Lucille Houston on motherhood, life and moving countries

River Bennett (Photographer River Bennett)

A Sydney girl who packed up her life to make her home in Los Angeles. Mother to Savannah, Lexi and Bailey and wife to Ben. She is lead pastor alongside her husband for Hillsong Los Angeles. Her name is Lucille Houston and this is her story.

"Growing up, life wasn't always easy.

My parents split up under tragic circumstances when I was very young, leaving my mum to raise my twin brothers and I (3 kids under 5) on her own.

My Dad was a very broken man and couldn't be the dad that I wanted him to be. He had emotional breakdowns and life-threatening health problems over the years and there were times I felt as though I was the parent to him instead of the other way around.

My mum modelled to me what a strong, independent woman looked like. She always chose to see the positive in every circumstance and taught me a lot about making the best of every situation.

She would often say “You can’t always choose what happens to you in life but you can always choose how to respond.”

My Nana has also been a huge influence in my life and she taught me the power of being a constant in someone's life.

You don't always have to have the answers or even know what to say. Sometimes just being there speaks louder than words ever could. She has exemplified to me what having a real authentic relationship with Jesus looks like and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

I grew up in church and always knew God had a big plan for my life and in some way felt that He had always been there with me, guiding me and protecting me along the way - even through all the hard times.

I find it hard when people assume I have a perfect life, and that I have had everything handed to me on a silver platter because that's far from the truth. I have fought to be who I am, and we as a family have fought to be where we are today. 

When I met my husband I didn't think a family that loved God, loved each other and did ministry and family life well, with having fun along the way, existed! So when I met Ben and his family I saw that it did exist, and saw that it was possible.

Ben was a 19 year old surfer/skater with dreadlocks. So not the type I usually go for! Haha! But we became best friends and fell in love. I have been falling for him ever since!

When Savannah came into our lives I forgot what we used to do or talk about! I was besotted. Still am.

I didn't think I could love another human being so much! It was overwhelming to be responsible for the life of another.

Adjusting to motherhood was definitely a journey. I learned very quickly to make sure I had a good support network of friends & family. It made the world of difference having friends doing the same journey as I was and family who can be there for you when you need it.

Then Lexi came along. She was a fast labour. She came into the world fast and furious. And she hasn't slowed down since - ha! She is our ball of energy, our comedian and she keeps us on our toes. I wouldn't change her for the world. There is only one Lexi Milan. Haha!

I didn't know how I would feel about having three girls! But as soon as I held Bailey in my arms, I fell madly in love. I knew she was meant to be in our family and that she had something really special on her life. She is affectionately known as ‘our squawker & walker’. She’s got a mad set of lungs on her! (move over Mariah) and has the greatest gap smile in the universe. Couldn't imagine life without her.
It’s important for me to teach my girls to love Jesus. And to love the Church. To always embrace their uniqueness.

I think it's so important to not try to make them fit into what you want them to be.

They each have their own personality, likes and dislikes. I love being there to guide and correct when needed, but I'm also fascinated by who THEY are and I try to allow room for them to grow in that. I always want to teach them to be kind to people.

Moving to Los Angeles from Australia has been nothing like I thought it would be! It's been a long journey!

It took us months of flying back and forth between Australia and L.A. awaiting visa approval. There were the challenges of living out of suitcases for a whole year, of not having stability, and of learning to be patient.

We have been settled in for some time now, and I can honestly say that it has all been worth it.

You always need to count the cost when you jump head first into what you know God is calling you to do. It may not come without its challenges but there is no greater feeling than putting your head on your pillow at the end of the day knowing without the shadow of a doubt that you are exactly where He wants you to be. I have always thought that is where you will be the most safe and the most blessed.

Some of the biggest challenges have been learning to not fight the season but rather go with it; not being able to see my family and friends whenever I want; knowing what to buy at the grocery store! I miss vegemite and BBQ sauce! Oh, and learning to drive on the other side of the road on 8 lane freeways - and not dying!!

I keep reminding myself that God goes before us. And He's got our back.

My advice to mothers who are about to move countries would be to make your house a home wherever "home" might be.

For me I made sure the kids had their rooms done first so they had a place that was all their own.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to create the atmosphere of "home". They don't need to know that transition is hard. So make it an adventure. Make it fun.

People often ask me how we balance family life and ministry and everything in between. I learnt a long time ago to not play one thing against another. Being married for ten years has taught me that you can make a choice to grow and change together in every season. And when you look back you realize those times have actually made you stronger.

It has taught me the importance of not taking yourself to seriously and having fun whenever possible. We laugh together almost every day and we make sure we get a date night every week. Life gets busy and it's important to prioritize time together to just be.

We do ministry as a family. We take our kids along with us on the journey. And they love it!

I also believe it is possible to have confidence without ego. I am also a big believer in being a great friend. You can’t do life in isolation.

1. Latest fashion obsession?

I'm loving boyfriend jeans, a t-shirt and a great fitted black blazer. It's easy and effortless and you can keep it casual or dress it up with a red lip and heels.

2. Biggest fashion fail?

When I was 17 I wore a bright purple, tartan sequined top and matching headband to Youth.  My friends have never let me live it down and bring it up often... Haha. It was not my finest moment.

3. Funniest moment at a prestigious event?

Too many to count. But I HAVE been known to make a borderline joke every now and then. Ben often has to do damage control behind me. Bless his heart. Ha!

4. Favourite workout?

I only recently really started prioritizing my health. It can be hard to find time to put aside to workout or be active but I made it part of my lifestyle and it was so worth it! I feel better, healthier and stronger than I ever have.

Tracey Anderson is great because it’s dance-based strength training and I love to dance!

For me, if it takes too much time I find it hard to commit. So just keep it short and sweet so it's sustainable.

5. Simple things to keep healthy and fit?

Little changes make a big difference! Don't eat late at night. Try to do one active thing everyday (even if it's a dance party with your kids).

Try to make healthy choices most of the time and get your kids involved too. My girls love making green smoothies with me.
If you just have to have the chocolate (let’s be honest - sometimes nothing else will do) just have 3 or 4 bites instead of the whole block! Haha - everything in moderation!
Be kind to yourself.

6. Advice to WolfpackMrs mamas who are about to embark on new territory whether business or family life?

Something I read in the early stages of our transition was a quote that said: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates
It helped me to see it as an exciting adventure rather than a scary unknown. Take things a day at a time. Don't fight the season and always remember that God doesn't give us what we can't handle. So be brave! You’ve got this!





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@hillsongla  @lucille_houston