Life has a way of taking us by surprise, and living it richly has a lot to do with how we handle those surprises. Life's thrown me plenty of curves, like selling my business and floundering for years in search of a new sense of self or leaving behind my single life to become a new stepmom to four children. And I've learned that the more I can embrace the change, the richer my life becomes. Each transformation brought unexpected changes into my home and my life that proved to be lifetime rewards. Every time I let go of the past and jumped into my new life feet first, however scary it was at the time, my life's grown by leaps and bounds in ways I never could have imagined, and always for the better.
I asked you to share your inspirational stories about how you've welcomed the transformations in your lives, and wow did you respond! I heard heartbreaking tales of unexpected illness, of liberation, of setbacks, and of triumph. Mostly I was impressed by your selfless need to think of others, be it family members, friends, or even complete strangers. It was nearly impossible for me to single out just one story from among so many more than deserving entries! But the winner I selected has clearly learned the art of gratitude and generosity. Her story demonstrates how she consistently views the world through the lens of "what can I do to make a difference here?" Her selflessness shines even in the project she has planned for the $10,000 first prize: a new kitchen—not for her own home, where she's welcoming a back-to-the-nest daughter as well as a homeless woman who's getting back on her feet, but for her local Lutheran Church.
Lisa walked off her job when her best friend, a mother of four, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Hers was an act of selflessness and a leap of faith that led her to start a food, toiletry, hygiene, and cleaning product pantry for families battling cancer. Lisa, an everyday hero, plans to use the prize money to revamp the kitchen at her Lutheran Church to better serve so many needy families in search of help!
For those of you who missed it, we've included Lisa's story below. Congratulations to her, to our two $1,000 runner-ups—Janet from Oregon, whose husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and Linda from Georgia, whose life has been turned upside down by divorce and death—and to everyone who shared their life-change story with us.
I recently walked off my job because my best friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She has four children and I felt the strong need to be there for her. Both my husband and I are licensed practical nurses and he has taken over the bills. I went to all of Kim's chemo treatments and met so many people struggling with financial, individual, and environmental cleanliness issues and needing education and support on good nutrition and infection control.
I have founded the first-of-its-kind food, toiletry, hygiene and cleaning product pantry for Cancer Families in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. We also have taken in a homeless woman who needs to get on her feet. She has found a job and doing better. My son is having a baby in February and my daughter has decided to move home. Fun, crazy chaos!
I would love to have a new kitchen - however the kitchen at St James Lutheran Church needs much more to help the Cancer Families. Please give it a whirl and see if it would be OK to give back the $10,000 to our community by revamping the kitchen at the church to help many struggling families in need during a horrific battle. Thank you and God Bless you for thinking about making a difference in the lives of cancer families!