Live, Laugh and Love

It has been weeks since I have sat down to share my thoughts. That is by design. We completed our fourth year of volunteer service in May and, at that time, we made the decision to enter a quiet time. A time filled with reflection and prayer as we seek the next, correct step in this incredible journey. The last four years have been life changing for our family and we cherish each and every experience. It has sparked a passion inside us that we did not know existed. We have a burning desire to help, inspire and encourage others and that desire is what will drive us into the next phase of Impact 52. We are working on something new. We are dreaming big. We are preparing to walk out in faith to chase our dreams and impact lives. We are fully committed to our mission and our life’s purpose. We are excited about what is to come.

While we continue to work on our future plans, I wanted to share something that has been on my heart over the last few days. I can simply say it this way:

Live every moment, laugh every day and love beyond words.


Live every moment! We must live every moment of our lives with purpose. We cannot become lifeless zombies stumbling through life. We must not become numb to those around us and the happenings in our community. So often we become so wrapped up in our “stuff”, our own problems, that we fail to see the hurt that exists around us. We gaze upon it, but we really don’t see it. Our busy lives and monotonous routines lead us down a path of absence. We are there, but we are not there. We must BE PRESENT every moment of life. I write this today because it starts with me. Over the last few years I became so obsessed with helping others that I failed to see the need that existed under my own roof. Both of my daughters battled bouts with depression. They experienced dark, dark days and even darker nights. I was aware of their fight, but I was not present enough to understand just how deep and dangerous it was. They cried out and I failed to respond. MaKenna began to self-harm by burning and cutting herself. She even made an attempt to end her life through overdose. It was then that I realized what I had missed. Friends, do not make the same mistakes that I have made. BE PRESENT in the lives of your family, your friends and everyone around you. There are hurts that need healing and you just need to be present to see it.

Laugh every day! Life is difficult. Anyone who tells you different is lying. We all have daily battles and challenges. We are always dealing with something. A family member is struggling with cancer. You are having issues with co-workers. A friend’s brother passed away. Your bank account reads zero and you have bills to pay. Your child is bullied at school and the anxiety it causes leads him down a path of destruction. I could go on and on about the REAL life challenges that we face. Day after day, we navigate through a mine field of negativity in this world. It will consume us and destroy us if we let it. Friends, we must make it a priority to laugh, and make others laugh, every day. The world needs more laughter and the joy that comes from it. I have a daily goal to see Erica and the girls smile and laugh. They need it. I need it. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that it happens. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Kenna’s phone sometime. She has many videos of me dancing, singing and/or acting like a clown as proof. There is no better sound in the world than hearing my family laugh. We all must understand how powerful laughter is and make creating smiles a priority. If not, life will eat us alive.

Love beyond words! LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. The world needs it more now than ever before. We live in a world that is consumed with hate. I am a firm believer that there is more love in the world than there is hate. Unfortunately, we just aren’t good at showing it. We must love. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Love your church. Love your co-workers. Love your enemies. Our communities need us to care and they need us to love. Please know, it isn’t about the words. It is about the action. We must love beyond the words. Help. Assist. Serve. Encourage. Let people know that they are not alone and that you love them.

It starts with me. I hope you will join me in making our world a better place.


Are You Willing To Be Inconvenienced and Uncomfortable?

If you are like me you want to be a good person. You strive to do the right things. You work to be a good citizen and a good friend. You want to be the best version of you that you can be. We want to be a light for others. We desire to offer support, encouragement, and a helping hand when needed. We strive to be kind, open-hearted and gracious. We want to be there for people, especially friends and family, when they need us. We say things like “we are here if you need us”, “let me know how we can help”, “give me a call if you need anything”, and “you are in my prayers” during times of crisis, personal challenge, and loss. But do we mean it? Are we speaking truth when we speak these words or are we saying what we want others to hear? Are we just saying what a friend “should” say?” Are we simply trying to be a good person?

I find myself asking these questions. What are the motives behind my words of comfort and support? Are they real or not? We all should pause for a moment to reflect on those moments when we have uttered those words I mentioned above. Were they true? Were you willing to do anything? Were you really willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable?

Are you willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable

A dear family friend’s son recently spent time in the hospital. I sent him a text that said “we are here if you need anything” one night at 11pm. He responded with a simple thank you and a few words of appreciation.  But, what if he would have responded “that is great Aaron. I really need help. Could you drive to Indy to pick up my mom from the airport? She gets in at 2am.” What would I have done? Was I willing to help by doing anything?

A young man who I know has been struggling with life decisions and battling depression. His mother worries that he may self-harm himself. I have spoken with him many times and remind him constantly that “I am here” and “call me when you need me”. Will I answer if he calls me at 3am and I am in deep sleep? Will I jump out of bed and go to him in his time in need or will I tell him it will be okay and roll over and go back to sleep?

A man who I have known since I was in elementary school recently lost his wife. I commented on his Facebook page that I was thinking about he and the family during that time and that he was in my prayers. I wasn’t the only one. There were hundreds of people who wrote similar comments. Did they, did I, mean it? Would I really pray for he and the family? What about the hundreds of other people? Are they going to stop what they are doing in that moment and pray for them? Do they have a notebook that they use to write down prayer requests to use later? My bet, many will not pray for him. It was just their way offering support. Support through words, not action.

Have you found yourself in similar situations? Have you considered the “what ifs” when making these statements of support. Have you, do you, follow through when called upon? I encourage you to reflect and consider what your actions would be. Are you speaking truth or just saying what a friend is supposed to say?

One thing that I have learned over the last five years is this…..putting others first is inconvenient and uncomfortable. When you volunteer and serve others you encounter situations that are uncomfortable and their need usually does not fit your schedule. As a friend, you are put in situations that you are ill-equipped to handle. You see things that you will never forget. You are asked to do things that you once thought impossible.It is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Being a good person, a good friend, means being inconvenienced and uncomfortable.

I have asked a lot of questions in this post. I have one more to ask you:

Are you REALLY willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable? I hope the answer is simple.

Yes. Yes I am.

To Live Good You Need To Be Good

We all want the good life. A life that is filled with happiness and joy, family and relationships, success and comfort. Although we all have different views and opinions on what makes a life good, we can all agree that we want it. We hunger for it. At times we obsess over it. The question is, are we willing to work for it? Are we willing to do what is necessary to live the life that we want? Are we willing to be the people that we need to be to experience the life that we deserve?

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time thinking through this and examining my own life. There is no doubt that I am living a good life. I have an amazing family, great job, awesome relationships, a supportive church, and so much more that makes life good. But why me? Why am I so lucky? I think I know the answer and it is simple. I have made the decision to be GOOD.

Be Grateful. Appreciate what you have and spend less time worrying about what you don’t have. Your life is filled with blessings. Take the time to pause to see them. Look past the clouds to see the sun. It is there, you just don’t look for it. Say thank you more. I believe that two of the most powerful words in our language are “thank you”. Use them. Lastly, Be grateful for each and every day you are given on this earth. Each day is truly a gift. It could be over in a moment. Remember that and live each day on purpose with purpose.

Be Outstanding. It all starts with attitude. You have probably heard people say that your attitude determines your altitude. It is true. If you maintain an attitude of “Outstanding” there is nothing that you cannot handle. There is no obstacle too large, no hurdle too high. Living a life with a great attitude makes you a person of influence. No one wants to be around negative people. They want to surround themselves with positivity. They value the opinions and words of positive people which leads to opportunities for life change and inspiration. My commitment to living a life of outstanding started many years ago. I don’t have to think about my attitude today. It just happens.

Be Original. This is simple. Be you. Stop trying to be someone else. Stop worrying about what other have, what others think, what others say, or what others do. Focus on being you. You are special. You are different. You are unique. You are an original. You were made to be you. I know that I am an original. I am weird and strange, and that is okay. I am a mutant and I embrace it. You should too. Embrace your mutations and be an original.

Be a Doer. Take action and make things happen. Don’t sit back and wait for others to do something. Step up and act. Get in the game and get off of the sidelines. Trust me, the game is a lot more fun and exciting if you are playing and not watching. You have the ability to change your life if you are will to be a doer. Words are good, but actions are great.

Listen, I do not have all the answers. I am not an expert on anything. I have issues and problems life everyone else. I will say, however, that my dedication to being GOOD has changed my life. Each and every day I strive to be grateful for the people in my life and the blessings that surround me. I commit to being outstanding and promoting the positive. That has led to a position of influence in life where I can make a difference for others. I embrace my mutations and be an original. I am me and I am happy with that. Lastly, I work to be a doer. When I see a need I try to fill it. When something needs to be done, I step up to do it. I will not sit back and wait for things to happen. I will make them happen.

I encourage you to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you are being the person you want to be. Challenge your self to be GOOD each and every day. When you do, you will experience the good life. Doors will open. Relationships will flourish.  Challenges will be overcome. Your life will change.

Be GOOD and live the good life.

We Must Be Present In Schools

We must be present in schools.

We must be present in schools.

We must be present in schools.

Say it to yourself over and over again. Write it on the blackboard 100 times like school punishments of old. We must engrave it in our brains and etch it in our hearts. We, as a community, must be present in our schools.

The landscape of public schools has changed a lot over the years. The small schoolhouse classrooms of “Little House on the Prairie” have transformed into classrooms that are full and literally busting at the seams. Poverty continues to grow and studies show that almost 1 in 4 children are living at or below the poverty line in the United States. Students who are not getting enough to eat or enough sleep cannot focus on their education. They struggle and ultimately fall behind leading them to dropout of school. Increases in technology (social media and cell phones especially) have made bullying easier than ever. Children can hide behind their smart phone or a computer screen as they torment and destroy other children. Attitudes and behavior are at all-time low inside the four walls of a school. Students regularly disrespect teachers and administration. Drugs and alcohol, rape, and assault have replaced talking too much, chewing gum, and running in the halls as “common” school behavior problems. Budget cuts and lack of funding have reduced the size of school staff and services provided for students. Lastly, parent involvement, in many cases, is not where it needs to be. In fact, it is non-existent in many schools around the country.

Does this sound like a successful recipe for academic success? The answer is simple: NO. We cannot sit back and let it continue. Our children deserve better. It isn’t the responsibility of schools and teachers to fight this battle alone. It is going to take a community to see real change. It is going to take you and me, our friends, families, co-workers, and anyone else we can recruit to make this happen. We all have to be involved.

Impact 52 in the classroom

We have had the opportunity over the last two weeks to work inside elementary schools in the Fort Wayne area. We’ve spent time working with kindergarten students, reading to a 3rd grade classroom, and teaching a Junior Achievement program to a group of 5th graders. The experiences were enjoyable yet eye-opening. Each time we go in we are reminded of the challenges teachers face daily in educating our children. It is not easy. Teachers have one of the most difficult, and important, jobs in our country. Being in the classroom renewed our appreciation for the work they do, the time they spend, and the lives they change.

Impact 52 supports Junior Achievement

We were also reminded of the impact that we can make when we get involved. Children love having visitors in the classroom. They crave our attention, our approval, and our validation. They want us to be there and they need us to be there. Our presence gives children a vision of the future. A look at what they can be. We are firm believers that children cannot BE it if they cannot SEE it. They need to see successful professionals. They need to witness caring adults. They must experience more positive interactions and less of the negative. We make an impact by just showing up in a classroom. We make a difference by showing students that we care. Trust me. It is true.

It is a very easy to get involved in our area schools. We are blessed to have many great organizations in our community that provide opportunities in this arena. You could become a School Buddy with Big Brothers Big Sisters and eat lunch with a child once a week in the school cafeteria. You can become a Junior Achievement volunteer and teach children about business, entrepreneurship, and the global economy. You can become a classroom helper and tutor through the Associated Churches Rising Stars program. If you are a man, sign up for Real Men Read and show young boys how important reading is to future success. If you are business or church leader, become a Study Connections site and help students with their homework after school and build life-changing relationships. Or just go to your local school and inquire about how you can get involved. If you live in another part of the country or a different part of the world, I guarantee that similar programs exist for you as well. Search them out and get involved.

We have an unwavering commitment and passion for children. We must do our part to ensure that all children live the lives that they deserve. We have many school visits planned to share a positive message and our children’s book Linnie Mae’s New Friends. Three more books have been written and are in our plan to make a difference in public schools. Each contains a positive message that all children need to hear. We will continue to volunteer in schools as often as our schedule allows. Our hope, and prayer, is that you will do something too. Together we can impact the lives of students in our communities if we commit to the cause and eliminate the excuses that hold us back.

We are ready to get inside schools. Are you?


2015: The Journey Continues

We are already eleven days into the new year. Can you believe it? Time sure does move fast and life will pass us by if we do not stop and enjoy it. 2014 was a good, but challenging, year for our family and this project. We experienced negative and positive, joy and happiness, pain and heartache, personal struggles and doubt, accomplishments and wonderful achievements, and the unknown. To say that the year, and our life, was hectic would be an accurate statement.

We worked with many new nonprofits and causes that positively impact the lives of people in our community. Through these activities we, as a family, experienced growth and personal healing. Serving the community and loving people helped us through the challenges that I mentioned above. Loving and helping people gives us great joy. Joy that leads to smiles when days are tough. Joy that shines bright like the sun when the storms of life are shaking the house. There is definitely self-healing in serving others. We all experienced that firsthand last year.

Impact 52 logo

We continue to receive the support of so many people. This blog has touched over 150 countries around the world. It may be close to 200, but we have lost track at this point. We received emails, Facebook messages, and tweets that offered so many words of encouragement. With the positive came the negative. We were called “media whores” and “self-centered” at different times throughout the year. I personally was accused of wanting attention, patting myself on the back, and being fake on different occasions. I was told that my “outstanding” attitude was too positive to be believed. I was cursed and called names because I think that I am better than others. Some believe that this project only exists for us to feel good about ourselves. Those people think that we only do what we do and say what we say because we want attention. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but their words will not penetrate our armor. They can believe and say what they want. That is fine with us. It will not deter us from our mission to make a difference.

The year ended with volunteer activities with organizations like the Salvation Army and Karing for Kids where we rang the bell and played Santa Claus. We didn’t write about those weeks. Actually, there were 5 or 6 weeks of service activities that we didn’t write blog posts about. There are reasons for it and some are excuses. As I type this particular blog post we are re-evaluating how we continue to move forward in regards to sharing our story. As the project gains momentum, it continues to morph into something new.

We are excited about the new year. We have no idea where the path will lead and what will happen with this project. We do know that the journey will continue. We will continue to try to make a difference in this world. We will pursue our passion to positively impact the lives of others. We will challenge you, and others, to eliminate excuses and take action in your communities. We will offer our encouragement and speak life-giving words into the ears of those who will listen. We will continue on being who we are. And that is the Brown family. We may not share everything through this blog, but it we will continue to do what we do. We will continue to embrace our roles as world-changers.

I want to take a minute to encourage you to live the life YOU want in 2015. Do the things you want to do. Spend time with the people you want to spend time with. Do not buy into the negative words of others. Do not let self-doubt rob you of the life you deserve. You deserve to live the life you want. That life is there for the taking if you choose to grab it. Stop making excuses and go after it.

Blessings to you and your families for a healthy and happy 2015. We hope that you will put others first this year. By doing so, the year will be awesome for many. You and everyone around you!

Day 25: Gift of Love

Christmas Day is one of our favorite days of the year. It is a day that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a day where we gather with family to create memories that will last a lifetime. For the third year, Christmas day is the culmination of an unbelievable adventure in giving. Our 25 Days of Giving came to a close as we gave a gift of love.

After opening gifts at our home we made a stop at the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. We delivered homemade cookies and Rice Krispie treats for the residents and staff. We were able to hand them out as we offered our wishes for a merry Christmas. It was great morning. We enjoyed seeing men who have become our friends. It was awesome to see the smiling facing and to hear that their lives continue to stay on the right track.

Impact 52 visits the mission on Christmas

Christmas morning seems like the perfect time to reach out to those in need. We are so glad we decided to add the Mission into our holiday festivities. I foresee it becoming a new tradition for the Brown family.

We hope you had a very merry Christmas with family and friends. We hope you gave a gift of love.  Merry Christmas!

Day 24: Neighborly Gift

Good neighbors make great neighborhoods. People make the difference. We have been extremely lucky over the years to have great neighbors. Neighbors who weren’t just good neighbors, but good friends too.

Tonight, for Day 24 of 25 Days of Giving, we spent some time delivering goodies to our neighbors and former neighbors. It was a small way of saying thank you for the relationships, we are thinking of you, and wishes for a merry Christmas.

Impact 52 tries to be good neighbors

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and it is the 25th, and final, day of our giving adventure. We are calling it a Gift of Love. Simply, give a family member or someone else a gift from the heart. We have something special planned and we are looking forward to making a stop tomorrow morning to deliver a big gift of love before we head out to our family Christmas.

Merry Christmas friends!


Day 23: Fill the Red Kettle

In 1891, the Salvation Army used the first red kettle to change to support and feed the destitute and poverty-stricken of San Francisco during the holidays. Today, red kettles are located all over the world and more than 4 million people are assisted during the holidays in the United States alone. The contributions made by the general public allow the organization to provide year-round services like drug/alcohol and prisoner rehabilitation, disaster relief, and Christmas charity.

Impact 52 filled the red kettle

Each Christmas we do our part by donating to the many bell ringers that volunteer their time to make a difference. Day 23 of the 25 Days of Giving was dedicated to filling the red kettle. We made donations at multiple sites throughout the city while thanking the bell ringers that volunteered their time to make a difference in our community.

Day 24, Christmas Eve, is called Neighborly Gift. Make a homemade gift or bake some goodies and deliver them to neighbor. Remember, good neighbors make great neighborhoods.

Day 22: Hero Appreciation

Day after day, men and women put their lives on the line to protect and serve our community and our country. Police officers, firefighters, EMS, and soldiers in our armed forces deserve our gratitude. They need to know how much we appreciate them and their willingness to put it all on the line for us. Today, we tried to do that.

Day 22 of the 25 Days of Giving was called Hero Appreciation and it was dedicated to saying thank you to the brave men and women mentioned above. We created care packages featuring Erica’s famous baked treats, snacks, candy, popcorn, and other items. We spent the evening delivering them to fire stations and police posts. The response was great as those we interacted with really appreciated us for remembering them today.

Impact 52 says thank you to heroes

One particular fire station really touched us. The battalion chief greeted us at the door and instantly he remembered us from previous years. He welcomed us in and engaged us in conversation. The twinkle in his eye as he shared kind words of thanks and gratitude shined bright. It was obvious that our package of goodies meant something to he and his team. It was a special moment that we will not forget.

Tomorrow we will Fill the Red Kettle for Day 23. We will make it point to visit the Salvation Army bell ringers around town to make a few donations. We hope that you will too. It is an easy way to support your local community.

Day 21: Lottery Ticket

Day 21 was about saying Merry Christmas through a lottery ticket. We purchased 20 $1 scratch-off lottery tickets, put them in cards, and distributed them throughout the city. We left some windshields at the store. We gave some to those working the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. Some were given to strangers as we passed on the sidewalk. Others were distributed at our church after the Christmas program.

Impact 52 hands out lottery tickets

It wasn’t much. It was an extremely simple gesture. Simple, but not small. As with everything we do in our lives, the potential impact of that act is huge. What if one of the recipients scratched off the card to find a $500 prize? Or maybe a $100 prize? That could be life-changing for someone this Christmas season. That is our hope. We hope that some (maybe all) of the tickets are big winners because, as we wrote in the cards, all of the recipients deserve it.

Tomorrow is Day 22 and it is Hero Appreciation. We want to express our gratitude to men the women who serve our communities and our country. Whether it is homemade baked goods, snacks and treats, or a note of thanks, take time to thank the men and women who commit their lives to service. Now, more than ever, it a great time to do it.


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