5 Reasons Having Kids in 4-H is Like Childbirth

Sorry it has been a while since I have posted a blog.  The last few weeks have been pretty busy.  Continue reading to see why.  Friday was the last day of the 2015 4-H Fair for our county.  For any of you 4-H parents maybe you can relate when I say that having kids in 4-H is like childbirth.  It’s not very pretty, but worth it in the end.  Here are 5 reasons why…

1.  It sounds like a good idea at the time.  Just like deciding to have a baby, signing your kids up for 4-H sounds like a good idea.  Lots of people do it.  How hard can it be?  “It will be a great experience,” they say.  It teaches responsibility and new skills.

When we started the 4-H adventure five years ago, it seemed like a good idea.  I had been in 4-H a few years and my husband was a 9 year member.  It only seemed natural that our kids would be in 4-H as well.  We signed up for several livestock and non-livestock projects.  It presented itself as a great way to teach responsibility and for our daughters to learn some new skills.  Little did I know that there was way more to it than that.  4-H Fair isn’t just a week in July, it’s a way of life.

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2.  No matter how prepared you think you are, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.  You must learn to expect the unexpected and know that no matter how well you think you have prepared, you are never really prepared for what’s to come.  There’s so much more to it than you could ever imagine.

I had no idea that I was not just signing my child up for a few projects, but was signing away a good portion of our lives.  It was so much more time consuming than I had imagined, not just for my kids, but for me as well.  There were forms on top of forms, papers, log books, registrations, meetings, picture taking, receipt collecting, supply buying, pre-fair judging, and a week off of work to attend all of the shows they were involved in.  It was six months of prep for one week of shows and a whole lot more work than I had planned.

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3.  It brings out homicidal tendencies that aren’t usually present.  As in childbirth, anyone and everyone who has a part in the process is fair game for your psychotic behavior.  The desire to hurt anyone in your path is extremely high, including the child and the husband.  Somehow, all rational thinking goes out the window.

Oh how I hate to admit it, but the fair brings out the worst in me.  Keeping track of multiple deadlines, staying on the kids to complete their books, turning in their paperwork, registering online, working with their animals, and packing everything for fair is a daunting task.  Then there is fair week…being at the fair early to feed all the animals, getting ready for shows, staying late to get feeding done, loading and unloading animals, and attending the extra events makes for really long days, even shorter nights, and very short fuses.  Come show day, it’s all I can do not to completely lose it on my children.  I can never find them when it’s time to get ready for the show.  They always seem to forget something they need.  The animals seem to realize it is show day and choose to act up, just for fun.  Emotions run high and my children get the brunt of my stress overload.  At the end of the day, I regret how I acted, but unfortunately it’s too late to undo the mess I made, let alone the impression I made on everyone who witnessed my psychotic breakdowns.  Ugh!!!  You think I would learn!

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4.  You have forgotten since the last time just how painful the process is.  Even though in the midst of the process you swear you will never do it again, somehow you forget by the next time around and find yourself in the same predicament all over again.

Every year, in the midst of the 4-H process, I swear that the next year we will not do it again.  I tell the girls they can’t do X,Y, and Z projects because I am tired of having to stay on them to get things done.  They procrastinate every year and there is always last minute running around trying to get things done and turned in on time.  I get beyond frustrated after constant reminding that things need to be done and their broken promises that this year will be different and they will get things done early.  It never happens, but somehow, the next year, registration rolls around and here we are again signing up for multiple projects.  I must be a glutton for punishment!

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5.  In the end, you find it was all worth it when you look into the face of your child.  Just as you looked into that newborn baby’s face, you look into the face of your child who just finished well in a 4-H project and know that you would do it all over again just to see that face and feel that pride.  There’s something about the love of a parent for their child that makes all of it worth it.

At then end of the day, when my kids have done their best and they smile with pride at a job well done, I can’t help but be glad that I went through all of that mess, just to see them smile.  I beam with pride at my child, knowing all that went into getting them to that point.  The ribbons and plaques are great, but the, “Thanks Mom!” is the best prize ever!

So when registration rolls around next year, I wonder what we will sign up for?  It’s always an adventure.  Hopefully, I will learn from all the years before and just try to relax and enjoy the ride.  In the end, it’s my kids that matter.  It’s about encouraging them to do their best and supporting them as they work to achieve it.  When my kids are grown and gone, I will look back on these years and I don’t want to look back with regret, but with fond memories.  So if you see me at the fair next year, hopefully I’ll be smiling, if not, tell me to, “Relax and enjoy the ride.”  I may want to knock your head off, but at least it will make me stop and think! 🙂

 

DISCLAIMER:  Sorry there is no spiritual content to this post.  It was meant to be a humorous look at the life of a fair mom.  No children, animals, or others were hurt during this week at the fair. 🙂

Why I’m Married with Children

Growing up, I was never one of those girls who had dreams of getting married, settling down and having a house full of children.  I did not enjoy babysitting and to be truthful, I really didn’t enjoy being around children.  As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure that I never wanted to have children.  Even when I thought of my life plan in high school and college it never really include a husband or children.  But…I’ve learned that God has a sense of humor and He knows better than I. His plans are always better than mine.

So, how did it happen that I am now married with children?  Let me tell you a little story.

I met my husband between my junior and senior year of college.  I had come home for the summer and was living with my parents.  Though I had stopped attending church in high school, my parents had recently started attending a new church, so I thought I would go check it out.  Non of my friends were home for the summer, so honestly, I had nothing better to do.  As I was sitting in the pew, I noticed what seemed to be a pretty good looking guy sitting in front of me.  It kept me pretty distracted during the sermon and I was quite excited when after the service he turned around to introduce himself.  Much to my surprise, he had a mouth full of braces and I was sure he was jail bait!  Come to find out, he was a year older than I and single…sort of.  I didn’t find out about the other girl until later.

I was kind of crushing on him, but he was shy and so was I.  Either way, it got me to church every Sunday.  I became friends with his cousin who was in my Sunday School class.  I had invited her to go out one night for pizza and to hang out.  She called me back and asked if Jeremy could come along.  Needless to say, I said “sure” and was pretty excited to get to know him.  However, my hopes of a perfect match were dashed after an evening of hanging out chatting over pizza.  He was nothing that I was looking for and like no one I had ever dated.  I had no intention of living close to home for the rest of my life and he was a farmer on his families farm and wasn’t going anywhere.  He never went to college and he mumbled, so I could hardly understand anything he said.  When my mom asked, “So how did it go?”  I responded, “He’s a nice guy, but I’d never date him.” (Insert God’s humor here, since we’ve now been married nearly 14 years and he was God’s perfect match for me.) My idea of the perfect man at the time was someone who was educated, had a good career plan, was willing to go with me wherever I landed and would allow me to follow my dreams.  If I could find that man, I would consider getting married, but I figured the chances were slim and besides, I was sure I didn’t need a man to make me happy.

Jeremy had one redeeming quality.  He was interested and he rode a Harley.  I guess I should have mentioned that in my criteria above.  Since high school, I was obsessed with motor cycles.  I would jump on the back of any bike I could get a ride on, but my heart belonged on a Harley Davidson.  I had no friends at home, therefore I had no social life.  So, being bored and having a chance to ride on the back of a Harley was enough to spark a friendship.  As the summer went on, things progressed from friends to dating.  I had been in three serious relationships before him.  I wasn’t one to really date around much, but I had crossed lines in those relationships that I didn’t want to repeat.  We had talked about setting boundaries, but pushed them to the limit.  When I returned to college, we continued to date.  We would see each other on the weekends and talk on the phone.  One weekend I was home for a extended weekend and things went too far.  We both regretted it and vowed not to let it happen again.

A few weeks later, I had been invited to a Greek IV conference.  It was a Christian conference for the Greek community and I was in a sorority.  I had not been involved in any Christian organizations or a church on campus, but some of the girls in my sorority were going and asked me if I’d like to come along.  It sounded like fun and the guilt of what I had done helped me to decide to go.  That weekend, I rededicated my life to Christ.  I had walked away from God in high school, but had felt Him pursuing me even in the midst of my rebellion.  I was so broken and sorry for the way I had been living.  God forgave me and I felt free.  I was so excited to start all over as a new creation. 

A week later two lines on a pregnancy test told me I was pregnant.  Honestly, I must say that at the time, I did not think that God was very funny or that He had any idea what He was doing.  This was not the way my life was supposed to go.  This was not my plan!  How could God do this to me?  I just rededicated my life to Him and He lets me be pregnant!  It seemed like a pretty sick joke and not funny at all.

Needless to say, my life changed dramatically that day and everyday after.  Life between then and now has not been easy, but that’s a post for another day.  But, God had a plan.  Oh, it was a marvelous plan.  Some days, I still don’t think He’s very funny, but other days, I can’t help but laugh.  He’s so very faithful.  He’s sovereign.  He’s good.  He knew what He was doing.  He knew that giving me a husband and children was the only way that I could ever truly know Him.  It’s in loving my children that I can even slightly grasp His love for me.  It’s in disciplining my children that I see the need for me to be disciplined.  It’s in setting boundaries for my children that I see why He gave us His Word to live by.  There are days when I am in the middle of saying something to my children and I feel the gentle nudge from God saying, “Now you know how I feel,” or “I think I’ve told you the same thing.”  It’s in those moments I know why God gave me children.  It is in being a mother that He gives me glimpses of the Father’s love for me.  It’s in being a wife that He refines me, corrects me, and humbles me.  It is teaching me how to submit to my Heavenly Father and show Him honor.  I’m still a work in progress and I still need daily reminders, but God’s Word assures me in Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knows best.  He has a plan for my life. He does have a sense of humor and children truly are a gift from God.  My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11-14.  It really couldn’t be more fitting.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back from captivity.”  His plan was and is so much better than my plan ever was.  I can’t even imagine the mess I would have made of my life had I not turned it over to my Heavenly Father.  And there are still days when I mess it up something terrible and on those days more often than not, He uses my husband and children to remind me of His love, the value of discipline, and that His grace is sufficient.

 Just like Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  My firstborn was not a mistake!  But God was able to use my mistakes for my good! And for that, I am so thankful!

In His Hands,

Lorissa