Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet Sunday: Psalms 145:9

"The Lord is good to all."
-Psalms 145:9

Good afternoon friends! The Sunday verse comes from the book of Psalms - and what a riveting verse it really is. Our pastor this morning at Aldersgate Church read this verse and inspired the congregation to stand up and begin to tell their story about their Christian journey, so this Sweet Sunday blog is dedicated to a glimpse of my journey the past 4 years.

Before moving on, I want to promise everyone this will be one of the final blogs I will post about livestock judging. Why? Well, I need to get on with my "Farm Girl's Fight" for agriculture, and also, because livestock judging is officially over. That's right, last Tuesday the awards were announced, the title was given, teams were happy, teams were sad, but in the end, everyone loaded up, caught a flight home and moved on with their lives.

So, in case you didn't know, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were unable to grasp the National Championship (contrary to prior the Texas Tech Daily Newspaper....oops!). 

It was a misprint....they simply forgot the word "Reserve" big deal.

We actually ended up second behind Texas A&M. Now, at the banquet, I will confess, it was not easy seeing the Bronze Bull in the hands of another team - and for everyone except Texas A&M (and my teammate Lane Halfmann who was high individual - way to go Lane!), it shouldn't be the happiest moment ever - after all, we're all competitors right? Well, after coming home, reflecting back on my years of judging and thinking about how God is always good, it got me thinking about everything the Lord has done for me.

It all started in 2008, our 4-H team attended the Texas State 4-H livestock judging contest. It was my first time to attend State and I didn't do too hot! But, I do remember the one person that did do good. That person became my role model for the next year, and later became my coach, thanks for everything Brady. So, after State, I prepared all year for the next State contest. I specifically remember (I'll probably never forget) getting down on my knees and praying the night before the State contest "Lord, if you want me to judge collegiate, open the door tomorrow." Well, the next day I was high individual at the 2009 State contest. Alright Lord, I got the hint - thanks! Don't we wish He made every decision that clear?!

So, I made the decision to attend Butler Community College in Kansas and met some AMAZING people, cherished my time with the team and grew closer than ever to the Lord, thanks to some God-fearing roommates that are still my best friends today.

Flowers from my Butler roommate the morning of my last contest! Golly she's a keeper!

Now, here's the juicy part. So, growing up an hour and a half from Texas A&M, I was hell-bent and dead set on becoming an Aggie my whole life. Check out my closet full of aggie clothes and oh - my dog named Aggie, in case you need clarification. But, in January 2012, the Lord started working on my heart. At Denver, I contacted the head coach at Texas Tech, to this day I seriously have no idea why, that was totally a God thing. I made the trip to Lubbock in February, and prayed non-stop the whole drive down, and week surrounding my TTU visit. For some reason, my heart felt led to Texas Tech, I knew the Lord was calling me to Lubbock, so, I committed. Confession: committing to Tech was originally against my own will. Yep, no lie. I still wanted to be an Aggie. I knew nothing about Texas Tech, except the wind and dust (which graciously blanketed me during my visit, only making it that much more memorable). But, I knew the Lord had something special planned, so I followed His direction.

My fantastic parents who DROVE from Texas to Louisville. They're wonderful.

I told myself, well, Texas Tech has a record of winning National Championships in livestock judging (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011) maybe this school will be alright. Upon coming here, however, my vision and perception of this place was drastically changed. I cannot begin to express how covered in Christian passion our Animal Science department at Texas Tech truly is. We have the very best coaches and advisors and supporters that give as much religious advice as they do academic. Which, is needed 110% of the time. The more time I spend in Lubbock, the more I grow in love towards the people, atmosphere, and school.

Nick and I receiving 9th and 10th high individuals. This silly boy was high individual at Fort Worth and Houston!!

Isn't it funny how God works. I came to Lubbock, defying my lifelong Aggie dream, thinking I would be a part of a National Champion team. In the end, it ended up being the reverse. But you know, I wouldn't have it any other way. This statement is by no means degrading to A&M. They have a wonderful school, a great program, and they won Louisville fair and square, they flat  had a good day, therefore, they won.

Having only attending one school, I can't speak for the others. But, I can speak for mine. I have been so blessed by the Lord to be a part of the team that stood second at Louisville 2013. Our team prayed before and after every single contest, we read scripture in the van, and took time to pray silently on our own on the road trips when we needed it the most.

Two of the most influential men in my life - who taught me so much more than hogs, sheep and cattle.

"The Lord is good to all." The Lord was good to me. I am forever grateful that I followed the Lord's will and attended Texas Tech. To do it again I'd come here a thousand times over and over to be blessed with a team that only won two contests, but won my heart in every way.

The Lord is good to all. And dang He proves it each and every day if we take the opportunity to open our eyes and see the goodness He has surrounded us with.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flashback: Brangus Edition

Alright folks, I have hit gold. I must admit, yesterday was my very first time entering the doors of the Texas Tech library - I know, I know, it's sad. But, man, I have GOT to go there more often. I found pure gold. That's right, after searching mindlessly up and down the agriculture section trying to find resources for my research paper, I found a section entitled "Brangus". It held EVERY SINGLE Brangus Journal ever published, dating back to the 1950's.

Here is where it all started my friends

Then, I decided to pull out the 19(insert date unknown, I think I would get in trouble) to try and find some pictures of my mom and her sister/brother during their glory days. And man, I hit the jackpot. So, let it begin.

Before you scroll down and see all these fantastic pictures, please say a prayer for me that my mother and aunt don't skin me alive for posting these on the world wide web. But, I mean hey, they're already in print.

It all started when I found this glorious picture of my mother - showmanship winner at the American Royal, and her sister, who was the International Brangus Queen at the time.

Man, I wish I could've lived in the 70's.

Then, I flipped a couple pages back and found my aunt, being crowned the very first International Brangus Queen. Cue the emotional, sappy, "my roots run deep in the Brangus breed" moment.

Things were grand back then - roses and cowboy hats, it doesn't get much better.

Here's a picture I found rather entertaining. Now, granted I know cattle were a smidge taller in the 70's, and I know my aunt is not the tallest person in our family, but this picture really puts it into perspective!

P.S. In case you were wondering, this was the Grand Champion Bull at Houston!

Now, for a little queen break. I switched to the next edition, and found an article about a young man, freshly graduated from South Dakota State University, named ranch manager of a new herd. Today, this man should be known as one of the most influential individuals in the Brangus breed.

Comment below if you can name this founder of Gene Trust!

And then a moment that made me proud to be a Brangus breeder! Check out this bull who sold for 1/6 interest and 1/2 possession in 1979 for $95,000.

If you're in the Brangus breed, you have probably heard of Titan.

And then! Here is where it began to become a tear jerker, my mother was selected as the second International Brangus Queen.

My aunt crowning my mom; one of my favorite pictures!

In her article after being crowned queen, my mother writes about the positives of raising and exhibiting Brangus, including this excerpt:

"Brangus are adequate in size but but are not too big
 - like some exotics and other crossbreds - 
where they aren't fertile and can't produce calves annually."

If you know my mother, you know some things never change. She still has a deep rooted love for Brangus and unwavering positivity about their strengths. 

But, in all reality, I'm not really sure who was queen at this time. I think Aunt Gaye and mom wanted to share queen duties:

New Mexico State Fair 1979 Grand Bull - Gaye is queen
New Mexico State Fair 1979 Grand Heifer - Jodi is queen

Also, if you notice in the Grand Heifer picture, the showman has a cigar in his mouth. When you win, you do as you please.

I know some people will enjoy this blog post more than others. But, to me, it really is special. My family roots run generations deep in this breed, and I will forever be proud of the way I was raised, and these wonderful critters I got to grow up around.

Thanks mom. Thanks family. Thanks to everyone who makes this wonderful life oh so better when it's filled with cows.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sweet Sunday: Philippians 1:3

"I thank my God every time I remember you." -Philippians 1:3
Well folks, we've reached the end. The end of livestock judging, that is. After tomorrow, myself and approximately 150 other livestock enthusiasts will be unable to compete in livestock judging contests again. We can coach, we can judge shows, we can look at livestock until our hearts content, but never again compete. So, brace yourselves for a lengthy blog post: here it goes.

First, I would like to confess, that after figuring out blogs can be pre-written, saved, and uploaded automatically, this blog post was actually written a couple weeks ago, we all know the day before Louisville judging is not the best time to write a blog post!

So, onto my main point. For ten years now, I have been a part of a livestock judging team. I started as a member of the McLennan County 4-H team, then a Butler Grizzly, and ended as a Texas Tech Red Raider. I had an oh-so-typical livestock judging career. It started out with humble beginnings at age 11, not really knowing what to do, then a passion developed,  high school got real, judged in junior college, and ended up judging senior college under the coach that coached my high school coach (yeah, this is real life).

As I mentioned, this blog was written a few weeks ago, meaning at the current time, we know (or are about to know) who is and isn't marking for Texas Tech at the Louisville contest. So, let me fill you in, in case you don't know what this means. Marking at Louisville in senior college is like being on the starting lineup kickoff at the Super Bowl, it's like winning a grammy, it's like setting a world-record at the Olympics. I'm not sure why the Louisville "bull" (aka the trophy for winning Lville) isn't broadcasted as much, it's certainly of the same caliber.

Back when I wrote this, I got to thinking, what verse can I automatically set for the day before Louisville? Something impactful. Then, I thought of Philippians 1:3. "I thank my God every time I remember you." Because, every time I think of my teammates, from ten years ago, to the four years I spent traveling with Butler and Tech, I drop to my knees and praise the Lord for the precious time I got to spend with them.

Livestock judging brings out the competitive side in us all. It's a firey passion that drives a 15 passenger van 18 hours across the nation to look at bow hocked hogs, practical every day Hereford bulls, framey rams, and sometimes, even elite livestock. It's a love affair for a steno page filled with pencil scribbles, it's an addiction to a smirk on a cattleman's face in the reasons room. It's a heart pounding, moment of stress, "two minutes left", mark your card, take your notes and move on addiction that we all strive to be the best at.

I'd like to say at the end of the day that the memories I've made, the relationships I've built with future industry leaders, and the sheer love of judging will override anything that happens tomorrow. In the end, I think it will. But, let's be real: winning Louisville is a big deal. In our world, mediocrity isn't awarded. Not everyone gets a trophy. Only one team comes home with the bull, only ten individuals carry that pride for their lifetime. I'll shake the hand of whoever is holding the bull on Tuesday morning, but I sure hope it is my teammate.

I'd like to wish good luck to all who compete tomorrow, especially to the five who compete for Texas Tech University. You bet your britches I hope I have the privilege of being one of the five. But, even if I'm not, "I thank my God" for the time I spent learning, loving, and growing. I wouldn't trade the past ten years of preparation for anything. 

Tomorrow, may your brain be sharp, your shirt collar crisp, and dang - Fight Raiders Fight.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Be Jealous

If jealousy is one of the seven deadly sins, and you do not want to commit a deadly sin, please do not read this blog.

All right, if you're still reading, you're a rebel, way to go.

So, this weekend, after realizing that livestock judging is basically the best thing ever, our football coach, ehemm, Kliff Kingsbury (that's right ladies, the Ryan Gosling look-a-like that stands heroically on the Texas Tech sidelines during our football games) invited us to a pre-Louisville pep talk.

Our team (and the meats judging team) got a tour of the Football Training Center, then got a pep talk by THE Kliff Kingsbury himself, and also received a complimentary Texas Tech Football under armour t-shirt. Let's go ahead and establish Texas Tech is the best school ever.

You know, just the TTU All-American hallway.

The different uniforms that will be worn by our valiant athletic stars this season.    

Kliff Kingsbury's helmet on the Pro-Football wall of TTU players that became BIG TIME!

Kliff doing his football thing

Our judging team in front of the Pro wall. There's a reason we are positioned here. We're destined for greatness too of course.
Now that I have everyone jealous, and now wanting to be a member of the Texas Tech livestock judging team, have a wonderful Monday! May your mornings be bright, your football team #winning, and all your sins forgiven. Amen!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sweet Sunday: 1 Timothy 6:11-12

"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith." 
-1 Timothy 6:11-12

Well folks, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have returned from the American Royal. Let's just say it didn't go as we had hoped that it would....we were 4th! But, that's okay, we have a pretty big fire in our hearts to work harder and be better for the NAILE (in only 15 days, holy cow!).

But, here's the important thing: there are bigger things than winning the American Royal - like serving the Lord thankfully for all our wins and all our loses.

So here it is: my humble thank you to the Father for the ever-so-sweet road trip and one week I got to spend with my teammates, for all the stock we got to see, and the friends I got to hug in Kansas City.

We fought the good fight, now we are ready to hit the road again and win the BIG one! Louisville, get ready to be wrecked by the raiders!

My wonderful teammates in Kansas City.