It Only Took a Yo-Yo

I love kids’ toys, especially ones that bring back memories. I came across my old yo-yo the other day, and it reminded me of a time in middle school when our youth directors handed out yo-yos to everyone. They told us to we needed to practice yo-ing and bring it back the next week to compete in a competition. The person who had the most tricks would get a special prize. I thought the prize might be money, or something big, so took the yo-yo home and started learning how to yo.

My dad saw me practicing, and he told me a story about when he was a kid he learned how to yo-yo at the bus stop. Back in the early 1950’s, it wasn’t considered creepy to have a stranger talk to kids about yo-yos at places where kids hung out, so Duncan Yo-Yos would send their yo-yo guys out to teach kids how to do tricks so they would buy yo-yos. After a cool demonstration they would carve a cool design like a palm tree into kids’ yo-yos.

My dad was quite the expert. He did around the world, rock the baby, eat spaghetti, and several other things, and he showed me how to do them. “It’s all in the force that you throw the yo-yo. Make sure you put some spin on it,” he would say. All week when I had any free time I practiced those tricks! I got pretty good at around the world and loop the loop, and by the time Sunday rolled around I was pretty comfortable with it. I went back to youth, where only a handful of kids were interested. I showed them my tricks and won a poster. It remained hung in my room until after I left for college.

I still have the yo-yo, and believe it or not, it’s very easy to pick up and start yo-ing (by the way, do you know how hard it is to type yo-yo? It’s much easier to hit = instead of -, or to type you-you.) Years later my dad would again use his passion for the the yo-yo to teach entrepreneurship in the classroom as he taught Junior Achievement classes as a volunteer.

Is this a relevant story? Perhaps more than you think. It was one of those times where my dad connected with me. I have a special memory of my dad, and a fun story to pass on. I also have a memory of sticking with something and getting better at it–you know, it’s the practice makes perfect concept. Something as simple as a toy taught me about physics, motion, energy, and how a stick-to-it-tiveness attitude can give you confidence. Cool, huh?

A friend of mine is turning 50 this year and shared 50 moments in his life that made an impression on him. I’m not sure I could come up with 50, but I thought it might be helpful to reflect and write about some of those stories. These moments in my life shaped me and allowed me to become more confident, gave me passion, and shaped my faith. It’s fun to go through and think about these memories, even these small interactions with family. Take a moment to reflect on these memoirs. They are special and what make you- you!

Take Another Step

I have appreciated this song for a long time. It’s so empowering. Trust God and take another step. Stepping out is difficult. It’s so difficult that I’ve struggled with writing this for a long time. Low and behold, someone wrote it before I could finish my own version.

Our next step is not unique by any means, our youngest daughter just headed off to college last week. It’s not too terribly far away, and she’s ready. I’m not. I miss her. She misses us. We will get used to this paradigm shift. It’s going to be ok, and we have to let our little birdie fly away from the nest! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we take this next step in our lives.

Take a look at this blog. This author said exactly what I wanted to say much more eloquently than I could!

Mission Impossible

Click here to start the music. Play in the background while you read this entry of The Amateur Artist. (I’m going for a multi-media experience here.)

Mission Impossible

(Read out loud in a mysterious voice…)Your mission if you choose to accept it: is to do the work you’re assigned to do to the best of your ability.  Use your passion to build relationships, and care for the people around you. Most of all, love and serve those children you see every day!

Ok? So, that’s my “assignment?” It’s not my life’s mission, right? It’s not exactly my calling, and it’s not a part of my identity, but it’s an assignment. When this assignment is over you’ll be a better person and you’ll be ready for the next assignment. Wait. Maybe it is my life mission.  I’m ok with this.

A few weeks ago,  I listened to a podcast about identity and theology.  The following simple but profound thought hit me. In the past I’ve written about what we are called to do and I’ve written about people and their passion, but I haven’t written much about identity. It’s too personal and doesn’t need to be discussed. I never thought about how these things are different, but it’s framed like this: there’s your identity, your calling, and then there’s assignments.

Your identity is who you are. No matter where you are you are and no matter what you do, you’re who God made you to be.  Joshua 1:5a “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Simple, right?

Your calling is what God calls YOU, out of all the people on earth, to do. You are good at doing lots of things, and those things bring you to life. In other words, your passion–the thing that bring you joy–and the need in the world that fits your passion is your calling. Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Your calling will never go away. It may look different at at times, but it never goes away.


Let’s talk about assignments now. Have you ever been given an assignment that didn’t make sense? Maybe it was something that you’re not good at, or you never imagined in a million years you’d be doing it? My advice to you is to never say never! Assignments are purposely designed for a season. Perhaps an assignment helps you stop and smell the flowers. It’s conceivable that an assignment sends you to a place to rest.  Often your assignment stretches you to discover more about yourself; and sometimes your assignment isn’t about you. Maybe you have been assigned a place to help someone else. It’s even possible that one assignment fulfills all things mentioned the above! You may not always recognize “the why” of it until your assignment is finished. (Ask me some time how I know this.) I will be glad to share my thoughts on my assignments with you.

I can’t talk about assignments without referencing Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The verse hangs on our wall. It was the theme at a retreat I attended a couple of days after I had just been given a new assignment. The assignment was unexpected and I questioned everything about it! A friend got me the wall hanging as a reminder that this moment in time was just a season. It’s a small part in a big picture that helps me remember that God is faithful and has a bigger picture that I couldn’t see at this moment.


Even though others may identify you through your current assignment, it’s not who you are. However, you may not understand the bigger picture for many years. The skills you’re learning through your current assignment will be utilized at a later date. Your identity and your calling are very apparent as you grow through your assignments.

If you’ve been assigned a questionable assignment, my prayer for you is that you’ll see the big picture.  Your assignment will allow you to grow in new directions. You will discover that the mission you thought was impossible is incredibly possible!

The Legacy Lives On



I often miss my days at the Discovery Center, and enjoyed the people I met while planning the big MLK celebration at the museum, but today I am happy to have the day off. I had the opportunity to work with an event the Girl Scouts were hosting today, where Madelyn Scales-Harris, Vice Mayor of Murfreesboro spoke. Her words brought tears to my eyes as she described how she wanted to be in Girl Scouts in the mid-1950’s, and her mom, Mary Scales, asked her why, and she told her the uniform looked cool.  Her mom told her to look up Girl Scouts in the encyclopedia to see if she could learn something about Girl Scouts to make sure she really did want to do it. As she did this, she knew she wanted to be a Girl Scout! In the late 1950’s a troop was organized that she was able to join. She told the girls how much she treasured her uniform, and she was devastated when her uniform burned when her family’s house burned in a fire. Scales shared more about her experience on City Council, and had some words of advice. We need more women to run for council. She only had a short time to speak.

Her story reminded me of how I used to work with her mother, Mary Scales as we planned the MLK Celebration at Patterson Park every year. (I wrote about this 9 years ago. Please take a moment to read my original post: The Passion of the Civil Rights Movement. ) I would sit down and listen to Mary tell me terrifying stories of how she had crosses burned in her yard after her husband was elected the first African American to the Murfreesboro City Council.  She told me stories of how she was the first African American teacher at MTSU, and how that was a struggle at times. She also told me how much she loved Murfreesboro and wanted to celebrate how far we have come. (And yes, we have a long way to go, as I was reminded today by the young woman who volunteered with us from Memphis.)

I hope as you reflect on Dr. King’s legacy today that you find a place to give back in your own community.



Grand Nats

As we close our seven year stint with the Siegel High School Band, I must reflect on our final experience at Grand Nationals in Indy. Wow! We went out with a bang. This was an opportunity like no other to experience performing in the BOA Grand Nationals. I was so happy to be able to experience this with the band kids, and was awe-struck watching them in person.

It didn’t happen over night. It was 16 years in the making. The first students who marched in the Siegel High band in 2002 (1-2 years after this year’s seniors were born!) began building the program to make it what it is today.

When the original band director of Siegel Band retired, a new band director joined us. Our first band director was very traditional. He was against the BOA spirit, but had managed to bring the band to a very respectable position traditionally. When he left, the new directors, Mr. White and Mr. Sears decided to embrace the BOA concept and a new style began to emerge. Honestly, we didn’t like it at first. Parents saw it as smoke and mirrors–BOA tends to be very story and prop driven, and often it takes away from the band’s performance. Now that we’ve been doing it a few years I see its benefits, but it was a tough pill to swallow at first.

While I believe sometimes the early director focused on winning and earning trophies; perhaps as feathers in his own cap of a very successful career, to the students it was so much more than this. They instilled in their hearts a desire to do their best, and paid it forward each year. The student leadership instilled the “Hearts on Fire, Minds on Ice” in everything they did!

One of the first members of the band to go from student to director was Mr. Alex Sears. I always loved seeing him in action with the students. He had a very contagious passion for marching band, and the students truly love him. He demonstrated that passion on the field with the parents and the students. Sadly, he left us this year to take a middle school job to spend time with his family. He was with us in spirit all the way to Indy!We were filled with excitement just walking up to Lucas Oil Stadium.


Read these beautiful words he shared with the members of the band:

Guys, today is the day. This is the day that when Mr. White and I decided that we would take this BOA adventure we were looking towards and building for. So many hours on our end combined with so many hours on your end to create this moment. Every long tone, lip slur, across the floor, sectional, late night and early morning is culminating at 8pm tonight in the heart of the marching arts activity, Lucas Oil Stadium. And guys I couldn’t possibly be more proud of you all.

You trusted us (sometimes begrudgingly at the beginning) every step of the way. We tried, we failed and we succeeded together throughout this journey and tonight you get to reap the rewards of all that investment. Tonight is a moment in time you’ll remember from the moment it’s over to the day you die.

Enjoy it.

Relish it.

Live within it.

You’re doing something no other Siegel Band has ever done. There will never be a first Grand Nationals trip. It’s special and ya’ll deserve the honor of being to be the first group to do it.

Have no regrets.

When it hurts at the end of that phrase, finish it. When your shins are on fire as you’re moving around the domes in part 5, crank those toes higher. Perform like it’s your last chance, because for some of ya’ll it could very well be. Leave tonight with no regrets and enjoy that feeling with Lucas Oil stands together and cheers for you at the end of your performance. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear when you’re done. (I am as I am writing this message this morning and I know I will when I watch ya’ll on Flo tonight.)

Make sure to take cool pictures or video during part 6. It’ll be a unique sight that no other Siegel Band has ever seen. Cherish those memories as they may be some of the most special of your performing arts careers.

Most of all have fun tonight ya’ll. You so deserve it. I am so SO proud of each and every one of you. My only regret is that I’m not there with you in person right now. I wish I could see your faces and bump every one of your fists and celebrate with you once it’s all over. Know that I’ll be celebrating with you in spirit tonight with some Siegel alumni and friends as we watch you give the most anticipated performance in Siegel Band history. I love you guys. Knock it out tonight.

Mr. Sears

This. is passion. He meant every word he wrote, and I know it inspired every kid in our band to do their best. As I said before, it was the band opportunity of a lifetime, even for the parents.

It’s true, there will never be another maiden voyage to Grand Nationals. The trip was the highlight of my own personal band journey, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience this with our kids for the first time.

We didn’t make finals or even semis, and that’s ok. But, the kids played their hearts out and left them on the field. I have never been so proud of these kids as I was the night they performed. There were tears streaming down my face by the end of the show. Even the people sitting around us asked how we placed last year. Others said they were very impressed. Siegel now has a national ranking.

Go Siegel Band! We are leaving you in good hands and a heart for doing your best.
Hearts on Fire! Minds on ice!


A Band Mom’s Lament

2015 Senior Night


2018 Senior night

family selfie

Senior Year. This is our last senior year. Our time with the Siegel High School band has been the longest/fastest 7 years of our life. When our oldest child was in elementary school, she was approached by Mr. Luke Hill the band director at her school to join the 5th grade band. This was one of the best things that ever happened to her! She continued her musical journey through middle school where she was allowed to sing in the choir, play in the band, and she even played in the jazz band.

In 2012 she joined the high school band. I thought band would be like it was when I was a kid: 80 or so of your closest friends hanging out together making music and marching around on the football field. Um, well, no. Band has really changed over the past…er….30 years! The first thing I noticed when I dropped my little freshman  off for her first day band camp was how gigantic the kids were! And, there were so many of them–maybe double the number of kids in my high school band. There was a lot of adjusting for us parents. Leadership in the band is student-led, so adults were not standing over the kids as they are in younger grades, and we were concerned about the lack of adult supervision….Until….

Our first band booster meeting was overwhelming! A friend of ours whose kids had graduated from the band told us to bring our checkbook to every meeting…she wasn’t kidding!  We suddenly had so many questions.  Do we buy a band shirt for ourselves along with the band fees.. Wait. Band fees? It’s HOW much?  T-shirts, and other band booster paraphernalia? What have we gotten ourselves into? Well, we ended up not buying the  the t-shirt (big mistake). This was not the band program of the 80’s for sure.

The first year we didn’t really comprehend the magnitude of everything band, but it didn’t take too long to get immersed in it.  Our Girl Scout troop was out of town for the first competition, so Brad drove down to Jacksonville, AL to experience his first band competition–and just like that— he was hooked! He insisted that he be at the rest of them that season, and so we became part of the fan club.

As our oldest was ending her junior year, the youngest was heading to 9th grade. “Mom, I want to try out for color guard.” I responded with, “Yyyou whaaat?” Just as we were looking forward to our last year of band, we were told that we will have 3 more years of it. Not that that was a bad thing, we were just looking forward to getting some free time, which hasn’t happened yet.

Band has kept our entire family busy and out of trouble over the last 7 years. The organization is a well-oiled machine. Back in the day, our  high school band had a few chaperones, but now there’s pit packers, guard moms, chaperones, hospitality, and even uniforms to manage. It’s been an experience. For the past 3 years we have chaperoned away football games and competitions. I wasn’t the most willing chaperone at first, but as I have gotten to know the kids, I  enjoy talking to the kids and getting to know them. I will miss our bus 3 bus buddies.

Our girls both learned a lot of life lessons.  They are always 15 minutes early because, “If you’re early– you’re on time, and if you’re on time- you’re late.” They have endured long, hot nights of band camp, and the chilly fall days in October. They have learned how to handle someone yelling in their face, and how to work with others. They have learned how to win and lose gracefully, and how to handle criticism under difficult circumstances. They have learned that hard work pays off, and to pull that passion out of their toenails when they’re not feeling it.

As parents, we haven’t been running around football fields, but we have served meals, made popcorn, cooked thousands of hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches, fixed a bazillion nachos, and sold many boxes of band fruit. We sat in the baking hot sun, sub-freezing wind, snow flurries, and rain.  You take the bad with the good. I mean, it can’t be all about unicorns and rainbows, right?

Three out of four Campbells had the opportunity to march at the Contest of Champions in the MTSU stadium.  I admit it was cool to share that experience (although the stadium I marched in was MUCH smaller than the current one). I am glad our kids got to do this.

They will always remember playing in many of Tennessee’s university stadiums: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Commodore Stadium in Nashville at Vanderbilt, and the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. And of course, our first experience performing in NFL’s venues like the Georgia Dome, and finally Lucas Oil Stadium. These places have provided some very special memories. I can’t forget the pride I felt as the kids marched down the hill to Neyland Stadium and we barely made it to the very top of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. I’ll never forget the first note they played in Commodore Stadium. The sound was amazing! And, of course the train in Memphis that blew so loud we couldn’t hear Tori’s solo at the Liberty Bowl.

We could have never provided our kids with these opportunities, both have learned so much from their band experiences.  I can say I am proud of the women they have become, their leadership opportunities, and and I’m excited for all the things our kids have learned.  They will carry this through the years, where a little part of band will remain in their hearts as they move forward in their lives.

On ice!



Then: MTSU Band of Blue my freshman year of college. 1987

I was in the band for 4 semesters. (2 marching seasons–87-88)


Now: Siegel Band performs F0rbidden









Product vs. Process

Let me preface this by saying adamantly that I’m by no means an art teacher. I’ve guided art at camps and museums for years. This summer I’ve been making ends meet by working our district’s summer program. It has been fun! Every week has been different. The past 2 weeks I’ve been teaching art classes back at my home base school. My strategy is a little different than some, as I usually show them what to do and then allow a lot of “do your own thing” rather than “do it this way.” The result is a lot of different open-ended projects that allow kids to express their own ways of getting it done. This type of teaching is done in art classes everywhere. It’s the difference between doing a craft project, where everyone’s looks the same, like this



and creating art. It’s the difference between teaching/guiding a process vs. creating cookie cutter products. It’s process oriented rather than product oriented.

Here is an example:

Color collage: look through magazines and find items that are the color of your paper. The discovery is that they learn how to arrange, spatial skills, and value (different shades of the same color).

Cardboard sculptures

Sadly, I didn’t learn about this in college, I learned about process vs. product when I worked at the Discovery House. The director of the museum schooled me on how she wanted the art to be process-oriented art, and why. Since this time, I have managed to live my life in this manner.

Process oriented art means that you focus on how and why you’re creating, rather than the product looking exactly the same as your neighbor’s project. It’s the process that the kids learn from, rather than the product. If it’s a product you want, the end-means creates the same result.  You’re telling people HOW to complete the task. “Put this here.” “Then you put this there.” “No, that’s wrong.” “You’re not listening!” By the time they’re finished everyone’s project looks the same, and there’s a level of frustration if they had to redo something to make it look “right.” There is a time and place for this: if you’re teaching how to follow directions or having kids practice certain skills such as using scissors or other tools, or staying in the lines. These skills are important life skills children need along the way.

Far too often the product is the focus. Let’s learn this so you can answer this question correctly on the the test. Learning facts and producing them for a test is product oriented. This method, while important at times, is killing our creativity. It’s created an entire generation of great test takers who lack in critical thinking skills. Thankfully this type of testing is on its way out, and the pendulum is swinging the other direction (now we’re pushing out critical thinking skills beyond when kids are ready for them.) Another story for another day.

A few years later I was reminded how important process is. I was training to become a Stephen Minister, and we learned about process oriented goals. Process oriented goals help a person understand that even though they’re going through something traumatizing, you can learn why you’re feeling the way you feel, and you can move forward. It helps you see where you are, and even if you think you’re stuck in a hole, you’re making strides to dig-one shovelful at a time– out of the hole. Often we just need someone from the outside to sit at the top of the hole and offer encouragement while you’re going through it.

You have heard the saying,”It’s not the destination it’s the journey.” In my own life I know what the destination is. I haven’t reached it yet.  My journey to this point has shown me that it has a whole lot more twists and turns to go until I get to my destination. I don’t know where or when exactly it’s going to be, but I’ll know when I get there. The process is the journey.

Just this week I realized I have been in my own process-oriented goals for 26 months now. I began the journey by thinking I needed a product. I set a goal to have the product complete, but the date came and went, and I still didn’t have a product.  I was stuck.  Nothing I did was producing. And, although I still feel stuck, I realized I needed to grow in a different direction. I had to change the process of what I was trying to produce.  It helped me! Although I felt stuck I learned through my stuckiness. I am most definitely in a better place than I was 2 years ago. It’s still not easy (just today I got a call from a potential employer telling me that I wasn’t the one). It’s not fun. It’s not really enjoyable. But I’ve learned and I’ve grown so much!

So, here’s to the process, whether art or life. Learning how to process is a life skill that every child needs. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. I know what I’m talking about here, and I have a process to prove it.  “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.”
Carl Rogers

“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.” Ralph Waldo Emerson