Raising Magnolias

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

My neck hurts. Like life is just literally a pain in the neck.

Well, not life so much.

Facebook. I think Facebook is making my neck hurt.

My neck hurts so terrifically that I just noticed I was spelling it with a K.

KNECK.

What is wrong with me?

Wait. Maybe that’s right.

I would like to preface this by reminding you dear readers that I’m obviously a very poor speller and I have a very high tolerance for pain.

Until I don’t.

I birthed both of my babies without an epidural.

Partially because I wanted to be able to say I had done it.

Partially because I was afraid of the giant needle.

Partially (ok mostly) because I remember the insurance lady at the hospital telling us that it was an additional $700.

So let’s review. High tolerance for pain. Low tolerance for a $700 needle.

It’s also the reason I don’t like going to the doctor. Because I don’t want to pay for their years of study and experience. I much prefer to pretend that I went to medical school.

I come by this very naturally. My family and I have great confidence in our abilities to diagnose.

My sister has diagnosed me with Asthma, GIRD and a loss of effervesce.

Oh wait. That wasn’t an illness. That was my life.

My neck.

It hurts.

So I broke down and went to the doctor. The minute I walked in, regret set in.

Do you know who goes to the doctor in January?

Sick people. Flu-contagious, sneezy, coughy, pukey, sick people.

And don’t get me started with their height and weight charts.

I tried not to panic, but as it became apparent that I was shrinking in my older age, I realized that my immune system was failing.

Did I mention that while having a high tolerance for pain, I can also be a raging hypochondriac.

I left there with the flu.

Not really.

But probably.

And a host of prescriptions.

For the record, I did not fill the pain meds. I am a closet drug-addict.

Meaning I’m not a drug-addict, but I could be. Let’s remember, I’ve been to medical school.

I know things.

I did fill the steroids.

Prednisone.

Oh. Good. Gravy, y’all. Steroids are terrifically awesome.

Until they weren’t.

Until they made my face puffy.

Until the zipper in favorite pair of jeans split right in two.

Into?

My favorite jeans that cost more than the epidural I was too cheap to have.

Kidding.

Sorta.

So I did the smart thing.

I quit taking said steroids.

In the middle. Evidently you’re not supposed to do that.

So now I’m nauseous and I’m tired.

And my neck (with an N) still hurts.

The puffiness in my face has gone down. Which I realized is probably not going to lift the depression of Betsy who knows nothing about education becoming the secretary of education, but it is still happy news for me.

And my face.

Just not for my children. Or their future.

Furthermore, I have a large bump on the side of my face. It is not a pimple. It is not a bug bite of any kind.

It is a “you’re face is already puffy and your favorite jeans don’t fit and Donald Trump is the president, so let’s just add a giant growth to the side of your face to add insult to injury” kind of bump.

Just kidding about Donald Trump. I don’t write about politics.

Not kidding about Betsy.

Or my neck.

We have a new member at club fitness who also happens to be a talented Chiropractor. We will call her Dr. Kate.

Because that’s her name.

Evidently she finds it distracting to see me training with a giant pain patch on my neck so she has taken me under her wing and pampered me and loved me.

And she cares that my neck hurts.

She even put an afghan on my feet during treatments.

Because I was cold.

Which, since I’m already on a Alexander’s having a very bad, horrible, rotten no-good kind of day, theme, I should just tell you that I’m always cold.

Until I’m not.

Until my Mother, God rest her soul, wait—

She’s not dead. 😉

Until my Mother, God bless her heart, projected onto my sister and me the worst peri-menopausal symptoms in the history of the world. And I think it secretly brings her joy.

Well, just joy. She’s not so secret about it. Evidently she doesn’t think we gave her enough sympathy during the Big-M days.

Afghan. Cold. Yes.

I’m always cold.

Until I’m not. Until I’m a raving lunatic, opening windows, shedding well beyond what would be considered an appropriate level of clothes—

Yes, until I’m not.

So. I was going to wrap this up all nice and everything.

That’s my thing, right? But I got nothin’.

Maybe I should  at least end with the acknowledgment that these are all  something I like to call 1st-world problems.

Meaning I’m fully aware that there are bigger issues right now than my jeans with a busted zipper.

Bigger as in the giant bump on my face that is not a pimple.

 

Just kidding.

Bigger as in hard.

Come, Lord Jesus, hard.

I don’t think the Lord is asking me to go out and change the world today which is good because I’m really tired.

Today I’m gonna pray for those of us who are suffering. For those of us who could not imagine the luxury of an entire afternoon to just sit around and write about the big ‘ol pain in their neck.

To sit around and look for pokey objects that might help rid herself of weird bumps.

To sit around with a heating pad and a bag of ice. Not for therapy but just for the massive swings between cold and hot.

It’s not in me today to change the world or even write something eloquently about wanting to change the world. Instead, I’ll remember what Ann Voskamp says.

Thanksgiving precedes the miracle.

And so today I give thanks.

And wait for miracles.

Your. Mine.

Ours.

And if y’all want to pray for my neck, well that’d be OK too.

 

Advertisements

Perfect Timing.

Several weeks ago, it came to me. I’m either gonna write this book.

Or I’m not.

I found out, through a dear friend, about a place specifically designed for writers.

I applied and was accepted.

One week.

Alone.

No children.

No husband.

No training.

One week later, I took a strengths-finder test from Gallup and 4 of my 5 top strengths suggest the following action item:

Scheduling time alone.

I love it when I’m right.

But then.

Everything went wrong.

My dad had a small stroke.

I bought a car. Because it was pretty and I wanted it. And evidently when your dad has a stroke, buying a car is just something that you have to do.

WT*?

My dad had another stroke. Or an extension or something.

I wanted to be in Arkansas.

With my dad.

We took my shiny new (used) car and headed south.

Within 60 miles there were sirens (literally!) and beeps and flashing lights and yada, yada, I still don’t have my car back from the maintenance shop (4 weeks later and an auto-shop and warranty company that can’t seem to agree on anything) and I am reminded of this truth.

You have to look deep inside to know if something or someone is beautiful. The shiny red coat does not tell the full story.

We drove back to Nebraska. For one day.

I wanted to be back with my dad.

We got a rental. A rental that the car company was supposed to pay, but, wait, no it was the warranty company that was supposed to pay, no wait!

Myra Katherine, you must pay. 🙂

And by Myra Katherine, I of course mean Mike.

No problemo! Not like I just bought a new car or anything.

And, again, by new I mean used.

We went back to Arkansas. Because that’s what I wanted to do.

The pattern in my life lately is just, ya know, doing what I want to do.

I returned to Nebraska. Still no car.

And it’s not so much that the car needs repair it’s the sinking feeling that nothing’s actually happening. That my car has been abandoned in some work-shop parking lot and oh wait.

That is actually what’s happening.

I’m not going to call out the dealership. God calls us to “be at peace with all men” so far as it is possible.

And so I’m trying.

Dang. They should really be happy that of the 50 or so scriptures I know by heart, the whole keep at peace with others is one of them.

I’ll admit, though that keeping peaceful hasn’t been easy and on two occasions the “Cindy” in me might have surfaced.

After the first Cindy, I was offered a loaner.

(My mother (aka Cindy) is the strongest woman I know,  and we tease her but my sister and I are ever grateful that we inherited a small portion of her moxie and  strength!!)

After the second Cindy, nothing much happened, but I suspect they won’t be calling me sweetheart again any.

Time.

Soon.

Seriously. This is 2016. I may be an idiot for buying a car from you, but I’m sure as hell not your sweetheart.

Praise be to God for that.

Anyway. A few things going on, which brings me to—

Perfect timing.

Right? I’ve been to Arkansas twice this month, took a trip to NYC (for my Mother and Dad who had planned, but were obviously unable, to take Coulter. I know. Such a sacrifice. I’m so giving like that! 😉 and I have no car.

So. As you can see, this is the perfect time to leave town.

And yet it has to be. This is the perfect time.

The Lord isn’t surprised by all of this.

He may be completely exhausted with his 44 year-old child who still sees shiny colors and wants what she wants—

Come to think of it, buying a used car is a little like the gross chocolates you get at valentines. So pretty and then you bite into it and there’s this pink goo.

Evidently, my engine is full of pink valentine goo.

For the record, my husband doesn’t buy me gross chocolates.

Good grief. This blog wasn’t supposed to be about my car.

It’s about my dad.

Nurses and therapists would come in. No-one looks their best in a hospital gown and my dad was no exception. Plus, he’d had a stroke so it was their job to see what all was going on inside.

They would take him through a series of cognitive tests. After a day or so, he started answering their questions before they even got in the door.

He gave me his bank account numbers from memory to pay a few on-line bills and when asked the following scenario,  “Mr. Hale, if you were to wake up at 1 minute before 8 a.m. and remember that you had a meeting across town at 8 a.m., what would you do?”, well. She had stumped him.

He looked at the therapist for minute and said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you because that’s never gonna happen.

My dad on day 2 did not look like a shiny red car, but rest assured.

There was no pink goo on the inside.

Tomorrow I’m leaving. Because it’s the perfect time to leave.

It’s the perfect time to write a book.

It’s not a vacation.

It’s an opportunity.

A gift.

I’m locking myself in a room with my Lord and my computer and we’re gonna see what He has to say.

I covet your prayers.

albert

 

 

 

 

Happy-ish Birthday

I’m kind-of over happy.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want you to wish me a happy birthday.

Please.

I’m just over needing to feel happy.

On my birthday or any other day. I’ve decided happy was never the point.

Never the aim of Christ.

I have finished Jen’s book, “For the Love.”  I want to move to Austin and be her BFF.

Except I have beautiful friends here. Oh, and a husband.

And children.

Who, today are gone. Thus my being over the whole need to be happy thing.

*I kinda wanna tell you that I’ve given up a rather huge holiday every year because it falls on their Dad’s birthday. But if I told you that, and told you again how my kids are gone today, my birthday, then I would get sad.

And probably a little bit mad.

And nobody wishes anyone an angry birthday.

“Angry birthday, Myra Katherine!”

Plus I don’t like fireworks.

Fun-hater. I know.

Midwesterners love fireworks.

Love them. I’ve seen regular-ol people spend more on a night of sparkly fun then I make in an entire year.

So, while I feel very righteous and sanctimonious (I think I feel sanctimonious. I need to look that word up.), the truth is I know my kids will have more fun with their Dad.

On his birthday. Which just happens to be a major holiday.

With fireworks.

Anyway, the book. I finished it last night while pretending to watch football with my husband.

We had my birthday dinner at 4:30 so we could be home for kick-off. (My idea. He totally insisted he didn’t need to see the first kick-off. I am smarter than that. And I have no desire to be twice-divorced).

(For the Love, I can’t remember the new rule. Period inside the parenthesis or out? Please help.)

The only problem with dinner at 4:30 is that I pretty much looked fantastic and ya know, nobody else in the entire universe eats dinner at 4:30!

Earlier, birthday shopping and Razorback-football-game-day shopping (woo-pig), Mike was in the fancy chair that is reserved for Mothers and Husbands and I was behind the beautiful curtain that actually fully closes (note to Athleta: your curtains are too short. If I can see you, I know you can see me. Stop it. Get new curtains. It’s weird.)

Side note: The biggest differences between Big 10 football and SEC football is that Big 10 fans wear team apparel. Herby Husker t-shirts. Corn-on-the-cob hats. Sparkly N’s. This is the culture (more relaxed) and functional (it is either blazing hot or freeze-your-face-off cold.) And SEC fans, dress.

You many not be able to afford next month’s rent, and eating that week is optional, but you will be sporting a new game-day ensemble.

Ensemb. As Emma Claire would say.

She also says, “Totes. Adorbs.”

Jesus, help us. Mike is threatening to move to the garage.

Dressing Room. I hear this super high-pitched, “H-hi Mike.”

I have ninja ears. I got so tickled. Someone was way surprised to run into my husband in a women’s dressing room.

I don’t blame her. I can just imagine the feeling. Dang-it!! Why did I wear this herby husker t-shirt. Of all the days!

I tried on 2 or 3 more things. Added shoes. A belt. A purse. Cover the shoulders. Off the shoulders. Wrap it all up. Undress-re-dress. And this woman never came back out of the dressing room.

Does anyone else think this is weird? Maybe she’s a ninja too.

A ninja who apparently, at some point way long ago, had gone out with my husband.

Bless her heart.

I can’t remember what I planned to write about? Oh.

Jen’s book. What?

I am not obsessed.

The absolute funniest line in the book is not a line at all. It’s letters. Poking fun at something I have long poked-fun at.

(I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with at. DQ friends, ask my Mother where something is at. I dare you.

Or my sister. Or my cousins. Or my aunts. Or anyone who is anyway related to my Grandmother Pearl.

Between the a and the t.)

But you can see how we would immediately be BFF’s, yes? When you make fun of the same things.

The letters.

WWAVD? What would Ann Voskamp do?

I realize that you need to read Ann’s books and Jen’s books for this to be funny, but if you don’t have time for that (and you should so make time for that) then you’ll have to take my word for it.

It’s funny stuff.

She tells a fantastic story of awesome (read: not awesome) parenting and ends the chapter with:

TWJHWD.

That’s what Jen Hatmaker would do.

This is funny because Christians are obsessed with WWJD? And I’ve always thought that was the dumbest thing (no offense if you have the bumpersticker) ever.

I think I’ve written this before. We don’t ever, ever, ever, have to wonder what Jesus would do.

We have an entire History book that is true and living and it tells us what Jesus did.

He would do what He did do.

 

For the Love.

I can’t quit saying that.

Bless my heart.

 

I just noticed that I have a text. What?  It’s 6:00 a.m.

11:39 p.m. Last night.

“Happy Happy Birthday.”

That’s two happy’s

 

Raising a son who thinks to send his mom a text at 11:39 at night? Raising a son who remembers his moms birthday that late? Raising a son who was still awake at 11:30 p.m. and is so gonna be in so much trouble.

Kidding.

Not kidding.

My lil guy. My heart.

Perhaps it’s gonna be a happy birthday after all.

 

 

Settling.

Compromise.

That’s my word today.

Compromise is good. Compromise is necessary.

Compromise is understanding and listening and finding a way.

You know what else it is?

Settling and conceding and “accepting standards that are lower than is desirable.” (dictionary of some sort when you google compromise).

Compromise.

When do you do it? When is compromise life-giving, and soul-feeding, and relationship-building?

And when is it crushing, life-sucking, light-extinguishing yuk.

I couldn’t think of another word except yuk.

That’s the thing about words. Sometimes you grab hold of a sparkly word like BLESS! And sometimes you think of YUK.

I have compromised and I have defended the compromise and I have excused the compromise and I have celebrated the compromise.

And I have, more times than I’d care to acknowledge, accepted standards that were lower than desirable.

Far lower.

When it’s not give and take and it’s only take—that’s not compromise.

That’s wall-flower. I have paid my dues on the wall.

Sitting down. Staying back.

Yesterday Emma Claire wanted something. Needed something.

It was an emergency, y’all! Life was crashing in and panic ensued in the “I’m an impassioned and precious 8-year-old girl and my every need must be met” kind of a way.

But then she paused and there was an earth-shattering surprise.

She softened. She offered another suggestion. (I know, right? I’m thinking it was my super calm reaction and awesome parenting).

🙂

“Perfect!” I said. “What a good compromise!”

I’ll be 44 on Sunday.

Have I mentioned this?

And slowly, the Lord is teaching (well, more like slowly I am learning,) what it means to make a good compromise.

And likewise, what it means to do the hard thing and refuse compromise. Refuse a life “settled for.” To stand-up against  “standards that are lower than desirable.”

Nichole Nordeman sings, “Why did I take this vow of compromise?

Why did I settle?

And why do I continue to find myself there. Here. In the vow.

As if this is holy work.

It’s not.

The middle ground is not sacred ground.

Jesus did not skirt the middle.

 

And I’m searching for a example of when He compromised.

“Peter, it’s Me. Your Lord. Come on out into the water.”

“Uh, yeah. No thanks. Pretty good here in the boat.”

“Ok, no problem dear Peter. I’ll just walk to you. I don’t want to inconvenience you or make you do one bless-ed thing you don’t want to do.”

Keeping the peace.  Dang middle-child.

Keeping peace is not finding peace.

Keeping peace is not knowing peace.

Jesus says that we must lose our life to save it. Losing is not keeping.

This week I made hard choices.

I did hard things.

And the old demons of failure and rejection and not being good enough or smart enough or anything—

Enough—

Came circling ’round.

But here’s the thing, friends. I’m seeking peace.

I’m no longer seeking to keep it.

Yes?

True peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace.

And here’s what I know today.

It isn’t found in the middle ground. Because no-where in His Word can I find him there.

In the middle.

Yesterday, sitting on the deck with a dear friend, I noticed the first colors of fall.

Fall is coming. And the God who makes all things new is about to put on a grand display of just how beautiful change can be.

Just how beautiful letting go can be.

The leaves will fall and settle and land in the middle.

But I won’t.

 

 

 

 

“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.

8.

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.

Afraid.

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.

Debris.

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.

Ring.

Loudly.

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?

Mopping.

Forgiving.

Hauling.

Forgiving.

Cleaning.

Forgiving.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless!

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.

Bless.

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.

 

Bless.

Anyway.

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.)

Bless.

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).

Bless.

Then something happened.

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

Lovely.

Sincere.

Humble.

Funny. As in hysterical.

Self-deprecating.

Wise.

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.

No.

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

Yes.

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.

Bless!

***********************************************************************

(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! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless.

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.

Anyway.

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.

What?

 

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.

Zero.

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.

Well.

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.

Yes.

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.

Was.

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!

Forever.

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.

Whatever.

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.

WTF?

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.

So.

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

Regardless.

Of whether you read.

Of what you think.

Of what you say.

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

See y’all tomorrow.

Regardless.

 

10 Things You Need to know if Your Children have a Stepmother.

Some One I trust shared this with me. And I’m sharing it with you.

First. This was written by someone who fell in love with a Single Divorced Dad. If your children have a stepmother who broke up your home and tore apart your family, then you have my permission to hate her. Just kidding.

We can’t hate people.

God knows there’s enough of that, already.

Second. This is just one story. It resonates close to my heart, but the Some One who wrote and yours truly who’s sharing, would certainly concede that this is not every story.

So. With that. I share this. 10 things you need to know if your children have a stepmother.

  1. She never wanted to become a stepmother. No little girl grows up, playing dolls while dreaming of becoming a step-anything. Even Disney thinks Stepmoms are wicked. This was not her plan. Which brings me to point #2.
  2. Plans fall apart.
  3. And marriages fall apart. Or are torn apart. Regardless. This. And only this. Is the reason your children have a Stepmother. Because your marriage fell apart.
  4. I have three children.  Two are living. I am their mom. They are my only children.
  5. I do not consider myself a bonus Mom to your children. I think that term is stupid. You children don’t need a bonus mom.
  6. I do love your children, however. Quite a lot. And I’m proud of them. And I’m cheering for them. In life. I’m cheering. And be certain of this. I will always do so and I will be loud.
  7. I don’t have the same emotional attachment to your children as I do to my own and I don’t feel guilty about that. God created a deep and lasting bond between mom and child. Yours is a special relationship. Nothing. Not divorce. Not remarriage. Nothing. Can ever change that.
  8. And while we’re on the subject, I don’t want, have never wanted to change that.
  9. Your children are incredibly loyal. To you. And their Dad. I do not expect  or desire this same loyalty. But know that it’s there. For their Dad. Don’t expect them to hate their Dad simply because you hate me.
  10. I know that you hate me.
  11. Your children need time alone with their Dad.  I respect that. I encourage that. I work hard to ensure that.
  12. Grandchildren. Remember what I said about not having the same emotional attachment to your children? Strangely, it doesn’t apply with Grandchildren. I have two. I am ridiculously, crazy in love with my grand babies .
  13. Your children don’t have to call me their stepmom. I’m their Dad’s wife. And being a Mom and a Wife and a Mimi. Well. It’s enough.

Yes. I know that was #13.  I suck at Math. Therefore I do promise to never  teach your children math. I will leave math to the professionals and parenting to their Dad.

 

Grace for an Ugly Heart

There is this woman.

I look at her some days—

And cringe.

She’s a  fraud.

People think she’s kind, but her heart is black.

She’s  been told she’s attractive.

I can’t imagine why. Nothing about her is attractive.

She is distinctly unattractive.

She has friends.

Amazing ones.

They must not know. Must not see.

She has clients. Who hire her. Trust her. Follow her.

They must not know. Must not see.

Don’t they know she’s a fraud?

That her heart is full of pride and bitterness?

Can’t they see that she blames everything on everyone else?

That she’s entitled and manipulative and jealous?

People probably think she’s a good mom, too.

 

She tries.

I’ll give her that.

She tries hard. She loves her children.

She fails. But she tries.

She is hot-tempered.

Lord, have mercy is she hot-tempered.

And often acts like a small child.

She can be irrational and Oh. My. Gosh. high maintenance.

Super high.

Tower. Flippin’. High.

A church dress and sephora’s best cannot mask an ugly heart.

And hers can be so ugly.

 

I’m not being too harsh. If if sugar-coat her sinful heart, I sugar-coat her need for Jesus.

I sugar-coat the Cross.

And yet.

There is the cross.

There is Grace.

There is Redemption.

Even for a high-maintence, quick-tempered, jealous, ugly soul like hers.

And because of the Cross. Because of His grace.

Her husband adores her.

He praises her. “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29).

(Which makes this woman smile. Like a little word-play from the Lord, for wife #3).

Her children love her. Even when she gets it wrong, they love her.

“They rise up and call her blessed.” (Proverbs 31:28).

That is crazy. Grace-crazy.

 

Crazy grace that would save a wretch like me.

I used to say it all the time. But had forgotten until this morning.

“I’ve never been here.”

We. Have never been here.

Ann Voskamp wrote that once and it stuck.

We’ve never been here.

As a wife and a mother and a friend and a step and an ex and a business owner and a daughter and a sister.

I.

Have never been here before.

We hear all the time that God’s mercies are new every morning. But here’s what I also know.

They are new. And they are specific.

The mercy we need for today.

So it doesn’t matter.

That we haven’t been here.

He’s go it covered.

Got us covered.

Got me covered.

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: