A Glorious Interview with Baby Boomer Woman Marcia Laycock

by Anne Holmes on December 1, 2009

For the past 20 years, Marcia has been a pastor’s wife, mother of three girls, caretaker of two dogs, a six-toed cat and sundry fish, and oh, yes, a freelance writer and speaker.

Her writing began in the attic of her parent’s house where she wrote stories for her dolls. None of them complained, so she kept it up. The Lord has abundantly blessed, challenged, rebuked, healed and restored her through the process of writing and being involved with writers. She is currently the president of Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

Besides being a wife and mother (see below) I’m a  care-giver to two adolescent golden retrievers and a six-toed cat. I’ve been a writer almost all my life, but began publishing short stories, poems and articles about twenty years ago. I also love horses, large bodies of water, and stones of all kinds.

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I’ve been married to Spence, once a red-head, now a white-head J, for almost thirty years. For just over twenty of those years, he’s been in full-time ministry so that makes me a pastor’s wife. We have three beautiful grown daughters and two great sons in law. No grandbabies yet, but we’re hopeful. (We did recently become ‘grands’ to my daughter’s Great Dane puppy, but I’m trying to convince her that doesn’t count!) My mother-in-law is a frequent visitor with us – she’s an amazing woman I have come to love and respect. My mom is in a nursing home on the other side of the country. I cherish the few times a year I get to see her. Sadly, those visits are short, as Alzheimer’s has claimed her mind.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

I was raised between two of the Great Lakes –  Huron and Superior – so most of my childhood memories involve water – swimming, boating and playing on the beach. I had a great childhood for the most part, with the wilds of nature all around me. One of my most vivid memories is of playing hide and seek in a large field near our home (I was about 7 years old) when I came face to face with a large Lynx. We both froze, stared at one another and then ran in the opposite direction!

I also remember the day I watched T.V. for the first time – all the neighborhood kids crammed into our neighbor’s living room. I remember being very bored for the first few minutes as we sat there watching the black and white test pattern picture of an Indian head. I was wondering what all the fuss was about when the Indian disappeared and Howdy Doody came on. I’ve been a T.V. addict ever since.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I think one of the most prominent is a persistent optimism. My mother passed that on to me, I believe, as she was raising kids in the fifties, an era when suddenly anything seemed possible. But then there is the rebellious nature, too, that rose up in the sixties. I have a strong streak of that in me, along with a suspicion of corporations and governments.

What inspires you?

People who have overcome obstacles in their lives and gone on to accomplish amazing things; people who are consistently and often unobtrusively living their lives for others.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Right now I find myself in a wonderful place where I can enjoy great relationships with my children and their spouses and friends. I am very thankful for that and it brings me immense joy to have them all in my home, laughing and enjoying one another.

As a writer, I also take great pleasure in creating a piece of writing that changes someone’s life.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I collect stones and books – some might find that boring, but I find it fascinating.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

I have a long list of favorite books, but I’m reading one right now, North to the Night by Alvah Simon, that has captivated me. I enjoy books about the north and this one satisfies all the elements of adventure, perseverance, love and spirituality. Another favorite is The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan – that one taught me a lot about what the word ‘abide’ means. Leif Enger’s novel, Peace Like a River, Athol Dickson’s River Rising, Dale Cramer’s Summer of Light and Lisa Samson’s Embrace Me are also on the list. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is my all time favorite devotional book.

I do like movies too – the list of those favorites is long as well, but I suppose I’d pick a few oldies – The War, with Kevin Costner, for its amazing picture of forgiveness; Wit, which started as a Broadway production, for its raw realism; and Lady Hawk for its beautiful cinematography and picture of persistent love.  I just saw Julie/Julia with Meryl Streep and enjoyed it enough to want to buy the DVD when it comes out. I also love British mysteries on TV

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I’ve been privileged to do a fair bit of traveling in my life. A friend and I went to Europe when I was in University, many years ago and I fell in love with Portugal – would love to go back someday. More recently, my family and I lived in Papua New Guinea for a year, and my husband and I led a tour to Greece and Israel last year. That was great fun because some of our good friends were with us and the history of those lands is enthralling. I also love traveling in our own country, Canada. The only area I have not yet visited is the Eastern Arctic and do hope to get there someday. My husband is the best traveling companion ever, but I also have a couple of girl friends I’d travel with, in a flash.

What do you stress about?

I sometimes have to stop myself from worrying about my kids. They all live in large cities now, and they are all quite adventurous, so when they go off scuba diving and caving etc. that can make me a bit nervous. But I’ve learned to hand my children back to God. I usually have to do it several times a day! I believe he can take much better care of them than I ever could, no matter what happens. Knowing God is in control helps take the edge off the worry.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

This is something I’ve never thought much about. It confounds me why people with perfectly normal faces would consider plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons. I love the character in people’s faces, especially older faces, and can think of only one I have ever thought ugly.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

I did attempt to do that once, just after I started calling myself a Christian. I began going through quite an identity shift, moving from an “alternative” lifestyle into one much more conservative. I remember going into a shop and telling the saleswoman I needed something “churchy!” But as I grew in the understanding of what it meant to be a Christian I began to realize that it is all about what God is doing inside, not about what you try to do to yourself, or try to be, on the outside. I guess I would say that God re-invented me, or perhaps more specifically, He is transforming me into the person I was meant to be. It’s an ongoing process, one that is sometimes painful, sometimes inexpressibly joyful.

Do you plan to retire?

No. We will slow down some, I’m sure, but I think we’ll always be involved in ministry in some form, and I can’t ever see a day when I will stop writing. My husband warned me when we married that if we ever did retire it wouldn’t be in an R.V. but on a motorcycle. I’ve often thought that might be kind of fun! J

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

We are diligent about recycling, even drive to a nearby town to drop off bottles etc. We also are conscious of the small things that can add up – like turning out the lights, using a pre-set thermostat etc. I’m hoping that our next vehicle will be a hybrid, if we can afford it.

Do you engage in any faith based practices?

Lots. As a pastor’s wife I’m involved in teaching Sunday school and head up the women’s ministries in our church. I’m also the president of a Christian Writers’ organization (Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship – www.inscribe.org), and I speak regularly at Christian women’s retreats and other functions.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

I can think of three. The first happened when I was at university. I’d been taking a double major in Honours English and Journalism, but had to decide which way to go in the second year. My English prof. asked what I was going to do. When I told her I was leaning toward Journalism, she became very angry, said it was a “waste of good talent,” and stomped off. This is when my rebellious nature raised its ugly head and I thought, “hrummphh, I’ll show her. I’m going to be a journalist!” That turned out to be the wrong decision, and I’ve often thought that if I’d decided to go the other route I probably would have ended up teaching at a college or university. But instead I left the university life and set out on a path that was to take me to the far north for a “back to the land” experience and eventually led to the greatest turning point in my life, the day I made a leap of faith and decided to follow Jesus Christ.

That happened shortly after I was married, when my husband’s best friend committed suicide, another friend shot himself a few weeks later, another drowned in a canoeing accident, and a neighbor’s baby disappeared. With death suddenly a reality in our lives we started asking the big questions of life. I had convinced myself God didn’t exist, but one day, on a lonely lookout spot over the Stewart River in the Yukon, I challenged God to do something to show me if he was real. Shortly after that I discovered I was pregnant – a very unexpected and long hoped for event that the “experts” had told us would not happen. I was in the throes of morning sickness one day when I realized that this was the “something” I’d challenged God to do. He proved his love for me by giving me the desire of my heart – a beautiful baby girl. Then he gave me two more! That day on that Yukon road changed my life forever. (If you want to read the full story, go to my website.

And then there was the day I got mad at my husband. We were in a bookstore and I saw a book called “Writing Religiously.” I grabbed it up, excited to find something that might help me in the journey I’d already begun as a writer. My husband was in a bad mood that day – not a common thing – but it made him snap something about how this would be just another thing I’d start and not finish. (the comment was quite justified – I’d tried my hand at just about every hobby/career path you could name). But it made me mad and galvanized my plan to write. I sold my first short story not long after.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

My dream was always to become a writer and I feel I have accomplished that, with over 1000 articles, many short stories and a handful of poems in print, as well as broadcast on radio. I’ve also written a video script that was produced by a mission organization. But the dream keeps expanding – I was asked to put my devotional column, The Spur, into a book, so self-published The Spur of The Moment and sold all the copies I had printed. A second edition is coming out this month. I wanted to write a book for women in ministry so published Focused Reflections. I’d written a few novels and on about the fourth or fifth attempt landed a publishing contract and saw One Smooth Stone on the bookshelves of stores across the country and beyond. It won me the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award from Castle Quay Books and The word Guild. I’m working on the sequel now. I’d also like to write a play and see it performed on a stage some day. I hope to become involved with drama more in the days ahead, to see that part of the dream fulfilled.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

I feel my work with and through our church accomplishes that. I get to work with women of all ages and seeing how they blossom is wonderfully fulfilling. My husband and I are also involved with groups that work in the third world. Having lived in a country that is in that category, we both have a heart for the hungry and those without access to basic literacy. We do what we can to support groups who are involved in relieving those needs and we have “foster” children in a few places.

I have had some amazing response to my writing from time to time as well – letters and emails that tell me the words I’ve strung across the page have made a difference – like the man who read a piece I wrote about the importance of a father in a child’s life. He called his daughter, who was living on the streets of a large city, told her he loved her and wanted her to come home, and she did. Or the young man who read a piece I wrote about the death of his baby, who thanked me with tears streaming because it was “part of the healing.” Those are the things that keep me writing and believing it can make a difference.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

Teachers. First there were those who taught me how to string words together into sentences and paragraphs and one who taught me the invaluable skill of typing. Then there were those who opened up the disciplines of science, biology and geography that broadened my world. Teachers of philosophy and ethics at university took me another step, and teachers of art history and poetry revealed beauty and the music of language to hungry eyes and ears. Then the teachers of God’s word brought me home, teaching me about who God is and who I am in relation to him.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

My Mission statement – my mission is to live in my family, my community and the world in a way that honors and glorifies God and his creation, to broadcast whenever I can that he exists, that his love is infinite, unconditional and designed to flow out to all humanity.

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