Meet Nicole... a sheltering Live Oak

Live Oaks of Midland--Nicole Mavis

117_MavisNicolePeopleofMidlandProjectFB.jpg
To live a life of kindness and love. To live a life building others up and being selfless. To live a life serving our lord and doing for others. To just be a good human.


Meet one of the sweetest & kindest women I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know: Nicole Mavis.

I consider her an Oak in Midland because of the way she has nurtured so many relationships through her gentleness, listening ear and thoughtfulness.  She has also endured hardship and is an overcomer.  Here is her faith-filled story… 

But first, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I have been with MidMichigan Health for the past 10 years. I am the Administrative Assistant at the Diabetes Center. I love being around like minded people who just want to help others and make them feel better.

What about your family?

I grew up in a home that was filled with love and my brother and I were blessed with parents that were nurturing and supportive and did everything they could to help us grow into well rounded adults. Though my immediate family was just the four of us, we were never alone because I grew up in a family filled with cousins, Aunts and Uncles. We have a very large family and very few of them left Midland, so now as adults, our families are closer than ever and our children are growing up together. Our grandparents are so very proud as they smile down from heaven.

19 years ago I meet the love of my life through a mutual friend. Josh and I will be married 12 years in May. Wow! I can’t even believe those NUMBERS! It has gone by so fast. It literally feels like yesterday that we meet. My husband and I spent the first 5 years of our marriage traveling and establishing our careers before we started our family. We welcomed our son Hunter 6 years ago and then 3 years ago we had our baby girl, Harper. She completes our family perfectly and thank god everyday for our beautiful little family.

Where have you put down roots?

Midland is home. Midland is where my family is and Midland is where we want to raise our family.

How many years have you lived in Midland

I was born and raised in Midland. Both my husband and my families are here in Midland and we will never leave. Family is everything and we could never picture life living far away from them.

In what ways are you involved in our community?

I volunteer at The Bridge, which is a non profit grocery store that our church opened two years ago. Our mission is to “Bridge” the gap for those who are low income in our community… but does not qualify for state services. We have thousands of families in Midland County that are below the poverty line and go without food. We are serving those families and providing them with affordable options so they do not have to go hungry. It’s a pretty amazing program. I also enjoy being involved with Cancer Services and giving back. They helped me through my cancer diagnosis and I love being surrounded by such a loving and caring group of women. I feel very connected to them and I always look forward to helping them in any way that I can.

How do you want to change or improve Midland?

We need more opportunities in Midland for individuals who are trying to rehabilitate themselves back in our community after struggling with addiction. We need more programs that provide them with training opportunities so they can gain confidence and get a job. There are a few programs in Midland, but feel like we could use more.

 What are your dreams?

For my marriage to continue to grow and experience new things together. For my husband continue to thrive and be happy in his career. For my children to continue to grow and be healthy, I want for them to be happy and to love themselves and others. And for myself, I dream to one day quit my full time job and be able to do more with my children in school and do photography full time.

 What are you passionate about?

Photography, I love using my gift from god to give families beautiful photos of their loved ones… photos they will hold and cherish forever.

What breaks your heart?

To think of the world that my children are growing up in. The days of walking down a country road to your friends house, is gone. The days of being able to trust a stranger, is gone. The days of going to school and feel like it’s your safe place, is gone. There are so many things that generations before them used to enjoy… but because of the violence and hate that walks our streets anymore… those days are gone.

How have the winds of life made you stronger?

With life you have highs and you have lows. I can say personally, I have struggled with my lows and I am not afraid to admit that as I am human and we all struggle. Since turning 30 I have dealt with a lot of loss both in death and in friendships, I have dealt with health issues, the stress of raising your children, the pressure of being this “Got it all together” Mom and wife, the worry of maintaining a healthy marriage, the anxiety of jobs, making life decisions that can ultimately impact you for the rest of your life… being a adult is NO JOKE! Its rough! Through all of this, I have learned that everyone wakes in the morning with a choice. A choice to make the best of it and start new or to dwell on the yesterdays and allow it bring you down. The winds of life have taught me to do my very best to find a positive in everything you face, no matter how hard it is. God never gives you more than you can handle and you just have to give your troubles and worries to him as he is the one with a plan.

Will you share more of your faith story with us?

In the weeks after my cancer diagnosis, I cannot describe the fear of the unknown. I can not describe my thoughts nor my emotions. If I could not describe them to my loved ones so they could help me, then what was I to do? It was then that I turned to the lord because only he knew my thoughts, he knew what I needed to get through this. I’ll never forget sitting in church that day, by myself and just weeping as I listened to the message being delivered to us. It was as if it was meant for me. Pastor Ed read scriptures from the bible about fear and and how god is our refuge and he will see us through everything… it spoke right to my heart. It was then I knew everything was going to be ok.  I had not been consistent in going to church or praying to god at this point in my life. However, I was raised in a catholic home where christian values were always instilled in us. Those weeks after hearing I had cancer I was scared out of my mind and that day I went back to church I asked for forgiveness of all my sins and I laid myself before the lord and asked him to work through me, allow me to serve him by serving others. It was that day I felt the presence of god with me and inside of me… I felt god’s grace. It was then that I knew he would calm my fears and help me to get through this very trying time in my life.

After going through cancer… I have learned how fragile life truly is. It helped me to refocus on the important things in life, my children, my husband, my family and my faith. Life can consume you and you can lose sight of the important things in life, really quick. When you face a scary diagnosis and your future is threatened with your family, you don’t let the little moments pass by. You embrace them, you love them, you hold onto them.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9


 Where do you get your grounding?

My family. Immediate family and extended. I have a very large family and we are very close. I’m talking… close with 2nd and 3rd cousins! It’s pretty amazing and you don’t see this often with families. We are very lucky that very few of us moved out of the area so this helps us greatly in staying close. The love and support we give one another is monumental. We lift each other up and always go running when one of us are in need. I have watched my parents, my great aunts and uncles and so many of my cousins move through life being present, helping others, be humble in their successes, live life serving our lord and just being kind and loving members of our community. Having these role models in my life… without a doubt has kept me grounded and given me a great deal of pride. They make me want to be a better person and everyday I wake with the goal of making a difference in someone’s life, little or big.

 

Finally, do you have a favorite quote or Scripture you could leave us with?

To live a life of kindness and love. To live a life building others up and being selfless. To live a life serving our lord and doing for others. To just be a good human.

And the perfect reminder. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

 

Thank you so much Nicole for sharing your story, we feel honored and encouraged! 

People are amazing....

HEADSHOT-barbsmith2017e.jpg

One of the greatest joys of Live Oak is the way it has allowed us to meet new people all of the time!  What I keep discovering over and over is how amazing people are. 

A favorite question of mine by Andy Stanley is: "What breaks your heart? --Someone whose heart was so broken over an issue, someone whose heart was so broken over what was happening in their community, their school system, their city, their community, their world, that they decided something has to be done and they decided not to take no for an answer, that this is an extremely important question for all of you. What breaks your heart?"

I had the chance to spend some time yesterday afternoon talking with Barb Smith and Maryssa Lyons.  We talked... we cried... we shared our burdens and desire to make a difference where we can.  

Finding Purpose in the Pain... is the tagline of Barb Smith's organization she founded nearly three decades ago, Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network.  Barb & her team set out to do this every day.  Their organization works to bring awareness, support, prevention through community and healing.  And in just the short time we talked, Barb's compassion and gentleness poured out... I know she is making a difference every day by walking with those that are hurting.

In just a couple of weeks, they will be doing Walk for Hope.  This 5Kwalk/run is a family -friendly event  on the beautiful grounds of Northwood Unversity and surrounding area.  This event is intended to raise awareness and funds to bring programs that will bring awareness to  decrease suicides and increase help seeking behavior. Live music, light foods, activities, resource tables and a beautiful route.  Here Barb & Maryssa tell us a little about their organization:  https://www.facebook.com/liveoakcoffeehouse/videos/1010323085816525/

If this is something that breaks your heart and something you would like to help with but you don't know how... maybe this could be a way to start.  Friends, we need each other... we are all in this together.

 

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”― Mother Teresa

Meet our new friend Mark

markrenee.jpg

Meet my new friend Mark Piotrowski.  Mark is a High School art teacher, a talented muralist, owner of MarkedArts and a really cool guy!

MARKed ARTs is a group of local Artists who are striving to bring public Art to the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond! Made up of Mark Piotrowski, Adam Wernecke, Sean Gallagher, and Eric Larsen. Individually, they are all talented artists who pursue their own artistic work as well as public and private commissions. Together they have created murals for Uptown and Downtown Bay City and a huge project for the city of Midland. Currently, there are several projects in the works that will be coming to our area soon!

I have had the wonderful privilege of serving on our community’s public arts committee for the past two years. I have loved working with individuals who truly care about our community and value the benefit art is to our well being. It is through this that I first learned of Mark. He is the amazing artist of the mural under the Business 10 Bridge.

I love the way he uses color to create movement in his work. It’s been a dream of mine to have a mural on the side of our building. I’ve always thought what an amazing big blank canvas. I love public art and the way it gives us a shared experience. I love anything that puts a smile on your face and a pep in your step. I wanted our mural to do just that. I wanted something that would symbolize what we are passionate about and become a piece of art that would brighten the neighborhood we have come to love.

Pause, connect, create and grow are some of the words we have settled on as some pillars we want to build here. Taking time to pause in the midst of our daily lives to notice and be grateful is a practice I personally have to be very intentional about. Connect & Create ... in the digital and fast paced lifestyles we all live the art of connecting over a cup of coffee, creating a business plan, crafting a project, making time for self care, dancing, exercising or receiving counseling... we all need space to connect in a space we can feel welcome and free to come as we are. We believe that creativity flourishes when we make time for the first two. Growth, we personally have experienced so much growth from being in community & learning from each other and we love watching others grow & fly!

When I shared all of these ideas with Mark, he leaned in and said... "cool. This will be cool.  I dig it".  And then we went to work on drafting a design we felt would best reflect this vision. It was an awesome collaboration, Mark was amazing to work with... patient and didn’t seem to think I was too weird... for which I’m so grateful because I am a little strange.

It has been a fun process and we hope that everyone has enjoyed the adventure and continues to enjoy the bit of inspiration it can give you as you drive, bike or walk by. We created stickers for you to take a little piece of the heart of Midtown with you. The proceeds of these will go to Marked Arts to further show our appreciation of the gift he shared with us. We would love for you to join us in thanking him.

With a grateful heart, Reneé Deckrow

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa