May 09, 2012

Lesson 10: Greatness (not Sweetness)

                A friend from high school just posted this link on my facebook page. Why, you may ask, would I be interested in a girl who fashioned her prom dress out of Starburst wrappers? Well my friends, it all started 13 years ago at a birthday party … 

                It began so innocently with one party-sized bag of Starbursts, about thirty in total. As we sat eating those delicious red and pink plastic-y squares, I saw my future clearly before me. I, Katherine Lynn Manning, would set the world record for the largest collection of Starburst wrappers ever. In fact, I envisioned myself receiving the award proudly before a host of cameras, just before diving into a pool full of Starburst wrappers. I wonder if a person could drown in something like that? 

                I knew that this was my destiny. That fall, as I entered high school, work towards the goal commenced. I had collectors at every lunch period … friends responsible for rounding up the discarded wrappers and handing them over to me. I was supremely grateful to these people, Tim McGovern and Matt Karabinos especially come to mind. We could average close to a 100 on a good day. For weeks, the “trash” would collect in the front pocket of my green Jansport, until a rare Friday would come in which I had no other plans. This night would be spent removing the wrappers from the pocket, straightening them out, organizing them by color and then … counting.

                This is not a joke.

                I continued collecting through 10th grade, until a girl showed up to school wearing a pair of skater pants covered with Starburst wrappers. I felt unoriginal and gave up.

                I am now 27 years old. Somewhere, in a random bin in my parents’ house, thousands and thousands of Starburst wrappers lie in plastic bags, arrayed as a rainbow, with the number in each bag indicated on a ripped piece of notebook paper. I cleaned out my childhood bedroom when I left for college, then again when I left for Europe, a third time when I got married, and a fourth when Mark and I finally moved out (another story). For some reason, though I’ve discarded piles of memorable tee-shirts, creative class assignments, and an entire bag of trophies, I have not been able to part with this “collection.” 

                I wonder why. It’s not the only collection I have. I own at least forty Russian nesting dolls in shapes ranging from pretty girls, to Santa Clause, to Harry Potter, to at least six cat varieties. (Most of these are also in a box somewhere at my parents’ house). 

                I think it’s because there is still something special about the Guinness Book of World Records. If you are a record holder, it means that you have accomplished something in this world that no one else has been able to do. How many people can claim that? Not many. 

                The Olympics are approaching this summer. For those of you my age, you will remember Michael Johnson and his golden shoes. He literally flew! I remember where I was when Michael Phelps won the race that made him the person who won the most gold medals in a single Olympics (at Virginia Tech in TOTS. They aired the race on a screen with a projector. It was AWESOME). 

                Speaking of Olympians … I’ve known a few in my day. As a 10-year old, my swim team was coached by Jeremy Linn, silver medalist in the breaststroke in the ’96 Atlanta games. I also swam at the same swim club as Anita Nall, gold, silver, and bronze medalist in ’92. In high school, my field hockey team played against Angie Loy, Olympian in the Beijing Olympics, where she scored 4 goals for the U.S.A. Finally, in high school, as a high jumper, my team shared a practice space with our sister high school. Thus, I got to practice with Hyleas Fountain. At the time, she was the best high school high jumper in the country. In 2008, she was the second best heptathlon woman in the world!

                Though I have been in the same place at the same time as these incredible athletes, I have never really been near their level to actually compete. I would enter a track meet at 4’10”. Hyleas would not even start until 5’10”. 

                What’s the point? Starburst wrappers were my one chance to make it big, to make a difference, to matter. Maybe I haven’t been able to let that go.

                Truth be told. I’m sort of over the whole “one moment in time thing.” Glorious moments are great, but our legacy is made day by day. It is who we are consistently that makes us who we are.

                Today I attended a building dedication at our seminary. Dr. Ric Cannada was honored by our board, as the main building of our school was named after him. This man was instrumental in getting RTS Charlotte off the ground. He headed the team of devoted, passionate people that made the dream for a conservative seminary in south Charlotte, a reality. His co-workers and family members gave speeches lauding his work ethic, leadership, and true love for the Lord. His perseverance and faithfulness has allowed Mark, my friends, and I to have the incredible seminary experience that we have. What a sweet testimony of a life well spent!

                It dawned upon me that I am a part of his legacy, his work. In fact, Mark and I both are a part of his work, which is ultimately the work of the kingdom of God. As the result of his life, Mark and I will be better equipped for the life laid out before us, in ministry for the gospel. Is there any better way to spend a life?

                Starburst wrappers? Please. I have bigger things to do.
Lesson Learned: There is nothing wrong with thinking big. Think big. But consider, who receives the glory?

P.S. Sweetness was the title of a movie Mark made it college. It was his attempt at greatness. If you have been lucky enough to see it, you will know that he was successful. In fact, the night Sweetness premiered, was the night Mark and I met. Yes, Sweetness was very successful.


  1. The follow button has appeared! Done and thanks!

  2. so now that you're on to bigger things than starburst you think you'll get rid of the collection?

    1. I realized there was a disconnect between those two paragraphs. The mother in the article tried to get a ton of wrappers for the dress without having to eat all the candy herself, but the company wouldn't allow it. If she wanted them, someone else out there will too. Ebay?!?!?!


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