Raising Magnolias

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

Tarina, Dana and a Bleak Mid-Winter’s Night

This morning we were singing “In the Bleak Winter’s Night” or something anyway, about bleak winters and it’s not really my favorite hymn because winters in Nebraska are bleak enough without having to sing about it, but I’ve come to understand that you have to sing the hard stuff too.

It’s not all Joy to the World.

In the middle of this not-so-favorite hymn, I thought of two things or people rather.

My friend, Tarina and our covenant grandma, Dana.

Emotions sprang up and teared up and I was flooded—all mess and where are the sunglasses when you need them—

The ugly cry.

Tears, I know, brought on from the memory of singing that hymn last year—-sitting next to Dana as she held me tight, wiped my tears and absorbed my sobs.

Bleak Midwinter Night—something, something bleak.

Tears, I know,  brought on from the memory of the first time I spoke—

Out. Loud.

About my marriage.

Last week our Pastor spoke from Matthew and he’s a preacher and a  teacher (oooh, we should sing about that!) and he challenges my faith and grows my faith and helps me deepen.

My faith.

I’ve been a believer for the greater part of my life but I’ve never once given props to Joseph but here my Pastor is saying, “You dummy.”

How can you miss Joseph?

And Mary?

I’m just kidding. He didn’t call me a dummy. But it’s entirely possible he was thinking it.

It reminds me of piano. When a student messes up (practicing, not performing) I always encourage them—you have to go back.

Back to a  place before the mistake. Before the mess.

Before the stable and swaddling clothes.

Before the Baby.

You can’t start with the manger.

Mary listened to Gabrielle and she believed.

Joseph  listened to the Angel and he believed.

And on and on and on.

Every act of  obedience in what we’ve come to know as the Christmas story starts with faithful listening.

And my friend Tarina? That one fateful car-ride home? Sitting in the driveway of her home for what must’ve been an hour?

She listened.

And  believed.

My friend Jodi? My friend that I barely knew,  but knew I could trust?

She listened.

And believed.


Pastor Kyle?




And I could write pages and pages of my faithful village.


And they, with my family and so many others walked through a freakin’ bleak midwinter, spring, fall, midwinter again, spring—

Yeah. OK.

But today?

Today, it’s over.

And I totally get that you thought this already happened. Say, back in August? But no. It’s today.

Today I check the single box. Or the divorced box. Or the “I once was married but now I’m not” box.


And Pastor Kyle asks this very day, what are you pondering on?

What are you pondering and continuing to ponder and I’m sure most Christmases I get it wrong and I’m sure most holidays I get lost in the hurry and the flurry and I lose sight and I  forget Christ, but this Christmas?

This Christmas, I’m pondering Mary and Joseph and village of listeners.

My village.

I’m pondering that God’s faithfulness really is to the heavens  and his mercies really are new every morning and his loving-kindness really is everlasting and not for a moment—

Did he ever forsake me.


Divorce is not something to be celebrated but endings marked with joy and hope for new beginnings are.

There is reason to celebrate.


And what did Mary and Joseph leave behind, believing and obedient and trusting that there were far greater things ahead.

And I wonder how many times God has sent a messenger to me—and I was too busy, too doubting, too scared, too mad, too—


To listen.

But I’m listening, now Lord.

“Here I am, the faithful servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Here I am, Lord. Your faithful servant and the Joy of the Lord is my strength.


Here I am Lord, your faithful servant and I’m listening.


And laughing.

And resting in the peace that surpasses all understanding.

I’m celebrating Jesus.

The Christ-child.

Who came—

And is coming again.

And when He does? Look out, Y’all! Glory to God! And I don’t know how it’s all gonna go down, but I am fairly certain I won’t ever, ever, ever have to sing (or live) the bleak mid-winter night.



Merry Christmas, friends!

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