Speaking


Marlene speaks at church, women's, youth, and homeschool events and conferences. Following are topics on which she has previously spoken. All can be presented as keynote speeches or workshops:


Race Relations: How Warm is the Pool?
Suppose we're both looking at the same swimming pool, which has 80 degree water temperature. You're sitting in a poolside chair and I'm soaking in a hot tub, and we both decide to jump into the pool at the exact same time. You jump from the 70 degree air into the 80 degree pool and experience the pool as being bath water warm. I jump from the 100 degree hot tub into the 80 degree pool and experience the pool as being very cold. Same pool, two vastly different experiences! This illustrates the point that two people can experience the same environment in completely different ways, yet both experiences can be equally valid! The difference in perception is directly related to where each person came from, before they met in the shared environment. In this talk, I apply this metaphor to race relations and invite listeners of ALL ethnicities to try jumping into the pool we call the USA from a different place. I do this by sharing non-accusatory sociological, historical, and biblical perspectives on racial interactions, as well as some personal observations as an American of ethnic minority heritage. I then share some very practical, doable ways we can all seek to better understand and relate to people of other ethnicities.


Discovering Your True Identity: Knowing and Being Who God Created You to Be
We all wear labels, whether we realize it or not. Common labels include FAT, UGLY, STUPID, WORTHLESS, LOSER, POOR, NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and FAILURE. These labels quietly and negatively influence our motivations and behaviors, and if they're not addressed, they can eventually destroy our relationships, careers, health, and ministry. This talk is about tackling our labels head on! Using transparent personal stories, I explain how to identify and remove labels, rather than letting them quietly rule our lives. I discuss what this specifically looks like in real life, anxiety provoking social situations, and finally, I explain how removing our labels helps us to better know and fearlessly be the unique individuals God created us to be.


Tapping Into Your God-Given Passions
As a child of God, you have a specific calling on your life, and the things you're truly passionate about doing point toward this calling. But what if you don't know where your passions lie? That's what this talk is about! Specifically, I cover various hindrances that can stifle, distort, and crush your passions; ways to overcome these hindrances; and a highly effective method of identifying your true passions (which does not include a personality test or vague questions such as "if money was no object, what would you do with your life?"). Throughout this talk, I share my personal story about passions that I stifled at various points in my life, and I explain how God resurrected them amid the crucible of early motherhood.


Developing Healthy Friendships, Part 1: Ending the Social Games 
We human beings are wired for relationship. It's something we all crave, and yet many of us don't experience deep relationships to the degree we desire. In this talk, I explain how and why this happens. I first examine social structures that develop in childhood, and how they evolve into unspoken "social games" that tend to govern relationships in families, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, and groups of people in general. I then explain how playing these social games impedes our ability to trust and get real with others in adulthood, while simultaneously distorting our understanding of the real purpose for having friends. I then share various ways to transcend the negative aspects of these social games in a Christlike way, and I explain how to transform two huge friendship killers, jealousy and unforgiveness, from a double curse into a double blessing.


Developing Healthy Friendships, Part 2: Mentoring Relationships
Did you know that the person you are today is directly related to the people you've hung out with and the books you've read during the past several years? This means that the people you hang out with now, and the books you're reading today will directly impact the person you'll be, several years in the future. And that's why mentors are so important! In this talk, I explain what mentoring looks like from a biblical and a practical standpoint. I also share personal stories about mentoring in my life, and I provide tips for proactively developing mentoring relationships in your life.


The Battle Belongs to the Lord... But We Do Have a Role in the Battle!
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we all live in a spiritual war zone, with unseen spiritual battles raging around us day and night. For this reason, a good understanding of our enemy's methods of attack is essential when we engage in ministry duties of any kind, including the very important ministry of parenthood! Drawing from Roman, Napoleonic, and modern military writings, I explain the principles of physical warfare and apply them to spiritual warfare, using biblical and real life examples to illustrate each point. I also discuss specific strategies of the enemy, methods of fending off and avoiding enemy attacks, and concrete ways to go on the offensive against the enemy.


God's Grace in Christmas (seasonal topic)
We human beings tend to continuously compare ourselves with others, to mentally rank and sort ourselves in order to determine our relative worth. In this talk, I discuss how this tendency plays out in our lives, particularly in our personal ability to believe that God is truly for us. I then share God's beautiful message of grace and love for all people, regardless of where we stand in our artificial human value ranking system, and I share how this message was repeatedly demonstrated through the specific physical circumstances of Jesus' birth.



YOUTH GROUP TOPICS:

Bullying 101: Strong, Weak, and Bystanders
In this talk, I explain the three different types of people involved in most bullying situations: the strong person, the weak person, and bystanders. I then share personal bullying stories that demonstrate various types of strong people (physically strong, strong in numbers, and strong in influence). Working interactively with the kids, we examine the two choices each type of person in a bullying situation can make, and then we discuss practical ways for kids to make the right choices, whether they are strong, weak, or a bystander in a particular situation.


Standing Up to the Crowd
In this talk, I encourage tweens and teens to think through how much they allow the crowd to determine their behavior. Using the story of Joshua repeatedly standing up to the crowd, as well as my own personal stories of not standing up to the crowd, I encourage tweens and teens to carefully consider the consequences of their actions (or inactions) in their daily lives.


Race Relations: How Warm is the Pool?
This is a kid-friendly version of this talk, which is described above.




HOMESCHOOLING TOPICS:

A Countercultural Approach to Socialization
In this talk, I help prospective, new, and veteran homeschooling parents examine socialization through a completely new set of lenses. We first take a look at the belief system undergirding the accepted socialization process, which many homeschoolers unknowingly buy into. Next, I examine the negative long-term outcomes of the accepted socialization process, which can affect our homeschooled children, if we're not careful. I then present a countercultural approach to socialization that focuses on helping our children develop specific character traits, communication skills, and conflict management skills within individual relationships, with the long-term goal of being able to develop and sustain deep, meaningful relationships in adulthood—the type of relationship that many "properly socialized" adults crave, yet have difficulty developing.


Lessons From the Trenches
In this talk, I share some hard-earned lessons I've learned during sixteen years of parenting and twelve years of homeschooling—things I wish I knew when I was a new parent and a new homeschooler.