Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another confirmation at the Book Store!

12-29-11 Another confirmation at the Book store!

 A couple of weekends ago, Stephanie and I began to drive around looking for Book Stores that would put "Another Second Chance" on their shelves.

We had been informed that getting your "self published" book onto a book store shelf is not an easy task. Most stores wont even consider it unless you are an established author with a publisher and distributor behind you. Even when you are able to, the fees will drive your profit margin down to a minimal amount.

 So when we entered Holy Family Books & Gifts in Sandusky, OH to ask if they would be interested in putting my new book onto their shelf, I was a little intimidated. We had already been told previously, that this was a Catholic book store and would only accept Catholic books. And since "Another Second Chance" is a memoir or biography, I thought my chances were slim to none...

You could hear the loud bells jingling together as we opened the front door! The peoples heads turning to see who we are. Then that nervous feeling of "what the heck am I doing hear" running through my body.

 "Hi. May I speak to the manager please. Or owner." I said, to the lady standing in front of the counter; Not being sure if she was "that person".

 "He's right there" she said, pointing to a gentlemen who's head was all you could see sitting behind the counter. He was working on his computer.

 He stood up and said "Hi, how can I help you?"

 I stuck out my hand and introduced myself and Stephanie. I put my book onto the counter as I began to stumble and stammer through what was suppose to be my sales pitch. I told him we were from Fremont and what the book was about. As I talked, he just sifted through the book studying various pages. He made it to the pics of when I played Jesus and began to smile.

 "Wow, that looks very real!" he said.

 At this point his assistant began to look at the pics. Her reaction was the same as the owner. She began to ask Stephanie questions about the pictures and the story within the book.

 As their conversation took off and into a different path, I continued to chat with the owner.

 "My name is Phil, by the way." he said. He began to ask a few questions about the story. How I came to need a kidney? Who I received a kidney from? (That one took a while to answer) And how I wrote the book and published it.

 Phil continued to flip the pages, skimming through the chapters. Asking questions about various portions of the book.

 Finally he asked "So what is it that your wanting to do?"

 "Well, we were hoping to have the book for sale on you shelf in hear." I said. Then it felt like the room went silent for a moment. I looked over to Stephanie and back. Phil just continued to look down at the book, still skimming through it.

 Finally the silence was broken. "I don't normally put biographies and memoirs on our shelves. Our books are generally Catholic based. But I believe that this book can speak on many levels. Just from what I have seen so far, I would be willing to put it on my shelf."

 "What do you have in mind?" Phil said.

 I looked over at Stephanie as she began to say "Well we have a lot of cost in the book and can't give you a lot"

 Then Phil jumped in and said "I wasn't going to charge you. I was just going to let you put'em on the shelf! You keep it all."

I just started to laugh as I looked over at Stephanie. She was busy picking her jaw up off of the floor from her previous statement.

 "OK." I said as I continued to chuckle in disbelief and thankfulness. God had come through once again. But He wasn't finished yet...

What Phil said next, left me picking my jaw up off of his counter...

 " You see, I will more than likely be where you are in this book one day. I have polycistic kidney disease. This is a book that is close to my heart already and needs to be shared." Phil said.

I was discouraged to even go to this book store, But God lead the way. He knew even before this book was written, that Phil would be waiting to accept it into his store and into his life. Phil started this Holy book store on faith alone! He was a school teacher 7 years ago or so, and felt lead to start this store. Many told him that he was crazy and it would never succeed. Years later, Phil and the Holy book store are still there, in busy downtown Sandusky. Now, so is "Another Second Chance ...God's Story".

 Thanks to the faith of my new friend Phil...

The walk continues...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An unexpected Christmas Gift

With Christmas approaching and good will in the air, comes the parties to celebrate the season. Stephanie and I were beaming with excitement! We had been invited to Dr. Rees's (my renal transplant surgeon) house on this Thursday before Christmas for an open house celebration.
We joked saying "How many patients get to go to their surgeon's house for Christmas?"
I mean, he had already given me the ultimate gift! The gift of life!! By creating the Alliance for Paired Donation which allowed a donor to be found, then performing my transplant. What an organization! Without it, I would not be here today...
All started because of a very kind lady that approached Doc one day and wanted to give her kidney to a stranger for no other reason than "she just wanted to help".
To hear Doc tell the story is rather comical. "I thought she was crazy! I couldn't understand why you would want to give your kidney away to a perfect stranger!" So Doc sent her through an extensive psych exam to try to prove she was crazy.
After the examination was complete, the psychiatrist told Doc Rees "She's not crazy, she's just a VERY nice person."
Can you imagine? I laugh every time I hear the story! It is ultimately because of this courageous act of kindness, that I am here today, celebrating Christmas at Dr. Michael & Susan Rees's house.
As we pulled up to the house, it resembled something out of a Thomas Kincaid painting. It was an old turn of the century house with warm lights glowing out of every window. The cold breeze and wet drizzle caused a twinkling reflection of the Christmas lights decorating the houses, trees, and bushes. We walked down wet cobble stone steps that led to the front door. As we drew close, the excitement that was on the other side of the threshold began to grow louder.
When we opened the door and entered this festive setting, Susan greeted us with a sweet smile, warm hello, and a hug. We began walking around mingling with strangers that were quickly becoming friends. Sharing where we were from and how we knew Doc and Susan. I quickly noticed that there were other transplant patients there as well. I was blessed by hearing their stories and the grace in which they had persevered.
Later in the evening, as I was coming back through the foyer, Doc stopped me. He said "Troy, have you met Dusty?"
"No I haven't."
Doc began to introduce me saying "Dusty this is Troy, he has just written a book about his transplant experience!" He went on explaining a little about the story.
Dusty looked over at me and asked "How would I be able to get a book?" I told her that I had some in the van. Then Doc told me to go get them. So I did.
When I returned, I pulled one out of my book bag. Doc grabbed a hold of it, checking it out.
"Keep it I said to Doc!" Then I pulled another out and handed it to Dusty. She began to look it over, asking various questions. We talked for a little bit. Then she said "I am gathering that you might be a man of faith?"

 I laughed "You would be correct."
It was at about this point that Doc jumped in and asked us "have you met the people from Greece?! They're the first trans-continental transplant chain ever started and it was performed just a week ago."
Dusty and I didn't hesitate to go meet Michael and Dora from Greece. As Doc made the introductions, the interpreter relayed the words.
Michael had been on Dialysis for 6 years! Dora, his beautiful faithful wife, lobbied the Greek Parliament to change there law. You see, according to Greek law, you can not receive a kidney from any one but a family member. So flying to the USA and participating in this kidney exchange program (literally) took an act of Congress. Dora had sat on the Parliament steps for weeks just to get someone to listen to her.
Her diligence paid off!
Michael had just received his Christmas present a week and a half before Christmas! I was SO blessed to be standing in such presence! I had never had a conversation with an interpreter before. As I listened to Dora's sweet voice, I didn't know what she was saying until the translator explained. Though I could feel her sincerity and thankfulness. That's an emotion I knew well.
Doc explained to her about the book that I had written. As the translation was being relayed, I could see the look on Dora's face. She began to talk to the translator. The translator said to me "She wants me to ask you if she can get a book? They do not have anything like this in Greece." I immediately took one and gave it to her while the translator explained what the cover said "Another Second Chance ...God's Story"
I could see the gratitude in her expression as she put her hand over her mouth. She turned to Michael and showed him the book. She then walked to me and held my hands expressing her thanks (I didn't need a translator for this) She kissed me on each cheek. My eyes began to tear up as I looked over at Stephanie doing the same. I knew once again why I was meant to write this book. Thank you God for yet another gift!
Doc continued in his introductions. He introduced Dusty to Michael and Dora. "This is Dusty Tyukody. She is the very first altruistic donor. She is the reason that this program exists..." Doc continued.
I was standing next to Dusty at this point. Everything kind of went silent to me as I came to the realization that this was that "Very nice person" that I had heard about. The one that Doc thought was crazy! The one that ended up becoming the president of the Alliance for Paired Donation!The one that allowed me to be hear today!
I took a step away from her and turned and just smiled from ear to ear at her. She smiled back. I said "YOUR the one!"

"It's because of you that I am alive today!" I gave her a big hug and said "your not paying me for that book, it's for you. You helped create it."
We chatted a little longer, then Dusty said "Today is my 7 year anniversary of donating my kidney." Everyone began to express their congratulations as I stood in AWE...

7 years ago.. What were the odds? Of all days and of all years. Not 6, not 8 or 9; but 7 years! Just like in "Another Second Chance ...God's Story" the number 7 came up again as a confirmation from God. Just to let me know that this was a gift from Him. I had know idea who Dusty was or that she was even at the party. But God did...

 "I am going to go home now. I have a book that I have to start reading" Dusty said as she made her way out.
God blessed me with an early Christmas gift this year. Joy, Peace, and Happiness. Something that can't be bought or earned.

Thank you Lord for yet another confirmation and an encounter with your Grace!!
The walk continues...

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is your story Matthew West

The story of your life.

It was February and the winds were howling with snow closing the airports, roads, and Schools. I stood by my bay window staring out into the dead of winter, wondering how to get started.

It had been just over 6 months since my second chance at life. I had been ignoring every ones advice to write a book. Even God's! I had found every excuse and reason why not to write this story. No experience, No money, No idea where to start, No time, and the fact that I am not a writer.

The conviction to write this book grew stronger, almost as if I was called to write it. So on this day I had no where to go and plenty of time on my hands. I could walk away or get started. I couldn't take it no longer, so I walked to my computer, sat down and started to tell a story. My story. The story that was given to me by God.

There were many moments when I wanted to "throw in the towel" and just live my life like everything was normal. Like nothing ever happened and go back to "status quo". After all, wouldn't that be easier than burring myself in my basement all summer long just to write this story, this book, that nobody may ever read. Maybe even be ridiculed if its a complete failure and have people tell me "I told you so, your not a writer!"

It's funny how human nature always doubts... Your mind always goes to the negative first, wondering what if. Then the discouragement follows. It was in these moments that I looked for encouragement, a reminder of why I started in the first place.

On those days that I wanted to give up, I would listen to music for inspiration. There was one particular day when it looked as if this was never going to happen and walking away seemed like the best option. So I went for a drive and turned on the radio and God spoke...

Listen and tell me "What would you have done?"

I kept writing...  About my story.

And praying and writing... To become God's Story.

And hoping and writing...  To become Your Story.

Believing there was a reason that I was spared.. I continued to write. 

I continued to walk in Faith, knowing that God was guiding my way. After all, it is His book!

I dreamed of a day that I would hold this book. The one that God inspired me to scribe (write). 

And I would hand it to you and say "This is now your story"

Thank you Lord for making my dream a reality!

The walk continues...

Matthew West - This is your story

Matthew West with his new story and Mandisa in the back photo bombing! She is so Sweet!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tell me it's not "God's Story"!

Friday (11-11-11), Stephanie and I went to the annual Food Show at the IX center in Cleveland (like we do every year) sponsored by The Food Network. Friday night we went out for our annual fancy night out to Lolas (Michael Simon's restaurant, in Cleveland- He is the Iron Chef from the Food Network)

While we were waiting to be seated, Steph went to the restroom (downstairs). In the basement was a banquet room where a gathering was taking place.

It was some of the Food Network stars!

My lovely wife spotted one of the stars from a distance and through the crowd. Scrunching down ever so cutely, as to peak through a crack in the wall, she tilted her head, smiled and waved. The star was Robert Irvine (Restaurant Impossible, Kitchen Impossible) the big marine looking fella with the British accent!!

He smiled through the crack in the crowd and started to wave (confused). Laughing, he called her in and the show began. She began to beam with excitement, acting like a school girl at a rock show!! lol She explained that we were huge fans and that we would watch his show all the time before my kidney transplant! So she asked if she could go get me and bring me down to meet him.
"Sure! Go get him!" So she did.

As soon as I walked in the room, Robert greeted me (along with others) with a strong hand shake, big smile and a bold British voice.
"So you had a kidney transplant?" he asked. I began to explain briefly about the journey.
"That sounds like quite a story?!"

"It is, I'm actually writing a book about it!" I said.

"Where's it at?! I want one!" he said. I explained that it wasn't finished yet, I was self publishing it, and that I was still working on financing.

"Where would I go to donate to your project and twitter all of my fans?" After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I began ripping through my pockets searching for a card. Finally after finding it, I gave him a card with the info to the indieGoGo site. Suddenly his agent walked up, took our pictures, then asked for our email address and has promised to send us the pics.

My mind was running wild! I couldn't believe what was happening! Everything was happening so fast! I couldn't keep up with it all!
Then Robert Irvine grabbed my shoulder, looked me square in the eye and said "Troy" then paused "I have polycystic kidney disease" I stood in awe...

I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. These things have happened through out this journey! It is God's Story not mine, I just wrote the things I lived, the things he created! Because I believe that was his will. NOT MINE. I never would have thought about writing a book (not ever). This has been a Leap of Faith that some have not understood (including myself at times)

Why would God create a story that has little funding, no official publisher, no advertising, no literary agent, then have a construction worker by trade who was a slacker in school write it??!
Answer: Because he is God!!
I have heard that this type of book wont sell, there's too much God.
My conclusion: I pray that God is everywhere in this story! Because it is His story !! I will continue to walk by faith as He guides the way!

The walk continues...
Go to the site and search "Another Second Chance"
Go to the "Contribute Now" button and click it! Then choose your selection! You will have your book before the January Release!!!