Free Fall: Do this when you feel that sinking feeling

It’s days like today when I create something like this that I think, “you know? I think I’m right where I need to be.” I created this video based on the blog post I wrote yesterday. May you be inspired to take action!

Go find this video on (click these links) Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and like it. Share it. Comment on it.

I’m sending you a virtual fist bump.

Arise, my friend. Your voice matters.

~Andrea Joy

Sometimes You Just Need a Breakthrough

Two years ago a friend of mine invited me to take the StrengthsFinder assessment. I was in some kind of transition, though I wasn’t sure exactly what I was transitioning into. There was a nagging feeling inside me to get my voice out into the world in a more profound way, but I felt stuck. Every little idea, experience, feeling and bit of knowledge seemed like little dots in my head, all interconnected.

my headI drew this little image to help others understand my frustration. If I wanted to talk about one single dot (idea), it was like pulling out one dot and all the other dots are pulled out too. I didn’t expect anyone to join me in that tangled web of thoughts and feelings.

The interconnectedness of everything in my internal world was fun for me when I was alone. I loved following the flow of my own thoughts from one point to the next and attempting to piece together one idea with another. But I could only stay in my head for so long. I am an extravert (believe it or not). I desperately needed to connect with others on a deep level and I recognized that other people help keep me from getting sucked up into my own brain. I loved the idea of writing and speaking, but I was about to give up on the notion that it would ever be possible. My thoughts and feelings were just too much.

My Breakthrough

My Top 5 StrengthsThen late one night I took the StrengthsFinder assessment. I came to the end of the test to see my results and there in front of me were 5 words. I really had no idea what they meant, but one thing I knew: they were all from one of the 4 categories. They were all strategic thinking themes. They were all in my head.

I immediately considered taking the assessment again the next day because…

Maybe I’m just too tired.

I would have changed some of the answers on those questions. 

This test is dumb.

I can’t believe this says I’m all in my head! I’m never going to get anything done.

Who do they think they are to say I’m not good in relationships!

I came to my meeting with my coach with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. She explained that the assessment only gave me my top 5 themes, but the top 10-12 are all themes I could be using on a daily basis. They are not exclusive, as though they are the only areas I’m strong in. They were simply the themes that rose to the top. At that point I decided that maybe…just maybe…these results could teach me something I didn’t already know about myself. Maybe they were a gift.

My top talent is Strategic and as I got to know that theme better, I realized that Strategic is good at taking a lot of information and then intuitively knowing the path forward. And through studying this strength I realized that I don’t have to get lost in the crazy web of dots in my head. I have it in me to choose the path forward! Soon after that I wrote the blog post I’d been trying to get out for months and then I immediately began working on writing a book. My number 1 talent has grown to become my #1 strength because I realized that I just need time to sort through everything in my head to decide on the path forward.

Strategic Activator

Strengths SummitWell, since then I’ve learned a lot about the StrengthsFinder and eventually I opened up the full list of my 34 talent themes. Do you know what was #6? Activator. This one might be my favorite because it’s about influencing others to get started.

It’s the activator in me that gets on this blog once a week to encourage you to be who you are and offer yourself to the world. It’s the activator in me that had to write a book instead of keeping my thoughts to myself in my journal. It’s the activator in me that wants to use my head and heart to help other people figure out what’s keeping them from stepping into the fullness of their own power and message. It’s the activator in me that turns strategic planning into actionable steps.

Last month I went with the coach who encouraged me to take the assessment to the inaugural Clifton Strengths Summit in Omaha. Laurie Hock is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and I am a Strengths enthusiast. It was incredible to witness the unveiling of Gallup’s vision for how focusing on Strengths and managing weaknesses could truly change the world.

Strategic ActivatorNow, I get it. This is ME. There are a lot of things I am not, but there are a few things I am. I am a strategic activator, offering to see entrepreneurs, educational and ministerial teams, individuals and families and their situations for what they truly are and advising them on the path forward. I am here to help you connect deeply with others and have a positive impact the world. And you know what? I’m good at it.

These are my strengths.

What are yours?

And what do you want to do with them?

What Kind of Breakthrough Do You Need?

This week I’m announcing my strategic advising services and I have a special offer for you. I have 5 1-hour slots and 1 Intensive Package* available for a special Breakthrough introductory offer. This offer is only available through the end of August and it is first-come first-serve, so act NOW.

If you feel stuck and you need a breakthrough in your relationships, your identity/purpose, your writing/speaking or your purp0se-driven business this offer is for YOU.

Don’t waste any more time and money trying to figure out what to do. Book your call now.

*My Intensive Program is now full until the end of October.*

Click Here for more information!

Is Your Dream a Fairy Tale or Your Calling?

You don’t have to wait for signing day, 2025 to find out where Amelia intends to go to college to play sports. Our 9-year-old daughter is determined to be a Nebraska Husker quarterback. And if that doesn’t pan out, she plans to be Miss America. And you won’t hear her cheering for female Presidential candidates because she intends on being the first.

It’s tempting for Aaron and I to smile and shake our heads at her audacious dreams, and sometimes we do. They remind me of my own childhood dreams to travel the world singing as a Christian recording artist.

Dang, I wanted that bad.woman-690118_1280

It wasn’t until I actually went to Nashville for college and met all of the other kids with dreams like mine who had already done a ton of leg work in building connections, refining their style and promoting themselves that I realized I wasn’t cut out for the game.

But my parents let me try. They knew I would never feel at rest until I did. And though I gave up on the dream to be a recording artist long ago, I’ve continued to search for my greater purpose. And one of the most difficult questions I’ve had to wrestle with is this: How can I know when my dreams are fairy tales and when they are truly worth working toward?

You Won’t Know Until…

Last night Aaron and I caught the last half of The Matrix on TV. I was struck anew by the fact that plain old Mr. Anderson is given a new name and told he is “the one” who will save humans from the machines who have taken over the world, but he isn’t sure if he should believe it. It seems as though he is equally hopeful and terrified that it is true. The oracle tells him he isn’t “the one,” taking pressure off of him so he can realize it for himself. Through the last half of the movie he makes incremental decisions that put him in a position to call out his courage, little by little. And with each small victory, he grows in confidence of his abilities and conviction of his purpose until he owns his new name, Neo. The fascinating part to me is that he isn’t fully confident that he is “the one” until the end of the third movie when he really does defeat the machines and save the human race.

Neo’s story isn’t a new tale, it is a tried and true one. One of my favorite lines attributed to God is when God speaks to Moses in the burning bush and tells him he is “the one” who will lead the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt and into freedom. Moses goes back and forth with God, asking how in the world anyone, including Moses, would believe it. Finally God says, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:12, NIV)

And I hear this: “Look Moses. I’m telling you that I’m with you. But you will not feel completely confident that it was me until you see me set the captives free. Only when the job is done will you be able to look back and know for sure.”

Hindsight is 20/20

I know it’s hard to discern when dreams are fairy tales and when they are worth working toward. My own vision for the contribution I make to the world is constantly changing and being shaped as I take steps toward it. But I am experiencing the growth in confidence that Neo does as I make my own incremental decisions to take risks that call out my courage and calling.

How do you know if your dream is a fairy tale or worth pursuing? Friend, it is as true for you as it is for the rest of us:

  • Whether you dream of becoming an inspiring teacher, running for School Board or being the United States Secretary of Education
  • Whether you dream of speaking at a national conference, becoming a pastor or leading a small group
  • Whether you dream of being the first female President of the United States, Miss America or a Husker quarterback

You won’t know if your dream is a fairy tale or if it is your calling until you take incremental steps of faith and see where they end up leading you.

Then someday you will look back and know, that you didn’t know, until you tried.

Suggested Reading: The Art Of Work, by Jeff Goins


Escape Life or Invest In It?

Sometimes the days run together and I feel overwhelmed. I see pictures of couples headed to the beach and I’m reminded of my secret hope. When we got married we honeymooned in Estes Park. Not the honeymoon destination of dreams, really. But we had a good time and in the back of my mind I secretly thought, I’ll get him to a beach on our 10th Anniversary.


Photo by Shannon Etherton

Well, 10 years came and went and last month we celebrated that 10th Anniversary. We talked about a variety of ways to celebrate and then together we made a decision. It would be nice to escape our life, but right now we’d rather invest in it. I recently heard author Michael Hyatt say that rather than escaping his life, he wanted to create a life he didn’t want to escape from. Brilliant.

Right now, right where we are, we want to grow as people, together. Aaron and I are both highly dedicated to our individual work and we desire to feel more a part of what the other person is doing. We really want to feel like partners. And really, what better way to realign our goals and support one another than to seek out a growth getaway together?

We didn’t intend to go to Nashville together, initially. But when my original workshop was postponed from September to October (read about the Emergency Cancellation here) we decided to turn my disappointment into an opportunity for both of us, so we headed to Nashville for our 10th Anniversary Growth Getaway.

(Did I just coin a new term?! Probably not…)


We went to a small business workshop led by New York Times bestselling author, Donald Miller. We soaked in his mastery of the framework of story and how to utilize it to communicate in a variety of business related ways.


We had dinner at the new home of some old friends.


We visited Belmont College where I went to school for my freshman and sophomore years of college. He probably got tired of my amazement at how much the campus changed in 15 years, but it was really fun to show him around.


And the last night a couple of tickets opened up right before the show of the Grand Ole Opry so we could soak in the Nashville vibe.

All of our time together at the conference and seeing the sights of Nashville gave us a number of gifts that we brought home with us.

Benefits of a Growth Getaway

  1. Common Experience. I was fully planning to go to Nashville by myself, but it was so nice to create those memories with my partner.
  2. Common Language. The workshop gave us a common set of terms and ways of thinking that make it easier for us to communicate what we want to say to one another.
  3. Intentional Conversations. We had time to talk! Woohoo! But the best part was that we were able to be intentional about discussing and applying the things we learned at the workshop.
  4. Intentional Living. Our growth getaway gave us the opportunity to come home and live out the things we discussed.
  5. Partnership. Since Nashville we have felt more aligned in our mutual purpose and more actively supportive of each others’ personal endeavors.

Not every getaway will be a growth getaway for us, (someday I’ll get him to a beach!) but this year it was just what we needed.

Are you interested in a growth getaway? Watch for Born For This registration, opening soon!


CLICK HERE to receive a free 15 minute-read eBook from the creators of Born For This.

3 Dangers eBook

Stretch Into Who You Are-Like It’s Your Job

Purpose and calling may not always have a measurable reward. Stay at home parents know exactly what I’m talking about. The day-to-day humdrum of life keeps beating and they keep-on keepin’-on withoutsweetness financial reward or recognition for their often extraordinary efforts to fend off tantrums, sickness and boredom. Some of the most important jobs are not paid.

Over a year ago I desired to spend time on a curriculum on friendship that I’ve been developing for forever. Aaron and I looked at our schedule and decided that I would spend time working on it while our youngest was in preschool. Expending time and energy on it felt self-indulgent until I started thinking of writing as a part-time “job.” We decided to devote job-like time to it because it was that important to us. I wasn’t getting paid to do it, but thinking of it as my job to read, think, write and teach was freeing! It was like stretching out in a big soft bed after having been cooped up in a box – a little bit of pain, a lot of relief.

I don’t know if we really had a choice about how much time I could spend on this sort of thing while the kids were tiny. Though I’m sure I could have, I’m not going to say I should have done it a different way or that anyone who feels boxed up doesn’t have to maintain their responsibilities. I don’t want to turn stretching into running away from responsibilities for me or you. I don’t want to neglect my kids when I’m with them or prioritize writing over my family.

But I do want to prioritize it. I do want to take a hard look at the week and our commitments with my husband and come up with ways that we can each find time to stretch into who we are. The fact is that I am a better mom, wife and friend when I stretch out into these other parts of me.  Most of the time I have more energy, focus and momentum to carry out my responsibilities. And when that happens, my perspective sees beyond the tantrum or barking dogs and I interact knowing that hard moment will pass.

Things that feel self-indulgent might actually help me fulfill my calling as a family girl and a writer.

When my husband and I work together to consider how we want to spend our time, we become mutually invested in each other’s growth and purpose in life.

     Sometimes that means we don’t get what we think we want coming into the conversation because through open discussion we realize we want something else even more – time together, sanity for our partner or maybe just rest. Great team-building conversations are open like that. They aren’t demanding, they seek the best for everyone. Of course, not all of our conversations are like that! But when they are, great things happen for both of us and we strengthen our team.

Tackle It Together: Discussion ideas to explore with someone you love.

1 – What “you” sort of thing would you do if you had more time or energy? How would it help you stretch into who you are so you can offer more of YOU to the world?

2 – What box are you cooped up in? Where is there room to stretch while still maintaining your responsibilities/prioritites? What could you cut so you can add something more important to you? (Sometimes saying “yes” means saying “no” to something wonderful!) What things could you set aside for now or for the evening or for the week?

3 – If you live or work with your loved-one, how can you work together to accomplish other tasks or provide specialized time or encouragement for you to each stretch into who you are? (Maybe it’s 30 minutes, maybe it’s a whole weekend! What works this week, in this stage of life?)

I hope we can look at those we love and with all our hearts be able to say: Stretch into you like it’s your job (even if it’s a very-part-time job). 

like it's your job

What would you do more of if you could call it your job? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.