Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Hello, I am Lauren Oelkers, I am 34 and I am originally from Downers Grove, Illinois which is in the west suburbs of Chicago. I met my husband, a Helena native, while he was in the Army in North Carolina and we eventually moved to Montana in 2006. We have four children, Grace (11), Lily (7), Olivia (5), and Noah (3) and they are my life and career. My family and raising my children are my true passions. My other passions include fashion, art and most importantly, my faith. I commit a great deal of my time to several committees and groups at my church. I am very proud of my commitment to the Global Leadership Summit that we host annually, as well as children’s events and women’s events within the congregation.
What are a couple of your favorite quotes?
A quote that I love to read is also a great reminder that I use to begin each day:
“Spread love everywhere you go; first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor….let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” –Mother Teresa
I also have a favorite biblical verse from Joshua 1:9 NLT: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
What movie, TV show, or book has really impacted you and why?
There are many books and movies that have had a great impact on me over the years. My husband is going to blush, which is hard to make him do, but he reads to me in bed at night. There are few things in this world that I love more than this. It does not matter what book or story, having him read it makes it that much better. I will say that some of my favorites are Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morie and Five People You Meet in Heaven. I also have to add that my husband read “The Notebook” to me so ladies eat your hearts out, ha ha! Television is an interesting topic in our family because we have been together for nearly 13 years and just recently got cable television for the first time. However, I have found a show, titled “Fixer Upper”, and I have to say that it’s my favorite little thing on TV. I love to go to the movies, which happens about twice a year when you have four children. When it comes to the movies, I love documentaries and historical films most. I truly enjoy films that have to do with military history as well as true events.
Describe your favorite meal.
I am half Mexican and half Polish from Chicago, so of course I love great food! My grandmother Harriet (the Polish side) owned and operated a catering business and was an excellent cook. Some of her most memorable dishes were her chicken noodle soup and dumplings. My grandmother Carmen (the Mexican side) is the most amazing maker of chili and pork chops and handmade tortillas. My father-in-law Loren is such an amazing cook as well, and he is one of those people that can just throw anything together and it comes out as an amazing dish. Especially his chicken piccata. So there is this influence of amazing culture and ability that has molded my tastes in great food.
What’s one hobby or activity that you would like to get into, if you had the time?
I love to create! I look back and think “I went to college on an art scholarship, I should be able to create something”, but I rarely get the time with my schedule. So one thing that I would love to do if I had the time would be to sew. I have the machine and the gear; I just need some more free time, but then again, who doesn’t?
What is one story about your life that people love to hear?
The story of how my husband and I met and got married after being together for only a few weeks is always a crowd favorite. My husband was in the Army in North Carolina and I was there on vacation. We met and immediately hit it off. We spent six days together and I went home to Chicago. We spoke everyday on the phone and three weeks later he came to visit me in Chicago. We spent the next five days together and knew that it was meant to be. So….three weeks after that I moved to North Carolina to be with him and on the third day that I was there he was notified that he was deploying to Iraq. This was devastating news, but after a bit of soul searching and a glass or two of pinot noir, we decided to get married (and not tell anyone, including our families!). And the rest is history. Four kids and nearly 13 years of marriage!
How would your friends describe you?
I would hope that my friends believe in me as someone who is gracious, outgoing, motherly, hospitable and caring. I also think that friends would say that I am a strong person due to the fact that I am a military wife and am so strong willed.
If you could give 18 year old Lauren a piece of advice, what would it be?
There is nothing that I would say to my past self because I choose not to dwell in the past. More importantly, I hope to give the best advice that I can to my daughters as they come into their teenage years. And the advice that I would give them is to always follow your dreams and your passions, no matter what. I think that the one thing that holds young women back today is stereotypes. I will also always tell my kids to keep their faith close to them as it is the one thing that no one can alter if you believe in yourself.
Coffee or tea?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Introvert or extrovert?
Rural or Urban?
Dress up or dress down?
Dogs or cats?
Sunrise or sunset?
Detailed or abstract?
Modern or classic?
Call or Text?
Fiction or non-fiction?
Salty or sweet?
What do you love most about Montana?
I love how friendly the people are. I love the scenic beauty. There is no greater place to raise a family in the country.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I would have to say that being a military wife with four kids is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I love my husband, children, and country more than words can say, but it is a tough job. Knowing that he could be pulled away from our family at any time is a tough situation to deal with.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
It’s simple – the Lord, my husband and my four little miracles!