Just Maybe…

I am so thankful for my Mom.

Her heart and wisdom impact every one who crosses her path. She wrote her thoughts about this pandemic and it’s definitely worth sharing. The next time we’re able to all be together is going to look and feel much different… thank you mom. ~ Laura

The Pandemic

After about 6 weeks of sheltering in place and social distancing for this Covid-19 virus…. reading and seeing it take over our local and national news and social media every single day…. seeing how people react – from “yes, I’ll do my part and all I can to help in this effort” – all the way to “This is a Chinese conspiracy” or “I’ll take my chances, and need to be working. If more people die, so be it.” And, of course, the politics.

The FB group “View From My Window” has given me a whole new perspective.  First of all, this is a GLOBAL event.  Our entire planet Earth is dealing with the same issues – the pandemic, separation, death, unemployment, parents having to school their kids (and put up with their disrespect, bad manners, and entitled attitudes – with no one to blame but themselves), not being able to see loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals, missing our families and friends, the brave front-line workers making huge sacrifices for their communities, no eating out or a simple day of shopping…not to mention the economic effects of it all. Did all the leaders in every other country screw up, too?…  Even though we now know it was spreading everywhere before anyone had a clue (except maybe China?).

But, in any case, here we are in the midst of it all…. and what are we learning?  How is our world going to change?  Will we come out of this as a new and improved human race, or will it eventually pass as we get on with our usual lives?

Maybe there are huge lessons to be learned here. Not only in the medical field, but in every aspect of human life.

Maybe Mother Earth needed a rest to restore our rivers, oceans, the air we breathe, our cities that never sleep, the ozone layer, our wildlife… and our very souls.

Maybe huge companies needed to realize that people can be responsible and productive enough to work from home with all the wonderful technology we’ve developed – instead of jamming the freeways in a mad rush to and from a huge building every single day, and therefore needing more freeways, more buildings and more cars.

Maybe we needed to realize that we can actually do without expensive designer clothes and accessories and plastic surgery to look “perfect.”  We can go a little longer between hair and nail appointments – actually even do our own nails sometimes, and not worry about being made-up all the time. Maybe we needed to learn that we can get by with less – and to appreciate when we have more.

Maybe families needed a break from the rush and hustle of getting kids up and out the door to school every morning, to all their activities, and finally back home just in time for a fast-food dinner, homework & bedtime.  Maybe some parents needed to actually have to face the consequences of not teaching their kids respect, manners, and a decent work-ethic – because they have to put up with them all day, and they can’t blame the teacher or the school any more. 

Maybe we all just needed to slow down, take time to enjoy the “view from our window” and count our blessings, enjoy the simple things in life… instead of missing out on the “now” because we’re constantly thinking of “what’s next?”

Maybe we just needed a wake-up call to really appreciate the people we depend on every day and take for granted like medical  personnel, first responders, teachers, truck drivers, grocery workers,  fitness instructors, day-care providers, restaurant workers, farmers, hair stylists, manicurists, cleaning services, and small business owners,  many of whom barely make a living, even in good times. Maybe we also needed to realize how much our folks in nursing homes need us, our presence, our personal touch.  And our extended family and friends… how much we need that contact… and hugs!

Maybe we needed to be reminded how important it is to live within your means…and have some funds stashed away for an emergency (or a pandemic).

Maybe we all needed to learn how important cleanliness is… and personal space,  raising kids to be good people, and caring enough about each other to make some personal sacrifice for the greater good.

Maybe the whole world just needed to stop, take a deep breath, and remember to be thankful.

Namaste

~ Pam McGregor

Andrea McClain | Photographer

Expecting a tiny miracle soon? This gal is the baby whisperer with a camera-in-hand! She just became a Mommy herself and has her own little model, to dress up and create albums upon albums of chubby-cheek bliss!

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time, patience, perfect props, soft hands and gentle nudging to capture those oh-so-precious moments. From bundled up newborn toes, to the first spring in the tulips – she knows exactly how to freeze these moments in time that we get to experience just once. They always say “don’t blink” – that phrase couldn’t be more true.

I have known Andrea McClain for several years now and have watched her bloom into such an amazing, creative, self-taught artist. As if babies are not adored enough already, she has the magic touch to create the treasured images that you’ve been thinking about since the day you saw the pregnancy test was positive. You know it’s true. Peek at her website for more “oohs” & “awwes”….

http://www.andreamcclainphoto.com

Granny’s Fork

She had a remarkable spirit about her, that demanded your attention just by sharing the same oxygen in a room. Her laugh was the absolute best – boisterous, contagious and traveled straight to your heart. Flaming red hair, the best storyteller, full of wisdom but always with a few choice words. She stood as our rock and fearless leader, the place to turn when there wasn’t anywhere else to go, or even when there was. Everybody has one. She was ours and we called her Granny.

Sorting through the memories burned in my mind – First, I’m in her closet trying on her heels. She always caught me. As a small child if I went missing you could always find me near the shoes. She dressed sharp and heels were the finishing touch – and they ruined her feet is what I think she always said.

Her condo was orderly and put together. It contained all the things a “Granny’s” home should have. The velour autumn scenic couch, and the large buffet against the wall was where the plastic apples always lived. Good grief those apples have been through hell and back, but are still just as pretty. The drawing paper was inside the buffet drawers – fresh new legal pads, always ready for a masterpiece. I can see the round, brown table – It was near the bay window covered in white gauze curtains. Under that table is where we created the best Barbie showdowns and endless wardrobe changes. On Sundays she took care of her manicure at that table and that could have been my favorite part of us visiting.  You must trim your cuticles, and always buff after filing.

I remember she was always put together so sharp. Her makeup routine was very serious and meticulous. When she came to visit, she had the hard suitcase, and the black rectangle makeup box. It lived in the bathroom during her stay and I would peek inside to see what all was in this magical beauty box she carried. It even had a distinct smell. Maybe it was the fragrance from the makeup, or maybe even the musty age of the box – it just smelled like Granny’s makeup box to me.

Her visits to us during the holidays were mostly full of creating the nostalgic recipes and sharing the techniques so one day we could handle it on our own. We still have not figured out how much sage goes in the dressing or how much miracle whip to put on the bread for a leftover turkey sandwich. Ever made yourself that same dang sandwich but strangely it tastes so much better when Mama makes it? Some things just can’t be recreated no matter how hard we try.

As the years did what they do to the ones we love, Granny’s duties became lighter and eventually we just asked her to make the pies and show up. I think that’s the year my mom, my sisters and I whipped the meringue all day but never got that stuff to rise. Granny burned the pies but sure enough she did show up with a few from Kroger. Oh, if you want the peaks on the meringue those eggs need to be room temperature and for heavens sake don’t use a plastic bowl.

She passed her antics down to all of us. We inherited the love for Days of our Lives with Hope, Bo and Stefano. That man must have died a hundred times or more but we kept watching anyway. We inherited two stepping and honky-tonking – all of us that came after her have danced a million miles at the Reo Palm Isle in Longview Texas. We might have a nickname as “Hound Dogs” but we can talk about that part later. Further than the antics, we also share diamonds from Aunt Sue’s ring, but most importantly she passed down a love that never knew boundaries.

Granny’s days have ended and my goodness I wish we’d kept more of her “stuff”. I don’t know where the makeup box landed but I wish I had it. Mom has always had the buffet, plastic apples, and – the fork.

Yes, a fork. It’s an old fork. It’s silver but tarnished and has a specific engraving that makes it Granny’s fork. We don’t serve a dish at Thanksgiving before stirring it with Granny’s fork. It means she is with us. When I see the fork it takes me back to the little girl hiding in the closet trying on heels. I see her huge smile and that laugh.

Sure, pass down the big heavy stuff like buffets, and furniture, or timeless items like plastic apples and quilts. Don’t overlook the little trinkets from the past that take you back to a special place and face.

Through the years of traveling with the fork, it lives with me now. This morning after breakfast, washing the fork took me back there and led me to share my thoughts here. What will your fork remind your tribe of?

XOXO,

Stepping Stones

Irony? Coincidence? Luck?

What do you think?

How many times have you looked back on chapters of your life to see the “ah-ha” moments, where the stars aligned to make sense? You finally see the purpose in the valley you were in, which is much easier to see from the mountain top, right? Actually, it’s the only place you’ll see it! There is a peaceful comfort, when looking back to see how God strategically joined pieces of my life, where I jumped from one stone to the next, in perfect rhythm. One stone could not happen without the one before it, and on and on. Sometimes one stone was about to sink in the sand, just when the next one popped up. Some painful, some pleasant – they each have purpose.

The same way I’ve wanted to be a runner, a morning person, have the confidence and bravery of a public speaker – I’ve also always wanted to be one of those “readers”.

I want to love books. Well, I actually do love them. I buy them, but I don’t read them. I just look at them and think about reading them one day. I’ve even got the cutest magnetic bookmarks ready to do their job, and a few special shelves at home where these books live, just waiting on the breakthrough. I feel terrible for the books, just wasting space and collecting dust. My mom always feels awful for the last green bean in the can that gets tossed into the trash – same level of sadness here. We all want a purpose – even the last green bean and the dusty books!

I’m in a Facebook fitness group with some amazing women. We’re a community of chicks just encouraging each other, sharing recipes, workouts, and life stuff – in a safe place. You must admit, big Facebook world can be scary. Some of the chicks are “readers’ who share their personal development books – then of course I buy the books they talk about, to add to my dusty collection. Our fitness coach tossed out a challenge a few months ago, to drink a gallon of water in a day – I gladly accepted. While drinking a gallon of water that also means a gallon of going to the bathroom. While out running errands, the nearest potty was at Barnes & Noble. As I was leaving the book store bathroom I passed by the end cap where all the best sellers are displayed, and stopped to scan for more books that I will never read. I picked one up, read the back, sounded great, and put it under my arm to hold onto. Picked up the next one by the same author, sounded great so I grabbed it too. The potty break at the book store ended up costing me about 30 life-changing-bucks.

I decided to give these books a chance. The first one was Love Does by Bob Goff. The next morning I got up early, flipped on the fireplace, grabbed the book, “Bruther” (sweet-mean-dog), our favorite fuzzy blanket and actually started to read. It was a surreal moment, “who am I”? It was almost comical – kind of felt like playing dress up – at 43 instead of 4, it was still kind of fun, but so weird. I was reading, on purpose, early in the morning, and it wasn’t a book about Sales from my boss.

Side note: Before this particular day, the only other book I had ever finished (sorry boss!) was The Notebook, in 2004, on an exercise bike with tears streaming down my face. I kept peddling because I could easily disguise the tears as sweat, and it was just-that-good! Anyway, as I began to read Love Does by the fire – I could not put the book down. My dreadful mornings of lying in bed with lists swarming in my head, had turned into being excited to get out of bed and read this book. I finished Love Does, and went straight into the next one, Everybody Always. Same connection. Same love. Same Bob.

One quick second…Who is Bob Goff anyway? Glad you asked….

“Bob Goff is the New York Times Best-Selling Author of Love Does, as well as an attorney who founded Love Does, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. Bob is a sought after speaker for leadership, church and university events, inspiring current and future influencers to get to the “do” part of life. Choosing to live audaciously, Bob connects to audiences in a powerfully inspirational, yet down to earth manner. Love Does has now been translated into ten languages!” (bio from PremierSpeakers.com)

Bob’s books are stories of his own experiences in life, of everyday normal things – that turn extraordinary when the view finder is flipped. He writes to express how simple it is to find Jesus, in everyday junk – showing love in ways that Jesus did, and loving types of people like Jesus did. I crave true stories, true struggles, and true victories. I want to fill the space in my head with things of real value where I’ll grow, learn, become better and maybe even pass it on to others who come behind me. Iron sharpens Iron – and this is where I find the magic in reading books about life stuff that genuinely matters. Bob Goff’s plain cover, no frills, simply written books – were the perfect gift I never knew I needed, all from that gallon of water challenge from my “stepping stone” friend, the fitness coach from Facebook.

Once I had finished Bob’s 2 books, I then read Sweet Maria’s book (Bob’s wife), Love Lives Here – which was equally amazing. What’s next? Aside from Bob needing to write more, I was now very intrigued with this early morning stuff. I had shocked myself to say the least… Girlfriend, let’s keep going! Next I started reading Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – another game changer! I’m now realizing at this age how many great books and a wealth of information I’ve missed out on. I simply can’t get enough.

Being a new super-Bob Goff fan, with red cape and all, I’d find myself scrolling on social media seeing his speaking events and conferences all over the country, day dreaming of when and how I could attend. I had a thought to contact our pastor at church, and plant the seed about this Bob guy and how he’d be a great speaker for one of our services. Nah, there is no way. Bob is a really big deal, probably too big for Argyle, TX. Fast forward a few weeks – I’m scrolling and see that Facebook has suggested an event that I might be interested in, “Bob Goff, at Cross Timbers Church in Argyle, TX”. WHAT? Yes. It’s true. I didn’t’ take another breath before I had recruited my family for attendance, made our dinner plans for the night of the event, had husband committed to arrive early for front row seats, and planned my outfit. I couldn’t contain how excited I was – we talked about it each day leading up to the event, I even emailed Bob – yes I said I emailed Bob. He wrote back….

“Hi Laura!
What a beautiful note. You’ve got a knack for words. I wonder if there’s words inside you that needs to get out of you? Honest. Give it some thought. I’m so honored to be part of this adventure you’re on. Keep loving people the way Jesus did. I can tell you’re good at it! ….Bob Goff, Chief Balloon Inflator”

That’s one of many, really cool stepping stone stories. I don’t know what your trials are, and you don’t know mine (well, you might soon), but I do know that God knows what he’s doing and it’s always His plan not ours. This is a silly story about an author who touched my heart, but the story has a purpose, way bigger than me. Keep moving forward, one stepping stone at a time. It will change your life, even in the valleys. Oh yeah, read the books, and drink more water, a gallon if you can.

XOXO,

For what is in a Name?

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 13, on a van full of tweens headed to church camp. It was hot, the boys smelled awful but they sure were cute. I had my eyes on one of the smelly boys and was dying inside just wondering if he was going to sit by me, touch my elbow or maybe even make eye contact on the van.

It was 1990 and – you guessed it – More Than Words was just released by the band Extreme, and we sang it from the top of our lungs all the way there, and all the way back – probably from a cassette single on a Sony Walkman. That was 30 years ago, and the song still stirs my heart every time I hear it. Today it means much more than it did on that smelly church van in 1990.

We’ve played this song quite a bit over the years and it’s always just stuck around, with the kids too. I’d always talk about why I love it, what it means, and I hoped me sharing it with them was stitching the same meaning on their hearts.

Fast forward to March 1st 2019 – the baby girl turned 18. The best idea we could come up with was “tattoo shop”. When your kids ask to get matching tattoos with mom, you just do it – or at least I did. It’s not the first time we’ve had multiple generations at the tattoo shop and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

For our tattoo field trip, we had bounced around several ideas on what to get. So many options, and truly meaningful ones! When I said “more than words” – we all took a nano second to agree and that’s all she wrote – pun intended. We permanently inked this on our bodies, because it means so much. It’s a reminder to live life out loud, with actions and not just words. If my children want to carry this torch into their adult lives, and wear it proudly matching their Mama, I’m all in.

“More than words is all you have to do to make it real,
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me…
‘Cause I’d already know…”

Welcome to my Blog | More Than Words | live life out loud

XOXO,

I’d like to Introduce Myself…

Hey there, I’m Laura – nice to meet you. Isn’t that the obligatory introduction for a brand-new blog? Ok great, I got that part right! As you keep reading, here is the full disclaimer – I have no idea what I’m doing. Ha! – It’s a billion percent true! I have a passion for writing and that’s where all of this started. I decided, for my family’s sake, I’d put the writing to better use. I am a master at creating beautifully written emails and texts, on how this-or-that went down, and how to fix it, and then how to prevent it from happening again, or maybe even a “how deep is thy love” novel. If it’s that good, you can bet it’s getting sent! This blog will be a great outlet. The family is probably fist bumping now….

I’m just going to keep typing and see where this thing goes. No goals here on becoming a Rachel Hollis, it’s just going to be a hobby and FUN! I love life, all the lessons, all the growing, all the love and all the craziness in between. I love deep and I hurt deep. Writing makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and if my words can make a sweet connection with another soul, we’ll build our own community, write about it, join arms and get through this life together.

I’ve lived in Texas all my life, (but ya’ll I’m gonna get to traveling)! I am married to the most selfless man on the planet, with two amazing kiddos, who are both doing their own thing at 19 and 21 – figuring out which path to take, which is so very cool to watch (and scary!). We’re new at empty nesting so that’s very wonderful and awful at the same time.

I have the greatest day job ever – I sell new construction homes in Denton, TX for Trendmaker Homes. It’s a career I never expected would be in front of me and has been the most amazing blessing sent straight from Heaven.

Speaking of Heaven, I love Jesus. I don’t know all the Bible stories, can’t quote all the verses, and sometimes I skip church – but I love Jesus. I’m always learning, growing and digging deeper in faith. The empty nesting chapter has a way of making that faith a lot stronger. I need Him and I trust Him.

Guys – thanks for reading this far! I’m just going to type and see what happens… It would be an honor having you along for the ride….

XOXO,