Dawn Marasco finds purpose in mentoring younger women

If you order Dawn’s book from a link on this page, Forward From 50 may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Dawn Marasco enjoys being in the “over 50 club” because it signals she achieved a certain stature in life.

“Once we get over 50, one of the things we receive is wisdom. We have more wisdom when we are over 50 than we did when we were younger,” she explained. “We’ve accumulated stories and insights of great value because we see things from a different vantage point.”

When people are younger, they wonder what life will be like. However, after enduring some good and not-so-good challenges, people over 50 have a much different perspective.

“Now that I’ve gone through some things, I am able to look at life from a higher vantage point,” Dawn explained. “I tell younger people, ‘I see what you’re tempted to do, but here’s the wisdom in going in a different direction.’

“People still have the choice of doing what they want to do, but I was tired of going around and around that mountain,” she added. “That’s why we need to share those stories.”

Yet, after sharing her wisdom and insight, even with her adult children, Dawn knows some people will still need to learn the hard way.

“It’s all for the better. I don’t know about you, but my adult kids think I’m a lot smarter today than I was when they were younger – and they’re right,” she said.

“When they got out of high school and into college, suddenly they were asking my husband and me what we  think about this and that,” said Dawn. “They realized we weren’t as dumb as they thought we were.”

Compassion and grace

Two more gifts people receive when they turn 50 are compassion and grace.

“This generally comes with age because we’ve gone through so many things. We realize how painful and hard life can be, so we have compassion for people still going through it,” said Dawn. “We also have a lot more grace for others. We understand people make mistakes and grace can be so uplifting. Love and grace can make a really big difference in our relationships.”

When Dawn wrote her book, “Continuous Peace,” she said she was the most unlikely person to write about that topic.

“I was filled with fear. But, in the last chapter of my book, I have a section titled ‘Finish well.’ That’s the call for us,” she explained. “We are over 50 and in the second half of our life, so let’s finish well.”

Dawn recalls an incident a few years ago after her brother’s funeral when their family went away to grieve and celebrate his life. Her children ran up a fire tower and pleaded with her to join them because the view was incredible. But, Dawn was afraid of the structure and content to stay on the ground watching the dogs.

“That’s when my heart started to scold me by asking why I was so content to stay on the sidelines of life,” she explained. “It was a wake-up call for me. I had just experienced the devastating loss of my brother, and the biggest lesson I learned was life is short. We need to make the most of it.”

But, God had another lesson for Dawn as well, and she put that into the introduction of her book.

“Your past does not dictate your future. I have seen God transform not only my life, but the lives of so many people,” she explained. “Your past should not hold you back.”

A point of surrender

When Dawn became a Christian she was broken and in a very dark place. But, God restored her peace over time.

“When I surrendered by life to him, I wanted the peace I was looking for, but it required him to transform my entire life,” said Dawn. “I wrote the book to help others walk out their own transformation to enjoy their own peace story.”

When she was writing the manuscript, her biggest supporters were some women in their 50s who read the story and offered input.

“They would hug me the tightest and explain they had been Christians for a long time, but never had peace like this before,” said Dawn. “That was almost like receiving a crown because, as Christians, we should have peace. God gave us peace, but there are things that work to rob us of that peace.”

A difficult beginning

Dawn was born to a 16-year-old mother and a 20-year-old alcoholic father. As a result, her childhood was very tumultuous.

“At the age of 5, I asked my dad a simple question, but he turned to me and started yelling,” she explained. “I just looked at him and pushed away from the table thinking, ‘I can’t trust you with my heart.’

“What I didn’t realize is that attitude would actually hinder me from being able to trust God and trust others, too,” she added. “As a girl, when I couldn’t trust the father I could see, it became really hard to trust a father in heaven I could not see.”

To protect herself from being hurt even more, Dawn started building walls around her. By the time she was in her teens, Dawn had adopted a rough-and-tough persona.

“I made so many mistakes during that season of life, it became very painful,” she explained. “When I was 19 and engaged to be married, we went to a party where I watched my fiancé get murdered in front of me.

“After his death, I was ruled by fear. It influenced my decisions and I avoided doing a lot of things because they were too fearful,” she added.

Eventually, Dawn found relief from those fears by talking with the mother of one of her best friends. The woman wanted to know what she could do to help because she was concerned about Dawn’s state-of-mind.

“I just said, ‘I need to know I’m going to go to heaven,’” Dawn explained. “She walked me through the process and I gave my life to Christ that day.

“Honestly, Jesus did such a healing in me that I was literally leaping and jumping for joy,” she added. “I walked in to my friend’s house weighed down by a tremendous burden, but jumping for joy when I left.”

Starting a family

After grieving the loss of her fiancé, Dawn began praying for a godly husband as she started the road to recovery. A few years later, she met the man who would eventually become her husband.

“On our first date, we started talking about the future. I was honest in explaining I really wanted to stay home with my kids,” said Dawn. “He explained that his mother was able to stay home, and he would love for me to do so as well.”

That was a really good thing because God blessed the couple with four children.

“So, the joy of my life has been raising those kids, who are all adults now,” she added. “I also led Bible studies during that time and really became a champion of women to help them through life by sharing whatever God put on my heart.

“All the mess I experienced up to age 19 came into my Christianity. I started working with God to have freedom, and then shared what he had given to me with other women,” said Dawn.

High-value friends

When Dawn started writing her book, God gave her one sentence to start. That was, “Don’t be bullied by fear.”

“It was so strong. I started sharing it with other people, who said they wanted to hear more,” Dawn explained. “From that point, other ideas started erupting and all this amazing material came to my mind.

“I remembered all the ways God took me from being a fearful Christian to becoming a faithful Christian with peace,” she added. “I started writing out all my stories, then gathered three young friends who encouraged me to write the book. It came out in 2020.”

It took Dawn a full three years to write, edit and publish her book. The process was made easier because she had a number of close, high-value friends who read what she wrote and offered constructive advice to make it better.

“It took me a while longer to write my book, but I think it is so much better with the advice I received from people who encouraged me,” said Dawn. “Throughout my life, I have learned that when you tell your plans to some people, they will respond by saying, ‘You can’t do that.’ What they are really saying is ‘I can’t do that.’”

Bad timing

Dawn released her book in November 2020 during the height of the COVID lockdowns. As a result, she could not do many things authors typically do to promote their books, such as speaking tours and book-signing events.

“In 2020, everything just went off the rails. I spent a lot of time in 2021 crying on the floor more often than not,” she explained.

Yet, the frustration of that experience opened the door for Dawn to create an online community of women. So, she began teaching people online, too.

“I started creating courses and turned my four-step program into videos, which also became my ‘Jumpstart Your Peace’ course that a number of women completed,” she explained.

In fact, doing her training online enabled Dawn to impact more women than she likely would have at in-person events.

Training couples

Dawn is tweaking “Jumpstart Your Peace” to make it a course for couples to take together. It doesn’t help a relationship when one person wants to grow and the other person remains stuck by clinging to what worked in the past.

“Many marriage books tell readers what to do in order to change for another person,” Dawn explained. “This program will help people walk it out themselves.

“It’s kind of funny because my husband, who processes all my videos on the backend, said having to watch them himself was life changing,” she added. “We want couples to go through the course together. That way, they can talk about it with each other as they go through the process.”

Dawn created questions to intentionally help couples get to know their partners more intimately. By taking the course together, couples begin communicating with each other, and that always works to strengthen a relationship.

A membership for women

One of the newest programs Dawn developed is an online membership for women over the age of 18.

“Man, do I love that,” she explained. “I’ve put all my best stuff into the membership. I teach it as we go through the material, but it’s also available for people to go back and reference later, if necessary.

“In 2024, we are focusing the entire year on having peace, especially overcoming the seven obstacles which rob people of their peace,” she added. “I am finally getting into the place which God called me many years ago.”

God’s perfect timing

For years, Dawn’s husband planned on retiring at 59 and a half. He promised her that when it happened, they would do ministry full time.

“I reminded him that we don’t tell God what to do. His timetable is rarely our timetable,” said Dawn. “Ironically, a few weeks before reaching that point, he lost his job.

“We were in our 50s when God gave us a whole new assignment,” she explained. “That was truly a challenge, especially not fully knowing what God was calling us to do. We just had to trust him every step forward.”

It was an important test for Dawn because it addressed what she was training other people to do. Would she be able to walk the talk she had been giving to others for quite some time? For her, it raised a lot of questions.

“Do you really keep peace when your husband loses his job? Do you really have peace when finances are tight, you’re coming to the end of your 401-K and you don’t see any way out?” she asked. “The answers turned out to be ‘yes.’ Even through the tragedies of life, you can still have peace.”

Dawn devoted an entire chapter of her book to those kind of challenges.

“I was put through the pressures of life even as I was writing the book,” she explained. “I’m telling you, God’s peace is real.”

Marveling at God’s transformation

One of the greatest rewards Dawn receives from her coaching and teaching is watching how God works to transform the lives of people with whom she gets to work.

“There are people in my online community who call me Mama Dawn. They are in their 30s, just like my kids are in their 30s,” she explained. “There are so many young women in that group who just want someone to be a spiritual mom to them.”

The courses Dawn developed are for both men and women; however, the online community is exclusively designed for women because they really need that type of support.

“I watched my grandmother, when she was in her 90s, sitting in a rocking chair on her deck while reading my manuscript and wiping tears from her eyes,” Dawn explained. “When she came inside, she said, ‘I have one question. When will this book be published because it is a guide to life? I wish I had this when I was younger.’

“What an honor it was for me to see her reaction firsthand,” said Dawn.

Using regret

Everyone has regrets when they look back on their lives. Many often wonder how their life would have been different if they knew back then what they know today.

“To tell you the truth, God used all those tragedies, regretful situations and hard things in my life to make me who I am today,” said Dawn. “Those low points are when I really found God and experienced his love. Even in the lowest of my lows, God took my fear away.

“I also learned to trust him because he gave me tools to get through those experiences that I can give away to others today,” she added. “It’s important to look for gems in all the pain.”

Advice for people over 50

If people over 50 feel called in a specific direction that may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to them, Dawn said they just need to trust God.

“I was on a 25-year journey during which God put ideas on my heart that I would be used to help women by simply telling them what he did for me,” said Dawn.

“Over a 25-year period, we can lose sight of things God promised us. We might even begin to wonder whether God really said those things in the first place,” she added. “But, God knows the end from the beginning and he sees it being done. So I learned to trust him on my journey.”

Dawn said it is vital for people over 50 to not give up on their dreams. Many times, God gave them a dream years ago. They need faith he will see it through.

“When we enter our 50s, we are in a sweet spot. We have wisdom and discernment. People who aren’t even in our family start calling us mama,” said Dawn. “Those are gifts for this season in our life.

“In my book, I tell people to just do the next right thing. Sometimes, we make it a big deal. But, all we need to do is the next right thing,” she added.

“Sometimes, it is as simple as picking up a pen to drop someone a note, or making a phone call to offer encouragement,” Dawn explained. “We just love others, give them lots of grace and enjoy the journey. It has its ups and downs, but each step is transforming us into the person God is shaping us to become.”

Many times, people overlook a calling on their lives because it appears too easy or they think it needs to be more challenging.

“The reason it is easy for you is because it’s a gift you have been given,” said Dawn. “We have a responsibility to use our gifts to help others.

“You just need to be the unique person you are and share your heart,” she added. “I’m telling you, you will impact others.”

Dawn created a free ebook for the Forward From 50 audience titled “7 Prayers That Led to Peace.” It is available on the homepage at www.dawnmarasco.com. By downloading the ebook, people are automatically subscribed to Dawn’s weekly newsletter titled “Thrive.”