Tag Archives: growth

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.)

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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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!


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.)

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:


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.)

Something Greater at Work

I have a number of friends going through extremely difficult circumstances right now. All of the circumstances are different – some involve kids, marriage, jobs, loneliness, family heartache, health issues, injustice, etc. We live in a heart-breaking world and we only have to listen for a few minutes to realize that there are people in pain all around us.

Friends, I am truly sorry for your pain. My heart breaks and I often cry out to God on your behalf, but today I am thankful for all of it. I know that sounds terrible. In fact, I’m trying to find a better way to write it, but hear me out.

God is working2My ache for your pain would not be as real, honest, and deep as it is without the pain I have endured the past few years. I have not endured your same pain or your same circumstance, but the pain (my pain) that I have experienced has built within me compassion for those who are hurting in all areas. My eyes see your pain differently. My heart feels your pain more realistically.

My prayers to God on your behalf would be weaker and fewer, and the results I pray for would be different if I had not spent months weeping before God for myself and my family. I am experiencing and understanding God like never before. I love God like never before. I trust God like never before.

In the song, 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) it says,

“Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your holy name.”

I “sing like never before” because of all God has brought me through. Because of the pain, the joy, and everything in between that God has allowed on my path, I can sing and connect to God “like never before.”

So, my friends in difficult circumstances, hold on tight to Jesus. Lean into God. Know, love, and experience God fully. If knowing God better is the only reason for your pain – He’s worth it! Please know this . . . although you may not be able to see it now, God is working things in you and through you that are absolutely extraordinary. And He always completes His good work. I pray that you will see some of that completion when you are on the other side of your trial and using your experience of God to encourage and bless others.

Enduring the pain and choosing the high road of love, endurance, and forgiveness is not always easy, but it is always worth 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.)

Knocked Down 7 Times, Get Up 8!

I have been contemplating, praying, and journaling quite a bit these past few months, and even more since the ladies retreat I attended in April. I continue to work through the forgiveness process. (Read more about that here.) Life is definitely a journey of constant awareness and growth. We never “arrive” while on this earth, but rather work, learn, and grow.

knocked down sevenI have an area in my life that often nags me for change and freedom. I even wrote about this area in a blog last year. I make commitments. I make changes. I make progress. Then I find myself back in the same struggle. I’ve called it a “thorn in the flesh.” I’ve thrown up the white flag in defeat time and time again. I’ve “beaten myself up” over and over. I have begged God for a different struggle.

I speak of progress, not perfection. I know in my head that perfection is unattainable, yet I demand perfection from myself in this area. I am unfair and unkind to myself because of my inability to achieve and maintain perfection. In an honest journal time recently I realized that the struggle is 20+ years old and taking steps to try and “fix” this began at least twelve years ago.

And yet, here I sit. . . once again choosing to pick myself up and make another step of progress.

“Knocked down seven times, get up eight.”

Today is about persistence and never giving up. It’s about hope because there is always hope. It’s about possibility, because there is always possibility if I am willing to pick myself up and go after it again.

Is there an area of your life where you feel like you will never experience victory and freedom? Do you still (deep down inside) have a desire to find victory? Are you willing to take action?

If yes, consider the cost. I am not talking about the cost of achieving freedom, but the price you are paying by not achieving freedom in this area. For me the costs are deep and wide – there are many to consider.

I want to live an extraordinary life. This kind of life is not about the things I do, but rather about walking in obedience to God through every thing He lays or allows in my path. The sacrifice is difficult and often painful, but it is worth 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.)

From Bitterness to Betterness

I recently wrote a journal entry that I think is worth sharing with you today. I hope it challenges you in your own journey toward an extraordinary life. This is not edited. It is raw, real, and straight from the heart. If you want a little back story, you will find it here.

In the past six months I have had three different people from three different states invite me to look at different parts of Beth Moore’s study, Children of the Day. Last week I watched the video for lesson one and the culminating point was for us to be directly taught by God.

The gist of this final point was that God uses things in our pathway – even painful experiences and people – to move us where He wants us. He uses these things in order to speak truth into our hearts. The problem is that often I am focused on the problems and the people causing the pain so much that I miss the teaching and voice of God. I must push through the crap and the hurt . . . this active fight to put myself at the feet of Jesus.

I have been so distracted this past week by my hurt and my pain. It resulted in being physically sick which resulted in lots of down time, lots of thinking time, and unfortunately lots of stewing and brewing time over all that transpired these past 4-8 weeks.

I realized today, that in some crazy way, I am still holding out hope that this will be resolved and we will be asked to (and want to) stay. I can’t comprehend how it would even work, but I hold out this hope that Joe will be acknowledged, justified, and that all will be “well”. It’s so crazy! The thinking is not very logical, but I think I let myself think that way because I don’t know what to do.

Interesting words Joe sent to me from the Message, Hebrews 12:4-11:

“In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you . . . So don’t feel sorry for yourselves . . . My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also correct. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. . . embrace God’s training so we can truly live . . . God is doing what IS best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet!”

My heart and mind have been drudging and dragging into bitterness this past week. It is time to stand back up, stand firm, and fight the good fight in front of me. It is time to stop fighting (in my mind) against those who’ve hurt us and to figure out what, in this moment and in the weeks to come, I am going to fight FOR! Will I fight for my health? Fight for my business? Fight to create solid residual income so we can pay off debt? Fight to have a rockin’ marriage? Fight to bring joy back into our home? Fight to get my butt back in the game?

What are you forI’m not talking about pretending that the pain no longer exists, but I am talking about no longer wallowing in that pain. I’m talking about finding purpose and pleasure in the moments I do have right now. I will not get this day or this week or the next month back. This is the one I have. This is the opportunity I have to learn the lessons I need to learn, in order to be the woman I need to be in order to do all God has for me and my family.

We are beyond grief survival mode. Yes, there is still grief, but I don’t want to live constantly in that grief. I don’t want it to become my badge of honor. I want God’s goodness, mercy, love, and kindness directly from Him and through His people to be my banner. It’s time to wave that banner high. Time to hold my head high, stand in confidence, find order and self-control, and move passionately toward what God has for us next.

I am praying Lord, that You will make the next steps crystal clear. I am praying that You will allow clarity and forward movement each day, even if it is just a little. I am asking that You guide us, draw us, and lovingly take us into the best possible next steps for us individually, as a couple, and as a family.

I choose to 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.)

Best. Valentine. Ever.

valentineHere is the blog post – the big reveal of “The most amazing Valentine gift from Joseph Castaneda.” that I promised on Facebook. Some of you have expressed understandable ‘concern’ because this Facebook promise came on the heels of Joe’s blog post, “50 Shades of Grey . . . and 37 uses of the word “Sex”. This is a great post and you ought to read it! However, my sharing about “the gift” will not be x-rated nor will it cause any blushing.

Have you ever had someone witness your worse moments first-hand? Sometimes our lowest and darkest moments happen in secret, but in marriage/family relationships there is a front-row seat to the mountains and the valleys of a person’s life.

This past year has held some of the toughest moments in my adult life. Here are a couple of the highlights (“lowlights”) between February 15, 2014 and February 14, 2015:


Tati came to live with, and become a part of, our family on June 3, 2011. (You can read the story of how she came to live with us here.) In the spring of 2014 it became evident that Tati was no longer going to be living with our family. Her life and desires were headed in a direction that did not fit the structure of our family and she made the decision to move back to Oregon with her bio family. This was a very painful time. The transition was not easy. It was a messy time and the whole process caused great strain in our entire household and tested the strength of our marriage.


As Tati was transitioning out of our home and as we headed into our busy summer camp schedule, I became depressed. I didn’t recognize it at first, although Joe did and carefully watched and walked with me through this season. In the middle of summer I stopped coaching with my amazing coach and friend, Tony. This was a difficult decision, but I could not seem to pick up my head and heart enough to work my business to the level required for this type of coaching. It was a heart-breaking end for me and I felt like a total failure.


During this whole time Joe and I were training for our first half-marathon. The running was hard. My emotional strength was low and it impacted my physical strength. Running with Joe, hitting new milestones, and having breakthroughs helped me keep a piece of my sanity all the way through October 5 when we actually ran the race. This was the most difficult physical task I have ever accomplished. (Read lessons of this journey here.)

Moving On

December 17, following a shocking and disturbing meeting, we began navigating a season that would lead to Joe being fired from his job on January 16, 2015. The emotions have been raw, deep, and very painful. (You can read more here and here.)

Journal 2The Gift

On Valentines Day 2015 Joe gave me a journal. Nearly every page is full and there is an entry every single day for 365 days. In this journal, Joe wrote about all of the great things he saw in me – things I had done, things we had done together, qualities he loved about me, and much much more.

The Point

journalIn one of the “worst” 365 days of my life, unbeknownst to me, Joe was looking for and writing down the best of me. He looked through my depression and saw my beauty and strength. He looked through my pain and saw my passion and fight. He looked through the yuck of my life and saw good.

He didn’t make things up. He was simply looking for the good and he found it. I was overwhelmed by his gift. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. It chronicled an incredibly difficult year and it was written from a position of grace and love.

How do you look at people in your life? Your spouse? Your kids? Your boss? Your friends? If you are looking for the bad, you will find it; and if you are looking for the good, you will find that too! Everyone deserves the gift of grace and love, especially on the worse days, weeks, or years of life.

With grace and love, 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.)

I’m Watching . . . Always Watching

great characterYou are always being watched. I don’t mean by the secret service or some other government agency, although they could be watching too. 🙂 You are being watched by the people around you: your children, your parents, your Facebook friends, your community, etc. Anyone you come in contact with on a regular basis has the opportunity to watch your life and your reaction to the circumstances of your life. Whether you want them to watch or not, they are still watching.

One motivator to stay close to God and mindfully watching my emotional, verbal, and written reactions to my current challenge is the watchful eyes of those in my sphere of influence. My kids see what has been “done to our family” and they see the response that Joe and I have to that situation. They hear our conversations with each other and with them. They watch us process hurt and pain; and they see what we do with that pain. Even my posts on Facebook reflect where my heart is in my current circumstance.

It would be so easy to justify an angry or equally hurtful response to those who have caused hurt in my own life, but that just puts me on their same level. I read a great quote years ago. I don’t remember where I originally saw it, but here is a version of the quote in the words of George Carlin,

 “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

Hurtful experiences are great opportunities to show great character. The reality is that whatever comes out is a reflection of what is going on in our hearts. So if you have a “frightening” response to road rage, wrongful accusations, or any other type of hurt, then it might be wise to check your heart and consider the changes needed to live in a state of love and forgiveness.

Here is what I am NOT saying:

Don’t be angry. Only feel love. Only see rainbows and happy endings.

Here is what I AM saying:

My response is my responsibility. Nobody can take away our ability to choose our response to a given circumstance. When we own our part and own our response, then we live in an empowered state rather than being a victim to the difficult circumstances or people that surround us.

Watching a person’s life who lives in a state of victimhood is . . . annoying. Often, those are the Facebook friends that we remove from our feeds because they are filled with anger, negativity, blame, and hopelessness. If you really want to live with influence and impact then the extraordinary, empowered life is the one to choose. An extraordinary life filled with hardship, pain, forgiveness, and hope is so worth it and it is a sight to behold. To all of you living the journey and process of an extraordinary life – keep it up!

(I’m watching . . . always watching!) Watch this fitting Monsters Inc clip HERE.

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.)

Deeper Trust

I have been thinking a lot about trust lately. I am not talking about trust of other human beings, but my trust in God.

Trust GodProverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

I have known this verse for much of my life and I believe it. I know in my head that it is true. I’ve even faced difficulties in life that brought me back to that verse. Typically I focus on the last part (“He will make your paths straight.”) during times of seeking direction for my life or wanting help with a decision I am trying to make.

I was literally thrust into a difficult circumstance recently. Just a few days prior I had been challenged by a friend to memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message version which states,

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

I had not yet memorized the verses or even worked on them, but when my trial came I would repeat over and over and over, “I trust God from the bottom of my heart!” It took me ten days to even look at the next part of the verse. I was forced to decide where I was going to place my trust. My pain went to the deepest part of my being and the concept of trusting “from the bottom of my heart” was suddenly a reality.

At first I could not see past the immediate hurt, betrayal, and pain. I could only see my need to fully place my trust in God.

My trust in God comes from a foundation of belief in who God is. He is the source of my salvation from an eternity in hell. He is a loving, kind, and compassionate God. He is definitely beyond my understanding, yet all He does is for my good and His glory.

Because of this foundational belief, I am able to trust God. This trial (opportunity for growth and maturity, James 1:2-4) has tested my trust and it has elevated my trust to a whole new level. I honestly had no idea the depths to which I was capable of trusting my past, present, and future to the capable hands of God.

*Do you trust God?
*Do you trust God “from the bottom of your heart?
*What fear, worry, or concern do you need to place in the capable and loving hands of God?
*What would change in your life (inside and out) if you placed complete trust in God?

The circumstances of life don’t always make sense to us, but if we want these circumstances to contribute to our extraordinary life then we must trust God.

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.)

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