Father's Day 2012

Nearly 8 years ago, Stanley Lewis became my father-in-law.  Little did I know how precious our relationship would be, or how much I would learn from this man.

I’m honoring him today because at 4:30 am this morning, July 4th, Stanley attained everlasting freedom as he entered Heaven’s gates.  We knew it was coming but it’s still so hard to say goodbye.

Stanley is one of those rare men who know who they are and do not waver.  Bold in values, character, and convictions, he was quick to let others know what they needed for hope and true life.

It wasn’t always like this however, in fact the first 40 years of his life were quite the opposite, filled with poor decisions, abandonment, addictions, and what he would describe as a real mess.  When Stanley met Jesus, everything changed.  His heretofore successful music career gave way to a new masters degree in counseling from NC Central which he and his wife Genie would build upon in their counseling practice. The pain of his own waywardness turned into credibility helping others face similar regrets and shame. Even today emails are pouring in from so many saying, “He saved my life, he’s like a father to me, I’m different because of him.”

Stanley taught me many things in our short 7.5 years together, like how not to let physical suffering become your identity.  He contracted leukemia in his 30’s and had many health struggles through the years.  Yet even in the hospital this week, barely able to speak, he was asking how we were doing.

He understood that you can’t change the past, but you can choose your future.  It sounds trite but how many go on auto-pilot when tragedies occur, and never break free into the something greater coming next.

An accomplished musician from the Peabody Conservatory and Atlanta Symphony, his greatest aspirations these last few years were to see his 12 grandchildren not repeat his mistakes and to move to Israel.  I love how he never quit dreaming but even as recent as Father’s Day 3 weeks ago, he was thinking about what adventures could still lie ahead for he and Genie.

I could go on and on amidst these poignant moments for our family. Most of all I’m just so grateful our goodbyes are temporary, and the hellos to come will last forever.  I’m missing you already Stanley…..see you on the other side.

 



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I love gardening for many reasons, and often find parallels between steps in the yard and steps in my own life and career.

For the last three years there has been one spot along our path where the monkey grass keeps dying.  There are many others thriving within inches of this spot but for some reason, whatever is planted here keeps dying.

So this spring it’s time for a new strategy.  Rather than putting money in the ground only to have it die, I decided to dig deeper and get to the root of what’s going on underground.  I’m eager to see if this will yield to lasting growth in this spot.

Isn’t life so similar?  We often find certain areas in our souls and behavior that keep producing negative results.  Maybe we overreact, are mean or impolite, jump to wrong conclusions, or go through the same heartaches over and over again.  When this happens, I’ve learned that often it’s not what’s visible that needs help, but the ground underneath.  Deeper issues of my own soul tend to rear their ugly heads and I need to go deeper to get to the root cause.

There’s no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed of taking the time to get our ground in order.  It’s beautiful growth we’re after, in the garden and in life!


I was interviewed this week by a writer from Forbes and portions of my answers were included in her final article.  Thought my readers might enjoy seeing all my answers.  Given the fact many of these lessons cost significant blood, sweat and tears, wanted to share in hopes of saving others precious time and energy.  Enjoy!

Corporate culture has changed. Employees aren’t expected to stay at one company for their entire career, where they will gradually climb the corporate ladder.  Workers today jump around from company to company and don’t always go “upward” on the ladder—but  I think it’s fair to say that most people working in the corporate world DO want to move up, one way or another. Would you agree with this? Feel free to elaborate.

Yes, I would agree that every person working will typically have the desire to “move up” or perhaps the better way to say it is, they will want to “grow.”  Growth is a natural sign of being alive!  So it is healthy to want to expand, develop, and advance both personally and professionally.

Should employees, especially young ones or those new to the corporate workforce, aspire to climb the proverbial corporate ladder?

Yes, as stated above, it is normal and natural to want to grow and advance.  I would say though, that the bigger objective is to get in touch with your life purpose first, which actually answers the question, “Why — Why am I here?”  (Here on the earth, here at this company, here in this position.)  Once you know WHY, then you can discover WHAT you really want to do and HOW to go about doing it.  The answers become both your anchor and your compass up the proverbial ladder!

What if someone is perfectly content with staying in one position, or at a particular level, for the entirety of their career? 

Granted, someone may stay at a similar level over the course of many years, but I doubt they want to stop growing, developing, expanding their impact and reach.  Why would someone want to spend the majority of their waking hours just getting by?  That mindset is certainly not energizing.  While a title and position might not change, we as individuals will change and as we do, our impact and influence on others and on the job we have, can grow with us, even if not officially on paper.  There were many years when I got “promoted and advanced,” in my career even without the pay or position to show for it!

We know it can take an employee a lifetime to make their way to the top (or close to the top)—but some manage to do it quickly. Do you think it’s difficult for people to climb the corporate ladder quickly today?

I do think the economic environment we are currently facing is tough for quick advancement, unless you work for a start-up or company in a fast growth track (which brings both positives and negatives with it.)  Today’s “corporate ladder” is sometimes referred to as the “corporate lattice” meaning the ability to move horizontally as well as up and down depending on the company’s growth and your own professional aspirations at any given time.  Again, if someone can focus on their own personal purpose and let that be their measurement for growth and satisfaction, they will find greater ability to ride the waves and stay the course regardless of what happens in their job or to those around them.

Please tell me some of the things one can do to fast-track their way up the ladder.

1.  Know your life purpose (see above explanation) which will provide an effective compass and anchor in your career and personal life.

2.  Have a personal board of directors.  This is not an official board but is a structured way to identify WHO you need in your life and WHAT you need from them to navigate to the next places professionally and personally, that you most desire to go.

3.  Do my “1-1-1 Strategy” which is about taking one step, once a week, toward one of your professional dreams.

4.  “Dream beyond the job description,” which simply means not letting yourself be limited by what you are officially assigned to do.  This does not mean ignoring present responsibilities, but it does mean working beyond achievements that are obvious or expected.

5.  Stay keenly aware of broader company goals.  Know which projects are being funded, who is in charge of those projects, what priorities are high and which ones are low.  Align yourself with the people and projects at the highest levels of attention and expectation. This gives you visibility and the chance to shine more quickly.  (Jacquelyn, I can provide some examples here if you’d like.)

6.  Know your boss’ top personal and professional goals, then do all you can to help him/her advance their priorities.  Every leader needs lieutenants and when you serve them their favor toward you will increase and they are likely to pull you in and up to more responsibility and opportunities for quicker advancement.

7.  Keep a list of your achievements, especially those that align with broader company priorities.  Find ways to keep your boss and others informed of these achievements so you are recognized increasingly as someone leading company success beyond your own responsibilities.  This list is helpful especially at annual review time.

8.  Think and act a level above.  This means operating like someone in a position higher than you already are, not losing sight or attention to current responsibilities, but conveying the confidence and intent to be someone who has potential for promotion and leadership.

9. If you work for a public company, listen in on quarterly analyst calls.  This is a great way to hear what top company leaders are saying to Wall Street, and learn about how they think and respond to shareholders interests and concerns.

10.  Become an industry expert.  Read, study, follow industry leaders on social media outlets, attend industry conferences.  This helps you grow beyond your job to know the industry and others in it.  These relationships can open up tremendous possibilities for mentoring and advancement.  Many a junior professional has served side-by-side with, or had access to, an industry luminary during industry conferences or networking events.

11.  Write or speak whenever possible.  Company newsletters, special events, lunch ‘n learns, and training sessions can offer you a spotlight. Once you are “published” or become more visible even in small ways, people will attribute to you greater credibility and talent.

12.  Be a team player and invest in others.  The ability to win friends and influence others is a skill needed increasingly as you move up in any organization.

13.  Express appreciation.  This sounds so simple but I’m amazed how seldom junior professionals articulate their gratitude for opportunities and guidance extended to them by more senior leaders. I learned the value of this one time when I saw our CEO walking through the atrium at lunch. He did not know me but I thanked him for his weekly voice mails that I knew he intended to be informative and encouraging to the workforce.  Not 30 minutes later my boss told me the CEO had asked what my name was and I realized my simple gesture of appreciation had left a positive impression.  From that point forward the CEO called me by name.


 

There are 100 million singles (over 18) in the U.S. alone, yet many feel like one of only a handful missing out on Valentines Day.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the launch of my newest book, Remember the Roses — How to Hold Out, Hang On, and Marry the Man of Your Dreams

I wrote this book for anyone waiting for true love and those needing fresh encouragement plus a few practical tools for navigating the journey toward lasting love. The title comes from a vision I had of a Road lined with Roses, and the book is written in three distinct sections.

The first section is a quick and easy read about my own ups, downs, heartbreaks and headaches on a long road to a happy ending that included one worth-the-wait husband and four awesome sons.

The second section is called, “Gifts and Lessons from the Journey,” highlighting many treasures not fully visible until later. Chapters like, “Dreaming Big for Your Life” and “Celebrating Now” showcase the many surprise gifts to be enjoyed while love tarries.

The final section includes excerpts from my journals, dealing with common emotions often present in the wait yet seldom discussed publicly, things like, “I Feel Powerless,” and “I’m Stifled and Squelched,” among others. For each journal entry there are scriptures — the Truth that sets us free to be honest with our emotions yet move through them to a place of confidence and strength.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be blogging excerpts from the book along with video blogs that feature a special “Rose of the Week” and its meaning.

I would love to hear from YOU as we build a company of committed visionaries worldwide, those choosing to Remember the Roses on the sometimes rocky pathway to love and living our dreams.



At our house we have a simple tradition on Christmas day….one person takes the gifts from beneath the tree and puts them in a pile for the others.  Then we open them individually while everyone else watches.

It struck me today, on the start of a brand new year, that in life we also have piles of gifts (abilities, qualities, and talents.)  But it’s not enough to have them.  WE HAVE TO OPEN THEM.

For some odd reason I often hold gifts back…

  • I seldom use our sterling silverware.  Never mind the awe of even possessing such a treasure (a wedding gift from Ron’s Mom.)  Better keep it in the chest so it won’t tarnish.
  • Our best china (the pattern I spent hours choosing because I liked it so much) remains hidden in the cabinet adding zero elegance to our meals.  Love it and hide it?  What a novel idea.
  • Clothes & shoes “so gorgeous I have to have them” somewhere in the closet, waiting for who knows when?

Since when does using something now in the moment mean coming up short later?  Where does this scarcity mentality come from?

Worse yet, what about the gifts inside ourselves that matter a whole lot more than possessions, like our personalities and passion, true selves that are meant to be given that the world around us might benefit and grow?

What gifts are you saving for later, keeping them under wraps?

In 2012, I’m pulling out the silver,  using the china, and wearing the dress.

A new year of possibilities is calling out for you too, calling our names, calling for every gift inside to open, blossom, and soar!

2012 here we come…


Have you ever felt like you were missing out or being left behind?  I sure have.  Sometimes professionally and often in my personal life, I’ll see others who seem to have it all why I wait for a few crumbs to be thrown my way.

One such “crummy” moment happened recently.  I was visiting family and had an afternoon to watch my 9 yr old niece and her cheerleading squad perform at a pep rally.  Later that evening I wrote an email to my husband describing how I felt….

“I was in the gym this afternoon with all the kids, tons of moms and dads, the football team, Ally and her cheerleader friends, so sweet and glad I got to go.  Funny though, I thought while I looked at everyone, ‘I’ve missed this whole experience of being a mom with young kids in school.’  It’s still so strange to me, I look at all these women and think, ‘That was going to be me, being at school, pouring into my kids’ young lives.’  I know that I know, for some reason, I’m called to a different path, one I do love, but at moments like this it’s still hard to grasp why and how it turned out like this.”

Perhaps you can relate to my “missing out” sentiments.  It struck me later that night and again this morning while on a run, how tempting it is for EVERYONE to feel at some level like we’re missing out.

Missing out on….

  • A job breakthrough
  • A relationship you’ve always dreamed of
  • Real, true friends
  • A promised promotion
  • Financial relief
  • Health
  • Freedom from depression and addictions
  • The list goes on….

I finished my email to Ron with a line that is truly my heart’s mantra and one I will always hold to:  “I’m rich beyond words and have no regrets.”

Over and over we’re challenged to choose the “glass is half-full” mentality vs. concentrating on the empty place.  Yes, there are mysteries, things seemingly withheld, fulfillment we rightfully deserve or would imagine a loving God is eager to grant us.  So what gives when I feel denied?

One of my favorite scripture verses is Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  I have come to realize with increasing assurance my Father is all-wise, full of love, withholding some things only to grant others, in His way and in His time.

Could it be our challenge is to live not by what is visible now, and then choose, over and over again, to be content and grateful, celebrating what we have?

I’ve been focused on Psalm 23 lately while we walk through the valley with our son Jordan who is fighting cancer.  I’m often reciting under my breath, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me…”  I’ve also been loving verse 5 that says, “….you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.”  What a gift — an overflowing cup.  Not just half-full, but running over.

So even with unanswered questions, I’m going to declare that my cup WILL run over, realizing that perhaps part of the gift and adventure for all of us is, we just don’t know quite yet, what He will fill it with.

 


It was a family a-ha moment the other night over homemade strawberry ice cream…..what if we use some of our home grown garden mint and make mint chip next time instead?

Our oldest son Nathan taste-testing the first bite

Fortunately, we weren’t the first to think of such a notion, and after an internet search I adapted our favorite cream base recipe, and oh my, tonight our palates are chilled and thrilled!  Some might call me an ice cream connoisseur and THIS recipe may just be my all-time favorite of all. It is beyond delicious and so refreshing.  Enjoy!

 

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

Heat 2 c. heavy cream, 1 c. whole milk, 3/4 c. sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan with 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves.  Let the mixture get steamy and almost to a boiling point.  Cover with a lid and remove from heat.  Let steep for 1-2 hours.  Strain the cream mixture or if cool enough, squeeze the mint in your hands to press out all the mint essence.  Refrigerate overnight.

Whip 3 egg yolks lightly, then pour into cream mixture and stir.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  In the last 5 minutes of freezing add in 5 oz. of roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate pieces.

Makes about 1 quart of ultimate ice cream!

 

 


Cobbler on a recliner, who can beat this?

My husband is an awesome dad, not only to our four sons, but to many who consider him their role model, adviser, and friend.  He preached an excellent message this morning at KPIC , and after taking Stanley his dad, to lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, I made our father-of-the-year’s favorite dessert, an easy blackberry cobbler that fortunately he’s sharing with the rest of us.

4 sons = 4 little cobblers

Making it in smaller tart pans and doing only a top crust (vs. bottom and top) using Pillsbury’s ready-to-roll crust, makes it easier than traditional pie.  It is delish beyond words, and with Haagen Dazs Vanilla on top and the PGA Golf Tournament on TV, let the best-afternoon-of-the-year begin!

Blackberry Cobbler

4 c. fresh blackberries

3/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. butter or margarine

Combine first 3 ingredients; spoon into a slightly greased 8-inch square baking dish or mini tart pans. Dot with butter.  Unroll crust on top and press onto edges of the pan.  Lightly brush top with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Cut several slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 6 servings.


For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed the Saturday morning ritual of going to a local flea market.  Each city’s markets are unique, and the treasure hunt is always a fun adventure on a day when I’m not in a rush and no make-up is required.

There’s very little talent necessary, just an eye for a deal and a learned skill for spotting treasures amidst junk.  This morning was a winner.  My summer home project of renovating our master bath had me hoping to find a very skinny table to go on one of the walls. 

Freddy was the very nice hero today, offering a perfectly funky super skinny table he spent hours stripping from bright yellow paint down to the very lovely wood grain.  The little hidden drawer was an unexpected bonus.

Thank you Freddy!

After making the deal I couldn’t refuse, I smiled overhearing two different people say as they passed me carrying it out to my car, “Now THAT is a fabulous table!”

Happy Saturday….

One-of-a-kind