Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Christians? I thought we were Presbyterians.

OK, so I don’t usually write in the middle of the afternoon. My kids are home and they will be leaving soon with their dad.

But they have friends over, so—ya know—they don’t even know I’m here.

A  short blog about our drive home from school.

Sometimes you don’t need to weave a story. You only need to re-tell.

Coulter:  Mom! You know how the science-word for bottom is anus?

Mom: Yes.

Coulter: Well, today Mr. Hamilton said, “Uranus is not like other planets. It spins on its side.” Get it? Ur-anus?

And the car erupts in laughter.

We have extra kiddos.

Coulter: I’m glad my anus is not like other planets. Oh, and remember how yesterday he said blubber. Like the whale? Get it? Blubber!

Again with the laughter.

Then we took a short break to discuss the various misbehavior of the children who are not as perfect as mine. How many “clip-downs”; how many office referrals; how many parent phone calls.

We pull into the driveway.

I send the other children in the house. I wanted a few quiet minutes alone with Coulter.

In order to help another family, we had to change a few plans for the following week and I knew he would be disappointed.

“Coulter,” I said. And then I gave this long explanation about serving and sacrificing and loving and then I tried to wrap it up with a very generic,  “This is just what we do as Christians.”

To which he replied.

“I thought we were Presbyterian.”

I then began explaining different denominations which is super hard for me because I get seriously hung up on “why does it matter” and frustrated with what continually divides us (although I know there are important distinctions and I’m always learning) but throughout my Christian journey, I’ve attended the Methodist Church, the “other” Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Free Church, Missionary Alliance, 1st Baptist, 2nd Baptist, a non-denominational Church and the Formerly Methodist, but started meeting in a park-church.

And now, I guess, as Coulter would say. We are Presbyterians. The second kind.

Coulter looked me square in the eyes and I thought this is it.

This is a moment I’m going to remember forever. We’re going to have a serious discussion about faith and Jesus and theology and this is it!

“Mom,” he starts “I didn’t eat my gushers today. I decided to save them instead. And by the way, you totally forgot to pack a spoon and I had to get a spoon from the kitchen and I’m pretty sure that they don’t clean the dishes in there. It was wet and gross and I’ve been in that place many times and I’ve never even seen a dishwasher. Uhm, yeah. So, can I go play now?”

#humbled #christians

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Jesus-And

Last week a friend came to visit.

A covenant sister known only through social media until last Saturday.

She shared her heart and she shared her story and there was a time, searching for answers, that I had prayed fervently for God to reveal “all things hidden” and when I look into her eyes I see the face of a God who answers prayer and keeps His promises and God literally dropped her into my Facebook inbox and now here we sit.

Sharing.

In the course of the afternoon, there were  many take-a-ways but what truly resonated was this:

“I don’t want my children to know about God. I want them to know God.”

I’m teaching my children scripture and our home is filled with words of truth; I am teaching them to know about God, but what I am doing that they might know God?

Knowing Him by knowing me? Seeing Christ in me?

Do they see Christ in me?

Or do they see the beaten-down Mom, dark-ugly heart, still harboring un-forgivess that wants Jesus—and.

I want Jesus, and for them to know the truth.

About our marriage.

And.

The truth about our divorce.

I want Jesus and a salary above the poverty line.

I want Jesus and. And. And.

I want them know God and love God.

And.

Love me.

More than their Dad.

And.

Why isn’t He enough?

Today there’s a man here to tune the piano. I have a beautiful piano that hasn’t been tuned since I moved it (twice) and probably for 50 years before that. He calls me in:

“Mary K. Here’s your problem. You’ve got a crack in the soundboard.”

A crack in the foundation.

A crack that is the forgetting.

Forgetting Him, the fount of every blessing.

They are little. But with each crack,  hurt and anger and jealousy and un-forgivness and.

And through those cracks come pings and rings and it’s impossible to sing with a joyful heart.

When you continually forget.

“Tune my heart to sing Thy grace. ”

And it continues.

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Tune my heart to sing thy grace. Seal up the cracks.

The cracks and sounds that forget to praise and forget to thank and forget–

To remember.

His faithfulness. His goodness.

His grace, amazing.

Why do I forget His unchanging love and yet choose to remember his unfaithful heart.

How can I complain of not enough time and too much time and forget that He knows and forget that He cares and forget—

Him.

Altogether.

Tune my heart, Lord.

Turn my heart.

Bind. Up. This broken heart.

______________________________________________________

Yesterday I learned of young woman (friend of a friend,) with young children, had passed away. I didn’t know her, but felt strangely effected by her death.

As a mom, maybe? A fellow forty-something with dreams and desires and plans and I worry about tomorrow and I worry about the day after that and I complain about sharing and hearts-worn-and-tearing and how easily I forget that

All.

Is.

Grace.

Today.

A gift.

How do we live life after death?

After divorce and heartbreak and whatever the mess that is your life right now?

We name graces.

We recognize the gift.

We tune our hearts back to praise; back to joy; back to remembering.

And this is what I remember.

He is good and He is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. There is nothing I can possibly think of that He has forgotten and what is it that this heart wants?

I want my children to know God. I want them to know that His promises are true. That the joy of the Lord is my strength and that His grace is enough.

For them.

And even.

For me.

A nod to the late Tim Russert. Florida. Florida.Florida

I hate January.

I know I shouldn’t use that work and I realize it’s February, I’m just saying—ya know—for the record—that I really hate January.

Except if your birthday is in January. I like that day. I like your birthday.

January is cold and dark and dreary and there are no lights, except for those houses that never seem to take their lights down and that just gets annoying after a while, and January is hard.

Spring?

A long.

Way.

Off.

I spent most of the month trying to recover my name. In and out of the DMV and banks and back to the DMV and back to the bank and insurance people who are so tired of my questions I’m pretty sure they are ready to pay me to please leave and find a new agent already, and a 1-hour conversation with the TIAA CREF people and new W-2’s or W-9’s or whatever W’s you fill out when you are self-employed and a 3 hour wait at the Social Security office.

Three.

Hours.

I’m not kidding. At least 100 people all around me jammed in waiting and waiting and waiting. I couldn’t help speculate on their lives and their reasons for being there. We each had a different color.

And a different letter.

And with those colors and letters it was clear: A completely different life.

My card came in the mail today. I think I’ll frame it.

One thing is sure. I will never change it again.

And my mom and dad taught me to never say never.

One of the first questions people asked after learning of my separation was whether or not I’d change my name.

This came after the question about whether I was at all concerned about what would happen to me and my children for breaking God’s law’s.

Wait. What was the question?

Uhm, no to the breaking God’s laws.

And yes.

To the name thing.

To me that was like asking if I was still going to wear my wedding ring.

Yeah, no.

Event though it’s really.

Really.

Pretty.

And sparkly.

And I miss it. I miss wearing it.

And what it stood for.

Or what I thought it stood for.

Mostly I miss it because it was big. And again, ya know, really sparkly. 🙂

And then a friend said, “Well don’t you want the same last name as your children?”

And it’s almost comical to me.

Of course! But I also wanted to be married for the whole “until death do us part thing”.

Does having the same last name make us less of a broken family.

Will it make our lives easier? If I’m a Fritz, my children won’t have to go from house to house?

And they won’t have to share holidays and share vacations and yes, that is my question.

Keeping His name? Does it make us less broken?

We used to get in the car, ready for a trip and say, “OK Team Fritz, let’s go.”

But I’m not part of that team anymore.

I play for a different team.

He plays. For a different team.

I spent almost 11 hours on the way back from Arkansas recently, trying to think of a new team name for us because I didn’t know if it was right to call us team-Hale.

I came up with several (really clever!) ideas and they just stared at me. Coulter said, “Why can’t we just be Team Hale?”

Uhm, yeah. Ok. Team Hale.

That, ya know. Works for me.

I won’t change it again. 

Wherever we go, the Hales come together.

And it hard to explain….part of it is deeply spiritual and part of it’s that I simply can’t ever face having to go back to the Omaha Social Security office again.

Ever.

I’m rambling, now, but that’s what January does to me. It makes me a little bit crazy. And rambly. And I really want to go to Florida.

And lie on the beach. Lay on the beach?

Because that what Florida looks like.

I  have a highly intelligent friend who has started going to the tanning bed, desperate for color and vitamin D.

That’s how hard January in Nebraska is.

South Dakota was colder. But, a little trivia for you. Next to Florida it has more days of sunshine than any other state.

Whatever. I hated January there too.

Anyway, I’m 1000 words in and it hits me that I’m actually writing to tell you that while I love those days when there’s nothing hard to write about, I’m learning that with divorce there is this ripple, this current, this ebb and flow and some days I can see with such gratitude the life that is set before me and other days I weep for the life I had imagined.

One wedding.

One marriage.

I weep when Emma Claire asks why we can’t be like Elena’s family.

I weep when Coulter tells me how comfortable his Dad’s new bed is (yes, I know that’s weird.)

That’s been this week—grief and mourning.

But I believe that joy comes in the morning.

Lord, help my unbelief.

———————————————————————————————-

Sunday after church the kids were singing Deep and Wide.

I know my Methodist friends remember it:

“Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”

And there are hand motions and then you leave out words and I can picture my elementary friends standing in the front pew of the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in De Queen, and my mom leading and her friend Dottie Lou, with her long red fingernails, dripping with diamonds, tap-tap-tapping at the piano as we sang that together.

Deep and Wide.

The fountain flows.

And divorce is no different. The grief can be deep.

And wide.

And  flowing.

And I think the idea is that we have to let it flow through.

Couldn’t stop it if we tried.

One summer we watched as my brother’s way-too-expensive-to-wear-swimming-sunglasses floated downstream the Cossatot. There was nothing to do.

Except let ’em float down. And make a mental note to never spend more than $10 on sunglasses.

And I told a friend this weekend, I am still—sometimes—just so sad.

And he said. Be sad, then.

There’s a fountain flowing.

Deep and Wide.

So yesterday—looking for the joy that comes in the morning—I woke up and decided Emma Claire and I needed a girl’s day. I asked her if she wanted to go to the “Frozen Sing-a-long”. She looked at me like a sing-a-long was surely the worst idea ever and gave the vote, instead, for just the movie itself.

She then proceeded to sing full-voice, completely un-aware that there were others in the theater.

What would you call that? Yes.

A sing-a long.

But I have to say, a few Disney tunes and a sunny 5-year-old who still wants to sit in my lap eating junior mints and I was feeling more hopeful.

Unfortunately we un-knowingly spilled a few and they got hot and melted and smushed and, horrified when the lights came on, I looked at Emma Claire and instead of being upset she just started licking her pants.

Uhm, yeah.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of chocolate, for the joy of giggly girls  and the reminder that You are here.

In this.

We don’t ride the river alone.

P.S. Tomorrow, Emma Claire and I will be going to the actual sing-a-long.

Right after my tanning appointment.

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