Tag Archive | family

Coming Soon! Parenting for the Launch

Launch Cove Web Res

It’s been two and a half years since the release of What I Wish I Knew at 18 and, oh what an amazing time it’s been! We could never have envisioned the success and impact it has had. We have been humbled and awed as the book and its accompanying course have made their way into homes, schools, mentor programs, and around the world.

           

One of the surprising responses to What I Wish I Knew at 18 has been the resounding plea from parents, educators, businesses, mentor and faith organizations, and at-risk youth programs: Please write a book for parents!

           

Here’s why. Colleges and employers report that an alarming percentage of today’s high school graduates are ill equipped to handle the pressures and responsibilities of the real world. As our world is becoming more competitive, kids are often lacking the personal skills and qualities to succeed. The economic climate and job market are especially challenging these days, not to mention the cultural climate that offers innumerable distractions and potential de-railers that most of us never experienced (or even imagined!).

 

Many parents describe feeling isolated, ill-equipped and under-prepared, with kids who don’t appear be listening during this crucial time of life. They are anxious about their children leaving home and their relationships are often strained. At a time when parents want to become closer to their teens, they feel like they’re being pushed away in favor of other voices. These questions fill their thoughts:

 

1.     Have we covered the bases?

2.     How will our relationship change?

3.     Are they ready?

4.     Are we ready???

           

I collaborated on this project with Dennis (author of What I Wish I Knew at 18)  because we firmly believe agree that young adults today need more than head knowledge. They need a solid, comprehensive leadership foundation that will support them and enable them to make key decisions in these crucial years and beyond. This includes having a purposeful life perspective, solid character, strong personal disciplines, the ability to develop healthy relationships, career smarts, financial management skills, and the capacity to overcome adversity.

           

We believe, along with our spouses, that the first place this training needs to happen is in the home. Parents have a unique role in preparing their children for a successful launch to the real world. And, while there are many excellent parenting books out there, many focus on behavior and discipline without offering the complete picture of life readiness. 

 

So that’s why we put our heads (and computers) together to write Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. We hope it will inspire, equip, and encourage other parents with proven principles and innovative strategies to confidently navigate the later teen years, particularly in that strategic period leading up to the “launch.”

             

Parenting for the Launch is expected to be released in late October, 2013. Please help us grow our circle by “liking” our FB page and following us on Twitter! Help us spread the word by joining our Launch Team and sharing Parenting for the Launch with your friends, family, and associates. And if you’re not already on our email newsletter, you can sign up here.

You can pre-order Parenting for the Launch by clicking on this link:
http://www.atlasbooks.com/marktplc/03217.htm

 

 

 

 

Relationship Status: Married and Dating

The night before last I babysat my brand-new granddaughter for the first time. What a treat. A whole evening to snuggle her, all to myself.

Just last week my daughter rolled her eyes at me and said, “Mom, why are you so into her?”

Oh please. (People warned me it would be love at first sight, but you really don’t know till you experience it just how hard and how quickly a grandchild can grab your heart.)

But I digress.

Speaking of heart-grabbing, though, the REASON I got to babysit Willa was that Heather and Jacob were going out on their FIRST DATE. Well, obviously, not their FIRST first date.  What I mean is, their first date post-baby (three weeks).  I joked with them on their way out the door, “You’re probably going to sit across the table from each other and wonder what you talked about before you had a baby.”

I was so glad they did that, though. Hats off to them. I’m glad they’ve picked up on the important truth that DATING YOUR SPOUSE IS SO IMPORTANT, whether your kids are newborns, teenagers, or adults.

Where do we find time?  We MAKE time. My life is as crazy as yours is. Really, most people’s lives are, aren’t they? A whirlwind of work, appointments, kids and their activities, household chores and responsibilities—not to mention church and community volunteering, time with friends and extended family,  and more!

But come on, folks, there are NO EXCUSES.

Romance (and all intimacy, really) starts with simply connecting relationally. It’s something that needs to be cultivated and nurtured. It won’t just happen (or stay hot) on its own. You’ve got to work at it.

I totally agree with what I recently read from relationship expert Michelle Weiner-Davis, who cites kids as being a major reason for romantic disconnect in a marriage. “As a culture, we have become very child-focused and parents feel like they need to spend all their free time with their kids,” she explains, “but parents should spend time with one another for their kids. If they don’t spend time with one another, they’re not bonding or building [on their] friendship.”

Michelle says that, as a practicing marriage counselor, she is often able to cut to the root of the problem in the couples she counsels by asking one simple question: “When was the last time you went on a date?”

Now, let me point out that a “date” is not going to your kids’ soccer game together, attending church together, doing your yard work at the same time, or lying in bed watching TV. A date is doing something you both enjoy together, without any distractions, that allows you the opportunity to reconnect with each other and re-affirm what drew you together in the first place.

Doug and I are coming up on our 29th wedding anniversary this summer. When I tell people that (for example, it came up at the doctor’s office just yesterday), I always get comments. “Wow, you don’t hear that much these days.” Or “Good for you; that’s amazing.”

I don’t know that it’s so amazing; I wish it were the status quo! But while Doug and I certainly haven’t done everything right along the way, there is one thing we’ve prioritized that I think has been a consistent source of relational “glue” in our relationship. (I call it glue because it helps us stick together. 🙂 )

We have always made time to get out by ourselves, even when our five kids were small and we were struggling to make ends meet on a single income. They may have been cheap dates during some of those years, but we figured out how to make it work. And at least once a year, we’ve gone away together, just the two of us. We leaned on Grandma and Grandpa. We traded babysitting with friends. And when the older kids were old enough to watch the younger kids, we left them alone and prayed they wouldn’t kill each other. (Just kidding.)

Do you need creative ideas?  Go get an ice cream cone and go for a walk on the waterfront (we can do that in our town). Dinner and a movie (you should definitely include the dinner part because if it’s just a movie you won’t talk). A hike. A ball game. A concert. A museum or art gallery. A car race or sports event.  You know yourselves and what you like (and what each other likes).

Doug and me at a baseball game last weekend

The activity is not as important as the time spent together alone, applying a little relational glue.  It will help you maintain your identity as a couple, not two individuals living in the same house and rushing madly through life at the same time, with the same scenery, but never connecting in a meaningful way.

I think our families, our communities, and the next generation as a whole would be a whole lot better off if more of us paid attention to our coupleness.  I can’t fix the world, but I can work on me, and so can you.

So, when’s the last time YOU dated YOUR spouse?  If it’s been a while, will you schedule it into your calendar and make it happen? And if you and your spouse are regular daters, please share your best ideas with the rest of us.

What’s your favorite date with your spouse?

Birthday Bashes for Our Grown-up Kids

It was Hayley’s 20th birthday last weekend. So, we braved the avalanches threatening Snoqualmie Pass and headed over the mountains to visit Tyler and Lexi and Hayley and Spencer, to celebrate.  Hayley and Spencer drove over from Pullman and had a much nicer drive than we did.  Ours looked like this. In fact, we barely made it through; they closed the pass right after we crossed, for avalanche control.  Whew!

Ironically, just four short weeks ago we did the same thing for Tyler’s birthday: We braved the pass and met up with Tyler and Lexi and Lexi’s family in Roslyn, WA, which is half-way between their house and ours.  And I kid you not, there was at least four feet of snow. Heather, five and half months pregnant, was not anticipating the snow and was wearing a raincoat and suede boots with heels. 

Four out of our five kids, celebrating Ty’s 25th birthday at Village Pizza in Roslyn. Not much to choose from in Roslyn. Good thing they serve great pizza. 🙂

Back to Hayley’s birthday. First thing on the celebratory schedule was birthday breakfast.     Bacon, eggs, and BIG HUGE FLUFFY Belgian waffles.

As for birthday activities, Hayley has come a long way from princess parties. This is not particularly how I would like to spend my birthday. But it was what Hayley wanted to do: shoot her brother’s guns!  So she and her Dad and Tyler and Spencer went and did that, and Lexi and I stayed home and planned a baby shower.


Now I’m going to show you how to make Pesto Salmon Packets, which was Hayley’s request for her birthday dinner.  I had to send a Facebook message to Claire Hammond in England to ask her how to make them.  (Thanks, Claire!) It was Hayley’s favorite meal when she was in the U.K.:

1. Start with a pile of green beans on a square of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper them.


2. Place a piece of delicious fresh salmon on top of the green beans. (Portion size for one person)

3. Place a dollop of pesto on top of the salmon. Get Mom in the photo, just for the photo record. Mom is not in many family photos. She is usually on the other side of the camera.

4. To ensure quality control, bring in an inspector to approve the generosity of the pesto dollops.  Very important. Hayley makes sure I get enough on each one.

4. Fold in the corners of the foil to make a packet. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes. (Some of the larger pieces of salmon needed an extra five minutes.)  Unwrap, slip onto a plate, and serve with white rice. Num! No wonder Hayley loved it. (Claire made it for me when I was in the U.K. in November and I loved it, too.) Super easy.

Finally, the birthday cake. Or, in this case, CAKES, plural.  Lexi made Molten Lava (chocolate) cakes in little ramekins, served hot with vanilla ice cream.  AMAZING.  We licked the platter(s) clean. Pretty much.

We stayed an extra night in Ephrata because the trip there was so arduous; who wanted to turn around and drive back over the pass in THOSE CONDITIONS the very  next day?! Heather said she was sure glad she wasn’t with us on this trip!  It was a little disconcerting. But no avalanche warnings on Monday, so home we went, jiggedy-jig, having accomplished our second snowy over-the-mountain-to-show-our-kids-how-much-we-love-them birthday expedition. (Which we do. Love them, I mean.)

Who said kids’ birthdays parties got easier the older they get?

NOT!!! 🙂

Got Kids? Pray First, Open Mouth Second

Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything. ~The Bible

It’s been said that the family that prays together, stays together—but do you know just how true that really is? Seriously! A Gallup poll revealed that among married couples who attend church together regularly, the divorce rate is one out of two.  How sad. That’s the same statistic as for marriages anywhere. But get this: among couples who pray together daily, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. [i] What a difference!

One of the best gifts a couple can give their children (and each other) is the gift of a strong marriage and family life knit together through prayer. Prayer builds unity and intimacy. We become intimate to whom we pray, for whom we pray, and with whom we pray. Prayer is the key to unlocking extraordinary blessings for children and families the way a key unlocks a gate.

Years ago, Doug came up with a slogan for our family that, in our house, prayer should always be “the first response, not a last resort.” I’d go so far to say that prayer has not only been our lifeline to heaven (and sometimes to sanity!), but it’s also been our greatest and most valued parenting tool.

What that’s meant for this mom, specifically, has been to make every effort to pray first, open mouth second. I’ve had to work on it even harder as my kids have grown and become adults.  More often than not, my role is not to fix, not to correct, not to express an opinion … but to pray.  And then step back and trust God. (Yes, hard to do I know. But He always comes through and I’ve learned to trust Him.)

Proverbs 31: 27 says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” I skipped merrily over that verse for years until one day I just happened to read it at the same time as I was reading elsewhere in the Bible that day. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest.”

That jumped out at me. I’m a word person. Both roots of those words—watches and watchman—have similar meanings, “to peer into the distance, observe, watch; to hedge about (as with thorns), guard, protect, attend to”[ii] They can also be translated “lookout” or “doorkeeper.”[iii]

How very cool.  I realized way back then that prayer is one of the most powerful roles a mother can play in her children’s lives. So much more can be accomplished for my kids from my knees than from my mouth! Correction, instruction, suggestions, and advice are all very well and good—and necessary.  But years of experience tell me (and I know many other praying moms who will agree with me) that some of the most powerful breakthroughs I’ve seen with my children have been when I prayed instead of only trying to fix a situation with natural means.

My friend Cindy has a sign posted in her family room, where she can see it every day, that says PRAY BIG. I love it.  I think it’s the perfect mom-slogan. 🙂

Have you PRAYED for your kids today?

This post adapted from my book Prayer-Saturated Kids, by Arlyn Lawrence and Cheryl Sacks, NavPress 2007.


[i] Gallup Poll, 1993

[ii] James Strong, “Strong’s New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN:1995), tsaphah, Strongs #6822, p. 122; shamar, Strongs #8104, p 145.

[iii] The NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI:1990), p. 1598 and 1643.

A Child’s Original Design

Having five children, ranging in age from 14 through 25, I learned a long time ago that they are all VERY DIFFERENT. What’s important to one means nothing to another. What works for one does nothing for another.  And they ALL have unique interests, personalities, and ways of relating to the world around them. Getting to know each one of them personally, in the special way God has designed them, has been one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of Doug’s and my parenting journey.

Do you know how God has uniquely designed your child, or the children in your life? Have you looked for unique characteristics that give clues to what that design might be—personality traits, character qualities, talents, abilities, spiritual gifts and life callings? Better yet, have you ever prayed and asked God to show you His design for your child?

You can start praying for a child’s design and destiny at any age: when they’re in the womb (as I’m doing now for my coming granddaughter), when they’re in school, when they’re in high school, or even when they’ve left your home. It’s never too early—or too late!

Then, through prayer, blessing, encouragement, and training, you–parent, grandparent, teacher, or other mentor–have the amazing opportunity and privilege to partner with God in seeing His original design for a child come to fruition as that child grows into adulthood. You can help children become who God destined them to be!

“Train up a child in the way he should go,” says Proverbs 22:6, “and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Raise him or her, that is, according to the child’s “natural bent.” The Hebrew meaning of the phrase “in the way he should go” is literally “according to his way.” The Hebrew word for “way” is derek, which means “bent” It refers to a unique inner design or direction. In fact, when referring to our children’s natural bents, I like to use the term “original design.”

As our children grow and mature, and find their way in life and in God’s plan, praying for them according to their original design is one of the ways Doug and I have learned to “let go and let God.” Kids, as they become adults, will inevitably make some decisions or take paths that give parents white knuckles from time and time. We were no exception when we were young adults, and neither are own kids! Interceding for our teens and adult children has helped give us the reminder and confidence of who God says they are, and that He ultimately determines their steps, regardless of what we may see with our physical eyes in the moment.

I want to be sure the prayers I pray for my kids (and soon, grandchildren) will find their way to God’s ears, and then back into their lives by way of a tangible answer. So, with that in mind, I try to align those prayers as closely as possible to God’s heart and will (and not my own)! Finding out and endeavoring to cooperate with His original design for my children is one of the best ways I know to do that. 🙂

Be encouraged.

It’s a journey!

And God is outside of time and space.

He sees the whole picture, for you AND for your children.

You, and they, are in His hands.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

(Adapted from my book Prayer-Saturated Kids, co-authored with Cheryl Sacks, (c) 2007 NavPress.)

Snow, Snow Shoes, and Serendipity

We are buried in seven inches of snow (at least) and another inch of ice on top of that. Terrific and treacherous at the same time. Terrific if you just want to play outside in the glorious stuff or hunker down inside, be cozy, and admire the winter wonderland outside your window. Treacherous if you actually have to drive in it!

Being a prairie girl, I LOVE snow and to be out in it whenever I can. I have fond memories of winters in Winterpeg (LOL), ice skating in our back yard or the neighborhood outdoor rink, building snow forts in our yards and in the playground at school, tobogganing, snowmobiling in neighbors’ fields …

… so imagine my delight when, yesterday, I took my dog for a walk at the park near our house and encountered a neighbor on snow shoes who invited me to join her and give them a whirl!

Snow shoes – now there’s a snow activity I’ve never done and have always wanted to!

When I first saw her, I wasn’t exactly sure what were on her feet, since they looked a bit like short cross-country skis and she had ski poles.  That’s because, in my imagination, snow shoes look like this:

However, nowadays snow shoes are a lot more techno-looking. My neighbor bought hers at REI. She quickly cinched them onto my boots like this:

Then off we went, taking turns. The park near our house has wooded paths and open fields–super fun for snow-shoeing. Loved it. Think I’m going to check out REI and get some for myself. And Doug, if I can talk him into it. More fun to do such things with company, don’tcha think?

In fact, having snow shoes would be a good excuse for excursions to Mount Rainier or Hurricane Ridge to use them.  I could have used a pair of those when we were at Hurricane Ridge last winter; I was sinking in snow up to my thighs trying to walk in it!

(Hurricane Ridge, January 2011, Olympic National Park)

Life is way too short to miss the beauty of God’s Creation in in EVERY season.

Get out and enjoy it!



Perogies and the 12th Day of Christmas

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – DAY 12: January 6th

What is the 6th of January?

a.  Ukrainian Christmas Eve

b. Epiphany

c. the 12th day of Christmas

d. the perfect opportunity to pig out on perogies and cabbage rolls

Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

January 6th is the proverbial 12th day of Christmas, and it is also the FIRST day – Christmas Eve – of Ukrainian Christmas.  (If I was really orthodox about it, I could start all over with yet ANOTHER 12 days of Christmas if I wanted to. But I won’t. I think I’m finally Christmassed out.)

Why do I care? Mostly because I LOVE perogies and Ukrainian Christmas is the perfect opportunity to indulge in my favorite childhood Ukrainian food. Both of my paternal grandparents emigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. They were both culturally and linguistically German but part of the lingering Ukrainian legacy in our family was – you got it – perogies!  And cabbage rolls!

Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, where there is a large Ukrainian population, a number of my childhood friends celebrated Ukrainian Christmas. I was always a little jealous that we didn’t, because they always got two rounds of gifts! (Either that or their parents got great deals on buying presents because they could wait and shop the AFTER Christmas sales!)

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the perogies and cabbage rolls.

So guess what we had for dinner tonight at our house? Yep. Perogies. (They taste a lot better than they look.)  But maybe that’s just because I grew up on them.  I’ve linked the recipes if you want to try to make them from scratch. They’re kind of a lot of work, though. So I just stock up in bulk at Costco every time I go to Canada. 🙂

Do you have any favorite foods that connect you to your family history? What are they?  Do share!

3 French Foods

Three French Foods

So, tonight, what is technically the “third day of Christmas” according to the traditional calendar, finds our family in the Great White North (Canada). This is my Home and Native Land and we are here for Christmas round two with the Canadian relatives.

I LOVE coming home to Canada. There are so many things that are great memories for me of growing up here, especially around the holidays.

I never did have “three French hens” (a la “The Twelve Days of Christmas”). But I DID learn to love some French (Canadian) foods, even though our family isn’t French Canadian.  (Kind of hard to get away from French in Canada, you know. It’s on everything from signs to shampoo bottles.)

But that just served to give me a love for the language, I think. That and sitting through French class every day from kindergarten through twelfth grade and two years of university!

But I digress. This is supposed to be about food, not language.

Here are three French-Canadian foods I love at Christmas (with links to recipes I use personally!):

1. Buche de Noel (pictured above) – Yule Log. Hillary made this one for her French class Christmas party at school. She made another one for our family on Christmas Day.  Yum!  And especially good because it’s a wheat-free cake; perfect for our gluten-free Tim.

2. Tourtiere – Meat Pie. Made with ground beef and sausage and seasonings in a traditional flaky pie crust. Ooh la la!

3. Split Pea and Ham Soup – we make it the day after Christmas using the Christmas ham bone and leftover meat. Super!

Check ’em out … try ’em out … let me know how you like ’em!

 

Joyeux Noel … et Bonne Année et Bonne Santé!

(Merry Christmas and Happy New Year/Good Health to You!)

Merry Christmas 2011!

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN DAY 10: CHRISTMAS MORNING, CINNAMON ROLLS, AND FAMILY ALL DAY LONG
“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays, let them overtake me unexpectedly, waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why this is Christmas Day!” ~Ray Stannard Baker

Everyone has their memories and expectations of what makes Christmas special, don’t they?  And more often than not, those memories are built around home and family and food. At least, for our family. Activities, too. But first and foremost I think food is the hands-down winner!

My daughter-in-law recently got me turned on to Pinterest, which is where she found a photo of a new twist (pun intended) on cinnamon rolls and asked me to make them. Another winner! Mom’s Homemade Cinnamon rolls are a family favorite, but this idea made them even more fun for Christmas. (Photo above; thought you might like to see how they turned out.)

I loved the quote I found for today’s blog. It’s true. We do tend to have too high of expectations of Christmas Day (and other family holidays) sometimes. The reality is that family ALL DAY LONG is an exercise in patience for even the most loving of families (which ours is, but still …). It’s a great opportunity, though, to learn to wait for each other, honor each other, be forbearing toward one another, to be consistently UNoffendable … and to laugh easily and not think to highly of ourselves.

We did THREE rounds of present exchanging, TWO rounds of full-on holiday meals, and ONE round of an over-the-top spread of Christmas desserts. Not to mention multiple games, walking the dogs in the park (whew, so great to get out of the house and get some fresh air!), and now cleaning up the aftermath … so crazy. So fun. So rewarding. So grateful and happy.

I can’t believe I blogged EVERY DAY for ten days at the busiest time of the year. Wow. I don’t have an excuse now for not doing it any other time, do I? 🙂

Joy and Christmas blessings to all … and to all a GOOD NIGHT!

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” ~Ephesians 4:2

Carolers on My Doorstep

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN DAY 9 – CHRISTMAS EVE: JESUS, GINGERBREAD, AND CAROLERS ON MY DOORSTEP

“As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.” ~ Eric Sevareid

Church this evening – the kids sang, there were cookies and carols, it was great to see friends, and we remembered together why we get to have such a tremendous celebration every year.  IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS. Even those who don’t really believe get to benefit! Christmas is for everyone. 

We came home to a pan of lasagna nearly the size of my dining room table, which we hardly made a dent in. (That’s okay, I think I’ve got one more good day left in me then I’m going to crash and say “Get me out of the kitchen!” So when that happens it will be nice to have leftovers.)

The checker at the grocery store today wanted to be sure to wish me a “Merry Christmas” today and not a “Happy Holidays.” In a day and age when so many communities are throwing the nativity and “Merry Christmas” out the back door as quickly as they can embrace the more neutral “Happy Holidays” and a panorama of ornaments and snowflakes as representative of the real meaning of Christmas, my community has retained the nativity in the public park downtown (see photo).  I love it! I also love that fact that a group of twenty-plus carolers in Santa hats showed up on our doorstep this evening singing everything from Joy to the World to Frosty the Snowman to We Wish You a Merry Christmas. We gave them all cookies, joined in the singing, and went with them to carol at our neighbors across the street.

Fun to celebrate with family. Fun to celebrate with friends. And fun to celebrate with community.  Christmas is a celebration of God’s gift TO us, Jesus’ life FOR us, and the Spirit’s joy IN us.

Today, I got to experience all of those. Ended the day with gingerbread in the oven filling the house with a delicious smell as it baked and then cooled.  Decorating it will give the troops something to do tomorrow afternoon after presents are done and they’re waiting for ham and turkey. But that’s another blog post … now it’s time to go to bed, and dream of sugar plums and what we all might find under our tree in the morning … 🙂

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” ~ Matthew 2:1-2