During a three-month break from writing her inspirational book for teens, Macy Gerig started to doubt its value.
“That was kind of a time when I got, really, almost scared,” she said. “I was really clouded with doubt and fears …. ‘Is this really something that could actually go anywhere? Is this even necessary? Is anyone going to like it?’”
But instead of wallowing in uncertainty, the 16-year-old Wauseon High School student placed her faith squarely in God. The result is “Dear Teen: We’re In This Together,” a heartfelt exploration of the bond between God and teenagers and its effect on their lives and relationships. Published in April, the book is the culmination of Macy’s own growth with the Lord during endless leisure time caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A varsity soccer and dive athlete, class president, Student Advisory Council member, and leader of both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Girls Christian Fellowship organizations, Macy’s WHS extracurrular activities were unceremoniously pulled in March 2020 by the scourge of COVID-19. She found trying to fill that previously busy time an unfamiliar and difficult experience.
“(So) I really began to grow in my relationship with God, and in March I just felt really led to share the gospel,” she said.
She placed original devotionals for friends on social media, including videos on YouTube, “encouraging them to stay faithful and stay positive in a time where it was really hard, especially for a lot of athletes who weren’t doing all the things they were used to doing.” Their success led Macy to consider finding a greater audience.
Her inspiration came from a button labeled “Create” she saw on her iPad that suggested writing a book. “God just kind of put it right in front of me,” Macy said.
With the encouragement of her parents, Matt and Jessica Gerig, she decided to begin writing on topics she had been carrying within herself. It started as a fun exercise, but soon blossomed into more.
“There wasn’t, like, ‘Let’s write a book’…there really wasn’t that big picture yet. I wanted to write and encourage teenagers to stay faithful,” she said.
Macy was concerned that teens felt the identities they had gained through their canceled extracurriculars would be lost. “It prompted me to show people that your identity isn’t in all these things. Through all of these difficulties, God is still faithful,” she said.
Calling her book more a self-help guide, Macy wrote about friendships, relationships, finding time with God, teens living out their fate, and using faith during troubled times. She wrote constantly over two weeks – on one occasion for 20 hours straight.
“It was so God-led that it just poured out from me…You can so tell that this was God’s timing, that it was His work – (I) just picked up the pen,” Macy said.
Then the pandemic seemed to ease in May of last year, and Macy broke from her writing the next three months to rejoin some of her sporting activities and to work as a lifeguard at Wauseon’s community pool. During her summer respite as an author, Macy began to wonder whether her project was worth continuing. “I thought, ‘That was cool, but am I ever really going to do anything with it,’” she recalled.
God, however, wouldn’t let the book go, she said. Placed in several quarantine situations between that July and December, “I felt that was God’s way to making me sit down and focus on my book,” she said.
Her belief in His plan for her was sealed when her church’s pastor recounted the story of Jonah, who ran from God’s expectations of him and finally relented when he was left in the belly of a whale.
“I felt like the quarantines were my whale. I was, like, ‘Okay, God, you win. I’ll go finish my book,’” Macy said. She resumed writing and, after having her book copy edited in November, felt like it was completed.
“I’m a good writer but it was more God-based…I wanted to write it because God pushed me to write this, and He called me to this, and I know that whatever I’m writing is from His words…and so I knew that He would take care of it,” she said.
The book was submitted to a hybrid publishing company which accepted it. But Macy turned down the offer, determined to keep ownership of her writing rather than give it away.
“I kind of really lost hope,” she said.
She believes God nudged her again through a Christmas gift from her grandmother – a mug proclaiming Macy “Future Best Selling Author.” Inspired, she sent her manuscript to the more traditional Zondervan Publishing in Grand Rapids, Mich., but knew acceptance was a long shot.
“I decided to take some time to spend with God, to focus on school, focus on diving, on the things that I was involved in,” Macy said.
Just before the six-week deadline Zondervan’s had set to accept or reject Macy’s book expired, her mother sent her information about Addis Press. The self-publishing company was started in Tennessee by former Wauseon acquaintances, Pastor Tyler and Cathie Quillet. Messaging the Quillets led to a contract and “Dear Teen: We’re In This Together” being published this April.
“The response has been insane. I can’t even describe to you how blessed I feel to be in this community,” Macy said of Wauseon. “Everyone has been so supportive. They have been sharing my book…To see that support when it came out is humbling.”
She wanted to provide a book that spoke authentically to its audience, unlike those typically written for teenagers by an adult.
“I feel like (adults are) missing the relatable part, where, ‘You’re not a teenager. You don’t know what I’m going through,’” Macy said. “And so I wanted Christian teenagers to have a resource that they could go to that was specifically from their struggles – someone who knew their struggles, knew what they were going through, knew the ins and outs of friendships and relationships at our age. I wanted to show them there was someone else out there who was striving to glorify God in their teenage years.”
Wauseon High School Principal Keith Leatherman said Macy is a high-achieving student who gives 110% to everything she attempts, inside and outside the classroom.
“Just definitely a leader, and someone who is highly motivated, and just achieves at a high level no matter what she does,” Leatherman said. “For Macy to do something like this is kind of par for the course for the kind of student she is and the work that she puts in.”
She is, in fact, the youngest author to be published by Addis Press, Cathie Quillet said, adding, “We knew Macy when we lived in Wauseon. We were excited to champion her in this project.”
The budding author wants to begin writing a companion workbook to “Dear Teen” this summer. She said she plans to continue writing for the glory of God, and hopes more books are in her future.
“I wouldn’t say expect, but hopefully look forward to,” she said laughing.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.