Category Archives: inspiration

LifeChangers – Making music

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.

I will never forget the first time I heard Taylor Phelan sing. He was a guest worship leader at our church, and he sang How He Loves. His passion and the impact of that song hit me hard. I could not stop crying. It was one of the first times that I truly started to get a glimpse of just how much God really does love me. I was an instant Taylor fan. His voice and style are unique. He is an incredibly gifted musician.

Fast forward a few years later, and Taylor decided it was time to start truly chasing his dream of being a musician. He started a band called The Canes. They are a rock band from Chicago comprised of four members, none of which are native to the Windy City. Taylor, the lead vocalist, and guitarist, Micah Garman, are joined by Kevin Couch and Joey Beaver to complete the current band lineup. With a wide variety of backgrounds and influences, their music is an interesting blend suitable for any audience. You will be captivated by an energetic live show littered with moving lead lines, fuzzy bass and empathetic vocals.

They released their first track titled Starry Eyed earlier this year. You can check it out on iTunes. They are in the process of finishing their first album, which is scheduled to be released later this summer. And now, they are working on a Kickstarter campaign to fund a 23 city tour in the fall.

What I love about The Canes (in addition to their music) is that they are chasing their dream. They have worked incredibly hard to get to this point. They have been very smart and enlisted the help of some very strategic visionary partners. They have signed with Medallion Media for their first album, and will use the tour to promote the album.

Courtesy of The Canes

When I saw that they were using Kickstarter to help raise money for the tour, I knew I wanted to help. Every dollar helps them fund their dream. And, they are giving away some pretty cool things with different levels of donations.

The Canes are LifeChangers because they decided to chase their dreams. They are putting everything they have into this first album and tour. They have music that needs to be heard. Check them out, and I’m sure you will agree that they are on to something big.

How to help:

Kickstarter campaign

Follow them on Twitter

Follow them on Facebook

Check out their website

Buy their single on iTunes

If you were this close, wouldn’t you want someone to help push your dream forward?

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Filed under Dreams, Encouragement, inspiration, LifeChangers

LifeChangers – Do Something!

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.

I first “met” this week’s LifeChanger at the Quitter conference last year. I say “met”, because I connected with her on Twitter at the conference. We never met in person then, and still haven’t. For the longest time, I could never remember her first name, because I just knew her as Keeks! Her website and email and twitter all have Keeks somewhere in them.

Keeks is her nickname. Her real name is Kristen. And she is one of those people who I just instantly liked. We share common interests in books and movies, have a circle of online friends that overlap, and support each other’s blogs. It’s kind of crazy how that happens all online sometimes.

She has a really interesting story. I love her honesty and willingness to share from the heart, even when she knows some people may not like it. One of the ways that we connected recently had to do with the movie, Blue Like Jazz. She and I both saw sneak previews, and posted about our experience. But, she did something afterwards that I thought was super cool. I’ll let her give you a little background about herself, and tell you more about what she did in her own words.

Me: Tell us more about Keeks

Keeks:

I’m the third daughter, third child with a normal and Christian upbringing. I am the baby of the family and if you’ve read anything about birth order – I’m the description to the finest detail mixed in with only child. My mom and dad provided a lifestyle of “you only live once, so let’s go on vacations” – I’m thankful for this because my dad died when I was 16. My sisters are 10 and 12 years older.

Early memories include being drug to every church event under the sun, being a very young kid who tagged along at every youth group activity. I learned from my parents and sisters how to tee-pee, fork yards, pull pranks (although I’m a hopeless prankster because I’m too scared of consequences), and surprising people with a van wired with a special horn that honked out songs (Like “Happy Birthday” or “For he’s a jolly good fellow”).

The time my dad was sick and died was about a two year “process”. I really sunk into a funk and would rebound often. I’d say now at 32, I finally feel really good and really hopeful for the future. His death just about did me in. BUT at the time my father was so sick, I met my best friend. Our friendship is the answer to both our family’s prayers for a Jonathan/David Godly friendship. Our friendship is one of my reminders of what love does exponentially.

Again I’m 32. Single. And still wondering what the hell? Did I piss God off so much He is making me take the Paul route? I’ve lived in Oklahoma all my life. I am one of the weirdest people I have ever met. At least I realize I’m weird and I’m really trying to move into fulling embracing that. I like Wes Anderson movies like they are some sort of legal drug.

My day job is at a community college in the library. Most people think I am a librarian – I’m not. Most days I refer to myself as a faux librarian. I am an introvert. So I have a ratio of one day of people, 3 days at home to recover. My real job? The one I am passionate about is: I’m a writer. The books at the library are my source of comfort and inspiration.

Me: How were you impacted by Blue Like Jazz? And what did you do about it?

Keeks:

Blue Like Jazz the book came into my life soon after it released. And as is my quirkiness: I rejected it. I don’t like trendy stuff (and I felt like everyone was reading it), but in 2010 I found myself unemployed, drifting, and the book called to me. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller. Dang. His writing is so conversational. So easy stream of consciousness. And it just snuggled up next to my heart and hasn’t left.

This book was more than just a conversation starter about the Church, more than essays about a man finding God outside of religion – this book was just so honest. Unwaveringly truthful in a sea of books that want to give you a to-do list to discover you, God, passion. I liked that each time I’ve read the book since then – it’s different because I’m different.

And then there is Blue Like Jazz the movie. Can I just convey my excitement that this movie has caused bewilderment between all camps of people? This movie – all its rawness, all its messiness, all its quirkiness – it is just so me. Or rather I can just relate. The bumbling along, the crisis of faith, the immaturity, the people pleasing – oh my gosh – the humour — all of it just made me think that there are movies, writers, actors, directors, etc that get people like me…we are some crossbreed of all things and we just want to be known. No judgement, no critiques, no fixing – accepted, simply accepted.

I knew about the upcoming movie and the story behind it because my oldest sister had helped fund it when the movie lost its financial backers. I was inspired. I didn’t have the money, but I knew I wanted to help. I joined Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience is a group that promoted the movie. Every week or so we would received assignments to go out and create some attention toward Blue Like Jazz. I was a lousy civil disobedient. I mean I did some of the tasks, but I was trying to do things quietly and I kept placing stuff up around my work. Writing blogs, tweeting. I wasn’t a person dressed up as a sexy carrot, you know?

But then the group received a challenge to take a picture with a sign that you filled in: I misrepresented God….and I’m sorry. 

I wanted to do something a bit different. Something bold for me. I went home. Grabbed a stack of notecards and started writing. Each one, each note, each thought.

I realized I was acting like God, but didn’t know God. Humbling. Very humbling. I was misrepresenting Him.

I took the cards and left them in various places – doors, windows, mirrors, my church, bathrooms. There is one card I wrote to those who work at abortion clinics and I’m in the process of sending them personalized cards. I had never considered their story. Never considered that the God I know and I love – would simply love them. It’s heartbreaking to see how destructive our attitudes, our judgements, our distancing of ourselves from things is not keeping us safe – it’s wounding our souls, it’s wounding others’ souls.

I actually still carry these cards with me. This is kind of like a touchstone for me. I write the cards, I leave them places, and it’s out of my hands.

Blue Like Jazz helped me step outside of myself. Blue Like Jazz gave me hope.

Hope that in all my quirkiness I am not alone. What Donald Miller and Steve Taylor have done is broken down a barrier between the church bubble and the rest of the world. And I love love love this.

 Me: What do you want others to know?

Keeks:

Strive to live your life undeniably real. Each of us has so much to offer, so much to learn. My greatest fear was that my writing would push people away; instead, I’ve found people who embrace my irreverence, who embrace me – they accept me for me.

My fear was completely laughable when I received this tweet:”@keeks4prez Just read your latest post. You got me at f*ckers and God ordering your steps. Hooked!”

Also, find something that inspires and challenges you and put it into action. You will be amazed at what happens along the way.

Living transparently is such a struggle for me; each time I publish, each time I sit down and write I am facing the fear. And I am weakening fear’s grip on me. But it is hard to be unflinchingly honest. I will write something like the unicorn post and then all I want to do is delete it.. But I know I am not alone. There may be one other person who needs to hear these words. And so I leave my posts up. Unflinchingly honest means I have to be vulnerable.

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your story. Your words are beautiful and encouraging. As your blog tagline says, you are “living a better story by sharing yours.” I am so thankful to know you, and look forward to the amazing ways that God will continue to use you and your story. You are truly a LifeChanger!

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Filed under Authenticity, inspiration, LifeChangers

Inspiration

My friend Jim Woods nominated me for a Kreativ blog award last week. I was floored and honored! Jim writes a great blog about how he found his “unknown” creative side. He also helps others find the “unknown” aspect of their lives through Creative coaching. He is an incredible encourager, and a super nice guy. To pay this forward, I am choosing to share 7 things about me, as well as 7 blogs that inspire me.

Things you may not know about me:

1. I have played the piano since I was 4. I can play almost any sheet music you put in front of me (not as well as I used to!), but cannot play chords or by ear at all.

2. I wanted to be a funeral director when I was younger.

3. I have recently started running, and am really liking it. I am running the Warrior Dash in two weeks!

4. I rarely watch TV.

5. I was a miracle baby, born 17 years after my parents were married, and after they had adopted my sister and brother.

6. I STINK at video games!

7. I say crazy things in my sleep. Just ask my husband.

Seven inspirational blogs:

1. Kristen Keyser – Kristen writes about living a better story by sharing hers. She is incredibly motivating, and shares great book reviews. She and I continue to find that we have similar interests and stories. She writes at www.theycallmekeeks.com

2. Stephanie Ho – Stephanie writes very honest posts about life and trying to live positively. She is also an incredible photographer. She has taken many of our family pictures, and recently took my new headshots. She writes at www.positivelymemyselfandi.blogspot.com

3. Christine Niles – Christine writes a beautiful blog about orphan issues and making a difference in the world. She is an incredible encourager, and a great writer. She writes at www.riverofthoughts.com

4. Tom and Chris Reber – These two are some of the most positive, enthusiastic people I know. They have a company called Motor, which is all about being extraordinary and honoring UNCommon effort. They also have an incredible story. You can learn more about them at www.motorhard.com and www.motorhard.com/the-motor-mama.

5. Grant and Kellee Keys – They write about living radically, and just became foster parents for the first time. They are sharing their incredible journey through it all. Their faith and determination are inspiring! They write at www.radicalkeys.wordpress.com.

6. Heidi Kreider – I recently met Heidi through Michael Hyatt’s Platform Book launch team. We clicked pretty quickly. She writes about learning to live a life of grace and unwrapping God’s presence in her life. I am currently in the middle of reading her novel, which is really good. You should check it out! She writes at www.heidikreider.com

7. Pilar Arsenec – I also met Pilar through Michael Hyatt’s Platform Book launch team. What an encourager this woman is! She is full of life, and is so incredibly sweet. She writes at www.inhisloveministries.blogspot.com

Thanks again to Jim for such an honor. What blogs inspire you?

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Filed under inspiration, Motivation

My friend Jamie

This is how I remember Jamie when I first met her. Straight out of college, full of life, and dating a guy named Aaron. I liked her from the moment I met her. Her smile was beautiful and sincere. She loved life and brought joy to those around her.
We worked together for several years. I wouldn’t say that we were super close during that time, but we had a lot of fun together. She would come to me and ask for professional advice, as well as situations with her personal life. We developed a friendship that didn’t require that we spend tons of time together outside of work, or talk to each other all the time. We just had one of those simple friendships where we knew that we cared about each other and could pick up the phone at any time.
We later moved back to Chicago from Kansas City, and I didn’t see her for several years. We would exchange emails now and then, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her daughter, and I was pregnant with my second son, that we started getting back in touch more often. Our due dates were within days of each other. That is always a great time to reconnect with someone and exchange pregnancy stories. I couldn’t believe it when she told me that she was planning to name her daughter Kayden. We had just recently decided that we were going to name our son Kaden. I was shocked, as at the time, it was a pretty uncommon name (obviously, that’s not the case anymore!) My Kaden ended up being born one day after her Kayden. It was a great way for us to continue to keep in touch and exchange Kayden stories!
Less than a year later, Jamie’s world changed forever. She found a lump on her breast. Her doctors told her it was nothing. She was 30 years old and healthy, with a baby at home. Jamie had a feeling they were wrong and unfortunately, they were. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were all shocked.
Jamie’s story captivated us all. Through everything she was going through, she blogged and continued to show unbelievable hope and grace. She helped us see the good things in life, even when we couldn’t comprehend the difficulties she was going through. Over the next four and a half years, her cancer would go into remission, and then return, two more times before she got the news that it was metastatic in early 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Friendship, inspiration, Jamie