The Single

I spend a lot of time writing about my family and the blessing they are to me. I try me best to always give credit where credit is due and speak plainly about the difficulties I struggle with as a mom. The seasons and stages of motherhood can be challenging even in the best of circumstances. Even so, I would do it all over again, hurts and all, because it is the one piece of my life that has given me the greatest hope and joy.

Yesterday in our morning church service I was deeply moved by something I observed and I wanted to share my thoughts. It would be an unusual day in church for us as our daughter and oldest son were both traveling, and our youngest son and daughter in law would be the only ones with us. We are blessed to delight in worshiping together on most Sundays with our adult children and their spouses. We do have one son away at college but there have been times when we are eight deep in a row together. This was not that day. In fact my daughter in law was a bit late to service and so I found myself looking behind me to make sure I would not miss her when she arrived.

During that process, I noticed an young man behind me two rows back that I knew (he is the same age as my second son). I greeted him with a smile and a wave upon one of my checks for my daughter in law. Not soon after, she would arrive and the four of us would spend our time together in the presence of God. It is always one of my most cherished times with my family.

However, I could not stop thinking about the young man behind me. There he would stand, all alone. I see him alone a lot. I am aware he has family, a fairly good size family, but he alone comes to church and other activities in church. He has no visible support. He appears to be single in his pursuit of faith. My first thoughts were of complete thankfulness. Surrounded by my family, I felt so blessed. Next I could not stop thinking about the sweet young man behind me. His courage, his discipline, his strength. I wanted, as a mom, to wrap him up and make sure he knew that he is loved and how proud I was of him. I wanted to invite him to sit with us so he would not be alone. My mama heart broke as I believe so much in supporting my children in any way I can.

My take away from all this was simple. It is easy for us to get comfortable in our own family bubble. Extending a hand, supporting someone just because, takes effort. If I see this young man next week I am going to extend the invitation to sit with us. I am most definitely praying for him, and at the very least I plan to thank him for the grand example he is setting. He taught me so much in that intimate subtle moment and gave me pause to consider my own faith and how I walk it out.

Mamma of Men

I have been doing some serious reflecting in the last few months as many people have. Our world is continually moving and changing at a rate sometimes hard to keep up with. In times like these, I tend to focus on the things that matter the most. For me, God and family are at the very top. Thankfully, God never changes. His faithfulness is new every morning. He is my anchor and strength when I am weak. He is my guide and I know that I can count on Him even in times of trouble.

My family has been the center of my life for the past 25 years. First, when I married my farmer and then, by the arrival of children and the establishment of what would be my whole life for many years. the other night during a swim meet for my youngest child (who is really no longer a child) I had an epiphany of sorts as I revisited memories in my mind of all the times gone by. With 4 competitive swimmers over the last 12 years, coming to the pool always stirs things up for me. It is a reminder of great times. However, there have also been times of grief for me lately, mourning the things of yesterday that I so desperately want to hold on to because I am terrified of what is coming next.

My Wonderful Family

I took my role as “mamma” so very much to heart. I love being a mother. It is by far my greatest endeavor. If asked 22 years ago when I became a mother, what I would consider to be most important to me, my answer would most assuredly have been centered around personal goals. I had no idea what motherhood would entail and how much I would fall in love with my children. More importantly, as they grew, God would reveal to me how much what I was doing mattered and as a result I began to walk in a higher level of obedience and commitment to the call of raising children . I could see the need to be steadfast in my discipline, kind in my correction and I learned to love with forgiveness and joy. I accepted my call, reluctantly at times, exhausted all the time, but joyful in all things, because my purpose was clear. I was given the gift of stewarding children for the future.

All but one of my children are grown and have left the house to begin lives of their own. My oldest son was married just 6 months ago, my precious daughter will be married in May of this year, my next son has spread his wings, attending college 18 hours from home. And the bonus baby is about to start high school! Even he is becoming a fine young man. I have gained a daughter, will gain another son and they are all serving the Lord. Who could ask for more…

That has been my struggle. What is next, how to I know and when do I get there? And yet I am beginning to see what is next for me. My life of duty to my God and my family is changing. In the past year I have struggled deeply with this. My heart has ached for times past with so many unanswered questions flooding my mind. What happens to me??? Why do I feel so alone and left out?? What do I do now? I am not sure why it has taken me so much time to understand where God was taking me or why I have grieved my life of the past. However, that night, as I watched my youngest boy swim and communicated with my oldest boy about it, I realized something. I am still a mother! But now I have the honor to be a mother of men and women! And even as they have grown into adulthood, they still look to me for strength, reassurance and love.

Things are different. But my children have become all that I hoped for. I have the privilege of walking alongside them in the the goals and dreams God has now set before them. Stepping into this new chapter is a gift and a blessing! I find myself enthusiastically awaiting what comes next for me and eternally thankful for the patience given me by my family. The next chapter of motherhood looks to be full of adventure and I am ready to turn the page.

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR 13 YEAR OLD IS???

As the end of Summer has been approaching and school is beginning for many, I have been contemplating our life and all the changes we have endured as most people have. I have also been considering the things in our life that continue to be consistent. In such uncertain times it has been so good to have areas of life we can count on. Things that we know won’t change. Places we can go for solace and comfort as well as discipline and learning.

Wynn and his dad chopping corn silage this past weekend. He hauled wagons for dad all day.

My youngest boy Wynn has continued to grow and thrive(for the most part) despite COVID 19 and all that has come with it. One of the mainstays for him has been the farm and what it offers in terms of activity and consistency. He might argue with me some as I am speaking from and parent perspective and he is definitely a normal 13 year old. But, regardless of how this whole thing goes, I am confident that the major skills my boy will need to be productive, strong of spirit and mind as well as successful, he finds here every day on the farm.

Society today looks upon work as a means to an end. It is the thing we do so we can ultimately do something fun. It is not generally considered to be “fun”. Work here on the farm can be fun, but it can be hard too. However, in all of it there is value, and the opportunity to push oneself beyond just putting in time so as to move on to the real part of life. It is real life and there is a level of joy and satisfaction to be found there if one is taught to look. Furthermore, as one sows in to hard work, one shall reap great reward. Teaching our children to value the satisfaction and importance of hard work is paramount in developing the leaders of tomorrow.

Wynn cut hay earlier in the week as everyone else was working in other areas of the farm ans it needed to be done. He cut hay in this field after cutting another field earlier in the week. In farming there are things like hay that are time sensitive. Dry weather creates urgency and Wynn knows that.

This past week I witnessed my youngest son embracing the commitment of his birthright. He understood and answered the call to work beyond what he thought he could or would and help his family to accomplish what needed to be done. He sacrificed his video games, time with friends and all that goes with that because he was needed. In doing so he learned great lessons about the importance of helping others even when you don’t want to, working harder and longer than planned and experienced the true gratitude of family for a job well done and finished.

As a mom, I feel strongly that some of the best things we can do for our children will not be popular with them. They may protest, and sulk, only to be suprised by how the request will shift their perspective long term and open them up to all kinds of future opportunities. My Wynn is a good boy. He is obedient, respectful and true hearted. But that is learned. So, where is your 13 year old? Is he or she missing out on opportunity to grow. Take advantage of your options, no matter where you live and impact you child for eternity. Be unpopular, be strong and be what they truly need.

God is in the Details

On August 14th, 2020, my oldest son Wyatt married his “Sweets”. It was a romantic journey of two young high school sweethearts joining together in the presence of friends and family to commit to one another forever. We have all been blessed to witness a story like this throughout our lives.

The difference for me this time is that it was my boy marrying his girl and I was part of the story. Moreover, with the chaos of the times we are living in, we were forced to function in a level of flux like no other time in our world. As I sit back and contemplate all the processing, planning, re-planning, shifting, counting, cooking, shopping and crying that took place preparing for this wedding, I am so thankful to testify that God was in every detail. Sometimes in the moments of confusion about what decision to make and how to make it, we can forget that our God knew we would be here. More importantly, He knew we would need Him and He hoped we would call upon Him for help.

And so their journey begins………

Once out of the center of the wedding universe, I have been blessed to look back at all the times I called upon Him to rescue us from another hurdle, to make a way where there seemed to be no way. I am so very thankful to have a Savior to call upon for relief, guidance and comfort. So often we set out to do all things in our own strength, overlooking the power of the Almighty. His longing for our relationship is forgotten and yet, even in His word He clearly states, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7.

This day was important to so many. It proved to be a blessing beyond measure despite the controversies of the society we are currently living in. We were victorious in celebrating and honoring our God through union of these to beautiful people down to the very last tiny detail. Thank you God for being there.

The Bonus

In late 2006 God decided to grace me with a gift. I will profess that I had moments of sincere doubt about this gift from time to time during my pregnancy. In fact I shamefully admit that in the beginning I was challenged emotionally and grossly unsure if I was prepared for another child at 38 years of age. My youngest at the time was already 7! If I did anymore math I would quickly realize that I was just old and when this baby came I would be even older.

My Precious Wynn Before His First Swim Meet

On August 12, 2007, Wynn Edward Marshall Lawrence would enter the scene and shake everything up. The moment he was born my whole perspective on what it means to have a child when you least expect it changed. He witnessed to me on every level what the love of Christ looks like and taught me to trust God in a whole new way.

Fast forward and it is now 2020 and in a week Wynn will turn 13. And yes that means I am 52! But here is the thing. As my three other children are in the midst of adulthood, getting married, starting graduate school and college across the country, I am thankful and blessed to have Wynn. Moreover, he has shown me a level of love and compassion that can only be given to him by the Almighty. His tender comforting spirit and pure love for me has rescued me from days of despair and helped me to focus on what matters. The truth is, he is not a tag along, an oops, or a mistake. He is a true gift and will forever be my “BONUS”. Meet Wynn Lawrence….

Wade Patrick Walker

Born on election day in the year 2000, Wade Patrick Walker was a forced to be reckoned with. I used to say that as a small toddler, Wade was like the energizer bunny. He never stopped moving. His feet were moving before they hit the ground and if you did not have a hold on him you would be chasing him. Wade also added a new element to our family dynamic in that he was the third and with his arrival my farmer husband and I were officially outnumbered. He was born 360 days after his brother Wyatt and only two years and a half years after his sister. Yes, three children in 30 months.

When Wade hit the seen much became a blur for me as a mom. I have no idea how I survived those early years. Three under three, three in diapers, and th

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Wade is a college athlete as well, continuing his swimming career. I traveled to Maryland to watch him swim last Fall. It was the first time I saw him after he left for college.

ree beautiful bountiful bundles of joy. There are moments when I wish I could remember more. It is a clicque but time does fly and now those three are 21, 20 and 19. Life is still full.

We quickly understood that Wade was his own man. From day one he moved at record pace and when he began to speak, it become apparent to me that his intelligence level and creativity were leaps and bounds beyond my own. He would begin to share his thoughts and I would quickly realize that he was at least five steps ahead of my understanding when he started talking and that catching up with him would be a common thing.

Most important about my Wade is the anointing he has on his life. From a very young age (4 or 5), I realized that he had a unique heart and love for the LORD. His desire to seek and save the lost began as early as 1st grade and to this day, he is my evangelist. Always thinking deep and looking for ways to share the gospel, Wade is currently studying Pastoral Leadership at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

That leads to the other cray thing about Wade. From age 5 he has wanted to buy a motor home and see the world. I have known since then that Wade would be my traveler and adventurer. I am so very excited to see where God will take him and my heart is broken to see him go. I will share more on that in the future. For now I would like to introduce you to Wade Patrick Walker……

Wyatt Allen Douglas

Today I would like to introduce you to my oldest son Wyatt. When Wyatt was born I was bit unsure what I would do with a boy. I know that sounds heartless but please indulge me for a moment. Montana came first and with the exception of a father and now a husband I grew up around all girls. When this handsome big boy was born I was a bit tentative about my ability to care for him.

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Claire took this photo of Wyatt last year. It is one of my most favorites. It captures all about him that I love.

 

From the moment Wyatt arrived on the seen he was a force to be reckoned with and is, to this day. A natural born leader with a quiet focused presence, I admire him with every passing day. My hesitancy about him in the beginning was immediately an afterthought as I found myself head over heels in love with this big eyed adorable little boy, full of determination and drive. I have been blessed to be his mom and enjoyed watching him pursue his dreams. He is about to officially begin his life as a husband with his beautiful fiance Claire (my photographer) and I am excited for him.

I mentioned in my post last week on Montana, that life is changing much right now. Wyatt stepping out and becoming the man of his own house is something I knew would come and I thought I was prepared for it. Watching him care for his future wife, anticipating his life as a husband and father, I feel every emotion a human being can experience. He has been my heart for so long, as my first and oldest boy, and yet I know that letting him go is a must. Being Wyatt’s mother has taught me so much about what love really looks like. I am so proud of him.

He is currently studying Agricultural Economics/Animal Science at the University of Minnesota and will graduate a year early due to his diligence. One of my greatest joys has been watching him serve with his sister on the Junior National Hereford Board. He has been successful in all he has set his mind to becoming quite the cattleman despite his young age. The future for him is bright and though my role as his mom is changing by the day, my love for him continues to grow. I look forward to watching he and Claire¬† grow together. Both are big dreamers with many goals and a nonstop attitude. Their potential is endless. Meet my Wyatt…

 

Stir Fry Chicken

I have been making a version of this dish for many years and it has changed as I have grown as a cook. It is a mainstay in our home as it provides all the necessary nutritional needs for the family in one punch. My kids have always enjoyed this recipe but about two and half years ago it became important for an unexpected reason.

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This is my beautiful daughter-in-law to be Claire. She also happens to be my photographer! Check out her work at #clairemarjoriephotography

This Fall, my oldest son will be getting married and we are so very excited for him and his future bride. Claire my soon to be daughter-in-law is gluten intolerant and as their relationship has progressed, I have invested more and more time looking for options that she can eat when she is at the house. This recipe is her favorite. If I am making stir fry, I can count on an extra seat at the table. I have even thought of naming it Claire’s Stir Fry. She takes the leftovers to college with her and has since begun cooking it at home for her family. It has become a connecting point for me with her. She is a blessing to us every day and I am looking forward to officially adding another girl to the house.

The recipe is posted below along with my preparation photos. I hope this meal brings comfort to you and yours as it has for us.

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Montana Marie

I have been blessed with motherhood four times. Each child has brought me a new level of joy. When I had my first child I did wonder if there is anyway I could ever love something as much as I loved her. Then I had another and another and another…. It gave me great insight into the magnitude of God’s love and its ability to grow in us as we grow in Him. There is no way in my humanness that I could be capable of loving my children the way I do without God.

When Montana was born, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. Instantly, I heard God speak to me about her and the anointing on her life. That in her, He would accomplish much. All I can say in this moment is that He truly has. However, at the time I was so thankful for my sweet girl that I had prayed for. It was all I could do to just focus on not breaking her. Children do not come with instructions. They are given to us with the faith that we will be good stewards of what we have been blessed with. Little do we know in those early days what that will mean.

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Montana and I in Denver, CO. She is currently serving on the Junior National Hereford Board. I love this photo of us.

Montana is going to be 22 in a couple of weeks. She is soon to be a college graduate, with a double major in Political Science and Studio Art. She has been a three sport college athlete and will attend law school in the Fall. Most important, she loves the Lord and lives by His principles. She is my only girl. I am blessed to be her mamma (that is what she calls me). I have enjoyed the opportunity to watch her grow into the young woman she has become. I will talk about her often moving forward as she is a 5th of what makes life on earth a joy for me.

Parenting has taught me a great deal about what matters most in life. Becoming a parent was something I did because it made sense. I mean, of course I would have kids. It was what you did. Get married, have a family…. right. I have often said that I always believed I would love my children but I am to this day hopelessly in love with them and who they have become. I am approaching a new stage of parenthood and the adjustment has been grueling. Parenting adult children, watching them become independent, letting go, is hard. It is also, glorious to witness. Not sure how it’s possible to feel so much pain and so much joy all at once. It’s a mystery to me. And yet I am walking in it everyday right now. More on that later…….. for now, meet Montana Marie.

The Greatest Spice Ever!!!

I have been cooking with garlic for many many years. It is not applicable for everything but I find it hard not to use it almost all the time. There are several mediums for using garlic, meaning, we can just us a garlic salt or powder in items but as I have grown in confidence with my cooking I have advance to first a minced garlic that you can find in most grocery stores to fresh.

Once I found this product I am going to feature I have no desire to return to any of my old stand by’s as this is the best of both worlds. When first attempting fresh cloves, I found it cumbersome at times depending on how much time I had to make supper that day. Even though I loved the idea of using fresh, it was not always practical for me and my timeline. I am still a busy mom with much to do every day and mealtime is always a “pressure cooker” time of day for me.

Yet, sacrificing taste and flavor was not something I liked giving up. Now I don’t know about most of you, but I love Aldi grocery for most of my shopping. They are eco0O4A6477nomical, clean and offer most everything I need at an investment I can afford. They are bringing on new products all the time as the popularity has grown and this gem I discovered about 8 months ago.

In the fresh produce section I found a bag of fresh garlic cloves all peeled!!!! The best of both worlds. For all of my recipes I can grab as many out of the bag as I need, chop it up or use them whole, roasted, sauteed or baked and it delivers the flavor and aroma I am looking for. I have attached a photo for you of the bag I purchase. It is the best!