As a parent one of our biggest concerns is if we are raising our children well. There is so much room for error. We enter parenting carrying all the baggage of our childhood. This can include good things and bad things. In my twenty-five years of parenting I have come to realize the serious importance of a well-rounded, complete family system that is grounded in the cross of Jesus. What does that even mean, “The cross of Jesus?” I mean that as parents it is crucial for us to die to self daily and truly be led by the Lord in our thoughts, words and actions. We must sincerely have a heart like His. I also want to encourage you though, that you will get it wrong at times but there is so much grace for that through the heart of the Father.
I also mentioned being a well-rounded and complete family system. What I mean by this is that whenever possible we remain married as one and we have the humility and heart to see our spouse’s point of view, considering that maybe, just maybe, our view isn’t the best one. Hard pill to swallow, right? I have discovered that while my marriage hasn’t always been the greatest, and admittedly at times nearly failed, we are stronger together. When I allow my heart to be tenderized towards my husband and I see him through the heart of the Father, I begin to realize that he is so full of wisdom, great ideas, compassion, and experience. He is level headed, compared to my often emotional mind and heart. His moves are calculated as mine usually are not. He has an amazing way in talking with people and counseling them to make good decisions. He often sees different perspectives that I never would have thought of. He is a phenomenal problem solver. What I am saying is that I could never properly raise our children without him. There would be a piece, a view, a side missing. Because God designed families to include both parents, male and female, this is the best format for a family to function successfully.
Many times I have second guessed my ability to parent. I have failed in many areas. My children are so forgiving and gracious. I cannot imagine running a household and raising children on my own. It just wasn’t mean to be that way. When I think about the times that our marriage was on shaky ground I think about how our lives would’ve been drastically different, especially for our children, if we had divorced. They would’ve been the ones to suffer the most. This very thing is probably what pushed us through those very difficult times, putting our selfish desires and hurts away and considering how our decisions and actions would affect our children and society. We have a responsibility to raise our children in the admonition of the Lord and to become functioning, contributing members of society. Your well-being, and all of society relies on us raising them as such.
It is not just the parents who play a vital role in raising children. So many people have participated in our family such as extended family members, very close friends and church family. Several pastors and youth pastors made huge impacts on our children, especially our son while my husband was often deployed. It really does take a village to raise a family. There are times when we didn’t make the best parenting decisions and those whom we gave permission to pour into our lives guided and coached us. We are so thankful for them.
I want to take some time to share some positive results with you about our four children. While we will make mistakes I want to help you see that there is light at the end of the tunnel of parenting. There are great blessings in watching them grow up and become mature adults who love the Lord. While we will make many mistakes, by simply being there and especially being together, as husband and wife, we will make a positive impact on their futures.
I want to start off with our oldest daughter, Nichole. She attended the public school IB program in Georgia and Texas. She graduated at the top of her class and went on to nursing school again, graduating at the top of her class. She was hired on as a labor and delivery nurse before she even graduated. While she was in junior high and high school I would often go into her room and pray for her during the day. I would find all of these post-it-notes with scriptures and encouraging words plastered all over her mirror and walls. Her friends found her to be a good counselor and role model. As she entered college she had determined to focus on her studies and push off dating. She met her husband her last year of college and they got engaged. They got married the day before graduation. We absolutely adore our son-in-law, Xavier. He is a Christian, paramedic/firefighter, who absolutely loves our daughter. His love for her is so obvious in the way that he has always cared for her, honored her, and put her first. I remember gathering for Friday Family Dinner at my parents how Nichole would often arrive first. As soon as Xavier would arrive they would greet each other with a kiss and separate themselves to spend the first twenty minutes or so catching up on each others’ day without interruption. They dedicated devoted time to one another, making each other first in their lives. Every married couple could learn from this. They planned their futures out, both working hard, saving, investing, and making wise decisions. They purchased their first home last year and it is so adorable. They soon discovered they were pregnant with their first baby. Lyla was born on July 13th. This is what I couldn’t wait to share with you. Watching these two young people with their brand new baby is so powerfully moving. Again, their respect and honor for one another is a lesson to be learned by many seasoned married couples. They selflessly serve one another, always putting the other before themselves. They are gentle, soft spoken, very slow to anger, and extremely patient. Their deep-rooted love for Lyla is extremely precious and this baby seems to know it! She has been smiling from day one. We thought it was just gas or her being sleepy. But I have witnessed it personally, she really does smile at them. I believe she senses just how much she is genuinely loved. Nichole and Xavier, we are so happy for you both and amazed by how much you have taught daddy and me.
Our only son, Bobby, is sixteen years old. He attend public school through most of second grade and has been home schooling since. He has always been very funny (bringing us to tears laughing), compassionate, gentle, and a lover of life and God’s creation. He loves to learn new things. He has a natural way with animals and all things pertaining to boys—hunter, trapper, skinner, butcher, cook, fisherman, shooter, outdoorsman, dangerous stunts…). He’s been driving since he was ten, learning on our small ranch in Texas. He is very talented and skilled with anything he puts his hands to. He is always amazing us. He developed a love for music several years back and enjoys worship music and country and blues. He is mostly self-taught on the guitar. He and his second sister play with the worship team at our church. Each of our children have had a deep love for the Lord from very early ages, getting baptized by the time they were six years old. He started a Bible Study for the youth he knew a couple years back and they went strong for about two years. He often encourages his friends in matters of faith. We moved away from our twelve wooded acre home a year ago. He was devastated to not live on the land anymore. However, he met a girl. He took time getting to know her and just being friends. They became best friends. He sought our advice and approval as well as our pastor’s to begin moving to the next step. He approached her dad and asked for his permission to enter into a relationship with his daughter. He approved. They do Bible Studies together and seem to encourage one another in several areas. The fact that he was concerned with seeking our approval and the girl’s dad was very encouraging. He has been working for a rancher for the last several years where he has had the opportunity to learn so many things to include—working livestock, handling veterinary matters with livestock, building fence (including electrical), operating a skid steer, welding, designing tools for the ranch, digging ditches for electrical lines, and so much more. Bobby has always been very careful to keep his word in all matters, especially when it comes to his work ethic. There have been days where he would’ve rather gone fishing, but kept his word to his boss and showed up at six thirty in the morning. He goes in to do a job for his boss and won’t leave until it is complete. He has been more constant in work habits than many of the grown men who have showed up to work there. He purchased his first truck this year and has been working to save up for the repairs and insurance. He desires to invest in rental properties with some of his savings. He recently earned a pretty big pay increase at work that put a huge smile on his face. He was thrilled and so were we. He has earned it. His work ethic is an example to everyone, including grown men. All of these things make us proud. But what I love the most is his love for the Lord and knowledge of God’s word. He is like his father in giving sound advice and sharing wisdom beyond his years. I’ve learned so much from him. Bobby has also experienced several miraculous healings first-hand. God preserved his life and completely healed him after getting run over by a one ton dually carrying a thousand pound round bale and sustaining second and third degree burns to his face frying churros on the stove. You can read about these testimonies in my book, “Just” a Housewife. Bobby, we are thrilled to watch you become a godly man and leader.
Our second daughter, Lena, attended public school through part of first grade and is currently home schooling. Lena was born a warrior fighting for her life when her blood pressure dropped dangerously low during labor. She fought off a kidney infection at ten months old that hospitalized her. She more recently suffered a venomous bite of some sort and went into septic shock being hospitalized in the PICU for a week. She is still recovering from the deep wound injury from that and multiple surgeries. Lena competed in team gymnastics from the time she was four years old until she was twelve. She won the state championship at level 2 in Georgia. This girl though, man, she is deeply devoted to the Lord, His word and His worship. She developed a sincere love and desire to worship God though song writing, instrument, singing and and art. She spends a great deal of time alone in her room with her Bible open and her pen going. You can hear her playing the piano and singing out a worship song at random times throughout the day. She continues to learn piano, bass guitar, and ukulele. Much like her older sister, she is a terrific counselor and gives amazing advice. I am stunned by her spiritual insight and wisdom. She is quick-witted and always making us laugh. Lena is a terrific cook also, like all of her siblings. She is natural at debating and understanding world history and politics as they all are. Lena is on the quiet side and would prefer to be alone or with a very small group of people rather than a large crowd. Last year she worked her way to travel to worship academy several hours away. This was a huge step for her and pushed her way out of her comfort zone. She did it though and it sure paid off! She actually went again this year. She is an avid reader and desires to learn all she can about God, history and the world. Lena also leads in Bible Studies. I’ve learned a lot about Lena and especially about how to understand others who are less outgoing. She has taught me a great deal in the way of relating to introverts. Lena is an old soul in a lot of ways and enjoys things from an earlier era. She also knows how to shop! Lena, you amaze us. Your heart, your passion, your insight, and wisdom are admirable.
Lastly, our youngest daughter, Caroline (Preacher), attended public school for most of Pre-K and is still homeschooling. Caroline is a fiery, free-spirited, compassionate, loyal, determined and an extremely tough young lady. She sustained several broken bones in her toddler years, one of those being a four inch fracture to her skull causing her to have to wear a bike helmet. (Sunday School wouldn’t allow her in otherwise as she was a very active child.) She nearly drowned in a fast moving river the first year we arrived in Missouri. She’s gone “missing” more times than I can count. She can hang with her brother and fit in with her younger older sister. She greatly admires her oldest sister, Nichole. Caroline will go to war for you. She will give her life for you. Once you’ve made friends with her, she is your loyal friend and will not let anyone hurt you. She has a huge heart and loves to help others. She greatly enjoys companionship. She got her nickname, Preacher, because when she was four years old she would stand out on the curb with a poster that she made saying, “Repent, or go to hell.” LOL. She would scream out into the neighborhood telling them all about Jesus and how He died for them on the cross and they need to work if they want to eat. She would stand on the counter in the bathroom in front of the mirror, with the door closed, and preach. Once, when we lived on the islands in Georgia, we were all working in the backyard and discovered that she was no longer with us. We went to the front yard and found her leaning against the front porch post chewing on something dark and long. It was part of chopped up rattle snake that her dad had killed. Caroline is a prayer warrior and seems to move in the prophetic, as do her older brother and sister. She also, like her brother, seems to be a natural at everything she tries (Maybe with the exception of singing, ha. She would not only admit this but laugh at it). She is a sharp shooter, as is Bobby and Lena. We’re working on Nichole. ;) Caroline also enjoys the outdoors and is good at making fires, hunting, repairing things, building things, and sports. She is a great cook and loves serving others. Caroline also leads in Bible Studies and loves sharing the Lord with others. I have learned so much from watching this courageous young lady do things that scare her. She doesn’t let fear stand in her way. She has taught us the importance of being compassionate and patient. She recently was the youngest applicant to be accepted into the youth internship at our local zoo. She gets to work with animals and help out in many ways and is learning a lot of new skills that she will be able to use later in life. She is becoming more and more responsible. We are absolutely excited to watch you grow and blossom Caroline. You have taught us the importance of not letting the fire dwindle.
Here is why I am sharing all of this—There are many times as a mother that I felt I have failed. I have often wondered if all that I have done was worth it. Were they listening? Were they watching? (Many times I hope not! Lol). Did I spend enough time with them? Did I say all the right things? Did I do all the right things? Was I a good example? Honestly, the answer is “no” to all of these questions. I could have done everything better. But…look at how they are turning out! Look at all that we are learning from them. God has a way of fertilizing the seeds that have been planted. The truth is, we can never live our children’s lives for them. We cannot make all of their decisions. The things we have gotten right is teaching them about God, bringing them to church, leading them by example in humility, repentance and forgiveness; and allowing them to make their own decisions early on, hoping they would make mistakes so that we could show them how to recover. We also have not blocked them out of our lives and decisions. While they don’t need to know all the details all the time, we do let them in on our lives. We allow them to see us fail and make mistakes and show them how we recover. If there is nothing else I can encourage you with, know that by simply being present and involved, you have already succeeded in so many ways. Do everything you can to stay married! Show your children the importance of commitment, of covenant relationship and not quitting. Let them know that it’s not always going to be easy, but committing to one another and letting God be the center and devoting yourselves to each other is key. Teach your children the importance of whole family and how it impacts not only your family but all of society. This is how we impact our communities. This is how we impact future generations and eternity.