Journey to the Cross — A Lenten Devotional

StainedGlassWindow You can follow this link below to the first installment of a daily Lenten Devotional from my friend Cynthia Bezek. It’s poignant, inspirational, and timely. I definitely think giving up being served is much more impactful (to myself and others) than giving up coffee or chocolate! I am looking forward to following along with Cynthia’s devotionals this Lent. Maybe you will want to, too. Journey to the Cross–February 18. Photo courtesy of digidreamgrafix and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Parenting Is a Team Sport

This is a blog I posted last Valentine’s Day; thought I’d take it out of the recycle bin. 🙂 ~Arlyn

Arlyn Lawrence

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Last Valentine’s Day, the parents of our teenage daughter’s best friend took the two of them, and a third friend, out to a fancy restaurant. The dad gave the girls pretty rings and a pep talk about their priceless worth and the importance of loving and respecting themselves. He had contacted Doug and me earlier to ask our permission and we happily consented.  After all, he was reinforcing something we felt strongly about and we were glad for Hillary to hear it from more than just us.

Doug and I joke all the time that parenting is a “team sport”—and our team extends beyond ourselves as Mom and Dad. Some experts believe the magic number is five—that every teen needs at least five adult voices in his or her life that will reinforce positive values and a healthy self-image. For our kids, these voices have included:

  • their grandparents and other…

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Bring on the Cookies!

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“A balanced diet is a Christmas cookie in each hand.” ~Anonymous

Despite the business of life and particularly this season, one of my hands down favorite Christmas activities is baking. Creating delicious treats in the kitchen together is something that always brings our family together.

I think it’s important to not just make DELICIOUS foods on holidays, but to make them with MEANINGFUL recipes. The kind that evoke memories of special people and special times–or that make you feel connected to whom and where you came from. For our family, that means the Lawrence family’s ubiquitous Chocolate Crinkles and Snickerdoodles. Muddy Buddy’s a la Auntie Deanna.  Grandma Magner’s Nuts ‘n Bolts. And for Christmas dinner, Great-great Aunt Ethel’s Cranberry Christmas pudding (simmered on the stove top in a coffee can to be especially authentic and true to its roots)—with caramel sauce.  Num!

Family traditions are important. Family is important, period. Whom and where you came from is an important part of who you are, whether you like it (or them) or not. It keeps you connected to the bigger picture in life.

I am grateful for a family who loves God, loves each other, loves me, and loves Christmas cookies.  🙂

How to make the cookies pictured above:

Whipped Shortbread: 1 c soft butter, 1-3/4 c flour, 1/2 c icing sugar, maraschino cherries. Cream butter thoroughly. Combine and add dry ingredients at low speed on blender. Roll in small balls, press in a piece of maraschino to the top of each. Bake @ 325 for 13 minutes.

This shortbread recipe has been in my family since who knows when and is my earliest memory of a FAVORITE Christmas cookie. Unfortunately the dough is as good as the cookies so it’s always debatable how much dough is actually going to make it to cookie form!

 

The Greatest Gifts We Can Give a Teenager

Guest post by Dennis Trittin 

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The teen years are among our greatest periods of change and self discovery. When you know who you are and why you’re here, you’re inspired to define and pursue your passions. Knowing “what makes you tick” and being able to carry that out, brings great joy and fulfillment. Unfortunately, for some, that’s easier said than done.

Take teenagers who receive few expressions of love or healthy modeling in the home. It doesn’t take long for that deficit to show up in their academics, motivation, relationships, and demeanor. In acts of sheer desperation, they search for love and false comforts in all the wrong places and check out of school. It’s a tragic cycle that has become all too common, with one unhappy ending after another.

During the past year, I’ve had many opportunities to speak with teens and young adults who are, in one form or another, facing a crisis of relevance. They see school as irrelevant, and worse yet, they see themselves as irrelevant. Some of their questions are:

“What am I worth when my parents never tell me they love me?”
“What’s the point of staying in school? I’ll never use this stuff anyway.”
“What can I do to convince my parents to let me live my dream?”
“I’m not that smart and my family has no money. Can I still become a leader?”
“All my parents care about is my performance…not me. How am I supposed to deal with that?
These conversations are heart wrenching. But, interestingly, it’s these kids who often most engaged in my talks on leadership! They ask the most questions and ask to share in private. They’re the ones asking questions and opening up after my speaking engagements. They’re desperately searching—for hope, relevance, and worth—even though it may not appear that way on the surface.

We’ve got to give it to them. All of them! Until young people see the relevance and value of their own lives, there’s simply no way they’ll reach their full potential.

Here are some ways adults can help:

Recognize that no one (especially a young person) has a complete and accurate perspective on all he or she has to offer—whether character qualities or skills. They need the perspectives of others who can offer additional insights about their value and opportunities.

Parents can ensure their children understand their uniqueness and value, and avoid showing favoritism through words or attention. They can value the person more than the performance. Educators can offer opportunities for skills/aptitude assessments and programs where friends, relatives, and mentors honor each student with expressions of value. For example, some innovative schools hold special retreats where students receive letters collected from important people in their lives—life changing keepsake experiences. Look for opportunities to “speak life” into young people and encourage them to do the same. Remember, relevance breeds hope, and hope breeds motivation and direction. Motivation and direction help uncover passion and purpose. Passion and purpose help fulfill potential.

These are vital gifts to give the young people in your life. Give generously.

A Taste of Washington

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A few thoughts from my husband highlighting our summer taste and travel adventures in our own home state of Washington this summer …

Doug Lawrence Real Estate

2014 may possibly go down as the busiest year ever in the Lawrence household. It began with a Seahawks SuperBowl victory and celebration, and included a wedding, a move, and a back injury (all in the same month). And it seems like a steady flow of guests ever since. After all that, Arlyn and I did carve out some time to explore some of our own beautiful State of Washington. We explored the Yakima Valley and the gorgeous hidden jewel that is Walla Walla and all the sites and tastings that the east side of our state had to offer.

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A nice meal in downtown Walla Walla, WA (which is on Fodor’s List of the 10 Best Small Towns in America)

We toured the Westside’s urban landmarks with our amazing British friends and we explored the pebbled shore of the Dungeness Spit in the wind and rain.

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We also took delight…

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Family Togetherness

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If you were to ask either Doug or me what has been the single biggest blessing in our lives, I think we both would unanimously and enthusiastically reply, “Our kids!”

Being the parents of five children has been … shall we say … an active existence. If you had asked me back when they were small what “family togetherness” looks like I would have said, “Crazy!” These days, I get asked all the time, “How did you do it, raising all those kids?” Frankly, I’m not quite sure! I certainly don’t have the energy today that I did back then. (I’m sure glad we started as young as we did. Funny how your energy fades as you age. The spirit may be willing, but the body, well …)

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Our brood in autumn of 1997. 

I’m grateful that our now (mostly) grown kids have become such great friends of ours and of each other. They are all starting to move out in their own directions in life: college, careers, travel, marriage, starting families, etc.  But despite distance and schedules, staying connected to one another is still a high priority to all of us.

Families are incredibly important for a number of reasons, no matter how old you are (and don’t let your teens try to persuade you otherwise). For one, the security and support that come from being in a healthy, loving family are a foundational part of God’s design for humans. We need each other! We need the belonging and community. We need the opportunities to practice patience, kindness, and generosity. We need the “iron sharpening iron” effect of learning to live in harmony with (other) imperfect humans. There’s no better place to learn these graces than in a family.

Our family has always found that a great way to maintain family togetherness is to play together—to hang out, have fun, and do things we enjoy in each other’s company. That was a lot easier when everyone lived with Mom and Dad. Nowadays, since we aren’t all under the same roof anymore, we have to find new ways to cultivate family togetherness, like our annual Labor Day Family Get-Away where we rent a lodge in the mountains and the whole family “retreats” there for a long weekend of games, swimming, fishing, and food. Everyone has to take a turn preparing a meal, because cooking together is another great way to build family togetherness.

And guess what? It’s still crazy. 🙂

 

FamilytogethernessSome of the crew hot tubbin’ during our annual Labor Day Family Get-Away.

New Book Launch – “PULSE: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business”

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I’m excited to announce the publication of Pulse: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business by Frank Coker, a project on which I was delighted to serve as developmental editor.

If you own–or know someone who owns–a business, I hope you’ll order a copy right away. Pulse is full of practical and useful techniques for running a business by the numbers based on “predictive analytics.” I, being a “word person,” personally knew next to nothing about predictive analytics before signing on to work with Frank on this book.  But boy, did I learn a lot and I’m so glad I did.

Frank Coker offers the unique perspective of serving as both a faculty business professor at the University of Washington iSchool and CEO of Corelytics (a financial software company). Under his leadership, Corelytics has been recognized as a Top 25 Emerging Vendor and won Intuit’s Grand Prize App of the Year. In Pulse, “Professor Frank’s” easygoing informative style makes easily understandable the important concepts that need to be mastered by  business leaders and entrepreneurs who are not experts in financial analytics, and who want to build teams that have a clear picture of where they are headed.

With over 30 expert contributors, Pulse covers an array of topics ranging from Effective Analysis and what your numbers are telling you, Diagnosis, Symptoms vs. Problems, Metrics that Matter Most, Strategic Cash Management, and Activating Your Team. This book is a great practical guide to running a healthy business.

And since I am not only an editor but also a business owner, that’s important information I’m glad to have in my hip pocket. 🙂

FrankCongratulations to Frank Coker and his colleague Kris Fuehr, who was instrumental in the development of Pulse.  I wish you both every success!

 

Get your copy of Pulse: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business by ordering direct or on Amazon

 

Quotes and Endorsements for Pulse: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business

“Running a business is a LOT harder than most people think. Frank Coker offers the insights and framework for starting, growing, and sustaining a business with essential methods to manage metrics and analytics.”
-Mike Eisenberg, Ph.D., Dean Emeritus & Professor and academic entrepreneur,
University of Washington’s Information School

“Are your investments in people and assets really producing meaningful results? Supplying your value-based partners with real, measured insight as to how you are driving results together is priceless. This books shows you how to get there.”
–David Nour, Author, thought leader in Relationship Economics®

“Learning to read and interpret financial data is imperative to understanding a small business. But not just reciting the sums at the bottom of a balance sheet. This means fully understanding what these elements actually mean, what they are based on, and what they predict about the future.”
–Jeff Levy, Author, Making the Jump

“This brings complex business analytics to business owners who are not financial experts
in an easy-to-understand view of what is happening in their business .”
– Harry Bruce, Ph.D., Dean of the University of Washington Information School