Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New blog - Please read!

I have now started blogging at http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/

Please follow me there. I will eventually be taking this site down. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

"Because the people who are crazy enough
 to think they can change the world,
 are the ones who do."
 Steve Jobs

Tonight we learned that Steve Jobs passed away. I'll admit it. I'm not an Apple freak. I have many friends who are. I do have multiple Apple products and I really like them, but I am not one who has to have the newest Apple product the minute it comes out.  However, you can't deny the amazing impact that Steve had on technology and how we have access to things we never knew we needed. He was truly a visionary and an amazing creator. His ideas and innovations changed our world.

Reflecting on all of the news coverage, and stopping to realize how he has truly impacted all of us, even if we have competitors' products, is pretty amazing.

He was a dreamer.

He was a leader.

He created things that there was no immediate need for, and somehow created a need for them.

He was able to push forward when people told him his ideas would never work.

He wanted to change the world. And he did.

I can't help but wonder how many people told him he would never invent the things he dreamed about. That he would never be able to make things better. That it just couldn't be done. I'm sure there were many. But he didn't listen. He believed in his dreams. He knew that they were wrong.

How many of us have dreams of making the world a better place?

How many of us want to make a difference?

How many of us are actually taking steps to make it happen?

Or are we letting the craziness of life get in our way?

Are we listening to the many critics who say our dreams can never happen because they are too afraid to believe in their own dream?

Are we listening to the own voices in our head that tell us we can't?

The truth is that we can always take one step forward. We CAN make an impact. We can start in our family. Then our neighborhood, and our workplace, and our community. And on and on and on.

Don't stop pressing toward your dream. Take that next step. Don't let life pass you by. Do it today. Because none of us know if we will see tomorrow. And if we're crazy enough to believe it, we can change the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I expect so much

I expect a lot of people. I've always known that about myself.  However, I'm learning that the people I am usually the hardest on, and expect the most out of, are the ones closest to me. Particularly my husband.

~ I want him to be like me

~ I want him to parent like I do

~ I want him to think like I do

~ I want him to do all the things that I do as a Mom, willingly, without having to be asked

~ I want him to know what I am thinking without me saying it

~ I want him to be on the same spiritual journey

~ I want him to want the same things that I want

And then I realize how crazy that is.

* He brings a perspective that I don't have

* He has different ideas than I do

* The boys don't need another Mom - they need a Dad

* He can fix anything - I can fix almost nothing!

* He has his own needs

* Everyone's spiritual journey is unique

* He needs to be supported

* He needs to be respected

* He needs a wife to love him unconditionally

So for today, I am painfully admitting my broken ideas and expectations of my husband. And, I'm choosing to work to be a better wife. A better supporter. A better partner.

Because regardless of how much work it takes to keep a marriage strong in the messiness of raising two young boys, it is worth it. It always has been.

This is written in conjunction with life: UNMASKED at Joy in this Journey

Life: Unmasked

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

The Grace of God
by Andy Stanley

You've heard about grace.

You've received grace.

But what does it really mean to live with grace?

In his book, The Grace of God, Andy Stanley walks us through scripture in a unique and very applicable way. He uses stories from both the Old and New Testaments to show us example after example of grace. He has a wonderful way of sharing these stories in a new light that make them completely relevant to modern day circumstances.

Over and over again, Andy gives examples of people in the bible who did not deserve grace, but they received it. That is true for all of us. None of us deserve grace. But, we thirst for it. After life has left us with unfulfilled desires and dreams, we often face an unquenchable thirst. "God's response to the thirsty soul is grace." I loved that! What a great image for us to visualize.

This book is a great reminder that grace is meant to be shared. God calls us to extend his grace. "When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing. But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything."

I would highly recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I am grateful......

For so many things......

Like these two beautiful boys.......

Brothers who love and fight and have fun...........
 And are learning how to be themselves........

I am so blessed......
With an awesome husband.....
An amazing family......
New and life long friends.....
A beautiful church community.....
And so many others who have touched my life in some way.....

Thank you just doesn't seem enough sometimes.....

But did you take the time to tell someone today?
We often let life pass us by without telling them.....

So today........
Stop and take a moment......
And tell someone how much they mean to you.....
And that you are grateful for them......

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I am not.....

I am not creative.

I am not an artist.

I am not an idea person.

I am not a dreamer.

These are all things I have said in the past. Many, many times. And I am now starting to wonder when that crucial time was when I decided I WASN'T these things, instead of trying to explore and develop them.

The last few years have been so interesting for me, because I have developed this community around me who no longer allows me to say those things. They no longer allow me to say that I am fine exactly where I am. They continually push me to stretch myself, and to not be satisfied with just existing. And I am so thankful for it.

A big part of this definitely has to do with the changes in my faith, and how I am now viewing myself as God sees me, rather than how I see myself, or how the world sees me. And I am searching for ways to make an impact. That makes an incredible difference in my attitude, overall outlook, and decisions. But, I have also really been thinking and praying and trying to figure out what some of my lost passions are. It has been an eye opening, yet extremely frustrating experience.

How could I say I'm not creative? I played the piano (and flute and tenor sax), sang, and created beautiful music, even if it was not my own. I brought the notes on the page to life. I wrote poems, and short stories. I loved to write letters and notes. I loved to scrapbook, and take photos and capture unique images.

While I am not someone who continually thinks up the most unique ideas, I do have opinions and good ideas to bring to individuals, and teams and organizations. I have experience in many different unique roles and circumstances, and I have my own ideas that work pretty well. How could I continually deny that and say I'm not an idea person?

Why did I stop dreaming? Where are those hidden dreams that I must have had when I was younger? What happened to them? I know they were there once. Why did I push them so far deep inside? Will they ever see the light of day again? Are there new ones to explore?

I had one childhood dream that I do remember vividly. I wanted to be a funeral director. I know. Crazy, right? I think the interest started with my Grandfather's funeral in the late '70s. I had never seen someone in a casket before. I was young, and curious. I specifically remember reaching up for his hand, and wanting to touch him and give him a kiss one last time. I wasn't afraid. I knew where he was. He was with Jesus, and I was happy for him. But, my Aunt slapped my hand away, as I was reaching up for him. "We don't do that!! It's not proper."  I was crushed. I just wanted one more moment with him, and I wanted to know if his hand felt the same.

I also think that I instinctively knew from an early age that I can often be a source of comort to people. What an amazing experience it would be to be a source of calm and comfort to families facing difficult times with death. Of course, I didn't fully comprehend all of this then, but I do think that I thought I could be helpful to people in very sad times. Unfortunately, experiencing death firsthand when my father passed away, completely scratched this dream. I was fourteen years old, and the thought of having to be around families who were hurting in a way that I now understood, was something I didn't think I could bear.

I look back on that now and wonder, "Did I really want to be a funeral director?", "Is that a dream I should pursue?" I can honestly say that it isn't. But what is interesting is the perspective I've realized around it. The part about being comforting to others. And helping others. And making a difference. That is what I'd dreamed of for a very long time.

At some time, however, the dream got pushed to the bottom. And reality and responsibility and expectations for who I should become piled on top of it. And I started to believe the lie that says you can't follow your dream. You have to be responsible, and take care of yourself and your family. Nobody is always going to be there for you, except for you. And dreams don't come true, so why waste time chasing them? Why did I not realize there were other things I could do to evoke the same feelings?

I no longer believe those lies. I am continually being challenged to take another step of faith in many areas of my life. One of the things that I am working hard on is discovering my true purpose, and how God wants to use me in a unique way. I feel that something is changing, but I don't quite know what it is yet. I am taking one step at a time, and enjoying this very interesting time in my life.

I am asking questions. Lots of questions. To people I know, and people I am just getting to know. I am reading many different books on leadership and dreams and amazing memoirs. I attended The Quitter Conference, and Story, both of which impacted me in very unique ways. Both Jon Acuff and Ben Arment spoke about your own unique story, and how nobody can tell it. This really hit me. Yes, they may have done something similar to what you are dreaming. But, they are not you. Your perspective is different. Your story matters! The world needs to hear it. 

So what else am I doing?

I am allowing people to speak truth into my life. Sometimes truth that I don't want to hear

I am allowing people to start demystifying the entire dreaming process for me

I am searching for the unique in the every day stories

I am taking the time to truly listen to people

I am enjoying the small moments in life

I am looking forward to where this journey is taking me.

What about you? What things are you working to change in your life? What is your dream?

Monday, September 12, 2011

#Sexyback11 Challenge - Final Post!

It's been 12 weeks since I started the Sexyback 2011 Challenge. I had already made the decision to start eating healthier, and I thought this would be a great way to help keep me on track. My initial goal was to lose 25 pounds in the 12 weeks.

However, not long after I started, I read Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. It completely changed my attitude and my desire around losing weight. It was no longer about just losing weight for a one time challenge. I made the decision that this time would be different. I decided that I would learn to conquer my cravings and make healthier choices for a lifetime. Losing weight was the ultimate goal, but this time was more about changing my lifestyle, not just my size.

I have been on every diet imaginable in the past. I've lost weight successfully, and gained back more than I lost. And, I have had a serious challenge keeping my weight down since having kids. There are all kinds of excuses that I can use, but none of that mattered anymore. This time, I am determined to make lasting changes and not be "on a diet."

A few weeks in to the challenge, I realized that weighing myself every week was one easy way for me to get discouraged. I was consistently working out 4-5 times per week with very intense sessions. I had joined a kettlebell studio, and it was awesome. The workouts are very difficult, and brought me back to how I felt during my athlete days. My body tends to gain muscle weight pretty quickly, so I knew that weighing myself would only frustrate me. So, I stayed off the scale for the rest of the challenge. I know this doesn't work for everyone, but it really helps me.

I knew I was making progress, though, when my clothes all started fitting better, and getting baggy. I also kept track of my inches as well as what I was eating. I was consistently making healthier eating choices, and it was not as difficult as I expected it to be.

I am very happy to report my progress after the 12 weeks.

           Pounds lost: 15

           Inches lost: 8

           Clothes Sizes down: 1+ (almost 2!)

Overall, it was relatively easy to get to this point. My food choices were a big change for me, as well as getting into a consistent workout routine. In addition to working out consistently, I also made very simple changes. When the kids and I would go to the park, I would no longer sit on the bench and check Facebook. I would walk around the park instead. Or, if we rode our bikes to the park, I would continue riding my bike around the park while they played. These little changes really made a big difference in conjunction with my workouts.

I am very excited about the next few months, as I will continue to work towards becoming healthier prior to my 40th birthday. I am looking forward to starting a new decade as a smaller, healthier version of me.

Thank you to so many of you who supported me and continue to encourage me. I appreciate it!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Last month, I had the opportunity to walk in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. I walked with Team Jamie, in honor of my dear friend Jamie Pursley. It was an amazing experience to see 30K people come out to support such a worthy cause. This is no longer a disease that only affects some of us. Most likely, we all know someone personally who has now been affected with this awful form of cancer.

It was a sea of pink. Many of Team Jamie wore pink tutus, including her husband Aaron. It was a neat experience to walk with so many survivors and supporters who have lost loved ones or are supporting those currently fighting this disease.

Team Jamie 2011 Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

While it was hard to realize that Jamie was at this race last year, and now will never be at another race again, it was also comforting to see a team of people wanting to make sure that her brief life continues to be celebrated. We walked in honor of her, and for those that now face this disease after her.

With Aaron after the race

We have decided to make this race an annual event. We will walk each year to celebrate Jamie. We will also continue fighting and raising money and doing whatever we can to help those who are battling this disease.

To learn more about Jamie's story, as well as the amazing organization that her friends started to grant her last wish, you can visit:



Saturday, September 3, 2011


Last week, my youngest son started all day kindergarten. I think about how crazy it is that these five and a half years have gone so quickly. I remember the day he was born. I was so sick from the anesthesia, and couldn't hold him for 24 hours. It seemed like an eternity! Now, here he is starting in full day kindergarten.

My two boys are very different. As in night and day different. My oldest is a rule follower, first born-cautious, somewhat shy, and very responsible. My youngest is a loving, carefree explorer, who is full of life and constantly inquisitive about the world. He is intense, and on the move, non-stop. He has been since he came into this world.

He's been in daycare and preschool, and is always described by his teachers as loving and ALL BOY. He has a hard time sitting still, and is very social. So, I have been expecting that his school experience was going to be somewhat different than my oldest son's, who has only had one principal involved issue in four years in school, and very few minor incidents requiring a call home from the teacher.

Yes, I have already received two calls from the teacher. They happened in the first three full days of school. However, I am thankful that the teacher and I are working together to make sure that he has a great year, learns to adjust to school, but also keeps his wonderful spirit and not be stifled. I'm sure I'll have many more posts to share throughout this kindergarten year!!

I am reading a cool book titled Wild Things, the art of nurturing boys. It is great at helping you understand the different ways that boys develop and what makes them unique. It also gives you practical advice on how to interact with them, and help nurture them into amazing young men. I have leard some great ideas for redirecting the energy of my youngest son. Also, the cover just captures the essence of so many boys I know!

As a Mom, one of the things I am working hard on is helping my boys understand their strengths from an early age. I want them to learn the importance of hard work, following the rules, and doing well in school. However, I am learning from this book, as well as talking to many other parents, that we also need to focus on helping them understand their unique gifts and empower them. They each have different ones, and sometimes I think those often get lost or hidden during these crucial elementary years. We are working to make sure that doesn't happen.

How have you helped empower your children to embrace their unique gifts and personalities? I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The older I get, the more I am realizing the enormous impact that fathers have on their children. These male role models can be incredibly amazing, or nonexistent.

I just finished reading Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me by Ian Morgan Cron. It is an incredible memoir of his life with an alcoholic, self-absorbed father. It always pains me to read books like this. My heart just aches knowing that there are millions of kids who live in homes where on the surface everything appears to be normal, but inside the home, kids are dying for attention and affection.

My childhood was completely different. I was not exposed to the kind of heartbreak he describes in his book, and I have a hard time imagining what my life would have been like if I had. However, I did have a difficult time during my teen years, due to my father passing away when I was 14. Many of my friends and people who hear that always say what a tragedy it was, and how I was cheated. While I have certainly felt that way many, many times, I now choose to think about it differently. I was given an incredible gift.

My father was a beautiful human being. He loved God, and he loved people. He was constantly doing things for people he didn't know, helping those less fortunate, volunteering his time, and loving life. And, he loved us unconditionally. I felt it, and knew it. He was truly an example of how to show Christ's love on earth. His example left an imprint on my heart so big, that it has actually taken me many years to fully understand all of the things I learned from him. God is helping me to understand some of this at a much deeper level now. But, that's another conversation for another post!

So this book left me feeling amazed at another beautiful story of grace,. It also helped opened my eyes to the fact that our actions as parents impact our children in ways we can never imagine. We have to continue to choose each day to empower and love our children unconditionally, in both words and actions.

It's also reminded me to be fully present and listen to kids around us. God can use us to be a positive voice and encouragement to them. Those kids that may sometimes bug us in the neighborhood. You know, the one at the pool who is a bully and mean, but deep down is craving attention. That shy girl who needs to know that someone notices her. That teenager who is having a hard time making it through the day because she doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, and is tired of being picked on. That boy whose father tells him he is worthless. There are so many of them. We just have to take the time to notice them, listen to the clues, and then offer a smile and a word of encouragement.

How did your father impact you? How are you offering encouragement to others?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

They're on the ocean floor

This weekend, our church will host our annual BBQ & Baptism. It is an amazing experience that I have had the opportunity to help coordinate for the last few years. We spend an entire afternoon honoring and celebrating with those who have decided to take that next step in their faith journey and be baptized. Our staff is wonderful about planning every detail to ensure that the day is unforgettable.

I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite events that we host each year. It is such a unique and special day, as we celebrate with those who have made one of the most important decisions in their faith journey: to publicly proclaim their relationship with Jesus.

The stories that I get the opportunity to hear are always amazing. Although the day takes an incredible amount of planning and coordination to pull it off, it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have the privilege of being involved in.

It always makes me think of my own story, and my baptism a few years ago. What an emotional and freeing experience that was. There is nothing like the feeling of going under that water and coming up clean. The song Ocean Floor by Audio Adrenaline captures it so perfectly.

"Ocean Floor"

The mistakes I've made

That caused pain

I could have done without

All my selfish thought

All my pride

The things I hide

You have forgot about

They're all behind you

They'll never find you

They're on the ocean floor

Your sins are forgotten

They're on the bottom

Of the ocean floor

My misdeeds

All my greed

All the things that haunt me now

They're not a pretty sight to see

But they're wiped away

By a mighty, mighty wave

A mighty, mighty wave

Your sins are erased

And they are no more

They're out on the ocean floor

Take them away

To return no more

Take them away

To the ocean floor

Although this video was shot around the theme of serving at our church, you can watch Some of my story here.

So, what's your story? Have you been baptized, or are you considering it? I would love to hear from you.

Also, you can check out some amazing videos that capture the essence of the day here: The Orchard's BBQ and Baptism

Friday, August 12, 2011

My friend Jamie

This is how I remember Jamie when I first met her. Straight out of college, full of life, and dating a guy named Aaron. I liked her from the moment I met her. Her smile was beautiful and sincere. She loved life and brought joy to those around her.

We worked together for several years. I wouldn't say that we were super close during that time, but we had a lot of fun together. She would come to me and ask for professional advice, as well as situations with her personal life. We developed a friendship that didn't require that we spend tons of time together outside of work, or talk to each other all the time. We just had one of those simple friendships where we knew that we cared about each other and could pick up the phone at any time.

We later moved back to Chicago from Kansas City, and I didn't see her for several years. We would exchange emails now and then, but it wasn't until she was pregnant with her daughter, and I was pregnant with my second son, that we started getting back in touch more often. Our due dates were within days of each other. That is always a great time to reconnect with someone and exchange pregnancy stories. I couldn't believe it when she told me that she was planning to name her daughter Kayden. We had just recently decided that we were going to name our son Kaden. I was shocked, as at the time, it was a pretty uncommon name (obviously, that's not the case anymore!) My Kaden ended up being born one day after her Kayden. It was a great way for us to continue to keep in touch and exchange Kayden stories!

Less than a year later, Jamie's world changed forever. She found a lump on her breast. Her doctors told her it was nothing. She was 30 years old and healthy, with a baby at home. Jamie had a feeling they were wrong and unfortunately, they were. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were all shocked.

Jamie's story captivated us all. Through everything she was going through, she blogged and continued to show unbelievable hope and grace. She helped us see the good things in life, even when we couldn't comprehend the difficulties she was going through. Over the next four and a half years, her cancer would go into remission, and then return, two more times before she got the news that it was metastatic in early 2010.

This picture was taken the same weekend that I got to see her and Kayden, in the spring of 2010. It was shortly after her latest diagnosis that the cancer was spreading faster than the chemo could keep up with. She looked fantastic, and you would never have known that her time on this earth was so limited. She was as beautiful as ever, grateful, and so full of life. I was so glad to be able to spend even a short amount of time with her and her adorable Kayden.

She was so thankful for every day that she got to wake up. I continually learned lessons from her about loving life and appreciating the simple things. Oh, and remember that guy named Aaron? He is her unbelievably amazing husband. Watching his support and love for her during this entire time was something that touched me very deeply. They treasured every moment they had together as a family. They crossed things off her bucket list. They lived every day as if it were going to be her last. I was continually amazed at the strength, endurance and resilience they showed.

In March of this year, Jamie went home to be with Jesus. Her earthly suffering was now over. Even though it's been a few months, typing those words still does not seem real. It's hard for us to comprehend how someone so young with so much life could be taken from us so soon. But during her short time, she touched so many lives. Many of them did not know her personally, and had been following her journey through friends of friends and praying for her. She had an unbelievable impact during her short life on this earth.

This is how I will forever remember Jamie. With a stunning smile, love that spilled out of her, and as an amazing Mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. She taught me to slow down and treasure the little things in life.

Thank you, Jamie. For being my friend, and teaching me so many incredible lessons. You were a treasure and truly loved. You inspired countless numbers of people with your unbelievable honesty and grace. Among many of the things that you helped me realize, the power of blogging was a big one for me. You took the time to share your story. The good, the bad, and everything in between. In doing so, people's lives were changed. That is inspiring!

This Sunday, I have the privilege of walking in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in Kansas City. While I will be with thousands of other people, it will be an incredible honor to walk with Team Jamie, consisting of her family, friends and people who loved her. I know it will be an amazing experience, and one that she will be smiling down on as we walk in her honor.

If you'd like to read more about Jamie's incredible journey, you can read her blog, Loving Pink. This post was one of my favorites: A Time to Believe.

If you'd like to donate to Team Jamie to support breast cancer research, you can visit my race page at Team Jamie.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SexyBack Challenge Check in

I have not posted for several weeks now about the SexyBack challenge. There are several reasons for this.

1. I've been busy - not a good excuse, but I just haven't made the time.

2. I started this challenge one week after I had already started eating healthier. I did it because I thought it would be great to have a group of people to do it with and help hold me accountable. However, I was still in the mindset of "dropping weight quickly" when I signed up for it. I hadn't quite made the connection to an overall healthier lifestyle that wasn't completely focused on my weight. Since I started, that focus has changed dramatically.

So, honestly, I haven't wanted to blog much about it, as I am trying really hard NOT to focus on the numbers. I have not been getting on the scale weekly. In fact, I haven't been on it for almost the entire time. Because this time, it isn't about a number on a scale for me. It's about continuing to make healthy choices daily that lead to overall better health. Do I want to weigh less? Absolutely! However, knowing myself as well as I do, if I continually get on the scale, that will become my focus. And, I don't want that anymore. This is not a "diet", it is a way of life for me now. It is about taking control of my eating (including emotions), and learning to take care of the body that God gave me. I have tried almost every "diet" there is, and this time is different.

I am working out consistently three to five times per week. I have implemented a healthier eating plan that consists of smaller meals throughout the day, more fruits and vegetables, and very low sugar. This is working for me. I am continually seeing the change in my clothes and my inches. My body is changing. Do I think the weight is dropping off? Probably not. Why? Because I am doing very intense kettelbell workouts that are building lean muscle. I am naturally a muscular person, so my weight when I first start building that muscle back up is always higher.

Do I feel better? ABSOLUTELY!! I am amazed at the difference in my mood and overall feelings when you start taking time for yourself and taking care of yourself.

Am I grateful to have found people who are on this journey with me? Absolutely. I learn something from what others who have a different perspective than me are doing.

So, there's my multiple week checkin. Hope you are having a great week!

Monday, August 8, 2011


"If the size of your vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, there's a good chance it's insulting to God." Steven Furtick

I read this quote in his book titled "Sun Stand Still." It was pretty mind blowing to me. When had I stopped having a vision for my life? When did just getting by in life and working towards what the world told me I needed take over? When did I settle for good enough?

I am really struggling with this question right now. I know that God has a vision for my life. I know he had one many years ago. However, I chose to continue to work towards what I thought was best for me. Sure, I believed in him. Sure, I was a Christian. But, I wasn't letting him guide my paths. I was choosing my own path and asking for him to help me with it when I felt like I needed help.

Now, as I am feeling led towards new directions, I am really wrestling with this. Nothing is clear to me at this point. The only thing I know for sure is that God has a plan. I just have to keep trusting him and obeying when he asks me to take small steps.

One of those small steps was attending the Quitter conference last weekend. I thought that maybe I would have some lightbulb moment while I was there. I didn't. However, what I did feel was hope and clarity that I am moving in the direction that he wants me to go. And to be honest, it's kind of exciting to watch this all progress on a daily and weekly basis.

What is your vision for your life? Has it always been clear to you? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I am not ready for this

Tonight, my two sons and I went on a bike ride to a park in the next subdivision. They are 8 and 5. While we were cutting through another park, I was following behind the boys. There were two little girls playing in the park, and I suddenly heard an excited voice say (insert 8 year old girl squeal here) "That was Jonah!!!", then "I can't believe I just saw Jonah!!!", and "I am SOOOOOOOOOO excited!"

I laughed at first. Then, I wanted to slam on my brakes and turn around. What??? Surely those cute little girls weren't talking about being excited to see my son, right? These are the moments when I realize that in my mind sometimes, he is still 2 or 3. Nevermind that he is riding long distances on his bike, and that we were going to the park so he and his bother could show me how great they are on the bike ramp at the skate park. He's my little boy! Girls surely can't be interested in him yet, right?

The rest of the ride had my mind spinning. He's going into third grade. I remember being excited to see cute boys when I was that age. I also remember boys having no clue why girls got so excited and silly when they were around. That is Jonah. He is going to be much like his Dad in that area. He will be oblivious to the fact that girls are very interested in him, because he will be too busy doing boy stuff and thinking about how to fix something or create something new.

When Rick and I started dating, I could never understand why his Mom was so protective of her boys. What harm could I do? And now, here we are. Full circle. Not only do I understand her hesitation of not wanting her sons to get hurt, I feel like I am going to be even more protective as a Mom! Especially when it comes to Kaden. But, he's another story for another day....

It also doesn't help that they are both really cute boys. I know, I know, I may be just a little biased!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Top 10 list from the Quitter conference

This past weekend, I attended Jon Acuff's Quitter conference, in Nashville. It was based on his book, Quitter, but it took the concepts and actions to a deeper level. Here is my very own top 10 list.

1. Jon Acuff is even funner in person than he is in print. I didn't think that was possible. He is truly entertaining, yet provides great advice and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone.

2. Twitter is perfect for conferences. I think I tweeted more during the conference than I have in the last few months combined! There were so many tweet-worthy tidbits. It was fun to see people at the conference start following each other. I'm looking forward to keeping in contact with them to see how their dreams progress. 

3. Jon Acuff knows how hard it is to follow your dream. He's a living example of what can happen when you provide the passion and hard work required. And, he's willing to share his ideas in order to help you realize your own dream too.      

4. He has an amazing team supporting him. The flow of the conference was well thought out, and the presentations were really creative. Kudos to everyone involved! I loved hearing from his wife, Jenny, as well. That was a nice personal touch.

5. I am not alone in wanting to do something meaningful with my life. There were 180+ people there, who are all wanting to make an impact in the world. I am looking forward to connecting with more of them and learning their stories.

6. It can be done! You can make a difference. There were multiple stories of people who are living it and doing it. It's always great to hear practical examples, and to be reminded that every great idea started out with someone taking the time to cultivate it and take steps forward.

7. Freebies are always an added bonus! We got some really cool things that were unexpected. A Hello Somebody watch that I am loving (check out their website, as each item helps fund starving children overseas), a Dave Ramsey leather journal, and a Quitter t-shirt. It was a really nice touch.

8. Twitter people are real people. This is something that can easily be forgotten. You can get caught up in their number of followers or their success, and it's easy to forget that they are real people facing real issues, just like you.

9. Be realistic about your dreams and what it will take. Ben Arment also spoke and he is really great at giving you the hard facts about what you need before your dream can happen. He has an amazing way of inspiring you and challenging you to figure out how you will fund your dream.

10. Our dreams matter. The world desperately needs us to follow them. This really hit home with me. We can change the world. But it requires all of us doing the hard work to figure out our dream, and then make it happen.

I am still in the process of determining what my dream looks like. I have some recurring thoughts and am working on clarifying them more in the near future. The Quitter conference was a great way to help spur this conversation in my head!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One month....Done!

This is my weekly check in for the #SexyBack11 challenge. I can't believe it's been a month already. As I've said previously, I am staying off of the scale. I have been doing very intense kettlebell workouts and know that my body is changing in muscle definition and shape, but not necessarily in the scale right now. In order not to get discouraged, I am staying away from it. Because, I FEEL GREAT!!

Here's my tracking information for this week:
         Inches lost: 2!
         Workouts: 5 (3 kettlebell workouts and 2 walking)

It is amazing how much different you can feel in just a short amount of time. I am looking forward to continuing to work on eating healthier, making better decisions about food, and consistently working out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Check In - #SexyBack11 Challenge

Week 3 of the #SexyBack11 challenge is complete (and week 4 for me personally). I feel great! I am focusing primarily on eating healthier and working out, so I am not going to be weighing in this morning.

I have started an amazing workout routine at a kettlebell studio. Wow! Talk about an intense workout. They took all of my measurements, and really emphasize not getting on the scale, which has also been my focus. They are also an incredibly encouraging and motivating group. I am looking forward to getting to know some of them better!

Here are a few key indicators for me that my changes are making a difference.

1. I am fitting into my clothes better, and some are way too big already

2. I have more energy

3. I have a strong motivation to work out consistently

4. My cravings have significantly decreased

So, for the #SexyBack11 challenge, I will now be updating you on how many times I worked out that week, as well as inches lost. Every few weeks, I'll check in with my weight also.

Here are the results for this week!
           Kettlebell workout - 4 times this week
           Walking - 2 times this week
           Inches lost - 1 1/2!

I am so thankful to be on this journey towards better health. I have a very supportive group of friends and family that are helping me and encouraging me. If I can help encourage you too, please let me know!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Morning of reflection

Last Friday, I finally took the morning to be by myself and focus solely on having a morning of quiet time, prayer, and reflection. My Pastor has encouraged me to do this for some time, but I never made the time to actually do it. Wow! It was so incredibly peaceful and serene.

One of the places I ended up was a forest preserve with a Japanese garden and island right by the river. I had been there before, but only in a rush. I never took the time to see the beauty all around me.

One of the first things I noticed when I was off the beaten path, were these trees. They were not straight, like many of their neighbors. They were stretching and reaching across the path. I couldn't help but think about what a great analogy that is for where I feel I am right now. God is stretching me in so many areas, and although it can be painful, it is also beautiful!

The next area where I spent a considerable amount of time was next to this lighthouse, which was right along the river. I loved how it is cracked and aged, but still standing strong, providing light to those around it.

I spent the majority of the time sitting next to this lighthouse reading my Bible, studying, and praying. I had specific people I was praying for, as well as asking for direction in many areas of my life. Romans 12 was the area where I spent the most time that morning.

I am in the process of eating healthier, and trying to make better decisions. This verse continued to resonate with me. "I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him." Romans 12:1

I am also in the midst of determining some life changing steps that I believe God wants for me. To this point, not many things have been clear. So, the following verse was very applicable as well. "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2

Wow! God was definitely speaking directly to me through these scriptures that morning!

Here are a few other pictures that I took that morning. I finished the morning feeling restful, peaceful, and with my soul restored. I would highly recommend carving out some time to have a day of reflection. I never could find a way to have a whole day, but the morning worked incredibly well for me. Next time, I'll plan for the entire day.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Check in to Healthy Living

So, I am officially past three weeks of eating healthy and exercising more. I am also participating in the SexyBack Challenge with about 200 other people around the country.

I am really focusing on NOT weighing myself constantly, or getting caught up in how much weight I am losing. Yes, that is one of my goals. However, the MAIN goal is for me to get healthier. From what I eat, to how much I move, to how I feel.

So, the official total is that I am now down 10 pounds from when I started. I have also lost over 3 inches. I am very pleased with that, but again, really trying not to get focused on the numbers. For me, these are some of the things that I am getting pleasure from feeling:

* My clothes fit better
* I have more energy
* I am more active
* I feel great!

Looking forward to continuing this journey together. Have a great, safe 4th of July weekend! I am so thankful for the people who sacrificed so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have. God Bless America!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Healthy Living Challenge

Week one of the SexyBack challenge, and week 2 of my own healthy living challenge = complete!!

I feel amazing.

More energy.



More determined.

Can't wait to see where this journey takes me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Five Simple Steps

I'm two weeks into my health living transformation, and I feel great! Here are five simple things I am doing that are having an impact.

1. Letting myself feel hungry
Instead of eating just because it's the time to eat, I'm actually allowing myself to feel hunger and then eat at that time. It requires having healthy snacks available for when that time hits.

2. Get moving!
In addition to exercising regularly (I have walked 3-5 times per week), I am also seizing any opportunity to move. That means riding bikes with the kids, as well as walking around the park while the kids are playing, instead of just sitting on a bench checking Facebook or Twitter on my phone!

3. Water, water, water
I always drink water, but sometimes I need a little flavor. I used to reach for a Diet Coke at that time, but now I grab another glass of water and put a shot of MiO Liquid water enhancer in it. It has a little flavor that breaks up the water routine!

4. Stop beating yourself up
Even if I slip up and eat something not so healthy, I no longer beat myself up. I quickly re-correct and start again with a healthier choice at my next opportunity. We are always so much harder on ourselves than others. Why is that?

5. Cardio Burner app
This is my new favorite app. It tracks your workout and lets you listen to your music at the same time. I had used RunKeeper before and tried to play Pandora at the same time. It never seemed to work right. Cardio Burner has reminders for upcoming workouts and will track how many calories you are burning. It's a great motivator!

What simple steps are you taking to get healthier? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sexy Back Challenge

I'm already more than a week and a half into the changes I've been making to eat healthy and drop the excess weight. I'm tired of making excuses for why I can't do it. It's time to change.

So, when I saw @loswhit's SexyBack Challenge Sexy Back 2011 posted, I knew I had to join. Now, in addition to what I am doing to make healthier choices, I can join in with over 200 people who are trying to do the same. Having a support group always makes a huge difference!

No, I do not plan on taking my shirt off, and the whole idea of "sexy back" is not something I think of when I think of me. But, I am looking forward to the results in the next 12 weeks!

My realistic goal is 25 pounds in the next 12 weeks. I am already feeling so much better in a week and a half. I can only imagine how much better I will feel in 12 more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week one.....done

It has been a full week since I started reading Made to Crave and began this journey toward a healthier me. I cannot believe how much better I feel. I am learning to trust God and crave him instead of food. I am learning to think about what I am doing and making smaller, gradual changes.

I have eaten better. I have exercised more. I have started letting myself get hungry, instead of constantly numbing myself with food. I have prayed more. I have been more productive.

I am looking forward to sharing more about this journey. What small change can you make today to help yourself start on a healthier path?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Made to Crave

I just started reading the book titled 'Made to Crave' by Lysa Terkeurst. I am definitely realizing that this is an area of my life that God wants me to work on. I'll be blogging more about my journey here.

The best thing I have taken away so far has been the revelation that "we are made for more than this." I have applied this to so many other areas of my life, but never considered it when it came to my weight and being healthier. And honestly, I'm realizing that this is one more area where I have struggled to give up control and trust God to guide me.

I am really looking forward to this book in addition to the changes I am working on to get healthier. I would love to hear your thoughts about changes you've made in this area.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What is your dream?

Do you have a dream?

Is it something you have had for a long time? Or is it a new dream?

What steps are you taking to help make your dream come true?

I am fascinated at hearing people's stories, and am working toward clarity around my own dream.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I loved this reading today from "Lent for Everyone" on youversion. I continue to be drawn to the image of the tree as a representation of my own life. I was blown away by Jeanne Stevens' comment when teaching at The Orchard several months ago. "Some people are called to be a tree, so that others can climb up on you to see Jesus." I had never heard it phrased like that, and it has opened my eyes to many things within my own life and where God has currently placed me.

Now, this passage today, reminds me that we need to be trees planted, looking for water, so that we can produce fruit at the right time. Not in OUR time, but in God's time.

I love how the Lord speaks to me in so many ways to reinforce that I am hearing what He wants me to hear.

Scripture: Matthew 7:1-28
Reading Plan - YouVersion.com: "When Jesus uses the image of the tree, he is drawing, as so often, on an ancient biblical picture. The first Psalm speaks of God's true people like trees planted by streams of water, which will produce fruit at the right time, while the wicked are like chaff blown around by the wind. Jeremiah develops this picture (17.8), thinking of the tree that sends out its roots to look for the water it needs. Lent is a time when we should be doing that: sending out our roots to look for the water of life. The challenge of these verses isn't simply one of learning to recognize true Christian teaching from false. The challenge is to become, ourselves, trees that bear good fruit, people who not only say 'Lord, Lord' when it suits us, but who apply ourselves to the much harder task of discerning and doing God's will.

Gracious Lord, draw our roots to yourself, the living water, so that we may grow strong and bear good fruit."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Open my eyes

For some time now, I have been amazed at the things God has been showing me. I had a hard time understanding how I couldn't have realized some of these things before. I've been in the church most of my life. Why did I not understand some of the things that I am now learning to comprehend?

I recently read this great quote by Simon Tugwell:

"He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into His arms. Our hope is in his determination to save us, and He will not give in."

This quote sums up what I had been going through up until the last few years. The farther I tried to run from Him, the more He pursued me. How amazing is that! Then, this passage has come to me several times over the last month, and I believe it explains why I am now seeing and understanding His word and direction so much clearer in my life.

"To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don't really see.

They hear, but they don't really listen or understand.

This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

When you hear what I say,

you will not understand.

When you see what I do,

you will not comprehend.

For the hearts of these people are hardened,

and their ears cannot hear,

and they have closed their eyes -

so their eyes cannot see,

and their ears cannot hear,

and their hearts cannot understand,

and they cannot turn to me

and let me heal them."

Matthew 13:12-15

I often joke with my Pastor, Scott Hodge, and ask him if he sees light bulbs going off over my head during his teaching. Part of that is because he has an amazing way of speaking truth in an easy to comprehend way. He is an awesome pastor, and I feel so blessed to have his leadership and direction in my life. The other part is that the Holy Spirit speaks to me through him continually.

WHY? Because I am finally listening!!! My heart is no longer hardened and I am not running from Him anymore. I am soaking up everything He has to say to me through others and truly wanting to learn what that next step is that I'm being called to take. What an amazing difference that makes in how we comprehend God's word.

Are you listening? Or have you closed your eyes and ears like I did for so many years?

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's the climb....

I love music. It speaks to me in a way that very few things do. This weekend, we watched "Hannah Montana, The Movie". Yes, I admit it. I really liked it. (I have already had people laugh at me because of this!) However, what I loved about it is the message. I love movies that show people realizing that all of the "stuff" in our lives just complicates who we are, and we can use it to cover up who we really are and what's most important. Sometimes, we have to get back to our roots in order to find that and understand it. Whether that is actually going there, or taking the time to understand what has made you who you are. Your story makes you who you are.

The other thing that stuck with me is her song at the end, called "The Climb". I have heard it so many times, but I never really listened to the words. It can relate to so many things in our lives. At The Orchard, our Pastor often talks about how our spiritual life is a journey, not a destination. I can also relate to this with my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my work, my quest to get healthier, and on and on......

Here are a few lyrics from the song:

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
Just gotta keep doing

And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on

.....Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where does the time go?

So, tomorrow I start the last year in my 30's. I have never been the kind to be bothered by my age. However, I have been thinking so much about this upcoming year. There are so many things that I want to do. Improvements that I want to make in so many areas of my life.

But, I also cannot seem to fathom that this much time has passed. I have been looking back and wondering, what the heck happened to my 30's? And when did time start being measured in these big digits? That's when a few numbers started coming to mind.

35 - I have now been friends with some of my oldest friends for this long. Unbelievable.

25 - Next month, my Dad will have been in Heaven for this long. Doesn't seem possible.

20 - I have now been out of High School for this long. Seems like yesterday.

15 + - I have now had a career for this long.

10 - We moved to Kansas this long ago.

7 - Our first amazing son, Jonah, was born this long ago.

5 - Our second, lovable monkey, Kaden, was born this long ago.

And that's when it hit me. That's where my 30's went!! They have been consumed with these two wonderful little men that we have been blessed with. And, I wouldn't trade it for the world!