Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

The Only Thing I Ever Needed To Know.

I learned on Wednesdays.

Growing up.

Wednesday afternoons were music days at the Methodist Church. We only went to service once on Sundays and never on Wednesday nights (that’s only for the Baptists), but Wednesdays after school we would eat rice-kripie treats made my someone’s mom and then head into the Sanctuary where my mom lead the music and her best friend, Dottie Lou (that’s Mrs. Buffington to you!) played the piano.

Dottie Lou’s nails were long and beautiful and the biggest, sparkliest, diamonds that a young girl could ever imagine danced alongside her fingers. Her nails made this tap, tap, taping as she played and as a budding pianist myself, I secretly loved the idea that even as a pianist, she refused to cut her nails.

I’m a rule-following rebel. Which is to say that I’m a rebel in my mind, but can never summon up the courage to act on it, which is apparent from my short, un-manicured nails.

Anyway, remember that book about everything we needed to know, we learned in Kindergarten?  This weekend it hit me.

The only thing I ever needed to know, I learned on Wednesdays.

(Right about now, my dad is wondering about those 6 years in college.)

This weekend marked 5 years in Fremont. Mercy! 5 years y’all! That is half a decade. I know, my math skills are incredible.  In a place that I imagined staying for about 5 minutes.

How did 5 minutes turn into 5 years?

Emma Claire has grown-up here. She no longer remembers Sioux Falls.

Coulter has grown-up here in the ways that matter, although close to his heart are the early friends from Sioux Falls. He also remembers the 2 days he spent at De Queen Public Schools in Arkansas. This weekend he randomly asked, “Hey! Remember that time I went to school in Arkansas for like 2 days.”

Yes. Coulter, I remember that.

I remember court documents were flying (his lawyer was lying) Sorry!

That’s rhymed and y’all know I can’t resist a good rhyme.


Lawyers were hired and my only defense is  Dottie Lou.

And my momma.

Strong ladies, teaching Truth and tappin’ at the piano.

The rebel momma who let her nails grow long.

I was trying to be the Mom who didn’t cower in the face of fear and bullying  and stood up for what I believed was right.

Maybe one day I’ll share the whole story, but today I’ll share this.

It wasn’t planned. I didn’t plan to stay. It was just that one day I woke up and the thought of returning to Nebraska made me feel nauseous.

Ya know, like I was going to throw-up. 🙂

So I stayed. And Coulter went to school. And I dreamed.

And then my lawyer told me I had to come home.

And so I did. But it wasn’t home at that time.

Not even close.

Anne Lamott wrote this weekend that we are broken. We are born broken. And then along the way, we get beat-up and bunged-up and most days we are, quite simply, plain messed-up but God’s grace, she says, is the glue. It’s the tape.

My Aunt Ida loved duct tape. Gone for more than 15 years now, she would be fascinated by the idea that we can buy colored duct-tape with crazy designs and that’s what I pictured as I read Anne’s words. Just me. All wrapped up in duct-tape.

Hot pink. With polka dots.


It’s our spirits that really take a beatin’ though, and those aren’t easily taped.

At our fitness studio, we have a new piece of equipment called the Prowler.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s very exciting.

And big.

And I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it because one of our clients purchased it for the studio. I love that our fitness family builds into our place. If we have a need, they help us fill it. Today I walked in and found 2 new clocks on the wall. I’m thinking it was our friend Brenda. Ya know, she just brought in some clocks.

I hate it because men are like small children (somedays I feel as though I’m running a daycare) and they leave it out with ginormous amounts of weight on it and they leave it, I don’t know, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM! and it drives me CRAZY!

I tried moving it last week and got bruise the size of Texas on my thigh. I tried to take a picture of it to send to whom I suspect is (one of) the culprits, but I couldn’t get a really good angle and you couldn’t see it unless I was pretty much naked and the culprit in question is my pastor 😉 whom I love, and for some reason, my rebel-spirit stopped short of sending a naked selfie to my pastor.

But I have a bruise. Just so ya know.

And that’s how my spirit has felt over much of the past 5 years. Like it was bruised and tender and sore and hard to share because there’s no easy angle to take a picture of the soul.

And to be naked—-your sole laid bare—is hardest of all.

But here I am, he WE are. 5 years later. Bruised, beaten-up, broken.

And beautiful.

Elisabeth Elliot says that God’s refusals are always merciful. “Severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. She goes on, “God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good….he never denies us our hearts desires except to give us something better.”

I have my something better.

And so what is that I learned? What is it, that Wednesday after Wednesday, my Mother would pour into us?


“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

Remember that one? I think even as I sang it, I didn’t consider myself a little one. And I sure as heck didn’t consider myself weak.

Probably up until these past 5 years, I envisioned a poor little black child, belly swollen from hunger and carrying water on his head.

That’s what weak meant to me.

Today. Finally. I know. That little black child, hungering for truth and grace and returning again and again to the Living Water is me.

I am weak.

But He is strong.

And I learned it on a Wednesday. 🙂


Last week, on a ski-lift, overlooking a sparkly, twinkly winter-landscape that was far more beautiful than even Dottie Lou’s jewels, Coulter turns to me and said.

“Thank you for this, Mom.”

And my heart did a belly-flop. He knew.

This was special.

This was a gift.

I turned to the sky and breathed out into the vast Universe.

“Thank you for this, Lord.”

Because I knew. And I know.

That I’m ever so weak and He’s ever so strong.

And the severe mercies of the past 5 years have brought me here.


And they have been a gift.




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