Proactively Starting Over

Caleb at CalvinXC camp 2016This story is mine

I just drove back from Grand Rapids after dropping my soon-to-be college freshman son off at Calvin College for cross-country camp. Even though Caleb has no plans to come home till his birthday in October Sue and I agreed to tell ourselves we were just dropping him off for cross-country camp and not really college. Why? I think it is our way pretending he is still at home till we drive back up to Grand Rapids next week to “officially” move him into his dorm. Denial sometimes works.

On the three and half hour drive from the suburbs of Illinois to western Michigan Caleb and I chatted the whole time. Of course we talked about running, cross-country and the exciting prospects of his new team. We also talked about college and how he welcomed the academic challenge. And we spent about thirty minutes admiring and critiquing President Obama’s summer Spotify playlist as we listened to it in the background.

It was somewhere near the Saugatuck exit I asked Caleb, “Since you are starting this new chapter in your life are you planning to do anything different?” He paused and then thoughtfully listed several items that he would start anew. I could tell that he had given it some thought. It wasn’t my question that prompted his response; it was going to college that caused him to think about what he wanted to start over.

Starting-Over_spine-3dIt was on the drive back home that I thought about my conversation with Caleb and hit me, “Hold it, we don’t have to wait till we have a crisis to start over. We don’t have to wait until things fall apart. We can proactively start over at any point in your life!”  My experience is that most of us wait for the disaster: loss of job, a divorce or getting dumped, an unexpected illness, the crisis of faith or a financial collapse before we consider starting over.  But it was seeing college as a new stage of life that prompted Caleb to decide he could start over!

In our new book, Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets we help people see that regrets are not a place to get stuck, but a prompt to start over. But it was in this car ride with Caleb that I realized that we don’t have to wait for regrets; we can start over anytime we want. The twelve-step movement cleverly reminds us, “You can pick your bottom.” Your bottom doesn’t have to be a disaster, a crisis or a total melt down. We each have the ability to proactively decide to start over. It was the prophet Jeremiah who graciously points out, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God mercifully offers us the opportunity every morning to start over!

With this lesson from Caleb, the twelve-step movement and the prophet Jeremiah in mind, here are 20 times we can all use to proactively start over…

Stages for Starting Over: Life is often thought of in chronological stages. Each of these stages is an moment when you can proactively start over.

  • Start of junior high
  • Beginning of high school
  • Freshman year of college
  • Start of your 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100!

Celebrations for Starting Over: People love to celebrate marker events in our life. And when we celebrate these significant days it is also an opportunity to proactively start over.

  • A birthday
  • Wedding
  • Birth of a child
  • Anniversaries

Events for Starting Over: There are big events that occur over a lifetime that bring significant adjustments. These big events also bring the occasion to proactively start over.

  • New Job
  • Promotion
  • A new neighborhood
  • Attending a new church

Rhythms for Starting Over: Your life is lived out with certain rhythms. These rhythms are days, weeks, seasons and years. With the start of each rhythm is an excuse to proactively start over.

  • Each morning
  • Every Sunday
  • Every new season
  • The New Year

Quiet Times for Starting Over: It is often during a time of solitude and slowing down that we pause long enough to reflect on what needs to change. These quiet times are a space in time for proactively starting over.

  • Prayer
  • Worship Service
  • Retreat day
  • Vacation

G.K. Chesterton put it best when he said, “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Don’t wait for a crisis, for life to fall apart or even to hit bottom! Be proactive! You can start over starting today!!

Leave me a comment and I will put your name into a drawing for a FREE ARC (advance reader copy) of Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regret.  Leave me a comment letting me know which of these 20 you have used as an opportunity to start over and tell me how it worked out?

Congrats State Cross Country Champs!


Congrats to Josh (right of the state championship trophy) and the whole Neuqua Valley High School cross country team on their state championship.  They came into the state meet ranked, but were still underdogs to Loyola Academy who was the #1 ranked team in the nation.  However, it was the Wildcats that ended the day standing on this stage with the state championship trophy.  Congrats!

The Best (& Coldest) Bears Game Ever!

Dave & Josh at Bears- Packers 12-22-08The record book will tell us that it was the coldest home game ever in Chicago Bears history.  For me it was simply the best Bears game I have ever attended!

When Josh and I arrived it was already double digit sub-zero temperatures with the wind chill factor.  However we had about four layers of clothes and were prepared for the evening.  When we arrived we stopped at the concession stand to get a hot dog and a pop.  By the time I walked from the concession stand and found our seats my diet Coke had already started to freeze!  It was cold and so was the Bears offense almost the whole game.  But our whole section literally stood and cheered for the Bears for all four quarters and then the overtime.  And when Robbie Gould hit that field goal to win it in sudden death overtime to beat the Packers we all went crazy.  We were giving high fives and hugs to every person around us.  It was close to going to church!  It was great game and a great time and a great win.  Go Bears!

I want to also give a shout out and a big thank you very much to Jim Woolums, my facebook friend (and Packer fan!) who gave me the tickets.

Prepping for Thanksgiving with a 5K Turkey Trot!

Dave, Josh & Caleb - 5k Turkey Trot 08About 5,000 people including Josh, myself and Caleb all ran the Naperville 5k Turkey Trot.  It is really more a of a party than it is a race…and we definitely had a good time!  As you can see from the photo one of us (Josh) is the real runner, who despite the 30 degree weather wore running shorts.  The guy in the middle is just trying to keep up with the little guy on the right (Caleb) who ran a new personal best.  It’s was a great way to start Thanksgiving!

While the boys and I prepared for Turkey Day by going for a run, the girls were resting up at home because their race is tomorrow at the mall!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours.

Congrats on All-Conference Josh!


Congrats to my oldest son Josh who this weekend made the frosh/soph all-conference cross-country team.  The 740 miles Josh logged during summer training paid off for him this weekend as he finished 13th in conference (top 25 make all-conference) and tied his personal record for a 3-mile run of 17:08.  And congrats to the rest of the Neuqua Valley frosh/soph team that won the conference meet.

The Neuqua Valley cross country team has one of the best programs in the country.  Last year the varsity team won the Illinois State Championship and the Nike Team National Title and is currently ranked 7th in the nation this year.

Favorite Day of the Year

Caleb_all_dayFor the last four years, at the end of the summer and before school starts Caleb and I spend all day together.  It’s become a tradition that we spend all day at Six Flag’s Great America and then go out for ice cream.  Today was that day and Caleb and I hung out all day! The picture is our last stop to get chocolate shakes.  (I was supposed to be at the Willow Leadership Summit Debrief today, but I decided to skip out.  To cover my butt I sent Bill Hybels an e-mail explaining our tradition and he shot me an e-mail back saying, “Good for you, love your kid!”  That was cool.)  We had a great time!  I think we rode on every roller coaster but one and because the lines were so short we were able to get off a roller coaster and then get back on!  It was a blast.  I love having kids.  On our way home I told Caleb, “thanks for being a kid.”  Then he said, “thanks for being a kid on the inside!”  🙂  This is one of my favorite days of the year!

Amy’s First Day at Cornerstone University

I know it sounds cliche, but I really can’t believe that 18 years have gone this fast!  On Friday we drove up to Grand Rapids and on Saturday we said good-bye to our oldest as she started college at Cornerstone University.  We got her moved into her room, ate dinner in the cafeteria and then went with her to a dedication service.  Dr. Joseph Stowell, the new President told students the most important person they will meet in their four years of college is not new friends or even a potential mate, but Jesus.  After his message he had all the students come forward while the parents prayed over them.  Then he asked all the students to kneel during a prayer of dedication.  The service was moving and gave both Sue and I confidence about Amy’s choice for school.

Was it hard to say good-bye?  Yes.  Back when Amy was a preschooler, at bedtime I would snuggle her and  tell her stories and then hold her little face and say, “you know I’m crazy about you.”  I still am!  So, yes it was hard.

Was it hard to say good-bye?  On the other hand, no.  I feel a tremendous amount of confidence in her ability and in her willingness to relentlessly follow Jesus.  She is ready for this next adventure and she is in a good place.

The goal of every parent should be to raise and release responsible adults who love and follow Jesus.  Amy’s first day at Cornerstone University was a big day for Amy and for us.

The Secret To A Good Family Vacation

Your_number_1_2We just got back from our family vacation to Wisconsin.  It was nothing extravagant, but it did include a couple days at the Wilderness Lodge, which is an awesome water park in the Dells and then a few days up in beautiful Door County.   I had a good time and I think all five Ferguson’s would say they had a good time.  Why?  One of the secrets to good family vacation is something my wife Sue starting doing several years ago before each trip.  We would gather the whole family together and go over all the possible activities and events that fit within our budget for the upcoming vacation.  Then we would ask each member of our family (parents and kids) “what is your #1?”  And each of us got to say what would be our #1 activity or event while on vacation.  Then we made sure that every person in our family got to do their #1.  I think it has been one of the secrets for us having terrific family vacations.

On Vacation…

I’m on vacation with the family  for the rest of the week so you won’t hear much from me on my blog for the next several days.  If you are really interested you can follow me on Twitter – Dave