Why Moms Need to Reboot

Motherhood is really, at its core, about perseverance and deliberate, focused endurance.

I don’t mean just the physical kind…more often, it is the emotional and spiritual kind. It requires the kind of tenacity that frankly, few women in our age are willing to develop.

Not the tenacity to simply run a household, though the mechanics of that are a very real part of our job. But the motherhood I’m talking about encompasses a whole world besides; a world where hearts are painstakingly drawn out, attitudes are carefully monitored and molded, and life-lessons that can only be taught through the zeal of a mother are learned.

Quite frankly, we’ve probably all had days we thought, “this would be easier if someone else were doing it.” And someone else might be able to handle the mechanics. Maybe even more efficiently.

But we’re talking about mother-love: that all-encompassing vocation that has been given only to us.

I get tired. I get grouchy and start to look around and only see too many pairs of shoes out of place, dust under the couch, toys left out for the 100th time.


But I MUST reboot, and remind myself that the mechanics–that is, how I handle the mechanics, are intricately tied to this bigger thing that we do…this growing of souls, and launching of good, sturdy men and women.

I cannot allow myself to be too tired for too long. Grace is given, yes, but then I must draw, not from my own strength, but from that source of never-ending power that comes from the One who has called me to this.

I have to re-think before I speak. The pile of shoes may be bothersome, but they also may be an opportunity to shape my character which will transfer to my children.

The moment of bickering calls me to dig deep into the well of my being and carves out of me a more patient and loving spirit–if I let it. That, too, is simultaneously working in my children’s character.

This short time is fleeting. They will carry a part of me into the rest of their lives. Which part?

Get alone, get quiet, get still, and ask the Lord to bring the vision back, if you are struggling to hold on to it.

This is big. Rise to the occasion on the wings of Him Who is able.


Raising Daughters to Intimidate Their Own Unsuitable Suitors

I’m not sure I could love this more. Jen, at The Beginning of Wisdom, dropped plenty of wisdom in her post, On Daughters & Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors.

Having just started walking through our first experience with suitors approaching, this article articulated what I had not yet, but what has given us great comfort through it all: if we raise our children in strength and dignity, if they know Whose they are and find their value there, then the process of approaching marriage is much simpler.

As the article says so aptly:

“Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of old Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.”

We so desperately need Christians to return to raising children with a transforming faith that changes the way they live, and especially the way they prepare for marriage. Read the rest of (Daughters & Dating.)


Top 5 Summer Homeschool Hacks

Homeschooling for us means school is never out. Once we started thinking outside the classroom, our philosophy of education changed drastically and brought much freedom to our lives. Because learning isn’t on a schedule. So we like variety, especially in the summer when other projects are pressing.

Here are my top 5 favorite “homeschool hacks” to make homeschooling simpler and more fun:

1. Neo K12–A huge list of educational videos especially helpful to supplement a subject study. They even have music lessons. Education Portal is another video-learning site. User discretion is advised.

2. Educational Trivia Cards–Professor Noggins Cards make learning facts on all sorts of subjects fun and easy. These are especially good for travel.

3. Nature Field Guides are excellent for accompanying romps in the woods (or park or backyard). Children love discovering and field guides are the perfect tools for making sense of the world around them.

4. YouTube.com. Using parental discretion, of course, youtube is a wealth of information and how-to for just about anything one can imagine, as well as providing inspiration for young entrepreneurs. My son who is very mechanically-minded spent two hours recently watching “How to repair small engines” and was inspired to try his hand at a real one. Browse the channels to find what you’re looking for–anything from culinary class to worm farming (our current project!) Master Chef Jr. is the favorite of my budding chefs, and one of my children is learning fashion design from the tutorials there.

5. Games. It’s because we grew up in a desk in a classroom in a school building that we probably don’t think about games as part of our school day. But games often teach in a way that makes sense to kids. Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Chess, and Where in the World are just a few.

So have some fun and remember learning happens all the time!

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We Don’t Get Marriage (And That Makes Us Say Dumb Stuff)

As I enter that time in life where my children grow into adults and my friends’ children do the same, marriage is a hot topic. And our grown-up kids are bombarded with unsolicited advice:

“Don’t get married unless you’re ready.”

“Don’t get married too young.”

“Don’t get married too old.”

“Don’t get married and have a baby right away.”

“Don’t get married and wait too long to have a baby.”

Seems we have constructed “perfect parameters” for the major milestones in life and those who fall outside of them are, well, not perfect. Or something.

And I tell you what I think…I think we really don’t get marriage. And I mean even those of us who think we do are so immersed in a secular view of it that we forget. We don’t know what it’s for and so our “advice” becomes empty and even destructive.

The purpose of marriage.

First, marriage is something God made, not us, and so He gets to determine its purpose. The very first glimpse of marriage that God gave us is still our clue into why He created it. Basically, Adam had a big job to do and he needed someone to help him do it.

And what was that big job? The same one we still have. Our complete existence in this life is to make known the glory of God and the reign of Christ on earth.

Not only that, but marriage was the way God would speak to the world about His unconditional love for His Church. He needed a real-life demonstration.

But the vast majority of us think marriage is to make us fulfilled and happy. Or worse, that marriage is something to delay so one can be fulfilled and happy first. Fulfillment and happiness are a common by-product of marriage, but not its purpose.

When we, or if we will force ourselves to deprogram from the movies and books and improper relationships from our lives, then we might be able to reexamine God’s design for marriage which should then equip us with wiser counsel for the young who are entering adulthood.

And as I see it:

  • Marriage is something we need, not just something we desire. That small difference changes how we think.
  • Marriage fulfills important work in the Kingdom of God; it’s not just a rite of passage in our culture.
  • Marriage is good. Marriage is God’s.
  • Marriage accomplishes what singleness cannot. Suffice it to say, that the few who have been called to singleness also accomplish what the married cannot. But for most people, singleness is not their calling. And as such, they are better with a spouse. Even singles live within a context of families. The whole Bible is a family portrait, with all playing an important part in tha portrait.

So, fleshing out our purpose and the purpose of marriage, how should that change our idea of the if, whens and hows?

As children become adults it is right and fitting that they transition into their own families. It’s part of the multiplying we were commanded to in Genesis.  It’s a parents’ job to equip them for this transition.

Just as Adam needed help in his calling, so men today still need help. And just as Eve complemented him, so we still complement our husbands.

What calling? The overarching calling of pointing the world to Christ. And while we do different things and are placed in different situations, we still all are called to unite together in that mission of glorifying Christ and revealing the Gospel to the world.

Practically applying our purpose.

Practically speaking, we work, build, play, pray, disciple and grow together toward that end. And marriage is an integral part of that, with the dual purpose of the living metaphor of the church and her Groom.

When we really, truly get concerned with the business of God, seeing things from His perspective and desiring to carry out the mission His people have been given, it changes our petty parameters and foolish notions of marriage.We don’t obsess about getting married, but we certainly don’t treat it as an afterthought–something to be done after one has found himself. Ideally, a couple grows up together. Hardship and lack of experience is a boon to the success of marriage, not a hindrance.

The Singleness Disclaimer

I know there are young people who long to get married who aren’t. I think we must be sensitive to them and this post isn’t meant to imply that we “push” marriage to the extent we discourage those who are single. I fully believe that while a person is single, they are living fully if they are living for God’s glory. The single years are a fabulous time of serving and learning and growing. It should not be looked down upon. But neither should we encourage our children to think that marriage is second-rate and “full of woe”, encouraging them to wait for the perfect scenario. They are looking to us  for their cues and we should be saying “marriage is a good thing.”

I pray the older generation (that’s us!) will take seriously the responsibility we’ve been given to speak truth into the next generation. We must get our theology of marriage right or the whole course is off from there. Let’s use reason with wisdom as we encourage the young adults around us. Let’s give them hope and a vision of purpose. Let’s share God’s love of covenant marriage and do all we can to encourage it. Let’s talk to them about how they can move toward marriage not about why they should avoid it.


7 Misconceptions About Moms of Large Families

As a mom of 10, I wanted to attempt to dispel a few myths about us and our large families. Because we get a lot of questions, and I’m sure even more questions go unasked.

So, though not exhaustive, these are a few of the common misconceptions:

1. They are “special.” They have lots of patience. They are “superwomen.”

Not at all. None of those things. From my vantage point, I’d say one reason the Lord has given me 10 children is because I need such a constant lesson in patience. We haven’t been given anything extraordinary that helps us cope with a passel of children. We just rely on fall desperately upon God’s grace and take one day at a time. And like any other circumstance, we do the next thing, figuring out what works as we go.

2. Their love is spread too thin.

This is an idea we fabricated either from real, albeit false assumptions, or from an attempt to justify our birth control decisions. I know it’s fabricated because I only ever hear it from someone who hasn’t experienced having more than two children. The dynamics of a large family are different, in some ways from a smaller one, and one is the advantage of more inter-family relationships. While it may be true that a mom has to share her attention among more children, they also have the attention and affection of each other, a benefit not to miss. Additionally, if the family homeschools, (which is commonly the case with large families) the time together afforded them far makes up for the uneven ratio.

3. They don’t love their children as much as a mom with one or two.

Similar to the last myth, this one is only heralded by those with no experience. I used to be one. Very early in my marriage, I didn’t want more children because I didn’t want to deprive another child of the intensity of love with which I loved my first. Then, I had a few more and realized how foolish the thought was. But I thought there must be a limit; because I assumed my neighbor with 11 children surely could not love all her children the way I loved mine. Now, from where I am, to think that was once actually a real, “rational” thought in my head is insane. I had no concept of the miracle of Mother-Love…the heart with no bounds and love with no limit.

4. They should be old and haggard-looking.

Apparently, because I get lots of amusing comments about how I don’t “look like” I have ten children. I don’t mind those. Rumor has it that pregnancy releases “anti-aging” hormones. That’s a happy thought.

5. They are on welfare because their husbands, unless they inherited a fortune, can’t possibly support them.

I suppose there are people who maliciously breed for money. I’m not sure I’ve ever met them personally, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Their existence, however, doesn’t make it standard. Some people have children because they choose to not choose to stop it. And they really, really love their children. They also are not on welfare and have simply adjusted their lifestyle to accommodate their growing family.

6. They are “so lucky” to be able to stay home.

I had this experience once. A woman I knew gushed to me about how she wished she could have more children and she wished she could stay home but there was no way. Which was fine until….she told me how “lucky” I was. Honestly, it was a slap in the face. We were struggling financially. But we had made the choice to cut out more things–more meals out, more vacations, more shopping, more everything, so that I didn’t have to go back to work. The worst thing in life is not going without some earthly comforts. Whatever sacrifice we made–and we made many–was worth it to us and to our children, for me to stay home. I wasn’t “lucky.”

I didn’t drive the kind of car that woman did. My fingernails weren’t manicured like hers, and I had to forgo highlights for my hair at the time. There were deeper sacrifices too. There was a lot that didn’t feel “lucky” about my life, but being home with my children wasn’t one of them. I’ve never regretted the things I had to give up. Our lifestyle changed. But it wasn’t about luck.

7. They have never heard dumb jokes about their reproductive life and will surely find yours funny.

Let me help you out: we have heard every joke about fertility under the sun. And every rude comment and every probing question. Yours is not, I promise, original. Therefore, you sound embarrassingly corny when you lean in, chuckle and say, “You need to get a television.”

And I would kindly remind you that we do not return the comments in kind, and you would be mortified if we did. It would look something like this: (a stranger walks up to you and silently counts your two children, then looks around for others) “Is this all the children you have?” “Why don’t you have anymore?” “Is it because you’re infertile?” “Or do you just use birth control?” “You know what birth control pills cause, right? Cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol…” “Maybe you should consider getting rid of your television.” “Can you just not afford to have any more?” You get the picture. Pretty ugly, huh?

(Sincere comments and inquiries are very welcomed though, but these are different than the aforementioned commentary on reproduction.)

Just hoping to bridge the gap between us.



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