Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Mamaw’s with Jesus. How can I be sad about that?

Last week I posted an article about highly sensitive people. I love that it didn’t say overly sensitive.

And I think there is a difference.

There was research and a name and what I feel and experience with noises and light and textures—well–it’s a real thing.

And reading about it reminded of  spending the night at my Mamaw and Papaw’s house during the hot, sticky Arkansas summers (that’s grandma and grandpa to all my Yankee friends) and my Mamaw would put a fan on us to help us stay cool in the un-airconditioned room.

But the air would hit the strands of my thin, straggly hair and it would tickle me.

So Mamaw would go and get bobby pins and one by one she would carefully tuck each piece back out of my face so that I could sleep.

Highly sensitive.

The only reason I even had time to read this article is because the kids and I were on vacation in Arkansas.


I have had the great privilege of spending hours upon hours with my Mamaw. If I hadn’t made it back to Arkansas, I would have no regrets. But words evade me—I am every grateful for this time together as her earthly life came to a close.

Our first morning in Arkansas, I had about 2 hours with just Mamaw. She was alert and energetic and she squeezed my hand the entire time and she just talked.

And talked.

And talked.

She told stories that I’ve heard dozens of times and she told stories that were completely new. She talked about the early days in her marriage and even in her tired 99-year old eyes, there was still a twinkle when she spoke of my Papaw.

Gone now, for 26 years.

She told one of my favorites. Finding out at age 30 that she was pregnant with my Dad. Ya know—at such an ancient age and all!!

She said, “I didn’t know what I was going to do with your Dad and now I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

“Or your mom.”


She asked about my children.

“Emma Claire is the most beautiful child I’ve ever seen. Now Ronald (my uncle), he says to me, ‘ Mother! You can’t say that.’ But I just told him I can say whatever I want because it’s the truth.”

But in the same breath she commented that all of her grands and great-grands were beautiful.


She told stories about how she used to sneak her car keys (into her 90’s) and drive down to the old chicken houses. She just wanted to make sure she could still drive. Or that the car still worked.

She was fiery and stubborn and spirited and determined and I absolutely cannot imagine Rock Hill or Arkansas without her.

My parents grew up together. They were grade-school sweethearts, high school sweat hearts, college sweethearts. So Mamaw wasn’t just a Revels or just a Hale. She was a Coulter, too. She was a Mamaw to many.

And again—I can’t imagine Christmas or summers or Thanksgivings or family gatherings of any sort.

Without her.

But, strangely, I’m not sad. Sad, yes. But, no—not sad.

The days passed while we were in Arkansas and she had good days and bad days. Emma Claire stroked her hand and sang “Oh, how I love Jesus,” and I know that she did love Jesus.

Watching my Mamaw smile at the sound of my daughter’s voice—in and out—but hearing and knowing—

How can I be sad about that?

She lived at home until she was 99 years old.

And had a grand ol party at age 95.


How can I be sad about that?

She lived to see marriages and divorces and grands and greats and —

She lived to see Ph.D.’s and world travelers and successful businessmen (and women!) and she saw grands become Moms;  her babies having babies and how?

How can I be sad about that?


This morning I sat the kids down to tell them that Mamaw had gone to be with Jesus and Emma Claire began to cry. Then she had a lot of questions about how a body just quits—ya know—


I said, “Emma Claire, her body is still in the hospital somewhere, but her spirit has left her body and it lives on with Jesus.”

I went on.

“Ya know, I don’t understand it all, but what I’m really curious about is this. I wonder if she’s seen Papaw yet.”

They looked at me kinda funny.

I said, ‘Y’all. Your Mamaw loved Papaw. It was a true love story and she has missed him for almost 30 years.”

Emma Claire looked up at me and said, “So what you’re saying is, that she’s probably pretty happy right now?”

“Yes, Emma Claire. I think she’s pretty happy right now.”

And how can I be sad about that?


OK, so a follow-up.

I’ve had the past two Easters with my children. This was supposed to be Greg’s year. But somehow I missed it.

Easter: Even Years: Mother.

And remember the mess? And remember the mean? Well, upon hearing that I actually had Easter my heart sank.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Easter.

But sank because also on the list—

Memorial Day: Even Years: Father.

Without Memorial Day, there would be no family vacation with Mom. So my rant? My rave? I asked if we could switch but his plans were already made.

How could I have been so stupid? How could I have gotten so confused?

My children will be with their dad all summer.

How can I not have May? How fair is that I don’t get to take my kiddos on a family vacation.

Is anything ever fair?

And then the rant in my head continued, “That’s the whole reason we went home in February. I can’t take them back in April. I’m too tired. It’s too much. It’s—-whatever.”

It’s divorce.

But then it came. It always comes.

“What you meant for evil, He meant for good.”

If I had known? If I hadn’t been so stupid? Well, I would’ve planned an Easter trip to Arkansas.

And guess what?

Easter would’ve been too late.

We make our plans but the Lord directs our steps?

No vacation in May? OK. Sure, Lord. I hear you.


Washington D.C. can wait.

The beach can wait.

But my Mamaw had waited long enough and my children were given the gift of holding the hand of their Great-Grandmother on her death-bed and in their own special way helped usher her into the arms of Jesus..

And so I ask again, how can I be sad about that?

For Lent. For a lifetime.

I messed up today.

Praise God that He meets us in the mess.

Today was just one of many; one of every; where I’m reminded that my life is different.

Different than I planned.

And in the mess, I’m jealous.

And I’m tired. I should never respond to anything when I’m tired.

I saw a card on pinterest that said, “I’m sorry for everything I said when I was hungry.” I’m sorry for what I said when I was tired.

And here we are, day two of Lent. Messy. 

I’m kind of a rebel when it comes to Lent. Everyone’s giving up stuff and so I feel like in order to not be part of the crowd, I need to NOT give up something.

I can think of plenty of things to give up, but then I wonder how that is honoring to God? This is rhetorical question. I’m not really looking for answers.

If we are to give up something, than how do we FILL it? With more of Jesus?

If I don’t drink my diet coke tomorrow morning will I love the Lord more?

I don’t know. I’m actually planning to drink my diet coke, but I will commit to praying while I do so.

And I don’t understand the whole Fish on Friday thing.  I never knew any Catholics until I went to college. And now almost everyone I know is Catholic or they pretend to be during Lent.

Every Friday there are fish fry’s (fries?) all over the state. People stand in line for hours, drinking to stay warm and to help pass time and are rewarded for their patience with a fried fish feast.

I love fried fish. And I love hushpuppies. And I love God. I just don’t get what this all has to do with a risen Savior.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I’m tired.

And a little cranky.

Maybe I’m just jealous because I’ve never been.

But today, the mess.

And I know I’m still a mess because before I can even tell you what happened, I’m going to shower you with my carefully considered and perfectly legit excuses .

Again, the aforementioned. I was tired. Very tired.

And emotional. Just having spent several  days with my 99 year old mamaw who was sick and then better then worse then near death and then better again and I was emotional.

And I was mad. And profoundly sad.

And embarrassed.

And lonely. Not lonely-lonely. Just a “I have no friends who have lived this particular fire” type lonely and so even though I’m surrounded by people, amazing people, who love me,  (and let’s face it, adore me)—ya know, humbly speaking :), the experience of my fire can be quite lonely.

And so I fired-off an email to my ex-husband.

With the intent to burn.

And as I wrote, there was a little—whatever—a loud voice in my head saying, “Don’t respond. Don’t respond. Don’t respond.”

But I responded anyway.

So last night as I lie awake (lay awake?), completely frustrated with myself, it comes to me.

Two things, actually.

I’m an emotional person.

I know, right? Totally surprising information. And I didn’t even have to pay a therapist to tell me that.

A few weeks ago, Coulter and I were finishing a three-book series on these kids who were stranded on a deserted island and they were finally found and their mom gets off the plane and my reading gets waver-y and the tears take over and  I can see this momma running to hold her kids and I feel her pain and I ache for these lost kids and Coulter looks up at me like I am stone-cold crazy and we just bust out laughing.

And we laugh and we laugh and we laugh.

Yes. I’m emotional. I won’t apologize for that.

But a bigger revelation, maybe not so much for those around me, but to myself is that I’m still—ya know—a little—


Like, there is some serious anger in my heart.

And I don’t want to be angry.  When I fire an email like that—when my first reaction is to sting and dig and when I take the bait and when I give into hate —

Everybody loses.

And I hate losing. Seriously, do you know how many times people tell pageant girls that everybody’s a winner?

Uhm, no they’re not.

And this isn’t a competition. It’s my life. It’s the lives of my children. It’s the lives of those I love and those I treasure and I don’t want to build a future with an angry heart.

And I learned once that all behavior is either fear-based or love-based so I have to ask. What am I afraid of?

*On a side and somewhat weird note, I had a dream last night that I was competing in the Miss America pageant again. But it wasn’t 15 (ughm) years ago. It was today. Like as a 41 year-old Mom. And I had forgotten to practice the piano and I couldn’t find my swimsuit and I kept telling everyone that “it’s OK if I don’t win.”  And they were like, “well that’s good because you’re not gonna” and I woke up (which was wonderful because as my mom would say, it was sign that I had actually slept) and yes, I woke up and I thought—

What the HALE was that?

And the Lord said to me. My beloved. My daughter. This is not a competition.

And you don’t need your swimsuit.

And you don’t need to practice your piano piece.

And you don’t have to answer anything with poise and professionalism.

You only need to rest in My Grace.

His love.

His faithfulness and the truth that God?


He never changes his mind.

About loving you.

About loving me.

And while this may not be a competition, I am winning.

And every day I see through eyes of Grace two bright lights whose determined-eyes  sparkle fierce and whose joyful-spirits sprinkle happiness like rain falling down and being a Mom should come with a crown and a sash (although ixnay on the swimsuit) because children, my children, remind me every day.


I am winning.

They are the jewels.

They are the crown.

All I have to do is look and name.

And see.

And give up—-for Lent and for a lifetime—-my fear of losing.

“Create in my a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.”

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