A Life of Reinvention

Words by Sarah Cait Sawyer

Photos by Justin Clemons

We were so excited to send our Publisher, Sarah Cait Sawyer, to Dallas to meet Lecrae’s mother, Momma Ormie. She returned from her trip to tell us all about the amazing woman she was blessed to meet. Momma Ormie speaks candidly about being a single mother, finding herself again, and, of course, what Lecrae was like as a child, we can’t wait to share their conversation with you. So pull up a chair and join Sarah Cait and Momma Ormie for margaritas and guacamole...

I met Momma Ormie (yes—that’s her real name, and yes—you can call her that too) for happy hour at Gloria’s Latin Cuisine in Dallas. Latin food with black beans served free, like salsa, and the longest margarita list I’ve ever seen? Say no more. My immediate love for Momma Ormie could only increase in the first five minutes of our time together!

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It started with a giant hug, and then she ordered a classic margarita, on the rocks, with a Grand Marnier topper on the side. “It’s the only way to really drink a margarita,” she said with a grin, and pushed the glass over to me so I could top mine off as well. Who was I to say no?

It was no surprise to our team that Lecrae requested that his amazing mother—his own, personal Warrior Mom—be featured in this issue. And as a young woman who has been influenced by his music from an early age, I jumped at the opportunity to break bread with the woman who raised him and his sister and hear a little of her story. It didn’t take me long to realize the foundations of who Momma Ormie is: Humility. Strength. Tenacity. Boldness. Passion.

You might guess that Momma Ormie is a proud Momma. And you’d be right! She is. Her face radiated as she talked to me about her son when he was young. “He was always writing things down. He was always putting his feelings on paper,” she recalled. “And when he got his hands on his friend’s new beat machine, it was game over. He would perform and the crowd of family members would go nuts—not because he was family, but because he was good!” Lecrae was sensitive, but he was (and is) also driven. I gathered from Momma Ormie that Lecrae’s drive was one of many pillars that led to his unprecedented success, and let’s just say I’m not left wondering where he got that.

As much as I loved learning about Lecrae’s childhood and get the best insider’s perspective of how he got where he is today, I looked at Momma Ormie after we cleared our first bowl of guacamole and said with a smile, “You know this story is about you, right?” Humility.

Momma Ormie is all of the things you’d imagine a great mother to be, including soccer mom, cookie mom, and basketball mom. But despite her odds as a single mother raising her two children, she not only persisted in her career, she thrived. Put bluntly, she is a total boss. Let me break it down for you. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. “Journalism was my first choice; however, my first psychology class was so intriguing, I changed majors.” After college, Ormie worked for a community corrections program in Denver for nine years. Starting as a case manager, she worked her way up to Treatment Service Supervisor and then to Director. She even opened up a women’s offender facility within the same organization and served as Director there until moving to Dallas in 1994. “I never lost a night of sleep because I believed in being honest and showing compassion and integrity in all that I did,” she shared.

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In Dallas, Momma Ormie worked for the Texas Public School system—five years as Community Relations Specialist and 15 years as Safety and Security Specialist, conducting safety and security audits and internal staff investigations for various schools. “During this time, I attended Eastfield College in Dallas, completing my Basic Peace Officer hours and passed the state required test to become a Peace Officer, gaining further knowledge on the Texas Penal Code.” This meant working the same full-time hours and then staying up until wee hours of the morning to study, all on top of single motherhood. Momma Ormie retired from Texas Public Schools after 20 years of service. She reflects on her service-driven, successful career: “I didn’t have time to fail because I was dedicated to seeing my children succeed.”

It may have taken this incredible woman five years to plan her own retirement, but it didn’t take her any time at all to hop right back into changing the world. She received her life coach certification in 2011, and upon retirement launched a non-profit providing free life coach services for single moms.

Momma Ormie is discerning, keeps a watchful eye, and always has a plan B. She will love you unconditionally and truly be your best friend and biggest cheerleader, but she can size you up in two minutes and will definitely tell you like it is.

Still working hard as a life coach, mentor, and of course mother,  Momma Ormie diligently walks three miles per day and practices yoga at her local neighborhood studio. She  is certainly walking in the fruits of her hard work and God’s faithfulness, but needless to say, it didn’t come easy. Momma Ormie gave everything she had to her career and to her children, and while she is nothing short of a proud Momma, she openly admits that she may have lost a little bit of herself along the way. But what is so beautiful about Momma Ormie’s story is her belief in destiny. That in hindsight, she wouldn’t change a thing. Rather, she uses this realization of the need to maintain self-identity throughout motherhood to lead others, believing that God has planted her right where she needs to be. She is a light. “We plan our futures, but we don’t know what destiny hides behind that future,” she said.

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I have never been a single black mother raising two children outside of a big city while working full time, so I don’t know what it’s like. I don’t know what it’s like to pour heart, soul, and identity into raising children. Or the conundrum of working in an industry that gives me such detailed insight into what is going on in the streets that I am able to protect my teenagers, but also be afraid for them. I don’t know what it’s like to be the patient, encouraging mother of a child so confident in his dream at an early age that he tapes eggshell mattress toppers to the walls of his closet to create a personal ‘recording studio.’ I don’t know what it’s like to have a son who finds fame in the most God-breathed way, and against literally all odds. And I cannot imagine coming out on the ‘other side’ of this feat with a peaceful but burning desire to share my wealth--not necessarily in monetary terms, but in experience. In passion of reminding other Mommas of their worth and of their purpose as an actual human being—their identity outside of being a mother.  I’ve never walked a journey like the one I just described, but I have met someone who has. Her name is Momma Ormie.

Momma Ormie is unlike anyone I have ever met, and she welcomed me, inspired me, and challenged me after just a few minutes—and a lot of guacamole. But her influence didn’t end there. Two months later I received a text from her that perfectly sums up her life as a single mom:

“I've put $2 worth of gas in my tank before or run out of gas, and I’ve put $20 in my tank. I've had $5 to feed myself and child and I’ve asked for rides and and rode buses in the snow to daycare and to work.  I’ve had a house full of food and I’ve been without a lot of food. I’ve given people clothes. I’ve been given clothes. I’ve been in stores cashing out with no worries and I’ve also had to add it up and put it back. I’ve paid my rent in full and I’ve had to pay it late too. We all have highs and lows in life, some certainly more than others, but we’re all just trying to make it. No one is better than anyone else, and I pity those who think that they are. No matter how big your house is, how new your car is, or how much money sits in your bank account—we all bleed red and will all die someday. Death has no discrimination; neither should your life. Be kind to others. And know not everyone has the same heart as you. Just be authentic and compassionate. Enjoy life! You only get one. ”