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!

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!

Kidney-versary: Had Two, Gave One

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A last visit with Rhonda before our move to Michigan, 4 1/2 months post surgery.

October 23, 2013 marks the one year anniversary of donating my left kidney to a wonderful recipient, Rhonda. This event and the six months leading up to this event radically changed my thinking, my perspective, and my life. I am forever humbled by and grateful for the privilege of being a part of Rhonda’s transformation story. And Rhonda’s physical life has been transformed. I had a front row seat to instant change. Knowing that one willing act created profound change in the quality of life of my friend is overwhelming.

How do I put this journey into words? One year later and I still don’t know the answer to that question, so here are my thoughts today.

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Surgery day.

As Joe and I headed to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) in the dark, early morning of October 23, I pushed ‘play’ on my specially made playlist entitled “peace”. We had stayed at a hotel just one song from the hospital and as the song began we heard these words,
“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.”

After months of testing, preparing, testing, waiting, testing and more testing, we knew that this was the moment. The moment to put full trust and faith in God’s plan. My life was in the hands of the doctor, Rhonda’s receptiveness to the kidney was uncertain, recovery was unknown. God was ultimately in control of all these things and that knowledge gave me peace like I have never experienced before. I had heard people talk about ‘quiet confidence’ before and that day, with full awareness, I experienced it up close and personal. Those who have heard my story before know how I feel about needles, blood draws, IV’s and hospitals. I don’t like the smells or thoughts about any of those. I often feel faint (and have fainted). I’ve never even donated a pint of blood. Yet, on October 22 and 23 I experienced peace and clarity like never before. A wink from God (as a buddy of my husband once said).

Giving a kidney did not really change my physical health. After recovery from surgery (and a hernia surgery 7 months later), I really don’t feel any different physically. However, my heart seems to have undergone a transplant. My compassion for others has increased. My burning desire to live an extraordinary life has intensified. My influence is different. I think differently. I feel differently. I connect differently. My kids are changed. My husband is changed. The song in my spirit will never be the same.

“Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship Your holy name.”

Be Extraordinary!

To read my husband’s thoughts the day after surgery, click here.

To read my perspective one month after transplant, click here.

The day before surgery. Prep day.

Meeting up with Rhonda on prep day – the day before surgery.

The kids have a new love for kidneys - even at Famous Footwear!

The kids have a new love for kidneys – even at Famous Footwear!

Moments before I would begin surgery and Rhonda would begin prep.

Moments before I would begin surgery and Rhonda would begin prep.

Sweet 16

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Beautiful Tatiana. 🙂

We recently celebrated a “Sweet 16” in our house. Tatiana – aka Tots, Tatlianna, Cheesy Tots – turned the big 16! We first met Tati when she was 12 and started attending our youth group in Oregon. She has now been an amazing addition to our family for the past two and a half years. Tati is a beautiful, fun-loving, belly-laughing, successful and adaptable young woman. Our family loves her to pieces!

Adding Tati to our family is a piece of the amazing journey that began after I read the book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Let me pick up my side of the story in April 2011. . .

I was working through the study Experiencing God, and was very touched by the things I was learning. I would visit the Upper Room of the Broadway Coffee house and work on my study there,  overlooking the beautiful trees of Salem, Oregon. One particular day in April, following my time of study I journaled this prayer:

“Lord, I want to be part of YOUR extraordinary work. I realize that comes by connecting and depending heart and soul on YOU. YOU are the one who works. I am YOUR willing vessel. It feels a little fearful to say these words because I don’t know what You will ask of me, but I am willing. Help me to know You and stay close to You.

“Lord . . . I choose to be ok not knowing the big plan for this next year, but rather listening for and responding to your next move. I love You, God and I want to be changed and used by You for extraordinary things.”

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Taken 1 month after Tati joined our family.

Later that very same day I was driving AJ, BJ and Celina home from school when I received a call from Joe that went something like this. “I just found out that Tati’s mom will be heading back to prison for 2+ years and I think Tati should come live with us.” Short pause. YES! I knew without doubt it was God’s answer to my earlier prayer. My heart was fully ready and my answer was YES!

Have you ever found yourself in that place where you are ready for anything? So ready, that you are ok with what “anything” actually is? So ready that your eyes are wide open, ears are tuned up and heart is eager with anticipation for what comes next? It is an exciting place to be – fully surrendered and open – a place where great things are born.

I hope you take the opportunity to embrace someone or something new into your life, heart and family. I am so glad Tati is part of the journey God has for our family. I am so glad I said “YES!”

Family

Our family at USANA Convention, August 2012.

Be Extraordinary!

Opportunity Knocks

opportunityI stopped to get gas today – at a gas station I’ve never been to – in a part of town I rarely visit. As I was filling the tank a girl approached. The 17-year-old girl was wearing pajamas and no shoes. She asked to borrow my phone and was unable to reach anyone to pick her up. I discovered that she had been in the hospital followed by a day in jail for not meeting her probation requirements.

While she was on the phone – before I knew her age or story – I prayed that God would give me wisdom and that I wouldn’t miss an opportunity because of inconvenience or fear.

An opportunity for what?

I don’t know exactly. Probably not the answer you were looking for and to be quite honest it wasn’t the answer I was looking for either. After driving Tanya 20 minutes in the opposite direction I was originally headed and dropping her off at her aunt’s house, I asked myself a question: What was I hoping to gain by helping Tanya? What opportunity did I not want to miss?

I have discovered many things in my quest to live an extraordinary life. One of those is that it is not the specific things we do that make a life extraordinary, but rather my obedience to God and my response to the opportunities I encounter. The reality is that I don’t know what God has for me or will request of me around the next corner, but I do know that I don’t want to miss it because I was unwilling to help a shoeless girl get across town. It’s easy to show up for the big opportunities and recognition, but God demands more for me and my desire to live an extraordinary life. He wants my heart and attitude in all situations – to live extraordinary when no one is watching. To live extraordinary when the only one watching is a 17-year-old girl who just got out of jail.

So what is the opportunity I don’t want to miss? The opportunity that I can’t even see. The encounter around the next corner that changes a life, a family, a community, a nation or a world – I want to be ready.

Are you embracing the opportunities you face, big and small? Every encounter is a piece of the story and a step in the journey of an extraordinary life.

Be Extraordinary!

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Blog if I Want To

birthday-cake-hd-widescreen-images-I had a birthday on Sunday. It was met with a great morning at church, a beautiful dinner prepared by my family, an iTunes gift card, hand-crafted cards by the kids and a trip to the movie theater for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Joy, laughter, family time, secret plans and birthday candles all make birthdays fun and memorable.

This birthday has also brought about a lot of reflection over this past year. Honestly, I don’t know that I am where I thought I would be. Will you take a little stroll back in time to September 29, 2012?

On my 40th birthday I was enjoying the warm breezes, sandy beaches and beautiful sunsets of Maui, Hawaii. Joe and I had spent 4 days visiting a ministry we were considering being a part of on the island Molokai. 2500 miles in the opposite direction of our home in Salem, Oregon was another ministry opportunity at Lake Ann Camp where we were set to interview just one week later. Another event pending on the horizon was my kidney donation surgery set for October 23.

So many unknowns. So many questions. So many what-ifs.

In spite of these looming unknowns, my hopes and dreams for my 40th year of life included getting in the best physical and financial shape of my life. I wanted it (I still want, and am working for it), and I thought that on my 41st birthday I would have it.

The physical, mental and emotional toll of moving our family across the country, starting a brand new ministry, entering a new market (for my business), living in a new culture, recovering from kidney donation surgery, recovering from hernia surgery 9 months later was far greater than I could ever have anticipated. It’s the funny thing about the extraordinary life: Saying yes to it is easy, but actually walking the path is a great challenge.

Would I trade it? No way! The rewards of the challenging path are far too great. I don’t always see that in the circumstances around me, but I know its truth, because I’ve come through other valleys of this extraordinary journey called life.

Will you still choose extraordinary even when a detour comes your way? Will you persevere and persist in making it to the other side? I hope so because it’s only from the other side that we are able to have perspective and see how extraordinary the journey actually was.

I don’t know what my 41st year will hold, but I do know this…the journey will be worth it.

Be Extraordinary!

Do You Trust Me Now?

This past year, the question that has entered my mind more than any other is, “Do you trust Me now?” And when I think about it, trust has been the theme – and the challenge – of my life since this path-altering journey began in 2009 (Why Traci Blogs. . . http://wp.me/P2woLq-2).

Extraordinary opportunities in the past few years:

Creatively raise $10,000+ and take the entire family on a ministry trip to South Africa.
Do you trust Me now?

Take teenagers into your home even when space and resources are limited.
Do you trust Me now?

Take in another teenager, more permanently, even though you are one bedroom short.
Do you trust Me now?

Encourage and support your husband in starting a publishing company with no start-up resources.
Do you trust Me now?

Donate a kidney although you haven’t even donated blood.
Do you trust Me now?

Move your family across the country when you love so many people and so much about where you currently live and serve.
Do you trust Me now?

Each one of these situations required great faith – trust – on my part and that of my family. Without hesitation I can also say that acting in faith and trust in each of these situations has been worth it. In The Message, Hebrews 11:1 states, “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

I made a decision in 2009 to live an extraordinary life. I didn’t know what it would require or what the results would be; however, one thing I know now is that trust is absolutely necessary. I must place my trust in God, who sees the outcomes, who knows what I will face next and who wants the very best for me.

Are you trusting God right now, in this moment and the situation you are currently facing? Will you choose to live an extraordinary life and step out in faith and trust God with the results?

“This trust in God is the firm foundation that makes life worth living.”

Be Extraordinary!