Do it for Grandma (she’ll love it!)

Christmas is coming!  (Yes, it’s only September, but keep reading.)

My dad is one of ten kids.  I counted once, and I have over 60 first cousins.

That’s a lot of people.

While Grandma was alive, we celebrated Christmas at her house, with Grandpa and all the family.

ALL.  The family. (more…)

What Kind of Business Gets Your Business?

Imagine you were walking down the street, looking for a mini-mart to purchase a soda.

(Or, if you’re me, a bigass cup of coffee.)

In the doorway of the first store you pass, there is an angry, hateful, pissy looking man propped against the door frame, a grungy apron around his neck and pulled tight across his middle, a sweaty cap pushed up from his face.  His arms are crossed tightly across his chest.  Although he has said nothing to you, his body language screams words of anger and profanity. (more…)

Telling the Story of God

When I was a kid, most nights after tucking in, my dad would read us stories.

At the time, it never occurred to me that our time spent together was significant or important.  It just was, in the same way his snores that echoed across the hall meant we were safe, and everything was going to be okay.

(man, can he snore.)

The stories he read were epic and extraordinary.  Kings and queens, warriors and peasants, wars and love and honor and betrayal.  He read of miracles and mysteries, defiance and victory, of great men and stoic women, even of children who changed the world.

I craved those stories, read to me as the sun set and the day wound down.  I remember feeling as though I’d won the lottery when he made time to read to us, my vision blurring from reality as the pictures in my head grew bright and vibrant, carrying me away to a different time and place.

It wasn’t until I was grown and gone that I realized nearly every story he read, all those stories I still remember by heart, came straight from the Bible.  Very rarely did he read any other book.

Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

Ruth and Naomi, a story of loyalty.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the firey furnace.

Esther and Xerxes and the power of defiant obedience.

David and Goliath, and the victory of faith over power and pride.

Joseph and his amazing gift of organization, that helped him to feed a nation.

Jacob and Esau, and the damage of jealousy and comparison.

Adam and Eve.  Cain and Abel.  Abraham and Isaac.  Joshua and Jericho.  Lot and his wife.

My dad wasn’t just telling me stories, he was teaching me about God.

I didn’t even notice.  Sneaky bugger.

As an adult myself, a mother hen with three chicks tucked under my wings, I now understand what it was my father did.  He read the Bible, his big, clunky King James red print Bible, but he changed it.  The names stayed the same, but he changed the delivery, translated it for our tiny ears, turning the “these” and “thous” into words we could understand.

He changed the story just enough to make it hit home, and repeated the stories enough times that we would remember them, long after our night time story routine had passed.

And remember them I do.  I take for grated the depth of knowledge I have of the Bible.  Even now I am astonished when I pull from the dusty recesses of my mind a parable or story to relate to every day life, complete with Book and chapter and verse.  I remember the stories well, because I heard them well.

One of the many hats I wear is that of a personal coach, mentor, therapist, and consultant.  I work with women seeking truth, women seeking business advice, women recovering from addiction and the dangerous hold of disordered eating.

My blessed 40 years of life have granted me the opportunity to experience each of these things for myself.  It could be argued that some of those experiences are bad ones, but I’m not so sure.  With perfect stewardship, God uses the crap I’ve endured to teach others, and He has molded me into an effective messenger.   I teach others the hard knock lessons I’ve learned in the hopes they make fewer mistakes themselves, and for the most part, the lessons are learned well.

The clients I take come in many forms, from many races, countries, and walks of life.  I serve Christians and non-Christians alike, without judgment or prejudice.  Although I do believe the truths of Christ are THE answer to finding joy and fulfillment, I also believe that His truths must be presented to people in a way they will hear, and meet them where they’re at.

…kind of in the same way Dad changed the stories of the Bible, so we’d understand as children.

In this world we live in, in this country and culture that is actively running from God, it is tempting to yell.  To shout and scream, to point out the follies of the foolish and the lies of the misled.  We want to FIX THINGS, fix people, to direct those that wander and straighten crooked paths.

We want to get on a soap box and preach the Gospel, like the homeless man I knew who lived on the streets in downtown Seattle, complete with cardboard sign and blow horn, and yell and scream at the shoppers and sinners and businessmen and liberal, forward thinking, Godless masses and as they pass by and live their lives.

As they race toward Gomorrah, their faces fierce with lusty passion, their eyes glazed over with desperate, fleshy desire, we want to stop them.  

We want to stop them for them, and we want to stop them for us.  Not only will our lives be easier when everyone follows the same, God given rules, but God calls us to speak out and tell His story.

Yelling is the easiest way (and let’s be honest, it feels the best), but I propose a different one.

Change your delivery.

Understand that the ears that need to hear are NEW.  Regardless of their age, in the eyes of Christ and to the love He offers, they’re children.

Teach and speak with the patience you’d give to children.

In my experience with manager and leadership development, there is one truth I teach consistently that also is one of the most difficult to accept.  Perhaps it is tough to swallow because most managers and leaders are Type A people, strong willed and aggressive, and this lesson is counterintuitive to those character traits.

The lesson is this:

  People will either remember what you said or how you said it, not both.

Whether the message you deliver is a mother’s request, a manager’s order, or the Word of God to someone who desperately needs it (even if none of the listeners think they need those things), the person listening to you will remember what you said, if it is delivered in the way they need to hear it.

I wonder, as I write this, whether or not the Disciples struggled with this?  In the Book of Acts, when the Disciples headed out to tell the greatest story ever told, did they worry about delivery?  I’d imagine not, since they were carrying tongues of flame in their minds and hearts, but still.  Did they worry that their humanity, their flesh and frustration and human nature would get in the way of the Word?

(probably not that either, guys don’t usually worry about such things.)

I am sure, regardless, that God sent twelve men with twelve different personalities and twelve methods of delivery, because we need to hear things differently.  Every individual standing in every audience would relate to ONE of the Disciples, and the message would be heard.

At River Ridge, we strive to seek God.  We mess it up sometimes, of course, being made of sinful flesh and bone, but we do try.  We’ve made God one of our Four Core Values, because we want connection with Him to be an inevitable outcome for each of our business endeavors.

In an effort to speak God’s truth to everyone, we try to meet people where they’re at.  We don’t preach or evangelize to those who aren’t interested, but we do try to reach those around us in the way they’re best suited to hear.  God’s truth is universal; no matter the method of delivery, if it is heard, it will be received.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  Romans 1:20

In other words, “even if you eff up the delivery or wrap God’s word in a don’t-beat-them-over-the-head-with-your-Bible palatable package, the truth will be evident when it’s heard.”

As it is with you, God has created us in a specific, purposeful way (in our case, a quirky, abrasive, blue collar way) to reach those He feels He can reach through us, just as we are.  We do our best to speak the truth as we see it, give credit where it is due, serve those who come to us for service, and love.

Love big, love hard, love endlessly as we are loved.

We trust God will do the rest.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:5-6

“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
~ D.T. Niles



How to Golf When You’re Slow – “Playing Through”

Hi.  My name is Erin, I help to run and operate a golf course, and I am one of the worst golfers in the world.

This surprises most.  When I tell people what I do for a living, they say “Oh, you golf?  You must get to do it all the time.”

I reply with, “Actually no, I’m horrible.”  Then they look at me with a wide eyed, incredulous head shake, as if to ask “Then why do you work there,” without having to actually ask the question.

I do LIKE golf.  I come from a long line of golfers.  My grandfather on my mom’s side was a scratch golfer, and his Hole-In-One ball still sits on the mantle in my grandmother’s dining room.  My cousin is the golf pro for Sunriver Resort in Oregon, and two others have a less-than-five handicap.

Add in the fact that Dad built the golf course so he could do what he loved most, I should be a great golfer.

I’m so, totally, absolutely not.

It isn’t for lack of trying.  I do hit balls on occasion.  I did golf as a kid with my cousins over summer break, and I have golfed with my uncles.  Everyone was incredibly patient as they waited for my average (necessary) fifteen strokes to get the ball onto the green, every stroke attempt sending the ball so short a distance, walking forward to it was quicker than getting in the cart and driving forward twenty yards.


I wanted to be better.  I wanted very much to not suck, so I did want to practice.

Therein lied the struggle – to get better I had to go slow on the course, but I slowed things down SO MUCH that I didn’t want to get out on the course.

I was so slow, I felt bad.

Golf, from an outside perspective, seems to be one of those things you have to do well with before you can get better.  It seems, through the eyes of a perfectionist, that you must gain a certain level of ability before you subject those around you to your skills (or lack thereof).

I suppose the sport itself supports this perception, since it is built so much around consideration, politeness, manners, and etiquette.  To consider those around you as you golf is a big part of the game.

There are also those hard-core, cutthroat, competitive golfers that encourage the culture of “BRING YOUR GAME OR GET OFF,” demanding performance of a certain caliber from those they play with and around.   I have been yelled at before (not on our course, thank goodness) to “kindly move the f- out of the way” as I struggled to get my ball down the fairway.

Goodness sakes, I hope no one on our course treats others in that way.  It kind of negates the manners and etiquette aspect, doesn’t it?

I tell my story of struggle with the sport, not because I feel I need others to understand that it’s hard (if you golf, you know it’s hard without me saying a word), but because if it’s hard for you and you’re slow, practice anyways.

Last summer we sold over 2000 memberships to our beloved Yakima Valley.  We sold them inexpensively enough that brand new and barely started golfers were able to purchase them and learn the game.

If you are just starting, they were sold for you, and we want you to use them.

To help you overcome any insecurities or fears you might have while golfing slowly, here are the standing rules for etiquette and (as it’s officially called) playing through.

  1. Stand your ground. If you want to golf, golf.  The faster, more experienced players were slow once, too.  If you want to be on our course and you’ve paid to do it, you have just as much a right to be there as anyone else.
  2. The term playing through is specifically defined as “a faster group of golfers being invited to or allowed to pass a slower group.” Ideally this happens at the invitation of the slower group, out of consideration and kindness for the other players.
  3. Playing through happens only by invitation (“Would you like to play through?”) or request (“Mind if we play through?”), and when both of these conditions apply:
    1. there are holes open in front of the slower group, AND
    2. the slower group is finishing on the green while the fast group is on the fairway of the same hole, OR the faster group reaches the tee box while the slower group is still teeing off.
  4. Whether you play with a group or by yourself (I played alone a lot when I first started, to not slow anyone else down), rules still apply. If you’re fast and playing alone, you are allowed to play through just like a group of 4.  If you’re playing alone and you’re slow, etiquette demands that you allow other players to play through.

That’s it!  Playing through makes it easier for slow golfers like myself to get out on the course without feeling rushed, and it allows the other, faster, more experienced golfers to enjoy their time as well.

Additionally, keep your eyes open on Facebook and our Event Calendar for Green Golfer days, dates and times set aside on the course for new, slower golfers, or call the pro shop and ask for a quieter tee time.

Put in the time to become the golfer you aspire to be.  Everyone starts slow (some of us stay that way!), and practice is the best remedy.

Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you on the course!

Family and Cookies

My dad, Dean, and the owner of River Ridge, is one of ten kids.

Most of the Laurvick clan lives (or has lived) in Yakima.  We grew up in Terrace Heights, and spent a large part of our time at Grandpa’s house.  Set on 5 acres of land near the Yakima River, he had a small farm.  Horses, goats, pigs, chickens.  (Grandma really, really loved those chickens.)  There was an angry bull that guarded the fields, an occasional rattlesnake, and sometimes rabbits.

And kids.

Oh my goodness, were there kids.

At one point I counted, and discovered I have over sixty first cousins.

(Yep.  Six-zero.  Sixty.)

Whether Grandpa’s house or ours, at any family function the kids would descend on the place like bees on a flower patch.  There were a lot of people involved, regardless; ten adults plus spouses makes twenty large people.

When you added the kids, it was a horde.

The space would swarm with bodies, but it never felt crowded.  If you looked for just one person in the mob it was difficult to find them, but it never felt overwhelming.  Raucous laughter of teens and the shrill cry of infants battled for dominance, but it never seemed loud.  It sounded happy.

It sounded full.

Easter egg hunts.  Scavenger hunts.  Hours and hours and hours of hide-and-seek.  Flashlight tag after dark, campouts in the back yard, barbeques, scary stories, catching salamanders and frogs by the ditch, and one time sneaking off to the creek to play in the water, even though I knew my mom would have an aneurism if she knew we were doing it.

Growing up in a large family, I have learned a few things about sharing.  Community property.  I’ve learned that all things are better with company, and that although we are called to live independent lives, we need like-minded people around us to provide support, sometimes a well-timed kick in the shorts, and backup.

At River Ridge, we take Family very seriously.  Not the obligatory, “You have to be nice to her, she’s your sister” kind of way, but in the way we felt as kids, running around the yard, hiding and seeking and digging in the dirt, discovering the world with the closest of friends.

To us, family means “you hurt me, but I forgive you.”  It means “I need someone to play with me, bring your bike and let’s go for a ride.”

To us, family means you’re never alone, not in company or in value, not in mindset or in calling.

I have this theory that God bakes His people in batches, kind of like cookies.  One batch at a time, He mixes and blends, then drops us into the world to bake.

Occasionally throughout our lives, we meet people who are baked from the same batch.  Mixed in the same bowl, we sense their similarities.

THAT is family.  People baked in your own batch.

I have met family that is not directly related to me, but their hearts match my soul.  We mesh.  We are kindred spirits, and in a very real (quite literal) way, I crave to dig in the dirt and hide-and-seek with them.  To discover the world with them by my side, because we just fit.

For those of you that visit at River Ridge, for those of you who have found a tiny bit of home and family with us and in our space, Thank You.  Thank you for being who you are, for recognizing a fellow cookie batch person when you see them, and for calling us “friend.”

For those of you that are looking for family in the way I remember it, come and see us.  Like I said, we take Family very seriously, and we’re always looking for more.  We believe in Family so much, we’ve made it one of our core values, and we strive to live up to it every day.

Much love to you, and God bless.  See you in the Clubhouse!

How to Live a Great Life – “Don’t Widen the Plate”

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948.

At the American Baseball Coaches Association convention in 1996, Scolinos shuffled onto the stage amidst an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which hung a baseball home plate.

A full-sized, stark-white, home plate.

The crowd wondered, “Who in the hell is this guy?”

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos finally addressed his attire.

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing gruff.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room, and several hands went up. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth baseball? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?  How wide is the plate?”

“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up.  “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” the crowd replied in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?  They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. 

What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

The audience chuckled at this ridiculous notion.



”What do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?”

The laughter gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet.

He turned the plate toward himself and began to draw.

When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.

“Home plate.

“This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

To the point at the top of the house, he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have changed the rules and Word of God for years to include that which was not included by God. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

At a baseball convention, where attendees expected about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, we have learned something far more valuable.  From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, we learn about life, about ourselves, about our weaknesses, and about our responsibilities as leaders, managers, and parents.

We must hold ourselves accountable to that which we know to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

Coach Scolinos concluded.

“If I am lucky, you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to.”

He held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark, black, back side.

“Dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches. He was the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known, because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

We live in a time where we are challenged every day to widen our plate.  We are encouraged to move our fence to include people who should not be on our property.  We are told that setting standards high enough to demand excellence is exclusionary, discriminatory, and hurtful.

At some point, “how our standards make other people feel” became our personal responsibility, and we are supposed to widen our plate to make room for the emotional wellbeing of others.

No, we’re not.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, ““Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Loss of virtue starts not with a loud bang, but a gentle slope.

Compromise is not hard.  Giving in to temptation and removing your expectations is not hard.

Living a life of uncompromising exactness is hard, and we are called to do it every day.  Every great man or woman who has ever lived understood this necessary demand, and they lived up to it.  That’s what made them great.

Coach Scolinos understood that, and left us with this challenge…

“Keep your players, your own children, and most of all yourself at seventeen inches.  Don’t widen the plate.”

This is an altered excerpt from a blog of Chris Sperry, former head baseball coach at University of Portland.

Home is where your life is, not where you think it should be.

When I was a kid, I used to dream about leaving home.

I grew up in Yakima, far out in East Valley, very close to Moxee city limits.  I remember walking down the dirt road in front of our house, and in four minutes I’d be standing with my toes in the field, nothing in front of me but stretching, waving grass, sagebrush bushes, and rolling tumbleweeds.

(oh the tumbleweeds.  so many tumbleweeds!)

We didn’t exactly live in the country, because we could see the neighbor’s houses from our kitchen window, but we were for sure not in the city.  We didn’t have to lock our car doors at night, the yard wasn’t fenced in, and the windows stayed open almost all the time to let the cool, wild breeze blow through the house in the spring and fall.

As pretty and wild and open as home and life was as a kid, I longed for something more.  I wanted the hustle and bustle of the city, “something to do” all the time, stores that were open before 7 am and after 10 at night, and people.  BUSY people.  LOTS of people.  So many people, that if I decided to head to the grocery store on a Sunday morning in my pjs because I needed emergency eggs for breakfast, it didn’t matter if I had sleepy eyes and bedhead and slippers on my feet, because there was no way in the world I would see anyone I knew.

I wanted NOT Yakima, and so I planned to get it.

In 1995 I graduated from Davis High School (out of district for me, but the only place to participate in the IB program), and I applied to every out-of-state, out-of-city school I could.  I wanted to go big and leave home, to find a place to call my own, and inject myself with as much experience as I could before I settled down and lived my life.  I was accepted to a few places, but I ended up enrolling at University of Washington in Seattle.  Seattle was perfect – huge and green and busy and chaotic and wet and rainy, very different from where I grew up on this side of the mountains.

I lived in Seattle for a lot of years.  Sixteen, to be exact.  But just as it tends to do, life threw some curves and crashes and cliffs and swings, and after some pretty significant emotional turmoil I found myself returning home.  Life handed me divorce, brokenness, trauma, and drama, and I had to run.

I ran home.

I came back because I needed help (that I didn’t really find), I came back because I needed refuge (that turned out to be even harder to find than help), I came home because when you’re neck deep in chaos and you need to run, you run to what you know.

At the time of my return, I kind of felt like a loser.  I worked so hard in school and life and work to stay away, it felt kind of shameful for me to come back.  I felt like the prodigal son, the kid that left to party and revolt before crashing hard and returning home with head bowed, ashamed of his failure.  I returned home feeling like THAT, like a failure, like I had left with such huge dreams and intentions, “how am I going to live with myself for being back HERE?”

Turns out, “how am I going to live with myself” was a completely unnecessary worry, because HERE is exactly where I was supposed to be.

Don’t get me wrong – carving out a life for myself after the chaos of divorce was not fun or easy.  It was downright hard most of the time.  Managing the collateral damage, being strong for those around me, being strong for my kids, all the while missing my friends and the home I made for myself on the other side of the mountains.  Moving here was hard, probably the first true act of grown-up-ness I’ve ever taken.

But it was RIGHT.

Once I got settled, once the bruises and wounds from divorce and relocation started to wear off, I found my footing.  I kind of woke up, looked around, and noticed that there were some familiar things I hadn’t seen in a really, really long time.  My kids were enrolled at Terrace Heights Elementary.  My daughter has the same third grade teacher I had when I was a kid, and all three kids are principaled by my sixth grade teacher.  The kids that play on the playground with my sons are kids of old friends from middle school, and the neighbors that live down the street graduated from the same high school I did, a year or two before and after.

I’m working with my dad to fulfill his life long dream.  I visit people in the community and businesses that have been around for as long as I can remember, and some of them are still the same as when I was a kid.  People know my last name, “Laurvick, huh?  I know some Laurvicks,” and although I always have to mostly-jokingly ask “Is it because of a good thing or bad thing,” I am proud to be a part of such a huge family with deep, far-reaching roots.

Mostly, I noticed when I woke up and looked around that Yakima is really not a bad place to be.  It’s calm here, and not so big that you need two hours to run to the store “because traffic,” but big enough that if I go to the grocery store in my pjs with bed head, I will only maybe see someone I know.  Even better, if I DO see someone I know and smile at them with sleep lines and drool marks on my face, they won’t even care one little bit.  People here are a less yuppy, more real, salt-of-the-earth, “deal with what really matters” kind of people, the kind of people that will last much longer than most if zombies start running rampant.  ….plus, I know of three shop owners in town that open carry their pistols while they work, and that is just purely awesome.  :)

I will always be glad for the adventures I had when I left home and saw the world.  I traveled across the US and abroad.  I broke my inhibitions down and I am no longer afraid to try anything, or go anywhere.  I have a sense of “can do” and a willingness to leave and see and try and take, and I am so glad I went away.  It was good for me.

Turns out, it was even better for me to come back.

Acts 17:26 says “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”  Sometimes I feel like I’m tossed around by life, like I’ve left and come back and tried and failed, but then I remember.

God does not make mistakes, He has a plan, and I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  All the time.

Thank you to all of you that have so openly accepted me and my family and our business into your lives and hearts.  We are so glad to be here, *I* am so glad to be here, and I hope to pay forward every day the kindness and welcome you have shown.

Blessings to all of you, and I pray that your hearts feel at home where you’re at.  Home is a great place to be!

How to Get the Most out of Life – The Beautiful Gift of Time

Let’s pretend that you and I meet on the street.

It’s a gorgeous day, the sun is shining.  You’re having a good day.  You’re walking to or from somewhere, having just said goodbye to someone or meeting someone soon, heading to work-school-gym-coffeehouse-library-mall-grocery-store.  In your moment of “normal” I approach you, look in your face, smile, and hand you a black canvas bag.

Inside the bag is $750 million.  SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION SMACKERS.

If someone handed ME a bag of money my first thought would be, “WHAAAAA?!  NO WAY IS THIS HAPPENING,” but very quickly it would be followed with “…………wait.  What’s the catch.”  Set aside for a moment your likely skepticism.  Also set aside the fact that the bag would weigh 1429 lbs (yes, I looked it up) and pretend the bag is surprisingly light enough to carry.  Let’s say I hand you the bag, and let’s say you take it.

You say, “Thank you!”  (because you learned to use your manners.)

I reply.  “You’re welcome.”  I decline your hug of joy.  (dont’ take it personally, I’m just not a hugger.)

Then I continue.  “This bag of cash is yours, no strings or obligation attached.  You can spend it all at once, or not at all.  You can use it to do great things or bad things, you can give it away or hoard it all to yourself.  You can do with this money ANYTHING YOU WANT.  Healthy things, horrible things, powerful things, humble things.  The money is a tool.  You are free to use it to accomplish any goal you decide apply it to.  Like a carpenter building a house, the money is your hammer.  Use it wisely, use it well, just use it.

“But there is one catch.

[I can hear you thinking, “I KNEW IT.”  Yes, you did.  You were right.  You are so smart!]

“The bag of cash is yours, but at some point in the future I am going to find you and take back what isn’t spent.  Whatever you haven’t consumed, whatever you haven’t used, I’m taking it back.  It might be tomorrow, it might be next week or next year or ten years from now.  I don’t know right now when I’ll decide to do it, but I will find you and take back what you don’t use.”

Setting aside this time the creep factor of “I will find you,” you agree.  It’s a BAG OF MONEY, who wouldn’t agree?  We shake hands (still not a hugger), I say “I’ll see you again,” and then we part ways.  You continue on with your day, way lighter in your shoes despite the heavy (but still magically light enough to carry) canvas bag.

NOW what?

I’m sure you’re thinking about what you’d spend the money on.  I personally would pay off every stitch of debt I have, buy out the family business so my dad can actually bring in a paycheck, buy my parent’s house for them, buy land and build a house of my own, spend more time with my kids, work less and play more, go back to school.  For me after the first $10 million it would be tougher to find things to buy.  I’m a minimalist at heart (if I could fit all my belongings in the trunk of my car I would be in HEAVEN), so I wouldn’t buy THINGS.  I’d travel, and go places.  I’d see the world, eat strange food, meet stranger people, and see the strangest things.  I would be an expert at airport security, body scans, faking a foreign language, and sleeping in hostels.  I might even roll around buck naked in some of the cash, just because I could.

I would for sure do all those things, but I’d do them fast.  If I knew that the bag of money was “spend it or lose it,” I’d spend the SHIT out of that money.  I would do the most important things on my agenda first.  It would be a race against time, trying to get into the unknown amount of time I had available all the things I wanted to accomplish with that money.

I’m sure you’d do the same.

Okay.  So now instead of money inside the bag, let’s say it’s something else.

Let’s say it’s “days of life on Earth.”

And instead of me handing you that bag, let’s say the person handing you the bag is Death.

Someday you are going to die.

[I can hear you thinking again.  “BLINDSIDED.  I KNEW IT.  I can’t believe you just said that.  Too real, too hard, TOO MUCH.  How rude.  And actually that’s just plain ANNOYING.  I don’t even want to read the rest of this dumb blog.”]

I understand, but I need to keep going.

Someday, you are going to die.  One day you will run out of time.  One day Death will come for you no matter how much you did or didn’t use out of that bag, no matter how many plans you have for what you have left in that bag.  What you don’t use he’ll take back.  What you don’t SPEND, he’ll take back.

[“JUST STOP.  I don’t like to think about it, and I for sure don’t want to talk about it. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW THAT.  Stop telling me.”]

If it makes you feel any better, I am also going to die.  And so are my parents.

And so are my kids.

On a long enough timeline the survival rate for EVERYONE drops to zero.  We are all going to die.

[“…….that sucks.”]

Yes.  Yes it does.  It’s scary to think about.  We don’t want to think about it.  We don’t want to think that we have only so much time to use what’s in the bag of life that’s handed to us.  We live in a culture where we are raised and molded to believe we are invincible, to live as long as we can without thinking about the endpoint.

It’s scary to think that we will die, but it’s so, so important that we’re mindful of that fact.  Only when we understand the seriousness of it can we get to the really good part.

Think about what’s IN the bag.

The part we need to cleave to is what’s IN the bag, and how we spend the time we have until the bag is taken back.  We can do with our days anything we want.  Healthy things, horrible things, powerful things, humble things.  We can use the days to make great things happen, we can give away our days to others or we can keep them all to ourselves.  We can use them as we see fit, but someday Death is going to come for us.  He’ll take back what we don’t use, no matter what we have planned for what’s still in that bag.

On December 12, 2011, I was in a pretty serious car accident.  I won’t be overly dramatic and say “I almost died,” but I almost died.  I could have died.  The car was found upside down on a guard rail, and on the other side of the guard rail was a pretty significant drop.  I think that it would have been curtains for both me and my son if the car had dropped off the edge.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) I don’t remember what happened.  The accident caused head trauma serious enough that I lost my sense of smell and ten days of my memory.  I don’t remember anything about earlier that morning, I don’t remember anything for the week or so after I got home, and when I try to remember anything about the few days before or the month after, my memories are blotchy.

Doing my job was harder after the accident.  It took focus and zero distraction to accomplish tasks that were easy before.  Things like math and TALKING took a lot more concentration.  For a few months after the accident I had barely any voice because I was intubated at the hospital and they nicked my vocal cords.  I also had a really hard time putting together coherent sentences.  When dealing with health care providers and the insurance company on the phone after the accident, I had to write down first what I wanted to say because I was no longer capable of thinking on my feet.

Eventually I did get better.  Slowly I got back to “normal.”  Things eventually were wonderfully humdrum and innate.

A few months after the accident I had to empty out the wrecked car.  The insurance company botched the whole thing and instead of emptying the car at the tow lot, they sent it to the wrecking yard with a few thousand dollars worth of things in the trunk.  My dad and I made arrangements to get my things.

When I arrived at the wrecking yard, this is what I saw.

gut-dropping chaos that used to be my car.

I stood there for a long time staring at that car, not moving, just LOOKING.  Then I broke down in tears.  (Kinda freaked my dad out, but I couldn’t help it.)  I just kept LOOKING.  And I started thinking.

I could have DIED.

I stood there looking at that car and was faced with a real, visual, TANGIBLE token of my mortality.

I could have died.  I am going to die.  Someday I am going to die.

With a cold, shivery sinking feeling I realized in that moment that Death will come for the bag I hold.  Someday he will come.  No matter what I’ve gotten done with the time I had, no matter how much I still want to do with what’s left in the bag, he will come to take back what I haven’t used.  No matter what I do with the contents of my bag or how I do it, Death will come.

I realized that someday I am going to die, and suddenly things just…     …made sense.

For a whole lot of years I spent a great deal of time thinking about death and suicide.  I looked forward to not being alive anymore.  I don’t mean to negate or minimize any significant mental illness (because not all depressives are like this), but from what I’ve read most thoughts of suicide for textbook depressives aren’t “threatening.”  I think depressives tend to think of suicide a bit differently.  For me suicide wasn’t a destination, but a way out of the mental prison I felt trapped in.  “If I was dead at least I’d be NOT HERE.”

When I was standing there looking at that car, though, something changed.  I was surprised to realize that I was GLAD I was still here.  I was GLAD I STILL HELD MY BAG FULL OF DAYS.  I realized that I was GRATEFUL I still had time to use the days that are left, and that there were things I’d be upset about not getting done before my time was up.  I realized that if Death had shown up for my bag of life when I got in that accident, I’d have been PISSED.  I wouldn’t have let go willingly.

I also realized that I had done a piss poor job using the days I’d already taken out of the bag.

And I decided THAT had to change.

I do know that someday Death will come for me.  Someday I will die.  I know that no matter when it happens it will be too soon.  I’ve got things to DO with the days in my bag.  Big things.  I want to travel the world and build a house.  I want to see my kids push their way through life, fall in love, find their joy, make their mark.  I want to do all the things with the contents of my bag that I would have done if it was a bag full of MONEY, instead of a bag full of DAYS.  I want to live like I’ve got only one day left, and I want to leave this world and the people in it better than when I got here.

I wonder how differently you’d prioritize your life if time was tangible.  If you could gather days of life and keep them in a bag.  I wonder how different you’d prioritize things if I handed you a bag of life, a bag of life full of days, and knew you would eventually have to give the bag back.  Would you use them differently than you’re using them right now?  Would anything change?

I’d speculate that there would be more love in your life.  There is a lot more in mine than there was before.  I’d also guess that you’d work less and play more, or at least work differently.  I worry less, and dream more, and play a lot.  My house is way messier, my laundry goes for days in the basket before it gets put in the drawer.  I leave dishes in the sink.  I blow off work sometimes to play with the kids.  I take them out for ice cream just because (we call it reverse dinner because we eat dessert first), and sometimes we skip dinner altogether and just eat the ice cream.

Knowing Death is coming for us doesn’t change everything.  I still work, I still push for goals that really don’t matter in the grander scheme of life.  I still get stressed out and cranky and make bad choices and have bad days.  What’s changed, though, is that the good days outweigh the bad because I understand the bad days are just not worth the waste.  It’s not WORTH it.  I prioritize things differently.  I use my days differently.  I stop and smell more flowers, linger over hugs, tell people I love them more often.

I work out and eat right and take care of myself so that Death might give me a bit more time before he shows up.  I live a life of integrity and honesty and kindness and excitement so that WHEN he shows up, I’m proud of what the bag looks like.  It will be painted and stickered like an old fashioned suitcase, full of photos and mementos and memories.  The days I took out of the bag will be replaced with bits of joy.

I really hope that everyone can understand what a gift they carry.  A bag of life, full of days, to be used up and spent and shared.

Every day in your bag of life can be used in a big way, but use them before you run out of time.  Use them well, and use them up.  Use each one like it’s the last one.  And when Death shows up…

hand him a bag that’s completely empty and tell him,

“Good timing.”



Thank you so much for reading.  Please opt in to River Ridge’s newsletter, and subscribe to the RSS feed in your browser.  Head down to the restaurant, and let me know you’re there!

~ Erin

Five facts about Happy Gilmore that you probably didn’t know!


With our final Movies on the Green coming up this Friday, I thought it would be fun to share some movie facts. I found a list of information courtesy of They listed a 25 different things about the movie, and I chose five facts that seemed to stick out! We will be playing the classic Adam Sandler movie, Happy Gilmore! For all of you who are avid Adam Sandler followers, here are five fun facts about the movie itself. We hope to see you this Friday at River Ridge for the movie and some good company with friends and family.


1.) According to IMDB, Bob Barker woulda kicked Sandler’s ass if they got in a real fight, “In the fight between Bob Barker and Happy. Bob genuinely would have won. He has studied Tang Soo Do Karate for decades under Chuck Norris and his brother Aaron.”


2.) Odyssey actually made and sold those hockey stick putters.

od_gilmore_2 picture-12

3.) Chubbs loved wearing Lacoste, the gator logo’d clothing line, despite the fact that a gator took his hand and ended his career. (I see what the writers did there)


4.) When Happy and Virginia go on their first date they go to the rink of the Minnesota Moose based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Moose played in the International Hockey League for two years before changing  leagues to the American Hockey League which ironically forced them into relocating to Canada. They became the Manitoba Moose.


5.) In the last scene when Happy makes the tournament winning putt did you look at anyone else besides that one chick in the orange and blue overalls?





We hope to see you all on Friday and hope you notice these fun facts while watching the movie on the green. Have a great week!


What is important to you?

Part of our core values at River Ridge includes family and community. Without these two values we wouldn’t be where we are today. There has been multiple changes over the past few months in order to focus and make sure we are utilizing our values correctly. Not only have we added events such as the movies on the green and night golf to our changes, but we are continuing to add our community and charity involvement through fundraisers. Some of our fundraisers coming up focus on family and community.

One of our fundraisers coming up include members of our River Ridge Family. The Speer Family Tournament on Saturday, August 23rd, will help support a dedicated and loving member of the community Randy Speer.

“We at River Ridge believe in FAMILY, and that is what Lisa is to us. That is what her dad is to us, too. It is with humble gratitude we are allowed to help the Speer Family with their fundraising efforts, and to celebrate with them as Randy fights for his life against the cancer.
Join us on August 23 as we celebrate the Speer Family, their fight for life, and their love for one another. We hope to see you there!”

More information can be found on the event page here:

Another fundraiser we are focusing our efforts on is the Heartlinks Hospice and Palliative Care FUNdraiser. On September 13th, we will be hosting the fundraiser at River Ridge and all funds raised will go towards the pediatric and palliative care program in the valley helping the terminally ill children. More information and how to participate can be found here:

Overall, family and community are very important to the way we function as a whole at River Ridge. Thank you for all your participation thus far in allowing us to make certain changes and utilize our core values to their full potential. If you have any ideas or know anyone who wants to hold a fundraiser or golf tournament focusing on our values, feel free to contact us at the clubhouse, or email

Have a great week and check out our Facebook for upcoming events at River Ridge.


Eight Ways To Keep Your ‘Cool’ On The Green


It is that time of the season where the temperature has actually signified summer is here. With that, comes all the precautions and warning signs that one might have from being in the heat. But have no fear! We at River Ridge want to provide a fun and safe  time for all those who arrive. I have created a list of tips for you to keep your cool on the green this season.

1.) Avoid wearing dark colored clothes.
Wearing light colored clothes, made of cotton or specific sweat resistant material, to reflect the sun are great for summertime. This way, when you are playing your best, you don’t have to worry about your clothes sticking to you and effecting your swing!

2.) Wear oil free sunscreen.
This way you can have a good time and not regret it three hours later when you’re fried! Feel free to flip your collar up to protect the back of your neck. Ignore your playing partners when they call you “THE FONZ”.

Lifestyles Jersey Shore Men

3.) Cover your face!
Yes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat or UV protecting sunglasses will allow your par to be spectacular. This way you are able to align your swing and beat out your component!

4.) Utilizing your drinking skills to the best of your ability.
Drinking water…obviously! While it may be common sense to drink water when it is hot out, an important tip that I found is that water alone doesn’t cut it. Yes I know what your thinking, cool beer then of course! Not unless you want to lose the game. If you want that extra boost of energy however, try alternating water and sports drinks (which you can buy in the pro shop before beginning your rounds). The electrolytes in sports drinks help you recover and maintain your athletic stamina as you sweat! FUN FACT :)

5.) Early bird gets the worm!
Scheduling an early tee time allows you to get on the green before the heat hits you. If you aren’t an early-goer than the evening tee times are good to go as well. This way you can enjoy your morning round of golf and then join us for lunch afterwards.

If all else fails there are a couple other ways to stay cool:

6.) Dunk it!
We have a newly built dunk tank that can suffice those hot days. Just ask Dean to fill er’ up and hop on in!

7.) Ready, set, dive
If the dunk tank isn’t your cup of tea, there is a pretty decent size lake at River Ridge. Feel free to take a dive into the lake and see how many golf balls you can grab at once!


8.) Launch that baby!
If none of these options are of par, our newly installed water balloon launcher is available to the public. Stand down on the ninth hole as one of your teammates, friends, significant other, or children, take a launch with a water balloon to cool you off.

Make sure to look out for heat exhaustion signs of you and your teammates as well! Such as:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Light-Headedness
  • Irratibility
  • Thirst
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of mental sharpness (Or: You just tried to hit your driver out of a bunker)
  • Excessive heat on your head and neck

I hope that these tips not only bring adventure to your golf game, but allow you to have a safe and enjoyable time at River Ridge!

Have a great weekend.


The Jansen Celebration

Print   Many of you may know Cal and Lynn Jansen throughout the River Ridge community. We not only have seen their caring and uplifting personality throughout their presence at River Ridge, but in the community as well. They have made a difference in the community and those who are a part of it. For that, we are blessed to participate in a great celebration. I have had the pleasure of meeting both of the Jansens and I am always enlightened by their outgoing and fun-loving personality. In 2012, Lynn Jansen came down with a nasty cough. Throughout 2013 she struggled with pneumonia four times until being confirmed with the worst news, lung cancer! Due to the switch-over of Obama-care, Cal and Lynn’s medical insurance was cancelled, and since she has undergone surgery in January 2014 she is healing nicely after having half of her right lung removed. However, the medical bills have piled up quite heavily. We are extremely excited to have the Jansens at River Ridge to celebrate Lynn’s win over cancer. Please join us this Saturday to honor this celebration and help knock down some medical bills that have occurred. Not only will we be hosting a golf tournament, but there will be music, bouncy houses, a burger buffet, and family fun. Check-in begins at 2:45 PM with the shotgun start at 3:45 PM. So come on down and join us for a great afternoon supporting the Jansens and celebrating kicking cancer’s butt! Check out their facebook page at See you there, ~Aubrey~

Wine and Treats Wednesday

As many of you may have heard, we have implemented a couple new events this year to not only utilize our core values but to allow those who come to River Ridge an experience to remember. Last month was our first wine and treats event and this Wednesday we held our second wine and treats event. If you like wine tasting, chocolate and massages this was the place to be!

We had local house wines that we featured for our tasting to go along with our ‘wine down Wednesday’ in the clubhouse. Also, we featured MOMS Candy Apples from the Kennewick and Sunnyside areas. Yes candy apples! They had samples of their delicious candied apples and also apples for sale. You could choose from candied apples such as Butterfinger all the way to apple pie flavored. MOMS Candy Apples not only provides an experience of caramel apples for customers but they make their own caramel in house every day and deliver to the Yakima area once a week. They plan on  opening a Yakima location within the next year, so keep an eye out for them! We truly enjoyed their participation and they will surely be at other wine and treats events in the future. Check them out on their Facebook and enjoy! We also had a representative selling dove decadent chocolates. She is a local representative and had samples as well. Truly an amazing experience, from your normal chocolates to margarita mixes. Lastly, we had Aspire Wellness Group from Yakima. They offered their services with a complimentary massage! Can you say amazing! We truly enjoyed their participation and they will be attending future wine and treats as well so keep an eye out.

Overall, we had a great turn out and participation from vendors as well as those who attended. We thank you to all those who participated in this event to make it happen, and we are excited for the next one in July!

Have a great weekend,


Recap of May


As we wrap up the month of May, it is only appropriate to touch base on what has been going on over at River Ridge. Not only have the day-to-day activities kept us busy and plentiful by those we encounter at the course, but we have implemented a couple new events that are allowing us to truly utilize our core values.

May 9th was our first wine and treats event of the year. Our wine and treats event featured Silverlake Winery as well as vendors from the community such as, Ruby Vegas Jewelry Designs, and Shorty’s Sweet Shop. We had wine tastings and those in the clubhouse were able to enjoy dinner from River Ridge, a glass of wine, and shop for Mother’s Day gifts or even themselves. We had a great turn out and are truly looking forward to our next wine and treats on June 11th.


On May 17th, we had our first driving range tournament to raise funds to complete our driving range. As any new event, there will always will be room for improvement. We learned so much about the actions we took for this event and where we want to go with it for next year. We are learning daily about those in our community, our members, and prospective customers/members at River Ridge. Overall, those who attended had a blast! Our cash cube and water balloon launcher was a hit..literally! We also hosted our first glowball tournament of the year. We want to thank all of those that participated in the tournament, the silent auction, as a sponsor, or simply enjoyed the sunny day out at the course; we couldn’t have done it without your help.

movies in the park

This brings us to the final event of the month, our “Movies on the Green” event. Tonight will be our first movie and we are so excited for it. We will be hosting Silverlake Winery wines as well as Yakima Craft Brewery beer. We will have popcorn, candy, and other goodies for you and your friends and family to enjoy while watching ‘Caddyshack’ on our new screen! We will have bug repellent and tiki torches, so bring your blankets and enjoy a night out!

In all, this month has gone by extremely fast, but here at River Ridge, we are grateful for the support we have from our family, friends, members, and community. We hope you are as excited as we are for the events coming up throughout the rest of the season.

God bless,

Aubrey :)

Chief For a Day



If you weren’t able to make it out to the Chief For A Day tournament at the golf course on Saturday, you missed an afternoon full of fun and adventure.  Not only was the sun out  but there was plenty of food, fun, and good spirits… and golf of course! It was inspiring to see the turn out at the tournament and the community participation come together. If you were at the tournament you probably enjoyed either participating in a team for the tournament, or placed a bid in the silent auction, or maybe you let your kids color a golf ball and play in the bouncy house. Overall, the activities available throughout the day were far from few.

The Chief For A Day program was created to help enrich the lives of children who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or life-threatening medical disease. It is the mission of the Yakima, Wapato, and Selah Police Departments to help the children forget about their illness, even if for a short amount of time. The tournament helped raise funds for the winners of those selected for Chief For A Day program and their families. This year Adriel Gonzalez, 11, of Yakima; Kylee Ramsey, 7, of Selah; and 8-year-old Carlos Hernandez of Wapato were chosen as the winners of Chief For A Day.

It was truly a blessing to see not only the children, but their families at the tournament. We were humbled to see their bravery and happiness that was shown throughout their time at the golf course. During the tournament I had asked Carlos for his picture with his family members. He was practicing his throw at the ‘speed throw event’ where you could throw a softball and have the radar detect how fast you were throwing the ball. I asked if I could take his picture for the golf course and he simply replied and smiled, “of course!” As I went to take the picture he advised me that the picture should be taken in front of the speed cart. His passion and happiness was truly inspiring and brought a smile to my face. The picture below can only give a glimpse of the enlightenment of this young man.



Overall, all of us here at River Ridge were blessed to host such an enriching event. The Chief For A Day program brings together community and family throughout the valley to make a difference. Thank you for all who attended and participated.


Until next time,


Staff Spotlight – Lisa


As part of our core values, we believe in family here at River Ridge. This week and throughout the rest of the year, we will be featuring not only important stories and upcoming events, but we will be taking a look inside what makes River Ridge function that way it does. Of course we couldn’t have a restaurant and bar without the people who truly are the backbone of the business. Therefore, this week we are featuring our staff member Lisa Speer.

I met Lisa my first day at River Ridge. Her personality and funny sense of humor immediately caught my attention. I could tell right away that she had a love for River Ridge. Lisa is not only a server and bartender at River Ridge, she brings personality and a sense of community to the restaurant. Lisa has lived in the Yakima Valley her entire life. She loves the area and enjoys the people in this community.

As a member of the River Ridge family for three years now, Lisa has many reasons why she enjoys what she does and what she is looking forward to this season. “I love the customers, support from Dean and everyone I work with, and the overall feel of family and community,” Lisa said, “I am looking forward to all the fundraising events coming up and showing the support that River Ridge has into the community.”  Lisa not only has a love for her job, but her family and community as well. Including her dog Hurley shown in the picture above.

Here at River Ridge, we are happy to have a wonderful and passionate person like Lisa to reflect to the community what River Ridge represents.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to keep updated on our Facebook.

Aubrey Abbott