Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

For People Who Want to Quit Living an Ordinary Life

I am absolutely thrilled to have Darrell Vesterfelt on the blog today. Darrell Vesterfelt is the CEO of the Prodigal Media Group, a storytelling firm based in Minneapolis, where he lives with his wife Ally. Darrell is the original #unblogger. You can connect with him on Twitter or call him at (612)802-5227.

I am a big fan of Darrell and Ally, and love their work. They are incredibly inspiring, and I hope you will be inspired too.




There isn’t much about my life that is ordinary.

Ever since I moved out of my parent’s house and went to college, I’ve made a regular practice of doing things that make people cringe. I didn’t live in the same city for longer than six months between 2009 and 2011. In 2011 I wasn’t in the same city for more than two weeks at a time. In 2012 I met my wife, dated her, proposed, and married all in the span of four months.

Nine days after we got married, we moved from Oregon to Florida to plant a church.

Nine months after that, we moved again. This time from Florida to Minneapolis to launch a new business. Exhausted yet? Sometimes, to the curious onlooker, my life can look a little dizzying. I admit, I have an appetite for risk-taking.

Often I have people ask me: How do you do it?

How do you live such an interesting life?

The answer I give them isn’t profound. In fact, it might even be disappointing. The answer is this: I just do it.

Most often the thing that holds us back from living an interesting life is fear. We’re afraid of what people are going to say about us, we’re afraid of failing, and we’re afraid of looking like fools.

So the way I’ve lived an extraordinary life is this: I do what I know is right, even if I’m afraid.  (Tweet that!)

That’s an important distinction because I know some people probably think I just do the things I do for shock factor, or just for the sole purpose of being different. And I don’t think that just “being different” is a good enough reason to jump the tracks and do something out of the ordinary.

In fact, if you live your life just trying to “be different” I think you’ll find yourself as miserable as the guy sitting in his cubicle day after day.

Living an extraordinary life is about passion. In order for passion to rule your life, fear cannot. (Tweet that!)

For a long time, church ministry was my passion. I went to school thinking I would be a pastor someday, so I took any and all opportunities to grow my skill set, connect with people and gain experience. I didn’t let insecurity stop me from reaching out to people I respected, and I didn’t let fear of the unknown stop me from ministering to homeless community of Minneapolis.

I didn’t let fear stop me from moving new places to experience new kinds of ministry in new communities.

I still have a passion for reaching people with the Gospel, but now that looks a little different. I run an online magazine with my wife where we teach people how to tell stories of redemption from their lives, and then feature their stories online. A year ago the publishing world was totally new to me, but I didn’t let fear stop me from exploring it.

I didn’t let fear of failure stop me from moving forward with the magazine, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Our work has taken us all over the country to meet all kinds of interesting people. We’ve made a cross-country move, traveled to conferences and meet-ups, and collaborated with people who we never thought we could meet. We love what we do.

I’m so glad we didn’t let fear stop us.

The point is this. Living an extraordinary life looks different for different people. For you it might not mean moving, or going on trips, or traveling. For you it might mean something different. In order to know what it means, you have to know what you’re passionate about, and what you’re afraid of.

You have to follow your passions in spite of your fears.

Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary one? What are you passionate about? What are you afraid of?



  1. Thanks for the inspiration. Too often we left fear of life paralyze from actually living. Love your story.

  2. You sound like the type of guy I’d love to hang out with Darrell. Your attitude of “lets just do this” is the key to living an interesting life and one that is full of adventure.

  3. What an inspiring post Darrell…been working on overcoming fear myself.

  4. oh yeah! love this post! it’s classic dvest. you’re such an inspiration, darrell. i am honored to know you.

  5. Awesome quotes, glad I was able to easily share them.

    I’m moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary as I’m letting go of fear and taking it one step at a time, trusting my Savior to walk with me.

  6. Sometimes extraordinary looks like putting on some shoes and going for a run. So, yes, it will look pretty plain to some. But rock what ya got with no fear…or at least with the tools to tell that fear to go sit in the corner.

  7. I’m afraid of going hungry. It’s a very feasible concern since I’m always hungry but seriously, I’m afraid of not being able to pay bills, of not “making it” in the creative world, and of having to move back in with my parents… again.

  8. I’m changing ordinary! it takes a lot to turn a big ship, but I’m doing it with help and encouragement from people like you!

  9. Honestly, for me, living an extraordinary life means giving lots and time attention to my young, tireless boys, to cleaning and all that icky homemaking stuff that I’m often afraid of and don’t feel very good at & struggle to “succeed” in. I’m often tempted to live an ordinary life by focusing only on what I feel good at, fearless in…things like working, leadership, speaking, writing, blogging, etc. But how ordinary and horrible would it be for me to pursue those things at the cost of my family? I think this mindset is challenging for me because it’s certainly not the popular advice for those preaching “follow your dreams” but I know it’s the needed one for me, for now. And besides, I want to raise extraordinary boys!

    • I love this, Grace. I think it is so true. Our families are so important and raising children is such an honor and a gift. I think you can make room for both, usually, but again only you know that for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

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