Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

“Do it Afraid”

My husband who wakes at 4:30 a.m. is out of town.

My children who wake at 6:00 a.m. are at their dads.

I don’t work until 9. You see the opportunity, yes?

Yes. It’s  4:15 in the morning.

Bless my own dang heart and tiny bladder.

When my husband and I were first married, he and Coulter were sitting on the couch watching football. Mike had this glazed look on his face as Coulter described a movie that he had seen over the weekend.

It wasn’t that Mike was bored.He was confused. And a little scared.

There were so many words. I’m guessing Coulter alone uses 3 times as many words as Mike and his youngest son from his second marriage, combined!  Add Emma Claire and I to the mix and Mike is confused by all the words.

All the talking.

Doesn’t anyone just sit quietly and watch football?

He joked in bed that night. “We could’ve watched the movie and it would’ve been quicker.”

I love all the words. I also love it when they are at school and there are less words.

On the short trip from the ladies’ room back to my bed, words started swirling.

That’s the real reason I’m awake.

And I say ladies room as an attempt to be polite about the massive amounts of water I’m supposed to be drinking and the havoc said water is having on my 6-hour nightly minimum.


Ok, 9.

But it’s not a ladies room at all. It’s a family room. We have 4 bathrooms in this house and the only one anyone can find is mine.

Or as my husband strangely calls it, ours.

Always. With the words. And the not sleeping. Words from the weekend keep swirling in my head. The grab and tangle and wrestle and I’m like a 1st grade teacher, “OK, children. Let’s use this word in a sentence.”

I have to find a category for each word.

Like debris. From yesterday. I’m not finished with that word. I wrote selfishly how the debris scatters.

You can’t control it. It doesn’t hit just you.

My entire family probably needs therapy for the crazy I put them through. But therapy is expensive, so I recommend exercise.

And dogs.

And Mike. But he’s mine, so you can’t have him. Not that my family would take him, but in general if you, my readers, need therapy, I’m offering up exercise and dogs.

Not Mike.

Words have power. This makes sense.  The greatest Truth is called The Word. God used words. There’s art and music and dance and so many glorious ways to communicate and they are all gifts from Him, but he used words.

And he chose scared, broken, flawed people to write them.

They not only thought they didn’t have what it took to conquer kingdoms and lead armies and, ya know, birth a baby that would be the Savior of the world, they knew.

Fear. That’s one of my words.

What if they don’t like me? What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m raising entitled children? What if I’m not spending enough time with them? Too much time with them? What if they’ll have body-image issues because they are being raised in a gym.

Good grief, y’all! It’s not a gym. That’s another  of my words. I strongly dislike that word. Not for the word itself, but because we don’t have one.

We have a training studio.

Studio is much more cosmopolitan, yes? And yet, sometimes.

A lot of times.

I say gym. Our grand babies were here for the weekend and I told them we were going to visit Mimi and Papa’s gym.

All day, little #1 kept asking when we were going to see Jim?

Fear. It’s my word. And I’m not alone.

So here, my gift to you (even though it’s my birthday week,):

“Do it Afraid.”

Three glorious words that I hijacked from my word-porn weekend.

It turns out, I didn’t need Bible verses tossed around like confetti. I didn’t need flawed, sinful speakers’ own personal interpretations of Bible verses. I didn’t need theology. I didn’t need sinful, flawed speakers’ personal interpretations of theology.

I needed this.

“Do it afraid.”


I don’t have to swallow up, stomp down or crush out fear. Fear of getting right. Fear of getting wrong. Fear of looking stupid. Of not being liked. Of not being right—

I can simply, do it afraid.

Wifey afraid. Parent afraid. Build a business afraid. Write a book.


One day Perfect Love will return and cast out all fear. Woot!

Until then, I’ll sit back and listen as Coulter uses all his glorious words to explain to Mike how “Grover is Percy’s best friend even though he’s a goat. Well, not really a goat, but his feet are goat hooves and he has horns, but he has a brain like a human except that he can send dreams to Percy in his sleep, and regular humans can’t really do that. I mean we have dreams, but we can’t really send them to anyone. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

My heart will be happy as I watch the glossing-over and yes, the fear in Mike’s eyes wondering if his own dreams will be filled with goat boys and endless story telling and I’ll laugh out-loud at the blessing of this gloriously, scary life.

Do it afraid, y’all.

Do it afraid.










A norwex mop for my heart.

Day Three.

I have a new mop.  And a new vacuum. And I clean.

All the time.

This is terribly confusing to my husband. He doesn’t understand what’s happening.

What is that sound? Where is all the dirt?

He doesn’t recognize his wife or his floors.

Yesterday I even took my mop (Norwex. Get one!) and I dry-mopped the living room walls.

Our super-cool corn-on-the-cob, vintage wall-paper was lightly dusted with a film of floor residue.

Did you know that you’re supposed to cover furniture and close off doors when you sand floors?

I didn’t.

Here’s how it went.


Step 1. Pull out carpet while your husband’s at work.

Step 2. Search “Finish hardwood floors” on pinterest.

Step 3. See the beautiful mom who is for sure a real person and not a model and read caption. “It’s so easy! 5 minutes to beautiful floors.”

Step 4-56. Menards, Mop, Sand, Stain. Walmart. Menards. Mop again, sand. Rental company. Bigger sander. Rental Company. Biggest sander. Buy bandaids.

Say bad words.

$54,000 and surprisingly more than 5 minutes later,  my floors are once again unfinished and I need  a rug.

When I finished un-finishing my floors I was done.

As in d-un! I didn’t put dishes away. I didn’t put furniture away. I went outside and planted flowers.

Yesterday I noticed this residue.


Yes. I remember that word. I remember it catching in my throat. Nichole Nordeman used that word over the weekend with the 5000 women and their Jesus bags.

I “un-finished” this floor project back in March and now, in late August, there’s still this gunk. Debris.

On my walls.

And not just on my walls in that room but my walls throughout my house. I have tables and shoes and even sweaters in my fancy closets (so fancy that they actually have no room for sweaters,  however, I do have plenty of room for about 500 pairs of shoes that I don’t currently own).

(I’m a size 6. My birthday is Sunday).


Nichole sang the title track from her new album. The “Unmaking.”

The un-making of a marriage. The un-making of a home. The un-making of a life.

I have an obsession with un-making things. Pulling out carpet, knocking out walls and pulling up basement tiles.

I love to un-make. And I rarely ask first. I think it’s better to just rip it out.

Do it first. Apologize later.

But the after part I dislike.  I want my husband to come and carry the gunk away. Holding it up? Carrying it away?

Well, that is too heavy.

And I am too tired.

Of course it’s after the unmaking that the real work begins.


After the unmaking of my marriage, debris was everywhere. The big stones you deal with. The big piles, you clean.

But 5 years later I’m finding there’s still dust on my walls. A light film of un-forgivness residue that clings to this life.

My ex-husband sent me an email regarding a rather big decision that we needed to make. It was courteous and professional but as his words popped off the page, I felt my face grow red and hot and before I knew it, those little pieces of debris were surprisingly close and surprisingly large and I began to throw them.

Stones. Little stone-words.

Each one more powerful than the first.

I pushed send without thinking. I never think before I press send. Good grief. What is the point in that? To me the writing is my thinking. To me the words are my heart and my first reaction is always my purest, most honest reaction. This is what I wanted to say and I said it.

I know. Right?!? What is wrong with me? I send emails like I knock down walls. Just do it down already.

Y’all! Somebody needs to take my computer away.

And my hammer.

I need a bell or a siren, and when I start saying things—unforgiving crazy things—that should stay safely inside my head, it’ll just—ya know.



Debris. It’s still falling.

I listen to the song.

“This is the unmaking. Beauty in the breaking….only when we’re broken are we whole….what happens now? When all that I’ve made is torn down.”

What happens now?







I thought I had. But like the little dust bunnies that grow under your bed in the most random of ways and look as if you are quite simply a complete slob and have never once-ever-cleaned your home. Yes, if you don’t nurture forgiveness and work at forgiveness and keep working toward forgiveness, then you have a big ol dust bunny on your soul.

And in your heart.

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

Unfortunately, I’m thinking this is gonna take a lot more than a Norwex mop.


I’m trying to create a new writing space. Right now I’ve landed in our bedroom and I’m facing a blank wall. I need a small lamp and  inspirational art (my birthday’s on Sunday, just, ya know, fyi) that will inspire me towards my bestseller.

I mean, my book that I will faithfully write regardless of whether or not anyone reads it.

And now I have to go. Our bed’s not made (I know, like I said, complete slobs!) and the disgusting amount of dust underneath is driving me ever-living-crazy. And so.

I’m going to have to move the bed in order to mop.

And when I move the bed I’ll  be reminded that the floors are gross and need to be sanded and so I’ll rent the sander again but before I’ll start, I’ll remember that I never actually finished the other floors, so I’ll go to Menards for stain…

Gravy! When did my life become “If you give a mouse a cookie” book?













I don’t read blogs.

The only post I remember reading recently was sent to me with some deluded hopes that I might follow the step-parenting advice within.

I haven’t.

And I likely won’t. Primarily because someone told me to.


So when I kept hearing about Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author and speaker with several published books (that people besides her mother have actually read) and a television show (again, with actual viewers) I wanted nothing to do with her. I’m not sure why, but let’s say it was something fancy like she was too commercial.




For Christmas, my sister-friend gave me a copy of her latest book.

So I read the sleeve.

Ugh. This woman has not only given birth to three children, but with a heart for the orphan crisis, she and her husband have also adopted two children from Ethiopia.

That’s five bodies, in her home, that she cares for.

With actual food. I know this because I skimmed through and there’s a recipe.

For food.

Don’t even.

I had to hate her, right?

But whatever. I wanted to be able to send my friend a thank-you note and how could I do that if I hadn’t read the book?

(Who am I kidding? I haven’t written a thank you note since 1998.)


What? I also have a heart for the orphan crisis. There’s been no time to write thank yous. I have been too busy praying for Ethiopians, thank you very much.

So I started to read the book. Her first joke was annoying.

Yuk. She’s going to try and be funny.

I can’t take her seriously.  I have no idea what all of the fuss is about.

I refuse to read further. And I will cancel cable immediately.

(OK, side note: I don’t typically read blogs because I’m super paranoid about becoming a plagiarist. At one point in my writing I began to believe that Ann Voskamp was starting to sound a lot like me. Like perhaps she was reading my blog and stealing my thoughts. I can understand how this could happen. But remember I also believe that Mariah Carey is going to call any day and ask me to sing back-up.So I checked the dosage of my medication and quit reading her blog).


Then something happened.

I went to see this Jen-lady. Me and about 5000 other women. And she was absolutely terrific.




Funny. As in hysterical.



She started her comments with a  story about her daughter asking where babies come from? She was completely unprepared because her Mother had just given her a book back in the day and circled a what she deemed the important parts.

Oh my gosh! We are sisters! 

Bless. 🙂

She talked about running our race, finding our lane, putting ourselves out there. She reminded us that humility is not shrinking. That God doesn’t call us to be famous; only faithful. That our only requirement is that of obedience.  She talks about the books that nobody (except her mother) read, but she kept writing. “Do the next right thing,” she said. And then the next right thing after that. She reminded us that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.That it is not OK that she gets to Mother another woman’s babies simply because she can afford them and the birth mother can’t.

And as she spoke. As we laughed and took notes and tried to soak in each and every word, something occurred to me.

I hadn’t read her book, not because she was annoyingly perfect. Not because of her annoying plan to try and make us laugh. (Really? Humor and faith?) Not even because of her annoyingly awesome heart for people. For orphans. For humanity.


I hadn’t read her book because she wrote it.


Because she wrote it. She did the next right thing and the next hard thing and her five children weren’t an excuse and resources weren’t an excuse and her television show wasn’t an excuse and her age wasn’t an excuse and she did it.

She wrote it.

And I hadn’t.

I haven’t.

I opened that book and closed it because somewhere inside my head-space reading her book only served as a reminder of a promise I haven’t kept.

A story I haven’t told.

A book I haven’t written.



(The bless comments will only be funny or even remotely intelligent for those who’ve read Jen’s latest book and those who know of my fear of plagiarism. Where I might put duh! Or good grief! She says “bless.” How great is that? It’s so perfect. It’s like bless-a-my-soul and bless-a-my-Mother’s-soul and bless-a-the-woman-in-the-pineapple-tights-soul and it’s just literary genius.)

I’m so glad I thought of it! 😉








A friend invited me to the Belong Tour.

Think thousands of women with Bibles and totes that say “Jesus Loves Me”, pineapple tights worn as leggings and many, many pairs of comfortable shoes.

Sisters, I don’t mean to be unkind, but there is no need for pineapple tights.

Worn as leggings.


Think basketball arena, not enough parking and mens bathroom assigned to women. Side note: The urinals had been covered up with brightly colored, lid-type thingys.



I’d like to clear-up something for the Pinnacle Bank Arena custodians. There is zero chance that a woman is ever gonna need to go that badly.


So to review. Invited to an event with thousands of other women.

Uhm, Ok. Sure. Yes. Just go ahead and stick a fork in my eye and call it good.

As Glennon Doyle Melton would say, I love humanity, I just don’t really like humans.

You’ve seen the mug that says “I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m lying?”

That’s me.

I’m lying.

Unless there’s maybe one or two of you and you have baked goods.

Then I’ll stay.


Or if your name is Glennon. 🙂

Or if you bring me presents. I love presents.

My birthday is just around the…OK.


It’s close, that’s all I’m saying.

Here’s the thing.

Speaking in front of 100 people? Not a problem.

Singing back-up for Mariah Carey and being called to cover for her while she has to use the men’s restroom?

Again. No problemo.

What? That could totally  happen.

Walking into a room of 50, or maybe like 10 people, and m-m-mingling?

That, my friends, is what the Bible refers to as hell.

What? You thought there were flames? No. Hell is small-talk with people I don’t know.

Or don’t like.

Or both.


I’m certain of it.

Hell is a cocktail party. 

But the event line-up was pretty incredible and included a favorite author of mine, as well as, Nichole Nordeman, a Christian Artist who had walked me through my divorce as my imaginary BFF, was performing.

The event morning came. I hadn’t slept well.

I would text my friend and tell her that I didn’t feel well.

No. That’s no good. I would tell her—

That I forgotten about a meeting.

Yes. At 7 p.m. on a Friday night.

It’s a special organization of Friday night meeting people. Duh!

No. I would tell her that my children were sick. Both of them. Yes. At their dads, but still. I can’t leave town under such dire, fake-sickness circumstances.

But before I had a chance to text her, she texted me and said. “I’ve had a terrible week. Thinking about cancelling but I know that’s the enemy talking. The Lord must have something great planned for tonight.”

My friend didn’t want to go? She was going to cancel on me?

Well that’s annoying. Cancelling is my jam, but whatever.

This is perfect. I will drive so that I’m in complete control of this completely out-of-control experience and I will un-wantingly go with my friend who is also un-wantingly going.

Seriously. What could be more fun?

We drove to Lincoln. I expertly navigated the big city and quickly secured parking for $3. I backed into the stall to secure a quick getaway.

We laughed, we cried, we learned. At 9 p.m., we were dismissed for a short break.

A break? At 9 p.m.?

What the?

Dang it! Where is my inhaler?

I can’t breathe. In addition to being a raging introvert, I’m 96 years old.

My bedtime is 8:30. Right after Matlock.

Just kidding.

Not really.

I’ll have to call Mike. Yes. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll explain to him that has to come and get us. Surely he understands that I can’t be expected to drive after 10 p.m.

We stayed. Strangely enough I didn’t lose my shoe or turn into a pumpkin.

And do you know who wasn’t sick? Who performed in those last 45 minutes?

Nichole Nordeman.

Nichole Nordeman. The Christian artist who grew up loving Jesus. The Christian mom who worried about perceptions and sought approval and had a ridiculous need to be liked until the one who’s marriage should’ve made it, didn’t. Until her 10-year marriage crumbled. The Christian speaker who, when asked if she was allergic to anything, joked, “People.”

I understand why she’s my imaginary BFF. She’s me.

Her story. Her words. Her allergies. That’s what the Lord had for me.

For going. For staying. For saying yes when I wanted to say no.

At 10 p.m. we made our way out of the arena and to our car. There are several one-way streets and you have to turn right.

Never mind that home is left.

The traffic stalled and my anxiety grew. There was a little white sign for pedestrians and a flashing yellow arrow for cars. For the LOVE, people this could not be easier!

And yet there we sat.

I started to sweat. Which was a total bummer because I was wearing my friend’s sweater and I hadn’t really planned to wash it, but now I’d have to wash it because I had anxiety sweat and the sincere belief that the person in front of me—Wh0.


No doubt a Jesus-loving woman wearing pineapple tights as leggings and comfortable shoes with a  “We need Jesus y’all” bag and didn’t understand that  yellow meant caution.

I was not being impatient. I simply believed that we would be stuck there. In that line. Unable to turn left or right or back up or go around and y’all hear me!


And my sweet friend and her awesome sweater. They would find it in a pool of sweat and they would write stories about the two women who—

Ok. She finally turned.

Thank you, Jesus.

I saw the sign that said “Home” and I began to breathe again.

Or, maybe it said 1-80.


We got home around 11:30.

That’s P to the M.  Seriously. Such a girls night out that it was almost morning.

And there were other cars on the street.


Just kidding. I don’t say that.

But seriously, go to bed people and tomorrow, for the Love of us all, please review your wardrobe. Underwear is actually designed to go under something, not to be worn as a stand-alone item even if, or perhaps especially if, they are covered in fluorescent pineapples. Also keep in mind that flashing yellow arrows, when there are no cars coming and no people crossing mean—bless your dang little heart—that you may proceed with caution.


And now. I will proceed. Of course, with caution.

I’ve said lately that writing is hard for me. That’s not really true. Writing is still easy. It’s pushing PUBLISH that’s hard. It’s writing something good that’s hard. It’s walking on a balance beam of appropriate-ness, not hurting feelings, but still telling the Truth that’s hard.


This week, I’m going to write regardless. I’m going to press publish regardless. I’m going to take you on a journey.


Of whether you read.

Of what you think.

Of what you say.

This week. I’m gonna write. Every day.

See y’all tomorrow.



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