Monday, December 29, 2014

Not Just a Break in the Gingerbread

            My holiday season is filled with something that I have not experienced in some length of time. Outside of traveling, Christmas parties, lots of food, and the other usual Christmas festivities; my life is full of little else. In fact, I sit now in a warm, cozy house in a padded seat unwinding as my day comes to a close.  This evening will be filled with a cup of hot coffee and perhaps a dish of some black raspberry ice cream. I will probably eat more than I’m hungry for and stay up later than I should. Regardless, I have no plan and in essence, I am taking a break.
I once received some advice to “just relax and be a kid for a little while.” After hearing this I was immediately filled with the perception that I must do nothing and have no agenda in order to relax and take a break. Today I realize that this is not the case. In fact, a break can look a lot of different ways to a lot of different people. For instance, being in a new location with little time constraints is a break for me. I have always been one to work often so taking a break from everything just isn’t something I find occurring often.
If I could impart any knowledge on you, it would be just that. Breaks look a lot of different ways to a lot of different people. This holiday season may be one that allows you to take some time off and get some good ‘ol R&R. Perhaps you’d rather spend every waking second with friends and family. Maybe you’d like to set the world record for attending the most holiday gatherings. Possibly you’re like me and have a healthy mix of all the above…family gatherings, hanging out with friends, rest, relaxation, and just a bit of work along the way. Whatever you need this holiday season, do not be afraid to get just a little of all of it.

I know that it is winter break, and it may seem as if you need to sleep in as late as possible, eat as much as possible, and do as little as possible. I also know that this may not be the case. Above both of these options, I know that this is a chance to relax. This may mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask so I encourage you to do this: find your own way of relaxing. Yep, that's it. It is incredibly simple when you really look at it. Find what makes you happy this holiday season and do it. More importantly than all, enjoy the time you have now…especially those in which you get to share it.

Good tidings to all,

Derek Berkshire
2014-2015 Indiana FFA
State Sentinel

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Lesson Learned in Mud

I love mud! Growing up, I can remember in the back yard my momma’s colossal garden. My dad every year would bring out the tiller and work diligently turning the soil. However, the best part was when my brothers and I would have a dirt clod fight. We would find huge chunks and chuck them at each other  till we were covered in mud.Needless to say the boys and I had a real good time. My mom however never thought it was very funny. Anyhow one day my thoughts were completely changed about mud through a sermon I heard online. 

I came across the sermon thinking, hmmm this could be interesting. I clicked on the video and began watching. The pastor was talking about how there is a message in the mud. I thought the man was crazy. How could the thing that was the main ingredient in most of my pies growing up could have a message in it? The man began with a question “What does the mud really mean?” After posing the question he told the story of the blind man in John Ch. 9 who Jesus ordered to put the mud he made on his eyes. Jesus ordered the man to go wash his eyes. Once the man cleaned his eyes he could see.
The pastor started talking about different points. The more I became engrossed in the sermon the clearer it all became. The very last point blew me away. Miracle in the mud, is always messy. He broke it down. The dirt equaled opportunity and failure equaled fertilize. Just like before the man was blind and then the mess of the mud was washed away creating the miracle of sight. My mind was blown! In milliseconds I connected this to my passion agriculture.

Agriculturist see dirt as an opportunity. The opportunity could be crops, a location for livestock production, an agribusiness or simple just innovation. Those obstacles or failures that one encounters is only fertilizer to drive that goal farther.That fertilizer fuels that passion. But if you choose to see the mud as a mess you’ll totally miss your miracle. 

Reflecting back I know I can relate to this idea that the pastor introduced. We all have had some real messy times in our lives. But once we finally found clarity... is truly feels like a miracle.Whether you’re a young kid having dirt clod fights or an agriculturist that deals with soil on a daily bases or simply someone that enjoyed the earth think about it. We are messy people. But we miss interpret the mess of life. Mess is the meaning of life. How will you find the message in your mud? Will you see it as a simple mess or will your choose to see the mess as a miracle. No matter what, don’t be afraid of the mud.

Much Love Indiana FFA,
Lindsey O’Hara
NRVP 2014-2015

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Count Your Blessings

As I sit here peacefully in our living room, I cannot help but think of everything that happens throughout the holiday season. As state officers we have just begun our business and industry visits this week. A couple days ago we began our travels at Elanco by starting with a tour of their facilities and new additions to their company while also having the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a couple of their key employees. We are incredibly thankful for Elanco’s constant support of the FFA and us as a state officer team. They always provide an uplifting atmosphere within their headquarters that is so inviting to FFA members across the state.

As we made our way to Elanco in the morning traffic, I realized that through the hustle and bustle of this season there are little moments that we never notice or little actions that we are not thankful for, simply because we miss them. Christmas is coming up and some dread the holidays because to them it means rushing around the city to find those last minute presents they forgot, or they may even dread driving in the ice and snow; however, what they do not realize is all the good that happens within the magic of the Christmas season.

As I make quick runs to Wal-Mart it always seems to be a blessing to drop some cash in the Salvation Army bucket. Who could have guessed that such a small contribution could give so much hope to one person? While we go into those stores to find the last minute gifts, what if we thought of those thousands of children who would not get a Christmas gift all season? Just by purchasing a few toys and giving them to organizations, we could change Christmas for so many children this year. The little things we do for others or what others do for us are often lost in the commotion of life moving at such a fast pace. Sometimes it is just a good idea to sit back and reflect on life and see all the small blessings that have been placed in our lives. Whether reflection to you means prayer, journaling, or even listening to music that reflects your life, there is always time we can carve out of each week to just sit. To be able to sit and let all the stress of this life go and just see what we have been graced with is one small ability we have to handle the commotion of the season.

As I sit listening to music about being grateful for life, I think of how many things I have that I should be thankful for: my state officer family, my family back home, my friends, FFA members, an education, the ability to attend church, and even a warm house. There are so many things we take for granted every day that we have the tendency to only be thankful for on Thanksgiving, but sometimes in the chaotic moments it is more important to remember what we have rather than be disappointed at what we do not have.

It has been a blessing to see all the changes of seasons from the window of the state officer house, but what is even better is seeing all the positive changes FFA members make after leaving the FFA Center. My teammates and I cannot wait to spend the Christmas season with FFA chapters around the state and share what we are thankful for during the holidays. Through the chaos and hustle of the season, there is always a light shining on the blessings we are given each and every day. The only question is: Will we notice that light over all the headlights we pass in traffic? It is always the small things we sometimes miss that can make us the happiest. One great quote I love goes like this:
“Enjoy the little things in life….for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
Through the holidays take time to notice and love the small moments within the big moments. Be sure to enjoy the crazy moments with friends while you are shopping, appreciate the person standing for the Salvation Army in the cold, sing Christmas songs like crazy with your family, decorate too much, dance like no one is watching, and love always.

Forever Blessed
Dakota Westphal
2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Reporter