Monday, October 13, 2014

From the Country to the City: A Big Change


    When people ask where I live, I sometimes told them to drive to the middle of nowhere and then keep going.  I lived 20-25 minutes from school, 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart, and 1 hour from the nearest movie theatre.  Now, I walk 3 blocks to school everyday, can make Walmart round trip in 15 minutes, and am 5 minutes from the movie theatre in Manhattan.  It’s my 7th week in the big city, and I am just starting to make sense of city life.  Moving to Manhattan has been a huge change for me to experience.  
Change is a very interesting thing.  Some people strongly dislike change, while others love everything about it.  I am not saying that one is right and one is wrong, but I will say that society is experiencing a lot of it.  How many different types of iPhone’s have we seen just in the past five years?  The important thing about change is to treat is as an opportunity to grow.  In the past week, I had the opportunity to travel to the Southwest District Greenhand Conference where their theme was “Grow in FFA”.  I watched members grow by changing their thoughts about FFA and agriculture.  
How can change benefit you?  What are its negative effects?  What can be accomplished by changing the standard and thinking outside the box?  All these questions immediately come to mind because it can a scary thought to change.  Despite these frights remember that change causes growth.  This week I challenge you to think of one way that you can change something in your daily routine.  Take note of the effects and then begin applying change to those areas of your life where you want to grow.  It can seem scary at first, but it has the power to cause growth.  Gavin Degraw has a song called “Everything Will Change.”  There are a couple of lines that describe change very well.  It’s starting like a fire, tonight you lit the flame.  What will happen when you light the fire of change in your life? 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Homemade High Expectations

It’s the weekend of the 4th of July.  Like most families on the 4th, we fly the flag, grill some hamburgers, have a little too much fun with fireworks, and my personal favorite, make some homemade ice cream.  Now, I have always used a hand freezer to make the ice cream.  My dad used to do all the work while I sat and watched, but now that I have gotten a little bit bigger I often find myself doing a lot of the work.  “It builds character” is my dad’s response anytime we prepare to make another batch.  

This 4th of July was no different as I took my place in the chair and began to turn the hand crank.  Now you may think that I am a little weird, but I counted how many times I turned the crank.  One hundred with the right and a hundred with the left, it helps me to keep both arms equally as strong.  After about five hundred, it was still really easy to turn so I began to worry.  Like I said, homemade ice cream is quite possibly my favorite part of the 4th so I hoped that I had not ruined it.  I pushed on for another three hundred turns until my dad took over for me so I could go eat supper.  After a couple of minutes my dad brought the ice cream maker in and had that look of worry on his face.  I was terrified.  I had ruined the annual 4th of July ice cream and worse yet, I did not get any!  As my mom took the lid off we waited in suspense to see the finished product.  The result was a ring of frozen ice cream about two inches thick around the edge and a middle of unfrozen ingredients.  

Though I was worried because I did not think there was going to be enough we had just enough for everyone to enjoy the perfect finish to the 4th of July.  When I started, I expected to have everything work perfectly and more ice cream than I knew what to do with.  My little ice cream fiasco taught me that what you set out for or what your expectations are may not always be the outcome.  

How often do we expect one thing, but get another?  Just because we don’t get what we expect does not necessarily make it bad.  I used to be guilty of thinking that if it did not come out exactly as planned, it was a failure.  As we face challenges this year it’s important to remember that they may not always go as planned.  Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  This year I challenge you to shoot for the moon and don’t be afraid if things don’t turn out perfectly because some of the rewards we get may be just as sweet as homemade ice cream.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Something Different

            As my title may suggest this blog is going to be a little different from my past blogs.  I’m going to keep this short, sweet, and to the point.  Worrying is something that I do quite frequently.  I worry about ANYTHING. Did I do my homework right? Did I say what they wanted to hear? Am I giving my all? Do I have enough time? One big worry I had between semesters at K-State was whether this new girl who is going to be my roommate would like me. Will we get along?  This new girl, Laura, had just moved into our house at the beginning of spring semester. Little did I know that this new girl would turn out to be one of my best friends.  Laura has challenged me to be who I am, have courage in myself, and to grow in faith. She is literally my ‘right hand man’ anytime of everyday. Laura takes ALL my worries away and helps me to focus on the positives of life. Thanks to Laura I have found a friend that is ALWAYS there for me.
            Now I have reflection questions for you…
  •  What causes you to worry in life?
  • How can you eliminate those worries?


Do something different. Take two minutes and thank someone who has helped you in life. Find your Laura and tell this person what they mean to you. Once you’re done, share this blog with your friends and family so that we can pass on our thankfulness and possibly make someone’s day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

100 Days

As a young child the 100th day of school is a big deal.  Celebrations happen in every classroom for this one special day of each school year.  I remember Mrs. Bachamp telling us that we could bring a special treat or wear something that had to deal with 100.  Now you all should know that in second grade I was the ‘cool kid’.  I wanted to have the best, most spectacular outfit anyone had ever laid EYES on.  Yes, I wanted all EYES on me on this one very special day.  My mom and I worked diligently on my outfit and before long it was time to show it off.  I got up for school that day and proudly put on my turtleneck that had 100 googly eyes glued to it. According to my dad I was the ‘cats pajamas’ (similar to ‘hot stuff’).

Back in elementary school I counted up to 100 days and now I’m counting down. This countdown is to my retirement as a state officer.  In the past couple weeks I’ve been challenged to make every moment count.  Today while visiting with Governor Brownback I asked him this question, “With your experience as a past state and national officer, what is something you wish you would’ve known or someone would have told you?” Governor Brownback’s response was very elaborate and wise but he summed it up well with a simple phrase, “Live in the moment”. What can living in the moment look like?  I have 100 days to make the most I can with what I have left of my state officer year and how will I choose to live it?

Our lives can truly be as busy or as hectic as we would like to make them.  Choosing what to pursue in life and what to leave in the dust can be challenging. I have 100 days to take full advantage of my elected position. How should I spend my time? How do I manage my time? What do I do to make the most of my time? These are a few of the many questions that have been popping into my brain. I finally got a simple answer when I opened my Franklin Covey (a planner) to Wednesday, February 12, 2014. It read, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” –Alan Lakein.  This quote is truly simple and can relate to agriculture and our daily lives. 

Agriculturalists have brought the 2050 challenge into the limelight. By looking at the projected population now and realizing how much we need to grow food production and cut waste within the next 36 years, agriculture is going to be better prepared to feed the 9 billion people across the world.  Just how agriculture is planning by bringing the future to the present, we can do the same for our lives.

In 100 days I want to know that I gave all 2400 hours my absolute best. I am planning now to be organized, efficient, and responsible in the time I have left to serve.  God has given each and everyone of us talents to use on this Earth during the time that we have here.  How will you use 100 days? How will you live in the moment? How will you bring your future to the present? The countdown is on and the timer is ticking. Don’t let your gifts and talents go to waste.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

STAY

            “Hey Elizabeth, you’re not in Kansas anymore.” is a phrase I heard multiple times on my latest trip. Now I may not have been in Kansas but my family was.  While my family was back at home ‘enjoying’ the extremely cold weather I was in 80-90 degree weather in the beautiful country of South Africa.  
            When arriving in South Africa I didn’t really know what to expect.  From what I had inquired beforehand South Africa would be dry, brown, and desert like.  Now I can easily say that I came in with a totally wrong assumption.  South Africa reminded me of home a lot. People were very friendly and some of the landscapes made me think of my small hometown, Holton, Kansas.
            On the bus rides to our various visits of agricultural businesses we had the opportunity to embrace the scenery and the world around us.  One of my favorite places of the trip was, Elizabeth Falls. No I do not solely say that it is my favorite based upon the name (even though in my opinion the name is pretty cool) but because it was breathtaking. This one breathtaking sight distracted my mind from the real world around us. The world that was comprised of shantytowns we passed daily (shantytowns are an area of land that consist of large numbers of crude dwellings). The world that I was scared to go into…

            Driving into the shantytown I thought about all the possible outcomes that could happen.  A few of the thoughts that came through my mind were the possibility of getting glared at, kidnapped, or even shot. I was very hesitant to get off the bus. I made sure I didn’t bring any valuables with me as I slowly drug one foot after another finally bringing myself to the African soil. As I got off the bus I honestly  was so scared I asked another guy on the trip if he would be my bodyguard.  Our tour guides met up with us and started to take us through the shantytown. I walked by many South Africans staring at me. I soon realized that once I smiled, they smiled back. Finally we came to the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP).  When we got into KYP they sat us down to describe what they do. I learned that KYP provides a chance for the children in the shantytown to have tutoring, learn about art, and play different games/sports. Before they got done a group of about 15 guys came in with mud boots on and started stepping (stepping is a type of dance).  For those of you who don’t know… I LOVE to dance and so when they asked for volunteers to learn a move I was probably the first one to jump out of my chair. After learning the dance move we got to go outside. Many children were running around and playing and we had the opportunity to play with them. I started swing dancing with a little boy who did not speak English.  Pretty soon his sister, Nontela, (who can speak English) came over and started dancing with us too. I danced with these siblings for probably a good 10 to 15 minutes and then we had to leave.  All the children held our hands as we were walking out and just did not want to say the final ‘goodbye’.  As I leaned down to give Nontela and her brother a final hug goodbye the little boy said a word in Afrikaans that I did not know.  Nontela repeated him and I told her that I didn’t understand.  Nontela did the translation and it translated to one word that will forever be repeated inside my head… STAY.  As soon as Nontela said that one simple word my eyes filled with tears as I walked away. 
            Stay… There are so many meanings that this word could have. Did this little boy want me to stay and play longer? Did he want me to stay an extended period of time? Or did he want me to stay forever? I got back on the bus with this one word running constantly through my mind. I sat down by my friend Lucas and asked for him to give me a minute. I pulled out my headphones and pulled up the song Blessings by Laura Story on my phone and sat there and listened to it thinking about all that had just happened within the last hour or so.
            In life we may travel down many different paths. Psalm 119:1 says, “You’re blessed when you STAY on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God” When listening to Blessings on the bus and asking myself one of the questions said in the song, “What if your blessings come through raindrops?”  I realized my blessings could come to me no matter where I was at that exact point in life.  I will admit to anyone that I judged a book by its cover.  The shantytown that I was scared to death to go into ended up giving me the most protected feeling I’ve ever had in my life.  I was blessed that day to have been able to STAY a short time in the shantytown and dance with Nontela and her brother.
            Whether we are young children, in high school or college, or even when we join the workforce as adults we need to look at where our blessings come from and focus on where we need to STAY in life.  By staying where we need to we can be present and concentrate on what we need to do to take our next step.  Pay attention to the little details in life that are hinting to you on what you need to be doing. Instead of rushing in life right now… STAY

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why?

Siblings… Little munchkins… Kids…  Children… What would we do without these little angels? One of my favorite stages of my siblings I have witnessed growing up is the “why?” stage. “Hey Amariah, we are going to clean up!” I would say and she would reply, “why?” In response, I would add, “Because it needs to be clean.” Amariah would quickly respond with the famous “why?” to every reason I gave her for the next five minutes. Finally I would give up and actually get to work.  Lately I have been asking a lot of those “why?” questions to myself and realized I needed to take a deeper look into “why?” I have three things in my life, family and friends, agriculture, and FFA.

Do we have family to play pranks on? Do we have friends just to take us to sonic? Even though I do enjoy picking on my little brother and going out to sonic with my friends, these are not the true reasons of why we have family and friends.  My little brother (well not so little anymore) has been my best friend since he was born.  Indie has always been there to “protect me” from guys, stay up late and watch a movie, and even to talk about issues in life that you go through while growing up.  In our lives we all have special people who are near and dear to our hearts.  We have family and friends to help us through the hard times and to guide us in the right direction. Who is that family member or friend that means the world to you?

Do we have agriculture so we can “play in the dirt”?  Now as children we might think that “playing in the dirt” was the best way to make our mom mad, but as we grow into young adults we start to realize what that dirt has provided for us.  My family has owned the land we live and ranch on since the 1870s and I know that the dirt my great great grandpa lived and ranched on is the same dirt my family continues to work on today.  Agriculture to me shows true beauty of work ethic in life.  Cattle are near and dear to my heart. Getting up at 3a.m. to check on a heifer that’s having difficulties calving is one thing I love (might I add that I am NOT a morning person).  Once I get to see that baby calf walking on the ground it is definitely worth the early morning wake-up call.  The growth and development of agriculture has changed in many ways such as developing and using hybrids and artificially inseminating livestock.   Why is agriculture important to you?

Do we have FFA so we can get out of school? Even though getting out of school may be nice, FFA provides opportunities to have good fellowship with others.  My junior year of high school my family hosted our chapter’s “Fishin’ n Fun Night”.  Around 30 members made their way out to our residence to go and fish while also roasting some hot dogs and eating smores. Little did we know that this fun evening was going to turn into an evening with some teamwork involved. While one of the members was casting he accidentally snagged the lanyard in his pocket and casted his keys right into the pond.  Lucky enough the place where the keys had landed was only about 4 ½ feet deep.  Two of the guys got in the pond and worked together as a team to find the keys.  His keys were successfully found after a whopping fifteen minutes of searching.  Little did we know how a fun fishing night could turn into a teamwork event trying to find keys.  Whether it’s serious workouts for the upcoming CDE, late nights put into your SAE, or even a night full of fishing and fun, FFA provided those memories made with friends that I will continue to cherish.  Why are you involved in FFA?

This next week I challenge you to ask yourself those “why?” questions.  

Why family and friends? 

Why agriculture? 

Why FFA?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Living in the Moment


Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  The leaves are changing colors and football season is in full swing.  Recently I decided to go to one of my brother’s football games and I asked my roommate, who is from Wisconsin, if she would like to go with me.  She very excitedly accepted the invitation and into the car we went.  We hopped onto highway 177 and then onto I-70 east headed toward Topeka. Pretty soon my roommate starts to look around and I notice how in shock she was.  She looks at me and says, “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s so beautiful.”

Driving along the road I was so worried about making it in time for my brother’s kickoff that I totally took for granted how beautiful the land is around me.  Sometimes we get so busy and caught up in life.  We don’t truly take the time we should to relax and enjoy what we’ve been given.

A week after going to the football game I had the opportunity to go to a few chapter visits with our National FFA Officer, Kalie Hall.  Kalie and I took off from Manhattan and headed on the highway towards Topeka just like I had the past week. An early 7:00a.m. trip on the highway was the perfect time to drive through the Flint Hills and watch the beautiful sunrise. Kalie had not yet experienced the Flint Hills in Kansas and it made me think of my trip the week before and how the world was just a blur around me. This time I truly took in the wondrous land around me and I was thankful for what had been given to me at this simple moment of life.

“The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.” –Eminem.  This quote really speaks to me and makes me realize how I should not let one thing go for granted in my life.  We have only been given a short time to live here on Earth.  My life could be taken away at any certain moment and I know I don’t want to leave this Earth without soaking in its’ beauty.

How can we take one day at a time? How can we live in the moment throughout every day, throughout this year, and throughout our lives? I challenge all of us to LIVE IN THE MOMENT.