The Miracle in a Christmas Card List!

DSC_0782I am writing this letter as I sit in front of a crackling fire in my dimly lit living room with the glow of our Christmas tree lights sparkling as if they are singing along with the peaceful Christmas carols playing in the background….ahhhh yes the magic of the season that transforms a normal routine weeknight into a special evening.

And as I enjoy my coffee and Christmas cookies I am thinking of each of you…the beautiful dear people who receive our Christmas letter every year. Some we have known since our childhood (which at times seems so very long ago in this latter half of life), others who we have shared precious moments of living together for years as well as those who have just recently become a part of our life story and yes you whom we have blessed and become a part of our lives through the amazing technology of the Internet.  As I ponder these relationships…and yes there are many…I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the warm and wonderful friendships and family members that we have been given in this short season of life here on this earth.  We touch each others lives in special ways whether it is through daily, weekly or monthly interactions, planned or spontaneous visits, text, email or voice mail messages, facebook encounters, randomly running into each other, annual events, special occasions, milestone moments like graduations, weddings, babies, baptisms, anniversaries and funerals as well as this — > the awesome annual Christmas greetings through cards, pictures and letters that fill both my mailbox and inbox.

We love these Christmas greetings! As we sit around the dinner table and pass around the cards we receive each day…we are filled with joy and sometimes sorrow as we read your recent life stories, see pictures of your beautiful families and marvel at the changes from year to year (or for some of you who never age…the lack of any change!) and we smile as we reminisce about times we have shared together over the years.  We have not missed sending out a Christmas greeting for 30 years. What started as a young college girl sending out a couple dozen cards, grew to a young couple who were youth pastors sending out a couple hundred letters and photos of our ever changing family. And with each passing year our Christmas card list multiplied as the Lord blessed us with a larger circle of loved ones through the ministry of Christian education and a growing home business where our clients and consultants became our dear friends. Yes, Christmas cards keep us all connected in a special way.

And this year is no exception….as we once again send you each a heartfelt Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year from the entire Lambdin clan!

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With eight children it is always a challenge to give a brief update on each of them as their lives are very full of so many things but let me try to give you a glimpse of what 2012 brought to each of their lives:

Michelle is a recent graduate from The King’s College with a degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics.  She landed a job shortly after graduation as a Resident Director at TKC living in the heart of New York City and is loving it!

Amy is a sophomore at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas where she is studying Physical Education and tearing it up on the soccer field.

Kristen graduated from JECHS in May and is attending Cabrillo College in Capitola while she interns at Bloomsbury’s Tea House using  her gifts and talents in the areas of baking, hospitality and serving.

Rebekah is a junior in high school where she plays soccer, is on yearbook staff and is the founder of The Movement Club to help orphans, which is one of her passions in life.  She completed her Rite of Passage this fall and had a beautiful celebration ceremony.

Grace is a homeschooled 8th grader enjoying the “good life” of doing school in her jammies, going on lots of field trips, playing soccer and helping with her younger siblings. She got tall this year and now is competing for the second tallest sister!

Joy is also homeschooled and besides enthusiastically embracing everything and everyone in life she loves to sing and perform. She joined the Stockton Youth Chorale this year and is the star of the show!

Daniel is….the boy! (complete with a recent broken arm) He is in kindergarten but after a few short lessons he is ready to play “super heroes” or anything that includes a ball.  He is being actively trained by his six older sisters to be the ultimate gentleman and man of God.

Christiana is truly the greatest blessing of our lives.  She is now the cutest little three year old girl in the world and is adored by us all. She is sweet, sassy & spicy all rolled into one!

And then there is us – Dan and Beth

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….before we tell you about what 2012 looked like for us we want to take you back to 15 years ago when this same Christmas Card mailing list was used by the Lord to bring about what many saw as a miracle…something that couldn’t happen without divine intervention.  Many of you were on the receiving end of a letter we sent out to our Christmas Card mailing list in the summer of 1997 sharing our dream of starting a unique Christian High School in our community. We had no funding, no grants, no large donors and yet we were passionate about going forward with our vision of founding this school. And the miracle began with you! Well over half of our friends and family responded to our appeal and offered their prayers and financial support to build the foundation of what would become Jim Elliot Christian High School. A year later the school opened their doors to 42 students and today fifteen years later the school is a thriving Christian High School with over 200 students, dozens of staff members and over 500 alumni who are out making a difference in the world. And it all began with our Christmas Card list…yes that list of our dear friends and family had the power to start something really big.  If you were a part of that miracle those many years ago, we want you to know that we are still in awe of your love, generosity and faith in us and we hope that every time you think of JECHS or hear of one of its many accomplishments that you will feel blessed by the part you played in prayer and support. We thank you once again!

The Lord has been stirring in our hearts a new dream and vision over the past couple of years and in 2012 He nudged us to pull together the official beginnings of a ministry that we hope will be a blessing and a life changing resource for countless people during our remaining years in service and ministry! This year we officially incorporated our non profit organization called Inspire Ministries and once again we are in need of the foundation of prayer and financial support from our friends and family to see this new ministry prosper.  We have big plans and even bigger dreams for this ministry that will start primarily with Beth at the helm but that we hope to see grow to a full fledged staff and ministry team who are inspiring, motivating and equipping people of all ages, cultures, walks of life, economic status and situations to live a life of passion, purpose and praise!

The Lord has already brought us people to minister to in abundance and we have faithfully walked along side them ministering in multiple ways – everything from counseling young people who are looking for direction for their future, couples in marriage crisis, impoverished families with basic needs to survive, pregnant women under stress as well as teaching life skills to young men who were raised in the foster system to encouraging and providing resources and inspiration to young families who need parenting advice or are looking for effective ways to raise their kids in the faith and implement meaningful family traditions.  There have also been several speaking opportunities throughout the year. It has been exciting and exhausting, fulfilling and at times frustrating but the results have been amazing!  We truly believe that this ministry will be life changing to many.

We need three things from those who love and believe in us and in our ministry and we are starting once again with you…our Christmas Card List:

1. We need your faithful prayers! Truly without the Lord on our side building this ministry it will come to nothing. Please lift us up in prayers asking the Lord to use us and provide for us in His amazing ways.  We need the favor and blessing of our God.

2. We need monthly financial partners who will commit to supporting this non profit ministry faithfully. We know finances can be tight and that many are struggling with the economy (we are right there with you)…so we are not asking for a huge commitment. We are looking for families that can commit to $25 a month beginning in January 2013. (If you have the means to make a larger monthly donation, of course you can and it will be appreciated and used to fulfill our mission) We believe your investment in Inspire Ministries will have a huge return for you as you help us to make a profound difference in peoples lives.

3. We need some immediate one time donations.  There are  some larger start up expenses – website launching, our first quarterly publication, donor data base software, legal and accounting expertise – and we could use a few one time donations to get things rolling. We also have this compelling vision to purchase the house next door, that is currently up for a short sale, as a ministry house to those who need someone to literally walk beside them as they make changes in their lives. (and yes we realize that is a crazy God sized dream…the type we love just like starting a Christian High School from scratch!) Perhaps you are looking for a place to make a year end contribution…we would love for that to be us!  You can make a secure online donation through our paypal account and we will send you a tax deductible receipt. Click here if you’d like to donate.

If you could fill out this response form it would be such an encouragement to us as we step out in faith with this new adventure. Even if you can not contribute financially at this time…we would love to know we have your prayer covering or if you would like to receive our quarterly magazine. Every response and comment is like someone cheering us on as we run the race…it motivates and inspires us to continue to carry on with our dream!

We are expectantly hopeful that the Lord will once again do a miraculous thing for us in starting something big like Inspire Ministries through the prayers and support of our friends and family…those that make up our Christmas card list!  We look forward to sharing the miracles that you will have helped to make happen in our 2013 Christmas letter.  Below is a more extensive explanation of Inspire Ministries and our mission and vision for those who are interested in the details.

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We pray that you all experience blessings in abundance this Christmas season and a Christmas miracle as well! We hold you dear to our hearts and hope that our paths cross in the upcoming new year.

Always,

Dan, Beth, Michelle, Amy, Kristen, Rebekah, Grace, Joy, Daniel and baby girl (aka Christiana)

PS – If you are local and have the time don’t forget to stop by our annual Christmas Open House on Saturday December 22

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Inspire Ministries

We called her our “Christmas baby” as she was born in December of the year 1998, the first of our children to arrive during “this most wonderful time of the year”….the magical, bright, joyful, holy and divine Christmas season! 

We called her our “sweet baby” because of her gentle disposition and the heavenly scent that emanated from her tiny little body.  You could hold this precious bundle for hours watching her lips curl up in an uncontrollable smile, be enveloped by the sweet aroma and lulled to sleep by her deep rhythmic breathing. It brought us such perfect peace in our hearts despite the difficult outward circumstances surrounding our family at the time.

….And we called her Grace. 

Yes, we purposely named this child Grace because that particular year we had experienced an abundant outpouring of God’s grace in our lives.  Grace is often defined as….

  • God’s unmerited favor
  •  Loving…

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Advent Devotionals

I finally did it!

After years of promising to recreate, edit and post the two Advent devotionals I wrote back in 1997…today I got it done! (well ok it took almost two full days)  Someday perhaps I will officially publish these books so they will be easy to use and have copies on hand for the entire family but for now at least you have access to these devotionals that can be used during your weekly Advent devotional service with your friends or family.

The first one is for any age and includes prayers, scripture readings, the candlelighting, great discussion questions, Christmas worship and an Advent blessing.  We have primarily used this one in our family for years and it never gets “old”.  Make sure you involve the whole family in the readings and participating in the service You can click on the title below which will take you to a PDF of the devotional along with the Advent Primer information I posted in the previous blog.

Jesus Came – An Advent Devotional

When I was first inspired to write an Advent devotional it was because I couldn’t find a “child friendly” one to use with my girls who at the time were 7, 4, 2 and 1 years old.  I needed something simple with some good “hands on” activities or “visual aids” to keep them focused.  So I decided to write my own advent devotional for families with small children.  It is written for children seven and under but all ages can benefit from the devotions. Again be sure to let the children be involved in lighting the candles, praying and reading. You can click on the link below to get a PDF version of “The Gift of Jesus”

The Gift of Jesus – An Advent Adventure for Families with Small Children

I am not charging for these resources….they are my gift to you.  However if you would like to give a donation to my new non profit organization – Inspire Ministries – that would be a huge blessing as we are launching our website and first magazine in the next month and are in much need of funding for these projects as well as other start up expenses.  We currently have a facebook page that you can check out and see what our  plans are for this ministry.  You can click on this link to be taken to that page and if you hit the “Like” button you will become one of our fans!

If  you would like to make a donation for these Advent Devotionals – you can do so on our secure paypal site here.

If you would consider becoming a monthly partner with Inspire Ministries to help us encourage and inspire people to live a life of passion, purpose and praise please email us at inspire@bethlambdin.net and we will give you information on supporting us.  We are looking for 100 partners at $25 a month during this start up year. Thank you for your consideration of these needs!

I hope that you all enjoy a meaningful and joyful Advent season.

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An Advent Primer

 

For many of us this time from November to the beginning of January is considered the “holiday season” and it truly can be the “most wonderful time of the year”.  And yet today with so many competing & conflicting messages surrounding these holidays – we often let the TRUE meaning slip away from us and we miss this wonderful opportunity to build up our faith and teach our children.

It is sad to think that the day set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord & Savior has become vastly commercialized – fully exploited for profit.  The sales seem to start earlier and earlier each year enticing us to buy, buy, buy!  The pressure to give gifts is relentless and fills many with a dreaded sense of obligation or “guilt gifting”.  How many of us have lamented this commercialization & yet we let year after year go by without being purposeful about making sure Jesus is at the very heart & center of our celebrations.

In today’s culture there is also a full on assault on the Christian faith that is being being attacked relentlessly from many avenues – everywhere from court decisions, to politics, to the marketplace, to education as well as atheists who take offense at the fact that Christmas truly is about Jesus (whether they like that or not). Billboards like this are popping up everywhere during the holiday season.

When children were recently asked at a shopping mall what the true meaning of Christmas was….they responded with —

• Santa Claus
• Presents! Presents! Presents!
• Christmas Trees & Lights
• and even one said…something to do with the Discovery of America

Children learn about Christmas like they learn about most things in life – from their families. Even in our own very purpose driven family when I ask my five year old, at the beginning of the Christmas season, what it is all about  he responds with….“Presents!”  I then explain to him that it is not really about getting  presents at all but rather a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It takes him several weeks to instantly answer…“Jesus!” …after being quizzed as to the true meaning of Christmas. (Yes, repetition IS the key to learning!)

I don’t know about you but I want my children to grow up and reject the commercialization of Christmas, to not “cave in” to the pressure to spend and make the season all about gifts and to stand strong against the anti Christian culture that is gaining strength and momentum.

I believe that as purposeful Christians we should have three main goals during the Christmas season –

  1. To teach the true meaning of “Christmas” to our children – (after all the word “Christ – mas” – means Christ worship)
  2. To emphasize the spiritual & NOT the secular – let’s have everything point to Jesus!
  3. To use the holiday season to share the love of Jesus Christ with others!

One of the best ways that our family has been able to keep the Christmas season focused on the gift of the Savior (rather than the gifts under the tree!) is by celebrating Advent.  This is one of those rare years that Thanksgiving fell so early in November that Advent did not begin the Sunday after Thanksgiving…but rather has its start next Sunday December 2nd. This morning as I contemplated the calendar…it struck me how many of my blog readers would actually have a chance to implement the observance of Advent this year as they would have the entire week to prepare if I could quickly get a blog post out to inspire them to begin this awesome family tradition!  So my dear friends…lets begin an Advent “primer” to get you all fully up to speed and ready to begin this coming Sunday!

What is Advent?

The word Advent means “coming” – celebrating Advent means celebrating the coming of Jesus. This is three fold for our family:

  1. His historical coming – as in His physical birth over 2000 years ago.
  2. His coming into our hearts – the moment in time that we commit our hearts and lives to Jesus (as the Christmas hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem so eloquently describes: “O holy child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in; Be born in us today”)
  3. His prophetic final coming in the last days – the ultimate return of Jesus Christ for which we wait expectantly!

 When is Advent?

The season of Advent begins four weeks before Christmas. This year it is Sunday December 2, 2012

  • Advent 2013 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, December 1, 2013
  • Advent 2014 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 30, 2014
  • Advent 2015 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 29, 2015
  • Advent 2016 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 27, 2016

 Celebrating Advent

Celebrating Advent helps you to set aside time every day or at least once a week to concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas. We have celebrated advent in our family several ways over the years but our main annual tradition that we have always done is having an advent wreath and weekly family devotional service.

The Wreath

The Advent wreath is in a circle which represents eternity and is  surrounded by evergreens which represent life….eternal life. The wreath is decorated with five candles….one for each of the four Sundays before Christmas and one for Christmas Eve.

The first candle (purple) symbolizes hope – the hope that the Messiah would come

The second candle (purple) symbolizes love – Gods love towards us for sending His Son Jesus to save us from our sins

The third candle (pink) symbolizes joy – the joy we find in Christ and His coming

The fourth candle (purple) symbolizes peace – the peace that comes in knowing Christ as Lord and Savior

The fifth candle is the Christ candle (white in center) which symbolizes purity

The wreath is always in the center of our table so everyday we are reminded of the Advent season.

The Family Advent Service or Devotional

We have our weekly advent service every Sunday evening during dessert. We always dim the lights and set the table with some festive china….we want to make it a special time that the kids look forward to! We use a simple advent devotional book that is not too cumbersome so we don’t lose the attention of the younger children. Our service includes – scripture reading, lighting of the advent candle, a short story, singing some Christmas hymns & prayer. Different family members take part in each aspect of the service so everyone is involved. (they love that!)

After our service we enjoy yummy desserts & egg nog, hot apple cider or cocoa while we savor family time together.  Having a weekly Advent family service I believe has been one of the key components of keeping Jesus the focus of our Christmas season.

There are multiple resources out there for good devotional books or head on over to the Christian bookstore and pick one up.  I have two that I have written which I hope to have up for you before Sunday!  (UPDATE: got’er done!  You can access the devotionals here)

Other Advent Adventures

There are many other things that you can do daily for Advent and if you search the Internet I am sure there are a plethora of great ideas.  Don’t get overwhelmed just pick one or several and just do it!

We have had an Advent Prayer banner in our home where we list people who are lost, hurting, in need of a healing or a Christmas miracle. Everyday we pray for these people and add new names to the list. It helps us keep our focus on others and not ourselves.

This year we will be adding a new Advent activity to our family traditions.  We have heard of these wonderful Advent storybooks – Jothams Journey, Bartholomews Passage and Tabitha’s Travels – from our friends for years and I finally purchased them.  They are fifteen minute readings that are simple, short and spiritual.  A wonderful way to keep shopping, traffic, rehearsals, concerts, parties and all the other preparations of Christmas in balance with the reality of God in our lives. We will begin the first book this Advent season…reading a selection everyday. I can’t wait!

I pray that today you will be inspired to begin your own celebration of Advent this year…setting aside time to really focus on the true meaning of this wonderful time of the year.  Whether you are a college student in the dorm with your fellow co-eds, a single young adult, a newly married or childless couple, a young family, small family, big family, crazy family, empty nesters or elderly grandparents….I encourage you to do prepare your heart for Christmas by observing Advent this year in a very special way!

I would love to hear what you plan to do this year for Advent! Leave a comment below so that we may all enjoy.

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Call me Crazy or a Fool….

There is a song by the Christian group Avalon that is one of several “theme” songs for my life.  It is called “I Don’t Want to Go” . Here are the lyrics (or you can listen to it here):

You changed my world
When You came to me.
You drove a passion,
In my soul down deep,
Lord, to follow You in everything.

I don’t want to go somewhere
If I know that You’re not there,
‘Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
And I don’t want to walk that road,
Be a million miles from home,
Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
So I don’t want to go.

So come whatever, (whatever may come)
I’ll stick with You (right by your side)
I’ll walk You’ll lead me,
Call me crazy or a fool,
For forever I promise You…

That I don’t want to go somewhere
If I know that You’re not there,
‘Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
And I don’t want to walk that road,
Be a million miles from home,
Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
So I don’t want to go…

I can’t even listen to this song without tears streaming down my face.  You see when the Lord reached down and touched my heart so deeply in the summer of 1979 as a 16 year old girl I was never the same.  He did exactly what this song says…He drove a passion deep down in my soul to follow Him in everything!

And yes that has led to many many times being called…

Crazy or a Fool 

I have a feeling that this blog is going to be another one of those times.  And that is really ok by me…I am simply trying to follow the Lord’s lead.. where ever that is and whatever may come.

You may or may not know that ever since we adopted baby girl in 2009….we have hoped to be able to officially adopt at least two more children. Most doors for that are closed to us for various reasons:

  • Foster adopt in California has strict unbendable rules as to the the number of children per bedroom and with our home we won’t qualify for that until 2021 (didn’t they ever read or watch Little House on the Prairie or The Walton’s who all raised fabulous families with limited bedrooms?)
  • Private Agency Adoption has roadblocks with our ages….hmmmph! 😉
  • International Adoption is not an option because our annual income does not meet the immigration guidelines of $75,000 a year for a family our size (somehow I think orphans living in poverty around the world just hoping for one meal a day and clean drinking water might not mind living at the Lambdin “poverty level”…yes it is true that with our income and family size we are considered poverty level..sheesh…talk about crazy!)

So we have just smiled, told the Lord our desires & prayed knowing that a private independent (not agency) adoption  was really our only option & the likelihood of having a pregnant mom just come to us “out of the blue” and ask us to adopt her baby was very slim.

But God……

Six weeks ago we became aware of a woman who was pregnant with twins at the age of 51 and was going to terminate her pregnancy.  It was one of those facebook posts friend of a friend of a friend type things.  I called her on the phone   We spoke on several occasions but she was hesitant to get together and a bit “cold”.  I just continued to call and text offering any support I could. Then three weeks after our initial contact she called and asked me to come to her house.  She shared with me that it seemed every time she thought about going to get that abortion, she would get a text from me and it would stop her.  She said that my persistence made an impact on her life and that she would like to consider placing her babies with our family.

She has a long complicated life story….with some real sadness, horror and tragedy….that has led her to consider this alternative.  A story that has in its chapters – abuse, abandonment, molestation, rape, murder, prison, drugs, alcohol, rehabilitation, marriages, divorces, many children, a few miscarriages, domestic violence, poverty, restraining orders, government assistance, church attendance, friends, family, mental illness and a measure of faith.  To be candid, the more I learn, the more my mind is overwhelmed by one person having lived and endured such a life.

We have spent the past several weeks getting to know her, assisting her, supporting her and loving on her.  It has been fulfilling, exhausting, energizing, frustrating, exciting, good and crazy!  We have all come to love and care for one another.

And that brings you to today.  The question asked me daily by friends and family:  “How’s the adoption plan coming?” or “What’s the latest on your adoption?” or “Is everything settled with the adoption?”

To which I answer with a combination look of confusion, happiness, sadness and questioning….silence.  I do not know how to answer those questions.  I am dealing with a pretty unstable situation in many ways.  I am walking a road with someone, who in my heart of hearts, I believe simply does not have what it will take to raise those children as their primary caretaker.  It’s not just the lack of resources, reasonable shelter or stable family support relationships that are almost non existent…it goes so much deeper.  There are many complications and there is no clear path to a simple adoption. Perhaps an open adoption will be the answer. Perhaps we will end up somehow with legal guardianship instead. Or perhaps we will be a second family — Auntie Beth and Uncle Dan to these precious twins that are due to be born in just eleven weeks.  I simply do not know how it will all play out….and yes for a recovering control freak….this is bringing me to an even great level of giving over my control and letting God be in complete control of every part of our lives.  I am reminded once again of this scripture in James:

” Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to do this or that  or we have great plans to have this happen”  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.”

Yes…my friends (especially those with the same control issues as I) that is what it the Bible says!

So I will say Lord willing….we will be adopting twins into our family.

Or Lord willing….we will be taking them and their Mom into our extended family.

Or how about this Lord willing…we will purchase the house next door that is currently going up on a short sale for a “steal of a deal”.

Wait! What did she just say?!

Yup…I said Lord willing, we could somehow, someway own the house next door.

And what does that have to do with anything? Why do you want to own the house next door?

Oh I am glad you asked!  Call me crazy or a fool…but just in the past few days I had this thought about the house for sale next door. I thought how perfect it would be if we could move our new friend into that house. We could then look after her and help meet her needs from right next door.  And whether we end up adopting, having legal custody or just being an ever present family providing stability and helping to train up those babies with the life skills that are missing from previous generations, taking then to church and teaching them the ways of the Lord…we would be able to do that and be a life giving blessing to the mamma as well.

Yes…that is just how my big vision, big dreaming mind and heart works.  And Lord willing….it could happen!  All we need is $130,000 cash and we could do it. Someone out there may just need a big year end tax deduction, right?!  By the way, have I told you that Inspire Ministries…is now officially incorporated as a non profit with the State of California, IRS paperwork filed to be a 501(c)3, bank account opened and ready for donations, website in process and facebook site posting! Wouldn’t this be an exciting first BIG project…a ministry home to be used to help those in need with the ministers right “on site” to train and support?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?  It could happen…Lord willing!

You drove a passion,
In my soul down deep,
Lord, to follow You in everything.

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Inspire Ministries

UPDATE:  Today is Amy’s 20th birthday! I wrote this blog post four years ago when she turned 16. As I awoke early this morning just as I did 20 years ago I thought, as I always do on this day, of all the amazing details of her birth and decided to repost this article. Enjoy!

My second daughter – Amy Girl – is turning sweet sixteen today.  I remember the day of her birth vividly.  In fact, of all my seven deliveries (2 c-sections & 5 vbacs)….Amy’s was one of the easiest.

But as I remember the events surrounding her birth I have to laugh at myself. I have certainly mellowed out a bit in my “old age” because when I look back to my decisions as a 30 year old “driven”, type A , intense young woman, I often find myself saying….What was I thinking?

After a 24+ hour pitocin induced, mind numbing, horrific labor…

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Fabulous 50: Let the Celebrations Begin!

cel·e·brate

verb \ˈse-lə-ˌbrāt\

transitive verb
: to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites
: to honor (as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business
: to mark (as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
4: to hold up or play up for public notice <her poetry celebrates the glory of nature>
I love to celebrate! In this family we have been known to celebrate almost everything – New Years Eve, New Years Day, Epiphany, MLK Day (Dream Day!), Valentines Day, Ash Wednesday, Lent, St Patrick’s Day, Holy Week, Passover, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Resurrection Sunday, Cinco Day Mayo (an excuse to have Mexican food), National Day of Prayer,  National Scrapbook Day, Mother’s Day, School’s Out for the Summer, Graduations, Rites of Passage,  Back to School, Anniversaries of all types (engagement, first date, wedding), Family Communion, Baby Dedications, Baptisms, Fall arrival, Reformation Day, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas (like for 6 weeks!) and of course Birthdays – including born again birthdays, half birthdays, decade days,  adoption days & “Gotcha” days!
For the last month leading up to my milestone birthday of 50 years, my sweet daughters were trying to pull together a party for me to celebrate this event! (not a surprise mind you….I love surprise visits, surprise gifts, surprise good news & surprise trips…but I am not a fan of surprise parties) They were talking to my friends, researching venues and trying to get me to pick a date…but it just wasn’t coming together. One by one the big girls were heading out to new jobs, back to college and new adventures out of town and the plans began to crumble.   Knowing how very much they wanted to celebrate my big day on top of many friends asking when I was having a party combined with my desire to commemorate this milestone… (I generallywant to celebrate my birthdays without much fanfare just an annual lunch with a few friends and a family birthday dinner. There have been two  exceptions  – my 17th and my 40th birthdays where I had grand celebrations!)…I began to really contemplate what, when and how I should honor my 50th birthday which led to a deeper introspection about why I wanted to celebrate in a bigger way this year.  Here is the answer:
First let me say…that while it is my particular day birth on September 1, 1962...it IS NOT about me! (as strange as that sounds)  I do not want to celebrate this day to honor me, to receive cards, gifts or accolades or to be the center of attention.   My true desire in reaching this milestone is to –>

Celebrate Life!

Life is a priceless and precious gift.  We were created by the God of the universe…we are His masterpiece!

” You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!” Psalm 139:13-18

We all have this same creator and creation story! We should celebrate every moment of life that we have been blessed to live!

As a believer in Jesus Christ my life is also no longer my own to live.  When I committed my life to Him…I choose to die to my self and let Him live through me!

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the lifewhich I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galations 2:20

I truly want to celebrate and thank the Lord for my 50 years of life that He has blessed me with! I also want to stop and make a new commitment of the remainder of my days to live for Him!

Let’s celebrate life together!

Celebrate Love!

The single greatest gift I have been given beside life and Jesus is the gift of love from family and friends in the hundreds of people that I have been blessed to be in relationship with over the past half a century.
 ♥ From my childhood friends who I played with, laughed with and sat beside in school to my dynamic full of life high school classmates who I served as president and who in turn enriched my life with love and memorable moments that I have treasured in my heart for decades.
♥ From my college friend who challenged, inspired and touched my life in remarkable ways and caused me to grow leaps and bounds in my relationship with the Lord to my precious youth group members and students who hold the most special place in my life, who I love as my very own children and who have supported and encouraged me throughout my life.
♥ From my co-workers at Lakeview, BCHS, and JECHS who we shared success & fulfillment as well as failures & frustrations that have bound us together for life to some of the most amazing, impressive, quality, inspiring women (and a few men too) that I was privileged to share over a decade of my life with in Creative Memories!
♥ From my church family at Lakeview, the ones who still share the pew with me as well as those who have ventured out to other congregations, cities, states and througout the world to my homeschooling community who I share common core values with and who fill my life with warmth and love.
♥ From my extended family who are my rock and shelter to the many amazing people who have come into my life in a variety of ways from scrapbooking, to watching our kids play sports together, carpooling and even those who I have come to know through correspondence on my blog… that have all made my life richer and more complete.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ And it goes without saying that the love I have with my godly husband, love of my  life and best friend along with our precious children is divine!
Yes…I want to celebrate love with you all on this 50th birthday!

Celebrate the Lord!

Giving glory to God is the goal of my life!  In everything I say, in everything I do I want my Lord to be honored and glorified! (and yes I fall woefully short of this goal on a daily basis…thanks be to God for His amazing grace!)
I want to celebrate all that the Lord has done in and through me these past 50 years!  Any accomplishment, success or achievement is only because of the Lord. He has blessed me to be born into the country I live in with all its amazing opportunities and freedoms. He has blessed me to be born into a family with a mother and father that taught me that both live and the Lord are good! A family that while not rich in material wealth was rich in love and faith. He has blessed me with strengths, gifts and talents to follow my passions! He has blessed me with family and friends who encourage, support and love me unconditionally. He has blessed me with drive, ambition and compassion to do great things for Him.  Truly all that I am, all that I have and all that I ever hope to be is because of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I want to celebrate the Lord and glorify His name in honor of my 50th birthday!
_____________________________________________________
In order to properly celebrate life, celebrate love and celebrate the Lord…I decided that it would have to be more than a day or a single event but rather more fittingly several experiences throughout the entire month! 🙂
Yes…we will have a specific “party” — come one come all more than likely towards the end of the month long celebration — where you can stop by a local park and let me share in celebrating our lives, our love for one another and the Lord!  But I will be celebrating all along with special breakfast, lunch and coffee dates along the way, a trip or two to my most favorite place in the world…the beach and a night out with my love! The celebration is sure to include some of my favorite things as well – tea party, dark chocolate, blogging, sleeping in, a few foot massages, a hair appointment, worship, reading, ministry  and scrapbooking to mention a few! If you want to jump into any of my celebrating…just come on by!
And the celebration already began yesterday with a traditional birthday lunch that has its origins years ago with my dear friends Kelly & Nina!  A beautiful time together celebrating our life long friendship.
Yesterday I also received an early gift from the Lord …an invitation to speak at a Women’s Brunch in October!
_______________________
Join me this month in celebrating life, love and the Lord!

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Filed under Blessings, Life at the Lambdins

Fabulous 50: My List for Loving & Living Life

I am one of “those” people.

Those odd people who love their lists

…who live by lists

…who make lists for everything (and even keep files on the computer of “to do lists” for recurring events in my life)

…who start many conversations by saying “Let’s make a list

…who torture their family with their never ending “to do” lists, chore lists, packing lists and “honey do” lists

…who have been known to add things to their list that they have already done just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list <it is a sickness, isn’t it?>

So it shouldn’t shock or surprise you that in honor of my 50th birthday I created a list. It began a week or so ago as I was pondering having lived 50 years of my life and what I would like to share with others who are still in the first half of life! (although they are great reminders for whatever season of life you may be in!)

So….here is my 5oth birthday list (complete with many “Bethisms”) for loving and living life…and of course there are 50 points!

1. Life is short and quickly passing by (was I not just 30 and in a twinkling of an eye be 70?)
2. Life is even shorter when compared to eternity (wisdom & logic would say to invest your self in eternity)
3. Life is an amazing gift – enjoy it!
4. Life is a precious gift – celebrate it!

5. Life is a
beautiful gift – love it!

6. Life is a priceless gift – don’t abuse it
7. Life is a unique gift – don’t waste it
8. Life is a glorious giftSTOP worrying and stressing about it
9. Life is NOT a dress rehearsal! (this is the real performance people!)
10. Life is to be lived on purpose (and the occasional accidents are an exciting and sometimes course changing part of the ride)
11. Life – it’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s how you respond!
12. Life is not fair – “you get what you get & you don’t throw a fit!”
13. Life is not fair – if it were fair we would all be headed to hell (for all have sinned and fallen short and the price for sin is eternal death…but thanks be to God for sending us Jesus to pay that price for us! It was not “fair” that he had to pay the price…but I’ll take it!)
14. Life is not fair – it is not a matter of holding good cards in life…but of playing a poor hand well!
15. Life is hard…at times really hard. 
16. Life is not a respector of persons – the sun shines and the rain falls on the good and bad alike (Yes, bad things happen to good people. If you still can’t accept that refer to “Life is not fair”)
17. Life ends in death for everyone: statistics say 10 out of 10 people die  Live like you believe this fact!
18. Life’s ultimate goal and chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
19. Life without love is nothing
20. Love is the answer ♥
21. Love covers a multitude of sins 
22. Love is not a feeling but an act of our will (we can always act lovingly without feeling the love)
23. Love is patient…enduring long 
24. Love is kind  (so simple yet so very difficult…)
25. Love is unselfish and self sacrificing 
26. Love is life giving 
27. Love bears & endures all things, hopes & believes all things 
28. Love NEVER fails…it never gives up 
29. Love the Lord with ALL your heart, soul, mind & strength 
30. Love your parents and honor them 
31. Love your husband or wife (if you are single love your future bride or groom by waiting just for them and keeping yourself pure and unstained by this world) 
32. Love your children…hug and kiss them often, speak powerful words of life to them & discipline them (yes that is a part of love) 
33. Love your friends through the good, the bad & the ugly 
34Love your neighbors (who is your neighbor? The one in need) 
35. Love your fellow believers – brothers and sisters is what they are called in the Word (even those from different denominations or those who have hurt you or that you vehemently disagree with) 
36. Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you (this goes against our very nature and yet….)
37. Love and do good to those who hate you  (yes that is oh so very hard)
38. Love your self for you are skillfully & wonderfully made by the Creator 
39. Give generously…even to a fault!
40. Be faithful to your commitments…don’t quit!
41. Discover your passions in life and pursue them whether or not they are practical, financially profitable or held in high esteem by society
42 Build on your strengths…don’t pay too much attention to your weaknesses (not as in weaknesses of sin…but in gifts, talents & abilities)…you can’t put in what God left out!
43. Think outside the box…you don’t have to do it the way it has always been done or the way everyone else does it 
44. Decide how many children you want or that you can handle…and then have one more! (even better yet ask God to give you what He wants)
45. Take full responsibility for your life…don’t blame God, the government or others for your lack of opportunities or failures
46. Regular consistent personal disciplines – prayer, bible reading, exercise, weekly church attendance will pay off in the long run…both in this life and the one to come!
47. “Adoption” (of any type – a baby, foster child, an international orphan, a family in need, a floundering young person, senior citizen, single mom, widow, fatherless/motherless child, foreign exchange student…for any amount of time – short term, long term, permanent or for life) is something everyone should experience!
48. Make memories and take lots of photos (if you are blessed to live to a ripe old age…they will be such a treasure)
49. Done is better than perfect!
50. Give up your control issues as young as possible and let God be in control of everything… (so says this wise recovered control freak)

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Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Faith, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Marriage, My "take"

Fabulous 50: A New Decade is Dawning

This week…Saturday September 1st to be exact…I am turning 50. <deep breath> Yes, one of those milestone birthdays.

I clearly remember my first “decade day”…my 1oth birthday… as we had just recently moved from San Pedro, California to Springfield, Virginia and I had zero friends. After spending the weeks prior to my big day living in a hotel while my parents searched for a house to buy, I only had my family to celebrate with. It was fairly uneventful but I had an awesome sense of hope and excitement for the future as just a few days later I would begin my life in Virginia with a new school, new friends and a fresh new start.  One of the greatest things, as a kid from a military family moving every few years,  is that you could “re-make” yourself with every move. Literally the slate was wiped clean and you could start all over and be whomever you wanted to be!  My childhood and youth were spent in that decade and life was good.  It was during that season that I met Jesus, at almost 17, in a very real and personal way and I have never been the same!

I turned 20 at the start of my junior year at UOP…such an awesome time of my life as we were seeing God move mightily across our campus and the Lord was using me, despite my youth, my many flaws and personal struggles to reach others for Christ! It was an amazing season of  life….and when I think back on it I am still in awe at the powerful happenings all around me.  I loved being in my 20’s…I felt youthful, confident, independent and strong…in fact in my heart and mind I still often feel like I am in my mid 20’s.  I graduated from college in my 20’s, started in ministry in my 20’s, got married in my 20’s, had my first baby in my 20’s but more than anything else during that era I learned that Jesus is all I need, my everything…truly a life changing decade!

One of my favorite photos from my 20’s (and it’s not because I am a cat lover) but because at this point I was in full time youth ministry…passionately following the Lord and wanting to please Him and do His will. In that way I am still the same!


Turning 30 was not something I looked forward to….30…it sounded so “old” and  besides I wanted to be in my 20’s forever!  I was seven months pregnant with my second child and I was sick, tired and blah. I remember being so ambivalent about turning 30 that I told Dan that I did NOT want a birthday party of any kind and yet he put together a small shindig anyway at Mallards Restaurant with a few friends…I was not very happy about it at all (that poor guy!) If the Lord had opened up a window to let me peek at the simply miraculous things that were to take place in that new decade, I would have been thrilled to watch it arrive.  In my 30’s I had four of my children. I was a teacher,activity adviser and guidance counselor to students who would become life long friends. I helped found a Christian High School that many said could never happen. I started my Creative Memories career that to this day continues to bless my life in spectacular ways. I also began homeschooling, something I never considered attempting and yet I truly believe it is one of the biggest factors in my children becoming who they are today. My 30’s also included some life changing, course altering tragedies as I lost my dear father (much too young) and I was betrayed and fired from a ministry that I poured my heart and soul into for over a decade. It was definitely a decade of great growth, faith building and new beginnings!

Then 40 came along and I was “loud and proud” about reaching this milestone! I threw myself a big fancy birthday party, despite being three months pregnant with my sixth sweet baby and as always sicker than ever , I was thrilled to get together with my friends and family to celebrate! I felt in some way that I had “arrived” in life…that I had finally made it! This past decade since turning 40 has been filled with both the very good and the very bad:

  • I was blessed with three more precious babies…one through adoption, the most miraculous thing I have ever experienced in life!
  • I began to have health problems that sent me to the hospital on several occasions
  • I had the unfortunate gut wrenching experience of a couple of my children in serious life and death situations  where I was forced to deal squarely in the face with my control issues and truly give God complete control of my life.
  • I experienced both the best of financial times in our married life and the worst  of times(and not because of the economy’s ups & downs)
  • I started writing and speaking…two things that I have become passionate about and are sure to shape my future.
  • I experienced stellar personal achievements, awards and accolades running my own business, to then be led to scale way back on my efforts there and use those same God given gifts & talents at the high school we had started years earlier, to then be cut loose after three years of great success and momentum because of pride and power struggles in leadership (pride & power…a double edged sword with the ability to do so much good or so much harm depending on whose hands it is in).
  • I have had the thrill of launching my first three daughters out into the world and watching them soar!
  • I had learned in the previous decade, in my 30’s, to put all my trust in the Lord  and had seen the Lord take the worst thing I thought could ever happen and turn it into the greatest thing in my life! This decade I was able to sail much easier through the “bad” knowing that in the end it would be for my greatest good. I enjoyed the peace that comes in knowing that the Lord uses authority, even unwise or misguided authority to lead me in the direction He wants me to go….it felt like I had passed the “Truly Trusting God Test”.

Now here I am turning 50 this week…and ready to celebrate the amazing life I have been blessed with and the great things that God has allowed me to experience and be a part of these past 50 years ( a half a century…doesn’t that sound impressive?!) I am at the beginning of a another new decade of life…a decade that is sure to include many life changing and monumental events (the launching of three more children, college graduations and major life choices for those children in the areas of careers, ministry, marriages and children,  helping my mother and inlaws walk through health and other challenges that come with aging while rejoicing in their milestones of 80th birthdays and Lord willing a 60th wedding anniversary as well as celebrating our own 30th & 35th wedding anniversaries, to name a few of the very real possibilities this decade). And yes this decade is sure to have it’s share of hardships, pain and sorrows  that I pray I can walk through with grace, peace and strength in my Lord….a living testimony to the greatness of God and an encouragement to others!

As I stand at the edge of this new beginning, the dawn of a new decade of life…I am also filled with excitement, anticipation and hope:

  • Hope for even greater things to be done in and through my life than ever before!
  • Hope that my dreams of speaking and writing to inspire others to live a life of passion, purpose and praise would come to fruition through Inspire Ministries and perhaps even by joining hands with others to run a Camp and Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains or wherever the Lord opens doors (I have so many retreats I want to host – Engaged Retreats, Marriage Weekends, Family Camps, Mentoring Moms, Treasured Traditions, Purposeful Parenting, Passionate Living…and more!)
  • Hope for a season of provision & prosperity…to not always be the one in need but to generously meet the needs of others!
  • Hope for the Lord to use our children to do abundantly above and beyond all that we could ever imagine!
  • Hope for the Lord’s return in all His glory! To see Him and to be like Him!

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Filed under Blessings, Goals & Dreams, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges

I’m the Poster Mom for Homeschooling….NOT!

It’s that time of year again when I start getting lots of questions about homeschooling –

  • can I do it?
  • should I do it?
  • how do I do it?
  • how do you do it?

Every summer I get a dozen or so requests to get together with someone & talk about homeschooling.

But here is the “real deal” – I am NOT the poster Mom for homeschooling. Yes, I am beginning my 16th year of homeschooling (K-8…so far they have all gone to private high school) and you would think that I would have it all organized & together….but NO I am still “flying by the seat of my pants” and loving every minute of it!

♥ I LOVE my kids and I LOVE just being with them!

♥ I LOVE not being beholden to a school district & their schedule or a teacher and their assignments!

♥ I LOVE all the learning time I get as we hop around from subject to subject, book to book and project to project!

♥ I LOVE traveling & hands on everything!

I suppose because I have my first three children up & out and they are…

…academically successful –> the eldest a graduate from a highly academic college with an impressive first job in NYC, #2 , despite a learning disability, pulling out a solid academic performance in college while playing intercollegiate soccer & the most recent who just graduated from high school with honors & scored in the highest group for her college placement exams! (I am not bragging…as truly this is NOT because I am some amazing homeschool Mom)

….socially adroit (as opposed to socially awkward which is the common accusation from the anti homeschooling advocates)

….emotionally healthy with amazing self confidence (the daughter with the first job applied for a position that desired a Master’s Degree and she did a great job of marketing herself and her skills to them and got hired!)

….spiritually solid and growing

that this makes folks think I have the “homeschooling answers”. I certainly do not claim (nor ever have or ever will) to have the “homeschooling answers” but if you are interested in my homeschool philosophy…here it is in an article I wrote this past Spring (It originally published here at Hip Homeschool Moms.)

If you are one of the many who have asked for time to chat about homeschooling…please forgive me for not getting back to you. I hope this helps!

P.S. – How many of you had to look up the word adroit?

I’m the Poster Mom for Homeschooling….NOT!

“You’ve been homeschooling for how many years?” the young woman loudly exclaimed at the park where all the homeschooling moms were hanging out waiting for their children to finish state testing. “Mmmmm….15”, I mumble under my breath as I watch a crowd begin to gather around the park bench.

And then it happens, just like that I am standing in front of a crowd of ladies who are fussing over me like I am some type of homeschool celebrity Mom who has in her possession the coveted secrets to successful homeschooling.

I reluctantly admit that yes, I have been homeschooling for 15 years and with eight children ranging in age from 2 to 22, I have 15 more years to go. (and after a few gasps and stares of disbelief someone says under their breath…”Wow, she looks great for having eight kids” …leaving me: an overweight, out of shape, mascara smudged, slightly frazzled looking girl…wondering what exactly they think a Mom of eight is suppose to look like????….but I digress) For a split second though I picture myself as the “poster Mom” for homeschooling before I am quickly snapped back into reality by my two year old who has peed in her pants because I got distracted by a phone call from one of my college kids and forgot that baby girl had told me awhile back that she needed to go potty! Oy vey! Besides not being a celebrity homeschooler, I am more often than not, less than a stellar Mom.

And yet even after informing them of the “real homeschooling me”…

  • that I have been known to not order my curriculum until weeks after the start of the school year
  • that I often forget what grade my kids are currently in
  • that I can’t remember the last time I actually scored a test or assignment
  • that we never…and I mean never…finish our curriculum each year (and there may or may not have been years where we didn’t start it either)
  • that my all time favorite science lesson is for the kids to examine mold close up in the bathroom…with a sponge
  • that if I can’t explain a 6th grade math problem I shrug my shoulders and say…”Oh what the heck I’ve gotten along this many years without knowing that”
  • that we don’t have an official first day or last day of school (maybe that explains why I can’t remember what grade they are in or have curriculum ordered)
  • that there is a distinct possibility that I let my then 10 year old daughter teach her younger siblings for months on end as I lay in bed with morning sickness

…yes even after hearing all of these realities of my homeschooling life, it doesn’t scare them off or make them run away shaking their heads in disgust.  And so slowly I share my “secrets to successful homeschooling” with those inquiring minds.

1. If I do nothing more than have prayer & devotions…it’s been a good day!  

A very wise homeschooling Momma told me this nugget of truth when I was just starting my homeschooling journey (which by the way wasn’t ever my plan…but that is another story for another day). Her six kids were bright, extremely accomplished, athletic, musical and had outstanding character. It set me free of the stress of trying to accomplish, strive for perfection and look good to everyone around me. You simply can’t do better than having the favor of God!

2. Life is school!

Ok, sometimes you need to do lessons but really ALL of life is school – chores, running errands, phone calls, grocery shopping, being a spectator at a siblings athletic event – all involve learning.  Therefore we “do” school all the time and on occasion we also complete lessons!

3. Relationships are not just the most important thing…they are the only thing

The only reason I homeschool is to develop & strengthen my children’s relationship with God, with their Daddy, each other and me. At the end of the day, relationships are really the only thing that matter. And homeschooling is the perfect incubator for growing close relationships because of the sheer amount of time we are all together…making memories, solving conflicts, bearing one another’s burdens and loving through all of life’s ups & downs.

4. Learning is a personal responsibility

I can’t make anyone learn anything…and neither can you! Inspire your children to want to learn for themselves. Let them investigate, figure it out (even if it is hard), research and find the answers. When they can do this then they are truly educated and will be life long learners.

5. Begin with the end in mind

What do you want your children to “look” like when they are grown. I want mine to love the Lord, to have great relationships with their family, to have found and developed their passions combined with their unique gifts & talents and to be using them to have a positive influence in the world. I concentrate my homeschooling efforts around these outcomes….anything else we accomplish is a bonus!

++++++++++++

Beth Lambdin is a recovering “control freak” who is hopelessly addicted to coffee & dark chocolate and got a “sweet deal” on a husband who has been her best friend for 25 years. She is “Mommy” to eight blessings from God and has been faithfully following & failing Jesus for over three decades. She blogs at Monday Motivation & More 

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I wish I could….

My dear blog readers…today’s post is written for those of you who call yourselves Christians. So, if you are not someone who claims to believe in and follow the teachings of Christ I invite you to “listen in” on the conversation but know that I am directing this post towards believers.

Ok…let’s get right down to it.

As Christians we are commanded and compelled to help orphans and unwanted children. Period. End of story.

I could give you all the scriptures that point to this non negotiable commandment. (for those who may need “proof”Exodus 22:22-23, Psalm 68:5-6, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Deuteronomy 24:19, Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 14:31, Proverbs 31:8-9, Matthew 18:5, Matthew 25:40, James 1:27, James 2:14-17)  

I could tell you about the long history of church tradition of helping orphans & unwanted babies. (Did you know that unwanted infants in ancient Rome were often disposed of via the practice of “exposing.” Whether undesirable because it was malformed, female or simply inconvenient, the child would be left alone, outside the city walls, without defense before glaring sun, icy winds or roving animals. For centuries, a marginalized group gained a reputation for rescuing these children: Christians. The early church was known, even among many who despised it, as a people who defended the orphan. Believers went outside the city to find infants abandoned there, taking them in, and raising them as their own.) 

I could share with you my own story of adopting one of God’s precious children (if you are interested you can read about it here along with several other amazing adoption stories in the comment section – Chosen to Love and Be Loved)

But really I do not think most of you need any of that to convince you that God has a heart for orphans and unwanted babies or that His desire is that we be like Him and have a heart for them as well.   No, I think you are all well aware of these truths. 

What I really want to have you think about is the part you will play in orphan care and adoption.  What are you being asked to do? (and don’t tell me you are not “called” to help orphans…it is NOT a calling it is a commandment – go back and read the scriptures above) Now a few of you may take in a child and raise them as your own….the beautiful miracle of adoption. Others may become foster parents or legal guardians. Some may start local adoption ministries in your church or community. Many will sponsor a child through organizations like World Vision or Compassion International. A handfull will go visit orphans in foreign countries or domestic children’s homes and bring joy and love to them for a bit.

The bottom line as Christians is that we are all asked to do something.  And I know something that we can ALL do!

I can’t begin to tell you how many people have said to me – “I would love to adopt but it is so expensive”. And that is true for all foreign adoptions as well as many domestic adoptions.(you can however adopt in most states through the foster system for little to nothing…if you can get approved, which can be problematic for those with larger than average families, smaller than average homes or a host of other issues…but for those that qualify it is a great option)  But yes, the cost for private adoptions usually starts at $15,000  and can be as high as $50,000 (yikes!) And it is true that most people simply can’t afford that amount of money. And yet I know many who even without the “money in the bank” have stepped out in faith and began the adoption process hoping that somehow the money would come through. In fact this is exactly our story and the money did come through in miraculous ways and mostly from a large network of people who gave “a little”…that added up to “a lot”.

And that is the something we can ALL do…we can all give a little bit to everyone we know who is in need of financial help to adopt a child. Every family who is willing to take in a child and raise them as their own should not be hindered by a financial need….at least not as long as there are Christians around.

The Hoyle family

If you have read this blog for any length of time you are quite aware that we are not well off in the material sense at this season in our lives. In fact our current financial state has reverted back to our 1998 status (and we have been blessed with four more children since then). We live pay check to pay check and often time the money runs out before the month.  I am in no way complaining, as I know who my provider is and He is always faithful. I only share that with you because I know that many of you are already thinking, as we ourselves could easily fall into – “I have nothing left to give….to help anyone with their adoption.”  In fact just recently some newly made friends, the Hoyles, have begun their adoption journey and are trying to raise funds to pay for this adoption.  The other day I was reading over some of the responses to their plea for help. (right away I know some of you are shuddering at the thought of ever having to ask for financial help for anything…and believe me as one who has had to do this to adopt a child…it is humbling and it is hard. It would be so much easier to just be blessed with wealth…or win the lottery…or have someone just walk up and say…”hey, here’s $20,000 to pay for your adoption expenses.” And yet how often do we get the “easy road” in this walk of faith?)

Back to my reading the comments on their fundraising plea – one of their friends said this: “Oh how I wish I could help”. This caused me to stop and give pause to really think about this comment…..

  • I wish I could help.
  • I wish I could help. 
  • I wish I could help. 

How many of us have said that or thought that? And maybe the better question is –> Why can’t we help? If we wish we could….then why “can’t” we? Possibly this friend is like us….living paycheck to paycheck with no readily apparent extra money to help out. Or maybe they don’t even have a paycheck and are a young college student living at home or off the generosity of others. Or perhaps they are on a very strict budget and have a spouse or financial advisor who will not “allow” any deviation. I do not know what this particular friend of the Hoyle’s situation is…however I am going to challenge all of us, who “wish we could help” those who are stepping out in faith to adopt a child…that the fact is every last one of us, no matter what our particular situation is, in reality…we CAN help!

We can ALL do something.  And that is all it takes for the funding of an adoption to happen –  for everyone to simply do something….anything…even if it is as small as a $10 or $20 contribution. (often times those who “wish they could help” think that a small donation won’t help and they could not be more mistaken. Our adoption of baby girl was almost completely financed by small gifts from many people)

But hey….maybe even $10 or $20 is a huge stretch for you right now. And perhaps you have recently given that “extra” money you have to another family needing help to adopt. Or maybe you are like us and receive several invitations to help with adoptions each month. We currently personally know of four families in the process of adoption who need funds…not too mention the many people we “run across” in life through emails, facebook or mutual friends who are looking towards adoption.

I still believe that if we “wish to help”  we can! (and not to be redundant but we as followers of Jesus we should all “wish” to help every adoption that comes to our attention!)

And here is how. We can all pick merely one of the following ways to contribute to those needing help adopting:

1. Collect ALL the loose change around your house and use that to give a gift. I did a quick run around my house and came up with over $12 in loose change from the bottom of purses, in junk drawers, my husbands pants pocket and in a canning jar in the kitchen cabinet.(if I looked under the couch cushions I bet I would have even gotten more!)

These goodies would sell great!

2. Have a bake sale – just make a batch of cookies (say 5 dozen)….go out to a local youth sports league or park on a sunny day or maybe in your church foyer …set up a card table & sell two cookies for $1. Walk away with $30 ….even if you take out your expenses you’ll have $20 to give away. Or you could even not leave your home & sell them all on facebook….taking a few hours to deliver them door to door!

3. Get creative & find a way to work for a few hours & use that $$ to give (host a Moms day out for some of your friends who need a break, deep cleaning a house one time, doing yard work, taking a short term job doing inventory for a store…there are always people looking for very temporary help. My daughter right this minute is doing childcare for a wedding reception making money for her upcoming missions trip to Haiti) Most of us in just an extra 4-5 hours one time could easily make $50 to give away. I would do that to help a child who needs a home….wouldn’t you?

4. Have a yard sale and give away the proceeds. We have done this so many times…all it takes is cleaning out your “stuff”, asking your friends & family to bring their “junk” and setting up shop in your front yard for a day.  Most people make at least $100 in a yard sale and we have made as much as $1500. (you can sell baked goods too and increase your sales)  Wow! With this type of revenue you could help many families with a gift towards their adoption! All it takes is time and effort….we all have that.

5. Sell something that you are not using or no longer need on eBay, Amazon or Craig’s List. We collected all the books we were not interested in keeping that were taking up space in our house one year and put them on Amazon and within a week had made $50 on old books. Easy Peezy.

6. If you want to raise money and have fun at the same time – host a bunco or other game night…charge a small fee to join (example $10 per person to come x 8 friends = $80)…give away a cute “winner prize” ($20) and use the remaining money to give away ($60)

7. Cut off cable TV and you’ll have $40 -$60 EVERY month to give away to families adopting children. (ok Beth…now you’re getting pushy)

8. Have one night a week for a month where you either skip dinner entirely or have only rice and water…The “average” family will save $30-$40 in a month sacrificing this weekly meal. Give that away to those who are raising funds (we do this at Lent season every year). Bonus: you can lose a few pounds while helping a child be placed in a forever family!

9. Ask friends who do have the resources to give! We all have friends who do have extra money…perhaps we could step out of our comfort zone and ask them to consider donating towards that adoption we “wish we could help”. (actually even our friends without extra resources could all donate their loose change, we could collect it and I bet it would be a nice size donation.)

10. You tell me….I could  come up with even more ideas but I would love to hear yours. How could someone come up with just a mere $20 donation to help with an adoption of a precious child everytime they are asked? Please share in the comment section!

So the next time you hear of a family asking for financial help to adopt a child…don’t say “I wish I could….” but rather say “Sure I’d love to!” and pick a way to make it happen. (or you can always give up a coffee a week and donate that money you save…I know, I know don’t mess with my legal stimulant addiction Beth! I’m right there with you….Ouch!)

PS – For those who immediately need to put this into action because the Holy Spirit is doing His thing in your heart – the Hoyles still need $8,000. You can read their blog here –  Hoyles Promise  or donate here – Crowd Tilt

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Filed under Adoption, Economics, Faith, Making a Difference, My "take"

The Luxury of Staying Home?

To be a stay at home Mom or not to be a stay at home Mom….
….that is the controversy. (or at least it seems to always be controversial)

I grew up with a mother who graduated from college with a BA and teaching credential, got married, worked as a teacher for one year, began to have children and left the workforce for almost the entirety of her 27 year “active” mothering career. (being a mommy never ends but the day to day “job” of mothering does) Other than working a few hours, here and there, when we were all in school and occasionally substitute teaching, she was a “stay at home Mom” taking care of the business of managing a home and raising her children.  When the youngest began high school she re-entered the “away from home” workforce as a high school English teacher and enjoyed a 20 year career as a teacher, earning a Master’s Degree and excelling in her field before retiring with a pension. Personally I think that is awesome! She had the best of everything due to her and my Dad’s great choices, sacrifices and hard work….and my siblings and I were the beneficiaries!

A generation later, I earned my college degree and worked as a youth minister both prior to and after getting married. When my first child arrived I desperately wanted to stay home with her but couldn’t see a way to make it work with a husband in college at the time. So we figured out how he could work part-time, in addition to being a full-time student while I would work part-time as a teacher and school activity director. With this arrangement none of us stayed home…even the baby who was with one of us all day except for a three hour time period in the morning. As our family grew and my husband finished college and took a full-time job teaching I continued on in my part-time job. I still wanted to be at home with my little girls but did not see how we could make it work on my husband’s Christian school teacher salary. We just couldn’t afford it…or at least that is what I thought (and was often told by others).

In 1997 through a series of providential events I instantly and without planning became a “stay at home Mom”.  We made so little money that year that we were audited by the IRS who wanted to know how our income diminished so much in one year. (the agent even asked…how are you making it?) I did build a very successful home business in the years following that eventually replaced the income I had made teaching part-time and yet I was able to work from my home along side and with my children.  So…..I have been a “generating income outside the home mom” and a “stay at home income generating mom”.   (whew! those are long titles)

I hope we can agree that all moms are working moms, right?  Some generate income outside the home, some generate income inside the home and some do not generate income at all but as moms….we ALL work. Better yet, we all work very hard!

And yet the majority of women that I have talked with desire to spend much less time out of their homes working and more time with their children if they had a “choice”.  Yes, I realize that there are the few moms who even if they were independently wealthy millionaires would still want to work outside of their homes because they simply love their careers but I believe that most would rather stay home and raise their children if they felt they had that “luxury”.  Here is where my issue lies.

Is staying at home a luxury or is it a choice…that is the question?

Other than single Moms (by never marrying, being divorced or widowed) who most simply must work to pay the rent and put food on the table (unless they have an extremely lucrative child support payment or alimony…kudo’s to them!)…I personally believe that most married moms can make the choice to stay at home (some with  generating income at home and some without). 

No, I do not believe it is a “luxury” for those moms whose spouses makes a certain magical level of income. I believe it is a choice.  A choice to perhaps sacrifice personal fulfilment, career advancement, social interaction, achievement accolades and of course income.  A choice to “do without”, to let go of material possessions, goods and services and fun vacations that we have come to believe are essential. A choice to have 37,440 extra hours to pour into the life of our children, homes & families during their 18 years of childhood.

And yet many have bought into the paradigm that it is a “luxury that we can’t afford” to be a stay at home mom (income generating or not). That it is simply impossible for anyone other than the ultra rich to pull off.  We even get encouragement to think this way from our influential leaders.

Speaking at what the administration called “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy,” President Barack Obama said that after his two daughters were born, he and his wife—both Harvard Law School graduates—could not afford the “luxury” of having her stay home with the children.

In 2005, when Obama began serving in the U.S. Senate (and his daughters turned 4 and 7), he and his wife were earning a combined annual income of $479,062. Barack Obama as a senator was paid a salary of $162,100, and Michelle Obama was paid $316,962 to handle community affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

So let me see if I’ve got this right…..

Then Senator Obama made $162,000 a year plus outstanding benefits and they could not afford the “luxury” of Michelle staying at home to raise their children? (he did not say she was working to advance her career or for personal fulfillment or for benefits….he said they could not live without her salary)

Things that make me go…”huh?….am I missing something here?”. Let’s see….if my husband currently made $162,000 a year that means, even after taxes, we would have about $9,000 a month for our family budget. (actually we would bring home even more than that knowing the charitable contributions we would be making and the number of kids we have would reduce our tax liability greatly) We live in California, said to be one of the more expensive states to live in and my husband brings home a third of that much money every month. If I had an extra $6,000 a month I could pay myself a salary for my hard work as a Mom of eight children and still have thousands of dollars extra each month to save, to spend and to give away. It would be a life of luxury for me as well as my family and my husband, who might actually enjoy a clean bathroom every once in a while! (yes I could pay someone to clean our bathroom or clean it myself with the extra time I would have from not having to work at my home business)

I do realize that most families who make this amount of money (equal to Obama’s $162,000 in 2005) do decide they can live on one income and one parent does stay home to take care of household business and raise the children. But there are many who make less than half of that salary who say they “can’t afford the luxury” when in reality they actually could. Yes, they might have to drive beat up cars, live in smaller houses, skip private school tuition, and forgo some “extra’s” in life (like eating out, cable TV, expensive cell phone bills, nicer vacations, manicures, gym memberships etc..) But in reality are not all those things actually  luxuries that the previous generation, who primarily did have stay at home Moms, did not have?

No, for the vast majority of couples having one parent stay at home is really not a luxury they can’t afford but a lifestyle choice that they have made. (just as it was for me during those early years when I bought the paradigm that we “couldn’t afford” to have me home) And as a culture we need to “call it what it is” instead of using rhetoric to justify our choices  or perceived lack thereof as well as making moms feel like they simply “have to work” to survive or by giving husbands the cultural confidence to tell wives they “need to work”. (I mean after all honey, Senator Obama needed his wife’s income, so you should work too) ** Husbands who pressure their wives to work is in itself is a whole other blog post that perhaps needs to be written about men who no longer feel pride and motivation to creatively provide for their families and demand their wives drop their precious babies off at daycare for nine hours a day for someone else to raise, when those mommys desperately want to stay home…..but back to the point.**  I believe that we need to influence our culture to encourage moms (or dads) to make the choice to stay home to raise their children. The more families that can have at least one parent investing a significant  amount of time (37,440 hours!) and energy into their home life and children the better off our society will be!  So let’s be honest:

It is a choice…not a luxury we can’t afford.

P.S. To my very special single, divorced & widowed Moms…let me say again I know that you do not have a choice as to whether you can work outside your home nor did most of you choose to be single Moms…I pray that the Lord will strengthen you, encourage you and wrap His loving arms around you all the while multiplying your time, energy & resources and surrounding you with great friends to support you!

And yes I do understand that there are special circumstances and situations (illness, loss of jobs, business going under, medical bills) that may at times “force” both parents to work).

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Filed under Economics, Home Business, Life Lessons, Motherhood, My "take", Priorities, Uncategorized

Inspire Ministries

It has been well over a decade since we decided as a family that we wanted to celebrate the Last Supper during Holy Week.  If you are familiar with the story then you know that the “Last Supper” was actually the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread or the Passover which is celebrated by the Jewish people.  It was the time they set aside to remember and praise God for delivering them from slavery in Egypt.  During the Passover Feast – Jesus had his final meal with his disciples and he instituted communion.  Communion is a very essential and meaningful part of the life of any believer. 

When we first began our celebration of the Last Supper the girls were young (10, 7, 6, 4 and 1) and we had a simple evening consisting of a meal (“feast”) and a time of communion.  We also incorporated a foot washing ceremony afterwards following in Christ’s…

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What will you do with your bonus day?

Today is a “bonus” day!

Yes, that’s right every four years we are given a “bonus” day on February 29th! Every four years instead of 365 days, we get 366! Every four years we get a full extra 24 hours! Today is that extra day.

In an “average” lifetime you only get 20 “bonus days”…that’s right just 20 days!  This is my 13th bonus day so I don’t want to “waste it a way”. As I lay here in bed watching the rain pound with vengeance against the windows I am pondering just what I want to do (or not to do) with my “bonus” day.

 How about you? What will you do today with your bonus day?

How about all those things that you have been putting off until you have “more” time?

  • Reading or finishing that book that you heard was so fabulous
  • Making that long overdue doctor or dentist appointment
  • Cleaning or organizing that “junk drawer”, spare bedroom or garage
  • Organizing those photos, making a dent in that scrapbooking project or completing some journaling
  • Sitting down and planning your yearly calendar to include meaningful family traditions that you keep wanting to do but never seem to get going on them

Or maybe you could use your bonus day to do something positive for other people and your community?

  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
  • Grab a trash bag and go pick up all the trash on your street
  • Visit the elderly, sick or shut ins
  • Call a stressed out Mom of toddlers and take her kids to the park or mall playground for a couple hours
  • Help a single Mom or widow with the yard work, house or car maintenance

Or what about spending the day enriching your relationships?

  • Spend time really playing with your kids on their level (even if that means getting down on the floor and playing cards or dressing up as a pirate or Maid Marian)
  • Call your spouse just to say I love you & appreciate you (and husbands – bring home flowers for no special reason) – go out on a special date night
  • Ask your loved ones what would be their “perfect day” and then make it happen for them
  • Call that long lost friend from the past just to say hi and catch up
  • Invite that family you have been wanting to get to know over for dinner
  • Take your neighbors some yummy fresh baked cookies
  • Sit on the couch with your family and read a book together (and turn OFF the TV!)
  • Write notes of love, support and appreciation to all those important people in your life
  • Mend a broken relationship – say you are sorry, ask for forgiveness – forgive and forget

Or maybe you just need a complete day “off” to rest, relax and be renewed and refreshed so that you can continue to live a life all year of meaning and purpose.

Just some thoughts for you on this – February 29, 2012 – now you decide how you will spend your “bonus day”. Will it just be “the same ole, same ole” or will you make it truly a special bonus day?

P.S. – The photo above was taken 4 years ago on my “bonus day”…you can read about it here.

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2011 post picks & winners!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my request for input (My 2011 Year in Blogging) on your favorite blog posts from 2011 and what you would like to hear more of in 2012. It was really helpful, insightful and very encouraging! I wish I had the ability to take you all out for coffee or tea to chat about life and enjoy some warm wonderful fellowship.

This morning my girls and I put your names in a drawing and picked a name from all the commenters !

The winner of the Starbucks card is:

 

Becky from Arvada, Colorado!

Oh wait….the baby girl decided that this little exercise looked like too much fun and she quickly grabbed and card out of the box and screamed for her winner! (love the spontaneity when I have the camera out) Sooooooo….thanks to Christiana I have another winner:

Linda from Eugene, Oregon

Congratulations Becky & Linda….your Starbucks cards are on their way!

My People’s Choice Awards

These are the top posts, not according to number of views, but according to my readers preference.  If you are new to my blog, this might be a great place to begin reading. If you are a “regular” these are great “re-reads” or posts perhaps you might want to send to your friends and family or post on facebook. Also let me point out that some of the reader comments on these post are really great and inspiring too….so check them out.  Speaking of commenting…I love your input, insights and ideas…so please comment away!  A special thanks to the top 5 commenters on my blog  in 2011: Jason Edwards, Ceci Sallee, Linda Hendrix, Gloria Borden (Hi Mom!) and Caroline Kirchner and I can’t not mention Patty Martin who sends me an encouraging and uplifting email after most every blog post! Love you guys…your encouragement keeps me going. Ok here they are: Drum roll please….your top 10 favorite posts for 2011 were:

  1. Don’t you know what causes that?  August 14, 2011
  2. Love for a Lifetime   December 21, 2011
  3. And after you have suffered….   June 22, 2011
  4. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or (gasp) Xmas!   December 7, 2011
  5. Always Daddy’s Girl  This was actually a post from 2008 but I re-posted it on facebook on Oct 22, 2011, the 16th anniversary of my Dad’s passing
  6. “Faint heart never won fair lady” or “Jumping through a few hoops”  March 18, 2011
  7. Accolades for Amy  May 27, 2011
  8. Random, Abstract & Off the Wall  January 21, 2011
  9. I am the 1%  October 19, 2011
  10. Times of Refreshing (part 1) (part 2) June 12 & 16, 2011

Runner Ups Include: What was, What is and What might have been… , Words of Wisdom for the College Bound, My New York/Boston trip Posts –here, here & here, and Lambdin Christmas Greetings 2011

Beth’s Top 5 Picks

And as promised, I want to share with you my favorite posts from 2011.  Do you know how hard that is? Almost like picking your favorite child…pretty much inconceivable not to mention impossible (side note: speaking of favorites – my kids will tell you that my standard answer when one of them is complaining as to why their sibling got to do or have something that they did not — “Well, I like them better than you” — pretty much ends the conversation right there)

Getting back to my “favorites”…I forced myself to really look back over all the 2011 posts and pick 5 that not only did I really enjoy writing but that I felt benefitted my readers the most…here they are (Incidentally three of them were the same as yours):

  1. Love for a Lifetime  This was your #2 choice in favorite blog posts and I must agree! Besides that this message was the heart of what I spoke at my 25th Wedding Anniversary service, which I really wanted to share with everyone who was not able to attend our special celebration, it is also I believe a “life line” for many a struggling marriage and I hope that you will be able to share it with others who may find themselves wanting to break their vows or walk away from their commitment to their spouse.  Since the number one thing people new to my blog are searching for is articles relating to marriage problems I am led to believe that this is a crucial subject and crisis in our culture today. The response to this post just in the last month has been amazing as people have shared with me the encouragement they have received to keep fighting for their marriage and to put God at the center of their lives.
  2. hos·pi·tal·i·ty [ hòspi tállətee ]  To be honest I was a bit disappointed by the silence that this post produced. I was passionate about this topic and really had hoped that my readers would be as convicted as I was about becoming serious in truly walking out biblical hospitality in our hearts, in our speech, in our homes, with our things and in every area of our lives.  I just figured that I either 1) missed the mark, 2) it wasn’t something that resonated with others or 3) it made folks uncomfortably convicted.  But regardless, several weeks after the post I got a message from a reader that made this post worth it all:  

Dear Beth,    I have written this note to you – in my mind – since your Monday Motivation just before Thanksgiving. I must tell you how it impacted my life.I was really “struggling” as to whether I wanted my step-mother to be at our home on Thanksgiving. She had been in a Nursing Home for the past six months recuperating from serious bowel surgery. The surgery left her with a “bag” – not even going to try and spell it – and she did not like the responsibility of it at all. To the point, where she would allow herself to be in situations that required more”clean-up” than was necessary. By the way, I apologize for being so blunt with all of this – there is a reason! Anyhow, I kept allowing my mind to go through several ways that things could go wrong before, during or after our Thanksgiving dinner and none of them were good. Then I read your Monday Motivation and realized how incredibly selfish I was being, especially to a woman who had endured so much over the past six months and who my father truly loves. All this to say, I invited her and she was thrilled. Dad pick her up at the nursing home and upon arriving at my house, she literally danced into my kitchen. She was so grateful to my family for allowing her to come – I was overcome with joy myself – you had prompted me to remember that my home does not belong to me, but rather it belongs to the Lord, and when He “nudges” us to do the right thing and open it to others – We are the ones that are blessed beyond measure!On December 8th my step-mother died. We were with her when she died. So, again Beth, thank you for your words that remind us/me to do the right thing so we will have no regrets – I just keep thinking what if I had not invited her for Thanksgiving?!?! Love can heal a lot of things if we only give it to others!

3. Don’t you know what causes that? Wow!  Your number one pick and definitely one of my favs!  To be honest I wrote this several years ago but never posted it because…well because I just get weary of all the snide remarks, jokes and negative (meant to be funny) comments (even from the pulpit) about large families (or really for any baby past number two or that comes too soon, too fast or too late in life), as well as folks who think I am “judging them” for not having a large family and of course I knew there would be people appalled that I do not believe in or use birth control and think that I am putting my convictions on them. After 25 years of walking this road I guess I was just weary of it all.  But then a young man in his early 20’s asked me for some input in this area as he is forming his thoughts, ideas and opinions. I quickly emailed him this post, not yet published, that I had written.  His  positive response, enthusiasm and encouragement led me to posting it soon after.  I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response that I continue to receive about this post (not that everyone agrees with my philosophy but they are willing to take a look at my opinion and perhaps be more accepting of those who like me have chosen to use “God control”.  Apparently many found my style humorous in this post as well….always a good day when you can make people laugh!)

4. Accolades for Amy  I really, really, really love this post.  Personally I think you should send it to every teacher, administrator, guidance counselor and principal you know.  Many could use this perspective.  I also think it would be a good thing to pass on to parents who have a child who may have a learning disability, academic struggles or to share Amy’s favorite quote…”You can’t put in them, what God left out”.  Think about passing this one on…you could really make a difference in the life of a child. As a follow up to this post, I am happy to report that Amy just completed a successful first semester at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas (SAGU) where she started on the women’s soccer team. (Her original college choice, Bethany University, sadly closed their doors in June and she had to quickly make a new decision for college) She flew back to Texas yesterday to start the spring semester and is a strong, confident, poised young lady who is growing in her God given gifts and talents every year.  I can’t wait to see what He has planned for her!

5. It couldn’t get any better than that!  This post is near and dear to my heart because it includes my passionate heart for the unborn and adoption and all the fingerprints of God that are found through every aspect of my precious baby girl – Christiana’s adoption.  It will be one of those posts that ends up in her baby album. She continues to amaze us and be the light of our lives.  We are so blessed that God chose us to be her forever family…it doesn’t get any better than that! (PS – That reminds me – January is Sanctity of Human Life month – perhaps we could all do something to protect the life of the unborn, help a mom in a crisis pregnancy or take part in an adoption – through our finances, practical support or beginning the adoption  or foster care process ourselves)

6. “Faint heart never won fair lady” or “Jumping through a few hoops”  — Six???  You said five Beth!  Ok, I can’t help myself.  I have to include this one post in my top picks. You see speaking into the lives of single young women (and men) has been a part of my life for three decades and I will continue to share my heart in hopes of helping them to make good decisions when it comes to dating, courtship and relationships and to choose very wisely whom they will commit their lives to. Perhaps you have a young person in your life who needs to read this! (Shout out to all my blog fans that are in that season of singleness…thanks for being faithful readers of this “middle age” lady’s blog…you bless me more than you will ever know!)

I hope you have enjoyed this year in review and perhaps you were able to catch a few posts you missed throughout the last year. I would love it if you would pass any of them on to friends and family who you think would benefit from one of these vast and varied posts.  My life goal is to inspire, motivate, encourage and bless others through my writing. You can help me reach more people!

What’s next?

My readers have shared with me things that they would like to hear more about this year.  It is quite the eclectic list and I will most definitely be looking it over throughout the year for inspiration.  Here is what you said:

  • family life stories
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • singleness
  • how do you do it all (priorities, time management)
  • finances (personal testimonies to Gods provision)
  • family traditions
  • homeschooling
  • perseverance in trials
  • sibling rivalry/arguments (to which my daughter exclaimed – “You’re not going to tell them about our fighting are you?”)
  • faith
  • favorite movies & why
  • date night conversations
  • decorating a small house
  • challenge our way of thinking and responding.
  • Things that encourage us to not accept the cultural norm but to strive for a better way.
  • random acts of kindness
  • showing appreciation to hubby

If you want to add to my list…I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas (although I have no more budget for Starbucks “bribes”…but perhaps the reward of  me writing about your desired subject will be enough!) 🙂

Here’s to a great blogging year in 2012!

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