Is It Ever Too Late?

I've had many conversations with women about the things they wish they had done. And often they lament the fact that it’s too late now.

But when is it really too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writer and speaker Michael Hyatt offers a response in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He asks these questions: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today.

The same is true of our dreams. Maybe the best time to start was five or ten or twenty years ago, but the second best time to start is now. And really, as long as you’re still alive, it’s never too late to start.

I’ve written elsewhere about how my husband and I married at eighteen and had our first child when we were twenty. By the time I was thirty, we had three children, and I was pregnant with our fourth. I was busy homeschooling our children, teaching childbirth classes, and serving in music ministry with Mike at our church. In my mid-thirties I began thinking again about a longtime dream of going back to college (I had taken a few semesters of college classes in my early twenties). With my husband’s encouragement and support, I went back to school to get my bachelor of arts in political science. I still remember the day I walked across campus to attend my first classes. Looking at all those young people, I distinctly remember thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’m too old to be a college student.” But with a pounding heart and shaking hands, I started anyway, and two years later (one month after the birth of our fifth child) I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I might have been one of the oldest students graduating that day, but my degree was just as good as those earned by those youngsters–and my husband and children celebrated the milestone with me!

222659_1032295458668_2757_nAs if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later, I moved with my family from Nebraska to New York, where I started law school at age 35. This was something I’d dreamed of as a teenager, but life intervened and the dream got put aside for decades. Interestingly, I wasn’t the oldest student in my class. One of my classmates was in his late forties! Maybe because I’d waited so long for this opportunity, maybe because I’d lived in the real world before getting there, but I felt like my age actually was an advantage, both in law school and when I started my legal career at age 38.

I could point to any number of people I know who’ve started something new and challenging “later” in life–like my friend who married the summer after she graduated from high school and then many years later went back to school after she’d raised her children. She recently earned her master’s degree with her adult children and their children there to cheer her on. And there's my amazing husband, who just earned his master's in mechanical engineering this spring and started a brand new career–at age 52!

My point, of course, is that it’s never too late to start. If there’s a dream you’ve discarded because you think you’ve missed your chance, please think again. Pull that dream out of the trash, brush it off, and think for moment: what’s one little step you could take today (or tomorrow) to move in the direction of that dream.

What about you? Is there a dream you’ve set aside that maybe deserves a chance? What small step could you take toward making that dream a reality? Perhaps just the small step of saying it out loud? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

**Housekeeping note: I published an “extra” post last Friday, but due to a technical glitch it didn't go out to my subscribers. Bad news, because it included a giveaway of four great novels. If you haven't seen that post, be sure to check it out here (AFTER you leave your comments on this post below) and get your chance to receive a free copy of one of the novels I wrote about.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
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Summer Reading Recommendations – & Giveaway

For many people, summer is a time to catch up on reading. Whether you’re on the road for a family vacation or just enjoying quiet time in the back yard, you might be looking for some fun summer reads. Here are a few I can recommend, listed in no particular order. Note: You can click on each cover image to go straight to to order that book. Click on each author's name to visit her website and learn more about her work. And be sure to read all the way to the end to see how you can win a free copy of one of these titles.*

Love Finds You coverLove Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, by Pamela S. Meyers. In 1933, beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is a summertime playground for wealthy Chicagoans. Local girl Meg Alden longs to be a real reporter, but her boss at the town newspaper believes that’s a man’s job, so she’s stuck writing fluff pieces for the society page while she waits for her big break. When a reporter position opens up, she’s hopeful that this is the break she's been waiting for, but her hopes are dashed when Jack Wallace, son of a big-city newspaper publisher, gets hired instead. Meg struggles against resentment, mistrust, and a growing attraction to Jack. Then Jack suggests they team up to investigate a local scandal. The closer they get, though, the more torn Meg is: should she follow her heart and stay with Jack, or follow her dream to a newspaper job in Los Angeles? This book offers an intriguing look at life in the 1930s, as the backdrop for a romance that pits one young womans dreams against her family’s wishes and the call of her own heart.

Vogt coverWish You Were Here, by Beth K. Vogt. Allison Denman is only days away from marrying her high school sweetheart. It should be the happiest time of her life, but nothing feels right to her. The wedding is too big, the dress is too froufrou, and … well … an impulsive kiss with the groom’s brother five days before the wedding throws everything completely off balance. Allison makes a run for it, seeking sanctuary with her aunt while she tries to figure out what the rest of her life should be now that her plans have all been destroyed. Beth Vogt has created real, believable characters that you can’t help but care about as you follow Allison, Seth, and Daniel through the twists and turns of the plot. This is one of my favorite books I've read in the past few months.

Miss Nights coverMississippi Nights, by D.M. Webb. When firefighter David Boyette’s fiancée dies in a car fire, he blames his brother, police sergeant Jeremy Boyette. Jeremy flees their home town for an anonymous life in the big city, but now, three years later, he’s back, hiding a dark and devastating secret. Can the the two brothers’ bond overcome the bitterness and blame between them? Can the love of their family and a good woman help Jeremy conquer the demons that threaten to destroy him? Webb has crafted a novel full of emotion–grief, guilt, loss, and love–with a story that kept me turning pages long after I should have turned off the light.

Tutor's Daughter coverThe Tutor’s Daughter, by Julie Klassen. In the early 19th century, Emma Smallwood has spent her life helping her father teach the sons of the well-to-do at his academy in Devonshire, England. When his boarding school fails, she accompanies her widowed father to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons, where her father will tutor the two youngest. Although they come at Sir Giles’s invitation, they are not made to feel welcome by the baronet’s new wife or the staff. Then, shortly after their arrival, mysterious events create tension in the manor. Meanwhile, the baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with secrets of their own. Emma remembers them well from their time at her father’s academy, but as time goes on and the tension in the household grows, Emma wonders if the boys she knew have grown into very different men. Klassen's strength in is weaving in details of setting and time period that make you feel like you've actually walked on the grounds of the baronet's estate.

*Fair disclosure: I received copies of each of these books from the publisher for free, in exchange for an honest review.

What about you? What are you reading this summer? Share your recommendations in the comments below. If one of the novels I've described appeals to you, let me know in the comments. I'll be drawing names to receive copies of these books.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Limits of Patriotism

Last week my husband and I made a quick trip to Fort Jackson in South Carolina to attend our middle son’s graduation from Army boot camp. (Benjamin served six years in the US Navy, with two deployments on two different ships. He left the Navy in December 2012, married his best friend–whom he had met while they both served on the same ship–on February 27, 2013, and then they both enlisted in the Army Reserves. He left in May to start the ten-week basic training cycle; she followed him in late June. They won’t see each other again until she graduates in September.)

Family Day formationAbout a thousand young men and women officially became soldiers during the ceremony last week. As I sat in the stands, watching these young people march in formation onto the field and stand at attention in front of the assembled crowd, I realized that each person on that field was somebody’s little boy or little girl. Soldiers, yes. Trained in combat skills, yes. But still, somebody’s baby. Every one of them has someone who feels about him or her the way I feel about Benjamin.

At one point all one-thousand-plus of them recited, loud and proud, the Soldier’s Creed:

I am an American Soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American Soldier.

I’m proud of Benjamin, of course.Benjamin at boot camp

But I have mixed feelings about his choice to serve in the Army reserves. As I watched the graduation ceremony, my fears were particularly stirred by the line I’ve bolded above: “I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.” This mission is, in my mind at least, what distinguishes the Army from the Navy, where my son and his new wife both have served. Close combat.

While he was in the Navy, I of course realized that he could be in harm’s way. But I consoled myself with the belief that it was unlikely that he’d ever be on the ground with a gun in his hand. I no longer have that consolation, because the Army’s job is precisely that: to be on the ground, with guns, ready to engage the enemy in close combat.

During the ceremony their commander addressed the troops, expressing his pride in their accomplishments and exhorting them to maintain their preparedness going forward. He reminded them that, as we all learned on 9/11, there is no longer a front line. Our enemies, he said, are everywhere, and the US soldier must always stand ready to “deploy, engage, and destroy” them wherever they may be found.

IMG_0656As I watched the ceremony, as I listened to the Army band play, as I observed the ranks of new soldiers, what I kept thinking, over and over, was, “Please, God. Please, please, please don’t send my little boy into battle.”

And I felt ashamed.

I am an ardent patriot, a student of our history, proud to be an American, proud of the way our country was founded and the values that gave it birth. I am deeply grateful for every man and woman who has served our country in the armed forces, whether during war or in peacetime. And I’m proud of Benjamin–and his wife and his older brother, who currently serves in the Navy–for choosing to enlist in the US armed forces.

But it appears that my patriotism reaches its outer limits at the prospect of my son going into battle. And that shames me a little. Yet I suspect every soldier’s mother has prayed the same prayer I did. Perhaps that’s just the natural tension between patriotism and motherhood. A mother's protective instincts, it seems, don't fade just because her baby is grown and on his own and taller than her.

I wish I could keep Benjamin (and Jennifer and Matthew and all my children and their spouses) safe under my wing, but of course that's not my job anymore. Now that they're grown, my job is to support and encourage them–and pray for them.

But that doesn't mean I can't sometimes long for the days when they were tiny and safe in my arms.

What do you think? Do you have (or have you had) loved ones serving in the military? How do you think we can best support our young soldiers and sailors and airmen–and their families? 
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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
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Declaration of Independence

My thoughts this week are with my son, Benjamin, and his new wife, Jennifer, both of whom are spending this Independence Day holiday at US Army boot camp, and with my older son, Matthew, who is spending the holiday far from his wife, Kahi, and their two little boys as he does his duty in the United States Navy. To them, and to all those who are separated from those they love while they serve the cause of freedom in our United States military, I offer my sincere and humble gratitude.



Kahi Wedding 029

I know the Declaration of Independence, quoted in its entirety below, is long and the language is archaic, but I hope that sometime this week, as we celebrate the birth of the United States of America, you will take a few minutes to read the document that expresses the reasons this nation was born:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

dreamstime_m_31485226We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.– Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
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