Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

A Picture of Thankfulness

Yesterday I met with a group of women whose only real commonality is that we are a group of believers. We were in the home of my former neighbor who has been a surrogate grandparent to my children and she knows me well. Across the table was a woman who I workout with 5 days a week and I call her my Nebraska mom. To my left, my dear sweet (and first fremont) friend and next to her my friend the banker who helped me make some early (and hard) decisions for which I am forever grateful. But also scattered around a table were practical strangers. I don’t know all of their names and I do not know their stories.

At the conclusion of our meeting, the hostess asked if we might stay a bit longer and share one thing we are thankful for this season. Unfiltered (shocking, I know), I blurted out.

“Well, I’ve got lots!”

I gave a not-so-brief explanation of the past two years and then, trying to wrap it up and bring it all together, I blurt agin (and again, in front of friends but also strangers)—

“Divorce! I’m thankful for divorce!”

Good grief.

The table of thanksgiving continued.





Good grief.

Yes. Divorce and those too.

I then asked for another turn. Like a re-do. Something to recover and redeem and ya know, just an opportunity to say something a little bit more—more—


Yes. More appropriate.

And I did. Or at least I tried.

But somedays there are no words. (Well, not so much that they’re aren’t words. I’m pretty sure my friends will attest that  I can always come up with at least a few,) but maybe there aren’t enough words.

Or the right words.

Maybe silence would’ve been better.

Or a picture.

Better, still.

Maybe some days a picture captured by a very talented photographer says more about my gratitude; more about my thankfulness; more about my life than mere words ever could.

Maybe today is that day.


Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!

*picture of gratitude by Courtney Fitzgerald Photography

Slow but Sure

I called my cousin tonight. I needed her help. Evidently spending $1200 on a computer is not enough to actually have a program that allows you to write and save a document. And I’m new at the book-writing thing, but I’m pretty sure that you need to be able to write a save documents.

Ya know. Just as a start.

I opened an email she had sent on October 3rd with a link to Microsoft word. A generous gift considering that Apple was going to charge $100, but I couldn’t figure out what to do so I called her.

I didn’t want to call her.

I didn’t want her to know that almost two months had passed since she sent me the link.

But I’ve been humbled by less so I called her.

She laughed and she said, “Oh Myra! You know what they say about Myra! She’s slow but she’s sure.”


But sure.

It took about 1/2 hour to complete all the downloads. I am now the proud new owner of Word. I can write and type and save and well just all kinds of fancy things.

But as I sat and watched the little blue downloading line get longer and longer and longer, I thought about what she had said.


But sure.

And I think she kinda nailed it.

When I think about how slow I was to seek and find and acknowledge and yes—-

I am slow.

But once I make up my mind.

Once I step out and spread out and jump right out—THEN—

I am sure.

And there is no turning back.

Tonight we have friends over. Little ones. Friends whose parents are at a school fundraiser and I think back to two years ago this very week and I remember the exact dress that I was supposed to wear and we never dressed up and we never went out so I remember being excited but I also remember hearing a voice from the Lord asking me when I was going to do the hard thing that I’d been called to do.



But sure.

I did the hard thing. In an email.

In my defense we talked first and being a better writer than I am “talker” I told him that I was going to write down what I was feeling.

Yes. I did the hard thing.

My husband replied. I don’t think you should go to the fundraiser.

He went. He told the table I was sick.

And that was probably true.

I was sick.

Two years.

Two long, slow years.

Today on the way home from day care, Emma Claire, out of the clear blue sky says, “Mom. I wish you and Dad weren’t divorced.”

She was so young when we separated that it’s all she knows.

She’s only now beginning to process what it all means.


But sure.

I said, “Emma Claire, I wish that too.”

And with the exception of Santa and Jolly Sparkle, the stupid elf that I have to buy over and over again because he flies to the Pole and never comes back….yes, with the exception of that I think it’s the first time I’ve ever lied to my child.

But the truth is too confusing.

I don’t wish that we weren’t divorced.

I wish that our marriage had been different.

And I don’t wish at all.

I pray.

And I believe.

And I am slow.

But sure.

My marriage wasn’t different.

So I don’t wish for anything else than what is.

Right now.

Today I got a call from a friend who knows betrayal and knows heartache and her story could not be more different and her story could not be more



She fought. She believed. She was slow.

But now she is sure.

And her journey toward freedom is beginning and I know the voices because I’ve heard the voices.

“How sad.”

“How could she not have known?”

“I just feel so sorry for her children.”

It’s not sad. I know exactly how she couldn’t have known and I rejoice for her children.

Hard? Yeah!

Slow? Yeah!

Sure! HALE  to the YEAH!

Yes, I am slow to act but I am sure in my faith and I Praise the ever-living God from whom all blessings flow that His love never fails and He never gives up on me.

Slow but sure.

Leaving it to the Word

Emma Claire, combing through her hair had looked up at me and said (as if to start in the middle of a conversation that wasn’t actually taking place)—

“It’s not that you’re not funny. I mean, I don’t mean to be unkind, you are funny.

It’s just that Dad’s funnier.

He lets us say funny words.

Like butt-crack. Dad found a butt-crack in Coulter’s pumpkin.

I mean, it is funny. You don’t think that’s a funny word (insert the implied but never spoken “which makes you totally lame”).

So, ya know, that’s why Dad’s just a little bit funnier.”

Yes. I know.

Dad is hysterical.

From the time Coulter was a baby (and I suspect that our family is not so different than others,) Dad got to be Fun-Dad. I would feed and clothe and play and oh! time to feed again and ooops! time to clothe again and how can that much *stuff* come out of such a little body and it’s nap time for the non-nappers and it’s book time and then—THEN— there’s this glorious 20 minutes at the end of the day, Fun-Dad comes through the door.

The Hero.

And it’s wrestling and tickling and tossing and—

Shoot! I can’t think of anything that rhymes with tickling.

Fun Dad.

Emma Claire continues—

“Mom, what’s that word when you have a lot of rules?”

She thinks and thinks and thinks and then it comes to her—


“Daddy’s not strict. He doesn’t have rules like you do.”

And I wonder—

What 5-year-old knows the word strict?

“You make us use manners at the table and we can’t eat on the couch and I’m not trying to be mean, mom. You are fun. It’s just that Dad doesn’t have  rules.”

Coulter interrupts, ever protective of his mom. “Mom’s not strict.”

“Thank you, Coulter!”

Uhm, wait!

“Yes, I am!”

But I am fun, dangit! I throw balls and I kick balls and I have an entire basement full of glitter.

A basement full of glitter? Come on! That proves I’m fun, right?

I suppose it also mean that I  haven’t fully cleaned-up from last week’s pumpkin glitteratzi event but, whatever.

I am fun.


Soon after separating I blogged about the term broken family.

I emphatically denied that we were broken.

But I was wrong.

There was a break.

And there can only be so many cracks and so many breaks, and I think about those icebergs that are melting and breaking  into the ocean and the shifting of the earth and I wonder what it feels like to live through an earthquake with the shaking and the breaking and the earth opens right up and threatens to swallow you whole and yes—

We were broken.

And some days I feel as though I have lived through an earthquake.

But Jesus came for the broken and several days ago I woke up with a word.

Don’t y’all love it when I get a word! 🙂

His word.

Let My word be a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path.

What’s the balance of boundaries (what Emma Claire calls rules)?

What’s too much?

What’s not enough?

Let My word—His Word be a lamp.

So, sitting around a breakfast-table full of Nutella and breadcrumbs and coloring sheets and markers (and man! I need to clean my table,) I open up His Word.

We start small.

1 Thessalonians.

Being thankful in all things.

It’s not mom that expects you to say thank you.

It’s God.

And my kids love to say b00-yaw. And I have no idea how to spell that, but when I see the glimmer in their eyes, like Oh! We can’t blame mom for that. It’s God. Well-

I have a silent little “boo-yaw” moment.

I continue.


Honor your Father and Mother. Obey them in the Lord for this is right.

God has called us to honor—

And obey.

Dang-it! God again!

And then I surprised them.

You know how Dad doesn’t make you say “Yes Sir?” Well, it’s because he didn’t grow up saying it. People in the Midwest don’t say it.

Coulter nods and adds. Yes, but people in the South do.


“Do you think Jesus cares if we say Yes Sir or Yes Ma’am?” I ask.

They stare into me hard. Convinced that this is a trick questions. The Sir/Ma’am thing runs deeps with the Coulter-Hale clan.

“I gotta say, I don’t think he cares.”

And if Jesus doesn’t care—

Then I don’t care.

But I do care that you honor me with your words and your actions.

I do care that you obey your Mom in the Lord for this is right.

I do care that I’ve been called to “raise you up in the way that you should go so that when you are old you will not depart from it” and so that’s what I plan to do.

Raise you up. In the Light of His Word.

Just a few short hours after getting “my word.” I open up my church bulletin and I listen to my pastor read a quote from Martin Luther.

I can’t say that I totally understood all of it. Well, actually I can say that for sure I did not understand most of it, but what I did understand—

What left me with prickly little tingles up and down my body was this. Luther says in reference to his work and the Reformation:

“I did nothing; I left it to the Word.”

Am I too strict? Am I a fun mom? The truth is, most days, I’m fairly certain I strike a perfect balance between the two.


His word is a lamp and a light and yes, I think I will do it best if I do nothing.

If I simply.

Leave it to the Word.


Several days after the I’m not funny conversation, Coulter hops into the car and he’s already laughing. Or still laughing, I suppose, because from the sound of it, the giggles had started much earlier.

“Mom!!! Bryce was reading and in Social Studies and he said ‘European Culture!’ Get it mom?”

And by now he’s doubled over.

Emma Claire is confused. I don’t get it, she wails.

Me either, Emma Claire!

“Emma Claire! It’s like over there where Paris is and where they talk British. It’s called European. Get it? You’re a peein‘!”

He is completely beside himself, laughing. And still uncertain why she’s laughing, Emma Claire joins in. And yes, even this uptight, strict ol’ Mother who hates potty words and sees absolutely nothing funny about a pumpkin with a butt-crack or a dad who would point out such a crude feature,  started laughing.

Coulter says, “now that’s funny, right mom?”

You’re a peein’?

Yes, Coulter. Now that’s funny.


That’s a funny word.

And for the 5 minute commute back home, I got to be a fun mom.

Jesus as the Fat Lady

I never know when it’ll  hit me. Or even what “it” will be.

It sneaks up and creeps us and I’m light and I’m laughing and I’m free and then—


And the tears spring fast and I bite down hard.

People are tired of seeing me cry.

A friend shares—

“I met (your friend).”  I’ll leave the name out to protect the not-even-close-to-being-innoncent.

“Oh. Sure. Yes.

My dear.



The one who drew the lines.

And I was left on the wrong side.

All those emotions came flooding back.

And the two friends, one new and one from a lifetime ago, I can picture them nodding and agreeing and awkwardly realizing they’re rooting for  different teams—and there are no teams—but each acknowledging just how sad this all is.

It’s just so sad.

And yet it’s not.

Getting your life back.

It’s not sad.

I’m not sad.

I’m ready.

So. (insert any bad word you can think of) Ready.

I saw the Fat Lady.


She was there.

In court.

Warming up.

But here we are, almost 3 months later and she still isn’t singing.

Sing, fat lady sing!

Two years ago. This month.

And 10 years ago. This month.

And I suppose 5 years before that.

Sing, fat lady sing!


I’m reading a book on the meaning of marriage by Timothy Keller.

Reading this book is healing and helpful.

And Hopeful.

Keller quotes Jesus on the issues of marriage.

And divorce.

A radical concept, I know!

And I am blacker than black and red-er than red and it Jesus who makes us white as snow so I know I stand in no place to judge, but come on Christians!!

If you’re going to quote Jesus, and lecture me on the laws of God, please make sure you know Him first.

Make sure you read him first.

When I talk about the hurt of lost friendships, my family runs to me.

“They were never your friends.”

How humiliating.




Fake? The whole time?

But as I read about Christian friendship, it turns out they were right.

Keller writes that Christian friends are to “bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and be there for each other through thick and thin (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14-15).

They were never my friends.

What’s worse?

As I continue reading Keller’s thoughts on the essence of marriage, the meaning of marriage, and the mission of marriage, I find (and I don’t say this to be hurtful), I find that–


Was never married.

Wore the ring. Took the trip. Got the name.

But marriage? This thing called marriage that Keller writes about?

That Jesus writes about?

I know nothing of that.

And it’s hard to read.

And it’s healing to read.

And it’s hopeful.

To just.



We go back for another court hearing later this month. My prayers are that we can enter back in with soft and humble hearts and admit the failure and defeat and bury the dead and let it rest.

In peace.

My prayer is that we can enter back in with soft and humble hearts and remember that God makes beauty from ashes and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.


Emma Claire.

My prayer is that we can enter back in—not into court—but into life with soft and humble hearts and remember that God.



Is the Great Redeemer.

He is also the Great Reminder because as I write it “occurs” to me and by “occur”, I mean I’m being nudged by the Holy Spirit and this is what I know.

I don’t need the fat lady.

And I don’t need her song.

I don’t even need a legal document (although, admittedly  that would be super helpful in getting my  name back).

I just need Jesus.

He stood in my place.

And He is the one that declares.

“It is Finished.”


I went back to the court-house today.

To walk.

And circle.

To pray.

I ran into an attorney that I saw quite often last spring and he looks over.


“You’re back?”

“I’m back.” I say.

“To pray?” He asks.

“Yes. To pray.”

“You mean it’s not finished?”

I just shook my head. But I wish that I had been braver.

I wish that I had been bolder.

I wish that I had said.

“Yes! Actually.”

It is Finished.

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