Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hunter Hayes Sang That He Wished He Had a Storm Warning ...Here It Is!

Storm clouds from today's down pour in Franklin, Indiana.
 Thunder booms across the land, rain falls endlessly and lightning flashes across the enormous sky. April showers…bring May flowers. Thunderstorms are not my favorite. I shudder at the loud booms, close my eyes when lightening fills the room and rain hitting the roof so hard making it nearly impossible to think sends me into a night of restlessness. I believe that every experience good or bad always has a lesson you can learn from it. My experiences with thunderstorms have taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes…in order to enjoy the rainbows, you have to deal with the rain.

When I was a little girl my brothers and I loved to go the beach. Kosciusko County has over 100 lakes and we were lucky enough to live close to a few. In the hot summer months we would beg my mom to take us into town and spend all day enjoying the cool water. Expect there was one hold up…generally my mom would be very busy and that meant that we would only get to the beach if she was done with her “To-Do List”.

 I remember one day in particular. It was hotter than a stove on fire! My mom’s to-do list was at least three miles long. After about 20 minutes of pestering my mom she finally announced if we wanted to go to the beach we would have to help her with all the task.
My brothers and I decided that playing cowboys and Indians would be much more fun. We went outside and played until we couldn’t take the intense heat any longer. We came into the house to see if mom was done with her list. When we asked her…she informed us that she didn’t even make a dent in the things that she needed to accomplish. Again we went outside played cowboys and Indians. Just like before it got hotter than boiling water. We came running into the house begging our mom to take us to the beach.

She looked at us and said, “I am sorry but you didn’t help me with my list and I still have a lot to get done. We have livestock to feed later once it cools off. No beach today.”

I was utterly awestruck. No Beach?!?! The woman was crazy. I am not going to lie…I threw the BIGGEST fit!! I pouted for a good know that little girl self-pity (arms crossed, lip out and crocodile tears). 

The next weekend rolled around and like clockwork my mom’s list was about three miles long. Instead of playing outside my brother’s and I decided that if we worked together then she would have to take us to the beach! This was probably the best plan we ever came up with (even if my mom told us the weekend before). Sure enough after some sibling bickering, competitions and lack of focus we accomplished each task on the list. Water wings on, towel in hand, and a big grin spread across my face as we headed to Winona Lake. Heading to the beach that day I couldn’t be more satisfied.

It wasn’t until later that it really hit me. My mom was trying to teach us a lesson. Obviously she needed help and if we wanted to go to the beach we needed to pitch in. By working together we would knock every item off the list no problem. Even though we didn't always like doing them…we really wanted to go to the beach so we got them done.

My daily reminder! 
Folks, we will encounter times like this often in life. You want to be the best basketball player on the face of the earth? You better believe you better put in the effort to get there no matter how hard it gets. You hunger to be top in your class at school? Yep, got to skip hanging out with your friends this weekend to study for that big test. You want to better yourself for others? Than you will have to take a real hard look at yourself and be honest. Your dream is to change the world? Some sacrifices and hard decision will have to be made.
The next time you’re encountering a storm just keep that saying in mind. Actually, write it down now…on your hand, postie note, wall or arm. Write it down!! If you want to enjoy the rainbow, you are going to have to deal with the rain. 

Also, just a optimistic note…every storm eventually will run out of rain.

Chin up and God Bless,
Lindsey O'Hara
Northern Region Vice President 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Smelling the Roses

Have you ever had a moment that just put your life into perspective? Not necessarily a bad situation, just one that made you realize how incredibly blessed you are? A couple of weeks ago I had one of those moments.  Before I can get into that moment, however, I have to rewind back to February.

Within Indiana FFA there is an Executive Committee. This committee is made up of all the District Presidents, the Section Directors, the State Band and Chorus Presidents, as well as the State Officers. To kick off FFA Week (a week celebrating FFA and agriculture) this year, that committee decided that it would be awesome to do a community service project.  After much deliberation they settled upon helping at Circle City Relief.  I had no idea as to what Circle City Relief was, so I did a little bit of research. I found that Circle City is a Non-Profit, Christian Organization that serves lunch to the less fortunate in downtown Indy every Sunday. The description was enough to get me excited for our excursion, but I wasn't nearly prepared for what this group was all about. When we arrived, we learned they are about so much more than serving food. Not only do the volunteers hand out pizza, soups, drinks, as well as other varieties of food, but they do so every single Sunday afternoon regardless of the weather. The day we were there was testimony to that with the cold temperatures, wind, and sleet that mother nature dealt us.  Outside of this aspect, the organization also offers clothing and bikes to those in need. This all sounds great, but what I really loved was how the volunteers genuinely wanted to get to know the individuals who came through. The group who leads the activities has been doing so for last 5 years and the relationships, as well as the rapport, that they've built with the members of the community is absolutely amazing.

After hearing a little bit about Circle City, I’m sure you can see why some of us fell in love with it. We fell so in love with it, in fact, that the girls and I have gone back since then.  The last time we were able to go was the first Sunday that it really began to feel like spring. The sun was shining and the air was just warm enough for you to really want to shed your heavy winter jacket.  When we arrived, we all scattered in different directions depending on where we were needed. Brittany helped serve soup and got to know people as they passed her. Dakota and I were on ‘Doughnut Duty’ which consisted of passing out boxes of donuts….that is until we ran out. Once that happened we began mingling and just talking to those who were there. Miss Lindsey was drawn to the group of little kids who were there. She told them stories, chased them around the parking lot, and at the end of the day just loved on them. Seeing each of my sisters in an element that they loved so much warmed my heart. And that’s when I had one of those perspective moments.

Not only were each of us so happy to be there, but so was everyone else. There were some individuals there who truly only had a tent to live in, but you never would have guessed it. They had smiles on their faces, a kind word to say, and they were the first to say how blessed they were. Being able to enjoy the company of those individuals for three hours was the highlight of my entire week.
A lot of times I forget about all the blessings in my life because I’m so caught up in figuring out how to finish what’s next on my list. For example, I’m so focused about getting everything ready for college that I forget to thank my parents for all they've done to help me get to the point where college is an option. Or I forget to tell my teammates just how much I appreciate them because I've gotten so used to them being around. It makes me think of the cliché phrase “Take time to stop and smell the roses”.  Most people laugh when they hear this quote, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it. A majority of society has a lot going on in their day and things get pushed to the back of their plate or even forgotten. More often than not it’s realizing what all they’re blessed with.

Being there, in that moment, simply talking to some seriously cheerful people reminded me of everything I’m blessed with; everything from my family, to the opportunity to be there that day. Those three hours of fellowship served as my time to stop and smell the roses.

Especially with it being the Easter season, I realize just how blessed I am. Unfortunately I shouldn't just remember my blessings around holidays. A tip to myself, and to you, remember your blessings and take the time to stop and smell the roses in your life.

Incredibly blessed,
Kathleen Jacobs
Indiana FFA State Treasurer