1000 Lives to Give

Inscribed on a missionary’s gravestone are these words, “If I had a thousand lives, Korea would have them all.”

This one woman had more dreams and vision for Korea than one lifetime could accomplish.  I don’t know her name, but her words move me deeply.  Her passion for Korea brings my heart to its knees.  Korea would have her first life ... and her thousandth life.

Her life was lavishly poured out for the people of Korea and I believe emphatically that this woman died with no regrets.  She only wished that she could give her life for Korea again ... and again ... and again.  One thousand times over!

I feel the same way about motherhood.  Perhaps my tombstone will boldly proclaim, “If I had a thousand lives to give ... motherhood would have them all.”

Cooking Moms
Cooking Moms

I was raised in the baby boom years of America;  my role models were my mom and her friends who cooked dinner every night while wearing high heels.  These women made enough spaghetti sauce in one week-end to feed the entire state of Rhode Island!  The coffee pot was always warm, the clothes were perfectly folded and the kitchen floor was wet-mopped every morning by 8 a.m.  “Success” to my mother and her friends was being president of the PTA and chairing the annual church turkey dinner.

I was sandwiched between that sweet, stable tradition and the voices of Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinham.  While Jane and Gloria were burning their bras and protesting the war in Viet Nam, I was being taught the proper etiquette of how to write thank you notes while wearing proper white gloves.

When I started college in the fall of 1973, I had grand anticipation in my heart!  What was God’s destiny for me?  Would I marry a pastor or be the next Barbara Walters?  Would I teach third grade?  Or be a Pulitzer Prize winning author?

I asked God to challenge me to stand on my tip-toes every day of my life.  I promised the God of Creation that I would never settle for mediocrity but that I was His girl at this time in history to make a profound and lasting difference.

What I didn’t realize was that His idea of making a difference ... and my idea of making a difference ... were 2 completely different things.


On January 29, 1981, at the University of Alabama Medical Center, I discovered the reason for which I was created:  as Matthew Craig McLeod was placed into my arms, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.  I was a mom!  I was a mom!!

As I looked at his miraculous little face and counted his ten tiny fingers and toes, I realized that I was responsible for his soul.  God, the Creator of the entire universe, had put me in charge of his gifts and talents; I was responsible for discipling this little man who was filled with heavenly potential.  In my arms was God’s answer for the next generation.

After giving birth to my first taste of heaven on earth, I became pregnant 9 more times.  5 of those babies died in my womb; 4 of them completed our clan of boisterous, creative and energetic McLeod’s.  The ones who went to heaven taught me to appreciate the ones who were left under my care.  The ones who danced in eternity taught me how to be a defiantly joyful mother ... while the ones on earth have made me happier than one woman deserves to be.

Moms ... next time someone asks you, “And what do you do for a living?”

Don’t ever say, “I am JUST a mom.”

The words “mom” and “just” are mutually exclusive ... they contradict one another at the very core of meaning.

If you are a mom, you are a teacher, mentor and coach.You are a nurse, a chauffeur, and an administrator.You are a counselor, a best friend and a psychologist.You are a pediatrician, a pastor and a maid.You are the a CEO ... a CFO and the FBI!You are on the maintenance staff, the executive staff and the creative staff of your corporation known as “Family”!You are responsible for Homeland Security.You are raising up the next generation who have the capacity to change the world.

In every generation, mothers must answer the call to be what no one else can be for their children and to do what no one else can do for their children.  The future of the church, our nation and the world depends upon what we do with the children under our care.  What could be more significant than that?!

What will be written on your gravestone?

“This was one busy lady!”

“This woman knew how to make money ... and spend it!”

Or, perhaps, like me, you will be gratified with these simple words,

“If I had a thousand lives to give ... motherhood would have them all.”