21 Days of Service

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To stand up to any challenge, spend time on your knees.

Yesterday was the one year mark of the car accident that drastically changed my life. It still amazes me how blurry this last year has been and yet each moment is vividly clear as I stomach the thoughts of how difficult it was. Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone and in bed and I can hardly remember celebrating Christmas. I think I made an appearance somewhere? And yet this was all before the brain tumor diagnosis. I had ignored every potential sign that there was anything seriously wrong for months or even years which of course led God to intervene. I guess I just didn’t realize how persistent He was going to be. I certainly wasn’t grateful (at the time).

I was reminded this past weekend listening to Chris and Terri Brady speak at a LIFE Leadership seminar that people and community are what matter most, especially during challenges. I have always known this being that I love to serve other people. But the word ‘service’ means and feels totally different when the role is reversed. I have always had a hard time accepting help and even when I could barely make decisions on my own I fought tooth and nail with those who were only out to serve me. How selfish was I to be so stubborn. But I am so thankful looking back that the people and friends around me, especially men and women like George and Jill Guzzardo and Dave Chatmon, didn’t buy into my stubborn and manipulative ways and continued to serve and love anyways.

So as I was thinking about this topic I couldn’t help but reflect on the last couple of months. Despite a fantastic victory after a very challenging year, my life didn’t immediately turn into roses and butterflies. In fact, the challenges continue to pour like hot lava that just won’t harden. I haven’t been able to figure it out. My frustration led me to seek God.

One thing I know about God is that He always finds a way to show us what we need to see.

I was out and about and stopped to fill up at a gas station at about 10pm last night. Normally I pay at the pump with a card because it is quicker and easier but this time I wanted to get coffee so I went inside and paid with cash instead. There was a gentleman in front of me who was paying for his gas along with what looked to be possible dinner. He didn’t bring enough money in with him so he would have had to run back out to his car and get more. Listening to his conversation with the clerk (which I normally don’t do) I realized I had a few extra bucks in my hand so I offered to throw him the remainder to pay for his food. He said, “no no, I have money in the car that I will run and get.” To which I responded looking him dead in the eyes, “no, please let me.” And he did.

serviceIt wasn’t much. In fact, any random person off the street could have and would have done the same thing. But I left that gas station feeling so great. It got me thinking so much about this last year and how little I have been willing and able to serve others. I had been so focused on myself and my own problems that I forgot what was truly important – other people! No wonder I was feeling so crummy.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Oh sure, I never gave up loving people but I was missing the most important piece: serving them.

Steven Covey talks about in his wildly popular book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that it takes 21 days to create a habit. What I realized after last night is that I was not making a habit of serving other people. My acts of service have been so sporadic and inconsistent that I often forgot how good it felt to do it. I know from past experiences that it was always when I was focused on other people’s needs that my needs seemed less critical and in turn didn’t consume my life.

So with the holidays approaching and knowing how difficult this time of year can be for so many people I am marking today as the start of my ’21 days of service’ project. Every day for the next 21 days I will do something, big or small, to serve someone else. I want to create a habit of serving others every day. Anyone reading this is welcome to join me.

Certainly life will still continue to throw curve balls, mountains and speed bumps along our path but if we just stay consistent and focus on the needs of others then maybe, just maybe, those challenges will seem less severe. In fact, the other day a good friend of mine sent me an encouraging text reflecting the words of one of her second graders which read, “You could be nailed to a cross!” WOW – Perspective change right in that moment. Jesus came to earth to serve us and died on a cross to give us victory and hope. We owe it to Him to pay it forward. Who is with me?

“Not to the strong is the battle,
Not to the swift is the race;
Yet to the true and the faithful
Victory is promised through grace.” Fanny Crosby

God Bless,

Kristen

Tearing Down Walls & Removing Our Mask

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A mask of plastic happiness often covers her sadness
Her beliefs hidden from most
Afraid of, but willing to face the unknown
Wondering where her place is in this life
She has come close to sharing herself
Never completely revealing anything to anyone
Feelings of invisible chains corner her
When she dreams, reality shatters before her very eyes
Accomplishments she strives for just at hands grasp
She feels lost sometimes, not yet finding her notch in this world
At times the glimmer in her calm eyes slowly disappears
But within her heart a silent flame burns her inside and out
She roams day by day, playing roles
Strength unknowingly resides in her
History repeats itself once again
The translucent veil she so proudly wears
Little by little answers will come, pushing it aside
One day there will be no more mask for her to wear
One day her beliefs will be known
One day she’ll know her place in this life
One day she will share herself
One day this mask will be no more.

Author: Unknownhappy 1

For as long as I can remember I have been accused of not showing enough emotion. My natural tendency is to build a wall up around me that is so rock solid that even the strongest storms of life can’t tear it down. In fact, for many years I was proud of my proverbial toughness. I thought unemotional people were more stable, independent and strong. So anytime I was put in a situation where I was asked to express myself, the walls would only thicken. The less people knew about me, the stronger I felt. I could wear this mask that I believe rendered a woman of strength, confidence and happiness. What I didn’t recognize was the expression on the face of the mask. It only displayed one emotion – emptiness.

Connecting to our emotions can be scary. Most of us have been brought up to hide, suppress or even completely deny how we are feeling. We often believe we will be overwhelmed if we feel too much, so we take the very unhealthy option of shutting down or escaping by numbing and hiding our emotions. We often times forget what it feels like to be happy, excited, surprised, afraid, angry, sad or embarrassed. Instead we become very expressionless.

wallsI always believed (regarding myself) that it was no one’s business what goes on inside the walls of my life. Those ‘behind the scenes’ moments were between me and God. My emotions were less revealing as my walls grew thicker and thicker. The years of guarding my heart and hiding inside my emotionless state of being left me standing inside those walls lost and alone. I would have friends share very personal struggles with me as I empathized with them trying to put myself in their situation and I welcomed those conversations with open arms. But when it came to removing my mask and tearing down my walls, I just turned my cheek. This not only changed the dynamic of our conversation but also the relationship I had with that person.

What I have recognized is that if we are not open to feeling, it makes it harder to actually give and receive. We can’t truly connect or engage with others. Our body is our barometer of truth. It never lies. It was very evident to me yesterday morning at church. We stood up in worship, one of my favorite parts of the service, and I could just feel the tension in my body. I was stiff and emotionless. My songs of praise felt more like songs of practice as I didn’t appreciate the message or meaning of the lyrics I was singing. In most instances my heart is filled with joy and gratitude but this particular morning I could feel the walls starting to build around the most important relationship I have. In this case my lack of openness and emotion affected my relationship with God but on a larger scale it affects every aspect of every relationship we cherish. God forgives but sometimes people don’t. God knows how to break down our walls but sometimes people don’t. If we want to truly connect with people, we have to be willing to remove our mask and tear down our walls. It is the only way we can genuinely empathize with other people, celebrate with other people and love other people.

Just as the word itself suggests – emotion is e-motion. It simply means energy moving through us. It needs to be expressed! If you’re excited – hoot and holler! If you’re happy, smile :)

I would be deceiving myself if I didn’t admit that I still struggle with this daily. But having an incredible organization like LIFE leadership that encourages the development of deep relationships with others and mentoring with men and women like George and Jill Guzzardo and Orrin and Laurie Woodward who model what it means to be transparent, makes the growing process so fulfilling. I pray that God inspires others to tear down their walls and remove their masks in order to reveal the beautiful masterpiece that has been created – YOU.

Thought this video was very fitting for this post. I hope it blesses your day:

 

Love, Kristen

The Forgotten Man

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I got into an interesting conversation about a week ago with a former student I taught a couple of years back. I was sitting at one end of the coffee shop while he was sitting by the fire-place reading a fiction thriller drinking his $5.00 coffee. Ironically this former student was quite the challenge for me when I was his teacher. At the time I was teaching health and he had been the only senior in my freshman health class. This wasn’t his first go around and I just knew he had to pass in order to graduate. He was an extremely intelligent teenager that challenged everything. He barely passed my class due to in-completes, absences and missing assignments but squeaked by because he was a great test taker. This student was certainly unforgettable. So when I saw him at the coffee shop reading I was impressed and excited to talk to him. I sat down across from him and just started asking questions; I really wanted to know how he was doing.

He proceeded to tell me that he was currently unemployed and dropped out of college this semester. He was living at home with his parents and just trying to figure out life. I understood to a certain degree how he was feeling as I have been there many times before. I then asked him how long he plans to do this and he proceeded to tell me, “until my unemployment runs out.” He said, “my parents pay for my food, my housing and my cell phone bill and the government pays for my gas and my fun – oh, and this tasty coffee drink.” I shook my head slightly in disappointment. I then asked him if receiving all these handouts ever made him feel guilty or lazy. He of course responded, “guilty? For what? As long as they keep giving, I will keep taking. It won’t be until I actually have to do something that I will. But for now I am content (in my complacency). I can do what I want, when I want with very little effort.” I proceeded to ask, “where did you learn this thinking?” He said without hesitation, “my family, society and the government.”

It was a very frustrating conversation but another reminder of how important it is for we the people to start educating the population about community and freedom. I went to my trunk and handed this former student of mine the best seller by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille titled Leadershift with a business card for a bookmark and encouraged him to read this fiction book instead. I can’t blame him for his naive thinking. He has spent the last 19 years of his life witnessing the results of a nation who has taken freedom for granted and was swept up into the belief system that the government (or someone else) will always have your back.

the forgotten manThis conversation inspired me to write this post. I recently found this controversial picture painted by Jon McNaughton titled, “The Forgotten Man.” (video below) The painting depicts all of the American Presidents, both past and present, standing in front of the White House and on a bench in the corner sits a dejected and impoverished man who represents the men and women that the Presidents have ‘forgotten’ in their quest for power.

But the real controversial part of the painting?  Underneath the foot of our current president is the crumpled Constitution of the United States. Now, I’m sure that some of you would object to something so outlandish and over-the-top. But, is the symbolic message of the painting that far off?

Crumpled constitutionMen and women trample and disregard the American Constitution every day as they pursue power and security instead of community and freedom. People forget that this pursuit encourages the design of more programs and initiatives to strengthen the power of the government. There is ample evidence of this when we see overwhelming government expansion, welfare programs, income taxes, the Patriot Act and ObamaCare.

When governments gain more power, they do so by displacing the power of the people.  The more powerful governments become, the less freedom people have. It’s that simple.

In 1776, after witnessing the abuses of a large and out of control government, our Founding Fathers decided to create a government of limited powers, a government that gave political power to the people.

A major champion of America’s freedoms came from the American Constitution: a document defining a government of limited powers; a government that derives its power from the people; and a people that have greater freedom as a result. Furthermore, the Constitution promotes and protects the rights of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.

Let me make this very clear, I don’t side with a particular political party. In fact, until I joined LIFE Leadership I didn’t really care about politics, the government or freedom; I was no different than my former student. But now I have developed a hunger to educate myself about what I can do to play my part. I am simply a concerned American attempting to share some of the truth that I have learned. As George Guzzardo states so passionately, “WE will probably make it out just fine, but that may not be so for our children and grandchildren.”

This concept is not complicated. We (the people) need to take matters into our own hands. As people continue to pursue power and security instead of community and freedom, they trample the American Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson wrote “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan.”

I think that Jon McNaughton’s symbolic painting of “The Forgotten Man” is a powerful warning for those who pursue more governmental power at the expense of the people.

Is freedom worth it? Is the next generation worth it? That’s only for you to decide.

God Bless,

Kristen

Check out the book, Leadershift by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille to begin the process of educating yourself on what you can do to play your part. 

A Good Hug – Taking Time to Enjoy the Little Things

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What would you do if you had just one more day?

fall dayYesterday morning was one of those sweatshirt, leisure walk and coffee kind of days. As I made my way down to the river my mind started to wander in directions I didn’t anticipate. I first reflected on the incredible weekend I just had in Milwaukee for the LIFE Leadership convention. I am so blessed to be able to spend time with and learn from so many incredible men and women. The warmth in my heart spread throughout my body as I fought to stay warm on this brisk 38 degree morning.

I sat down on one of the park benches overlooking the water and gazed up at the beautiful colors of the changing tree leaves and looked around realizing just how quiet and empty this often busy area was today.

It made me think about life and how important it is to just slow down and appreciate all the little things that surround us. I think sometimes we forget that our lives are filled with so many intricate details that fill in the gaps of our happiness where most big things just can’t reach. I love to hear people tell me stories about the little things they enjoy.

Kara's party (2)For instance, I have so many great memories of when my grandpa was alive. One of the little things I loved to do was sit in the back patio with my grandpa on a summer day and look out into the yard. We would watch the squirrels chase each other up the trees and watch birds splash in the bird bath. Then we would play in the garden searching for the ripe vegetables that needed to be pulled off the vine. We didn’t have a lot of conversation but just enough to know that we were both there, that we loved each other and that we enjoyed our time together. Our evenings consisted of watching his favorite show, Wheel of Fortune while I would lay on the couch, head resting on his lap as he would rub my back. He was called Home in 2008 but I have nothing but wonderful memories of the time we shared together.

Another little thing I love to do is give and receive hugs. I have this friend who I believe gives the best hugs in the world. Have you ever met someone like that? (She knows who she is). Most hugs last less that two seconds and don’t carry a lot of meaning behind them but ours will carry on for 30 seconds or longer. For most people that might feel awkward, but for us we just love it!

Lake MichiganOther little things like curling up with a good book next to a warm fire place, watching ducks float along the surface of the water, morning coffee and scripture while sitting on the rocks over-looking Lake Michigan, sitting in a boat with good company fishing for an experience (not just fish), afternoon lunches with grandma, warm apple cider, hammocks, Fall colors, making small talk with people, sunrises, sunsets, the sound of children’s laughter, having a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend, an afternoon nap, serving people, candles, singing out loud, laughing uncontrollably, hearing a good song for the first time, a good workout, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, a good hug, gazing into a babies eyes, hot chocolate, board games, the first snow fall, skipping rocks, and on and on and on.

I once heard this quote, “In an effort to reach the moon, we often fail to see the flowers that blossom at our feet.” Life is so much more than working, paying bills and climbing up the dead end ladder of success. Unfortunately most people I talk to say this is all their life is about. When I ask them what they enjoy to do outside of this reality most of them hesitate and have forgotten what makes them truly happy. We don’t need fancy vacations, nice cars, big houses and a lot of money to make us happy and yet, that’s what most people are chasing after. I dare you to ask anyone with material things if those items are their source of happiness. I guarantee 99.9% of all of them will tell you no. It’s about having choices, not being limited, trapped or controlled and living in such a way that is fulfilling and purposeful. And no matter what it is that you do or what direction you are going, it is important to make time for the little things that you love. For me, I love all these things listed above and while I certainly can’t fit in all of these things daily, I can make time for just a few. And I do – every day – no matter how busy the day is.

I found this video to show a pretty powerful illustration of how important it is for us to enjoy each day:

So I ask again, what would you do if you had just one more day?

This question invaded my mind every day over the last several months when I was battling life with a brain tumor – I was not guaranteed 28,835 days (none of us are). I was only guaranteed one day, the day that I woke up and realized I was still here. And some of those days I felt so bad that I would pray it wouldn’t be my last. I didn’t go sky diving or rocky mountain climbing, I just did all the little things I love to do – every day – no matter how busy the day was.

The video illustration was only an average, not a guarantee. God only knows when our last day will be and as far as I am concerned we all really only have one more day to live – and that’s today. We should all plan and prepare for the future but never forget to live in the present.

So what little things will you do today to fill the gaps of the happiness void in your life that so often gets neglected?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Galatians 5:22

God Bless,

Kristen

Kindness Boomerang

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“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

kindnessA few months ago I was driving through my hometown and decided to swing by my mom’s house to drop off a few groceries she needed me to pick up for her while she was at work. I wasn’t there for more than five minutes when the doorbell rang. I normally wouldn’t have answered the door but because I was only going to be there a couple minutes I decided to leave the front door open revealing evidence that someone was there. So I proceeded to answer and met a young high school graduate who was going door to door selling magazine subscriptions. Normally, my natural response would have been that I am not interested (no questions asked), especially provided that it wasn’t even my house. But instead, I responded with some questions.

She proceeded to tell me that she was selling these subscriptions to raise money for a mission trip she was planning to go on. I asked her how her sales were going and she said, ‘Not very well. Most people are either not home or not answering their door.’ I understood completely how she may have been feeling and yet, her energy was contagious, her attitude positive and her passion exuding through her beautiful smile. So I decided to invite her inside and ask her a few more questions. Deep down I was telling myself, I have no desire to invest in a magazine subscription. I hadn’t bought a magazine in over 10 years. But, I knew I wanted to help her out. I asked her how much the subscriptions were and if I could just make a one time donation in the amount of the subscription to go towards her trip (without the magazines). She said yes but then told me if I ‘donate’ my subscription she gets more credit towards her trip. Then I asked her who I could donate the subscription to and she said anyone… or, I could donate to the Children’s Hospital and that gives her the most credit towards her trip. Obviously a no-brainer for me, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. She told me what the most popular children’s magazine subscription was and I wrote her the check. This young teenager had such a great spirit about her and it felt great to help her out.

Please don’t take this the wrong way though, this wasn’t about me at all. I just happened to be exactly where God needed me to be to help this young lady out; this was all about Brittany. I was so impressed with her courage, her passion, her love for people, her attitude, her commitment and her perseverance – she was raising money to go out and serve people. If that isn’t an act of kindness and doing God’s work, I don’t know what else is.

Kindness doesn’t involve much; it just requires a loving heart. Many people think that it takes money to ‘do good’ for others. While money does help, it isn’t a requirement. Offering a listening ear to a lonely person, sharing a smile as someone passes by, offering to give someone a ride home who doesn’t have transportation or displaying a positive attitude in a stressful situation are all simple ways we can show kindness on a daily basis. Displaying a service before self disposition is one of the noblest ways to live and will surely create a ripple effect you never thought possible.

I learned this principle by observing the actions of men and women like Orrin and Laurie Woodward and George and Jill Guzzardo and spending time around the LIFE leadership community. In fact, I don’t know of any other organization on the planet that shows more kindness or a service before self attitude. That being said, let’s create a kindness revolution and live to serve others just as God lives to serve us.

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Love,

Kristen

Find a Way…

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The weather in Wisconsin has been beautiful lately so I packed up a blanket, some water, my shades and a book and walked down to the river near my house; it was the perfect setting for an afternoon of reading. I have recently been reviewing one of the top five LIFE leadership books called The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J Schwartz. It doesn’t matter how many times I read that book, I am always inspired. After a little while I decided to ‘take a break’ and lay on my blanket in the grass when my subconscious thoughts began to take over. I was instantly transported to my childhood days when I used to play make-believe with my brother and friends.

They would play cops and robbers or power rangers and I would always offer myself up to be the victim in need of rescuing. Or we would play with Lincoln Logs or Lego’s and build the coolest homes and cities imaginable. The beauty and innocence of those days is something I always treasure. It was a time when it was okay to dream, to create, and just explore possibilities. Whether we were digging for buried treasure in our backyard, building sand castles along the beach or contemplating if there were people living beyond the stars, we lived in a time of wonder and intense curiosity. Our minds were wild with thoughts of our future and how the world was going to be when we were grown up. In those days, no matter how many times I changed my career ambition, I knew the possibility for success was there, because I believed it!

At what point in our lives did we lose sight of our childlike spirit? When did that little person that once looked at life with excitement and curiosity begin to fade from view? I’d like to think that child slowly lost its power when fear, competition, doubt, and various other outside influences began to get too loud for us to ignore. Most people fear failure and doubt their own abilities and potential for greatness. We replaced those once wild thoughts that used to bring us alive, with thoughts that now keep us small and comfortable. That’s why anytime I hear a dream, struggle, victory story I can’t wait to share it. These types of stories inspire us to get out of our comfort zones in order to achieve our own victories in life.

Diana_NyadMeet Diana Nyad, a 64 year old world record long-distance swimmer, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the protection of a shark cage. Her dream dates back 36 years when she first attempted this milestone at the age of 28. After four previous failed attempts, Diana accomplished her dream in her 5th and final attempt at 1:55pm on Monday, September 2nd, 2013 after 53 grueling hours and swimming a distance of 110 miles.

As I was reading her story I couldn’t help but be inspired. Diana had achieved success in many areas of her life but always paid a price. In her most recent accomplishment – swimming from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64, it was not uncommon for her to clock 10 or 15 hour swims just for training. And a week before diana nyadshe made the treacherous 53 hour swim, Diana completed a 24 hour ocean swim to train for the following weeks’ event. Just imagine the conditions she had to face: sharks, salt water, jellyfish, wind, currents, waves, heat, exhaustion, dehydration, cramping, 2.5 days of no sleep, little food, etc. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it!

Now imagine what 53 hours looks like: the average work week plus overtime, watching an average of 26 movies back to back, the time it takes to drive clear across the country from Los Angeles, California to Banger, Maine at 65 mph without stopping or listening to over 100 LIFE leadership audios.

Diana’s journey began on Saturday, Aug 31st early in the morning and when most people were packing up their cars to go out of town for the Labor Day weekend, she was beginning a 110 mile swim across the ocean. Please take a moment to watch the interview conducted by ABC news less than 24 hours after she completed the swim:

Diana’s dream, struggle, victory story largely inspires me to eliminate any and all excuses to accomplish my own dreams and goals. LIFE leadership has taught me many lessons in order to persist through struggles to achieve a victory. Here are just a few that Diana displayed:

1) Courage – Most people give up on their dreams because of fear. It takes courage to be a dreamer. Big dreamers face an endless amount of criticism, failure and obstacles on their way to victory. Without courage most people will give-in to fear long before they ever reach the finish line. 

2) Perseverance - Anyone courageous enough to chase their dreams will have to learn to persevere through the struggle. In Diana’s first four attempts she faced jellyfish stings, harsh weather conditions and airway and breathing challenges. All of which threatened her life. But did that stop her? Absolutely not! She had the courage to beat the odds and persevere through the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Diana stated in her interview, “many people quit on their dream to soon.” Perseverance says, ‘quitting is not an option.’

3) Will to WinThose who are courageous enough to persevere through all opposition to accomplish their dreams will internally develop a ‘will to win.’ Diana used the mantra, “find a way.” Meaning that she was willing to win even if it meant sacrificing her life. She found a way to protect herself from jellyfish using a protective mask and body-suit, she had a team of over 25 people including her physician as back up and navigation to reach her destination, she hired scientific oceanographers to study the ocean so she was swimming during the safest possible conditions. Now, unlike Diana, most people’s dreams aren’t life threatening. But I believe that it takes Diana’s type of strong will to win in life in order to accomplish one’s dreams. 

Never stop believing in your ability to reach new heights. God has designed each of us in such a way that no dream is impossible to achieve. Dream, believe and unlock all your doors to a better future. As George Guzzardo often asks, “do you have the courage to dream?” Call forth your inner childlike spirit and get reacquainted with the fearlessness and unstoppable ambition you once had. Anything is within your grasp, you just have to have the audacity to find a way!

God Bless,

Kristen

To learn more about Diana Nyad and her Extreme Dream visit: www.diananyad.com

Part 4: God’s Plan is Always Perfect

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new born pic of me

new-born 1985

Life is a series of events. We are born, we grow up, we go through school, we make friends, we get educated, we find a job, we get married, we buy a house, we have children, we retire, we grow old and we die. Everyone’s order of events may be slightly different but for the most part the events follow the same line. What makes each person unique is the story that is created between events. The dreams, the struggles, the lessons learned, the conflict, the growth, the love, the purpose and the victories. I believe God knows our story even before we are born (Jeremiah 1:5). However, sometimes it is the decisions we make in life that can interrupt the pattern and outcome of our story.

Kristen born-again 2002

Re-born 2009

For example, there was a time in my life that I did not know Jesus. In fact I made it all the way to my early 20′s before I had even learned who He was. It was a time of confusion, hopelessness, frustration, conflict and dis-function. The decisions I made were not Christ centered, they were ‘me’ centered. God recognized my selfish ways and used other people to open my heart to His word. Whether you believe or not, you are created with the spirit of God and whether you are born into a family that aspires for you to develop a relationship with Him or you discover it on your own, He is in you. For me, He put people in my life who could educate, lead and inspire me to know Him. Oh how grateful I am for that because I am not sure how I would have made it through the last several months without Him.

I would say my story is very unique in that it seems every chapter of my life carries a weight of baggage that gets heavier with each passing year. Between a divorce, murder, abuse, alcoholism, eating disorder and everything in between I could easily say I am no stranger to challenges (however, these challenges don’t define me anymore). So when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor I didn’t react how most people might. I didn’t get real emotional and I didn’t get angry, I just got really confused. Like when you work so hard for something and it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. I thought, “God, what the heck are you thinking? I have so much to do… I’m not finished yet, I’ve barely started… Why are you doing this? I don’t understand…” I just sat in the office chair with my eyes closed and head leaning against the wall as my doctor delivered the results. Confusion is a very frustrating place to be. I returned to my car and just sat there in silence not knowing if I should scream, cry or pray.

Over the next few weeks I reflected on the last several years. I was reminded of the possible symptoms I was hiding from that could have been signs. Since high school I had dealt with bad headaches. Some which left me hospitalized due to seizure-like symptoms. I recall a specific time in college during basketball season after one of our long road trips that I had experienced a headache like none other on the bus ride home and I didn’t say anything to anyone. I remember walking down towards the parking lot in the middle of winter with a gym bag and backpack at about 1 o’clock in the morning. Then the last thing I remembered were the two men’s team players helping my coach lift me into her vehicle where I was taken to the ER, drugged and sent home. I obviously must have passed out from the pain. Over the course of at least 7 years I had multiple tests done including sleep studies and EEG’s with diagnosis ranging from cluster headaches to migraines but I was never given an MRI. I was so used to ‘dealing’ with pain by now that any probable signs didn’t appear as red flags – they were just bad days. The ‘pharmacy’ I started to acquire from the cocktail of medications on my counter only left me more frustrated and hopeless. And nothing ever seemed to work at prevention. Whether the headaches I still continue to get have anything to do with the tumor is beyond my comprehension but I am sure having a brain tumor didn’t help any.

my carSo after college and for the last five years I gave up seeing doctor’s. I was sick of getting the run around – I just had to learn to deal with it. It didn’t help that I didn’t have health insurance and I knew how expensive healthcare was. I wasn’t about to get into debt over this incurable pain and it was enough of an excuse to avoid any further medical treatment altogether. Young, active, healthy me is now learning the hard way. (P.S. if you are reading this and you don’t have health insurance – GET IT NOW!!! Learn from my mistakes). Then, in two back to back years – 2011 & 2012 I hit a deer (both in mid November late at night) and totaled two cars. Thankfully the deer I hit in 2011 I was able to walk away from without a scratch. My car and that deer didn’t get so lucky though. But God has an interesting sense of humor. He obviously was doing everything in His power to get me to a doctor because after the 2012 deer hit (going 80 mph on the freewaycar 2) I was left with a ‘head injury’ of all things. Thank God that’s all it was but it was enough of a burden to leave me lifeless for several weeks. To think, God sacrificed that poor deer’s life for me.

Eventually, I started to have some good days following the accident and was trying to adjust getting back to normalcy. Then one night, while at home alone I felt the rush of heat and blindness overcome me and down I went – hitting my forehead against a wall on the way down. As soon as I regained consciousness I texted my friend Joanne to come over and she immediately drove me to Froedert. That’s where the brain tumor diagnosis began. For at least two months after the diagnosis (during the watch and wait period) I was in a restless state of denial – this can’t possibly be real. But once they did the 2nd MRI, reality had set in. That was definitely a turning point for me. When we go through struggles and finally face the truth we really only have two options in how to handle them – we can develop a will to fail or a will to fight. The will to fail attitude is a point of giving up, defeat and cowardice. Failure in this situation would end in my demise so my only option was to fight.

I had some pretty big decisions to make moving forward. I am naturally a very indecisive person so making these types of life and death decisions were not easy. There were many days I was so afraid to face the situation that I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Just think about a time when life was really difficult. The world would continue to move forward without you but it seemed like your world stopped. And no matter how much you wanted to move with the world, negative forces were constantly pulling you back. I just wanted to fast forward through this entire scene of my life and yet it seemed to be going in slow motion. The 2nd MRI results terrified me – the tumor was growing and it was growing fast. Anymore growth and it was certain I would lose my sight. It suddenly made sense why my vision seemed so off all the time. The tumor was also pressing against critical nerves and blood vessels that made it inoperable and life threatening. I was no longer confused, I was scared. I was not prepared to die yet, this was not good news! Everything started to move really fast after that point. My only escape route out of this was to make decisions I didn’t want to make and do things I didn’t want to do. As odd as this sounds, I almost wished they would have just told me, “Kristen, you need brain surgery.” At least then the decisions would have been out of my hands. Or so I thought…

Lesson 1 – ALWAYS Seek Council

Many of the poor decisions I made in the past resulted from following my own advice. I did not seek counsel and I did not seek God. I am thankful to have mentors like George and Jill Guzzardo and Dave and Tina Chatmon who were able to help with the decision-making process. But the most important connection I made was with God. It was ultimately Him who I seeked most. 

radiation-treatmentMy first option was to combine 6 weeks of radiation with a daily chemotherapy drug which was shown to delay tumor growth. I was told that radiation can cause hair loss at the point of contact, inflammation in the mouth, difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing, poor appetite due to changes in food taste, fatigue, personality changes, memory problems, secondary cancers and infertility. So wait a minute… I might not be able to eat…or think…or have children? How is this helping me again? I did not want to do radiation for the life of me but unfortunately my options were so limited I didn’t have much of a choice. This was the quickest and most effective way to stop the tumor from growing. Quick, HA! It was the longest 6 weeks of my life. But thankfully it worked (according to the results from the 3rd MRI). But the treatments didn’t stop there. Because of the location and urgency, I needed to start the next option of treatment to potentially shrink the tumor – tiered chemotherapy for a minimum of 6 to 12 months – much different than the one I was given with the radiation. The list of side effects are much too long to list but the biggest blessing that came of it was that I didn’t lose all my hair (like they mentioned I might). As superficial as I felt it was, it was really the only sense of dignity I had left. (I have to thank my friend and hairstylist Sandy for the extra prayers on that one).

The poisons and the toxins that consumed my body were enough to send me to an early grave but by the grace of God my life was spared. During all of this I was so conflicted. Just imagine what it would be like if someone told you that in order to save your life you would have to drink poison (because that’s what chemotherapy is). And yet each day I had to face this mental hurdle. While I was trusting God to lead me in the right direction, I continued to fear making wrong decisions.

But God had a plan. He always does. He heard my cries and He recognized my fear. He was just waiting for the right time to reveal His perfect plan. I think God sometimes uses pain in order to heal.

In June, I attended the LIFE leadership convention in Ohio. I had been looking forward to itLIFE convention for months. I prayed constantly that God would relieve me of my physical pain just for a few days. All I wanted was one weekend of learning, excitement, laughter, fellowship and fun. I didn’t think it was asking too much. But God thought differently. Instead of feeling great that weekend, I was miserable. The intense noise in the arena, the confined seating arrangements, the flashing lights, the nauseating aroma of hot dogs, pizza and popcorn lingering through the hallways – it was so uncomfortable. It was the middle of day two when I received the text from my mentor Jill Guzzardo. “How are you doing?”

Lesson 2 – ALWAYS Choose Honesty

I have always been guilty of hiding my feelings and emotions. I don’t like to complain just as much as I don’t like complainers. But when the text came in this time I had another decision to make – tell her I was great, or tell her the truth. A dishonest prideful response would have only left me alone back at my hotel room for the remainder of the night and weekend (and of course the rest of this story would not even exist). What did I have to lose, maybe she could help. 

me and jillIn short, I told Jill how I was really doing and she went into action. To my surprise she was able to lead me to a comfortable, quiet place where I could spend the remainder of the weekend – something I would have never expected. While that decision led to a series of God moments, the most important God moment happened Sunday afternoon when my friends Laurie and Terri explained a treatment option to me that I hadn’t thought about – homeopathy. I was then encouraged to follow up with an incredible woman named Jenn who is specially trained in this field.

This was also unfamiliar territory for me so I continued to reflect on the weekend and pray about the decision before moving forward. I just didn’t want to set myself up for even more disappointment. But I knew I could trust these woman more than anyone so what did I really have to lose? Thankfully I received so much confirmation and it just continued to build my belief and confidence in the process.

Two weeks later and away I went. Initially I started with 12 gallons of ‘formulated’ water and 400 20130822_043616natural supplements that I was told break up tumors. I was so used to taking pills that downing 100 supplements a day for 4 days was a piece of cake. No side effects, no pain – this was awesome!!  I received the first regimen before visiting Jenn for the first time because we wanted to get the process moving. Instructions were to drink a half gallon to a gallon a day so I drank a gallon. In my first visit with Jenn she found multiple tumors using her scan in the same location that the MRI showed. Wow this thing was accurate! After identifying the tumors and the crud that created them in the first place I was assigned with 11 more gallons that were more customized towards my chemical make up along with 200 more supplements. The process is too complicated for me to explain, I didn’t really care about how it worked, I just wanted it to work! And 23 gallons of water and 600 supplements later, at my 2nd visit with Jenn the tumors were gone! I was issued 6 more gallons and 3 more bottles of supplements for brain ‘clean up’ but according to her scan, I was tumor free!

Lesson 3 – ALWAYS Trust God

Truthfully, I had no confidence in the radiation or chemotherapy. I couldn’t understand how it could possibly work. I just felt like they were delaying the inevitable. But I continued to trust God that He would work it all out.

faithI can guarantee that if it wasn’t for my faith this journey and story would be so much different. I’ve heard it said before that God never gives us more than we can handle. So He must have thought I could handle this and every test along the way. There were so many times I found myself taking early morning drives down to the lake and afternoon walks down by the river in order to ‘escape’ and spend time thinking and praying without distraction. All the little decisions that I trusted Him with could have meant a completely different outcome had I not turned to Him.

Just to confirm that Jenn’s test was accurate I went to get my 4th MRI and for the first time I felt peace of mind knowing that whatever the result, God was in control. If I was meant to be healed, I would be. And deep down I just knew this had to be part of His plan. He had equipped and put more amazing people in my path in order to prove His faithfulness. Well, the results came back and it confirmed what I already knew to be true, the tumors were gone!! The look of shock on my doctor’s face was absolutely priceless! He even double checked the name to make sure he had the right report :) Yup, it was mine! This man, a brain oncology and neuro specialist with over 31 years of practice was undeniably speechless for the longest and most awkward minute imaginable. In my steady flow of tears I was able to express my faith with him and I could just feel the Holy spirit working on his heart.

It’s nearly impossible to describe the feelings I had as I approached my car and sat down after the appointment. I didn’t call anyone for at least an hour because it too left me speechless. All I could do was thank God for this blessing and all the people who might now come to know Him as a result of His healing. I thanked Him for the people who have supported and prayed through all this and for the doctor’s who didn’t waste any time starting treatments and delivering results. I thanked Him for using women like Terri, Laurie, Jill and Jenn and for giving them the courage to reach out and recommend an alternative approach. I just have so much to be thankful for! Honestly, I still can’t grasp how this could have logically happened, it is still so surreal but I just know it had to be the work of God. Every doctor who viewed my reports told me my best chance was a calcified tumor that stopped growing. None of them ever considered a disappearance. Wow, God is great!

Up until last week all I could think about was the little time I might have left on this earth. And if this was the way He wanted me to go, then I needed to be ready. While I prayed for healing I was also preparing for Heaven. There is a quote by Plato that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I don’t know where you are at today in your life but I want to assure you that God has a perfect plan for your situation. You may not know what that is and chances are none of us will ever know until we see Him again – all we can do is continue to trust God and live our lives for Him.

Ironically I heard this song multiple times throughout my journey:

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for the prayers and support throughout all of this. A major challenge for me was putting my ego aside in order to let people in on the journey. But it wasn’t for me, it was for Him. And as the amazing Terri Brady would remind me, “compassion is showing your scars to someone with open wounds.” Just as she shared her scars with me, I hope to be able to do the same for others who are battling similar circumstances. I like to say that my life is just another reflection of God’s amazing grace. While I know I don’t deserve the many blessings He has given me, He still continues to love me anyways.

Events like this should serve as constant reminders to not take anything for granted. Each day we are given is special and we should always live it as such. No matter what I will continue to give God all the glory in everything I do with the time He gives me.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

God Bless,

Kristen

Related posts:

Part 1: Trust God When Your Plans Change

Part 2: There is No Fear in Christ

Part 3: Blessed and Grateful

How I Fixed my Friendships, in Five Lines

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me and Craig six years old(Well, maybe a few more than five lines…)

When I was younger I had a hard time making and keeping friends. In grade school and middle school I was extremely shy so I knew that in order to have friends I had to find ways to fit in so that people would like me. Up until the 4th grade my mom would dress my brother and I in matching boy/girl twin outfits. We would get made fun of all the time and as cute as my mom thought it was, she was really cramping our style. While my brother remained kind of nerdy I was on a mission to ‘fit in.’ So I got involved with sports, after school clubs etc to become more sociable. In middle school I started to develop a bad attitude, expected my mom to buy me name brand clothes, skipped meals so I could be skinny, allowed classmates to cheat off my homework and exams and did anything I could to emulate what the ‘cool’ kids were doing in order to be popular. Little did I know that my ‘fake’ image only brought about fake friendships.

Entering high school and realizing how difficult it was to make and keep friends I started to give up and isolate myself. Almost none of the people I ‘hung out’ with from ages 8-15 remained friends with me in high school; my friendships were about as deep as a puddle of water at the top of a hill. I didn’t like who I was and I eventually realized that if I would have any friends at all they would have to accept me for me. In those years I only had three people I could call friends of which only one is still a friend today. Needless to say, I was not good at making or keeping friends.

I share this history because I think a lot of people can relate. If I were to comprise a list of friendship qualities, many of us would fall short and be pretty disappointed in ourselves and others. In the years since I have read multiple books on relationships. Please don’t misinterpret this, I am no expert on friendships or relationships – I fail every day! But I have been able to identify my weaknesses in order to get better and have learned a lot since those days. I pray that with my new awareness I can develop lifelong bonds and friendships with many people.

In learning through my mistakes, reading a lot of books in the LIFE leadership system and listening to audios from people who have had great success in relationships, I have been able to narrow down some specific and intentional practices that have worked to develop many of the great friendships I have today (in no particular order):

  1. Listening
  2. Communication
  3. Finding Purpose
  4. Taking responsibility
  5. Forgiveness

1) Listening

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15

  • We are ALL guilty of failing here! There are so many distractions that make this simple task so difficult. People just want to be heard. I still fail at this a lot but there is one thing that’s made listening a whole lot easier: scheduling it – it’s a lot easier to listen and be prepared for conversations when it’s planned – especially with the heavy stuff. I like to meet over coffee or while going for a walk. Whether it’s scheduled, just a conversation in passing or I am talking on the phone I try to keep any and all distractions out of sight (i.e. phone, computer, etc), I make eye contact with that person, acknowledge and empathize with their concerns, celebrate when they are excited and unless they are looking for advice or solutions, I try to speak very little. There is a saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Meaning we should listen twice as much as we speak.

2) Communication

“Pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:42

  • I admit, this is the most challenging one for me! I am naturally a very isolated person so I have to be very intentional with my communication. I have learned that multiple forms of communication are better than none at all. I struggle with talking on the phone so usually my phone conversations end with setting up a time to meet in person. The 3rd line of communication I like to use is text or e mail. While we know it is the most ineffective way to build a relationship, it does serve an important role in staying connected. I am not afraid to send a friend I haven’t talked to in a while a text message that says, ‘I miss you,’ or, ‘how are you doing?’ Many times this sparks a re-connection which leads to a phone conversation or coffee date. But for the friends, business partners, etc I am most associated with, I make sure to communicate with them in some form at least once a week (on the phone or in person if possible) and it helps to put a reminder in my calender to ‘check in’ with them.

3) Finding Purpose

“Many plans are in man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand. ” Proverbs 19:21

  • There is nothing more appealing and attractive to others than someone who knows who they are and whose they are. I believe that in order to find yourself it requires a discovery of ones purpose. And many people don’t know who they are because they don’t know why they are… Without this piece, how could I ever expect to have lasting friendships or relationships. It was hard to create depth with another human being if I didn’t have eternal depth with myself and God. Many people go their entire life without ever figuring this out and sadly end up very lonely at the end. Find your purpose and you will find that your friendships and relationships will be stronger than ever.

4) Taking Responsibility

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16

  • A lot of my friendship train wrecks resulted in blame. I would justify or make excuses for myself and then blame others for the break up. It wasn’t until I finally owned up to the fact that relationships are a two way street and that I was just as much at fault as the other person – that things started to change. In fact, many of the great friendships I used to have that are no longer present today I have now taken full responsibility for. When I finally took responsibility it made it much easier to forgive them (see #5). This has really been the primary motivator for me to change and get better.

5) Forgiveness

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:!4-15

  • I have been hurt by many people – not just friends, but family as well. When we are hurt, it is natural to be resentful or hold grudges. The worst physical pain someone can feel doesn’t even measure up to deep emotional pain inflicted from another person. But what I have learned about resentment and grudges is that the only person it is really hurting is you! I have chosen to forgive anyone and everyone who has caused me physical or emotional pain and can peacefully say that I hold no grudges towards anyone. Everyone makes mistakes – we are all sinners saved by grace and if God can forgive us for our sins, we should certainly be able to forgive one another.

Just like anything worth having, friendships take work. It requires identifying weaknesses, learning from mistakes, humbling oneself and putting in the effort that is required. Try this, write down the five people you consider true friends. Now, ask yourself, “would those five people put me on their friend’s list?” If you think they would, you are on the right track but if you have any doubts then it might be wise to seek resources to grow in this key area of life.

LIFE Leadership offers world class information about relationships and friendships. Maybe it’s picking up a People Skills Pack with incredible information produced by best selling authors Orrin Woodward and Tim Marks and LIFE founder George Guzzardo. Or studying a classic like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The resources are endless, all that’s required is a hunger to master these skills. As the great Anthony Robbins says, “the quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”

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“Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10

God Bless,

Kristen

The Story of Love – John 3:16

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:!6

This has to be one of the most powerful videos I have ever watched. Pastor Reggie Dabbs delivered such an inspirational message! This will draw you in from start to finish. As you are sitting on the train, please give God 18 minutes of your time to be reminded of the love He has for you.

“You think God doesn’t know where you are? He keeps one eye on His world and the other eye on His child. ” Pastor Reggie Dabbs

God Bless,

Kristen

Young Entrepreneurs will Shape the Future

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Sir Walter Scott said, “All men who turned out worth anything have had a chief hand in their own education.”

full libraryThe parking lot at the library was much like the Christmas season mayhem at the mall. What were all these ‘kids’ doing here? It was a beautiful day in the middle of summer. I hadn’t been to the library in a while – just needed access to a printer. As I found a space, plugged in my laptop and started to work, I took a moment to look around. Most of my fellow library nomads were between fifteen and twenty-five years of age. As I relished the silence of the room I observed something that was worth noting. These ‘kids’ were here to work. Sure, some were playing games on their laptops or chatting on Facebook, but most were working or reading. There was no school and no assignments due. Suddenly I realized that I was sitting amongst the do-it-yourself generation.

45 year planWe younger people have been raised to do these things by ourselves. Need a restaurant? Google It. Where was George Washington born? Look it up. Our generation is expected to find things out for ourselves. A lot of it has been thrust upon us because of where technology has gone, but this is where we are. We find a way. Our generation is different, no doubt. However, different doesn’t mean bad. We know how to work. Most of us know by now that there isn’t a lifelong corporate job waiting for us. No watch at the retirement party after thirty years of service. We know those days are over. If we want to find a path, we will have to chop some brush to clear it. I have witnessed this as I have gone out and talked to other young people about LIFE Leadership. There is an entrepreneurial spirit about our generation. A spirit that is needed.

In the Spring of 2009 (my first year of teaching) I was motivated to instill these entrepreneurial principles into the lives of my students. It was a bold move at the time because I was only a few years older than the very ‘kids’ I was trying to influence. However, I was not much older than them when I started to learn the same principles. I was a physical education teacher so as you can imagine the response to reading books on personal development in gym class was not real welcoming. But my goal as a high school teacher was not to develop their frisbee throw or their volleyball serve; my goal was to develop young leaders.

Recently I connected with one of my former students, Allie Ganswindt. She was a freshman at the time and 15 years old. As we were catching up she mentioned the ‘reading assignment’ we did in her class. Today she is 18 years old and just graduated high school. I asked Allie (who is not connected to LIFE leadership) to answer a few questions as a 3rd party to help us understand the importance of leadership education for the next generation:

  • What was your first reaction to receiving a ‘leadership book’ as a young adult in physical education class?

As a Freshman receiving this book it was a little weird. At first I didn’t think it was going to help me at all. I was like why are we reading in gym class???? We have to sit all day in desks and gym is supposed to get you energized and active and I knew reading was not going to do that. Since we were only freshman we didn’t really listen well and Ms. Seidl would have to force us to read for 15-20 minutes. I think now though looking back it helped develop good reading habits and the stuff I learned I have been able to use as I prepare for the future. 

  • Prior to reading that book, did you ever consider yourself a leader? What qualities do you think defines a leader? Now that you are older do you see yourself as a leader?

I did not consider myself a leader. I thought that I may be a leader to someone but I didn’t look at myself as someone who could lead. I think a leader is someone who is a good motivator, knowledgeable, dedicated, willing to get there hands dirty and a good communicator. I think I am a leader now, especially in my family and with my baby brother Josh who I am able to teach right from wrong. 

  • What principles have you applied in the last few years after reading that book and do you think looking back it has helped you at all with decision making and thinking differently?

When I read that book it talked about thinking through your decisions and preparing for the future with stories that related to us as teenagers and how just doing the little things over a period of time will make a big difference. It helped me think about college and what I wanted for the future and how much different life will be like if I make the right decisions now – talking about the slight edge principle. 

  • What are your current aspirations and passions and where do you see yourself in the future?

My dream is to be in the medical field. I love to help people and I want to make a difference in someone’s life so being a physical therapist, a surgical assistant or a nurse would be so AWESOME!!! I am passionate about making a difference and helping people. 

  • Do you think leadership education/information is important for young adults and why?

Yes, I have realized that in order to be successful in any field leadership qualities are a must. I believe it will give you an edge in any field you pursue.

  • Have you ever received this type of information in formal schooling?

Except for a brief discussion about ethics in my health occupations class I have never received this type of information before. 

  • At what age do you think it is important to start learning and applying these principles?

I think 6th grade – the earlier the better!!

Leadership education is self-directed education. It is personalized. Not only did my students read but they reflected on how they could apply the information into their lives. Matters of leadership or entrepreneurship are often seen as distant or irrelevant to the day to day lives of young people and I believe it’s because most adults don’t regard young people as ‘leaders.’ We just see them as young people. But the shift is among us. Leadership education or self-directed education is just as important, if not more important, for young people as it is for adults. After all, it is the next generation that will be leading our country. That being said, it is critical we give young people the same opportunity as adults to receive a leadership education.

I am very proud of Allie and extremely optimistic about the do-it-yourself generation. The very concept screams leadership. When I was a teenager learning these principles I never would have imagined the impact it would have on me as an adult. The genius of Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady, George Guzzardo and all the LIFE founders have taken LIFE Leadership and self-directed education to a whole new level by bringing in the young people. By offering subscriptions to the EDGE series; allowing teenagers to attend LIFE LIVE seminars and showing parents that it’s important to be a model for leadership in the home, the future is bright indeed!

God Bless,

Kristen

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