Monday, November 28, 2016

Passion becomes a Career

My love for cows and farming runs deep.  A good friend of mine told me that I was the most "dairy-centric" person he knew, and I took that to heart.  I am not currently farming but love of dairy farming has only strengthened.  A few months ago I was presented with the opportunity to apply for a new job, a potential long term career, working for the dairy farmers of Minnesota.  I took the chance and applied and it is with great joy that I start today on my first day as the Industry Relations Program Manager at Midwest Dairy Association/Minnesota Milk Producers.  This job is really the sum of my passion put into a career, one I can definitely see myself doing long term as long as I don't let Minnesota farmers down.  This new job not only is my passion wrapped up into a career but it is also the sum of so many small choices made over my lifetime.  I can see God's hand in the road that I have traveled to get to this place, and I can see his plan coming to light. 

I look back to the moment I made the choice to be a county dairy ambassador at 15 years old.  I remember the choice to attend college at South Dakota State University where I would encounter one of the greatest professors I would ever know, Dr. Arnold Hippen.  I remember 2002 as a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, an opportunity of a lifetime to represent my county and the dairy farmers of Minnesota.  I remember my choice to go into dairy farming with a full heart after graduation and the first few pictures I posted on Facebook of new calves or field work.  I remember Sherry Newell reaching out to me to ask me to start posting some short blogs for a summer series for Midwest Dairy Association.  I was so excited for the opportunity to reach a larger audience!  Following that summer, Sherry encouraged me to take it one step further, "How about you start a blog?"  In 2009 I started this little blog, took advantage of every training opportunity I could get, and you have this, my own little outlet to the world.  Every step of the way I took a small chance in making what seemed like a small decision, which brought me to this place.  From the people that I met: my dairy woman strong role models including my best friend Annie, my roommates and classmates from college, my peers Carrie and Laura, and countless others who have been instrumental on this journey.  Each one gave me a little bit of encouragement and a pat on the back to keep on going.  Each risk followed God's plan to make good choices and put me where I belong.  Yes, I absolutely lost faith in his plan several times and I became full of anxiety and discouragement but I stayed the course (even when I went off course) and here I am with this exciting news!!!

I still don't know my final destination or where this journey may take me but I have faith that if I keep making these small choices to do God's will, I know it will be a beautiful ride, with amazing people and experiences!  I have so much gratitude for everyone that helped me get to this place!  The positive feedback from everyone has been overwhelming and I hope that I won't let you down! Wish me well, I'm off to help grow the Minnesota Dairy community in any way that I can! Go Dairy!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks for Suffering

Tomorrow we will sit around tables filled with delicious food, surrounded by family and friends.  We will count our blessings and give thanks.  Tonight at mass, Father talked about counting our blessings.  The gospel included the story of the 10 lepers which Jesus healed and only one returned to give thanks to Jesus for his healing.  While we sat in the pews and thought about our blessings I couldn't help but drift into thinking about being grateful for my sufferings.  Some day I hope to be able to write about my sufferings here but for now I will summarize it as a heavy, broken heart. I am on the other side of my suffering and I can speak with confidence that there is healing and growth on the other side of suffering. 

We talk about strength when we face hard times.  Dairy farming is full of hard times, difficult times, challenging times, but life is harder.  Dairy farming creates people who are determined, persistent, resilient, tough, passionate and strong, but I would argue that strength is more than these.  Strength found in suffering, which is the result of growth from the hard times and heartbreak, is vulnerability.   It is compassion, kindness, and honesty.  When I look back on my suffering, I am grateful for this growth that created the ability to be vulnerable.  Being strong all of the time is hard and it can be cold.  Being vulnerable is harder than being strong because it is real and you have to feel everything.  The sadness is sadder and the happiness is happier, but that's the benefit, it is real. I look back on my sufferings, and there were some very dark days. 

I chose to lean into the feelings and be completely vulnerable.  I was vulnerable to the people that hurt me and I was vulnerable with God.  I made my confessions many times, working hard to forgive myself, but when I look back, the biggest healing came from being vulnerable.  I am so grateful for this suffering.  If given the chance to live my life over again, I would do my suffering over again.  Sure I would make different choices to avoid hurting people I love but I know the end result would be the same.  If I hadn't leaned into the heart ache then I wouldn't have grown in the ways that I am today.  I am thankful for the suffering, for my compassion, for my honesty, and for my vulnerability.  It makes me real and it helps me live life to its fullest.  Here I sit, reflecting on Thanksgiving, knowing if it wasn't for the suffering, I wouldn't have my second chances either, to live life to the fullest with the deepest love possible.  Thankful and Blessed :)