Monthly Archives: May 2012

Nobody told me

Nobody told me how having kids would change my marriage.

Nobody told me that I would fall in love with these kids so much, that I would unknowingly isolate my husband, and make him feel like he wasn’t needed anymore.

Nobody told me just how HARD it is to raise kids.

Nobody told me that every waking minute would be consumed by taking care of their needs, and putting my own on the backburner.

Nobody told me that I would face serious hardships in my marriage. That my husband would be unhappy. That I would feel completely numb.

Nobody told me that I would ignore my husband for a very long time. And that he would get to a point where he didn’t really care.

Nobody told me that life can be really hard. And that sometimes I would just struggle to make it through the day.

Nobody told me these things before I had kids. Or even after I had kids. Or during those really, really hard early years with multiple children.

So I am telling you.

New Moms, young Moms, Moms with young kids – the road may be difficult.

You may feel exhausted. You may feel extremely lonely in your marriage. Your marriage may be struggling. You may feel like you can’t do it. You may feel like you will never love your husband the way you did before you had kids. You may be annoyed. You may be irritated. You may not have the energy to work on making things better.

Let me tell you something else. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There are other couples struggling through the same things. Many of them may not be talking about it, but believe me, there are plenty of people in similar situations.

Photo by Mother Letters

But don’t give up! It does get easier. The kids will get more independent. They won’t need your constant attention. It will get better.

I am in a place now where I am past feeling like this. I chose to make changes in my marriage, and I was forced to make others. But the one thing I know is that being a Mom is tough. There are days when it is hard to go on. But, you can do it.

Your kids need you to be alive, and be present, and help them understand that they matter. And, they need to see that you have your own life as well. That they are not your entire world. They need to see you being the you that God created you to be.

Have you ever felt any of these feelings? What advice would you give Moms currently feeling like this?

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Filed under Authenticity, Family, Life lessons, Marriage, Motherhood

LifeChangers – Making a Difference

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

There are so many charitable organizations that are doing great, impactful work. I had always heard about the ones who sponsor children internationally, but also wondered how much of the money actually went to the children in need.

Then, almost three years ago, my Pastor went to Uganda with Compassion International. His tour guide was Peter Habyarimana, who was a sponsored child and now works for Compassion. The stories and pictures that he shared were so amazing. He left there changed, and moved to make a difference.

Photo by Scott Hodge

Not long after that, he invited Peter to come speak to our church, and to bring 250 child sponsorship packets with him. Compassion does a great job of preparing the sponsorship packets with pictures and information about each child and the country they live in. When he requested 250 packets for a church our size (around 700-800 then), Compassion was surprised. Based on their previous experiences, they did not want the staff to be disappointed when the children were not sponsored. My Pastor’s response was, “You don’t know the people of The Orchard.” After all, we had all seen these pictures and heard his stories.

Photo by Scott Hodge

The great thing about Compassion is that they work on the ground in the countries where children are sponsored. They develop centers where the kids come to school and learn about God’s love. They help provide for the child and support them. And this is all for only $38/month in sponsorship. You can make an incredible difference in the life of a child for the cost of what some people spend on Starbucks in a week!

When we came to church that weekend, the staff had arranged the sponsorship packets very creatively. Before many of us had even listened to a message from Peter explaining the sponsorship program, we had picked a child to sponsor.

Photo by The Orchard Community

We chose our child, Peter, because he is only a few months younger than my oldest son. He lives in Uganda with his Mom and younger sister. We exchange letters regularly, and are always thrilled to receive his notes and pictures.

In addition to the monthly sponsorship, you are also able to send money for birthdays and Christmas. You are also able to give a family donation each year up to a certain dollar amount. One of the most humbling experiences for us (and our kids), is seeing the pictures of what Peter buys with the money we send. Typically, it is a chicken, hen, eggs, milk, rice, a bottle of soda, and maybe one outfit and shoes. One of the times, he got a ball. My kids are always blown away by this. For the cost of what I would typically spend for one of my kids birthday gifts, Peter is choosing things to help his family survive.

Peter’s most recent picture

Not only is Compassion doing an amazing job for these kids and their families, but they are also allowing us to join in and make a difference. It may not seem like much, but it’s everything to that child and his family.

This LifeChanger post is in honor of Compassion and my Orchard family. Collectively, we sponsored over 220 children throughout the countries of Uganda, Thailand and El Salvador. We have been supporting them for well over 2 years now.That is amazing! That is LifeChanging!

To learn more about Compassion International, and child sponsorship, please visit their website. There are kids waiting for sponsorship right now.

How has sponsoring a Compassion child impacted you?

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You 2.0

We just completed an awesome series at our church called You 2.0. It was a series about redefining success and resurrecting your dreams. It was about choosing significance over safety, contribution over comfort, and embracing the path of uncertainty, mystery, and risk. It was about saying: Enough of ordinary. Average is overrated. Your life matters.

(For more details from this series, check out The Orchard Community’s Facebook page. There’s a great video by my Pastor about the series posted on April 11th.)

I have been learning to try to live this way over the last few years. I am continually understanding that there are things I can be doing to live a better story. I don’t have to live a numb, dull life. You can read how I started on this journey here.

I was extremely honored when my Pastor invited Rick and I to be a part of a group of people to share their stories during church last weekend. I talked about my blog, how your voice matters, and how I am learning to make a difference right where I am. Rick talked about starting mountain bike racing at the age of 43, and how he has taken significant steps forward in his faith over the last year. You can read more about his journey here. I have to tell you that it was pretty awesome. If you would have told me a year or two ago that Rick would be willing to get up in front of our entire church, for three services, and share his story, I would have said you were crazy! I am so proud of him.

I love Scott’s expression. I wish I knew what Rick had said during this picture!

We were honored to also share the stage with our friends, Toney and Laura Burton, Joy Thomas, and Tom Reber. They have amazing stories and each one of them inspires me.

Toney & Laura, Scott, Rick & I, Joy, and Tom

We heard so many great comments from people who were inspired by our stories. It is always nice to be able to help people see normal, real people who are taking steps forward. We certainly don’t have it all figured out, but we are all trying to live You 2.0.  A friend summarized our messages with this great status update on Facebook.

 No more waiting for “what if” moments… Time to let go of the brakes, accept who I’ve been created to be, believe my voice matters, take risks and live MOTOR!

We had a great weekend, and I felt good about being able to share our story.

We had some great laughs!

So imagine my surprise on Tuesday, when I had one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time. I am naturally pretty laid back and really don’t get worked up too often. But Tuesday was just one of those days. It stunk! I was extremely irritated and frustrated at work, and the day just continued on that same path. I don’t have days like this often, so it always catches me off guard.

I started doubting all of the things that I had just talked about over the weekend. The voices in my head were loud. And they weren’t nice. They were saying:  maybe I can’t really make a difference. What good can I do? Who am I to try to do this? Why can’t I figure out what my big dream is? Maybe I am not cut out for this.

That’s when I realized that fear, which is one of the things we talked about over the weekend, was showing up in full force. Fear was causing me to doubt myself. Fear was trying to isolate me. And as my Pastor always says, “Sometimes the things we fear the most are exactly the things that God wants to use.”

So, I am continuing to learn that living a unique life requires you to think differently. It requires you to constantly check where your attitude is. It requires you to understand that some days are going to be rough. It requires you to give yourself some slack. And to surround yourself with people who can help encourage you to keep living a better life.

Are you working on a dream? How do you silence those doubting voices?

Photos courtesy of The Orchard Community

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Filed under Authenticity, Community, Dreams, Platform Launch Team

Get Noticed – A guest post

I am excited to have my fellow Platform Launch Team friend, Heidi Kreider, guest posting today. Heidi is a Wife, Mom, and Author. You can follow her blog here or follow her on Twitter here. I am also honored to be hanging out on her blog today. I’d love to have you jump over there to say hi and check it out.

Do you have something to sell and you don’t know how to market it?  Or… do you just have something to say and you don’t know how to get the word out?  Are you tired of spinning your wheels and feeling like you are going nowhere?  Or, have you exhausted all of your available options and you feel as though you are up against a brick wall?

I had been there, done that and had just about given up when I read this… Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt.

Systematically, in an easy to understand and follow format, Michael Hyatt comes along side the struggling entrepreneur, writer, artist, blogger, or leader and guides them through the process of building a platform on which to stand, rather than trying to market their product or idea.

In Michael’s own words… “I have good news. Marketing is dead. Okay, maybe I am overstating my case. Marketing may not be dead, but, in the world of social media, it has morphed. Dramatically.  It is the new marketing. Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace; it is about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers. Marketing is no longer about generating transactions; it is about building relationships. Marketing is no longer about exploiting a market for  your own benefit; it is about serving those who share your passion— for your mutual benefit.”

Written in the style of building an actual platform plank-by-plank, Michael Hyatt offers his expertise from years in the publishing world as CEO and now chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Starting from the ground up, Michael built his own platform as a much sought after speaker and writer.  In his newly released book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Hyatt shares his wisdom, insight and even the mistakes he made along the way.

This is a must-have book for anyone with something to say or something to sell.  Available through all major retailers, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World goes on sale this week.  Buy it this week, and Michael Hyatt is throwing in a few extras… get 7 free bonuses worth $375.98.

Stop spinning your wheels pursing traditional marketing strategies that no longer work in our rapidly changing world and pick up a copy of Michael Hyatt’s wisdom.  You can’t go wrong.

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

Thanks for a great post, Heidi! It has been fun getting to know you, and realize that we have a connection through mutual friends.

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Filed under Book review, Michael Hyatt's Platform

Step up on your platform

Michael Hyatt is an inspiration. If you’re not familiar with him, he writes about intentional leadership on his blog,  which has hundreds of thousands of followers. He knows what it takes to share his message, and build a tribe of followers.

That’s why I was excited to read his new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. If there is anyone who can effectively teach us about getting our message heard, it is Michael Hyatt. He has done it well, and is graciously offering his insight in his new book.

“For the last five years, if I ever had a question about platform building, social media or standing out amidst the clutter, I turned to one place-Michael Hyatt. As an author who turned a blog into a book and made countless mistakes along the way, I couldn’t get my hands on Platform fast enough. Michael Hyatt has written THE handbook to one of the biggest cultural revolutions in the last fifty years.”
-JON ACUFF, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of Quitter

The great thing about this book is that it is not just for writers or bloggers. Artists, musicians, creatives, business owners, and anyone with a message to share, can gain critical, behind the scenes advice. Similar books may give you the motivation and inspiration to try something new. However, they rarely give you the practical steps and every possible resource to make it happen.

If you’re like me, you may have mixed feelings about the word platform. It has been used poorly by some people, and it can also seem somewhat self-centered. Michael had some great advice to help us understand the benefits.

1. A platform provides visibility – it makes it possible for everyone in the audience to see you.

2. A platform provides amplification – It enables you to be heard above the roar of the crowd.

3. A platform provides connection – Social media now creates engagement and intimacy that has never been possible before.

When I read this book, I felt like I was given an insider view to Michael’s success. He seemed like a friend sitting down and giving me every incredible resource to help me move forward. In fact, there is so much information in the book that you will most likely keep this as a reference manual to refer back to again and again. I am reading through the book for the second time, and  I will continue to come back to it after I have completed the previous steps.

Not only is Michael sharing his incredible insights, but for THIS WEEK ONLY, he is also giving you over $375.98 in bonus gifts! Who can say no to that? The book itself is worth ten times its price. This is an incredible deal.

Make sure that you purchase the book before midnight on May 25th in order to get the bonus gifts. I promise it will be worth it!

“Michael Hyatt has given much of his professional career to helping others achieve their potential. And he helps others by pioneering a way and then teaching people his way. In Platform, he’s accumulated the best of his counsel and advice. If you’d like to expand your influence, read Platform and then read it again.”
DONALD MILLER, New York Times Best-selling Author of Blue Like Jazz

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

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Filed under Book review, Michael Hyatt's Platform, Platform Launch Team

LifeChangers – A New Look

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their story.

Some people are inspiring simply by watching them. This week’s LifeChanger definitely did that. She was learning to get healthier and lose weight. She changed her life. And in the process, she inspired people without ever trying.

Meet my friend Terri. Two years ago, she had a routine doctor’s appointment. Her doctor was reviewing her family history. Heart disease. Breast cancer. The list went on. What he said next flipped a switch in her. He said, “If you don’t start taking care of yourself, guess where you’ll be in 10 years?”

Terri – 2009

She knew she had to lose weight. In the past, she had tried every diet imaginable. She could drop the weight, but it never stayed off. This time, she decided it would be different. She joined Weight Watchers the next day. The day after that, she started walking. She walked one lap around a parking lot and was winded.  But the next day, she walked again. She kept walking 6-7 days per week, and continued to increase her distance. She followed the Weight Watchers plan consistently. She went to her meeting every week, and continued this for a year. And guess what happened? She lost the weight. 56 pounds to be exact.

I love Terri’s story because she didn’t go on a crash diet, lose the weight quickly, and gain it back. Instead, she chose to change and get healthy. She learned that simple lifestyle changes are the key to getting healthier. And guess what else started happening after she found herself walking five miles consistently? She realized she could do more. She started running. She ended up running a 5K and The Shamrock Shuffle that first year. And she loved it!

Terri has been a huge motivation to me. She has inspired me and encouraged me to embrace my own healthy lifestyle. She is a big supporter and helps keep me accountable on my own journey. Some of the best advice I have gotten has been from her.

Here are some strategies that have worked for her:

  • Find a program that works for you. For her, it was Weight Watchers. She liked that she could eat anything she wanted. She avoided things she knew she would have a hard time resisting. The points program worked for her.
  • Accountability is important – she had several amazing cheerleaders who encouraged her, celebrated her, and supported her. She also went to her meetings every week to keep her accountable.
  • She doesn’t deprive herself. If she wants a brownie, she will take one bite, and throw the rest away. She didn’t do this in the beginning, as baked goods are a downfall for her. But, that has helped keep her in check.
  • She asks herself – Why do I want to eat this? Am I bored, stressed, hungry? This has helped her realize her emotional eating patterns.
  • Exercise – she suggests to find something that you like. Does it feel good? Do you like doing it? For her, walking and running are exhilarating. She gets excited when she can push herself farther and finish a new distance.
  • Celebrate milestones – She rewards herself for milestones. She always uses non-food items. New clothing is something that she likes. Be sure to celebrate when you accomplish something new.
  • You’ll have bad days – Just learn to get up and try again.
  • She admits that eating out has always been a challenge. It can be hard to determine the point value, and there are not many healthy options. She chose to eat at home as much as she could, and then order as healthy as possible when eating out.

It was incredible to watch Terri’s journey. Every week, she looked different. Her body completely changed, and her outlook did too. She shared what she was doing when people asked. She motivated so many people. She’s heard people say that she helped push them to start running, or to start Weight Watchers, or to start eating healthier. That is always really encouraging to her.

She had reached her goal weight. She looked and felt good. She was continuing to run. Then people starting saying to her, “You look great! You’re not going to keep losing, are you?”, or “You’re done now, right?” or “You don’t possibly have any more to lose!” And she listened. It was an unconscious decision, and only something that she now realizes she did. She stopped going to her Weight Watchers meetings. She thought she’d be fine.

She gained back 17 pounds in the next six months. Most people probably didn’t notice. She still looked great. And she didn’t allow herself to get discouraged. But, she knew she could do better. She hadn’t been journaling or keeping track of her food as often, and had started eating things that she normally wouldn’t eat. She realized that she had let other people’s opinion determine what she should do. And she wasn’t happy about it.

So, in January of this year, she went back to Weight Watchers. Within a few months, she was under her previous goal weight. She’s now adjusted her goal weight down some, and is continuing on the program.  She’s lost a total of 67 pounds now, and only has 7 more to get to her goal. Wow!!

Terri – 2012

Terri knows that a healthy lifestyle is a journey. It has taken her two years to get where she is. She did it the right way, only losing 2-3 pounds per week. She knows that everyone wants instant gratification, but it just doesn’t work that way if you want lasting lifestyle changes.

She’s continues to run, and is currently training for The Rock and Roll half marathon in July. She continues to be inspired by the people who have started doing something because they saw her taking action. That really motivates her.

She continues to inspire me, and I hope she has inspired you.

She is a LifeChanger.

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Filed under Encouragement, Getting Healthy, LifeChangers

World’s Best Mom

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. My boys told me on multiple occasions that I was the “World’s Best Mom.” Every time I hear it, my heart melts. How could it not, when I receive a funny card like this, picked out by my eight year old?

And homemade cards like this from my six year old.

And hear it from these two beautiful faces.

Of course, we Moms know that is not true. There are always Moms who do more, do things differently, have more kids, and seem less stressed. This list could go on forever. We can always compare ourseles to other Moms who never seem to get it wrong. And if there really was an award for The World’s Best Mom, we probably wouldn’t be on the list.

But I think that is one of the worst things we can do.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

And to our kids, we are the World’s Best Mom. We’re THEIR Mom.

We feed them, protect them, hold them, love them, support them, and encourage them. There is nobody like Mom.

I do realize there will be a time coming when they will not feel this way. It’s coming sooner than I prefer.

But that will be a phase. Deep down, I believe they will still know all of these things. They’ll just have a hard time showing it. And it may take them some time to figure it out.

So instead of comparing myself to other Moms, I choose to live in this wonderful moment.

I choose to enjoy that I am their Mom.

I choose to enjoy that God has given me two incredible boys to love.

I choose to spend as much time with them as I can, when they still want me around.

I choose to embrace their uniqueness.

I choose to help them understand how incredible they are, and that there is nobody exactly like them.

I choose to help them see the world through the lens of compassion and grace.

I choose to accept this amazing journey of being their Mom.

What do you choose?

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Michael Hyatt’s Platform Launch Team

This week, I was chosen to be on a team of people who will help Michael Hyatt launch his new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I was shocked and honored, to say the least!

If you are not familiar with Michael Hyatt, he writes about intentional leadership, productivity, publishing, and social media. He is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishing, and held the title of CEO until last year, when he chose to step down to pursue his writing and speaking full-time.

Michael has over 400,000 monthly readers on his blog, and  over 900 people applied to be a part of this launch team. 100 were selected. As a part of this team, we received an early copy of the book, and have been sharing our notes and reviews. It has been an amazing experience so far.

In addition to extremely experienced bloggers and authors on the team, Michael and his wife, Gail, have also been active in the conversations. It has been really neat to interact with everyone and share our conclusions and helpful to-do lists from the book. This book is overflowing with expert ideas to build a platform, and it is truly a unique experience to hear from the author directly.

The book can be applied to your business, personal, or professional life. I will be using it as a reference guide, and I highly recommend it. If I can implement even a small portion of what is recommended, I know that it will have a huge impact.

Platform will be released the week of May 21st. But don’t buy it yet! Michael will be offering an amazing set of bonus gifts when you purchase the book during the release week. Until then, you can sign up to receive important book updates at www.michaelhyatt.com/platform. I will blogging more about this next week, so stay tuned!

Have you ever been a part of a launch team? If so, what did you learn?

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Filed under Book review, Leadership, Platform Launch Team

Does your Pastor have a bodyguard?

Does your Pastor have a bodyguard?

Mine doesn’t. I have heard of Pastors who do. I find it a little strange, although I know there are well known Pastors with huge followings who might need one. So far, mine hasn’t. But it does make me chuckle a little to think about it.

Although he doesn’t need a bodyguard, I am learning that he needs something else. He needs people to protect him. With prayer, encouragement, love, and understanding of the incredible time and life commitment he and his family give to us. Of course, other than prayer, he has not asked for this. And your Pastor probably hasn’t either. If he has been lucky, he has been getting this from his inner circle of friends and close community members. But, I think it should trickle down farther. I think our church communities should do a much better job.

Someone said, “We need to protect our pastor and his family”, to me recently.  I have always believed that, but over the last few years, I have come to understand how important it is.

I often have the opportunity to speak with new families about what makes our church so unique. Most people are typically drawn to our Pastor and his teaching very quickly. He is dynamic, honest, and extremely relational. I remember feeling the same way when I first started attending.

And then came the first summer. The summer is when he takes extended time off. I remember for the first few years, I dreaded summer at church. Because I knew he wasn’t going to be teaching every week. I knew why he takes the time off. He does it to reconnect with God, relax, spend more time with his family, and reset his thinking and priorities. But back then, it didn’t matter to me. I didn’t like it. I preferred his teaching over others. I liked his funny stories. I always got something out of his message. That was not always true with some of the other people teaching.

And then one day it hit me.

All of those things were about ME.

I wasn’t thinking about him.

I wasn’t thinking about the amount of time he spends preparing his message each week.

I wasn’t thinking about the countless hours he spends with the staff preparing for each series and teaching to be impactful.

I wasn’t thinking about all of the thousands of things he does that go along with his profession.

I wasn’t thinking about how he doesn’t have a Monday through Friday job which only asks for 40 hours a week.

I wasn’t thinking about the sacrifices his family makes so that he can do what he does.

He is a Pastor.

His job could go on 24/7 every day if he allowed it.

And quite honestly, I was choosing my attitude towards the other people speaking. I was determining that I wouldn’t get anything out of their message. And it wasn’t fair.

I have gotten to know my Pastor and his family pretty well. I absolutely love their hearts and where they are leading this amazing community of people. And I now realize how much he and his family need a break from leading. He needs to be able to step away, and spend quality time with his family. He needs to silence all of the noise, and truly spend more time with God. I have watched him learn to adjust his schedule to do this more throughout the year, but the summer is the time when he can really focus on that. They have learned what they need to avoid burnout. And I think that is wonderful.

This year, he and his family are taking a long trip to Thailand. And I am so excited for them. As I think about what it will do for them to be out of the country, spending time together and planning the adventures that await them, I can’t help but smile. I know what they have invested in our community in order to make it what it is. And it has not been easy. Now it is our turn to invest back in them. To help them know how much they are truly appreciated. To give them time to rest.

This advice isn’t just for my church family. You can easily apply it to your Pastor and his family. My heart aches when I read stories of Pastors and how they are treated by their own church community. The fighting and struggle and heartbreak is sometimes unimaginable. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Does your Pastor understand the value of taking a break?

What do you think of the idea of protecting our Pastors?

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Filed under Community, Faith, Family

LifeChangers – A New Addition

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their story.

Every once in a while, you meet people who you instantly like. When I met Grant and Kellee at the Quitter Conference in February, that was my reaction. They were so sweet, and had a unique energy about them. They have a neat story. A life-changing story.

They have been married for eight years, and have two young, beautiful daughters. They are huge college basketball fans and love the Kentucky Wildcats. They are currently living in Ohio, and starting on a new journey. A journey that started with an experiment.

Last Thanksgiving, Grant’s best friend was visiting and told them about a book called The Radical Experiment by David Platt. As soon as Kellee heard what it was about, she instantly wanted nothing to do with it. She thought it sounded too extreme! But, Grant really wanted to do it, and ordered it that night. They ended up finishing the book in a few days.

The main focus of the book is around a radical response: living the gospel in ways that are true, filled with promise, and ultimately world-changing. The book really overhauled their perspective and altered their whole life’s direction. They started the Radical Experiment on January 1st, 2012, and committed to being open to whatever God wanted for them…with their time, money, careers, service, etc.

They specifically committed to:

1. Reading the Bible in a  year

 2. Praying for the entire world, by country

3. Committing their lives to a multiplying community-their House Church

 4. Sacrificing their money for a specific purpose

 5. Spending a week in another context- for example, a mission trip.

Kellee thought God was just preparing them to give abundantly this year, both in time and money, so that’s where her focus was at the beginning. However, as they continued with this radical shift in perspective, He quickly showed them that He wanted them to pursue something they were completely not expecting. He wanted them to pursue foster parenting and/or adoption! This was quite a shock at first. Remember, they have two small children. And this was not something that either of them had planned.

Over the last few months, they have quickly finished their homestudy and licensing process. From what they have learned in training, fostering is very, very difficult. It seems to be a great thing for the birth parents and the foster children, but not necessarily the foster parents! They are scared they won’t know how to handle issues like abuse. They are nervous about adding more kids to the mix, when they already feel stretched thin. They’re also scared about the attachment to the children and the loss they’ll feel, when they go back to their birth families. Kellee has blogged some really honest, emotional posts during this process. I have loved watching this journey they are on, and am so inspired by them.

I asked them what advice they would give to people considering becoming foster parents.  They said they would urge people to look at WHY they want to do it. Initially, Kellee was not really interested in connecting with the birth family. She’s now come to realize that this is a huge part of the fostering process, and she now prays that she’ll be able to minister and build relationships with the birth mothers. Also, adoption used to be their focus, and fostering was just a means to that end. However, the Lord really changed their hearts, and they now really WANT to foster, even though it means that they will have to work towards getting the children back to their birth families. They still want to adopt, but don’t know if that will happen in this process or internationally. They are truly open to whatever God has in store for their family!
 
I asked Grant and Kellee how we could help them, and they said that our prayers are greatly appreciated. They would love prayer for wisdom and confidence as they get ready for their first foster child placement, most likely happening sometime this month.
 
You can read more about their journey on their blog, http://radicalkeys.wordpress.com.
You can also follow them on Twitter: @kelleekeys and @grantkeys
 
I am so thankful to have met this amazing couple, and look forward to watching how God will use them in the lives of kids who need the love and support they have to offer. They are definitely LifeChangers.

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Filed under Encouragement, Faith, Family, LifeChangers