"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her" (Proverbs 31:28).
As I write about my wife, tears of thankfulness fill my eyes. Her price is truly Above Rubies and as Proverbs says, "I have found favor from the Lord."
I am the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Cleveland, Ohio and my wife and I have 14 children. I also do Ironman triathlons (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon 26.2 miles). My background is Drag Racing and my father is in the Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Because of these things I have received a lot of attention and been asked to speak and write for many magazines and websites.
Yet, I am a nobody compared to my wife. There is only one true Ironman in our home--my wife who has delivered 14 children and homeschooled them all. When I met her in 1985 I was a pizza delivery driver. All I can say is that every blessing in my life started the day I met her on a blind date. I knew I was called to be a Pastor but had gone through a three year wilderness journey where I gave up any hope of being used by God.
Sheila did not marry a Pastor and was not a Christian when we married. One day she asked how to become a Christian. The next day I came home and she was bouncing on her toes exclaiming, "I feel so light, I feel so light."
"What happened?" I asked. She replied, "I asked Jesus into my heart last night." I then told her that Jesus left me. She replied, "He did not leave you, but you left him." That was the day the Lord restored me Calvary Chapel in Cincinnati started that week. We both began to listen to verse by verse teaching through the Bible with Chuck Smith. Sheila's entire walk with the Lord began, and has continued, with solid verse by verse teaching. She has tremendous knowledge of the Bible and with it discernment.
God has used her to speak to me more than any other person. We have been married for more than 27 years and I will say that I listen to her more than she knows.
I know I have been a trial to her. We are complete opposites. I'm sure she feels more like a single mom with 15 children! Yet, she has never belittled me or put me down in front of others. She has modeled the Scriptures that encourage a wife to submit to her husband. Some women think this is a sign of weakness. The opposite is true. IT TAKES A VERY STRONG SPIRITUAL WOMAN who trusts God to obey that verse. Sheila is that woman.
We moved to Cleveland in 1992 to plant Calvary Chapel although we did not know one person. For the first three months Sheila would be washing dishes and looking out the window, crying, and wondering why we were there. The church started in our house and people walked in, not just on Sunday, but any time. We also allowed many to move in and live with us over the years, 14 different people to be exact, with some as long as three years. During all this Sheila was a faithful mother and wife. The church has become a blessing, but would not exist without her.
Sheila loves her children. All of our adult children call her every day. Sometimes I am jealous, but also glad. They truly honor and respect her. But, the strongest trait in Sheila is that she is a woman of prayer. She prays and God moves.
If there is a key to our family it has been "Family Time" where we and the children sing worship songs, read the Bible, and pray. We have done this together for the last 19 years. I lead in the evenings and Sheila in the mornings before school. When I hear her teaching the Bible to the children I feel the power of God on our house. The Scripture we have both held onto is in Isaiah 54:13, "All your children will be taught of the Lord, and great will be the peace of your children." We both agree that it is God's faithfulness that our children are following God.
Many ask me, "Did you plan to have so many children?" No! Our first child was born by c-section, the next three normal births in hospital with epidural. The fifth was the first natural birth in the hospital. The last nine were born at home with an awesome midwife, Frieda Miller. The first two home births the children were born before she arrived. It was 100 percent relying on the Lord.
What is funny is that Sheila was the youngest of three children and said she did not like children. With each child she would say," That is the last one." Then the Lord would ask her, "Do you trust Me?" After a few months she would be convicted to trust the Lord and another would be on the way, because God likes children.
All our children were named according to the meaning of their names and a lesson God was teaching us at the time. We have since had three miscarriages. The first miscarriage someone told us we should give her a name and therefore we named her Hope because our hope is in heaven, a lesson God was teaching us.
Sheila has homeschooled each child every year. This adds up to 201 years and she has 12 years to go. To homeschool 14 children takes more patience, character, wisdom, humility, organization, teaching ability, and insight than running the largest corporation in America. To be a CEO for Sheila would be a vacation. The "highest calling" for a woman is to be a Mommy. Sadly, our society brainwashes young girls and robs many of this high calling.
Sheila used to do all the chores, but I told her she must be the Manager of the home, not the laborer. She is also a gifted musician and many of our children play, sing, and lead worship at church. Sheila is my favorite worship singer.
She is an amazing Bible teacher and anointed speaker to women. Titus 3:3-5 exhorts the older women to teach the younger women to love their husbands and to love their children. Sheila has lived this. No one will ever be able to say, "She does not know what I am going through." Over the years many have told me that when they feel like giving up they think, "If Sheila can make it with 14 children, then I can make it."
I am amazed at the wisdom she shares with our children, especially to those who are married or getting married. To the boys she will say, "If you do not treat your wife right I will come after you." To our daughter she says, "Honey, you need to submit to him and trust the Lord." She models this herself and the beauty of her meek and quiet spirit is powerful.
Does she struggle? Yes. Does she have bad days? Yes. Does she ever feel like giving up? Yes. Yet, she has always turned to the Lord for strength and obeyed His will, no matter what the cost
Once I made an observation that in many couples one person seems like "a blessing" and the other is " the blessed." I know full well that Sheila is the blessing and I am the one who is blessed. At the lowest point in my life God brought her to me and I have lived a blessed life ever since.
That is why Proverbs 31: 28-31 applies to her, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellent them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
I think the ultimate reward is grandchildren. We have three and two more on the way so far. I have never seen Sheila with so much joy as being a Grandma. And nothing gives me more joy than to see her filled with joy.
Cleveland, Ohio, USA