One more big step towards reality

We are thrilled to announce we now own an SUV in Virginia and it will soon be driven to our trailer in Texas…the “Road Trip to Rapha” is coming closer to reality! So thankful for our friend Des who picked up the Excursion and is parking it at her house until Dan arrives next week!

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Jehovah Rapha – our God who heals

God is known by many names in the Bible and each name reveals a certain aspect of His character. Jehovah-Rapha is one such name found in the Old Testament and means “The God who heals” in Hebrew.

But it is much deeper than merely a physical healing…

The varying manifestations of God’s tremendous healing power as Jehovah-Rapha can be found in the following biblical passages:

• Sickness and infirmity  (Psalm 41:3)

• Healing from mental affliction (Jonah 2:5-7)

• Spiritual fatigue  (Psalm 23:3)

• Emotional suffering  (Psalm 147:3)

• Anxiety or worry (John 14:27)

We have named our upcoming adventure….”Road Trip to Rapha” ….because we are praying and believing for deep healing & restoration for our children during this time. They desperately need mental & emotional healing from their horrific childhood trauma (truly some of the worst I’ve ever heard) and from their fears, abandonment, low self esteem and attachment challenges.

Our key scripture promise will be:

Jeremiah 30:17: “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”

Update on our progress:

❤️ Adoption is moving forward (looks like we will get a date in September but still plan to begin road trip….staying in California for short trips out so we are able to be back weekly for foster meetings/appointments and paperwork.)

❤️ We own a trailer in Waco, Texas…the perfect one…blessed, blessed, blessed. We still need a 8 passenger SUV with at least 10,000 towing capacity (and a diesel would really be the best) There are complications with the financing we have that we are asking Jehovah Jireh, another name for God which means “the Lord will provide,” to take care of on our behalf.

❤️ Inspire Ministries & support. We are preparing to connect with all of our faithful supporters as well as potential supporters to let them know our plan for this year and pull together a “Road Trip to Rapha” prayer & support team.

We are 7 weeks from our hoped for start date (even though we will start with shorter trips within California before the BIG take off mid to late September after adoption) ….every once in awhile that seems really really soon with lots to happen in between….but I know that God can do really BIG things….in short time frames…so we move forward day by day towards the goal with our faith & confidence in what God has already done & what He will do!

PS: Do you like our trip logo that our dear friend Michelle Sallee created for us? 😊 We plan to get t-shirts with this logo and hopefully even paint it in the back of the trailer as a constant reminder of the goal

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Living by faith in an amazing God!

Last Monday my 18 year old daughter came up to me and started this conversation…

Joy: Mom are you still planning on taking this road trip in a couple of months? I mean we don’t even have a travel trailer?

Me: Are you MY child? We live by faith …if this is what we are suppose to do…which we believe it is then God will provide us with a trailer when He wants to. And honestly that might be a week or even days before we head off! We have a trailer…it’s just not here yet. I have no doubt!

Joy: ok Mom…I’m just saying….

That very night my younger sister who lives in Houston text me a link to a trailer her friend was selling and said…”this looks like the trailer you’ve described as wanting” I checked it out and couldn’t believe how perfect it looked. It not only had everything we were looking for but in addition has some extras that I only hoped for but never dreamed we would get.

But there were a couple of things to overcome

  1. We were short about $7,000 from the money we have been putting in savings for this trip (and this particular fabulous travel trailer with all the bells and whistles was thousands of dollars less than trailers just like it…)
  2. It is in Waco Texas & we needed to be able to store it there until we can pick it up sometime this summer after we find the vehicle to purchase that can haul it & us (btw that is a Yukon XL 2500 – no older than 2010 because of towing changes or Suburban 2500…both have the engines that can pull it….lots of research and talking to people to figure this out)
  3. The owners live out of the country and were returning home in 2 weeks, wanting to wrap up all details before leaving.

Exactly 72 hours later….after the Lord used some very generous people to provide exactly the $7,000 needed and….my sister drove 2 hours to Waco to do a FaceTime video to let us see it (and it truly looks brand new!) and…the owners son agreed to store it for us until we can pick it up and….the owners decided to bless us by purchasing new tires for the trailer and….

We are now the proud owners of a perfect trailer for our “Road Trip to Rapha” and above and beyond all we could ask or think and paid in full!

And when my daughter Joy heard that news on Thursday afternoon, three days after she questioned me….she laughed said…. “of course we do”

Living by faith in our amazing, powerful, awesome God…..is truly a blast!

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The perfect trailer….

We found the perfect trailer to meet our needs for this “Road trip to Rapha” we hope to begin this coming school year. (Yikes! That’s just 10 weeks away) It has the sleeping space, it is light enough and has all the basics plus some “extras” that I had kinda wished for but never expected to get. We have some money saved and we have received a couple donations…but we need several thousand more in order to purchase it. We know if this is the one…the finances will come through for us in the next few days for us to purchase this trailer. (it is a really great price) Honestly it’s even nicer than I imagined or hoped for.

We are confident that if this is the one, then we will come up with the money needed. Please pray for us – wisdom, provision & increased faith – would be great. Oh and it’s in Texas so if we get this – we will now be looking in that great state for that “trailer tow able” SUV (basically a Yukon XL 2500 or Suburban 2500)….

“faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen”

If you would like to make a donation towards this trailer…

Venmo – @inspiremin1

PayPal – https://paypal.me/bethlambdin?locale.x=en_US

Address: 313 W Robinhood Dr Stockton, CA 95207

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Road Trip to Rapha

We are still feeling confident that we are to move forward with our plan to take a “gap” year traveling across the country to focus on healing, growth & intentionality for our bonus kiddos and loving bonding for our family.

We are just 3 weeks away from our .26 hearing that will move us closer to adoption (obstacle #1) and we are still researching and looking for a vehicle and trailer that sits/sleeps the eight of us that we can afford (obstacle #2)

I told you there were four obstacles to overcome in order to move forward. I share these with you in hopes that you will pray for open doors & answers as well as giving everyone the opportunity to see and celebrate the hand of God in His provision.

Obstacle #3

Inspire Ministries

Our only source of income in this season of life is our non profit – Inspire Ministries. I am paid a salary as the Executive Director…which last year during Covid…was decreased by over 40%. Our mission is to inspire living a life of passion, purpose & praise and the focus of our ministry is supporting marriage, families, single moms, foster children, adoption and the “least of these” as outlined in the scripture. Most of our ministry is here in the San Joaquin County. During this “gap year” – our ministry would be limited to our former foster youth and continuing to inspire through writing and we could possibly even begin a podcast. We would need to be able to keep all of our current monthly supporters as well as adding more to recoup the loss from this last year.

Obstacle #4

Finances

We have calculated that in order to pull this trip off and cover additional expenses that we currently don’t have (camping sites, gas and vehicle expenses, additional food expenses above what we currently spend and occasional educational sightseeing expense & potential payment & insurance on new to us vehicle/camper) will be approximately $2,000 a month.

We would need the Lord to provide that in whatever way possible:

💰 monthly sponsors who commit in advance?? OR…

💰 trust God to provide month to

month while we are in the road?? OR…

💰 raise as much as we can this summer through yard sales or other creative ideas?? OR…

💰 some other miraculous move of God through whatever amazing thing He wants to do!

Again…we appreciate your prayers of faith and words of hope & encouragement! (If you are wondering what “Road Trip to Rapha” is…it’s a name I’m considering using for our trip….I love alliterations and if you’re curious about Rapha…look up this Hebrew word and let me know your thoughts)

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We won’t let you go…

When it feels like surgery
And it burns like third degree
And you wonder what is it worth?
When your inside’s breaking in
And you feel that ache again
And you wonder what’s giving birth?If you could let the pain of the past go
Of your soul
None of this is in your control

If you could only let your guard down
If you could learn to trust me somehow
Well I swear, that I won’t let you go
If you could only let go your doubts
If you could just believe in me now
I swear, that I won’t let you go
I won’t let you go

This song is a powerful testimony to the hurt and pain that children in the foster system experience. They have so much pain, fear and suffering in their hearts and they desperately need a person or family who will have a “won’t let you go” commitment to them.

Our family has that commitment to the three foster children that the Lord has placed in our lives…it is the same commitment we have to our birth and adopted children and our CASA kids.

The hardest thing is getting them to really believe that we love them and will never quit. We will never let them go!

May this song touch you and these pictures give you hope and the motivation to pray for not only our children but every child who finds themselves without a forever family who will love them unconditionally and never let them go!

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Overcoming the Obstacles #1 & #3

We are so encouraged by the comments, messages & texts we have received from so many people affirming our idea of taking an extended road trip across the country in hopes of bringing healing & break through for our kids. It has encouraged our faith and given us even more confidence to move forward.

We do anticipate 4 potential obstacles or challenges to overcome in order for this to come to pass…we would love your prayers, insights and ideas. We know that with God …all things are possible!

Obstacle #1

Adoption

We need the finalization of the kids adoption to happen before we leave. If you know anything about the system then you know this is not easy or predictable. On June 16th we are scheduled to go to court for what is called a .26 hearing.

A .26 hearing is when parental rights are terminated and the permanent placement plan is changed to adoption. These hearings can go smoothly or there can be parental objection or some sort of hang up with proper court notifications & protocols. We anticipate no issues…but you really never know. If it goes well and their plan is changed to adoption…then we start that process which could be completed as early as 6 weeks or as long as they want it to take. It includes another home study for adoption, compiling of medical records and some testing. We are hoping & praying for a quick process which means they could be adopted by mid August. We would love to start our journey the last week of August….but the adoption must be final. Prayers to this end appreciated!

Obstacle #2

We need a camper! We have looked at options and we believe that with the number of people we need to sleep (8) and with wanting a vehicle we could use for field trips/day trips without having to always drive a huge RV around….that the best situation would be a vehicle that is large enough to seat us all and has a big enough engine to haul a trailer that is big enough to sleep us all. So we are looking at purchasing or maybe even getting something donated – a used SUV and a camping trailer.

We are very open to other ideas and input from people that may have more or better information for us. We would also love to hear of any great deals you may know about or maybe you have something you don’t plan to use for the next year that you would like to bless us with for this adventure. (Keeping in mind there are 8 of us and our kids are all adult sized ranging in height from 5’4” to 5’10”) Pray for the perfect answer!

Next post our other two obstacles…

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A Radical Departure

Here I go…taking the leap of faith and sharing publicly the radical idea we believe God has given us to help our kids get a breakthrough in their healing.

We believe that we should seriously pursue taking, in essence, a “gap year”. A year away from all the routines, appointments, expectations, activities, interruptions and the multitude of distractions from our now primary priority of bringing healing, regulation and bonding to our three newest children. Our hope is that the payoff of this gap year will be a solid foundation for the following years with more peace, love and family cohesion (and more sleep would be a huge bonus too!)

Our gap year would consist of taking off with a travel trailer and a minimal amount of “stuff” and traveling across the country at the start of the next school year. There are many obstacles to seeing this come to fruition – not the least being the kids adoption being finalized (we can’t do this with them in the system still). The fact that we do not own a travel trailer nor a SUV large enough to pull a trailer and seat the 8 of us is another big obstacle. And of course I am well aware of the stresses of traveling in tight quarters and being away from our vast support system of friends & family who are so very important to our sanity and who we will miss terribly. But honestly it is one of the reasons we believe this is truly a nudge from the Lord…because we would never tell ourselves to do this.

Before sharing our obstacles…let me explain why we believe this radical departure from our normal life may bring the break through needed.

❤️ Solidifying the Loving Connection with our family

I’ll never forget when the boys counselor looked at me and said….”more than anything else what heals brains is loving relationships.”

I was amazed that even in his mainly secular & scientific understanding of trauma he so clearly understood that love in action is the most powerful force in the universe. (And that was Gods idea from the beginning and is the foundation of the Christian faith )

At the end of your life the most important thing is your loved ones and the moments of connection you shared with them.

Building loving relationships and close connections take time….lots of time. With children we raise since birth…this loving connection develops naturally. With children you get half way through their childhood and with the trauma of broken relationships and rejection…this loving connection takes an intense amount of time, energy & purpose.

Times that by having three kids (and two birth children at home who still need that love & connection) and we can’t keep “trying” to do this & so often failing. We believe we need to take the time to cut out every distraction, every hinderance and do something radically different like this. Our focus can be fully fixed on building loving relationships & positive connections.

❤️ Healing through Gods creation in nature & Breaking Routine

Interaction with nature is a healing activity. Gods beautiful creation – mountains, trees, stars, oceans, lakes, sand, canyons, desserts, meadows…and I can go on and on…bring refreshment, peace, calm, inspiration and joy. Open, unstructured play in children has been shown to encourage creativity, reduce anxiety and even significantly reduce learning problems.

When we travel we are usually breaking our normal routine which means we can’t operate on autopilot. The decreased familiarity is an opportunity for most people to be more fully present, to really wake up and be more aware. This mindfulness has also been shown to reduce stress and increase compassion, resilience, and happiness.

We plan to spend a lot of time in these natural elements and watch the healing progress.

❤️ Education at its best – Hands on learning

What about school you may be asking?

Our children from hard places struggle with school and learning. Of course as their brains heal that will get easier but again with only half of their school years left we need to fast track them to be able to learn while they are healing. And bottom line the seemingly best way to do this is hands on learning where they can be actively engaging through nature, history, museums, culture, creating, travel and more. They also need us to be less distracted by our daily work & lives so we can better help them to enjoy and learn to love learning!

And my mantra has always been…Life is school!

❤️ Making positive Memories

Our new kiddos have memories in our city around every corner…and many are not positive but rather memories of abuse & neglect in their family of origin as well as several very challenging foster homes. We hope to build beautiful, loving, positive memories that will overshadow the ugly ones and help them on their journey to overcoming. Creating new unique memories with their new family will also provide a bonding experience for us all.

Next post: we will share our obstacles and ask for your prayers & perhaps partnership with us.

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We are closing in on the second anniversary of getting our precious twin boys as their foster parents. Six months later their younger sister joined our family.

These three beautiful children have experienced more trauma and pain than we can even wrap our minds around. In the time we have had them there has been some healing & growth…as in two steps forward, one and a half step back type of progress. Their needs are great and at times we are just at the end of ourselves trying to meet them. When we look at the time we have left, before adulthood, to help them become whole and healed, it can be overwhelming. They are also at the early stages of puberty, a hard time for all children but multiplied hardness for children with trauma. We continually educate ourselves in ways to help, solicit and pay for advice and help from professionals and have used multiple different tools to try to bring regulation and healing. And we are committed to going the distance even without the promise of significant change in behaviors but we continually seek a break through.

A couple months ago while I had some time away, alone at the beach, I felt like the Lord dropped something in my heart. I was impressed with the thought that perhaps we needed to make a radical change in our lives to promote healing and truly bring a bonding connection to our family.

I sat with it in my heart for a bit …because honestly it sounded crazy, impossible and even potentially miserable. But as we begin to explore the possibilities, benefits for the kids and having asked those close to us for input and prayers for wisdom…it is seeming more & more like something that may be the beginning of great change, healing & growth.

And as always a huge leap of faith…

…which always seems to include for us sharing our seemingly crazy & impossible plan with others (even at the risk of looking foolish if it doesn’t happen the way we think God has directed)

Stay tuned….

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Our hopes for our foster kids

I’ve spent my morning listening to podcasts on parenting children from hard places…which I do often. As I look at this beautiful photo of these precious kids that God has entrusted to us I was prompted to write down my hopes, dreams and desires for them. I welcome your prayers to help us be able to lay the foundation for them to live this life.

What I want for my children…

❤️ for them to receive healing from their trauma…to reprocess what has happened to them in a framework where they can live a life of peace, love, confidence, strength, resilience and faith and belief in their ability to overcome.

❤️ that they will glorify God in their unique journey & story and that they can embrace His unconditional love for them and love and serve Him and testify to His miraculous providence in their lives.

❤️ they will learn and commit to a life of loving relationships that are full of patience, forgiveness, kindness, bearing, believing & hoping all things. That they will be good siblings, cousins, aunt & uncles, friends, spouse, parents and grandparents throughout their lives.

❤️ that they will find their God given purpose in life and pursue it with passion!

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Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

Our dearest Inspire Ministries family….

Fall has come and gone in a whirlwind of craziness & chaos for us and we are fully immersed in the midst of the Christmas season. Beth ministered last weekend at a Christmas Women’s luncheon at a church in Galt and the title of her message was – “In Search of a Silent Night…Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos”. – and yes, we have been searching for that perfect peace with a new desperate desire.

The last time we sent a ministry update was in September …we shared then about our troubling circumstances with the IRS, Michelle’s life threatening emergency and the recent type 1 diabetes diagnosis of our daughter Joy including the financial issues surrounding that. We were under an intense amount of pressure then and yet things continued to come at us like relentless waves during a storm, fast & furious, one after another. We spent 70 mind numbing hours working hard on our IRS issues in the month of September (we are now quite well-educated in non-profit tax law) and we continued to navigate Joy’s diabetes with little success and the frustrations of months of high highs and dangerous lows in addition to the larger than life financial stress of the high cost of diabetic management. Two more extremely traumatic events would take place in the midst of all of that chaos. Beth & Joy left for her 20th annual Croptoberfest scrapbook retreat at the beginning of October, anticipating a time of refreshment from the previous eight weeks and yet tragically on the first morning of the retreat, when they went to get the ladies up for breakfast, they discovered that one of our precious friends of almost 20 years, Terri, had passed away in her sleep. The peaceful scene in the foothills of Tuolumne County quickly turned into a whirlwind of CPR, emergency first responders, sheriffs, the coroner, stunned camp staff and retreat attendees and many tears in the midst of shock for everyone. Never could we have ever imagined walking through such an experience. We spent the next days comforting loved ones and taking care of details for the family. When Beth returned home to begin to try to process this unimaginable tragedy we were hit immediately with another life and death situation as our dear friend…who we affectionately refer to as Granny Ann…called us in the early morning hours to take her to the emergency room. She was extremely ill and ended up being admitted to the hospital for 12 days and then spent over a month in an acute care hospital after the Lord spared her life. We are the only family she has and of course we were by her side at the hospital and helping her every step of the way which meant very long days taking shifts at the hospital and advocating for her medical care. All this took place along with our regular life & ministry that included –

♦️ multiple Inspire events for moms and marriages
♦️ two speaking engagements
♦️ counseling five different couples in marriage crisis
♦️ several college visitation trips for Grace, our senior in high school daughter
♦️ three weddings and one funeral performed
♦️ our kids in all kinds of sports & activities going in different directions
♦️  homeschooling and running a brand new high school hybrid program (combo homeschool & private school).

14902784_10155138330747662_2096288455032294303_o-1…….And on top of that a part-time job opened up for Beth to work for CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates (one of our many passions), which we decided to walk through with prayer and much trembling (because of the additional 20 hours of work per week without letting go of anything else in our already packed life..not knowing where we would find that time). But since we have such huge new medical expenses and the stark reality that after three years Dan has still not been able to receive a salary through Inspire…we prayerfully chose to walk through this open door. Pray that we would be given favor and success in our endevour to recruit 100 new advocates in 2017 and that the Lord would multiply our time.

And yes….God has given us peace in the midst of it all (and yes…Beth did take 3 days completely alone at the beach to allow the Lord to minister healing and strength to her spirit).

We are still here!

We are still loving life and loving the Lord and loving others!

God is still completely  in control and He is truly a good good Father.

Our faith has been tested and we have remained faithful

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And we know we are not alone in these trials and suffering. Many, if not most of you are walking through similar intense trials and testing…facing sickness, disease, financial stress, relationship heartache, death & loss. Please know we love you and are praying for each of you. We know that you too will remain strong and faithful and in that we rejoice. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and supporting us with your life giving words of encouragement, your time and your financial support. We love & appreciate you all so very much.

We hope you have made it this far…because we have some really GREAT news to share with you too!

img_3793FIRST – The day before Thanksgiving we received a letter from the IRS completely and retroactively reinstating our non-profit status. Which means …your giving is  and has been completely tax-deductible and we have been exonerated. Glory to God! We do want to thank you all for your overwhelming support during this IRS debacle. We lost NOT ONE supporter and we received so many words of encouragement concerning our ministry and the impact we are having on lives. Some even increased their financial support during this struggle. We are blessed with the BEST ministry partners ever! Thank you does not adequately describe our appreciation!

15220034_10155197702237662_4804600343441153490_nSECOND – We will officially welcome the 9th child into the Lambdin family. Megan will legally become a Lambdin on January 9, 2017 and we will have a new “Adoption Day” to celebrate in our family. We were blessed to have a friend, Teri, do the hours of work that it took to research, fill out and file all the right paperwork (adult adoptions are rare and thus no one knows how to do them). When Megan was home at Thanksgiving from the Mercy House…where she is doing very well and experiencing great healing & growth…we were able to sign adoption papers. Glory to God…everyone deserves a forever family and we are blessed to have Megan and Rosie become part of ours. And BONUS: Dan and Beth will be “instant grandparents on January 9th. Whoooo hooo!

THIRDLY – All the Lambdin clan will be home for Christmas for the first time since 2013 and we are SUPER excited for this time together as a family. We never take our time together for granted and we plan to make many beautiful memories during the season and take lots of photos. We are beyond blessed with our beautiful family that grows bigger every year. Thank you for loving all of us.

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AND FINALLY (although there are many many more reasons to rejoice!) We recently  had our washer break down and then this week our refrigerator bit the dust. We have no emergency fund for these types of things and once again we have been undone by the goodness of God and YOU…His people…as we just received a brand new refrigerator (just in time for our Holiday Mother Daughter Tea this weekend) and we were blessed last week by a precious angel who bought us a brand new washer & dryer that was delivered yesterday! On top of that…our neighbors, who own a flooring company, replaced our bathroom floor  – completely free of charge – that was coming up and tearing apart. A true example of “loving thy neighbor”. We could go on and on with the blessings that seemingly come out of nowhere….but we know it is the Lord putting us on the hearts of His people.

Since we don’t have an Inspire Ministry staff…..in fact we are the staff….including the development & fundraising team…we must share with you that our ministry account could use a boost before the year’s end. So if you are looking for a good tax-deductible (praise God!) place to give your money before 2016 comes to an end, we would be beyond grateful for any donations large or small that might send us into 2017 stronger as a ministry. We are believing & hoping for at least $10,000 in total donations before the years end.
If you want to give you can….

When you give to Inspire Ministries…we promise that we have our feet on the ground and are working hard for the Lord and the people He puts in our path. There is no “waste” in this ministry or large salaries going to staff or lives of luxury being lived. It truly goes to helping us to continue to minister full time to multitides of people in our community as well as around the world…inspiring then to live a life of passion, purpose and praise.

Some of you also want to know about our personal needs….and that is so touching and heartwarming for us. Currently we do have a few pressing things –>

  • Insulin & diabetic supplies at about $500 more this month (and yes we are applying for medical and awaiting a response in hopes of getting some relief from this tremendous burden)
  • Home tax is due on Monday (the first half is $950….total is $1900)
  • Dan needs to renew his ministers license every December ($300)

If the Lord leads you to give to any of these you can do so via check to the above address or paypal at beth@bethlambdin.net

Last year I (Beth) asked for you to give towards a Christmas bonus for Dan as well. If you want to do the same this year for this amazing man of God…I know he would feel honored and valued.

THANK YOU for all who have ALREADY given this past month (there are several of you) and in advance for those who will give before the month’s end. And hey…if you want to tell others about our ministry who might be looking for a year-end donation…well that would just be AWESOME!

img_3938Oh hey! One more thing to give God glory in! (How did we forget this??) Dan and Beth will celebrate 30 years of marriage and ministry together on December 20, 2016. Our love and commitment to one another and to the call of God on our lives has never been stronger. We will get away for a few days this month and celebrate life and love at our favorite place in the world…the beach!

Merry Christmas to you all! Please tell us how we can pray for you. We love hearing from you and it is an honor to have you in our lives.

Blessings,

Dan & Beth Lambdin

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Magical Moments with My Beloved

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Last night…just for a moment…I was 22 again!

As I was kissing my kids goodbye (who were headed back to our home in Stockton) and jumping in the shower before tackling my long “to do” list of errands for my upcoming retreat, I put in an old ’80’s CD of Deniece Williams and as the familiar songs began to play (My Soul Desire, His Eye is on the Sparrow, I Surrender All) I found myself transported back to a time in my life that I affectionately refer to as my “Season of Singleness”.

It was during this time that I developed a deep intimate relationship with my Jesus without the distractions of being in, or even looking for, a relationship with any other man. He was exclusively my beloved and I nurtured and cherished that relationship and intimacy with lots of communication and time spent together in beautiful chapels, long walks by the water, afternoons at the park, warm cozy mornings wrapped up in a blanket with coffee in hand and sharing my heart with Him. I also had many a “date night” with my Lord…getting dressed up and heading out to dinner with Him alone. It was magical!

Years later when I was married and then began having children those special moments became less and less as I invested in the important and wonderful relationships of being a wife and mother. And while I still have occasional magical moments with my beloved Lord (in church during worship, sunrise service and midnight mass or the rare moment alone on a walk)…our relationship, while strong and healthy, often lacks the spark that happened in those years of singleness. (It appears 1 Corinthians 7 is correct – “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how they may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how they may please their spouse and their interests are divided….singles can have undistracted devotion to God”)

But last night in an empty house l began to belt out “My Soul Desire” with my hands lifted high, dancing around the room with my beloved and felt that sweet whisper and nudge to drop the to do list, get dressed up and go out on a date with my Jesus! And that is exactly what I did…

…and it was <sigh>…. magical!

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The Ultimate Aim

Earlier this week, for 24 hours, I was completely alone….and I was practically perfect!

I mean really….I was polite, sweet, kind, loving to everyone I communicated with (at Starbucks, in the grocery store line, via texts home, emails and I even hand wrote a few loving letters)

And in addition I was never impatient, irritated, frustrated, tired, sarcastic or rude.

I felt so filled with the fruit of the spirit and well….so righteous and godly and even Christlike….

But then in a blink of an eye I wasn’t alone anymore as my family arrived a few at a time and before I knew it the lovely, godly me turned into the impatient, sarcastic, irritated, unkind, rude, ugly sinner that I can often be. And once again I was having to sacrifice and be unselfish – to cook, clean and watch littles when I would much rather be listening to inspirational sermons while basking in the sun on the beach deck drinking ice tea.

And today the conviction of that sin is as loud as the waves crashing down outside my window and I must repent…once again.

I have become more and more convinced with each decade I live that even in the midst of all the love, fulfillment and joy being married and having children has brought into my life, that the most important thing it has given me is a mirror into my sinful, selfish heart and all the ungodly character qualities that I need to continually lay down at the altar as I strive to be more like Christ.

What if the main purpose of our marriage and families is to make us holy….not happy? What if someone said to us when we were single…”Hey, guess what? When you get married and have kids you’ll have a front row seat to see your “sin on parade” every day plus a bonus: you will also get to suffer & sacrifice along the way even at the hands of those you love the most” (hmmm…that last part sounds a lot like what Jesus did)

Would we all just have said…”Oh good! I can’t wait…sign me up for marriage & kids!”? No…Most of us enter into marriage and parenting with the expectation that it will bring with it complete happiness, love and fulfillment. And while it may bring those things, wether in tiny bites or in large chunks….it is certainly not the whole deal. The reality is that marriage and children illuminates all of our sin and can at times cause us great suffering and sacrifice, which ultimately if we allow it…makes us holy and like Christ.

And isn’t that, for us who are believers…the ultimate aim?

holiness not happiness

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Everything Changes

February 29 – is our Leap Year Bonus Day!

Thanks to the Facebook app “On This Day”,  I get automatic reminders of what I posted each day in prior years.  Yesterday there were only 2 years to “look back” on (2008 & 2012) that include February 29th, as before that there was “slim to none”  social media in our lives.

My 2012 entry made me stop and pause….I was so clearly confident that one of the things that would be a “constant” never changing in our lives was our work and ministry at Jim Elliot Christian High School.

leap year

I wrote….

“since this will be her last “bonus day” with me here at the beach. (In 2016 she will be a 17 year old junior in high school and at home with Daddy on “bonus day”)”

It simply never crossed my mind that there was even the remotest possibility that Dan would not always work & minister at JECHS and that all my children would attend and graduate as an Elliot Eagle. I “knew” that we would be there until our “dying day” and that the last of our children would graduate in 2027. And yet a mere 17 months later from this confident post Dan was dismissed, Rebekah rejected and Grace a month away from beginning her freshman year, would never once be a student there.

This post on my Facebook has made me stop and think ….what things in my life do I consider absolute “givens”, unchangeable situations, rock solid relationships, jobs or financial securities or just things that will “always be this way”?

Even with so very many long term constants in my life:

  • 53 years as a daughter and little sister
  • 51 years as a big sister
  • 36 years committed to serving Jesus as Lord
  • 35 years living in Stockton, CA
  • 32 years at my current church
  • 31 years in ministry
  • 29 years married (to the same man)
  • 27 years as a Mom
  • 26 years living on Robinhood Dr in the same house
  • 17 years I was a Creative Memories consultant (ended in 2013)
  • 16 years with JECHS (ended in 2013)
  • 13 years renting the beach house (where I am currently writing from) every year for a “working” holiday and family time

I am starkly reminded today that EVERYTHING changes. You simply never know what is around the next corner or where you will be, what you will be doing and who you will be with on your “Bonus Day” in 2020! So….for those things in life you cherish and hope never change…savor the moment, appreciate the good, love and enjoy the people in your life today and….
…..if you are in a season of life struggling with how things are now (not having the job you want, relationship you desire, security you need or peace you hope for) hang on…EVERYTHING changes and your next “Bonus Day” may very well include all of those things and more!

Another thought to ponder this Leap year is just how many “Bonus Days” you have left in your lifetime.  If we all live to the average life expectancy (79 years is the current number), then we will likely have 20 “Bonus Days” in our lifetime. My baby girl just had her second “Bonus Day” and I enjoyed my….gulp….fourteenth.  Yes, that means if I live to be the average number of years I only have six “Bonus Days” left in my lifetime. That’ll get you motivated, focused on living purposeful and setting your priorities a right. I have decided by my next “Bonus Day” I will have written 4 books and I started towards that goal yesterday…February 29, 2016.

How many Bonus Days do you have left and what will you do with them?

PS – Instead of being home with Dad and sitting in class at JECHS as we thought she would be in 2012….here is how Grace spent her Bonus Day 2016 as a 17 year old home-schooled junior in high school…not too bad, right?

 

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Traditions Book…are you interested?

traditions book - Page 003

For almost two decades people have asked us to please write a book about the traditions we have done; a manual that someone could pull out from year to year and quickly refer to as they are building their own family traditions. The problem has been that there is simply NO TIME between a life of beyond full time ministry for 30 years and raising our own plus size family, to take the uninterrupted time away from life to just write.

However we have an upcoming opportunity for Beth to spend up to two weeks AWAY within this next month (As it is impossible to stay on task at home between family responsibilities and the ministry.)…..just writing and working diligently on this time consuming project so that in 2016 the traditions book can become a reality. The only obstacle is the need for funds for that get away (lodging, fuel & meals)

If you are one of those people who have been waiting for that book (many who subscribe to this blog are friends from my Creative Memories days who were always asking for a book on traditions as well as inspiration!) , or you would love to see a traditions book become a reality you can make a donation towards that project here (no donation is too small!) –

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LALVRCPVBM5P6

Thank you in advance for your donation and we can promise you a signed (ohhhhhh me, oh my!) copy of the book when we get it published. (we will look for a publisher but will self publish if we cant find one).

 

PS – We would also love to come to your church, ministry or organization and do any one of these traditions conferences (your cost would be for our transportation, lodging, meals, cost of materials and other than that a love offering for the ministry)…just let us know!

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