People who know me now probably think I'm a pretty normal mom. But it took several incarnations (the all-in-one-lifetime variety) to get me here.
Mine was not a carefree childhood, but one marked by divorce, poverty, neglect and even a foster home. Wanting to rise above it all, I pursued a good education, eventually becoming a Montessori teacher.
But the holes in my heart led me into a lot of destructive behavior - drugs, divorce, and neglect of my first two daughters - Samantha Sunshine (born in Washington DC in 1969) and Jasmine Moondance (San Francisco in in 1975). Through it all, I was also a passionate radical left leader - in the antiwar, feminist, and abortion rights movements.
Not everyone who's made so many mistakes is blessed with a second chance. I was, and for that I'll be forever grateful.
In 1980, I overcame my addictions with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was there that in 1982 I met my husband and best friend, Tripp, and together we began a spiritual search that led us in 1987 to become followers of Jesus.
That would have been the last path I would have chosen, because I'd judged Christians harshly all my life. But I discovered being a Christian wasn't about following Christians - it's about following Christ.
By that time, we five children - Samantha, Jasmine, Joshua, Matthew, and Benjamin. We went on to have Zachary, Sophia, Jonny (who has Down syndrome) and Madeleine.
In 1993, I began writing - mostly for other mothers who wanted to know how I could manage to homeschool while dealing with toddlers and nursing babies. I realized I had a lot to share, based on my blend of Montessori training, practical experience in the classroom and home, and my transformation from me-first mothering to true devotion to my family.
In the years that followed, we adopted three more sons with Down syndrome and my writing began to take some unexpected turns. While I still wrote about mothering, I also returned to my passion for politics, only this time from a conservative point of view. I am grateful for my background because through my understanding of the leftist mindset God has given me a unique platform to address cultural and moral issues.
In 2002, Samantha and I returned to live in Virginia with 23 native Californians - including my husband Tripp, my 11 other children, 2 sons-in-law and 8 grandchildren (since then, we've added two more). Though Samantha and Jasmine now homeschool their children, upon our arrival I sent mine to the very fine public schools in Loudoun County, where by state law every school hallway has a poster saying "In God We Trust," and people aren't afraid to sing and talk about God. But the lessons of homeschooling have stayed with us, and we are a still a Family-First kind of family.
In 2007, Tripp and I converted to Catholicism - another of God's complete surprises, as becoming a Catholic was something I never thought I would do. Like most evangelicals, I doubted that Catholics were even saved. How presumptuous and judgmental! And how blessed I am that God looked past my narrowmindedness and brought me home. You can read my full story through blog entries and comments at Evangelical to Catholic.
With most of my children grown and either married, in college or pursuing careers, my life has moved into another season of motherhood, one of great satisfaction as my children handle the trials and triumphs of adulthood on their own while trusting in their dad and me for counsel and prayer. We are blessed beyond words that with one esception, our kids have remained close and loving and a big part of ours and each others' lives.
As for my writing, it's continued to thrive, with over 1500 articles, plus nine published books including the Mommy, Teach Me! series, the politically-themed Reaching the Left from the Right: Talking About Social Issues with People Who Don't Think Like You .
If you live in northern Virginia, look for my biweekly column in The Purcellville Gazette.
For more of my writing, please visit my blog MommyLife, where I do my best each day to serve up a smorgasbord of parenting, cultural, political, and spiritual wisdom.
Invite me to speak! I'd love to come.
Or contact me for article assignments.
Speaking or writing, one thing you can count on is an authentic voice. In the 40's Frank Capra hit, Meet John Doe there's a line I love so much I've made it my own: "Say something simple and real, something with hope in it."
That's what readers can look for from me - something simple, something real, and something with hope in it.
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