Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “August, 2015”

OK. So.

It’s 4:00 a.m. I’ve been awake since 1:00.

I’m sitting in the Hotel bar drinking a $15 cup of tea and while I didn’t use cream for my tea (what my Mother would call white-tea), I did, in fact, just drink the cream straight.

Well. I poured it in my empty tea cup first.

I’ve had a few weird looks.

Evidently most people don’t order room service in the lobby.

But I’m pretty sure we’d all agree, I’m not most people. Most people don’t move from Arkansas, the only home the’ve ever known, to Nebraska because they want to compete in the Miss America Pageant.

Yes. In case you were wondering, that’s how I got here.

Here, Nebraska. Not here, in the Fairmont Hotel bar in Dallas.

Well, that’s how I got “here” the first time.

Second time is a different box of donuts that we won’t open today.

Additionally, most people wouldn’t marry a man they’ve only known for the better part of a year, buy a home, blend a family, quit their job and open a business.

So, now that I think of it, drinking cream from a tea-cup in the middle of the night in a hotel bar isn’t all that weird.


I’m so grateful that after only 6 months in business, my clients have supported us in such a way, that we could come to a place where educators get educated and coaches get coached.

Most people here have been in the fitness industry for years and years. I’ve been around for about 5 minutes.

And yet if I’ve learned one thing (and for the record, it’s more than 1), but anyway it’s this.

I belong here.

5 minutes. 5 years. 15 years. Whatever.

I belong here.

In Dallas. Where it’s warm.

Just kidding.

Here. In the wellness industry. In the fitness industry.

Here. Where we learn how to live well and age well and mind, body and spirit—



I told my husband before we left.

Ok, I said.

We are gonna look old.

Because, ya know, we are.

Who in their right mind starts a career in fitness in their 40’s and 50’s?

So when I got here, I kept looking for the beautiful young people.

The super-skinny, tanned, top-loaded, muscle-bound people, but they weren’t here.

In fact, Mike said the first day. You’re kind hard to pick out here. You look like everybody else.

Uhm, thank you for that.

Said no wife ever.

But I get it. Ponytails, hair bands, spandex, motivational t-shirts and more spandex.

There are the extremely fit and there are the round and the soft and the strong and the aging and there are zumba girls, tabata girls, les mills girls and then there’s Mike.


7:00 came very early on day two. Fitness professionals bopping around who teach those 5:30 a.m. classes and oh my gosh, I wanted to skip!!

But, we came here to learn. Not sleep.


I went to a strength-training circuit class from which I’m still trying to recover, and I signed Mike up for a brain-booster class.

He comes out with 3 words.




Evidently, there may or may not be a video of my husband doing zumba.

I’m still looking.

I also took a Piloxing Knock-out class. It’s a choreographed class and we did things that I’m not exactly sure bodies where designed to do. It took a full three hours for my face to return to a normal color.

Several of the classes I’ve attended have been taught by Chris Freytag who teaches in Minneapolis and works for a company called spri.

Spri produces body bars and the step-360 and ropes and regular steps and just lots of fun fitness stuff.

At the end of each class, she awards a free step-360 to someone who showed outstanding effort in being both the “coach” and the “athlete”.

The first class, she had a partner and so that girl won.
The second class, she had a partner and so that girl won.

I told Mike, I’m going to win that step for my clients.

Third class, y’all and I am hurting. Oh my gosh, am I ever hurting.

We team up. I am coaching the heck out of this girl. Eyes-up, chest-up Shelby. You got this. Yes you can. Challenge yourself to change yourself.

Then it’s my turn.

I am doing these slolumn-thingys where you put your hands on an incline step and use your core to propel your body up and over and I don’t quit.

And I’m clapping and I’m woo-hooing and at one point, I just prayed to the Lord. Please let me win this step.

And please let this class end.


She picks up the certificate. She walks close to me. And I can see it. I competed in pageants. I can see the look in her eyes and I can’t wait to tell my clients what I’m bringing home. She walks a little closer.

Then turns.

And flippin’ gives it to the one other man at this conference who just happens to NOT be my husband.

I wanted to cry.

I found Mike, face beat-red again and he’s like oh my word, what is wrong with you.

I said, I think I’m going to cry.

And I did.

“I worked (sob) so hard (sob) and I was like the best coach ever (sob) and I still didn’t win.”

I am ridiculous.

Yes. I know.

Last week, my girl. My strong “I-am-woman” client, cried on me after a challenging exercise. Disappointed that it was so hard.

I love winning and I love free-stuff but I think my tears were from exhaustion and perhaps a little disappointment at how hard these workouts have been.

Somedays we are “I am woman!” and somedays we cry because a boy beat us.

So I learned that I belong here. People are nice. And they help you. And they cheer for you. You can almost see all the happy endorphins floating around this place.

Like pink little fairies.

I also learned that we are doing many things well.

And right.

I listened to a lecture yesterday and I just wanted to stand up and shout. Yes, I know that!! We do that!


And then he moved from customers and training to technology and marketing and I wanted to stand up and shout.

No. Wait. What the HALE are you talking about?

He spent 15 minutes talking about a “landing page” and how crucial they are for your business and finally I had the courage to raise my hand and I said, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what that is.”

And so patiently explained it.

And, well, I still don’t what it is.

We’re headed home today. I miss my littles. I miss my bed.

I miss my team of athletes.

I miss being in charge. 🙂

Yes, we’re coming home today with new ideas and creative workouts and the latest information regarding health and nutrition and wellness.

But before we leave, I’m going to an hour-long workout with medicine balls.
I’d like to say that it’s so I can get some cool new ideas to use with our balls and originally that was the plan.

But now I’m so tired that the only thing I really want to do is prop my head up on one of ’em and sleep.

But I’m going, dadgummit.

And I’m gonna win us a step!


Praising God from whom all blessings flow!

We’ve had an incredible weekend. And even if I don’t win the step, I’m bringing home a wealth of new knowledge.

Plus, there’s such joy in knowing that I have a power-lifting husband who loves me so much he zumba-ed, and from all accounts, put his hand in the air like he just didn’t care!

Learning to Merge

19th street.

It’s my favorite way to get across town. It makes no sense, really. There are cars double parked, always. There is an emergency vehicle, an ambulance I think, parked. Always.


Over a period of many, many blocks, there are only 2 stop signs.

Yes. That’s actually what I love.

But when I say no stop signs, I mean none. For any of us.

I, of course, know fully that I have the right-away but I get the distinct impression that drivers going north-south don’t understand this.


For the safety of my children and because of the constant prodding from my husband, I yield.

I slow, I slow, look right, look left, right again and then I go.

Or yield

Or fully stop.

Come to think of it, 19th street is a lot of work.

And now that schools back in session, I’m looking for a new way.

Last week carpool took me one hour. Y’all! One hour to pick up two children in a relatively small town. For 10 years my home was at the eastern most part of a city that holds more than 150,000 residents. I could’ve circled that town three times and it wouldn’t have taken me an hour.

Then again, there is no 5-6 building in Sioux Falls.

My friend says that carpool is a great opportunity to work on your prayer life. I need to remember that. Last week I saw a woman park, get out of her car and start screaming at the woman behind her. I saw children walking in and out and everywhere. I saw cars sneaking in from behind and after about 4 such cars of trying the whole “merge, you’re turn, my turn” except that it seemed never to be my turn that I finally put up my hand, mouthed, “It’s my turn,” gave him a look that I could’ve only learned from my momma, and proceeded down the lane to pick up my child.

Yes praying. Because the alternative is drinking.

Car-pool in Fremont could drive a woman to drink.

I’m just kidding.

19th street.



And for us, blended life.

There’s this constant flow of traffic and people interrupting and failing to stop and honking and blaming and sometimes I feel like the woman who got out of her car. I might just park. Raise my hands in the air and start yelling!

Media calls us blended. It’s better than step, I suppose. I’m still looking for the right word.


I looked up synonyms and found the word merge.

One study I read found that it takes 7 years for a blended family to fully blend? Are you flippin’ kidding me? We’re gonna get good at this just in time for college?

Another study showed that stress levels in re-marriages were twice that of a newly (first time) married couple. The author goes on to say it has nothing to do with poor decisions.

Percentages of divorce are so much greater with 2nd and 3rd marriages, not because you didn’t marry the right person.

It’s because you married like 15 people.

And you some of those people you don’t like very much.


I have two speeds. Down 19th street and in life.

Fast and stop.

Full-speed or I’m takin’ a nap.

I want perfectly blended, melded, smooshed, smooched, tied-together with a beautiful flippin’ bow and I want it.


Not in 7 years.

You can fly down 19th street, hold your breath and hope that the other person stops but more than likely they won’t.

They don’t.

And they crash right into you with their words and their actions and their anger.

So how do we slow down? How do I acknowledge, as my friend recently reminded me, that we are in this for the long-haul.

Not for today.



Turn off the blender?

What day is it?

Our weeks aren’t Sunday-Saturday.

Our weeks are—

Who’s weekend is it? Who’s week is it?

Who’s Thursday is it? Who’s Wednesday is it?

Who’s coming home today, who’s merging back into the family routine and who’s leaving?

Where’s this bag and those socks and it’s at Dad’s and it’s at Mom’s it’s dang hard to maintain a home.

Harder still, at least for this momma, when it’s spread across three.

Last week I had the children choose verses for year. Not so much a “life verse” but a 2015-16 school-year verse.

Mike’s youngest chose “be strong and courageous…..the Lord will be with you wherever you go.”

We don’t live life “normal.”

There’s no rhythm, no routine, no guarantees.

And sometimes all—

For no reason.

And yet, in our coming out and going in. It is the Lord who goes with us.

He is our constant.

And it is to His will, that I must learn to yield.

And it is by His grace, that I must learn to slow.

We don’t have to blend today.

We only have to yield.

And merge.


And out.

Again and again.

I read a prayer recently that said this.

“Help me Lord, until you help me.”

Oh my word, y’all! Just this!

Help us, Lord until you help us!

When I became a mom, I read every parenting book I could find. I’m pretty sure if you’ve heard of it, I’ve read it. It’s part of that 90-to-nothing or napping thing.

I read so much that my mom passed down advice from her mom.

Throw away the damn books!

Mike and I had hoped to attend a conference on blended (merging) families this fall. Instead. We’re gonna read more damn books! 🙂

We’re going to plow (again) through a book called “The Smart Step-Family.” And we’d like to invite other blended, bruised, beauty-from-ashes families in the Fremont area to join us.

We’ll meet once a month or so on Saturdays from 4:00-6:30 ish. Kids can play while we throw on a few burgers, work through the book, share our hearts, listen to struggles and encourage each other on how we can safely and successfully navigate 19th street.

Just kidding.

On how we can honor the Lord with our messy families.

Save the date now for Saturday, September 19th.

Signing off, now.

I need to sit down with a cup of tea and a map of Fremont.

I wasn’t defeated by divorce and will not be defeated by a dang carpool.

“Emma Claire, you look just like your Mother.”

She smiles.

Like, yes, I know.

There’s no enthusiasm.

And she doesn’t say thank you. I suppose she’s not sure if it’s a compliment or not.

She recently told me she’ll probably die before her friends because I had her when I was old.

I tried explaining that it didn’t work that way, but then I stopped.

Wait. What? You think I’m old?

So maybe she’s not thrilled with the idea of looking like her tired, old mother.

Here’s a little secret, Emma Claire. You don’t just look like your Mother.

You act a little bit like her as well.

OK so y’all know I’ve been working on the soft answer.

The quiet answer.

But I always fail.

I don’t have a quiet answer. There’s too much of my Aunt Ida Margaret running through my head and she, while many wonderful things, was not quiet.

Especially if you made her mad.

So Emma Claire’s intelligent, opinionated and high-spirited. She’s strong-willed, easily offended and slightly sensitive.

Wait. That’s not me.

And lately. She talks back.

With Coulter I forbid the use of the word, ‘but’.

If he was going to talk back he had to be more creative. At least come up with a “however” every now in then.

Emma Claire is more clever. She doesn’t use the word but. But, she uses so many other words that are way beyond an almost 1st graders vocabulary that I get confused, frustrated and then I sing.


This week, after a terribly frustrating and draining episode, I told Emma Claire that she owed me an apology.

And that she had to write it down.

A few minutes later she comes up with a note.

I’m sore Mom. I don’t want to (talk back) but you jus mak me sooo mad.


And I’ve thought about that all day.

I want to give a soft answer. I want to ignore mean people, bitter people, not-an-ounce-of-class people, but like Emma Claire.

They just make me so mad.

From Romans. I do the very thing that I do not want to do! I do not understand my own actions because I do not do what I want to. But I do the very thing that I hate.

Ack! When I feel attacked unfairly I become a 6-year-old!

Last week, after a long day that was supposed to be fun but turned out to be the very most opposite of fun. Wait. What is the opposite of fun?


Anyway after a day like that and doing the very thing that I didn’t want to do, after forgetting to ignore and forgetting the soft answer, I was tired.

And weary.

My nephews were visiting from Dallas. We met my ex-husband in a McDonald’s parking lot and said goodbye for the next 5 days. It’s always those weird ones….different town, swapping’ kids in a parking lot…that break my heart.

I am weeping. I don’t know if I can this anymore. Except, ya know, I have to.

I. Am. So. Tired.

My ex-husband comes to the van to say hello to my nephews. It’s been 4 years since they’ve seen him and Logan, 13 and a complete southern gentleman, reaches out his hand and says, “Hello, Sir.” (He also calls my husband, “Mr. Mike.” even though I started charging him a quarter every time he said it!)

You don’t just lose a husband. You lose an entire family.

Tears pouring, I shut the door, gave the ASL “I love you” sign in a manner that would give passer-byes the idea that I may not see my children again for many years and we drove off.

“Ya know,” Logan says, (who, by the way, has a filter that’s broken), “I like how y’all get along and how y’all are nice to each other.” Unfortunately I can’t tell you what else he said but in his filterless-manner just pointed out that not all the adults we deal with are quite that nice.

“Yes, Logan. I like that too.”

“And ya know what else?” Logan, continues. “His face looks fatter.

And his hair is flatter.”

(In fairness to the kids’ dad, his face is actually thinner.)

And we laughed. At the absurdity of the whole day. We laughed.

Later Micah, 16, who’s extremely talented and smart and played the ukulele at the Fremont Skate Park for money, said “Aunt Myra Katherine, you look tired.”

“I am tired, Micah.”

And I proceeded to talk to my nephews about Christ and about God’s love and His grace and no matter how often we do things we don’t want to do, there is grace. And we can’t out run it.

Because all is grace. Everything.

“Boys, because of God’s grace for us, we are called to have grace for others. Yada yada yada…la la la….”

“And some days I remember that. I remember grace. And other days?”

They look at me. Ready. Open. Willing to learn-

“Other days? I just wanna punch ’em in the face.”

And they laughed.


Thinking of Aunt Myra Katherine punching someone in the face was funnier, even, than the lady in St. Joe who had armpit hair.

And trust me.

That was funny.

I’ve learned a lot this week. First, I’m going to need a second mortgage to feed our boys as they get older. Second, at some point children start sleeping.

A lot.

I seriously can’t wait!

And third. When I get mad, I have a tendency to act like a 6-year-old.

Yesterday I took Emma Claire back to school shopping. She had to read her list and find the supplies.

When we got home, she emptied her crayons and meticulously placed them in the pencil box by color. Next came the markers. They didn’t quite fit.

I watched in awe and a little bit of horror.

She’s not me afterall. I would so not organize a box of crayons.


What is the point?

She worked for about 10 minutes and said, “Oh well. Does it really matter?”

Then tossed all the crayons together.

Now that’s my girl.

And yes. Does it really matter? Do I always have to be right? Can I have a soft answer?

Can I simply rest in His peace that surpasses all understanding and know that even this, especially this, is not outside his loving plan?

Somedays it feels as if I get it wrong 10 times out of 9.

And it’s on those days that I’m amazed anew at just how sweet His grace really is.

It saves a wretch like me.

Oh bless my own dang heart! 🙂

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