Category Archives: Marriage

Fabulous 50: My List for Loving & Living Life

I am one of “those” people.

Those odd people who love their lists

…who live by lists

…who make lists for everything (and even keep files on the computer of “to do lists” for recurring events in my life)

…who start many conversations by saying “Let’s make a list

…who torture their family with their never ending “to do” lists, chore lists, packing lists and “honey do” lists

…who have been known to add things to their list that they have already done just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list <it is a sickness, isn’t it?>

So it shouldn’t shock or surprise you that in honor of my 50th birthday I created a list. It began a week or so ago as I was pondering having lived 50 years of my life and what I would like to share with others who are still in the first half of life! (although they are great reminders for whatever season of life you may be in!)

So….here is my 5oth birthday list (complete with many “Bethisms”) for loving and living life…and of course there are 50 points!

1. Life is short and quickly passing by (was I not just 30 and in a twinkling of an eye be 70?)
2. Life is even shorter when compared to eternity (wisdom & logic would say to invest your self in eternity)
3. Life is an amazing gift – enjoy it!
4. Life is a precious gift – celebrate it!

5. Life is a
beautiful gift – love it!

6. Life is a priceless gift – don’t abuse it
7. Life is a unique gift – don’t waste it
8. Life is a glorious giftSTOP worrying and stressing about it
9. Life is NOT a dress rehearsal! (this is the real performance people!)
10. Life is to be lived on purpose (and the occasional accidents are an exciting and sometimes course changing part of the ride)
11. Life – it’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s how you respond!
12. Life is not fair – “you get what you get & you don’t throw a fit!”
13. Life is not fair – if it were fair we would all be headed to hell (for all have sinned and fallen short and the price for sin is eternal death…but thanks be to God for sending us Jesus to pay that price for us! It was not “fair” that he had to pay the price…but I’ll take it!)
14. Life is not fair – it is not a matter of holding good cards in life…but of playing a poor hand well!
15. Life is hard…at times really hard. 
16. Life is not a respector of persons – the sun shines and the rain falls on the good and bad alike (Yes, bad things happen to good people. If you still can’t accept that refer to “Life is not fair”)
17. Life ends in death for everyone: statistics say 10 out of 10 people die  Live like you believe this fact!
18. Life’s ultimate goal and chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
19. Life without love is nothing
20. Love is the answer ♥
21. Love covers a multitude of sins 
22. Love is not a feeling but an act of our will (we can always act lovingly without feeling the love)
23. Love is patient…enduring long 
24. Love is kind  (so simple yet so very difficult…)
25. Love is unselfish and self sacrificing 
26. Love is life giving 
27. Love bears & endures all things, hopes & believes all things 
28. Love NEVER fails…it never gives up 
29. Love the Lord with ALL your heart, soul, mind & strength 
30. Love your parents and honor them 
31. Love your husband or wife (if you are single love your future bride or groom by waiting just for them and keeping yourself pure and unstained by this world) 
32. Love your children…hug and kiss them often, speak powerful words of life to them & discipline them (yes that is a part of love) 
33. Love your friends through the good, the bad & the ugly 
34Love your neighbors (who is your neighbor? The one in need) 
35. Love your fellow believers – brothers and sisters is what they are called in the Word (even those from different denominations or those who have hurt you or that you vehemently disagree with) 
36. Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you (this goes against our very nature and yet….)
37. Love and do good to those who hate you  (yes that is oh so very hard)
38. Love your self for you are skillfully & wonderfully made by the Creator 
39. Give generously…even to a fault!
40. Be faithful to your commitments…don’t quit!
41. Discover your passions in life and pursue them whether or not they are practical, financially profitable or held in high esteem by society
42 Build on your strengths…don’t pay too much attention to your weaknesses (not as in weaknesses of sin…but in gifts, talents & abilities)…you can’t put in what God left out!
43. Think outside the box…you don’t have to do it the way it has always been done or the way everyone else does it 
44. Decide how many children you want or that you can handle…and then have one more! (even better yet ask God to give you what He wants)
45. Take full responsibility for your life…don’t blame God, the government or others for your lack of opportunities or failures
46. Regular consistent personal disciplines – prayer, bible reading, exercise, weekly church attendance will pay off in the long run…both in this life and the one to come!
47. “Adoption” (of any type – a baby, foster child, an international orphan, a family in need, a floundering young person, senior citizen, single mom, widow, fatherless/motherless child, foreign exchange student…for any amount of time – short term, long term, permanent or for life) is something everyone should experience!
48. Make memories and take lots of photos (if you are blessed to live to a ripe old age…they will be such a treasure)
49. Done is better than perfect!
50. Give up your control issues as young as possible and let God be in control of everything… (so says this wise recovered control freak)

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Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Faith, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Marriage, My "take"

Love for a Lifetime

“I, Beth, take you Dan, to be my husband, to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

Looking back, twenty-five years ago as I stood at the altar and declared my vows to my soon to be husband, I must admit I was a bit naive…

…for better or for worse

…for richer or poorer

…in sickness and health

Sure I meant every word but honestly I really did not think that much of the “worse, poorer or sickness” would come our way. I lived in youthful blissful ignorance that we would sail through life, with the Lord on our side, never really having to experience much in the way of hardship.  Call it positive thinking, denial or innocence of youth….any way you look at it we were certainly not prepared for a life that included sickness, poverty or “worse” case scenarios. And yet our 25 years have included many such hardships that could have rocked our world, damaged or even destroyed our relationship.

While we realize, by the grace of God, we have not had to walk through some of the truly tragic or extremely unbearable things that could have come or way (and now that we are older and wiser we are well aware still could be in our future, God forbid) — we have not experienced the devastating loss of a precious child, life controlling addictions, infertility, total financial destitution, loss of all our material possessions through fire or flood, physical or mental incapacitation, depression or mental health sinkholes, physical separation for years on end, infidelity or trouble with the law — but we have experienced many “worse, poorer and sicker” times over these past 25 years:

  • our closest and dearest friends who forsook their own wedding vows early in our marriage, leaving us shaken, uncertain and even fearful that a marriage, even between believers, could not go the distance
  • debilitating sickness for each and every pregnancy (yes I literally threw up…and subsequently Dan cleaned up for over 1,800 days or 5 years of our married life) which led to much dependence on others, bed rest and even depression
  • ultimate betrayal by people we trusted with everything who turned their backs on us and tried to destroy our lives
  • having a child be diagnosed with a life long disease that ultimately affects everything in her life and living daily with the knowledge that this could cut her time here short
  • the death of a beloved parent and the grief that grips and consumes you during a season of life
  • walking through the ugliness, shock, disbelief  and financial devastation of being fired from a job that you poured your heart and soul into for over a decade for refusing to mislead others through deception
  • sitting in the ER while the doctor tells you that you are “very lucky” that your child is alive after a forseeable avoidable accident
  • ridicule, unkind and hurtful words spoken to us often by others both friends and family members as well as strangers for our choices concerning our family size, our lack of financial resources and our decision to stay in full-time ministry to youth despite the lack of a livable wage, benefits or retirement
  • standing in a hospital while the doctor shakes their head and declares your baby girl a “treatment failure” and says that she may not pull through this massive staph infection…and a few years later walking through the same scenario yet again with another child.
  • and living much of our married lives in the “for poorer” column…with no financial security, where the money more often runs out before the month does and dealing with the daily stress that the lack of finances can put on a marriage

Yes, we have had our moments of major hardships as well as the daily disturbances that come when two people live together with opposite personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, opinions and of course the basic tendency towards selfishness that we all have living beneath our soul.

All of these things have put great strain on many a marriage leading to unhappiness, discouragement and discontent. These hardships have also been the primary cause for far too many divorces.  I think everyone would agree that the dissolution of a marriage that started out with so much hope and promises to love, honor and cherish “til death do us part” is sad, disconcerting and simply tragic for all who have to live with the consequences of divorce.  We would all like to see the fairytale ending of “they lived happily ever after” for ourselves and everyone around us. 

Having reached a major milestone in our marriage of 25 years (after some research I have discovered that over 43% of my peers who were married in the 80’s have since divorced), many people exclaim…”What an accomplishment!” or ask with great interest…”Wow, how did you do it?”

Well let me tell you that, while it has helped to have some really strong foundations that statistically predicted a life long marriage like these listed here, they were not enough:

  • We got married in our mid 20’s (I was 24, Dan was 26) and were college educated (both things that appear to contribute to a much lower chance of divorce)
  • We shared a common faith and were regular church attenders (it is true there is a lower divorce rate among couples who attend services weekly)
  • We both had parents who were in life long committed marriages (Dan’s parents just celebrated 55 years and my parents were married 35 years before my Dad’s untimely death)
  • We had a solid, non romantic friendship for many years prior to committing to an exclusive relationship. This friendship was based on common interests, enjoying conversation and companionship, shared friendships and similar goals
  • We did not live together (or for that matter be intimate) prior to marriage (it is a fact that couples who co-habitate prior to marriage have a higher probability of being divorced…makes you scratch your head and wonder why so many do this?)

And I would love to be able to say our commitment to a life long marriage and our ability to overcome the pitfalls that many succumb to is because we were so crazy in love with one another ’round the clock, day in and day out, year after year or that we somehow found a “mystical magical” soul mate that so many people believe is the key to a succesful marriage.  And wouldn’t it be great to be married to someone who met your every need (without you even asking), was never cross, angry, mean or tired and better yet was a physical specimen, a beauty who made your heart melt every time you laid eyes on them?

But in reality, while I am the first to admit that I got a really “sweet deal” on one amazing godly husband 25 years ago – who to this day is my very best friend, my beloved and still the one who makes heart melt – even that is not what has made our marriage go the distance nor is it what will make it last the next 25 years.

Here is the bottom line truth. It is because we both love Jesus, first and foremost in our lives!  We have both committed to love Him….no matter what. No matter what hardship we might experience in this life, no matter what tragedy, no matter if we lose everything or if the whole world falls apart around us…we will not forsake our Lord Jesus Christ who loves us with a perfect, unconditional, no strings attached love that manifested itself in giving up His very own life for our eternal salvation! And because of that promise to love and stay committed to the Lord…our marriage will last a lifetime and the love we have for Jesus will spill over to one another and bring us great joy and fulfillment in life.

If you are in a marriage that is struggling to make it right now…I would greatly encourage you to fall in love and commit to serving Jesus first and foremost while praying that your spouse would do the same.  Do not give up!  Do not quit!  You will reap amazing blessings if you stay the course. And while you are waiting for the miracle in your marriage allow Jesus to meet all of your needs for love and compionship. Jesus is enough!

If you are a single young person…make your relationship with the Lord the number one priority in your life, seek Him with all of your heart and develop a “no matter what” commitment to Him. Jesus is enough! And if He chooses to make you one in marriage with another believer you will be blessed beyond all you can imagine with the fulfillment of a Christlike marriage. And if He chooses to have you remain single for a season or a lifetime….He is enough!

If you are married and “making it”…be diligent to always keep Jesus at the center of your relationship…pray together often, encourage one another in the Word, be faithful to your local church. As my dear friend and minister Donnie Moore shared at our 25th anniversary celebration service…”Your spouse was made to compliment you, not complete you.  Only the Lord can complete you”.   Let Him be your completion in this life and in your marriage. Jesus is enough!

 As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we would love to pray for any of you – those in a season of singleness who want Jesus to be everything, those in marriages that are in crisis and need a miracle, or those who perhaps have strong marriages but want Jesus to be a greater presence in their lives.  Drop us a note, message or comment and you can count on our prayers!

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Our 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration Service

Dearest family and friends both old and new….including all who have been a part of our lives through our childhood & youth, our years at UOP, Capital Bible College, Lakeview Assembly, Brookside Christian, Jim Elliot Christian, Creative Memories, Cornerstone Co-op, homeschool adventures, our kids sports teams as well as those we have come to know through speaking, traveling and blogging…

On December 20, 2011 we will reach a milestone in our marriage of 25 years!  When we began to talk about how we would like to commemorate this very special point in our lives we decided that we wanted to do more than:

  • A big party….which we enjoyed immensely for our 10th anniversary milestone (and I can’t help but remember all the Brookside students and alumni who helped us pull off the party and who blessed us with an amazing weekend away in San Diego)
  • Renewing our vows…which we cherished doing on our 15th anniversary with a small intimate ceremony where we signed a marriage covenant document that hangs in our home today! (We decided on a Sunday to have this ceremony…that Thursday night! You can read that story here – It’s a Wonderful Life)
  • Taking a special portrait, going on a “second honeymoon” or celebrating with a special family time…all of which we love and have done on several anniversaries (in fact we have made the commitment to ALWAYS celebrate our anniversary despite how close it falls to Christmas, no matter what is happening in our life, ignoring all obstacles and just “doing it” – I wrote a post about that here – Anniversary Get Away)

 Just as we desired our wedding to be much more than simply “our special day” but in addition a ceremony that would glorify the Lord and abundantly bless all those who attended with the presence of the Holy Spirit…we decided that this special milestone in our lives would best be commemorated and celebrated with an event that did the same.  Thus we are inviting you to come and glorify the Lord together with us at a special service in honor of all that the Lord has done in and through our lives as a married couple.

In 1986 a few months before the “big day” we prayed and asked the Lord for a double portion of His anointing on our lives as a wedding gift to us.  Those of you who attended our wedding ceremony 25 years ago may remember that one of the ministers, Donnie Moore, prophesied over us that day saying that the Lord had called us together for ministry and that he was going to give us a double portion of His anointing so that together we would accomplish great things for His kingdom. We will never forget that breathtaking moment as the warmth of the Holy Spirit enveloped us and the prophetic word confirmed God’s call, blessing and anointing on our lives! Jesus gave us the very thing we asked for…a double portion of His anointing.

Soon after our wedding we received a letter from the other minister officiating at our ceremony, Bill Brennan:

Dear Dan & Beth,

Words will never be able to describe the deep, deep sense of appreciation filling my heart because you granted me the privilege of being a part of your special day. The power of God’s love was there in abundance. The anointing of the Spirit was there and Jesus was there in all His splendor –

Lord of all, Lord of your love, Lord of your marriage. To have witnessed the two of you being such an evident sign of God’s love and presence – that is truly what the sacrament of marriage is all about. I know that God will bless your marriage even beyond your present expectations because as scripture reveals – “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has in store for those that love Him.”

I am not sure in the excitement of it all, you remember what I shared with you in confirmation of the words of prophecy that were spoken over you, but the words that filled me heart are still with me, and I share them with you again.:

“Remember, it was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit – fruit that will endure so that all you ask the Father in my name, He will do. The fruit I shall cause to grow within you shall be abundant and all shall see, for I tell you that you are my choice garden”

May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all your days. Thank you again. Love your brother in Christ,    Bill Brennan

We rejoice in all that the Lord has done in our lives as a couple these past 25 years.  We have invested in the kingdom of God by discipling and mentoring thousands of young people as their youth pastors, teachers, counselors, advisors and coaches. And it didn’t end upon their graduation from high school as we have been able to continue to mentor, counsel and provide biblical wisdom to many of those students God entrusted to us as they have gone on to college, careers, ministry, missions, marriage and parenting. We are so very thankful for the ministry to youth that the Lord has given us these past 25 years!

We have been given eight amazing children to train, disciple and raise up to serve the Lord who we believe will go forth and do even greater things for the kingdom than we have done!  The Bible says that “children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior”… arrows are meant to be launched out to help win the battle.  We look forward to releasing the bow over these next 25 years and lauching our children out to the world to make a profound difference in the lives of others.  The greatest blessing in our lives as well as “abundant fruit that will endure” as Bill Brennan prophesied.

On top of that we have also been entrusted to speak into countless others lives that the Lord has opened up the doors for us to inspire and influence to live for Him. Whether it is doing pre marital counseling (and often post marital as well), giving advice and offering help with parenting, counseling young people on college, career and relationship decisions or just being there with open hearts, an open home and being willing to stop what we are doing to pray for someone, cry with them or give that much needed hug…we have always purposed in our hearts to attempt to live a life of putting others first. The Lord has truly anointed our years of ministry and marriage.  Yes, we look back with great rejoicing!  We invite you to rejoice with us at our anniversary celebration.

As we take this moment of reflection and celebration, we are also looking forward to the next 25 years, Lord willing, of both marriage and ministry.  We want to “press on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), to “fight the good fight and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), to “run in such a way as to win” (1 Corinthians 9:24) and that “the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former” (Haggai 2:9)   We do not want to slow down, relax or retire in this second half of life.  We truly desire that this season of life, ministry and marriage would be even greater than we have ever experienced!  We invite you to come and pray over us at our anniversary service.

If you are unable to be with us on December 18th for our Anniversary Celebration Service, we would appreciate you being there in spirit by rejoicing with us and praying for us as we continue to love and serve each other and our Lord Jesus Christ!

Blessings to you all,  Dan & Beth

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Filed under Blessings, Life at the Lambdins, Marriage

What will our children say?

I have so much to tell you about my recent 10 day trip to New York and Boston.  Hopefully I will have the chance to share some tidbits here and there over the upcoming weeks before it all fades into a distant memory without the life lessons I gleaned from this trip being etched deeper into my being through the process of writing about them.

Real quick though, before I share this first tidbit, I have to tell you about some of the Lord’s gracious provisions for us while we were traveling “by faith”. (For an explanation of what I mean to travel by faith and if you missed my post the day we left, you can read it here –> “How do you do what you do?”)

  1. A dear friend provided a gift to my girls of a Broadway show! What an amazing blessing to not only have provision for our needs but even some of our “wants”!
  2. While we were picking up one of my daughters, who arrived on day three of our trip, a lady at the airport tapped us on the shoulder and asked if we wanted her seven-day metro pass with four days left on it. We enthusiastically said “yes! we would love it!”.  A providential gift from God as we had exactly four more days in New York and were able to save the money we would have spent on the Subway.
  3. My name was picked from the lottery for tickets to see “Wicked”.  Me, who rarely ever gets picked from any random drawing was the third name drawn of just over a dozen people to receive front row tickets to the show.  We all squealed with delight at this blessing! God is so very good!
  4. As we were walking to church on Sunday night we spotted a resteraunt that I had received a gift card for two years ago to an establishment in our city that closed it’s doors just weeks after I had been given that card.  I had been carrying it around in my wallet ever since hoping to be able to “someday” use it!  Voila…the perfect timing arrived in New York as we were looking for the Lord to provide every step of the way…we got a free dinner out on the town!  Don’t you just love the way God works?

Ok so back to one of the thought provoking life lessons I gleaned on this adventure.  As we walked into the cemetery next to Park Church in Boston the first thing that caught our eye was a large monument in the center of the cemetery that read FRANKLIN.

Of course I immediately thought…”that must be Benjamin Franklin’s grave” (my apologies to you history buffs who of course know that he was buried in Philadelphia).  Upon closer inspection I saw that it was actually the grave of Ben Franklin’s parents – Josiah and Abiah Franklin – and that the monument had been erected  and inscription written by their youngest son, Ben Franklin.  As I got up close to the monument and read the words that Ben Franklin had written about his parents I was both touched and inspired by them. 

Josiah Franklin,
and
Abiah his wife,
lie here interred.
They lived lovingly together in wedlock
Fifty-five years.
Without an estate, or any gainful employment,
By constant labor and industry,
with God’s blessing,
They maintained a large family
comfortably,
and brought up thirteen children
and seven grandchildren
reputably.
From this instance, reader,
Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
And distrust not Providence.
He was a pious and prudent man;
She, a discreet and virtuous woman.
their youngest son,
In filial regard to their memory,
places this stone.
J.F. born 1655, died 1744, 89
A.F. born 1667, died 1752, 85

I read those words over and over again thinking about the things that Ben Franklin valued in his parents

  • That they had a loving and life long marriage
  • That they were not “privileged” (ie – no estate or profitable employment), they were simple hard workers
  • They knew that as they worked hard they could trust in God’s blessing to provide for their large family. (Ben Franklin was the youngest of 13 children)
  • They were committed to the bringing up and training of both their children and grandchildren to be highly esteemed and respected by others
  • Mr Franklin was a man of devotion to God (pious)and was wise and judicious (prudent).  Mrs Franklin had discernment in her action and speech (discreet) and was morally excellent and righteous (virtuous)

I was so impressed and struck by this 88 word description of his parents and the vast array of accolades that he gave them to be remembered by, not only he and his relatives but by those of us hundreds of years later who get to read that inscription. And to top it off he had the foresight to talk to all of us reading it today by saying:

From this instance, reader,
Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
And distrust not Providence.

He was inspiring and challenging each of us to be diligent in our calling – whether that is our calling to be faithful in our marriages, hard workers in our jobs, purposeful in our parenting, dedicated to our character or devoted to our faith. He also reminds us to trust the providential hand of God in our lives.

It got me thinking about what our children would say about my husband and my life after we are gone?  Would they admire our marriage?  Do they see us as hard workers who also trust God to bring the blessings?  Would they know from first hand experience that we were purposeful in raising our children and our grandchildren?  And what character qualities would they admire most in us? 

I am sure that we would all love to know that we are leaving a legacy like Mr & Mrs Franklin have accomplished.  And Ben Franklin has certainly inspired me through this monument inscription to be diligent in my calling as a wife, a mother, a “worker” and a Christian.  And while I know I have a long way to go to merit such an inscription and I hope that I will live long enough to gain some ground, I was blessed to receive a little glimpse of my legacy this last week in the form of a text message from my daughter after I spoke a message to her college peers:

“Mom, I didn’t have a chance to say it because everyone else was telling you…today was awesome! Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. I am so honored to have you as my mom, mentor and supporter.  I love you.”

Between that text and Ben Franklin’s inscription I am encouraged, inspired and have renewed my commitment to be diligent to my calling and to trust in God’s providence! Will you join me?

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Filed under Faith, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Making a Difference, Marriage, Parenting

Don’t you know what causes that?

“Don’t you know what causes that?”

It started with my third pregnancy…as we began to share with those around us the news of the anticipated birth of our baby…the smirking and joking from a few friends who assumed that we could not have possibly planned to have a…<gulp>….third child!  I suppose several gave us a “pass” on their comments since we had already birthed two girls and they assumed we were “trying for a boy”.  But when the fourth pregnancy was revealed less than a year later friends, family and even strangers jumped on the band wagon to ask us silly and/or personal questions or make shocking and/or rude statements:

  • Were you trying?  (nope, we were doing and succeeding mind you!)
  • How many more are you going to have? (you’ll have to ask God)
  • Was this an accident?  (Really? Like getting pregnant is being in a car wreck or breaking your leg)
  • Are you going to get fixed after this one? (hmmm…didn’t know I was broken)
  • I am glad it’s you and not me! (I am sure the baby is too and my husband is definitely glad it’s not you)
  • How are you ever gonna pay for college? (I don’t know…how are you?)
  • You’re crazy! (if that was said to my face I can’t imagine what was said behind my back)
  • You’re having another one?  (yes, at least one this time)
  • When are you going to stop? (stop?….stop what?)

And my personal favorite from all the people who think they are “oh so funny”…

  • Don’t you know what causes that? (I have so many great answers in my head for this one that would make most people turn beat red or greatly embarrass my teenage girls…but I was raised to be a dignified lady so I try oh so hard to keep my mouth shut)

Assuming that the readers of this blog have all taken a junior high sex ed class, have been through a “secret weekend” (as they are called in our family) or have had “the talk” with their parents where they learned all about “the facts of life” (otherwise known as human anatomy, sexual relations and how life is conceived)…I do not think that you need a biological play by play on what caused us to conceive seven children during our almost 25 years of marriage.  But perhaps you are curious about what might cause a couple to have such a large family in a society that teaches and embraces a two child…or three at the most…standard philosophy? (and laughs at, sneers or condemns anyone who dares to do otherwise)

What caused us to have so many children?  Well let me tell you it all began 25 years ago this very month and if you are interested or curious, I have finally decided to write out and publish our story. (WARNING: If you have a tendency to feel “judged” simply by the lifestyle and choices others make that are different than yours, you might want to just stop reading now and save yourself the grief.  DISCLAIMER: I am in no way judging anyone for their choices regarding children, reproduction or family size nor am I telling anyone else how they should decide these things.  I am simply sharing our God inspired story for those who are curious, interested or questioning. It may challenge your theology or thinking and… it may not)

I was 24 years old and just a few months away from getting married when the Lord began to work in my heart concerning my ideas about birth control, family planning and being truly open to every life that He wanted to
give to me.

I was a very committed & passionate young woman who was serving as the youth pastor to hundreds of “on fire” teenagers. I had what were called “radical” views on dating and relationships as well as very intensive discipleship programs for our youth.  I considered myself extremely pro-life and wanted to do everything within my power to stop the atrocity of abortion in our country.  In many ways I was  quite different than the average church going evangelical yet I found myself among the norm when it came to buying into the “planned parenthood” mentality of our day.

I was engaged to be married to an awesome godly young man and we both agreed that the plan would be for me to begin taking the birth control pill and then we would wait several years, go off the pill and have perhaps two children, a boy & a girl, and then be done. Perfect, right?

As part of our marriage preparation we attended an Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat where we were encouraged to take an opportunity to dialogue honestly and intensively about our prospective lives together– our strengths and weaknesses, desires, ambitions, goals, our attitudes about money, sex, children, family, our role in the church and society–in a very comprehensive way. (I highly recommend this type of purposeful marriage preparation and am always shocked when couples have not taken the time to explore these areas and come to an agreement prior to saying “I do”!)   After each topic was introduced, we were given a list of questions to answer privately in a journal and then come together to share our answers with one another. (a great way to have honest communication)

About half way through the weekend the session on family planning, birth control and children was introduced.  As Dan and I each found a private place to write in our journals I began to feel a strong stirring in my heart. I was challenged in my spirit to completely rethink my beliefs in this area.  As I sat on some rocks in the foothills of Copperopolis and tried to write down my well thought out answers (you see I knew exactly what I wanted in this area of life and marriage), the Lord literally threw out questions one after another in my mind, fast and furious –

  • Have you ever considered asking Me what the plan for your family should be? (hadn’t really thought about that, Lord)
  • How about inquiring of Me how many children I want to give you? (Well, I just thought we would just decide what we wanted and you would be fine with it)
  •  Is it birth control or God control that you desire? (ouch…this one stung!)
  • Who is in control of your life anyway? (ummmmm….You are God?? I love you & want your will for my life)
  • Do you believe that children are a blessing from Me?  (of course….I think so)
  • Why do you want to limit my blessings? (well…..I don’t know?)
  • Do you believe that I know you and will give you the very best for your life?  (Yes!)
  • Do you trust me? (I thought I did)

I felt like I was in some type of wrestling match with the Lord as He tried to get me to release control of my life and give my plans over to become His plans. (Thy will be done)  But when I was finally ready to stop arguing with Him and listen He gently reminded me to just relax and trust Him…for He truly had an abundant life for me to live. Better than I could ever ask or think! After that hour with the Lord, and a subsequent long conversation with my soon to be husband (when we got together later to share our journals…and I had written not a thing down), together we gave our plans for family to the Lord and ditched the “planned parenthood” philosophy.

We did not decide to have a “boatload” (or 15 passenger van load) of children.

We did not decide to have one, two or three children for that matter either.

We did not decide to be married for three years and then start our family and we did not decide to get pregnant right away.

We simply decided to give God control of our family dynamics and to ask Him to lead and guide us every step of the way. (not really a complicated decision to merely ask the Lord what He wants and yet so few do ask Him when it comes to this area of life)

A month later I learned quite by happenstance that the birth control pill was an abortifacient. (well documented and researched so no need to argue with me on this point…even if your doctor told you it wasn’t they were using some type of semantics and faulty reasoning…all you have to do is read the insert that is in the pill container) I was appalled that no believer had shared this with me and I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord that I had never “accidentally” aborted a baby by making my womb hostile to implantation of a conceived child.  With my heart & passion for the unborn that would have been difficult for me to live with. During that time I had gotten even more confident in my conviction that we should simply put the control of our family in God’s hands.  After all He was the creator of life (albeit He lets us be a part of that as co-creators) and since His view on children as being a gift from Him and a blessing, we could certainly trust Him. I also realized that the Lord might not bless us with any children by birth and I committed that into His care as well. (something that in this current world of rampant infertility issues one would be best to realize early on — the truth that no one is guaranteed to give birth to a child) We had also already experienced the miracle of adoption through our newly adopted niece who joined our family the same week we got engaged…we knew that adopting a child was not “second best” to having a bio child and we considered that adoption would someday be a part of the plan for our family as well.

On our wedding day we publicly affirmed & committed to raising children to glorify God (to the actual laughter of many of our Christian friends…you can hear it on the video) and throughout our 24+ years of marriage we have continued to trust God in this area.  We have prayed at times asking for the Lord to give us a “breather” (after we had four children in six years and extremely difficult pregnancies) and we along with our daughters have pleaded with the Lord for over three years to bless us with yet another sweet baby to love (#7) and we spent countless hours and persisted through many roadblocks and closed doors as we asked God to let us adopt.  Children came at what others considered “bad times” (one during my husband’s last year in Bible school, several back to back, another when we had taken on a challenge of starting a Christian school, and of course the health risks for myself and baby that many gravely warned us about when I had two babies post 40 years old) but as always in hindsight we see that Gods timing was perfect with each and every child. Through it all we chose God control and ultimately said… “Thy will be done”.

The results….we have been blessed with seven awesome children by birth (six girls – 21, 18, 17, 15, 12, 8 and a boy 4 years old) and so far one girl (age 2) through the miracle of adoption. They have brought more love, joy & peace into our lives than we could have ever imagined. (as well producing other fruit of the spirit – patience & self control – we didn’t start off with these qualities but you better believe we have given ample opportunity to grow!) It would take another long blog entry to tell you about all the blessings and benefits that we have been given through each of our children as well as by having a plus size family. Things we could have never imagined those 25 years ago and yet God knew.  And we are ready, willing & wanting to take any more that the Lord sends our way through birth or adoption. (to the utter shock, amazement & sometimes dismay of most of the people around us.)

So……do I know what causes this?

Yes I do, thank you!

What causes a young soon to be married couple to decide to chuck the current popular world view on birth control, pregnancy, child spacing, family size and children out the window?

It was caused by:

  • the joining together of two hearts that wanted nothing more than to listen to the Lord and follow His plan for their lives.
  • a desire to give Him complete control over their lives and their destinies
  • a hope to come together in marriage to glorify God and be an example of Christ and His unconditional love for His church
  • a belief that all life is a gift to be cherished and that babies are a blessing from God
  • gaining an understanding of how much God loves the orphans, the fatherless and children without forever families that His heart beats for adoption
  • trusting God and saying…Not our will but….Thy will be done!

How about you….Do you know what causes that in your life?

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Filed under Adoption, Attitude, Blessings, Faith, Fatherhood, Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, My "take", Pro-life

Times of Refreshing (part 1)

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  Proverbs 11:25

As I write out this ancient proverb I am sitting aboard the Sea Princess with a gentle breeze blowing across my face as the slow rhythmic rocking back and forth of the waves causes me to relax and my body conforms into the lounge chair on the ships deck.  Yes, I am the grateful recipient of some very generous people who chose to bless Dan and me with an Alaskan Cruise in honor of our 25 years together in ministry and marriage!

1986 was a life changing year for us.  It was the year that the Lord brought a man & woman together who both loved the Lord and loved ministering to youth.  It was also the year that we had our first experience with the ministry of full time Christian Education and quickly developed a passion for the amazing opportunity it provided to mentor, disciple, love and impact young people for life.  In less than two years of marriage we knew that we wanted to commit our lives to the ministry of Christian education.  (despite the meager compensation, zero retirement plan, massive amount of work hours and having too many “bosses” – you see as a Christian educator you have to please not only your Principal, but your entire school board and the parents of every student – simply impossible!)

Last summer we organized a multi year reunion (classes of 1985 – 2000)of Brookside Christian High School alumni, the school where we ministered for 11 years before moving on to found Jim Elliot Christian High School.  It was a spectacular weekend of reminiscing, reuniting and remembering!  There was much laughter, love and we even all shed a few tears. I have been to many reunions over my lifetime and this was “hands down” the most real, the most fulfilling and the most joyful of them all.  You see we had something very special during the Brookside Christian High School “glory years” as many refer to them as.
We had:

  • A small tight knit group of under 200 students  each year from a wide variety of families, cultures and backgrounds
  • A group of staff members  who were committed to not merely teaching their subject matter but to pouring out their lives into young people
  • Chapel Services that featured some of the best youth speakers in the country and where students truly “met God” in a way that they had never before experienced
  • A student activity program to rival none other,  that not only created memorable moments to be cherished for a lifetime but built up student leaders, created lifetime bonds of friendship and provided a level of enthusiasm & excitement that made the school “the place to be”.

Not to say that BCHS was perfect…in fact in many ways it was very far from perfection (one of the reasons we chose to create Jim Elliot Christian High School to take our vision of the “perfect” Christian school to the next level) and yet there was something very special about that era and anyone who experienced it will vouch for that.  During those foundational years in our Christian Education experience both Dan and I held a myriad of positions which would ultimately give us the experience and expertise to start a new Christian school years later.  Dan held the positions of janitor (nothing better than to start at the bottom),  Teacher (Bible, Physical Education and even a short stint with US Government…you BCHS students rember that?), Athletic Director, Coach, Counselor, Vice Principal, Principal, Dean of Students and Chaplain.  I began as a Physical Education Teacher who was surprised at being given Typing classes (HA! I “hunt & peck”) but quickly began to pick up other jobs that I have been uniquely gifted to do. I became the Student Activity Director and Leadership Teacher, Yearbook & Journalism Advisor, Guidance Counselor, Admissions Director, Director of Student Affairs and Director of Development. I even spent several summers as the front desk secretary!  While at times
it seemed crazy to take on such a wide and varied number of positions (and even as I typed them all I got a bot exhausted!), the Lord knew that He was preparing us for a very special purpose down the road.  We would have never had the ability to begin a new school without the experience those positions brought, the years of ministering in a Christian school and the numerous BCHS students and families that would support and encourage us in the starting of JECHS.

So even though our time at Brookside ended abruptly and with much angst…we will never regret the experience we received, the lifelong relationships we made and the amazing opportunities we had to impact others. To God be the glory!

During the reunion weekend, our former students presented us with a gift of thanks and appreciation for our 25 years of service in Christian Education.  Apparently they had been emailing folks for several months asking for donations for the Lambdin’s and they ultimately were able to purchase an Alaskan Cruise for us to enjoy.  What a blessing!  While we are unaware of everyone who contributed to this amazing gift, we want to say a HUGE thank you for your generosity and for allowing us to be refreshed in such a wonderful way!  We know that the Lord, who is always true to His word, will indeed refresh you through your generosity to us!

In the next post I will share more about being refreshed, renewed & reenergized!

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Filed under Blessings, Callings, Jim Elliot Christian High School, Life at the Lambdins, Marriage

“Faint heart never won fair lady” or “Jumping through a few hoops”

Not only did he have to ask me but…

  • he had to ask my Lord…
  • and he had to ask my Daddy…
  • and he had to ask “my kids” (also known as my youth group at Lakeview Assembly)…

Yes, the young man who decided to ask for my hand in marriage on March 18, 1986…25 years ago today…had more than a few “hoops to jump through” before slipping that ring on my finger. And isn’t that just how it should be?

You can read our whole love story and engagement here – My God Inspired Love Story 

Now that we are the parents of seven daughters we definitely think that any young man worthy enough of our precious daughters ought to be willing and able to “jump through a few hoops” to win the prize of her hand in marriage. In fact,  in many ways I believe our current culture has made it much too easy on guys to “get the girl”  (in another era it would be  – the gentlemen to win the heart of a fair lady)  Often young men no longer have to:

  • pursue a woman (since there are an abundance of women ready & willing to pursue them!)
  • courageously win a woman’s heart & hand in marriage (remember the English proverb – “faint heart never won fair lady”)
  • pay a price for their bride (hmmm perhaps there was some wisdom in this  after all the bible says – “where your money is so will your heart be also”)
  • wait for loving sexual intimacy until they are married (many enjoy the pleasure of sex, a clean house, home cooked meals & even a second income without ever having to pursue a womans heart, jump through any hoops or  make the commitment of marriage)

While some may think these cultural changes are good for both men and women, I would beg to differ.

Women want to be pursued.  It is how God made them.  They desire to be wanted, loved and greatly desired. In our culture women no longer need to wait to be pursued as they have society’s “permission” to be the pursuer.  And pursue they do.  The biggest problem in this shows up long after they are married when they still desire to be pursued (wooed, admired, desired, wanted & loved) and men who never have had to pursue a woman’s heart are woefully inadequate in meeting these needs. 

Women want a “Knight in Shining Armor”. A man who is  brave and courageous and who can save and protect them.  Requiring men to “jump through a few hoops” – is certainly great exercise for them to build their courage and strength. By requiring the young men who may be interested in our daughters to ask their father for permission and to declare their intentions and commit to high relationship standards should be happening in every home that values their daughters.  Women no longer under their parents roof would do well to require potential suitors to do the same. I often tell my girls…if a young man is not willing to simply call and get your dads permission to pursue your heart…then he has no courage and it is obvious that his desire for you is anemic.  Do you really want that kind of man? (and on a side note if your Dad says “no” or “not now” and the young man perseveres in his desire for you, not giving up, even if it means “winning over” your dad first….would that not just melt your heart and prove his love, strength & fortitude?)

Women want to feel valuable…while we will not require a “bride price” (well…maybe not), there is something to say for the way this would make a woman feel. In Jewish culture the groom had to pay a price…no modest token…the price was set so that the new bride would be a costly item – that was the idea. The young man had no delusions that he was getting something for nothing. He would pay dearly to marry the girl of his choice.  We want our daughters to feel “priceless” and valuable (because they are are our greatest riches and the most valuable part of our lives) so therefore we will not let them go to just any ole’ guy. Yes, they will have to “pay a price”…though it may not be monetary…it will require sacrifice.

Women want commitment with their sexual intimacy.  Alas our society denies this and even many girls would probably say they do not care about commitment (at least of the marriage kind), and yet I still believe that women truly do not want to give their bodies in an intimate way to someone they are not also connected with spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well as with someone who will “be there” for them through all of life’s ups & downs.  Men who are willing to wait for that commitment before becoming one with a woman have proven themselves to be self-controlled, faithful, godly, patient, persevering, wise and hold women in great high esteem, honor and respect.  That is a man who has “jumped through the hoops” and is worthy of my daughter’s hand.

Today as I celebrate the anniversary of our engagement I am thankful for my husband…a man of God…who was willing to jump through some hoops to ask for my hand in marriage –

  • by pursuing my heart and taking a leap of faith without doing it the “normal” culturally accepted  and percieved “safe” way of dating before engagement
  • by praying, seeking and hearing from the Lord that I was the woman he should marry
  • by asking my Dad for my hand in marriage (even after listening to my brother drone on & on about what a hard time he was going to get)
  • by asking my youth group kids for their permission to marry their youth pastor (it takes courage to propose in front of 100 teens)
  • by paying a price to marry a gal called to full time ministry (he left a very lucrative management position in alcoholic beverages to join me in full time youth ministry – in fact his income has never reached the annual level he made in 1985 – I know this thanks to the yearly social security report I receive)
  • by practicing self control, patience, godliness and wisdom by saving intimacy for the commitment of marriage

He is still my knight in shining armor and I would say yes all over again…as these 25 years together have been amazing and wonderful! 

I pray that my precious & very valuable daughters will find godly men that will “jump through some hoops” to win their hearts and ask for their hand in marriage. I pray as well for you my dear readers who are parents…for your daughters & granddaughters. And for my single young lady friends & relatives who read my blog (I know there are a few of you out there – Hi Kate, Beth, Janessa, Chrisann, Tiffana, Rachael, Marlene, Cait – to name a few – along with all my high school girls at JECHS )…I pray that you would patiently wait to be pursued by a godly courageous, brave young man who is willing to pay the price and jump through the hoops to win your heart….because you are so worth it!

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Filed under Courtship, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, Raising Girls