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Benefit of the Doubt

CJ hockeyLast week my daughter, Celina, worked on a hand-written letter (with a colored picture) to the two ladies who serve lunch at her school. It was kind and sweet. She thanked them for fixing the food and also mentioned some of her favorites. I didn’t think much about the note because every once in a while she will write a note to her teacher.

Now, I wish I had taken a picture of the note and here is why:

I went to Celina’s parent-teacher conference this morning. Academics, math, reading – she is doing great at school, but the thing Joe and I care about most as her parents is how is she BE-ing at school. She is kind, gets along with others, takes leadership, and she is loved and respected by her teachers and fellow students. She has a great reputation in all parts of the school.

Two things caught my attention today. First, her teacher explained how when it is Thursday and they go to the library Celina walks in and says to the librarian, “I love Thursdays because I get to see you!” How sweet is that? She makes people feel good.

The second story that really caught my attention today was about the lunch ladies. Apparently before Christmas Celina had a “run-in” with one of the lunch ladies. Celina had taken two scoops of veggies instead of one (seriously kid!) and the lunch lady “got in her face and yelled at her.” Another teacher witnessed the incident and told Celina’s teacher that she might want to check in with Celina. As her teacher told me the story she got that mother bear look in her eye as if saying, “Nobody messes with Celina!”

CJThe immediate thought going through my head was that I can’t believe she didn’t tell me this happened. And, I thought about the note she wrote last week that was full of kindness, without an ounce of anger or condemnation.

How would you respond? As the mom? As the teacher? As the kid?

I’ve seen plenty of poor reactions in life, as a teacher myself, as a coach, and watching my kids play sports. When people over-react “in our face” it doesn’t often sit well and it impacts the relationship in the future. I wrote about forgiveness last year and how the steps of forgiveness take intentional action and thought. Forgiveness is not natural.

Yes, I’m pretty sure I thought through all of these things in the short time this story was told to me, but then came the kicker.

When Celina’s teacher asked her what happened at lunch and if she was ok, Celina’s response came with a wave of her hand and a shrug of her shoulder. “It’s ok. She must be having a bad day.” And off she went.

Have you ever heard the phrase “benefit of the doubt?” Does anyone in your path need to be given the “benefit of the doubt?” Are you too intent on being right or having justice that you are unable to just let something go? Imagine all the conflict (and internal anger) that could be eliminated if we reacted today with a little more “Celina.”

Be Extraordinary!

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

Treasures in My Heart

What a day! At nine months pregnant she had traveled many miles on the back of a donkey on her first road trip with Joseph. Then, when she was about to give birth, there was no place found for them to stay – no place to deliver the baby. They found shelter and warmth in a stable where they were likely in the presence of barn animals.

Finally, Mary gave birth (a first-time experience) to Jesus, God’s own son!

Then, to their surprise (I would imagine) they were greeted by shepherds. Most nativity sets depict just one shepherd, but in Luke 2:15 we read, “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” So there were many shepherds who arrived on the scene and left glorifying and praising God, telling everyone about what they had seen and heard.


“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” Luke 2:19.


CJ treasureI used to think Mary treasured and pondered this beautiful moment while holding God’s son in her arms. I still think she did, but I also believe that she treasured and pondered the whole experience from the time she found out she was pregnant until the shepherds left rejoicing.

Why did Mary hold all these things in her heart? Because no one else could understand or even begin to comprehend all she had seen, heard, believed, and felt. No one.

These thoughts about Mary came to me as I considered all I have experienced this past year. I have done much pondering, but many things keep popping out of my mouth and heart. I keep attempting to express them and draw understanding from others. I leave those conversations feeling empty and dissatisfied. Maybe it’s time to take all these “treasures” and share them solely with Jesus; to hold the beautiful and ugly in my heart and then let Jesus hold my healing heart.

treasure 2

Someday, when the time is right and my heart is healed enough, it will come out just right. I will be able to express the best things to help others. It will satisfy because it will fit my purpose of enriching others’ lives. It will Be Extraordinary!

Is there anything in your life that needs a little more treasuring and pondering within before it comes out? Jesus, the great Healer, wants to touch those areas of your life as only He can. He is the One who knows what you have been through and what you are going through. Take it all to Him – ponder and treasure those things in your heart – and let Jesus share the joys and sorrows of your unexplainable journey.

Be Extraordinary!

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

Be the Best Mom Ever!

best mom everWe will never be perfect, but in order to live the extraordinary life, we must become more and more like Jesus. Let’s say I want to live an extraordinary life by becoming a better mom . . .
How can I be a better mom?
  1. Read a book about being a good mom.
  2. Make great dinners and after-school snacks the kids love.
  3. Learn from other moms who seem to be doing it right.
  4. Take a parenting class.
All of these ideas are great and even important; however, there is an important factor to consider. We, as moms, are all unique. Our personalities, likes, dislikes, upbringing, gifts, and talents are all different. The child we are striving to love better is also unique. They are not the same as we are and they are not the same as any other child on the planet, even their siblings (even if they’re twins!)
With all of the unique, like-no-other factors, how can I become a better mom? How can I increase my capacity to love, nurture, and train my one-of-a-kind child? How can I learn to have greater compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love toward my child that is more challenging? I’m an imperfect, broken human being . . . what can I possibly do?
The question that begs asking is not what can I do, but rather who can I become?
Mark 10-14I must become more and more like Jesus.
When I become like Jesus
  1. I will hear His voice. (not in parenting alone)
  2. I will know what to do. (wisdom)
  3. I will be filled with the fruit of the spirit which will change my actions and reactions in everyday situations. (The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23)
Many questions in life do not boil down to one simple answer, but I believe this one – “How can I be a better mom?” – does.
As a mom, dad, husband, wife, co-worker, or boss be more like Jesus. . .

Be Extraordinary!

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

Braces or No Braces

BJ bracesTuesday, January 19, at 10:20am my beautiful daughter Bethany was scheduled to get her braces off. She is about one month shy of having had her braces for 18 months. This process was much quicker than anticipated, but getting them off was still very exciting. Bethany has been counting down the days since her December appointment, when Dr. Schultz told her the thrilling news: “Let’s take your off your braces at your next appointment!”

But when Tuesday, January 19 came, and so did a sudden migraine. This is a fairly common occurrence so when I received the call from the school, just 15 minutes before I picked her up for the ortho appointment, I winced. Because we moved recently, the orthodontist is almost an hour drive away. I hoped that she could sleep it off in the car and be ok – that’s what I prayed. However, ten minutes down the road, she sat up in tears and said, “I can’t do it.” Within ten more minutes she displayed the full effects of the migraine.

Her appointment is rescheduled for the next possible time: February 22. Ouch!

Bethany was excited for January 19. She and I had great plans – a lunch date (without braces), the purchase of a promised bag of Skittles (if she got her braces off before I was done paying for them!), and shopping for a much-needed pair of pants. I was excited for her and I was excited to give all my attention to her.

I am so proud of how Bethany has managed her disappointment. She was sad. She was disappointed. She told many people this was coming and now must face them at school and church, telling them why she still bears her shiny smile. However, this disappointment did not knock her out.

Disappointment weighs differently on each of us. (Read about Celina’s bout with disappointment HERE.) The disappointment itself is different for each of us, but Bethany’s response challenges me and I hope it challenges you too:

  1. She acknowledged the disappointment.
  2. She grieved the disappointment.
  3. She engaged others in processing the disappointment.
  4. She moved on in spite of the disappointment.

It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

In the face of disappointment (which will come),

Be Extraordinary!

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

Say “Yes!”

Imagine with me for a minute what it would be like to tell your children (or your spouse, boss, or co-workers) “yes” in response to all of their questions today. And beyond the “yes” words, actually allowing the answer to be yes and permission to be fully given for what they requested. The first time I was presented with this thought, my kids were young. I didn’t even have teenagers yet and I thought, “No way!” I could think of all the reasons I need to tell them “no” and I could think of all the reasons it would complicate my life to say “yes.”

The idea of saying “yes” has surfaced in my thinking and I want to process it with you today.

YESThe answer “no” is easy and it is often a habit. I often answer “no” without any thought as to why and sometimes without hearing the full request. Beyond it just being a habit, why do I say “no” so often? If I am honest, here are some of the possible reasons:

CONTROL

When I say “no” I am maintaining control over my kids. I retain control of their schedule, who they talk to, what they eat, what time they go to bed, what time they get up, what books they read, what movies they watch, what activities they participate in, etc. We are the parents, right? We should have control over all these things.

RESPECT and AUTHORITY

I want my kids to know that I am the authority in their life. I want them to be obedient. I want them to respect me. The way to gain that respect is by being the decision maker in their lives. Their job is to respond correctly.

CONVENIENCE

No is definitely more convenient than yes most of the time. Saying “yes” often requires more effort, time, mess, clean-up, and less time for me to get work done (or stay comfortably on the couch).

Consider these questions:

How many times each day do you say “no?”
Is “no” your first and most natural response?
Recall the last few times you answered “no.”
Why did you (or do you) answer “no?”

What good things would come from saying “yes” to others?
Good things for them? Good things for you?

Side note: There is a time and place for the word no – absolutely! But, perhaps our “no” would be more firm and powerful if we answered “Yes!” more often.

Will you try it out? Say “yes” today and notice the changes – notice what good things are created within yourself and others – and then post your findings on my Facebook page. I can’t wait to hear what happens and learn from your experience.

Be Extraordinary!

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

My One Word: Heal

One word: Heal.

This is my word for 2016. (Read more about choosing a word HERE). My desire is to experience deep healing throughout this year. In order to live the extraordinary life, be all that God made me to be, and do all that God designed me to do I must experience real, authentic, and deep healing.

HealsHonestly, I did not like this word when I first thought of it. My typical words or goals involve something more (active, proactive, aggressive, get-it-done) dynamic. Healing sounds like dark, hard, emotional work. I feel like I have had enough tears and emotions for one lifetime, so going to a deeper level . . . ugh! I say “ugh” and yet I want the results, and so a piece of my heart (at least in this moment) says “yes!” I want to be better. I want to feel better. I want to heal.

EMOTIONAL

When I initially chose the word “heal” it was all about emotions. My heart was broken and dreams were crushed last year. The hurt my family experienced affected me personally. I felt deep sadness, anger – at times vengeful – and an ache of soul I never knew until this past year. My emotional self definitely needs more healing and that is a part of my word’s meaning.

PHYSICAL

Stress, grief, change, and the unknown all impact our bodies physically. Weight loss is difficult, if not impossible. Inflammation increases and is hard to manage, which can result in all kinds of physical problems. And, in the midst of stress, moving, and emotional struggle it feels ridiculously overwhelming to make any lifestyle changes because survival is the highest goal (along with not going insane)!

Now that we are settled into our new community, schools, work, and home I want to re-focus on my health. I want to make healthy meals, release some pounds, and renew healthy habits for me and my family. I know more transitions are in the future, but I can take physical steps of healing now.

RELATIONAL

There is one specific relationship I am working on this year. My heart and attitude need healing because I want a #10, open, honest, fun, growing relationship with this person. It requires work on my part. This relationship needs the healing touch of Jesus, and so does my heart. I want great relationships. I want to be a giver rather than a taker. I want to heal and improve in my relationships, beginning with this specific one.

What does your one word mean? Are there ways your word could be expanded or enhanced to have greater meaning and value? The opportunity before us is huge. We have the chance to grow, change, and Be Extraordinary in 2016. Don’t miss it!

Be Extraordinary!

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

Word

one wordIt is common in recent years to choose a word for the year. It has probably been popular for ages, but I have seen it in books, blogs, and heard it spoken about more often recently. I have been doing something similar with my mastermind team for the past eight years. We make contract statements. For example, “I am a Joyful, Positive, Forgiving Woman.” We then sign our emails with these contracts: “Joyful, Positive, Forgiving Traci.” Sometimes the words change throughout the year because we change or different circumstances arise, but often we pick themes for an entire year.

One year I chose the word “positive.” Up to that point I considered myself a natural pessimist, but I wanted to change my perspective and my life. One year of focus, working through a powerful book (The 4:8 Principle), and accepting feedback and challenge from my mastermind team changed my outlook. I, the eternal pessimist/realist, became a positive, glass-half-full kind of girl.

Simply saying the word over and over will not make it true. Like Steve Carell’s morning ritual in Evan Almighty, “I am successful. I am powerful. I am handsome. I am happy.” Yes, there is power in our words – what we speak, listen to, and believe. However, I also believe we must take action in order to develop these qualities or experience these life-changing words in our life.

WORD:

If you already have a word, skip to the ACTION section, but if you don’t have a word, would you consider choosing one for this year? If you want to take the journey and Be Extraordinary in this life, then internal change (which will turn into external change) must occur. No one has arrived. Here are a few suggestions for choosing your word:

  1. Think about who you want to become this year. What is one specific area you want to see more of in your life?
  2. Make sure your word is positive. Rather than “not being fearful,” choose courageous, confident, or brave.
  3. Know what your word means to you. It doesn’t really matter if others fully understand your word, but YOU must understand your word.
  4. Pray. If you have a relationship with God, ask Him. He wants you to grow, change, and Be Extraordinary too!

ACTION:

I look at these actions as ways to enhance your growth in your word. To really become – or take big strides in becoming – your word, there must be more than a morning ritual of repetition. Some action ideas:

  1. Write your word and put it in places you will see regularly. (bathroom mirror, refrigerator, car)
  2. Tell others your word. Make sure you tell people who love you and encourage you as you grow into your new word.
  3. Find a book. One of the most powerful things for me in becoming more positive was reading a book related to that topic (The 4:8 Principle). I actually read the book twice that year.
  4. Memorize a Bible verse. There are so many verses that relate to life and personal growth. Choose one of these verses and commit it to memory.
  5. Embrace your word. Choose to be your word. You may not have fully arrived, but you can still choose to take actions that make your word true. For example, if my word is healthy, then I can embrace a healthy lifestyle and do things that a healthy person would do even if I am not yet healthy.

I would love to know what your word is for this year. My word is HEAL and you can read more about it HERE. Would you please share your word in the comments below or in the comments on Facebook? Let’s become more of who we were made to be, one word at a time!

Be Extraordinary!

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

Tears

Tears are words“Tears are words that need to be written.” -Paulo Coelho

I believe I shed more tears in 2015 than I have in my entire life combined. I often put those tears into words – prayers and cries to God, conversations with family and friends, conversations with people I barely knew, and in the pages of my journal. A few times I expressed my words through this blog, but more often I couldn’t find the words to express the heart-felt tears that frequently flowed. 2015 was tough.

Today, January 5, is the first chance I’ve had in 2016 to be home alone for a few hours. The kids are at school, Joe is at work, the dishes are done, the house is picked up, and I am out of excuses – out of reasons to put off this expression of my tears. One of the biggest challenges of blogging is getting started. Sometimes I have a great idea that’s been rolling around in my mind for a while, but not lately. My recent pattern is to sit down, open up WordPress, take a deep breath, close WordPress, and walk away without writing a single word. Writing the first paragraph is definitely the hardest. In order to get a post written, I simply must start writing.

This applies to so many areas of life!

BC clean roomTake a messy room. I’ll use my girls’ room for example because it is seriously messy! My two daughters are sharing a relatively small room. They are both convinced that if they had their own rooms (like they did for the previous 5 years), their rooms would no longer be messy (even though they were messy for the previous 5 years). I can nearly end their little lives with the words, “Clean your room!” It is usually such a disaster that they honestly don’t know where to begin. BUT, magically, when they start with one thing (i.e. pick up all the clothing) it suddenly feels more doable.

Wow! Kind of like this blog post that began with thoughts of “I have nothing to say today,” and “What is there to write about besides how crappy last year was?” has suddenly turned into a couple of paragraphs that are motivating me to create a fun, lets-get-it-done plan for helping my girls clean their room. Oh, and while I’m at it I could take one positive step in the direction of meeting my health goals by doing those push-ups . . .

What is something you want, but have not yet started? It might be as simple as doing one thing, writing one word, or making one phone call to get the ball rolling. There is much to accomplish in 2016. There is joy to experience, family to love, friends to make, books to write, places to travel, and so much more! I have tears to turn into words and into blog posts so that I may experience complete healing, become everything I am supposed to be, and hopefully encourage some of you to do the same.

Don’t wait! Start now with that “one thing” and live 2016 without regret.

Be Extraordinary!

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

Against the Wind

I completed the couch to 5k (C25K) training program a few weeks ago. I absolutely love the app since it tells me when to run, when to walk, when my workout is halfway complete, and even congratulates me when I am done. It took me much longer than the allotted 8 weeks, but I did finish and then ran a 5k in 31 minutes.

The next thing I did after completing this training was a little outside my personal workout box: I chose to move on to the 10k training app. Because I completed the 5k training I get to pick up this new training plan on week 9. Whoa! I had completed all the training, but I anticipated going back to some shorter run times for a little while and easing into this new plan. Instead, the first workout was 40 minutes long (four, 10-minute runs), nine minutes longer than any of my previous runs!

Running is challenging for me. I am not very fast or fluid, but I am learning with each run how to better manage my body. In fact, I’ve been feeling like “a runner” during my last few runs – until my most recent run. It was my second time running three, 15-minute runs with one minute walks in between, so I knew I was capable of the task. However, I wasn’t expecting to meet such a foe on the trail:

Wind.

This wind was strong, unwanted, and for most of the run it was at my face. I was exerting a lot of effort, but didn’t feel like I was moving. I tried to settle into my pace and straighten my posture, but the force was too strong. I had a couple glorious moments when the wind was on my back and running felt easy, but most of the run was difficult. My mile times were 40 seconds slower than usual.

As I was struggled to run well I thought about my friends who are facing difficult circumstances. And I thought about my own difficult circumstances of the day (car in the shop – again; kid home sick – again; finances tight – again.) These difficulties are like the fierce wind beating against us – causing the pursuit of our dreams to feel impossible, causing us to want to quit – and it’s just plain hard!

I wish God would just calm the wind or turn it in the other direction so it’s at our backs (although I know He has done that for me before.) He doesn’t because He wants my trust. He wants my heart. He wants my obedience. He wants my growth. He wants all of these things more than He wants to make my life easy.

Mt 14When Peter walked on water in Matthew 14, the Lord did not calm the storm until they were back in the boat! Even after the Lord rescued Peter from near drowning, they walk together, side by side, all the way back to the boat took place IN the wind and waves.

God is by your side. In the midst of your raging sea and fierce winds, He is with you.

This blog would not be complete without this song: Listen Here.

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

Even – especially – when running against the wind . . .

Be Extraordinary!

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

Courage

Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty; the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous*

Courage is a vital component in living the extraordinary life.

Without courage, opportunities would be missed, adventures would not be taken, friendships would not be forged, miracles would not be seen, blogs would not be written . . .

Without courage I would have settled for the ordinary.

Without courage I would have less hurt and less pain in my story, but I would also have less fulfillment, belief, and joy.

Without courage I would have settled for less risk, but more regret.

Without courage I might have faced less uncertainty, but also less adventure and growth.

Without courage I would have found myself in fewer embarrassing situations, but I would have missed so much laughter, love, and friendship.

Without courage I would still have two kidneys, but I would also be without everything I gained emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

CJ diveThis list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more things I could write. This list is a reminder that I do act with courage (when I’m feeling like I have none) and that acting with courage is worth it.

What about you? Where would you be “without courage?” Would it serve you, your goals, your dreams, and the people around you if you stepped out with insane courage? Sometimes all you need are 20 seconds of insane courage to get the ball rolling and get you moving in the direction of your dreams! (Watch the Insane Courage movie clip.)

With courage, just 20 seconds of insane courage, possibilities are endless.

Be Extraordinary!

*From Webster’s Dictionary

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

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