Thursday, March 12, 2020

Writing the Rest of the Story

by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

For more than three decades, he told “the rest of the story” on the airwaves of radio programs that reached millions of listeners every week. News broadcaster Paul Harvey delivered current event stories with a flair like no other, inserting dramatic pauses and intonations and his own quirky sense of humor. 

I’ll admit that I wasn’t, as a high school and college student, always interested in his news posts, but I adored his “rest of the story” segments. I loved hearing the lesser-known stories, the tidbits that most likely wouldn’t make the headline news that evening nor the front page the next morning. 

The stories of just the average Joe or the normal Nan. They were powerful stories that I could relate to—I was a poor farmer’s daughter; I couldn’t relate to the latest Hollywood story, the wealthy entrepreneur, or the politicians in D.C. Perhaps Harvey’s influence fueled my love of sharing others’ stories through newspaper or other articles.

The stories that might not otherwise make the front page of my hometown newspaper, with a staff that’s been cut more and more over the years. Poignant stories that might not find their way to print without a little help from writers willing to share the rest of the story. 

This week, I found out that stories I’ve shared of other people in various media were chosen as Selah Finalists in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference category of “articles in print.” I am humbled and thrilled to know that the God-stories I wrote, those “lesser-known stories” in my hometown, were selected alongside distinguished works of art in the category.

If you’ll permit me, I’d love to share “the rest of the story” of some of those Selah Finalists’ articles that I’ve had the privilege to share in print. 

“Determined Teen Follows Her Dream,” Statesboro Herald Newspaper, is the story of a 15-year-old double amputee who, with the help of some “angels” as her mama called them, received a new pair of prosthetics and therapy at no cost, giving her mobility that she had not had since the age of five, when she lost both legs due to a rare disease.

“God put just the right people in our lives at the right time,” I quoted Tazmeria’s mother. 

With the help of these “angels,” Tazmeria is following her desire to play golf, a dream she’s had since she was just a little girl. 

And now, my community knows the rest of the story of a determined teen and some kind-hearted adults who work pro-bono to give the dreamer a better life.

“D’s Friendly Diner,” Guideposts Magazine, is the story of a remarkable woman who overcame the stronghold of years of drug use and alcoholism, who worked at McDonald’s after getting sober. Dana walked to work every day, from the rehab house where she lived, and each day, for weeks, she stopped at a small diner to see if the owner would hire her. After months of asking, Dana was finally told yes.

Dana’s hardworking ethics and transparency with the customers endeared her to so many, that when she made plans to buy the diner from the retiring owner, a couple that frequented the breakfast spot co-signed for her loan. 

She started with one cook and one waitress—herself. Now, she has almost a dozen workers, and all but two workers are in various stages of recovery.

Dana said, “Drugs did so much damage in my life and in my family’s life. I can’t undo that. What I can do is trust God and give others the love and support that were so crucial to my own recovery.” 

And now, more than a million Guideposts subscribers know the rest of the story of how God is using a former drug-addict to change the lives of others who struggle with addictions of their own. 

Dana proudly hung a framed copy of the Guideposts article that tells her story on the diner wall, along with hundreds of photographs of customers who each have addiction stories they’ve shared with Dana over the years. 

“Volunteers Serve the Community at the Averitt,” Discovering Bulloch Magazine, is a recovery story of sorts, as well, that tells the partnership of the community theater in my hometown with volunteers who are earning service hours as part of their rehab experience. It’s a beautiful, win-win relationship that has changed the course of young men and women who, not only couldn’t find jobs, but couldn’t find purpose in life, either. 

I quoted one young man who said, “Willingway got me sober; the Averitt Center gave me a chance that others might not have. They allowed me to get outside myself and help other people.”  

And now, the arts community in my county knows the rest of the story behind the volunteers that helped turn around, and possibly save, the local theater program.

“Christmas Card Creations,” cover story of Clubhouse Magazine, shares the story of an 11-year-old youngster with a passion for drawing. Harrison draws Christmas cards each year to sell to friends and family and a huge portion of his profits go to a different charity each year. He got the idea the first year he drew a card at seven, when he wanted to give the money to his aunt and uncle to use for the medical expenses of his three-month-old cousin, Kate, who had just been diagnosed with lissencephaly.

The kids’ magazine article quotes Harrison, “My parents taught me about saving money and about giving back to others,” and continues with “Harrison loved the idea of using his talents for Christ and giving back to God.”

And now, the readership of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine know the rest of the story of a youngster who wants to use the talents God gave him to serve the Lord and bless others.

I never tire of telling God-stories and happenings from my community, and I count it a joy and privilege to do so. I also never tire of encouraging others to find some of those “lesser-known,” but great in God’s Kingdom, stories to share, too. Not only is it rewarding to write newspaper and magazine articles, to share those God-stories with others, but it’s a great way to earn writing credits while you’re penning larger pieces of work and building platform.

I’d love to hear some of your “rest of the story” stories. Share with me, won’t you? 

Julie Lavender ……Good day. (That’s a little Paul Harvey humor there …. in case you’re wondering.)


Though Julie Lavender is thrilled that several of her articles in print were chosen for Selah Finalist awards, she’s most happy that the God-stories in each of those articles is being shared with many.  She counts it pure joy that God gives her the opportunity to share in various ways what he is doing in her small, south-Georgia town. Julie is also excited that her parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, published by Revell, releases in October of this year. She thanks God for the opportunity to offer “make a memory” suggestions, and she looks forward to hearing memory-making ideas from others on her Facebook page, 365 Ways to Love a Child. Connect with Julie there – she’d love to meet you!


  1. Such positive, encouraging stories. What a necessary niche you are filling with your writing. May God continue to bless you!! And help you find others whose stories will speak to those who need hope.

    1. Thank you so much, Julie, for your encouragement and kind words. We all have such wonderful God-stories to tell, and I love sharing so many of those sweet stories. I consider it an honor to share their stories, and I hope to continue doing so! Thank you for commenting!

  2. I love to read these stories, Julie. Tanks for giving us the rest of these stories.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting - I love hearing people's God-stories, and then I love sharing those sweet stories with others. Each one gives hope and encouragement in so many ways!

  3. Amen. I think this part of of the calling some of us receive. Some write fanciful fiction that transforms readers to another place and time. Others write "the rest of the story" to transform our hearts. Am so glad God called you ma'am.

    1. Thank you so much, J.D., for continuing the conversation on this site. I always enjoy receiving your encouraging words!! And, you are so right! I love me some good fanciful fiction that takes me to another place and time, and I also love hearing and sharing stories - little and big - about others' lives that inspire me, give me hope, encourage me, and transform my heart. I love that God equips writers in different ways to meet needs and further His kingdom. Blessings!

  4. Julie, I share your passion for magazine and newspaper writing. And the Lord knew just what to do when he directed me to begin college (years ago) as a journalism major...before I switched to English education. The valuable training in journalism set a platform which enabled me to have regular newspaper and magazine columns. Keep on writing your inspirational pieces!

    1. Roberta, it's great to "meet" another who is passionate about magazine and newspaper writing! My background is education, too, but early childhood, so it was a huge learning curve for me! But I've loved it, for sure! Blessings on your journalism, and may God continue to bless your opportunities in those outlets.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Michelle! I appreciate your comments. Blessings!