Tammy Helfrich

Encourage. Empower. Connect.

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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?


Can we really change the world?

Do you feel it?

Is it time?timeforchange


I sense it.

We want to change.

We also want to change the world.

We want to make it better.

Can we really do it?

Do you believe it?

I believe we can.

How do you want to do it?

What steps are you taking to make it happen? I’d love to encourage you.




I am excited to release my first ebook soon. I will be giving it away as a thank you gift to my subscribers. It will be released on Amazon soon, but you can get it free by signing up here.

Christmas wishes and Exciting news

Merry Christmas to my amazing blog readers and friends.

My family and I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I know 2013 is going to be awesome!



I am also very excited to let you know that I am publishing my first ebook! Here’s a sneak peek at the cover.



I will be giving this book away free as a gift to my subscribers. You can easily subscribe here or in the upper right hand corner.

The book is an extension of the LifeChanger series on my blog. I am excited to share it with you. I am planning to release it on December 30, 2012. Watch for more details to come soon.

I hope you have an incredible Christmas with your family and friends. I am thankful for all of you!



Those last minute gifts

Are you ready for Christmas?

Do you still have a few extra gifts to get?

Do you feel like you’ve given something that has made a difference?

One of the neatest things my family and I have been able to experience is supporting our Compassion child. Receiving letters from him and watching him grow has been so neat. We’ve also been blessed to be able to give extra gifts for his family. The stories and the details of what they buy with those extra gifts is always so eye-opening and exciting. His most recent purchase was a pig, goat, rice, and materials to make a pigsty. When my children see this and read the letters, they get an entirely new perspective on what giving really means.

Maybe you can’t make the commitment to sponsor a child right now. That’s okay. I understand that times are difficult for many people. That’s why I love that Compassion also has a gift catalog. It is a way for you to make a difference with one time donation.


They have options that range for small amounts to large.

$13 can help a malnourished child with an emergency feeding

$79 can provide safe drinking water for a child and his family

$40 can care for a child who is waiting for a sponsor

$20 can provide a Christmas gift for a mom and baby

$280 can equip an entire family with livestock

Compassion makes it easy for you to help. Simply go to their website and choose which gift you want.

I am excited to be joining with other Compassion bloggers to help raise $20,000 in gifts for Compassion children. The goal I was given was to raise $100 for children in poverty. I’m increasing that goal to $200.

That’s 20 people giving $10.

Or 10 people giving $20.

Or 2 people giving $100.

I believe in Compassion. I see the work they are doing, and am proud to support helping children living in poverty that we can’t possibly imagine. Would you join me?

The link does not allow me to track donations, so if you can leave it in the comments, or send me a quick email at tammy@tammyhelfrich.com, I would really appreciate it.

Have you ever given a unique gift to someone in need?

80 Years

I wrote this poem last year on the 25th anniversary of my Dad’s passing. I thought it was fitting to post it here on what would have been his 80th birthday.

It is so hard to imagine that he would be 80. I sometimes dream about what life would be like if he were still here. If I could ask his advice. If I could spend time with him. I don’t spend much time there, as it is not what I want to focus on.  I imagine what he would look like when I see his brothers. If he aged as they have, which I’m sure he would, he would not look much older than he looked when he left this earth.

What I think about most is the example that he left for me and all of those who knew him.

Be kind to everyone.

Love generously.

Live life fully.

Serve others.

Pay attention to people.

Love unconditionally.

Make a difference.

Follow Jesus’ example.

Celebrate what’s right in the world.

Invest in people. Let them know you appreciate them.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I’m so thankful for his example, and thankful that he was my Dad.

In Memory of Noah E. Zimmerman

December 19, 1932 – February 12, 1986


Your time on earth was way too short

We wanted you to stay

To continue to teach us how to be gracious

And help so many people


Your love for others was evident

In everything you did

We still hear stories of how

Your kindness touched someone

And taught them about friendship and grace


We had you for a short time

And only wish

You had gotten to meet

Your grandchildren, the wonderful next generation


You left them with a spiritual heritage that

Will live on through them

And an example of unconditional love

That we pass on through our experiences


There’s a unique piece of you in all of them


Noah has your spirit, and your name,

Which is an honor in itself


Brandon has your love of the outdoors

And your skill for hunting and fishing


Amelia has your gift of laughter

And sense of fun


Jonah has your eyes and your

Incredible determination


Kaden has your sense of adventure

And never ending love of life


Wyatt is your first great grandchild

With a smile that could rival yours


The years have come

And gone so fast

But your memory lives on

Within all of us

We love you!

The early years

The early years


How we remember you

How we remember you


Mom and Dad's wedding picture

Mom and Dad’s wedding picture

What do you remember most when you think of your Dad?

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