Category Archives: Faith

It’s gonna be a BIG day!

I rolled out of bed this morning ready to get back to the “normal routine” of life after a wonderful Holy Week full of celebrations, traditions and meaningful moments as we remembered Jesus’s life, death & resurrection.  I was mentally making a checklist of everything that I needed to accomplish:

  • Get the house back in order
  • Finish up on a pile of pressing paperwork & bills
  • Prepare for several upcoming speaking engagements
  • Gather up homeschool assignments to turn in to the charter school
  • Recruit mentors for Rebekah’s Rite of Passage year
  • Send out Amy’s graduation invitations <yikes! she is really graduating from high school already…how did that happen?>

The list was becoming daunting and I heard myself sigh as I walked past the dining room table full of candy wrappers and stray Easter grass spilling over onto the floor.  I was then greeted by my four year old son Daniel with a look of awe and wonder on his face.

He sat up from his perch on the couch and exclaimed with gusto –  “Mommy, It’s gonna be a BIG day!”… then he stopped and asked inquisitively…“Is Jesus still alive?”

I love how the Lord uses children to stop me in my tracks and change my perspective at any given moment. Here I was the day after a glorious celebration of  Jesus resurrection already “bogged” down in the details of life instead of waking up with hopeful anticipation of the great things my risen Lord would do in my life today.  I imagine that the day after the resurrection of Jesus that the women who went to the tomb and were told – “He is Alive!  He has Risen from the dead!” –  did not wake up on Monday morning with a “back to the old routine” attitude.  In fact I am sure much like Daniel they were filled with excitement, wonder and awe and  were exclaiming – “It’s gonna be a BIG day!”   They were forever changed from that moment on…never to be the same again! They along with the disciples and followers of Christ lived the rest of their lives committed to the spread of the good news even to the point of dying for their faith.

I grabbed up my little boy in my arms with my heart full of love and gratitude and said – “Yes Daniel, Jesus is still alive…and He lives in our hearts and yes it’s gonna be a BIG day!”

That is how I want to live my life!  Each & everyday exclaiming – “It’s gonna be a BIG day!”  – because Jesus is alive in my life and I am going to live for Him!

 

 (If you want to see some photos of our families Holy Week & Easter celebration – you can see them at this link –

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Filed under Attitude, Easter Season, Faith, Life Lessons

Christmas Grace

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

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

….And we called her Grace. 

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

  • God’s unmerited favor
  •  Loving kindness from God that is not deserved.
  •  A free gift from God.  

We may have a “working knowledge” of grace and understand its basic premise but not until we have personally experienced the ultimate grace that God has freely given  – loving us even at our very worst, pardoning us and paying the price for all our wrongs  and giving divine strength and help through the circumstances of life without us doing anything to deserve or earn that help – can we be filled with amazement and awe that brings us to our knees in humble adoration and gratitude.

While both my husband and I had experienced the saving grace of God decades prior, that year we were shown an amazing amount of grace.

  • His grace was evident in blessing us with this sweet baby and He even extended that grace in the circumstances surrounding her birth. (an undesired scheduled c-section that turned into a flawless natural birth) Despite the prevalent thought in our society today that we have a God given “right” to our desired number of children at exactly the time and season in life that we want to have them…the reality is that none of us deserve or have earned the “right” to the blessings of children.  Truly it is by the abundant grace of God that we were given the gift of another child to love.
  • His grace was miraculous that year in allowing one of our greatest dreams to become a reality.  After working tirelessly  ‘round the clock on starting a Christian high school that reflected our personal philosophy and desire to have a lasting impact on students, the doors to that school opened in the fall.  We did not earn this favor from God, nor did we deserve such a blessing.  It was His grace poured out on all those involved in its inception and in every detail that the gift of Jim Elliot Christian High School was given to everyone who has been, who currently is,  as well as all who will be touched by its ministry.
  • His grace was poured out to us daily as a temporary poverty had settled over our household and He graciously met our every need. We saw God not only provide for our personal needs but also for the financial needs of the school, that almost every month of that first year in operation, faced the reality of closing the doors and yet God came through just in time often through strange, unexpected and unbelievable sources. (in fact the day after we had given birth to “sweet baby Grace” a college friend whom we had not seen or spoken to in over a decade walked into the hospital room and handed us a check for $16,000 that literally saved the school and kept it going in to the new year) Neither us personally or the school as an organization deserved such kindness and yet God graciously and freely gave it to us all.
  • His grace also was working through us at that time to give us the desire to completely forgive those who we felt had greatly betrayed us, turned their back on us, treated us with contempt and left us in a state of despair.  As difficult as it was, we chose to not only forgive but to extend grace, though perhaps not deserved, earned, asked for or even desired, to all those who had wronged us.  Having received such grace from God we could hardly justify not freely giving grace to others.

 Yes, that Christmas season as we rocked our sweet new baby, in the quietness of the night beside the twinkling lights of our tree, we reflected on how God’s amazing grace had truly filled and overwhelmed our hearts and lives.  Realizing how much God had done for us and knowing full well we did not deserve or earn any of it, made us both humble and extremely grateful.

In many ways our life this year is parallel to the year of 1998 – without the blessing of a new baby.  (although we have hopes of God’s favor on us as we pursue another adoption)

  • We are once again embarking on a journey to make one of our lifelong dreams become a reality
  • We are once again in a temporary state of poverty (and yes, we had some prosperous years in between which we affectionately refer to as the “glory days”)
  • We are once again being asked to extend grace to those who carry animosity towards us and others who we fear may be making poor leadership decisions

We pray that these things will once again cause us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and that we will experience God’s amazing grace poured out on us in abundance.

At Christmas time we often hear and sing words about – joy, peace, hope and love –  yet the greatest gift that was given to us upon the birth of Jesus was the outpouring of undeserved favor and loving kindness….called grace.   

As we all reflect upon our lives this past year… both the challenging circumstances and the beautiful blessings may the amazing grace of God overwhelm our hearts with humble gratitude and may we extend that same grace to all those who cross our path.

Here’s to experiencing, sharing and spreading some Christmas grace this season and throughout the year!

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Filed under Blessings, Christmas Season, Faith, Life Lessons

Who knew?

Thirty years ago today I was invited to be the “special guest” at the 18th birthday dinner of a new friend who I had known for just a couple of months as a freshman at the University of the Pacific.  We had met in August of 1980 where we lived a few doors down from each other in Grace Covell Dormitory on campus.  We didn’t really have much in common other than our living situation. She was a “local” having arrived at UOP from the nearby city of Lodi and I had come from San Diego which was almost 500 miles away (and my parents had moved 3000 miles away to the state of Virginia shortly after I began college!)  She grew up in a large, loud, “beer on tap” in the basement, Catholic family and I was raised with a “prim and proper”, teetotaling, Protestant heritage. She was a talented, intense and competitive athlete who was attending college on a softball scholarship, I was an average field hockey player who simply enjoyed the game and thought it would be a “fun” to play in college. She was labeled a “wild” girl and I had a “good” girl reputation. She wore athletic sweats 24/7 and I was often found dressed in Izod shirts and penny loafers.

But despite our differences I enjoyed her company and she appeared to find me amusing.  Still I was surprised to be the only “non” family member asked to  join her very special birthday dinner at The Big Yellow House here in Stockton.  After all she had many life long friends in the area and an entire UOP softball team to choose from….why me?  I accepted her sweet invitation seeing it as an opportunity to build our friendship and be a blessing to her on her special day (as well as my commitment to never pass up a chance to not eat a meal in the dorm cafeteria!).

It seems that God, in His providence, was setting the stage for not only a lifelong friendship but for us to eventually become bound together as forever family.  You see, my freshman friend was none other than, Jennae Lambdin who two years later became my sister in Christ and six years later became my sister-in-law!  Who knew that as I sat around that dinner table listening to all the simultaneous lively conversations, the abundant laughter, course jesting and birthday toasts that this family would one day be mine? (I certainly would have never entertained such a concept) I felt oddly out of place and vastly different from the Lambdin clan and yet at the same time accepted and loved simply because I was Jennae’s friend.  That day – November 15, 1980 was the beginning of my “adoption” into this family, who even years before it was evident that I would officially become a “Lambdin” (marrying Dan was not something I ever considered for the first five years I knew him…but you can read that story here – My God Inspired Love Story), they were my home away from home.

Who knew?

Certainly not me!  

Jennae? Not likely since I was not even her first choice to invite to her birthday dinner. 🙂

Dan? hmmmm…I think not (He had his mind on other things than his sister’s strange “religious” friend)

The Lambdin’s? They probably do not even remember that I was there that night.

No, none of us were even the slightest bit aware of the great beginnings that were set into motion that special evening.  

Yet God knew!

I am thankful today that both Jennae and I were open to a friendship of complete opposites.  I am thankful that the Lambdin family had (and still has) a warm “welcome sign” to anyone who wants to be a part of their lives.  I am thankful that I chose to join in a celebration only knowing one person at the party. (how often in our insecurity do we say “no, thank you” to new or potentially uncomfortable situations where we won’t know anyone?) But mostly I am thankful for God’s leading, guidance and providential hand in my life.

Each and everyday there are the possibilities of new beginnings, potential life changing relationships, experiences (both good & bad) and inspirations that may set things in motion that will change the course of our lives.  Often you never know, until much further down the road, how the things that happen today will greatly impact your life. 

Follow God. Listen to His whispers in your heart. Embrace new opportunities, new experiences and new friendships. Life truly is a God inspired adventure!

Happy birthday to my dear friend of 30 years, my sweet sister in Christ and my amazing sister-in-law…Jennae Marie Lambdin!

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Filed under Blessings, Faith, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons

“Cousin Kate”: Welcoming Orphans

I am blessed to be called “Aunt Beth” by fourteen nieces and two nephews (yes the “girl thing” must be genetic on both sides!).  On my branch of the family tree the first babies to make their entrance in this world  were my now 23-year-old twin nieces Kate and Beth.  When I saw them for the first time at six months old, they stole my heart with their cute smiles and precious giggles. They have always been sweet, loving,  “good girls” – wonderful and perfect daughters, grandgirls, nieces, cousins and big sisters. It has been a joy to watch them grow into mature, faithful, smart, talented, giving, beautiful, pure and godly young ladies. They are amazing role models for each cousin that came after them.  They bring life, love and joy to everywhere they go and to everyone who knows them.  I love these girls!

Kate recently sent me an essay she wrote about her summer missions trip to Uganda (not her first missions trip but one of many).  I put it in under the comments from my recent post on adoption –  Chosen to Love & be Loved – but then I decided that it needed to be shared with you all as it is such a beautiful, well written and inspiring look at adoption.  

Her tiny arm was deeply scarred. I held out the bubble wand and she tried to lick the soap as I giggled and tried to show her how to blow. This wisp of girl had more spunk and attitude than I had ever seen in a 2 year-old package, but then she’d always been a fighter. She was birthed into a pit latrine – a hole in ground filled with human excrement over 20 feet below. She was found lying there amid the stench, alone and abandoned. It took hours for a slip-knot in a rope to finally catch around her wrist. She was pulled out, but not without profound damage to her wrist. They thought Zoe would never have use of her arm again.

It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.) Is that just a statistic? Not to me. I’ve held children in Uganda burning up with fever from Malaria who have no mommy to comfort them. I’ve listened to kids in Romania try without success to play the recorder because they had no daddy who ever taught them to count to 3. I’ve seen the look of belonging on the face of an adopted cousin as she reached for her mommy. She will never know the fear of being alone.

James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Every human heart is an orphaned heart. We are all in that boat together until we are adopted by God the Father into his family. We never have to feel alone again because God care’s deeply about orphans. He has a father’s heart. A heart that is willing to take someone who may look different and have a completely different background then they do, into their family and love them like their own flesh and blood – this is the heart of Christ. This is the heart that is also ready to love people whose souls are in a different place. This is the heart that is willing to love others and bring them to a face-to-face relationship with Jesus Christ. I care about orphans and adoption because I too was a spiritual orphan who was adopted into the family of God.

Nicholas is a precious baby that was discarded into the bush of Africa when he was only hours old. He spent his first months at a baby house at New Hope Uganda. He learned to eat his porridge from a normal cup, not a bottle, because there was nobody to feed him several times a day. I met him when he was 6-months-old. I hugged him and kissed him and tried desperately to somehow convey to him that he was loved and things were going to be okay. When he was 1-year-old, he was adopted by a missionary family in Uganda. I saw him again two years later. He ran into the room in his train pajamas with a big smile and put his little hand out for me to shake. He will never remember what it was like not to have a mommy and a daddy. He knows that he is unconditionally loved and it has made all the difference.

“Mommy?” Zoe said as I walked into that same baby house. It broke my heart. I wanted to say yes. I wanted this little girl to have someone that she knew she belonged to. One day I want to welcome orphans into my home and family. I want to hear little voices say “Mommy?” and I can respond with a nod and a hug of welcome and belonging. One day all of us will stand before God and say “Daddy?” and he will welcome in his adopted children to spend forever with him. Zoe’s arm is completely healed now and one day her heart will be too.

May this essay challenge us all to consider what we may do to be a part of someone’s adoption story…whether that adoption is physical into a family here on this earth or spiritual into the family of God.

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Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Faith, Life Lessons

Chosen to love and to be loved

Today was the deadline to turn in our adoption testimony and pictures to Show Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman’s orphan care ministry – who generously gave us a grant that helped with some of our adoption expenses.  I thought I would share it with you all, along with this word of encouragement – If you have ever considered adoption (and perhaps even if you have not) but out of fear, obstacles or finances you have not pursued it…take that first step today towards the most amazing, beautiful and miraculous experience of your life!

Sunday May 17, 2009 was a stellar day for the Lambdin family!  It was the day that the Lord placed into our loving arms, through the miracle of adoption – our newest daughter – Christiana Michelle Lambdin.

The journey that began 19 months prior and consisted of mountains of paperwork, home studies, interviews, exhaustive investigations, steadfast determination, hope deferred, patient perseverance, government bureaucracy, faith, fundraising and flying thousands of miles from California to Tennessee….came to both a joyous end and exciting beginning when we looked into the eyes of the most beautiful, perfect and precious six-week old baby girl.  The tears flowed from everyone in the room as we rejoiced in the most amazing gift we were ever chosen to receive!

Yes, we were chosen!  Is there anything better than being the one chosen?  Throughout life we rejoice when we or our loved ones are chosen to – be on the team, win an award, get invited to the party, attend a desired college, be promoted at work or be honored for an achievement. It is such an amazing moment when you realize you have been the one chosen. For decades we have experienced the joy and fulfillment of knowing that God has chosen us for His purpose, His glory and His kingdom but I must tell you that being chosen to adopt this sweet baby girl was a pinnacle moment in our life!

  • We were chosen by the birth mother to raise her child in a loving Christian home (she specifically wanted “church goin’ folks” for her baby).
  • We were chosen by the adoption agency, Life Choices as a qualified family to adopt one of their beautiful babies.
  • We were chosen by Show Hope to receive a grant to help with the financial needs of this adoption. 
  • We were chosen by friends, family members and even strangers who believed in us enough to give of their money to cover the remaining expenses of adoption that we did not have available to us.
  • We were chosen by God to experience firsthand what it means to be adopted by Him – “He predestined us to adoption as children through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” Ephesians 1:5  “…you have received a spirit of adoption as children by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father!’”  Romans 8:15

 And yet there is more…

  • We were chosen by Christiana! 

With every smile, every wet kiss, every squeal of delight when I walk into the room, every time she calls me “Mama”,everytime she lays her head on my shoulder to cuddle or surrender to sleep and even when she is hurt and will not be comforted by anyone else….I am struck by the fact that she has chosen me! 

As we prepared for this adoption many questions were asked along the way by those all around us regarding different aspects of adoption.  Often the questions would include concern as to if we thought we might find it difficult to love a child who “was not our own”.  I summarily dismissed these concerns for several reasons:

  1. First, my husband is obviously “not my own” (biologically related to me) and I love him just fine. (and vice versa) Anyone who believes they cannot love someone who is not biologically related to them better take a second look before marrying.
  2. I had already birthed seven children all with different personalities, weaknesses, annoyances, challenges and flaws…I had managed to love each of them despite these hardships so certainly I could love any child God gave me through birth or adoption.
  3. I do not believe that love – true love – is a feeling but rather it is a choice.  Don’t get me wrong, feelings are nice but they are not a good foundation for love because feelings are also fickle…they can be really beautiful one minute and unbelievably ugly the next.  Anyone who has been married for five minutes can attest to the fact that loving “feelings” come and go.  No, love is a choice to act in a loving way no matter how your current feelings happen to be fluctuating.  Love is making a lifelong commitment to a person to be faithful, kind, self-sacrificing and giving.  We knew that we could make a lifelong commitment to love an adopted child.

What I had never considered was the unconditional and undeserving love that would be poured out to me from my adopted child. You see, I thought she would have to learn to love me over the years.  While my “bio kids” appeared to come out of the womb attached to their Mommy & Daddy, I assumed because I had not birthed Christiana that I would have to “earn her love” through my actions of love, care and service. Was I ever wrong!  From the moment she was placed in my arms, she looked up into my face and her eyes overflowed with joy, acceptance and love. That love has been poured out to us daily,  growing because she is learning more ways of expressing that love as she develops into a darling toddler, yet it has been there in her heart and in her eyes ever since that first day.  Yes, we have been chosen by Christiana to be freely and unconditionally loved and that love has changed us profoundly.

As a large family who is in the full time ministry of Christian education we never thought that we could afford to adopt a child.  Yet, we stepped out in faith and the Lord provided.  We  are so grateful for those donors who give to Show Hope so that they can provide grants to help with the often overwhelming expenses of adoption.  We know that the Lord used this wonderful organization to increase our faith and help us to move forward towards  adopting our precious gift from God. You who have given to this ministry have been chosen by God to partner with Him and others to participate in the miracle of adoption. Our gratitude to you is overwhelming!

If you have adopted a child or been adopted yourself, I would love for you to share your adoption story in the comments section of this blog in hopes of encouraging others to consider opening their hearts and homes to become a forever family to a waiting child.  Adoption is truly an amazing miracle and a priceless gift!  Maybe God is choosing you to be given a miracle and gift too!

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Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Faith, Life at the Lambdins

21 gifts of guidance for my 21 year old

How is it that I have a 21 year old daughter? I can remember so clearly my own 21st birthday – I went to my senior classes at the University of the Pacific during the day and then was joined by several college friends for a small backyard birthday barbecue at Pastor John Butrin’s home that was also the culmination of my summer internship at Lincoln Neighborhood Church. I was loving my Lord and my life, surrounded by dear friends and excited about my future plans! I can still remember that day with joy in my heart.

Today my own daughter is turning 21. She too is a young, energetic and enthusiastic student attending The King’s College in New York City. She has many good friends and will likely be celebrating her birthday tonight surrounded by those who love her. She has a bright future ahead of her and I could not be more thrilled with her character, her life choices and her commitment to her faith.

For her 21st birthday instead of a gift of “things” I want to give her my gift of guidance as she reaches this new milestone in life that here in the USA signifies a “coming of age” or adulthood. (although being the counter-culture family that we are…we have raised our children to enter adulthood much younger so in some ways this is just another birthday)

Michelle…here are 21 “gifts of guidance” from your Mom who knows that you desire to have a life that is lived to its fullness, a life that is lived well and a life that makes an impact on the world! May these 21 gifts encourage you, challenge you and inspire you to live that life!

1.  Never leave your first love – Jesus. He is the most faithful friend, the best big brother, a passionate intimate beloved and warm, loving father.

2. Never stop believing in and meditating on the inspired inerrant Word of God…even with all the facts on your side…it still takes faith.

3. Be thankful every day for the firm foundation you received growing up in a committed Christian home – it is truly an amazing blessing.

4. Let God be God…because we are not. The sooner you relinquish to Christ complete control of your life and your future the better off you will be.

5. Flee temptation…never was there a better word from God…and yet we often ignore it because sin feels good, tastes good and looks good. It never turns out to be good. Run!

6. Remember it is not the hard things that happen to you along the way that matter…it is how you respond. God is more interested in your response.

7. You will truly look back at the tough times in life and be so thankful for what they brought you…so why not just be thankful in the midst of them?

8. God wants to meet all of your needs – physical, emotional, spiritual, mental – so just let Him.

9. Do not believe it when people say “it can’t be done” or “that will never happen”  – with God all things are possible!

10. Everyday God puts divine appointments right in front of you – don’t get distracted and miss them – it is one of the greatest delights of life.

11. Give, give, and give some more….you will simply be given even more to turn around and give more! Give to everyone who asks of you – your time, your talent or your treasure!

12. Wait for a man who is passionately committed to our God and who will be a life partner and together you will do more for the kingdom of God than you could have ever accomplished alone – there is nothing better than being married to a man who shares your love for the Lord and your life purpose.

13. Worship with full abandon…sing loudly, turn up the music, dance, clap, shout, raise your hands, bow before him, pour out your heart in praise, let His creation awe and inspire you. This is what you were created for!

14. Adopt!

15. Don’t buy into Christian “worldy wisdom” on children, safety, dating & relationships, retirement, material possessions, sharing your stuff or “praying about things” that are clearly commanded to do in His word.

16. Don’t waste time in trivial pursuits – if it is not about God, relationships, people, service or ministry – do not give much of your life to it.

17. Pursue friendships with those who will encourage you, challenge your faith and take you to a deeper level. (skip the shallowness of talking to your girlfriends about where to get your nails done, how much those jeans cost, why they are mad at their husbands, shopping or the latest “void of value” TV show).

18. Be faithful and true to your word, to the body of Christ, to your marriage, to your family & friends.

19. If you see a need…meet it! (you don’t have to be “called”)

20. If you are continually looking for ways to love and serve others…you will never have time to be depressed, bored or critical.

21. Compared to eternity…life here is so very, very short. Invest your life in eternity!

To my amazing, awesome, beautiful, strong, tenacious, determined, creative, passionate, purposeful, lovely, gracious, compassionate, enthusiastic, helpful, influential, Christlike first-born daughter….Happy 21st Birthday! I love you so much Michelle-my-belle! I know that God has great plans for your life and I will be cheering you on!

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Faith, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, My "take"

To life! To life! L’chaim!

This week I celebrated my 48th birthday!

L’chaim is a Hebrew word meaning – “to life”  and is used as a toast for many occasions but often celebrating the Jewish New Year and at weddings or times of new beginnings.

This birthday was unique because on September 1, 2010 I not only celebrated another year of my life but it was the first day of a new season and a new beginning of life for me.  For the past three years I have faithfully served in the position of Director of Development for Jim Elliot Christian High School…

  • a school that we founded through God’s divine direction
  • a ministry that I am passionate about
  • a position where I could effectively use my God-given gifts and talents while helping to put food on the table and still be a Mom and the number one influencer to my children

In the spring I was informed by our school board that JECHS would be taking a new direction for development thus eliminating my current position.  It was greatly emphasized that this was in no way a commentary on my job performance or effectiveness which was highly successful and appreciated, just simply a change of direction.

While this took me by surprise, I know that the Lord has a plan for the school as well as for my family and me and that His plan is ALWAYS good!  I trust that the Lord uses leadership to move ministries in the direction He desires. Although, I will greatly miss being involved in the daily life of the school, communicating regularly with the Jim Elliot family and sharing my passion for the school in a public forum, my heart and commitment to this ministry is solid & unwavering! (plus with three girls currently attending, four more kiddos coming up through the ranks, with the youngest graduating in 2027 & a husband who “lives” and breathes this amazing school…I will likely be ever-present.)

So all summer long I knew that the special day that God chose to bring me into this world…September 1…was also the day that I would wake up facing a new season of life.  Dan and I have spent much time in prayer and conversation both together and with a small group of trusted friends & family members seeking wisdom and direction for our future.  

We have been here before – early in our marriage when we chose to both leave full-time youth ministry to have Dan pursue his college degree and then again when he graduated  and we decided to work in Christian education instead of the church ministry that we thought would be our direction. In 1997 we took a major leap of faith when we set out to start a Christian high school from scratch with no personal income and no major financial investors or donors. Then three years ago when we felt led to redirect the use of my gifts and talents away from business pursuits to bring our school to a new level of excellence.

And now we are here…another crossroads in life, another time of change and challenges, another opportunity to step out in faith and see our BIG God – do BIG things!

Here are our Financial Facts

  1. On paper Dan’s Christian school salary along with a small income from my CM business pays for all of our financial obligations (what we have committed funds to – not food & daily living) with a shortfall of $111.
  2. We live a very simple life with little extra’s – no fancy phones, no cable, no new clothes, camping vacation, old vehicles, small home, few home repairs completed, lots of beans & rice – etc…
  3. Of all of our financial obligations the only extra’s we could cut are Netflix(done!), school fees by pulling the girls out of school which we do not feel is God’s will and do not plan to do(while we do not pay tuition as a benefit of Dan’s employment we do pay the fees which with 3 enrolled this year it is a monthly bill that could save us money) and we could re-negotiate with our orthodontist for a lower monthly payment which we will pursue. These things would help alleviate the shortfall. 
  4. Some would argue that we could cut out our extra giving (World Vision, Compassion International, Missionary support) but this does not sit well with our spirit so unless God spoke directly for us to do that we will not.
  5. Our mortgage is less than almost anywhere we would rent so “downsizing” is not really an option to save money (We live in a 1400 square foot home)
  6. What we “on paper” do not have money for and what my compensation took care of is – food, household & personal supplies, gas, saving for yearly bills like car registrations, property taxes, homeowners fees, and all the “little” things that come up, when essential things break down or homeschool expenses.
  7. My income also paid for our “extras” of  life – sports fees, field trips, birthday parties, christmas, senior year extra expenses, baby portraits, gas to visit friends or family, postage, make up, hair cuts, special events, coffee & ice cream – all things that are a bonus but we can live without!

Please do not think that I am complaining because I am not. I have an amazing & blessed life that I love! 

Please do not think that we are disturbed, distressed or distraught because we are not! I simply share these “facts” to give you an idea of one of the areas that we are believing for God to take care of during this next season of life. (not to mention many of you are facing the same challenges and I hope it encourages you to know that you are not alone and increase your faith that God is in control)

Here is our Foundation of Faith

  1. God will provide for all of our needs – “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Phillipans 4:19
  2. God has a perfect plan – “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
  3. God will give us wisdom – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
  4. God will use our trials to help others (so if you are troubled about the “wisdom” of our openness this is why – we hope it encourages others) – “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
  5. God is doing a new work in us that will result in great growth & results and we are thrilled!  – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
  6. God has uniquely and purposefully given us gifts to be used for His purpose in the body. I need to continue to use those gifts for God  – “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13  (also 1  Corinthians 12 & Matthew 25:14-30)

Now about that Future

We believe that God is opening new doors for me to use the gifts and talents He gave me in the areas of speaking and writing to inspire others to live a life of purpose, passion and praise.

I have been speaking and writing for over 25 years as a youth pastor, teacher, businesswoman, blogger and development director. I have been used by God to inspire those around me in many facets of life through interpersonal relationships that I have developed along the way. I know God has also given me the experience and opportunities to grow these gifts.  I take no credit for what God has done. It is all Him! I want to follow His voice and His lead.

So after wrapping up a few details for our school this coming week, I will begin to step out in faith looking to and leaning on the Lord for wisdom, guidance, strength and His divine favor as we start a new work…

Inspire Ministries

living a life of purpose, passion & praise

I hope that through this new ministry that I will be able to speak and write to people of all ages and all walks of life and inspire them to be purposeful & passionate about their:

  • life
  • future
  • relationships
  • calling (vocation or ministry)
  • marriage
  • parenting
  • faith

while also inspiring us all to live a life of praise which includes – a life of gratitude, glorifying to God, a life worthy of praise and commendation.

I hope to use the avenues of conferences, retreats, special events, meetings, conference calls, webinars and church services to speak about these things that God has placed on my heart.  I hope to also write articles, books and increase my blogging to also accomplish this purpose. I hope to be available to continue helping others through my everyday life as well…those “divine” appointments God puts in all of our paths.

I am ready & willing to put my whole heart into this ministry…investing my time and talent.  Dan too will be involved, as he is able, in addition to his awesome ministry to young people at Jim Elliot. (He is a great speaker with many insights on the Word of God, ministering to teens, marriage & parenting) 

We are believing and praying that the Lord will bring us others to partner with us through both their prayers and financial support.  We want those who believe in

  • our message
  • our example
  • our love for others
  • our integrity
  • our ability to communicate effectively

to help us get this ministry going and then keep it growing strong and giving us the freedom to speak wherever God leads us (not only to churches or organizations with large budgets or resources). 

To start up this ministry (paperwork, filing non-profit status, creating a website, mailings, promotional & home office expenses) will take approximately $10,000.  To keep it running we will need to initially raise $4,000 a month. (for example perhaps 200 supporters at $20 per month or  100 at $40 a month)  We know that if this is truly the Lord’s will….that He will provide the resources for us to go out and inspire others through speaking and writing.

As I begin a new year of life and a new season of ministry I am filled with excitement to see what God will do in us and through us. My prayer is that we will –

  • Live a life on the cutting edge!
  • Live a life of extraordinary faith!
  • Live a life surrendered to God!
  • Live a life that inspires others to live a life of purpose, passion & praise!

To Life! To Life! L’Chaim!

P.S.  If you are…

  • interested in partnering with us through prayer and financial support of this new ministry
  • would like to be on the Inspire Ministries mailing list
  • have words of encouragement or wisdom for us in this endevour
  • are interested in having me (or Dan or both of us) coming to speak at your church, group, ministry, conference, retreat or organization and want to start exploring that opportunity

…please leave a comment on this blog or email me at inspire@bethlambdin.net

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Economics, Faith, Jim Elliot Christian High School, Life at the Lambdins

My deepest desires

Today I cried.

Ok, so actually I cry easily – most every Sunday during worship, while watching movies, videos or commercials with anything that is the slightest bit touching, as I speak about things I am passionate about, watching a child be born, at baptisms, graduations, weddings & funerals and yes, even when the National Anthem is being played at ballgames.  It is true! Ask my kids who are constantly looking over to see if Mom is getting weepy again at any given moment.  I probably “tear up” almost daily.

But today was different.  Today was one of those heart wrenching, sobbing, deep from within cries that hit me like a brick.  I suppose it was a culmination of things – dealing with “tough love” issues with friends that didn’t go so well,  facing some hard realities about our upcoming financial changes, being overly tired from a pretty jam-packed schedule of late nights, early mornings and excessive driving, feeling inadequate, under appreciated and unaccepted by people who are important to me and of course hormones that are raging at this moment in life!

I found myself face down on my bed, sobbing into my pillow and feeling crushed under the weight of emotion.  It has been a very long time since I have cried with such intensity over my own life.  In fact, as I thought about it I can count on one hand the times that I have truly broken down and wept like that:

  • The death of my beloved father
  • A shocking betrayal by longtime trusted friends
  • The end of a dear friends marriage
  • My daughter’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes

And I am truly grateful that my life has not included some of the tragic events that can bring you to your knees in total all consuming grief.  And yet despite not having a specific tragedy in my life, I was grieving something deep in my heart today.  After the tears subsided leaving me with very red eyes, a runny nose and puffy face and I was able to spend some time contemplating my emotional state and searching my heart for the reasons behind my inexplicable “cry-out”, I realized that it came down to three things:

  1. I want to be loved unconditionally –  don’t we all?  Is not every heart longing to be loved in a deep satisfying way?  We look for this love throughout our entire lives. We look for it first in our parents, then from our friends and in that “perfect” relationship with a spouse that is destined to be our soul mate. I don’t want to earn it or deserve it, I just want to be loved. Sacrificial, committed, perfect love.
  2. I want to be accepted for who I am – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am who I am.  Not that I will ever stop trying to be a better person, smooth out my flaws or improve my character. Nor do I want to ever cease growing into the best version of myself.  Yet again, I am who I am.  I have been given a personality with both strengths and weaknesses.  I have been given gifts and talents as well as struggles and challenges. I have done some great things with my life as well as my share of evil and ungodly actions. I want to be accepted just the way I am with all my failings and imperfections.
  3. I want my needs to be provided for.  Now, maybe this is a girl thing, I do not know, but at times I just want to be taken care of. I want to be as free as a child who knows that all of her daily needs will be met by her parents.  I want to be provided for not to always work, struggle or contend.  I want a caretaker, a personal assistant, a cook, a maid, a masseuse……ok not really my “needs” but you get the idea.  To live a life free of striving.

Can anyone else out there relate to these desires?  I think you just might.  I believe that we all have similar desires in our lives.  What surprised me as I analyzed my break down was how deep these desires resonated with me even though I am surrounded by those who love me, accept me and take care of me. How could I feel these needs so deeply when:

  • I had parents growing up who showered us with unconditional love and provided for our every need
  • I have an abundance of family members who would do most anything for me
  • I have always been blessed with deep and meaningful friendships with many people throughout my life
  • I have a handful of close friends who are constantly reaching out to provide things to make my life better
  • I have simply the most amazing husband ever who loves me through everything and works hard to take care of me
  • I have eight children who pour love into my life, accept my imperfections and love to call me their Mom

With all that love and acceptance how could I still have those deep desires?

Is it because God has put the desire in my heart that only He can completely meet?  No one else can truly love me with a sacrificial and unconditional love.  No one else can really accept me…warts and all….just the way I am.  No one else can provide for all of my needs.  Only God and God alone can touch the depths of my heart and fill me to overflowing.

I know that.

I have lived that.

I have shared that with others.

But perhaps today I needed to feel the emotions of deeply desiring that love, acceptance and provision so I could allow Him to once again draw me close into His loving arms.  Now I just need to stay there!

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Filed under Attitude, Faith, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges

The Voices Inside My Head

Several months ago I wrote a post about my hearts desire – to minister to others through speaking and writing. At the time I was trying to get a scholarship to attend “She Speaks”, a special conference designed specifically for Christian speakers and writers.  In order to be considered for that scholarship you had to write a blog post, so in the midst of a crazy time of life, I stopped and wrote this post – No Time Like the Present.  And no, I did not get one of the scholarships but through a strange turn of events and the generosity of a few friends I found myself on an airplane this week flying across the country to attend this conference.

As I arrived this morning I was in a very abnormal melancholy mood. I felt like I was surrounded by a cloud as I picked up my registration packet, mingled with other conference attenders and got ready to attend the first of many sessions and workshops.  It was especially odd to me as I had been beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to attend this conference and glean everything possible from the wealth of knowledge and experience that would surround me.  I shrugged it off as missing my husband and kids or having to get up early (I am simply not a morning person).

A bit later in the morning I began to have some impressions and voices in my head saying over and over again:

  • “What are you doing here?”
  • “You have nothing of any importance to say?”
  • “No one will ever ask you to come speak or be interested in reading a book you write”
  • “Who are you to think you should speak or write” (and an additional dig…”you can’t even write consistently on your blog”)

Strange voices indeed for Beth Lambdin.  You see I am not use to hearing voices like that.  I have a pretty good recording in my head, thanks to my parents that continually spoke words like this as I was growing up:

  • “You are beautiful, talented, smart & creative”
  • “You can do anything you set your heart & mind to do”
  • “You were created by God to do great things”

And since I believe the Bible to be the absolute truth & have committed many scriptures to memory I also hear these words in my head often:

  • You are the apple of God’s eye, the salt of the earth & the light of the world
  • You are fearfully & wonderfully made, a new creation in Christ
  • You are chosen of God, holy & dearly loved
  • You can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives you strength
  • You are called by God & anointed to preach

And despite this great foundation, for a moment I was seriously meditating on those defeating and discouraging thoughts. However, as the foreign voices & words came faster and faster I almost laughed out loud in the middle of the session. Wow! It hit me like a brick!  What a SURE sign this was that the enemy of my soul was not happy that I was at this conference.  I immediately silenced his condemnation with a prayer in Jesus name and sat up straight and began to write with gusto all that was being spoken about from the podium. I got extremely excited to think about what God had for me this weekend that caused Satan to bother to  try to throw such trash into my head.  The cloud lifted and the mood dissolved instantly.

I was able to be alert and ready to receive ideas and inspiration throughout the entire day and I felt reenergized and infused with faith, hope and vision for my life. (and there are still two days left!) Later that evening the speaker reminded us all that according to Ephesians Chapter 6 we are in a spiritual battle and that Satan has no business in this place, another confirmation that my experience earlier in the day was an attack.

The last speaker of the evening besides being incredibly inspirational ended his message with a short prayer that caused me to smile from ear to ear. He had us repeat it out loud after him and it went something like this…”Beloved Lord, Let me always speak the truth about what I am….I am wonderful! Amen”  Yet another layer of God’s truth speaking to my heart!

As I got into my rental car tonight to head back to my accommodations, God decided to give me one more reminder of the truth of who I am and what I can do for Him as this song began playing the moment I turned on the car:

Isn’t God just so good? Perhaps someone reading this post is also being plagued with discouraging, defeating or negative thoughts today. Maybe you too are needing a fresh reminder of who you really are. And I am confident that someone needs to be reminded that they are in a spiritual battle! (No those voices of rejection, discouragement & defeat are not your own!)  Stop listening to the enemy and the lies and speak the truth from God’s word about everything you are, all that you will become and the great things you will do! Fight the good fight of faith…you will win!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”   2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Off to bed excited and anticipating all that is in store for me tomorrow on day two of the “She Speaks” conference.  More later…..

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Filed under Faith, Life Lessons, Positive Words

Where is your treasure?

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Ok the bad news first:  It appears that we may soon hit another downturn in our personal financial situation.  With an anticipated upcoming job change our  income will be reduced by 40% in the coming months. (yes, you read that correctly 40%…and no it has nothing to do with the economy)  Since we already live pay check to pay check, needless to say this is a pretty big deal for our family financial situation.

The good news?: I am not stressed. I am not worried. I am not fearful. (and no, I am not lying!)  While a very occasional twinge of  “oh my…what are we going to do” pops up in my heart (and I know that is not God’s voice), I have a complete peace & trust in the Lord who was and is and always will be in control of my life. 

I have not always had this type of peace about finances. In fact over half my adult life was spent worrying, fretting and continually stressing about money…primarily the lack of it.  Instead of trusting the Lord to provide (as He always did), I was in a constant state of trying to “figure out” how our family could continue to be in the full-time ministry of Christian education and survive. (where the pay is often at or just above the federal poverty guidelines…now while I personally think this is unacceptable and a sad commentary on the value placed on those who serve our children and the Lord as Christian school teachers, mentors & administrators,  the weight of that responsibility will fall onto those board members & leaders who have been entrusted these institutions and I have chosen to leave that in their hands instead of whining, complaining or walking away in frustration  from the ministry God has called us to).

It actually took a major financial fallout for me to even begin to surrender this area of finances to the Lord.  Thirteen years ago we lost 100% of our income and I was completely overwhelmed with stress, worry and fear. I knew in my head what God’s word said about His provision but when it came right down to it, my heart did not truly believe.  It was during these very rough years (and there were several of them) that I  began to really believe that God alone was my provider…no matter who wrote the check! I experienced His provision in miraculous ways. I also learned many lessons & principles:

  • the difference between needs and wants (God promises to provide our needs)
  • humility, perseverance & patience
  • making memories & showing love is more lasting than any birthday or Christmas gift you give
  • children are better served & more appreciative when they pay their own way
  • don’t try to always figure it all out!

Since that time we have had years of prosperity (at least by our definition…we got to go out to a restaurant on date night instead of walking the Costco aisles & enjoying the samples!) thanks to the Lord blessing my home business venture for a season.  We have also had several cycles of  financial strain but each time my faith and trust grew stronger.  I now no longer just say out of my mouth  I trust in God to provide….I truly believe it in my heart.

In the past month since we became aware of this potential financial challenge looming ahead, we have had an unusual amount of opportunities to give money – to students going on short term missions this summer, to our pastor as a retirement gift, to JECHS for student scholarships, to a family who is in dire need of formula & diapers, to helping with adoption expenses for others.  In the past during financial struggles, while we have never completely stopped giving, we did seriously limit what we gave.  However this month I have just decided to “carry on” in our giving as if nothing had changed.  In fact I decided to go farther than that and give something to every need I was presented. Wow!  God was once again bringing me to an even new level of trusting Him (just when ya think you have arrived!)

Yesterday I had an experience that touched my heart deeply & caused me to come to an even greater understanding of how God wants me to view finances.  I jumped onto facebook for a quick update on my friends and read about a young South African gal who herself has come from a life of poverty and through the generosity of others was attending a discipleship training school with YWAM and yet was in need of several thousand dollars to attend the outreach part of the program in Haiti. I purposed in my heart to give to this young lady and decided to ask the “big” girls if any of them wanted to chip in….only Kristen was home at the time and she had just minutes prior finished a baby sitting job. After hearing the need she handed me the entire amount she received for 2 hours of childcare. It touched my heart that she without any hesitation would be willing to bless someone that she did not even know.  I gratefully thanked the Lord for all of our financial hardships along the way because they caused us to often be the ones in need of help or at times raise support for family missions trips and to adopt our sweet baby girl.  The result of us often being in need surely has developed a heart of giving to those in need in my own children. I can’t even put a value on that benefit of our financial struggles.  As the rest of the girls arrived home, not surprisingly  they each choose to chip in to help this girl get to Haiti. My joy overflowed! And yet there is more….several hours later my seven year old daughter, Joy came up to me with her fists clinched full of change and said, “Mommy, I want to help too…here is everything I have.”  Be still my heart!  At that moment I had a revelation from God.

Joy gave all that she had because:

1. She completely trusts her Mom & Dad to provide for all her needs now & in the future (just as I need to completely trust God, my Father to provide for all my needs)

2. She knows that her family (ie: big sisters) will bless her with “extra’s” if she is wanting an icee at the swim meet or to go to the movies with the sisters (just as we all should count on one another in the church, the body of Christ to share our things , give to those in need and bless one another)

3. She did not think about what she was giving up but rather about who she was helping & giving too. She was so happy to be a “giver”. (Lord, help me to always be generous  & joyful in my giving to those in need)

4. She gave it all! (and we have a hard time giving 10%, 20%, 30%…yes I was convicted)

I was reminded of this verse in Matthew 6:19

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Her sweet heart is full of God, her family & others…so that is where she put her treasure. Today as I send off a check, each of my daughters will have sent a portion of their treasure to further God’s kingdom in Haiti through a young poor (in riches but not in spirit) South African girl.

Where is your treasure going today?

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

You asked for it….my God inspired love story

The past few days have been spent sharing with my husbands Bible Classes at Jim Elliot Christian High School.  He is  currently teaching a section on dating, relationships & marriage and had asked me to come and share my personal life story and philosophy. Over the years many have asked me to share my story and recently a JECHS alumni asked if I could write it down for her to share with others.  So here you go! 

I began with my experience as a “typical” high school student…in many ways just like them (minus cell phones, the Internet & facebook).  I was actively involved in sports, student council, music, my church youth group and more.  I had many friends and enjoyed a very full social life.  I began a relationship with a young man during my freshman year in high school that despite many ups & downs persevered throughout all of my high school years, to both of our detriment.  Having both been raised in church, while we had the appearance of being “good” Christian young people, our hearts were far from Godly pursuits. During the summer before my senior year in high school I had an encounter with God that took my love for Him to a new height and began a personal journey of faith that continues to this day.  I knew that the relationship I was in was a stumbling block to me in many ways and I felt that still small voice of God in my heart telling me that it needed to end.  So with a faith and trust in God I sat down with this young man who I had given my heart to and ended the relationship of more than two years.  I wish I could have told the students that from that point on there was “nothing but blue skies” as I joyfully spent my senior year in high school serving the Lord and growing in grace, knowledge, wisdom and service.  But unfortunately, while there were many wonderful things about that year…because I kept going back on my decision to not be in that relationship (in fact I think we did the break up & make up thing several times that year)…we both suffered many devastating consequences.  The relationship did finally come to a final and troubling end just weeks before my high school graduation.

As a result of that high school experience combined with a growing passion for the Lord and commitment to my faith I began to formulate a dating philosophy.  After my first year at UOP followed by a very impactful summer serving at Hume Lake Christian Camp where I spent time in prayer as well as watching others date and go in & out of relationships, I made a commitment to a “season of singleness” in my life when I decided to no longer date but to give myself exclusively to seeking & serving the Lord while waiting for Him to bring me the perfect match.  The Lord gave me this scripture during that time in my life – 

But I want you to be free from concern; One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord, but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife and his interests are divided.

The woman who is unmarried, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

I wanted to be wholly undistracted & devoted to the Lord and I committed myself to seeking Him & Him alone and forsaking all other dating or intimate relationships until He clearly told me it was time! I desired that the next person I dated would be the man that I would marry.

That decision to not date resulted in four years of developing an intimate relationship with the Lord where He became my “everything” and I grew more into the person He wanted me to become.  I was able to fully serve others and led many close friends to the Lord as well as becoming a full-time youth pastor ministering to hundreds of youth. (the funny thing is that several of the students in those JECHS classes  I just taught had parents who were in my youth group!)

I also spent time deciding what type of man I actually wanted to be married to someday. My list included

  • A man who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength
  • A man who is self-sacrificing – who you see regularly denying his own desires and putting others before himself. (not only giving of his time, talent & treasure to help his family and friends but also volunteering and serving others without getting anything in return)
  • A man who shared my priorities of faith, family, friends & ministry
  • A man who shared my values – pro-life with a heart & passion for the unborn, liberty, service, patriotic, the Bible as the inerrant word of God, importance of corporate worship & fellowship with believers, God is in control of my life, my things, my money and my future, children being raised by their parents not by paid personnel
  • A man who shared my purpose – to minister together to young people and make a profound difference in their lives
  • A man who likes babies and views children as a blessing from God 
  • A man who respects his Mom & treats her with kindness
  • A man who was kind, compassionate, patient, faithful and committed
  • A man who was my very best friend with shared interests and enjoyment of just being together

As a result of making this “list” I also was convicted to become a woman that a man of this caliber would desire to marry.  That was a bit more challenging than making the list.

A bonus to this “season of singleness” was being able to avoid the pointless dating, relationship & break up cycle that often results in a broken & damaged heart and physical impurity.  I see too many young people who are hurt by dating and relationships and carry the scars with them for a very long time.  I have to believe that God has a better way for them to live & learn.

I shared how this “no dating” decision was met with disdain & ridicule by some friends, family members & even other believers.  I was considered “strange” or “out there” by many.  But I held my ground, despite others opinions, knowing that the Lord clearly led me to make this commitment.

That season lasted a short four years  and was an incredible and awesome time in my life that I will always cherish!

And the rest of the story? How did I go from not dating to a married woman?  Well, this is the wonderful love story that God orchestrated just for me!  It was in the fall of 1985 when God began to move in my heart and do a new thing in my life.  Little did I know however that the man He would ultimately lead me to commit my heart & life to was a part of my life during the entire time I was in that “season of singleness.”

I had met Dan Lambdin as a freshman at the University of the Pacific.  His sister, Jennae was one of my dorm mates and since my own family had moved 3000 miles away from California to Virginia, she invited me to join with her family for many occasions.  Dan was not a Christian at that time and if someone had told me that one day he would be my husband I would have, well let’s just say, I would have laughed.  He was certainly nice enough but his morals and lifestyle were starkly different than my own and spiritually we were miles apart. He was simply and only…my good friend’s brother.  He came to know the Lord Jesus the following Spring and over the next few years we developed a casual friendship.

After college I became the youth pastor at a local church and very quickly realized that as a single young woman,  I needed HELP from a few good men!  I asked several of my brothers in Christ, including Dan, to volunteer with the youth & disciple the young men.  During that next year Dan & I became close friends as we ministered together.  I grew to admire and respect his strong faith as well as his incredible ability to influence the teens in the youth group. We, along with the entire youth staff spent much time together praying, ministering & fellowshiping. During this time there were several men of God all around me and many friends who desired to play matchmaker, yet I was determined to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord & do His work until He showed me the man I would marry.

One weekend Dan’s mother called & asked me to come listen to her share at a Bible study at her church. Over the years we had become close so of course I agreed to come & listen along with a dear friend.  At the meeting, Dan stood up to introduce his Mom & pray.  I can not explain to you in the natural the feeling that came over me.  It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes & I was seeing this man for the first time.  I felt the Lord impressing on me that his would be the man I would someday marry.

I left the meeting a bit shaken and wondering if I really had heard the Lord correctly.  I asked that God would confirm it through His written Word & in prayer.  I also knew that if this was really God that He would speak to Dan heart & that I was not to say a word.  I was not to be the “pursuer” in the relationship (oh if only women could stop doing the pursuing because we so desire to be valuable enough to be pursued).

 For the next several months I prayed consistently for God’s will to be done.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dan was seriously seeking the Lord for direction in his life.  He spent a week up at Springs of Living Water Christian Conference Center praying & seeking God.  During that time he decided to quit his job and pursue full-time ministry.  During that week the Lord also began to impress upon his heart that he may pursue a relationship with me.  He too took that to prayer.

Several months later in February of 1986 after we had driven together to the Springs of Living Water to pick up some of the youth group from counseling at winter camp, Dan decided to open the door to pursuing a relationship.  As I was getting ready to go home that evening he took my hand looked intently into my eyes and said with a twinkle in his eyes – “Perhaps you need to pray about if the Lord really wants you to marry someone with blonde hair & blue eyes”.  (Let me explain….over the years I had shared often with the youth group, which Dan was a leader in, my list of  godly characteristics I would look for in a husband…ok so really 99% of them were NOT physical attributes but I did often throw in – “and I’d love it if he had blonde hair & blue eyes”) I knew when Dan said that he was opening up the way for conversation to begin about where this friendship may be headed.  With my heart pounding, I blushed profusely, told him I had already been praying & quickly left….a bit amazed and very nervous at the events taking place before my very eyes. 

We did spend the next month in prayer seeking Gods will & confirmation.  Believing that the Lord often uses parents wisdom to lead & direct our lives, Dan called my father during that time to ask his blessing to marry me. My Dad said yes.

On March 18, 1986 at the end of our weekly youth service at church Dan stood up, took the microphone & said he had something to say.  At that moment one of the girls walked out & handed him a bouquet of red roses as I began to turn white realizing what he was about to do.  He told the youth group that he had a question to ask them – “I would like permission to marry your youth pastor”.  The room erupted in cheers, screams, clapping & jumping over chairs as he turned to me, got on his knees, opened a box with a beautiful diamond ring and asked – “Beth, will you marry me?”  I was a bit stunned but managed to say yes throughout all the chaos going on around me.  After the evening came to an end and Dan left to drive some students home, I sat alone in he darkened sanctuary singing songs of praise & worship to the Lord and thanking Him for His awesome plan for my life and for answering my prayers.

We went on our first official date two days later at a romantic candlelit restaurant and thus began a nine month courtship where our six years of friendship and our new found passion would grow & develop into a deep and committed love.  On December 20, 1986 we vowed before God & man to be committed to one another until death will someday part us.  It was truly “sealed with a kiss” (our first kiss….but that is another story for another day) We have now been married over 23 years and Dan is truly everything I could have ever hoped and prayed for (and some!) – the love of my life, my best friend and partner in everything! God is the perfect matchmaker!

I pray that my personal story will not only impact and perhaps challenge the student’s who hear it every year at JECHS and anyone who stumbles across this post to think differently about how they view dating & relationships and perhaps begin to seek God for His perfect plan for their lives.  May it cause you to think or re-think, question, be challenged, consider other possibilities, pray or even perhaps change your “dating & relationship” philosophy.  With the divorce rate standing at 50% in the USA…what do you have to lose? Perhaps it is time to change the way we do things around here.

We are raising our children to:

  • embrace a season of singleness in their lives and use that time to become the person God wants them to be
  • pray for & establish a standard for what they want in their future spouse
  • save their hearts, souls and bodies to give fully & purely to their marriage partner (without giving it away to others along life’s journey)
  • wait on the Lord for Him to match them with the perfect person at the perfect time

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Filed under Courtship, Faith, Life Lessons, Marriage

Longing for My Home

Well I have been home from my annual beach holiday for over a week now and I can’t stop wishing I was still there!  It doesn’t help that every time we pulled up into our driveway last week, my 2-year-old boy would yell out – “Not this house Mama…our beach house!”  I feel your pain lil’ guy!

Now don’t get me wrong I love my home.  I really do.  It is cozy & comfortable. I specifically love:

  • the big (by California standards) back yard
  • the 15 foot wide sliding glass door that lets in so much light
  • the location of the dining area that allows us to add extra tables and seat 16-18 people together for a meal
  • our remodeled (thanks to State Farm “being there” for us) kitchen
  • our extended family/school/office room (that has a very special place in my heart as it was expanded through the efforts of many friends & family giving of their time, talent & treasure, every time I walk in that room I feel loved & cherished)  

I love the location of our home right in the middle of town close to everything and I love Stockton (yes, that is right I do love this city….if you missed that post you can read it here) Not too mention, we have a lifetime of precious memories, hundreds of treasured friends and a school ministry here that bring us all great joy. I really do love my home and where I live!

And yet….I long to be at the beach!

The beach is amazing, miraculous & wonderous! 

The beach sunsets are divine!

The beach house is spectacular!

 My bed where I get to fall asleep listening to the ocean waves, watch the sun rise over Monterey Bay, sleep in whenever I wish and at times even stay in bed on a rainy day

 The beautiful view from my bed

 the view from the living room..it is almost like you are on the shore

 the porch where I enjoy my morning coffee, many a lunch and watch the sunsets each evening

 even cleaning the kitchen is a joy when you can look out at the ocean while you are doing it!

I love everything about being at the beach – the rhythm and roar of the ocean waves, the smell of the salt air, the soft sand between my toes,  the vast expanse of blue skies during the day & brilliant stars at night, Capitola Village, the Boardwalk, Bloomsbury Tea House, the many fine resteraunts especially The Crows Nest & Bittersweet Bistro and the salt water taffy.  I love it all!  But even more than the actual location.  I love who I am and what I do when I am at the beach for what I affectionately call my…”Beach Holiday” (for the past 8 years I have been able to have an extensive amount of time at a beach house rental on the California coast….and lest anyone think that we are wealthy or own a beach house let me share that this “holiday” rental has been 100% financed through my home based scrapbooking venture)

For a month I am away from it all….the daily grind of appointments, car pools, athletic events, school activities, classes, work, phone calls, messages, junk mail and more. I even take time away from making dinner (although I do cook for pleasure at the beach) and doing chores.  I rarely get in the car and some days I stay in my jammies all day long. There is no schedule, no agenda and no pressure.  It is my personal “heaven on earth”.

  • I take long walks on the seashore most every day

  • I whisper my love to my children & soak in their physical presence

  • I play games – Hearts, Mexican Train Dominos and Nerts (and I win! Had to say that girls)

  • I pray and worship the Lord
  • I enjoy relaxing with a cup of tea while reading for pleasure

  • I drink in the nightly sunsets and marvel at God’s glory

  • I hang out on the beach…digging holes, making sand castles, laying in the sun, playing ball with my kids

  • I watch good movies, read interesting articles on the computer, check out magazines and I scrapbook
  • I dance and sing loudly and act silly with my kids!

  • I savor my coffee and enjoy fabulous foods. I eat lots of ice cream!

  • I take bubble baths, get foot massages and put on facial treatments
  • I write love letters to my darling husband and count the days down until he arrives for our romantic weekends together

  • I stay up as late as I want, sleep in & take naps
  • I celebrate! Valentines Day, Birthdays & the anniversary of our engagement

  • I nurture relationships with family & friends
  • I reflect, think, dream & write
  • I stop doing and just “be”. I breathe. I relax. I enjoy.

Even as I write this blog entry and look over the hundreds of photos, that barely capture the essence of this beach holiday, I begin to wish I was back there. I feel such a longing in my heart to return to my personal paradise.

This weekend as I was running into friends that I have not seen in a month they each asked me how the beach had been and several wondered if I was glad to be back home.  I thought about that question and answered honestly that while I love being home….life here cannot compare to the beach holiday . As I spoke those words that still small voice of the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear…”That, Beth,  is how you should feel about heaven”. 

Wow!  What a revelation to me. I have always said that when it is my time to go, I am ready to meet the Lord and spend eternity in heaven, but I have never really longed for it. (ok maybe on some particularly hard days of sickness, troubles or excessive financial stress I have longed for it but not regularly) I have been quite content with my life here on earth. It is a good life and I do love it. If I am completely honest I thought of heaven as simply a “bonus” after living & loving here on earth. I believed that it would be awesome and wonderful but I didn’t long for it, hope for it and look forward to it the way I do with the Beach Holiday. Until now…

If God can make a creation like the one we live in that is “fallen” and scarred by sin…how much more will heaven be amazing, miraculous, beautiful,wonderous, spectacular & divine. 

  •  The beach I love so dearly will have nothing on the new heaven & new earth that God has prepared for us (“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not even entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9)
  • The multi million dollar beach home that is so much more spacious & luxurious than anything I may ever live in is nothing compared to the mansions that God has awaiting us.  (“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John14:2 )
  • The glorious, fulfilling, joyful and fun season I have at the beach each year will not light a candle to what I can look forward to forever in eternity.  (“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 64:11)
  • The rest, peace and freedom from stress I experience is just a small minute fraction of the true everlasting rest and peace I get to look forward to with the Lord.   (“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27)
  • And if you read the description of heaven in the Bible besides the promise of no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and no more pain, it describes precious stones, pearls, cities of pure transparent gold, pure water clear as crystal, a tree of life that bears a different fruit each month and a banquet table to feast upon….and that is just the beginning.

Now that is exciting to me. That is something to look forward to and long for!

Longing for my beach holiday each year does not mean that I do not enjoy my life here with all its relationships, good times and memorable moments because I do live life to its fullest the 11 months that I am not at the beach.  However, throughout the year I do think about it, look ahead for it, get excited about it, tell others about it and get ready for it which all bring me happiness as well. Longing for heaven should be the same.

 And the greatest thing about heaven is not only will it be my “forever” Beach Holiday it will also be my home! 

If you are unsure that you have this amazing, beautiful, miraculous, wonderous, spectacuular and divine eternal life to look forward to I would love to share with you my hope of salvation through Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Attitude, Faith, Inspiration, Life Lessons

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

Oh Happy Day!

Today is a happy day!

Sixteen years ago today, my eldest daughter Michelle attended a children’s outreach service at our church and at the end she walked the aisle and gave her heart to the Lord Jesus as her Savior & Lord.  I can clearly remember sitting with her in the back of a dimly lit sanctuary along with Dan & her baby sister Amy as we watched a puppet show that shared the simple message of salvation –

  1. God loves you more than you can ever know (to the moon & back) & He wants to be your friend
  2. You are away from God because of  the  “bad” things you do
  3. God sent Jesus, His only son to the earth to die (take your “time out” or spankin’) for your sins
  4. If you believe in Him and speak out of your mouth that Jesus is your Lord….you will be His friend  & get to live forever!

When they asked the kids to raise their hands if they wanted Jesus…Michelle’s hand shot up with no hesitation and she and her daddy walked to the altar where she prayed.  I was bouncing Amy in the back of the sanctuary with tears of joy rolling down my face as I watched my child trust in my Savior.  Yes…..Oh happy day!

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Having myself been raised in a Christian home and never remembering a time that I did not believe in Jesus (although I clearly remember a life changing event as a teenager when I fully committed my life to Him), we wanted to be sure to memorialize this moment for each of our children…knowing that while there would be different levels of knowledge & faith as they grew and matured this would always be the foundational point of their spiritual lives…the moment they first believed.  So we celebrate each and every year the day that they trusted in Jesus for the  first time.  

5969_102477437661_633092661_2131007_1051612_nToday Michelle has a vibrant & strong faith in her Lord that she strives to “live out loud” each day of her life… and nothing brings me greater joy! Oh Happy Day!

 

 

 

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Filed under Faith, Family Traditions, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Parenting

How does your garden grow?

This summer my sweet 10 year old Grace decided she wanted to start a garden.  Being the homeschooling Mom that I am…I said,  “Great! This can be your summer science project.”  (my motto – everything in life is school!)  With that she began to research what might grow best in our backyard, purchased all the things she needed for her garden and began the hard work of weeding the area and preparing the soil for planting.

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Besides her research on the Internet, her daddy helped provide some of the labor, her sisters cheered her on with support, her Aunt Caroline gave her the wisdom of her experience (which her parents completely lacked) and even Daniel chipped in to help start her garden!

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Since we got going a little late, she began mainly with seedlings – deciding on corn, bell peppers, cantaloupe and tomatoes.  She also used seeds to grow carrots, pumpkins & watermelon.

After the initial planting she simply did two things almost everyday – watered & weeded.  Since we are blessed to live in the very fertile and very sunny Central Valley of California….God did the rest.  The garden grew! 

fab friday 074I was amazed at the growth. In fact it seemed like almost everyday there was noticable change….first in heighth and width, then in flowers blooming, then in density and before we knew it the garden was big, beautiful and bountiful! 

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It became our morning ritual to go out to the garden and marvel how much everything had grown each & everyday.  It was miraculous to us that these things that we had planted were really growing into food that we could soon enjoy.

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During this past month we were blessed with an abundant harvest of vegetables  – we enjoyed the incredible farm fresh taste, the convenience of bringing food in right from the backyard and the great satisfaction of having grown them ourselves.

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These delicious vegetables also motivated us to try out some new recipes that made this gardening experience even richer for us.  There is something about taking your homegrown creations from this —

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to this  (delectable gourmet tomato soup) that brings complete satisfaction of the body, soul & spirit –

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As a new gardener I am still in awe of the fact that we were actually able to grow our own food.  To many, this probably  sounds silly….”why of course they grew”, you may be thinking, “I mean, what did you expect?”  I am not sure that I expected it to be so easy.  Just do the right things –

  1. Prepare the soil
  2. Plant the seedlings
  3. Water & Weed

Hmmmmm…I am sure there is  life lesson in there –> just do the “right things” and you can expect good results.  That is simple right? 

Well almost.  We did have a few vegetables that we planted in other parts of our yard that did not fare as well – our watermelon, pumpkins & a few extra tomato plants. Yes, we prepped, planted, watered & weeded but the growth just did not happen like the plants in the main garden.  What was the difference? 

The amount of sun!

While these plants got some sun everyday, they were also shaded by trees and the house and did not receive full sunlight as the others did.  This resulted in not only slower & stunted growth (and even death of the watermelon plant that was in way too much shade) but a miniscule harvest and in some cases no vegetables at all.

We learned that sunlight was of utmost importance to the growth and development of our garden, no matter how diligent we were to care for the plants.  They simply needed more than what we could provide….they needed God given provision of sunlight.  Just like our lives.

We can do everything “right” and yet even with our best efforts we cannot completely grow & produce a bountiful harvest without God’s provision through His Son, Jesus Christ –

  • His amazing grace
  • His unfailing mercy
  • His unconditional & everlasting love
  • His perfect peace
  • His powerful strength

How will you grow the garden of your life?

Will you move into the SON today and bask in the grace, mercy & love of God while being renewed by His peace & empowered by His strength so that you can grow, flourish and produce a life of abundance to be enjoyed by you and all those around you? I pray that we will all live in the Son.

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