A Letter To My Ag Teacher

It was an honor to write this about my former ag teacher. I miss him so much. Thank you to all of our ag teachers in the world.

Agricultural Education and Communications

Thank you.

I have the highest respect for you. You helped me become the person I’m meant to be. You pushed me, you believed in me when no one else would, and you got mad at me anytime I didn’t give my best. You went beyond being just another teacher. You were more than a coach, even more than a mentor. You were family. In fact, you spent time away from your own family to treat us like your own.

An ag teacher helping students with animals. An ag teacher from Hobbs, N.M. Photos courtesy of Shawn Dennis

For that, I am forever grateful. It is in these moments, as I’ve gotten older, that I realize just how much I miss having you around to push me, to coach me, to guide me. You showed me just how fun life can be even in the midst of stressful situations like state contests.

I’ll never forget those ridiculous…

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2017.

Hey girl,

I know you’re tired. I know you’re living in a state of exhaustion right now, but can I just ask you something?

 

Well, another year come and gone

 

I’ve never liked setting these g

 

*Sigh*

 

Live loved with joy and just be.

There. That’s all I want. To live like I’m loved full of God’s amazing Joy in my heart and to just be in the moment for once in my life. I don’t want to worry about tomorrow “for tomorrow has enough of its own troubles.”

 

I think it’s time I broke all of those habits that prevent me from living that way so yeah….Live loved with joy and just be.

 

Welcome 2017.

 

-Hayley

 

 

 

Finding God In The Small Things

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Today, I prayed this really cool prayer and asked God to reveal Himself in the little details that happen throughout the day.
Here’s what happened.

So, after work, I was walking my dogs and these two girls ran up to me to pet them. They tugged me back over to their parents, who were grilling some burgers a little further away. After the common pleasantries were exchanged that often accompanied meeting new people, they did the unthinkable. They asked me over for dinner. Of course, I declined. I’m not sure what was more shocking, the fact that I tried to turn down a burger while I’m dead broke, or that I was truly bewildered at the thought of strangers asking me over for dinner.

Did that even exist anymore?
After a lot of persuasion, I finally gave in and followed the sweet family back to their apartment. Turns out, we all had a lot more in common than I had expected. I found myself reluctant to leave because it’s the first genuine interaction I’ve had outside of work since I moved to this town. When I got back to my apartment I sat down and smiled. And then I began to wonder. Why doesn’t that happen more often? Parents, I know what you’re thinking: kidnappers. Ladies: creepers. Men: (crickets)
Kidding 🙂 (maybe)

Here’s the thing, I label myself as a “Christian”, I work at a “Christian” company, I go to a “christian” church (well..okay..not often), I post “Christian” things, and read “Christian” books, and the most Christ like thing I’ve experienced in months? It happened today.
And the word God or faith was never once used.
That’s love. That’s Christ-like love.

And so, I was hit with a spiritual slap to the face and was reminded of James 2:14-26. Faith without works, is dead.

Truth is, their invitation showed more of Jesus than any words I could ever write or any picture I could ever post.
Their invitation was the epitome of Jesus. How many times does He invite us to walk with Him daily, but because it wasn’t embellished with prophetic words or dressed up like the building of a church, do we decline?
I challenge you to pray that same prayer and watch God show up in some crazy ways.

When Jesus Is Like A Roller Coaster

rollercoaster

I’m terrified of roller coasters.

I envy those who fearlessly seek out the adrenaline rush, run to the line and willingly choose to sit in the very front as if they’re not afraid they could possibly plunge to their death.

I walk to the line, fear piercing my heart, my hands shaking, my mind reminding me of each and every possibility in which the seat could be dislodged and go flying into the air and come crashing to the ground at ungodly speeds. (Which in this case, we were over an ocean…I mean hello? Sharks.)

I was recently riding one with my family on a pier at the beach. There was this little boy who was riding by himself. He was psyched too. He wasn’t afraid nor was he embarrassed to be riding alone. I sat next to that 8-year-old kid and he was bounding with excitement while HE’S comforting ME.

How embarrassing.

I like control. I like knowing every possible scenario and I naturally calculate my best course of action where I’m least likely to be hurt. My brain was screaming RISK as I sat in my seat next to my family and next to this little kid.

I think hopping on a roller coaster is a lot like choosing to follow Jesus. Sometimes I think His spirit is like that 8-year-old boy, happily sitting next to me like, “Let’s do this! It’s going to be amazing, trust me, I’ve done it twice already!”

And I’m like, “Umm this is an awful idea. What was I thinking? What was that sound, did something break?” Looks around rapidly. “I can’t believe I even got in line for this.” Checks the bar over my knees. “Did this thing even lock?” Gasps. “It didn’t? Why am I not secured in yet?”

Great, death by a roller coaster that resembles a cheesy looking shark.

The kid laughs and comforts me saying, “Trust me! It’s going to be worth it!”

As if.

I give Jesus the same look I gave that 8-year-old kid. A look that’s full of fear mixed with a little “Are you insane?!”

After I regret the choice I’ve made to sit in that ridiculous seat up to the top where it will drop us into a 30 second whirlwind of spinning and flipping midair…I actually have fun. It leaves me breathless from the adrenaline and the rush of flying fast and high. My throat is hoarse from all of the screaming. I’m shaking out of fear yet, I had the time of my life.

That’s how I view myself when I truly follow Jesus. He beckons me onto the ride we call life, the kind of life where we fearlessly and courageously  follow Him. I nearly die of fear and I’m kind of angry at Him for making me do it in the beginning. But once we’re unbuckled and out of the seat at the end, He’s smiling at me and to my complete and utter surprise, I’m looking back at Him with a smile of my own.

Even more surprising is when I high five Him and tell Him to “Let’s go again!” (yeah, in my head I high five Jesus, maybe even fist bump on a good day)

Granted, I revert back to my process of the fear stricken heart and the shaking and the screaming as the ride clicks to the top all over again…but it’s a little bit easier the second go around. I trust a little bit more each time.

I think Jesus wants us to be more like that 8-year-old kid, fearless, ready to follow into the unknown and not embarrassed to do it alone if others are too afraid or unwilling to walk with Him.

Jesus knows we have nothing to fear and He knows it will be well worth it and despite us agreeing to go, yet still kicking and screaming the entire way, He’s still there. He’s elbowing us like “This is it, get ready!”

Life can be pretty scary. It can be painful and hard and sometimes we are called to take those risks, but if only we could be more like that 8-year-old kid who looked fear in the face and refused to let it dampen his spirit. Instead, he not only faced it, but he conquered it.

Friends, we can rest assured that Jesus is with us on those crazy rides and I fully believe He laughs with us, He cries with us, He comforts us and He challenges us. He is our fearless leader, our biggest fan and He chose us to go on a ride with us. That’s pretty cool if you think about it. He didn’t force us, He opened the invitation. He was beyond excited when we stepped up with Him and truly went.

What’s even cooler is that he never once says “I told you so.” He just high fives us when we decide to strap in with him and He’s smiling at the end, knowing we would have the experience of a lifetime. He knows exactly what we need and He knows how to get us there, despite our fear and discomfort.

He knew our fear was the only thing holding us back. I like to think He loves when at the end of it all, our hair is completely disheveled like a bad 80’s impression, our palms sweaty, our knees shaking and our hearts are racing. He knew we would smile at the end of it all and we would say, “Okay, what’s next?”

I’d like to say it’s time I became fearless and stopped letting little kids upstage me on rides (yes, including a ferris wheel, I’m not proud of my fear). But I’m going to be realistic here and just admit that it takes a lot of courage for me to get on roller coasters and even carnival rides.

Like that roller coaster ride where I close my eyes and sit in my seat, strapped in tight, scared to absolute death. I do the same thing in life. Afraid of change, terrified of my lack of control. Like that little boy who was encouraging me to keep my eyes open the entire time, I believe Jesus is doing the same thing.

We sit in life, so afraid of everything that even when we’re like “Okay I’ll do it, but I’m going to wrap my arms around myself, shut my eyes and hang on for dear life the entire time.” Jesus is next to us like, “Open your eyes! Hold your hands out!”

What if, when change came, when new things presented themselves and when opportunity came knocking on our door, we didn’t just say yes and flip out the entire time. What if we actually kept our eyes open, held our hands out and rejoiced in that period of time?

Life would be pretty different if we lived with courage and truly trusted in Him.

I don’t know about you, but I hope I get to the point where I’m riding the roller coasters of life with Jesus, eyes wide open and hands out, rejoicing regardless of my fear and discomfort. Easier said than done, I understand.

No matter the season of your life, let this be a reminder:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I’ll say it again, Rejoice!”

Phil. 4:4

Like Francis Chan said, notice it doesn’t say “Rejoice in the Lord, unless you’re doing something very important or feeling stressed.”

It says always, no matter what season, no matter what changes come.

“Do not be afraid.”

Matthew 28:10

I hope this encourages you. I also hope that if you’re ever too afraid of riding the roller coasters of life, you’re not alone in that fear. You can take comfort in the fact that I’m screaming somewhere around you haha. We can ride those together though and look at each other, then look at Jesus, and afterwards ask:

“Okay, what’s next?”

Dreamer

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Dreams.

What happened to the massive dreams we had when we were kids? What happened to the unimaginable curiosity we carried with us everywhere we went? What happened to the blazing spark we had inside of our hearts that flowed into everything we touched?

We were unstoppable in our bedrooms, scheming, believing, dreaming. We believed in ourselves so much we could see it, hear it, feel it, taste it. It was just out of our reach. Just a star awaiting our small hands to grasp…to leap into the sky…to fly.

It was beautiful. It is beautiful.

For some reason, as we get older we forget what we knew as kids. Really, kids have it figured out. Their childlike faith is what God wants from all of us, from 2 to 21 to 93. It got lost somwhere in the mix of this world. Something so indescribable, so magical, so awe-inspiring was pushed out of our minds and hearts as the comparisons, the insecurities, the negativity wove itself into the very depths of our souls. We were no longer imagining singing on stage in front of thousands of people or being the next greatest athlete, we began imagining the very things God fights every day to protect us from.

The bigger your dream and the stronger your faith, the harder the enemy fights back. Don’t give up on your dreams. Be His child and take a leap of faith.

God instills a passion in us, a dream bigger than ourselves. He wants us to dream big, the bigger the better because that is less of us and more of Him.

Personally, I don’t have a clue what my dreams are anymore. I used to want to be the next Mia Hamm (pro soccer player). I spent most of my childhood and my teenage years with soccer. Live, eat and breathe it. It was my dream, it was my life. Then life happened, I got derailed, it shattered with one bad coach who really made me hate the game.I often wonder what would have happened had I stuck through the tough times. Because that’s what it takes to reach a dream, to love something so much you never give up.

I’m okay with it, but man I sure miss having a coach. That was a bond that can never be replaced. To have someone yell at you, push you, challenge you and laugh with you. Someone who believes in you so much that you can’t help, but believe in yourself.

What happened to our dreams? We can have more than one. We may give up on more than one, but if there is one thing I have learned, God can spark a passion inside your heart at any moment. He can give you new dreams, He can awaken the old ones. He can inspire you.

God really is like a coach I guess. I believe he has a sense of humor. I can’t really picture him yelling and throwing a clip board on the ground, but I can certainly imagine the stern look on His face. I can imagine him looking at us like we are insane after doing something incredibly risky, but kinda cool. We weren’t supposed to do it, but I can see him grabbing us in a hug and laughing saying “That was so awesome! You’re nuts!” I bet he has a deep bellowing laugh. Warm. The kind that makes you laugh along with it. Then after it’s over he gets that soft look on his face, the slight smile as he shakes his head and points back to the right direction, “Like alright, back to it, let’s do this.”

He’s our shoulder to cry on, our rock, He keeps us sane and steady and totally off our rockers sometimes because He likes to get that smile and stand below us while we stand on a branch, either stuck or scared. He calls to us, He asks us to jump and says He will catch us. Oh boy. Talk about a trust exercise. Funny how after we have panic attacks about jumping, He catches us with ease and as He sets us down in the grass, we realize the only thing that was hard about that jump was us psyching ourselves out, our own fear.

Yeah…definitely like a coach. Sometimes I’m laughing with him and sometimes I’m just a little bit afraid of what He might do next. It’s a scary thing haha.

We were fearless. We were dreamers that would jump out of plane into his arms at any moment. I’m not entirely sure how we lose it, not everyone does. I do look at kids differently now though. It’s like, “Ah…that’s how we’re supposed to be.”

Childlike faith. The laughter, the joy, the happiness, the goofy grins, the crazy imaginations, the ability to believe we could fly. That’s what we need back. I’m not sure we’re supposed to take life so seriously. We are called to dream, to love, to give, to inspire, to encourage.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, I don’t entirely know my dream anymore, but I feel on the verge of it. I do know I really want to encourage all of you to go for it. I’ll laugh with you, cry with you, I’m not much of a yeller, but hey if that’s what you want I can yell at you to get back to work. It doesn’t matter the position you’re in. You can shine. You can mentor others, you can lift them up and encourage them. We can stand together and dream together and thank God for all of it. It all goes to Him. We can inspire together for God, who really is the greatest coach to ever exist. It’s all because of Him.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t be afraid to be a dreamer again. You might fail a lot, but don’t focus on that. Have fun with it. Quit taking life so seriously. We are on a journey to our real home. Think of it like a road trip. You’re going to have your annoying siblings heckling you, your parents angering you, embarrassing you. You might have a flat tire. You’ll stop to sight see. But keep going. You can enjoy the trip. Take your spouse, your best friend in life, your family, and live. Enjoy the trip.

God is better than your best coach, better than Siri, better than Google maps. He’ll get you there.

 

You Dirty Green Little Monster, I’m On To You

I’m going to be honest with y’all…I’m filled with insecurities.

I remember sitting at a Beth Moore “So Long Insecurity” conference when I was in high school and looking over at my now sister-in-law saying, “I don’t feel like I’m insecure.” to which she replied, “Me either.”

With a shrug of our shoulders we went back to listening, but it was at that conference that I had an “aha” moment and realized, oh wow I am insecure. Maybe I just never understood the meaning of the word insecure.

What an annoying little backstabbing voice that lives deep inside our minds. He perches himself on our shoulders for a beautiful view to destroy us in. My mom calls him the little green monster. It’s ugly, trust me.

The little green monster, at one point, convinced me I wasn’t healthy enough and weighed too much so I started living on cans of vegetables and one granola bar a day. That darn little green monster sat on my shoulder and pointed at my body in the mirror and made sure I saw every flaw. He picked and prodded until I had lost over thirty pounds that I could not afford to lose. He giggled as my health continued to decline, my vision blurred, my hearing dissipated. He knew despite all of that, I would still yearn to lose more weight.

Why, you dirty backstabbing little green monster. I know what you’re up to.

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So It’s Your Last Semester Of College…

 

Now you’re being sent check-up emails by your advisors, ensuring you took the right classes to keep you on the list to walk the stage, you’re wearing your class ring, you’re ordering your cap and gown, and thinking of big and scary things like finding a job and beginning your career.

All of the sudden, the rush of your first college party, the stress of staying up late to study for exams, and the worry you felt about meeting new friends when you moved into your dorm just isn’t looking that intimidating anymore.

Insurance, credit checks, mortgage, benefits, retirement…all things that begin to cross your mind. Behind you is quickly becoming the days of trekking across campus for class and the nights of finding the next party. In front of you lies your career, the dreaded days of worrying about bills and oh my gosh I’m an adult now and soon I’ll be getting married and having kids (Not Everyone).

Where did the time go? What happened to the best friends I met on move-in day and all the super sweet (drunk) girls I met in the bathroom?

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