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.

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.

Windowsill Rock Garden

I have been doing quite a bit of purging in the house this past week.  We have company coming and that always inspires me to step it up and go through things that I have been meaning to go through for entirely too long.  Additionally, I am desperate to get a handle on the clutter in my life in an effort to be more organized and efficient.

I have to admit that I am not the best housekeeper in the world, as shameful as that sounds and sometimes I am down right BAD.  But most of the time I can maintain partial space with a great gift to accomplish much under pressure.  That is where I find myself this week as our “Out of Town” guests will be arriving tomorrow and I have been frantically working to remedy months of clutter in one week.

I did not think I was going to make it.  I still need the morning to wrap things up but that being said, the places I aimed to declutter look better than they have in a while and I have a fresh new desire to continue this new trend and become completely clutter free.  I will let you know how it goes.

What is interesting about my process this week that made me think a bit, was my kitchen windowsill.  I went through the kitchen to some degree, as well as every other room in the house.  But the kitchen window, well, it’s, well, cluttered.  Cluttered with rocks.  You see every rock that my children have found, you know, “Look mommy at this pretty rock I found,” or “Mommy I brought you this rock from my field trip,” or “Mommy when I saw this rock I knew you would want it for your collection.”

My Windowsill

My collection.  Yes, you could legitimately call it “A Collection” at this point. I just don’t have the heart to get rid of them.  In fact I added two more to the sill this week. To most it’s just a big pile of rocks.  To me, it represents all the times my children have thought about their mommy.  I represents and validates my role as the mommy.  The parts I managed to get right.  I love my windowsill rock garden.  It fills my heart and soul and declutters my mind.  It reminds me of my priorities, and fills me with pure joy.  And that leads me to my conclusion……Some clutter is GOOD.

My Protector

This Is Wyatt's Flower. I Have Kept It On My Dresser Since The Day he Gave It To Me.

It’s funny how you can be going along in life, taking everything for granted and then BOOM! you get hit with something you never anticipated and life suddenly becomes altered in a way that makes you take stock of all you are, all you have and all you could be.

I have suffered from a severe illness over the past few weeks that led to hospitalization.  In an effort to fight the good fight, as most of us normal moms do, I avoided common sense and figured it would eventually go away.  It didn’t.  But that is just the back story to what I really want to say.

My time in the hospital was a direct result of my oldest boy Wyatt.  Watching me in my illness he became proactive and rescued his mother from herself.  I am home now, recovering well, and thankful for my Wyatt.  But this process, gave me pause to contemplate and develop a deep appreciation for the natural gift of honor and valor that he lives by every day.

From the time he could talk, he would remind me every day that he loved his father but I, was his favorite.  He would look up at me with those HUGE eyes of his and say, “Mommy, you’ re the best.”  At age 5 he brought me breakfast in bed, and I still remember, as he took time to go outside to the blooming hydrangea and cut one to put on the tray.  I heard him go outside, and I jumped out of bed and watched from the upstairs window as he walked across the drive to the barn, cut the flower, placed it in the vase and gingerly carried it back to the house.  And then, my first night home from the hospital, he sat at my bedside with deeply concerned eyes and said, “Momma, you will never know how worried I was.”  It was in that moment, I realized how truly blessed I am to be Wyatt’s mother.  He is my rescuer and my protector when my “Man Of The North” is away.  And he loves me more than I deserve.  

I know that Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and I encourage you to honor your mother, for she gave you the gift of life.  But then,  take time to hug your children tight and thank your heavenly father for the blessing of motherhood.

The Climb

I was having a casual conversation with a close friend today about the ins and outs of motherhood and my role as a wife and as we laughed together about those things we hold in common I thought to myself, I bet we are not alone.

Now hopefully you all know by now that I have a family of six (including myself) that I have been blessed to care for.  And I do mean blessed.  But despite my feelings of joy over the duties I am responsible for each and every day there are brief moments in my life when I question the adequacy of my capabilities and I truly wonder if God knew what He was doing when He retained my services for this position.

Laundry is by far my biggest nemesis in the area of housework.  I could never wash another pair of underwear and it would be too soon.  I am always behind,and the mountain of clothing is so high that the air gets thin at the top.  I have tried all kinds of suggestions and “tricks” of the trade to be more efficient and yet I still feel like most times I am a complete failure in this area.  And then I did the math.

What do you mean, you might be asking……Well I decided that I needed to understand the source of my Mt Everest if I was ever going to have the chance of reaching the summit.  I have six people in my family and every one of them wears at least one outfit per day.  Well then I multiplied that number by seven and I came up with 42 outfits per week!  That doesn’t count towels or pajamas or sheets.  Things were adding up fast and I began to realize the gravity of my situation.  No wonder I am always buried.

Interestingly enough, I found a level of peace and less criticism of my performance based on the sheer numbers I have been dealing with all this time.  I have given myself permission to admire my mountain of laundry from afar on the days when I just can’t get to it with the self-assurance that it will be there tomorrow, just as tall (if not taller) and just as ominous as it was the day before.

More importantly I am choosing to view my laundry as a reflection of the productivity of my household.  My children are active, productive, and dive into all that they do with gusto. As a result, they get dirty.  This fact alone brings me joy and contentment.  I have always told my children that they can determine the quality of their day by how much dirt they have on their jeans.  My laundry pile certainly supports that theory.

All in all, when I sum it all up, I realize that laundry is and will always be a part of my life.  And as one song writer recently said, there will always be another mountain.  It’s about the climb.

Hide And Seek

In the past few weeks my three-year old has taken to the age-old game of “Hide and Seek”.  Every time we head up the stairs for a nap or a potty break he dashes ahead with the single goal of reaching a place to hide before I enter the room. 

Yesterday was no different as I carried a basket of clean laundry up with me to put away, I could hear my precious child scrambling for a place to hide.  Typically, he is just behind the door or tucked under the bed, but on this day he got creative and it took me a minute to find him and it made me giggle.  All I can say is a picture is worth a thousand words sometimes and so I took one.

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… 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

Building Bricks Of Strong Character

My Wade Swimming The Breaststroke

I know that I spend a lot of time on this blog discussing my family.  I love my family as a unit and as individuals.  Each one of my children is a unique creation that I find challenging and fascinating to relate to on an everyday basis.  I have always been dumbfounded by the fact that even with four children from the same mother and father they are all so very different in their personalities and their way of handling life’s situations.

My son Wade, third in the birth order gave me a glimpse into his true character this past weekend that I felt was worth sharing.  I preface this story by letting you know a few key things about Wade and his general mode of operation.  He has an extensive imagination that constantly amazes me.  He can build anything out of nothing just by visualizing it in his head.  His faith in God is pure and childlike and he believes that God is ever-present and at the ready whenever he goes to him in prayer.  He is bold, forthright and genuine.  Sometimes, despite all of his wonderful qualities, he can lack self motivation.  He tends to be more incentive driven.  Yet this weekend, he changed my mind a bit.

I believe with all of my heart that developing strong character in our children is primary and relates directly with the consistency of their faith.  Of all the things we as parents struggle to impart to our children, faith and character will keep them alive in the dog eat dog world of today.  Wade crossed a milestone this weekend that made me delighted to be his mom.

My three older children are competitive swimmers.  I spend a large part of everyday of my life as a mother driving to and from the swimming pool.  My Wade has been swimming for two long years an average of 7500 yards per week and for the first time, qualified for finals.  My  man of the north and I made sure to make him aware of how proud we were for his effort and accomplishment.  My other two children have seen more success sooner and Wade has gone to practice day in and day out with very little reward.  “THIS WAS HIS WEEKEND.”  Then….. the unthinkable happened.  The night before his meet he got terribly sick with a flu-like cold.

Devastated for him, I made it clear to him that if he was unable to compete we as his parents were in full support.  His only statement to me, through the mucous ridden, droopy eyed, feverish condition was, “I’m goin’ mom.”  I anticipated his condition to be worse by morning but, nonetheless, sent him to bed and prayed for a miracle. Morning came with no relief in the cold and no less determination from Wade to participate in his meet.  I remember asking again and again, “Are you sure,” doing my best to give him permission to bow out.  No Deal.

I decided then, to go on the offense and do my best to relieve all the symptoms I could for him.  Then, I packed the car, the lunch, the other kids and the husband and off we went.  In an effort to wrap this story up, I will just tell you that Wade swam every race he was entered in.  He finished them all, with no significant improvement in his times, but he finished.  Exhausted, disappointed and sick, he wrapped up his day and we headed home.

But this is the thing.  Wade decided not to quit.  He knew going in that his performance would probably be sub par due to his sickness.  He swam anyway!  This is more than any mom could hope for. I got the chance to see right into the essence of his character and I was uplifted by what was there.  It was in that moment that I made sure to encourage him for his fortitude and committment and I reminded him that for those who don’t quit, that stick to it no matter what,  there is great reward.