Tag Archives: family

Crime Capital of the Pacific Northwest?

I live and work in Federal Way, WA. It’s a suburban community located on the southern edge of King County (where Seattle is) and runs along the northeast border of Tacoma. There isn’t much that sets Federal Way apart from the neighboring communities. We do host some international businesses and organizations like World Vision and Weyerhaeuser. American Idol Sanjaya and Olympic skater J.R.  Celski are from Federal Way. But besides having two Walmarts, a Costco, a Target, and a rest area on I-5 we are generally filled with ordinary people trying to figure out how our fair city got it’s name! I mean, who names a city after a road?

Apparently one of our Seattle-based local TV/radio news divisions (KOMO 4 News) believes that Federal Way is the crime capital of the entire west side of Washington State! At least 2-3 times every week there is a news story about some crime that took place in Federal Way. Recently we heard a story about the police being called out to a home in neighboring northeast Tacoma. The reporter was kind enough to point out the man who was arrested “was formerly of Federal Way.” That’s right. Even though the crime took place in another city by a resident of that other city, it was deemed newsworthy that he once lived in Federal Way! In another story that made national news last week,  a store clerk was murdered by a co-worker on the east coast. The co-worker who was arrested for murder? Yep. She’s from Federal Way! So now when we listen to the news we assume that the person at the center of the story is from Federal Way! Wisconsin Governor  Scott Walker? Pretty sure he’s from Federal Way. Those jabbering twins all over FB and YouTube recently? I guarantee you there’s some connection to Federal Way! It’s like KOMO News plays ‘Six Degrees of Separation from Federal Way”  in their down time! I’m still waiting to hear about Muammar Gadaffi’s connection to Federal Way!

Today’s Federal Way story? Well, it turns out that our fair city has decided to levy hefty fines on pet owners that do not scoop the poop! In a community that is supposedly riddled with crime the city has now passed regulations that will fine your neighbors when their dogs do their business on your lawn. Federal Way residents can now sleep easy knowing that this scourge on our community has the attention of our city leaders! So if you’re ever in the Seattle area please come visit Federal Way. We have great parks, walking trails, and discount box stores. But you might want to leave your dog at home – unless you don’t mind being the lead story on the six o’clock news!

Luxury on a Budget

It’s Valentine’s Day! Millions of people will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to express their love to that special someone. Many will find inexpensive ways to tip their hat to this biggest non-holiday day of the year. (If you don’t think Valentine’s Day is a big deal just try ignoring it!  Bad idea!!) After all of the fancy dinners, flowers, chocolate, heart-shaped pizzas, etc. have come and gone, how are you going to shower your loved one with expressions of affection and still be able to afford to eat? Here are just a few simple suggestions of ways  you can give and enjoy a little luxury on a budget.

Clean those sheets! You know how nice it is to climb into a bed with clean sheets? Most of us feel like we’re doing a pretty good job if we launder our bedding once or twice a month. If you want to gift your mate with some simple luxury just make the bed with clean sheets twice a week! It takes a little work but if you own 2-3 sets of sheets it’s pretty easy to re-make the bed with fresh sheets and get the old ones  washed before you need them.

Don’t forget the towels! Same thing goes for the towels. Those bath towels can get pretty ripe after 7-10 days. So wash them twice a week, too. You’ll feel like you live in a hotel. One more thing on towels. You know that hand towel near the sink? The one you wipe your hands with and even wipe off your face after you brush your teeth? Re-read that last sentence and then give some thought to changing out that towel everyday. If you buy 4-5 matching hand towels you’re all set.

Buy name brands of your favorite foods. If you make a commitment to eating at home more then treat yourself to at least eat some decent meals.  Reach past those store-brand frozen veggies and get the good stuff! Don’t just buy whatever coffee is on sale – buy the brand you like! If you’re drinking more coffee at home you’re not spending as much at that national coffee shop chain so enjoy it!

Get meals to go. When we want to celebrate on a budget we order our meal to go. Outback dinners are cheaper at home (smaller tip and no restaurant beverage charges) and the service is a lot better. You get to enjoy a restaurant meal at a budget price.

Get to the theater early I mean real early. We just recently discovered that if we go to a Saturday morning movie we save about 40% off the ticket price ($5.50 vs $8.50). The luxury of a movie on a really wide screen at a fraction of the cost!

How else do you enjoy a little luxury on a budget?

Trust Me!

Stephen M. R. Covey presents a rather persuasive case for the fundamental need of trust in any relationship or organization. That may not sound that profound, but just consider how difficult it is to get things done in families, organizations, businesses, ministries, or government when there is a palpable lack of trust. Nothing gets done. There is conflict, sandbagging, and sabotage. So what do we do to establish and maintain trust?

Covey asserts that there are five “Waves” of trust.

1) Self Trust – this wave is about becoming a person who is worth trusting.

2) Relationship Trust – is the factor that will strengthen and maintain trust that will improve relationships and results.

3) Organizational Trust – is about creating structures, systems, and symbols of organizational trust.

4) Market Trust – is about your reputation or your brand.

5) Societal Trust – creates value for others and for society at large.

From there, Covey identifies four cores of credibility – integrity, intent, capabilities, results – that are key to developing the first wave of trust – self trust. He takes time over several chapters to develop each core. He does the same with 13 behaviors that everyone can learn to help them develop the second wave – relationship trust. These behaviors include: talk straight, demonstrate respect, right wrongs, show loyalty, deliver results, clarify expectations, and 7 more. Each behavior is thoroughly described in thirteen brief chapters.

I found “The Speed of Trust” to be more like a manual for me – something that I will refer to often, re-reading sections and reviewing my progress. It’s just way too easy for people in leadership to assume that everyone is on board with a new idea or direction simply because they took the time to communicate it clearly. The reality is that without trust no amount of communication will bring the team on board. Of particular help was Covey’s description of the taxes and dividends of trust. Without trust you will pay a lot more tax. With trust, you will reap more dividends. Your organization will function more smoothly, effectively, and efficiently. That’s what  the ‘speed’  of trust is all about!

As a secondchair leader I know firsthand how important it is to be trusted by those I report to – and how quickly that trust can be damaged. When trust is damaged it is much more difficult to get things done, to work efficiently, or to influence the organization. And without high levels of trust it becomes very difficult to lead those people who report to you or to motivate those volunteers you depend on to get your work done! I would encourage you – especially if you are experiencing various levels of frustration in your work or ministry – to read Covey’s book and take a self-inventory. Examine those areas in your own life where you could take intentional steps to build trust both up and down the organizational ladder. Once you have done that, perhaps you can mention some of the lessons that you are learning to your entire team and make the reading of this book a joint project.

Meet Jackson Larson

Jackson Larson is a remarkable young man.  I’ve never met Jackson but would like the opportunity to meet this NextGeneration leader.  Recently, Jackson was injured in a rather unusual car accident. Several vertebrae in his back were crushed and he is – for now, at least – paralyzed from the waist down. But his injuries aren’t what makes him remarkable. Unfortunately there are tens of thousands of people who have been similarly injured. What is remarkable is Jackson’s story of faith and hope. There is no question that Jackson has been raised by pretty amazing parents and has been surrounded by people who have loved him and cared for him throughout his young life. I know that Jackson is someone I would want teaching my kids (or grand kids). You can read his story here. Be sure to watch the short video from the local news team, too, then pray for Jackson and for his family. And thank God that he continues to call young men and women to himself and that he works in their lives for his glory!

Solitary Existence

It was a great Christmas weekend. Our daughter and son-in-law came up form Portland on Thursday with their cute little15 month old daughter in tow. We enjoyed several meals around the dining room table,  attended Christmas Eve services at our church, opened gifts, watched the  ‘Despicable Me’ dvd, and walked through an amazing light show at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. It was great for my wife and I to spend these days with “our kids” and grand daughter. It was hard to say good-bye.

And then I drove my wife to the airport where she left to spend a few days with her siblings and parents in Minnesota.

So I find myself all alone on the day after Christmas. Eating the leftovers, getting the laundry washed and folded, and staring at a lit Christmas tree with now unwrapped gifts underneath. I watched some TV and did a lot of reading. And I wondered if this is it what it’s like for the numerous people in our neighborhoods and who live alone. Perhaps some have always been single while others were once married but through either death or divorce find themselves living a solitary existence. It’s not much fun to walk through a house that was filled with laughter and activity just a few hours ago. I imagine that the silence gets pretty overwhelming when those hours stretch into months.

I’ll go to work Monday and have three pretty busy days before my wife returns. I have plenty to read (working my way through the 1,000 page Truman biography), I have a sermon to write for Sunday, and there are always NCIS reruns on somewhere! But if you have a friend or a relative who spends every day alone, let me encourage you to take some time out of your busy schedule to give them a call or drop by for a few minutes – particularly after a significant holiday like Christmas.

Michael W Smith Christmas Concert

My wife and I attended the Michael W Smith Christmas concert near Seattle, WA this past Sunday night. It was the finale’ of his “It’s a Wonderful Christmas” tour. The concert was advertised as including a 60-piece orchestra but the reality was that the orchestra was joined by a 40-piece choir and a 9-person acapella group called “Voice Avenue.” At one point Smith noted that there were 120 people on the stage! Here are a few observations.

1) Legacy – I appreciate Michael W Smith’s willingness to wear the mantle of Christian music’s elder statesman. He blazed a trail some years ago that many of our favorite contemporary christian musicians are traveling today. It is obvious that he finds great joy in seeing young talent emerge. The look on his face while Voice Avenue sung was one of a proud mentor. He shared the stage well.

2) Voice Avenue was phenomenal! They are new to me. These 9 men and women sung with amazingly precise harmony and confidence. It was a joy to listen to them.

3) The conductor – David Hamilton – is a friend and collaborator of Smith’s. He is an accomplished conductor and arranger. Much of his work sounds like something that could be used in movie soundtrack – something that Hamilton has a great deal of experience with.

4) The orchestra – Northwest Symphonic joined the concerts for the Portland and Seattle performances. They were more than up for the task. I especially enjoyed their apparent familiarity with Smith’s work when he led us in the singing of ‘Above All.’ Clearly, some members of the orchestra were worshiping with us.

5) The sound. I like my music ‘big’ and this concert delivered. The fullness of the arrangements, the complex harmonies, and presence of a full orchestra that blended perfectly with strong voices was a real highlight for me.

6) Bagpipes. You either love them or you hate them. But the guy who played them that night (what IS his name?) is an amazing musician and just might make a believer of you!


How To Really Love Your Child – Book Review

First published in 1977, the updated and revised edition How To Really Love Your Child remains relevant for today’s parents facing the challenges of raising kids in the 21st century.  In the first few pages Campbell asserts that most of today’s parenting issues emerge when children don’t feel loved by their parents.  The parents may in fact love their children but have failed to discover how best to demonstrate unconditional love to their children.

While the home environment continues to be the most significant influence in the lives of children, their “congenital temperament” ranks second. The description of these nine temperaments in chapter 1 could be very helpful for parents of young children.

The core of the book begins with Chapter 3 – The foundation, and continues through chpts 4-6: showing love through eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention. Campbell does zero in on a common issue in parenting – responding to your child’s anger. He writes, “Teaching our children and teenagers to handle anger is what I truly consider to be the most difficult part of parenting. First, it is difficult because it does not come naturally……Second…because it is a long, tedious process.” (pp. 81-82). Campbell goes on to say that it should be our goal to teach our children “to handle anger maturely by the age of 16 or 17.” (p.83) Given that reality it might be a good idea to read more on this topic in Campbell’s book: How To Really Love Your Angry Child.

I appreciate that Campbell takes 10 chapters to lay the ground work for learning to love our children better before he addresses punishment.  He writes: “I hope you will apply the principles in the first 10 chapters before trying to apply rules relating to discipline. Please love your child unconditionally and give a superabundance of eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention.”

I found Campbell’s advice on parenting to be very refreshing because he avoids creating a parenting “system” where if you follow each step exactly will mean that well-adjusting, spiritually-grounded kids will emerge out the other end of the conveyer belt! These are guiding principles that will need to considered and applied uniquely to each child.

Even though I am an empty nester grandparent of a toddler I found How To Really Love Your Child to be both helpful and engaging as I reflected back on my own parenting style and consider my new role as a grandparent. I would recommend that all parents read this book and discuss any changes that should be made in their parenting practices with their spouse.