Category Archives: Motherhood

Teens – Terrible or Terrific?

We had a “milestone” birthday in our home this past week as my fourth daughter, Rebekah turned thirteen.

It is official!  We now have four teenage girls in our family…at the same time.

 When Rebekah was born her three older sisters were 18 months(Kristen), 3 years(Amy) and 6 years old (Michelle).

I remember many times during their childhood well meaning friends, acquaintances and even strangers would make comments about how dreadful, hard or horrible I would have it when they were all teenagers.  Most of the time I would just smile (ok, so maybe smile/smirk is more accurate) or politely laugh at their “doom & gloom” comments,  however occasionally I would proclaim with confidence my true sentiments – “Oh I can’t wait….I love teenagers!”

And it is true – I have loved teenagers my entire adult life.  I love their enthusiasm, idealism, passion, boundless energy(as well as their ability to sleep for hours on end), hope, faith, spontanaity, reckless abandon, independence and strength to name a few of the qualities of youth that I find very appealing.  But the never ending onslaught of negative comments did leave me wondering if I was headed for disaster down the road when I actually had teenagers living in my home.

Why is it that we live in a society that seems to have such a disdain for the teen years?  Why do so many parents look at these years as something to fear or dread rather than welcoming them with hope and excitement?  Once a child reaches thirteen they only have five or six years left in our homes…why then would we spend those years arguing, fighting or wishing away our short time together?

Or is it even true that parents do not enjoy their teenagers or is it just another one of those “parroting” issues where everyone feels they have to say disdainful things about teenagers because that is what everyone else is saying. (Even just yesterday, a poplular radio host that I listen to regularly responded with “I’m sorry” when the caller mentioned she had a teenager.  Of course it got a laugh – but I cringed inside as comments like this seem to add to the negative sentiments surrounding being a parent of teenagers.)

Most likely it is a combination of “parroting” as well as parents truly struggling with unappraciative, disrespectful, self centered teenagers who show them very little love. (that type of teenager doesn’t sound like much fun to me either)

Now if I merely had one teenager, I would never venture to give any advice, opinions, insights, ideas or even hints as to how to enjoy the teenage years but since I have four who run the gamut of personalities and dispositions (although at this point I don’t have any male teenagers – you’ll have to wait at least 15+ years for my “take” on that – although perhaps my dear friends Teri Helms, Christy Keyton or Ladonna Colton can “guest blog” on teenage boys) and because we are truly enjoying our teenagers, I will throw out my opinions for anyone who might be interested.

First let me say…that if you want to enjoy the teenage years…it starts way before they turn thirteen.  In fact, it begins with getting a good grip on your thirteen month old when they first start challenging your authority by directly doing what you just said “no” to them doing.  If you lose the battle of the wills with a toddler, you are sure to lose the war with a teenager.  Be strong and always, always, always win!

It also takes developing a solid, loving relationship with your child during those early years by spending tons of time with them (both quantity & quality), eating the vast majority of your dinners together as a family – at the dining room table (candlelight & music is a bonus!), enjoying lots of cuddling time together on the couch in the evenings or under the covers in the morning reading books, watching movies or just sharing life stories, worshipping together as a family, talking, talking and talking with them and being diligent to create meaningful memories on a regular basis.

In addition, I believe that besides “winning the battle of the wills” and developing a solid loving relationship that you need to indoctrinate them for many years before they come close to teenagedom as to the “rules” and boundaries in your household.  Here are some examples of ours –

1. We (Mom & Dad) can make your life miserable or wonderful – the choice is yours!  We highly recommend you choose wonderful but if you choose miserable we will follow through.

2. You are not the center of the universe or for that matter, the center of this family either.  It is NOT all about you….don’t forget this (of course it helps to realize this when you live in a family of nine)

3. It is “My way….or the highway”  Yes,that is correct if our teenager does not comply with our rules or chooses to live a life of continued disrespect or direct defiance, they will no longer have the option and privilege of living under our roof.  As hard as this would be to carry out, my children know that we would follow through.

4. No whining allowed!  We have more than most people in the world – a roof over our heads (no matter how much you think that roof should be bigger), food on our plates (even if it is beans & rice several times a week), clothes on our backs (in abundance – thanks to hand me downs!) and a loving, committed “in tact” family. What is there to complain about? Nothing!

5. No, you can’t have…

  • your own cell phone (we have a common “the girls” phone)
  • a myspace or facebook account until college (if you have that much free time – have I got a job for you! However, you can have a blog – feel free to write, write, write!)
  • your own car (nope you can’t even buy your own until after high school and no one else gets to buy one for you either) – you may use one of our cars as needed and with permission
  • a TV in your room (in fact you can’t even watch TV except on a very rare occasion)
  • your own room (and this is not just a logistical rule – it is our paradigm – no one needs their own room – even if we had eight bedrooms – there would be at least two to a room until the last child is here alone.)

6. You also can’t…

  • spend the night, go to parties or on out of town trips with families who we do not know intimately.
  • call, write or text boys (and yes when I have teenage boys they will not call, write or text girls in jr or sr high either – after that they can ask the young ladies father for permission to call, write or text)
  • date or “go out” in junior high or high school (including all definitions of the word – from casual going out for coffee with a member of the opposite sex to “committed” boyfriend/girlfriend relationships)
  • get body piercings, tattoos or any extreme hair coloring or styles
  • wear any immodest, inappropriate or culturally reactionary clothing (and the Mom gets to decide if something is ok) and a bonus – you get to wear dresses (and my sons will wear dress shirts & ties) to church, weddings, funerals, graduations or other significant events
  • go to movies that have not been approved by Mom & Dad (or our own resident movie censor – Michelle) – you can’t always go by ratings – I have seen outstanding movies rated PG13 and lousy crass movies rated PG
  • be lazy and not do your school work or not do it to the best of your ability
  • be disrespectful or rude to teachers, authority figures or any adults (even if they are wrong or rude – you will respect their position)
  • get away with not doing your household chores
  • ok and in case it is not obvious the “basics” are “you cant’s” too –  can’t do drugs, drink, smoke, break curfew, lie, cheat, steal etc….

7. You can….(ok, with all those “cant’s”  there does need to be a few perks – listed here are some things that other teens may not have the privilege of doing)

  • stay up as late as you want – it is simply your responsibility to get up in the morning
  • sleep in late on Saturday mornings as long as you are consistent each week with your chores
  • invite friends over most anytime – for dinner to spend the night, hang out, go on outings with us etc…
  • go on exciting trips and adventures anywhere in the world as long as you cover the costs and you are going/staying with an “approved” party
  • keep your room a mess (up until the point that Mom can’t walk in the room or it starts to smell)
  • wear “light” make up when you start high school & get your ears pierced when you turn 16 (gotta have something to look forward to! lol)
  • drink coffee
  • eat left over pie, cake or cookies for breakfast
  • listen to music as loud as you want (most of the time) providing it is Christian or on Mom’s list of “approved” show/movie tunes
  • skip school to do fun and exciting things like – going to the beach, apple hill or snow days, getting Dr Laura’s signature, attending the inauguration, going to New York for your 16th birthday
  • be as mad as you want at Mom or Dad…go to your room and shout in your pillow that you hate us and turn up your music (see above for restrictions) – just don’t slam a door, hit or throw anything or be disrespectful to our faces (have at it in your room or other space where we are not)

8. Glorify God in everything you say and do…ultimately you will answer to Him

Did I cover them all girls? 

Following these basic philosophies have resulted in six wonderful years of having teenagers in our home.  Michelle, Amy, Kristen & Rebekah, though each unique in their talents, gifts, abilities as well as having diverse personalities – they are all good, godly, respectful, mature, responsible, delightful and lovely young ladies, who happen to be teens!  They are truly a blessing to us and we have and will continue to enjoy the teenage years. (It’s a good thing since I have at least 18 more years of having one or more teenagers at home)

Happy Birthday Rebekah!

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Filed under Blessings, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins, Motherhood, My "take", Raising Girls

It is bittersweet

Tonight I stood in the hallway of my daughters apartment building in New York and said goodbye.  Tomorrow morning I will get on an airplane and fly 3000 miles back to our home in California.  It is bittersweet. For those of you who may be sending a child off to college this fall (or perhaps off to the military, a missions trip or other separation) –  remember to look for the joy in the midst of the sadness.
Michelle – my – Belle….
 
I should be asleep but I can do that on the airplane tomorrow, right?
 
I just couldn’t go to bed without taking a moment to write you a letter on the eve of this monumental day in your life – your first day of college.  It grips my heart to even type those words out as I know that this is truly a season of change in all of our lives.  We will all never be the same again.  In some ways that is really very sad but in many, many other ways this change is exciting and a time for rejoicing and celebration.
 
I am sad that we will not get to physically live in the same house – enjoying that day to day contact that we always take for granted.  I will miss the hugs, the smiles, the snuggling on the couch, the kisses goodnight, our family dinners and movie nights, playing games together and the long talks about life, love and the Lord. It is just not the same without you there.
 
I am sad that “the sisters” will not have you there to look to for wisdom, advice, mentoring and spontaneous late night family room chats.  I am sad that you will not be there to cheer them on in their sporting events, watch their performances, help them with homework, drive them to activities, and celebrate their birthdays and other milestones. I am also sad that Daniel will change so much over these next four years and that our long hoped for adopted brother may arrive when you are not there to welcome him to the family.
 
Yet even with this sadness…I am rejoicing that you are going to grow, mature and be filled with knowledge and wisdom.  These next four years will build on the foundation your father and I have laid and you will “be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water and in whatever you do, you will prosper!” (Psalm 1)
 
I am rejoicing that you will make lifelong friends who will be a blessing to you and you to them.  Friends who you will inspire, motivate, challenge, influence and love, as they will you.  Friends who will become like family that you can count on and trust. Friends who our family will embrace as our own.
 
I am rejoicing that we as a family will all learn to appreciate each other more and not take our time together for granted.
 
I am rejoicing that you will be making precious memories that will last a lifetime!
 
I am rejoicing that as God’s plan for your life begins to unfold that you will be filled with wonder, awe and amazement at all that He is doing in and through you.
 
I am rejoicing that our love and the ties that bind us together are based in the Lord Jesus and that NEVER changes.
 
And I am also rejoicing that we live in a time of technology that will keep us tightly connected via cell phones, email, text messages, webcam, facebook and we will even promise to write old fashioned letters! (they called it mail – you remember with paper, pen and stamps!)
 
This is a BIG day for you, a changing of seasons and a monumental moment in time. I am so very proud of you. I believe in you. And I am standing in the wings cheering for you.
 
My prayer for you today, tomorrow and always –
 
Michelle, may the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.  May the Lord be gracious unto you and give you peace.
 
I love you.  Zoot! Zoot!
 
Mommy
Celebrating together – Michelle’s last night before college begins
 

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Filed under Attitude, Life at the Lambdins, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, The King's College

Oh the places they’ll go!

I’ve never been one to live vicariously through my kids.  In fact, I have often felt pity on parents who were so over involved in their children’s athletic endeavours, academic achievements, musical or dramatic talents and even their “love lives”  – it was as if they were trying to either re-create their own childhood or live a life through their child that they would never have the opportunity to experience.  To be completely honest I often thought pathetically to myself – “Why don’t they just get a life of their own?”

Well, here I sit living my life vicariously through my nineteen year old daughter, Michelle who is beginning her college career this week at The King’s College in the heart of New York City!  Last night (or perhaps I should say early this morning as it was 1am – ahhh the city that never sleeps!) as I rode the subway back to the apartment where I am blessed to be staying on the Upper East Side (doesn’t that just sound so “posh”?) I couldn’t help but imagine that I was actually the young college co-ed who was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of her life!

  • She is living in one of the most exciting cities in the whole world, in a “large” apartment (well perhaps this is personal perspective – but for a gal who has shared a 10×11 room with her five sisters, this one bedroom apartment she will share with three roommates is an “upgrade”) that overlooks 5th & Broadway, the route for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. She is within walking distance of Times Square, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, Central Park, Union Station and The Empire State Building, to name just a few. She can catch the subway to destinations in Brooklyn, Long Island, New Jersey and more. There are people of every race, culture, background, religion and language to meet and learn from.  There are multitudes of restaurants and delicious different foods to try, more shopping opportunities than one could ever attempt to conquer, museums to explore, Broadway shows, concerts and athletic events to attend. (I am sure she will join you in being a Yankee fan, Granny!)  Yes, I could do this!

 

She is already meeting and becoming an extended family member of some New York locals – the Shaerf family – who have generously opened up their hearts and home to her during her time in New York.  They are “my type” of people – energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, “go getter’s”, committed to their community, their faith and their family (they have three darling, fun children who I know Michelle will love).  Yes, I could thoroughly enjoy company like this.

  • She has the choice of many dynamic churches to attend here.  The one we went to on Sunday was called Origins. It was an awesome experience combining enthusiastic worship, traditional liturgy, inspirational scripture based teaching (and the pastors Australian accent was a bonus!), communion and obvious committed fellowship as many hung out in the pews for hours after the service talking and praying for one another.  And from what we understand there is a smorgasbord of churches just as wonderful here in NYC.  Yes, I could get into those options!
  • She is attending a college that is inspiring, challenging and quite impressive in their mission, goals and accomplishments.  I attended a preview weekend here a couple of years ago and was “sold” on this being the perfect place for Michelle.  It was a match for her heart, her vision and her desire to be a world changer.  Their commitment to a Biblical worldview is stronger than most private Christian colleges that I have experienced (and as a guidance counselor for over a decade in several years back I have sat through more than my share of college presentations) and their rigorous academic program would be a tremendous benefit for her life.  This week as I have attended Parent Orientation, talked with faculty, staff and students, I am not only convinced it is the perfect place for my daughter,  but I will be promoting this incredible institution to everyone!  I could go on and on with stories of their alumni and what they are doing – a most impressive group of world changers who are working in business as venture capitalists and highly sought after by many Fortune 500 corporations, who are influencing public policy on Capitol Hill, who are employed in media, public relations and journalism, who are continuing their education by attending law school, pursuing MBA’s and Phd’s and receiving Masters in Divinity.  They have students just this past summer who interned through the school for the Coke Foundation, the New York Sun, Ralph Lauren, a Washington Senator and one as a White House Intern supporting First Lady, Laura Bush. Wow! Ok so I have just shared the tip of the ice berg on all that I could tell you about this remarkable college, but I will have to save it for later posts. Let me suffice to say that it is a school of excellence in every way and that I left Parent Orientation wanting to enroll in this college! Yes, I could thrive as a student at The King’s College.
  • Ok, so I wouldn’t mind a Starbucks on every corner and having tea at The Plaza Hotel either! (thanks Carrie) Yes, I could live in NYC.!

 

As I was relishing in the past few days I began to realize that this was just the beginning of my living vicariously through my kids.  Michelle is just the first of seven to begin her life journey away from our home.  Who knows the places all my children will venture to and the things that they will do, see and experience as they follow the Lord’s leading in their lives. Perhaps living life through your children is not so pathetic after all…in fact maybe getting a chance to live life all over again is one of the blessings of being a mother.  I will be looking forward to many more decades of living this vicarious life through each of my awesome children. (although rest assured I will surely be living my own full and exciting life as well).

New York, New York

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it – New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it – New York, New York

I wanna wake up in a city, that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill – top of the heap
A number one

These little town blues, are melting away
Ill make a brand new start of it – in old New York
If I can make it there, Ill make it anywhere
Its up to you – New York, New York

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Filed under Blessings, Inspiration, Life at the Lambdins, Motherhood, The King's College

Baby Micah – God’s Masterpiece

I am smitten!

The first time I laid eyes on this sweet baby boy, I was filled with love and joy.  Then tonight I got to hold him for just a few precious minutes and he stole my heart! This dear baby was born five weeks early to my lifelong friends – Robert & Nina Ward.  He has spent the first week of his life in the NICU and is likely to be there a bit longer.

His name is Micah Mitchell and he was born on Tuesday August 12 weighing in at 5 lbs 14 oz and 18 inches long. He he has 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes, his skin is pink and soft as silk, his hair is like fine gold, his lips are kissable and he smells intoxicating.  He is precious and he is perfect and he has a bonus chromosome – often known as Down Syndrome (or Trisomy 21).

Most importantly Micah is a gift from God. He is special, unique, and lovable.  He will face challenges just like  every other child…they just may be different challenges.  He will not worry much about the complications and stresses of life; he will simply experience, cherish and savor every moment. He will experience Gods unconditional love and acceptance in a way that many of us never will and he will freely bestow that same unconditional love to others.  He will greatly impact everyone who comes in contact with him. What an amazing life he will have! He is God’s wonderful creation –

  • a blessing, not a burden
  • a joy, not a sorrow
  • a reason to rejoice, not to mourn
  • a masterpiece, not a mistake

Psalm 139: 13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
 
As I stood in awe & amazement over his incubator the day of his birth, I was filled with such love, joy and excitement for all that this baby will bring into not only the Ward’s lives but to everyone who is blessed to be a part of their circle. Our family is looking forward with eager anticipation to being a part of this spectacular journey!

Baby Micah – welcome to the world! We love you.

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The starting gun sounds

Today my third daughter, Kristen will begin her freshman year at Jim Elliot Christian High School.  I have to tell you my heart is breaking a little.  I know all to well that this day is like the bang of the starting gun that marks the final race of her time home with us.  The next four years will go by with accelerated speed. Why am I so melancholy?  It is just that I simply love being with my children.  I love every age and every moment.  I am not pining away waiting and wishing for them to grow up & get out of the house.  In fact there is no one I would rather be with than each of my children (and my dear darling Dan!).

 

Here is my letter to Kristen as she begins her race through high school.

 

 

My dear precious Kristen,

 

It just seems like yesterday that you were turning four years old and promising me that you would never get any older.   Here we are a decade later and you are 14 years old, beginning your high school years today.  Why has the time flown by so fast?  I so wish that I could keep this monumental day of change from happening and that we could do the past ten years all over again.  Yet at the same time I am so excited for all that high school will bring to you.

 

I can’t even begin to tell you what a joy and help you have been to my life.  You are such a blessing to me in so many ways.  As a little girl you were always so sweet, loving and good….truly the easiest child I have ever raised.  You always looked for ways to please and you were so very obedient.  Your very presence brought peace into my heart and life.  The Lord must have known that I needed you in the midst of some of those crazy and often stress filled days of your childhood.  As you grew and matured, I came to depend on you for so many things.  You were diligent in your chores, responsible with your school work, hard working in everything you did and always willing to go the extra mile and help me with anything and everything I asked. (Including running errands with me, no matter how boring they were, massaging my feet and taking care of your younger siblings)  I am going to miss having you at home more than you will ever know.

 

Kristen, you are going to excel during your years at Jim Elliot.  You are smart, talented, athletic, friendly and influential. Because you are such a strong committed Christian who is kind, caring and compassionate, you will be a fabulous example to everyone around you.  You are responsible, diligent, mature and hard working which will pay off in many ways as you walk through these next four years.  I am so proud of not only who you are now but I know that you will continue to give me cause to praise the Lord in the years ahead.

 

I am praying for you as you begin your high school journey.  Seize the day!  Take advantage of every opportunity. Get involved. Make memories. (And take pictures!) Be a friend to all. Have no regrets. Make good choices. But above all Glorify God in everything!

 

I love you so very much.

 

Mommy

 

P.S.  Thanks for spending your time, the night before school started, once again doing things to help me – putting up the school – “Decade of Discipleship” banner and wrapping birthday gifts for your baby sisters friends. You are amazing!

 

 

 

I love it that she is not embarrassed to be photographed the first day of school by her Mom or dress as “twins” with her sister!  What awesome confidence she has.

 

Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were this small Kristen?  Makes me savor the moment because in a just a breath Daniel will be heading out the door to high school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Life at the Lambdins, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood

When life stops

The last two weeks my typically “full speed ahead” life virtually came to a stop (or at least a slow crawl).  After first dealing with a bad case of strep throat that knocked me out for several days, I then did something to my lower back (I say “something” because I can’t pin point the exact cause of the pain although I did spend a couple days movingcamping equipment & heavy boxes of books because with my “get it done NOW”  personality I simply couldn’t wait for dear darling hubby to do it!).  I woke up ten days ago to excruciating back pain.  I could not get much relief – sitting down (as in in front of the computer, to eat meals or just chat with the girls) was impossible and brought much pain, laying down was also painful which meant that I was up every couple of hours each night trying to deal with the pain, standing was also painful although slightly less and when I walked briskly I could get some relief.  I tried ibuprofen, ice, heat,  back exercises, rest – with little results.  After a week of this I was very grumpy and sleep deprived. I decided to go to the doctor and a chiropractor to seek help.  The doctor prescribed pain medication and a muscle relaxer.  The chiropractor gave me an adjustment which provided immediate relief for about an hour after the first treatment and several hours pain free after the second.  Yesterday was Jim Elliot Christian High School’s 10th graduation (more on that later!) and I put on one of those girdles (affectionately called “suck ’em ups” at my house) – I was amazed!  I made it throughout much of the day with little pain. Today I am actually sitting here in front of the computer with just minor discomfort…hoping that I am on my way to a complete recovery.

And of course life went on….without me! As a wife, mother and self employed business woman, it is always a humbling experience to realize that life will continue on even without me at the helm.  Of course I have had this experience throughout all of my seven pregnancies as I am typically “worthless” for at least four to five months with hyperemesis gravidarum (in laymens terms – extreme nausea & vomiting all day long).  It is always good for me to see that life will carry on and I think it has been fabulous for my children to become independent and learn great leadership and serving skills.  And once again when I was “down for the count” these past couple of weeks – they all stepped up to the plate and life went on pretty smoothly.

I know so many Moms who do everything for their children.  While I know that their motivation is out of love and nurturing, I believe that we actually do a disservice to our children when we do not allow them to take care of things, independantly of mom.  When I taught high school I was always amazed at the number of students who could not accomplish some basic life skills – cooking, cleaning, laundry, making appointments, planning an event, taking care of a younger sibling, basic banking transactions and more!  Often times too they lacked crucial problem solving skills because their parents (usually mothers) always rushed to their sides and solved every problem for them. 

If you are that “do it all” type Mommy – let me encourage you today to begin to give your children some areas of responsibility.  It may be hard at first but down the road it will pay off for both you and them!

 

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