Tammy Helfrich

Encourage. Empower. Connect.

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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?


So encouraged



I took this picture on our vacation to Mexico last year. It summed up the weather on our trip. It rained most of the time we were there, but it was still beautiful.

As I looked at it again this morning, I saw it differently. I saw the sun behind that dark cloud. I see the sun still giving rays of light. It reminded me that no matter what is going on in our life, we can always look at it with hope. It may look dark and threatening now, but somewhere, even if we can’t see it, the sun is shining. And even in the darkness, there is always beauty if you choose to see it.

I feel like that right now. My ebook, Becoming a LifeChanger: Move Away from Ordinary, has been free on Kindle this weekend. I was excited about giving it away for free. As you know, LifeChangers excite me. Doing something different and offering hope and light in a dark world excites me.  While I expected some people to share it, I was completely unprepared for how many people (including many of you) would help promote it. I have received emails and responses from people all over the country. It has been so encouraging!

It doesn’t excite me because people are hearing about me. It excites me because people are hearing about and being encouraged by the LifeChanger stories in the book. They’re being encouraged to do something different. I’ve been told that it’s helping people take a step they were afraid to take. Or that they are now going to figure out their dream and start pursuing it. Those words make me so happy!

I have been so blessed to have amazing people help me realize that life doesn’t have to be ordinary. That is why I believe in the message of LifeChangers. Together, we can be light in a world of extreme darkness. We can give people hope and help them know that they are not alone.

I want to say thank you to my awesome blog readers. Thank you for sharing the book on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for your reviews, and kind emails. I really appreciate it, and I am so humbled and honored that you would share it with your friends.

If you haven’t picked up your copy, you can get it here.

I’d be honored if you’d considering sharing it in Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest.

Thank you so much! I appreciate all of you!!

No Excuses

“The word if will drown out your dream.”

                   ~ Matt Chambers


What is your excuse?

The excuse you are using for not following your dreams?

Do you have one?

Are you living the life you want?

If not, is there an excuse you are using that’s preventing you from taking action?

We all have excuses. We all use them.


Photo credit: Creative Commons

Photo credit: Creative Commons


But what if we stopped?

What if we stopped complaining and using excuses when we don’t do something? What if we just acknowledged that we didn’t do it, and then do something different the next time?

Most of us know the areas we need to change in our lives. Maybe it’s diet and exercise. Maybe it’s changing your life by finally taking steps towards your dream. Maybe it’s paying off debt. Maybe it’s waking up earlier. Maybe it’s starting to go to church again. Maybe it’s starting to serve in your community. Maybe it’s spending more time with your family.

It’s different for all of us.

But, whatever it is, there is one step you can take. You most likely already know what it is. Take the step! You can do it.

Let’s start 2013 without excuses. (Tweet that!)

What excuse do you need to conquer today? I’d love to encourage you.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, friends!!

I am very excited about 2013. My husband and I are making our list of things we want to do this year, and I am doing some reflecting on last year and setting goals.

One thing that I love to do is make a list of things I am thankful for. You, my blog readers, are very high on the list. I appreciate your support and encouragement more than you will ever know.

Today, I have the honor of being interviewed by Jim Woods on his blog. It’s my first official author interview since the release of my ebook, Becoming a LifeChanger: Move Away from Ordinary. Jim has been such a huge encourager to me, and I am thankful for him. You can check out the interview here.

Also, I have some exciting news. My ebook will be free on Kindle starting on Friday, January 4th, through Sunday January 6th. You can also always get your free copy by subscribing to my blog.

I have received such great feedback already, and I would be honored if you would be willing to help spread the word. I believe that inspiring stories need to be heard. What a great way to start the new year!

My wish is that 2013 will be an incredible year. Please let me know how I can help you and encourage you.


Do You Know Your Own Story?


I am excited to welcome Marc Alan Schelske to the blog today. We met through Michael Hyatt’s Platform launch team, and his words really encourage me. He writes about the intentional spiritual life at www.MarcAlanSchelske.com.  You can follow him on Twitter here. He’s served as a pastor full-time for eighteen years, currently in Portland, Oregon, where he gets to encourage people in living the inside-out life following Jesus.  He’s deep into a journey of emotional recovery after near-burn out, and is excited to share this discovery:  You are a piece of art handmade by God, with a good and beautiful purpose to accomplish in the world.


Embrace Your Story?

Embrace your story.  That’s what Tammy says to do.  It’s right there in the header of her beautiful blog.  She’s right.  In an unexpected way, this advice is one of the cornerstones of living an impactful and intentional life.

Right now your story probably has a grip on you.  When I use the word “story” here’s what I mean:  Your story is comprised of all the events of your life that have happened to this point, combined with the meaning that you have made around those events.

This story plays itself out in your life over and over again.  Here’s an example from my own life, to explain what I mean.

“Take Control, Don’t Feel Pain,” I thought.

My dad died in an accident when I was eleven.  This unexpected trauma swept into my life with grave consequences.  Not only did I lose my dad, but in many ways I lost my mother as she was caught up in her own grief.  It became my role to hold things together.  I cooked meals for my younger sister.  I made sure we got to bed or to school.  I became the “man of the house,” making sure that everything still worked.  What I didn’t do was process the grief and anger that I felt.

That traumatic moment shaped me powerfully.  I made meaning from it that went like this: Terrible things happen.  Even the people most important can be taken away from you.  But if I can be very good, and keep very good control, then terrible things might not happen.  If I can hold on tight to every aspect of my life, I might not ever have to feel this way again.

This belief is ridiculous of course, but the meaning my eleven-year old self-created became deeply embedded in my heart. That story kept showing up in my life, for over thirty years.

When my mother remarried a man who was emotionally abusive, it became my role to take care of her and stick up to him.  In college I was dating someone and it became clear that we were not a good match long-term.  Just as I was about to end the relationship, her very best friend died, and it became my role to support and care for her through months of grief.

This story even shaped my professional life.  I was a pastoral staff member at a church when the senior pastor left under very painful circumstances.  It became my role to hold the church together, make sure everyone was taken care of, and keep the boat afloat.  I did all of that.  What I didn’t do was process the grief and anger that I felt.

Unaware, We Replay our Story

Over and over this story showed up in my life:  Something traumatic happens.  I am the one who can keep my head about me.  I protect the others.  I keep them safe.  I make sure they are OK.  I don’t process my own pain.

About 5 years ago all that unprocessed grief and fear began to burst through the cracks in my life and things got very painful.  (If you’re interested in that story, you can watch me tell some of it here.)

I’m now a couple of years into the process of unpacking all of these things.  I’m just beginning to see and experience a new, much more life-giving way of being.

This is a part of my story.  It was a way for me to stay strong, to perform well and secure my belonging, to make sure I was always needed.  It wasn’t until I was able to see this and embrace it, that I was able to move forward.


Do you know your own story?

Your story is different from mine, but there are equally powerful elements in your story that are shaping how and why you do the things you do.

2013 is nearly upon us, offering 365 new days allowing you to write new stories.  You will be given a certain amount of time, a certain amount of emotional energy, a certain level of influence, even a certain amount of money.  As 2013 unfolds you will spend every bit of it, one way or another.  How will this investment pay off for you?

Will it take you further down the path toward the life you hope for?  If you are a follower of Jesus, will it help you honor Him?  Right now is an opportunity for you to consider that.

Your story will be a big part of shaping your future.  I want to encourage you to reflect on it.  What’s happened in your life? What meaning did you make of it?  How has that shaped who you are and what you value?

When you reflect on your story, looking clearly and honestly at it, you gain powerful insight into why you are the way you are.  When you can work through the process of embracing your story, you will be able to use your story to shape a powerful and life-giving future.  As a follower of Jesus, I believe the Bible teaches that God wants to redeem your story, and through it to make an enormous difference in the world.

But until you are willing to do this work, your story will shape you and you might not even know why.

As 2013 begins, I want to encourage you to choose some way to engage and embrace your own story.  You can do this through good coaching or counseling.  You can do it through journaling and personal reflection.  I’ve even got a little book, “Discovering Your Authentic Core Values,” which is a step-by-step guide that will walk you through looking at your own story to discover your core values.


It’s available on Amazon here , but I’d love to give you a free eBook copy right now. Just click here.


Are you embracing your story? How will your story shape you in 2013?


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