Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?
As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.
I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.
Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.
I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.
Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.
This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.
Who is Mary Scott?
Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.
Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.
Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.
I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.
Discipline – the classic struggle between what we want right now and what we want most.
Abraham Lincoln was an expert on making tough choices based on what he wanted most. He built a career and defined a nation by working for what he knew was necessary to unite our peoples and continue to establish America as a world power. After all how could a nation divided be the most powerful country in the world?
Discipline is something that many feel is a violation of their rights. They believe that if they want to do something, go somewhere, buy something, or say anything, it’s not “fair” to have to work for it or take into consideration the impacts their impulses will have on the big picture for their lives and what they want beyond that moment in time. The demand for instant gratification and knee-jerk reactions to the work and words of others has cast an ugly shadow over what we really need and want as a society.
Adventures in farming don’t stop when winter arrives. If anything, they become more frequent. This past summer hubby decided we would give silage feeding a try and chopped a pit full of the ever-fermenting feed for our cattle. We wrapped the pit tight and waited for the weather to require us to serve up the corn stalks and leaves. Fortunately, the coldest cold took its time getting here and we did not have to start the daily task of carting the food to our cows until January.
I had not experienced the serving of silage and, based on all the research I saw hubby do, I was intrigued by this form of feeding. It was a process that I found both interesting and time-consuming (traits that often go with farming).
Thank goodness for 4-wheel drive tractors and silage buggies to help us get the feed to our hungry herd. Silage has to be fed daily when the grass has stopped growing or is under a thick blanket of snow.
In February of 2002 I took a long-term substitute teaching position at a small, Catholic school in Loose Creek, Mo. That position sealed my understanding that God was calling me to be a teacher. In August of 2002, I began my teacher education program only to receive a call in October that the same small school needed me. A teacher had quit. I rearranged my newly laid plans and went back for another long-term subbing.
At the end of that second year, the school secretary gave me a framed saying, “Only angles can wing it. The rest of us have to work at it.”
That saying sits on my bathroom counter today. Every morning it is my motivation to get going and work on making my day count. Every night it is my reminder that even the most imperfect days are days I did my best to keep up with the angels. Continue reading “Only Angels Can Wing It”→
It’s county fair season and the 4-H kiddos are showing us the future leaders and providers for our communities. My husband grew up showing hogs and cattle in the 4-H livestock shows and selling them at the auction to raise money for his future farming endeavors. It has clearly worked out, as we now have over 200 head of cattle and raise thousands of turkeys every year.
We are proud and excited to support the 4-H tradition. Our county fair is held the weekend after 4th of July each year. It is always HOT and it always rains at least once. The 4-H Livestock show and other competitions are held on the first day of the fair. Starting at 7:00 a.m. members put a year’s worth of hard work on display.
Kila showing her hog.
4-H members show steers, hogs, sheep, and poultry. Some show their workmanship in competitions for sewing, arts and crafts, photography, painting, pottery, woodworking, metal working, gardening, and other trades. Ribbons are awarded based on the successfulness of their projects and showmanship. Blue ribbons continue to be the coveted prize of choice. In the livestock show, presenters hope to be crowned Grand Champion. The Grand Champion is the choicest animal in the competition and usually brings the highest price.
Those that earn blue ribbons in the non-livestock competitions have the opportunity to move on to competition at the State fair. It is quite an honor.
Showing a fair animal starts a year in advance. The animals are selected when they are young so that the presenter has plenty of time to feed, care, and train the animal for showing. These fair animals become a part of the 4-H member’s family (almost), as they are a daily part of the presenter’s life. This is a powerful practice for developing future farmers and a strong understanding of dedication and hard work. After feeding, grooming, and practicing showing, the presenters often send out or deliver invitations to people in the community inviting them to bid on their animal. It is a terrific lesson in marketing and confidence for these young people. As the animals are judged, the livestock judges explain to the exhibitors and audience the qualities of a champion animal. (It’s a livestock learning experience for everyone.)Continue reading “4-H – Showing Us the Future”→