The Ordinary Project understands that regular people are the ones truly leaving their mark on this crazy world–marks of courage and hope, selflessness and sacrifice, love and faith.
And, while we will never be able to acknowledge every single unsung hero, my mission with The Ordinary Project is to do exactly as the name suggests: recognize and honor those ordinary people who are coloring the world a more beautiful place, simply because they believe it should be done, typically without any promise of reward or even acknowledgement.
I have a small list of ordinaries whose stories I hope to share, but I would be honored if you chose to send me the names and contact information of ordinary people in your own life that deserve to be known! You may do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you: TJ and Shanna Meyer.
I should really stop saying “this story is so close to my heart,” because I’m sure you can guess that all of these already are!
*But* The Meyer family’s story really is. TJ was my high school principal, and Shanna was one of my high school English teachers. And, coming from such a small, close-knit community, it has been easy to feel a personal connection with their story. I’m so grateful for the time Shanna took in answering my questions!
Best part of job? Most challenging?
Shanna:Best– relationships with studentsMost Challenging– NeSA, ACT… focus on testingTJ:Best–kidsMost Challenging- kids 🙂
What is your favorite thing about your family?
Our faith in Jesus and our crazy passion for Duke basketball 🙂 Two very unrelated favorites 🙂
Can you tell me more about your family? What challenges have you been facing recently?
In June, TJ was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, (GBM) which is a very rare and aggressive type of brain tumor. His tumor is located in the speech and communication center of his brain, which makes daily communication taxing and difficult. Because of the tumor location, it is currently inoperable. There are currently many many promising glioblastoma trials, but there have been no real medical advancements ( curatively) in eliminating this type of tumor in recent years.
It’s a frightening situation also to our family specifically as TJ’s dad died of this type of brain tumor six years ago.
What has been the most difficult thing about this challenge?
The “unknown” has easily been the most difficult aspect of this diagnosis. The unknowns about what the future looks like for our careers, our children, our family and our finances are extremely difficult. I’m a planner and control freak, so being unable to control, or fix this situation has seemed unbearable at times.
Have there been any unexpected blessings from this challenge? What are they?
There have been numerous unexpected blessings.1.The biggest is just the presence of God’s grace. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but it’s a grace that allows us to face each day, when realistically we would crumble under these circumstances. God has given us a peace and a grace that truly “transcends OUR HUMAN understanding” as described in Philippians 4:6-8.2.Another huge blessing is the love and outpouring of others into our lives. It’s just unbelievable to see others so unselfishly give to our family and kids during such a trial. Our church and school families have been such a blessing. They’ve provided drivers for treatment, numerous meals, prayers and just daily love to our hearts.
How would you define an ordinary hero?
One who does ordinary things in extraordinary ways
Would you consider yourself to be an ordinary hero? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t consider myself an ordinary hero, but I most definitely think TJ is. The way he leads, parents, loves is always in an extraordinary way. He is always the last one to complain and the first one to praise. I don’t know another person that truly “walks the walk” in the way he does.
[side note: YES, Shanna is a hero by all definitions 🙂 ]
What is your life motto/a quote that your family chooses to live by?
Romans 12:12, (love the NLT version)“Rejoice in our confident HOPE, Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying!”
How has your recent challenge made you a stronger person/family?
Since TJ’s diagnosis, we’ve just been very thankful for each other. The four of us actually all “like” each other in additional to loving one another. As a family, we’ve also been intentional about talking about where our true HOPE lies. I know that this sounds strange to say, but it’s been a really cool thing to see our kids and how they are dealing with this “new normal.” As parents we always hope and prayer and desire that our kids would place their relationship with Christ as the MOST important thing, but when you get to see that lived out, in the desert, in the wilderness……it’s a pretty cool thing to watch.
If you could turn back time, would you? Why or why not?
Of course we would love to not be facing this trial in our life, but ultimately, God has seen this day before us, today and everyday is a part of His sovereign plan, so no, we wouldn’t turn back time.
What are you most grateful for at this point in life?
Having a HOPE that goes beyond what we hope for in this world. Biblical HOPE is certain, it is known, it is assured. That’s what keeps us going.
Who has impacted you the most and how?
I would say TJ has impacted Bragan, Jensyn and I the most because he is the reason we all have a personal relationship with Christ. I know that TJ would say his dad. His dad was the one person that lived out Jesus on a daily basis. Everyone that knew him got that.
If you were able to leave a lasting legacy or impact on those who hear your story, what would you want it to be?
The things that matter in life…. do it right.