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Bittersweet Blueberry Muffins

Like most Sunday mornings I awoke at 6:30 to start making Blueberry Muffins. Maybe it is the coffee, or the quiet of the house, or the playlist I listen to, but I always find myself thinking about life as I get out the eggs, pour the milk, and get the muffin mix ready for the cupcake pans. I wish I could say that this post will be positive, but today the muffins were bittersweet.

As you know we have blueberry muffins every Sunday morning. We have added chocolate chips muffins (after trying out a few different kinds), scrambled eggs, and sausage or bacon to our breakfast routine. Time has forced some changes on our family.

So, let me take you back a few days. One evening my oldest son asked if I remembered this song:

This was a favorite song when he was younger. His younger brother was in the living room at the time and all three of us sang along. It was a reminder of a time when life was simpler. But now, as teenage boys, they have already learned some hard lessons about life. They have had their hearts broken, they have had their trust broken by adults. And sadly, through different avenues, they have learned that hard work alone doesn’t pay off. (That is for another blog.) Yet, for a few minutes we were back in time, riding in the minivan, singing along to Kids Place Live.

Jump to this morning…

As I was making breakfast my youngest daughter appears in the living room, ready to play My Little Pony. She scampers over to the kitchen, eyes wide, smile wider, a few My Little Ponies in her hand. She asks if I am making muffins. I answer yes. She replies, “I love muffins.” Then returns to the living room to play.

As I mix the batter for the chocolate chip muffins I consider how life changes for us. No matter how much I want to be Holden and keep my children from falling off the cliff in the middle of a rye field, I know that I am helpless to do that. Even our tradition of blueberry muffins has changed because our family has.

But I smile, too, as I place the pans into the oven. Blueberry next to chocolate chip. The heart of our tradition is still there. And that won’t change, no matter how much time passes.


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Why Love

Tilte with boy running with balloons

A simple question keeps running through my head lately; ‘Why Love?”

Why anchor my life on Love?

Why not money? Why not success or pride? Why not fame? Why not Hate? These things seem to work… watch TV or YouTube to see how many times these characteristics get likes or shares. The guy tailgating me has a nicer truck than me (and I’m even in the right lane going the speed limit). I still tip even when my family is treated like nobodies at a restaurant.

Really, why not instill a selfish attitude in my children? It would be easier to send an email to the school complaining about something instead of listening to my children, asking them how they can make it better or how to work through it. I can teach them to not care about teammates or friends. The feelings and aspirations of others are not their concern. If they are going to make it in this world they have to go for theirs and pity anyone that gets in their way. There is no such thing as loyalty or dedication…

But I don’t. I do my best to choose Love.

Why Love?

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to try to answer that question through a series of posts exploring how Love works in building an incredible life.

Why Love? Join me to find out why.

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Hard Conversations

I’ve become a fan of Ben Rector. My second son, who is into electronic / dance music, actually shared his music with me. He said I would like it. He was right. Ben Rector has a song, “Like The World Is Going To End,” that has gotten me thinking. Well actually, it is a few lines from that song that got me thinking.


This idea runs through the song until in the last verse he sings that he would bring everyone he loved to California so everyone could say the things they were scared to say till then.

What really got me thinking was the idea that they wouldn’t be sharing secrets or past hurts, but speaking honestly about their love for each other. How scary is that?

How hard is it for us to tell someone how much you truly love them?  Now, I am not diminishing the power of saying “I love you” to family and friends. I’m talking about expressing our emotions openly to someone. That is hard for a few reasons. First because we have to remove all our defenses to that person. Our heart is out in the open and it bruises easily. Second, even for me, sometimes we just can’t find the words… or the words we have don’t even come close to revealing the depth of our feelings. Even as a poet, I can not tell my wife how beautiful she is when she smiles as she plays or interacts with our children. Or explain to my little girls the rush I get when they run to hug me when I get home.

Back to the song. Back to the idea that Ben Rector is sharing in the song. We should be telling our family and friends how much they mean to us, how much we love them. We should do this more than we do. No matter how hard it is. How scared we are to open up. Because I love how he ends the line, “till then.” In the song he is referencing the idea that the world is going to end. But I feel that he is also hinting at that once you decide to share your love with others you’ll wonder why you waited.

I hope you have some hard conversations today because

“Now that I think about it. Maybe we should always live like the world is gonna end.”
-Ben Rector



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What is the day?

What is the date?


We remember yesterday. We are living today. I can plan for tomorrow.

These are so easily marked off on a calendar…


Maybe the hardest day to understand and the most destructive word in our vocabulary.

I apologize, I can’t remember where I heard the quote by Steve Mazan posted above.  But it has been infecting my thinking the last couple of days.

SOMEDAY is defined by Merriam-Webster as:  at some time in the future.

The sentence example provided for students is: Someday I’ll travel.

And there is the problem, the destructive aspect of the word. And why it is so easy to use when we discuss our goals. Someday provides us a false sense of confidence. It sounds like we are working on our dreams. Someday I will write that book. Someday I will open that business. Someday I will visit my friend in Minneapolis (or any other place that fits your situation).

But let’s be honest, once we speak this ‘someday’ statement it is usually followed by our escape conjunction, ‘but,’ followed by an articulated excuse. An excuse that helps us rationalize our failure to achieve our goals. Sadly, the person whom we are speaking with will shake their head in agreement. And too many times, they will share their ‘someday’ goal followed with the escape conjunction and their own practiced excuse.

It’s a vicious cycle. It is hard to break. Steve Mazan has an idea built into his insight. He is correct, SOMEDAY is not found on a calendar. But your goal can be found on a calendar. Write it down on the day you want to accomplish it by. Simple. The hard part is to hold yourself accountable to that date. You have to let go of the false confidence of SOMEDAY and embrace the honest sense of pride you will gain by working on your goals.

You can make your life better, someday. Or you can mark your calendar for today.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section and share this post with others.



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Base Level


Theme from a past year for the Centura track team.

As a track coach I had my athletes set goals before every meet. There were three levels. Great, Good, and OK. Their goals could be a time, distance, or even a specific aspect like not hitting any hurdles. When considering their goals, the athletes had to think about how the week of practice went, how they had performed in past meets, how their health was at the moment, and other life issues that could affect their performance.

Next step was to set their expectations and write out their goals at the three levels mentioned above.


This goal was to be set at a realistic level, but also knowing that it would take a high level of performance to achieve. Everything would have to go right for them to achieve it.


This was the performance they should expect. A little background knowledge needed here. My athletes knew the training schedule for the whole season.  They also knew that the goal of the training schedule was to have them performing at their best at the district meet to give them a shot at qualifying for the state meet. So, some weeks of practice were difficult and the athletes should expect a different time or distance during those weeks.


Even though this level seems OK, this level was the most important level for them to set. This was the base level they would accept for themselves.  They would not allow themselves to perform any lower than this goal. The reason for this level was to help them handle the rough spots in athletics and life. They might have had their boyfriend break up with them. They might have gotten grounded. They might have been fighting a cold.  Instead of letting the rough spot ruin the track meet, I asked my athletes to set a base level.  Anything worse is just not an option. A rough spot can take away a whole track meet for an athlete if they don’t have a level of expectation for themselves.

But so many times in life we let a rough spot steal away a moment from our lives. We have bad days, but letting that negative moment take away everything else is worse. I don’t expect you or even myself to set goals every day, but creating a habit of considering how life has been going, being realistic, and fostering a level of expectation from yourself that you will not fall below, will allow you to be ready to experience something great.

At the end of the track meet my athletes had to share how their day went with me or their event coach. (I had a place on the goal sheet for coaches to initial.) In all they years I coached, there were a few times an athlete performed below their OK goal. But I never had an athlete perform below their OK level twice. What I miss the most this year is seeing the joy the athletes experience when they performed at their Great level. So many times they shared how they had a rough week but were not going to let the circumstance get to them and that mindset lead to a Great performance.

What is your base level?

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I get lost sometimes, really I do

The noise and commotion of life

Drowns out the simplest direction


To love each other


I find myself walking in circles

Even if it is just in my head

Wondering why it gets so dark


To see the path


I would ask a friend

But everyone seems like a stranger

Busy going nowhere


To help me find my way


So I stand here or there

Trying to hear, trying to see

But others just knock me down


To  the ground


I get lost sometimes, really I do

But through the noise and commotion

I try to follow the simplest direction


To love…


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Storm DamageIt was 2 o’clock Sunday morning and I was feeding my youngest a bottle. I could see lightening flash between the curtains. The wind picked up and I carried my daughter with her bottle to the front door so I could remove our flower decoration before it started to bang against the door. This summer has been active with major storms. As I sat feeding my daughter and listening to the storm, I started to think about the trees. We have a park about a mile away that had a number of trees that were damaged from the last couple of storms. Sunday’s storm didn’t sound too intense, but I wondered if there would be any more trees damaged.

And as thoughts at 2 in the morning can become deep, I started to think of us, people, as trees.

Let’s take a pause for a second to understand how I started to think about people as trees. At the moment I’m reading One Yard Short by Les Steckel. I’m at the point where the Patriots fired him in 1988 and he is talking about being broken from a few rough years of coaching.

I have had a tough transition to losing my head coaching position in May. But this post is not about how dreams change, that is for a later post.

This post is a reflection on why trees get damaged in storms.

Sunday's StormThe picture above is from Sunday. It is a tree in the park I mentioned above. The tree has withstood all the other severe storms through the summer. So why did the Sunday morning storm, which was calm compared to others we have experienced, take down the tree?

Why didn’t other trees have damage?

Why did the already damaged trees stand strong through Sunday’s storm?

I don’t have an answer.

Just as I don’t know which “storm” in life will bring a person down. We never know which storm we will be able to withstand, to be strong through, and which storm may break us. Even if it is a smaller storm.

In the park there are trees that seem to have not been affected by any of the storms. Why? All the trees experienced the same winds, the same rain, but each storm damaged different trees.

In our lives we are faced with all kinds of storms. And we prepare for them, we strengthen our character, consider the consequence of our actions, but we really don’t know which storm my totally uproot us.

What I do know is that storms will come, and that we may experience damage, but unlike trees we have family and friends to help pick up the leaves and branches. To help get our roots back into the ground and help us grow stronger before the next storm.




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