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.
“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” Psalm 127:4
Your mission field may not be a distant city, town or country.
Your calling may not be to far off nations.
You may not need to reach your destination by train or boat or plane. You may already be where you belong, or on the path that leads you to your place of influence. The unreached people group that you are called to serve may speak your language already!
I am a mother, with a mission mindset, raising up children for the Kingdom of Heaven… One by one, or two by two, I send them into their unique mission fields to fulfill the great commission.
But it’s not all about geography anymore…
I send my children as missionaries into the fields of science and medicine.
I send my children as missionaries into the fields of art and music.
I send my children as missionaries into the fields of politics, economics and business.
My children, I send you forth into the fields of education and social justice.
I send you into the harvest by way of theater, film, photography, dance, and cinematography.
I send you out as light into the darkness of prison, war, religion and natural disasters.
I send you now to take up your cross in families, foster care, adoption, elder care, and public service.
I send you, my children, into the marketplaces, the campgrounds, the Main Streets, the homesteads, the coffeehouses, the parks, the libraries, the offices, hospitals and schools.
I send you into your field, into your element, into your passion, with your skill set, whatever that may be. Go forth by the power of the Holy Spirit, by the Blood of the Lamb, by the Word of the Father, for his glory, honor and praise!
I send you out as light into the darkness, until the darkness is no more. I send you out into your field of influence until the glory of the Lord infuses every facet of society upon the Earth.
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.)
Recently, I discovered a treasure trove of great content for the blog in a journal I filled when Anna was 7-8 and Laura was on the way, and Susie was still a baby. I wrote up six interesting pages where I was trying to express who I am and what motivates me. This kind of journaling can be very therapeutic for us as moms. I thought it might bless others to be able to share in my thoughts from these early years…the growing list of posts can be found here.
Here I am
Waiting for the warmth of spring
Colors soft yellow and green
bright skies and warm dark earth.
Plant me-I’ll take root
Water me-I’ll bear fruit
Shine on me-I’ll shine for you
Speak to me-I’ll sing to you.
I want to be your delight
I want to be like a baby in your arms
I want to see you smile at my song
I just long to draw closer to you.
I feel a baby move inside of me
I wonder who this little one will be
On the day that I give birth
May your glory come to earth
As the beauty of your power is displayed
In the face of a child you have made.
When the flowers of spring appear
I will wait to whisper in your ear
And praise you for the greatness of your plan
I will praise and worship you and pray
For your glory to fill our house that day.
Laura’s Peaceful Home Birth
Laura’s home birth was so precious. She was actually born at a moment when no one was paying attention except Anna who was in the birth pool with me. Here are some sweet photos and video from the hour Laura was born and a few pictures from her first week of life.
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,
I love to make up stories that teach little lessons to my children. Here is one of their favorites, that they want to hear over and over.
Four Sisters and the Chocolate Chip Cookies
There was once a family with four sisters. The oldest girl was about eleven her name was Lily. Next was Lucy, she was eight. The six year old’s name was Seashell, and the toddler’s name was Daisy.
One morning their mom woke up early to bake chocolate chip cookies for a Valentine’s Day party. After the cookies came out of the oven she started making breakfast. The smell of the cookies filled the house as the daughters woke up one by one to wander into the kitchen.
Lily came into the kitchen first. She saw the big plate of cookies on the counter, warm and yummy. She saw her mom at the stove cooking breakfast. “Good morning mom! Are these the cookies for the Valentine’s Day Party? They look yummy!” She didn’t ask for a cookie because she knew that she would have some at the party; besides she didn’t want to spoil her appetite for breakfast. Her mom smiled, and told her they would be leaving for the party after breakfast.
Lily was helping her mom set the table for breakfast when Lucy came skipping into the kitchen. “Mom! I want a cookie! I NEED a cookie now!” Her mom stopped stirring the oatmeal and explained that breakfast was almost ready, and she could have cookies at the party. “That’s not fair, why do I have to eat oatmeal? I want a cookie! All the other moms give their kids cookies before breakfast! Why can’t I have a cookie now?” The mom didn’t give in, and Lucy had to wash the mixing bowl, sweep the floor and and scrub the cookie sheets, and every time she complained her mom gave her another job. It wasn’t long before Lucy quit whining about the cookies.
While Lucy and her mom cleaned and cooked in the kitchen, little Seashell peeked around the corner. She could smell the cookies, and now she could see them. She was in the other room when she heard Lucy throwing a fit. She really wanted a cookie but was afraid her mom would say “No.” Seashell took a look around the kitchen. When no one was looking, she snuck quietly into the room and grabbed six cookies, hoping no one would notice. Once she had stolen the cookies she dashed into the bathroom, hid in the bathtub and ate everyone of those cookies. The first four were really yummy, but the next two gave her a tummy ache. She wasn’t so sure if she would feel like going to the party after all.
It was almost time to eat breakfast when little Daisy toddled into the kitchen. She saw the cookies and could not resist. Before anyone could stop her Daisy reached up to grab a cookie, but instead of taking one cookie Daisy grabbed the whole plate! All the cookies came crashing to the floor–what a mess! Smashed cookies were everywhere, all mixed up with the broken glass from the shattered plate.
Lily rushed into the kitchen, picked up Daisy and carried her out of the room so she wouldn’t step on the glass. Daisy was crying, but then she noticed that she still had one cookie in her hand, that’s when she stopped crying. Lily helped her mom make another batch of cookies, but there were no more chocolate chips, and they were late to the party. Most of the family had a lot of fun anyway… well everyone except Seashell, who felt so sick from all the cookies she had stolen that she couldn’t enjoy all the fun, games and treats at the Party.
After I tell this story to my girls I ask them what girl they want to be like, and everyone of them tells me that they want to be like the big girl, Lily. Then I ask them what girl they usually act most like, and they shyly confess that they usually act like Lucy and sometimes even like Seashell. This story always gives me a chance to teach them about the stages of growing up, becoming more mature, and developing self discipline, patience, and self control. I tell them how it’s normal for little kids to whine, sneak and make messes but big girls need to know how to make good choices. Then I will ask them if they want to pray and ask God to help them become more like Lily. This lesson has proved to be very powerful and effective in their little lives.
Do you have three or more children? Congratulations. You are outnumbered! Here are some of the best books for busy moms! Be inspired with PRACTICAL ideas on how to manage a home full of children, and ENJOY IT! These books were chosen because they all give you tips and fun ideas about how to love your kids, without losing your mind! All written by experienced parents, who consider every child a blessing!