Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Time of the Year for Traditions

One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas time. My family loves Christmas time. From the stockings, to the Christmas cookies, to the time together as a family. Every year my family has several traditions that we do to celebrate. I want to take some time this year to share some of my family's traditions. 

One of the earliest traditions we have is the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s then that my immediate family and several of my aunts and their kids come over to our house to make Schnitzbrot. This tradition definitely needs some explaining. You see, my mom’s side of the family is 100% German. When my great grandma came over she brought with her a lot of traditions and recipes. One such was a bread called Schnitzbrot. The easiest way to describe this bread is sort of like a Christmas fruit cake but more bread like and in a loaf. As long as I can remember my family has made this bread. Each year we make around 20 loaves and give them to all my aunts and uncles and other family members. It’s tradition to eat this bread on christmas morning each year. Even though my grandma passed away several years back we still make this bread and it still brings our family together. This picture is me, my brother, and cousin kneading the Schnitzbrot

The next tradition that we have is with our nativity set. My mom’s side has this tradition where every kid gets a nativity of their own. The nativity is gifted to them by their godparents. You get the basic part on your first Christmas and each year you get more pieces to add to it. This is one of my favorite traditions that my family has. It’s really cool because your nativity scene shows your growth. A lot of times the pieces that you received are customized to something that happened to you that year. An example of this is last Christmas for me. I got a carpenter and his workshop. That was the year that I got grandchapion for woodworking at my county fair. This tradition is a reminder of growth and a reminder of what Christmas is truly about. This is one of the gifts I look forward to the most each year. It’s not the newest technology or fancy clothes but the reminder that Christmas is about family, growth, and God. It’s one of the best gifts to open and adding the piece to my nativity at home on Christmas eve is one of the best feelings. This picture is of my mom’s nativity this year at home. Sadly she doesn’t get her newest piece till Christmas eve.

The final tradition I want to talk about is actually after Christmas day. Two or three days after my family leaves to travel down to the Fellowship Center at the Indiana FFA Center. We meet with the rest of my mom’s side and spent three days together. This is one of the best times of the year for me. The Fellowship Center has a very special place in the hearts of my family. If you’ve ever been to a conference then you might have heard Mr. Martin tells the story of the Fellowship Center. It was built after a girl from Tri-County, named Vallerie James, died in a car crash. Her parents went to the foundation director to have a small chapel built in the woods because the FFA Center was her second home. The director decided to do more than that and through the generous donations from individuals and businesses they decided to build the Fellowship Center. Families and individuals came together to build a place for families and friends to gather for fellowship and growth. That foundation director was my Uncle and my family helped build the center. Because of this we’ve been going there after Christmas since it was built. Within this one tradition my family has several others. We always do a white elephant there, a euchre tournament, the kids have a nerf war, and so many other things. This tradition brings the whole family together. It reminds us of my grandparents who helped build it and all the love they had for us and the FFA organization. It reminds us of all the funny memories that have been made there and all the growth our family has had. Each year there’s new cousins running around and new significant others that get brought down for a day to get introduced.

These are three of the best traditions that my family has around this time of year. When I think back on them I’m reminded of all their lessons. From family to faith and everything in between. It’s these traditions that have made me who I am today. Each tradition that I have helps build something I value. It's the traditions that each of us have that makes us who we are. So what traditions do you have that make you, you.


Tyler Kilmer


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Endless Love

There are only 3 days until Christmas. 3 days. You know what that means? Christmas EVERYTHING. Christmas socks, Christmas movies, and of course, Christmas music. Recently, I was listening to “Let There be Christmas” by Alan Jackson. During this song, he sings the words, “Let anger and fear and hate disappear, let there be love that lasts through the year”. I quickly realized just how impactful these few words truly were. 


Around Christmas time, we see an abundance of giving and love. Whether it’s donating to a local charity, wrapping presents for an Angel Tree, or helping to cook a meal for those in ourcommunity, we tend to be more giving during the holiday season. But why is this? Maybe it’s because we’re surrounded by loved ones. Maybe it’s the holiday sweets. Maybe, its simply the Christmas spirit. Whatever the cause may be, there’s no doubt that the holiday season is one of the most love-filled times of the year. Nevertheless, I think there are quite a few reasons that we choose not to always exhibit this love. Sometimes, someone hurts us, and we act out in anger. Sometimes, we may be afraid someone may judge us for being too cheery. Sometimes we are simply filled with hatred towards a person who we’ve never really liked. It’s at these times, that we tend to hurt others, and ourselves, the most.


What would happen, though, if this holiday-like love occurred throughout the entire year? Imagine that every single day you witnessed someone giving food to a person who needed it. That person in need may have their first real meal for the week. Imagine walking down the street to watch others greet one another with “glad tidings” of the day. A person grieving over a recent loss may smile for the first time after that encounterSimply imagine if, out of the goodness of their heart, carolers broke out in song just to bring cheer to someone’s day. The possibilities are endless.


So now, I ask you, what would happen if you exhibited endless love towards others? What could you do to bring cheer to someone’s day? How will you show kindness to those you don’t get along with? When will you find time in your everyday life to simply help someone out? What will YOU do? Whatever it is, big or small, I know it will make an impact. Let that anger, fear, and hate disappear, and allow yourself to always show love to those who need it the most. 


Learning to love always, 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Be Patient in Times of Confusion

I HATE losing. It’s something I have never enjoyed doing, and I would do anything in my power to ensure that was something I did not go through. This was especially true with my livestock. During my Senior year, I bought a bangin good Angus steer. He was one of a kind, and our goal was to win Champion Angus steer at the state fair. Throughout the show season, we would travel to cattle shows as a family, along with the family we bought from. 

No matter how hard I tried, I was constantly placing second. Never. First.

I would constantly beat myself up about going to these shows, and feeling like I was failing every time. I finally got the nerve to sit down with my Dad and talk about it. I asked him what I was doing wrong - Was I not a good enough showman? Did we give him enough water before strutting into that ring? What was I doing wrong?

He looked at me with his ‘matter of fact dad look,’ and said “Our goal is State Fair. This is a time to just get him out and learn.”

This is normally the time that I’m supposed to be okay with it and move on, right? No. In fact, throughout the entire show season, I was bitter and angry. Do you want to know why? It’s all because I was so close-minded and over focused on being the best.

The State Fair finally rolls arounds, and it’s time for me to go in the ring. I walked in, and I was feeling pretty good! He starts placing the class. 5th gets pulled. Perfect, still in the running… but not for long. 4th gets pulled - and it’s me. At that moment, all I saw was red. After the early mornings, late nights, and long hours in the barn, this is it? At this point, confusion raced through my mind. After the class had ended, I didn’t talk to anyone for a solid two hours, rinsed my steer, and sat in the corner, pouting.

During that time of pout and feeling sorry for myself, I finally had a wake up call with a small voice reminding me, “Pick yourself back up. This all has its purpose.” Sometimes, life may interrupt the goals we have in life. However, if it wasn’t for those moments of placing second in those jackpot shows and fourth at State Fair, I wouldn’t have grown to know that the livestock industry isn’t about winning - it’s about the  relationships within the industry that make it all so great. If it wasn’t for the people within the farming community, agriculture would not be what it is today.

Still embracing the confusion,
Jordyn Wickard

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

I'm My Mother's Daughter

I know that it is currently not the season for Mother’s Day, however, I wanted to show a little love to my mom because I know that I’ve missed her a lot. 

If I am honest, the hardest thing this year has been leaving my mom after our weekends home. I usually end up crying. This is not because I dislike going back to the center but because of the overwhelming amount of love I always feel at home. Heck, I am also pretty worried about college being the same way.

I wanted to write this appreciation blog post because many of you do not realize how blessed I am to have a mom as capable as her. In 2014, my dad passed away because of pancreatic cancer when I was 11. My mom probably never imagined that for the past 7 years she would have to raise me on her own. I am so thankful for the unconditional love she shows me everyday. Especially those texts I get where she just checks in on me, those mean more to me than I could ever explain. 

My mom has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. We love driving around in the car together to get food and then eating in the parking lot. I now only like to eat my fast food in parking lots whether I am with her or not. I appreciate the fact that every year on my birthday we go shopping together at the same mall. We stay in a hotel room each time even though we only live about 25 minutes from the mall. It's the fact that it is a mini vacation away from home that makes it so special.

Yes, the good moments we have are great. But, the moments when I truly appreciate her love the most is when I have a bad day. She is always there to talk and give me a warm hug. Even though I do not like opening up too much when I am upset, she is always there to hold me until I am willing to talk. She is my biggest supporter.

To my mom, thank you for all you have done for me in my lifetime. Thank you for being at every event you can and showing me the abundant support of both parents in one. You are so incredibly strong and everyone notices that. You have taught me so much about how I can be strong and independent in my life. You are the greatest mom a girl could ask for. I also want to thank you for your patience even if I am a lot sometimes. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you so much. 

With much love,

Madisen Carns

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Imperfect Perfection

“Perfection is found in accepting your imperfections.” - Bridgett Devoue

Throughout life we learn countless lessons. We learn how to walk, talk, engage, and how to grow. But, one lesson that I’ve found to be the hardest to learn focuses around the idea of perfection. 

You see, perfection is this goal that continually finds its way into my head. I tell myself almost everyday that I have to be the perfect friend, perfect sister, perfect teammate. If I’m going to be honest, I’m not. There are days where I am the furthest from perfect. Even now, as I’m sitting here attempting to write this post, I’ve found myself continually thinking that it has to be perfect, there has to be a lesson. But, thankfully, I have teammates to give me a reality check. 

Mere seconds ago, Nicholas did just that. He looked at me, and said, “Not everything has to have a meaning. Not everything has to be perfect.” So, instead of attempting to instill a lesson, here is a post filled with quotes that remind me it’s okay to embrace that imperfect perfection.

These quotes might not help you now, or in the next two weeks, but when you need a little pick me up- they'll still be here for you. At the end of the day, it's your imperfections that truly make you perfect.

Slightly less of an overthinker,

Kourtney Otte