Category Archives: Priorities

The Luxury of Staying Home?

To be a stay at home Mom or not to be a stay at home Mom….
….that is the controversy. (or at least it seems to always be controversial)

I grew up with a mother who graduated from college with a BA and teaching credential, got married, worked as a teacher for one year, began to have children and left the workforce for almost the entirety of her 27 year “active” mothering career. (being a mommy never ends but the day to day “job” of mothering does) Other than working a few hours, here and there, when we were all in school and occasionally substitute teaching, she was a “stay at home Mom” taking care of the business of managing a home and raising her children.  When the youngest began high school she re-entered the “away from home” workforce as a high school English teacher and enjoyed a 20 year career as a teacher, earning a Master’s Degree and excelling in her field before retiring with a pension. Personally I think that is awesome! She had the best of everything due to her and my Dad’s great choices, sacrifices and hard work….and my siblings and I were the beneficiaries!

A generation later, I earned my college degree and worked as a youth minister both prior to and after getting married. When my first child arrived I desperately wanted to stay home with her but couldn’t see a way to make it work with a husband in college at the time. So we figured out how he could work part-time, in addition to being a full-time student while I would work part-time as a teacher and school activity director. With this arrangement none of us stayed home…even the baby who was with one of us all day except for a three hour time period in the morning. As our family grew and my husband finished college and took a full-time job teaching I continued on in my part-time job. I still wanted to be at home with my little girls but did not see how we could make it work on my husband’s Christian school teacher salary. We just couldn’t afford it…or at least that is what I thought (and was often told by others).

In 1997 through a series of providential events I instantly and without planning became a “stay at home Mom”.  We made so little money that year that we were audited by the IRS who wanted to know how our income diminished so much in one year. (the agent even asked…how are you making it?) I did build a very successful home business in the years following that eventually replaced the income I had made teaching part-time and yet I was able to work from my home along side and with my children.  So…..I have been a “generating income outside the home mom” and a “stay at home income generating mom”.   (whew! those are long titles)

I hope we can agree that all moms are working moms, right?  Some generate income outside the home, some generate income inside the home and some do not generate income at all but as moms….we ALL work. Better yet, we all work very hard!

And yet the majority of women that I have talked with desire to spend much less time out of their homes working and more time with their children if they had a “choice”.  Yes, I realize that there are the few moms who even if they were independently wealthy millionaires would still want to work outside of their homes because they simply love their careers but I believe that most would rather stay home and raise their children if they felt they had that “luxury”.  Here is where my issue lies.

Is staying at home a luxury or is it a choice…that is the question?

Other than single Moms (by never marrying, being divorced or widowed) who most simply must work to pay the rent and put food on the table (unless they have an extremely lucrative child support payment or alimony…kudo’s to them!)…I personally believe that most married moms can make the choice to stay at home (some with  generating income at home and some without). 

No, I do not believe it is a “luxury” for those moms whose spouses makes a certain magical level of income. I believe it is a choice.  A choice to perhaps sacrifice personal fulfilment, career advancement, social interaction, achievement accolades and of course income.  A choice to “do without”, to let go of material possessions, goods and services and fun vacations that we have come to believe are essential. A choice to have 37,440 extra hours to pour into the life of our children, homes & families during their 18 years of childhood.

And yet many have bought into the paradigm that it is a “luxury that we can’t afford” to be a stay at home mom (income generating or not). That it is simply impossible for anyone other than the ultra rich to pull off.  We even get encouragement to think this way from our influential leaders.

Speaking at what the administration called “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy,” President Barack Obama said that after his two daughters were born, he and his wife—both Harvard Law School graduates—could not afford the “luxury” of having her stay home with the children.

In 2005, when Obama began serving in the U.S. Senate (and his daughters turned 4 and 7), he and his wife were earning a combined annual income of $479,062. Barack Obama as a senator was paid a salary of $162,100, and Michelle Obama was paid $316,962 to handle community affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

So let me see if I’ve got this right…..

Then Senator Obama made $162,000 a year plus outstanding benefits and they could not afford the “luxury” of Michelle staying at home to raise their children? (he did not say she was working to advance her career or for personal fulfillment or for benefits….he said they could not live without her salary)

Things that make me go…”huh?….am I missing something here?”. Let’s see….if my husband currently made $162,000 a year that means, even after taxes, we would have about $9,000 a month for our family budget. (actually we would bring home even more than that knowing the charitable contributions we would be making and the number of kids we have would reduce our tax liability greatly) We live in California, said to be one of the more expensive states to live in and my husband brings home a third of that much money every month. If I had an extra $6,000 a month I could pay myself a salary for my hard work as a Mom of eight children and still have thousands of dollars extra each month to save, to spend and to give away. It would be a life of luxury for me as well as my family and my husband, who might actually enjoy a clean bathroom every once in a while! (yes I could pay someone to clean our bathroom or clean it myself with the extra time I would have from not having to work at my home business)

I do realize that most families who make this amount of money (equal to Obama’s $162,000 in 2005) do decide they can live on one income and one parent does stay home to take care of household business and raise the children. But there are many who make less than half of that salary who say they “can’t afford the luxury” when in reality they actually could. Yes, they might have to drive beat up cars, live in smaller houses, skip private school tuition, and forgo some “extra’s” in life (like eating out, cable TV, expensive cell phone bills, nicer vacations, manicures, gym memberships etc..) But in reality are not all those things actually  luxuries that the previous generation, who primarily did have stay at home Moms, did not have?

No, for the vast majority of couples having one parent stay at home is really not a luxury they can’t afford but a lifestyle choice that they have made. (just as it was for me during those early years when I bought the paradigm that we “couldn’t afford” to have me home) And as a culture we need to “call it what it is” instead of using rhetoric to justify our choices  or perceived lack thereof as well as making moms feel like they simply “have to work” to survive or by giving husbands the cultural confidence to tell wives they “need to work”. (I mean after all honey, Senator Obama needed his wife’s income, so you should work too) ** Husbands who pressure their wives to work is in itself is a whole other blog post that perhaps needs to be written about men who no longer feel pride and motivation to creatively provide for their families and demand their wives drop their precious babies off at daycare for nine hours a day for someone else to raise, when those mommys desperately want to stay home…..but back to the point.**  I believe that we need to influence our culture to encourage moms (or dads) to make the choice to stay home to raise their children. The more families that can have at least one parent investing a significant  amount of time (37,440 hours!) and energy into their home life and children the better off our society will be!  So let’s be honest:

It is a choice…not a luxury we can’t afford.

P.S. To my very special single, divorced & widowed Moms…let me say again I know that you do not have a choice as to whether you can work outside your home nor did most of you choose to be single Moms…I pray that the Lord will strengthen you, encourage you and wrap His loving arms around you all the while multiplying your time, energy & resources and surrounding you with great friends to support you!

And yes I do understand that there are special circumstances and situations (illness, loss of jobs, business going under, medical bills) that may at times “force” both parents to work).

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Filed under Economics, Home Business, Life Lessons, Motherhood, My "take", Priorities, Uncategorized

911: Remembering & Recommitting

September 11, 2001…where were you?

911 002I was actually in the Washington DC area on a business trip on that fateful day in American history, along with my then seven-year old daughter, Kristen. (she is now 17 and a senior in high school!) We were getting ready to fly home on that very morning the planes were flown into the twin towers in New York City.

And ironically I am in Virginia again on this 10th anniversary of 911.  This time I am here by myself without my precious Kristen.  I am here to help my mother who has recently had some intense health issues that require her to need assistance.  When I first made my reservations to come to the East coast it did not dawn on me that I would once again be in the nation’s capitol on September 11.  I believe this anniversary is an appropriate time to remember, to reflect, to honor those whose lives were lost and who gave sacrificially and to renew our commitments to our faith, our family & friends and our country. How significant then that the Lord would orchestrate the circumstances of my life to be in the same place I was on that fateful life changing day.

Here is an excerpt from my photo album written shortly after September 11, 2001. (I am so thankful that I took the time to write this down back then, one of the many bonuses of being a scrapbooker & journaler!)  –

911 003From the moment I turned on the television at my mother’s home in Springfield, Virginia…everything began to become surreal. I sat frozen alone on the couch as I realized the atrocity and severity of what was happening. Terrorists hijacked  two airplanes and crashed them into the twin towers in New York City. As the events unfolded I watched with horror, along with millions of Americans who were glued to their television sets.  It was like we were watching a nightmare and wondering what might happen next and if we would ever feel safe again.

All I could think was that I wanted to be home with my family. I was 3,000 miles away and with all air traffic being suspended indefinitely, there was no certainty of when I could get home. I called Dan who was still unaware of what was happening on the East Coast (It was still very early in California). He prayed for me & told me how much he loved me. He also shared how relieved he was that I was at home at my Mom’s and not on an airplane at that moment. As I sat back down to watch the unfolding drama I learned that another plane had crashed just down the freeway from where I currently was staying — into the Pentagon. I was stunned! 911 005What was happening…and what would be next? It was at that point I looked down at my confirmed airline itinerary dated September 11. 2001 from Washington DC to California. The full impact hit me. My daughter and I could have easily been  passengers on one of those airplanes heading to California. I began to cry & praise the Lord that it was not my time to die and that I was not on an airplane right then being diverted to another city somewhere in the United States.  Instead, I was safe at my mother’s home with my sweet daughter. I had a lot to be thankful for that day. We finally did get home five days later. (but not without several delays and obstacles including getting stuck in Minneapolis for a night and being graciously taken in by a business associate, Leanne Anderson, who rescued us from having to sleep in the airport) When we finally touched down in San Francisco, I cried. I had never been happier than to simply be home with my precious family.

911 001In the aftermath of 911, it was inspiring to see patriotism come to life in America. Everywhere you looked people were wearing red, white & blue, flying flags, putting up signs & showing their love for their country & fellow citizens. Flags were everywhere – on every home, hanging from bridges, on cars, on buildings, on clothing…it was overwhelming & emotional. I found myself with eyes filled with tears and getting choked up several times a day as I witnessed the love of others and the patriotism that had been sorely missing in the daily life of most Americans. People also began to give of their time, talent & treasure in abundance. On every street corner money was being collected & people gave freely. Many volunteered their time and stood in line for hours to give blood. It was an incredible moment in history to witness this outpouring of love & generosity.

911 004This tragedy of 911 also turned many hearts back to the Lord and to faith. Everyone was in desperate search of answers and in great need of peace, hope & security. People were coming together in droves to pray and seek God. Our common faith in God became evident to all. The cross rose up out of the ashes of the towers and became a symbol of hope for those at Ground Zero in New York. We all knew that we desperately needed God. No one was offended by people praying or evoking the name of Jesus. There was a National Memorial Service broadcast worldwide where Billy Graham boldly proclaimed the gospel.

September 11, 2001 was truly a day that changed everything. 

911Were you changed by the events of September 11?

Did you stop everything & order your priorities aright?

Did you have a renewed sense of patriotism & love for the USA?

Did you weep with those who lost loved ones and hold your precious family closer?

Did you give blood, donate your time or money in the aftermath?

Did it draw you to the Lord?

Perhaps on this anniversary of 911 it would do us all some good to recommit to these same things today.  In this ever-changing and turbulent times we are living…none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  I Peter 5:8

It is so easy in the years following a disaster or life changing event to lose your resolve, be lulled into apathy or even forget the things that you thought would stay with you forever.  Take the time today to remember and recommit yourself to loving God, loving others, loving life and loving our country with the intensity we did after 911.

I will be re-committing my life to these values as I attend a memorial service in Washington DC on Sunday. I want to live my life as if each day could be my last –

  • ready to meet my Lord by humbly living a life pleasing to Him
  • loving my dear family & friends and spending time enjoying each other
  • reaching out with kindness and compassion to strangers, those in need and even those that I find challenging
  • not stressing about the small inconsequential things that try to irritate or distract me from the truly important things in life
  • joyfully serving my church, my community, my country and my world using my God-given gifts & talents to benefit others

What do you remember about the way your life changed after September 11? What values will you recommit to on this anniversary of that horrific day? Don’t let this moment pass you by without some reflection on the past and commitments for your future…in just a blink of an eye we will be another decade away from this fateful day…let’s be changed for the better!

God Bless America!

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Filed under Blessings, Endurance, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, My "take", Priorities

Reflections on Making Holy Week…Holy

I am sitting here in the quietness of my living room (yes, believe it or not, even with 10 people living under this small roof there are moments of solitude and corners to go to escape) watching the flickering of five candles set up on our dining room table in the shape of a cross.  We entered into another Holy Week today with the celebration of the triumphant entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday and a time of family devotions after dinner in which we extinguished the first of six candles that will be put out each night this week leading up to Good Friday where we will face the darkness of the cross.

As I reflected on the upcoming week, where those of us who are believers in Jesus set aside time to remember His last days on this earth, I was sad to think about how this most important season in the Christian faith as been all but laid aside for many.  In days past…

  • students would always have Holy Week off from school
  • churches would celebrate Palm Sunday with great enthusiasm handing out palm branches formed into crosses for you to take home along with a family devotional to be used throughout Holy Week
  • most denominations would have a Maundy Thursday service complete with communion & even sometimes a foot washing ceremony
  • Good Friday was a sacred day with businesses closing at noon and folks attending solemn services to remind them of Christ great sacrifice

Today it seems like Easter arrives to everyone’s surprise and Holy Week is just perhaps a blip on our radar screen.  Easter vacation at school, which always fell during Holy Week, has given way to Spring Break which is taken at various times throughout March or April and not often coinciding with Holy Week.  Very few Christians even acknowledge Palm Sunday or Maundy Thursday. And tragically, Good Friday is just another run of the mill “TGIF” for most people.

I thought about our upcoming week and even with our very purposeful & meaningful family celebrations that we have set aside time to do (Palm Sunday, Holy Week Devotions, our Passover Christian Sedar, Good Friday Observance) we still have a week that is filled with school for my teenagers (although at least our Christian school takes off Good Friday, but at times we have had to fight for that), athletic events, dentist appointments, a birthday party, endless errands and work, work & more work. It just didn’t sound very “holy” and while some of the weeks activities are inevitable, others I could have avoided adding to our calendar or been more dedicated to getting done earlier.  I humbly and with repentance bowed my head and prayed for our family that we would not just live as if this was just another week but that we would set it aside as….holy.

But what exactly does holy mean?

The dictionary defines it as:

  1. consecrated: dedicated or set apart for religious purposes
  2. saintly: devoted to the service of God
  3. sacred: relating to, belonging to, or coming from a divine being or power

Wow!  Those are some pretty intense words — consecrated, dedicated, set apart, devoted to service, sacred, belonging to God.  As I contemplate by candlelight this evening I am making a renewed commitment to not allow Holy Week to ever get so “cluttered” again and to truly set it aside for God and His service. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you too will consecrate, dedicate, set apart, and devote in sacred service this Holy Week to God!

P.S. – If  you are interested in our family Lenten season, Holy Week & Easter traditions you can  find them on my blog here –  https://bethlambdin.wordpress.com/category/easter-season/

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Filed under Determination, Easter Season, Faith, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins, Priorities

So what if you don’t have the time….just do it!

To say that I don’t have time right now is like saying that Bill Gates just has a little extra “walking around money”. Yes that would be an understatement.

Besides the regular routine of  mothering, homeschooling, household management, my home based business and my “part time” job (yada yada)… I am working ’round the clock on the annual Jim Elliot Christian High School Dinner Auction which is just over a week away (and I still need to sell 150 tickets..yikes, gather up last minute auction donations and work daily with my team of volunteers).  Add to that my homeschoolers have state testing this week, not having gone to bed before 2am in days and having kids going “down for the count” daily with the stomach flu…and yes extra time is just about non existent in my life right now.

Yet today despite all of this…I managed to throw on some red, white & blue, grab some flags out of the closet and drive downtown to City Hall for a 45 minute rally at our Stockton City Tea Party.

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Why did I stop in the midst of the craziness of my current life to attend a rally where no one was expecting me or perhaps it didn’t even matter if I was there?  Why did I overcome my own personal objections of weariness, busyness and other obligations?  WHY?  WHY? WHY?

  • Because I believe in the message!
  • Because I am role modeling for and training my children.  They are watching and listening to not just what I say….but what I do.
  • Because in the future when I am asked – “Why did you not try to do something to stop this mess?”  I will be able to with a clear conscience say – I did do something!

There is so much more that I could say about how sometimes we just need to throw out our excuses as to why we can’t do something….and just do it! (but I will just let me actions speak for me this time)

Life went on today….even though I spent 45 minutes at a rally letting my voice be heard and then another 45 minutes sharing that with you in this blog! And no one may ever remember that I let my voice be heard today, but I will lay my head on the pillow tonight with perfect peace that I have stood for what I believe in, have role modeled that to my children and have began the fight for our future generation who will have to bear the brunt of our current actions. 

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Is there something in your life that you say you believe in and that you just are not making the time to do? Or perhaps you really do not have the time? So what….just do it! (This is what I said to myself this morning as I contemplated “skipping out” on this event and listed all the reasons I just didn’t have the time)

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Filed under Determination, Economics, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take", Priorities, Time Management

A Blessed New Year

My prayer for the year 2009 is that we would all be blessed beyond measure!

The dictionary definition of the word blessed: divinely or supremely favored; fortunate; blissfully happy or contented. 

Who wouldn’t want a year full of God’s favor, fortune and to be blissfully happy and vastly contented?  Sounds divine, doesn’t it?

But how do we receive these blessings?  Is there anything we can do to bring about God’s favor and fortune? Is there a way to live each day in blissful happiness and contentment? 

I believe there is and I know where to find the key.  The Bible says in Psalm 1 –

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit  in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

As a believer I spend time in church each week  worshiping and hearing the Word of the Lord. I fellowship regularly with other believers.  I listen to Christian messages on the radio, Internet and on CD’s. I read books and devotionals written by Christian authors.  However….as I evaluate recent years I have failed to daily delight in and meditate on the Word of God.  I have not hungered and thirsted for His Word.  I have not loved and longed for His Word.  I have simply not made time to read, meditate on and memorize the Bible and make it a top priority in my life.

This year I will be doing  just that.  No matter what is happening in my life, I will take the time to read the Bible and meditate on its message.  Today I will begin a daily reading plan that will result in reading through the entire Bible in one year.  (I will be using the daily reading schedule found at Back to the Bible – that gets emailed daily to my in box – but there are lots of great options out there – Crosswalk.com and Walk thru the Bible  are two more great resources)

Here’s to a blessed 2009!

new-years-037

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Filed under Blessings, Consistency, Goals & Dreams, Priorities

Excuses, excuses – “I just don’t have time”

Yesterday…feedburner (the service that handles my blog subscriptions) mysteriously sent out an email saying that I had posted…which I hadn’t.  When it was brought to my attention my first thought was – Is someone “hacking” into my blog and getting ready to send out some evil or ugly post to my subscribers which now number close to 600?  I quickly logged into my wordpress account and could not find any evidence of foul play.  Then I thought perhaps one of my kids accidentally got on to my blog site and hit “publish” of a non existent post.  Of course this is a real possibility as I have posted from every computer that has ever been in this house and have saved my log in information on them all…even baby Daniel could probably randomly hit the right keys and pull off an empty post being sent. (after all he is brilliant!)  Or perhaps it was just some glitch in the feedburner system? Who knows.

Update– Just as I was about to post today, my feedburner account once again sent out an email today with one of the last posts I had wrote over two weeks ago – yikes! What is happening?? Does my awesome personal “IT” guy, Jeff have any thoughts – or any others out there who might be able to give me any ideas as to what is happening?

Either which way….it made me desperatly long to spend some long overdue time blogging.  You see, I love to write.  I love to inspire, encourage and bless others.  I love to challenge peoples thinking.  I love to share bits and pieces of my unique life (complete with photos). I love to make a positive difference in lives.  In fact, besides public speaking, writing is one of my greatest passions.  On top of that, without sounding presumptious – I believe it is my calling and that I have been gifted by God in this area.

Why then have I not written in over two weeks?  If I really truly love to do this and feel it is a calling and gift, then why am I not doing it?  I could throw out the time factor – after all I am the mother of seven (who are currently playing on five different sports teams, one is rehearsing several times a week for a major musical, three of them are being homeschooled and I have a 17 month old that is in himself a “full time job” – as are all toddlers!) , I am working from home at my Creative Memories home business and putting in over 20 hours a week for JECHS, leading a homeschoolco-op, managing our home, helping out friends in need  yada yada yada … (not trying to get into the boring  “I am so busy” wars)

But I have NEVER really bought into the “I don’t have time” excuse.  We all have time.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  We all choose what to do with that time and how we choose – is a dead give away as to what our true priorities are.  So I must say that writing, inspiring and motivating through this blog has simply not been a priotity as of late.

Well even as I write that, it doesn’t settle well with me. (as in I have to say – ouch!) This is a priority in my life and therefore I need to carve out the time to just do it. (Just as I do my other priorities – my relationships with the Lord, my dear darling husband, my children, friends & family and my personal passions and pursuits)

What about you? Are there things in your life today that you say are priorities but that you are not putting time into? Are you using the “I just don’t have the time” excuse?  Perhaps we should replace the often used excuse of  “I just don’t have time”, to the reality – “This is just not a priority”.  And if that statement stings a bit – then perhaps it is time to reevaluate where your are spending one of your most precious resources – your time!

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Filed under Priorities, Time Management

More than is humanly possible

In the next 10 days I have more to do than is humanly possible!  Have you ever had one of those times in your life – when you look at your calendar, appointments, “to do” list and upcoming deadlines – and simply feel overwhelmed with the weight of what has to be done? Of course you have! 

Without giving you my “laundry list” or playing the “I am busier than you” game – let me just say that besides all the work that it takes to pack and get my family of nine ready to head to the beach for our annual “hiatus” in Aptos next week – I have to complete my yet to be started taxes (yes, I know it is way before the April deadline – but for financial reasons and college aide forms it must be done before I leave), I am smack n the middle of the adoption process and begin interviews for our home study today (yes, we are “biting the bullet” and using most of our adoption fund for it & believing God to provide the rest), I have a monumental and major event I am responsible for this Saturday night, “The Founders Gala” for Jim Elliot Christian High School with over 250 in attendance!

So, what do you do when you have bitten off more than you can chew?  You chew it, of course!  But let me give you a few things that get me through these seasons of life with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

  1. Give it to God! –  The good thing about doing more than is humanly possible – it means you must let God do it!  So often when we get overwhelmed we forget to stop and give it all back to the Lord.  Life is so much easier and less stressful when we let God control it.
  2. Let others help you!  This is something that I am still learning to do.  Ultimately when we feel like we have to do it all ourselves (read here – “or it won’t get done right”) – it is really another way that we are trying to be “in control” of everything.  Another reason we don’t ask others to help us is because we don’t want to impose on anyone.  Neither of these reasons is valid.  Again – God wants to be “in control” (and He can handle it far better) and we rob people of the opportunity to serve and be blessed when we do not ask for help.
  3. Do the next thing!  Often when we are overwhelmed we get paralyzed and do not do anything or we do meaningless tasks to distract us while trying to ignore the BIG things looming ahead that we need to take care of.  I have found if we will simply focus on what it is we need to do next and then do it, not fretting over what is ahead, we will get it all done. We all spend far too much time worrying about all that we need to do and far less time actually completing the tasks.
  4. Done is better than perfect!  Enough said – all you perfectionists out there – join me in my recovery – and get over it!
  5. Let go of the little things! There are certain seasons of life where some things just don’t matter.  When I am in the midst of an overwhelming time I let things that are not all that important go.  These things include but are not limited to –  having a spotless house, doing my hair and make up (and sometimes if I don’t have to go out – I don’t even get dressed at all!), or preparing meals (you can still sit down at a candlelit table with your family eating grilled cheese sandwiches and canned soup).
  6. Keep your priorities in order!  When we have an overloaded schedule the first things we often let go of our are priorities.  We don’t have time to – pray, exercise, play with the little ones or stop and talk to a friend.  I have learned the hard way that when you let go of your priorities, you lose.  So despite my current abundance of “tasks” to accomplish – I start the day with prayer asking God to “HELP ME!” (and yes sometimes I am shouting that), I make myself take a walk daily (and dear darling Dan  comes with me so we can get some good quality time together talking too), I stop and walk away from the computer to play with the baby or cuddle and laugh with Joy (and note to self – I need to take more time with the older girlies as well), I sit down on the couch with a friend who drops in unexpectedly needing to talk about her current heartbreak. In past days I would have seen all these as distractions, disturbances and obstacles to overcome so that I could get my tasks accomplished – today I call them “divine appointments” that the Lord sends my way to keep my priorities right!

And one of those priorities – the cutest baby boy in the entire world – is up and ready to eat breakfast…so I will end this post here and look forward to the work ahead of me knowing that God is in control!

Proverbs 16:9
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

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Filed under Attitude, Endurance, Lifes Challenges, Monday Motivations, Priorities

Anniversary Get Away

It’s that “most wonderful time of the year” – yes it is Christmas but for us it is also the time to celebrate once again our wedding anniversary!  21 years ago – December 20, 1986 – on a beautiful clear winter evening – in a candlelit cathedral  – Dan and I began our lives together.

And every year since then we have been diligent to celebrate that momentous occasion with an annual anniversary get-away.  We take time away from daily life to –

  • thank the Lord for giving us each other and to recommit our lives to Him and to one another.
  • to talk and share our hearts, hopes and dreams with each other
  • to laugh, love, play, relax and enjoy being together
  • to keep that spark of romance alive in our marriage and “fall in love” with one another all over again!

These anniversary celebrations have happened – no matter what!  Just like our marriage vows we have committed to celebrating – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health – as long as we both shall live!  No matter how crazy life gets, no matter how full the holiday season is, no matter how broke we are, even if I am in the midst of debilitating morning sickness or we have a tiny little newborn we still take time out to celebrate our anniversary.

Here is a glimpse of the past 2 decades of anniversary celebrations –

  • 1987 – A weekend away to the California coast – Half Moon Bay & Carmel – horseback riding on the beach, an excursion down 17 mile drive, shopping and enjoying delicious meals
  • 1988 – A 2 week trip across the country to my parents home in Virginia
  • 1989 – After the recent arrival of an extremely colicky baby – our 1st born Michelle – we still managed to have a “night off” for dinner and a movie
  • 1990 – A bed & breakfast get away to North Lake Tahoe (best memory – sleeping through the night – with no baby to wake us up!)
  • 1991 – A weekend adventure to Monterey – shopping, looking at Christmas lights, eating out & a great hotel stay
  • 1992 – With the upcoming arrival of baby #2 – I “kidnapped” Dan for an early celebration in South Lake Tahoe
  • 1993 – Despite being “great with child” (baby #3) we still managed an overnighter to the cutest little bed &breakfast in Jackson, CA.  We decided on baby names during that trip
  • 1994 – With 3 small children (and 1 still nursing) we decided to get a room at our local Hilton and stay close to home. But it was a refreshing break together – sleeping in, talking over coffee, and enjoying a leisurely day
  • 1995 – This may have been one of the most difficult years of our married life – baby #4 had just arrived, we were in a stressful time with our employer and life just seemed to be a time of unrest & uncertainty (looking back all of which strengthened our marriage)  We once again got a room at a local inn for a night & actually rarely left the room
  • 1996 – 10 years!  We had a grand celebration of the first decade.  We had a large party with friends & family and then headed down to San Diego for a glorious four days of celebrating.  It was awesome!
  • 1997 – A “for poorer” year – after a life altering job loss – we were broke. However thanks to the generosity of several dear friends we were able to get away for a night to a bed & breakfast in Sacramento
  • 1998 – Baby #5 arrived just 2 weeks before our anniversary so we did another local celebration – dinner, movie and our home anniversary suite (while shipping the rest of the girls off to friends)
  • 1999 – My CM business was booming, Dan was settled in at the new school and life was good!  We were able to spend 3 days at the most exquisite bed & breakfast in Monterey – the Grand View Inn – it was “picture perfect” in every way!
  • 2000 – We spent a fun filled couple of days at Hume Lake Christian Conference Center and were joined by my sister Caroline & her husband Mike who had just moved from Tennessee to California & have a December 22 anniversary. (they are celebrating 23 years together this month! Happy Anniversary Caroline & Mike!)
  • 2001 – Our 15th anniversary – I wrote about here last week. We renewed our vows in a beautiful & meaningful ceremony
  • 2002 – “Great with child” #6, we stayed close to home again – however this time we splurged on a night at the “Wine & Roses Inn” an elegant local hotel and restaurant.
  • 2003 – We had some frequent flyer miles due to my traveling & speaking all across the country so we flew down to San Diego for a warm wonderful weekend together (along with Joy our nursing baby!)
  • 2004 – We headed to a bed & breakfast in Napa Valley for a few days of shopping, massages, great food and enjoying the sights & sounds of that beautiful part of the country at Christmastime
  • 2005 – A trip down the California coastline – Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Hearst Castle – enjoying every minute together
  • 2006 – Alas after several years of  a “for richer” era – we were back to counting our pennies.  This was our 20th year anniversary and despite very rocky and changing times with my business and being uncomfortably pregnant with baby #7 (excited…but tired & sick) we were determined not to forsake our commitment to celebrating our anniversary.  Our “get away” was to our friends home who were going away for the holidays.  We enjoyed their lovely warm home watching movies and snuggling by the fireplace and splurging on a dinner at a nice restaurant

That brings us to this year – 2007 – our 21st wedding anniversary.  We are still counting every penny and embracing our “for poorer” vows which has led us to celebrating this year in our very own home.  The school my husband teaches at has a “no personal days off during finals” policy during our actual anniversary which is next Thursday. So we are celebrating this week. Dan took the day off of work and the girls are all staying a couple days with friends (they are actually at 4 different places – well 5 if you count Michelle being in Australia) and we have baby Daniel here at home with us as we celebrate our 21st anniversary.  The girls cleaned the house spotless and left us a card with some money from their hard earned babysitting jobs so we could go out to lunch or dinner. Last night, we enjoyed a wonderful evening together over a home cooked meal – talked by a warm crackling fire and got an incredible nights sleep. (It seems amazingly quiet here with just the 3 of us and Daniel actually slept 7 hours straight – that was a first!)

Today is all ours to do as we please – perhaps a little “window” shopping, maybe taking a walk or a drive, enjoying a leisurely morning over coffee and the newspaper,  going out to eat and maybe even a movie – but no matter what we do we will enjoy just being together, remembering our love and the commitment we made to one another 21 years ago.

I hope that those of you who are married – whether you are on your 1st, 21st or 51st anniversary that you too will always take time out to renew your love and commitment each year to your spouse.  For those of you who are about to get married or are newly married I want to challenge you to make this commitment – no matter what – to always celebrate your anniversary in a meaningful and purposeful way! (in case you are wondering how I could remember all the things we did each year – I have a special “anniversary album” that has it all recorded with pictures and words so I will never forget)

If you want to see some photos of this happy married couple over the years click on the photos tab & go down to the last slide show.

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Filed under Consistency, Family Traditions, Priorities

Family & Friends Friday – date night

It’s date night!

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

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

Why date nights? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Family & Friends Friday, Priorities, Time Management

Choosing the Best

It was one of those days….

….the “to do list” was overwhelming, the papers to shuffle were stacked so high they toppled over on the floor, there were emails & voice mails to answer and I had spent the day “running” – running errands, running to the store (and back – because it never fails in the Lambdin family that some critical item has been forgotten), and running kids to their many activities.

As I sat down after dinner to nurse the little knight (aka Sir Daniel Guy)….my mind raced as I made a plan on how to spend the rest of my evening to get a handle on life and things back in order. After he finished burping and stared up at me with that milk drunk look…I quickly moved to put him into bed looking forward with anticipation to a couple of solid hours to just get things done! As I headed back to the room he began to fuss….a sure sign that he was ready to go to sleep, as he was dry & fed. As a mommy of many I have learned to train my babies to lay down and “fuss” themselves to sleep after just a few minutes. (with the exception of the extremly colicky one!) As I was about to lay him down to do just that and rush off to “work”…that still small voice stopped me with the question…”Why don’t you rock him to sleep tonight?”

My first reaction was…I don’t have time…there is so much to get done…not tonight, maybe tomorrow! Yet despite these thoughts and feelings, I turned and went into the living area, turned the lights down low and sat down to rock the baby. As I rocked “Sir Daniel” I sang softly to him great hymns of the faith, I prayed for him to grow up to be a strong, upright, moral young man with a heart after God, I spoke scriptures to him as I stared into his sleepy eyes that were filled with love & adoration for me, his mother. As he drifted off to sleep…I enjoyed the heaviness of his body resting against me, his peaceful rhythmic breathing and the sleeping smiles that make you wonder what they are dreaming about. 🙂 I sat there in the midst of the current chaos of life and felt perfect peace and my heart swelled with love & joy.

Yes there were still piles & piles of things to do all around me….most definitely many “urgent” things as well as some very important things. And yes…I would begin the week slightly disorganized & haphazard without my two hours of evening work. But I knew this was the BEST thing to be doing with my time. Everything would still be there in the morning (albeit a few “deadlines” would be missed) but this moment would never be here again.

I haven’t always chosen the BEST things to do with my valuable time. As a driven “type A”, lion(choleric) personality, I get easily pulled into the daily “to do” list, the urgent deadlines & even the mundane tasks. While many of these things are good and even important …. if I spend most of my time on them I will miss out on the things in life that are truly the BEST – mainly my family, my friends, my faith and my Father in heaven – if I don’t stop and spend time just “being” and not always “doing”.

So today I will begin to work on the list, the piles and the messages…..but throughout it all I will make a point to look for the BEST things in life so those moments don’t pass me by.

What is the BEST way you can spend your time today?

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Filed under Monday Motivations, Priorities, Time Management