Category Archives: Family & Friends Friday

Happy Valentines Day!

Growing up, especially in my teenage and early college years, Valentines Day was a time to either enjoy the attentions of a specific young man or to pine away or even pout that there was no special valentine on the horizon. Of course I always enjoyed the specially picked cards and yummy heart shaped boxes of candy I always received from my father but more often than not I found myself lamenting with my girlfriends that we had no valentine.

It wasn’t until I was 19 that I realized the incredible blessing of not having a “special someone” in my life and began to enjoy a season of singleness.  During those short five years, I spent Valentines Day learning about the great love of my Lord Jesus.  Which in turn was a wonderful preparation for sharing a great love with the one He would bring to my life to be my love, my best friend and my partner in everything…dear darling Dan!

In 1996 after the Lord choose to bless us with four daughters (that later grew to six daughters), Dan and I decided that we did not want our girls “pining away” for the affections of young men each year on Valentines Day or feel like they were missing out by not being in an exclusive relationship before they were mature enough both spiritually and emotionally ready for it. (Which in my never to be humble opinion does not happen in the teen years)  We decided to make Valentines Day all about them — instead of about us — although Dan and I always exchange cards and sometimes special gifts. Look at my beautiful floral bouquet! I LOVE fresh flowers….they make me smile with my heart. (For those of you who live in the Stockton/Lodi area – we know a FABULOUS floral designer for weddings or other special events – Blossoms by Lisa)


  Our purpose in doing Valentines Day in this way was three fold:

  1. To make Valentines Day at home the most fun, special, warm time they could imagine – in hopes that when they hit the hormonal teen years they would relish in Valentines Day with their family.
  2. To use Valentines Day as a time to talk & teach about the greatest love of all – the love of our Lord Jesus Christ – the ultimate romance! (“And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you” Isaiah 62:5)
  3. To have their Daddy treat them special…thus showing them an example and setting a standard of how they should be treated by a godly man in the future.

Here are some of the ways we accomplish these goals:

  •  First we have some very fun (& yummy) Valentines Day traditions including Daddy making and serving them pink heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.























The girls and I make heart shaped sugar cookies & decorate them…always GREAT fun. (and cookies are my BIGGEST weakness…so yes I took today off of the diet – for my once a month vacation day!)

Later that evening we have a fancy diner complete with classical music, candlelight & flowers.  Dad cooks up a delicious meal and the girls have the “night off” from chores.  I help cook, set table, serve & clean up! (something I do not do the remaining 364 days of the year) In the beginning years we all dressed up fancy but more recently we have been at the beach for Valentines day…so it has been more of a “casual elegance”.  Over dinner we share about the love of our Lord as well as the standards the girls should have when they get to the time of their life for courtship, love and marriage.  As the girls have gotten older we pray for their future spouses and that they would choose wisely and well. (The decision as to who to marry is second only in importance to choosing Christ) Tonight we had a fabulous discussion over dinner that carried on for a couple of hours!

We finish our festivities watching one of our many favorite “Jane Austen” era movies – which the girls love for their traditional old fashion courtship portrayals…especially watching how most of the men are so proper and formal in their treatment of the women whose hearts they are trying to win!  (We are counting on many of you out there raising up dashing young men who will come and ask their father for permission to “call” on our daughters!)

Now that we are blessed to be raising a young man, we will be looking for ways to use Valentines Day to train him (and hopefully soon…”them”) up to be godly men who know how to treat a lady and who will love and serve their beloved as Christ has loved and served us! Any ideas or advice from those of you who have accomplished that are welcome!

Happy Valentines Day!


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Our annual Christmas Open House


One of the highlights of our entire Christmas season is our annual Lambdin Family Holiday Open House!

We have been hosting this event since 1991 – for seventeen years! As a child my Mom & Dad began having annual Holiday Open Houses in 197, when I was nine years old.  It was something we all looked forward to as kids because it wasn’t an “adult party” only.  We all chipped in to get the preparations done, we all hosted and we all cleaned up.  My mother has carried on this tradition now for 36 years!

Dan & I began to follow this tradition after one of our favorite classes graduated from Brookside Christian High School in 1991.  We wanted to have a place for them to “come home” to and see their friends during Christmas break and we wanted to see them all too!  We invite everyone on our Christmas card mailing list and we have close to 100 friends and family show up throughout the evening each year including Brookside & Jim Elliot alumni, current JECHS students & staff, church members, Creative Memories consultants and clients, neighbors, homeschool co-op families and all who have been a part of our lives.

We have gotten very creative with our living space to accommodate the growing number of people God has blessed us with.  For years we provided all the food but in 1997 when we were both unemployed – and attempting to start JECHS and a CM business – instead of not hosting the party we simply asked everyone to bring a small holiday snack to share.  It has worked out perfectly.  However, our famous meatballs have become a tradition at the open house and many people enjoy them each year (some even say – I’m here for the meatballs!)

This year was once again a beautiful evening of reuniting with old friends, celebrating the season and enjoying the company of all.  There is always lots of laughter, love and hugs throughout the entire open house.  We are so blessed with wonderful friends and a precious family.

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Family & Friends Friday – Happy Birthday Dan!

Happy Birthday to the love of my life, best friend & partner in everything!

(aka: dear darling hubby – ddh or “Dan the Man”)

Dearest Dan,

I pray that your special day is blessed beyond measure!  

  • May the Lord your God pour out to you His abundant love, grace, faithfulness, joy and peace.
  • May your students both near & far affirm your calling to young people and the influence you have had in their lives.
  • May your co-workers at JECHS encourage, support and praise you as you minister together for God’s kingdom
  • May your friends remember you with kind words, appreciation and laughter
  • May your family share their heartfelt sentiments of how much they love, support and are proud to call you their son and brother
  • May your children shower you with love, hugs and kisses and may you bask in the joy and contentment of their complete adoration and respect of you…their awesome Daddy.

I am blessed by you each & every moment of my life.  You are truly the best!  I know I have told you this before but the Lord truly shined down upon me when he gave you to me as my closest friend, my faithful husband, my hard working partner in everything we do and the true love of my life.

May a portion of how you have blessed others come pouring out to you today as you celebrate another year of life.

I love you!



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Family & Friends Friday – the patch

We are in the midst of a weekend of family traditions, birthday celebrations (Amy girl turns 15 today – Happy Birthday sweetheart! And our dear lifelong friend, “Sallee” has a birthday tomorrow), athletic events & a fellowship get together!  And it is all good!  Yesterday was another Lambdin annual family tradition (to read why family traditions are not only fun but important & meaningful – click here)

Pumpkin Patch Day

We have been going to Phillips Farm Pumpkin Patch in Lodi during one of the last Fridays in October for 17 years!  It is one of our favorite fall outings.  It always includes the following:

  • Getting dressed up in jeans, overalls or beautiful fall colors of orange, auburn, gold, red or green.  In earlier years the girls were often dressed up in matching outfits or shirts but more often now we just try to “color coordinate”.
  • Dad & whomever may be in high school meet us at the patch after the school day ends.
  • Taking a family photo next to the beautiful wildflowers!
  • Walking through the pumpkin trail, reading the signs (some of which are really educational…like how much honey a bee produces in his lifetime – 1/12 a teaspoon!), and running through the hay tunnel
  • Going on a hay ride
  • Feeding the farm animals
  • Taking individual photos of each child. I love the “patch” photos – they are always so colorful & bring back warm wonderful memories.  Daniel was especially darling! (although the “baby” always seems to take great patch photos!)
  • Enjoying the relaxing time together on a sunny and beautifulfall afternoon and often eating popcorn or pumpkin ice cream. Yummy!

We were joined this year by Summer Anderson, a high school classmate of Amy’s, Ashlyn Hale, Rachael Ruiz and Michelle Sallee. (we always, always, always are joined by friends & family which just makes it even more special!)  After coming home we have a traditional favorite “patch day” dinner – Chili, cornbread and salad.  The table was very festive this year as I had hosted a development luncheon for JECHS earlier in the week and got to use the left over flowers and candles. Special EditionAfter dinner we read The Pumpkin Patch Parable…a great children’s book with a biblical message. In fact there is an entire series of parable books written by Liz Curtis Higgs that all have good lessons.  They are geared towards children ages 2-8 but even my older girls enjoy this tradition. (and of course their Daddy reading it is NEVER a dull moment for anyone as he adds his editorial comments!)

We ended our evening with apple tart and vanilla ice cream.  We love Pumpkin Patch Day!

Enjoy the photos!

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Family & Friends Friday – date night

It’s date night!

As I got up this morning and looked at the calendar – there it was – in bright bold red letters. Yes, tonight is dear darling hubby and my monthly date night and I can’t wait! In case you haven’t noticed, there have been less posts in the past few weeks. Not because I lack anything to write about, the words are buzzing around in my head constantly, but rather because I am going full speed ahead with a rather all encompassing year long project I have taken on to further the ministry at Jim Elliot Christian High School. (if you are interested you can check it out here and I welcome any input or insights!) Not to mention last weekend was my annual Croptoberfest scrapbooking weekend with over 100 women in attendance and then there is another “family” project in the works that I will share with you all very soon. (don’t you love suspense!)

Back to date night!  Yee haw! One of the most valuable things that ddh and I have done throughout our entire married life (21 years on 12/20/07) is to go on regular date nights.  Of course, “pre-kids” these were weekly and as we are currently right smack in the middle of the season of raising our lively & large family, they are now monthly.  BUT we never, ever, ever miss out on these monthly date nights.  As soon as I get my new calendar for the year, one of the first things I do is to pick one night a month and write in big bold letters – DATE NIGHT!  (And if it is on the calendar, it happens! Although every once in awhile we have to move it around by a few days to accommodate something unexpected…but it NEVER gets put off until next month.)

Why date nights? 

  • To be sure to constantly build, nurture and work on the marriage relationship. If you want a fabulous marriage it takes work! (contrary to many popular love songs we hear.)
  • Because the most important thing parents can do for their children, outside of loving the Lord, is to love each other. 
  • To be a role model to our children for their future relationship with their spouse. Do you want your children to have a fabulous marriage relationship built on common faith, a strong friendship, commitment and life long love? Then you need to be sure you are role modeling that.  Regular consistent date nights give you one opportunity to do that. Don’t think for a minute they do not notice either! Just the other day as I was going through my eldest daughters school years folder, I found a little book she had written in kindergarten for Mothers Day. One of the sentences in it said….”My Mom looks best when…..she goes out on a date with my Dad”  They are watching you and learning….what are you role modeling?
  • To talk! Ok, so are any of you like me? You live in the same house, share the same bed, see each other everyday and yet you can’t seem to pull off a meaningful conversation that is more than a laundry list of “to do” items (who is taking who to soccer practice, when we are doing this or that, can you go here or there etc…)  Date nights are all about communication.  We can share our stress, concerns, problems, frustrations and needs as well as our ideas, insights and inspirations. We can affirm each other and come up with solutions to problems before they get to big.
  • To have fun!  Yes, we need to date our spouses to go out, have a good time together and create meaningful memories. To relax and be refreshed by our relationship.
  • For romance!  To get decked out – looking your best (or at least brushing your hair and putting on some make up) and impress the love of your life. To hold hands and sit next to each other (without a toddler squeezing in between). To cultivate a tender, loving relationship and keep that spark alive.

By my calculations we have gone on over 350 “official” date nights. (this doesn’t count the hundreds of weddings we have attended together, as we have committed our lives to ministering to youth we go to weddings often – these are “bonus” dates) All it takes is putting it on the calendar & “just doing it”. 

No money you say?  We have been poorer than poor (read no extra money here) throughout much of our married life and have learned to be very creative on date nights – a cracker & cheese picnic in the park, a walk along the water munching on popcorn, going for a long drive (or parking in a remote spot….hmmmmm….remember those days?), or our personal “no funds” favorite – going to Costco & tasting all the samples while “dream shopping” (ie: not purchasing anything – just looking, dreaming & talking about what we like there). How about putting all your loose change in a special container only to be used for date nights (it should at least add up to enough for coffee & dessert) or asking for restaurant gift certificates for birthdays or anniversaries and saving them for these dates.

No one to watch the kids? How about trading childcare every month with another couple who would like a date night too? Or if you really are stuck without childcare help – put the wee ones down early (with serious consequences for getting up) and have yourself a candlelight dinner or watch a movie together or give each other a massage.

Whatever you need to do to make it happen…Do it! These date nights have helped me to always see “my man Dan” as the love of my life, best friend & partner in everything!

So when is your next date night?  How about tonight?  I can’t wait!


Filed under Family & Friends Friday, Priorities, Time Management

Family & Friends Friday – “taste & see that the Lord is good!”

It began two years ago after I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat for a local church.  After a wonderful weekend, the retreat ended with a time of communion.  One of the retreat leaders, Sharon Souza read an essay written by a professor at Biola University about communion bread. (Essay found at the end of this post) It was one of those life changing moments.  I felt overwhelmed with emotion and love for the Lord as she read the vivid description of a childhood memory of communion. I also realized that we in the church have often made communion a dry, tasteless and stiff experience and that has all too often been the way we live our Christian lives as well.

I came home from that retreat determined to have a divine communion experience on a regular basis with my family and create meaningful memories for my children to look back on.  I simply got out my calendar and wrote “Family Communion” on the last Sunday of each month in a bold pen. I shared my passion with my dear darling husband and he agreed that having family communion once a month was a great idea.  As the first date on the calendar approached, I got on the Internet and searched for communion bread recipees that fit the description of the essay I had heard…something mouthwatering, tasty and delicious.

Thus began our tradition of having family communion on the last Sunday of every month. 

We have tried several communion bread recipes and have varied the content of the evening – sometimes reading the traditional communion scriptures, other times taking the time to “right” relationships among family members, and often times just sharing the goodness of God, praise reports and prayer concerns.It is always such a meaningful evening and the girls look forward to it with great anticipation! We even have friends who make an effort to join us for this time of communion because it is so special.  This last Sunday was our communion time and we think we have finally found our family’s communion bread recipe! (I’ll include that after the essay)  It was GREAT!  This time, during communion we shared the many answers to prayer that the Lord has recently shown us   –

  • Dan Howen’s cancerous tumors shrinking! Praise the Lord!
  • Michelle’s insulin arriving safely and on time into Australia.
  • Diane Harper being surrounded by the body of Christ during her time of loss.
  • Little baby Ali Jones great MRI report & stabilized in the hospital.
  • Gods protection & provision for our family. 

God is good…..all the time! We ended our time with worship…singing several of the great hymns of our faith that I have recently become more determined that my children know. (we attend a church with more contemporary worship that I love, but many hymns have awesome theology & doctrine that I want burned into our hearts and minds) I decided to order 2nd Chapter of Acts hymns CD so that they can learn some of these wonderful hymns!

I am so glad we began this family communion tradition, even though when we began my eldest child was already 16 and only got to be a part for two years, it is never too late to be purposeful about training them in the ways of the Lord. (and since I have children whose ages are 18, 14, 13, 12, 8, 4 & 5 months…what I may have missed with the older ones, I can still incorporate with the rest.  As I am always telling them – “I just keep getting better at this Mom thing!”)  🙂 I encourage you to start this practice whether you are at the tale end of your parenting job, just in the beginning stages or somewhere in the middle.  All it takes is writing it on the calendar with a bold pen & then doing it!

Here is the Essay that inspired me in the first place along with our favorite communion bread recipe.

Communion Bread 

by Rosalie De Rosset:
(Professor at Biola University)

“When I was young, communion bread in certain Baptist churches was made from a special recipe. Either the pastor’s wife or the deacon’s wife did the baking. In my case, coming from a family of pastors…my grandmother, mother or aunts made communion bread regularly. Communion bread was sensual. As a child I waited for it eagerly, not so intent then on what it symbolized as on its sensuality… The confection, for it was more than bread, was a cross between the finest sweet pie crust you’ve ever eaten, and baked filo, crusty, flaky and layered golden brown, like baklava without honey.

Not as heavy as short bread or as plain as pie crust, it melted in your mouth. You savored it, sucking out the sweetness, swallowing the lightness, a delight that lasted ‘til the cup came around. The rich grape juice never quite undid its lingering epiphany…

I sat motionless, anticipating the first sight of the sacrament as the deacons came around with the plate of bread, with what held the promise of a taste like nothing else I’d ever eaten. The preacher reminded us that this was the symbol of the body of Jesus Christ broken for us. As the deacon reached my pew I raised my head, peering past the adults, to the server’s extended arm. The silver platter shone, mirroring the hands, passing it along. The slightly raised squares lay tawny and seductive. My mouth watered. I could taste the light richness in my memory. Then the plate was held out to my small hands. I always studied the dish, measuring the squares, and picking the biggest one I could find. Sometimes my mother had to hurry me along.

I took the bread and put it on my palm, softly folding my fingers over it, restless for the moment when we would all be allowed to place it in our mouths. When everyone had been served, my grandfather or father said, now take and eat this in memory of Christ who died for us. I lifted the bread to my mouth and put it on my tongue, circling the fragrance, sucking out the buttery sweetness, finally chewing it slowly, and swallowing it reluctantly. I then licked the buttery crumbs from my fingers.

In Peru, my mother followed the tradition, refusing to surrender to crackers. Perhaps believing that the sensuality of that bread, both in its making and its consumption, was a fitting metaphor for a faith experience too often rendered dry, yeastless and tasteless. As the baking bread oozed into the air on the Saturday night before Communion Sunday, my mouth watered with expectancy. For some reason my siblings and I were allowed to wash up the tiny cups and pack away what was left of the bread and juice. That meant consuming it. We raced to the back room. There we ate those golden wafers, relishing the taste again, never rushing, sucking out the essence, letting it soak into our tongues until the dough had disintegrated, a second ritual.

The tradition of baking communion bread is long gone. No one has time for such things. Religion has become efficient. Deacons retreat to church kitchens on the appointed Sunday…and open a package of tiny, dried up squares that look like Chicklets, and dump them into a dish. There’s no color, no fragrance, no texture and no taste. The symbol for the Christ the children are to learn to love and know will be tasteless, almost intangible, certainly uninviting, all materiality thinned, leaving his humanity untouched, while demanding respect for divinity.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good, the Psalmist says, inviting his readers to know Christ. His mother, I’m sure, baked communion bread.”

 Communion Bread Recipe

 This communion bread was taken from a recipe that was first made in 1847

3 cups flour

1 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

orange rind (optional)

Roll or pat out in pan 1/4 inch thick.  Use 11×17 inch pan. Score with knife dipped with flour clear through.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  After it cools cut along scored lines.


Filed under Faithbooking, Family & Friends Friday, Family Traditions

Family & Friends Friday – Fun Fall Picnic

At the beginning of this week I looked at all that had to be accomplished and I brought the girls around the table after breakfast for a little meeting. First I asked them… “What would be a great treat for you?”  After they stared blankly at me for a moment, I elaborated, “What is something you would really like to do one afternoon that would be fun, exciting and that you would look forward to?”  They began throwing around ideas and finally all agreed that a great treat would be to take a picnic basket out to the park downtown and eat, relax, read books & play.

I continued from there to share with them what my life was looking like this week and that I needed their help & support in a big way.  I asked them to work hard, be independent and to take initiative when they saw things that needed to be done. I told them that if they would do that for me, I would take them on their fun fall picnic to the downtown waterfront park.  They all enthusiastically agreed and left the table with renewed energy & focus.

 It was a great week!  I accomplished all my goals (well maybe not all because my goal list is always more ambitious than is ever humanly possible) and the girls were so resourceful, independent & helpful.  It was awesome.  So on Friday we all stopped what we were doing and took off after lunch to give them their treat!  I put together for them a beautiful picnic basket complete with “real” glasses & napkins, sparkling cider, summer sausage, cheese & crackers, grapes, hummus with bagel chips and delicious dark chocolate squares. We gathered together our books to read, some blankets & chairs and headed out the door.  Our dear friend Michelle Sallee joined us and brought her camera for the photo “opp” at this beautiful park!

It was a perfect afternoon.  The weather was sunny & breezy, the food was mouthwatering & delicious, the sparkling cider was a festive treat, and the park was simply beautiful – surrounded by trees just starting to change colors, the serene Delta waterways and the scenic downtown skyline.  We had a wonderful time eating and talking before the younger girls ran off to play and Kristen and I read for awhile and talked with Sallee.

I started the book “A Thomas Jefferson Education” and was challenged, inspired & motivated to take a new look at all education – public, private & homeschooling.  It provoked great discussion and thinking that added to the afternoon experience.  I am sure that this book is the beginning of a molding & shaping of my future.

When we were ready to go home we decided on the spur of the moment to take all of our remaining picnic spoils and drive under the overpass to find some hungry and homeless people to bless with food & water. (Inspired by another book I read a few years back, due the influence of my friend Nina, called  “Under the Overpass” that is a “must read” for everyone!)  And of course as we blessed those in need the blessing came back to us.  As we drove away from that area of town we all renewed our commitment to always have water, protien bars and fast food gift cards in the car ready to have to pass out to those in need. Our last stop before heading home was to take our bouquet of flowers to our dear friend Diane who tragically lost her husband several weeks ago.

What a beautiful & blessed day!

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