The Most Influential Women in the World

I am able to trace back my maternal genealogy an impressive distance. My personal experience and knowledge begins with my maternal great-grandmother, Ruthie Mae McDonald Smith. I am glad to have known her as a young girl. I have glimpses of who she was, who she became. Recently, I feel that I’ve grown to know her more intimately as I’ve begun in depth research preparing for a historical narrative I am writing. 

Here is a photo of her with her husband, my great-grandfather and her five oldest children. The oldest girl, is my own grandmother, Alvis Yvone Smith (later to become a DeMoss). 


In this photo as I study my great-grandmother’s face, I can imagine she was so proud and probably so tired. Life was hard, physically hard nearly a century ago. She could not have seen what the future would hold, the tragedy, the grief, the heartache and surely the nightmares. She could not have known that three of her children in this photograph would become part of history, part of the worst school related disaster our nation has ever known. 


The New London School Explosion would destroy more than a building. It destroyed lives, families and the hopes and dreams of many mothers. Only moments before dismissal a gas explosion claimed hundreds of children and many of their teachers. 

I didn’t know her before of course, but my grandmother told me that her momma was never the same again. She never quite recovered. And yet, she continued to mother. She would birth four more children and live a long life. She would become the woman I remember, always appearing a little melancholy. 


Today is Mother’s Day and I’m thinking of Ruthie Mae McDonald who knew the greatest heartache a mother can have   I’m thinking of her eldest daughter, Alvis Yvone Smith DeMoss who had children of her own and one of them my mother, Genevieve DeMoss Roberts. I’m thinking of them all and my heart is thankful. 


I’m thankful to have known the most influential women in the world, in my world. I am thankful for the rich spiritual heritage that they passed on to me and that I will pass on to my daughters. Today I celebrate them all! Happy Mother’s Day! 

Your Day Is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together this morning before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time and boy, does it describe my life.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her attitude and with my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the grown children. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at times and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day  I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child.

Your day is coming. Your path will be different than mine. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you.  And if your day has already come, seize the day and embrace every moment of your miracle.

Confessions of a Momma with Too Many Children

We are an #xlfamily and I am a #momofmany. If you’ve been around me for very long, I’ve likely proudly showed you their pictures and expected you to guffaw over their wonderfulness. Most of the time that’s just the reaction I get but sometimes the reaction to our family with so many children is that we are a family with too many children. 

Some folks are concerned.  You know, concerned that I’ll wear myself down, concerned that my husband will work without being able to get ahead. Or concerned that the kids will somehow be neglected by being a part of such a big brood. Sometimes, that particular concern stems from their own childhood. 

Other folks are just critical. They’re critical of any choice that is different from their own. Critical of how many you parent, how you educate, discipline, and maybe even what you believe. Bless their hearts, as we are known to say here in the south. 


It’s okay, I get it. We aren’t your average family and more than once I’ve referred to myself as the old lady in the shoe who didn’t know what to do. But, what you may see as chaos, I see as… well, okay, I see as chaos too. But, I see it as more than that. 

I see it as living large and loving large. I see it as an opportunity to grow a family that is forged together not by blood but instead by love. I see it as opportunity to grow spiritually, emotionally and even physically stronger. I see it as an opportunity to leave a legacy of faith and by doing so, influence many more people than I could ever do on my own. 


So, here’s my confession as a momma of too many children. 

  1. I’m not always available to every child every moment they might like me to be. But, someone is. There’s always a partner to play a game or help with a difficult task. 
  2. I’m not superwoman. I get tired, irritable, frustrated and aggravated. I don’t ‘do it all’. I let somethings slide. I don’t dust nearly as often as I should. 
  3. I’m not enough for my very large family. Because I’m not, I encourage them to also rely on each other and build strong relationships with extended family members. Most importantly, I teach them to invest in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not enough, but it’s ok because I don’t have to be. 
  4. Our kids don’t get the very same things that kids in smaller families may get. We don’t do exactly the same things, go the exact same places, take the same trips, drive the same cars or wear the same clothes. But, guess what, we celebrate the gifts of each other, work and play hard together and make do with what we have. I like to think I’m nurturing a rare commodity in this day and time. It’s called contentment. 
  5. I’m a little late starting my ‘dream career’ of writing because I have been so busy the last two decades raising kids. But, it’s okay, because this life I’ve lived as a mom of too many children has given me a LOT to write about. 


All in all, I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Sure, I would like less laundry, less dirty dishes and many times less noise. But I don’t want less of us and if we are too loud, too much or too different than what you might be used too, I’d like to invite you to set aside your concerns and criticisms. Instead consider how many hugs have been given, prayers answered and how much laughter this mom of too many children experiences each and every day. 

Every Child, Even Those

I’m thankful for a lot today and every day. But, when I really think about it, it’s the children in my life that I’m most thankful for and here’s why. They have given so much to me. I am a better person because of the children in my life.  

I am thankful for every child I have ever held in my arms, led in prayer, bandaged their boo-boos, tended their broken hearts, told a story to, opened my home to, braided or clipped their hair, read the Bible to, cried a tear over, said hello to and yes, even those I had to say goodbye to. 

I am thankful for every child that needed me for a season, that needed me forever, that needed me to bathe them, nurture them, listen to them, dress them and yes, even for the ones who need me to change their dirty diapers or clean up their messes in the kitchen or in life. 


I am thankful for every child that has blessed me by allowing me to love them, raise them, advise them, write about them, pray for them and yes, even those who don’t remember who I am because they were so young when they knew me. 

I am thankful for every child who has made me laugh at silly antics and corny jokes, who made me proud, who gave me courage and yes, even those who stretched me beyond myself so that I leaned heavily upon the Lord and therefore, in the end strengthened me. 


I am thankful for every foster child, my adopted children, my nieces and nephews, my my Sunday School students, youth in crisis and yes even the ones I claim as my own because I choose to. 

I believe that children are our greatest gift, our most precious resource and our best opportunity to impact the world and leave it a better place. So, today, I am thankful for all the children who will face tomorrows that I can only imagine, achieve things that will astound and surpass, and be better than necessary because they know how to love generously and live large.


Children are not all that matter of course, but to me they should be one of the most important matters. Whether they are an infant, an adolescent, a teen or yes, even a young adult, they are worth our time, our energies, our efforts. They are worth it when they disappoint us, stumble along the way or go a different direction than we expected. They are worth loving, opening your heart to, listening to, and encouraging.  Thank you Lord for the children that have been in my life! 

Dreams and Visions

We aren’t taking the day off from school in honor of MLKjr Day, but we are discussing what it means and remembering him. With my five youngest still school aged, I divided our chalkboard into squares and asked them to complete this statement.

I have a dream…

I was moved by what each of them wrote. I’d like to share some of their thoughts with you. This is a portion of what my 15yod said. ‘Open their eyes, see that children are in need, do something about it.’ 

  
What a message. It is especially poignant because she has lived it. She was the child who was in need until she joined our family at 6 years old. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, it was a beautiful powerful dream. Im glad that my daughter has a dream too. 

I couldn’t help but think of this passage of scripture from the Bible which is often labeled ‘The Day of the Lord’. 

  
 
I believe this applies to me and my children. I believe this can apply to you and your children. I believe that there is no age limit when it comes to having a dream and seeing a vision of how things could be, should be better. 

My 16yos said, “I have a dream that one day will will all live in peace, but today is not that day. Today we fight for freedom.”

He’s right. That day has not yet arrived, but it is worth dreaming of, it is worth fighting for. Peace is not necessarily the result of tolerance. On the contrary, it may instead be the result of confrontation. 

Too often we declare peace when peace has not been achieved. Too often we declare healing and wholeness when only a surface treatment had been accomplished. 

  
Today as we consider a man who refused to accept things that had always been and refused to look away from what needed doing, pause for a moment and ask yourself what it is you need to stop tolerating. What is it that is worth fighting for?

  
This quote stirs my heart and challenges me to resist the temptation to grow weary in well doing. I only have one life to live here on this earth. My days and opportunities are numbered. My influence can be without measure when I open my eyes, see what needs doing and do something about it. I have a dream too. Do you?

Night Rehearsals

It seemed like such a very long time since I could remember not being worried about something.

All is dark and quiet as it should be in the dead of night. Then, as if on cue, the curtains begin to roll back and the drama begins. You squeeze your eyes closed and attempt a refusal to watch as regrets and possibilities are reenacted. The scenes are vivid and full of emotion. They are hard to ignore. Although you pull your pillow tight about your ears, you can’t seem to muffle the wearisome words. It is a night rehearsal, one you don’t care to attend but seem obliged to.

 

Night rehearsals of this sort rarely lead to better performances. Instead they compromise our ability to perform at our best offering instead broken sleep and tired thoughts. The plot is often heavy and without hope. The star of the show is likely to be Wearisome Worry and her company of Peace-Thieves. All of this drama is played out in fine fashion for a reluctant audience of one, you yourself, when what you really want to do is just go back to sleep.

 

Rehearsal could be defined as a private practice for a public performance. While there is plenty of merit in being prepared and considering consequences, when we cross over the proverbial line of worry we may find ourselves attending a night rehearsal.

 

Recently I wrote these words.

 

“It seemed like such a very long time since I could remember not being worried about something. After all, I am a mom of many. I have been told that I have a great capacity to love and unfortunately I think that is often accompanied by a great capacity to fret.”

 

We worry because we are concerned; we are concerned because we care. Here’s the good news, God cares too. Because God does love us and cares about what concerns us, He has provided a beautiful way to close the curtains on the night rehearsals. He dismisses the peace-thieves and sends them on their way when we turn to Him in prayer. We have the choice to become a warrior instead of a worrier.

 

I’m going to make a concerted effort to make sure that I am not worrying my prayers. I am going to try to instead become a prayer-warrior. I’m going to give myself permission to not understand it all, fix it all or even get it all right. I’m going to take the offensive rather than the defensive stance. I think that is the bottom line. As a warrior, we feel empowered while a worrier is instead cowered. I do not want to live my life in a state of distress and feeling overwhelmed constantly. I want to face life with courage and hope.

 

How about you? What will you choose? Prayer-warrior or prayer worrier? Will you waste energy and time rehearsing, retelling and reliving the things that have happened or may happen? Or will you choose to trust the Lord with the details, with the results, and with the future?

How Then Shall We Live?

I have been reading out loud to my youngest five children. They are also my students as we homeschool. Three of them are teens and two are tweens. All five have listened with rapt attention as we have taken our time sauntering through the pages of C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. We have savored the imagery and discussed his style of writing and pondered the spiritual applications. 

The kids know that I’m working in every spare moment on my own fictional story. It has been slow going and in fact, years in the making. But, now, I’m at it in earnest and determined to finish with a proof copy in hand and a goal in sight of a holiday publication. 

With a life as full as mine I sometimes question my choice to dedicate precious time and energy to a project that has no guarantee of success. There are moments that I feel a wee bit silly as I attempt to do what I’ve never done before but, have dreamed of since a child. I have seriously considered quitting or at least setting it aside until the children are all raised and out of school. But, then, I glance around and see my children watching. 

They see me choosing to write instead of watching a little television. They see me revising chapters that I thought were complete. They see me creating characters that have real struggles. They see the delight I take from finding just the right word or phrase. They see the process. 

Yesterday, during our read aloud time, one of my sons asked if we could read the first chapter of his story. I almost said no. Instead, I agreed and he asked his sister to do the reading. I listened to her and watched him carefully as she did so. He shushed the younger boys when they made a noise that might distract. He was anxious that we heard the details, that we missed none of his carefully chosen words. It was, after all, his story. His creative work. I could relate. 

As the story unfolded, I heard my son’s voice, his writing voice. In many ways, unpolished and yet, uniquely his own. When the chapter had been read and comments made, my daughter that read out loud asked if we could do the same for her story tomorrow. I said we could, of course. I know full well that another son will ask for his turn next. These three, ages 12,14 & 16 this month have all followed in my footsteps. Like myself as a child, they have stories to tell and they want someone to read them. 

I can’t help but wonder if there is a reason why it is at this very moment that I have set my sights on finishing. I wonder if I am somehow clearing the path for my own children who seem interested in going the same direction. Even for those who aren’t putting the proverbial pen to paper. They see me striving to complete a long-term project, achieve a dream, and finish what I started. 

My audience of readers may never go far beyond my own children and family and friends. I am certainly no C.S. Lewis. There may be plenty who see my work as unpolished and imperfect. But, my children will not see me quit. And whoever reads my words will hear my voice, my unique voice that sees the world through my eyes and has a story to tell. 

You may not be a writer and you may not have a slew of children but, you too have an audience, you too have a story to tell. Your story may be one of integrity in the business place or one of courage when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Your story may be one of generosity to the needy or patience with the difficult. Your story may be one of suffering or grief, adoption or infertility, faith or discouragement. Whatever your story is, stay true to your own voice and be assured, someone is listening and it matters. 

The title of my first book is How Then Shall We Live? and I’m understanding clearly that is exactly the right question to be asking myself these days. Choice after choice, I’m telling my story, using my voice. What about you? How will you tell your story?