Category Archives: LifeChangers

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

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

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

LifeChangers – On a new path

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 am so excited to start this new series. I’ll be posting once a week with a story of someone who has inspired me.

This first post is very special to me. This person has been on an incredible journey over the last few years. I have always thought he was pretty amazing, but as he continues to grow and develop, he gets more and more interesting to me. He has always had a strong, self-confident way about him, but I have seen the center of that confidence change. It’s deeper, and more intense. I think he’s just starting to uncover what’s been hiding deep inside for a long time.

As some of you may have guessed, I am describing my husband, Rick. Let me assure you right now that I will NOT be posting only about my family on this series! However, I wanted to do this first post in honor of him and his recent significant accomplishments. He has a pretty unique story, and one that you will be hearing more about as it continues to evolve. He blogs periodically at I, Hammer, and I think you will enjoy his posts. He is a pretty cool guy. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Rick’s fitness story is somewhat like mine. He was an athlete for most of his life. Then, marriage, a career, and sedentary life settled in. He no longer played sports. He worked out every once in a while, but it was no longer a priority. Somewhere between working full-time, taking care of the kids, and keeping up with life, he found it hard to be motivated.

A few years ago, he bought a new mountain bike. He has always been good with bikes, and loved to ride when he was younger.  After he got his new bike, he started riding more. He found that he really enjoyed it again. He had uncovered a hidden passion.

Then, late last fall, he discovered a park near us called Saw Wee Kee park. It is a park right along the river with difficult trails, perfect for mountain biking. When he came home from that first ride, I could tell that something had changed in him. He had rediscovered an old love. He was hooked.

Not long after that, he made the decision to sign up for one of the largest mountain bike races in the country, The Iceman Cometh Challenge. Since that race isn’t until November, he decided to find smaller races to help him train. The other weekend, he competed for the first time, at the age of 43, in The Sylvan Island Stampede. The boys and I were so proud of him.

Some people will say, “What’s the big deal? It’s a bike race.” However, this was no easy bike race. It was seven miles of twisting and turning trails on slick mud and terrain. None of the competitors were having an easy time.

And, to me, the fact that he has chosen to train and compete at this point in life is truly inspiring. I know many people younger than Rick that say it is too hard to train and attempt to push themselves at something new. Not Rick. He now has a fire. He’s remembered what it’s like to push himself beyond something that he didn’t think he could do. And that feeling can be addicting. He’ll be competing in his next race in a little over a week.

Rick’s motivation is inspiring.

It makes me realize that you can do anything you put your mind to.

No matter how long it’s been, or the challenges that you’ve faced, you can always choose to start again.

You can choose to step out of your comfort zone.

You can choose to push yourself.

You can choose to live life.

You can choose to be a LifeChanger.

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Filed under Dreams, Encouragement, LifeChangers, Motivation