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.

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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?

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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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Two for the Price of One: Ministry Center & Ministry House – We want it!

Inspire Ministries wants something really big!

We began working full time with Inspire Ministries just over a year and a half ago. As part of the ministry we began having several events in our home to help inspire others to live a life of passion, purpose and praise.  These events included:

  • Titus Tea Time: a monthly sit down tea for moms to be refreshed, renewed inspire - Page 005and encouraged as they learned from mentor moms who came and shared with them
  • Passionate & Purposeful Parenting Workshops: Quarterly workshops to help parents raise godly children
  • Ministry House - Page 006Traditions Seminars: held three times a year to teach & inspire families to begin faith filled (and fun!) traditions as they raise their children
  • CASA Events: Several times a year we host informational events to promote the CASA program and how they can help foster children
  • Couples Coffee Club: a monthly Friday night “date night” for couples wanting to strengthen their marriages by learning Biblical concepts and connecting with other couples2014 Family Album - Page 033
  • Mom’s Night Out: A new quarterly event we were inspired to begin this summer to give single moms and their families a chance to be spoiled & pampered
  • Men’s Bible Study: a group of men getting together to study the word of God and grow in their faith

We are happy to report that these events have been successful in many ways and that several of them are “filled to the brim” with people!  God is using this ministry to profoundly impact lives not only through these events but also through multiple counseling and mentoring appointments; daily ministering to couples with marriages in crisis, young people looking for direction, discipleship and helping people break free from bondage. It truly is a life changing ministry!

BUT….here is the challenge! We do most all of these events in our home which means we continually have to move around our furniture (and sometimes put it outside) as well as “displacing” our kids while we host the events.

We do however want to keep the “home” feel of our events as we see a different atmosphere than if they were held in a church or community center (not too mention for some of the events …like the Tea Time… it would take too much energy, time and effort to lug supplies back and forth.)  We have often thought…

  • “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we had a home we could use for all these ministry events?”

The answer is YES...it would be awesome!  Not only for the events but also for the multiple counseling sessions which we currently do at Starbucks, Peets, Boudin, Mimi’s or Panera’s. Overall, that is ok but just this month alone we have had requests for a “non public” meeting place from those needing counseling.  We usually resort to our home again…but with multiple kids running around it is often not very private. In fact tomorrow we are meeting with a couple who are struggling intensely with unforgiveness and pride and we want to do a foot washing with them…not exactly conducive at Starbucks.  There are many times to we need to really pray over someone which is uncomfortable to many in a public setting. And again we have often thought…

  • “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we had a place where we could do counseling that was private as well as a more comfortable atmosphere than a sterile professional office?”

Again the answer is YES it would!

Through a very recent and providential turn of events….which we will someday share with everyone…we have found the perfect house to meet all these needs we have for Inspire Ministries.  It is in a perfect location on Ben Holt & Gettysburg – easy to find and with lots of parking including Lincoln Center right across the street.  It has…

  • a separate entrance for ministry events
  • large room for those events that could easily be reconfigured for teas, couples group, seminars & workshops
  • a “guest” bathroom easily accessible
  • a large storage area for tables, chairs, tea sets, coffee pots, drink containers and more (don’t even try to figure out how we currently store all that in our current home…just let me say there is not a corner of our home unused)
  • a kitchen that looks like it was made to cater large events (check out that refrigerator)
  • and multiple places to do private counseling.

We want it!

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But there’s more!

For many years now we have desired deeply to have a home – a ministry home – where we could house young people who have “aged out” of the foster system or single moms in crisis. We have committed a large part of our lives already to meganhousing people in these similar situations, but unfortunately they have had to sleep on our couches or pile in a room with many of our children as we helped them to grow, mature and teach them not only about the Lord but helping them navigate through this season of life until they can get up and out successfully on their own.  We have taught them everything from basic life skills – house cleaning, cooking, schedules, banking, budgeting, learning to drive, getting into 11060862_10154084539327662_4404830514176764473_ocollege, time management, interviewing for a job and more….to helping them learn to be a good parent, moral values, decision making, conflict resolution, goal setting, prayer, cultivating a relationship with God, attending church, tithing, giving and of course applying the Word of God in their lives. We have often thought…

  • ” Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we had a ministry house where we could have a safe place for these young people or single moms to not only live but to be purposefully taught all these things?”

And once again the answer is resoundingly…YES it would!

And believe it or not this very same house that would be perfect for Inspire Ministries events and counseling also would be the perfect ministry house!  The house wraps around the corner and has…

  • a separate entrance from the ministry door
  • the perfect location for these young people who usually have no transportation (the bus stop is literally outside the front door) with grocery stores across the street, multiple businesses for job opportunities and a great elementary school one block away and it is in a safe beautiful family friendly neighborhood
  • several bedrooms that could house a mom and up to two children or two single girls aged out of the foster system (we would not have a co-ed facility…but perhaps down the road we could have an additional home for young men)
  • a full bathroom to share
  • a family room for kids to play as well as having “family meetings” for the young people including Bible Studies, training times and mentoring
  • a dining room to share meals together (and of course that fabulous kitchen to prepare those meals)
  • and a master bedroom with bathroom to house an adult mentor mom or couple who would teach train, counsel as well as run both the ministry center & house (no we would not be moving our family into this house…it would defeat the purpose)

We envision a one to two year disciplined program for those that live here that would include a daily schedule & household responsibilities, a curfew, regular training & bible studies, church attendance and serving in the house through voluntarily working for the ministry events held there. This experience would be life changing and they would be well prepared to eventually move out and successfully live life in the community as a productive citizen, a good parent and possibly future spouse and above all a solid believer living out their faith daily. A program that would transform lives and provide practical hands on help, healing and hope for the future.

We want it so very desperately!

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Yes….two different and yet complimentary ministries in one house.  Two for the price of one.  That price is $399,000 for the house plus of course getting it furnished and raising the funds to pay the monthly expenses that come with owning a home (taxes, insurance,utilities) And even after that we would need to have a salary to pay the mentor mom or couple who would live here. (we know, we know…we are crazy to be talking about an additional salary when Dan still hasn’t received a salary from Inspire yet as we have only secured enough ministry partners this year to pay Beth as the Executive Director and for our monthly ministry expenses. But we walk by faith! And perhaps at times that is crazy)

So what will it take? The owners are new friends of ours and are moving to Tennessee as soon as they sell this house. (and until last week we had no idea they lived in this house) They dedicated this house to the Lord and they are committed to seeing it become our Ministry Center & House.  Their hearts lept within them when we shared our dream.  They want this to happen as much as we do.  In fact we are typing this in the kitchen at the house as they have already opened up the home for us to use as we need it! (and even just handed us a key to the house)

All we need is to purchase the house. This could happen in many ways and we are open to however the Lord wants to make it happen. Some ideas to consider (and maybe the Lord is causing your heart to leap within you right now because you want to be a part of this)

  • Someone could hand us $399,000 and say…go for it Inspire Ministries
  • Several someones could come together as a “team” believing in this idea and each donate $75,000 – $100,000 for us to purchase it
  • A dozen or more people could write a check for $33,000 each and make it happen
  • A couple dozen local churches could each contribute $15,000 as part of their mission to reach Stockton for Christ
  • Or how about 399 of you each donating $1,000  (or 798 donating $500 or 1,596 of you donating $250)
  • Someone could purchase the house and then lease it back to us for $1 a month rent (keeping it in their name but ultimately getting back their investment if they choose to sell it 10, 20 or 30 years down the road)
  • ___________________ give us your ideas (we are sure there are many many more)

We can’t wait to see how the Lord will use this post to inspire others to join us in this dream!  

We want it!  We really really want it!  

Do you want it for us?

Do you want it for the Lord?

Do you want it for Stockton?

Do you want it for all the people who will walk through these doors and be greatly impacted for life? (marriages & families healed, strengthened and living abundant lives, children in crisis cared for and ministered to, the homeless, hungry and hurting having needs met,  people of all ages and stages inspired to live a live of passion, purpose & praise)

We would love to hear from you about this ministry center & house…your thoughts, ideas and encouragement we welcome!  Obviously there is a time factor in all of this as the house is already on the market so please don’t “shelve this” or put in the “think about it later” category…we will need to move rather fast on this.  Email us  inspire@bethlambdin.net  or text us 209-518-2653  or message us on facebook with your thoughts ideas & encouragement.  And please share this post with anyone and everyone you think might be interested.  Thank you.

If you would like to donate online towards this ministry house you can do this at our secure PayPal link – https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=GTCGQAL43B3S8

Or send it directly via PayPal to inspire@bethlambdin.net

My current view from the kitchen table of this home...have faith! I believe Lord...help my unbelief.

My current view from the kitchen table of this home…have faith! I believe Lord…help my unbelief.

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Marriage Blessings – 100 years!

image2Today – July 4,2015 – my siblings and I have reached an amazing milestone!  With the celebration of our youngest sister Cynthia and her husband Rob’s 17th anniversary today (yes, they married on the 4th of July…what a brilliant way to guarantee fireworks every year on your anniversary!)…the four of us Borden children have together achieved 100 years of faithful and committed “til death do us part” marriage!

The eldest sister Caroline has been married to her husband Mike for 30 years, Dan and I have been married for 28 years, our brother Cliff and his beautiful wife Lynda just celebrated their 25th anniversary this past week and Cynthia and Rob are on their way to Hawaii as I write this for their 17th anniversary!

30+28+25+17 = 100

Yes, between the four of us that is 100 years of marriage.  And honestly even just a few short years ago I wouldn’t have thought all that much about the mileage of marriage in our family.  But as we counsel more and more couples both prior to marriage, during a marriage crisis as well as those whose marriages didn’t make it and they are now trying to successfully navigate co-parenting, I am realizing how very rare lifelong marriages are becoming and how even fewer families have all of their parents and siblings marriages also intact.

So how has this happened? And can I in any way influence my own children to “go the distance” in their future marriages so that someday they can be celebrating 100 years of combined marriages as siblings?

Well to be honest with you, I am not sure…as much as my “make it happen” recovering control freak personality screams “Let’s do this”…  in reality I do not have much control over this at all for my children other than passing on the blessing of choosing a lifelong marriage for myself.   In many ways I believe that although the four of us did make good choices, we have also been the recipients of the blessing of lifelong marriage that has been passed down to us for generations!

momdad1The four of us Borden children were raised in a home and given the example of a lifelong marriage from our parents – Ed & Gloria Borden – who were married for 35 years until our fathers early death at 59 years old.  They both believed in marriage “til death do us part” and divorce or even separation were never mentioned in our home.  We knew that no matter what problems they went through that they would weather the storm together.  They never neglected their marriage relationship but nurtured it through regular date nights, attending church and worshipping as a family (this has much more staying power than most people realize), growing in their faith together, being a team in raising their children and running the household. They always communicated to us the importance of picking the “right” person to marry because outside of committing our lives to the Lord it was the single most important decision we would ever make.  It was also stressed to us that we needed to be “equally yoked” with a believer and that it would be wise to wait until after we earned our college degree to wed.

And we all did just that…took the decision to marry seriously, married believers and completed college prior to getting married.  And the most amazing thing (that none of us were likely thinking much about when we married) is that we all married spouses whose parents also had “til death do us part” marriages.  Mike’s parents have been married 61 years and counting, Dan’s parents 59 years and counting, Lynda’s parents were married 46 years until her mother went to be with the Lord and Rob’s parents 51 years before his father passed away.  When I realized this almost unbelievable feat I decided to take a look a little farther back and realized that almost all of us had both sets of grandparents who stayed committed to their marriage vows as well. (out of our 10 grandparent marriages only 1 was divorced)  At that moment I began to understand how much we had all been given of the blessing of lifelong marriage. While our personal choices do matter we all were divinely blessed, before we even married, by the choices and actions of our parents and grandparents!  Look at these impressive numbers!

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Mike & Caroline = 30 years

Parents Marriages = 96 years

Grandparents Marriages = 198 years

Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 324 years

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Dan & Beth = 28 years

Parents Marriages = 94 years

Grandparents Marriages = 146 years

Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 268 years

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Cliff & Lynda =25 years

Parents Marriages = 81 years

Grandparents Marriages = 188 years

Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 294 years

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Cynthia & Rob = 17 years

Parents Marriages = 86 years

Grandparents Marriages = 188 years

Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 291 years

Wow! Wow! Wow!  That is a whole lot of years of marriage commitment.  How awesome that our combined 16 children (so far) will begin their married lives with that type of heritage and the blessing of lifelong marriage passed down to them from at least three generations.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you!”  Deuteronomy 30:15-16

Our parents and grandparents choose lifelong marriage and because of that they were blessed and they created the firm foundation for their children, grandchildren and great children to be blessed!  Do not think for a minute that it has been easy or smooth sailing along the way…all of these couples including our marriages have experienced hardship, loss and struggle.  There have been times of sickness, disease, disability, the devastation of the death of a child, infertility, financial crisis, separation, deployments, anger, disagreements, displacement, job loss, career change, mid life crisis, rebellious wayward children and more.  But they and we have stuck it out…no matter what…and because of that we have received the multiple blessings of lifelong marriage.

 The blessings of a lifelong marriage are numerous…too numerous to count…but here are a few:

  • the blessing of companionship – having a person who is always there for you, a partner in every game and for every dance, a date for every event, a friend to share life’s greatest joys as well as disappointments, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a warm cozy body to share your bed and someone to together bear the burden of the responsibilities and hardships of life
  • the blessing of shared memories – what a beautiful thing to walk with someone who remembers together all of your life’s greatest triumphs, happiest moments, beautiful vacations and trips as well as the overwhelming challenges and biggest losses. Someone who knew your parents or other loved ones before they died and who knows all the influential people in your life.  Photos that never have to be “cut out of” your child’s wedding slide show or your retirement party because you are no longer married to that person
  • the blessing of peaceful family get togethers – not having to worry about who to invite to what or who can sit next to who or potential volatile explosions between ex spouses (it must be exhausting!)
  • the blessing of solid security – knowing that your marriage is safe despite what is going on around you…this will always be there. Changing, evolving, growing…yes!  But stable, consistent and never ending.  This is a blessing for both the spouse and children
  • the blessing of fulfilling your vows to your spouse and to God – I believe keeping your vows is a pretty big thing to God and that He will honor that in ways we may not even see here on this earth
  • the blessing of obeying the Lord  – “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flockswill be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” Deuteronomy 28:2-6
  • the blessing of looking back on a life well lived – we always encourage people to think about what they want to look back upon when they are at the end of their life.  What they want to see?  A strong faithful lifelong marriage or the devastation of divorce and all that it brings (no one has ever said “I’d like to be divorced”)
  • the blessing of giving your children, your nieces & nephews, your grandchildren and all those within your sphere of influence an example of a lifelong marriage to inspire and motivate them to do the same.

Yes, the blessings are clearly abundant…and sadly the curses of failed marriages are also abundant and painful.

❤ To my parents and grandparents I want to say THANK YOU for giving me the blessing, inspiration and example of lifelong marriage commitment

❤ To my children and nieces…do not take for granted your heritage and blessing that is being passed on to you. Pray, make good choices and ask for the Lord to continue this blessing on to you and your children and your children’s children

❤ To all who are unmarried….if you too have the heritage of lifelong marriage,,,give thanks! If not, break any generational curses of divorce that may be passed down to you and ask for the Lord to bless you with a lifelong marriage!  Choose wisely your life partner and be sure they love the Lord above all else

❤ To those already divorced…forgive, repent, make things right if you can, break the curse over your life, commit to living a godly life and ask the Lord to bless your obedience (and if you have children pray over them and break the curse as well)

❤ To my married friends…nurture your marriage daily, recommit to your vows and be faithful to your spouse, press on, stay the course, keep your eyes on the goal and if you are in need of help…get it NOW!  The blessing of a lifelong marriage will be worth it

celebrate❤ and finally to my amazing siblings and their wonderful spouses who I love dearly…Congratulations on our joint accomplishment and milestone.  I think this calls for a GRAND celebration sometime soon!

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