An Extraordinary Craving

pursue GodDo you have specific times of reflection throughout the year? For most people birthdays (even the birthdays of our children), anniversaries, and New Year’s are times to look back at where we have been and what we have accomplished. They are also times to look forward to what is next, sometimes even setting goals for the future.

I have noticed that extraordinary events do the same thing. It was two years ago today (October 23, 2014) that I was rolled into an operating room in Portland, OR and left that operating room six hours later with only one kidney. Several hours later Rhonda would leave that same operating room with the other kidney.

That transaction changed my life. For the first year there were so many things that brought me back to the feelings of that time and experience. There were several songs that were particularly meaningful. I noticed when it was the 23rd of every month that first year. And the one year marker was very emotional.

Miss RhondaThis past May (2014) our whole family did a kidney walk in honor of Rhonda. The walk was put on by the National Kidney Foundation and held at the Detroit Zoo. It was a great day to remember all our family did and sacrificed to give this gift. I love my family so much and am so grateful that they were willing to partner with me in this extraordinary gift. They were directly involved and each person stepped up in their own way throughout the process.

kidney walkBut here is the interesting thing I am thinking about today.

You have probably heard me say in some form that being part of extraordinary events, people, and journeys brings me huge satisfaction and energizes me greatly. The experience of donating a kidney has long passed. Yes, the story continues . . . Rhonda is doing amazing! I still live with one kidney and am doing great! The story still happened. The story has been used to inspire, encourage, challenge, and bless others and I pray that it will continue to do so. But,

I am left with a craving for more of the extraordinary.

My life story is not over and donating a kidney does not, by itself, equal an extraordinary life. I have passion and desire for more – more of the extraordinary journey. Just like there are adrenaline junkies, I am a bit of an “extraordinary” junkie.

Sometimes the extraordinary life is loving my kids – taking extra minutes to tuck them in at night, signing up for a field trip, waiting for them after school, hugging them extra tight when they’ve had a rough day, or being super silly with them. These “simple” things are extraordinary and occasionally more difficult than gifting a kidney.

Sometimes the extraordinary life is taking the family on a mission trip to South Africa, moving across the country, or inviting someone to join your family.

This is what I do know:

A life lived in pursuit of the extraordinary is extremely difficult and even more extremely rewarding. After all the scary, exciting, difficult, joy-filled, and uncertain extraordinary living I have been blessed to do – I still want more. I have an extraordinary craving to leave this life having experienced everything God has available for me. I don’t want to miss any of it.

Are you living your own extraordinary journey? May you pursue all God has for you today as you live out your unique opportunity . . . your extraordinary life.

Be Extraordinary!

My Job: Deliver the Pizza

Results“Results. Often harsh, but always fair.” This is a great quote by Brian Klemmer. In so many aspects of life this is true.
* Look at your income, your net worth, or the growth of your company. Those numbers are a result of your choices.
* Get on the scale. The number that appears is a result of your choices.
* Is your house clean or does it look like a tornado came through? However it looks is a result of your choices. (If the mess was caused by your kids, remember that you chose to have those kids and therefore the mess is a result of your choices!)

This is one side of the coin and I have measured most everything in my life according to MY choices and MY responsibilities. However, there is another side of the coin where we have no control over the results, because the choices belong to someone else.

Here are a few examples:

Pizza. When delivering pizza, my job is to get the pizza from the pizza parlor to the house that ordered the pizza. That’s it!
I am not responsible for what happens to the pizza – if it is eaten, fed to the dog, or thrown out.

Kidney. When donating a kidney, my job is to be willing and go through testing, surgery, and recovery. That’s it!
I can not control how well the recipient’s body receives the kidney, or if the body rejects the kidney one, two, or ten years down the road.

Kids. When raising kids, my job is to teach, train, and love my kids to the best of my knowledge and ability. That’s it!
I can not control the outcomes or results. My kids may reject my input and want to walk in their own rebellious ways as teenagers or adults. I am not responsible for their choices – I am only responsible for mine.

DeliverPizzaThere are plenty of choices we make in each of these scenarios. For example, if I deliver pizza. I chose to take the job, or start the business. I chose to accept the order. I chose to drive the pizza to the customer’s house. I chose to take their money and give them the pizza. I chose to drive away. There is no place for me to own (through guilt or pride or disgust) what happens with the pizza next. This sounds kind of silly, but it is so easy to own things that are not ours . . . as easy as it is to not own things that are our responsibility.

We cannot mix up our responsibilities. We must – in full ownership – accept our choices and we must also fully release the choices that belong to someone else.

I have been wrestling with guilt over someone else’s choices lately. I did my part, but instead of releasing the rest I have been holding on to it and it has made me miserable. Then my coach talked to me about pizza delivery and my pastor talked to me about kidney donation and I am reminded of where my responsibilities end. Keeping this line – or these sides of the coin – straight brings freedom. Only in freedom can we live a truly extraordinary life.

What about you? Are you holding the guilt or grief of another’s choices and making it your own? It’s time to own your choices completely and release the rest. Deliver the pizza and clock out.
Would love to hear your thoughts.

Be Extraordinary!

Just a Little Bit More

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know that my desire and passion is to live an extraordinary life. An extraordinary life is not simply made up of extraordinary events – although that is part of it – but is a life lived out in daily obedience. My obedience is a response to the voice, promptings, and intuitions of God. This means obedience to crazy-big decisions (i.e. donating a kidney!) AND also to the small things (i.e. taking that extra moment to look my child in the eyes!)

In light of this desire, I have been challenged this week by my business and life coach, Tony, and through the book by Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect. I realize that my “extraordinary” life has become safe and complacent. I have been giving the bare minimum. A truly extraordinary life requires something extra, something more, than the average person is willing to give.

Just a little bit moreImagine what would happen if in each task we take on today we did just a little bit more.

Business: Instead of making ten calls, make eleven.

Finance: Instead of putting $50 in the savings account, put $55.

Parenting: Instead of the 30 second “close your eyes and go to sleep” speech, give five intentional snuggling and listening moments at bedtime.

Marriage: Instead of greeting spouses with a quick kiss and “how was your day?”, greet with a full seven second kiss followed by an embrace.

Health: Instead of the regular 30 minutes on the treadmill, push an extra two minutes at the fastest pace.

These ideas may seem small, but what would happen if we embraced just a little bit more over time? This is what Darren Hardy calls “the compound effect.” Our choices compound over time, whether negative or positive. And extraordinary does not come about because of a one-time decision; it comes about through the compounded results of little choices each day.

Where can you step up to live extraordinary in your life? What little choices will you make that over time will make all the difference? This is the crazy thing about extraordinary living: making one extra sales call or spending two extra minutes on the treadmill don’t seem that extraordinary, but the results of those actions and that mindset creates an extraordinary life.

It is not always easy, but it is worth it!

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!

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.