Category Archives: Christmas Season

The Miracle in a Christmas Card List!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then there is us – Dan and Beth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always,

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

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

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Advent Devotionals

I finally did it!

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

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

Jesus Came – An Advent Devotional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Christmas Season, Church Calendar Traditions, Family Traditions, Inspire Ministries

An Advent Primer

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Advent?

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

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

 When is Advent?

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

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

 Celebrating Advent

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

The Wreath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Family Advent Service or Devotional

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

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

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

Other Advent Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Christmas Season, Church Calendar Traditions, Faith, Family Traditions, Inspiration

I want a personal Epiphany!

I have a celebration to get ready for tonight!

Today, January 6, is Epiphany, meaning “vision of God”. It is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christian celebrations commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. Christians fixed the date of the feast on January 6 quite early in their history (The earliest reference to Epiphany as a Christian feast was in A.D. 361) and it is the culmination of the Advent and Christmas season. It is celebrated by believers in many countries and cultures around the world….

….but not so much in the good ole USA.

When I tell friends that we are celebrating Epiphany I usually receive puzzled looks or blank stares indicating that they have simply no earthly idea what I am talking about.  Every year we invite families to join us in our celebration in hopes of inspiring others to begin to celebrate this important spiritual day. And many of those families have gone on to have their own Epiphany celebrations making it a part of their family traditions (which blesses me beyond measure! I have explained how we celebrate, complete with our menu, devotional and pictures here & here)  And if you are thinking…”Why would I want to celebrate Epiphany?”  I want to challenge you to instead think…”Why not?”

  • It’s a Christian observance that dates back 1,700 years…if it was important to the early church, perhaps it should be important to us!
  • It is a phenomenal way to instill biblical accounts of Jesus and build a firm faith foundation in your children through a fun celebration (and if you make it a tradition…you will create memories that will last a lifetime and are centered around their faith)
  • We should all take every opportunity possible to remember and celebrate Jesus…the one who changed our life!

As I woke up early this morning I had Epiphany on my mind.  Yes swirling through my head were logistical aspects of our celebration like….the seating arrangements for 22 friends & family, the mental shopping list of things I need to pick up, the job assignments for my kids to carry out today…but even beyond that I kept saying the word…Epiphany…over and over in my mind.  You see just the word alone is really interesting….and different….and smooth as it floats out of your mouth with a puff of air. “Ehhhh…Pifffff…aneeee” And as I often do I pondered the definition of the word and it’s implications in my life taking those thoughts with me as I began my morning routine.

Epiphany: e·piph·a·ny  [ i píffənee ]

1. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
2. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence
 
I don’t know about you but I want a personal Epiphany!
 
I want God to appearto manifestto show up in my life!
 
I want His amazing grace
 
I want His perfect peace
 
I want His healing touch
 
I want His abundant provision
 
I want His unlimited wisdom
 
I want His creative touch
 
I want His inspiring revelation
 
I want His boundless love
 
I want His unspeakable joy
 
Yes I want an “Epiphany”…a personal appearance of God in my life…everyday!  And then it hit me.  I have just that!  I have been given by God….the Holy Spirit, who lives in me and desires to manifest in my life everyday!
 
“And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.” 1 John 4:13-14
 
I have the very spirit of the living God living in me and I can allow Him to manifest grace, peace, healing, provision, creativity, wisdom, inspiration, love and joy every day of my life.  And yet….all too often I don’t.  I have moments throughout my day where I give Him the chance to manifest, but sadly all too often I let me, myself and I be in the driver’s seat of my life. Why? I guess I could say because it is easier (than having God show up…not!), because I want to be in control and must think I am better at it (ha! how ridiculous is that?), or because I spend much more time taking care of my body, soul and mind than I do my spirit (ouch! truth hurts sometimes)
 
So today on this Epiphany I will once again renew my commitment to let the God of the universe rule and reign in my heart and life…allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest through me and give Him control of my life.  I know, I know…easier said than done…but yet I will continue to press on to this goal!
 
If you are a believer, I hope that perhaps you and your family will begin today to celebrate Epiphany in some way, be it big or small.  But my prayer is that all of you reading this might have your own personal Epiphany today, where the Lord appears to you, right where you are, and takes what you thought was an ordinary day…and makes it divine!
 
 

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New Year Nuances

Happy New Year my dear friends and family all over the world! 

I pray that this new year will bring us all love, joy, hope, peace and blessings in abundance.  I pray that we would also have the strength, courage, fortitude and tenacity to face the trials and tribulations, that are sure to also be included in our new year, with amazing grace and mercy to those who wrong us, faith in God and trust in His purpose, upright character and self-discipline when it would be easier to drown our sorrows in a convenient vice and that we would choose joy and gratitude over negativity and criticism.

Here’s to 2012! From our family to yours…

Our New Years Eve Traditions

I had such great intentions of sharing more of our family faith traditions during this Christmas season…but once again the celebrating and carrying out those wonderful traditions took precedence over the writing about them.  I am sure every last one of you can relate to not getting around to doing the things that you hoped to do…well that’s me when it comes to all I would like to share on my blog with others but I just don’t fit it in my daily life…even as I type this out I have dozens of posts swirling about in my head hoping to someday be put down in writing. Someday….

However, since I am up early and writing this morning how about a glimpse into our New Years Eve traditions?   I love New Years Eve for a multitude of reasons…not the least being that I am a “late night” kinda gal and I love that everyone gets to experience what a magical moment after midnight can be! Yes, we always stay up well past the midnight hour to celebrate a new year of life!

Our New Years traditions do vary on occasion but there are a few things that are always included:

  • Cheese fondue with all the accompaniments…such a fun family meal and so yummy. And of course for dessert…chocolate fondue! mmmmmm good!
  • Fun festive decorations, party hats, noise makers and loud celebration music! This year I got a cute decorating idea from my friend Leigh Ann Wilkes at Homebased Mom and was able to throw together a last minute addition to the decor! Love it!
  • Some intense competitive card playing that may or may not include a bit of yelling, accusations, card throwing or hand injuries. And we have been known to play until the sun comes up the next morning! (our game of choice in the Lambdin family: Nerts)
  • Martinelli’s sparkling cider served in wine glasses to give a toast to the New Year, watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV and shouting at the top of our lungs “Happy New Year” from the front porch! (and a kiss from my love)
  • And of course some type of reflection, resolution, goal setting or prediction activity for the New Year…because you can take the teacher out of her classroom but you can’t take the lessons & lectures out of the teacher! (more on the activity we did this year below under “Word for the Year”)
  • Lastly our New Years Eve always includes friends and family members who join in for some or all of the celebration!

Let me take this opportunity to encourage those of you with young children still at home to seize the moment now to create fun family traditions for New Years Eve.  I know it’s tempting to get a babysitter and go out for some “adult” time to celebrate the new year but if you decide now while they are young to have a great celebration together as a family and establish some ongoing annual traditions you will reap the benefits of having your teenage and young adult children believing “there’s no place like home” for New Year’s Eve and never wanting to miss out on the fun and festivities you have created!

By the Way…It’s STILL Christmas

 It’s true!  Despite the fact that most folks have taken down their Christmas decorations and stored them away until next Thanksgiving, stopped playing Christmas music and are back to the “normal” routine of life… the Christmas season is not actually over.  For those of you like me who are interested in “eeking out” every last bit of the season and celebration as well as always looking for opportunities to instill spiritual truths in your children throughout the entire year, don’t put a wrap up Christmas quite yet!

Today is the eleventh day of Christmas. I bet many of you thought that the “12 days of Christmas” happened prior to Christmas or perhaps you were not even aware that there actually are 12 days of Christmas and it is not just a fun Christmas song.  The 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas day and are followed by Epiphany (the celebration of when the wisemen came to visit Jesus and bring gifts.  And yes we have a grand Epiphany celebration around here too! You can read about it here.)

There is historical evidence that even the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written as a way to teach children important tenets of their faith.  I learned about this several years ago and have since been using these 12 days to teach and remind us all of these important truths.  You can read about the meaning of each day and the tenet it teaches here – The Twelve Days of Christmas.

This year I also found this great activity book that my eight year old has been teaching us out of each night (because teaching is one of the BEST ways to learn!).  We learn a new lesson each day and then review the past days and end by singing the 12 days of Christmas song beginning with the day we are currently celebrating. You can order the book on Amazon here.

Enjoy your last few days of Christmas –> play that favorite Christmas CD or watch a holiday movie one last time, light a pine scented candle, drink a glass of egg nog or savor sipping on a final gingerbread latte, read the story of the visit of the wisemen (or maybe even decide to have an Epiphany celebration…it’s not too late), or bless someone with a gift that will enhance their spiritual lives this year and remind them of the greatest gift of the Christmas season…Jesus!

A Photo a Day in 2012

One of the things that I will be doing this year is posting on facebook a photo and a brief description  of meaningful, special, beautiful and divine things in my life from that day.  I love photos and I love writing and I believe that it is powerful to both look for and stop to ponder the important, meaningful and positive things in life each day to cultivate a life of purpose, gratitude, contentment and joy!

You can follow my album on facebook with this link – A Photo a Day in 2012

The Gift of a Memory

We do not give our children Christmas gifts (gasp!). Ok, so they get a few very practical things in their stocking on Christmas morning (hair accessories, lip saver, socks, toiletries and some candy) and they do get a new pair of pajama’s every Christmas Eve but other than that no gifts. (which for me means no shopping, no stress, no wrapping, no credit card bills…freedom!! Wheeeeeeee!!) We began this “tradition” in 1997 the year we had no jobs and no viable income and it has truly been one of the BEST decisions we have ever made (if I can be so bold as to call losing our jobs and being in a state of poverty our decision….but rather I guess deciding to keep things that way even after the economic circumstances of the time turned).

Instead of material gifts, we have chosen to give our children great memories during the Christmas season so we spend our limited resources on our family traditions and on doing things together as a family – special trips, outings and experiences.  We are also blessed that my Mother (aka: Granny) chooses to give us money each year for Christmas that we can use to make great memories as well.  When it is all said and done…the sweaters end up at Salvation Army, the technology “toys” end up in the recycle bin, the gifts and gadgets wear out, collect dust or end up in a yard sale down the road (or if we are a hoarder, our very own estate sale after we die) But the trips, outings, experiences and time together as a family stay with us forever!  We have done many things from meals out (a real treat for a family of 10!), a sleigh ride in the snow, attending a concert or play, a family day at the movie theater complete with ordering popcorn, trips to the snow, the beach, the mountains and beyond as well as bowling, skating and miniature golfing. We even rented a cabin one year for a family get away over several days!

This year the week following Christmas we had an amazing day in the Santa Cruz mountains taking a steam engine train through the redwoods and then heading down to the beach for some boardwalk rides, relaxing and taking in the beauty of the ocean and some clam chowder. It was a GREAT day filled with good times, laughter and crazy moments! (including the typical fussing and fighting that goes along with any family road trips…no we are not the “perfect family” who always gets along)

   

We also spent the final beautiful and sunny day of Christmas break ice skating as a family at an outdoor rink in Sacramento. My brother and his family joined in on the fun….Good times!

Maybe it’s time to re-think the gift giving for your family…something to think about!

Word for the Year

 Ok so back to our New Years Eve goal setting activity.  Yes we always do some type of reflection, resolution or vision casting activity and personally it is my favorite thing about the New Year (shocking I know for a type A, driven, mover/shaker, lion personality that I am).

This year I got a great idea from a blog called Thirty Handmade Days that included these great printable sheets for New Years Eve. I stumbled across them mid day on December 31st and “voila” I had the perfect plan for New Years Eve! (aint the Internet great?)  There was even a sheet for the younger kids to fill out so it was perfect.

One of my favorite parts of this worksheet was choosing a word for the year. Yes, just one word to sum up what you wanted your year to look like!  It took a lot of thought and the “non decision” makers and perfectionists of the family had to be convinced that they truly could pick just one word and it would all be good.

Here are some of the words my family chose for 2012:

Love

Adventure

Challenge

Intentional

Equip

My word for 2012 is MOMENTUM

There are several areas that this word applies to my life as far as what I want to see happen in 2012.  My bottom line is that I am wanting to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling and gaining momentum in personal discipline, in my household, with my children and in my ministry. There is power in momentum and I want it!

Do you have a word for 2012?

Blogging Blitz

Just wanted to warn you of what’s to come…there may be a larger number of blog posts coming your way.  For some that may be exciting…for others not so much.  Either way, you can always hit the delete button or unsubscribe to these blog posts…I will not be offended.  We all only have so much time in our lives and if I am not adding value to your life and helping to inspire, motivate an encourage you then move right along!

For those of you that stay with me….let’s do this thing called life with passion and purpose in this new year while giving praise to our Lord for His lovingkindness and faithfulness to us despite our failures along the way.

Here’s to 2012!

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Filed under Blessings, Christmas Season, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins

Lambdin Christmas Greetings 2011

December 2011

Nothing like pressure from your college kid to – “get going on that Christmas letter, Mom!”  Alright already Amy, I was a bit busy getting invitations out for our 25th wedding anniversary service. “No excuses Mom”.

So here it is…finally. Our annual Christmas letter complete with photos and an invitation to our Christmas Open House. We decided to take a little trip down memory lane and give a short highlight of one significant event from each of our 25 years of marriage.  Feel free to read every word, skim through or even just look at the photos if you’d like. The choice is yours!  If you do decide to read the whole missive may I suggest grabbing a cup of holiday coffee or tea and just pretend that I am there just chatting with you!

25 year highlights of Life at the Lambdins

1986Getting engaged on March 18 (at youth group in front of 100 teenagers), Our first date on March 20(at the Hatchcover in Stockton), Wedding Ceremony & Reception on December 20 (at the Cathedral of Annunciation & Lakeview Assembly), Our first kiss (and second too!) on that same day (yes..you read that right our first kiss was on our wedding day at the altar.) And here 25 years later we still :

  • faithfully celebrate our engagement anniversary
  • never miss a date night
  • get away for a few days each December to celebrate our marriage
  • enjoy kissing as much as the first time!

1987 – Simply being newlyweds…and best friends and beginning to learn how to be an effective ministry team. Our first year of marriage was not hard as many warned it might be.  Besides having a solid friendship  to build on we had a common passion for youth ministry and enjoyed working alongside each other. Being married was the “icing on the cake” and we loved it!

1988 – Retiring as Youth Pastors.  

After four years of ministering to the youth at Lakeview Assembly and loving, discipling, teaching, training, challenging, influencing and inspiring young people to follow Jesus we stepped down from our position as youth pastors so Dan could attend Bible College. We loved our “kids” at Lakeview and to this day are in contact with many of them including some who have become our very closest friends and who we are blessed to fellowship with regularly!

1989 – Michelle was born!

The years each of our precious children were born, they were truly the highlight of that year and our lives. Since this is our annual family Christmas letter I want to give you at least a little update on each of our kiddos. Michelle is in her final year at The King’s College in New York and will be graduating with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics in May.  She went to China this summer with the college and had a great experience. She is the president of her house at King’s putting her polished leadership skills to work.  We are so very proud of Michelle and the godly young woman she has chosen to become. We are excited to see what the Lord has for her next!

1990 – Dan graduates from Capital Bible College and Moving into our home on Robinhood. 

Dan received his Bachelors degree in Bible and Ministry in June of that year.  It was a great accomplishment especially with a brand new baby, only one car, a working wife and a part-time job! We are currently prayerfully considering him continuing his education and pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theology in the near future. (of course along side teaching at JECHS) Pray for wisdom, clear direction and finances if this is the Lord’s will. We also moved into the same house we live in today in April of 1990.  It is full of warm wonderful memories for us all (and I am sure many of you too!) and has been such a blessing to our family. There’s no place like home!

1991 – Cross Country Road Trip 

In the summer of 1991 our little family along with our brother & sister-in-law, Cliff & Lynda jumped in our Mercury Marquis and headed on a month long cross country tour through the upper half of the United States all the way back to Virginia to see family and spend a week at the beach, down to Florida and then back across the country through the Southwest.  It was amazing and we REALLY need to do it again with our big kids.  I guess I need to put that on the “dream” list and make it happen!  Perhaps we can make it a “speaking tour” and criss-cross the states sharing our experience and passion for marriage, ministry, parenting and living a life of purpose. Any one out there want to book an event for your church, retreat or group…say summer of 2012? Let’s chat!

1992 – Amy was born!

Amy graduated from JECHS this past May and then spent three weeks in Japan along with Kristen and Rebekah doing earthquake relief and helping missionary friends of ours – The Boeks. It was a great experience for all three girls!   Amy   found out during her time in Japan that the college she had planned to attend – Bethany University in Santa Cruz – was closing their doors.  While this threw her for a loop…she began investigating other options and seeking the Lord as to where she should go.  She ultimately ended up at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas.  She will be home for the first time in four months this weekend and we are all excited to see her.  So how does she like SAGU?  Hmmmm…I tell everyone she has a “love/hate” relationship with college.  She loves playing soccer for the university and she loves her teammates and her coach, her roommate her new friends, her dorm and her classes and she hates being 1400 miles away from home and family and dear friends. That said I think the homesickness is beginning to get better and that by vacations end she’ll be ready to get back to Texas and all that God has for her there!

1993 – A Borden Family Christmas

Although we did not know it at the time, Christmas ’93 would be the last time that the entire Borden family would be together at my parents home on Log Cabin Ct in Virginia for a traditional “Borden Family Christmas”. (My Daddy passed away two years later in 1995)  It was an amazing time together and we are so thankful for the love we all share, our common faith, as well as the meaningful traditions that have been passed down to us from this side of our family.  We have continued most of them with our own children as well as creating new Lambdin family traditions to help solidify our children’s faith, strengthen family ties and leave a lasting legacy.

1994 – Kristen is born!

Kristen is enjoying her senior year, having her driver’s license, taking fabulous photos, playing sports and being an amazing cook and domestic diva. (I am telling you all this young lady is going to be one fine “catch” someday for some blessed man…can’t you just see her turning white as a ghost reading what her Mom just wrote but it’s simply the truth honey) Her latest addiction is Pinterest where she gets lots of creative ideas of things she can create or cook.  She, along with her sisters are loving that there are now four Borden girl cousins living next door (yes, if you haven’t heard my brother Cliff  and his family have moved back to Stockton and are living next door and we are all lovin’ it! It is just so great to have the kids constantly back and forth between houses, to share meals together and to be enjoying daily fellowship…we are blessed, blessed, blessed!)She finally got to go to New York for her much belated 16th birthday trip this last month…it was a wonderful week of making memories. Kristen is busy applying to colleges for next year…only in California as of now, so it looks like the next college student just might be within driving distance from home. That’ll be different. 🙂

1995 – Rebekah is born!

Besides playing competitive soccer which is her first love…Rebekah spends her time studying for classes, learning to drive, refereeing soccer, going to church youth group, captain of the JV volleyball team, on yearbook staff as well as planning her life and everyone else’s.  She is in the middle of her mentoring year for her Rite of Passage and we look forward to her ceremony in June. Rebekah joined Kristen in NYC for her 16th birthday celebration and got see both Phantom & Wicked on Broadway. We also visited a potential college – Gordon – near Boston, Massachusetts while we were on the East Coast. Yes, she is already looking at colleges…oh my! It’s hard to swallow that in just over two years half my kids will be out of the house. (sigh)   She continues to seek opportunities to serve in missions and is currently looking to go to Haiti this summer with an orphan ministry through Steve Curtis Chapman’s organization – Show Hope.  We love her heart for orphans and her desire to serve the Lord in other countries.

1996 – Began Creative Memories Business

Who knew that when I signed that contract to get my scrapbooking products at cost what an impact it would make in my life – the skills acquired, the places traveled, the friendships made, the success achieved, the doors opened. It is almost overwhelming how many amazing life changing blessings stemmed from that one decision. While my business is currently more like a hobby as it was when I began I still enjoy both my fall Croptoberfest Retreat and my Aptos Beach Retreats each year as well as my relationships with both my customers and consultants.  I have also joined the digital scrapbooking crowd and love teaching classes to those wanting to jump in and learn!

1997 – Jim Elliot Christian High School is founded.

We will forever be grateful that the Lord chose to use us to start this amazing ministry.  We continue to joyfully be a part of its mission of discipling high school students to go out and make a difference in the world. We love JECHS…the staff, the students, the families and the way that the Lord uses this ministry for His purpose.

1998 – Grace is born!

Grace is now taller than two of her big sisters and is still growing! She turned 13 this week and is still our sweet Grace even though the term “baby” no longer applies. (although they will all always be momma’s babies!)  She is taking on more and more responsibility at home and growing in her leadership skills.  She is a 7th grade homeschooled student who enjoys playing soccer and swimming.  

1999 – Mother Daughter Holiday Tea Tradition

What started  in ’99 as a small group of our three oldest girls close friends and their Moms getting together to celebrate the season at a fancy tea party, has grown into quite an elegant and grand affair.  We now have six daughters inviting their friends and we have learned to be very creative in somehow squeezing over 60 ladies into our home for this treasured tradition each year. You just never know what you begin on a whim will blossom into down the road. It has truly become one our favorite Christmas experiences. (If only we had a larger home so I didn’t have to move all the furniture outside on tea day…but I guess a girl can’t have it all!)

2000 – Camping in Lake Tahoe

What is now a much-anticipated annual camping trip to Camp Richardson in Lake Tahoe began the summer of 2000.  After taking up camping as our primary mode of vacationing several years prior, we settled in that Lake Tahoe was our favorite place to go. We are almost always joined throughout the week by different friends and family for a week of hiking, biking, trips to the ice cream shop, singing around the campfire, s’mores, staying up late to look for bears, delicious camping breakfasts and relaxing and reading by the lake. After a dozen years now of enjoying this delightful vacation none of us can imagine a summer without camping in Lake Tahoe.  I can picture us all in another dozen years surrounded by a growing Lambdin family including some of my kids future spouses and many grandchildren with Camp Richardson dirt clinging to their faces as we continue this family vacation. (Yes, I am already thinking ahead as to how we can create family get togethers during non holiday times thus eliminating the pressure and stress on my kids that will inevitably come as extended families “fight” for that holiday time. I will be perfectly content to have a yearly summer get together camping in Lake Tahoe…hey we could even start a “Christmas in July” party)

2001 – A Dream Come True  

I have a dream album in which I have written out dozens of dreams that I hope to see come to fruition in my lifetime. (It is a recognized fact that you stand a far better chance of achieving your goals and dreams if you write them down. You too may want to start a “dream album”) One of those dreams was to someday meet Dr Dobson face to face as he had been instrumental in my life through his daily radio broadcast giving wisdom, advise and inspiration to families.  That dream became an awesome reality during this year when our entire family took a 10 day trip to Colorado where not only did we get to meet with Dr Dobson and spend a significant amount of time talking with him but we also met a family…the Weidmans, who inspired us to take our children through a Rite of Passage during their teen years.  This has become a cornerstone in raising our children up in the faith and we will always be grateful for the Lord bringing us to Colorado.

2002  – The Fantastic Voyage 

We were blessed with an all expense paid CM incentive trip on a Caribbean cruise along with my sister Caroline and her husband Mike and hundreds of our dear CM friends.  It was spectacular in every way and we have so many great memories of this and the many incentive trips I earned with Creative Memories throughout the years to amazing places like New Orleans, Hawaii, Austria, Santa Barbara and St John’s.

2003 – Joy is born!

Joy is the life of the party! Always smiling, always happy, always excited and always moving. Growing up doesn’t really appeal to her and if I could “freeze her” just as she is today I may be tempted to do just that.  She is in the 3rd grade and has never met a stranger. She played soccer this year and swam on the swim team but I am sure it was more for the social life than the actual sport.  She continues to love singing and plans to try out for the Stockton Youth Chorale next year when she turns nine.  She is a constant reminder to this “driven and intense”  Momma to stop and enjoy the journey!

2004 – Beginnings of the Beach Holiday 

After several years of spending a week at the beach sandwiched between a couple of scrapbooking retreats to pay for it, we decided to take it to a new level and offer several weekend retreats in order to pay for an entire month at the beach for myself and the homeschoolers (with Dan and the high schoolers joining us for long weekends & Spring break)  It has truly been one of the greatest blessings in our lives…to take time out from the craziness of our big family life with all the schedules, routines, appointments, ministries and business activities to just shut away with the Lord in the beauty of His creation and with each other as a family.  Just thinking about this sacred time away, a peace washes over my soul and I am refreshed.

2005 – Our Homeschool Co-op Begins

After many years of “wishing” that a group of like-minded homeschool families would come together weekly to teach classes and provide opportunities for friendships and learning, it became a reality in 2005.  That group continues to operate today and Lord willing, will be a part of our homeschool experience for many years to come (at least until Christiana starts high school in 2023!)  My kids have learned so much from this group of Moms, have made great friendships and experienced fabulous opportunities. We love co-op!

2006 – Mom & Dad Lambdin 50th Anniversary 

Dan’s parents celebrated their 50th anniversary with a big party in Red Bluff.  What a joy it was to be there along with the entire Lambdin clan to honor this milestone.  We are so very thankful for the legacy of committed lifelong marriage that both our parents have modeled for us. Marriage can be challenging, difficult and at times heartbreaking but with the love and grace of the Lord, steadfast unwavering commitment and walking in forgiveness it can not only go the distance but be fulfilling and meaningful. (of course it helps to be married to your best friend!)  We pray that this legacy will continue with our own children and that they will find spouses who love the Lord and are committed to marriage for life! (BTW, I’m taking applications for eligible future spouses…you think she’s kidding….not!  The girls have now all gasped in horror and the head shaking and eye rolling is in full motion!)

2007 – Daniel is born!

Daniel provides great humor to all my facebook posts as I am constantly quoting his comments for all to read.  Some of his sister’s college friends actually regularly stalk my profile just to see if there are any new Daniel quotes.  He is simply a darling four-year old who can charm every one of us ladies in the house.  He is “all boy” – climbing, jumping, running, shooting, boxing and kicking – except for when he says things like “The colors of my wedding are going to be blue and green” and we realize that the sister influence is quite profound.  At Thanksgiving he was most thankful for the fact that there were two college age boys sitting at our table this year. And yes he still prays for and asks Mom for a couple of brothers daily!  Lord, hear his prayer!

2008 – Becoming a Facebooker & Blogger

I know, I know…you’re thinking facebook and blogging was the highlight of your year? Really Beth? Well….yes actually but not the mere activity of being on facebook or blogging but the many ways that this technology has added value to my life and to others.  Blogging has given me a way to use my God given talents to motivate, inspire and bless others on a much wider scale than I have ever been able to accomplish. And facebook has re-connected me with countless dear friends from my past, allowed me to get to know acquaintances better and given me the wonderful window into the daily life of my college kids, their friends, my family and loved ones throughout the country.  Not to mention that I have been able to help others with problems, pray specifically for friends struggling with a multitude of challenges and network and meet needs for many different worthwhile organizations and people. Yes the arrival of these technologies into our lives has truly added value to life.

2009 – Christiana was born! Christiana was adopted!

Ahhhhhhhhhhh…if I could somehow capture for you the essence of this adorable two-year old I would.  She is just the most wonderful part of all of our lives.  She is sweet & spicy, articulate, a little bit bossy and a whole lot of sassy. She is smart, talented, beautiful and just so much fun!  She is the light of our lives and we thank the Lord everyday for giving her to us. If you don’t come to our Christmas Open House for any other reason…come to see her “live & in person”! Oh and she loves her daddy almost as much as she loves her mommy….almost.

2010 – Brookside Reunion

Hundreds of our former students and the staff came together for a weekend of remembering, celebrating and re-connecting with one another in June of 2010.  It was a wonderful time together as we re-lived the “glory days” of BCHS. We were so blessed by this reunion.  Those students and staff will forever hold a special place in our hearts and lives.  Of course we are now teaching many of  their kids (how did they get old enough to have high schoolers?) and so the ministry continues.

And that brings us to this year  – 2011 – in which I am confident that this year’s highlight will be our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary celebration where we will glorify God for all that He has done in us and through us and all of His many blessings that have been poured out to us over the years!  

“O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.” Psalm 40:5

You have all been a part of those 25 years in some way and we are thankful that our paths have crossed in this life. We pray that you all are especially blessed this Christmas season and that your lives will be filled with love, peace, joy and hope throughout the coming year.  We once again invite all of you who live in the area or may be visiting over the holidays to stop by for our annual Christmas Open House on Thursday December 22 between 6pm -10pm.  We would love to see you and give you a great big holiday hug!

We have reached the stage where getting a current photo of us all together is near impossible. Here we are minus the two college girls. Updated family picture will be added after our 25th anniversary celebration on December 18

 
 
Love from all the Lambdins: Dan (51), Beth (49…claiming it as the year of jubilee & the author of this letter), Michelle (22), Amy (19), Kristen (17), Rebekah (16), Grace (13), Joy (8), Daniel (4…and a half thank you), Christiana (aka: baby girl and sissyana 2) 

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Filed under Christmas Season, Life at the Lambdins

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or (gasp) Xmas!

Sometimes I just get a little weary of all the “fuss” about terminology at Christmas time. 

Egads!  Boycott this store for using the term holiday instead of Christmas…but it’s time to go back to this store for switching their policy to use Christmas once again.  Give the clerk an annoying look if they say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Making an emphatic statement on Facebook that your tree is NOT a holiday tree. And don’t even get me started on those who take great offense and wax eloquent at the word “Xmas”.

As if doing or saying these things somehow make us more spiritual or prove that we are keeping Christ at the center of the celebration when in reality the things many of us do (myself included) during this season…like shopping for presents, putting up trees, hanging tinsel, baking cookies or sipping holiday drinks at Starbucks have precious little to do with  Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not interested in downgrading the Christmas season, taking Christ out of Christmas or making it even more secular than it already has become.  In fact I am just the opposite.  I want to make my personal observation and family traditions during this season even more significant, more about Christ and more spiritual.

But let’s get to the bottom of all this terminology mish mash.

Christmas after all is really a shortened version of “Christ Mass”….with Mass being a term used for holy communion (the Lord’s supper).  So we as Christians, who observe Christmas and perhaps on occasion have taken offense at the switch from Christmas to Holiday, have in reality ourselves already replaced “Christ Mass” with a more shall we say “watered down” version – Christmas.

Speaking of “Holiday” and of shortening or abbreviating words….

Did you know that the word “Holiday” is really the shortened version of  “Holy Day”? In ancient times these days were given to workers so they could go to church and worship.  With Christmas being one of the only days left on the calendar where nearly everyone gets the day off of work thus giving us all the opportunity to worship and attend services, it is actually a very appropriate word to use at Christmas…don’t ya think? A true Holy Day!  (side note: since Christmas falls on Sunday this year everyone really can attend a worship service and yet how many believers will choose not to do so because it is inconvenient or cuts into the present opening or dinner plans…isn’t that ironic? Just sayin’)

Then there is the dreaded “Xmas” – A common misconception among Christians is that using an X is replacing Christ in Christmas.  When in actuality the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as “Christ”.  So Xmas is really just another shortened version of Christ Mass just like Christmas.  Having been very involved in Chi Alpha (XA – Christ First) campus ministries in college I have no problem seeing the X as it’s true meaning  – Christ.

So now that we have that all settled let’s spend some time this month really making Jesus the center of our celebration instead of quibbling about terminology.

Merry Christ Mass!

Happy Holy Day!

And here’s to a blessed Xmas 2011!

I will be posting over the next several weeks ways we here in the Lambdin house are trying to truly keep Christ at the center of our Christmas. I would love to hear from you how you are keeping Christ first in your celebration. (Please share in the comment section so we can all benefit)

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Filed under Christmas Season, Family Traditions, My "take"