I am wife to my amazing Superman, Shane. He is a jack of all trades and a master of many. I am also mother of two young, unique, inquisitive, and headstrong children: one three-year-old little boy and a 20-month old daughter. They are the treasures of my life, the challenges in my day, and the gifts with which God has blessed me.
But I wasn’t always these things. In another life, I was a soldier. I was also a wounded child and rebellious teenager. My parents divorced when I was four and my mom married an abusive man when I was eight. My childhood memories are filled with good times shadowed by mother’s struggles with addiction, depression, and health issues to name a few. Her personal issues kept her from being an effective parent, even though she loved us incredibly. My teenage years were a rebellious time. I was strong-willed and independent with no one strong enough to lead me. I made my mother’s life a living hell. I disobeyed, tested, and disrespected her. Sadly, those are my biggest regrets in life.
Desperate for some intervention in my life, my mom called the Army recruiter when I was 17 years old. People called her crazy to want her daughter in the military; truthfully, she never considered that I would be anything except a secretary like she saw in old World War II movies. But God was the driving force in my life. He had a bigger plan. He knew what I needed and hand-delivered it to me in the form of drill sergeants.
I thrived in the Army world. It was filled with challenges, confidence building, training, rewards, discipline, reinforcement, and structure. I became accountable for myself. I believe that had it not been for the Army, my life’s story would have turned out drastically different.
While serving as a Captain and Apache pilot in Iraq, fibromyalgia attacked and altered the course of my life. A medical discharge and a new civilian life later, the Lord brought me a family.
Looking back, I can appreciate how faithful God has been in preparing me for my life. The Army training I received has directly impacted my current day to day mom operations. And you know what? I feel well-equipped for this journey in my life – not perfect, mind you, but well-equipped. I know how to meet obstacles head on and find tactics to overcome them. I know that I am more determined than my headstrong children. I know that I am their first line of defense against this world and their biggest ally.
Let me confess up front, I am NOT a perfect mother. There are days I feel like a complete failure when it comes to raising my children. There are days where dinner is boiling over the stove, the kids decide to erupt into uncontrollable anger at each other, and my frustration reaches its max level resulting in “ineffective and undesirable” parenting. That’s normal. I’m normal. You’re normal if you go through that as well.
It is on those days that I am especially grateful for grace, not only from God, but from my family. I stand amazed that they love me no matter what, and God in His mercy grants me more days to try again. No other experience has taught me forgiveness for myself and my parents and compassion and grace for other parents as much as parenthood.
I know that there are moms (and dads) out there who struggle with leadership. I also know women who struggle with the day to day activities and drudgery that can be motherhood. Despite deploying to Iraq, leading men and women in war, and flying attack helicopters, motherhood has been the most difficult leadership challenge I have ever experienced. However, it has been the most rewarding.
The parent is the beginning point for all children. What we do and who we are impacts our children far more than we might like to accept. And the scary part is that there is no owner’s manual that comes with our kids – no class to take, no break, no GPS road map, and for sure, no Google search tailored specifically to your kid. There are constant lessons that need to be taught, discipline that needs to be imparted, unconditional love that needs to be demonstrated, and fun and creativity that need to be allowed.
Since parenting can be hard, effective leadership skills are essential. Children need to know that they are being led by someone who is competent, can handle their circumstances, and is in control of themselves. Even when life gets crazy and matters seem out of control, it is vital to maintain your sense of peace and calm. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
There is this truth in life: you cannot change a person’s heart, only God can. But we’ve been given the responsibility to look down the road and determine how to best take care what God has entrusted in our care. The leadership that we display in our homes has a huge impact on the road our children will choose to take when he is older. The Bible speaks of such leadership, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
As daunting and overwhelming as this task may seem at times, it should be good to know that He has not left us alone on this journey. He is here to help us and to provide us with the information, wisdom, and support that we need in order to do the job well.
My goal is to take you through the basics of leadership from my experience with leading soldiers and help you apply those basics to leading children. I am not implying that children are soldiers. I encourage you to take everything you read and shower it with lots of prayer, grace, fun, lightheartedness, compassion, love, and forgiveness for yourself and others.
I also hope that you find the grace necessary to breathe easier. God has armed you. He has equipped you to do battle. He has called you to do a mighty task as a parent. You have a lot of resources to draw on – the biggest, most reliable, and most important being the Lord of all heaven and earth. Ultimately, your children belong to God. He will complete the work that He starts in them – all He asks is that you simply do the best you can. It can’t get much more encouraging than that.