About Lauren

I'm a television news reporter who's true passion lies in storytelling. While I enjoy doing that mostly through a camera lens, it's nice to write thoughts down every once and awhile. That's what this blog does for me. Thoughts, behind the scenes and moments of inspiration I find in the daily grind.

Waiting…

NOTE: I’M SHARING THIS EXPERIENCE BECAUSE I CAN’T PRETEND LIKE EVERYTHING IS OKAY. IF I HAVE ONE WISH THROUGH SHARING IS THAT OTHERS ALSO TALK OPENLY ABOUT THEIR STRUGGLES.  THE MORE I GO THROUGH THIS, THE MORE I REALIZE HOW MANY OTHERS SHARE SIMILAR HEARTBREAK BUT DONT TALK ABOUT IT.
You know when people as you a question like “how was your holiday?” and you just answer with some blanket statement like “it was good.”?  Well that’s been a hard one for me to answer in the last week, because it’s a lie.
Sure, I got to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.  And I was surrounded by love.  But my heart was broken.  And there was nothing I could do about it.
A week ago, Scott and I had planned to announce to both of our families that we were growing our family through adoption.  And it was happening fast.  After several months of communication, we had decided to move forward.  We even met the baby. It was truly a unique situation.  The social worker even told us so.  It was moving unbelievably fast for us.  We expected to have the child as soon Christmas but most certainly early in the New Year.
It’s one thing to hold someone else’s child. It’s another thing to hold a baby knowing (or maybe thinking) that it will be your own.  We guarded our hearts well when she was just an idea, an already born baby that needed a forever home, maybe we could be it.  But once we held her…It was something completely different.
How quickly your imagination can run in a short amount of time; planning our life with this child.  We purchased baby stuff. We began making space in our home and in our hearts. We quickly worked to begin and complete a home study. We were about to be parents.
It. All. Moved. So. Fast. And it all felt so perfect.
Until it wasn’t.
Within 24 hours of meeting the baby, Thanksgiving Day, we learned that the adoption wouldn’t be happening.  They decided they simply could not give the baby up.  And there was nothing we could do about it.
Excitement. Fear. Joy. It all came crashing down into sadness, anger and heartbreak.
Thanksgiving was sad. Despite having a lot do be thankful for, all we could think about was what we’d just lost in less than 24 hours. To wrap our minds around the idea that we won’t be parents by Christmas and we won’t be parents by the New Year.
BUT…This heartbreaking process taught us that we are more ready to welcome a child than we ever realized. However, we also discovered and agreed that we will unapologetically act with love and welcome whatever God presents us.
You see despite the risks and unknowns, Scott and I had willingly stepped into this.  We said “we love you and you’re welcome here” at the expense of our own heartbreak. Although honestly, I don’t think either of us believed we’d actually experience the heartbreak.
So as we head into the holiday season, please forgive me if I don’t seem my normal cheerful self.  Scott and I are working through this together.  Know that I’m still happy for you and your family. I’m still “❤‘ing” those photos of your kids with Santa. I’m still truly happy for all your moments.  But I’m recognizing that they aren’t going to be mine this Christmas.
What’s so beautiful about this process though…is that we are also headed into the season of Advent.  A time in the church where we wait for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Advent challenges us to spend time with God and reflect before beginning a new. It’s a time when anything can happen.  A clean slate of sorts.
I bought a print a few weeks ago (in preparation for adoption) that reads: There is wonder in the waiting. 
This year we wait. And we wonder what God really has in store for us.
And while we wait, we grieve.  But it’s a part of the process; grieving so we can make room in our hearts (again) for our family to grow.
Moving forward, Scott and I will continue to open our hearts to whatever God has planned for us; even having learned how heartbreaking this process can be. Adoption isn’t off the table; we’re still moving forward on that process, albeit at a less breakneck speed. And neither is the hope for a biological child. 
All we ask for is your prayers (not your sympathy).  And an understanding that this (once) private journey has been made public in hopes that anyone who’s going through it or has gone through it can find comfort in knowing they are not alone.  Because alone is not the way to go through this.
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The F-word No One Talks About

Thanks for letting me be so vulnerable as I share this with you. 🙂
Oh…and excuse my language…
 
DISCLAIMER: Don’t take this post wrong.  You don’t need to walk around on egg shells around me.  You don’t have to hide your joy of family, pregnancy and kids around me.  You don’t have to keep good news about your family from me.  You don’t need to feel sorry for me.  And you don’t have to act like…whatever you’re probably thinking.
 
(In)fertility. 
 
It’s a word I’ve never wanted to use.  I’ve read plenty about but never anticipated I’d be using it in my own life. But it’s now a word that we use in the Ready house.  It’s a new word. 
 
So is PCOS. That’s what I’ve officially been diagnosed with.  PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome.  Basically it’s a disease that impacts many things including fertility, metabolism and mental health. After several months of tests, dozens of blood draws and tracking I’ve officially been given some answers.  But those answers are hard to process.  Because what they mean is that I’ve got some health issues to address.  My focus has shifted from getting pregnant to getting my body right. And that’s the most important thing. 
 
I’m not writing this post to ask for sympathy.  In fact, PLEASE don’t feel sorry for me.  Like, really…don’t.  
 
I am writing this post because I feel like no one talks about this shit.  And everyone sees mostly good things on social media.  We rarely share in our suffering because it’s not the kind of thing that gets “likes” or cheers people up. I feel like suffering is a part of “adulting” that no one talks about.  Truth is, we all suffer. In one way or another.  Nothing is as perfect as it appears through the filters on Instagram and the pictures, check-ins and stories we share on Facebook. 
 
For several years now, Scott and I have been trying to start a family.  It started long before I left my job in TV news.  But we didn’t really pay much attention to it.  I wasn’t seriously tracking days or weeks or months.  We were just living life and hoping we’d eventually get pregnant. 
 
Then, just before our 5 year anniversary and we decided it was time to visit a doctor.  As easy as it would have been to test Scott and rule that out, we decided to start with me because I’ve been all out of sorts.  Irregular periods, mood swings, weight gain, low energy and several other symptoms gave us reason to believe that there could be something wrong with my body. 
 
All the while, there was this linger pressure from the world. No one in particular was pressing us to start a family but seemingly a large portion of our peers were starting a family. I assumed they were looking at us like “it’s been 5 years, I wonder when they’re going to start a family?” 
 
If we’re going to talk about that, let me explain that I’ve never been the kind of person to like babies or children (don’t be mad or judge me).  I was always super career focused and believed that God was calling me to live out a life that didn’t mean marriage or kids.  
 
And then I met Scott at the young age of 22 years old.  He was cool and all but I was still pretty focused on my career.  Except he was supportive of that. And that was even more empowering.  Eventually…I feel in love.  And then, I realized that perhaps I may have changed my tune about having a family.  No, not about kids, about having a family with the man who I loved with all my heart.
 
We got married with the idea that kids would happen eventually.  We didn’t try to start a family for several years because we were still so career focused. And honestly, because we didn’t want kids yet.  We were enjoying being married, learning about each other, moving around for jobs and traveling; there’s nothing selfish about that. It’s just the way we saw life and that goals we had set. I’m a firm believer that EVERYONE does what’s best for them as a couple and it’s not up to anyone else to decide if that’s right.
 
As I neared the end of my 20’s I started to feel this sense of a bigger purpose.  I find a ton of fulfillment in my life from the work that I do professionally.  And I now get to share that with my husband as we build a business together.  But that desire to also grow into a family had been placed on my heart. Scott and I have so much fun together, we think we’d also have so much fun with kids.  It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever desired.  
 
We are certainly not a traditional marriage.  And never will be.  Scott does most the cooking (and cleaning…if we’re being honest).  We are a team always.  There are not husband and wife roles, except to love and respect each other.  We push each other to grow and we take on challenges as they come. 
 
And that’s exactly what we’re doing with our latest challenge.  PCOS is a hard diagnosis. It makes it very difficult to get pregnant.  The day we found out, I went from “I got this!” to “my body is fucked up and broken” and back around.  You see, I only ever read infertility blogs about women who have always longed to be a mother. They talk about the pain and heart ache of trying to get pregnant, the drugs they take, the tears they cried and the way they feel incomplete without a baby. 
 
I don’t feel most of those things.  And when I read them, I feel like something is wrong with me.  
 
Instead, I feel this:
 
Sad.
Hopeful.
Inspired.
A great sense of purpose in the NOW.
Family in the people around us. 
Trust in God’s will for our lives. 
 
I share all of this because I feel like I’m not alone.  There’s got to be someone out there that’s going through this who feels similar to me.  It’s not that life has stopped or that life is incomplete without kids.  I’ve never felt that way…ever.  It’s more that life doesn’t always go as we planned.  Recently, someone told me that the ability to have kids is the great equalizer in life.  You know, no matter where you come, what you do, who you know or how much money you make, everyone can have kids.  Except when you can’t…which isn’t easy to understand. 
 
We aren’t there yet, by any means.  We’re really only at the beginning of our discovery phase.  I’ll begin taking some supplements to attempt to level out my massive hormone imbalance and hopefully also build up my metabolism.  And then in a few months we will explore our next steps.  We’re open to family, in whatever form that takes.  And we’ll continue to pray and discern what’s next for us.  
In the meantime, we embrace what we’ve got now.  Our family is full of the people in our lives.  Our kids are, in many ways, our god children and the relationships with mentees formed in the last few years.  We’ve got this.  And God’s got our back.

News car encounters 

  
One of the things I’m going to miss most about working in TV news is meeting such amazing people everyday. I always joke that when you drive around in this WMC Action News 5 billboard you get a lot of unsolicited visitors. They stop by and want to tell you a story, suggest a story idea and sometimes just talk. 

Today reminded why I love it: I had just eaten lunch at Caritas Village in Binghampton when I walked out to my logo’d car. A woman flagged me down and asked me if she could talk. She wanted to know if I ever did a story about a woman in her 50’s trying to get a job and struggling because she didn’t have computer skills. She told me she wants nothing but to work. She’s not ready to sit at home and not contribute to society or make a living. She started crying. She said she has years of retail experience but when she lost her bottom teeth she found it harder to get a job. 
As she wiped tears from her eyes I reminded her that she is worth more than she’ll ever know. That she has something to offer to this world. And that she is the only person who can control how she reacts to this struggle. 
Then she apologized for crying to me and said it was just hard to feel this way. I told her there was no need to apologize. Her struggles are real. And they remind me how important it is to recognize life’s little blessings; jobs, food on the table, transportation and family. 
I’m going to miss moments like these…Moments that never make the news…Stories that go untold. 
The opportunity to encounter people like her everyday just because I’m driving around a car with a news logo. 
But then I realized I can still have these encounters, perhaps in a less public way. We all can. 
My next challenge will be to seek these moments on my own, without the help of a TV station car. Truth is, these moments can happen everyday if we just take the time to notice people around us. 
#Onward #Upward 

A Leap of Faith: Leaving TV News

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.” Matthew 7:7

I’ve always been taught not to bury the lead so I’m just going to cut to the chase: I am leaving TV news to run my own business.  You read that right, I’m officially becoming a full time small business owner, entrepreneur and freelance journalist all in one move. Read on to learn more about how this decision came to be and why I feel it’s so incredibly meant to be. 

Three years ago I got an offer that I simply could not resist: to move to Memphis for my dream job as a Reporter at WMC Action News 5. It had been a dream of mine since I interned there in 2007.  I said I wanted to come back and work in this market, at this station, with these people in five years. Well I got here in 4 and a half years.  And I didn’t think beyond that.

Over the course of three years though, God has slowly revealed new purpose in my life in ways I could have never imagined.  It’s why, as of March 1st, I will be leaving television news (after working since I was 17 years old) for a new dream: owning my own company, Forever Ready Productions, LLC.

If you’ve followed my work, you know I have a major passion for telling positive stories and working with non-profits. The good news is that is exactly what I will be doing in this new adventure.  Already, in the course of two years, since we created the LLC, we’ve built relationships with so many non-profits and small businesses.  I now get to focus on telling their stories.

Our first official client was Volunteer Odyssey.  And shortly after that people started contacting us.  Since then we’ve produced numerous videos for Catholic Charities (including the John Angotti Christmas Concert that aired on WMC Action News 5), Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Volio and so many more. You can view all of that work on our website: www.foreverreadyllc.com.

But back to my TV career in Memphis for a moment: over three years I’ve been given some BIG assignments. The Tigers in the NCAA tournament, Grizzlies playoffs, a White House concert, Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes and Ferguson, Missouri riots. But what I’ve really enjoyed most is the stories that called people to action and created change (helping clear Lawrence McKinney’s record, the Kids & Guns story, the impact of WMC’s food and toy drives, empowering people to take back their community). It’s what helped lead me to this new adventure.

Over time, I believe that God began to open my heart to something more. It was actually something Justin Hanson, former reporter, now Covington Mayor, said to me on his last day at WMC Action News 5.

While I was an intern, Justin told me being a reporter at Action News 5 was his dream too. When I asked him how he was able to walk away from his dream job for a new one he said “Lauren, it’s because I have a servants heart and you do too. Sometimes God calls us to something more.  I believe he has something big planned for you.”

He was right.  At the core of it, I truly do have a servant’s heart. It’s why I got into the business in the first place. But now, that heart is calling me to something else.

The decision hasn’t come easy. It’s hard to think about walking away from your dream job for something new.  But I truly believe that now is the time. I don’t want to look back and say “what if.”

I believe strongly that Scott and I were brought to Memphis for a reason. And it’s exciting to see it unfold.

And with that I will say: ONWARD. UPWARD.

And if you have any video needs…I know someone who could help you out!!

Capture

Grandma Hoffman’s Testimony 5/4/1997

NOTE: We found the testimony written below on three pieces of paper with my great grandmother’s things.  She passed away on January 10th, 2016.  She was a faithful woman and we’ve always known that but the testimony below shows just how faithful she was to God. Eternal rest onto her soul. My favorite part was the ending: “It is not where you’re from but where you’re going that counts.” Read on for more.

MargeHoffman

Marge Hoffman’s testimony at Valley Baptist Church near Baltimore, MD – 5/4/1997

“Good morning, for you who are visitors, I am Marjorie Hoffman. I was born almost 75 years ago in a farm community in south Alabama near the Gulf of Mexico – the nearest town was Bay Minnette and Diane Foster and husband are probably the only ones in the church who know where that is since they came from Pensacola area.

I was saved at age 13; and baptized in a running creek.  I am not one to remember much, that’s my daughters job.  What I come to say today is that:

I am free.
I am rich. 
And it is forever.

I am free according to Romans 6:22 ‘Everyone who accepts God’s gift of forgiveness is set free.’

‘I have been redeemed not by corruptible things but by the precious blood of Jesus.’ (1 Peter 1:18-19)

‘Sin shall not have dominions over me for I am not under law but under grace.’ (Romans 6:14)

I am rich. ‘For God shall supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Phillippians 4:19)

I have never hungry in my life. I was a ‘single parent’ before it was a popular description. God provided me with three jobs to survive and my daughter said ‘I didn’t know we were poor.’

‘I am to be anxious in nothing-but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make my request known to God.’ (Phillippians 4:6)

‘And his piece prevails and guards my heart and my mind through Christ Jesus.’ (Phillipians 4:7)

This is God’s promise and he never fails or goes back on a promise therefore I claim his promise.

I will never die. Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection and life. Those who believe in me even though they die will live and everyone who lives and believes in ME will never die.’ (John 11:25-26)

I have God’s everlasting love as described in Romans 8:38-39 ‘For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

My place of birth, ethnic background, social status, personal achievement and even my church affiliation have no bearing on where I spend eternity. The determining factor is in my faith in Christ as savior from my sin. It is the only way to have our name written in the Lord’s book of life.

It is not where you’re from but where you’re going that counts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reblog: Lent, Humility and a #Selfie

Last week I wrote a guest blog for the Memphis Young Adults of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. It’s something I do about once a month to help generate content for their website.

This particular blog was about Lent and humility. Here is an excerpt:

I am storytelling, it’s literally what I get paid to do.  So naturally, when I see or experience something worth sharing with others, that calls people to action, I share it.  For the most part the posts are uplifting or informative.  But when I share those stories, even my own, I think of Psalm 19:15 “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you.”

That verse is basically saying, let me remember what this is really all about. Let me remember to be humble in my thoughts, words and actions.  And let me recognize that there is a balance.

In the post I explain why I think it’s okay to post pictures and share your Lenten journey with your followers.  Feel free to read the entire post here. 

A Day Of Service and Empowerment

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Today I spent the morning with Forever Ready Productions documenting the work of employees and their families from AutoZone as they helped clean the building that will house Room In The Inn – Memphis (coordinated by Volunteer Odyssey).

TurnerSweep

8-year-old Turner Knotnow summed up MLK’s question very easily this morning.

“I’m cleaning these windows in here and trying to make it look nice for people who don’t have a home.” said Turner Koltnow. “I like volunteering. It’s pretty nice.”

He spent the morning volunteering with his mom and brother at Room In The Inn. It was a part of a volunteer day with AutoZone, coordinated by Volunteer Odyssey.

Fitting enough, it was scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  A day devoted to service projects, honoring his life and remembering the challenge he set before us years ago.

“I like serving because it’s helpful and I get to meet nice people,” said Turner.

But his mother brought him because it was a chance to serve together and instill values in him to continue a life of service.

“We are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by doing a service project with Room In The Inn. And I am so excited to have the opportunity to do the project with my son’s. Turner who is 8 and Max who is 5 years old,” said Jenny Koltnow.

Dozens of others shared in the experience with their kids (who also had the day off from school) and by the afternoon the place was cleaned up, clothes were organized and there was a feeling of accomplishment.

“All those little things add up and they really matter, they really matter to someone. It doesn’t have to be big heroic acts. It’s a matter of taking a little time here and there. And all those things add up over time. So they too can adopt that same interest in giving back and helping others,” said Jenny.

It’s nice to see a local corporation make time for their employees to volunteer. They hired Volunteer Odyssey to plan and coordinate the day of service.  All they had to do was show up and do work.  The day was documented by Forever Ready Productions and will be edited into a video for them to share with friends and family.

It used to be (and sometimes still is) perceived that sharing about your volunteering experience was really just a way to brag about how awesome you are and the work that you’re doing.  But over time that has changed. Social media is now a tool of empowerment. Now it’s more about being a voice for the organization you’re helping and showing your friends and family that they can get involved too.

PaintService

“Focusing on the needs of other people and bring to their attention what’s really going on in the community that we live and that we can’t take what we have for-granted,” said Jenny.

It’s amazing to see kids learning at a young age that giving back to their community only helps to make it better. It is in showing them that a day off can be spent helping others that we can all learn too.

Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life of service and fought for the freedom of equal rights for all. It’s only fitting that we spend an entire day dedicating our time to giving back.

That’s empowering.