Happy Thanksgiving

FALL 3Please take time to finish the above post. There is a great video that is key to my thoughts below.

I am feeling quite melancholy (as spoken by MegaMind).

I had a Black Friday blog nearly ready to go, but this post by my husband is really what I need today and maybe you do too. I was feeling in a funk the moment I woke up. I’m sure some of it is spending our first holiday in many years without the rest of our family, but when I remembered this blog post I realized what it was. It is time for me to get out of my seat of regret, what-ifs and feeling sorry for myself.

I have a choice where I sit today. I am making a choice to sit in the seat of gratitude . . what about you?

Be Extraordinary!

The Overboard life

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you take today to refocus your life toward gratitude. In my own life, so much more has been accomplished through the joy of thanksgiving than through any other motivation or attitude. When I am living with a heart of thanks, I’m at my creative and energetic best! Thankfulness turns pain into joy, turns disappointment into opportunity and turns failure into success.

Thanksgiving

Imagine if we created a physical token of what it means to be thankful. What if every time you and I were tempted to complain, grumble, blame, play victim or turn to our vices, we instead pulled out this reminder and lived in thanks? What if that token was a chair? Maybe our lives would look like this:

Thanksgiving Chair

Live in the Thanksgiving chair today. And then pull it out again tomorrow. “Give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thess 5:18).

Go ahead and take…

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Expressions of Thankfulness

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Photo taken by BJ at our home on Lake Ann Camp. Edited by AJ.

I love the season of autumn or fall. I love the colors, crisp air and warm, sunny afternoons. It is now November, just a few short days before Thanksgiving in the United States. Although it looks a lot like Christmas outside with all the fluffy white stuff, inside our home it still looks like fall.

I love November and the many things that come with this month of thankfulness. I am personally thankful my husband (or myself!) does not follow “No Shave November” each year. I’m not a fan of his super furry face; however, I am a fan of Facebook in November. I love the number of posts each day that are filled with positive words of thankfulness. So today, on this 11th month, I would like to share 11 things I am thankful for in no particular order. I hope it will cause you to think about those things for which you are truly thankful and why.

BJ, Celina and AJ

BJ, Celina and AJ

#1 Purpose. Living with purpose beyond this temporary moment is an amazing way to walk through life.

#2 Jesus. He is the reason I have purpose in this life and hope for the next.

#3 Childhood. The years that shaped me, the people that influenced me, the experiences that impacted me – all part of making me who I am today.

#4 Parents. I am blessed by the influence and continued encouragement I receive from all my parents.

#5 In-Laws. All of them (and there are many!). They love me as if I’m their own. My parent-in-laws raised an incredible son who I am blessed to call my husband.

#6 Bethany Joy. My daughter who brings joy and excitement to our family. She teaches me to pause and truly listen.

#7 AJ. His loyalty and determination challenge me regularly. And he holds his own amongst all his female siblings.

#8 Tatiana. The beautiful addition to our family who is teaching me to communicate more clearly than I ever have. Valuable lesson for me.

Celina loves the leaves.

Celina loves the leaves.

#9 Celina. My youngest child who is filled with grace and love. She teaches me to let go of my ever-so-serious side and see the world through the eyes of wonder and awe.

#10 Joe. I feel so incredibly blessed to be married to a man who loves me and encourages me to pursue my passions. I love dreaming and working toward those dreams with this awesome man.

#11 USANA. This home-based business has provided financial stability for our family. It allows me the freedom to travel, give time to our ministries and be a stay-at-home mom.

What are you thankful for? Will you please share in the comments below so I may enjoy and learn from your thankfulness too? November or not — it is always a good time to be thankful.

AJ, BJ and Celina

AJ, BJ and Celina

Be Extraordinary!

Speak the ‘Text’ in Love

20131119-064140.jpgI sent a text that did not go to the intended recipient. It brought pain because it was written with no filters, no empathy and no love. I was not trying to be politically correct, but simply stating my frustrations about a situation to my husband. The recipient of this message, whom the text was about, replied with simple words nearly six hours later. I was shocked, embarrassed and a little confused at how she had received the message. What do you do with that faux pas? The words I had written were true, but not covered in any grace or love. Ouch!

Speak the truth in love. This is the direction of someone living an extraordinary life. This applies to face-to-face, phone, email, Facebook, twitter and texting interactions. This also applies to family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and even our enemies. My words ought to be spoken in love. The recipient ought to receive love, grace, compassion, and kindness along with that truth. I used to think this meant that I had to candy-coat things so as not to bring any pain to any one at any time. I’ve come to realize that speaking in love with no truth is just as wrong as speaking truth without love. Neither of these extremes are effective.

In spite of this turn of events over a text message gone awry, there were some blessings to follow. My text came about after weeks of frustration that I was struggling to articulate. Well, the ice is broken (with a boulder) and we are now proceeding with some long-overdue open, honest communication.

Are you hiding from a long overdue conversation? What are you waiting for? Will you choose to consider your words, then take the action necessary to create open, honest communication? The path of action (as painful as it may seem) is much less painful than the ramifications of a misdirected text — and much more extraordinary too!

Be Extraordinary!

Whatever May Pass . . .

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Winter sunrise from our back deck.

“The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

These words, by Matt Redman, always take me back to that morning drive to the hospital on kidney donation day. I’ve heard and sung the song at least a hundred times in this past year. A couple of weeks ago I realized that those words were so real every time I heard them. I was truly at peace in that moment, October 23, 2012, and willing for whatever direction my life took that day. Those same words (although not that song) were said in April 2011 on the day we said “yes” to Tati becoming part of our family and March 2013 as we drove our family to our new home across the country.

Sunset at our favorite beach on Maui.

Sunset at our favorite beach on Maui.

That’s all great, but what about this day? Can I say those same words today and every day?
“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me”. Can I accept “whatever”? Am I living in a mindset and willingness that I will accept the unknowns of this day, the one right before me? I want to. It’s part of this amazing, extraordinary journey – the unknown. It’s easy to say what I think I can and can’t handle. I’d like to think I could handle a one million dollar donation to my bank account today. I’m willing to try that one out anyway. But I don’t always get to choose the “whatever lies before me”.

The reality is that all I can do today is be willing for whatever may come. I can practice the parts I can control, my responses to the circumstances around me today. In that daily practice, I am refining my spirit and strengthening my resolve to live an extraordinary life. I don’t know what my next big extraordinary challenge will be or even if it will come today, but I do know that even the seemingly small things are part of the extraordinary journey.

Sunset over Lake Michigan.

Sunset over Lake Michigan.

Are you in the journey? Are you living the extraordinary life that is before you today? Can you honestly say that you will still be singing when this evening comes, no matter what may pass and whatever lies before you today? Say yes to the extraordinary journey today! It may seem scary but it’s always worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Is Veteran’s Day Still a National Holiday?

US Flag Thank You

Today is a national holiday in the United States of America – Veteran’s Day. I have very fond memories of this day, November 11, as well as Memorial Day in May. When I was a child, my dad was the superintendent for the city cemetery. We lived right across the street. In an odd sort of way the cemetery was my “playground”. I became a proficient bike-rider on those streets, sledded down the back hill and picked blackberries near the canal.

My thoughts today are not drawn to those memories as much as they are drawn to the memories of processionals of cars lead by the sleek, black hearses; placing small American flags near hundreds of tombstones; filling the truck with loads of beautiful bouquets and placing those on tombstones for grieving families; and military uniforms and gun salutes.

I was bothered when I realized that my children had school on this holiday that honors the men who have fought for our freedom. This is the first time in all my years of public school as well as my children’s that we have had school on this holiday. Does this infuriate any of you? We live in a new state and perhaps this is normal here, but I know for many this is not normal.

Before making any hasty comments below, please let me share how this relates to the journey of living an extraordinary life. . . at least to my personal journey.

I have a choice!

USA FREEDOMWhether the kids go to school or stay home, I have a choice. While it is easy to be upset at the school district, the state, or the government, the reality is that I have a choice. And what is it that really bothers me? Am I bothered that my kids did not receive another vacation day from school? Would I have done my own “Veteran’s Celebration” with them if they had been home? Would we have gone to a local cemetery to place flags, flowers and give honor to our Veteran’s?

Before pointing fingers at others we must take an honest look at our choices and our motives. Ordinary people go about looking for reasons to blame others and cause conflict. Extraordinary people rise above, acknowledge truth and own their choices.

Our veterans and current military fight for the freedom of our country. At the same time, we each have the opportunity to fight for our personal freedom by taking responsibility for our actions and reactions.

How are you living your life? Are you pointing fingers from your armchair or are you engaged in your life? What will you do today to rise above the ordinary, acknowledging the reality of your motives and owning your choices?

Be Extraordinary!

Blessing in Disguise

20131108-093403.jpgI really do not like having life mess with my plans. (My husband, Joe, and my parents are probably laughing hysterically already). Coming home to a messy house, a call from the school, a cancelled appointment, a spill down the front of my shirt – any of these things – can get the best of me. I was reminded today that I often don’t see what happens as a result of an unforeseen change-of-plans. These changes can, and often do, create greater blessing than we will ever know. I just so happened to have the privilege of knowing about the other end/side of one of these “things didn’t go as planned” moments.

Recently, I have had the privilege of getting to know Julie through Facebook and Skype. She has an amazing story and she is walking through her story in an extraordinary manner. She was scheduled to have surgery, so I decided to order her flowers and have them sent to the hospital. (I live in Michigan and she lives in Oregon). The surgery was quite major and I was under the impression that Julie would remain at the hospital for at least a week, so scheduling the flowers for five days later seemed reasonable.

On flower delivery day I received a call from the man in charge of shipping and receiving at the hospital. He said, “Nobody by that name is here.” Then he did something unheard of (unheard of to me). After he did some checking, he wondered if I would like to have the flowers delivered to her home. Really? Yes sir, please and thank you. He didn’t even ask for an address (which was good because I didn’t have one).

What had happened? Julie was released from the hospital after four days, then headed from Corvalis, Oregon to Seattle, Washington for another procedure. She arrived home several days later. This is what happened next, in Julie’s own words:

“So here’s life doing what life does – which usually works out so much better than I could have planned. I just got home – feeling drained – sick of feeling sick and tired of infusions, tired of doctors and pretty much have felt like I was on the sinking ship by myself. There sits this box on the stairs. Something else I need to get up to my room. Literally in tears I open this box and out pops this amazing plant and planter, which totally did their job in adding a smile to my face. Reminding me to press on – this is when recovery gets hard. The perfect thing happens to what I assume could only be against your plan as the hospital sent it to me from there. Thank you a million times! I am now reminded to be extraordinary and why sometimes our timing isn’t everything. It was perfectly needed today!”

Bouquet from ProFlowers.com

Bouquet from ProFlowers.com

Julie’s story is my reminder that next time things don’t seem to be going according to my perfect little plan, there is another side to the story. And most likely it is a blessing in disguise — or at least that’s the way I will choose to see it.

Be Extraordinary!

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Grain-Free Cookie Dough Bites

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I am choosing to avoid refined sugars. I don’t like to admit this, but I feel physically better when I avoid these sugars. I love sweets and want to keep eating them; however, sweets seem to like me quite a bit too. The reality, in this extraordinary journey, is that I must master this vice rather than letting it master me.

During my recent 90-day challenge, one of my victories was eliminating iPad and iPhone games from my daily habit. I made this a goal because I realized how much mindless time I spent playing these games during the day and late into the night. It was tough at first, but today (nine days after completing the challenge), I still haven’t played a game. It has definitely become a new, positive habit in my life.

Mastering my iTime played a role in my decision to eliminate refined sugar. The other motivation and encouragement in choosing this new habit is the inspiring story of my son, AJ, completing a one-year, No Candy No Soda Challenge. Here’s what AJ had to say, “Without doing challenging things (like this challenge), I wouldn’t be ready or able to do other challenging things God has for me later.” He’s right! I want to be ready. I want to inspire, motivate, teach and coach. I don’t want to be in this same space, working on this same vice five years from now. It is a challenge, no doubt, but it is worth it.

I strongly believe in replacing old habits with new ones, replacing iTime with new productive habits, and old sweets that don’t serve me with new ones that do. Simply eliminating anything from our lives without replacing leaves a gaping hole that desires to be filled. The easiest thing to put in the empty space is the old habit I am attempting to eliminate. Therefore, I must fill it with a new healthy, positive habit that serves my long-term goals.

I want to thank my friend and blog editor, Sharilyn, for this awesome recipe. If you would like to see the original recipe from Texanerin Baking, click here.

20131104-165048.jpgThis recipe is delicious and relatively easy (necessities for me to choose a recipe). Here are a few pointers:
1) Make this recipe!
2) Use a food processor. I do not currently have a full-sized food processor and I would highly recommend that tool for this recipe because the ingredients are fairly dry. (Magic Bullet, which can do wonders with so many things, didn’t work well here).
3) Follow the instructions for “natural peanut butter”.
4) Enjoy a healthy, guilt-free, sweet treat.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (165 grams) natural peanut butter or almond butter – room temperature
  • ¼ cup (80 grams) honey (commenters have used agave and maple syrup with success!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it
  • ½ cup (90 grams) chocolate chips (use vegan or dairy-free, if needed)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 175°C. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get the little chunks of chickpeas and process again until they’re combined.
  2. Put in the chocolate chips and stir it if you can, or pulse it once or twice. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
  3. With wet hands, form into 1½” balls. Place onto a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper. If you want them to look more like normal cookies, press down slightly on the balls. They don’t do much rising.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes. The dough balls will still be very soft when you take them out of the oven. They will not set like normal cookies.
  5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge) for up to 1 week.

Don’t want to bake but still want to enjoy yummy, healthy, sweet treats? Click here to see what I use and recommend.

Be Extraordinary!

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