Monthly Archives: August 2013

Maybe later


Maybe later I can talk about taking my kid to college 7 hours away.


Today I’m still processing.  So here.  Read this instead and substitute socks for skirts.


On the Eve of Going to College


To my son, 18

I love him when he steps to strike the playoff-winning goal.

I love him when his room holds 9 disgusting cups and a bowl.

I love him when he hits my arm and tells a goofy tale.

I love him when his French grade hovers just above a fail.

I love him when he “later” purges items from his car.

I love him when he buys his own plane ticket, very far.

I love him when his attitude and mine don’t mesh so well.

I love him when his girlfriends’ parents like him–I can tell.

I love him when we have to go to court to make amends.

I love him when he acknowledges me to teammates and friends.

I loved his tiny baby body, eyes, neck, toes and face.

I love him all grown up & out to storm the world with grace.

The Care & Keeping of a START machete


[Thanks to fellow Starter Stephen Gutshall for contributing.]

The machete is commonly known as a large cleaver-like knife. In the START experiment, the “machete” you will use is cleverly disguised as a journal with goals, dreams, risks and tasks recorded therein.

In various tropical and subtropical countries, the machete is frequently used to cut through rain forest undergrowth and for cutting down sugar cane. In the START experiment, your machete splits open flimsy excuses, destroys inner voices that lie, and clears away the brush of average.

Because the machete is common in many tropical countries, it is often the weapon of choice for uprisings. In the START experiment some uprisings may come from without—comments from the discouraged, criticism from those with limited understanding, people who mistake your intentions.  Still other foes come from within–self-defeating statements such as not having a place at the “the cool kids table,” self-doubt, and fear.

Your START machete should be used daily.  With confidence and practice, you will become one with your weapon.

Directions for using your START Machete:

Step 1:   Sharpen your START machete.  Lubricate laser-focused thoughts with community support, like-minded adventurers, and energetic encouragement.  Match the angled edge of the blade to the surface of the obstacle and strike with medium pressure a dozen times on each side.  AKA:  “hustle”

Step 2:  Grip your START machete firmly.  Also check the security of your mental grip and maintain appropriate distance from the disillusioned complainers and generally negative people. AKA: “haters”

Step 3:   Stand close enough to your target not to require a long reach but not so close that you will have to delay your swing. Keep in mind your target may change and therefore your stance and proximity to obstacles or “average,” must also change.

Step 4:  Swing down at an angle, away from legs and feet to eliminate reckless harm to self and others who are standing bravely next to you.  Snap wrist as the widened area of the sharpened START blade meets its target.  Celebrate that you now have less obstacles than you did 3 seconds ago and are now clearly more awesome.

Step 5:   Clean off debris–old ideas and habits, and renew your START machete with the oil of pride for a job well done, a risk accomplished, a goal met.  Diligently repair and maintain your START machete for future use.  Always store your START machete nearby where you can find it when you need it again.  And you will.


START Round 2 Theme Song


So no one told me START was gonna be this way


Audacious tasks are back, extensive threads every day,

It’s like you’re always trying something new,

Well it’s time to START your dream it seems, so GO and START and DO!

I’ll be there for you!

When the journal page is blank,

I’ll be there for you!

When there’s nothing in the bank,

I’ll be there for you,

‘Cause you’re there for me too.




My main problem with goal-setting is that whole “what if” thing. So I prefer to be flexible and vague. That way, the target is HUGE and the bull’s-eye is very floppy and asymmetrical and blobish. HOORAY! I did it!  (-ish)  ‘What exactly did you do?”  Well I did this thing!  “Is that what you were trying to do?”  Well, no.  But still, YAY!

And so it goes.

The most recent challenge I made for myself I accomplished with focus and determination and not a huge amount of sacrifice, but some.

In fact, I went farther than I challenged myself.  Which made me stop and think:

  •  That “impossible” thing wasn’t as impossible as I thought.
  •  Could I have done more?
  • Sometimes cheering on other people to their goals, while inspiring, also can distract me from mine.  Or from having some of my own.

So my next set of challenges are to be AUDACIOUS ones.  That means I have to not only make some goals, but then go ALL IN.

Two ladies who inspire me on a regular basis shared a very special moment with me yesterday.  One of them captured this moment.  The other one went ALL IN.

emily beach baptism

This picture depicts how I feel most days.  Almost, but not quite.  Close enough.  Best intentions, not yet complete.

Maybe because my goals are so floppy.

But I have made some new, more specific goals.

I’m going all in.

Peace, Love & Rock-n-Roll


A few summers ago I worked for Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation in the Therapeutic Rec department.  They run a program called Camp Explore for participants from elementary through age 21 to participate in health classes, music, drama, games, science, and a whole lot more.  All of the participants have some type of special need.  Some are very talkative, some don’t talk at all.  Some are very speedy, while some don’t walk at all.  It is very hard work but also incredibly fulfilling and inspiring.

The highlight of each summer is the Talent Show on the last day of camp.  It is always a packed house–standing room only.  The parents, friends and community at large file in early, parking all around the host school.  I knew when I got my seat and program that I was in for a treat!

Camp Explore 3

There was a garage band, Taylor Swift, music from The Voice and American Idol, story time with the 3 Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf, puppets,  guitar solos, patriotic songs, and dance moves galore.

camp explore 5

The thing that I loved the most was watching great courage and unbridled joy on the faces of each participant, and the excited staff members and volunteers who support them wholeheartedly.  Also, I was surrounded by proud parents.  THAT was an environment pulsating with joy!

Camp Explore 1

I was amazed at all the participants–not just the ones on stage performing their talents, but also the ones who waited patiently in folding metal chairs with their staff through the two hour program and slideshow.  It made me think…

Sometimes it feels like the whole world is swirling around while we wait, invisible.  Each person is valued.

Other times life thrusts us into an unexpected spotlight when we’re not sure we’re ready.  Each person has risks.

Often we make noise and a racket when it’s not our turn.  Each person deserves to be noticed–in or out of the spotlight.

Camp Explore 2

Yet other times, we know our stuff backwards and forwards, say our lines and sing our songs with confidence–perfection be damned.

Before we go and after we are finished we acknowledge others, clap our hands, stomp our feet, or cheer enthusiastically for someone else when it’s their turn to shine.  Each person is an individual champion.  However, we are always more victorious together than we would ever be alone.

What I learned from the 2013 Camp Explore participants is that when it comes my turn to shine, I can proceed knowing I have prepared, and in the meantime, I cheer.

Camp Explore 4

**And when my boss asks me “Are ya busy?” I say “YES!”



This has been a summer of risk taking.  Not sky-diving, triathlon competing, bangs-cutting type risks, but risks nonetheless.

Writing:  I made a goal to write a blog post for 24 days straight which I proudly accomplished.  Some posts were silly, some were exciting, and some were just a few words long.  It wasn’t something I was afraid of, just doubtful that I could or would complete.  I discovered that the acts of pondering and refining are essential parts of writing–which I thoroughly enjoy.   I also discovered that it is important to honor, appreciate, show attention to and gratitude for good writing.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as with any art, but someone who CAN create with words is expected to do so.  With diligence and confidence and FOCUS,  I discovered that all it takes to accomplish a dream is an idea and a START.  The rest will unfold with continued hustle.

Parenting:  My oldest son graduated from high school in June.  We were worried for a while that he might not.   I believe the word “miracle” was tossed around mid-May.  As children morph into adults, they get their own ideas of what is important, what is acceptable, and what is useless.  Newsflash:  this list is generally opposite of their parent’s ideas.  My parenting risk is the process of tweaking my vision to his, allowing the extra freedom which an 18 year old craves, which is more than I want it to be.  I must avoid becoming a massive brick wall of a frowning woman dressed in a flowerdy bathrobe & hot rollers, hands on hips holding a rolling pin and shouting, “What in the world are you thinking?”  when he shares his own dreams.  Instead I must remain a voice of reason, at a time & place it will be best heard, a respected role model and life coach, and his biggest fan.  Now is the time to remember that failure, which WILL most certainly eventually come, is never final.  For him or for us.  (But thank GOD & guidance he graduated).

Church:  Our church went from a multi-site venue to a combined, portable church in a matter of weeks.  Both sites moved which meant staff came together.  We combined services which meant volunteers came together.   We changed buildings which means all the people came together.  We had to figure out how to do this different way of meeting, participating, and worshipping.  In the children’s department, where I work, we had specific obstacles to overcome.  Everyone has something to contribute though all are challenged by change.  Risk is MAXIMIZED, but kingdom risks are often the most exciting ones to take!

At Orange Conference in April, just a few weeks before our church moved, I picked up a copy of Jon Acuff’s book START, read it in 3 days, and let it roll around in the back of my mind.  The things that I recall are how it’s never too late to start chasing a dream, fear will be a LARGE enemy that deserves to be beaten down–not THAT hard to do–and that hustle is the main way to smack fears down.

How amazing that God would place this in my life right at the time I needed to beef up for some fear smack-downs?

So now after 24 days of the START experiment (a new one begins soon–highly recommend) I choose to CONTINUE.

I will CONTINUE writing daily.

I will CONTINUE hustling and focusing and succeeding.

I will CONTINUE sending children out into the world to make it better.

Now it’s time to continue.