Archives for February 2015

Full Of Newly Discovered Swagger

First of all, y’all are awesome. I can’t thank you enough for your sweet comments on the last post.

Second of all, I may be on the verge of a serious, life-changing obsession.

It all started innocently enough. A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out how to post pictures with words on them (does that make sense?) (I feel like there’s an easier way to say that.) on Instagram. It seemed like a good way to get the word out about pre-orders and free stuff and book signings, so one night I sat down with my photo collage app on my phone and figured out how to get words on there. It didn’t necessarily look that great, but it worked in a pinch, and I was sort of proud of myself because WELCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY, MAMAW – WE CAN PUT WORDS ON PICTURES NOW.

So today I started wondering where people are getting their very beautiful / stylized quotes that they’re putting on the Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / Facebook / Facerest / Pinbook / Instatwit, so I opened the app store on my phone and typed “put quotes on pictures” or something equally eloquent. I came up with InstaQuote, and in no time I’d made this little number.

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I don’t know when I’ve ever felt fancier.

Honestly, I felt a little weird putting something I wrote on there, but it seemed like a good alternative to “WORDS GO HERE” or “I AM WRITING WORDS ON TOP OF PICTURES AND OTHER BACKGROUNDS.”

For the rest of the day I continued to think about what other little signs (printables? Instagrams? I do not know the lingo) I could make, and then, late this afternoon, several people on Twitter said that I should try out an app called Word Swag. Of course I immediately downloaded it since I do pretty much every single thing the internet tells me to do.

And OH MY GOODNESS. I had no idea that words could have quite that much swag. After supper tonight I probably spent a solid hour on that app, and I think it’s safe to say that I got a little carried away.

I feel like it’s opened up a whole new creative outlet. You know, the creative outlet where I pretend like I’m a deeply gifted graphic designer but in sort of paint-by-numbers way.

And finally, there are two critical pieces of information I need to share.

Melanie’s second (and very hilarious) book, The Antelope in the Living Room, is a free eBook this week. You can find it at Amazon, BN.com, christianbook.com, iBooks, etc. and so on and so forth. FREE AMERICAN DOLLARS. There’s a story in this book about one time when Mel’s husband had to speak at a wedding, and it makes me laugh so hard that I can only read it in small doses. Read a little bit. Laugh my head off. Breathe. Read a little bit. Laugh my head off. Breathe. The whole book is a delight.

Also.

Dave Barnes’ new EP is out today, and if there was ever a time to treat yourself, THIS IS IT. This music is so beautiful, y’all. We can’t stop listening to it in our house. The EP is called Hymns for Her, and it’s gorgeous, confident, honest, and vulnerable. You don’t want to miss it.

Hope y’all have a great day.

Love,
Mamaw
aka
MamawSwag

The Joys Of Home & Yoga Pants & Forever Friends

I had big plans to wake up early this past Thursday and hit the road for my book signing in Jackson, but for whatever reason I could not get my act together. I was trying to wrap up an article I’d been working on, and by the time I showered and dressed and picked up my friend Marion from her daddy’s house (seriously – it was like we were 16 again, right down to both of our daddies reminding us to be careful and pay attention to the speed limit), it was 1 in the afternoon. When we pulled into the driveway at our friend Elise’s new house a couple of hours later, we were so ready to see her that we jumped out of the car and slammed our doors and ran up to her front door and rang the doorbell with all the enthusiasm of a couple of 11 year-olds playing ding dong ditch.

Marion peered through the glass in the front door so she could wave at Elise the second she saw her, but after a few seconds of no response to the doorbell, she moved a little closer to the glass and started to look around.

“Wait a minute,” Marion said. “Why does Elise have a big inflatable Star Wars toy in her living room?”

I told her I had no idea.

“And hold on,” she continued. “Why in the world does Elise have a bunch of baby stuff in her dining room? Does that seem right to you?”

So I guess that was probably the moment when we realized we were at the wrong house.

And we laughed so hard that we could barely walk back to my car.

Elise’s house, as it turned out, was the next one on the street. She even had the front door open for us when we got there, and the biggest treat ever – thanks to Elise’s mama – was waiting for us on the dining room table.

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These would be the bridesmaids’ dresses I write about in Home is Where My People Are. And this is a picture of a picture (hence the cropped out flower girl, thanks to my sweet photography skills), but I believe that you can see enough to appreciate the yards upon yards of floral fabric that surrounded Elise on her wedding day.

We were all certain that we’d never looked more beautiful and/or stylish.

The other highlight of our afternoon time at Elise’s was that her mama – who had to head back to south Mississippi just a few minutes after we got there – had made a banana walnut cake that afternoon and we got to enjoy it fresh out of the oven. It was a near-sacred moment and definitely a highlight of our time in the Greater Jackson Area. Have mercy.

Around 4:30 we left Elise’s house to drive to the book signing at Lemuria, and for some reason I was a nervous wreck. I’ve actually been a whole lot more nervous at all three of my book signings this time around, and I really have no idea why. But when we were on our way to the bookstore Elise mentioned that Emma Kate was stuck in traffic, and I had no idea that Emma Kate was even going to be there. And then she mentioned that Katy might be a little late, and I had no idea that Katy was going to be there. And then she and Marion started talking about our friend Melissa, and I had no idea she was going to be in town, and I’m here to tell you that by the time we pulled in the bookstore parking lot, I was right on the verge of the ugly cry. Just teetering right there on the edge.

Because seriously. MY FRIENDS. I really don’t even know how to put it into words. All I know is that they are the most unconditionally supportive and encouraging people I have ever known. And that goes for the ones who weren’t in Jackson that day, too. They are all just the best. They have been as long as I’ve known them.

The book signing turned out to be a bunch of fun, and afterwards we went to Signa’s Grille in Ridgeland for supper. Elise had asked the folks there to just set us up some appetizers, and y’all, this is what was waiting on us when we got to the restaurant.

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It was basically a cheese and crackers extravaganza.

In other words: HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Oh my goodness. You have never seen such an array of spreads and preserves and cheeses and olives and grapes. There was also a hot dip with sausage and spinach that I have continued to think about for the last three days. The whole set-up was perfect because we just grazed and visited and grazed and talked about cheese and grazed. Elise told me later that she didn’t have to do flowers or anything – the folks at Signa’s did that – and it really was one of the most gorgeous tablescapes I have ever seen. It was also a time when I learned that the combination of salami, plum, and Parmesan is sent from heaven above so that the Lord may be praised.

And my favorite part is that we managed to do something that we never, ever do; we TOOK A GROUP PICTURE.

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I said on Instagram later that night that they are ten of the sweetest pieces of my heart. They absolutely are. The back row is Laura, Elizabeth, Daphne, Wendi, Elise, Marion, and Tracey. The front row is Emma Kate, me, Melissa, and Katy.

After supper Laura, Melissa, and Elizabeth had to go home because they are responsible members of society who had to work the next day. But the rest of us went back to Elise’s house and put on pajamas and talked non-stop for the next five hours. It was glorious. And who knew that spend-the-night parties are even more fun in your 40s? I mean, I wouldn’t even begin to try to list all the topics we covered. But if the topic came up, we BROKE IT ON DOWN.

The next morning we all had to get going pretty early (compared to college, anyway), and I haven’t been that sad to leave everybody in years. I was teary-eyed pretty much the whole way home, and it is a small wonder that I didn’t sit on the curb and sob when I dropped Marion off at the airport. I totally could have, though. We had THE BEST TIME.

Friday night I got David and Alex caught up on all the news and notes from my two days away, and then Saturday I had another book signing here in Birmingham (you’re next, Nashville – on Saturday, February 14th at the LifeWay Store at Cool Springs). Other than that, though, we’ve just been hanging out (Hazel has barely left my side), and today, after church and Chuy’s, I got to come home and put on yoga pants and watch many episodes of Beachfront Bargain Hunter in a row while David worked outside a little bit and Alex played with friends. I also watched the MSU / A&M women’s basketball game and cheered my fool head off, and then I made cheese grits for supper because FANCY.

I may watch the Grammys on the DVR if I can muster the strength.

Or I may just stare at the picture from Elise’s wedding and marvel at those sleeves.

Something tells me that second option might be the more entertaining of the two.

Hope y’all had a great weekend!

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My friend Marion flew in from Houston today, so around lunchtime I picked her up at the airport in Birmingham and drove to Mississippi. I had my first book signing for Home is Where My People Are this afternoon, and since it happened to be in my hometown, that means that I saw my second grade teacher and my 9th grade English teacher and my 10th grade English teacher, too. I tried to soak up the sweet faces and the sound of all those Mississippi accents in one place (oh, IT WAS GLORIOUS), and while I didn’t take a single picture, I feel like I have a big ole snapshot of the afternoon in my mind. Martha brought her rocky road brownies, Mama made a coconut pound cake, and there was coffee and lemonade and a really good corn dip and it was all just perfect.

I learned with the first book that just about every book signing has a moment where you pretty much want to bawl your eyes out. Sometimes it’s seeing a friend you didn’t expect, sometimes it’s the realization that you really did finish the dadgum book and you can prove it because there are copies right in front of you and you’re signing them, and sometimes it’s just a moment that feels like pure grace or pure mercy or a combination of both. It’s always interesting to me to see what that verge-of-tears moment turns out to be and why.

When I was in high school my very best guy friend was named Greg. I don’t think I’ve seen Greg in about twenty years, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that we’d pick up right where we left off if we ran into each other. We were super close for the better part of five years, and his parents were some of my favorite people on earth. They loved Jesus with an openness that went way beyond “church talk” – and I was just fascinated by them. Over time Greg’s mama became like a second mama to me, and when I was going through the process of trying to sort out my faith in my junior and senior year of high school (and there was lo, even more sorting ahead in college and grad school), I’d listen to her talk about life and church and Jesus and think, “THAT is what I want my faith to look like. THAT is how much I want to love Him.”

After high school I didn’t see Greg’s mama nearly as often, but I’ve never forgotten the impact of her love for people, her love for the kids she taught, and her love for the Lord. And when she walked in the book signing this afternoon, I honestly could have just fallen apart right there on the spot. It was such a precious moment to me – and then I got to sign a book for Greg’s three girls. I have smiled about that all night. Because even when we can’t think to plan it, somehow we always find our way back to our people. Or they find their way back to us.

And it’s the sweetest thing.

So tomorrow (Thursday) Marion and I will continue our trek down I-20, and book signing #2 will be at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi. (“If we show up, we’re gonna show out, smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.”) (Name that tune.) Initially I thought the signing was at 4, but it’s actually at 5, and I wasn’t even surprised when I realized that I was wrong because I have a real knack for messing up dates and times. Those kinds of specific details tend to confound my big picture, we’ll-figure-it-out-down-the-road personality.

Anyway, I’ll see some of my very best friends in Jackson, and the accents will continue to be a treat, and I’ll get to hang out in what may be my most favorite bookstore of all (if you’ve never visited Lemuria and find yourself in or around Jackson, GO – it is such a gorgeous place).

And if you’ve read Home is Where My People Are, you may remember the chapter where I’m teaching outside of Jackson and my friend Kimberly and I go riding around late at night with our friend Coach Johnston. We ended up driving a good ways on a road that just flat-out spoke to me, and it occurred to me a little while ago that I’ll have to travel that very same road tomorrow to get to my friend Elise’s new house.

I don’t know why, but I love stuff like that – when life just circles right on back to something from years ago. And if I hear some REM and find myself wearing a mock turtleneck from Banana Republic, then I will know that I haven’t really had a full circle moment as much as I’ve time traveled back to 1996.

Fingers crossed that I’ll still have my sassy denim jumper.

Mondays Are For Listing Things

– If you are one of the fourteen Americans who haven’t seen the Will Ferrell / Kevin Hart / Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle on Facebook, please allow me to increase your joy allotment for the day.

Dave Barnes has new EP coming out February 10th, and I am going to mention it an obnoxious amount of times because IT. IS. GORGEOUS.

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Seriously. I bawled my eyes out the first time I listened to it. It’s honest, good, and true. I don’t even know if you can pre-order it, but I want to go ahead and mention it so you’re ready to download it on the 10th. So beautiful.

– One night last week I recorded an episode of The God-Centered Mom Podcast with Heather McFadyen. We had the best time talking about writing and motherhood and faith and friendships. It was seriously so much fun to talk to her, and if you’re not subscribing to her podcast yet, you totally should.

– Today was supposed to be the official release date for Home is Where My People Are, but then it ended up being January 16th because online retailers put them on sale early. It wasn’t what we expected, but it’s been super fun, and here’s a true story from our ride to school this morning.

Yes, my people are home for me. And apparently my people are also my primary source for deep wells of humility.

Not to mention that YES. David Platt would have totally smoked me. :-)

This post by Lindsay Ferrier CRACKED ME UP. Because I thought Katy Perry was cute and all, but Missy Elliott? MADE ME WANT TO DANCE.

Happy Monday, y’all!