray it for others that you will walk through the fire—

And not be burned.

Not even smell like smoke.

And I saw it again this week.

Living in a post-eve world.

We fall short. We fall far. And clinging to my faith I know that it is only by His grace that we are picked back up—pulled back in.

I have fallen short. I have fallen far. Stupid unbelief.

There’s this story with my Grandmother Pearl and I can’t remember if she said it or my sister said it or just how it came to be but it has stuck around and whenever we do something stupid, we call it. We name it.

We say it.

“Dummy. Dummy. Dummy.”

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

And the heartbreaking part of the stupid and the dummy is that we live in community.

We “do” stupid in community.

And it ripples and ripples and ripples.

And we are left to ride the waves.

And just for the record, I’m not really smart enough to know or think of that on my own. I learned that my friend, Jodi.

And my pastor.


And my church.


And from my own struggles.

At living in community.

And I saw it again this week.

My friend is broken. My friend is hurting. And I feel this weird sense of failure as if I should’ve known.

No. I know that I should’ve known. When you look back and you connect the dots and you realize—

I was never listening. All along.

Never hearing.

And I should’ve known. My friend is broken.

And it was my friend who helped.

In the breaking.

My friend is hurting.

And it was my friend who helped.

In the hurting.

And I wasn’t listening.

And I was reminded again this week.

I can’t remember who said it.

God’s Grace is enough for whatever realism we are facing today.

We don’t need a Pollyanna-life.

We need a Jesus-life.

We don’t need a fairytale-ending.

We need a Jesus-ending.

And in the end, there will be Jesus and there will be no more suffering and no more broken and no more tears and no.



And I praise God most high, for that promise, because I have suffered.

Been broken.

Counted tears.

And yeah, been incredibly stupid.

My mom and I sat over tea and chocolate and tears this weekend and she asked of my own life; (and I’ll paraphrase)…



And I could not answer. Not really.

It’s super hard to connect your own dots. I only know that for years and years and years I lived under the belief that I did not deserve better.

And I say “under” because it was a heavy weight and it was—




I lived for a time believing that I was being punished and that I deserved less—

Than His best.

But, hello!?!?

Oh. My. Gosh.

How quickly we forget about Jesus.

And the cross.

And God has softened my heart.

Toward myself.

And toward others.

And I know that because of Jesus.

Because of the cross.

I don’t deserve to be second.

And I don’t deserve to be anyone’s secret.

You are a child of the most High God. And you don’t deserve to be anyone’s leftovers.

And you don’t deserve to be anyone’s secret.

He has shown me Grace. The grace that covers the dummy.

The grace that builds up the broken.

The grace that counts and wipes and holds our tears.

The grace.

That is enough.

H.E. Manning wrote (and I have no clue who that is, but his quote made it into a book that I love, and I think it makes me look smart to quote him, ya know, as if I really do know him.)—anyway, he wrote:

“Neither go back in fear and misgiving to the past, nor in anxiety and forecasting to the future; but lie quiet under His hand, having no will but His.”

And there’s that word “under” again.



Because of His grace—

I am able to give thanks to a good God and I choose to neither go back in fear no look forward with anxiety.

I choose to live quietly—

Under His hand.

Having no will but His own.

And I pray that for my friend.

Both of them.

All of them.

I pray that—

For you.

We were standing line at the cable company to pay my bill. I’m out of checks. I felt like one of those people whose credit is so bad that they can’t get a checking account (no offense to any of my readers who don’t have a checking account) and we were in line behind two men that, best I could figure out, had never owned a television.

Like, ever.

And for some strange reason it reminded me of our first summer in Fremont when I didn’t have a car and I had to bike everywhere and I felt like one of those people who lose their license because they continually forget that you aren’t supposed to drive after you’ve been drinking.

So I’m standing in this line, totally frustrated by the men in front of me who have just this minute walked into the 21st century and totally frustrated that I even have a cable bill because I bought one of those black box thingys from walmart so that I wouldn’t need cable but when I plug it in, all I see is 19 inches of nothin’ and I’m trying to decide if Dancing with the Stars and The Biggest Loser is really worth $125 a month and I’m wondering when it was that I got so judgy about people with no cars and no checking accounts and good grief, isn’t there a line for special, non-complicated people?

Like me? 🙂

Deep in my random, wondering thoughts I hear a lady say.

“So-oh, I bet you’re in Kindergarten!”

Which is funny, because it was the middle of a school day and she’s, ya know, in the time warner line with her momma.

“Pre-K.” Emma Claire answers proudly. “But! Only 9 days until my birthday and THEN I’ll get to start!”

I swung around and met her eyes.


How did I not know she thought this? How did she come to think this?

Her heart was broken.

“You mean I don’t start Kindergarten in 9 days?”

“No, pumpkin. I’m so sorry. The new school year won’t start for, well, another year.”

“Why do you always call me pumpkin? Pah-pah-pah. P for pumpkin!”

“K-k-k “K” is for Kindergarten!”

And just like that, we were distracted by the beauty of phonics.

The mind of a child. How do you know it and hold it; how do you teach and mold and make and how do you remember that the hard things that we go through, they go through and how do you discover the secrets that linger in their tiny little heads.

I want to hear and I want to know and I want to meet her each—

And every.


I want Kindergarten for her. Next week. Because that’s what she wants.

Ann Voskamp says that expectations kill relationships. I don’t know if that’s true but I know they can—




And yet I have them. And they are high.

And so I wonder.

What if I believed her and learned from her and what if she’s right?

What if my only expectation was for God to keep His promises?

What if I didn’t long for more, better, different?


What if I longed for more of Jesus.

Longed to be better at giving and forgiving.

Longed to be different.

Than the world.

What if I could live for a time; for this season where my only expectation was more of Jesus.

More of being.

Just here.

Loving Him.

Loving others.

More time enjoying the gifts that have already been given.

Better stewards of the gifts that have already been given.

Grateful for what is, instead of expecting what could have been.

I choose gratitude.

I mean, whatever, I will fail. Yes, sometime this winter, I will fail at the gratitude thing. I will put on my stupid gloves and my stupid boots and I will mush through the stupid snow and my ears will burn and my nose will be all red and freezing cold and longing for warmth and I will fail.

Because every winter for the past 15 I’ve expected; I’ve hoped.

I’ve prayed.

That it would be my last.

Not my last, ya know, year. My last winter.


But this is a new year (maybe not THE New Year, although I bet if I did enough research, somebody somewhere probably celebrates New Year’s in October. Kind of like that margareta song? Is that how you spell margareta? It’s 5:00 somewhere. I’m sure it’s New Year’s.


Here, actually.

It’s a new year and I’m lowering my expectations in order to reach the highest expectation possible.

Believing in Him.



I’ve mentioned this before. When Coulter was a baby I was in a Beth Moore Bible Study and one of the prayers that hit my heart was—

“Jesus. Fill up my empty spaces.”

If you were ever in my Teakwood home, you saw that prayer in my kitchen.

Sometimes, I’m so busy asking and expecting that I forget the answering and thanking.

This weekend, I remembered.

He has.

And He does.

And if you visit my new home. You won’t find that postcard.

He fills them surely.

To overflowing.

“All of this and Jesus too.”

Gratitude, Old Eyes and The Creation Story That is not a Story at all

I had asked the children to name two things they were thankful for.

About each other.


It had been that kind of morning.

I let Emma Claire go first because at 5, gratitude comes easier.

Emma Claire answered. She was thankful that Coulter was learning and thankful that he got to play football and she missed the point completely, but at least she tried.

Coulter stared.

Straight ahead.

Finally, he mutters.

I can’t think of anything.

Emma Claire starts to cry. He’s not thankful for me.

And I start to cry.

And I drop them off at Sunday School and go for a run. Which, I get, it totally unfair, but sometimes the best Sunday School, the best life school, the best way to seek God and find God and know God is to run.

To Him.

Later, at “big people church”, I wrote him a note. Him-Coulter, not Him-God.

I asked him to write 100 things that he was thankful for. He had the whole church hour.

At first he thought he had to limit himself to Church.

He was thankful that God forgives our sins.

He was thankful that we meet new people.

He was thankful that we can pray.

I probably should’ve let him keep going, but I wrote him another note.

You can write about anything that you are thankful for.

Except food.

If you write down chicken nuggets, I’m gonna lose it.

So he starts his lists and by the closing benediction he had made it to 80.

I was pretty impressed.

Today I decided to read through the list.

I asked him if I could share these few:



Solar Energy.

Beating the Packers.

That Emma Claire might not be like other sisters. (???)

Somewhere in the 40’s I got mentioned for having a job. Thankful that his mom had a job.

Thankful that his dad had a job.

And #80?


I laughed with him. Dude! The Lord, our God, knit you together in my body. I grew and grew to the point of huge-ness and I was sick and I was tired and then I spent almost 48 hours in labor, three of which were to push.



I broke all the blood vessels in my face.

From pushing.

And I get #80?

OK, I left the pushing part out. I’m trying to teach gratitude not completely freak the little guy out.

Back to church. I missed most of the sermon passing notes back and forth and keeping a close eye for any mention of food items.

But I know Pastor Kyle preached from Genesis 1.

And I know we are called to worship the Creator.

Not creation.

Not the good things that He gives. BUt the He himself.

For His glory, all of this.

Sometimes we call it the creation story. Emma Claire learned about it at preschool and now she wants to paint one wall black for the darkness and one wall yellow for the light and she says “we could paint the creation story.”

And we could.

But we’re not gonna.

But it’s not a story. It’s truth.

Anyway, as we were driving home, Emma Claire started singing, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.”

“I want to see you. I want to see you.”

And I thought, yes. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.

I want to see You.

Gratitude comes from recognizing. Knowing. Naming.


A few weeks ago, a new piano student who is unlike any child I have ever taught, told me I had old eyes.

She also asked me to quit counting as she didn’t really need the help. One day she snuck her iPad into her piano bag while her state trooper-Dad sat outside.

And today when I asked her what she like to do at recess she explained quite mater-of-factly that since it had been a hot summer, it was sure to be a cold winter and so she liked to crack acorns during recess.

Ya know.

To help the squirrels.

And this has nothing to do with my story except that I can’t help but think how grateful the squirrels will be for her help.


I was looking for more light. I couldn’t see her music and that’s when she started in with my old eyes.

And I love how the Lord uses children to shake us up and wake us up and I’ve been looking for more light and I remember those days when I could not find it and everything felt dark and I remember telling my Mother—

Everyone thinks I’m OK.

But I’m not.


Except I was OK.

And I am OK.

And using the word OK in my family ranks right up there with fine so let me just say we are so far beyond OK.

We are resting in His goodness and this I know.

Not for a moment.

Did He forsake me.

And listening to Emma Claire sing and hearing sneaky little acorn crusher talk about my old eyes, I’m remembering.

It’s not that our eyes get old.

It’s they close.

Death closes them and divorce closes them and betrayal of the life we thought we had.

The life we had planned.

We close our eyes and we forget to see and we forget to look and we become an 8 year old boy who refuses to be grateful for his sister and where but from his Momma would a boy learn that?

We close our eyes to the light.

But mine have been opened, and tonight, sitting in a beautiful space; a beautiful place, I’m looking out my huge picture window.

The one that I love. The one that I will not cover with blinds and not cover with curtains. The one that lets the greater light shine in through the day and the lesser lights sparkle at night and I sing with Emma Claire.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord.

I want to see You.

And I remember the story of a woman who had nothing and she was overheard praying, “All of his and Jesus, too.”

That’s how to teach gratitude and learn gratitude and practice, daily, gratitude.

To remember. I have all of this.

And Jesus too.

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