Grow Love

Grow Love

Coaching the good

Recently I noticed a picture of a creative art project on Pinterest. (And I am determined to make it a reality in my home.) On repurposed pallet wood, someone painted the phrase, “BELIEVE THERE IS GOOD IN THE WORLD.” The clever part is the font colors and placement of letters, so that one’s eye is drawn to the call, “BE THE GOOD.

“Be the good.” Demonstrate the good. Model the good. As I think about this, youth sports come to mind. Most of us recognize that athletes benefit from the team experience, learning the value of hard work and team effort. As the adage goes, “together everyone achieves more.” Everyone has a role to play. By facing and overcoming individual challenges, each member of the team grows as part of the journey toward a common goal. Each player discovers what it means to contribute, to be part of something bigger than him or herself. They see that the better they work together, the better they become as a team. Together they experience success and learn how to deal with temporary setbacks and losses.

Clearly, none of this could happen without coaches. Coaches teach the game. Coaches train their athletes each practice to do it right – to practice as they play. Coaches instruct on the “X’s and O’s.” Coaches expect and encourage an athlete’s best performance (and not always in the most gentle voices). Coaches provide an environment of structure, accountability, and expectation of success- both on and off the field.

Quite often the families of the coaching staff wrap their arms collectively around the players and coaches. They share their love and support as an extended family.

Many of us have benefitted from this experience as an athlete and/or as a parent observing a child’s development and increased confidence. Regardless of life situation, every athlete has a need to mature in some way, an untapped desire to become a better version of himself, and the team helps him get there.

What so many of us can’t fathom, however, are the extraordinary challenges that some student athletes face on a day to day basis. Children whose life experiences are beyond our scope of reality. For them, this TEAM experience of family may be the only consistent GOOD in their lives.

  • Good in teammates who provide encouragement to rise to a challenge and who tutor if that challenge is in the classroom.
  • Good in teammates who make sure you get to practice on time.
  • Good in coaches who make sure you have the gear you need.
  • Good in coaches who ask specifics about classes and explain how a GPA works, that you need to start strong and stay strong.
  • Good in coaches who tell it straight about what’s OK and what’s not OK.
  • Good in coaches who tell young men that they have choices to make and that those choices define them, regardless of temptation and opportunities.
  • Good in coaches who give rides home to stranded players and by doing so, better understand home situations that may have otherwise gone undetected.
  • Good in coaches who monitor whether a player has a stable roof over his head and then don’t hesitate to open up their own homes.

Recently, a local high school football player was interviewed after a tough state semi-final loss. He talked about the team as his family. He shared, several times, that his teammates and coaches kept him out of trouble. This young man has been part of the GOOD for four years. I pray that he carries it forward as well as he carried the football all season. I pray that all his teammates embrace the opportunities ahead with the same intensity and realize that their success on the field is just the beginning.

So, thank you to all the coaches and their families for making a difference and for feeling that it is a privilege to do so. Thank you for being the GOOD. Thank you for giving your time, energy and hearts for the betterment of our kids. Thank you for growing love. Because of you, many who might not have thought so otherwise, really do believe there is good in the world.


Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?  And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”       –Matthew ‪18:12-14

Categories: Accountabilabuddies, friendship, Grow Love, Team Lift, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friendship Cruise Control

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”Thomas Aquinas

My parents (who are in their late 70s) were 8 hours into their drive to the west coast to board a cruise ship to Mexico when they realized that they failed to pack their passports. My stepfather, who takes everything in stride, said they’d circle back home to get them and start the journey over.

Turns out, that wasn’t necessary. After a brief phone conversation on a different topic, close friends of theirs presented a solution that my parents hadn’t imagined possible. The friends said they’d retrieve the passports and meet them halfway.

Dennis and Margery didn’t just empathize with my parents’ situation or float an offer; they stated how they were going to help. So, they rearranged their plans and drove 8 hours that day for a round trip with the sole purpose of getting their friends back on track.

Thank you, Dennis and Margery, for growing love! 

Thank you, Mom, for telling me this story with such joy.

It seems that it is in these unexpected incidents of profound kindness, when we are so moved by experiencing first hand the strength and depth of friendship, that we catch a glimpse God’s love. A love on which we can rely, even when we don’t realize doing so is an option.

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.” -Thomas Aquinas

Categories: friendship, Grow Love, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, The Gift of Gratitude, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What flame do you fan?


In Norfolk, Virginia, handmade signs, such as “love conquers hate,” have been appearing along busy roads. Special thanks to the person making the effort to remind us of basic truths.

The next part of the story is how I was able to see this picture in the first place. A co-worker was telling another, “I saw another sign!” There was profound joy and excitement in Joni’s voice as she shared the details and showed the pictures she captured on her phone.

Like all of us, Joni has been saddened by violence in our country. Yet, instead of succumbing to the vortex of despair, Joni stopped for a moment in her day to snap this picture. She then continued to fan the flame of its hope through its image, and most importantly, its message.

Thank you Joni, for growing love!

Recently, our pastor reminded the congregation of Nehemiah 8:10. If our Lord finds joy, despite all that He sees, how can we not? It stayed with me that joy and strength are interconnected. We can become despondent, overwhelmed and vulnerable when we sense no joy. Yet, it surrounds us. So, let’s fan the flame of joy. Let’s share it with others- every day, any way. It’s simple- just like the handmade sign in the shape of a heart.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10.

Categories: Grow Love, Uncategorized, Witnessing Love Growing a Bit | Leave a comment

Must Be Present to Win

You want the prize. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have filled out the ticket with your information and dropped it in the basket. But then you notice the reminder that you must be present to win. “How badly do I want it?” you might ask. Is it worth it?

I used to wear my multi-tasker badge with pride. Isn’t that why a stove has so many burners? Isn’t a meal better with a variety of side dishes? Do more at once and pull it all together?

And yet, I am learning that there is a difference between coordinating a cohesive effort versus leaping back and forth from one task to another. The latter is an approach to which we’ve become accustomed, dubbed by scientists as “continuous partial attention.” We check our phones while ________(fill in the blank). We are expected to celebrate, “Yes! I can finally watch the game while walking my dog!”

How much are we sacrificing when we do this? When a friend calls to talk and midstream I say, “Sorry, what was that?” because I started reading an email, am I missing the whole point?

Recently I planned a business trip to Phoenix, Arizona with a couple of days built in up front to see my parents in Tucson. My wonderful seventy six year old mother was to drive 3 hours, past her Tucson airport, to pick me up in Phoenix for our visit. This way, my early morning return flight home would be close to my hotel. My travel included a connecting flight in Atlanta. While on the phone discussing business with a colleague, I hustled through the airport- searching for the gate for my connecting flight. By habit, I was about to say “Can you hold on just a second?” move the phone a few inches away from my head and ask an airline employee at the nearest gate to direct me. Instead, uncharacteristically, I said, “Hey, can I call you back in a bit, I need to figure something out.”

As I asked the Delta rep my question about my flight to Phoenix- scheduled to leave several hours later, I noticed the “Tucson” destination on the wall behind her. “I sure wish I could be getting on this flight instead” I said, thinking of the travel time it would save for both my mom and me. Turns out, I could. With a quick call to my mom to make sure she hadn’t hit the road yet and a new ticket issued, I was the last passenger to board before take off.

Thanking the Delta rep for her help, amazed at my good fortune, I said, “God is good.” To which she replied, with a smile, “All the time.”

Must be present to win. Yeah, it’s worth it.

For the Lord has said: “The Kingdom of God is among you,” (Lk 17,21). So virtue has only need of our will since it is within us and originates from us. -Saint Athanasius

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be | Leave a comment

See (and do)

There are needs all around us, intertwined into the framework of our daily lives. Do we see them or do they simply blend into the background of life?

Some see- really see- and spring into action to help. Some view the action and contemplate all the better, more expeditious ways the spring to action should happen- yet remain stagnant, not actually doing anything. Fortunately, we have people among us who demonstrate that good works result from seeing and doing. Here are two shining examples.

Recently Christine heard from an employee about a local family in significant need. The single mom was very sick, with 3 kids about to start the new school year, and had little in the way of food or money. Christine, a busy wife, mother and business owner, paused in order to see. She responded. One heartfelt post on Facebook – with details of when people could drop off donations to her business – set the wheels of love in motion. She helped others see and they responded to her spark. Donations and further offers of help abounded.

New to the neighborhood, Cindy made an effort to get to know her neighbors. She met a single mom who left for work with her school age children at a time when other kids were rolling over in their beds  for 2 more hours of sleep. The neighbor was doing the best she could to manage her home and her job as a school bus driver. Cindy, even though she was involved with her own work, family, and a special cause, saw. She responded and now ushers the children onto their buses at their appointed times. A straightforward example of matching a resource to a need, when one is willing to really see.

Two people in one community chose to see a need, and pulled it in from the fringes, front and center. They made a difference; they grew love.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. –Letter of James 2:14-18

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, on any given day, see | Leave a comment

A life’s lesson in building bridges

Libby Norris built bridges.

While her day job was as a Watershed Restoration Scientist, one wonders if she knew she was actually a top-notch Social Scientist as well.

Would she have said that a core element of our lives is “social capital”- the value of our social networks- who you know, how you are connected, and what happens as a result of these networks? That success is when members do for each other without expectation of anything in return? That there are those who bond with people with similar interests and lives, while others expand and build bonds to bridge (seemingly) conflicting interests? Did she know that the latter takes far more effort and courage?

If she did, she didn’t shrink from the challenge. Libby built bridges.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation ( posted “Quite simply, thanks to Libby’s good work, today there are more healthy rivers and streams, more fish, crabs, and oysters, and more clean water for all of us across Virginia.” Not the easiest bridges to build – from cattle farmers to watersheds. “Libby worked tirelessly with farmers across the Commonwealth. She also got to know Bay watermen on remote Tangier Island, and hosted many farmer trips to Tangier as well as brought watermen to the Valley to meet farmers. She instinctively recognized that these two groups had more in common than they did differences and sought to build shared understanding.”

The young athletes around Williamsburg will tell you she helped them bridge frustration and disappointment by illuminating that “it’s all a learning experience.” Fellow parents of athletes will share that she helped them bridge a knowledge gap of the sport, as well as how to replace nervous energy with pure enthusiasm.

Her peers will tell you she “got out of the truck.” She didn’t ponder a situation for too long; she dealt with it head on. She got out of the truck and got it done. She bridged thought to action.

Her friends and neighbors will tell you she just “was” – a reliable, genuine friend. Her encouragement helped many bridge self-doubt to the fulfillment of an ambition. Earning a Masters degree, becoming a coach, being more confident as a mom, and becoming an Outdoors Woman, to name a few. Her (perhaps EMT inspired) response time to a friend in need defied logic.

Her ready smile reminded us it was possible all along – to be a great parent, spouse, child, coach, athlete, citizen, scientist, coworker, friend, human being. Lucky for us we can see special versions of that smile in her two greatest accomplishments, her daughters. She bridged the next generation, and her laughter-ready husband will sustain the joy.

Here’s what the social scientists say at, “We build social capital by creating new ties and strengthening old ones. These connections may increase individual well-being and opportunity by linking people more strongly to their local community and to larger societal resources. Or they may build community by strengthening bonds that link community members or by bridging divisions between them. The new ties may be formal, like a club, association, or civic institution, or informal, like a group of friends talking or colleagues collaborating. There is no limit to the number of specific pathways to social capital creation. How to build social capital in each community, family, block, or neighborhood is best left to community-based groups.”

Many felt it was “best left” to Libby with her “can do” approach. Now, it’s left to us.

Libby Norris planted the seeds of optimism and confidence within us. Because of her legacy, Libby continues to grow love.

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God, [and] not by human wisdom but by the grace of God”. (2Cor 1,12).

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, time talent treasure | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Strong Launch

The way your day starts can direct its course. Don’t we all want a strong launch? Whether it’s a healthy breakfast, an early morning workout, a thought provoking walk/talk with a friend, prayer, meditation, reading, or a steady combination of what works, the sooner we discover it, the better.

When you find your strong launch, and then deploy it to assist others in theirs, that’s pretty special. Every day, Tammy M. reads scripture, meditates on its application to daily living, and shares her personal reflections via a text to friends. All before most of us are even awake!

Here’s a sampling:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. Proverbs 19:21. Sometimes we are fanatics about our to-do lists. I love making them and feel so satisfied to check off each item but then have the nerve to get upset if God steers me a different way. How quickly I forget that my plans are like dust; insignificant and can be wiped away with the breeze. Remembering that His plans prevail over our plans. Ask him what he would have you to do FIRST. Pray, be patient, listen and he will direct you. Everything else will fall into place. Let God be first on your to-do list.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you”. Isaiah 41:13. Often we have need of help in a situation – daily chores, work questions, support during illness or in a financial crisis. Friends and relatives offer help but it is limited by our abilities as humans. The Lord says: I got you! I am your help – don’t be afraid; I’m right here holding your hand! Give him the biggest Sunday Shout you can today! Spread the word that he is our help. He has every need met, every problem he’s already got handled and every promise he made, he will fulfill! Shout!”

Just as the sun rises each day, the light of these texts is consistent, yet different in its reach. Touching recipients – in their unique lives, joys, and struggles – some are a “direct hit”, while others provide the warmth of meaningful perspective to carry throughout the day.

Simply and quickly, the day’s text can be copied and sent to someone particularly aligned with that day’s reflection – a direct hit that breathes energy into a personal journey. Perhaps that person forwards it as well. And so on and so on and so on! All because Tammy shared her launch.

Here’s one more:

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. Psalm 52:8. The other day I noticed a small rosebush I had put in a shallow pot. My intent was to plant it in the ground but I thought since the weather was so hot and dry, it would not survive. What I failed to notice was the new growth was attached to a stronger shoot that was already flourishing. I love that word! We flourish when we remain connected and grounded by His love and trust. No matter how hot it gets or steamy the trials; when we firmly and are focused on Him, we become stronger and unwavering in the work. Be a strong “shoot” and grow in his word. Trust and be connected to him with all your being. You will not waiver; you won’t faint – you will flourish!”

Thank you Tammy for helping us “grow in His word” and “flourish”. Thank you Tammy, for growing love!

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Travel in Place

If where you stand depends on where you sit*, perhaps we should move around a bit?

Travel advice often suggests experiencing a new place off hours. Pre-dawn allows one to appreciate a locale’s core peacefulness, then provides the privilege of inclusion in the subsequent awakening process.

The beauty of travel is that it broadens our perspective. In the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

We can travel “in place” simply by stepping outside our normal routines. On any given day, watching a sunset reminds us – that particular day had unique merit. Its beauty rewards us for staying a while- past completing the necessities of the day, past our own priorities.

Cathie is a shining example of what can happen when you travel in place.

Rather than keeping her head down when she stays at work late, she sees who surrounds her; she appreciates the sunset. Rather than simply giving a polite nod to the cleaning crew, Cathie values them as a rich part of her “travel experience”. She makes the effort to know their names, their kids’ names, their aspirations – she has gotten to know them. It would be safe to assume this approach follows Cathie through all her travels, wherever they may be.

Thank you, Cathie, for growing love where you sit and leaving a trail for the rest of us!

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” Ralph Waldo Emerson

*often referred to as “Miles’ Law”

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond, on any given day | 1 Comment

Everyone Needs an Accountabilabuddy

Is there such a thing as work/life balance? Or life balance, for that matter? So often we visualize the scales of justice, with tasks, commitments, and energy equally distributed. We think the bar needs to stay level at all times. Maybe life is more like a see saw instead – one side touches ground but with a big push up of the legs, we go back up. What happens if the weight is too much and we can’t push back up?

Enter the accountabilabuddy. The accountabilabuddy sees your need for a boost and gives it.

Do you need to take a walk to vent, share stories and regain perspective?

Maybe a coffee date to compare notes of your kids’ school experiences to make sure you’re “getting the memo”?

Set up a time with your accountabilabuddy to meet and go!

Haven’t had a mammogram in years?

An accountabilabuddy will relentlessly text, prod, and harangue you until the appointment is set. Another accountabilabuddy will make her appointment for the same day and enjoy a Frappuccino with you afterwards.

You get the idea.

Accountability partners are often connected to the mission of reaching a goal – often at work or at the gym – to support your direction, to stay the course, and keep the vision in line. It’s great to have an accountability partner. However, life isn’t linear. It’s a complex matrix. It’s a wild dusty playground full of energy, squeals of delight, and chaos. We need a posse of accountabilabuddies.

So what do you need to push back up this week? To fill your cup? Share it with a friend and voila, you have an accountabilabuddy. Find an accountabilabuddy and you find a friend.

Insert yourself as a relentless, prodding, loving accountabilabuddy to help someone fill his or her cup and you are a friend.

With every boost, you are growing love.

Categories: Accountabilabuddies | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Beep and Wave

George’s sister shared this story. One day she was driving with her brother as he beeped and waved with a smile to everyone they passed. “George, you sure do know a lot of people!” she said. “Oh, I don’t know most of them”, he replied.

You see, George was that special guy who made everyone he encountered feel loved. His booming greeting and genuine interest in you confirmed that you really mattered.

Returning to her home state after the visit, George’s sister emulated her big brother’s approach. She beeped and waved. Smiles were returned. The habit stuck. She noticed that life felt better.

Today, George’s life was celebrated. A poem in the service guide serves as a reminder.

God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives thro’,
God has not promised
Sun without rain,
Peace without pain.
But God has promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.
                                          -Annie Johnson Flint

Thank you George, for growing love.

Many people will be beeping and waving in your honor.



Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, Poem, Witnessing Love Growing a Bit | Leave a comment

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