Earliest memories of what I wanted to be when I grew up probably date back to the middle 60's. Over the years I've chatted with many women, sharing their dreams of what they wanted their life to look like when they grew out of bell bottoms. Yes, I was on the tail end of the hippy era.
Today women are told they can do whatever you want. The motto for my early teen/teen years was 'we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never forget that I'm a woman'. Who sang that song? All this to say, I don't remember wanting to be anything but a wife and mother. I knew this would be the direction my life would take and I was thrilled to wait for that to happen. For how that story played out, you can find it in my book, Confessions of a Farmer's Daughter. A disclaimer before I go any further~~This is not a post about the work of women. Whether you are a SAHM or go off to a job you love everyday, women are hard workers wherever they find themselves. I have followed the dream and purpose for what I believed God called me to, and it will look different for each woman, single or married.
Rob and I are blessed beyond words for the four , five children( one in heaven from miscarriage), God granted to us. Early on we dedicated them to the Lord and we meant it. I suppose one of the hardest things I've done as a mother is to first raise them in a Christian home, which is not easy in today's culture. Beyond that, as they grew into teenagers and young adults, I did not try to hold them back in living the dream they felt called to. It is very cliche' to say 'let your children go'. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change anything, except maybe to parent better, and pray more. I have never wanted to be that 'mom' voice in my kids head that says 'what would mom think, if I did such and such,' unless it was to keep them from doing something stupid. What I want them to know and tried to live my life accordingly was that I loved God and His Word first and loved my neighbor. I wanted them to know beyond anything I did as a mother was not perfect, but I could pray to the Perfect One, who loves them more than I do. I let them go early on and tried not to intervene in absolutely every decision they were making. They came/come to us for advice and counsel, but the best advice I could give any parent today, would be to pray, pray, pray and pray some more. Hope and trust in Christ, don't hope in circumstances, don't hope in their good or bad choices, don't hope in anything else but God.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
All that to say, 2016 has been big for the Gates'. Our son Justin and his wife made us grandparents by giving us our first grandchild. They were married almost two years ago in the beautiful state of Wyoming. Ask me for pictures of Finely and I will be happy to share.
Our daughter Hannah was married to the love of her life after following her dreams of world travel, which I'm guessing are not over.
Our third child, Kelsey, we took 10+ years ago to a modeling agency, where we were told she could do runway modeling. She was always tall for her age, and she never saw the advantage until that day. At the time, our family was young and we chose not to pack her up and send her to NYC at such a young age, it would not have been wise for our family. But today, she proudly stands tall as her dream of modeling is taking place as I write this post. This opportunity 'found her' as she is reveling in being a model for a bridal gown/evening gown designer. My advice to her has been to be herself, and not let 'the devil wears Prada' to bother her(not the designer, who is fabulous) but others she may come in contact with. Her words to me were 'if nothing else comes of this weekend, I am very thankful and blessed for the opportunity.'(Recent pictures of Kelsey can be found on my FB page or Instagram under Sareh Nouri,)
Lauren is a senior and will be following her own dreams, whatever they may be. I'm finding it hard to shut my mouth and just let her 'do her own thing', within reason of course. She's the last and this time next year, the house will be eerily quiet, my guess is her dreams will take her to far flung places as well.
This is a long post, and I in NO WAYmean to be grandstanding. It is to remind myself of the blessings God has given, to encourage me and you to pray for our children and to see the dream of a little girl has been fulfilled. I'm meant to be a wife and mom.
Words escape me as I continue to process and recuperate from a week filled with family, friends, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and wedding of Hannah and Kevin. This mom dreamed about these days a long time ago. I still can't believe I have the privilege of having Justin, Hannah, Kelsey and Lauren as my children and now beautiful young adults. I know beautiful is a strange word for children, but I am beyond blessed with these four who two now have spouses. The following pictures are not the best, but they do capture the emotions of the moment. Better pictures to come, but for today, I needed to share what the past week+ looked like for this beyond blessed wife and mother. This girl, my sister-in-law Judy, along with my nephew, Cody, arrived in NY from AZ before anyone else did. She has been like a second mom to Hannah while living in Phoenix. I know I'd be in the funny farm if it weren't for the behind the scenes work she did. There has to be another word for 'thank you', but I don't know what it would be, so will do for now.A highlight of our week, was the arrival of the McCoy family, who entered Hannah's life on her many travels. Her irish family became our family! Son Matt, mom Lorraine, daughter Cara, dad Noel. Watch out Ireland, you may have Gates visiting in the future!!Hannah's bridal shower was held late in the week since she wasn't able to make a trip home just for this, so it was a packed full week of celebrating. My mom, sisters, nieces and daughters celebrated with Judy, taking the picture I'm sure, along with friends and family from Kevin's side and college friends. Grandma Jan, Rob's mom, and her husband Art, also made the trip from AZ! Cody read Scripture at the ceremony, all decked out for the big day!I absolutely love this picture of my sister Julie, and my brother-in-law David. Some of my favorite people!! They took a train along with their daughter Peyton, from Iowa to New York City, making their way back to Syracuse for the wedding. They along with my sister Janet, niece Allison and my mom kept me sane on 'baking day' for the shower. 10+ people in the kitchen and dining room almost sent me to the funny farm.I know Hannah, you're not looking at the camera, but I promise better pictures will follow.I don't know what I would have done this last week withoutthis guy by my side as we prepared to agree together when he said 'her mother and I '. He was my best friend before he was anything else and has remained so for 30+ years. Seasons of life are ever-changing but the foundation of friendship has carried us through as well as our mutual love of God. I know Hannah has found her new husband to be the same kind of man and friend. That is my prayer for all my children and all my single friends and relatives.Happy to highly recommend Bloomin Gals Bouquets in Marcellus, New York and Dickey's Barbecue in Cortland, New York. Professional photos by Kate and Courtney at http://www.inlovenessphotography.comStay tuned for more pictures..or not if you've seen enough!! Haha
Today will no doubt be my last day of playing with a full deck as my brain is full of wedding plans and beloved family members begin their trek to Lafayette for the wedding of this girl. She makes me laugh when she commented on this post, wanting to know when she makes her debut on my blog. Here ya go Hannah. Not to worry Justin and Lauren, you too will be talked about in the coming months and year. Although I try not make a habit about writing about my family, they may want to tell their own stories someday, but my blessed gifts from Heaven have made me the person I am today...we grew up together.
I remember this day well, Justin was a toddler, Hannah was not far behind her big brother as we strolled through Sea World in San Diego. The trip didn't go as planned, they were too young to enjoy the seals, and many of the rides and shows we adults came to see. To this day, Hannah does a lot of pondering, but she doesn't chew on her fingers anymore, that I know of. If you've read my book, you know Hannah was saved a couple of times before she was even born. I won't give it away, you can read it in Confessions of a Farmer's Daughter.
Hannah was engaged to be married on Christmas Eve and a wedding/party has been in the works since then. Thankfully, it has come together with many helping hands and brains to make this a blessed day. She has gone to college, worked at a couple of jobs, and travelled the world. You can read about that time in her life here at Global Wanderings...which I highly recommend, she has a beautiful take on the world around her.
A highlight of spending time with Hannah was when we drove in her little car across country from New York to Phoenix, AZ where she would live with family and work. This day was very early, foggy, and I almost didn't make the trip with her. But beyond grateful I had her undivided attention for a week. We were still friends by the time we pulled into Grandma's driveway and our time together is etched on my heart.
She will soon leave and cleave, beginning her life with her beloved Kevin. But this past Mother's Day, a dream came true I have dreamt about since that day at Sea World. She wrote in my card, thanking me for mothering her, but also for being a friend to her. And bottom line, I am not sad the intentional, hard-working days of mothering are over. I was called a long time ago to be a wife and mom, I did that and now my mothering role will look different for my adult children who are taking their own adventures and making a life they are called to.
I have many family and friends who are hardworking, beautiful mothers. If I could leave you with onetwo three tips for raising a family, it would be to always pray,pray without ceasing for the gifts God has given you in your children. Always depend on our Great God for everything you need as a mother. Nothing is impossible with God wherever you may find yourself as a mom today. God knows. He loves our children MORE than we ever could. Entrust them to His loving care and love your kids to the moon and back. Lastly, let them go, even at a young age, to explore, play, work, and fall down on their own. Let little ones figure out how to problem solve, how to get along with others, and allow them to find out for themselves what God has planned for their lives.
Check back soon for pictures of the bride and groom.