Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Last Sunday, I was prepared to write a column about why kids shouldn’t participate in 4-H. It was a hot day on the first morning of the Phelps County Fair, and things were not going well.

My daughter had already cried about the fashion show the previous week, and my son had lost his 4-H model rocket in a cornfield during a test launch.

I was not looking forward to a week of watching kids lead stinky animals around an arena, and for what reason? I didn’t grow up with 4-H animals (except for a few years of showing my large, untamed dog). I am a 4-H outsider, and I often don’t understand it.

While some moms love spending the day in a pig barn visiting with passersby, that’s the last place I want to be on a hot summer day. There are so many rules and traditions that I don’t yet understand, but here’s what I do know.

By the end of the week, it made more sense. Grandparents and relatives from near and far came to watch the kids show animals and to enjoy the carnival rides, face painting and funnel cakes. It was actually fun!

But, most of all, I realized that the fair brought families together. I saw 4-H moms, dads and kids all working together to clean animal pens, serve snow cones and volunteer for just about everything. Many 4-H volunteers, including my husband, take a week away from work just to volunteer! It’s hard work, but families are working together.


Not sitting in separate rooms playing games on the Ipad, watching “The Middle” in the living room and checking email in the office. To truly appreciate the work, you would have to witness the fair clean-up in the hour after the auction ends. While it’s probably everybody’s least favorite part of the fair, it’s incredible to see hundreds of 4-H kids and parents grab shovels and brooms and clean sheep barns, pig pens, rabbit cages and the cattle building.

And, while some parts of the fair still seem “unfair” and don’t make sense to me, it ended up being a positive overall experience, and the kids learned a few valuable life lessons throughout the week:

  • Enjoy the journey. Yes, my daughter was somewhat disappointed with the blue ribbon she earned on the dress she sewed. But, she did enjoy the 13 hours she spent with grandma this summer making the dress and a matching purse. And, now she has a cute new dress to wear!
  • Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Every time a group of kids enters the show ring with their animal, someone is first in class and someone is last. That’s a lot of firsts and lasts and a lot of chances for kids to learn how to win humbly and lose gracefully.
  • Learn from your mistakes. After my son and I spent many hours working together on his rocket this summer, it got lost in a 12-foot-tall cornfield on its first test launch before the fair. But, compared to all the work and money put into the Challenger space shuttle and the lives lost when it exploded on its launch, the model rocket was nothing. My son was able to build another rocket and complete his project.
  • You grow from being pushed outside your comfort zone. My oldest son earned the opportunity to be in a senior showmanship competition to show pigs, sheep, cattle and goats. He had never shown cattle or goats before and was begging to not be in the competition. But looking back on the fair, he said that was his favorite part. He left with a new sense of confidence.
  • Work hard and then play. Dairy Queen blizzards and Lake Mac! After the hard work is done, the fun begins!

Sozo American Cuisine

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, a mother of three children and farm wife living in South-Central Nebraska. She puts her creative skills to use as editor of Nebraska Family Magazine at and helps non-profits and small businesses share their stories in her public relations business, KRJPR.

“Do You Still Want the China?”

In: Grief, Living
Grandmother and young granddaughter

My grandmother sits in the same plush chair that my grandfather sat in before he passed. The red reclining chair, next to the old brick fireplace where an oversized picture of our extended family smiles down from the mantel above.  Recessed lighting illuminates her freshly washed white hair, a startling contrast to the dark brown perm of her past. In lieu of her signature sapphire blouse, she wears a striped blue bathrobe, the hem settling around her calves and accentuating her swollen legs.  She clasps her hands together and closes her weary eyes. I wonder if she is ready to...

Keep Reading

Winter Can be Lonely; Please Check In On Your Friends

In: Friendship, Living
Winter street

Winter can be hard for a mom.  In the summer months, she often sends her kids outside, the warm sun beaming down and the windows wedged open as she listens to everyone run around the backyard.  She cherishes the opportunity to gather everybody for walks in the springtime, bright tulips peeking through, whenever the weather is nice.  Autumn offers respite with its crisp leaves and bearable temperatures.  But winter? Sometimes winter is hard. RELATED: The Lonely I’m Hiding Is Heavy Though beautiful, winter can feel like a ceaseless parade of dark nights. Winter can feel like isolation.  Winter can feel...

Keep Reading

Wear the Pretty Underwear

In: Faith, Grief, Living, Loss
Woman in evening gown, color photo

This week was monumental.  After 15 years, I finally finished a bottle of Victoria’s Secret perfume. I just wish I would have emptied it sooner.  It was one of those special occasion luxuries because it was not cheap. For years, I had saved this decadent perfume for date nights and holidays. It was too fancy for everyday use. And then, I was widowed without warning. My husband was here one minute, then gone the next. Impossible. Unfair. Traumatic. RELATED: What If Tonight Was Your Last Chance To Have Sex With Your Husband? But we were going to die in our...

Keep Reading

Some People Will Misjudge You; Let Them

In: Friendship, Living
Woman on beach with arms up

Have you ever seen a simple phrase but felt like it was impossible?  “Let them . . .” This is a phrase I’ve seen in many places. It doesn’t matter where it is found, overall it means the same thing. If you’re like me, then you struggle with it. It’s an everyday battle. Heck, it’s an hourly battle sometimes. You can say over and over that it doesn’t matter. Their thoughts don’t matter. Their opinions don’t matter. Their get-togethers don’t matter. Their talking behind your back doesn’t matter. Their choices don’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the case is—it is...

Keep Reading

Loving Mom (Thanks, Amazon)

In: Grief, Living, Motherhood
Woman and mother smiling, color photo

I was online, searching old Amazon orders for a part we’d bought for our 1998 Buick Regal. The car was Mom’s. She’d given it up at 86 after I said her grandsons would be grateful to use it. She’d laughed with delight as Gabe, newly licensed, pulled away from her place in her Buick, heading home to California. It was a good car, but the original parts were wearing out. That’s why I scrolled through my orders, to see which window pulley assembly we’d purchased last time. As I scrolled, I was struck by all the gifts I’d ordered for...

Keep Reading

Donna Kelce Is Living the Boy Mom Dream: Her Two Sons Will Face Off in the NFL’s Biggest Game

In: Living, Motherhood
Donna Kelce in split Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs jersey

How many millions of brothers have grown up playing football against each other in their backyards? It’s impossible to know, really—but if you had brothers or are raising boys, you’ve probably seen a few of those pick-up games yourself.  Sometimes, the little boys tossing around the pigskin grow up to realize the dream of playing in the NFL. In Donna Kelce’s case, that dream became a reality times two: son Jason Kelce plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and son Travis Kelce is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. And in two weeks time, those two teams—and Donna’s...

Keep Reading

You’re the Kind of Teacher Who Brings Out the Best in My Child

In: Living, Motherhood
Teacher with student high fiving

Dear Mrs. Izzy, I was a teacher, and I know how challenging busy little boys can be. The energy, the questions, the silliness . . . THE ENERGY. Sometimes they call it “gifted and talented,” sometimes “enriched.” When I taught middle school, it was called “Advanced Social Studies.” Whatever they were calling it, I knew one thing . . . this teacher was not interested in leading it.  People often think these types of classes would be easier on a teacher because the students are so excited about learning. I know the planning, patience, and persistence it takes to lead...

Keep Reading

Volunteer More—You Won’t Regret It

In: Living
Volunteers in kitchen smiling

I love volunteering. I have made amazing friendships and learned so much by volunteering. I volunteer in my community, I have volunteered to coach on occasion, and I volunteer in my church. I do it because it makes me feel good about helping others and bringing events to our small corner of the world. My personality has been made and molded to help others.  While volunteering, I have learned how to best set up a serving line that maximizes efficiency. I have learned how amazing and funny the kids in our community are. I have learned planning and organizing skills that have...

Keep Reading

To the Teacher Who Let Me Dance: Thank You

In: Living
Feet of a young dancer on darkened stage

If you would have driven through my neighborhood in 2008, you would have seen a strange and humorous sight: a 12-year-old girl dancing outside her garage, blonde ponytail flying.  You would have seen the long, bright orange extension cord hooked up to a silver boombox and the concentration on my face as I practiced the moves from class. I’ve never been a confident or carefree person, but as I danced, you would have seen a girl who was free and fearless.  But what you wouldn’t have seen was the teacher who made it all possible.  It was the great recession...

Keep Reading

Marie Kondo Has “Given Up” on Tidying Up. Oh Marie, We’ve Been Waiting for You!

In: Living
Marie Kondo in red dress smiling

Dear, sweet, adorable, impossibly neat, put-together Marie Kondo, Pull up a stool to my kitchen counter, won’t you, love? I’ve just shoved aside a pile of odds and ends (including a teal hairbrush, a candy cane-shaped tube of half-eaten M&Ms, a notebook, pen—sans cap, always sans cap—, last week’s third-grade classroom teacher letter, and a toy motorcycle I still need to superglue) to make space for you. Don’t mind the little bits of nail polish on the laminate I can’t magic erase off from an appointment at the girls’ nail salon last spring (at least it’s coral, and coral never...

Keep Reading