My Valentine

TurnerHill1994This is our 21st Valentines day together.

We don’t really ‘do’ Valentines day – we do life.

We do dates and notes and sweet-nothings and cuddling on the couch.

We do calendaring and taxi-ing and lifting each others loads.

We do kitchen and bathroom chores, laundry and vacuuming.

We make small changes and Huge changes.

We make eye contact that says more than the words that we might try.

We do budgeting and splurging, vacationing and working, reading and praying.

We take walks sometimes and hikes sometimes.

We parent and homeschool and do entrepreneurial stuff.

We explore coffee and beer places together.

We argue. We make up.

We grow things and prune things, change things and keep some things the same.

We give. We take. We lead. We follow.

We have traditions and customs and bursts of spontaneity.

We giggle. We cry. We hold hands.

I’m so thankful for our life.

Dreaming is good for Marriages

“We have found that if we don’t dream about our lives 

then we are simply

swept along by the torrent of demands, feeling like hostages

rather than mature adults taking charge of our lives.

It is the simple reality of calendars.

You only have so many free days.

If you don’t grab these days and hold them for all they are worth,

they will vanish so fast it’ll give you whiplash.

So this is a really good question for marriage.

What are you looking forward to together?”


Love & War, John and Stasi Eldredge


  • 17 years of marriage
  • 18 shared birthdays
  • 900 hours of guilt
  • 1500 hours of regret

That represents my relationship with Marc’s birthday.

Marc was born on January 6, 1972. His mother, (by the way) earns extra medals for an impossibly long labor under a stupid doctor’s guidance; and his father earns extra medals for helping the stupid doctor to FINALLY make the decision to do a c-section.

January 6 is also known as Epiphany – the day we celebrate the King’s showing up with gifts for ToddlerJesus. And is also just about two weeks after Christmas.

You remember Christmas, right? The time when we celebrate Jesus birth in ways that can really wear us out. Even when we have the best planning skills and humble intentions. No matter what you do, no matter how simple and careful, there is still a huge decompress once Christmas season is over.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo for 17 years, Marc’s birthday has been met with me feeling like a balloon that has been blown up and deflated 20 times by an enthusiastic 7yo, with everyone agreeing that ‘it’s hard to celebrate a January birthday so close to Christmas’.

Until 6 days ago. On January 1, I woke up and wondered, what if I didn’t listen to the used-up balloon feeling? Did I want another load of guilt and regret to start 2013? And I decided NO.

So before I wimped out on myself, I sent out an email to a few people (at 10:38a). Not just about a birthday party – a SURPRISE birthday party. They all seemed to be game. So I set up a Facebook event. And more people were in on the ruse.

The kids and I set to work. Lists were made, and I invited Marc to go to LeMis (movies are one of Marc’s love languages and this three hour movie gave us the time get the house prepared and filled with friends).


Caleb, Anna, and Sofia were absolute heroes. If you had told me even three years ago that I could leave my children alone to prepare a party for dozens of people I would have laughed at you. But they did it. They took the list, added to it and revised it, and got it done, all as I sat comfortably at Marc’s side watching the movie. The house was ready, and the guests were well taken care of.

  • 6 pizzas
  • 3 hours
  • 24 kids (including my 3 FABULOUS, AMAZING kids)
  • 20 adults
  • 1 great surprise

These are the new numbers that will represent my relationship with Marc’s birthday from now on.

Married to a Traveller, or Thoughts about Courage

A little while ago, Marc wrote about being married and traveling for work. I responded with a he said/she said blog post. At that time I realized (again) that I have so much to say about being married to a traveller.

One of the most common responses I get from people when they hear that Marc is traveling AGAIN is ‘how haaarrrrd’ that must be for me. There are a number of assumptions that people are making when they say this.

(isn’t he cute?)

The first assumption is that I had no or little input into the decision that Marc would travel. This couldn’t be a further from the truth. If anything, my input weighed more than his desire. In each opportunity, it has been talked through, prayed through, talked through some more. I know that if I sense a ‘no’, a ‘not now’, or a ‘it’s too much’ that that matters a great deal to Marc.

The second assumption is that this is a new habit of his. But in reality – he has been traveling as long as we have been married. I have been doing the married to a traveller thing for 17 years.

The third assumption is that it is helpful and empathetic to tell me how haarrdd that must be. Does that even make sense? What if, when you told me you had to take the kids to the doctor, then take the dog to the vet,  and then had to make supper for you and Great Aunt Louise I turned to you and said ‘That must be so haarrd.’ How would you feel if, when you told me you had to do laundry, finish an article, and get to the gym I turned around and said ‘that must be so haarrrd’.

The reality is, we all do hard things. For some of us, getting out of bed in the morning takes a great act of perseverance and courage. For some of us, we send our kids to school or we homeschool our kids. We write in places where people we don’t know and people we do know are able to read it.

Yes, our lifestyle is hard. It is much harder now that we have three kids that are home schooled. Even when Marc is home, it is hard.

We have made the choice to not be stopped by hard. We have built a history of hard things we did that turned out really well and some not so well. In every hard thing we grew – as individuals, as a couple, as disciples. Even in this hard season, we are holding to the expectation that we are strong and that God is stronger.

The next reality is that we are all strong people. We have learned to sit, crawl, walk, feed ourselves, read, talk, engage. No, we don’t necessarily celebrate all of those things in our daily lives now, but those are our roots of strength and greatness.

Each day we get to choose what courageous thing we will do. Dealing with a client or a 6 year old, having an honest conversation with a loved one, choosing not to have a conversation with another loved one, stopping the endless office work to do something that we love. All acts of courage. And courage builds upon courage builds upon courage.


We Did It.

When you get in a car on a first date, and your date has to move Amway training tapes out of your way, you have a decision to make. Get out and run. Go on the date and never return another call. Or pay attention to all that caused you to say yes to the first date, and see if there is something to learn.

17 years ago, I decided on the last option. This intelligent man who loved (loves) God passionately and seemed (seems) crazy about me and is thoroughly committed to living life to it’s fullest – he was also committed to the Amway business. What I thought that meant at first was that he sold soap – like Vern the old man who used to peddle at my parent’s house. What I found out was that it really meant I was falling in love with an entrepreneur – someone who at age 16 committed to having multiple income streams and working for himself.

I could write an entire post on how our marriage (a few months later) was fully blessed and grew so much because of our years committed to our Amway business – maybe I will sometime – but this isn’t what I’m here to share today. But you need to understand that when I married Marc, I knew this about him – and knew that it would have an impact on all of our Life Together.

Fast forward 15 years. 3 kids, many moves, several jobs. Marc was approached to run a political campaign for someone we felt passionate enough about to support – in an intense way. It was a crossroads at a perfect time. Marc had been building since 2003. There was insurance for our family, so we went for it. It was a risk, a calculated risk, a big risk. But when I married my Amway tape toting man, I knew that there would be times when we had to take a risk (I’m NOT a risk taker, not like that anyway). As much as Marc had stayed in life-sucking, demeaning jobs to serve my need for stability, I knew it was my turn to serve and trust him to make this jump.

The political campaign ended that June – badly and sadly and sooner than we expected. Marc did the cleanup, and we spent the next few months making the best decisions we could. Marc put out feelers to employers, and went to work in earnest at thefundraisingcoach. Each month there was enough. Sometimes just enough. But enough.

That fall we faced some business upsets and some painful learning experiences with a home renovation. We lost a lot of money – or poorly spent a lot of money depending on how you look at it. Money that wasn’t ours to mess with.

As things came to a head last December and I cried to my husband that I just needed to know we weren’t going to lose the house, I also became aware of how split we were. We were looking for a job AND building thefundraisingcoach.

Prayer, crying, and maybe some foolishness led to “Let’s give it a year”. If the business isn’t growing and supporting us  by next December 18, then we will earnestly look for employment, and close this chapter.

We cleared our mental desks of any other options and we have worked hard – Marc making cold calls, writing, speaking, traveling, cold calls, coaching, writing, speaking, traveling, cold calls, consulting, traveling; and my doing whatever I could do to support this business, with ours kid (you know we homeschool, right), stepping into new roles, taking on more than I thought I could.

Guess what.

It’s December 18. We did it. I’m tired. I’m proud of Marc, myself, our kids. And I’m so, so, so glad that we are an entrepreneurial, self-employed family.

Thank you Hatch’s, Hankey-Sugden’s, and Pat Michaud for cheering for us, crying with you, checking in with us. Thank you parents for not telling us how crazy you might have thought we were. Many other folks were online and real-life support – thank you.

Thank you God for loving us so recklessly and trusting us with so much.

Congratulations, Fundraising Coach. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see where in the world the next 12 months will take us.

Fundraising Coach Kids – you rock. You have no idea how much you motivated and gave to the business this past year. And someday you will be faced with similar decisions – I pray we have walked our path in a  way that inspires you to make courageous (scary, crazy) choices.

(Check out Marc’s thoughts as we celebrate our December Independence Day at