Category Archives: Lifes Challenges

And after you have suffered….

“I have never felt better in my life!”

“You are simply glowing!”

“You’re eating for two now…enjoy!”

“You look so cute!”

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

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

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

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

Questions and depressing thoughts screamed in my head:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter to the Bethany University Family

Dear Bethany University Students, Staff & Alumni…

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

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

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

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

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

A college much like Bethany University!

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

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

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

I decided to write this missive tonight for three reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to each of you,

Beth Lambdin

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

Times of Refreshing (Part 2)

Life….is hard.

When I look over my current prayer list and think about the many different circumstances that my friends, family and I are dealing with it can become overwhelming:

  • Horrendous, ongoing  and painful health issues
  • Loss of income, jobs  and financial worries
  • Broken and deeply damaged relationships
  • Challenges and changes in life and both unrest & fear about the future
  • Dealing with the gut wrenching pain of death & dying
  • Overall  exhaustion, weariness and stress

Can you relate to any of this happening in or around your life today?  Yes, life is hard.

Even as I sit in the comfort of a lounge couch on a cruise ship smoothly sailing over the open seas I am well aware of the depth of despair all around me as well as my personal current life challenges.  And yet I have peace in my mind, joy in my heart and satisfaction in my soul as I enjoy this amazing time of refreshment that is like a tall ice cold glass of fresh lemonade on a searing hot summer day.

It is because life is hard and often full of overwhelming exhaustion, worry and stress that we need to be refreshed regularly and the harder life is at any given moment the greater relief that refreshment brings.  This cruise however will all too soon come to an end and while the extended time away has been a blessing (see Times of Refreshing Part 1), I know that we all need regular times of refreshment in the midst of the craziness and often hardness of life.

What brings you regular refreshment?  Have you ever made a list of those things that refresh your spirit, nourish your soul and bring relief from the struggles of
life?  It would likely look different for each of us as we each have individual tastes, personalities and bents as well as different cultures and backgrounds.  As you think about what brings you refreshment, let me share with you my personal list:

  • Prayer – for me there is nothing better to bring peace than simply talking to God and listening to him speak to me through His still small comforting voice.  Now I can pray at anytime but if I truly get time alone to commune with the Lord….it refreshes my soul & lifts my spirit like no other. (Acts 3:19 – “times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord”)
  • Praise – I get completely lost in a perfect heavenly place when I sing praises to my Lord – it might be in church on Sunday, in the shower, on a walk or in my car driving with the volume turned all the way up in my CD player – but praise and worship always does an amazingly divine thing in my heart and life!
  • My morning coffee – especially if I get to actually sit down and enjoy it while reading my daily devotions.  For me coffee is a relaxing experience not a “buzz” (really! I can drink Espresso at 11pm at night and go right to bed…in fact I actually think it puts me to sleep…strange I know)
  • Afternoon Tea – a beautiful china tea cup along with delicious Paris tea and some mouth-watering cookies or scones listening to classical music nourishes my body and my soul. Whether I am alone with a good book or enjoying the conversation of my girls it is a perfect respite in daily life.

  • Walking in a beautiful place – now for some of you daily exercise brings you refreshment and that is great!  I however am not one of those people…but taking a walk in beauty does do that for me.  Just this morning I walked over a mile on the deck of the ship looking out at the massive ocean, rocky shoreline and occasionally seeing a porpoise splash through the waves. Now that was refreshing! (and yesterday we went on an amazing hike in Ketchikan)

  • Sleep –  yes just simply sleeping  in comfort and without interruption (quite an accomplishment if you are a mommy) for seven or eight hours straight is often all that is needed to be refreshed. Sounds easy and yet….
  • Touching  – one of my “love languages” is physical touch so snuggling in bed with my toddlers, walking hand in hand with my daughters, cuddling & kissing on the couch with my love and warm loving  hugs from dear friends and family all refresh my heart & soul

  • Massages – my all time favorite way to check out for an hour…if only I had more money (trying to convince one of my girls to become a massage therapist)  Of course I must tell you that my amazing husband does give me a foot massage almost every night of my life…I am blessed!
  • Hot Showers & Hot Tubs – for me there is something about hot water that clears my mind.  Since we don’t have a hot tub (on my dream list) the showers work on occasion (it is a rare thing where I can actually take an entire shower without someone needing something…but that day will come all too quickly when I will no longer be interrupted so I try not to let it bother me)
  • Candlelight & Fire Glow – If you have ever been to our house for dinner, you know that low lights and candles are a “staple”.  It is because candlelight for me brings everything down a notch.  All the craziness or loud noise of the day seems to settle down under the glow of the candles.  If I ever need to relax I find that of I turn off the lamps and light a few candles I feel the tension releasing.  Of course a glowing fire in the winter, soft music, a warm blanket and a good book is almost instant refreshment(especially if I am sitting next to Dan)

  • Lunch with a Friend – I am blessed with a dozen friends who I regularly enjoy a lunch or coffee date with.  They are uplifting, encouraging, passionate people who both renew & refresh me. I always come away from these times with great joy and fulfillment. (and so yes, I schedule them regularly)

  • Date Night – When I wake up & look at the calendar that says – “Date Night”, I instantly feel excited and look forward to a night of perfect relaxation & refreshment.  There is nothing better for me than a night out with the man who is not only my love and my partner for life but truly my best friend.  The deep conversations, the connection and the love shared fills me to overflowing. Falling asleep at night after praying with this man is also one of the most satisfying  & refreshing moments in my day.

  • The Beach – this is my place of pure delight and refreshment.  Of course if you know me at all, you already are well aware of this! The sand in my toes, the crashing of the waves, the breathtaking sunsets, the exhilarating walks, the gentle breezes…I love it all.  The sights, the sounds & the smells of the sea! Thankfully I can be there in a 2 hour drive from my front door as well as finding a true “refreshment & renewal” beach retreat where I actually get to live there for a month each year. (Lord willing)

Wow!  What a list….even as I was writing it all down I was amazed at the number of ways (and I even forgot to include dark chocolate, writing, flowers and album making on my list of things that bring me refreshment!) that I have on a regular basis to be refreshed and renewed even in the midst of “normal” life (ie: not on an amazing refreshing Alaskan Cruise with my love that included just about everything on the above list). And I am sure that your list is or will soon be just as plentiful.

If you are in the midst of life being hard or you are feeling overwhelmed with worry, exhaustion or stress…take some time out today or tomorrow or this weekend to do something to refresh your mind, your soul and your spirit.  Let the Lord touch your life and His perfect peace fill you to overflowing in the midst of your challenging circumstances.

Some scriptures that may encourage & inspire you as you seek to be refreshed –

  • “Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God your needs & do not forget to thank Him for His answers. And  the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your heart & mind in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7
  • “You will keep him in perfect peace,Whose mind is stayed on You,Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
  • “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You;  My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You  In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:1-5
  • Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,  Yet those who wait for the LORD  Will gain new strength;  They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,  They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28-31

May you be richly blessed with  “times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord”.

If you want to post a comment and share some of the things that refresh you…we would all love to hear!

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Filed under Endurance, Faith, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Overcoming

Accolades for Amy

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

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

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

  • Unremarkable?
  • Average?
  • One of many?

NOT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I encouraged her:

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing Easy About It

Last week I received an email with this title…

Character-building Made Easy!

I actually laughed out loud.  Now I am sure that this character building curriculum for home school families is an excellent resource and it may be “easy” to read or “easy”to teach but there is simply nothing easy about building character in life.  In fact don’t you think that true character is built and developed through hardships, struggles, pain and times of sacrifice?

And yet….

….we as parents who say out of our mouths that we want to raise children with outstanding character spend much of or time trying to shelter them from hardship, struggles, pain and sacrifice. Yes, it is true.  Think about it. 

We want our kids to “have it all”.  Whether it is the “stuff” of material possessions or every type of experience from trips and vacations to music lessons, art classes or sports training, we want our kids to have a “better life” than we had. We buy them things, give them all the resources and sign them up for every opportunity instead of allowing them to live without something they desire thus building character qualities of self-discipline, sacrifice, perseverance and gratitude.

We will never accept a less than perfect classroom, teacher or coach.  And if things are not exactly how we think they should be, we are the first to march right down to that school office and demand a change.  We simply will not consider the possibility that our child will actually learn more important lessons in life from an imperfect teacher, coach or classroom situation.  What a great opportunity to develop patience, kindness, acceptance, diligence, respect, self-sufficiency, forgiveness, humility, taking initiative and personal responsibility not to mention they will probably learn much about being a great leader, teacher or coach from watching a poor example and learning what not to do.

We even look for ways to make their lives “easier” by doing chores, work or assignments for them or “lightening their load” during finals week or other stressful seasons of life.  We never allow them to fail or as my parents use to say – “make their bed and then lie in it”. If we did they would develop amazing character qualities of hard work, perseverance, diligence and determination.

We make excuses for them instead of forcing them to be responsible for their attitudes and actions thus delaying that all important character qualities of  diligence, a good work ethic, honesty and personal responsibility.

And as they get older we do not require them to make their own appointments, meet their own deadlines, work out their own transportation and confront unacceptable situations thus robbing them of the opportunities to build character qualities of courage, responsibility, initiative and maturity.

Perhaps our goal as parents should not be to give our child a “perfect” life free from stress, difficulties, obstacles, pain, hurt or needs. Perhaps it should be to welcome these situations and  allow them to teach and train our children (as well as ourselves) to develop godly character qualities that will be of great gain in our lives.

Wouldn’t you love to say about your children and yourself – we are patient, responsible, ethical, grateful, self disciplined, hard-working, diligent, determined, mature, courageous, content, loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving?

If you never go without or are never in need….how do you develop gratitude?

If you are never hurt or wronged…how do you learn true forgiveness?

If you never have to wait or be put off…how do you become patient?

If you never fail….how do you learn to be diligent and an overcomer?

If you are never forced to step out of your comfort zone…how do you become courageous?

If you never experience any pain or suffering….how will you learn compassion?

Character building made easy?  Nope….there ain’t nothing easy about it!

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Filed under Attitude, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Parenting

Throwing a Tantrum

Temper Tantrums are something I know more than a little about.  In fact, between being the Mom to eight children and parenting for the last two decades perhaps I could say that I have earned a Master’s Degree in temper tantrums.  I have seen and experienced them all:

  • The scream in your face looking like you are going to kill someone tantrum
  • The dash down the hall yelling hysterically tantrum
  • The turn your back on Mommy and fold your arms while stomping your feet tantrum
  • The hold your breath until you pass out tantrum
  • The jumping up and down whining & crying tantrum
  • The pulling on Mommy’s arms or a leg or piece of clothing while verbally assaulting her tantrum
  • The hitting of your fists on anything or anyone close by tantrum
  • The “I may be sitting on the outside but I am standing on the inside” tantrum
  • The slam your door and turn up the music loud enough to raise the roof tantrum
  • The “whatever” said under your  breath while rolling your eyes tantrum

And my personal favorite

  • The lay on the floor in the middle of the grocery store kicking and screaming tantrum (it really is my favorite because it makes me laugh hysterically)

Whew! Just thinking about all those temper tantrums makes me weary.  Yes, tantrums are, among many other unpleasant things…exhausting.  And they all boil down to the same root cause whether the child having the tantrum is two or twelve,  it all comes down to not getting their own way.   It may be something they want to have (or not have like vegetables or vitamins), something they want to do (or not do like take a bath or go to bed) or a place they want to go (or not).  Sometimes those desires are ridiculous, unacceptable, dangerous, selfish, inappropriate, unhealthy or unaffordable. And other times they are perfectly ok but the timing, situation or circumstance is not ideal.  

Today I realized I was having a little bit of an adult tantrum as I wandered from room to room thinking about several areas of my life that I needed to get under control.  (definition of an adult temper tantrum is the same as for our kids:  I am not getting my way and I am not happy about it so I react inappropriately, inwardly or outwardly, it is just that we are usually more dignified and refined in our tantrum throwing.) As I listened to myself, talk to myself (whoa…are there three people living inside my head…I promise I am not crazy!) it was all too clear that yes, I was throwing a tantrum because I wasn’t getting my way.  True confessions – it went something like this:

 Self: You really need to get back on that exercise routine and start eating healthy again!

 Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self: Ok Beth, you are supposed to be starting a ministry here. It is time to set up regular working hours and begin actively pursuing your goals and dreams. Time to get going girl!

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self:  The home school kids need to be put on a daily schedule. The free for all is not working on any level for this group of students (and maybe it didn’t work for the older girls but if not they sure “faked it” well) So sit down and set up their routine and then hold their feet to the fire to be sure they stick with it.

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t….w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Not very pretty, eh?  I tell ya, I wouldn’t take that type of talk from my kids in a “New York minute”!

As I saw the pattern repeating it almost became amusing, even to me, that I was actually throwing a tantrum in my head.  But a few minutes later when Christiana began to throw her own screaming tantrum over not getting to play with my cell phone I did not find it amusing whatsoever. (yes,  it has already begun at 18 months)

Here is how I attempt to handle any and all temper tantrums from my kids no matter what age they are:

  1. They do not ever, under any circumstance, get their way! (did I say Never do they ever get their way? Good because that is what I meant…never, ever do they get their way…nope…never)
  2. I ignore the tantrum (unless they are harming themselves or others then I physically restrain them..since they usually only do this at fairly young ages car seats in the living room worked great)
  3. If it continues I smile and say (with sass & a bit of a drawl!) – “Is that working for you babycakes?” cause it is sure not going to work with me so you go on and have fun with that little fit you are having  (in our house the saying goes like this – “ya get what ya get and ya don’t throw a fit”)
  4. And if they are really going at it full force (and not harming anyone) I full on laugh at them in the midst of the tirade. (for some reason this is really easy for me to do because I do find kids on the floor throwing fits pretty amusing or maybe it is amusing to me that they actually think that they will win with that strategy)

So folks….I am putting my little bratty tantrum self on notice –

You are not going to get your way!   You will get up and get going in all these areas that need attention in your life. They are important and valuable and you will do what needs to be done! Let’s have at it!

Is that working for you?  That little fit you are throwing in your heart and mind? (answer…ummmm NOT!)

“Ya get what ya get (your metabolism, your body, your financial & life situation, your calling, the current ages & temperaments of your kids at home during this season of life)….and ya don’t throw a fit!”  Get over it and get on with it!

And then I am going to laugh that little tantrum thrower right out of my mind!

Anyone else out there dealing with a little tantrum today?

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Filed under Attitude, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, Parenting

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