Fixin Fence

As a mother, I thank God everyday for the love and health of my children. I am humbled to watch them grow and walk along side and witness God’s hand in molding who they each are to become. I was reminded of this the other day when we got a call to check one of the pastures we have cattle on, as there was a report of a hole in the fence. A calf had ventured out and gotten herself into trouble eating the ditch grass on the wrong side of the fence. After a quick trip to the pasture the problem was remedied but the hole in the fence was not. Of course my “Man of the North” was working the other farm and unavailable. So as is most days the burden falls to my oldest son.  He has become my mainstay in times of need.

Wyatt in PastureHome I went to gather him up along with the fencing supplies and off we were to fix the fence. If you have cattle you understand that fixing fence is a never-ending process. What struck me this day was not the fence fixing but the opportunity to witness the pure joy of one of my children living his dream. My son Wyatt has made it very clear that he is destined to be a cattleman. He lives, sleeps and breathes cattle.

Now on this day while we had no choice to but to deal with this situation, we were truly over committed with other duties the did not involve fixing fence. It was an unplanned event in our schedule and for that reason I was in a hurry. Fence is done let’s move on to our next task. After all, I am the task master, that is my job. Wyatt made it clear to me on this beautiful afternoon that his job is cattle. On our way back to the truck, he made a detour for the cows. “Mom, we are here and I need to walk through the cows. It’s my job to make sure they are all okay. Dad would expect it.”

That was it! Expectation! My husband and I have set expectations of excellence for our children since the day they were born. With the pure purpose being, to establish a clear understanding of what excellence actually looks and feels like, so that when we are not there to encourage them, they will be empowered to encourage themselves and those around them. My experience has been that even when we set the bar high for our children, they far exceed our expectations with their own and in doing so are developing a sense of confidence in what they are truly capable of.

And I got all that just “Fixin Fence”.  Make it a great Monday and God Bless.

The Gift Of Play

My handsome son Wade.

My handsome son Wade.

Several years ago when my second son Wade was about 5 years old he and I had an interesting discussion that I was reminded of the other day. I think it is worth sharing.  He and I were having a chat about God and the gifts that He graciously bestows on each of us as He directs our purpose here on earth.  At the time I was so delighted by the mature insight of my five year old and also brought to tears of laughter by his comments.  He told me that he had a pretty good idea what everyone in our family’s gifting was.  He stated that his sister had artistic gifts, among may others, that his older brother had the gift of athletics and driving tractors. His father had the gift of work and I the gift of cooking.  I asked him what he felt his gifting was and with a deep sigh he looked at me in complete seriousness and said, “Mom, I have the gift of play.”  At the time  I really thought this statement was not only humorous but potentially challenging for me as a mother when it came time to motivate him later.

It has in fact been the opposite.  Little did I know that two years after this conversation, my husband an I would be blessed with another child, a boy, seven years younger than my Wade.  Wynn is constantly after his older siblings to “play” with him as he is now six and they are 15, 14 and 13.  Wade has assumed the role of his primary playmate over the years and I know that without Wade, my life as a mother would be much more challenging. Wade is using his gift each and everyday to love on his baby brother and he desires nothing more than to care for him in every way.

Additionally, Wade’s “gift of play” has influenced us all as he reminds us of the necessity to stop running and just for a moment, spend some time playing and pretending and dreaming. His gifting is so much more than superficial time with toys.  His gifting is the essence of what makes him pure and real and an absolute joy to be around.  I have learned through this experience how important all the gifts our children are given make them into the people God would have them become.  Most of all I have learned that we are never too old to take a minute out of the busyness of life to play.

Sunday Afternoons

Sunday AfternoonsWhen I moved to Minnesota nearly 19 years ago, I anticipated that there would be an element of culture shock.  I expected to learn things from my new state of residence and that adjustments to things like winter would take some time. What I did not expect was to be so encouraged by a traditional lifestyle form that would change my view on many things and give me a great sense of belonging for certain aspects of my new life.

One of those things is Sunday afternoons, and as I was preparing for our weekly gathering yesterday I was reminded  of how much I truly love dinner on Sunday. Now you are probably thinking, what are you talking about.  You see, I grew up in California in a loving healthy family, but even with that, we did not have a traditional dinner on Sunday after church.  Soon after accepting Christ as my savior, marrying the man of my dreams and moving to the frozen tundra, I became exposed to “Dinner on Sunday”.

It generally involves family and friends, mountains of  food, laughter, love and long conversations about life.  It truly feeds my soul and allows me to serve others in the process.  And I realized yesterday that it is one of the things about midwestern culture that has become a deep part of who I am today.  I am so thankful that our house has become a place that people gather in for this tradition.  Moreover, the fact that my parents are now Minnesotans allows me to envelope them in this cultural tradition and share the richness of what it means to be surrounded by people you love.

I want to encourage you to find time for Sunday afternoons in your life.  Don’t worry about the house projects, the bills, the laundry,(it will all be there on Sunday night).  Instead commit to take a brief pause one afternoon a week and soak up the love of those you care about the most, oh and eat too!!

Timing

Clocks-300x225Ever wish you had more time??? I mean unlimited time and freedom, no restrictions, no appointments, no anxiety about how and when you will have enough time to get everything done you need to do.  I bet everyone of you would say YES!!! Everyday I wish I had more time.    I believe it to be an obsession we have, all of us, with time.  An addiction really.

We want more and more and more.  If I just had five more minutes, or if I could figure out a way to get out of this so I can go do that.  Or, I am sorry but I am out of time and I have to be very careful that I don’t get over committed.  Sounds grossly unhealthy doesn’t it.  And yet , most of us operate in this mode of functionality, completely at the mercy of our time schedule.

Okay I am sure you are wondering, where am I going with this.  Well, for the first time in a long while my whole family, including my “Man Of The North” are home this glorious Saturday with no commitments or appointments and I have been witnessing the sheer turmoil created by all this available time and the struggle with how to fill it up.  Everyone of us is in a quagmire of how to use this precious gift of  “time” on a Saturday, panicked that it will sneak away and we will have nothing to show for it.  It is quite humorous actually, not to mention really sad.  My fourteen year old daughter is so distraught over how to use her time today that she is paralyzed in her own space continuum.

After suffering through the agony of watching her I finally sent her outside with a directive to share with her brothers.  Go out and begin by breathing in the fresh air, and then do something that makes you happy.  Not something you need to do but something you want to do.  Don’t come back in until you can breathe freely and have found the true joy that is missing from your heart.

Here’s the thing.  I know that all of my children will accomplish great things that need to be done in the yard and around the farm while they are outside finding their lost joy.  What I hope they lose, is track of  time.  All of us need to remember a couple of things.  First God is in charge of all the time in the world.  And he is our constant source of joy, peace and love.  All of which exist in every minute of every day. His timing in our moments is all that really matters and his timing is perfect.  Enjoying our moments, regardless of how they fit together in our monstrous, out of control schedules is completely available to us through Him.  He is our constant, He is the breath of life, in Him, is our ability to manage our time and in Him, is our peace regardless of the “time of life “we are in.

So today, try something “out of the box” and breathe deep, laugh loud and even lose track of time.  He will make your paths straight.  Honor God, give time back to the master clock maker.

Sewing Treasures In Heaven

39_Montana (1)I realize I was indulgent last night in posting my daughters original oratory.  I believe so much in the philosophy of fostering the gifts of your children.  It is so important to empower them to recognize the gifts they have been given by the Almighty and assist them in becoming all that He would have them be through the use of their gift.

My daughter loves speech.  She can hear the Lord speak to her and put it down on paper in such a way that allows her to communicate His words and inspire those around her. For that I am truly thankful.  I just randomly decided to post her speech for all to see last night  without knowing that tonight would be the high school speech team banquet.

Montana did suffer major rejection during competition due to the subject matter she chose to deliver. Passionate and heartfelt, her speech was well received by fellow teammates, competitors and coaches.  Everyone but the judges.  It was agonizing to watch at times as she would hope for worldly reward only to be criticized for choosing to talk about God.  I spent many evenings reminding her that she is sewing treasures in heaven.  Witnessing the love of Christ to all.

At the conclusion of the season she has come full circle and was awarded by her teammates tonight the “Mother Theresa” award.  Her team captain proclaimed to all that she is the nicest person he has ever met, with courage and conviction.  I have learned so much through this parenting process.  Her gift is real and pure and from above and her influence is significant and I am humbled and blessed to be her mother.

The Day In The Life Of A Farm Wife

When I married my “Man Of The North” and moved to Minnesota almost 16 years ago I had this romantic idea of what it would be like to be married to a farmer.  I loved the idea of raising children on the farm, spending time working side by side with the man I love and doing anything and everything to make life the very best it could be “On The Farm”

Now four children and 16 years later I had a moment today that made take stock of my initial outlook of life on the farm.  If you would indulge me I will share my day with you.  I woke at 4:45am to wake my husband for his day and my oldest son as well.  Today, Wyatt would be going to the sod farm with his father to help with the seeding that is behind.  So as they head out the door at 5:15am I finish of the dishes and house cleaning from the night before and begin preparing for the rest of the day.  At 6:45am I woke my daughter for swim practice and finished loading the laundry in the car (the washer is broken) to take to the laundromat.

I drop Montana at the pool at 7:15am and then sort and start 7 loads of laundry all completed and back in the car by 8:45am and off to my business appointment at 9am.  By 10:30am I am picking Montana up from the pool and headed home to do the chores with the show cattle.  Once the kids have started chores, I loaded the broken baler belts in the car to drop at John Deere and pick some bale wrap for the hired man who was baling hay in one of our fields.

Home again baby down for nap and just settling in to my work on the computer when the phone rings.  It’s my “Man Of The North”!  The tractor has a flat tire in the field and I have to gather the appropriate tools and help the hired man get it off, get it fixed and get it back on so he can finish baling the hay before the rain.  I just finished that project.  And now it is time for evening chores and supper.

Tell me, where did the day go? Did I get anything done?  I am not sure. But one thing I do know for sure is that I get the farm wife medal today.  And my idealistic romantic outlook about farm life is intact.  I love my life.

Saying Goodbye

I just said good-bye this morning to my mom and dad after a wonderful 2 week visit.  We have been anticipating this two-week time for months with a laundry list of things to see and do and more importantly the opportunity to soak each other up after such a long time apart.

It’s hard to say good-bye.  I have gotten really good at it over the years as I live so far away now and with every visit there is an ultimate good-bye.  But today hurts.  I can’t tell you why exactly.  I just feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest.  Family is my life blood.  God made me that way and that is why I am so committed to my children and husband.  But it all started with my mom and my daddy.  Having them here gave me the best of both and it is hard to let that go. 

If you are blessed to have a family of any kind, do me a favor today and be intentional.  Tell them how much they mean to you.  Hug them and give them your best.  They should be the most important people in your life.  And they need to know that.  I love you mom and dad.  Come back soon…….

The Back Story

I actually wrote this entry about a year ago and never published it.  It’s funny how God can give something and you write it down cast it aside thinking it wasn’t that important, only to have Him bring you full circle.  This entry is a back story…..Please read it with that in mind.  I will be sharing the “Rest of the Story”  in a couple of days.

How passionate are you about your life???  What matters most to you when you wake and when you lay down at night?  What are you hoping for? What are you looking forward too?Everyone is looking… aren’t they, for the “IT” factor, for satisfaction, for love, life, liberty and happiness.  I, like most have spent my utter lifetime in search of God’s intentions for me only to wind up chasing my tail.  And then today it hit me like a lightening bolt.

I have been in the cattle trailer for two days, wet to my knees in jeans in the middle of the summer with a scrub brush in hand, my oldest son (rubber boots and all) at my side
scrubbing.  Scrubbing the entire thing from top to bottom with the feeling that the job will never end.  And whatever for you might ask ??????

Well that is the epiphany you see!!! Because we are passionate. Passionate about our industry, passionate about what we teach our children, passionate about our current lifestyle, and most important, passionate about the future.

My husband and I manage a purebred Hereford cattle operation for the family business. My handsome, stoic, hardworking, loving husband is a cattleman and a farmer.   And I am his wife.  I love being his wife. I am also a mother to four gloriously beautiful children.  In the past few weeks I have come to understand the true gift that they are and that they are only on loan for a brief time while they grow and develop into gifted adults that, I pray, will be used for great things.  Motherhood never had so much significance.  How you might ask does this connect to the scrubbing the cattle trailer?

Currently, we are tirelessly scrubbing to prepare for a trip we will take with cattle in tow to the heart of Minneapolis tomorrow.  Our family has been asked to represent our breed during a large sales meeting for a national food company.  We’ve not only been scrubbing trailers, but cattle, panels, feed bunks, everything. I am exhausted and so are my children and yet I realized as I was finishing the floor of the trailer, which has taken two days and is just about clean enough to eat off of, that we do all we do for our industry because we
believe in it .  Not just a little bit, but with every ounce of our very being.  And as my
children look at me forlorn and disappointed when I send them out on day two to
complete our tasks I find my self side by side with them wanting to teach them through this experience, the importance of commitment and belief.  That all things important require that little extra.

My daughter said to me, “Why mamma, why do we have to spend so much time?”  And I replied, “Because when these shiny clean animals walk off this shiny clean sliver trailer into their beautiful freshly mulched pen those coming to see them will know that we love our animals, that we care for them and that we BELIEVE in what we do.”  And I watched the light come on in her face. Yes, she got it!

And then I stood back and watched them play and laugh and find joy in their work, because they BELIEVE  in what they represent.  And trust me the work is hard, real hard.  But from belief in a task comes belief in oneself.  So tomorrow, when we take the honor of representing what we believe in it is my prayer that those we come in contact with will see the essence of who we are and what we love.  And that my children will understand the gift of hard work.

Proverbs 16:3  Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.

The Essence Of Life

Had the opportunity to have some professional photos taken of the kids yesterday and then got to see some of the shots this morning. 

Ever have a moment in your life that takes your breath away.  That when it happens everything else going on around you, all of a sudden doesn’t matter because God gently knocks you over the head, gets your attention and whispers to you “This is the essence of your life.”  When I saw this photograph today, everything came into focus.   Thank you Lord for all your gifts big and small.  These four people make my life more than I ever imagined possible.

A Cut Above

I have always been a goal setter.  It motivates me to work harder and press in when things are not going just the way I planned.  Combining that with my faith in the will of God is the only thing that helps me to stay functional and sane.  As an adult, I  have life experience to depend on during those times when my goal is just out of reach and that aids me in re-evaluating and setting revised goals.  But as a parent, teaching children the value and benefit of goal setting, I was faced with a tremendous challenge this past weekend.

As I mentioned in my prior post, my three older children are competitive swimmers.  This past weekend, my daughter Montana and my oldest son Wyatt, participated in their end of the season finals.  Swimmers compete in finals with the ultimate goal of reaching their best time for the season.  In addition, swimmers have the opportunity to qualify for the state meet.  State qualifying times are challenging and require committment.  My son Wyatt, set goals to establish himself well in his new age group(11-12) so as to position himself to potentially qualify for the summer state meet.  He accomplished his goal.  My daughter Montana, has been competing all season with the goal of qualifying as an individual in one event for the state meet.  Going into the meet on Saturday, Montana was .78 hundredths of a second from a qualifying time in her 100 backstroke. 

On Saturday afternoon, on a very quiet drive home, after two attempts, the result was 0-2.  Montana was devastated and so was I.  Now please understand, I was not disappointed in her, but for her.  I knew how much this goal ment to her, and there was nothing I could do.  She was inconsolable and no level of encouragement was affective.  We were so proud of her for her committment and effort and we had the benefit of life experience that tells us…..next time, it’s not the end of the world, and so on. 

My daughter swam her first highschool season this year with great success and her club season up to this point was considered to be as accomplished.   She had met all of her intermediate goals throughout the entire season, and in most cases had exceeded her goal.  But for Montana, at this moment in time, none of that mattered.  And in all my training and life experience, I was at a complete loss.  Worse yet, we still had an entire day of swimming to get through on Sunday.

With a deeply troubled spirit, I lay my head down on Saturday night and prayed earnestly for my daughter. God, give me wisdom in this situation to be what she needs when she needs it.  And when I fall short, may you hold her in your holy hand and let her know that your love is all she needs.

Another early morning ensued on Sunday, and due to scheduling issues just Montana, Wyatt and I went to the meet on that morning.  My “Man Of The North” and my other two boys stayed home to honor another committment.  On our way to the pool that morning, we began an impromptu conversation about the gifts we receive from God both physical and spiritual and how they drive the heart of who we are.  Walking in boldness and strength while working in our gifts is what allows us to present our very best in life.  When we have a relationship with Christ, we operate in His power and grace not our own.  All of the sudden, the three of us had an aha moment. And I watched the light go on in Montana.  We arrived at the swim meet refreshed and ready to leave Saturday behind and give our very best to the day ahead.

Wyatt continued to cut time in every race and he positioned himself for future success.  And Montana……Well, now for the rest of the story.  Scheduled to swim four races Sunday, she swam best times all morning including an unbelievable cut time in her 100 freestyle that witnessed to me that she was fully operational in her gift.  Just after that race she came to me in the stands, looked across the bleacher seat and said, “Mamma, I need to talk to you right now.”  She proceeded to explain that her coach, upon witnessing her last race, would like to scratch her final scheduled race and time trial her in the 100 backstroke one more time, if I approve. 

The moment of truth.  What do I say.  I don’t want her to be sad one more minute and this definitely has the potential to end in sadness.  And then I knew.  It wasn’t my decision.  “What do you want to do?” I said.  “I want to do it,” she said.  “Are you sure?”  I said.  “Yes, I want to do it.”  “Okay,” I said, “Then I think you should.”  Between that conversation and the time of the race (about 2 1/2 hours) I did not speak to Montana again.

She jumped in the water for the start and as she took her mark, I asked the Lord that no matter what the clock said at the conclusion, Montana would know that she had given her very best.  As I have reflected upon this race the last couple of days, I have come to appreciate the opportunity God gifted me with that day to witness my child accomplishing her goal.  With strength, boldness and grace Montana was a cut above.

My Montana