For Mom’s Eyes Only: Patience

Be patientPatience. From one mom’s heart to another.

If I am honest, I do not always show patience to my children, even though they are so valuable to me and I love them so much. Patience shows that what my children have to say is important and worth hearing. When I am patient, I wait to hear the whole story before I begin to speak and before I formulate responses in my mind. Patience allows God’s wisdom and love to catch up with my initial emotional responses. Patience affords me the space to think clearly and respond to my children’s actions, attitudes, and words with love.

I want to love my children with patience. I want to value their opinions, ideas, and thoughts. I want to value what they, as young people, have to offer. I want to pause long enough to truly hear all of the great and wonderful things they have to say.

Child of Mine: You are funny. You are adorable. You are innocent. You are thoughtful. You are smart. You are creative. You are unique. You are bold. You are a dreamer. You are hopeful. You are beautiful.

If I don’t respond with patience I miss all of these beautiful thoughts, words, actions, and feelings.

Child of Mine: You are hurting. You are angry. You are sad. You are misunderstood. You are in conflict. You are searching. You are hoping. You are wanting. You are lonely. You are afraid.

If I don’t respond with patience I miss all of these emotions that are shaping their lives and future choices from the inside out. Without patience, I will also miss out on the opportunity to walk the path of their lives alongside them.

I have so much to offer my children, but I lose the platform for sharing and communicating my ideas with them when I don’t take time to hear what they are saying, with and without words. So often, I want to get my thoughts out. I want to have influence over their decisions. I do this out of love for them, but it doesn’t come across that way when it is not done with patience. I can’t control their future choices or change their past choices by talking at them every chance I get.

Ultimately, I don’t want their silent obedience. I want a relationship with them. I want them to relate beautifully with God. I want them to live a life full of impact, faith, love, and the realization of their greatest dreams. This relationship I desire is not solely dependent on them. It begins with me.

Moms, will you join me in the following commitments?

I choose to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
I choose to listen to the entire story before I formulate thoughts or words of response.
The answer may not always be yes, but I choose to listen with the intent to understand my child’s heart.
I choose to be patient.

Moms: Be Extraordinary!

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Are You Listening?

The subconscious. Inner promptings. The Holy Spirit. Women’s intuition. Gut feelings. The little voice inside my head.

Whatever you believe it is or whatever you choose to call it, consider how well you listen and how well you act on what you hear.

do you listen“Do you listen?”

Everyone is busy, or at least they feel busy. There is very little quiet space in our lives and in our minds. I have seen in my own life the difficulty of being ok in the quiet spaces. Those spaces can be filled with many things like playing out scenarios in my mind, movies, TV shows, social media, or You Tube videos. All of this “noise” keeps me from truly listening to any instincts or prompts that might be happening. It is important to silence the chatter long enough to listen for that still, small voice.

Listening and hearing what we ought or ought not to do is just one part of the equation.

“Do you act upon what you hear?”

All of us, if we are honest, can think of a time when we did not follow the voice inside that said to do or not do something.

Have you ever felt like you should send a card to someone but didn’t do it?
Have you ever thought you ought to approach “that person” about business, but you were too afraid?
Have you ever thought the words “I love you” or considered a loving touch, but did not verbalize or take action?

What opportunities, feelings, or relationships have we missed out on because we were unwilling to respond when that little voice spoke?

There is so much good to be done and love to be spread in this world if we would only listen and then act on what we hear.

STOP! Silence the chatter. Ask yourself,

Is there an action that I should take right now?

Is there a word I ought to speak to the person next to me?

Is there something I could do right now to make a difference in someone’s day?

Listen. Act. And then share what difference that small deed or word made in your day.

Be Extraordinary!

Thanksgiving Blog-Venture Day 1

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you naturally producing joy and thankfulness?

Philippians 4:8, in the Bible, states:

Ph48Whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
Think About These Things!

Often I hear people (myself included) talk about “trying harder to be joyful or thankful.” Forcing a good attitude or smile on our faces isn’t fooling anybody, especially ourselves. The answer – the secret solution – to lasting joy is found in the final line of the above verse. “Think about these things” . . . think. It does not say to “feel” these things or to “do” these things or to “say” these things. We are supposed to think about these things.

In so many areas it is easy to put the focus on the external, the feeling, doing, or saying. With focus on the behavior we will see immediate results but we don’t always see lasting results. It takes work to change the patterns of our thoughts. Our thoughts are always on – we produce tens of thousands of them a day. We have thoughts while we do anything and everything, including sleep. These thoughts are products of thought patterns formed throughout our lifetime. The subconscious thoughts that go through our minds today are results of hours, days, and years of thought practice.

This is a good thing, right?

It is a good thing if the thoughts we think are true, honorable, just, pure, etc. But many of us have thought practices that build negative thought patterns.

Thoughts of fear and scarcity.
Thoughts of loneliness and abandonment.
Thoughts of sickness and death.
Thoughts of disappointment and failure.

If these are our thought patterns, what do you suppose the resulting feelings, words, and actions will be?
Will these negative thought patterns allow you to be genuinely joyful and thankful?

What would it look like to take gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy and make them year-long characteristics of our lives rather than seasonal ones?

If this was natural then everyone would be full of gratitude and joy. So, if you really want this for yourself, your family, your co-workers, and anyone else you influence, then you will need a proactive action plan.

What will you do this year to produce more gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

50 things1. Give Thanks Jar.

Write things you are thankful for throughout the year on slips of paper and put them in the jar. On Thanksgiving, read through the papers. I love the detail and stories that could be recorded in this jar. I got this idea from Becca’s blog.

2. I’m Thankful for You.

This is something you would do for a specific person. Write out what you love about that person. In Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect, he talks about filling up a notebook for his wife for a whole year and then gave it to her as a gift for Thanksgiving. I used a pack of spiral bound 3×5 cards and did a similar concept over a shorter timeframe for my husband, Joe.

gratitude tree3. Gratitude Tree.

I see many families post photos of their gratitude trees during November. What about leaving the tree trunk up all year and putting up different colored leaves during different seasons? Christmas – red and green; Valentines – red, pink, and white; March – green; May – spring colors; July – red, white, and blue (for my American friends). I found a fall tree as an example on this blog link.

Whatever idea you use, please do something to promote gratitude in your own heart and for those around you. Please share your ideas below so we can encourage each other as we grow in gratitude.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Spiral Up or Spiral Down?

IMG_6114The mind is a powerful tool that can work for us or against us. I am working through the book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, and I am continually struck by how important it is to be proactive when it comes to the mind.

Our thoughts spiral. Negative thoughts go on a downward spiral, feeding off of each other, and producing more negative thoughts and emotions. These thoughts turn into emotions, then into words, and finally into actions. The spiral happens instantly as well as over time. The same is true of positive thoughts. They spiral upward, producing more and more positive thoughts, taking our emotions, ideas, words, and actions in a positive direction.

When I hear negative words coming out of my mouth or feel negative emotions going on inside I try to correct them. I attempt to make myself feel better.

I use things like ice cream (or any sugary sweetness!), food (drive-through, overeating anything), screens (iPad games, Netflix), or sleep.
What do you try when you want to eliminate negative feelings?
Some common ones are food, drugs (over-the-counter ones too!), alcohol, sleep, TV, movies, busyness, exercise.

The reality is that none of these things make negative emotions go away. They may take away the sting of the emotions, but only temporarily. It’s kind of like a really bad burn. Unfortunately, I have had a few bad sunburns in my day, so this comes from first-hand experience. Hanging out in the sun for hours and hours feels amazing and usually the awareness and pain of the sunburn don’t come until after the sun goes down. Then, great pain occurs. We put an awesome, medicated spray on sunburns and it feels amazingly cool. But the coolness doesn’t last. After a little while more spray must be applied, and a little while later more spray must be applied.

Band-aids and medicated sprays are awesome, but they don’t work on negative emotions. We must deal with these emotions at their source. This is where the principles of the Joy-Filled Life book come in. In order to combat negative emotions, words, and actions, we must work on the source – our thoughts!

This is a tough one. Some of those negative (and untrue) thoughts have been running through my mind for years. Weeding those out take time and effort. I must really want to change in order to do the work required.

Do you have negative thoughts, feelings, words or actions that creep into your life on a regular basis?
Do you want to create a different story and a different pattern? A pattern that is filled with positive, upward spirals?
If you answered yes to these questions, then please click the “follow me” button at the top of the page so you can receive notifications of future posts. As I work though this process of rooting out negative thinking, I want to share the journey with you.

The extraordinary journey is not just about our actions and accomplishments, it begins with our thoughts.

Don’t just “Do”, Be Extraordinary!

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Bob’s Chili Recipe

ChiliWatching the movie Ratatouille with my family inspired my 13-year-old to want to do some cooking. I enjoy cooking for my family, even trying new recipes, but doing this task with my son was a true treat!

AJ’s first task was to choose a recipe. I was open to just about anything and he is willing to eat just about anything so the options were endless. He ventured into the notebook titled, “Traci’s Favorites”. This notebook was a craft created at a MOPs event at least five years ago. Please don’t let the title fool you. Although this notebook does contain many of my favorite recipes it also contains many recipes that I have yet to attempt.

The recipe selection: Bob’s Chili Recipe (from the notebook) and Cornbread (from the Original Betty Crocker Cookbook).

Chili2I’m not actually sure why I have never made Bob’s Chili. Years ago (not sure how many) I was trained and then facilitated health and weight-loss classes through a program called Trinity Health. The founders of Trinity Health are Bob and Vicki and this recipe is Bob’s. So, this is not only a good-tasting chili recipe, but it is also a good-for-you recipe! Win-win!

The recipe was simple to follow. Check.

The recipe did not involve any crazy or hard-to-find ingredients. Check.

There was plenty of chili for leftovers. Check.

Everyone in the family liked the chili. Priceless.

Bob’s Chili Recipe

Ingredients (ingredients we used, if different, are placed in parenthesis)

2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey (beef)

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 green pepper, chopped (red pepper)

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 cans (15-16 oz each) whole tomatoes, cut into pieces (petite diced tomatoes)

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp Splenda (Stevia)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp red pepper sauce (Tapatio Salsa Picante)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 small can diced green chilis, or 3-4 whole roasted green chilis, peeled and diced (canned)

1 can black beans

1 can rd beans

Directions

Chili3Cook and stir meat, onion, and garlic until meat is light brown, then drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans (don’t drain) and simmer another 45 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. (30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes)

Honestly, I can’t wait to make this recipe again. It was so delicious! Yet, even more than making the chili, I can’t wait to cook with AJ (or one of my other children) again. It was awesome!

Even the simple, mundane, everyday tasks can Be Extraordinary!

An Extra Hour of Life

carribou“Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more.” -Caribou Coffee

I am generally not a morning person so my personal life motto would read more like this: Life is sleeping in an hour later because you can.

When I read the Caribou coffee-cup quote at an airport recently, I realized that my thinking about life and time are very selfish. I work for myself so I can use my time how I choose. I love that I don’t have to answer to a boss or request a boss’s permission in order to chaperone a field trip, take off for the day with my husband, or grab a long lunch with a girlfriend. These are all good things – freedom!

I wonder whether, because of this freedom I have, am I living the hours I do have in an extraordinary way? Do I hunger for this life and time, and for the difference I can make? An extraordinary life is one lived with hunger, fire, and passion. There must be purpose and vision. There must be direction and drive.

I shared in a previous post how I went through a season recently where life was marked by the “mere passing of time”. Rediscovering my passion and purpose was a process. Reengaging life with hunger and drive took time. But, finding the reason and desire to live more each day is vitally important.

Wherever you are on the journey, may you put more into life and get more out of life in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Are you hungry to get up and live another day?
Are you living your life with purpose?
Does that purpose drive you to get up and get more out (put more in) to your day?

Be Extraordinary!

Do You Inspire Others?

Extraordinary kidsOne night the kids and I were hanging out in the living room. I was on the couch with Celina snuggled on my lap. She is 8 years old, but I think she will always find a way to snuggle on my lap! BJ was in the chair working on a drawing and AJ was standing near us. I don’t remember exactly what he was doing, but probably tossing a ball in the air as he is often found with a ball in his hands.

The topic of conversation moved to BJ and her desire to be a fashion designer. She loves fashion, style, and music. AJ asked her a question or two and BJ’s response indicated that her belief about the fashion designing dreams were mere fantasies – she didn’t really believe they could become reality. AJ jumped on this disbelief quickly and reminded her of her passion, talent, and skills. He said in a number of words and number of ways, “You can do it!”

At this moment Celina piped in with a statement that added fuel to the energy building in the room. She said,

“AJ, you always say stuff that makes us feel like our dreams can come true.”

AJ quoteIn the hour that followed papers were pulled out, drafts of ideas were made, and brainstorm lists were created. BJ created outfit designs. Celina had a list of her dreams consisting of a big red barn, farmhouse, and all the animals that we would find there. AJ has plenty of dreams of his own. He plans to be a wise and godly business man – first with USANA and then owning his own store by the time he is 30.

The greatest thing about all of this was the belief that I saw well up in each child. There was great excitement, energy, and bonding between the kids. They were helping each other and even discussing how each one would help the other in the achievement of their dreams.

Without even realizing it, AJ showed leadership that night. He inspired greatness in his younger sisters. He uncovered and stoked their belief.

When you are in the room, what do you inspire in others? What conversations are created because of your questions? Is there energy, positivity, and belief in your presense? I think we all can learn a valuable lesson about the extraordinary life from AJ’s example – I know that I can!

Be Extraordinary!