Raising Magnolias

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

Archive for the tag “Family”

Children: A “reward” of the womb, not a an “award” from a judge

“Only a fool vents his full spirit.”

That’s from proverbs. 29:11

I have a tendency to vent my full spirit and I’m struck by this verse and wondering how to do this right?

For 15 years I didn’t vent my full spirit. I didn’t even recognize my full spirit.

Coulter and Emma Claire’s dad has parenting time for all of June and July. Otherwise known as visitation.

Oh, he must live out of town, you say? He must not see them during the school year?


Regular visitation during the school year too.

And see how well I’m doing? I haven’t even written about it for a full month!

But yesterday was ugly.


After a 12 day vacation, I asked, quite simply if they could stay the night.

With me.

The mom.

And I’m not going to vent my full spirit about it. I’m just going to tell you.

My readers.


And I lay (laid?) in bed—awake—for a full three hours this morning before I had the courage to face the day and then I got hungry, but now I’m back in bed and it’s this word that’s tossing in my head and it’s tossing in my spirit and it’s just this word.


He reminded me, so thoughtfully, so kindly that he had been “awarded” June and July.

It wasn’t an award.

It was a conciliation.

There are no awards handed out for parents who can’t keep their promises.

It’s pretty simple, really.

Saying “I do” to your spouse means saying “I don’t” to, ya know, everyone else.

So instead of venting my full spirit, I thought I would write a letter.

But then I was afraid that writing a letter would sound a whole lot like venting my full spirit so I scratched the letter (which wasn’t hard because WordPress changed their format and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to save a draft or proof a draft and so whatever, the letter is gone.)

Next I decided to google “statistics of children of divorce.”

Then I wanted to burn my computer.

One statistic said that children of divorce have more emotional and psychological damage than children who have lost a parent to death.

No way, you might say.

Yes way. I read the study.

Well, skimmed.

But what it is? What is it that makes divorce harder on a child than death.

And you can’t really compare one loss to another and one grief to another but why?

Ugly hearts.

Mean hearts.

Broken into tiny little pieces, hearts.

OK, so instead of a letter, how bout this? How ’bout a few reminders for divorced parents.

And just to be safe—just to ensure that I don’t spew and vent and get all crazy-momma bear on you, how about I just go to the Word.

His Word.


How bout this?

Children are a gift from the Lord. Not an “award” from a judge.

Children are precious in His sight. Not a pawn for your fight.

Children are a heritage from the Lord. Not a tool for hate.

In first Samuel, I read: “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

When I think about the hours that I have spent in prayer over my children and when I think about the even more countless hours that my prayer warriors have spent in prayer and when I stop to remember God’s faithfulness and his provision and his goodness and his answer that Coulter and Emma Claire were knit together in my womb by God Almighty and the fruit of my womb is a RE-ward not an A-ward and when I stop long enough to listen and remember and I continue reading Proverbs 29:11, I read that a wise man quietly holds it back.

And so I hold.

I mean, it’s kinda like holding one one of those cheap bouncy balls that you get at the pizza place and it slips out of your hands and bounces behind the refrigerator and you can never find it again. I mean, it’s a little bit like that; it’s slippery and fidgety and I struggle and maybe today I’ve already failed,(think I’ll skip the word count so far) but I want to be wise.

And it dawns on me, it doesn’t say anything about being right.

I guess God doesn’t so much get caught up in those stupid games.

And besides. You know what else I read today? And I just love it when the Lord gives me a clear answer, but would love it even more if it was an answer I liked, but for today.

Just this.

Exodus 14:14

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Hold us, Lord and fight.

I Believe. Lord, Help My Unbelief.

Friday night I went to hear a friend sing. I expected a large sanctuary with lights low and dim but what I walked into was a small fellowship hall with flourescent lighting and seats packed-tight.

I only mention the lights because it was Dad’s  Friday night and it was Christmas music and Rachel’s music and yes, I only mention the lights because I knew there would be tears. And there were.

You know, just a few.

Already established— I’m a crier. Also established, not a pretty crier. And did I mention the lights? Bright and flourescent?

Rachel spoke of being the sons and daughters of Christ. Of being adopted into the family of God. She talked about her journey of knowing in her head and knowing in her heart.

It’s a different kind of knowing.

And then she sang.


Time out—did you listen? I will know if you don’t listen!  🙂

Seriously, go back and listen.

She sang, we have all we need. We have all.we.need. And yes Lord, yes, yes ,yes! I know that.

In my head.

But how to find the heart-knowing.

Our Pastor spoke Sunday of Abraham and Isaac and obedience and idols and in the re-telling of the well-known story, he says this of Abraham: “He speaks better than he knows.” He’s referring to when Abraham answers Isaac with, God will provide, but Abraham’s answering for the burnt offering; he’s speaking of the light, of the spark and he doesn’t know that God.Will. Provide.

The lamb.

I shouldn’t even try to retell that because I’m pretty sure I just butchered it yet I think it fits. And today that is me. I speak better than I know.

I have all that I need. Pretty easy to say; to speak.

Harder to live.

A very dear and strange and beautiful friend of mine used to say, “fake it till you make it.”  He was spiritual and deep and a little on the new-agey side. He had this  massage parlor and I can remember all these candles and incense and crystals and he was like no other person that I’ve ever known and I smile out loud when I remember him. (Did you know you can smile “out loud”? ‘Cause you can). And as strange as I thought he was, I think he was equally baffled by me. He thought I was judgy (is that a word?) and uptight (can’t imagine where he got that idea) and one day he said to me that I should get a massage—you know,  to help me become more “body aware” as I competed for Miss America. Uhm, heck no!  Not from him; not from anyone….I mean I wouldn’t even let the college boys touch me (not that any were trying, whatever) but  I sure as heck-o-la wasn’t going to pay for a massage so someone could find all my cushy, wobbly bits.

Wait, that sounded so wrong and why am I even telling this story? Oh, yes, he thought I was uptight.

No, that wasn’t it. I mean, I am uptight. But I’m working on it.

Working to let go.

I even used “wth” in a note to my attorney the other day as part of my new “look how un-uptight I am” policy and I thought he would be so proud of me and instead he wrote back and said—

“I don’t know what ‘wth’ means.”

So I’m guessing that I used it wrong. Anyway.

OK, seriously,why the story?  Oh, wait, now I remember. This friend of mine, who passed far too young, would have these words; these knowing words and he had mastered the heart-knowing and he would send me notes that would say, simply, “Shine” or “Sparkle” or “Fake it till you make it.”

And I wish he knew how many times during the past year, I’ve had to fake it until I made it.

And I am making it.

If you think about it, it’s actually quite biblical. Well, sorta. 

“I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.” ( Mark 9:14-27)

I have Jesus. My children have Jesus. We have all we need.

I believe. But, just in case Lord, help my unbelief. Help me fake it until You make it what you want it to be; fake it until You make me what you want me to be.

Fake it until what’s in my head find its way into my heart.

I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.

Walking the Planks

So today was flu shot day. I would tell you that I had completely forgotten about flu shots, but that would obviously make me a terrible mother, so I will tell you assuredly, I did not forget about flu shots. Like any devoted mom, I delayed them as long as possible for the sake of my children.

And so we went. And I don’t do the trick thing. I say we are doing this. And it’s gonna hurt.

But only for a second.

We arrive at the clinic and several other devoted moms were there lining children, one by one; completing forms, two by two; and we are reassuring and we are loving and we are—


Bysounds horrific and loud and full of panic and they were the sounds of a child.


It was a movie. For five long minutes. Surreal. I looked at my children; at all of the children. Waiting, faces, ghost-white and frightened and I look at them lovingly, showing concern for their hearts beating fast and I—

Burst out laughing. Giggling, shaking, laughing, like I can. not. stop. The other moms look at me with horror. The nurses glance and I am telling you.

I could not quit laughing.

It was like a year-long release of tension and fear and anger and anxiety and maybe I wanted to be that kid, yelling at the top of his lungs, but grown-ups can’t yell. At least not in a clinic. At least not in a room full of children.

And so we laugh.

And all of a sudden, there were other nurses, different nurses, other screams, yes different ones and I was back in the maternity wing  and we were being ushered around by our “how to have a baby” teacher and I’m remembering how huge I was and remembering how people would say, “Oh you are so cute. You are just carrying that baby all up front” and how they were lying, sweet, precious liars because I am remembering and I am seeing pictures and I know I carried that baby everywhere. He was in my face and my hips and my tush and, oh thank heavens for all the sweet little liars, but we are walking and yes there are screams. You could hear the sounds of total agony echoing from the newly remodeled rooms and I looked at my husband and I thought—

“Well, that’s that. This baby’s stayin’ in”‘

Well first, I thought, why in the heck-o-la did they bring us here? Such not a good idea.

And then I thought, yep, baby’s stayin’ put because I am not. doing. that. That, you know, whatever that is that is causing the screaming.

But the baby came out. Two of them, in fact and without drugs. I’m not some crazy no-drug person, I’m just some crazy-don’t like the idea of someone sticking a foot-long needle into my spine person.

So anyway, I was laughing and yes I had this moment right there in the middle of a flu shot clinic and these moments are important and they make up our lives and they are the ones that remind us of  the better; they remind us of the joy and in this really messed up way, the poor kid screaming, wrestling, fighting, kicking made me happy.

Ann Voskamp says, “We can walk the planks of trust from known to unknown and know. He holds.”

And so here in this clinic, here today, I remember. I remember the better. I remember that He is faithful and that He held me during labor and He held my parents as they waited word on their baby,  and He held them when they were refused information and refused welcome and yes, I can list the ways of His faithfulness and I can walk the planks and it’s good to remember and it’s good to laugh and there is grace in flu shots and frightened children.

And frighened Mommies.

My children were brave. Stickers in hand, we head out for ice cream. And once upon a time, I remember that their Mommy was brave (and very fat and thankful for liars), and it’s a both-and.

Being brave doesn’t mean we’re not scared. It means we face the fear.

We walk the planks.

When There Are No Words

Somedays there are no words. No understanding. No great revelations or laugh-worthy mentionings (wait,  I don’t even think that’s a word.) And so here I am.

Making up words. Because somedays. There are no words.

The are questions. There is How? and Why? and What If? and no seriously, How? and Why? and What the    ?

Just kidding. I don’t say that word.

My mom texted me yesterday and said “Please call when you get a chance.”

And I texted back. “I don’t want to, but thanks anyway.”

And then I deleted it and texted back. “Sure thing.”

Because somedays there are no words. And it’s hard to talk and it’s hard to write and  that’s when you go to the Word and that’s when you go for a walk.

Emma Claire tight-bundled in her super-soft Christmas blanket. Coulter hooded up in Under Armour and shorts because that’s all he’ll wear and Tiger trying mightily to break free from the strains of being leashed.

And we head out.

And it’s not pretty. Tiger’s leash gets stuck in the stroller.

Messy-tangled, I sit on the sidewalk half-convinced that we’ll never get home.

But victory of victories, it comes free.

And then…

Emma Claire’s blanket gets caught in the stroller. I don’t notice the gradual dropping, lower, lower until WHAM! The stroller stops short and I go flying and Emma Claire goes flying and Tiger, un-leashed at last goes free-running.

Coulter turns back and looks at us as if he’s 37 instead of just 7, his eyes pleading as if to say, “Seriously, what am I going to do with y’all?”

But he doesn’t say a word. He turns on his heels and together, out little band of three, yes together, we untangle Christmas trees and ornaments and we brush off dirt and we brush off leaves and we wipe off tears and—

We catch the dog.

And then I look up.


The sky bursting and mingling and telling a story of so much God in our little piece of sky and it was a picture from the heavens.

A picture of hope.

Because somedays. There just aren’t any words.

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