hos·pi·tal·i·ty [ hòspi tállətee ]

One of things that impacted me greatly on our trip to Boston was seeing true generous and sincere hospitality in action…like I have never experienced before!

Don’t get me wrong I have experienced amazing hospitality in many ways and a multitude of times throughout my lifetime from friends, family, fellow parishioners, casual acquaintances and business associates…but this was different. The hospitality that was shown to me and my daughters was given freely to us by complete strangers.  This couple had never met us before we arrived at their home and the only connection they even had with us was through their daughter (who also had never met us) who has been a college student with my daughter for just over two months.

And their hospitality was abundant!

Besides the most obvious hospitality of simply opening their home to perfect strangers to stay for several days (which in itself is something sadly so few people would even consider doing) they made us feel so welcome and special:

  • by not allowing us to take public transportation from the bus station to their home and insisting on picking us up with enthusiasm & excitement.
  • by carrying our heavy bags
  • by welcoming us in their home with fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies and a cup of tea while we sat at their table enjoying delightful conversation while gleaning valuable information on what a visitor to Boston should do in one day
  • by insuring we had everything we needed — directions, towels, keys to the house, use of the computer and printer, an umbrella in case it rained….
  • by telling us to making ourselves comfortable and at home
  • by having a counter full of breakfast options for us the next morning before we head out the door for a day of sightseeing
  • by being sincerely interested in our lives, our thoughts, our interests and our ideas and engaging us in lively stimulating conversation
  • and ultimately by even allowing me to stay in their home the final night I was there without them even being home as they had a weekend retreat to attend. (I know of some family members who don’t “feel comfortable” having their own relatives in their home when they are not there!)

I was blown away and blessed!

They were a living, breathing example of how the Word of God instructs us to live….

1. We are to practice (defined in Websters as: “repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency”) hospitality to God’s people.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

2. We are to show hospitality to strangers

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2

3. We are to invite strangers (even the least of these) into our homes.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’   Matthew 25:34-38

How are you doing in this area of hospitality?

Most of you likely have no problem being gracious and hospitable to your family, friends and loved ones. You may even do ok with some of your more casual acquaintances or those who sit down the aisle from you in church. 

But do you practice (“repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency”) hospitality to God’s people who you may not personally know?  Are you eager to show hospitality and give help to those in need?

I know from my personal experience of trying to find homes for missionaries to stay in or vehicles for them to use during their furloughs as well as trying to find short term housing for Christian youth groups, children’s choirs or students visiting from other countries that we believers often fall woefully short in this area of hospitality.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book (although mostly there is a deafening silence when calling on believers to open up their homes or share their things) as to why they can’t practice hospitality

  • I don’t feel comfortable having people I don’t know in my home (since when was living as a Christian comfortable….I thought there was a lot about service, sacrificing and suffering)
  • I don’t have room (almost laughable in America….if you have floor space, you have room)
  • I do not have time to clean my house (ugh! let it go people)
  • I just got back from vacation or I’m leaving for vacation next week (and……?)
  • It’s not a convenient time (heaven forbid if we should ever be inconvenienced by God’s word)
  • That is really not “my thing” (hmmmm…well perhaps it is God’s “thing)
  • I don’t let anyone use my car…I mean what if they get in an accident…I don’t think it is wise (don’t get me started on the “not being wise” excuse that Christians use for a multitude of things that just make them uncomfortable)

The laundry list of excuses, both spoken and unspoken is exhausting.

Now how about showing complete strangers hospitality or inviting them into your home?

Now this is a stretch even for those believers who  regularly practice hospitality to God’s people and to those who struggle with hospitality to believers like mentioned previuosly….inviting strangers into their home is likely considered insane.  

Really Lord….you want me to show hospitality to complete strangers?

Ok, I can be friendly and welcoming to strangers (perhaps they are angels)….but invite them into my home Lord?

Yes please invite me into your home…says the Lord…did I not tell you when you invite a stranger in you are really inviting me in?

Silence…….

Perhaps brothers and sisters it is time to evaluate our skills and proficiency in the area hospitality as well as our obedience to the Lord. (and believe me I am talking just as seriously to myself) Here are some ideas on how to begin:

  • The next time someone asks you to host a student, help a missionary, provide housing for a believer in need or share your “things”…don’t hesitate just say an eager & enthusiastic “yes!”
  • Invite others into your home on a regular basis to share a meal or a cup of coffee or afternoon tea and practice your hospitality skills
  • Open up your heart and your home to stangers…whether it is situations like my daughters and myself who needed a place to stay while visiting in the area and have no extra money for lodging, or perhaps a foreign exchange student for an extended stay or maybe the Lord will lead you to take in someone in dire straights in need of food and shelter.  Ask the Lord to bring you these opportunities!

Perhaps some of you have ideas for us on how we can perfect and sharpen and become hospitality “experts”…I would love to hear them!

Thank you to this warm and wonderful couple for giving us such a beautiful example of hospitality!

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Faith

Trip Top Ten (part 2)

This is the second installment on the Top Ten from our trip to New York and Boston to read part 1 click here.

5. Cheesecake at Juniors…mmmmmm

Best Cheesecake ever!  We went twice…we even had cheesecake as our main meal one time (hey cream cheese has protein!)  Besides their famous classic cheesecake we had the chocolate mousse cheesecake, strawberry shortcake cheesecake and pumpkin swirl cheesecake. They were all truly scrumptious!

Juniors Restaurant has been around for over 50 years and their tagline is…”you haven’t really lived until you’ve had a cheesecake from Juniors”  And guess what?  You can order online and have it delivered fresh to your house and have a taste of New York come to you! (and no I am getting a thing for that shameless plug – here is the link to Junior’s) I am so tempted to order a pumpkin swirl cheesecake for Thanksgiving!

4. Please don’t let this feeling end!

Ok….so I couldn’t help myself. I was a romantic teenager when the first version of the movie “Ice Castles” came out and while even at that time I thought it was pretty “sappy”…the song stuck with me and every single time I go ice skating (which isn’t all that often), I find myself singing that tune.

Bryant Park in New York was no exception!  Kristen and I laced up our skates and enjoyed almost an hour of ice skating under the stars while Michelle and Rebekah watched (and took photos).  It was fun! It was exhilarating!  It was great exercise and it will be a memorable moment that we take with us always.  We laughed and hung onto each other as we slowly remembered the feel of the ice and began to skate freely around the rink (although stopping to catch our breath quite often!)

The weather was lovely, the atmosphere festive, skating was fab and my partner was perfect! Good times!

 

3. A College “Do Over” …

…or is it living vicariously through my kids? 

We attended two college preview days while on our trip – The King’s College in New York City and Gordon College near Boston, Massachusetts.  I can honestly say that in the past several years as I have visited colleges with my daughters I have often wished I could have a “do over” of my college days.  As I sit through presentations on everything from campus life to academic advising, take campus tours and attend classes I catch myself thinking….if only I could do this over again.  I would likely choose very differently.  I would most definitely take advantage of more collegiate opportunities. I would not “wish away” this amazing time in life. (Isn’t hindsight 20/20?….I wrote a blog titled “What would you tell your college age self” that you may want to read if you are in the high school and college age season of life)

I am so very excited and pleased with my first two daughters choices for college and I often find myself living vicariously through their experiences.  My first born who is at a college in the Big Apple (I already shared that if I couldn’t live my dream life at the beach, I would live in a big city!) and she attends a college whose mission and purpose and vision would have fit me “to a tee”!  The students at her college are amazing….they are smart, articulate, critical thinkers and have depth. (quite different from the superficial shallowness I experienced in many of my college co-eds) And the professors there?  Wow…is all I can say!  They are invested greatly in the lives of the students, they are inspiring and influential and they “know their stuff”. What an opportunity to sit under their teaching and leadership. I would have not just “survived” college but thrived and flourished at King’s.  

My second daughter in Texas is having the athletic and team experience that I longed for as a college athlete.  She plays soccer for a Christian university that values the character development and moral living of their players while striving to achieve excellence in competition.  She has teammates who she has already bonded with and will likely be friends for life and a coach who is also a godly mentor, role model and friend. Oh what I would have given to have that in college!  She also has the amazing opportunity to take time out to be filled up and inspired by God’s word and worship at chapels that take place daily!  And the icing on the cake – she lives in a typical dorm style setting (well a brand new facility that looks like a sparkling hotel!) and her roommate and suite mates are young women with a heart for the Lord who encourage and build her up in her faith quite unlike my dorm experience in college of daily stepping over beer cans and vomit on the way to the shower, listening to the mindless drivel of the latest frat party or sorority rush conflict or hoping the wall pounding music would possibly stop before 4am so I could finally get some sleep. Yup! I would take her experience over mine any day!

The third daughter will take off next year after her high school graduation and is in the midst of filling out college applications and making decisions as to where she will attend and the fourth is not far behind. It was exciting to get to see and experience yet another college (Gordon) that is as impressive and has so many great things to offer:

  • a college that is centered on Jesus Christ and desires to glorify God in everything they do
  • a solid academic education with a small teacher to student ratio where it is obvious that the professors are involved as mentors in the lives of the students
  • a strong athletic program with high moral standards for their athletes and coaches who really care about their players personal growth.
  • students we met who are obviously flourishing and loving their experience in college
  • a beautiful and impressive campus (I must say that California colleges can not compete with the beauty and majesty of the ivy covered brick campuses on the East Coast…well with the exception of my alma mater…UOP)

We shall see where the next two land….but I know this….you bet I will be rejoicing in their opportunities and experiences along the way! (and yes living a bit vicariously through them)

2. Doing What I Love!

If I could do anything I wanted to do in this life, besides being a wife and mommy, it would be to inspire others through writing and speaking to live a life of passion, purpose and praise! In my adult life I have been paid to be a minister, teacher, coach, counselor, administrator, school founder, business owner, sales director and fund raiser. And I have loved them all!  But I have come to realize that the thing I am most passionate about is speaking into the lives of others and helping them to live the life they were created to live! My desire is to spend the second half of my life (or if I don’t live to be 98, maybe final third) doing just that!

I had the amazing opportunity to speak to dozens of young women at The King’s College about the complexities of relationships.  I shared my life story with them and challenged and encouraged them to be purposeful in their season of singleness and to seek the Lord and His wisdom in their relationships.  It was a great time together with these incredible young women and based on the enthusiastic response I think I accomplished my purpose successfully!  You know you are doing what you were meant to do when you leave feeling energized, refreshed and exhilarated. It was a highlight of my trip!

1. It’s the Little Things…

Call me crazy but one of my favorite things about our trip to New York and Boston was all the walking we did!  Albeit we had great weather (62-68 and sunny almost every day in New York and a rainy but not cold day in Boston) and we were on vacation so there was not the rushing around factor, but I have to say I really enjoy the simplicity of just walking everywhere you want to go. 

I kept thinking to myself…why don’t I walk more at home? I live in an area of town where I could feasibly walk to church, walk to the store, walk to our homeschool co-op and walk to Starbucks (which I do do that!)  Everyone of the places mentioned are an easy 15-25 minute walk from my house (ok Starbucks is only 5 minutes) There are lots of excuses I could give –>

  • It’s too hard to get all the kids together with their “stuff” and coax the middle ones to enjoy walking (the littles would be in strollers)
  • I’d have to carry all that stuff back from the grocery store
  • I’m not great at being on time for church even when I drive
  • I would be wasting valuable time

and on and on I could go!  And yet I wonder…would my quality of life be better if I began walking to more places?  Here are my random thoughts:

  •  It would actually slow down the pace of my life simply by the fact that I wouldn’t try to cram so much into so little time. 
  • It would solve both the diet and exercise dilemma as I would not have to worry about dieting because the walking everywhere would take care of the intake of calories (ie: I could pretty much eat anything as I did in New York & Boston – rich yummy pasta, mouth watering pastries, delicious cheesecake, fancy caloric coffee, lobster ravioli’s in cream sauce, bread with butter, cannoli’s, cream soups, carb laden snacks and pizza, pizza and more pizza – and I weighed in at 1lb less than when I left 10 days earlier, gotta love that!)

              and I would not feel guilty about not making it out to the gym or for that designated 30 minute walk because my life would be one of exercising in the midst of living. 

  • It would get both myself and my children out into the great outdoors and fresh air more often and would release endorphins (happy pills) into our system that would lead to a healthy and happier life.
  • It would simplify my life in many ways as I would be more focused on my home life, my kids and what I needed to walk to the store to get for dinner. 🙂
  • It would save money  (and for those of you that are concerned that this large family is destroying the environment…we would be doing our part to be “green”…although that would never make my personal list of reasons to start walking more places…sorry.)

So I have been home for almost a week and I have yet to walk anywhere so my ramblings are probably going to amount to nothing. And I realize that my husband & kids work and go to school 15 miles away and that there are several places that I have to drive to each week so I simply can’t walk everywhere. However, I really do want to incorporate walking as a daily part of my life (as opposed to walking for exercise)….because I really do love it!

I suppose what I really long for is not only a community set up in such a way that everything was in walking distance (which for me it pretty much is except school, sports practices and friends) but also a simpler life without all the crazy schedules, appointments, paperwork, to do lists, activities etc….  Oh wait!  I have created that for at least a tenth of my year — beach holiday hiatus come quickly!

So there is my Top Ten List from my trip…hope you enjoyed the tour and that perhaps you were touched, inspired, changed or challenged by one of my “take aways” from our adventure.  You will still hear a few more insights from this trip as I have time to write them up.

And I can’t end without just a few more photos of things that I loved!

Did you know that you use to be able to rent a pew at church! It was actually was an enclosed box…you could decorate, leave things in, be late for church and never have to worry about a seat.  I see all sorts of advantages to this practice….just sayin’

The fall colors were amazing…I ohhhed and ahhhed and breathed in the beauty. When we arrived in Boston the colors were mesmerizing! I kept wanting to stop and capture each colorful tree, stunning autumn sunset and amazing skyline. Fall is my very favorite season…it is warm and inviting and feels slower and softer than other times of year. I think perhaps it fits my coloring too? What do you think?

There is nothing quite like the top of the Empire State Building!  The girls and I enjoyed it at night….the lights were spectacular. I must admit though that while I loved being up there with my darling daughters, it is just one of those places with the wind blowing through your hair, the stars sparkling above and the lights glimmering below that you should have the love of your life by your side with is loving arms around you. Romantic!

Oh and I could not leave Massachusetts without seeing the Atlantic Ocean because….I love the beach!  The girls and I made a quick stop by the seashore near Gordon College to put our feet in the sand and see the beauty of the ocean.  I felt the grains of sand in my shoes for several days after arriving home which made me vastly contented.

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Filed under College & Career, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, My "take"

Trip Top Ten (part 1)

There are oh so many things that I loved about my recent trip to New York and Boston…but I thought I’d give you a Top Ten list of my favorites:

10. I Love History!

I love the rich history that is found around every corner in the eastern region of our United States.  History just comes alive when you see it in “living color” right before your eyes. Whether it is a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and imagining what it would be like to immigrate to this great country hundreds of years ago, walking through Paul Reveres house and picturing him riding through town yelling – “The British are coming! The British are coming!”, reading inspiring epitaphs on gravestones (see my earlier blog post here), or even more recent history that is a part of our own life story as we visited the Ground Zero Memorial that has just recently opened up and reflecting on the impact and influence that single event has had on all of our lives. There is a vast amount of things to be learned on a trip like this. I drank it all in…it never gets old for me and I never stop learning new things.

We also took time out to visit the occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park…history in the making!  As my girls questioned why we were taking time to do this, I explained to them that when their children sat in history class in a couple of decades that they would be studying the Occupy Wall Street Movement and they could share with them that they had “been there”. We walked right down into the middle of the encampment – reading signs, listening to debates and observing the people.  It was quite an education!  And I loved it when a few days after we returned home I got a text from my daughter one morning as she was beginning her school day – “Mom!  They are evicting the protestors….70 arrested this morning”   I can promise you that had she not just experienced first hand the OWS movement that she would have had no idea what that even meant or been the least bit interested. (and my other daughter just walked in the door exclaiming – “Mom! Guess what the extra credit question was today in Government?….What is the current protest in New York called?”  I am thinking she will get those bonus points!)

  

Note to all my friends who have school age children – whether you homeschool or they are in “traditional” school….get out of the house, take them out of school and go and “do” things.  It is one of the BEST ways to really learn (that and reading, reading, reading)  As Mark Twain said – “Don’t let education get in the way of your learning”

9. Tea Time at Alice’s

Actually….having tea anywhere and anytime is one of my very favorite things!  Michelle has found the cutest little tea house in the Upper West Side that is based on Alice in Wonderland.  It is a darling place with fabulous tea and delicious pastries!  We began our Sunday morning at Alice’s Tea Cup enjoying scones – pumpkin, strawberry lemon and savory ham along with tea selections of cinnamon apple and birthday tea (which was AMAZING!) Even now as I type this I find my self relaxing and warmly remembering this cozy tea shop.  

Nothing better than a cup of tea….except for a cup of coffee of course! 🙂

 8. The Magic of Musicals

I have always been a big fan of musicals!  As a “drama” girl in high school my all time favorite play that I performed in was the musical Godspell.  I also watched every musical that came out in the movie theater or on television and took advantage of many stage performances.  I love the music, the fanfare, the energy, the dancing and the magic of it all. Wouldn’t it be great if in “real life” people just burst out into song at every opportunity? Well, in my world it would be awesome! 🙂

We had the opportunity to see not one but two musicals!  First Rebekah and I were treated to the Broadway performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” as part of The King’s College Inviso weekend for students looking at the college.  It was awesome! 

Then we were all able to see “Wicked” through the generosity of a friend who “comped” us two tickets and then we were blessed to win the Broadway lottery for the other two tickets (front row seats!) So all four of us enjoyed an amazing matinée performance of Wicked.  I knew the music well as the soundtrack is one of my girls favorites to listen to while cleaning but I had never attended a performance.  It was spectacular and had a great message!  I enjoyed every minute.

Oh and speaking of musicals….I found myself often breaking out in song as we walked through Central Park (“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted), down the streets of New York (“N.Y.C.”  from Annie) or in Times Square (“Give My Regards to Broadway”)…cuz that’s how I roll!

7. Churches, Cathedrals & Sanctuaries

I am enraptured by large beautiful places of worship that are built of brick, slate or stone and have ornate designs, massive columns, long aisles, traditional pews, stained glass windows and cavernous acoustics. I also love simple yet traditional colonial style houses of worship with the beauty of altars, pulpits and windows looking out to God’s creation. I want to see, feel and be enveloped by the majesty, wonder and awesomeness of my Lord. I want both the sacred and serene as well as the stirring of the spirit I feel in these places of worship. Don’t get me wrong, I can worship anywhere….from the more modern multi purpose type church sanctuary that I have attended for 28 years, to under the overpass while ministering to the homeless, walking alone along the seashore or even in the shower but there is something in my soul that longs for a breathtaking cathedral, an ivy covered brick church with stained glass or a simple sanctuary with pews looking up to an altar while the sun streams through the colonial windows to meet with God.  I had a vast array of these opportunities while in New York and Boston. It renewed and refreshed my spirit.

         

6. Hungarian Coffee….who knew?

One of the best things about our trip to New York was having a real “New Yorker” with us!  While not being a born & bred New York gal, after three years of living in New York I think Michelle made an excellent tour guide.  One of the places she took us that we would have never experienced without her expertise was a little Hungarian Pastry Shop. It was one of our last stops before heading to Boston and it was well worth it!

The Hungarian coffee was smooth, delicious with a hint of almond and a dollop of whip cream laced with spices.  It touched all your senses with its pleasing smell, its amazing taste and its appealing presentation.  Who knew I could be won over from Starbucks so easily?  Can someone please open a Hungarian pastry shop in Stockton?

Oh and the baklava and cream puff we devoured….oh my!

 

To be continued in Trip Top Ten (part 2)…..

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Filed under Life at the Lambdins, My "take"

What will our children say?

I have so much to tell you about my recent 10 day trip to New York and Boston.  Hopefully I will have the chance to share some tidbits here and there over the upcoming weeks before it all fades into a distant memory without the life lessons I gleaned from this trip being etched deeper into my being through the process of writing about them.

Real quick though, before I share this first tidbit, I have to tell you about some of the Lord’s gracious provisions for us while we were traveling “by faith”. (For an explanation of what I mean to travel by faith and if you missed my post the day we left, you can read it here –> “How do you do what you do?”)

  1. A dear friend provided a gift to my girls of a Broadway show! What an amazing blessing to not only have provision for our needs but even some of our “wants”!
  2. While we were picking up one of my daughters, who arrived on day three of our trip, a lady at the airport tapped us on the shoulder and asked if we wanted her seven-day metro pass with four days left on it. We enthusiastically said “yes! we would love it!”.  A providential gift from God as we had exactly four more days in New York and were able to save the money we would have spent on the Subway.
  3. My name was picked from the lottery for tickets to see “Wicked”.  Me, who rarely ever gets picked from any random drawing was the third name drawn of just over a dozen people to receive front row tickets to the show.  We all squealed with delight at this blessing! God is so very good!
  4. As we were walking to church on Sunday night we spotted a resteraunt that I had received a gift card for two years ago to an establishment in our city that closed it’s doors just weeks after I had been given that card.  I had been carrying it around in my wallet ever since hoping to be able to “someday” use it!  Voila…the perfect timing arrived in New York as we were looking for the Lord to provide every step of the way…we got a free dinner out on the town!  Don’t you just love the way God works?

Ok so back to one of the thought provoking life lessons I gleaned on this adventure.  As we walked into the cemetery next to Park Church in Boston the first thing that caught our eye was a large monument in the center of the cemetery that read FRANKLIN.

Of course I immediately thought…”that must be Benjamin Franklin’s grave” (my apologies to you history buffs who of course know that he was buried in Philadelphia).  Upon closer inspection I saw that it was actually the grave of Ben Franklin’s parents – Josiah and Abiah Franklin – and that the monument had been erected  and inscription written by their youngest son, Ben Franklin.  As I got up close to the monument and read the words that Ben Franklin had written about his parents I was both touched and inspired by them. 

Josiah Franklin,
and
Abiah his wife,
lie here interred.
They lived lovingly together in wedlock
Fifty-five years.
Without an estate, or any gainful employment,
By constant labor and industry,
with God’s blessing,
They maintained a large family
comfortably,
and brought up thirteen children
and seven grandchildren
reputably.
From this instance, reader,
Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
And distrust not Providence.
He was a pious and prudent man;
She, a discreet and virtuous woman.
their youngest son,
In filial regard to their memory,
places this stone.
J.F. born 1655, died 1744, 89
A.F. born 1667, died 1752, 85

I read those words over and over again thinking about the things that Ben Franklin valued in his parents

  • That they had a loving and life long marriage
  • That they were not “privileged” (ie – no estate or profitable employment), they were simple hard workers
  • They knew that as they worked hard they could trust in God’s blessing to provide for their large family. (Ben Franklin was the youngest of 13 children)
  • They were committed to the bringing up and training of both their children and grandchildren to be highly esteemed and respected by others
  • Mr Franklin was a man of devotion to God (pious)and was wise and judicious (prudent).  Mrs Franklin had discernment in her action and speech (discreet) and was morally excellent and righteous (virtuous)

I was so impressed and struck by this 88 word description of his parents and the vast array of accolades that he gave them to be remembered by, not only he and his relatives but by those of us hundreds of years later who get to read that inscription. And to top it off he had the foresight to talk to all of us reading it today by saying:

From this instance, reader,
Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
And distrust not Providence.

He was inspiring and challenging each of us to be diligent in our calling – whether that is our calling to be faithful in our marriages, hard workers in our jobs, purposeful in our parenting, dedicated to our character or devoted to our faith. He also reminds us to trust the providential hand of God in our lives.

It got me thinking about what our children would say about my husband and my life after we are gone?  Would they admire our marriage?  Do they see us as hard workers who also trust God to bring the blessings?  Would they know from first hand experience that we were purposeful in raising our children and our grandchildren?  And what character qualities would they admire most in us? 

I am sure that we would all love to know that we are leaving a legacy like Mr & Mrs Franklin have accomplished.  And Ben Franklin has certainly inspired me through this monument inscription to be diligent in my calling as a wife, a mother, a “worker” and a Christian.  And while I know I have a long way to go to merit such an inscription and I hope that I will live long enough to gain some ground, I was blessed to receive a little glimpse of my legacy this last week in the form of a text message from my daughter after I spoke a message to her college peers:

“Mom, I didn’t have a chance to say it because everyone else was telling you…today was awesome! Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. I am so honored to have you as my mom, mentor and supporter.  I love you.”

Between that text and Ben Franklin’s inscription I am encouraged, inspired and have renewed my commitment to be diligent to my calling and to trust in God’s providence! Will you join me?

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Filed under Faith, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Making a Difference, Marriage, Parenting

How do you do what you do?

 Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today….

I want to be a part of it…New York New York!

The last time I was in New York in November of 2008 to celebrate Amy's 16th birthday

Yes, I am flying out today to New York City! If I couldn’t live my dream life by the sea…this is where I would live.  I am more of a “big city” kinda gal than a suburban or country one any day.  I love all the action, the culture, the lights, the buildings and the history. The rhythm of the city matches the rhythm of my life – lots of people, lots of activity and lots of late nights (the city that never sleeps!) 

I am heading out today along with my 16-year-old daughter Rebekah for a trip that will be a combination of:

  • celebrating two of my daughter’s 16th birthdays…with one being very long “overdue” (my 17-year-old Kristen will join us on Saturday morning after her high school senior year homecoming festivities…her original 16th birthday trip was canceled when I lost my job in 2010.)
  • seeing my daughter Michelle who is a senior at The King’s College in NYC (in the Empire State Building! How fun is that?)
  • a college visitation trip for my two high school girls – attending preview days at The King’s College & Gordon College in Boston
  • speaking to the college women at King’s on the complexities of relationships

I am looking forward to a fabulous, fun and memorable 10 days with three of my girls! Life is good!

Recently, as I was preparing for this upcoming adventure someone inquired – “How do you do what you do?”  

Let’s see…hmmmm….I looked at when the colleges were having their preview days for high school seniors, I put it on the calendar and then I made the airline reservations.  “No, no” they responded…”I mean how do you afford it?  I know you guys are in financial straits and yet here you are going to New York?  How do you do it?”

Oh that! Well first of all let me remind you of all the things we DON’T do that are “staples” for most families.  Some of these are for financial reasons but some are for philosophical reasons. We don’t:

  • pay for cable TV
  • buy any clothes for our kiddos (yup everything they wear is hand-me-downs and birthday/christmas gifts with the exception of under garments)
  • ever go to Disneyland or other typical family resort vacations (really, it is true!  we have never taken our family to Disneyland)
  • get manicures, pedicures or massages (and I try to push out my hair appointments to 9 months apart)
  • purchase birthday or Christmas gifts for extended family except on a rare occasion (in fact we don’t purchase Christmas gifts for our kids either just stocking stuffers)
  • go out to eat as a family (and 90% of our date nights out to dinner are with gift cards received…one of the benefits of having families at JECHS who love Mr Lambdin)
  • pay for our kids “extras” or give them an allowance (they take care of birthday gifts for their friends, any special clothes they want, movies, school events, sports registrations, camps…pretty much everything they “want” they pay for)
  • buy our kids a car of any kind (not even a beat up used one)
  • we don’t even purchase their plane tickets back & forth from college (which I will admit makes me cringe a bit as this is something I wish we could do)

So of course that still doesn’t really answer the question – How do you, on a very limited income, afford a trip to New York with your daughters?  Well, let me share with you how we do it. The key is to be creative, flexible and to ask the Lord for both wisdom and provision. Here they are:

Be willing to sleep anywhere – on bunk beds, couches or even air mattresses. We will be staying with Michelle and her roommate in her college housing. (a huge savings if you have ever priced out hotels in the city) If I did not have Michelle as an option (as well as a few other connections that I have in New York whom I could have asked to house us) I would have looked for the inexpensive youth hostel option.  I know many of my friends would “freak” at the thought of staying in a place that is a little run down, not in the best part of town and with a shared communal bathroom but I am telling you it can be done and even enjoyed if that is what it takes to make the trip happen.  Don’t get me wrong I love staying at Hiltons, Westins and Hyatts – and I have at many times during the “glory years” of my Creative Memories success – but I can just as easily stay in a two-bit motel if it means I get to go on the adventure!

Be open to the generosity of others – we are staying with a family in Boston who we do not know (they are the parents of one of my daughters college friends) who have generously offered us a place to stay for three nights. We have also been blessed with others who have generously given extra money to the girls (by paying them above and beyond for recent jobs they have had) so that they can enjoy their trip. We are also grateful for a handful of friends who know our needs as a family and always seem to generously bless us just at the perfect time.  Yes, it is humbling to be the receiver of the “It is more blessed to give than to receive” equation…and yet perhaps the Lord knows that pride is my besetting sin and is looking for ways for me to practice humility?? Gulp!

Be ok with public transportation – buses and subways are very affordable and though it may take longer to get somewhere it is worth it and for us it is the only option.  We got bus tickets from New York to Boston for $6 each! (yes you read that correctly – $6 – that’s the price of a Venti pumpkin spice latte with some change) And of course there will be no taxi’s for us in New York, just the subway and our trusty feet.

Ask the Lord for wisdom to find great deals!  Knowing that I had still not taken Kristen on her 16th birthday trip and that Rebekah was just a few months shy of turning 16 herself I began to ask the Lord to make a way for this special trip to happen for them.  I asked them if they would mind taking the trip together with me (and thus saving money with only one trip instead of two) and they enthusiastically agreed! (I love the unselfishness of my girls!)  Then I began praying that the Lord would find me the greatest deal!  Lo & behold my sister-in-law sent me info on the great anniversary sale that Southwest was having this summer for flights between August 15th and November 15th. (I did not even realize Southwest flew to New York…did you?)  I quickly got online to find out when the college preview days were happening…since one of my daughters is interested in these East Coast colleges it would also be the perfect opportunity for her to visit without adding more expense at a later date.  Then I logged onto Southwest airline and scored the deal of a lifetime!  I got three round trip tickets to NYC for less than the cost of two! Yes…always ask God to bring you a “steal of a deal”!

Eating isn’t the most important thing! While my husband will not agree with me on this point (and thankfully he is not traveling with us during this particular season of life)…you really can save a lot of money by not spending a lot on eating out.  Because we are staying in Michelle’s apartment we will be able to use her kitchen which will save a bundle, add to that two college preview events where we will be fed by the college (my brother-in-laws favorite way to get “free food” is going on college tours!) and we will be able to keep our eating expenses down to about the same as if we had stayed home. Can’t argue with that!  And for those of you who want to lose weight, traveling without extra money to spend on food is a great diet plan!  I am living proof as my life as of late has included several trips where I have not been able to spend money on meals out at restaraunts…resulting in much weight loss! Gotta think of a catchy name for this diet…maybe I could market it! Hmmmm…”Winning at Weight Loss Without Spending a Dime” 🙂

Count on the Lord’s Provision! The Lord provides in a multitude of ways.  For this trip He provided for our plane tickets through a speaking engagement where I had been blessed to be given an honorarium. He often uses our regular paychecks, or extra overtime hours at work or a surprise job opportunity to provide for us.  Sometimes He uses other people who are led to be a blessing. Other times He provides through an unexpected rebate, lowered bill payment or free opportunity. I have learned that no matter who signs the check or where the money comes from it is the Lord who is the provider and He is trustworthy. And so off we go to New York and Boston with a bit of money in our pockets, joy in our hearts and faith and trust that the Lord is going with us and will meet every need along the way (and maybe, just maybe even a few of the girls “wants”)

How do I do what I do?  That’s it my friend…and you can too!

 

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Determination, Economics, Faith, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges

Dan…the man!

I am sitting at Peets Coffee in Roseville with time to kill while my husband, Dan is enjoying a 90 minute massage next door!  Yesterday I picked up him from work and whisked him away for a special birthday celebration. I simply told him to pack an overnight bag with a “date night” outfit and casual clothes because he is going to get a day off for his birthday!

We do not really celebrate birthdays for Mom & Dad in our family.  Of course we usually have a special birthday dinner at home and top it of with cake and ice cream but other than the BIG birthdays (like 40 & 50, so far) where we have had parties with friends and family…Dan and my birthdays come and go with very little fanfare.  Which is really a-ok.  But for some reason this year I felt compelled to do something special for my best friend, partner in everything and love of my life…Dan!

And not just because he is those things to me, but because he is truly an amazing, selfless, godly man who continually gives and gives and gives to those around him without expecting anything in return.  So I decided to give him a day completely “off”….away from it all.  He is very unlike me who is always for looking for ways of getting away…whether it is lunch or coffee dates with dear friends, Mothers Fellowship Nights with our homeschool Moms, weekends way scrapbooking, day trips to fun places and we won’t even mention the beach holiday I take that keeps getting longer & longer each year!  No, he rarely thinks about himself and is always working, teaching, counseling, advising, coaching, parenting and the list goes on & on & on.  And he does it all with a smile on his face, joy in his heart, a kind word or bit of humor on his lips and he never…not ever complains.

As a Teacher & School Chaplain he composes and completes creative lesson plans; grades hundreds of papers & tests, records that same number into his computer; teaches five classes to students with different abilities, personalities, attitudes and interest levels trying his best to reach and inspire them all; researches new ideas and concepts by continually reading material, books, websites and watching videos; gives extra help during lunch, afterschool and even over his cell phone late at night; attends staff meeting & devotions, disciplinary council, accreditation and department meetings; encourages fellow staff members taking the time to listen to them and pray for them; serves as class advisor and Impact club advisor always getting fully involved in student activities; he attend athletic competitions, dramatic & musical performances and even outside of school events for students to show his support and love for them; he counsels, advises, loves, encourages, prays for & with his students as well as countless alumni; he sets up and tears down for chapel, plans services and secures chapel speakers from vast and varied backgrounds hoping to please everyone (ha!); he organizes & oversees the worship team; he facilitates school camp and spiritual emphasis week; he visits students who are sick, attends funerals and comforts hurting families; he communicates and meets with parents who are often disgruntled, distressed or unhappy (not too many set up a meetings or call, text or email to share what they are happy about); he stays after school events to stack chairs, vacuum and assist in clean up often waiting until the very last student gets a ride home; he coaches girls teams with the intensity of a man but the care & concern of a guy with 4 sisters and 7 daughters; he leaves the house each day at 6:30am…rarely arrives home before 5pm (and on game days it is 7, 8 or even 9pm)…and then spends most evenings on the couch grading, grading and doing more grading (in between daddy duties) finally heading to bed late at night (a tough task for a natural morning guy).  Yes, I think he needs a day off! (and thankfully he turned off his phone last night and didn’t get the 8am wake up call from the school needing to know where a cord for the chapel sound system was)

As a Daddy he gives baths, reads bedtime stories, fixes “owies”, does the girls hair (yes! he really does…even Christiana’s cute “do’s” are all his creations) and cuts the boys hair; he prays over and for the kids, teaches them the Bible, takes them to church every Sunday (and served in the nursery for 18 years!), leads in family communion and devotions, and is a role model of a man after God’s heart; he attends all their sporting events, coaches teams, gives pre and post game advice on how to play and compete, about injuries and exercise as well as cheering wildly from the side lines (and occasionally yells at the ref to the chagrin of the wife); he gives driving lessons, helps with school assignments and “lectures” appropriately at every turn; he loves them all completely and unconditionally and in a New York minute would give his life for each and everyone of his children!  He is also “like a Daddy” to countless young (and not so young anymore) people who he has more than willingly taken on the role of a father for. Yes, he deserves a day off! (and might I add that his five eldest daughters who have their own money generously gave so that their daddy could be blessed in this way!)

As a  House Handyman he mows the lawn (to perfection), plants, weeds, gardens, cleans inside the house, outside the house and the cars, kills bugs & rodents, repairs everything, unclogs toilets and sinks, changes lightbulbs, fills gas tanks, takes out the garbage, fixes the cars, goes up into the attic even when it is 120 degrees up there, packs the car like no one’s business for every trip anyone goes on; grills, cooks and even on occasion bakes and it always tastes amazing;  he does all the heavy lifting (good thing he’ll have Daniel when he gets older!) and takes care of everything classified as “gross”; he always has a “honey do” list staring at him and he simply smiles and chips away at knowing that it will never end.  Yes, he really should have a day off!

As a Friend to all he is always there for any needs that his friends have!  He counsels with, gives advice to, prays for and gives freely of his time, his talent and his treasure; he never says no to someone who asks for a favor; he drives people to airports, loans out his car, helps with moving in and moving out; assists with building projects, painting, roofing, yard work and more; he does pre-marital counseling (and post!), performs weddings and funerals, speaks at church ministries, teaches Sunday School, disciples, mentors, encourages, challenges and trains anyone who asks (and even some who don’t). He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother….faithful and true! Yes, I think he would love a day off!

As my ideal husband he is…well….there is no other way to say it…practically perfect in every way!  He opens the door for me, carries my things (and at times even my purse!), pulls out my chair when we sit down to eat out, makes me coffee in the morning, kisses me good morning, good bye, hello and goodnight; he cares for me when I am sick, pampering me and meeting my every need (if you only knew what that meant during each of my 7 awful pregnancies), he believes in me, cheers me on, encourages me, challenges me to be better, protects me, defends me and adores me; he serves me, leads me and he loves me just like Jesus Christ loves his bride, the church!  And let me tell you this is not all that easy to accomplish with a strong willed, intense, fussy, opinionated, stubborn, driven, “type A” wife like me!  Yes, I got a “sweet deal” on a husband and yes, he deserves a day off!

Well, my 90 minutes is over (I could say so much more about Dan…the man, but I am sure he won’t want to sit here and watch me write on his “day off”  although we all know he would do it with patience and a smile cuz that’s just the way he rolls!) Happy Birthday Dan…may you be blessed beyond measure today and throughout this new year of life that has been given to you!  May all of those who you have given your life to as a teacher, chaplain, coach, friend, counselor, minister and daddy pour out their love and bless you abundantly today and everyday of your life!

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Filed under Blessings, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Making a Difference

The last time…

Tonight was senior night…the last time I will ever watch my #3 daughter play on her high school volleyball team. <sigh>

There are lots of “lasts” during a senior year in high school –  everything from the last “first” day of school, the last homecoming, the last powder-puff game, the last winter formal …to the last chapel, the last final, the last lunch on campus with friends and the last day of school. And then in our tradition laden family there are many other lasts that we not only commemorate but remind the soon to be graduate to enjoy and relish as it may be – the last family trip to the pumpkin patch, the last Thanksgiving at home, the last Christmas tree hunt, the last beach holiday, the last Walk for Life, the last Valentines Dinner with Daddy, the last family Passover meal, Good Friday hot cross buns and Easter Sunrise Service and the list goes on.

The nice part of this high school finale’ is that you know when each of these “lasts” are happening.  They are nicely calendared, organized and recognized as the momentous events that they are.  Ahhhhhh if only we had such knowledge of the many precious “last” times we experience with our children:

  • The last time we kissed an owie and wiped tears off that soft cheek
  • The last time we rocked our baby to sleep
  • The last time they were small enough to pick up and hold in our arms
  • The last time we buckled them in the car seat
  • The last time we helped them brush their teeth
  • The last time we tied their shoe
  • The last time we had to catch them when they jumped off the monkey bars
  • The last time they crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night 
  • The last time we woke up in the morning to watch their deep rhythmic breathing and peaceful face as they slept

These “lasts” are not calendared or commemorated.  They seem to just happen during our everyday lives and often, even upon looking back, we cannot remember when we experienced one of these last precious moments of childhood.  They just slowly fade away with no fanfare, no picture-taking, no holding on and breathing in of the last time we get to experience some of the greatest joys of being a parent.

There is also another season of “last times” that seem to slip through our fingers. After the tragic heartbreaking loss of a loved one we can instantly look back and remember –

  • our last conversation
  • the last time we were together
  • the last time we told them we loved them
  • the last laughter we shared
  • the last hug, kiss or tender affection

And just like those precious moments of childhood that slip away without notice, we never knew that this would be “the last time”…….

During seasons like my daughters senior year of high school I am very purposeful to live “fully in the moment”, cherishing and enjoying each special event, activity and “last time” that we have together.  Maybe there is something to be learned from this. Maybe I should more purposefully cherish each and everyday with my little children who will all too soon be grown up and having their own “last” year of high school.  Maybe I should cherish each and every moment I have with my friends, family and loved ones, always taking the time to stop and tell them I love them, share a laughter or an embrace and live fully in the moment! Life truly is short and quickly passing by….Lord help me make the most of each moment.

This just might be the last time…..

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons

I am the 1%

You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard of all of the hullabaloo down on Wall Street with people protesting….oh wait….what are they protesting anyway?  It’s hard to say exactly but it appears, by all the personal signs I have read, to have something to do with being in the 99% and I guess this makes them mad because they want to be in the 1%? (you’ve lost something on me there folks…if we are all in the top 1% then ummmmm…there is no bottom 99% right??? We would all be the exactly the same…which I suppose is what true socialists want…but I digress)

 

Anyhoo….all these signs have got me thinking a lot about what percent I am in?  And darn it, being the driven, overachiever, competitive gal that I am…I want to be in the TOP 1%  Oh wait….but I am!

It’s true!  I am a part of the 1% in each of those categories.  As I began to look up statistics in different areas that I thought, just perhaps, I earned the right to be in the 1%, I wondered if I would be able to come up with more than just a couple.  I was pleasantly surprised (because I like to be #1) and at the same time a little disappointed as well, to find myself easily being in the top 1% in several areas.  Disappointed especially that more people do not adopt children, abandon TV or give away at least 10% of their income to those in need.  Wouldn’t our world be such a better place if even 10, 20 or 30% of our society did some of these things? Of course even if the world did not become a better place, we would become better people:

  • less concerned about the rich on Wall Street and more concerned about the King of Kings
  • less concerned about “getting our fair share” and more concerned about giving away some of our blessings
  • less concerned about our “things” here on this earth and more concerned with storing up treasures in heaven

What about you? What are you the 1% of?  Something to think about….

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Filed under Adoption, Attitude, Blessings, Economics, Life Lessons

What was, What is and What might have been…

Friday night high school football…there’s nothing quite like it!

Last night I attended an exciting game where two of my worlds collided. The high school where we joyfully invested over a decade of our early years of ministry was playing against the high school that Dan and I were given a vision for starting and have passionately served for the past 14 years!  It is in moments like these that are filled with memories, emotions and reflections on what was, what is and what might have been.

In 1986 as a single young woman, serving as a youth pastor and just months away from becoming “Mrs” Dan Lambdin, the high school that rented our church building was in need of a part-time girls PE teacher.  They had just completed their very first year and were getting an influx of students from another local high school that was merging with them.  I eagerly took the position as it would provide me another opportunity to minister to youth (my passion and calling), it was flexible and convenient to my current position as a youth pastor and it didn’t hurt that I could use the extra cash to pay for my upcoming wedding. Little did I know how much that one decision would dramatically change and shape my life.

It was during that year that I fell in love with the ministry of Christian education!  It was like having youth group everyday.  I could pour into the lives of young people, mentor and disciple them in such a greater and often more effective way than I was able to as a youth pastor, where I often only got to see the kids two times a week for a couple of hours at the most. (and a bonus: the students couldn’t just leave if they got mad at you for something you did or said or if they decided that they were “done” with being a believer….so you actually had the opportunity to walk them through the hard things instead of them disappearing, never to be seen again like what often happened in youth ministry) I soon realized that it was not only the students who I was able to minister to but their entire families as well.  I was excited about the unlimited opportunities to impact others for the Lord through this avenue of Christian education. 

After we were married, Dan decided to go back to school and get his Bachelor Degree in Bible & Theology.  Besides renting out a room in our tiny apartment to pay for his tuition, he became the school janitor to help pay for college.  Before long he was coaching, became the athletic director and was even teaching a class. He too became passionate about the ministry of Christian education and after graduating became a full-time Bible teacher at the school. 

For over a decade we faithfully served the school, giving wholeheartedly of our time, our talent and our treasure.  In fact the positions we held were vast and various (little did we know that God was preparing us to have the experience and tools to actually start a school years later!) Believe it or not we did all of the following jobs during our years at this school:

  • Teachers – Physical Education (we both taught this!), Bible, Typing (yup…those who can’t “do”…teach!), Government(no laughing Class of ’91), Leadership, Journalism & Yearbook
  • Support Staff – Janitor, Secretary, Bus Driver
  • Coaches – Volleyball, Softball, Soccer
  • Advisors – Student Council, Yearbook, School Newspaper, Christian Club, Class Advisors
  • Administration – Athletic Director, Vice Principal, Principal, Dean of Students, Director of Admissions, Director of Student Affairs, Guidance Counselor, Director of Development

Yes, we pretty much did everything. We basically lived at the school. Our children even had a small room off my classroom to play in while we spent many after school hours working. It was our heart, our soul and our passion! And the results were phenomenal!  We saw the school triple in size during that time and the programs, athletics, activities and academics flourished.  We had a very close and united staff who were our dearest friends.  We developed life long relationships with students and families that continue to be strong and steadfast today. (In fact we are now teaching & ministering to many of our former students children!) We saw God move in amazing, miraculous and life changing ways during that season that we affectionately refer to as “the glory years” at BCHS….some of the best times of our lives.

And then the unthinkable happened. On March 6, 1997 I was fired. Dan (along with many other long time staff members) subsequently submitted his resignation.

Without getting into all the murky details that led to that fateful day (suffice to say I had done nothing immoral, illegal or wrong that would be deserving of this termination), it was shocking, heart wrenching and simply unbelievable.  We felt as if everything we held dear was being ripped away from us. We felt betrayed, attacked and abandoned. We grieved deeply and questioned God’s will in it all. We also found ourselves in a desperate situation – instantly going from two incomes to none (with no opportunity for unemployment benefits) with four young children to care for and a home that was partially owned by our former employer, unsure of  God’s will and direction for our lives and dealing with heartache and depression.  It was truly a moment in time that left its indelible mark upon our hearts and lives.

However, this seemingly horrific – trial by fire – in our lives was used by the Lord to burn several principles into our hearts that will not only “stand the test of time” but reap amazing benefits to us, our children and our children’s children as we walk through this life.

God Alone is our Provider

I have written a lot about this paradigm over the years (you can read several posts here) so I am not going to say too much as this could be an entire book.  This one experience was the beginning of a true change in what we really believed about God and His provision. Of course, like most Christians, we said out of our mouths that we trusted the Lord to provide for our needs….but in reality we mostly trusted in our own abilities and actions as well as in others to provide a paycheck. When that was ripped out of our hands and we were left standing with nothing…..but God….we came to the harsh reality of how truly small our faith and trust really was (and I don’t say that proudly).  We worried about losing our home, feeding our kids and having to declare bankruptcy.  We fretted. We stressed.  We cried. We prayed.  And slowly the Lord began to use His Word (see Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:19, Philippians 4:6) to penetrate our unbelieving hearts and change the way we see things and the way we live. 

And we have remained changed!  We have had seasons of prosperity since that day and seasons of poverty and yet we know, that we know, that we know that God IS OUR PROVIDER!  He will meet every need.  He will not forsake us.  Even now as I am looking at the realities of an empty gas tank, an upcoming property tax bill and an unpaid gas & electric statement…I have simply not an ounce of anxiety in my heart or mind because I know who pays my bills and meets my needs.  If simply learning this lesson and having this type of peace was the only lesson we learned from that experience…it would have been well worth it all.

It’s not what happens to you in life…but how you respond that really counts!

I read a quote on facebook the other day that said“Everyone wants to be an overcomer but no one wants anything to overcome”  Ain’t that the truth?  We all admire people who face trials and adversity and come out victorious.  We hear stories about them and our eyes well up with tears. We watch movies about them and wildly cheer them on. We read books about their lives and are inspired to be the same.  And yet when we are faced with challenges, obstacles and trials we shake our fist and look up to heaven and shout (or whine depending on your personality)…”Why me?” Or we get mad, bitter and angry allowing our lives to be ruined by our challenging circumstances.  We admire and aspire to be the overcomer and yet when the very trial that comes our way giving us that opportunity we let it bury us.

It was very easy for us to get angry and to allow bitterness into our hearts.  After all we had been faithful and loyal.  We had served and sacrificed.  We had given up the better part of our youth and helped build a dynamic and successful school only to be cast aside, wronged and betrayed by those we loved and trusted.  Didn’t we have the right to be angry? And there were plenty of people ready to feed that anger.  It was a recipe for disaster. Thankfully we both had a pretty good handle on the scriptures that are very bold at pointing out that there is no place in God’s kingdom for bitterness and unforgiveness. And since we wanted a place in the kingdom both here on earth as well as for eternity we knew we better quickly get it right. 

During this season the Lord taught us that when bad things happen in your life (and they will….you can count on it!), He is not caught by surprise (nope God was not shocked when I was fired) and that He is wanting us to have a right response for His glory!  After spending some much needed time away a few weeks after my termination (I am so grateful for a godly husband who saw me spiraling downward and knew that I needed some alone time with God to “get it together”), the Lord showed me how I was to respond as an overcomer to the trials of life.

  • Give thanks!    Really God?  You want me to thank you for this?  No, Beth I want you to give thanks in this and for that matter in everything!  “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Simple yes…but very hard. He doesn’t tell me I have to “feel” thankful just “be” thankful.  So I began to thank the Lord in the midst of my circumstances.  (and guess what after just a few days of thanking Him…I felt better! hopeful! encouraged!)
  • Forgive fast and often   If you want to be forgiven then you have no option but to forgive. period. end of story.  It’s basic Christianity (you all know the prayer..forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us) Forgiveness is simply releasing someone else from your judgement. You don’t have to “feel” like forgiving them. It is an act of your will.  I release them from my judgement.  One of the things I found with forgiving though is that I can choose to forgive and then I find myself remembering & taking back my forgiveness (I am sooooo not like God)…so the Lord told me to keep forgiving over & over & over.  And you know what?  I have not one ounce of unforgiveness in my heart for those who hurt & betrayed me all those years ago.  Somewhere along the line of forgiving daily it stuck and I truly was able to walk freely in forgiveness!  Since that trial – forgive fast & forgive often has been my goal whenever the Lord gives me the opportunity to be wronged, hurt or betrayed (yup! It is an opportunity to be an overcomer and I seem to get them often)
  • Pray for those who mistreat you   If we all prayed for those who are a “thorn in our side” we would be amazed at the change in our hearts. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:44-45 “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28  Even as I type this I am being reminded of those I should be praying for right now. I hear you Lord! 🙂
  • Sow seeds of kindness & love into their lives  Ok so I forgive them, I am praying for them and now you want me to do something nice for them?  What???  “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them…Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable…“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:14, 17, 20-21  It was pretty clear to me that if I really wanted to overcome I needed to do acts of kindness to bless those who had hurt me.  I gulped hard and I began to brainstorm what I could do and then despite how hard it was I did them!  I am sure that those simple acts did something profound in my heart as well as opening up avenues for the Lord to bless my life.

It’s True…God really does work everything out for good! 

The scripture often quoted in Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” is not just a “nice” thought…it is truth.   When I think about the end of that era of my life, like I did last night at the football game, with a “what might have been” perspective I actually shudder at the thought of NOT being fired on that day in 1997!

Out of the ashes of that trial by fire came some of the most amazing perfect blessings of my life!

  • The creation of Jim Elliot Christian High School that stands out as a beacon of light for God’s glory.  A place where lives are being impacted for eternity.  A school that two of my daughters have graduated from and two currently attending who have benefited from the amazing staff who have taught, cared for and mentored them as well as given them lifelong Christ honoring friendships.  A place that has provided my husband with his “dream job”…teaching Bible all day and speaking into the lives of young people as the school chaplain.
  • Homeschooling my children!  I can not even begin to imagine how different my life would be if I had not begun to homeschool my children after my termination (my eldest at the time attended the school’s private Christian elementary as a result of the tuition benefit which of course we lost).  My relationship with my kids would be vastly different. My impact and influence on their lives would be vastly different. My children’s relationship with each other would be vastly different. I might even still be a “control freak” and not in recovery!  In short everything would be dramatically different and since I LOVE the way it has played out I shudder to think what we would have all missed out on.
  • Running a successful home business.  I never ever considered working from home. I never knew the freedom and joy of being my own boss.  One of the blessings of my life being turned upside down was running a successful profitable business from my home for over a decade. It was amazing! It was fun! It was fabulous! I did something I loved, got treated to unbelievable incentive trips all over the world with my husband, made friends who will forever be a part of my life and was able to perfect the gift of speaking, writing & motivating others as a result of my business.   I simply cannot imagine my life without this business.

And those are just the really “BIG” life altering things.  There are countless other blessings that our greatest trial has brought into our lives.  I can honestly now say that getting fired was one of the single best moments of my life!  Of course hind sight is 20/20…right?  Now I strive to actually stand on that promise in the midst of the trial knowing that God has a plan and that I will one day be able to look back and see the blessing that it has brought into my life!

If you are currently “walking through the fire” in life may these words encourage you today, build your faith as well as giving you practical and scriptural ways to overcome! One day you too will be on the other side looking at what was, what is and what might have been….and rejoicing in it all!

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Filed under Blessings, Endurance, Jim Elliot Christian High School, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Overcoming

So much to say….so little time to say it!

So many things I want to write about and yet life continues to be a whirlwind of activity.  So this is just a random crazy rambling that contains many of my “all over the place” things I want to share with each of you. So grab a pumpkin spice latte my friend and let’s share some time together.

Life is often just a matter of perspective

Have you ever noticed that when you are gaining unwanted weight…the number on the scale in the morning makes you crazy, mad or depressed! And yet when you are losing weight …that exact same number is a cause for rejoicing?

Thinking we should realize that through all life’s twists and turns (or ups and downs like the scale) we should keep it all in perspective…just down the road a piece what we see now as maddening or depressing could look pretty darn good!

“Danielism’s”

My four year old son gives me enough “material” to write about daily as well as saying the “darndest” & cutest things on a regular basis!

There was a major chemical plant fire in my #2 daughter, Amy’s college town of Waxahachie, Texas. Daniel while watching the live feed of the fire says: “I hope Amy doesn’t get fired!”  Then looking quite stressed out he continues with intensity…”I need to tell Daddy about this!” (I respond – “Daniel…Daddy is in Texas  with Amy!”) Daniel jumps off the bed and says “Oh good then Amy won’t get blown up”…and he runs off to play without giving it another thought.

Don’t you just love it that he thinks his Daddy can take care of it all just like any superhero?! (hmmmm…perhaps we should become like a kid with our heavenly Daddy and rest in the fact that He’s got it covered!)

Communication Breakdown

In this day and age where we have multiple amazing avenues of communication….why did I have to call my daughter in Texas to have her send a facebook message to my next door neighbor to ask her to knock on my back door and tell my family to please call me because I was stranded on the side of the highway in the pouring down rain an hour away from home?

Why? Because after calling the house phone (which apparently they could not find…curse those cordless phones that are not attached to the wall…some technology really has not helped us) and my husband’s cell phone (which he apparently left in the car…why even  have a cell phone if it is not with you?) multiple times (read here 20 times each phone) I finally got creative and figured out a way to personally deliver a message to my family when it really was an actual emergency!

Next time I am traveling with a carrier pigeon…

Movies – When it Rains it Pours

Typically before the monthly “date night” with my love….I do a “once over” on the movie review page and decide there is nothing playing worth wasting my valuable time or my limited resources.  But lately there as been an abundance of really GREAT movies! (and not enough date nights!)

The Help — ummmmmm loved this movie! Funny, Moving, Passionate, Angering, Endearing, Inspiring…. So many “take aways” that could be life changing for you.  While most of us who saw the movie shared our outrage over the treatment of those of a different race or ethnicity I wonder if we realize how many of us think of others who are not of a certain “class” (be it educational, social, financial, religious or even racial) as lower than we are.  Even if we are not overtly treating them as “second class” citizens…our thinking is probably coming out in some of our actions no matter how small.  What would happen if we got as disgusted with ourselves as we did with the racist characters in this movie and changed even our thinking about those who somehow we view as “below” us?  Something to think about….

Courageous  – If you are a Dad….if you have had a Dad….if you have ever wanted a Dad – that is right everyone of us needs to see this inspirational  action packed movie about failure, fear, faith and fathering.  Bring a pack of kleenex because you will cry! You will also be convicted!  And hopefully you will be challenged and changed. It is currently #6 in the box office after two weekends running…GO SEE IT!

Seven Days In Utopia  – first it is rated G….love that! Although it is about golf (not my favorite subject) this movie is more about forgiveness and mercy and grace.  Love it when I can go to a movie and leave with great life lessons learned and positive messages. (reminds me of The Ultimate Gift…another GREAT movie!)  It has been out over a month so if you don’t catch it at the theater be sure to look for it when it comes out on DVD.

 

Machine Gun Preacher – so I haven’t seen it yet and there are probably many things that will irritate & greatly offend me about this movie (mostly the excessive foul language)…I am pretty sure I will go see it!  Why?  Because I love the fact that it is exposing the atrocities of how children are being horrifically treated in Sudan and perhaps it will ignite some “righteous justice” in those of us who are content to sip our lattes in Starbucks while simply talking about the injustices in the world but never getting off our fannies to actually do anything about it.  My college age daughters have both already seen it because they live in our near BIG cities where it has already opened. Besides it’s a great couple movie as it has lots of guns & violence for the guys and the emotional tug of precious children being rescued for the gals. (PS – No I won’t let my children see this one)

 

Marital Bliss

Speaking of date nights…lately I have found myself sharing tidbits of advice to couples who are committed to their marriages but find themselves struggling with different challenges. (not too mention the fact that the all time number one blog post visited on my blog deals with overcoming marital problems…it must be something we all need help with)

One of the things we often do on our date nights when we are having fun, at peace and enjoying our relationship (in other words not in the middle of a disagreement or intense conversation) is to ask each other this – “What is one thing I can change or do better that would really be a blessing to you?”   The rules are –> it can only be ONE thing (we can all handle tackling one issue at a time), that I won’t argue about it and that I will make an honest attempt to change or do what is asked.

You need an example? Ok….so usually my sweet husband answers with…”hmmmm (then a pause to think), no I’m good Beth, I can’t think of anything. (HA!  I know all too well how hard I am to live with…he is just a wee bit easy going. And of course I always have something that he can do or change that would bless me)  But a few years ago he did come up with something.  He shared with me that it would really bless him if I would be on time for church. (according to his idea of “on time” – 10 minutes early…not my idea of “on time” – right at the starting time and up to 10 minutes late)  So even though I was comfortable in “my way” of doing things and I didn’t really see the big deal…I agreed to do this because it was a big deal to him.  And because I love him I am willing to change and I want to bless him!

That is just one small example of something that can really help you on your road to marital bliss! So next time you are out on a date night (you are going on date nights right?)…make this one sentence a part of your wonderful evening.

Oh where in the world is Virginia Elizabeth?

In case you missed the reference to “Oh where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” (and you would if you were not a kid or raising kids in the 90’s or early ‘oos) OR you have no idea who Virginia Elizabeth is…the comment is from an educational video game & television series exploring geography & history.  And since “Oh where in the world is Beth“….doesn’t have the same ring or pizzaz as Carmen Sandiego…I used my given name…Virginia Elizabeth (fancy huh?)  Did you know that my real name is Virginia and I actually go by a nickname of my middle name. Strange huh?  Even my own dear mother can not explain why they did this…and it has definitely been a challenge in a day and age where identity is so crucial. As a result I have named my children exactly what I have called them, without even nicknames.  It has also been humourous at times having several “real” names….but I digress. What I really wanted to tell you is that I have been traveling or going on out of town excursions A LOT in the last six weeks!

  • from the beach in Santa Cruz, CA with dear friends
  • to Waxahachie, Texas where my second daughter has begun her freshman year of college at SAGU
  • to Lorton, Virginia to spend time with and help my mother out while she has been experiencing some challenging health issues (bonus: my Micehelle took the bus down from NYC to see me and celebrate her 22nd birthday!)
  • to our annual Apple Hill fall family day trip…love this! (you can read about this tradition here)
  • and finally I just returned yesterday from my 16th Croptoberfest Retreat weekend in Toulomne, CA with close to 100 women who were happily relaxing, scrapbooking, eating & enjoying time away from it all with dear friends.
  • Oh wait….I also have driven to the Oakland airport & back six times in the past month as my family has been doing their fair share of traveling as well  (and last week the car I was driving lost its transmission on the way home and I got a lift back home from the tow truck driver…that was a first)

If you love pictures & want to see more of my last six weeks in full living color…click here! I am officially home for the next three weeks until I fly off again for a combo 16th birthday/college visitation/time with Michelle trip to NYC & Boston in November.

Inspire Ministries….am I speaking & writing?

Hmmmmm….a year ago I announced that the Lord was moving me in a direction of beginning a ministry that would involve using my gifts and talents in speaking & writing to inspire people to live a life of purpose, passion & praise.

Soooooooo….have I been doing that? 

Well the writing is sporadic with a constant nagging in my mind that I need to “get on it”.  And yet here I am not even consistently blogging, let alone actually working on a manuscript. Yes I am “busy” (HATE that word).  Yes, I have 8 children to care for. Yes, there are a dozen legitimate excuses.  And yet excuses are just that excuses for not doing what you say you want to do.  If we really want to do something, we will do it. Period. End of story.  Which means what I need to say is that it is just not my priority (not important enough to me at this time).  Admitting the truth is often the first step to change…we will see if I change.

Speaking…I have “officially” had 6 speaking engagements this past year. (and 2 additional invitations that I had to pass on due to conflicts)   They have ranged from women’s luncheons to retreats to conferences.  They have all gone well with the Lord using me to speak His words of life through sharing my life stories and insights.  I love it!  My goal was 6 this past year and 12 this coming year.  The problem with speaking (unlike writing) is that you have to be invited to do it.  So after a good first year start I am staring at an empty calendar except for a lone Moms Fellowship Group in January.  Now I do a lot of “one on one” speaking assignments and I simply love these too! (could these be called counseling or life coaching?  Funny, I find myself often saying the same things I say in a group setting with just a bit more personalization)

Perhaps you or someone you know is looking for a speaker for their event, conference, luncheon, meeting or retreat.  I would love to come!  And while I do not have a website up & running yet.  Let me share some of the many topics I feel confident to speak on (I am sure there are more…this is a quickly drawn up list):

  • Marriage Topics – Nurturing a healthy, happy & holy marriage, Becoming the best wife you can be, Preparing for a life long marriage, Overcoming challenges on the road to marital bliss, Love languages & personality teaching
  • Parenting Topics – Raising children of faith, Purposeful parenting, Family traditions, Bringing up good girls in an X-rated world, Mommy lessons from having 8 kids, Building your child’s confidence
  • Personal Growth Topics – Knowing who you really are to God, Trusting God, Help for the control freak, Living a balanced life, Letting the Lord be enough, Living a life of purity, Goals, dreams & visions, Discovering & using your gifts & talents, Married & wishing your were single OR Single & wishing you were married, Taming the tongue
  • Working at Home Mom Topics –  Running a successful home based business, Balancing Family & Business, Building a God honoring business

I have often tailored a message to a groups theme or purpose as well.  If you have an idea and I feel like I can meet your need, I am willing to do it! I appreciate your help in spreading the word for me, as well as your prayers or words of advise are always welcome!  I am trusting God to open the doors He wants me to walk through.

Ok, my latte is all gone…would love to hear what you have to say!

Until next time…..

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Filed under Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take"

911: Remembering & Recommitting

September 11, 2001…where were you?

911 002I was actually in the Washington DC area on a business trip on that fateful day in American history, along with my then seven-year old daughter, Kristen. (she is now 17 and a senior in high school!) We were getting ready to fly home on that very morning the planes were flown into the twin towers in New York City.

And ironically I am in Virginia again on this 10th anniversary of 911.  This time I am here by myself without my precious Kristen.  I am here to help my mother who has recently had some intense health issues that require her to need assistance.  When I first made my reservations to come to the East coast it did not dawn on me that I would once again be in the nation’s capitol on September 11.  I believe this anniversary is an appropriate time to remember, to reflect, to honor those whose lives were lost and who gave sacrificially and to renew our commitments to our faith, our family & friends and our country. How significant then that the Lord would orchestrate the circumstances of my life to be in the same place I was on that fateful life changing day.

Here is an excerpt from my photo album written shortly after September 11, 2001. (I am so thankful that I took the time to write this down back then, one of the many bonuses of being a scrapbooker & journaler!)  –

911 003From the moment I turned on the television at my mother’s home in Springfield, Virginia…everything began to become surreal. I sat frozen alone on the couch as I realized the atrocity and severity of what was happening. Terrorists hijacked  two airplanes and crashed them into the twin towers in New York City. As the events unfolded I watched with horror, along with millions of Americans who were glued to their television sets.  It was like we were watching a nightmare and wondering what might happen next and if we would ever feel safe again.

All I could think was that I wanted to be home with my family. I was 3,000 miles away and with all air traffic being suspended indefinitely, there was no certainty of when I could get home. I called Dan who was still unaware of what was happening on the East Coast (It was still very early in California). He prayed for me & told me how much he loved me. He also shared how relieved he was that I was at home at my Mom’s and not on an airplane at that moment. As I sat back down to watch the unfolding drama I learned that another plane had crashed just down the freeway from where I currently was staying — into the Pentagon. I was stunned! 911 005What was happening…and what would be next? It was at that point I looked down at my confirmed airline itinerary dated September 11. 2001 from Washington DC to California. The full impact hit me. My daughter and I could have easily been  passengers on one of those airplanes heading to California. I began to cry & praise the Lord that it was not my time to die and that I was not on an airplane right then being diverted to another city somewhere in the United States.  Instead, I was safe at my mother’s home with my sweet daughter. I had a lot to be thankful for that day. We finally did get home five days later. (but not without several delays and obstacles including getting stuck in Minneapolis for a night and being graciously taken in by a business associate, Leanne Anderson, who rescued us from having to sleep in the airport) When we finally touched down in San Francisco, I cried. I had never been happier than to simply be home with my precious family.

911 001In the aftermath of 911, it was inspiring to see patriotism come to life in America. Everywhere you looked people were wearing red, white & blue, flying flags, putting up signs & showing their love for their country & fellow citizens. Flags were everywhere – on every home, hanging from bridges, on cars, on buildings, on clothing…it was overwhelming & emotional. I found myself with eyes filled with tears and getting choked up several times a day as I witnessed the love of others and the patriotism that had been sorely missing in the daily life of most Americans. People also began to give of their time, talent & treasure in abundance. On every street corner money was being collected & people gave freely. Many volunteered their time and stood in line for hours to give blood. It was an incredible moment in history to witness this outpouring of love & generosity.

911 004This tragedy of 911 also turned many hearts back to the Lord and to faith. Everyone was in desperate search of answers and in great need of peace, hope & security. People were coming together in droves to pray and seek God. Our common faith in God became evident to all. The cross rose up out of the ashes of the towers and became a symbol of hope for those at Ground Zero in New York. We all knew that we desperately needed God. No one was offended by people praying or evoking the name of Jesus. There was a National Memorial Service broadcast worldwide where Billy Graham boldly proclaimed the gospel.

September 11, 2001 was truly a day that changed everything. 

911Were you changed by the events of September 11?

Did you stop everything & order your priorities aright?

Did you have a renewed sense of patriotism & love for the USA?

Did you weep with those who lost loved ones and hold your precious family closer?

Did you give blood, donate your time or money in the aftermath?

Did it draw you to the Lord?

Perhaps on this anniversary of 911 it would do us all some good to recommit to these same things today.  In this ever-changing and turbulent times we are living…none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  I Peter 5:8

It is so easy in the years following a disaster or life changing event to lose your resolve, be lulled into apathy or even forget the things that you thought would stay with you forever.  Take the time today to remember and recommit yourself to loving God, loving others, loving life and loving our country with the intensity we did after 911.

I will be re-committing my life to these values as I attend a memorial service in Washington DC on Sunday. I want to live my life as if each day could be my last –

  • ready to meet my Lord by humbly living a life pleasing to Him
  • loving my dear family & friends and spending time enjoying each other
  • reaching out with kindness and compassion to strangers, those in need and even those that I find challenging
  • not stressing about the small inconsequential things that try to irritate or distract me from the truly important things in life
  • joyfully serving my church, my community, my country and my world using my God-given gifts & talents to benefit others

What do you remember about the way your life changed after September 11? What values will you recommit to on this anniversary of that horrific day? Don’t let this moment pass you by without some reflection on the past and commitments for your future…in just a blink of an eye we will be another decade away from this fateful day…let’s be changed for the better!

God Bless America!

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Filed under Blessings, Endurance, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, My "take", Priorities

Don’t you know what causes that?

“Don’t you know what causes that?”

It started with my third pregnancy…as we began to share with those around us the news of the anticipated birth of our baby…the smirking and joking from a few friends who assumed that we could not have possibly planned to have a…<gulp>….third child!  I suppose several gave us a “pass” on their comments since we had already birthed two girls and they assumed we were “trying for a boy”.  But when the fourth pregnancy was revealed less than a year later friends, family and even strangers jumped on the band wagon to ask us silly and/or personal questions or make shocking and/or rude statements:

  • Were you trying?  (nope, we were doing and succeeding mind you!)
  • How many more are you going to have? (you’ll have to ask God)
  • Was this an accident?  (Really? Like getting pregnant is being in a car wreck or breaking your leg)
  • Are you going to get fixed after this one? (hmmm…didn’t know I was broken)
  • I am glad it’s you and not me! (I am sure the baby is too and my husband is definitely glad it’s not you)
  • How are you ever gonna pay for college? (I don’t know…how are you?)
  • You’re crazy! (if that was said to my face I can’t imagine what was said behind my back)
  • You’re having another one?  (yes, at least one this time)
  • When are you going to stop? (stop?….stop what?)

And my personal favorite from all the people who think they are “oh so funny”…

  • Don’t you know what causes that? (I have so many great answers in my head for this one that would make most people turn beat red or greatly embarrass my teenage girls…but I was raised to be a dignified lady so I try oh so hard to keep my mouth shut)

Assuming that the readers of this blog have all taken a junior high sex ed class, have been through a “secret weekend” (as they are called in our family) or have had “the talk” with their parents where they learned all about “the facts of life” (otherwise known as human anatomy, sexual relations and how life is conceived)…I do not think that you need a biological play by play on what caused us to conceive seven children during our almost 25 years of marriage.  But perhaps you are curious about what might cause a couple to have such a large family in a society that teaches and embraces a two child…or three at the most…standard philosophy? (and laughs at, sneers or condemns anyone who dares to do otherwise)

What caused us to have so many children?  Well let me tell you it all began 25 years ago this very month and if you are interested or curious, I have finally decided to write out and publish our story. (WARNING: If you have a tendency to feel “judged” simply by the lifestyle and choices others make that are different than yours, you might want to just stop reading now and save yourself the grief.  DISCLAIMER: I am in no way judging anyone for their choices regarding children, reproduction or family size nor am I telling anyone else how they should decide these things.  I am simply sharing our God inspired story for those who are curious, interested or questioning. It may challenge your theology or thinking and… it may not)

I was 24 years old and just a few months away from getting married when the Lord began to work in my heart concerning my ideas about birth control, family planning and being truly open to every life that He wanted to
give to me.

I was a very committed & passionate young woman who was serving as the youth pastor to hundreds of “on fire” teenagers. I had what were called “radical” views on dating and relationships as well as very intensive discipleship programs for our youth.  I considered myself extremely pro-life and wanted to do everything within my power to stop the atrocity of abortion in our country.  In many ways I was  quite different than the average church going evangelical yet I found myself among the norm when it came to buying into the “planned parenthood” mentality of our day.

I was engaged to be married to an awesome godly young man and we both agreed that the plan would be for me to begin taking the birth control pill and then we would wait several years, go off the pill and have perhaps two children, a boy & a girl, and then be done. Perfect, right?

As part of our marriage preparation we attended an Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat where we were encouraged to take an opportunity to dialogue honestly and intensively about our prospective lives together– our strengths and weaknesses, desires, ambitions, goals, our attitudes about money, sex, children, family, our role in the church and society–in a very comprehensive way. (I highly recommend this type of purposeful marriage preparation and am always shocked when couples have not taken the time to explore these areas and come to an agreement prior to saying “I do”!)   After each topic was introduced, we were given a list of questions to answer privately in a journal and then come together to share our answers with one another. (a great way to have honest communication)

About half way through the weekend the session on family planning, birth control and children was introduced.  As Dan and I each found a private place to write in our journals I began to feel a strong stirring in my heart. I was challenged in my spirit to completely rethink my beliefs in this area.  As I sat on some rocks in the foothills of Copperopolis and tried to write down my well thought out answers (you see I knew exactly what I wanted in this area of life and marriage), the Lord literally threw out questions one after another in my mind, fast and furious –

  • Have you ever considered asking Me what the plan for your family should be? (hadn’t really thought about that, Lord)
  • How about inquiring of Me how many children I want to give you? (Well, I just thought we would just decide what we wanted and you would be fine with it)
  •  Is it birth control or God control that you desire? (ouch…this one stung!)
  • Who is in control of your life anyway? (ummmmm….You are God?? I love you & want your will for my life)
  • Do you believe that children are a blessing from Me?  (of course….I think so)
  • Why do you want to limit my blessings? (well…..I don’t know?)
  • Do you believe that I know you and will give you the very best for your life?  (Yes!)
  • Do you trust me? (I thought I did)

I felt like I was in some type of wrestling match with the Lord as He tried to get me to release control of my life and give my plans over to become His plans. (Thy will be done)  But when I was finally ready to stop arguing with Him and listen He gently reminded me to just relax and trust Him…for He truly had an abundant life for me to live. Better than I could ever ask or think! After that hour with the Lord, and a subsequent long conversation with my soon to be husband (when we got together later to share our journals…and I had written not a thing down), together we gave our plans for family to the Lord and ditched the “planned parenthood” philosophy.

We did not decide to have a “boatload” (or 15 passenger van load) of children.

We did not decide to have one, two or three children for that matter either.

We did not decide to be married for three years and then start our family and we did not decide to get pregnant right away.

We simply decided to give God control of our family dynamics and to ask Him to lead and guide us every step of the way. (not really a complicated decision to merely ask the Lord what He wants and yet so few do ask Him when it comes to this area of life)

A month later I learned quite by happenstance that the birth control pill was an abortifacient. (well documented and researched so no need to argue with me on this point…even if your doctor told you it wasn’t they were using some type of semantics and faulty reasoning…all you have to do is read the insert that is in the pill container) I was appalled that no believer had shared this with me and I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord that I had never “accidentally” aborted a baby by making my womb hostile to implantation of a conceived child.  With my heart & passion for the unborn that would have been difficult for me to live with. During that time I had gotten even more confident in my conviction that we should simply put the control of our family in God’s hands.  After all He was the creator of life (albeit He lets us be a part of that as co-creators) and since His view on children as being a gift from Him and a blessing, we could certainly trust Him. I also realized that the Lord might not bless us with any children by birth and I committed that into His care as well. (something that in this current world of rampant infertility issues one would be best to realize early on — the truth that no one is guaranteed to give birth to a child) We had also already experienced the miracle of adoption through our newly adopted niece who joined our family the same week we got engaged…we knew that adopting a child was not “second best” to having a bio child and we considered that adoption would someday be a part of the plan for our family as well.

On our wedding day we publicly affirmed & committed to raising children to glorify God (to the actual laughter of many of our Christian friends…you can hear it on the video) and throughout our 24+ years of marriage we have continued to trust God in this area.  We have prayed at times asking for the Lord to give us a “breather” (after we had four children in six years and extremely difficult pregnancies) and we along with our daughters have pleaded with the Lord for over three years to bless us with yet another sweet baby to love (#7) and we spent countless hours and persisted through many roadblocks and closed doors as we asked God to let us adopt.  Children came at what others considered “bad times” (one during my husband’s last year in Bible school, several back to back, another when we had taken on a challenge of starting a Christian school, and of course the health risks for myself and baby that many gravely warned us about when I had two babies post 40 years old) but as always in hindsight we see that Gods timing was perfect with each and every child. Through it all we chose God control and ultimately said… “Thy will be done”.

The results….we have been blessed with seven awesome children by birth (six girls – 21, 18, 17, 15, 12, 8 and a boy 4 years old) and so far one girl (age 2) through the miracle of adoption. They have brought more love, joy & peace into our lives than we could have ever imagined. (as well producing other fruit of the spirit – patience & self control – we didn’t start off with these qualities but you better believe we have given ample opportunity to grow!) It would take another long blog entry to tell you about all the blessings and benefits that we have been given through each of our children as well as by having a plus size family. Things we could have never imagined those 25 years ago and yet God knew.  And we are ready, willing & wanting to take any more that the Lord sends our way through birth or adoption. (to the utter shock, amazement & sometimes dismay of most of the people around us.)

So……do I know what causes this?

Yes I do, thank you!

What causes a young soon to be married couple to decide to chuck the current popular world view on birth control, pregnancy, child spacing, family size and children out the window?

It was caused by:

  • the joining together of two hearts that wanted nothing more than to listen to the Lord and follow His plan for their lives.
  • a desire to give Him complete control over their lives and their destinies
  • a hope to come together in marriage to glorify God and be an example of Christ and His unconditional love for His church
  • a belief that all life is a gift to be cherished and that babies are a blessing from God
  • gaining an understanding of how much God loves the orphans, the fatherless and children without forever families that His heart beats for adoption
  • trusting God and saying…Not our will but….Thy will be done!

How about you….Do you know what causes that in your life?

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Filed under Adoption, Attitude, Blessings, Faith, Fatherhood, Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, My "take", Pro-life

Words of Wisdom for the College Bound

Along the path of life we have “adopted” many young people into our family and home.  Some have had need of just an extra set of godly loving parents and some have suffered the absence of a parent or even both through the travesty of divorce, death or sometimes sad indifference and have needed everything from love, wisdom, help, encouragement and mentoring to often even meals, lodging and a place to call home.

One of these very special and dear to our heart daughters is Tiffana.  She came into our lives over 8 years ago when she was literally saved off the streets of Chico and ended up as a senior at our high school. (and that there is an amazing story that perhaps someday I will have her share with you all).  We loved her from the moment we met her and over the years we have had the joy of teaching, mentoring  and watching her grow into a beautiful young woman with a heart after God.  She is truly one of our family members. Dan and I love her as if she is one of our own. My children love her as a big sister and a friend. We are truly blessed to have her in our lives.

My second daughter, Amy is  leaving for college this week in Waxahachie Texas and for her college send off party Tiffana wrote out the following words of wisdom that I asked her if I could post on this blog as I thought they were so perfect, not only for Amy, but for any student about to leave home for college.  Tiffana speaks from experience as she has been at both a secular university as well as a Christian one, had a stint in the world of junior colleges and has lived both on campus in the dorms and off campus with friends.  She is currently in the last season of her collegiate life and gives great warnings and great advice to those about to begin this journey.

My sweetest Amy!

You are about to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of your life. A journey filled with new ideas, experimenting, application and simple fun. A journey filled with challenges and exciting new territories: a season of being on your own and far away from mom and dad. I call this phase of life the experimental, preparation phase of your life. I was thinking about college, and I was thinking about the many years and many universities that I have attended, and all the things I wish I knew going into it. I was thinking about all the wrong choices that face us on a daily basis. Even beyond sex, drugs and rock and roll, I was thinking about relationships and friendships in college, and all the things that will bombard you on a daily basis. You have such an established foundation (please thank your parents for this on a daily basis), and I love your heart after God and your desire to please Him. And I know, in general terms, that we both know how incredibly wrong all these negative choices are, and the poor decisions that you could make are not one’s that you want to do, but for most people, including Christians, overt opportunities to do these things challenge the simple desire of wanting to do good. Sometimes, the battle in our minds and heart to choose the right thing hit the back burner when the stresses of life are right in front of your face and the choice to do wrong seems so much more attractive and easier. When things get difficult and you don’t feel like you have the support of your parents and sisters, things can feel unbearable, and we are often not disciplined enough in our minds to make the right decision. If we don’t decide in our heart going into this season to make the correct decision, before you know it, we make decisions that both break the heart of God and the heart of the people we love the most. So why am I saying all this? Because everyday you will have a hundred of possibilities to make the wrong decision, to engage in things and to act in ways that in the end will hurt you, and I wanted to encourage you and give you all the more reasons why you should continue to make the right decisions.

1.Learn to love God with all of your heart! Everything you do and don’t do will flow out of your identity, and your identity will flow out of who you know God to be. As much as you can find time, meditate on his word daily. I’ve heard it said like this, “We each have two dogs in us; a bad dog and a good dog. In any given battle, the dog that wins is the one you feed.”

2. Learn to love others unconditionally! Love is not selfish and should be freely given unconditionally. Keep loving people in the right way. The reality is that this will draw people much closer to you and make you quite attractive, but remember, when you see the line getting crossed, love them enough to clarify the line. NEVER forget who you are in Christ, and remember who they are as children of the Most High God. Remember that if they (including guys for this matter) want to cross that line, that to unconditionally love them is to respect their domain: it’s theirs, not yours and even if they willingly want to give it up, remind them that there is something much better.

3. Don’t forget about your soul: Value it! Remember to value who you are and to love who you are. Remind yourself daily that you truly are part of the fellowship of the One who made the heavens and the earth. Your design is perfect. Cherish the value of yourself and cherish the value of others around you. Don’t sacrifice your values in the name of loving people, bring them up and remind them of how valuable they are.

4. Remember that you are not alone! These years can seem to be some of the loneliest years. At least that’s how I have felt. There are times where I crave intimacy so deep that I’d be willing to sacrifice my values to feel a moment of closeness. Instead, cherish these seasons of loneliness. These seasons where it’s just you and God. Because when it’s gone, its gone! And heck, when you are feeling the most lonely, just kick your shoes off, get a few girlfriends, buy a carton of ice cream, get a funny chick flick and just laugh.

5. Remember your Destiny! You have a future and a hope that will follow you for generations to come. Remember your children’s children. You will one day have a family, and that will be a beautiful and wonderful thing that needs to be cherished and protected. You will have a life that is full of meaning, purpose, love and hope. Cherish and protect this during these years by talking about it, planning for it, dreaming it, and loving every moment of it. Cherish your loneliness and embrace it. Don’t run from it! Oh…and don’t forget about your cowboy!

6. Have the Time of your Life! I’m sure you’ve heard it over and over, but time flies by. Remember when you first started High School, and now it’s over. College goes by so incredible fast (except me because I can’t seem to get out of college), and before you know it, it’s over. Cherish this time of growth and learning and discovering new things. Cherish the relationships and friendships you will build and the intimacy that you get to develop with the Lord.

I don’t assume these are things that you don’t know already, especially with your parents, and there’s a good chance you’ve practiced these things. I just tell you simply because we often forget when times get lonely, or tough. Remember, the world around us is needy, and lonely and often unloving. Friends around us fail and people hurt us. But remember who you are, remember why you love, and remember who first loved you. Stay fit in the Lord, stay strong, and fight the good fight because in the end, it will be worth it.

I love you SO much! HAVE A BLAST!!!

Tiffana LeMaster

A picture of Tiffana & Amy several years ago…time marches on!

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Filed under College & Career, Faith, Inspiration, Life Lessons

And after you have suffered….

“I have never felt better in my life!”

“You are simply glowing!”

“You’re eating for two now…enjoy!”

“You look so cute!”

These are words said and heard by the majority of pregnant women during their season of childbirth. And so they should.  After all pregnancy is a normal & natural condition that women’s bodies are built for….right? Right! But not so much for me.  (I felt worse than ever, I never glowed, I could barely eat a thing and I looked more like “death warmed over”)

When I first became pregnant back in 1989, I fully expected to breeze right through pregnancy with energy and enthusiasm, never “missing a beat”.  After all, I was a high energy, “type A”, driven young woman who could run circles around many including the teenagers I taught in my job as a PE teacher and student council advisor…why would something as simple as a pregnancy slow me down? Despite my own mother sharing stories about her difficult pregnancies, I never anticipated being anything like her.  Was I ever in for the shock of my life!

Just a few weeks after announcing our good news to the world, I woke up one morning and found myself feeling very nauseous and immediately began heaving over the toilet.  Still I thought…”Oh just a little morning sickness, I can handle that”. Wrong! From that moment on I was nauseated 24/7, feeling like I was on a very bad roller coaster ride with no option of getting off.  I got sick morning, noon and night (why do they call it morning sickness anyway?) I tried every cure known to man and implemented advice from everyone I knew – eating small meals, crackers before rising, sucking on ginger, sea bands, lemons, Vitamin B6 shots and more…nothing worked.  To top it off I also had a rare and unpleasant symptom of pregnancy called Ptyalism – producing an incredible amount of excess saliva – and I had to carry around a cup or napkin that I spit into every few minutes (I know my Brookside students from that era are thinking…”ewwww, I remember that!).  It was simply….awful!  As the weeks turned into months I sunk deeper and deeper into sickness and despair.  I was weak and tired, losing over 20 pounds before finally being admitted into the hospital where I was on IV’s for five days and then being released to go home with my IV pole in tow and have home health care for another week.

The doctor kept saying that most women begin to feel better after 12 to 16 weeks so just — “hang in there” and it would soon be over. I had high hopes but after the 16th week came and went he simply said to me…”Well, a very few number of women continue to experience sickness until half way through their pregnancy.”  When I continued to be sick all day long after my appointment during my 22nd week he sighed and said with compassion…”Beth, unfortunately a very small rare group of women continue to be sick the entire 9 months of pregnancy” (less than 1%…lucky me).  At that point I quite expected to be sick the rest of my life and could even picture him saying after I gave birth..”Oh I am sorry, did I not tell you? Some women never get better until they die”.

Questions and depressing thoughts screamed in my head:

  • What had I gotten myself into?
  • Was this really worth it?
  • I do not know if I can actually do this for several more months?
  • I can’t do this another minute!
  • Why me God?
  • I would like to curl up and just die.

I was truly suffering everyday and every night for the entire pregnancy. Despite serious doubts to the contrary, I did survive and gave birth to my precious first-born daughter, Michelle Jennae (a day before her due date….and was I ever thankful for God’s grace in that circumstance as I was sure I would deliver a month late and have to suffer even longer).  When I held that beautiful baby girl in my arms and looked into her pure loving blue eyes the horror of the past nine months melted away and I whispered in her ear…”You are so00000 worth it!”

In fact she was so worth it that I have endured the same suffering six more times since that day (although I did experience some mild relief during my 7th pregnancy…thanks to newly approved pharmaceuticals for pregnancy sickness or maybe it was because I was pregnant with a boy that time, I will never know).  Besides being a great self-esteem builder in my children (who would not believe that they were deeply desired, loved and “soooo worth it” when they know the great suffering their momma endured to give them life), these awful pregnancies have truly molded and shaped me into who I am today.  I have learned great life lessons through those 63 months including:

  • Perseverance “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character and character produces hope and hope DOES NOT disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:3  I have truly learned patience and to persevere despite hardships, trials and tribulations. This has given me the strength and fortitude to persevere in my personal life, family trials, ministry and business hardships. I have in a sense developed very strong perseverance muscles. 🙂
  • Dependance on God  The apostle Paul was inflicted with a “thorn in his flesh” that he asked the Lord to take from him multiple times and He did not.  We too prayed and prayed and asked others to pray but the Lord did not choose to remove this sickness. Paul’s response was “God’s grace is sufficient for you for His power is perfected in weakness” 1 Corinthians 12:7-9.  I have always been an independent strong-willed person – relying greatly on my own strengths and talents.  God used my pregnancies to bring me to my knees and become more dependant on Him alone to be my strength.  I shudder to think who I may have become without being forced to rely on the sufficiency of Christ.
  • Compassion for others  Unless you have experienced a long-term illness, treatment, pain or disability that consumes your every waking moment you cannot truly relate to those who have suffered through it.  Having walked that road for a total of over 5 years of my life (nine months at a time) has given me a true compassion for those who are going through health and physical hardships as well as for their loved ones.  I pray for them with deep conviction.  I offer them practical help and service.  I simply let them know…I truly understand (and sometimes that is really what someone needs to hear from someone else who has “been there, done that” and lived to see another day).  2 Corinthians 1:4-6 says “God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
  • Life is…Hard! <get over it>  Somehow I thought I deserved a “pass” on the hardships of life, that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. Wrong!   “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44  If I am going to ask  “Why me?” during the hardships of life…I need to ask “Why me?” in the midst of my many amazing blessings.  Hmmmmmm…there’s a thought.  Life at times is just plan hard….end of story.
  • Children are sooooo worth it! While I am confident that we all have our moments and sometimes even seasons when we would seriously question this statement and yet…..it is truth.  Our children are the single greatest blessing in Dan and my life. The love that I have for them is like none other…the closest thing that I can experience to God’s unconditional love.  I would sacrifice my own life for my children. Yes, they are worth every hardship, every pain, every disappointment, every challenge…they are my precious children.
  • Suffering will come to an end  No matter what I am going through, no matter how hard it is or how much I do not think I can take another minute…the fact is that it will come to an end.  With pregnancy sickness I knew more accurately when that end would arrive but in many other situations we do not have that comforting knowledge.  And in the midst of suffering we often can not imagine that there will ever be an end to it all.  But rest assured, it will end.  We will wake up one day whether here or on the other side with no more pain,  no more tears, no more disability, no more depression….no more suffering!

 “But after you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you”  1 Peter 5:10

And so in hindsight it is easier to be thankful for my years of sickness. It is easier to see the fabulous end results.  It is easier to look back and appreciate all the good things in my life because of the suffering.  I wish I could say that in the midst of the suffering I was thankful, appreciative and could see “the big picture” or that I was filled with faith and hope.  While with each pregnancy I did a little better at being thankful, seeing the purpose in it all and being filled with faith…I still limped along trying my best to be a godly example and mostly failing and falling into the loving arms of the Lord who indeed carried me through.

If you are suffering today…fall into those same loving arms and let Him carry you!

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Filed under Determination, Endurance, Faith, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, Overcoming

Letter to the Bethany University Family

Dear Bethany University Students, Staff & Alumni…

I am not a BU alumni but I have been following the alumni facebook page for several months hoping & praying that Bethany University would overcome their current obstacles, hurdles and challenges and live to see another season of awesome ministry to students who will carry on to impact the world for Jesus Christ.

My heart was bolstered with confidence after the District Council Meeting in April when it appeared that Bethany would be given yet another opportunity to carry on in service to our Lord.  I rejoiced with you all as we heard the news of “Miracle  Monday” and began to pray about what way the Lord might use my family to help continue the amazing legacy at BU through giving of our time, talent and treasure. And this last week I have grieved deeply along with you all at the heart wrenching news of the impending closing of this amazing university.

You may wonder why, if having never been a student, staff member or alumni of this school, that my heart would be so connected to your beloved alma mater?  Let me explain….

You see, I should have been a college student at Bethany University in the early 80’s.  It would have been  the “perfect fit” for a passionate young lady who knew that she was called to minister to youth and wanted more than anything else to know God in a deeply intimate way. Unfortunately, I lacked the knowledge that a school like yours even existed and without any wisdom or counsel from the adults around me I ended up at a private secular university where I sat in disgust as the professor in “Intro to New Testament” spent the semester “proving” that the Bible was not the inspired word of God.  Yet God, in His amazing grace kept me secure in His hands and while I ultimately graduated with my faith in tact I missed out on truly what I desired from a college experience. Here is what I would have wanted:

  • solid Bible teaching as well as other classes that were motivating and inspiring, taught by faculty who truly wanted to mentor, invest and speak into my life
  • friendships that would encourage me, sharpen my faith and last for a lifetime through the bonds of Christ
  • a positive uplifting environment in every area from dorm life, to athletic events to chapel services
  • a place where I could seek unhindered the Lord’s will for my life & future along side students and staff who would care for me, pray for me, rejoice with me and cry with me

A college much like Bethany University!

I graduated from the University of Pacific with a degree in Recreational Leadership (that would work for youth ministry right?) and went on to be a youth pastor for four years at an Assembly of God Church in Stockton, California.  During those years I came to learn about Bethany University and was always so excited when the admissions teams would come share during our youth service or we would take students over to the campus for preview weekends.  Everytime I met a Bethany student or walked on campus I could sense the spirit of the Lord moving in hearts and lives. It was like a breath of fresh air. During my years as a youth pastor and subsequently a Christian high school teacher and guidance counselor, I encouraged many young people to attend BU and those that did had life changing experiences. Despite an often “older” run down campus, limited majors, a small community and even an uncertain future I have continued to promote the college to young people who are seeking to know the Lord and follow His path for their lives because there is simply something very unique and special that happens at Bethany.

Bethany University has also affected my life richly through the number of alumni who I have personally been ministered to, worked and  enjoyed fellowship with over the past 30 years. My husband and children have also been profoundly affected by many BU alumni.  In fact as I began to make a list of Bethany alumni who have been a part of our lives, it is vast and impressive.  Truly a university who has produced the number of exceptional men and women of God attributed to this school must have a special anointing upon it.

And finally I feel connected to BU because I was about to become a “Bethany Mom”.  My second daughter, Amy was to enter the college this fall as a freshman.  After applying and being accepted to six private Christian colleges in California and one in Texas there was just “something about Bethany” that drew her.  Because my husband, her father is a licensed minister with the Northern California/Nevada Assemblies of God (he is however not a pastor of an AG church but has committed his life to the ministry of Christian education as a high school chaplain & Bible teacher) we perhaps had more “inside” information than many incoming freshman and even with the knowledge of impending doom, Amy chose to attend Bethany.  Her response to those who questioned her wisdom? “I would love to be at a school where students held special prayer meetings to save their school.”  She had already been captivated by the heart and soul of Bethany. She is currently doing earthquake relief ministry in Japan where I had to convey to her last week via email, Bethany’s decision to close its doors.  Even though she is much less impacted by this decision than the current students are, she still feels a great sense of loss for what “might have been”.  As she takes another look at her other college options, many good solid Christian institutions,  there is a sense of unrest and dissatisfaction.  They just aren’t Bethany.

I decided to write this missive tonight for three reasons:

1. To let you the alumni, current students and staff know that there are many of us out here, who while not directly a part of the Bethany family, truly care about Bethany University.  We are standing with you in prayer.  We are grieving the current loss and we are ever hopeful to be rejoicing in what the Lord still may do in the future. (with God all things are possible!)

2. To encourage and challenge you to come together in unity to fight for the future of Bethany University! For all of the reasons I have shared above and many more this unique, special, one of a kind, anointed school needs to be saved. And while we often think it will take investors with the type of wealth that most of us can only dream of, I have found that much of the time God chooses the small unknown, yet full of faith and confidence in God… “Davids” in the kingdom to slay the “Goliaths”.  I have personally experienced this type of miraculous victory when well over a decade ago my husband and I set out to start a Christian school in our community, against all odds.  We were just a young couple, without money, power or influence and yet the Lord chose to use us to gather a group of passionate parents together in hopes of starting a unique, special, one of a kind, anointed Christian High School.  Using just our Christmas card mailing list we sent out a letter asking for support to start this massive undertaking and within a month had raised close to $30,000. That momentum was just what was needed to put together a school board, incorporate a non-profit and continue to raise the quarter million dollars that was needed to begin the school. When I look back I stand in amazement that people were willing to give to a school that did not even exist, a school that could have potentially never opened its doors, a school who even in its first year faced great financial struggles so much so, that even our board president predicted that it would close its doors after the first graduating class.  And yet God prevailed, not through multi million dollar investors but through average everyday people who monthly gave in faith what little they could afford.  Fourteen years later that school – Jim Elliot Christian High School in Lodi – is still impacting students lives! To God be the glory!

Perhaps God is speaking to one or several of you…to lead the charge, to step out in faith, to gather all those who are passionate about Bethany University and together make a difference.  There are thousands of alumni, hundreds of students and dozens of faculty and staff members who all have friends and family that they could invite to make an investment, a step of faith in a university that actually does exist, a university with an amazing legacy, a university with WASC accreditation, fabulous faculty and committed students, a university that will touch the lives of its students who will in turn go out and make a difference in the world. I can easily do the math…and it adds up to millions and millions of dollars that could be raised in a very short order (if my Christmas card mailing list raised $30,000 in 30 days from “average” folks who donated to a “potential” school….what could all of your mailing lists combined do?) But it takes vision and leadership to take on the Goliath (in this case massive debt and vital restructuring of business practices).  Maybe the Lord is piercing one or several of your hearts to lead the charge!

3. To use my God-given gifts as well as sphere of influence to share the Bethany experience and the impending closing with others in hopes that perhaps someone out there may feel led to make a difference in the future of this University.  Besides posting this on the Bethany alumni facebook page, I will also publish it on my blog where I know my thousands of readers will at the very least pray for the current students and staff as well as alumni and for the Lord’s will to prevail. (I do realize that it well may be the Lord’s will for BU to close…but I feel compelled to share the “impossible” possibilities)

This time it is not my place or purpose to lead the way but perhaps it is your turn! I am willing to offer my time and talent in the area of development to any of you involved with efforts to help a new day dawn for Bethany University.

Blessings to each of you,

Beth Lambdin

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Filed under Determination, Faith, Lifes Challenges, My "take"