We are celebrating 30 years since the day two young teens admitted they were falling in love and agreed it was a lifetime kinda love.
Josh and I were only 15 and 16. It was July 3, 1993.
Today we got out the old letters and read them to each other. Next we loaded ten kids into the van and went to the fire pit where it happened.
We showed the kids a handful of letters from our teen years, and read them some exerts. Josh told the kids the entire love story from his point of view.
After visiting the beautiful wooded campus, at Horizon Christian Fellowship where we began our journey as a couple, we took the kids to Skyline Chili. This was the first restaurant we went to together (though that happened in Cincinnati). Every kid got a hat.
We finished the adventure at Trader Joe’s where we let each kid choose a treat to share during the Fourth of July fireworks.
What a beautiful celebration of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Here’s a poem I wrote in my Journal back in 2001, when I was 24, a busy young mom with three little children. It’s all about the dreams in my heart, and my hopes for the future. So many of those hopes and dreams have far exceeded what I could have ever imagined.
Tomorrow I want to paint my walls with hills and trees, butterflies and clouds, and sing the songs from “The Sound of Music”. Tomorrow I want to ignore the laundry and play outside with my toddlers. I want to be close to creation. I want to feel the wind and the rain and watch the sky.
Tomorrow I want to wake up in my husband’s arms, and listen as he prays for our family. And I really want to live my life like I was designed to live it. I want music, purity, sunlight and the laughter of children. I want to know the one who made me, yes, I want to make God smile.
Tomorrow I want to bring fresh milk from the barn, bring fresh flowers to the table, and let my little son feel the joy of gathering a basket of fresh eggs. I want to look out the window and watch the neighbor’s horses run. I want to share my two-year-old’s amazement as we examine the beans spouting in a jar on the windowsill. I want to build Lego towers, block towers, and couch pillow towers… again and again and again. I want to watch with wonder as my baby girl falls asleep to Mozart.
I want to fill my house with used books and take time to read them. I want to learn all about the way my great grandmothers lived, and teach those skills to others. I want to make things I couldn’t buy, and make other things anyway. I want to make my home an expression of creativity, discovery and faith and I want my heart to be an expression of Jesus.
Tomorrow I want to listen to the hearts of my children and be the one who nurtures them from sunrise and sunset and all through the night. I want to giggle with my daughters and read about tractors with my son. I want to smile when people tell me that I must have my hands full, smile, knowing that my hands are full of blessings.
Tomorrow I want my husband to come home to joy, to peace and to unconditional love. I want to kiss him and rub his back if he’s achy. I want him to enjoy a meal seasoned with herbs from our garden. I want to sit on the porch swing with him and watch the sun set and seasons change. I want to listen as he talks about his computer business and all the new people he meets, then talk about making plans to go to Austria again, or drive down the west coast.
Tomorrow I want to say yes to the things that matter most, and say no to the things that stand in the way of peace. I want simplicity. I want to live by faith. I want my neighbors to see a candle burning in the window, but never the blue glow of a television set. I want to be thankful and content with what I have and when I have more than what I need, I want to give. I want to give even when I must sacrifice.
Tomorrow evening I want to put on my shoes and jacket and go out to the barn. I want to pass the chicken coop and peek in at the hens as they huddle close, dozing on their roost. I want to sing quietly as I milk my goat by lantern light, then take a little time just to look up at the stars, and say a few words to the one who made them.
Tomorrow night I want to fall asleep in a room with wood floors and soft yellow walls as my husband reads the bible to me. I want to dream big dreams, and then make them come true… in my own back yard.
I guess what I really want is for tomorrow to be… a lot like today.
Managing house for a big family is not an easy task! Losing the baby fat is something we would rather not talk about. But let’s talk. I want to tell you about a weight loss and house cleaning experiment I learned about after the birth of my 7th child. I always gain two things with every baby – 40 pounds and an even MESSIER house. I know I’m not alone.
I know that this may seem odd, but I believe that the answer to perfect housekeeping is also the answer to losing the extra pounds! That’s why I call this method “The Clean House Diet”!
Here’s the KEY: Just do what comes naturally – to someone else. You have to think like the “naturally” skinny girl with a “naturally” clean house.
Okay, Okay, you think this woman doesn’t have any babies, and certainly not 5 or 10 of them… but honestly the clean house diet works for anyone. The Skinny Girl knows how to stay fit naturally, what’s her secret? The Tidy Girl with the clean house, seems to be a natural too.
What do they know that you don’t? I bet Skinny Girl learned to say “pass the carrots” when she was two, and Tidy Girl never had to be told to clean up her toys. Is it too late for the rest of us to learn their tricks?
You see, the best way to lose the extra pounds is very simple! You just follow Skinny Girl everywhere she goes, and do exactly what she does. Eat only what she eats. No more, no less. In a matter of time you will also be a Skinny Girl (unless you are a guy–in which case you would not be a “Skinny Girl”– you would be a weirdo and a stalker!).
Most American women have two BIG obstacles in life: The messy house that won’t stay clean and the extra 10 (or 20 or 40) pounds that won’t stay off.
Well, I have had an excuse for being chubby at times, and I have had an excuse for having a messy house at times. It’s a very legitimate excuse… when I’ve had a new baby, and the other six kids are really “crafty” and “playful”.
When I was a teen my parents were always trying out some new diet… “Summer’s coming–we need to look good, so let’s all lose some weight!” So my parents would buy the latest dieting book, and work really hard for three months, and quickly return to old habits.
Housekeeping was just the same…“Company is coming–the house needs to look good, so let’s clean the house!” Then we would all spend three hours cleaning, and after the company left, the house would quickly return to the former condition.
My parents eventually found a diet they could live with called “The Rotation Diet”. It was much more fun than “The Grapefruit Diet” and the “Cabbage Diet” and the “Protein Diet”!
The Rotation Diet went something like this:
Eat like you are on a diet for a few days. That means check labels for fat and calories. Then eat whatever you want for a few days without looking at labels. Wait a few days and eat the low calorie diet food again, and then the yummy food, then the diet food, and then the yummy stuff, yummy stuff, yummy stuff. Continue the pattern until you are skinny… but most people never get skinny or stay skinny for long. We all loved the diet – it was fun and easy. It made us feel good. But when it was time to go to the beach in the summer we were not happy with the results.
I eventually got married and moved out of my parents house (I highly recommend this! ). For years my house keeping methods resembled “The Rotation Diet!” Clean house, messy house, clean house, messy house, messy house, messy house! I wasn’t happy with the results.
When we don’t like the results we say the method or the diets didn’t work. So we give up dieting and just try to dress in such a way as to hide the fat. It’s all about wearing carefully designed clothing to give us girls the appearance of looking skinnier than we really are. HIDE the FAT! It’s about hiding some areas, drawing attention to others and using colors, patterns and deceptive techniques to reduce the appearance of the problem areas. This technique ALSO comes in handy when you want to pretend like you have a clean house! HIDE the MESS. It’s all about having a carefully designed house complete with many junk drawers, closets full of hidden junk, and entire rooms that company will never see.
You see, I have always enjoyed the liberty that came with having a messy house, much like I enjoy the benefits of apple pies, ice cream, steak, fries, and buttery pastries. I like the freedom to be creative, do projects, make big meals, and let the kids play freely all over the house, and I liked to clean up the grand old mess when I felt like it (and I don’t often feel like it!). So I would clean up when we knew that company was coming and I would try to make the place “look clean and pretty” at the end of the day. The kids and I would have a least one cleaning frenzy per day at about 5pm, right before dinner. We were masters of the “Ten Minute Tidy” in much the same way that some girls are masters of the “lose 5 pounds of water weight by Friday”. And then after tucking in the kids I would finish cleaning the kitchen and livingroom before bed.
Recently my parents finally discovered The Skinny Girl’s natural secret to fitness. They lost the weight and they are keeping it off! The greatest part? They have not eliminated the need for hot apple pie, or ice-cream. It’s like a dream. It seems that they found out about a lady who followed a skinny girl around for a week or so and did all the things she did, ate all the things she ate and learned how to think like a skinny girl. You see being skinny comes naturally to some people. The rest of us have to find out the skinny girl’s secrets and put the plan into action. The real way to stay skinny is to live like the people who are naturally skinny!
Here is Skinny Girl’s Diet secret. She does these three things and stays skinny:
She eats ONLY when she is hungry. (Not when she is bored, lonely, or passing by a Girl Scout with Thin Mints)
She stops as soon as she FEELS satisfied, not stuffed. (Her mom didn’t force her to clean her plate, she doesn’t feel the need to eat the whole candy bar, but saves some for later).
She listens to her body, she eats what she is in the MOOD for. (Yes, even if she want ice-cream!)
Since dieting and housekeeping have so much in common I decided to try the Skinny Girl method on my house, before trying it on my body. I decided that in order to keep my whole house clean I would need to find a “Tidy Girl” who keeps her whole house clean ALL THE TIME. I would learn her secret and do what she does. Just like my parents followed the example of the Skinny Girl.
Guess what? I couldn’t find a “Tidy Girl” with my personality, with seven children, and a house with twelve rooms! So I chose an older “Tidy Gal” lady whose house always looks beautiful! She’s retired, has a large home, one cat, one gold fish, one husband, and one cleaning lady. Nothing is ever out of place in that house, ever. She can make a meal for a dozen people and her kitchen stays spotless the entire time.
When I visit her with all seven kids there is still no mess! But there are no art projects, no games with lots of pieces, and the kids stay out of the kitchen unless they are washing their hands. When we visit, the kids sit quietly in front of the TV, or they play in the backyard. Wherever the children go she follows and picks up the crumbs. She never stops moving, cleaning and picking up little things – she even picks up tiny things like pebbles on the doorstep. She lines up the kids to wash hands before and after every snack time. Tidy Gal keeps everything that looks messy or fun out of reach! I watched. I learned. I tried this at home.
Here are my “Tidy Gal” observations. She naturally does three things:
She has a place for everything, everything stays in it’s place.
She cleans up immediately and she doesn’t move on to a new activity if the other one is not cleaned up.
If she sees something out of place, or notices “a yucky” on the floor she deals with it at that EXACT moment.
Tidy Girls naturally do these things and wonder why the rest of us don’t. They wonder why we don’t teach these three simple steps to our children.
Now I understand. When it comes to dieting and keeping the house clean you can’t always do what you feel like doing. You must create new habits. Click here to find out what happened when I tried it!
Josh and Sarah met at 13 & 14. Sarah fell in love instantly, Josh figured out that she was his destiny a few years later.
Sarah was an Unschooler and Josh was an over achiever in a public school, but spent all his spare time studying aviation and technology. He considers himself a weekend “unschooler”. Date nights for Josh and Sarah often included an airplane and a dinner in a neighboring state!
After high school Sarah moved to Hungary, Austria and Russia. Josh went to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to study his passion.
They had a long distance relationship for most of the seven years before getting married at ages 20 & 21. They spent their first three months of marriage backpacking in Europe. Ten months after the wedding Isaac was born and the parenting experiment began.
Fourteen months later Anna joined the party, and started throwing monkey wrenches into every ordinary occasion. At age 8 her parents found out she had Dyslexia and that’s when Sarah created DyslexiaGames.com – Anna is a “Super Creator” Here’s Anna’s latest project, scroll down for her “Red Chair Interview: HisStoryTheMusical.com
Fourteen months later Estera graced the world with her presence, and has been lighting up the lives around her ever since. Here’s Esther’s instagram account. She’s 21 now, a photographer living in Hawaii: https://instagram.com/estherscanon
Eighteen months passed before the “Negotiator” came on the scene. At first it was assumed she would become a political figure or criminal defense attorney. Nope. Rachel is an artist and figure skater. Check out her art and adventures: https://instagram.com/rach.charity.brown
Almost two years passed before Naomi joined the Girl Gang. Her first word was probably “Horse” her first phrase was probably “I want a puppy”. She now runs a dog hotel, dog accessories shop, and has a few horses.
Another little sister filled the world with wonder, and made her genius status obvious to all by age three. A mastermind, world traveler and deep thinker who hides behind paint and canvas. She recently became the family’s chef. At age 16 she occasionally posts a thing or two on Instagram. Looks like she has a store on Instagram: https://instagram.com/autumns.brush
Lovely Laura arrived with the spring flowers and became a very naughty little instigator as soon as she could walk and talk. She was one of those kids who preferred animals over people until about age 12. She’s the expert on endangered species and tropical birds. Today she has more “best friends” than we can count, suddenly a “people person” with a big heart. She’s not on Instagram yet. Maybe she will be when she’s 16. But here are all her books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=laura%20janisse%20brown…
Joe came next. A ten pound baby brother who wanted to be a YouTuber at age 3. So he started YouTubing as “The Littlest Blogger” in preschool. If you met Joe at age four he would have been wearing a suit, holding a calculator. He would tell you that he’s a scientist and Math-Man. He’s 13 now. He added many videos to my channel. Here’s one of his early videos about HOW to TEACH MATH to kids: https://youtu.be/xJBLH9aE6-8
Ember was her daddy’s idea. After Joe turned two Josh started wishing for another baby. Little Ember Rose was born in Italy in 2012. She is a lover of the great outdoors, a naturalist, always researching the plants and animals in her environment.
Leah was God’s idea. Surprise! The best gift that could ever be given. She came along two years later. It was during the last couple months of her pregnancy that Sarah decided it would be a good time to take a break from homeschooling. At age 39 Sarah just wanted to take time to treasure her youngest baby. She had a feeling Leah might be her last baby. So Sarah created a collection of Homeschooling Curriculum Journals that would provide six weeks to a full semester of homeschooling prompts, with minimal effort from mom. Fun-Schooling journals have been rolling out ever since. And Leah, now 8, is the family’s storyteller and comedian.
When Leah was six weeks old the whole family moved to Ukraine. It was while volunteering at a local orphanage that the family met a sibling group and felt a calling to adopt. A year and a half later five more kids joined the Brown Tribe, and Isaac, the oldest son, now 19, was married to Rita, his Ukrainian sweetheart.
The adopted children were ages 6 to 16. They didn’t speak English, but quickly learned. The oldest sister moved back to Ukraine the day she turned 18, after assuring us from day one of the adoption that returning to her village was her dream. The four younger children, Lilly, Alex, Abby and Christina bonded beautifully with their new siblings, and have been taking their time adjusting to the idea of having parents.
Eventually Chrissy learned to read English and discovered her passion for books, especially historical fiction and all things Amish, and Hobby #2, volley ball.
Abigail developed a love for crafting, pottery and jewelry making.
Alex picked up a guitar, a skateboard, and a camera and developed a passion for extreme sports.
Lilly is simply everyone’s best friend, engaging in anything and everything her big sisters are doing.
The family loves to free-range around the planet. The world is their classroom. It’s not uncommon for Brown teens to hop on a plane to go after adventure, a mission or a dream overseas- with or without parents or siblings.
The family now lives on 22 acres in Indiana and have turned the property into a homeschooling campus where each member of the family is free to craft a dream, start a business, tap a maple tree, sharpen a skill, plant a garden, raise a critter, spark a romance, toss a ball, or follow a butterfly.
Our family spent a few days with the Robertson family in Louisiana, and Korie gifted me a copy of her book. It meant a lot to me because my daughter Anna recently had this conversation:
Over the holidays three of my adult daughters were visiting. When I came out the the living room early one morning half a dozen daughters were gathered around the fireplace reading their Bibles, writing in their prayer journals and listening to worship music. And I said, “How am I so blessed that my children are truly following Jesus? So many of the people I know are complaining that their adult kids and teens are rebelling against their faith.” Anna said to me, “You and dad are not hypocrites. You showed us a faith worth following, and always live what you believe. You and dad were authentic.”
I’m at a coffee shop this morning, with Josh, Anna and my daughter Christina. Everyone is having their devotional time. I brought my copy of “Strong & Kind” that my friend Korie wrote. I’ve met four of Korie and Willie’s six children and was amazed at how faith and love glowed in the hearts and hospitality of each member of the family. Rarely have I met other families with young adult children so passionate about the faith they grew up with. I wanted to know what was at the heart of their parenting victory. So here I am in Chapter 20. This morning. I asked Korie if I could share her wise words with all of you.
It seems that society today is clamoring for something real. Organic and all natural are buzzwords for everything from food to clothing to body lotion. Could it be that we’re finally done with fake? I doubt it. Along with all the talk of going back to a more natural approach to living, our magazines and television screens are full of ads for products that include fake eyelashes, fake nails, fake tans, fake food, fake hair, and fake fur, There’s still plenty of fake to go around.
But fake things don’t last–well, except for Twinkies and Spam. Those have been around forever. Eventually, the fake tan fades and the eyelashes fall off. Fortunately, we’re usually at home when that happens, which is the best place to get rid of fake anything. In the interest of full disclosure, when you’re in the entertainment business, there are times for fake hair, false eyelashes, and a spray tan. It’s fun to feel glam for one night or for a photo shoot, but it feels even better to get home and take it all off. Home is where we can be ourselves, take off our makeup, put on our stretchy pants, and just be. But being real in our homes can be more complex than just being free to walk around in a pair of sweatpants and our husband’s T-shirt.
What exactly does it mean to be real? Here are several questions I want to explore as we talk about being real in our homes and as parents.
Do we try to appear one way to the world while acting differently at home?
Is the life we’re living true to how God made us?
Are we allowing our kids to see that being real can sometimes be messy?
Do You Act Differently in Public Than at Home?
Let’s discuss the first question. Kids are damaged when the inside of the family home doesn’t match the outside impression.
I’m talking about parents who put on a front to appear one way to everyone around them but then come home where they’re totally different people. Nobody likes a hypocrite, yet I think that’s exactly what our children see and think of us sometimes. They may not know the term or how to articulate it, but they see it, and it will affect them negatively. It will impact the level of respect they have for adults and how they approach and interact with the world as they grow up.
A very common reason people give for leaving the church is they’re convinced it’s full of hypocrites. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, or principles that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions contradict stated beliefs. A perfect example is a person bragging about her humility.
Hypocrites are deceivers and pretenders, so they may put on a false show of humility so that others will notice and commend them. Are we doing that in our homes?
Are we pretending that values such as honesty, kindness, patience, goodness, and self-control are important to us while living lives at home that demonstrate the opposite? Are you doing that? We do this when we gossip- we may be kind to others when face-to-face with them but belittle them behind dosed doors.
We do this when we lie about little things, perhaps saying, “Tell them I’m not home,” when someone calls.
We do it when we tell our kids not to tell their daddy how much money we spent at the mall. Yes, it’s a problem when we appear to be one way in public and another way at home. It’s also a problem when we burnish our appearance as the perfect little family when we’re out in public but spend our time yelling and fighting behind closed doors.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve argued and griped right up until the time we walked through the doors of the church building, then quickly changed our tone and thrown a smile on our faces. If moments like that are just moments, there’s no need to worry. Nobody’s perfect. But when moments like that define your family, it’s time to take a good look and make the changes necessary to really become the family you want others to think you are.
Have you seen the apps that can Photoshop or adjust your pictures to perfection? In seconds your skin can be flawless, your teeth glowing white, and any stray hairs smoothed into shape. While it’s natural to want to put your best face forward, it’s never good to present yourself as something you’re not. Our family is often asked to do photo shoots, and when I am asked to choose, of course I always want to pick the best version of me. However, I don’t ever want to pick a “fake” me, or a picture that has been doctored so much that it doesn’t look like the real me.
Why do we work so hard to show others our best selves?
Why do we give our best selves to the ones who matter to us the least?
Then when we get home to the people we love the most and who love us the most, we offer them our worst our gripe-y, unloving, selfish selves.
I truly believe that being inconsistent with who you are, being one way at home and presenting yourself to the world as something else, is one of the most destructive things you can do as a parent. When we do this, we’re asking our children to live a lie.
Kids learn values by watching our actions, and this type of hypocrisy confuses them and diminishes their respect for us. You may not see this affecting your children when they are young, but during their teenage years, you’ll definitely see the damage.
What I’m talking about in this chapter, being real, is not about whether you stay in your pajamas all day and then dress up to go out with friends. It’s about your value system and the way you treat others.
Certainly, we must act differently in the workplace or for a dinner out than we do at home. No one expects you to act exactly the same way at a board meeting as you would playing UNO with the kids. That would be silly. How we behave is one thing; what motivates that behavior is another. Whether our actions show the values by which we claim to live is the key here.
I’ve learned a few things in my twenty years of parenting. One is to never expect your children to do what you won’t do. Willie and I know that if we want our children to view our value system as real and something important to live by, our own actions have to match our values.
Leading by example is the number one way to teach children any behavior you want them to have. Kids respond better to “Do as I do” than to “Do as I say.” Jesus came to this earth not only to offer Himself as a sacrifice but also to be our example of how to live. God knew that His children need an example, a pattern to follow. Our children need one too.” (excerpted from Chapter 20, “Be Real” in Korie Robertson’s book, Strong and Kind.)
I’m so thankful for my husband. He is such an incredible father and loving husband. I’m just so blessed to share each day of our lives through everything. When we were 15 and 16 we choose our life verse, and in all the years that followed we lived out the truth of it…
I love being his wife. I love being a woman. I love being a mother. I am so thankful for my amazing body that carried ten children to term and nurtured them so beautifully.
I’m so thankful for how my husband and I have a completed each other and how we have experienced the true miracle of creating a family. I love his selflessness, and how he gives and gives and gives like it is no sacrifice because his heart and mind are set on eternity.
He is such a giver but as he longs to be more and more like Jesus. He always feels like there is so much more work God has to do in him. I love watching him love our family. I love how he can make wise and logical choices when I’m all emotional and reactive! I love how he trusts my intuition and my vision for our calling. I love how we are a team.
A lot of people feel incomplete, confused, like something is missing. I think it’s that feeling God noticed when he put Adam in the garden of Eden. In all of perfect creation Adam was incomplete. He needed a bride, because in himself he was lacking all the glory of the woman God was about to create. Adam was not complete in himself. Not even with God walking with him in the garden.
God didn’t say, “Oops! I made him incomplete–I’d better add female qualities to his nature so he will be finished.” No, God made a woman to be his perfect fit. He said it is not good for a man to be alone. How kind of God!! And what a beautiful creation God made in his work of art called woman.
As I wake up in my husband’s arms there is a feeling of being perfectly matched. A perfect fit. A completion. We are a work of art. We are not perfect, but we are perfectly designed by our wonderful creator to be one. And from our unity we build a family that has a strong foundation of love, and all the blessings that we both bring together. We are so different–we have different strengths and weaknesses–and I find that where I am weak he has strength and when he is lacking, I am gifted.
Sometimes I wonder how it’s even possible to have such a beautiful unity in this crazy world, yet we do. I think it has a lot to do with my husband’s dedication to praying with me and reading the Bible to me every night before we fall asleep. When we were teens he would always pray for me and read the Bible to me before saying goodbye. It was the sweetest day when we wore our wedding rings and didn’t have to say goodbye, and he began our marriage from the very first night by praying over me and speaking God’s words from the open Bible in his hands.
It will be 25 years in May 2023, and what a beautiful 25 years we have had! I’m so thankful that from our childhood we both pursued the heart of God and were willing to choose to live by faith, not giving in to the lies, confusion or voices of culture. We build this house on the ROCK. Unlike the culture this Rock never changes.
I pray my children know the same joy we know. Most of all I pray all my children surrender to the plans of God declared in His word. May they not be swayed by the voice of the culture, but alert to the voice of the Savior.
Jesus promises that He will bless those who trust and obey and build their lives in His Words.
I pray that they will live life in anticipation of eternity.
I pray that they will intimately know Him, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!
Oh the mighty power that is at work in us! Without His power we would never know this beautiful gift of unity, harmony and the grace of life together.
Jesus said everyone who hears His words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Then He went on to say everyone who hears His words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand (Matthew 7:24-26).
If you can’t figure out why your life is a mess, perhaps you are building your life of the sands of cultural confusion instead of the Rock of Jesus. Hear His Words. Put them to practice. It’s never too late to teach the next generation to build on the rock.
Children are the fulfillment of my dream because I have faith that we are raising them to be voices of hope in this crazy world. Sometimes we need courage to trust that we don’t have to give our children the same lifestyle our parents gave us. We can look at what our parents did wrong and be different. My husband grew up with a dad who overcame addictions and was married three times. My husband came from a broken home, and through his trauma he decided to fight for the opposite, by the grace of God. I know in my family the calling is very unique in these modern times. Very few will have what it takes to raise 15 kids, but if it’s your dream, it is possible! If God calls you to, have a big family!
Josh and I love raising children. We have built a really sweet life and joyful marriage. What we have is rare, and people like us should be raising kids, lots of them! And people like us should be the ones adopting! If you have a heart for children don’t be afraid to follow the calling and find ways to fill your life with children who need love, hope and healing. Children are the greatest investment we could ever make in this world. They have the potential to lead this world out of darkness and into the light! But not if the Christians raise their few children to shun the idea of nurturing the future generations, because it’s so stressful or whatever.
Mothers! Show your children what a treasure they are to you! Speak joy! Let them see your delight. My children know that I think they are gifts to planet Earth! Why are we kinda different?
Josh and I read the Bible together (through the Bible in a year) when we were teens. We met when we were 13 and 14. We had a calling on our lives to surrender everything for the high calling of the gospel! We saw over and over that children are called a gift, an honor, and joy. We saw the darkness of the world, growing darker. We felt like we were nearing the end times and had a call upon our marriage to raise up children who would be well prepared to go out into the darkness to be a light for the gospel. We wanted to raise them without fear of evil, but confidence in the power of God to rescue, love, heal, and bring forgiveness to the hurting.
We didn’t just want to raise up kids that would be missionaries and Sunday school teachers or worship leaders – like working in the church is the only Christian calling. We wanted to raise them to be leaders in the Arts, in science, in politics, in social media, in education, entertainment, music, business, and in the gifting of the Holy Spirit to shine like stars in the darkness and to show the way of love, kindness and peace where there is pain.
We considered each of the children to have a unique and precious calling, talent set, and unique individuality that would need to be respected. Each child would grow up to have something to bring into the world to show the glory of the Creator. This is not a common passion I see in very many couples planning their families. But we do know quite a few other families doing the same. And we are eager to teach others from what we have discovered. But unfortunately you just don’t hear it taught in church that it is a high calling and worthy sacrifice to raise up children intentionally for the Kingdom.
And as a teen I sought to choose a husband specifically for his heart for children, Jesus and the Arts. I had a wish list. I knew I wanted a big family, so I didn’t just fall in love with some random cutie–I chose my husband because I saw great qualities of a future father, and I saw his heart for Jesus and his unique pursuits in the Arts and science. I wasn’t lucky, I was intentional. I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed! I wasn’t lucky, I worked hard! I wasn’t lucky, I believed God’s words!
What vision are you passing along to the next generation? Your life is a testimony and witness to our youth. If they become like you, if they listen to you, if they catch your vision — will they bring light into this darkness?
At church this evening my teen daughters were learning about the calling of Mary to bring Jesus into the world. In the discussion after the Bible Study my daughters learned that most of the other girls in their group think that motherhood is a poor choice, not worth the sacrifice to the woman’s body, and having a family is an unrealistic goal in this dark and miserable world.
My daughters tried to share a different perspective but informed about “the real world”. Nothing new here. When I was a teen who wanted to be a “stay at home mom” and an artist with a home-based business, my friends made fun of me, and said motherhood is a waste and it’s stupid to bring children into this horrible world. I longed to have children who would make this world more beautiful.
Having children was no sacrifice at all. It can be a lot of work at times; but from my perspective, giving life was the fulfillment of a beautiful dream. Having each child was like receiving a beautiful chest full of precious treasure every time. After our ten children were born (and for the first time ever our income was more than we needed to survive), we answered the call to adopt five more children. I was not an overwhelmed unhappy mother. I thought of the calling as the biggest privilege!
Adoption wasn’t easy, but after all the gifts God has given me, He was so generous to trust me with even more souls to care for. And though it was really hard, I see such beautiful fruit! These girls in our community have learned a lot in school and social media about life goals. From the outside you see the ideal, picture-perfect suburban life that their parents worked very hard to give them. Others come from broken homes, though they live in picture- perfect neighborhoods. They complain of the darkness and evil in the world, yet live in one of the most prosperous and safe places on this rocky earth! They have the best the world has to offer, and they are stressed and discouraged about the future. (Click here to continue reading.)
I have been pondering the idea of living one’s dreams and realize that I have been so content everywhere, through everything because my dream is him. And every minute of every day, shared anywhere, through anything is fine with me, because he is with me, loving me, and being mine, and sharing it all, making life, thriving, surviving, struggling, hurting, traveling, serving, staying home or going to Rome–it really doesn’t matter. My dream is fulfilled every morning, waking up together anywhere, because we have this day, by God’s grace, together.
There is no better dream that the one I’m living. After almost 25 years of marriage, I’ve known him for 32 sweet years of my 46, and I can say our love is everything that God created love on this earth to be. The sweetest parable of the love of Jesus Christ with His Bride. Like Ephesians 5 says that marriage should be.
Morning mist and autumn skies
Summer passing in your eyes
I light a fire, and start the coffee brewing
I am up, and you sleep in,
I’ve kissed you twice
And will again
When the coffee’s hot and mine is sweet
With honey, sugar, caramel, chocolate or maple
It doesn’t matter to me, any kind of sweet will do, and I’d even take my coffee black
If I could quickly crawl
back in bed with you.
The children sleep, just eight are here,
The other seven are world travelers now,
Somehow that happened
as our life together graced this globe,
and we are here just staying warm and true
‘Cause every dream I ever had was found
In another morning coffee cup with you.
It means we have another day,
and it tells me of last night,
When you were snuggled by my heart
And I turned out the lights
And you were first to fall asleep
Asking me to bring another blanket
Where did it go,
when we kicked it off last spring?
I kept you warm, I always do,
it’s mutual, it’s loving you,
and living every day like it’s a dream
It isn’t what I thought or what it seems
But every morning coffee that we share
Reminds me that we made it through
the darkest nights, the blood, the hope, the tears,
the baby cries, the sleepless years,
the morning flights, the silly fights,
the love, the loss, the pain.
The seasons change.
We have seen the winter pass from island sand
and I’ve run barefoot through the snow holding your hand,
Ladies, just a word of encouragement – Thank each of your husbands today, or this evening, for all he does to support you as a homeschooling mom. Husbands often feel like they are not part of what is happening with homeschooling, and if you are a super busy homeschool mom – well, that can be hard on the marriage.
When I created all the Fun-Schooling books I wanted to provide my family with a method of homeschooling that wouldn’t wear me out. My relationship with my husband is the most important in the family, my whole life is built on my bond with my husband. So don’t be too busy or too focused on being a teacher that you don’t have time and energy for your husband. Homeschooling can make us forget that we are a wife and mom, so be sure to enjoy your role as a wife.
If you are enjoying using Thinking Tree Books – Be sure to show him your appreciation for making it possible to buy the books. Be sure to let him know that the books have not only been a great tool for the kids, but also bring you joy.
If homeschooling is dominating your whole life and you are finding distance in your marriage because of the stress of homeschooling, you may need to change something. You may need to get out of the box. Delight Directed Learning, Fun-Schooling and Un-Schooling can really bring relief and joy into your family.
As you launch into this year’s homeschooling adventure be sure to consider your marriage. Don’t choose a curriculum that is going to sap you dry. Choose a method that allows you to keep your marriage #1. My husband often says “Happy Wife – Happy Life”.
Don’t feel like you are failing your kids if you choose methods that make you, and your kids, and your husband happy. Many people feel like they are not doing “enough” if school isn’t rigorous and stressful. What you may need to do is write down your LONG TERM goals for your marriage, your family and for each child. You can feel good about letting go of anything that is irrelevant to your long term goals. Don’t do anything in your homeschool out of guilt, pride or fear – learning should be joyful.
Let learning be part of life, and enjoy a life of learning together with your family. Amen? Here is a great resource for Dad to get involved: