.....................................................one story may not change the world ~ but your story can change someone's world......................................................
................................................................................your story matters ~ live a page-turner...........................................................................................

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Next Page

Back-to-School usually means the start of a new chapter in our house.

This year is no different. Except for the part that it is way different.

For one of us, it's not just a new chapter, it's a new book.

When we shopped for school supplies, we skipped the crayons, protractors and wide-ruled notebook paper and went straight for the laundry soap, futon, and surge-protected power strips.


Huh. Not sure how that happened.

I remember walking the kid to school while pushing his sisters in a stroller and walking him up to his line in front of the school. I waited with the sisters with all of the other mommies until the teachers came out to let the lines all in to school. The backpack was full of art supplies, tissues and hand sanitizer for the classroom

I remember driving to school when the carpool line led me to the other side of the building. The mommies dropped their pre-teen babies off in time for them all to "hang out" on the steps until one of the teachers opened the door. The backpacks stuffed with gym clothes and axe deodorant and body spray.

I remember the first day when my presence was no longer required. The Wildcat drove him and his sisters to school. I stood in the street and waved.


This week we turn the page to begin a new chapter. The sisters will all be doing the last first day of high school, the first day of high school and the last first day of junior high.

And the Wildcat will be a Bulldog. It's not only a new page, it's a new book. And it's his.

In this story, I play the part of a character that I am still familiar with....I get to help pack the backpack (car), and I get to drive up in the carpool line at school, where I will drop a piece of my heart off then leave it there.

Two hours home.

And stay home while he stays at school.

Huh.

It's Nathan's turn to write the story.



Dear Bulldog,

It's the next step
The next chapter
The next story.

I have every confidence in you.
Not even a single doubt exists
That your college years will be nothing less
Than a page-turner.

Be kind to the other kids
Take turns
and raise your hand for the teacher to call on you.
Share your crayons
Eat your vegetables
Brush your teeth twice a day.

oh, and by the way
Your mama is so proud of you
she misses you.
You should call her.


Love, Mama











Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Brand

I'm just coming off a writers' conference high.

Loved the sessions. Loved the people I met. Loved the stories I learned.

I had the pleasure of attending a class that did not turn out like I thought it would. I had expectations for what I thought the class would be like, then found out that it wasn't anything near what I thought it would be like.

Lesson #1 of the Weekend: Throw away my expectations and let God fill in the blanks.

I went to the conference with an idea for a ministry. I didn't have a book proposal. I didn't have a speech written. I had an idea to share. A dream.

It's my dream. It's not one that you grow up dreaming about. More like a vision that just won't go away. The kind of dream that you can think of a 1000 reasons why it is just nonsense. But it just. won't. leave.

Trust me, I've tried to discredit it. Or discredit myself. I've argued with God about how I'm not the right person for the task. I have done this back and forth thing with God for about a decade.

Funny thing I've learned about God and dreams: He doesn't really force them. It's more like an invitation to be a part of what he wants to accomplish.

Another funny thing: while he isn't forceful or angry or mean with these dreams, it is still the sort of thing that keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning.

So that is what I went to the conference with. An idea. A dream. One that won't let me sleep.

Lesson #2 of the Weekend: Apparently this dream is a good one. Not a unique idea, but unique approach. This is the sort of thing that requires branding and marketing.

Hmmm....another foreign language to me.

Lesson #3 of the Weekend: While I am comfortable writing, speaking and serving need to come in to play at the forefront.

Gulp. Public Speaking.

Oh how I wish that I could be all about JUST serving and writing. But speaking is where things will start.

Are you ready? Here is the nutshell idea that was confirmed over and over at the conference:

1.  I'm a speaker. I can be encouraging for your moms/womens/ministry group. I have three distinct topics to visit about. And none of them are about me. They are about YOU.

2.  I am a missionary-at-heart. I am not going to Africa. But I will come to your hometown and visit your non-profit, your church group, your ministry or your home and WORK ALONGSIDE you as a volunteer. I want to learn your story and how God is doing his completely awesome God-thing through the work that you do. And I will share that with the groups I am speaking to. And writing for.  And my world.

And I want to encourage you and those alongside of you that YOUR STORY is important.

I also want to note that although I love to write, working alongside of you (YES YOU!) is the primary thread to the ministry of my heart. YOU need to know that the work that you do, even if it seems small or insignificant, matters for eternity. YOU make our homes look different. YOU make our communities look different.

YOU are making heaven look different.

YOU and YOUR story matter.

3.  As I (gulp) speak for your group and work alongside of you in your local ministry, I hope to compile all of these experiences in a book or blog or you-tube channel. I want to spotlight your story in a way that inspires others to actively engage in their own stories.

Stories that make Heaven look different.

This is something I have learned in my years of working in journalism and writing the stories of others: EVERYONE has a story. I have been fortunate enough to get to learn and share them with others. And even though NONE of these stories have been my own experience, it makes me want to live my own story better.


And the last note (for now) from the weekend is something I shared above: EVERYONE has a story, but not everyone can write or knows how to share their story.

I am a ghostwriter. (BOO!) But don't be scared! My giftedness seems to be in sharing the stories of others, either in writing or photography or journalism.

This is an area that I am hoping to develop.

I learned a lot from the Speak Up Conference in Grand Rapids.



But I mostly learned a lot about what I still need to learn. Marketing and Branding.

And from what I can tell, my brand is YOU.

What's YOUR story?

How is God working through YOU?

How can I come alongside YOU in service and encouragement?

Because that is my story.

Can I add YOUR chapter?














Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Newlyweds go on Honeymoons...

....and some of us go to Walmart. (and then visit our kids in college, or go to a high school sporting event) and call it a honeymoon.

That is the story of when Brian and I were married a few months ago. If you missed that one, you can read about it HERE.

Suffice it to say, with all of the kids and college visits and orientations and sports and kids (did I say that already?) we haven't had the time to throw a reception or go on a trip that revolved around the two of us being married.

And we still haven't, but we are pretending that this trip to Grand Rapids is a honeymoon, kind of. Because it doesn't revolve around our kids.

Brian is going with me to the Speak Up! writers' and speakers' conference. He is pretty romantic like that.

So even though this trip doesn't revolve around our kids, and even though the purpose is sort of for me...I just wanted to tell my husband that I appreciate him SO MUCH for supporting me in my writing and ministry dreams.

And he will no doubt get in some good practice in the art of timely "head-nodding" and "uh-huh-ing" because we will only be in the car together for like 12 or so hours as I tell him all about editors and publishers and ministry leaders and some of my favorite speakers and experts in the industry.



Anyways, this post goes out to my love, my husband, Brian. I love you, honey!

And I can hear it now: "uh-huh. oh yeah....love you, too!"




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Baseball and Life

I knew it was coming.

The last play in the last inning in the last game I would watch my Wildcat play baseball.

Even though I spent the last 13 summers watching the kid play ball, that last game sort of seemed to sneak up on me.

I remember when baseball was playing in the dirt, snacks and popsicles.

I remember when baseball was the post-season pizza parties.

I remember when baseball was little league and All-Star teams.

I remember when baseball was the first step in to high school.

I remember when baseball was a walk-off win. And when it was the 3rd-strike loss.

I remember when baseball was the deciding factor to come home after a semester away. When the Wildcat just wanted to play one more season.

And then one more game.

When I think of summer, I think of Wildcat baseball.

And summer won't quite be the same again.

Dear Wildcat,
It has been one of the greatest joys of my life
to watch you play the game.
Keep living your life like it is a 
3-1 count.
Don't be afraid to go after life's 
"first pitch"
Don't watch life go by
without taking a swing at it.
Remember that strike-outs in life
happen.
And any strike-out in life that you face
Just brings you one step closer
to the next
Home Run.






Monday, June 29, 2015

Love at First Sight

It's the 17th anniversary of the moment when I first experienced love at first sight.

The year was 1998. It was a Monday morning, 8:28 a.m. to be exact. 6,205 days ago.

We didn't know each other, but the connection we had was if we had known each other forever. Like we were meant to be together.

I fell in love with all 9 lbs, 3 oz., 20 1/2 inches of my sweet baby girl and that love has grown every single day since.



Just look how this love has grown!!!








The McCaughey Septuplets happened to still be in the news on this day of Love at First Sight. But my world-news revolved around being mama to you, and your brother.

First few minutes at home, You were crying and your brother, Nathan instinctively tried to take care of you.
I think he has been trying to do this ever since.
You can love him or hate him for this. But it started on Day 1.



You have been an excellent example to the sisters who have come after you.



And as it turns out, you are very much like your mama. That could explain a lot of head-butting that goes on in our relationship. I'd like to think that this isn't a bad thing; that we both are growing because of it.

But anyway, sweet baby girl, YOU are the one who was there when I experienced a "love at first sight" moment.

I love and treasure every single moment since then.

I realize you are counting down the next 365 days. I get that.

I am too. 18 has always been sort of a "deadline" for making sure I have done my job as mama. But now that you are here, I realize I have done what I set out to do over 6,000 days ago. Now it is up to you. I also know that I will never be "done" being mama. My role just changes.

AND I will continue to treasure each moment. Because love at first sight is love at first sight.

I guess what I am trying to say is:

Happy 17th Birthday, Marz!

Love, Mama



"Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart"
~Luke 2:51
P.S. Your birthday gift is what you asked for.







Monday, June 22, 2015

Sticky-Note Prayer: Answered

A couple of years ago, I started this thing with the kids where I would write a prayer for them on a sticky note and stick it on their bedroom door. Usually it was a bible verse that I was praying for them.

For the most part, it seemed they went sort of ignored.

But I knew it was appreciated, or at least noticed, about a year ago when I was the recipient of a sweet, sticky-note prayer from Marisa.

I had just been notified that a story I wrote, which made the first couple of rounds of acceptance, was cut just before the book went to print.

And I walked in to my room to find this sticky-note-prayer on my desk:


"Galatians 6:9
Dear God,
Please be with mom and give her strength. Remind her that you have a plan. Make sure that she doesn't give up. Amen.
Love you mama
Love, Marzy


If you are wondering, Galatians 6:9 reads "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Thank you for praying for me, baby girl. I didn't give up. And God answered your sticky-note prayer.

In two months, I will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back.

It's not just a dream come true for me, but a specific prayer request answered. 

A prayer that was sharpied on a post-it. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

So this is what "afraid" looks like:

I've been this super amazing and awesome mom.

if i do say so, myself.
(which I do. It is my blog, after all)


At least when it comes to being able to aptly and confidently encourage my children to try new things, explore talents, and step out of their comfort zone in order to embrace seasons of their lives and use the gifts given to them.

Some of these gifts, talents and good-old-fashioned HARD WORK has paid off for them.

So I find myself in new territory today.

I find myself on the receiving end of

every.
single.
bit.
of advice that I have
ever.
given.
any.
of my kids.


And now I know what it is like to have to face a new situation and be completely scared out of my mind to do it...

....but to know that it is, without a doubt, the next

right
thing
to do.

Pray for me.
Wish me luck.
Hold me.

I'm jumping in.
Afraid.

In Grand Rapids at the end of July.

I won a scholarship. If there is anything I have learned about what scholarships mean it is this:
they are an investment.

Here I go.

#speakupconference