All right, so I’m going to ask a question, it’s probably very rude, but, having seven daughters is not a very culturally acceptable it’s a countercultural space so can you talk about that?
Actually, it’s it’s funny. People are usually very, very polite to me, even people that probably think you should only have one or two children because they assume that we’re trying for a boy.
So it’s funny. You know, you see them, though. First of all, you see somebody do a double take because they say how many children we have. We’re out and about. And then you see them counting. You can see the little head knod. They’re kind of counting heads.
Your youngest is a baby.
Yeah. Oldest is almost 11.
And then they open their mouths and then they look again and they burst out laughing and they say they’re all girls.
So I like to think, you know, that that that’s actually you know, people are generally very positive because they just get taken by the fact that I’ve produced these seven daughters.
And they’re like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’.
I always wanted to have a big family. I’m actually an only child. My parents were told that they would never be able to conceive a child.
So you’re a miracle child.
Right. And even after I was conceived, my mom went to the doctor and said, I’m pregnant. And the doctor said, no, you’re not pregnant. You have cervical cancer. And I have to do a DNC immediately. Don’t go home.
And my mother went home.
So I grew up with parents who really enjoy children. And they were very pro-children and be very positive about big families. And my best friend growing up was the eldest of 10. And it looked to me from the outside like they were having an endless run of fun and games. I’m sure she would have had a different perspective ask you that question, but it looked like a lot of fun to me.
So I grew up really thinking, oh, children are a blessing from the Lord. That’s what I want. And at one point when I was, I think in my early 20s, I would deliberately wear this as a bit of a as a bit of a defiant badge. I would say to people, I’m going to get. I’m going to have 10 sons. Just to be very kind of countercultural.
But it was also a warning because I thought, well, I don’t want to have a relationship with somebody who doesn’t want kids. Absolutely. So I’ll just say this. And that will kind of weed out the men from the boys. So I was always told, ‘you’ve really got to stop saying that. No one’s gonna date you. No one’s going to want to have a relationship with you ever because of this thing.’
Because nobody else nobody else in the world wants a large family.
Well, apparently so.
So then I actually met my future husband and we were friends for about a year internationally. And then he came out to Tassie to do the overland track. It’s a long story. And I we were literally on the first day of the overland track went up to Marion’s look. It’s beautiful up there. And I think he turned to me at one point to say, how many children would you like to have? Oh, here we go. And I told him he started laughing and he said, well, I grew up telling everybody I wanted to have 12.
So that was a moment where we both kind of thought this is a friendship that has some possibilities.
You got through the first hoop.
So I’m very blessed.
Look, I have incredibly easy pregnancies. I don’t even get nauseous really. So I think that would have been way more difficult to have a large family if I’d been the kind of person that has to go to bed for nine months for sure. So we’ve been really we’ve been very, very blessed.
And would you say that you and your husband are both extroverts?
I have trouble with that. I don’t really understand that whole … My husband enjoys that kind of thing, personality tests and everything. I think he made me take a personality test once and it was the probably the worst evening of our marriage.
Every few minutes, I would say. ‘is it over yet? Do I have to do this?’
But anyway, my husband is a shy extrovert. So he’s a kind of person that gets lots of energy from people. You know, he loves it when we have a hostel full of people. You know, we’ve got seven little kids sleeping in the bedroom back here. We’ve got 12 people sleeping out there. And we’ve got people coming over the next day. He’s as happy as a pig in mud.
But he’s also a lot more quiet than I am and tends to be a better listener. So he’s very gifted with people who …
He’s the kind of person that, you know, he’ll go to a party or a cocktail party, you know, meet and great kind of party, and he’ll find the people that no one’s talking to.
And he’ll sit in the corner and have a big in-depth conversation.
Absolutely. Yes. Which has been a wonderful gift.
And so he and I are very complementary to each other. And we actually love. We love running the hospitality ministry together. When we first got married my husband was very intentional about sort of sitting down and saying, ‘Okay, these are your gifts. These are my gifts. How can we how how do you think God wants us to work together?’ I’m so grateful for that.
I think a lot of … I think sometimes in certain areas of the church, in a reaction to feminism, we’ve gone in another direction that’s also not Christian.
And we’ve kind of said, oh, you know, the man is the vision caster and the woman is one size fits all. And, you know, she comes in and she’s 100 percent on support.
And it’s really irrelevant what her what her strengths and weaknesses are because she’ll just slot in, you know, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a supporting role at all. And, you know, I’m not I’m not dissing that.
I mean, Jesus said that the least will be the greatest and the is a servant will be the greatest of all. But I do think that God created us all with specific strengths and weaknesses, specific vocations, specific passions. And so I’m really grateful that I married somebody who was really aware of that and really sat down, said, ‘oh, well, look, you’re good at this. I’m good at this. How does this fit together and what kind of picture does that make?’ And I think that’s really, that’s a really wonderful Genesis picture of how Adam and Eve were created.
That being a helper, it definitely means that there’s a supportive role as well. But it also means that you’re helping by bringing to the table things that weren’t already there. That God put in you. And so it’s a it’s a beautiful, beautiful picture of kind of gospel partnership. Yes. So I got into a tangent there.
Going back to the family just because I like to ask these things. Do you do you have family devotion time every day or how does your faith show itself in the family situation?
Yes. We’re really blessed because we both work from home, which isn’t always easy.
Sometimes it’s like, you know, it’s easy to step on each other’s toes. But it’s also. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We love it because we work from home and often we are working with travellers in the evening. So my husband actually takes some time off during the middle of the day. And so he has some time with the girls. We homeschool. So he actually helps with them. He does some of them schooling. I don’t think of it as a helping so much. It’s more like he has subjects he’s passionate about and he actually loves working with the girls on those we usually just read a bit of the Bible together at breakfast, basically. But as I said, we’re a very talkative family. And so the older girls sit up with us one night a week with the travellers and our 10 year old is a hilariously confident evangelist.
And I don’t know how she does it, but she asked people questions that you wouldn’t think you would get away with. I mean, I don’t know. And she comes back, you know. Well, it’s just funny. We’ll meet some friends at the park or something. And she goes and chats to some some of them will I’m chatting to someone else, and she comes back and she’s like, well, this is why they’re not going to church anymore. You know, this is what happened. And, you know, this is where they are with the Lord.
And, you know, it’s like, wow, okay.
But yes, she was chatting with an atheist traveller who was about to leave the next day or something. He said something to her that she found preposterous. And she was polite about it. But she was like, you know, I wish you weren’t leaving tomorrow because we really need to talk about this.
That’s so great.
And we really do try to, one of our one of our biggest prayers constantly is for protection for the children. We’ve actually had quite a few conversations with people that have come out of live-in ministry as children, people who’ve grown up at L’abri fellowships around the world and say, look how do you do this without messing up our children. So we are actually quite intentional about what we involve them and don’t involve them in.
And but I think, on the whole, I think we’ve been through different periods in missionary history of of how you deal with children. And I certainly don’t want to, you know, condemn anyone for, you know, choices that they’ve made that are that are different, at least the Holy Spirit has to deal with each person as to how they’re going to balance family ministry and such. But.
We found it nothing but a blessing so far, and I you know, I love one of my favourite authors right now is Rosario Butterfield. She’s written a wonderful book called The Gospel Comes With a House Key.
One of her other books, because she came out of the gay and lesbian community, in one of her other books she talks about the fact that she, as a Christian, has had really an open door to people from that community. And at the same time, she’s had adopted and foster children and people have said, you know, oh, my goodness, you know, how can you have people from that community in your home when you have children there? And one of the things she said was, ‘look, my children see me sitting down with transgender people, you know, people who are profoundly depressed. People from communities that perhaps other Christians will not be around. What they learn when they see me showing them unconditional love is that they are safe with me. My children are safe with me. Like if they have a temptation, if they have a struggle, if they have a mental issue or psychological sexual issue, they’re not going to afraid to tell me about it, because I know I’m safe.’ And I think that’s that’s something that’s really encouraged me. Just to remember, you know, our children have heard people ask us hard questions and they’ve heard us answer. And we don’t get stiffened up. You know, we don’t stiffen up about it. And I’m hoping that that that we have the same the same result.
Absolutely. Oh, that’s wonderful.
All right. So so last couple of questions that I always ask. When do you feel close to God?
So I actually feel really close to God.
This sounds really bad.
When I’m asking him for things and he provides.
He provides and that’s a way I don’t I know how, you know, some people love to use the five languages in their marriage. And I wouldn’t say that gifts was my love language necessarily, but I feel like the Lord has shown me so much mercy and kindness and grace and attention with giving me things. Sometimes really tiny things like recently I mean, it’s not tiny in one sense, but it isn’t. I’m not talking about Cadillacs. I’m not talking about a Lamborghini.
But recently I was really low. I was actually feeling quite terrible for months and I did actually have a pregnancy loss. And because of that, I was tested … my bloods were tested and they discovered I was very low on iron. And that helped to explain why I’d been feeling so low. It was not based on any difficulties I was having in life. It was actually just feeling really low. So I went and got an iron infusion. But anyway, in the meantime, I was like, oh, gosh, I really need some meat.
And we were a bit low on money that pay period. And I was like, I don’t have any more money to buy any meat or I you know, like it’s not in the budget for me to go out and buy a bunch of meat. And I was actually just praying. I was like, ‘Lord, I’m really low in iron. And I really need some meat. But it’s okay. You know, I’ll make do with what I have.’ You know, and I’m cheerily go about, you know, try to plan and everything for the rest of the week, thinking it’s going to be a lean week. So like literally the next day, I don’t know if it was the same day or the next day I get this text message from my neighbour that I haven’t seen in six months or something.
She lives down the road. I don’t think I even knew her surname, she sends me a message and she goes, ‘would you like some meat because … we actually ordered a quarter of a cow and we had no idea what that was.’ Because they’re like tree changers.
That’s a lot of meat.
And they moved down here to be have a better lifestyle for their kids. But they come from a city, you know. So they were just like flooded with meat. You know, I was just laughing. It was like, yep, I’d love to take the meat thank you.
But this is not somebody I’ve ever exchanged a cup of sugar or milk or anything with you know, it’s completely random.
And the number of times that things like that have happened to me immediately as a result of prayer. I mean, I should probably be writing them down, but it just it really happens all the time. And I think about the fact that, you know, in the Lord’s Prayer, you know, we ask the Lord for our daily needs.
And I know that sometimes people will say, oh, you know, don’t pray for selfish things, pray for, you know, unselfish things. And I and I do pray for other people as well. But I think, you know, there’s a passage that says what father among you, when his son asks for bread, is going to give him a stone. And there’s another passage, of course, where God says, you know, don’t worry about what you’re going to wear because God attires the lillies of the field even better than Solomon in all his glory. And, you know, if he if he does that for them what is he going to do for you? And I think just that constant reminder that the Lord is listening to my prayers because of because of Jesus, because I’m clothed in Jesus’ righteousness is wonderfully, wonderfully encouraging. And that makes his presence and the reality of the relationship so, so tangible. Yes. So asking God for stuff, I feel close to him.
I’m just reading reading John Piper’s Desiring God Christian Hedonism. He says that if we ask God, it gives him glory.
Like if you were a paraplegic and there was somebody who was looking after you all the time when somebody came around to visit, you would give that person glory. By the way, that they served you and the other person, you know, it’s just we can’t do anything by ourselves. We need to ask him for everything.
And asking reminds you that you’re reliant on him. Yeah. So because the thing is I mean, I know if I forget to ask, I know the Lord was still provide for me. But I do find that it’s a different kind of provision because I think that he loves to show his faithfulness by little things like that, by the meat that comes a day after you pray for it. You know, things like that, it because it reminds us that we’re reliant on him. I mean, I’m relying on him minute by minute and I can’t take another breath without his provision. But it’s something I take for granted. But when you actually come to the Lord with even really small things that are troubling you it gives him an opportunity to show his faithfulness and your dependence in a really beautiful way.
Yeah, I totally agree. So what’s one thing about God or Christianity that you wish everyone knew?
I wish everyone knew …
There’s a few things. Probably one of them is … the fact that God created diversity. I think that diversity has become a dirty word among some Christians because it gets associated with with other concepts, but really, I mean, I can’t even remember my husband remembers the number of species of God created.
I mean, so that’s only that’s only the beginning. Is that I mean, not that the shear biodiversity. It’s just showing us in an amazingly visual way that God values diversity.
And there’s a wonderful passage in Revelation where it says, hey, you know, I think it’s in revelation. God desires that, you know, that there’s gonna be every tongue, every tribe, every nation is gonna be coming in. The kings of the earth will be presenting their gifts. The earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the ocean. People, when they come into heaven, they’re not going to all look the same.
You know, we’re not gonna be replaceable, disembodied spirits. You know, we’re as we come to the Lord, we bring our heritage, we bring our stories. We bring our culture, our languages.
And he’s made human beings to be incredibly diverse and irreplaceable and unique. And so when you when you come to Christ it’s not a flattening out. It’s not a it’s not a cutting off, but it’s actually being born into an amazing life. Where you’re more yourself. You reflect a facet of God’s nature.
Because we’ve been made in his image we’re his image bearers and that through sanctification, you become more and more the person that God designed you to be.
And even looking culturally, you know, the best kind of missionaries are the incarnational one’s right? In history, the ones that take Jesus, coming and divesting himself of his rights and coming into the world and being a human man in a certain culture at a certain time, speaking the language, wearing the clothes, eating the food, singing the songs, they take that as a model. And you see missionaries who from the 19th century England who go into China instead of dressing everyone in English clothes and teaching them English hymns. They come in and they say, How can I learn from your culture? You know, let me wear the clothes that you wear. Let me speak the language you speak. Let me eat the way that you eat. And through that, you know, there’s an amazing indigenous Christianity that’s born there that becomes a beautiful, vibrant piece of God story, not replicating Western Christianity everywhere, but actually, you know, discovering what does African Christianity look like?
What is Chinese Christianity look like? What is Uyghur Christianity? You know, you look like what does Aboriginal Christianity look like?
And you know, God God cares about that. God cares about diversity. And the only real diversity, the only true like absolutely soul, deep diversity you can have as when you’re reconciled to Jesus and transferred into his kingdom.
Yeah, sure. It’s not a sort of club where you have to join and fit in now. It’s a family where you you are free to be fully yourself.
That’s right. I’m excited. I have a very optimistic eschatology. So I’m very excited about the spread of Christianity in the global south. I think that Christians in the west can get very, very pessimistic because of the time we’re living in now. Yeah, we tend to see we also sometimes because there are are battles we do need to fight. We sometimes tend to see the dark things. And there are very dark things, abortion laws being passed that are barbaric. But there are also things happening in our culture even today that are stemming from Christianity. I mean, this is a tiny example, but recently one of my daughters went into she had a gift certificate to Fullers. She went into Fullers. She got a mermaid sticker book. And she brought it home with my husband. I was looking at it and I was like ‘we didn’t have anything like this when I was little.’ When I was little, if you got a mermaid sticker book, they were very sexualized. Yeah. Like the women had tiny little waists, big breasts, you know, Playboy looking personas. This one, you know, it’s beautiful like they are, they’re clothed mermaids. But I mean, they look they look happy. They look athletic. They look like little girls. They look, you know, like they’re going about their business and having an interesting life.
And it sounds like a tiny thing, but little things like that actually do change your perception of who you are. And I know, you know, when I look back through history, because my family, we are obsessed with history. We love history. That kind of dignity for women, for children or for any vulnerable group comes directly from the gospel. So I think, you know, oftentimes we notice the things in our culture that are wrong. And as I said, it’s important to those because we need to do something, reach out to people. But they’re also really good things that are happening in our culture. And we often are only seeing the glass half empty.
And so, as I said, I’m very excited about the fact that, I mean, what is it? China has more Christians now than Australia has people. I mean, it’s it’s a difficult certainly a very, very difficult time to be a Christian in China. It’s hard, we have Chinese travellers that stay with us. And we’ve learned so much about what it’s like to be Chinese.
But there is exciting things happening. So I’m very excited about what God’s doing in the world.
And I hope that one day, you know, there’ll be some people that have been impacted by travelling through here, being welcomed and hopefully feeling loved and accepted and hearing something really different about the world, hearing something really different about who they are and what the possibilities of their life is.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Not particularly. I mean, I guess I don’t know. Do you have show notes? You can look at the website and see what our hostel is like. Please tell people to come stay. It is a Christian hostel, we’re openly Christian hostel but it’s fine for anyone from any background to come. And they don’t have to be interested in discipleship or counselling or spiritual formation.
They’re welcome to just come and enjoy a safe and welcoming environment. And yeah, and enjoy Tasmania and enjoy having a nice, safe, warm place to come back to.
And if you are in Tasmania, look out for the Pilgrim Hill Arts Festival next winter.
It’s usually I think we’re going to try to have it on at the same time as the Willie Smiths Sweet Midwinter Festival. Which is in Huonville as well. So we used to have at the same time as Dark Mofo, but actually another artist’s exhibition has now started in Hobart that goes at the same time as Dark Mofo, which we’re delighted about. Yeah. And so we made a decision to go on a different weekend because we want to create more opportunities for Christian artists, not less. Yeah. Not being competition, but rather, you know, people can exhibit in one and then another.
Fantastic. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for sharing with us.
Thank you so much for coming out. And I’m sorry I didn’t warn you not to bring the mini.
It’s fantastic. The Mini is fine.
Thanks so much, Ruth.