By Dana Sleger //
Lynn Sandberg is an impressive woman. She has a degree in speech pathology and worked for the Moss Point school system for seven years as a speech pathologist, but when she became pregnant with her first child, she retired to focus on being a stay-at-home mom, and eventually homeschooled all three of her children.
What ensued as a result of that decision forever changed the Sandberg family, and now almost 30 years later, it also is changing the lives of countless other families. In 2013, she published a book titled “Heaven on Earth: A Biblical Model for Parenting,” which explores various attributes of God that can be emulated in raising a family.
Although she has never taken a writing class, her strong faith guides the writing pen. Sandberg’s foundational scripture for the book is Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” For her, these words bring to light how God’s son flourished intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially — four key areas that are healthy for any child.
Through Sandberg’s personal relationship with God that began when she was 15, and through extensive study of the Bible, she gleans from biblical stories that show how the Creator of heaven and earth is the ideal role model for parenting.
“God is the perfect father, and you can improve your parenting style by looking to Him,” she says. “He sets the example for how to be a provider, protector, teacher and disciplinarian.”
So what qualifies Sandberg, 57, to write a book with such authority? She has no degree in psychology or family counseling, but sometimes wisdom gained from experience outweighs knowledge learned in a classroom.
This book wasn’t written overnight; it wasn’t even written in a couple years. This project was a 24-year journey of parenting principles gained through Sandberg’s personal insight of raising three children with her husband, Bob, her beloved partner of 37 years.
“Without him, I wouldn’t have written this book,” she says with tears of gratitude. “Bob partnered with me to raise these children and we learned these principles along the way. I’m the one who documented the principles and my name is on the book, but we lived this out together. He is my greatest support.”
Sandberg smiles when she remembers about how weekly date nights would encompass rich discussion on practical applications that worked and didn’t work — honest conversation she includes in the book about parenting successes and failures learned with her own family.
At times when Sandberg would get discouraged with struggles of being a mom, or deal with nagging thoughts of authoring a book without any formal writing training, she would take a deep breath, pray, and continue to work on her God-inspired project a little at a time.
“I would get all excited when I learned something new, document it, put it into practice, tweak it, find the scripture that went with it, write the family story to match it, but then I would get discouraged with negative thoughts that would come in and I would put it down for long periods of times, even months at a time,” Sandberg says. “But then I would feel the Lord tugging on my heart reminding me about when He first started talking to me about writing a book.”
Sandberg will never forget where she was in 1991 when that divine conversation happened. Her family went camping in a state park right outside of Birmingham, Ala., and while Bob was hiking with their children, Sandberg stayed behind to rest.
“As I lay in the tent, I felt the Lord speaking to me, compelling me to listen to Him and learn from Him, and that’s when he said, ‘I am the perfect Father; learn from Me. Let Me teach you what I am like, and then model your parenting after Me,’ ” she says. “It was a precious time with the Lord. I became excited and began writing down what I was learning. Through the weeks and months that followed, the Scriptures became alive, and it was a great learning experience.”
Writing a book on any subject can be a testing process, but writing a book over a 24-year period on biblical principles applied to the highs and lows parents face when rearing children will most certainly test someone’s faith. However, for Sandberg, this testing has refined her relationship with God in the best way possible and her approach to the enduring process is refreshingly transparent.
“It’s been a journey of faith and I’m a different person, a different woman because God kept faithfully pursuing me during this project,” she says. “It’s not about writing skills and it’s not about notoriety; it’s about trusting Him and being obedient to the calling He put in my heart.”
The fruit of Sandberg’s obedience in writing “Heaven on Earth” is touching lives in ways she acknowledges could only be by the hand of God. In addition to the book being sold in Lifeway stores around the country, she evolved the material into a six-week course that is taught in a number of churches, and was recently adopted as court-ordered curriculum by Hancock County’s Youth Court system. Teen Challenge International also uses it as a resource for young people.
When not spending time with her precious five grandchildren or teaching Sunday School kids scriptures for Bible drill competitions, Sandberg volunteers numerous hours as a chaplain at the Harrison County Detention Center. She also has a one-hour a week radio spot on a web-based talk show to discuss biblical parenting.
“I love the Word of God and I know how it transformed my heart and my life,” Sandberg says. “I’ve seen what it has done in my own family’s life, so when I get the opportunity to pass that on to others, it’s just such a great joy.”
Of course, she counts her role as a mother to be one of her greatest joys. In the book, there is a special dedication to her three grown children: Jennifer, 31, a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler; Richard, 29, a pastor and newspaper columnist; and Eugene, 26, a computer engineer.
To my beloved children, Jennifer, Richard, and Eugene — my prayer is that you would know in the depths of your heart that my love for you runs deep with only my love for your dad and the Lord being greater. I pray that your dad’s and my devotion to you has made you strong and equipped you for all of life. Each of you is unique, and my heart wells with joy and pride to see how the Lord matured you into wonderful young adults. Thank you for the privilege of continuing to be in your life. I look forward to seeing the extraordinary ways in which the Lord will use you to further His kingdom.
For more information on “Heaven On Earth,” contact Lynn Sandberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit heavenbroughthome.com.