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!

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!

458 Reasons to Live Extraordinary

458reasonsThe journey of an extraordinary life is a series of small, important steps. It is easy to see “successful” people and think they simply got lucky or that success fell in their laps. I have experienced just enough success and just enough failure to know that it is not merely luck that gets a person anywhere worth going.

Happy marriages, booming businesses, new cars, and first-class tickets do not come to those who sit around and do nothing. These things – and so much more – come to those who take chances and make choices daily to do the right thing. And not only a good choices, but choices that move life in the direction of one’s goals, dreams, and desires.

Here is an example from my own life. When Joe and I had to put a new transmission in our van we also had to take out a loan of $4,000 (nearly $5,000 with interest) to pay for it. Finances were a bit tight so this was no pocket change for us. We payed our minimums for over two years. I really don’t remember how long because it seemed like forever! In that time we received a gift specifically for the tranny. The gift was $1,000 from some very generous and kind-hearted friends. At last we were able to pay the loan down to roughly $1,200. All interest was on the front end so we knew exactly what was left on the loan.

This is when we made one small, important decision. We began taking $25 every Friday and putting it on the loan, on top of our regular monthly payment. It didn’t seem like much. Fast forward four months:

I went online to make a payment and when I opened the website it said, “Balance: $0”.

I thought it just meant that I owed $0 because I was ahead on my monthly payments. But when I looked further it stated that a reimbursement check of $458 was on the way! The bill was paid in full and much more!

What if I had just made my minimum payments? First of all, I would still be making monthly payments! Second, I would have missed out on this awesome, surprising, and rewarding blessing!

All of this took place because we were willing to make consistent, small, sacrificial choices and action steps in the right direction. Did we get lucky? Maybe, but we would not have experienced this “luck” if we hadn’t been actively making efforts that put us in a place to receive this “luck.”

What small, sacrificial step can you make today that will move you in the direction of your goals, dreams, and desires?
Will you commit to taking an action step for the next 30 days, or the next 30 weeks, in anticipation of “luck” turning in your favor with this new, consistent habit?
Please share your commitments in the comment box below.

The extraordinary journey comes as a result of small, important steps.

Be Extraordinary!

Do You Need an Achilles’ Tendon Rupture?

achillesAchilles’ heel: a fault or weakness that causes or could cause someone or something to fail
i.e. I am trying to lose weight, but ice cream is my Achilles’ heel.

It took the rupture of my Achilles’ tendon to make me aware of an Achilles’ heel in my life.

In August of 2002, Joe and I had been married for nearly 6 years. AJ was 14 months old. I was 10 days shy of being 6 months pregnant with BJ. I was coaching middle school volleyball. I was the janitor for our church. Joe was a full-time youth pastor. Life was full and challenging, or so I thought.

On August 27, towards the end of volleyball practice, the other middle school coach and myself were playing a little 2-on-2 with our girls (yes, I was 5 1/2 months pregnant and felt great!) I bent to pass a ball and felt the fateful snap as though someone had hit me in the back of the leg. I waddled (yes, waddled) to the ball cart and wrapped up practice immediately. I then went and sat on the sideline and wondered if it was my Achilles. (I considered this because my brother-in-law, Dan, had ruptured his Achilles just 6 months earlier with a similar story.)

Our only car was a stick-shift and so I had one of the moms drive me home, and then Joe took me to Urgent Care. It was on that table in Urgent Care that I heard those awful words: You’re Achilles’ tendon is ruptured. Knowing what Dan had gone through (4 months of on-the-couch recovery) made the news so real. A thousand questions rattled in my mind, like “How in the world are Joe and I going to manage our busy little life now?” I was benched!

Ten days later (the doctors wanted to wait until I was a full 6 months pregnant), I had surgery. I spent a good part of two months with my leg elevated above my heart. Pain was intense and there was little I could do without help.

The rupture of my Achilles’ heel revealed my personal Achilles’ heel: I preferred to tackle life without help. I was a Lone Ranger. I thought I was stronger if I did things by myself.

The list of things I needed help with and the numbers of people who stepped in are countless, but I am going to recount a few because it was through this humbling process that I realized how much I need other people in my life.

* Joe coached girls volleyball (girls anything) for the first and last time. Those girls still call out, “Coach Joe!” when they see him around town.
* Joe did my janitorial job at the church.
* Debbie offered to watch AJ and her son, Josh, would come pick him up. This began a great relationship and all of our kids ended up spending time at Debbie’s Daycare over the years.
* Janice cleaned my bathroom. It was disgusting and she did it without complaint, without question, and with tons of joy.
* Meal after meal after meal came to our door by loving people from our church.
* Taking a bath and washing my hair. Yes, I needed help with these tasks too. Getting around on crutches at 6, 7, and 8 months pregnant was no easy feat, let alone getting into a bathtub while trying to keep my casted leg out of the water.

Life is best lived in the companionship and company of others. In fact, this is how we were created. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 sums it up well.
Two better than one“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!”

What is your Achilles’ heel in life? Are you willing to acknowledge it and take action to make changes? Hopefully it won’t take the rupture of an Achilles’ heel to get your Achilles’ heel in check.

Be Extraordinary!

The Chicken or The Egg?

chickenOReggIn 2010 my husband, Joe, began the official journey of writing his first book. He was writing for a daily devotional site and one particular week he wrote a series on the life of Joseph. The readers gave tremendous feedback and wanted to read and learn more. This was the inspiration Joe needed to get his dream of writing a book off the ground.

So, what came first – the inspiration or the writing?

Think about the question this way: What if Joe had simply been waiting for inspiration (the right thoughts, ideas, audience, a publishing company to offer him a book deal)? Would the book be written?

I venture to say that he would not have been writing for the devotional site in the first place if he was waiting for inspiration, waiting for the invite, waiting for the phone call, or waiting for the eager audience to emerge.

The writing came first.

ProjectJosephWriting daily was just the beginning. This daily habit and desire to share with others caused Joe to pursue writing for the daily devotional site. He was not invited. Well, it was a very loose invitation and it required initial action on Joe’s part. After several months of writing, the devotional series on Joseph emerged and was ultimately the catalyst for putting those initial thoughts into the pages of a book. Project Joseph is an amazing tool for dealing with past pain and gaining a new, life-changing perspective.

Are you waiting for inspiration before you take action on your dreams? What action do you need to take or what habit must become part of your daily life so that you are in a place where inspiration can appear.

When inspiration comes, will you be ready to receive and act on it? I hope so!

Be Extraordinary!

15 Minutes

I am convinced that most issues and attitudes can be changed in a mere fifteen minutes. They won’t necessarily be completely resolved, but radically changed.

1515 minutes.

For example, imagine your kitchen is a disaster and the sink is piled with dishes. We also have a corner of our kitchen counter that is often stacked with mail, school papers, books, and today there is a pair of binoculars. When I look at the kitchen it can seem overwhelming — it seems like it would take an hour to get it back in shape.

15 minutes.

Here is where fifteen minutes comes in to save the day. Set a timer (thank you Fly Lady) for fifteen minutes, pick something (i.e. dishes, counter, or table), crank up some tunes, and get busy. This isn’t even about hurrying, but work on the kitchen for the full fifteen minutes. Every time I do this I am blown away by how quickly things turn around. Usually I easily finish within the timed fifteen minutes. Often I accomplish more — recycling out, garbage out, dishwasher started, etc.

15 minutes.

I have seen this same thing work with other areas of the house, my work time (working at home requires self-motivation that is sometimes lacking), solving a problem, and even my attitude.

timer15 minutes.

One area of my home that requires fifteen minutes of consistent attention is paper and clutter. I gave this one the first fifteen and then realized it would serve me and my family to give those papers fifteen minutes of each day. You can read about this decision in Moomers, Candy Crush, and Paper Piles.

15 minutes.

It’s not much, but fifteen minutes a day could improve your marriage, change your financial situation, clean up your clutter, put dinner on the table, flowers in the vase, veggies in the garden, artwork on the walls, and much much more.

15 minutes.

What area of your life could use a fifteen minute turn-around? Is there something that is in desperate need of fifteen minutes of your attention? The journey of an extraordinary life can begin with just fifteen minutes.

Be Extraordinary!

5,000 Thank Yous!

thank you
Starting a blog has been a challenging and humbling experience. I published my first post in September of 2013. After more than a year of consideration and much gentle persuasion by my husband, I took the plunge. This week the blog has reached 5,000 views and if I could I would send out 5,000 thank-yous!
5,000 views later I am so grateful for the journey, but I really hesitated to begin a blog . . .
First, I’m not a writer. (Not sure I can still say that since I have now written more than 45 posts.) However, if blogging were purely about eloquence I’m not sure anyone would follow this blog. I love reading eloquent blogs, but that isn’t me. This blog is an avenue to share my story in my words and with my personality.
(Note: I am super grateful for my friend, Sharilyn, who graciously edits this blog so you don’t have to read a constant flow of sentences ending in prepositional phrases!)
Secondly, there is a vulnerability and humbleness in blogging. After all, I am placing my mistakes, challenges, and personal thoughts in a post and inviting others to read, contemplate, and give feedback. I have grown in this area and although I desire positive feedback from my readers, the learning process I am going through is worth putting myself out there in the open.
Here is my realization:  blogging is just one way to express my journey and desire to live an extraordinary life. It is not an isolated experience – it is my life. I share my life, journey, and experiences through Facebook, church small group, business, ministry, and blogging. It is about connecting, inspiring, challenging, and moving people (including myself) toward a more extraordinary life.
Get connected – share your life with others. Be inspired and inspire others. Embrace challenge. Allow yourself to be moved. The extraordinary life is worth it!
Be extraordinary!