Despite being asked to remain on “Real Housewives of Orange County,” mother of two, Lydia, made the controversial decision to walk away from the popular franchise to pursue her passions—her faith and her family. Lydia will share the inside scoop from the television series. But more importantly, she will inspire you to examine your own life and inspire you to boldly live out the calling God has given you.
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Beyond Orange County
A Housewives Guide to Faith and Happiness
By Lydia McLaughlin
Worthy Publishing GroupCopyright © 2015 Lydia McLaughlin
All rights reserved.
Answering the Call
Will you be the master of your life or will you hand your life over to the Master? —Craig Clarke
My husband, Doug, and I have been married for nine years and we have three precious little boys. When I was pregnant with our oldest son, Stirling, Doug and I decided to open an art gallery in Laguna Beach. Just what all first-time parents need, a new business adventure, right? We spent my pregnancy marveling at my expanding belly and our growing baby's every kick, along with remodeling and working on our art gallery.
After months of hard work and preparation, it was finally the night of the opening party for our gallery, Skylab Modern Art. Many people came to the party to celebrate with us, including several local newspaper reporters who were there to cover the new art gallery opening in town. We had planned this party for months and had done advance photo shoots for all the Laguna Beach newspapers.
As I was setting down the food for the party, I felt my first real contraction. I had been feeling minor contractions all day, but I had figured it was just because I was on my feet working hard for our gallery opening. This contraction was different. It was a very clear sign: Mom, I am coming now. Let's do this thing called birth!
I calmly walked over to Doug and told him I was in labor. Isn't it funny how God works? He has perfect timing and has everything planned out—no accidents. Doug and I left our gallery opening party in the trusted hands of Doug's brother Marshall, and we went to the hospital. The story of my going into labor on opening night of our art gallery ended up making it into the article of a local newspaper. The reporter wrote that we gave birth that night not just to our first child but also to our new business.
As the fog of sleepless nights and adjusting to life with a baby gradually wore off, Doug and I really invested in our new business venture of being art gallery owners. We met all kinds of artists and designers and photographers. We found ourselves in this cool world of artistic people. It was there that we were approached by our now business partner to start a magazine.
First Connections to Hollywood
Our friend Mark had a vision for a magazine that would celebrate the triumph of the human spirit. Mark's family is well connected in Hollywood—his grandfather produced the television classics I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. With Mark's Hollywood connections and our connections with photographers and designers, we decided to partner together, work hard, and create a magazine.
The result was the launch of Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine. We have learned so much during the past six years of publication, and the magazine has taken us on journeys to places, both professionally and personally, we could never have imagined. As I pursue a relationship with the Lord longer and longer, I see that is oftentimes how He works. Doug and I had a plan for our lives—with our own goals, dreams, and aspirations—though we didn't have a specific, step-by-step plan. And even if we did, it wouldn't have been as interesting as the life we were living!
As our magazine increased in circulation and became more influential in the Beverly Hills area, a whole new reality was about to be opened to us as well.
Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine has many contributors for every issue. Some people contribute to just one issue, while others partner with us to write an article for every issue. One of the contributors Mark brought to the magazine was his friend Lisa Vanderpump, whom he introduced to us as "Pinky." Pinky has been writing a recurring column for every issue of our magazine since the beginning.
To us, she was not Lisa Vanderpump—the famous woman featured on the reality TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She was just Pinky, a Beverly Hills socialite who knew the most fabulous spots in Beverly Hills. Pinky wrote about her favorite hair salons and facialists and always wore all pink while holding her dog Giggy for her photo shoots with us. She was an entertaining character and, in our opinion, a perfect choice for a contributor to the magazine.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills launched about a year after we met Pinky, and she was a favorite of many who watched the show. Doug and I would watch the show and feel a connection to this far-off world because we knew Pinky—and she was on reality TV! It was fun to have a connection to the glamorous Hollywood world, and it was fascinating to have a somewhat inside view into one of the show's most beloved characters.
The Call That Changed Everything
Two years later, Doug and I had our second son, Maverick. We continued to work on our magazine and art gallery. Then one day I got a phone call that changed everything.
On a sunny Thursday afternoon in 2013, I had just finished working out at a 24 Hour Fitness and was walking out the gym door, on my way to pick up my sons from my mom's house. My cell phone rang, and I looked down to see that the incoming call was from a 310 area code, which is Los Angeles. I figured it was something related to our art gallery or magazine. Since my children weren't with me, I knew there wouldn't be any distracting crying or whining in the background—so it was a perfect time to answer.
The voice on the other end turned out to be a representative from The Real Housewives of Orange County. I had not spoken to her before, but she said she had heard about me and told me I'd be "the perfect fit" for her reality TV show.
Doug and I hadn't watched The Real Housewives of Orange County in years. The show launched just after I had graduated college and moved to Orange County, so I watched it for a while to enjoy seeing the Housewives eating at the same spots I went to, but that was years ago. I had kept up with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but that was only because of Pinky. Oh wait, Pinky ... That must have been how the producer had heard of me.
I laughed and quickly told the producer, "No, thank you." I told her that I was extremely flattered to have been considered for the show, but I didn't think I was cut out for reality TV. The producer responded graciously, gave me her direct phone number, and told me I could call her anytime if I changed my mind.
That night I told Doug about the random call I had received hours earlier. At first he laughed with me, but then he said in all seriousness, "You should meet with her."
Was he crazy? I had two young children, a magazine, an art gallery, and a household to run. Oh yeah, and I'm a Christian. I even led a Bible study for moms at my church. I had no business being on a reality show like that! Sure, The Real Housewives of Orange County was entertaining to watch, but why would I ever choose to be part of such a thing? I remember telling Doug, "I love my life. Why would I want to ruin it by being on a reality TV show?"
Doug encouraged me to think and pray about it. He suggested that maybe this could be a great adventure, a chance to shine my light for Christ in a unique way.
Making the Decision
The next morning I woke up and sat down to study my Bible. At the time I was going through a Bible study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. I was sitting at our kitchen table and drinking my morning coffee from my pink Anthropologie mug. I opened my Bible to the book of Nehemiah, looking up the verses for that day's lesson.
If you haven't heard the biblical story of Nehemiah, let me sum it up for you. Nehemiah was a man who was living in the palace of a king. He was basically the king's right-hand man. Out of the blue, God called Nehemiah to go to a foreign land to build a wall. Get his hands dirty. Help people he hadn't met. Leave his palace.
Similarly, God was tugging on my heart with an out-of-the-blue call. At that moment, I realized that this opportunity to be on The Real Housewives of Orange County had come from the Lord. I knew in my heart of hearts that God was calling me to do the show—I don't know how else to explain it. As I was reading the Scripture verses describing God's call to Nehemiah, I quickly understood that my Bible study lesson that morning wasn't a coincidence but divine timing. I had gotten the phone call the day before to step out of my comfort zone and go into a "foreign land," to "get my hands dirty" by joining the world of reality TV, and to help people I had not yet met by shining the light of Christ through the show. And now I was reading Scripture verses about a man who was also called out of his palace to serve the Lord in a very unconventional way. Sometimes God is subtle, and other times He is extremely blatant about what He wants to communicate to us!
I called the producer the next day and expressed my interest, coupled with apprehension. She set up an on-camera interview for me, followed by a meeting with the show's executive producers. When meeting with producers, I think most girls are trying to earn a spot on the show, explaining why they are the perfect fit to be the next Housewife. However, I did the opposite. I told the producers that I wasn't sure about being on the show. I told them I was a Christian and admitted I was nervous that they would try to show contradictions between my behavior and my faith. I honestly told them my fears. They assured me they just wanted me to be myself.
God's Call to a Great Adventure
Our journey with Christ is a call and a great adventure. If we are spending time in the Word and are nurturing our relationship with Him, He will give us clarity about what we should do and where we should go. In John 10:27, Jesus says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." As I prayed about whether to participate in the show, I began to feel a strong peace that this opportunity had come from God, and I knew He was calling me to do it.
Our God is a God of truth and love. He guides us through His Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us, "God is not a God of confusion but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33 NASB). Throughout my decision process I was sometimes scared and conflicted, but ultimately I had a clear conviction in my heart. I think many times we know what God is calling us to do; we just have to ask God to give us the courage to take the first, bold leap of faith.
My mentor once compared following God's call on our lives to the biblical story of Noah. Noah spent many years building the ark, even though the world hadn't yet seen rain. He was in a desert building a huge boat, and with every year that passed, I'm sure the people around him shook their heads and laughed at him. But Noah was given a task and he chose to obey God's call, even if it didn't make sense to the people around him. He stayed focused. Noah needed to be surrounded by people who, although they might not have understood why he was building a boat, would support Noah and pass him a hammer.
As I was wrestling with my decision about whether to be on The Real Housewives of Orange County, I sought wise advice from people I admire and love. I prayed and asked my friends to pray for me. I spoke with several pastors and Bible teachers I had grown close to.
The idea of my joining the cast of a reality TV show was met with both support and disapproval from family members and dear friends. People in my life were concerned for my family and me. Choosing to be on the show would be a leap of faith. Ultimately the decision was one that I alone would have to make, but I had input from people who ran the gamut from naysayers to supporters.
After listening to their opinions and praying with Doug and others, I knew God had spoken to me andcalled me to do the show. Although I knew it would be unconventional, I realized that taking the leap of faith to sign up for this reality TV show would be a kind of ministry—a ministry that God had called me specifically to do.
Taking the Step of Faith
Genesis 12:1–2 gives another example of God's unique call on a person's life. In this passage, God says to Abraham, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."
Like Abraham, we worship a good God who loves us. He wants to bless us and for us to be a blessing to others. However, His call on our lives can be scary or make no sense. Following God isn't necessarily all rainbows and butterflies, as we are not in heaven yet. God called Abraham to leave his country, to leave his people, and to leave his family. And where was he to go? To a land that God would show him. In other words, Abraham had no idea! He had to obey God by leaving everything he had ever known and going to a place he had never seen. That is a bold call to have on your life!
We have the same promise of blessing set before us now. Yet we often find it so hard to reach for the life God is calling each one of us to experience.
God is calling us on a great adventure. His call is unique and personal and specific to each of us and our talents and gifts. Many times this calling requires us to go out of the palace like Nehemiah, or out of our country like Abraham, and into a foreign land that God will show us.
How has God called you in the past? Have you answered His calling, or have you stayed in the comfort zone of your country and missed out on a great adventure? Is God calling you to do something now? Be bold, friends! Even if it doesn't make sense or you don't know what the next one hundred steps are, take the first step of faith today.
Created for Something Special
When Doug and I decided to sign on for the eighth season of The Real Housewives of Orange County, we pretty much hit the ground running. The experience was kind of like having our first baby. I remember leaving the hospital with newborn Stirling. Doug and I loaded our precious bundle of joy into the car and drove out of the hospital parking lot. We looked back to see if the nurses were still watching us leave. We couldn't believe they were allowing us to take home this tiny, helpless newborn baby without any supervision or a handbook!
Doug and I had a similar feeling when we decided to be part of the show. The crew showed up at our home, put a mic on each of us, and suddenly we were thrown into the reality-TV world. I guess that's what makes the video footage raw and real—no one explains to you what to expect or how to act. We thought it was unbelievable that there wasn't a handbook or any supervision!
God created each of us with a specific plan and purpose. He created you for something special and wants the world to see Christ through you in a unique way that only you can shine. During that time in my life, I felt called to shine my light for Christ through a reality TV show. Some may call that bizarre and crazy, and maybe they are right. That seems to be how Jesus likes to do things, though.
I pray that each of us would be a light to the world. We all long to matter and to have our lives mean something. That longing is there for a reason. God placed in our hearts a passion for more to ignite our boldness to follow Jesus, wherever He is calling us.
I have no clue what God's call is in your life, but I know He has one for you. He has a specific plan for you—a unique calling specifically for you. All He usually shows you is the first step. Walk in faith and answer God's call by taking that first step, friends—and you will begin your own great adventure!CHAPTER 2
A New Reality
Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. —Les Brown
I had just signed on to be the newest cast member of The Real Housewives of Orange County season 8, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew what the show was about, and I knew who some of the Housewives were, but there is no class you can take or book you can read to prepare you to be part of a reality TV show. You kind of just get thrown into the fire and see whether you dance or get burned.
I remember putting my boys to sleep the night before my first day of filming. I was anxious and filled with fear, excitement, and nerves. The kids and I had finished our normal nighttime routine: we read two bedtime books, and then I lie down with them for a while until they doze off so I know they won't be up all night laughing and chatting. Usually I play Solitaire on my iPhone or browse Facebook and Instagram while I wait for the kids to fall asleep.
That night I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed that my friend had posted a video of a commencement speech Jim Carrey had given. Jim Carrey is Canadian, as am I, and so we usually stick together! I glanced at Stirling and Maverick and saw they were both asleep, so I turned down the volume so it wouldn't wake them and listened to the speech.
Excerpted from Beyond Orange County by Lydia McLaughlin. Copyright © 2015 Lydia McLaughlin. Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Charge to You,
1. Answering the Call,
2. A New Reality,
3. Dealing with Discouragement,
4. In the Spotlight,
5. Moving On,
6. Burning Bush Moment,
7. Our Identity,
8. Love, Love, Love,
9. Family Matters,
10. Created Beautiful,
11. Confident Lady,
13. Finding Peace,
14. In the World, Not of the World,
15. Live Your Great Adventure,