I’ll Take the Stock Show

This article was recently published in the Purple Circle magazine. 

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A while back, I saw an interesting conversation on Facebook that had people pretty polarized.  It all started when a mom suggested she was encouraging her children not to show animals so that their family could go on a vacation to Disneyworld.

Now, let me make clear up front, I am all for everyone making their own decisions for their own family.  It is fine by me if someone wants to make different decisions for her family than I  do for mine.  I am sure that Disneyworld is a lovely place.

But that said….I’ll take the stock show.

Growing up, we did not go on family vacations.  We went to stock shows.  And while I’ve never been to Disneyworld, I’m pretty sure that the roller coaster rides, churros, and fake mouse ears can’t replace what the stock shows gave me.

Grand

At those stock shows (and the months leading up to them), I learned what it meant to work hard.  My brother and I got up early, went to bed late, busted our tails in between dealing with weights and drench guns and feed regiments and wash racks. I also learned that not everyone worked that way.  I remember countless times at our State Fair it would be 8:00 at night when I would come into the dorms covered in feed and hay and manure and lord knows what else, while some of the other girls would be all dressed up, make up on, and hair fixed.  And while I can’t say that it happened this way all the time, but I lot of the time it was those of us who spent the week covered in manure who ended up smiling come the end of show day. That was not a bad thing for a kid to learn.

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At those stock shows, I learned that I had a group of adults who were in my corner who became like family to me.  There were women who would haul in enough food for an army and be sure that we didn’t go hungry by dishing out posole and beans from a crock pot in the tack pen.  There were men who helped sheer my sheep and haul our show boxes in and out and had no problem telling me if I wasn’t doing something right.  There was an ag teacher that became one of my very favorite people in the world with his glare for people who showed up late for feeding, and his Rainman-like remembering of the weights of seriously every lamb in the barn, and his uncanny ability to sniff out coffee somewhere in the barn before anyone else was even awake to make it.

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At those stock shows, I made friends from across the state.  Friends who have known me since I was 10 years old and who are still in my life 25 years later.  Friends whose babies I have held and funerals I have attended and beside whom I have proudly stood at weddings.  Friends who I never would have met were it not for the yearly “family vacation” to a stock show.

At those stock shows, we spent quality time with our family.  After one particularly long, and I mean LONG night at the barn, that I’m fairly sure involved my dad breaking his toes after kicking something, I remember him saying that we might look back at parts of this showing deal and remember the fights, but we’d also look back and always remember him being there.  Decades later, I can tell you he was right.  I remember the fights for being funny now, but I remember all of the time and money and sacrifice that he and my mom made so that we could go to those stock shows.  And that was a gift that is priceless in my mind.

KS Beef
There are certainly more lessons that shows taught me.  Competitiveness.  Being a humble winner and a gracious loser.  That maybe there really is something to lucky shirts and lucky halters.  Nothing beats the smell of sawdust and Revive.   That life is not always fair.  What it felt like to be handed that bright purple banner and shiny belt buckle.

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So, all this to say….I’m sure Disneyworld is great.  But I’ll take the stock show.  Every single time.

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COVID-19 Thoughts (Part 2)

Well two more weeks down. When this all started I kind of told myself I could do anything for a month and now we’ve blown right by that.

The CDC now recommends if you have to go out in public to wear a mask. Most (maybe all) parts of the country are under stay-at-home orders. Our grocery store has one-way aisles set up and glass between you and the checker. It’s just surreal.

The Good

1. We have started to get into a bit of a routine. It’s sure not perfect and I sure will be ready to go back to work and back to regular life, but it is ok for now. I feel like this has been really key to me not losing my mind. It’s little things like reading my Bible in the morning, listening to my favorite podcast, going on my evening run…just having some order in the chaos has been great.

2. Stores are mostly stocked back with the normal items. This has led to some excellent cooking here (if I do say so myself!)

Rozann’s chocolate chip cookies
Sophie Hudson’s Mexican Cornbread
(Recipe on her Instastories or I will message it to you)
My friend Shannon’s Instant Pot cilantro lime chicken and rice
(I’ll message you her recipe)

3. The kids have really embraced this situation and have done a good job of rolling with the punches and finding new adventures every day. From playing in the snow (yes…in April), to doing science experiments they’ve made a lot of fun memories.

4. He is (still) risen. Easter didn’t look like usual. For the first time in 36 years, I wasn’t in a church. Our celebration did not involve having family over for lunch and Cousin Sean helping the Easter Bunny, as per tradition. But we had a stained glass window, empty tomb rolls, a pilgrimage to chalk the sidewalk at church, and a savior who is risen. He is risen indeed!

Highly recommend these as an Easter tradition

The Bad

1. People are dying. The numbers in the US are staggering. Nearly 20,000 people dead. Since I last wrote, the first case was diagnosed in the county where I live and in the county where I grew up.

And, I’m so sad to say, the first death of someone I know happened last night. He was smart and kind and a faithful Catholic and I am just heartbroken for his family. It’s one thing to see a number like 20,000. It’s quite another to know one of them—to put a face and a life and a story with it.

2. Working in an “office” with two toddler is, well, not ideal.

3. I’ve got to quit eating so dang much. Seriously…I need someone to follow me and slap food out of my hand. I am buckling down this week because this has gotten out of control.

Lessons Learned

1. People are so kind. Several times I have sought out prayer via phone call or text or Instagram and people have come through. For a sick friend in Oregon to a little boy I’ve never met but who has my heart in Nashville to people I know fighting COVID-19, it has been heartwarming to see people step in to intercede for one another.

2. Many idols have been removed. I listened to a pastor on a podcast I love talking about how this quarantine really has removed idols that we were likely worshiping. Sports, going out, travel, hustle…none of which are inherently bad so don’t get me wrong here…are just not options right now. I hadn’t thought about this, but found it super interesting.

3. I don’t want to come out of this the same. Rachel Hollis and Jennie Allen have both talked about this, but if I am the same person coming out of this experience as I was going in, I’ve really wasted this time. I’m trying hard to focus on what I can learn and change and do to use this time well. That has looked like more praying and watching the kids play outside. It’s also looked like cleaning out the garage and seasoning my cast iron skillet. It’s involved intentionally trying to seek opportunities to kindness and baking more with the kids than I usually would (direct relation to bad item #3 above…). I do hope I can come out of this chapter better and that I do not waste my time wishing away my days.

A Prayer Request

This afternoon, a friend texted me in an emergency. She and I have different faith traditions, but she said she did not know anyone else who prayed and asked if I would do so for her.

While I hope my prayers were a gift to her, I am certain that her asking was a gift to me.

It is a sacred thing to be trusted in this way—for someone to believe in my ability to intercede on their behalf is something I will never, ever take for granted.

So, in addition to her petitions, I also prayed to be made worthy of the trust that others place on me in this most important role.

Lord, hear our prayers. ♥️

COVID-19 Thoughts (Post 1)

Well. The last three weeks have been…insane. It feels strange to live in what will certainly be a moment in history. Generations from now will read about 2020 and the pandemic and how the world just about shut down. I feel like, much like September 11, we will likely look at this as a turning point in our lives—there will be before Corona Virus and after.

When this started across the world, I never could have imagined how much it would affect our every day lives. I no longer go to my office. My calendar is completely clear through June. My kids are home all the time. I wear a mask and gloves to the grocery store. There was no March Madness or Houston Stock Show…which is when I realized this was no dang joke.

I figure I should document this so that maybe one day my grandchildren can look back and see my thoughts when they read about this in a history book.

The Good

1. Time at home with my family. You all know that I travel for a living. I’m usually gone overnight (or usually multiple nights) twice a month. I’ve tried to really appreciate the time at home to spend with my family. We’ve hiked at the North Place, done science experiments, had art projects, read books, ridden bikes…that’s been a gift.

2. Amazing online content. Thank you, Lord, for the internet. Seriously. From workouts to sermons, zoom calls to podcasts, I do not know how we would survive without the internet. I will say, I find myself overwhelmed sometimes and have had to sort of limit my intake. I have committed to just a couple of podcasts that I am using to minister to me during this time. I can’t watch every Facebook live, but I’ve chosen a couple. I’ve been doing one workout video a day and have found that hugely helpful.

3. My version of 5 to Thrive. I figured out really quick I would need some discipline in my life. (that’s one of my words for 2020…this is not what I had in mind!). I channeled my inner Rachel Hollis and came up with a plan. So I’ve got 5 things I try and do every day: Exercise, Bible, Communion, Gratitude and Water. Not surprisingly, the days I do these are better.

The Bad

1. I never get a minute to myself. I swear to you, my dream right now is being somewhere quiet and calm with no one touching me or asking for a snack. Mama just needs a dang break. I’ve been trying to use the time before the kids wake up or after they go to bed to keep some sanity, but it’s flat hard.

2. I’m going to weigh 300 pounds when this is over. I’m an emotional eater. And it’s Reese’s egg season. And a global pandemic. Can you say perfect storm? Whatever. I have limited myself to baking only on Sunday, so there’s that.

3. People are dying. I’ve had to stop listening to the news most of the time. Thousands of people have died. It’s easy to read that—but each one had a story and a family and it is just a lot. I personally know three people who have it. Two have mostly recovered (praise God!) The third really needs your prayers.

The Lessons

1. The church is not a building. I sure hope that I’m right here, but I think the Church could really see revival during this pandemic. There are so many services and sermons and podcasts online now. Everyone everywhere can tune in to church from their couches. I’m not saying I think this is ideal or something we should change to…but I am saying that it gives people the opportunity to listen who might never step foot into a church building. I, personally, have been loving following churches in Nashville and Portland and sitting under their teaching. And the first Sunday of this mess, my college church in Stillwater did virtual communion and it brought me to tears. I’ve done it daily since. Maybe we needed the reminder about the whole hands and feet assignment we have been given.

2. I am not as important as I think I am. We will see, but this sure may be my biggest takeaway from this whole experience. It’s so easy to think we are important. I’ve said more than once “well if I don’t go do that presentation, who will?!” Maybe no one…and guess what, the world keeps turning. I’ve been far less productive than I usually am in the office and, well, no one cares. It’s been a real weight off of my shoulders to think this way.

3. “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Gosh, there are people hurting. These situations can be really hard for me because when I can’t fix everything, I tend to freeze. I feel overwhelmed and just don’t know what to do. Annie F. Downs shared this Andy Stanley quote on her podcast and I have adopted it as my mantra. We are so fortunate to be in a position where we can help, and we have taken advantage of that and done what we can for certain people in our lives. My single action might not change the world for everyone, but it may for the people who I can help…and if everyone did so, the world just might look different.

Turning The Cows Out

Since we got married 5.5 years ago, we’ve dreamed about owning land for our cows. We saved and watched and skated by leasing 100 acres here and 30 acres there. In November, we finally bought our North Place. Last weekend, Ty finished building fence. Today, we turned our girls out on our very own grass. We’ve waited a long time for this view right here.

Virtual Communion

A tiny piece of wheat bread and apple juice in a medicine cup.

I listened to service online today from my college church and, as the church does every Sunday, they took communion. This week was different because there was no gathering, everyone was digging through their own cabinets to see what could serve as the elements to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

It was beautiful. The thought of Jesus followers in homes all across Stillwater (and even other states like me) partaking in the imperfectly represented yet wholly meaningful body and blood of Jesus… It was beautiful.


And so, I have decided to make this a daily event in our house during this season. We will gather our bread and remember His broken body. We will pour our juice and remember his sacrificial blood. We will be grateful that while we may not be able to congregate in one place, we still can celebrate and practice and live out our faith.

Thanks be to God.

Loving Our Neighbors in the time of Corona Virus

I’ve been thinking a lot about how unaffected most of us really are by the current situation. We’re so fortunate and so busy thinking only about the minor inconveniences we are seeing that we forget for many of our neighbors there are far more serious issues. Let take a minute to stop thinking only of ourselves and think about and pray for those less fortunate than we are in this situation.

  • Those who cannot rush to the store to stock up before the shelves are empty because they have to wait for pay day. Will there be food left?
  • Those for whom businesses closing mean no paycheck. How will they feed their families?
  • Those for whom schools closing leave them with children to care for and jobs they they cannot take vacation from. Will they lose their jobs to ensure their children are safe?
  • Those for whom school meals are the only food they receive in a day. Will they go hungry?
  • Those with compromised immune systems, respiratory illnesses, or other medical issues that make contracting the virus a much more serious concern. Will they survive?
  • Those who took an oath to always care for the sick. Will they be infected?

Lastly…an offer from my home to yours. If you need help, please let us know. Seriously.

What Are We Teaching Them?

It’s been a crazy day with the cancellation of the Houston Stock Show. People are upset and disappointed, rightfully so. These families invested time, money, and effort into these animals and I can’t imagine how I would have felt today. I love a show as much as anyone.

But…I just keep thinking about the point of the junior livestock program, which has to be to teach kids about life more so than teaching them about stock shows. In life, like today, they’ll be thrown curve balls. Are we teaching them how to react well?

I hope we will think about it and remember they are watching and learning as we go forward.

Just Show Up

It’s been a hard week for a lot of people in my life. Absolutely heartbreaking, shocking, unexpected things have happened.

It’s has me thinking a lot about how to support people going through hard seasons. I never have the words and I always worry about saying the wrong ones. Sometimes that can leave me get long frozen in an attempt not to make it worse with my big mouth.

I have decided that I think the thing to do is just to show up. To physically show up in hard places like hospitals and gravesides. To show up in text messages that may start with “I don’t even know what to say.” To show up with care packages in the mail or flower deliveries across the country. To show up at the gates of Heaven with prayers to intercede for those who may not have the strength to pray for themselves. To show up with casseroles it wine or a six-pack.

You don’t have to say the right thing or send the perfect gift or offer any answers…just show up.