Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the month “October, 2017”

Ok. So. I know you’re way to busy to read my blog because you are, well—duh—busy reading my book.

But.

There are these words and they are going crazy. Dancing. Bounding. Demanding my attention.

These words feel like lessons. Growing, learning, changing more now than even during the writing.

Even during the living.

It occurs to me. I’m a case-study, spot-on people-pleaser middle-child. And people-pleaser-middle-children should probably not write books.

I write in my book that I don’t care what you think about my book but holy-moly I think I was mistaken about that!

I think I really do care!

A friend wrote yesterday, “I’ve sent it to my mom but she probably won’t like the Donald Trump parts.”

Dang it! I forgot that she would have to read that part. And I forgot that all my Republican friends would have to read that part. I’ve been under the assumption that my Republican friends (which accounts for about 99.9% of my friends) who vote one-issue or who couldn’t vote for Hillary voted for Donald Trump because they had to.

Not because they actually wanted to.

But what if I’m wrong and what if my Republican friends are angry with me because I call him out for not wanting to rape an ugly girl.

I think I said it nicer in my book. I can’t remember.

My people-pleasing darts are firing big-time because if I know you have my book and I haven’t heard from you in like 5 minutes then it occurs to me that you must hate my book and you want your money back. And you don’t want to be my friend anymore.

It occurs to me that I have the self-confidence of a toad.

Or a frog. Which one is smaller.

It was suggested to me that I’d gone about this process in many of the wrong ways. Well not only do middle-children not like to “not please”—we also don’t like to get things wrong.

Maya Angelou says that when we know better, we do better. I didn’t know.

Maybe I’ll do better next time.

Maybe.

Perhaps if you’d shared more. It was suggested.

Perhaps if you’d asked for feedback. It was suggested.

But here’s the thing. How do you ask for feedback about your life?

Hmm. Don’t really like the story on page 52.

Gosh, me either. Except, ya know, it happened. So. There’s that.

I didn’t ask for feedback. I didn’t want feedback. Feedback for this story, my story felt like censorship. And I had censored myself for so long that if I erred, I wanted to err on the side of too much.

Too much truth.

Too much sharing.

Too much hope. Too much joy. Too much.

Last night I went to see Jen Hatmaker who was originally my least favorite author because her trying to be funny and talk about Jesus at the same time was just super annoying but then became my favorite author because she talks about Jesus and y’all.

She is so funny.

Last night, though, I sat about 50 feet away from her as she cried her eyes out talking about the past year.

Having come out in support and love of her gay friends, she received death threats. Received torn-up books that had been burned in her mail. Her children received threats and she was literally scared for her life.

FROM CHRISTIANS, Y’ALL! Here let me tell you about this God I love. Let me tell you the stories of Jesus but, oops, let me tear up the death threat I just sent a fellow sister first.

Y’all. The time of judgement will come but it is not today and it is not for us and I think we’re gonna be a tiny bit surprised when the day comes.

God promises judgement not only for what we have done, but for what we HAVE LEFT UNDONE.

I don’t want to be the Priest or the Levite who crosses the street when he sees the bloody and the beaten and the broken. Actually, let me put that another way. I’m done being the priest and the levite.

I want to see. I want to stay on the street.

So many lessons from last night. It wasn’t a program. It was church. She didn’t talk. She preached. We worshipped. It was holy and good and challenging.

Reading from Mark. Or maybe it was Matthew. For the love, I’ll have to look it up again but the man asks Jesus about getting into heaven and Jesus responds that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and then the guy asks, yeah, but who is our neighbor. We’ve read it hundreds of times. But then, y’all. She drops it. She says.

We are still asking that question today. WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR??

We want qualifications. I’m pretty sure he’s too dark, too poor, too weird, too annoying, too gay, too liberal, too conservative to be my neighbor. Surely you didn’t mean, him, Lord.

Here’s the thing. Today. 3 Things. Wait 4.

  1. I’m starting my next book , “Elephant Girl”.  A daily devotional for women. Turns out you can be funny and talk about Jesus.
  2. I’m starting my third book.  “Naked TV and other family traditions” and you’ll just have to guess what that’s about. Although for the record, I do not watch TV naked with my family, but I do love family traditions.
  3. I’m done crossing the street. I’m done looking the other way when people. God’s people. All of his people. Any of his people. Are hurting.
  4. I’m going to quit asking who my neighbors are and start loving them instead. Even the ones who planted plastic flowers in the dirt. And who have pumpkins out next to a welcome sign that has snow on it. Next to a plastic vine that goes around their mail box. Next to two trees that ALREADY HAVE THEIR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON. Yes. I’m going to start loving my neighbors.

(PS:  As I call out others for judging it occurs to me, while talking with the kids about Donald Trump, that I do the same thing. I asked for their forgiveness for my snide comments and judgy attitude. I told them that God had called us to be discerning. And sometimes it’s easy to hide our judging hearts under the false piety of being discerning. So please forgive me for that. )

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The Book

It’s ready.

From start to finish it took one full year.

And it took 15 years.

Or maybe 45.

I didn’t write a book because I got a divorce. I wrote a book because I’m a writer.

And I wanted to write a book.

I’ve always wanted to write a book.

The first book that I started was about fighting to save your marriage. Like that movie where the girl gets on the train, and where the girl doesn’t get on the train and it shows both of those lives. Yes, like that. I was going to be the Elizabeth Gilbert who didn’t get on the train. Who wept on the bathroom floor, crying out that there was nothing more impossible than staying and there was nothing more impossible than leaving and then I was going to stay.

And I did. Until I couldn’t.

The second book that I started was my tell-all. Anne Lamott says that we should tell our stories and Anne Lamott knows things. Important smart-people things and so I was going to tell my story.

All of it.

Looking back at my posts during that time, Lord have mercy. I was angry.

And if you had any opinion, any insight, any thought whatsoever that didn’t line up with my “I am the victim in this thing and just leave me alone already” theology well then bless.

Your.

Dang.

Heart.

I didn’t write this book as some form of therapy. Journaling is for therapy. Therapy is for therapy. Laying your soul bare and writing a book is—well, now that it’s out, I’m probably going to need therapy.

This book was censored in two ways and two ways only.

Coulter.

And Emma Claire.

Every word. Every confession. Every thought. Every page. I wrote with their little voices reading along. Not for today. Today’s too soon but for when they are older.

Several months ago, Coulter asked me what the book was about. I told him that there were sad parts and funny parts.

For the record, the funny parts are only funny if you have a sense of humor and understand a little something called sarcasm. If you don’t, well again..bless your—ya know—heart.

Coulter asked, what’s the funny part? I thought, trying to remember if there were actually any funny parts and I said, well I kind of make fun of Donald Trump. Well, not President Trump so much as his wall. I make fun of the wall. But I do it in a funny way. Like, maybe even hysterical way.

Maybe.

I can’t remember.

Oh. My Gosh. Men in black suites are totally going to come and take me away.

He laughs. Like maybe it’s “you had to be there” kind of funny and then he says, thoughtfully.

“Mom, the part about the wall? I wouldn’t put that on the cover.”

That is really good thinking, Coulter.

And I only mention the wall because Emma Claire has planned a book tour to Mexico.

Throughout this process I think people want to know why. Why are you writing a book? Sometimes it comes across with this weird “who are you to write a book” voice and sometimes it comes across with this weird “who are you that anyone would want to read your book” voice and the voice that was projected was always one of doubt. I wrestled and I tangled and I doubted myself and I doubted the process and then I finally landed on this. It was profound and deep and pivotal and it goes a little something like this—

Because I wanted to.

Because I’m a writer. Because I’m a storyteller. Because I’m a truth teller. Because life is really hard and really good and we need to laugh more and judge less.

Ok, so here’s the thing. Why should you buy my book? And not just one book, but several, several books. Like for your friends and your mother and your sister and your boss and , ya know just people in your life. I offer you the top three reasons.

  1. The book will sell for $16.95. That’s like 2 1/2 cups of coffee at Starbucks. And caffeine won’t make you laugh.
  2. I use 5 bad words. For those of you who’ve known me a long time, that’s worth the price of admission right there.
  3. I tell the truth. It was hard. My editor would call me out on stories where she sensed that details had been left out. Telling the truth is hard. We need to hear truth. Read truth and start telling the truth. If you don’t read my book, then find another author, another book that tells hard and real and good things. Facebook is fun but it’s the highlight reel. It’s impossible to celebrate “beauty from ashes” if we don’t acknowledge the fire.

Pearl acknowledges the fire. Whatever fire you’re walking through today my prayer is that you will come out of it and not even smell like smoke.

My prayer is that if you have a foolish, crazy dream that most people will think is ridiculous and you have no idea why you want it other than that you do want it, then what are you waiting for? Write your book. Tell your stories. Record that album. Take a painting class. Start an iPod. Wait. Not an iPod.

What’s that thing where you listen to people talking? I know it has pod in it. Or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I also can’t remember that Wednesdays are early outs. Every dang Wednesday, my poor C-man texts me. “Mom, where are you?”

Please buy my book.

Pretty please.

With a cherry on top.

*should be on amazon this week…I’ll keep you posted.

**thank you. really, really thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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