Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year New Goals

As 2014 winds down I have started to think about what I want to accomplish next year. I don't use the word "resolutions" because they are more like goals to work towards or improvements in my life.

For 2015 I want to do the following:

End the year healthier than I started.
Let more doors close in my life to be able to see the open windows waiting.
End the year with  a little less debt.
To slow down and spend more quality time with people I care about.

I have my bucket list items to work on but I really want to enjoy this upcoming year and not look back.  I want to live more, love more, and have fewer regrets.

I know there are going to be some ends such as doing my last half marathon but I also know that there are some great beginnings in store for me- I just don't know what they are but I'm looking forward to finding out what they are.

So until next year- I hope you have fond and wonderful memories from this year and hope for what is to come in the next.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bucket List Challenge

For my 40th birthday a few weeks ago, my friends gave me suggestions for things to add to my bucket list. There are lots of things from the less challenging of going to a brush bar and painting a picture to things needing more planning such as ride an elephant in Thailand or swim with the dolphins (I don't know how to swim). Others are going to be a year long process- cook a new recipe a week for a year or take a picture a day for a year.  And then there are going to be some that I know will change my life- going on a mission trip is on the list. And not to be selfish, I want my trip to be something related to agriculture or orphanages. I want to get down in the dirt with people.

I'm looking forward to experiencing each one and sharing the process along the way. I'm going to have fun even if I'm scared (zip lining in the Catalina Islands). I am going to try and blog each Friday about my bucket list challenge. I'll share what I did and if I would say it's a success or not.

Today I started my first challenge which was to cook a new recipe each week. I decided to try garlic mashed cauliflower. Every one talks about how it can be just like mashed potatoes. It was easy to make but it wasn't the same as real mashed potatoes . I thought of my friend Sarah and how she gave me a great recipe for using cauliflower to make pizza crust. They live over an hour from town so Joe made the comment that "in the land of no pizza, cauliflower pizza is king." The same could be for the mashed potatoes if they are one of your comfort foods.

I used the recipe from and I realized that I don't always have the proper utensil but that an ice cream scooper can crush a garlic clove just fine but they are a little slippery and I used almost and entire garlic thingy (very technical) just getting two cloves smashed. And I burnt the first one so I had to start over. I used Queen Creek Olive Mill Olive Oil.

I have a small food processor and so I had to do process the cauliflower in small batches but it seemed to work just fine. After mixing all the ingredients in it didn't seem like it mixed well so I heated it the microwave and it seemed to mix up just fine.  And there was enough to have it with dinner for a few meals this week.

It will be a recipe that I make in the future and next week I'm going to attempt butternut squash soup. Eventually I'll try something hard like scones or something.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Agriculture and Generations

In agriculture always talk of and promote the generational farming or ranching. I have friends who have said they are fourth, fifth or even sixth generation farmers or ranchers.

In the Farm Bureau world, we have just finished up the county annual meetings and are now working towards the state annual meeting. This year I was struck by how much Farm Bureau, Cattle Growers, Cotton Growers or what ever organization can also have generational involvement.

Marvin and Myrle accepting the Heritage Award for the Marlatt Family
In Yuma, the county recognized a family for their Heritage Award. This award is for long term service to Farm Bureau. The family had the father serving as a member of the board and officer for decades and he even was a state vice president then he continued to serve the county as president as well. He has since passed away but his sons, who I work with now serve on the county board and have served as county president or other offices. One of the grandsons is also involved and part of the county board. In talking with them, I  asked why they were members and their response was it was part of who our family is. Mom and and Dad were involved and it was expected of us as well. They have two other brothers who followed along in the civic service in several organizations that their father served in besides Farm Bureau. 

Jay Larson recognizing Arden Palmer for his service to Farm Bureau
This thought of generational involvement in organizations was reiterated to me again when I was in Graham County for their county annual meeting and the current president recognized a former county leader for his Heritage Award. This recipient had served the county Farm Bureau in the late 50's and early 60's and then went on to serve in other community groups and his church. What moved me was that his children are involved and serving their community because of the example he gave. One is currently a county board of supervisor and I don't even know what the rest of his children have done but I can tell you that a few of his grandsons have served on the county board over the years and possibly some of his children. His son-in-law was the county president when I started working in the field and really showed me how to be a good field person. And one of his grandsons and is currently the county president- following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. It was the grandson recognizing the grandfather for his service to agriculture and the county.

These were just two examples of counties that have generational involvement. Most of my counties have uncles, nieces  nephews  sons and daughters serving together and they aren't unique. I'm sure there are many counties in every state that generations serving together.

 At Farm Bureau, working with members daily, results in many of them becoming like family and as a staff person you cheer them on when they or their family does something great and you pray for them when they are hurting or struggling. And I am very fortunate because I get the opportunity in many cases to work with both the parent and children who are farming and ranching together and serving their community together. If I stay long enough, I may even be privileged to work with the third generation at Farm Bureau and see them become the next officer or board member.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Youth Camp- Lessons and Memories

Two weeks ago, I left very early (3 am) from my house and made a stop to pick up some kids then traveled on to church to then we took 10 kids to youth camp. I love it because our kids are amazing up there. They don't have the distractions that we have at home. And this camp- Glorietta- isn't like the youth camp I went to in the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon. This camp has rooms that have key cards, private bathrooms and Wi-Fi not to mention tons of activities- hiking, battleball, soccer, basketball, board games, swimming  art- the list goes on. But some things are the same. Volunteers- older ladies and gentlemen that come and volunteer to cook and take care of the grounds and man the main gate or do any other task. Leaders who take vacation time from their normal jobs to come and be with the students for a week so they can have have the opportunity to experience God and worship and learning. As an adult now that goes, I have a much deeper appreciation for the adults that took the time to pour into myself and my friends each summer.

The week we came back, there were thunder and lighting storms back home in Oregon and currently there is a large fire threatening Crystal Springs Camp- the camp I spent many summers at for family or youth camp. I was upset that the camp may be burned and destroyed not because of the camp itself but for what it represents- the opportunity for people to come together and worship and learn about God as well as build relationships. I'm sentimental so I was also upset that the stump that I sat on outside of the Chapel when I accepted Christ may be burned and destroyed. It's just a stump and there are many stumps but it's the value of what is tied to that stump that made me an emotional wreck. All because the week prior we spent the week talking about BE-ing: BE His, BE Last, BE Real and BE Bold. After 27 years I finally got some things to sink into my thick skull while I was in Glorietta. I love taking our kids because I think I learn more and experience more right next to them. It could be in a conversation about how I grew up and how I see myself in them or it could be me apologizing to the junior high girls for my lack of patience late one night. I grow at camp as an adult in my faith just as much as I hope the kids attending grow.

I never understood the value of my salvation as a gift. I still try and do something for it. You know, someone gives you a really great gift and you don't deserve it but you try and find something to give back. The example that finally made it clear to me was a loan. You pay the loan in full but the next month and each month after that you keep going to the bank to try and make a payment on something that has already been paid for.  But that's not how our salvation works. There aren't any strings attached even though we try and attach strings or conditions to our salvation. Don't get me wrong- when you come to Christ your heart is changed and you want to serve others and put them and their needs before yours.  We don't serve to earn favor from God but rather as a response to what he has done for us.

We are also called to be real. That means the person we are on Sunday morning or Wednesday night at church is the same person Monday at the office, Tuesday in traffic, Thursday with the repairman, Friday at the restaurant and Saturday working in your yard. We need to have people in our lives that know the real person to call us on our stuff. This doesn't mean judge- I grew up feeling judged but rather to love us and tell us what we are doing wrong and not just what we are doing right. Everyone does wrong and what is wrong or right isn't determined by me but by God. Many times we have a better opinion of our sin that God does and we compare our sins to others to not feel as bad but just like the white speck on top of the chicken poop is still poop, our pretty sins are just as bad as the ugly ones. By being real with each other we can also be bold in our faith. We can be serving others while showing our faith and it doesn't have to be in a Bible- bashing or stereotypical christian judgement kind of way. It can be through our actions and many times those who are most bold in there faith are the ones changing the diapers, cleaning up the lawn or just in the background making it possible for someone to experience Christ- just like the four guys who lowered their friend in to a room from the ceiling just to see Jesus.

Some may be offended by this post and that's ok. I talk a lot about many topics and the last two weeks with camp and the fires has really made me think about what I learned at camp over the years and the people who were being last so that kids like me and my friends or kids that went last week or any of these weeks through the summer could have an experience that changes the direction of their lives eternally.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Transformation Goals

My friend from college recently posted a picture for Transformation Tuesday. It was amazing the work she put in. To be honest I read her post and with envy looked at her after photo as I was reading Chris Powell's new book and eating a large Eegee's Pina Colada. I had less envy after she explained her mindset in that photo and I know how hard she has worked to get to the new photo. I also know that she has fun and will enjoy moments but then gets back to work on being healthy.

As I read her post about her feelings of failure I totally related. I know my journey for a better lifestyle is not overnight and that I too will be putting in the time and effort and that there will be days that I will eat an eegee or a very large slice of cake or pie. Those days are getting farther apart and now I end up throwing more of them away than eating them.

I share all this because in the book, Chris Powell talks about during the beginning weeks of the transformations he does on his show he talks to the participant about what their goal weight is and what they want to see to make them happy. It made me think of another friend who always had her ideal weight of 165 after testing she realized that she would never be that weight for her height and muscle. She'd have to cut off a leg or an arm. I tell you all this because up until recently I though I needed to be a certain number on the scale to be happy- to get married, have kids, have a full life. The pressure to be a certain size or number is crazy. I realized reading the book the other night that I have goals I want to accomplish on my journey to a healthier life but very few of them really have anything to do with a number on the scale and more to do with being satisfied with who I and what God has blessed me with. I have quite a few nieces that I love dearly (not that I love them more than their brothers, and not that this isn't the same for boys as it is for girls) and I don't want them to have the struggles of bad hair days, a bad hair cut, or horrible photo that they think they aren't pretty enough, smart enough or that any of those things are the end of the world. I just want them to skip over some of the self-punishing thoughts that I still struggle with today.

So I made a list of what I want to accomplish on my journey and I don't know when I will arrive but I want to experience life along the way instead of saying I can't do this or that until I meet that elusive number because I can tell you that the number on the scale yesterday didn't match the number on Friday and it won't match on Saturday.

I want to not have to wonder if the seat belt in the plane is going to be extra snug (they are all different).
I want to be able to sit comfortably (no hip overflow issues) on a plane or any chair.
I want to be able to shop in the same store and even near the same department as my friends.
I want to run a half marathon or any race in all 50 states, Canada and a few in Europe (I have 3 states down- four by Oct).
I want to learn to paddle board and be able to get up on the board by myself
I don't want to have diabetes (runs in the family) when I'm older like my grandmother and father
I don't want to have open heart surgery like my father, grandmother and most of his family (same surgery for everyone) and if I do I want to be in my 70's or 80's.
I want to not be intimidated to run with others because I'm a slower runner
I want to be someone who my nieces and nephews will always think is cool and would never be embarrassed to hang out with.
I want to be able to keep up with my nieces and nephews when I'm older and they have kids
I want to be able to do anything and never again have the thought of am I too heavy or too big, will I fit, or will this hold me?

That's how I will know I've been successful on my journey to better lifestyle when I can have most of these crossed off. I also know that I have friends who love me and encourage me in my journey.  Some of these items will be a lifelong process that will never end (trying to be cool for the nieces and nephews) and others are a challenge and more of a bucket list (running the races) but I use races and those experiences to keep working out.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Chicken Little

I label my friends. I give them labels based on what they do or a characteristic they have. I use this when I introduce friends to each other. So I have my vegetarian-friend-Christi,  Jodi-who-runs-with-me, Jon-my-Yuma-farmer, and so on. There are my book club ladies, my Bible study ladies and my Graham boys. The Graham boys are a little misleading as they between the ages of 25-40 with the exception of three who are in their mid 50's or 60's. It helps keep my stories straight. But I want to share what my Artist-friend-Beth did on Friday. She gave me one of her pieces of work. 

I love her work because she is so talented but also because she uses the gifts that God has given her to share her story and what is going on in her life. If you are her friend and you go to an art opening you can see her joys, pains, trials and victories there in her work. It's amazing. I can doodle and I can paint a wall but what comes out of her is awe inspiring! She also uses her talent to help others. She brings people in to make bowls for the Empty Bowls event and then will do a mug sale to benefit another organization. You can read her blog and see some of her work here.

When I met her just over 5 years ago at church I just new that she was from El Paso, had two kids and a husband, loved Jesus and was an artist. I went to her studio during a tour and fell in love with her work. She had mugs, vases, bowls and some of her other art available. There was a piece she had that I fell in love with. It was called "Sometimes I am Chicken Little." It spoke to me. It was as if God was saying through her work,  "Why do you freak out and worry and be anxious when I am in control?" Over the past several years, the versus about giving it over to God and not being anxious or worrying keep coming back to me. It will always be a process to give it over to Him and each time I would visit her studio over the years that artwork would remind me to remember that someone bigger than me who can see everything is in control and that I just need to take each day as it comes and find the joy and the beauty in it. 

On Friday, she left a note on my Facebook page saying she had something for me. She posted a picture of the piece. It made my day, week and month. I've always said that I would own Beth Shook art. It took 40 years for Israelites to get it together to enter the Promised Land. I turn 40 this year so maybe there is hope for me in trusting God with the small and the big and easy and the hard. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picnics, Fairs and Policies

This morning I was thinking through the next few months. Graduations bring summer and in the life of a field person at Farm Bureau that means picnics, BBQ's, fairs, festivals and policy development. It means more time on the road with extra events and time spent with members. I've been at Farm Bureau 14 and half years and I have made several friends over that time. Some of them I see on a monthly basis and others I only see a few times a year.

One of the things that I think Farm Bureau does well is policy development. It doesn't sound fun or exciting and sometimes the best thing about the meeting is thinking about the kind of pie I'm going to eat that night but it really is a solid part of what makes Farm Bureau special and a little different from the other agricultural groups out there. Instead of the American Farm Bureau (AFBF) office telling the states and we in return telling our county members what our positions are going to be on issues- it's the opposite. The state or AFBF doesn't take a position on something unless we have a policy on it and that starts at the county level.

I can read through our policy book and even parts of AFBF's policy books and see the faces of our members. I know that the policies on discarded road signs and elections were written by Jerry Kennedy and our border security policy was written by Joe King, Alan Sietz and Jim Chilton. That same border policy is in the AFBF book. There is also a portion of the AFBF's policy on forest health that was written by rancher Jim Parks who lives in Coconino County. The fallowing land during drought was written by Sarah Teskey who used to live in Yavapai County. I could go on about most of the policies in our book.

So for me its exciting because I don't just see a policy of words written on a page, but rather faces of my members who went to a meeting and stood up and said "I want to talk about..." Some of the policies took members driving to other counties to visit with their members asking for the support of the policy. I've seen different counties sit across the table and work together to make better policy. Some of our policy has been in the book long before I came and I'm sure if you talked to the Jim Klinkers or Bob Wilsons of Farm Bureau you would get the story behind the policy and the person who started began the process.

Even though sometimes the things we look forward to is the good pie or great dinner it turns out to be the stories that make it important. That's what the end product is- issues with faces on them written in a book.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dr. Weber

This year at University of Arizona, Dr. Knight is retiring. I didn't go to U of A, I didn't have him as a professor but I worked with him on the FFA Foundation and I could tell how great a teacher he was by the students he taught. And since my Facebook feed is filled with comments on how great Dr. Knight is, I thought I would share about my  "Dr. Knight" at Oregon State. His name is Dr. Dale Weber. Dr. Weber started at OSU in 1976. A lot of my friends have fond memories of Dr. Weber but I think he is one of those people that falls into the category of "Everyone Needs to Know How Special He Really Is." I also think you could fill Reser Stadium, the field and parking lot with the students Dr. Weber has impacted over the years.

Courtesy of OSU Animal Science
I transferred to OSU and didn't have Dr. Weber till the Winter term for Beef Production and as a Junior I didn't take his Intro to Animal Science class where he would get to know you. If you had him as a freshman, most likely your photo was on a board in his office so he was able to get to know you. I had him that Winter term for two classes- Beef Production and Steer-A-Year. Two weeks after starting class my mom died and I left for a week to go home. I was barely able to pack a suitcase with a black dress so I didn't even consider packing my books to study. The week I was home I decided that I was going to stay home but my dad insisted I go back. So my roommate and I left straight from graveside and drove back over the mountain to school. I came back to half my first set of midterms being over and a few left to take.

And here's the first reason why Dr. Weber is so special. I went to class that next morning and he was passing out the midterms- graded. He came to me and said he wanted to talk after class. After class he said he knew I was a good student and that he would just take my second midterm and double it to make up for missing the first. He had never had me as a student and I don't know if he knew if I was a good student or not.

The second reason came in my next class with him. Steer-A-Year (SAY) was a student-run feedlot. The night I got the call I made two phone calls. One to my big sister at my sorority house to tell her what was happening and the second to my friend Brook to see if she could cover my feeding time slots. Walking into that class later on that Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Weber handed me a card. He had had everyone in class sign it and they gave it to me. It touched my heart because the rest of my professors didn't care or even ask if I was ok, if I needed anything- nothing. They had all be contacted by the school and even in one class I walked in on Thursday morning to find that we were taking our midterm. He informed me that because I had the syllabus I could have taken my books home and studied. I got a 13 on that midterm.

Dr. Weber (right) and his brother 
There are many more reasons to love Dr. Weber. He retired a few years after I graduated but still today you can find him in a meeting, teaching a class, or talking with a student at OSU. I had the privilege of traveling the Midwest with him one Fall and I was able to meet his family- brother, nieces and nephews, on their family's farm. He shared the story with us of being a kid and going into Chicago and visiting the doorman at the Wrigley building to get a stick of gum. To us that isn't a big deal but when he was a boy that was a big treat. I also remember one day in class, Dr. Weber came in with his arm in a sling and said his wife was making him give up skiing because he had hurt himself.

I went to his retirement party in 1999, before I moved to Arizona and I was able to thank him for keeping me in school. Had I not had Dr. Weber show kindness to me in one of the darkest moments of my life I would have quit school and walked away from OSU. Instead I found incredible friends and made some life-long friendships.

I was able to have lunch with Dr. Weber last summer and it was so nice to catch up with him and visit about what everyone was up to. He shared his story of being honored by OSU with the Dan Polling Service Award.

I think we that had Dr. Weber and those who were taught by Dr. Knight have been blessed because not every college or every student has the privileged of being taught by an incredible person.

The card Dr. Weber had the Steer-A-Year class send.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Blue Corduroy Legacy

I am an FFA nerd. I have been since high school and I always will be. I loved my FFA jacket and I wore it with pride because of the legacy of the organization. My dad was in FFA and my aunts would have been if they would have allowed girls at the time. I have an old school jacket because my emblem says "Vocational Agriculture  instead of "Agriculture Education." I gained so much from the FFA and the leadership opportunities I had through it. I am both the person and leader today because of the FFA. I was a quiet student- never really talking in school (huge shocker to those who know me now). And after high school, I used many of the leadership skills gained because of FFA to build upon for experience in leadership roles  in college and beyond. I can thank FFA for my career foundation. I've been thinking about the FFA and all that it means the last couple weeks because previous years I've spent time with these kids from across the state through contests and leadership development and just coaching or talking with them. I'm always impressed by the change I see in students from their freshman year to their senior years and beyond.

In a month is our state's FFA state leadership conference and amid all the excitement there are two very special things will be occurring and they occur every year. I'm always excited to see who will be the next state officer team and see the retiring addresses. I love judging the speaking contest and visiting with advisors and parents because afterwards I know the future of our industry is in good hands. I get a little choked up when one of the scholarships is given and when the Chase Foster Essay Jackets are given out because they represent two amazing individuals, their families and the

A few years ago we had a wonderful speaker at the Friday evening event. I was excited to meet her because for many years I had heard about her and never had the chance to meet her. For many she was just a name but for me she was my friend's wife. I had met my friend Matt in high school at a National FFA conference when he was a national officer. This was years before email, Facebook  twitter or blogging so to send a note to say thanks or hey what's up-it was old school- as in post cards. I came across the postcards he sent from around the country last summer when I was home. They are still in the box my mom had stored them and I enjoyed reminiscing.  We had Matt come and speak for our annual meeting right after I started to work and he talked about his wife and his family. When I had the chance to meet her, she was amazing. She was kind and we talked about our FFA years, jewelry, hair accessories and what not and at the end our our 10 minute conversation, I felt like I had been her friend for years. When she visited with the kids, she talked about her family, her FFA and she talked about her cancer. She was an amazing woman. When she was finished she was met on stage by a few alumni who had started an endowment in her name to give scholarships to our FFA students. Each year since then, when they read her name and the student walks across the stage I think of my friend, his wife and and the legacy both of them have left on many people across the nation.

The other thing that I look forward to each year is the moments when five new students receive their own FFA Jacket. I remember earning mine. I did chores at my grandma's house to earn the money for mine. I still have it- it's in my hope chest and I see it every few weeks and I am reminded of the amazing things I was able to experience all because of that jacket. I was able to become someone who had dreams. The kids that are given their jackets have to write an essay that if they are chosen they read at some point during a session about what the jacket means to them. As it ends a state officer gives them their very own jacket. It was started by the family of a young man killed in a farm accident. And for me it's the most special part of the whole conference because of the legacy of the family. The young man's brother was an advisor that turned out several state presidents and two national officers. His mom was an professor at the local land grant university and mostly it's just a great way to give an opportunity to have to give potential to a student.  As time goes on, I don't know if the kids will completely understand the legacy of the gift they receive but I hope their adviser or a mentor or someone from the FFA community will share the importance of it. I'm hoping that they get a glimpse of who these two people are and how they gave back to the organization that gave them so much first.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A New Challenge

I may have told you all earlier that I have buyer's remorse. It doesn't matter what I purchase I usually second guess my purchase. That's all fine and dandy if it's a pair of shoes or a shirt but I have had it buying a car, house and registering for a race. Thoughts run through my head.  "Did I make the right choice? What if something is better that I didn't see? Can I really commit and do this?" That happened yesterday afternoon and I panicked most of the night. Yesterday morning I pulled myself out of bed- my back was hurting a lot and my shoulder is pinched so I'm a little sideways and I went downstairs and signed up for my marathon. I needed to get the discount price (I like a bargain). And by paying my money I'm committing to the training. And I run so I can be healthier and maybe loose some weight. Great plan. One small catch.

It's my first marathon and I'm slow- really slow like my last half I averaged 16:12 minute miles and the half before that was 15:29 minute miles (with a leg cramp that made me almost fall down and finish with a shuffle- hop- drag-my-leg-look-like-I-may-fall step the last .1 mile of the race. So what in the the name of Jesus and all that is holy did I think I could do a full? That's another half to run after running the first. I think I need to be evaluated by professionals. But I do want to do something challenging and big this year before I turn 40. And I turn 40 the second week of November. There's a great race outside of San Antonio  TX called The Chosen that raises money for families adopting. My wonderful friend Val, who has been one of my encouraging friends on my running journey, has done it. She suggested it to me and it works perfect in my schedule and why not travel someplace fun to run- I've done it for 3 of my six halves.

To top it off my wonderful non-running friend Christi said she would come and run the half in honor of my birthday. So the plan was set. Christi has even ran 2-5k's and taken a running group class and is now a really fast runner. After registering on Sunday, I posted it to Facebook and I think I may have a another friend run it as well. But as the day progressed and I started to read more about the race to be prepared. I panicked! Not paper bag type of panic but buyer's remorse. I realized the time limit is 6.5 hours instead of 7 and the course is out and back instead of a loop or point to point. That means the first 3 miles of hills are also the last 3 miles of hills. But as I laid in bed last night slightly freaking out. I realized that in order to finish in the 6.5 hours I need to run 14.52 minute miles and because of potentially needed to use a porta-potty along the way I thought I might need to say I need to run it in 6 hours and 15 minutes to give myself 15 minutes for the bathroom  That means I really need to run a 14.19 minute mile. That's a good two minutes faster than my normal time.

I did find some encouragement yesterday. I was reading my April addition of Runner's World  and there was a great story about last year's Boston Marathon and two runners who were running it for the first time. One was working on becoming a PA because she was told she couldn't be a nurse. She had been on her schools cross country and track team and had been a runner most of her life. Her friend had started running when he needed to lose weight (like me) and was run/walking the race (like me). The article talked about them both overcoming struggles and even mentioned working through running in public (like me). The only different between me and them- besides they were running Boston was they are little people. So it encouraged me that everyone has their struggles and obstacles to overcome and there are always going to be people who say you can't do something but if you keep at it you can do something incredible.

I'm not going to quit before I start and I may not finish in 6.5 hours but I'm going to try. So this morning I woke up and decided I need to give my running and training over to God and not worry every detail of it. But I'm also going to let you in on the journey of it. So I'll be posting about my progress here and through twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Extra Ordinary Should Just Be Ordinary

I've been thinking of this post for a week, just mulling it over in my mind. I'm still not sure I have it all worked out but I wanted to share it before too much time had passed.

I know and work for some extraordinary people. We in agriculture and sometimes small towns know these types of people and sad to say it seems there used to be more of these people- people who stop what they are doing to help someone in need. Maybe it's not that there are less of them but maybe there are just more people who are just more self-involved.

Last Saturday I went to a funeral. She was an amazing lady and her family is in my top 5 favorite families that I work with. They haven't done anything special except they are good friends who really care about people. They volunteer their time with many groups in the community and state. They encourage people and believe in them so that you want to do your best for them. On the way home I was recalling the last year of this family and their battle with cancer and all that entails.What got me thinking about how special our farmers and ranchers are is the group of farmers that stepped in and helped them.

They went above and beyond what most people may have done. They planted fields for them. When this all started last year, it was time to plant the cotton but the family was so far behind  because of the time spent at the doctors or traveling to appointments so they were going to scale back the acreage. This means their entire farm income was going to be less (read entire year's business income is reduced).  I even offered to help- I've never planted cotton before but it can't be that much different from most hay or alfalfa crops and it had been a decade or so since I'd really spent anytime in a tractor. It was my way to help since I don't live close to bring meals or pop in and check on them. They didn't need my help because some of the local young farmers (25-30ish) stepped in. In the middle of planting their own cotton they pulled into this family's fields and started planting their cotton. They really didn't have to do it and they were all so busy.  It's not like it would only be an hour or so commitment. It can take several hours to plant a field depending on the size. They only had a few weeks to get their cotton seeds planted before it was too late and this is their crop for their entire year- their whole farm income is protected based on what gets planted in those weeks. These fields aren't just the size of your yard but rather the size of your subdivision. They also are planting different varieties (trying to see what will work best) so it's not like they can keep planting. They sometimes have to clean out the planter and replace the seed if they are moving fields. And the planters aren't that small.  For these guys they usually try and start the first ten days in April and then try and finish in the first 10-15 days in May. It can change depending on  temperature, rain and even elevation (sometimes it can be a little longer or smaller based on where you might live geographically). The window is narrow and yet they stopped what they were doing to help a fellow farmer in need. Not because they had to but because they wanted to. They didn't do it for the pats on the back or the warm fuzzy feelings they did it because they love and respect them as friends. They did this extraordinary act because they are humble and if the roles were reversed this family would be right there planting their cotton. And to top it off- they are far to humble to tell anyone about it so I'm sharing because it was a lesson that reminded me of the community I grew up in as a kid.

I've experienced this in my own community growing up and it left an impression on me.  My dad helped a neighbor feed their cows when their mother had passed away. He actually cracked his hip on of the days and missed the funeral. He was so upset because he didn't get to pay his respects but he had helped the family meet a need. I really experienced it when Dad had his first open hear surgery. People stepped up to warm the house, help with gas bills to cover trips to Portland, even some of his medical procedures were covered to the point that I am eternally grateful for those who helped me because I was so overwhelmed and was just trying to put one foot in front of the other and manage to get done what I thought I could handle. Dad wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for them.

Even today, there are a few diamonds among the lumps of coal. My dad's now retired and spends a few months with me but there are a few friends who help him drain his house and another who usually goes over to the house and starts a fire so the long winter chill is off the house by the time Dad has made it from the airport to the house.  Not everyone does this anymore as I think we as society are becoming more self absorbed or afraid to stop and help a person because we don't have time or we are afraid of doing it wrong, being sued, or we don't even realize there is a person in need.

This whole past year, those young men helped this family through prayer, words of encouragement, planting a crop but also just being there for them as friends, confidants and anything else they may need. It was a lesson that God used to remind me that we are to love our brothers as we love ourselves. It was a great testament to the respect of the family but also the respect and love these young men have for their neighbors. But why are we so surprised by someone does something so extra ordinary when in reality it should be just an every day ordinary event?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We all have a Sheldon Cooper

Big Bang Theory is one of my favorite shows. Not because it’s about a bunch of scientist who think religion is crazy (just ask one of the characters) but because it’s about a group of friends and their how they hang out. It was my replacement for Friends. And instead of NYC it’s LA and instead of a coffee shop it’s a comic book store or the college cafeteria. They made being a nerd cool.

I was thinking of Sheldon Cooper today and usually every time I come back from Pinal County’s meeting. I pass a sign for the Arizona Train Museum and every time I think Sheldon should come for a visit. He might like it; and we have a Cheesecake factory too. But today I started thinking about the other characters and then friends in real life. If you watch the show at all you know the characters- they are all PhD’s in science except for Walowitz, who only has a Masters and Penny- the girl who moved from small town Nebraska to become an actress. They use big terms when talking about science and Sheldon’s character is a know-it all that is also a control freak. I have one of those in my life. And God used him to reveal a lesson to me today.  The lesson was not to categorize someone until you really know them.

I have a Sheldon Cooper in my life and I've decided to keep him. I named him that because he goes to the same WW class as me and he was an expert of everything (or at least appeared to be). He drove my friends and I crazy till we gave him that nickname. But just like the character has grown on his roommate and the other friends, my Sheldon has grown on me. And I didn't realize it till today. My Sheldon always has to be in line first, it doesn't matter how early you get there, he’s there first waiting for the door to open. He still tells us what we should do or not do but here’s the kicker- I like him and it’s fun chatting with him because he volunteered to tell another group of ladies that they couldn't have our seats. WW is like church, you sit in the same spot and when new people take your spot (which normally doesn't happen if you sit in the front- they are just special) it can be disrupting and throw off your entire week. So each week for my friend S and I it has become a race to beat these three ladies to those chairs. And each week Sheldon and his wife (I dubbed her Amy Farrah Fowler because you just have to) are there to give us insight and advice even if we haven’t asked for it but just like the saved spot on the couch, I've come to accept him and all his quirks because he doesn't judge or do anything but invite you in. And I’m sure if we weren't at the WW meeting and trying to lose weight he would offer you a warm beverage.

We all have Sheldons, Leonards, Walowitzes and Koothrappalis in our lives and collectively they make us better. We have those who drive us crazy and know facts and are control freaks. We have friends who bring groups together and are the cool ones. We have the creepy-kind that say inappropriate things but make us laugh and we have the ones that are so shy but are all kinds of funny when they open up. And in reality I can see a little bit of all the characters in me based on what group of friends I am with. Because we are all on a journey together and we support, drive each other crazy and encourage each other but we have each other’s backs and we are honest with each other so next Saturday, I’m looking forward to my morning greeting with my friend Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ag Fest!

This year I want to do a "day in the life" but for each of our events at Farm Bureau or as I am out in the counties at meetings- a typical day when I go to a county. I'll eventually have each county have a post for their board meetings and I'll do them for each of their activities (booths, festivals, annual meetings, etc.)

Some of the board members at the meeting.
So yesterday was a the first state board meeting of the year and we always have it in conjunction with our annual Ag Fest. This year we had both the board meeting and Ag Fest at the Arizona Department of Agriculture. It's close to the capital and it shows off the department as well since some of our legislators may not know it's there.

It's a reception where each county has a booth and they promote the agriculture grown in their county. They also have samples of food to try.  All thirteen counties have their booth and farmers and ranchers come in for the evening event because as a legislator shows up, a farmer or rancher then escort them around to the booths and talk about issues they are struggling with. It really helps to put a face to agriculture for all the legislators but especially those in the more urban areas.

Yuma County Farm Bureau members and their booth. 
The Yuma booth is a big hit because they can see the produce that Yuma county produces for them and the country in the winter months. The great thing about this event is it gives new members a chance to see what Farm Bureau is about.

Cochise County Farm Bureau
members at their booth.
Some booths are just the products that are grown and other have information on what agriculture looks like in their county and then some talk about a specific aspect of agriculture. This year, Cochise highlighted the fact that corn is used in ethanol production that can be used for fuel and the by products are fed back to animals. People visiting their booth also sampled pistachios and could take a bag of beans home. Both of those products are grown in Cochise County. Apache and Greenlee counties highlighted the agriculture in their counties. Apache's booth had photos of generations (parents and children) working the ranch together. Greenlee had their cheese roll and to sample as a dairy product to represent the dairy that is in the county.
Pinal County Farm Bureau ladies talking issues .

Pinal County is a hit with their lamb burritos every year. The ladies cook the lamb and it comes out shredded and so good. They are then rolled into the burritos on site. They also receive a block of cheese to take home. Pinal has cotton, cattle, dairies and even a few sheep ranchers. The sheep ranches are famous for their sheep drives they take from north Phoenix to Flagstaff every spring. You can see the herd cross through Yavapai County in a few places.
Pima County has a lot of cattle but they also have several pecan farms along with cotton,pumpkins and other crops. This year they handed out bags of pecans to legislators. They also had pumpkin cookies in the dessert room for people to take. The Graham County booth is always a popular booth because they have chips and salsa. If you have ever purchased Euro Fresh tomatoes on the vine in the grocery store (anywhere in the US) the greenhouses are in Graham County! They are more known for their cotton but it's hard to eat cotton. They always bring most of their board members to talk about their agriculture, the technology they use and the issues they face.
Pima County Farm Bureau member talking with other attendees.

Navajo highlights the farming and ranching families up there. Most families are somehow related to the Flake family it seems. They give out samples of salami and pepperoni they purchase from the local Malapai Meats.

The counties that I talked about are the counties that I covered but we also had sliders provided by Mohave County that people loved. La Paz county handed out honey sticks and Coconino and Yavapai Counties had steaks for people to take home as well as samples of beef to snack on during the reception. Their booth always has the tools of the cowboy- saddle, hay, irons, ropes, etc. They don't however bring a horse.

Graham County Farm Bureau members waiting for legislators!
I think the legislators enjoy it and look forward to it each year. I know our members enjoy it and I really like that many of the members who come and
participate both in the booth and hosting legislators are young people (under 40). It shows the elected officials that agriculture isn't a dying industry. Because if it is then as a nation and world we would be dying as well. I think our members enjoy seeing their fellow farmers and ranchers as well and catching up with them from across the state.  They may not see them until March or April or even November at our next big event and some members have built lifelong friendships with each other through Farm Bureau and the events and activities we do as a state. Because no matter the size, type of operation (ranching, dairy, cotton, vegetable) or if it's tradition, organic or natural, we all face the same issues and have many of the same concerns that make us stronger if we can share who we are and why we are important.
Navajo County Farm Bureau member talking
about agriculture in their county.

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Person's Trash is My Family's Treasure

Today marks the 18th anniversary of my mother's death. I was 21.That summer after she died I came home from college for the summer and before my internship started my goal was to clean and pack and get rid of stuff we didn't need or want of my mother's. I admit I sent many things to the Neat Repeat (our hometown version of Goodwill). Some things I regret sending and others I don't even remember. We sent about what amounts to two- four horse trailers of stuff that my mom had collected, bought or gathered over her life. One of those things she had was a silver butter dish  The tag said $1 when I put it back in the box to send back to the Neat Repeat. My mom never had a dinner party and if you know me, I am not really a dinner party host. I'm more of a potluck or BBQ person, I am a ranch kid who grew up in a Baptist church so I think it's genetic. I know how to eat at a dinner party but to host one really isn't my cup of tea. 

I never gave that butter dish a second thought until Thanksgiving.  That year,  my grandmother asked if I would set the table and if I would get out her new butter dish. She was so excited because she found it at the Neat Repeat and it was such a good deal and she had cleaned it up and wanted to have it on the table for everyone to see and use. 

I was surprised to see that same dish sitting next to her good china and started laughing because it seemed it was determined that that dish was going to be apart of our family even if someone threw it out. I explained to my confused grandmother why her new butter dish caused me such laughter. Had I known she wanted a random silver butter dish, I could have saved her the few dollars and given it to her. 

The Famous Butter Dish! 

 When my grandparents moved to Arizona because of health reasons, the butter dish came and we shared the story with my aunt and uncle. So when my grandparents died, I inherited the butter dish again because there was such a story behind it now that it can't be given away. So even though I may never host a fancy dinner party, I have a silver butter dish that can be used and I may just bring it out from time to time at the next potluck or BBQ and shine it up and use it to bring a little personality to the event.

It's tarnished and needs a good cleaning but I see it and I think of both my mother and grandmother. The dish from all outward appearances is not shiny or on display but brings me joy at the memories and just like my mother and grandmother who were not the first chosen for things, best cooks, really excelled at anything other than being good at the role God placed them in. And like the butter dish, it wasn't wanted but it found a way to keep coming back. I think it was a lesson from God that sometimes the tarnished and unwanted are the most precious and give the best lessons on value of life. 

My mother and grandmother when I was born.