Category Archives: Determination

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

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"

Accolades for Amy

Here I am on the eve of my second sweet daughter’s graduation from high school.

In many ways that is not remarkable as millions of families will watch their children and grandchildren march across a stage, field or platform in the upcoming days and weeks to receive that coveted diploma. Yes, she is just one of millions in the global class of 2011.

And it is quite unlike the first born graduate who accomplished this same milestone four years ago. There will be no valedictorian speeches, no honor cords or scholarships awarded her at the ceremony tomorrow. She will be just another one of the graduates in the JECHS class of 2011.

  • Unremarkable?
  • Average?
  • One of many?

NOT!

Amy, while not an academic achiever according to the standard of this world, is an amazing young lady with unique gifts and talents, influential leadership, godly character and a heart for the Lord!  She is remarkable! She is uncommon! She is stellar!

And yet she is in the season of life that I call the “academic” years.  Those years where it seems like most of life is centered around your academic achievements.  You are judged and evaluated by your ability to take tests, your grade point average, your SAT scores, your AP & honors courses, your college acceptance letters and your scholarship awards.  You are continually being asked questions about your academic achievements by relatives, adult mentors, teachers & peers.

Personally, I sailed through this season of life with relative ease. (and it truly is just a season…no one has asked my GPA in the last three decades!)  While I was the least “academically inclined” of my parents four children, I still had giftings in the area of academics and along with my brother & sisters acquired the appropriate amount of academic accolades, achievements & awards.  I was also an “academic snob”.  While I realized that people had various degrees of intellectual ability, I figured that most everyone (with the exception of the most severe disabilities) had the ability to achieve academically if they “put their mind to it”.  This carried into my early years as a teacher as I was appalled by students who came into my classroom as junior highers not being able to spell simple words like paper (papper) or having acquired basic reading skills or understanding of math.  Not that I expected everyone to be “straight A” students, I actually thought most had just not “worked hard enough” or were lazy.

My first born fell right into my line of academic thinking.In addition to being a classic first born overachiever, she spoke in full sentences by year one, began to read at age four and could spell “beautiful” in kindergarten. I am sure in my mind I was “patting myself on the back” for creating such an academic acheiver (which in reality I had precious little to do with it)  Then along came Amy….

She was the sweetest baby ever.  She was calm, good-natured, smiled & slept a lot. (in shocking comparison to her extremely colicky…crying for 9 months straight… elder sister).  We nicknamed her “Sleeping Beauty”.  It didn’t concern us that she was not speaking as early as her sister as we figured this was typical for a second child.  But….when she still was not speaking more than 10-15 coherent words by age four we knew there was some “issues”.  She was diagnosed with serious speech delay and began four years of therapy. Then she was only able to read very short kindergarten readers by age ten. After trying every program known to man to teach her to read we finally found the program (Powerline) and the teacher (the amazing Miss Pam) that worked for her dyslexia. We rejoiced that she was able to read and comprehend novels before going to high school (and went from “I HATE reading” to “Mom, can I read all day?”).

While I was raising Amy (or perhaps she was raising me) I began to change my mindset.  I began to “re-think” the way society sees academics. I began to be very purposeful about teaching Amy that her value did not come from her ability to excel academically (or for that matter athletically, musically, artistically or in outward beauty or wealth…all things the world puts a high value on) but that her value was to be found as a child of God. I also ingrained in her heart & mind that the God who created her had also endowed her with unique gifts and talents to be used for His glory. (“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” 1 Peter 4:10)  For her those gifts did not happen to be in the area of academics and yet she would still be required to perform at a certain level to get through this academic season of life.  It is just the way we have set up our society.  (on a side note I find this interesting…what if we required someone to play sports for years and “pass” athletic milestones even if they had no athletic propensity?  Or if we required musical accomplishments from people who were tone-deaf or can’t clap & sing at the same time?) Of course since she was homeschooled, the normal academic pressures of traditional school were not something she had to face.  She had a happy, carefree childhood free from thoughts of – “I’m in the slow group” or “I am dumb” or “What is wrong with me?”.  She learned at her own pace. She discovered her unique gifts and talents and excelled at them. She learned to love the Lord. She developed godly character.  She actually blissfully unaware of any disabilities she had.  As she began to prepare to go to a traditional high school, I spent time reinforcing these values and ideas so that she would be able to get through school without losing her sense of value and purpose. I warned her:

  • She would have to work harder and likely not get as good results as many of those around her
  • That she may stay up half the night studying and still fail the test.
  • That some teachers would be “academic snobs” just as I had once been or think she was lazy or had not studied…just smile and pray for them.
  • This is just a academic season of life and that it has no reflection on her future success and plans
  • That her accolades would need to come from the Lord and the voice in her own head (she spent much of her childhood listening to motivational speakers and memorizing their quotes! It paid off!)

I encouraged her:

  • That God has uniquely gifted her and that she needed to develop those gifts and use them for His glory
  • That she needed to work hard (and thus develop godly character) no matter what the results
  • That it was much smarter to take the areas you are good at and make them great than to take things you are poor at and make them average. (Why spend time trying to take a two to a five when you could take a seven to a ten?)
  • God is in control of your life.  You seek Him, commit your way to Him and live upright, He will accomplish what concerns you and He will lead you in the right path.
  • Never forget your value lies in being a child of God!

And she did just that! It was hard at times. She had moments of disappointment and discouragement…but she pressed on!  As she walks across the stage tomorrow and receives her diploma, this former “academic snob” momma will be

  • rejoicing with her as she celebrates her success!
  • beaming with pride (just as I did with my first grad in ’07) that she is pursuing her God-given gifts and talents, developing godly character and loving the Lord
  • shedding a few bittersweet tears as she ends this season of life

PS – For those Moms of “youngins” who struggle with academic achievement and are concerned (translate worried) about their education and future let me encourage you.  Amy will graduate from high school with a 3.18. She was accepted to five colleges (two on academic probation) even with below average SAT scores and received financial aid & academic scholarships from the colleges (we did giggle with delight when these offers arrived). She will be attending Bethany University in the fall and continue to seek the Lord’s plan  & purpose for her life.  Who would have ever guessed that 10 years ago?  But God…..

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Filed under Attitude, College & Career, Determination, Homeschool, Jim Elliot Christian High School, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take"

Reflections on Making Holy Week…Holy

I am sitting here in the quietness of my living room (yes, believe it or not, even with 10 people living under this small roof there are moments of solitude and corners to go to escape) watching the flickering of five candles set up on our dining room table in the shape of a cross.  We entered into another Holy Week today with the celebration of the triumphant entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday and a time of family devotions after dinner in which we extinguished the first of six candles that will be put out each night this week leading up to Good Friday where we will face the darkness of the cross.

As I reflected on the upcoming week, where those of us who are believers in Jesus set aside time to remember His last days on this earth, I was sad to think about how this most important season in the Christian faith as been all but laid aside for many.  In days past…

  • students would always have Holy Week off from school
  • churches would celebrate Palm Sunday with great enthusiasm handing out palm branches formed into crosses for you to take home along with a family devotional to be used throughout Holy Week
  • most denominations would have a Maundy Thursday service complete with communion & even sometimes a foot washing ceremony
  • Good Friday was a sacred day with businesses closing at noon and folks attending solemn services to remind them of Christ great sacrifice

Today it seems like Easter arrives to everyone’s surprise and Holy Week is just perhaps a blip on our radar screen.  Easter vacation at school, which always fell during Holy Week, has given way to Spring Break which is taken at various times throughout March or April and not often coinciding with Holy Week.  Very few Christians even acknowledge Palm Sunday or Maundy Thursday. And tragically, Good Friday is just another run of the mill “TGIF” for most people.

I thought about our upcoming week and even with our very purposeful & meaningful family celebrations that we have set aside time to do (Palm Sunday, Holy Week Devotions, our Passover Christian Sedar, Good Friday Observance) we still have a week that is filled with school for my teenagers (although at least our Christian school takes off Good Friday, but at times we have had to fight for that), athletic events, dentist appointments, a birthday party, endless errands and work, work & more work. It just didn’t sound very “holy” and while some of the weeks activities are inevitable, others I could have avoided adding to our calendar or been more dedicated to getting done earlier.  I humbly and with repentance bowed my head and prayed for our family that we would not just live as if this was just another week but that we would set it aside as….holy.

But what exactly does holy mean?

The dictionary defines it as:

  1. consecrated: dedicated or set apart for religious purposes
  2. saintly: devoted to the service of God
  3. sacred: relating to, belonging to, or coming from a divine being or power

Wow!  Those are some pretty intense words — consecrated, dedicated, set apart, devoted to service, sacred, belonging to God.  As I contemplate by candlelight this evening I am making a renewed commitment to not allow Holy Week to ever get so “cluttered” again and to truly set it aside for God and His service. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you too will consecrate, dedicate, set apart, and devote in sacred service this Holy Week to God!

P.S. – If  you are interested in our family Lenten season, Holy Week & Easter traditions you can  find them on my blog here –  https://bethlambdin.wordpress.com/category/easter-season/

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Filed under Determination, Easter Season, Faith, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins, Priorities

So what if you don’t have the time….just do it!

To say that I don’t have time right now is like saying that Bill Gates just has a little extra “walking around money”. Yes that would be an understatement.

Besides the regular routine of  mothering, homeschooling, household management, my home based business and my “part time” job (yada yada)… I am working ’round the clock on the annual Jim Elliot Christian High School Dinner Auction which is just over a week away (and I still need to sell 150 tickets..yikes, gather up last minute auction donations and work daily with my team of volunteers).  Add to that my homeschoolers have state testing this week, not having gone to bed before 2am in days and having kids going “down for the count” daily with the stomach flu…and yes extra time is just about non existent in my life right now.

Yet today despite all of this…I managed to throw on some red, white & blue, grab some flags out of the closet and drive downtown to City Hall for a 45 minute rally at our Stockton City Tea Party.

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Why did I stop in the midst of the craziness of my current life to attend a rally where no one was expecting me or perhaps it didn’t even matter if I was there?  Why did I overcome my own personal objections of weariness, busyness and other obligations?  WHY?  WHY? WHY?

  • Because I believe in the message!
  • Because I am role modeling for and training my children.  They are watching and listening to not just what I say….but what I do.
  • Because in the future when I am asked – “Why did you not try to do something to stop this mess?”  I will be able to with a clear conscience say – I did do something!

There is so much more that I could say about how sometimes we just need to throw out our excuses as to why we can’t do something….and just do it! (but I will just let me actions speak for me this time)

Life went on today….even though I spent 45 minutes at a rally letting my voice be heard and then another 45 minutes sharing that with you in this blog! And no one may ever remember that I let my voice be heard today, but I will lay my head on the pillow tonight with perfect peace that I have stood for what I believe in, have role modeled that to my children and have began the fight for our future generation who will have to bear the brunt of our current actions. 

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Is there something in your life that you say you believe in and that you just are not making the time to do? Or perhaps you really do not have the time? So what….just do it! (This is what I said to myself this morning as I contemplated “skipping out” on this event and listed all the reasons I just didn’t have the time)

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Filed under Determination, Economics, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take", Priorities, Time Management

How to survive an economic crisis

Finally something in the news that I have expertise in.

I am an expert on the subject of economic crisis….no really, I am!  I mean after all I have lived most of my adult life (except for a few short “glory years” of phenomenal success with my home based business) in a state of economic crisis. (which perhaps is why I am not stressed out by the constant news reports – it is life as normal for us!)

Every time my dear darling hubby and I get his social security report showing his earnings since he was 16,  I look to see if he has yet to make the income level he made the year before we were married (1985) when he was in management for a wine cooler company. (not to diminish the love of my life’s leadership skills but he has said himself that all you had to do to be in management was to not come to work high.)

Don’t get me wrong…“I am NOT complaining!”.  This is the life we have chosen and honestly we would not have it any other way. 

  • When we got married we committed our lives to the service of others in full time ministry to teenagers.  We spent the first four years of our life together as youthpastors before moving on to becoming teachers & counselors in Christian high school education.  After 10 years in one school just when we were beginning to “get ahead” financially we both left our jobs (Ok, I got fired….another story for another day) and lived by faith for the next 18 months as we forged ahead to start a new Christian high school in our area which emphasized discipleship and Biblical world view training.  We chose to work for a lower salary in Christian education because we are passionate about the lives that it touches!
  • We have also chosen to give the Lord control of the size of our family and have been blessed with seven children to love and provide food, shelter and clothing for.  According to the national poverty level guidelines – we have lived at or just slightly above poverty level for much of the past two decades.  (although I will argue with anyone that what we consider “poverty” in the USA is nothing close to poverty at all)
  • We have also chosen to live in the Central Valley of California, which despite it being one of the least expensive places in this state to live…it is still has at least a 15% – 20% higher cost of living than most places that we could live in this country.

So yes, I am an expert at surviving economic crisis.  Here are my timely tips for those who might be wondering how they are going to survive the trying times being predicted ahead of us.

How to survive an economic crisis 

1.Learn to live with inconveniences or without what some may consider necessities. (but really they might be luxuries) Currently, we have a big hole in our bathroom sink

our shower faucets have to be turned on with a vice grip

 and we do not have a working air conditioner or dishwasher.  In the past we have had a myriad of things that others might see as necessities that we just have lived without or postponed fixing or purchasing.

What we are saving this year 

  • not purchasing a new bathroom sink – $150
  • not replacing the shower fixtures – $300
  • not purchasing a new dishwasher & washing dishes by hand – $400
  • not using the air conditioner this summer (since it does not work anyway!) – $600
  • not purchasing a new air conditioner $5,000 – $7,000
  • not using a pest control company to get rid of the varmints in the attic & under the house (we did have to take care of the termites!) – $600

 

2. Drive older used cars(even if they are “beat up” and unattractive) or if possible drive only one car. 

 We actually have had only one vehicle several different times in our lives and we survived just fine. (fond memories – I use to walk home from work when I was pregnant with number one and Dan was in bible college with our only car.  Another time we could not even fit our entire family in our one car to go to church together so a friend came and picked up some of us. For six months one year, I got up and drove Dan to school each day and he got a ride home with a student – anyone want extra credit?  Were these times inconvenient? Yes…but we survived then and could survive again)

What we are saving this year 

  • driving an old/beat up car with no payments, cheap insurance (yes it costs much less to only have liability insurance on a 12 year old car) & low registration – $5,000

And this photo is 8 months old – the trunk is now tied down with bungee cords – looking quite amusing.  Every time you hit a bump in the road, it bangs so hard it makes you jump (not that I am often found driving Dan’s car) But still it gets Dan, our two high schoolers and three other teenage gals to and from school everyday!

3. Get rid of cable TV– yes that is right – just cut it out.  We have never had cable television and have lived quite happily without it. (although that is not to say I wouldn’t enjoy the history, hallmark and cooking channels)  Other extras you could consider cutting out – extra telephones, extra services on those cell phones etc….

What we are saving this year

  • not having cable TV – $500 to $900

 4. Take a “vanity” inventory.  Do you and or your children really need those new/stylish clothes, manicures, pedicures or regular hair cuts, color and styles?

What we are saving this year 

  • on never getting a manicure or pedicure and only getting my hair cut/colored every 8 months (as opposed to every 4 months which it needs!) – $250 to $500
  • the kids wearing hand-me-downs and never buying anything new but shoes & underwear – $1,000 – $2,000

5. Eat at home and pack lunches for school/work. Be prepared and find inexpensive meals that still fill up the family. (and do not eat out – probably one of the single greatest expenses for many families – this adds up faster than you realize!)

What we are saving this year 

  • for eating very “inexpensive” meals like beans & rice several times a week – $1,000

 6. Nix the nice vacations! Go on camping vacations or be creative and swap homes with someone if you live in a vacation destination (which we do not!). Kids do not need fancy hotels, resorts, cruises or even Disneyland to have a good time – in fact I am willing to bet that the best memories are made on simple “back to nature” vacations. Of course many years we saved even more by camping in our back yard!

What we are saving this year 

  • for taking a week long camping vacation instead of a hotel/cabin rental vacation – $1,200+ (of course we are saving $5,000+ by never going to Disneyland with our family of nine)

7. Live in a house smaller than what you “need”.  And you do not need a bedroom for every child and most families could survive quite well on 1,500 square feet or less.  In the towns we build homes for in Mexico – a family of 6 to 9 live in a 320 square foot home with no indoor bathroom or kitchen. (and they are quite happy I might add!) I could live in a tent if I had to! 🙂

What we are saving this year 

  • living in a 1400 square foot/ 3 bedroom home – the 6 girls in one bedroom, 1 boy (but hopefully soon a few more) in the other room  and Dan the Man & myself in the 3rd bedroom as opposed to living in a 4 or 5 bedroom home – $12,000 – $15,000 (includes extra mortgage, taxes, insurance & homeowners association fees and utility expenses)

8. Skip the fancy birthday parties, professional photos, gifts for extended family– this always seems “harsh” or sad to people but really these are all negotiable expenses.  A backyard birthday party with homemade cake (costs $2.50 to make), free games & no goodie bags sent home (when did this tradition begin? – not in my youth!) is perfectly ok!

You do not need to order those school photos, sports or prom pictures. Get out your camera and take a few photos (if you need photo tips – they are out there everywhere!) – more formal & fun ones.  The only professional ones we splurge on are the 1 year old & senior pics!

We have more than three dozen extended family members alone – although we would really LOVE to purchase gifts for them all at every birthday, Christmas and special occassion we just don’t have the funds –  a phone call, email greeting or simple card sharing your heartfelt love – is a blessing! We do try to save up a little money for the “milestone” events (25th, 50th anniversary’s, the big decade birthdays & weddings)  Now..please don’t think we are “stingy” – we do sponsor every short term missions trip that people ask us to support, give to World Vision and a couple missionaries as well as blessing others as the Lord touches our hearts (which is often).

What we are saving this year 

  • on only purchasing birthday and Christmas gifts for our children but not extended family members –  $700
  • on birthday parties (if this looks skewed – remember we have 7 kids) – $700
  • on not purchasing professional photos around every corner – $200 – $500 

9.  Stop the Starbucks habit or at least cut back.  For years this was about the only “luxury” we gave ourselves several times a week since we live fairly “bare bones”.  But since doing the fat flush, we are down to just a couple times a month. (for those not coffee drinkers – perhaps it is Jamba Juice or fast food french fries or your daily soda addiction that you could cut out or reduce)

What we are saving this year 

  • not drinking Starbucks 3x a week (x Dan & Myself) – $800 (we drink the “cheap” stuff – $2.55 a cup)

    10.  Since 10 tips sound better than 9 this is my personal favorite (and please do not hate me – I am just not an animal person) Do not get a new pet! (sorry girls, I just found another reason in my long list of not getting a puppy for Daniel)

What we are saving this year 

  • on not having a dog (food/vaccinations/vet bills/paying for him to be cared for while we are on vacation/grooming) – $500-$800

 Ok so how much have I saved just this year by living in a state of personal economic crisis??

anywhere from $30,000 – $33,000

(with at least $22,000 of that being annual expenses not one time purchases/replacements that just might be a once a decade expense, like replacing an air conditioner or dish washer)  

Wow…that is an amazing amount of money – another whole salary.  Of course it is a good thing that we “save” these expenses since we do not have this money to spend in the first place.   And honestly….even though we live a pretty “bare bones”existence, I know there is still much, much more we could cut back on and still survive. (yes, if I had to I could eat beans & rice 5x a week, live without cell phones, drive less & walk more, not get my hair done at all, decrease electrical/water expenses….and on & on & on)  

If you are fretting over the future or being stressed out that your financial future is in peril – be encouraged – there are probably multitudes of things you could cut out/sell/change about your current life that would help you weather the storm quite easily. (I would love to hear about them – do share!)

So take a big breath and relax – we can all survive an economic crisis!

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Determination, Economics, Life at the Lambdins, Lifes Challenges, My "take"