I have always liked a bit of intrigue. Secrets, surprises, and classified information. Television shows where those who knew more than the average citizen bravely stood up to evil, conquering those who would do us harm.

I like drama that’s heavy on action.

Except when it’s in my family. Now that kind of drama—yeah, I can live without it. Unfortunately, it tends to find me.

Bad Secrets and Good Secrets

Forgiveness is important in families, especially when there are so many secrets that need to be healed – for the most part, every family’s got them.

Tyler Perry

When my kids were little, I began wrestling with what I wanted for my family. I realized that I was laying the foundation then for the relationships we would have when they left home. It was important to me to create an atmosphere of honesty—no secrets. Sounds good, right?

And then we went shopping for a friend’s birthday. Both my five and three-year-old children liked her, but my son particularly enjoyed playing with this rough-and-tumble girl. We purchased a stuffed animal, and then I began drilling them: Don’t tell her what we bought. It’s a—

Uh, oh.

surprises, like birthday and Christmas presents, were good. But secrets were not good.

I stopped, knowing I had a problem. How do you explain to a three-year-old (my son) the difference between good secrets and bad secrets? Could I adequately define it for myself? After all, he was going to have questions. LOTS of questions.

Enter surprises.

For a time, I got away with simply telling him that surprises, like birthday and Christmas presents, were good. But secrets were not good.

And then he got a little older. And the kids all reached an age when they figured out that Daddy had secrets. Government secrets. As did many of the daddies and some of the mommies of their friends.

Eek! Another crisis of definitions. How could I cement what I was trying to teach in my kids without planting seeds of skepticism or distrust?

Secrets, Surprises, and Relationships

Finally, one day, it hit me. It’s all about relationship. If the hidden information causes division between us, it’s bad. Period. If the hidden information will draw us closer together, it’s good. And hopefully fun.

And, classified information. Well, ultimately, most of it is really none of my concern anyway. If I’m not responsible for dealing with it or part of the solution that handles it, why complicate my life by seeking to know it?

The reality of walking it out.

That all sounds good in theory, but the truth is that sometimes over the years that has been tough in practice.

Sometimes I have trouble admitting to something that’s deeply personal or that I’m ashamed of. More than once it’s forced this non-confrontational girl to stand before another to say that’s not how we function. But I’ve done it because I will not let others sew division into my family by asking (or demanding) one of us keep a secret from the others.

Division in a family is dangerous. Life-stealing. Makes you assume the worst about others. It puts me into momma bear mode, and you better believe I’m calling on every defense in heaven to protect my family from the evil seeking entrance.


My children are getting older, now ages twenty-one to sixteen, and they are beginning to make these determinations for themselves.

Life is full of surprises: new opportunities come up; that’s part of the fun – the adventure of life. The thing is, chaos doesn’t allow us to enjoy the adventure.

Patrick Lencioni

My children are getting older, now ages twenty-one to sixteen, and they are beginning to make these determinations for themselves. How important is family to them? What secrets will they keep from the rest of us?

It warmed my heart to hear my daughter tell me recently that she questioned a friend who had encouraged one of my sons to keep something from me. She wanted to know more. Was this a secret? Or a surprise?

I love it. My children stepping up to do their part to protect our family from the things that may divide us. How could I ask, or pray, for more?

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Want to know more of the parenting strategies I used to raise my children? Kathy Barnett and I included an entire chapter in The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive. HINT: It’s not just for military spouses!

The Warrior’s Bride

Warrior's Bride

The call came down from Command, and your warrior husband is out the door, leaving you behind to handle whatever he has left undone.

Whether it’s the day-to-day monotony, the inevitable appliance that breaks, or the months without his presence beside you, being a military spouse brings challenges few appreciate.

Yet God sees you and longs for you to boldly step into His plan.

He purposely chose you for this moment—for your man. He wants to give you abundantly more than what you have right now and desires you to thrive as your warrior’s bride.

Join authors and military brides Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws in The Warrior’s Bride as they use their combined thirty-five years of military experience to boldly discuss some of the most common issues in military families, including:

  • The Calling of the Warrior
  • The Healthcare System
  • Extended Family
  • Parenting
  • The Fear of Divorce
  • The Fear of Death
  • Pornography
  • Infidelity
  • Living with a Wounded Soul

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